Bacta has stated that it has ‘fired the starting gun’ on its engagement with DCMS in the interest of UK amusement and gaming machine industry stakeholders.
The trade body has issued an ‘evidence-based’ response to DCMS with regards to increasing the maximum stake and prizes offered by gaming machines in UK adult entertainment venues.
Writing to DCMS Secretary of State, Lucy Frazer, Bacta cites that a review is needed as the stake and prize levels of Category C, B3, B3A, and B4 gaming machines have not been reviewed since 2011 – identified as a “consequence undermining the land-based sector’s ability to compete with other forms of gambling entertainment.”
Considering forthcoming regulatory changes to UK gambling, Bacta recommends that stake limits on Category C machines commonly referred to as ‘pub fruit machines’ be increased from £1 to £1.50, alongside a prize increase from £100 to £150.
Leisure and amusement retailers require further changes for prize Category B4 machines (multi-game fruit machines) to increase their stake/prize offering from £2/£400 to £2.50/£750.
John Bollom, Bacta National President, emphasised the importance of these stake-and-prize increases to maintain retailers’ investment at local, regional, and national levels.
Of concern to Bacta members, Bollom expressed their disappointment that DCMS did not include the 2013 Triennial Review’s recommendations in the ongoing Gambling Review consultation process.
Bollom noted: “Bacta member operators were extremely disappointed that the reintroduction of the Triennial Review, which served the industry so well, was not included in the White Paper.
“Bacta is mindful of the importance of prioritising the White Paper consultations and for reforms to be delivered during this Parliament, but we must also keep stake and prize levels and the mechanism to determine them firmly on the agenda.”
For the higher-risk category of B3 and B3A gaming machines (slot machines), Bacta suggests increasing stakes from £2 to £2.50, with prizes raised from £500 to £750 limit.
Forthcoming changes proposed by the Gambling Review state that the current 80/20 rule for Category B to Category C/D gaming machines for gambling venues will be modified to a new 50/50 rule.
In its submission, Bacta’s proposed increases are stated to be below the cumulative impact of inflation since 2011. Significantly, the trade body asserts that these changes will not disadvantage players in terms of payout percentages or increase the amounts retained by machines disproportionately.
Further changes proposed by the Gambling Review include the consideration of cashless payment options.
Bacta underscored its members’ exemplary commitment to player protection, in which venues offer the safest gambling environments, as “players will always have the option of playing at a lower stake and prize if that is what they wish to do, and many will, as we know from current player behaviour.”
“The machines are not going to change, just the maximum permitted stake and prize”.
Bollom concluded by underlining that DCMS must recognise the unique challenges faced by the gaming machine sector and its stakeholders – “Unlike any other business, we cannot pass our costs on to the consumer and our proposals are required to simply keep pace with inflation. Without regular increases in the maximums permitted, the industry’s ability to bring jobs and economic benefit to the high street and to coastal communities will be severely undermined.