Bacta CEO John White took to the stand at the association’s annual conference this week to air his frustration with a regulator which has given up on the carrot in singular preference of the stick.
The Bacta annual convention at London’s QE2 Centre was an opportunity for the trade association’s chief executive John White to breathe one particular sigh of relief: with the marked absence of one huge talking point which had dogged previous iterations of the event.
“For the first time in five years, I don’t have to mention FOBTs!” said White to much applause, referencing April’s institution of the new £2 max FOBT stake, which he said had been the result of “five years of very hard work and a sterling effort” by the Bacta membership.
Still, White conceded that anyone who had hoped the felling of the B2 juggernaut would usher in a new golden age of the AGC would have been “disappointed”: and he wasn’t shy in apportioning blame as to why this resurgence had yet to take place.
“We have good contacts with the Gambling Commission at a personal and individual level, but the culture of the organisation has in my opinion become one which does not wish to see any development of our industry,” White argued. “It’s as if the Commission computer says no.”
White went on to voice his “frustration” with a seeming lack of desire for proper engagement and dialogue on the regulator’s part, insisting that, despite the myriad of player-protection initiatives that Bacta has embarked upon of late, the Commission remain doggedly fixated on the singular issue of safer gambling. “Now, there is nothing wrong about us being challenged to do more in this space…it remains central to every business in this room,” said White. “But at the same time we have to have other conversations that allow the industry to innovate. For we all know that if we stand still, we are in fact going backwards.” Indeed, White went so far as to repeatedly claim to be baffled by the total lack of acknowledgement from the regulator as to the “sea-change” of player-protection measures launched by the Bacta membership.
“I don’t understand it but I really would like to,” he told attendees. “I really would, because this industry is a unique and valuable part of Britain’s economy…one that is woven into the very fabric of Britain’s popular culture.”