Bacta insists a step-up of responsibility measures on complex Cat D games is a logical step in the current climate of anti-gambling hysteria. Which explains why the trade association is stepping up its campaign to push SR to the top of the priority list.
The decision has been made by BACTA to hold an extraordinary general meeting at which industry heads will contemplate introducing additional measures on complex Category D machines.
BACTA members were contacted via email last week with the news that the additional Division 1 meeting would take place on Tuesday, July 9, at an as yet unconfirmed central Birmingham location. The notice added that the association’s entire membership was welcome to attend.
BACTA said that the decision to hold the short notice assembly was taken at the last round of its divisional meetings on June 12. “Due to increasing political concern about young people and the ability of under 18s to play Cat D cash pay out fruit machines, Bacta has been strongly advised that this is an issue we must address,” the trade group’s chief executive John White wrote to members. “The media are increasingly looking to feature stories about children and gambling… as a result there is a significantly heightened risk that action might be taken to restrict their use to over 18s areas and this potentially extends to other Cat D products.”
But White was swift to add that Bacta had it on good authority that were they to take “voluntary action ourselves” on reel-based Cat D products, the threat to the broader Cat D range (i.e. pushers, cranes, and ticket redemption) would be nullified.
“If we do something voluntarily now, then we significant reduce the risk of having additional measures imposed upon us compulsorily – which could be more restrictive,” White elucidated.
Accordingly, the Bacta proposal up for discussion next month is to voluntarily self-impose an age restriction of 16 and over on all reel-based, cash paying fruits: with minors under that age requiring a supervising adult. The new stipulation would be demarked with a clear age restriction sticker.
This action, if approved by members, would be taken despite industry heads having noted at their latest gathering that there has been no evidence of an increase in underage gambling engagement. Nevertheless, trade chiefs were also in agreement that “the lack of evidence will not stop political pressure building,” and that the introduction of a self-imposed measure could “make it easier to get stakes and prize increase in the future.”
Meanwhile, one final point Bacta wished to underline to its membership was its intention “to ensure that Cat D fruits remain on the main floor of the FEC,” so that adult customers could continue to enjoy them in the company of their children. Indeed, White maintained that this point would remain “the number one priority” for commissioners at next month’s meeting.