John White, CEO of Bacta, channels 1979 satire, The Life of Brian, to highlight how some commentators still insist on viewing the industry.
References to Monty Python’s iconic religious satire The Life of Brian, have rarely if ever made the pages of Coinslot, despite this esteemed journal itself being described as the bible for the amusements and gaming industry.
One of the most frequently quoted sections of Life of Brian is taken from Scene 10 when Reg, played by John Cleese, makes the rhetorical point ‘And what have they (the Romans) ever given us in return?’ Xerves fires back The Aqueduct. Commando number three then adds Sanitation, Mathias follows up with Roads and various characters chip in one after the other with Irrigation, Medicine, Education, Wine, Public Baths, and Order. Attempting to draw a line underneath an unhelpful commentary that’s not delivering the outcome he wanted Reg then says: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” to which Xerxes replies “Peace”.
Sometimes when Bacta is quizzed about social responsibility I feel that the industry is being cast as Reg would like to view the Romans, with the presumptions that (a) social responsibility isn’t really on the industry agenda and (b) if it is, it’s just a blip on the periphery of our collective awareness and by extension something that we haven’t really done a great deal to address.
The fact is such a perception could not be further removed from reality. Let’s cut through the prejudice and examine exactly what bacta continues to bring to the social responsibility table.
Starting with our investment in people and how we work with specialist not for profit organisations, bacta has four dedicated staff with a focus on SR compliance, providing peerless one to one advice direct to operators on how to meet and exceed the expectations that exist on player protection. We work closely with GamCare providers to incorporate best practice in relation to safer gambling training and we also work with GamCare counsellors to provide bespoke self exclusions for problem gamblers. This is in addition to the dialogue Bacta maintains with organisations including YGAM and the Gordon Moody Association. Bacta is also one of the five trade bodies on IGRG and is involved in the development and implementation of industry wide SR initiatives of which Responsible Gambling Week is the most prominent. In the same vein the second edition of Bacta’s highly successful Social Responsibility Exchange, which shares knowledge and best practice among customer facing staff from different commercial organisations takes place on 13th November.
In the pub sector we are bringing our experience to the fore in order to help the PubCos implement age verification initiatives. This has involved the creation and deployment of messaging to staff reminding them that no Under-18s are able to play Category C pub machines, age confirmation messaging before machines are allowed as well as producing Gaming Guides for pubs and clubs outlining their legislative, compliance and SR responsibilities. In Britain’s adult gaming centres we have been instrumental in the introduction of time and monetary limit setting on B3s which exists alongside SR messaging. Earlier this year Bacta introduced a new policy to prevent under 16s playing on Category D cash payout fruit machines in family entertainment centres unless they are accompanied by an adult.
Bacta has a sharp focus on protecting the vulnerable in particular those in our communities who suffer from mental health issues. We also have a soon to go digital tool kit for operators which provides step by step guidance to staff to ensure the highest SR standards are met consistently.
At the core of all of this is a Code of Conduct and Social Responsibility Charter that exceeds LCCP requirements, an age verification scheme that consistently achieves a pass rate of 85 percent, a self-exclusion service and a dedicated Social Responsibility Committee that drives the player protection agenda.
Social responsibility is at the very centre of what Bacta members do in terms of conscious actions and processes as well as being an accepted part of the day to day culture that you find in businesses that are from the communities they serve. Not only are inadequate social responsibility undertakings intrinsically wrong but they are also extremely bad for business. What the consumer facing members of Bacta would like to see is a recognition of what has been and is being achieved, a clear set of metrics to work towards and if at all possible a little less of the Reg style commentary from individuals and organisations that you would expect to know better.