BactaPortal: Putting Social Responsibility front and centre

Bacta has launched its latest member information resource – the bactaPortal. Steph Norbury talks us through the initiative and explains how it works and how it delivers a ‘more joined-up approach’.


What does social responsibility look like? It’s a term that is widely used in our industry, along with ‘player protection’. However, it can be difficult to define or separate the reality of regulatory requirements with the common-sense actions that are often deployed by arcade operators who understand their customers and go the extra mile to ensure they are playing with their limits and their comfort zone.

LCCP Guidelines already require operators of gaming machines to follow a set of steps in recording their interactions with their customers, and which may ultimately lead to self-exclusion. Until now, this has been a paper-based system, with forms to fill in by staff and all the attendant issues of protecting the data and ensuring access to it at the right levels.

Bacta has spent significant resources in both time and financial investment in putting the process onto a web-based platform which can be accessed by any internet-enabled device – by those with the relevant credentials. Enhancing the current digital self-exclusion system, which has been re-written to improve stability and functionality, the new Customer Interaction-led approach sits perfectly on a tablet and is compliant with GDPR and meets all LCCP requirements.

By putting the processes of customer interaction on a web-based system, they are now more intuitive to use. This means that staff entering the data can do what they need to do more easily; cannot skip vital fields that require their attention, and are able to view the information entered by colleagues on other shifts in a much more comprehensible way. Put simply, the bactaPortal will allow arcades to log all their relevant conversations with players – so that everyone who comes into contact with that player knows their status and if additional monitoring is required. If players wish to take actions, such as a break from playing for a period of time – all staff will be aware of this and will be able to help support them. If a path of self-exclusion is followed, the online system allows bacta members and their customers to agree a self-exclusion time and location.

“We know that these kinds of interactions with players are already happening in AGCs run by our members. Staff know their customers and support them in whatever way they can,” says John White, bacta CEO. “What the bactaPortal allows, is for a more joined-up approach. No matter who is on duty on whatever shift, they can easily see the status of interactions with their players or receive alerts about people who have self-excluded within their area. It is a valuable tool for staff training and essentially it helps operators support their staff in supporting players.”

Elizabeth Speed, General Counsel for Novomatic UK and Chair of bacta’s Social Responsibility Committee agrees: “The bactaPortal is a tool which will support AGC staff in respecting the playing preferences of their customers in a responsible, timely way – while protecting their privacy, which is essential. The LCCP Guidelines are a requirement by law and entail a number of processes which need to be followed and logged. We believe that the bactaPortal will be ideal in supporting our staff and our customers in protecting vulnerable customers.”

AGCs will be the last non-essential retail outlets to open on the high street on May 17 – a fact that bacta has highlighted as being unfair to Government since the reopening roadmap was first announced. “There has been a lot of frustration over nonsensical decisions regarding lockdowns and reopenings for AGCs throughout the pandemic,” says John White. “We can only conclude that there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the very nature of this kind of business. When Government representatives express concern over player numbers and ‘dwell times’ for example – do they really comprehend that on average there are probably fewer than 10 people playing in an AGC at any given time? These are not high footfall, big gambling venues – they are quiet, well-run, attractive places where adults can play low stake, low jackpot games.”

While the bactaPortal is most definitely not an industry PR exercise, it does enable the industry to demonstrate how it is putting social responsibility front and centre within these locations.

“Arguably, we have to work harder than other sectors of the industry on public perception due to an apparent lack of understanding about what we offer, despite the fact that adult only arcades have been a mainstay of high streets and visits to town centres for many decades. When you talk about casinos – people think of Las Vegas, betting shops have the horse racing connection and seaside arcades are associated with childhood holidays. We have always put our social responsibility front and centre in everything we do and our continued efforts to go above and beyond can only help to ensure that regulators and the wider public really start to understand the quality of our offer,” concludes Speed.

As the bactaPortal settles into the industry, more features will make it increasingly useful to members and their staff. “The bactaPortal will shortly allow members to record all Age Verification challenges, allow members to provide intelligence to other members about suspected criminal activity in the locality and to record all the risk assessments and other logs digitally for the first time.’’, notes John White. “I am convinced this will be a game-changer for the industry in managing so many aspects of their operation when it launches in June – and all at a cost of just over a £1 a week.”



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