Loss of Cat D necessary and sustainable for an industry set for reshape, says Eason

Ian Eason Instance Automatics Cat D
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The no-nonsense Lincolnshire supplier has praised Bacta’s self-imposed ban on under-18 Cat D play within FECs, arguing it shows amusements squarely in the camp of entertainment and not gambling. Ian Eason believes this is an issue the industry has needed to resolve for some time.


Instance Automatic’s Ian Eason has thrown his support behind Bacta’s recent decision to ban under 18s from playing Cat D machines in seaside arcades and FECs.

A self confessed former critic of the trade association, Eason said that Bacta had taken a prudent step towards “damage limitation” from presiding anti-gambling sentiment – and publicly aligned amusements within the remit of entertainment as opposed to gambling.

“I have no doubt without them we would have been in big trouble as an industry,” he told Coinslot. “Times are changing…we need to focus on amusements as opposed to gambling – we are the ‘amusement industry’ after all.”

Indeed, Eason said that the loss of Cat D to the family oriented sites should be viewed as “more of a plus than a minus” to the forward looking well-being of the sector.

“Without some kind of movement on Cat D, there could have been the issue of cranes, pushers, and ticket machines all being tarred with the same brush,” he argued. “What Bacta has done is to give the anti-gambling lobby clear evidence that we’re working with them.”

As for any potential loss in revenue, Eason held that there remains a wide range of better, alternative product for operators to turn to; a position that perhaps was not available to the sector in previous years.

“I have never been a friend of the Cat D complex stuff, I don’t think the FECs need them,” he told us. “There’s plenty of kit out there to enable making your business work – with or without tickets.”

Don’t get him wrong – the Lincolnshire supplier still maintains that any kind of regulatory crackdown on FECs is misguided, and a consequence of moral fears raised by the UK’s burgeoning online sector.

“All this shit is aimed I think at the big boys in the online space,” he commented. “Advertising with football shirts and the likes has really pushed it under the nose of the anti-gambling brigade and they’ve taken a poke at us for good measure.”

Still, he maintained that the voluntary loss of Cat D displayed that the sector was “acting sensibly and fairly,” and, whilst acknowledging that the move will be tough for many, it was a loss “we can all live with.”

“Look at how phones have changed over the last 20 years – they’ve adapted, and improved in line with what the current generation want,” he said. “We have to do the same, or otherwise we may become the next Nokia.”

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