Member Update – 4th February 2022
- Following the previous round of meetings with the Government and devolved administrations we have had some good news in Scotland – eligibility for the Covid ventilation grant scheme has now been extended to cover amusement arcades. Details can be found here:
- We still have not heard back from the Welsh Government in relation to our latest letter asking for covid business support to be extended to High Street AGCs.
- The general political situation in Westminster has unfortunately seen the departure of Elena Narozanski from the Number 10 Policy Unit. Elena covered the DCMS brief amongst other things and was an important contact for us. We will have to see what Number 10 looks like after the Prime Minister this week revealed that there would be a major overhaul of his office with the creation of an Office of the Prime Minister. Andrew Griffith MP (Arundel) has today been appointed as the ‘Minister’ to lead this new Office and we will engage with him as soon as we can. His constituency covers Worthing so there is some connection with our industry.
- This move should not impact on the (slow) progress of the Gambling Review White Paper. The official line is still that it will be published in the coming months with insiders now predicting a May date. We met with Gambling Commission and DCMS officials this week to talk about electronic payments, one of our key asks in our submission to the Review, and it appears that they are very much coming towards the end of their work. After they have finished, there will be the usual Ministerial write-round/agreement and then Party Managers find a slot on the grid for the Paper to be issued.
- On the substance of the meeting we were able to take officials through the detail of how electronic payments will work on machines. We have codified this and will discuss the detail with the Divisions at the committee meetings on 23rd and 24th February. We will also shortly start work on looking at what technical changes may need to be made to machine standards to accommodate the direct use of electronic payments.
- This week we also met separately with the Commission to discuss the industry’s safer gambling design code. The Commission appreciates the work that has been done over the past 18 months by the working group looking at this under the chairmanship of Mat Ingram of Reflex, but has provided substantial feedback that we will need to consider over the Spring.
- Members may have read in Coin Slot bacta’s response to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s report into the Gambling Commission. In summary we felt the language was unhelpfully colourful. We also did not agree with many of the conclusions. However, there was some powerful testimony from an industry that had been on the receiving end of Gambling Commission treatment. This testimony supported our public concerns that the Commission has not expedited licence applications or variations as it should and that it can be pedantic in the interpretation of its rules. We have also cautioned against ‘regulatory creep’ by the Commission. Our final major concern has been the lack of action by the Commission on crime in the industry which has in our view been nowhere near tough enough, something I raised publicly with the Commission at last year’s Convention. I am pleased to say there seems to have some more robust action on this front recently which we have publicly applauded.
- Finally, can I give a name check to bacta’s new Membership, Compliance and Social Responsibility Manager, Russell Edge, who has taken Bacta and Bacta Self-Exclusion Services Ltd, through a successful audit of the government-backed Cyber Essentials standard. This is an important standard and provides reassurance to members that our cyber security is up to scratch and any personal data we process is secure. Only 0.5% of SMEs hold this accreditation.
As always please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or observations on the above.