UK: industry bodies welcome government move on land-based gambling reforms


Bacta and the BGC have called for swift implementation.

UK.- Industry bodies have responded positively following the publication of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) response to its land-based gambling consultation. The DCMS announced that it will go ahead with plans to allow debit card gambling and to update gaming machine ratios for land-based venues.

The allowance for category-B gaming machines for small casinos will be increased from 20 to 80 machines per premises licence. A sliding scale will be applied based on the size of gambling area, non-gambling area and machine-to-table ratio. Those venues that choose the increased allowance will pay fees outlined in the 2005 Gambling Act, while those who choose to keep the current limit will continue to pay fees under the 1968 Act.

Meanwhile, the machine-to-table ratio at casinos will be standardised at 5-to-1. Bingo and arcade venues will benefit from a change from the 80/20 ratio to allow “greater commercial flexibility over their product offer of Category B, C and D gaming machines”.

Gambling venues will be required to introduce 18+ age verification on the cash-out of Category-D slot machines, and it will be made a criminal offence to “invite, cause, or permit” someone under the age of 18 to use such machines. The maximum premises licence fees that can be charged by local authorities in England and Wales will rise by 15 per cent.

Industry response

The amusement and gambling hall trade body Bacta, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and Rank Group, owner of Mecca and Grosvenor Casino, all welcomed the news.

Michael Dugher, acting chair and CEO of the BGC, said: “Casinos are a vital pillar of the UK’s leisure, hospitality and tourism sector and we welcome the government’s consultation response which is positive progress on the modest, long-overdue but mission-critical modernisation reforms needed for the land-based casino sector to compete and thrive.

“Casinos currently employ more than 10,000 people, contribute £300m annually in tax and generate an estimated £800m a year to the UK economy. Much needed reforms on cashless payments, gaming machine allocations and allowing all casinos to offer sports betting will strengthen the sector to better meet the needs and expectations of their customers.

“While we welcome these proposals, attention must now shift to the timeline for implementing policy changes and we urge the government to urgently set out a clear timeline for progressing the relevant legislation to make them reality for our members.

“Too many casinos have sadly closed in recent years as successive administrations failed to deliver the changes we needed to protect jobs and growth. The BGC and our fantastic casino members have campaigned for these new measures for years to allow businesses to modernise, innovate and grow, and we strongly welcome the government’s approach to ensure casinos are better placed to make that happen.”

Bacta’s John Bollom praised gambling minister Stuart Andrew. He said: “The minister is to be congratulated for creating the conditions which will allow the land-based sector to go forward. The progress achieved is a testament to the hard work of Bacta and our members in making the case for reform. I would like to thank all the Bacta members who have helped in this campaign which has taken four years.” Bollum added that Bacta would work with the Commission to progress cashless gaming.

Rank Group said the reforms would allow it to “better meet the needs of customers”. Its Grosvenor Casino venues will be able to double their 1,361 B1 gaming machines and plans to add 700 new machines next year.

CEO John O’Reilly said: “Providing the legislation is on the statute books by recess in late July, we are looking forward to improving the customer proposition in our venues with a roadmap of investments and improvements in the months and years that follow. The legislative modernisations cannot come a moment too soon, so we are pleased with the progress contained in today’s announcement.”

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