Speaking to Bacta’s CEO John White, the importance of Cat Cs in the pub environment is evident. But, he suggests, it could be even more so if contactless payments are brought into play.
Bacta’s CEO John White is quick to underscore the continuing importance of Cat C machines as part of the business fabric of Britain’s pubs. Talking to Coinslot about the pub market, he has a firm view that this unique single site sector is one of potential opportunity.
“Clearly, machines are important to pubs. Properly managed with a good operator on hand, the fruit, pool table and jukebox income makes a straight contribution to the bottom line. Additionally, the machines augment the pub offer thereby generating wet sales,” White explains.
Despite this, he highlights the need for a flexible regulatory framework – and notably a “more modern set of technical standards” – in order to help promote ongoing innovation.
“We need the freedom to innovate particularly around new products and concepts. Stake and prize is only one component of the mix. A move to a more modern set of technical standards and legislative change that allows totally new concepts would provide significant advances for the sector,” he continues.
“The concept of slow play entertainment games with an element of chance such as the B5 idea adapted for the pub market, could attract a new and younger customer. It would also encourage group play like the traditional SWP, itself in need of a refresh.”
The government’s reluctance to allow cashless payments continues to be another bone of contention, all the more so given that it is now a ubiquitous presence on the high street.
“The customer doesn’t understand why he or she is not given the choice to use a cashless form of payment on the fruit machine,” White contends.
“The cashless option is available for all other purchases a customer makes. Not only does this mean pubs are missing out on potential play but also the image of machines this creates is old fashioned and out of touch with the modern consumer.
“As the cashless society expands it will become critical. Thankfully the industry will soon have a solution.”
With a number of consultations underway at the moment, many arguably aimed at restraining the industry, operators and publicans alike may well ask what can the industry do to navigate its way through this and drive the business on?
“Bacta as the voice of the industry can take care of the consultations allowing members to take care of running their businesses,” White responds.
“Although new measures might seem and indeed be constraining, the recent B3 consultation for the first time explicitly said the prize for compliance and SR improvements was the changes industry has been seeking.
“It’s been implicit in Bacta’s positioning and it’s good to see that carrot clearly offered as opposed to being constantly beaten with a stick.”
It’s clear that if the industry is going to make progress in securing key items on its regulatory wish list such as cashless payments, it will first have to shoulder additional social responsibility measures. In line with this, White suggests there is still more work to be done integrating gaming-related social responsibility in the pubs sector.
“Pubs must think about gaming SR as diligently as they do for alcohol sales. Recent AV test failures are clearly unacceptable. I am pleased that the pub industry, with Bacta’s support, is moving at pace to introduce stronger SR measures,” White noted.