Why gaming machines need political help to go cashless

Why gaming machines need political help to go cashless

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
MPs have been asked to help the gaming machine market by updating the rules

UK politicians have been told that the gaming machine market for adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres and single site venues such as pubs, needs their help in order to survive.

John Appleton, director of electronic leisure at the pub group Mitchell's & Butler, told a gathering of MPs that machine legislation needs updating. 

Speaking at a seminar on gaming machines put on by the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group, Appleton said the sector was hampered by the current rules. 

He explained: “For gaming machines to have a long term future cashless payment options will be required; enabled by legislation. The rapid rate at which technology is moving means that a reliance on polymer bank notes and coins is not a happy prospect. 

Appleton pointed out that ‘Tap & Go’, and the likes of ‘apple pay’, are used more and more to make purchases, only that route was not available to machine operators.

"We are increasingly and rapidly becoming a cashless society,” he said. “Pubs need in the future, and before very long, the ability for gaming machines to take cashless payment. This should only be debit payments. We do not want credit payment as that is the responsible approach. Protection for the vulnerable has to be in place for any payment method.”

John White, CEO of coin-op trade association BACTA, also appealed for Parliamentary help, not least the instigation of the delayed review into machine stakes and prizes. 

White explained that The ‘triennial review’ was vital for the future well being of the sector. “Unlike any other sector I can think of, our product has its maximum price fixed by law. Every single cost to a machine operator therefore comes straight off the bottom line, it can’t be passed on.

“Electricity costs, staff costs since the introduction of the living wage, the upcoming cost of conversion to the new £1 coin and new polymer notes – they just have to be absorbed and for some it will be business critical unless we can see the review coming which itself will take probably 18 months to complete from start to finish.”

White would also like to see some flexibility in the machine categories to enable the machine manufacturers to come up with something innovative and entertaining for the market. 

Totally Gaming Says: “Persuading politicians to make changes benefiting the gambling industry is a difficult ask at the best of times, but that's where the gaming machine operators find themselves because of how the legislation is written. The sensible solution would be to make the Gambling Commission responsible for changes like this, giving politicians the chance to distance themselves."

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