It hasn’t taken new gambling minister Chris Philp long to get tucked into his new post, meeting Bacta within a few weeks of taking over his new portfolio.
In fairness, he has got the all-important Gambling Review on his plate, but a face-to-face with Bacta president Greg Wood and chief executive John White last week has started a dialogue and introduced the minister to the state of British amusements and coin-op industry post-Covid.
And the Bacta delegation was impressed with the new minister as White explained: “Chris Philp was engaging and professional. He listened carefully to what we had to say and asked intelligent and pertinent questions of us. I got the impression he is his own man and will form his own views on the issues put before him.”
Clearly, the review remains central to Philp’s task, that and of course the new National Lottery operator, and the future of the Gambling Commission and .. the list begins to read more like ‘what have the Romans ever done for us’. However, embedded into the new gambling minister’s job is delivery and levelling up; both of which Bacta believes its wish list fits into.
White again: “That certainly plays to the requests we have made which are in essence about being given the opportunity to innovate. This in turn will drive investment which in turn delivers levelling up. If our changes were adopted we could be looking at several thousand more jobs on the High Street, seaside resorts and in the machine supply business – and all in Red Wall areas.”
It’s a compelling argument, as is the entire industry’s concerns that regulation has lost its sense and purpose, a point that will be more forcefully put across by the All Party Betting and Gaming Group which has been damning of the Commission’s role.
But there is a thought that Philp’s arrival late into the review process will result in a slight delay in the White Paper, a point seized upon by White who was keen to get Philp into operations: “Greg and I had a constructive meeting with Chris Philp and discussed our priorities for the Review. But we will continue to press him to actually visit some sites – particularly high street gaming centres, so he can see first-hand what this sector of the industry is all about.”