SBC News Bacta welcomes ‘progressive’ DCMS talks for 3-to-1 ratio on AGC machine allowances

Bacta welcomes ‘progressive’ DCMS talks for 3-to-1 ratio on AGC machine allowances

Bacta’s National President to the UK John Bollom has issued a statement regarding DCMS consultations on machine allowances for arcades and bingo halls.

According to the President, the Supplementary Consultation by the government is more than enough to provide an “optimum mix” of products to keep the adult gaming centres’ industry (AGC) going strong and lock its competitiveness at a high-level.

The consultation itself relates to B3 gaming machines – those with a maximum stake of £2, a maximum payout of £500, and a minimum game cycle of 2.5 seconds – and proposes a 3/1 ratio for B3 games in relation to every Category C/D game placed in a gaming venue.

This way, the AGC sector can remain attractive while keeping its low-stake, low-prize gambling entertainment credentials, Bacta’s Bollom said.

He added: “In terms of the detail I should stress that this represents a maximum figure: if operators wanted fewer B3s they of course retain that option. 

“Overall the publication of the supplementary consultation on machine numbers must be considered as a positive step. In particular we welcome the conclusion that action should be taken to support the AGC sector which is still experiencing significant commercial challenges following Covid and the spike in energy and other costs.

“We endorse the conclusion that liberalisation is required in order to support recovery, to ensure that regulation is fit for the future and that operators have the freedom to meet customer needs and in the process stimulate innovation, investment and growth.”

“I also welcome the contributions made by bacta’s Gaming Council. When we embarked on the restructure process and presented the proposals for a streamlined Bacta to members, an important part of the rationale for change was to create a more agile and dynamic organisation capable of responding to scenarios such as this.

“The expert insight provided by the Gaming Council led by Peter Davies enabled us to provide DCMS with the detail and the analysis required to inform progressive regulation. Having the ability to respond swiftly and with authority represents a major positive and will underpin our engagement with government and our regulators.”

Richard Bradley, partner at law firm Poppleston Allen, added: “It’s positive to see the DCMS supporting the retail sector in general and the AGC sector in particular with such a pragmatic, forward-thinking approach. The DCMS seems to be taking the issues the industry is facing seriously and is listening to operators. They are also trying to find a balance with the concerns of the Gambling Commission.

“The proposed 3:1 or 2:1 ratio for B3 gaming machines will help provide the optimal mix of machines in an AGC, and will help with future-proofing and longevity, particularly as a lot of the older machines are more costly and onerous to run. The mix of machines will allow for greater variety, and will help offset losses from older machines. In addition, a wider array of options helps draw in varied consumers and to keep regular punters occupied.

“The other benefit to having these newer models is the built-in safer gambling modes, such as time limits, consumer warnings and cooling off periods. The AGC market can create a win-win for themselves and consumers by investing in the right mix of these machines.”

Bacta’s National Council has managed to significantly strengthen its role as a bridge between industry shareholders and policymakers over the last few years.

The latest move to signify this and plan for the way forward was the promotion of Robert Gibb to bacta’s Executive Director of Commercial.

Gibb will bring over his previous duties of Head of Finance and Operations to his new role, and add to that the overseeing of bacta’s team of membership Support Officers.

On his latest venture, Gibb said: “I am excited to be taking on this new role and look forward to working with Bacta’s outstanding team of MSOs to continue to raise the support we provide.”

Bacta’s President Bollom added: “I would heartily congratulate Rob on his promotion as Executive Director – Commercial. He has done an outstanding job for Bacta in recent years in overseeing our organisation and finances. National Council is confident he will drive forward continued enhancements in the services we provide to members”. 

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