Joseph Cullis: ‘Easter kick-starts the business year’ 

Bacta Vice President Joseph Cullis, the fourth generation of his family to work in the industry, confirmed: “For some operators Easter will represent their busiest fortnight of their year. Easter kick-starts the business year and a good trading period can stimulate further machine investment in preparation for the summer season.”

Preparations for Easter started some months ago and Joseph is keen that the industry maintains a healthy gap between EAG and what is the first important holiday break of the New Year. “EAG is key to the health of the industry” he stated. “Operators like myself go to the show in order make our final investment decisions and to ultimately back our judgement by placing orders. 

“Acquiring new equipment represents a big investment and I need to ensure that the machines I’ve put my faith in arrive in advance of Easter so I can maximise the return on investment. In practice that means having a healthy gap between EAG and that crucial Easter period, particularly in light of the recent disruptions to shipping and the supply chain.”

Despite the welcome reduction in the rate of inflation to a two-year low, the industry view is that there needs to be a grown-up discussion not just on the cost of living but also on the ‘cost of doing business’. Cullis explained: “Businesses of all sizes are facing huge challenges. The 9.8 percent increase in the National Living Wage which comes straight off the bottom line is a case in point and is compounded by labour shortages and at a local level the increase in business rates.”

The new Bacta with its Amusement Council, Gaming Council and streamlined 11-person National Council has been structured in order to be more responsive to the needs of members and more agile in how it reacts to the challenges the membership faces. “Bacta is a broad church and I think the new structure enables every voice to be heard” he noted. 

“I’ve worked in AGCs and FECs all of my adult life and Bacta is in a really powerful position where it can call on the lived experience of businesses of all sizes and from every part of the UK. 

“For example, it means that we can provide insight on the implications of the increase in the National Living Wage on smaller independents as well as the cumulative impact of rising energy costs on businesses with 100+ venues. 

“All perspectives are relevant and all perspectives enhance Bacta’s case for fair, progressive regulations which allow businesses to be competitive and continue to support economies at national, regional and local levels.”

Reflecting on the progress made by Bacta following the completion of the restructure the trade association’s Vice President said: “Whilst an organisation can always progress at a faster pace, I think the policy decisions taken have been correct and that we are moving in the right direction. 

“Since publication of The White Paper on April 28th 2023 Bacta has been at the heart of the debate and made major contributions representing the interests of low stake, low prize land-based gambling businesses. The new structure has enabled us to respond quickly and to speak with authority on behalf of our members.  Bacta’s role is to protect and promote members interests and the new structure enhances our ability to do exactly that.”