Bacta find a new discourse with launch of social responsibility policy

Association chief John White used his platform at the Bacta AGM to announce a new code of social responsibility for members – but also unveil plans for a “new dialogue” throughout the industry.


Bacta’s AGM came fresh off the back of the trade association’s participation in the second annual outing of Responsible Gambling Week – which ran from November 1 to 7.

The event, first launched last year by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (of which Bacta is a part), was hailed by the trade body’s CEO John White in his AGM address as having been “very successful.”

So much so, the Bacta board would go on to approve a new code of conduct pertaining to social responsibility measures later in the day.

It’s a new direction for the association, and one that will resonate with government, regulator and, likely, industry customers as well.

It was a comfortable passage, too. The FOBT campaign had positioned Bacta very much on the SR journey, evidenced the day before its AGM with the association’s inaugural Social Responsibility Exchange.

So what does the new code bring to the trade body membership, and the industry outside its remit.

Key measures within the new policy include a shift to a Think 25 policy with regards to age verification (up from Think 21), as well a new trial – launched in conjunction with the Bingo Association – of machine messaging on B3 units.

White claimed that the new code would “bolster the commitment of Bacta members to social responsibility.”

And that will require a different relationship with external audiences. The Bacta convention also saw confirmation of the beginning of “a new dialogue” with “all relevant stakeholders” in order to get to the bottom of several key findings by the Gambling Commission – including a recent report which suggested an alarming hike in the number of children playing fruit machines.

“My members tell me they just don’t see children playing fruit machines in anything like that number,” and thus the new discussion would aim to “help remove the sentiment that fills the vacuum left by the absence of evidence.”

Overall, White assured members – but perhaps more specifically Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur – that the trade association wished to ascertain “what evidence is required and whether or not we need to make any changes to what we do.”

Indeed, White said he actually welcomed the prospect of more evidence and industry analysis – adding that he hoped it would stop the regulator from advocating for increased player-protection measures on FEC products.

To this end, he recalled how he had been “furious” at the Commission’s (unsubstantiated) claim last year that pushers and cranes could serve as a gateway to problem gaming in later life, asserting that he remained “bemused as to what the authors of those comments had in mind.”

Still, despite McArthur’s relatively recent tenure, White already seemed impressed with the new commissioner’s readiness to expand his operational understanding – referring to a period this summer in which McArthur had spent several days working in an FEC on the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare.

“My appreciation to Neil for taking the time to get out of Birmingham to see the industry working first hand,” said White. “I have always felt that regulators will regulate better the better their understanding of who they are regulating.”


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