Bacta calls for amusements’ consideration in Spring Statement

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the government’s Spring Statement on the UK budget today, outlining a number of areas for investment as the country’s recovery from COVID-19 continues. 

Ahead of the statement, the UK’s betting and gaming trade associations have called on the government to take the industry into consideration, with amusement arcade body Bacta today focusing on costs which are “going through the roof for both businesses and customers”.

The organisation noted that for many businesses such as amusement arcades, the economic recovery from COVID-19 has been marred by financial pressures, and as a result “balance sheets are therefore facing exhaustion”. 

“We need the government to get back to the fundamentals and help the almost 35,000 people employed by this gaming £2 billion industry,” the organisation stated.

“We welcome the reported plans to cut fuel duty, but the Chancellor could massively help seaside arcades and gaming centres across the UK by reducing VAT and Machines Games Duty for the industry to 12.5%, which would be in line with the rest of the hospitality industry and mean arcades and gaming centres aren’t left out in the cold.”

Bacta’s statement echoes the argument of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) earlier this week, which detailed that the UK’s network of retail and online betting and gambling operators was more than prepared to support the government’s COVID-19 recovery plans. 

However, the trade standards and representative body also noted – similarly to Bacta – that the betting sector’s interests should be taken into account, particularly due to its substantial contribution to the British economy.

The BGC has repeatedly reiterated the high tax earnings generated for the UK treasury by the betting industry, which stood at around £4.5 billion in 2019, whilst also directly and indirectly supporting 119,000 jobs in the same year. 

With the White Paper on the 2005 Gambling Act review due later in the spring, the BGC’s assertions have taken on increasing significance for the industry beyond the immediate impacts of Rishi Sunak’s statement. 

Michael Dugher, BGC Chief Executive, argued that “ it is vital the industry’s contribution to sports, local communities, jobs and tax revenues is not put at risk in the Gambling White paper and with well-meaning but naive changes to regulation”.

The Gambling Act review is a topic that Bacta has also commented upon this year – in January, the association’s President, Greg Wood, stated his intention to ensure that amusements’ interests were heard ahead of the regulatory overhaul.

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