Triennial review proves that the devil is always in the detail

Triennial review proves that the devil is always in the detail

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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The DCMS made strong hints about player tracking for B3 machines

The main focus of attention on the recent triennial review of machine stakes and prizes may have been trained on the curtailment of B2 stakes, but it was not all good news for games that fall into the B3 category.

In its assessment of the machine segment, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hinted strongly that improvements in player protection will be required going forward, with player tracking considered as a possible means.

The department noted: “Category B3 is the fastest growing gaming machine category in terms of Gross Gambling Yield (GGY). At consultation stage, the Government highlighted the level of growth associated with these machines and player protection concerns.

Research by GambleAware into bingo halls and NatCen in relation to LBOs was referenced and showed not insignificant levels of problem gambling amongst players of these machines.

“Gaming machine data, obtained by the Commission, demonstrated comparability of B3 machines with B2s on session losses and duration, albeit not at the very high levels of losses. We therefore asked the Commission to consider taking forward additional player protection measures on these machines, in line with what is set out above in regards to B1 machines.”

Drawing on findings from the Gambling Commission, the DCMS said: “Despite some gaps in the evidence needed to fully assess costs and benefits, the Commission’s view was that there is a strong case in principle to make tracked play mandatory across Category B1, B2 and B3 machines, with the possibility of running a trial to get a better understanding of the costs and challenges associated with its implementation.”

In its executive summary, the DCMS also offered a view on contactless payments on gaming machines and hinted again about player tracking, saying that it was not minded to contactless on the grounds of concerns about player protection.

“However,” it added, “we encourage industry to continue its engagement with the Commission so that it can keep pace with technological change in regard to payment methods, including potential alignment with work that the Commission will be doing in regard to tracked play.”

Totally Gaming says: It’s a cliché, but the devil really is in the detail where government policy and gaming machines appear in the same document. That B3 machines have been compared even tenuously to B2s is indicative of how toxic the debate over FOBTs had become. The upshot for the gaming machine sector as a whole is the prospect of tighter regulation, more stringency in regard to player protection and, presumably, a capping of stakes, prizes and allocations for the foreseeable future. If that doesn’t force a more collegiate approach from all concerned, we’re not sure what will!

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