15th June 2021
- England – The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, yesterday evening confirmed that the final step in the easing of lockdown restrictions would not now take place on 21st June. Instead, the remaining legal restrictions will be in place until the 19th July. There will be a review after two weeks and it is possible restrictions could be lifted then but the emphasis in yesterday’s briefing was clearly pointing towards the later date. This is a disappointment to say the least, with our single site operator members in particular having to wait another month before a significant number of pubs and clubs reopen. The maintenance of social distancing rules are also making it very difficult for our hospitality customers. Arcade operators will need to maintain their policies and procedures in place to minimise Covid transmission risks using the bacta template and guidance, principally social distancing, wearing of face-masks and collecting track and trace data.
- It also makes Age Verification (and policing self-exclusions) that much more difficult – true for all of the Country. Nevertheless it is something operators must continue to do as best they can and bacta’s AV testing of members is now back in full operation on behalf of members. It may be worth giving staff a briefing following yesterday’s news especially as we expect Gambling Commission and Local Authorities to now be looking at their enforcement work.
- And on that topic I have been invited by the Gambling Commission to remind members that now we are re-open it is important that you and your staff have re-acquainted yourself with the all the obligations of the LCCP. It may seem a statement of the obvious, but if the Commission is back into full swing with its enforcement activities it is a sensible precaution. If members need any help with training or indeed any questions at all please get in touch with your local bacta Membership Support Officer.
Gambling Commission Fees – It will come as no surprise that the Government’s proposal to raise the Gambling Commission’s fees has been accepted without amendment following the recent consultation. For the land-based sector fees will therefore rise by an average of 15% from April 2022. As you will recall bacta opposed this increase strongly. It was too much and premature, as in our view enforcement against illegal operators by the Commission, poor in any case, had waned further, and of course we will still be trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic. We are promised an improvement on prosecuting criminals but we will wait to see on that.
Lobbying – We have been busy setting up site visits for MPs to members’ premises. If you are interested in hosting your local MP let us know. We have been in touch with members where we have an MP who wants to pay a visit and have a number of visits now in the pipeline. For example, I am up to Blackpool on Friday to meet with members and their MP Scott Benton, who is the new Chairman of the Betting and Gaming All Party Parliamentary Group. Our meetings with officials continues. With Tourism and Gambling now split within the DCMS we are having to strengthen our ties with the Tourism Team…all the more important now the Tourism Recovery Plan (for England) has been published. We continue to engage with the Scottish Government on their Tourism Recovery Plan and I have a meeting of the Scottish Tourism Association Council today to continue our input.
As always please do pick up the phone if you have any questions or observations you want to share with the bacta team.