Good morning. I’m delighted to hitch you right this moment forward of a large ranging dialogue about the way forward for the arcade and amusement sector.
I need to begin by telling you one thing that after all you already know: the financial advantages of the arcade and amusement sector are big. The sector produces a collective financial turnover of £1.6 billion and helps hundreds of jobs throughout the UK.
From the arcades supporting our excessive streets and seaside cities, to the only website operators and producers, all of those play a major function in supporting employment and serving to our native economies thrive.
Our white paper, which we printed earlier this 12 months, recognised the significance of the sector. It outlined our ongoing dedication to supporting you after a difficult few years following COVID-19 and rising vitality costs. We hope that the measures we’re taking will allow the sector to proceed to function sustainably now and over the approaching years.
I recognise the industrial challenges you might be going through, and I imagine that the modernising measures we’re taking will assist to help that transfer in direction of a brighter future.
Lots of you right here right this moment might be eager to know the progress we’ve got made on the land-based playing proposals set out in that white paper.
Final month we closed the federal government’s land-based playing session, which included our proposals for the reform of the 80/20 rule, the introduction of direct cashless funds on gaming machines, and our dedication to introducing an age restrict on ‘money out’ Class D slot model machines – one thing which I do know Bacta members already adhere to.
The session sought views on a spread of coverage proposals, which had been designed to help the arcade and amusement sector. I wish to personally thank all of you who’ve responded. The proof you provided is crucial for guaranteeing that authorities coverage is evidence-led, and takes into consideration the actual world impression that these insurance policies could have on the day-to-day operations of your companies.
I might additionally prefer to thank Bacta for his or her continued engagement all through the session course of. By bringing collectively a various vary of voices, and representing its members so successfully, Bacta is ready to present useful perception to us. This offers us with the arrogance that we’re listening to the views of the sector as a complete.
By way of the proposals themselves, I recognize that a lot of you’ll be keen to know what occurs subsequent. I’m afraid that you will want to attend just a little longer for the federal government response to verify our chosen coverage route.
Nonetheless, I wish to reiterate that the intention behind all of our proposals is to make sure that business can function sustainably now and into the long run, while additionally guaranteeing that there are acceptable safeguards in place to guard the minority of shoppers who expertise playing associated hurt.
I might particularly prefer to thank the Playing Fee and native licensing authorities for his or her work in making a regulatory surroundings which minimises the chance of playing associated hurt, making Nice Britain one of many world leaders on the subject of requirements.
I perceive Andrew Rhodes might be talking to you later right this moment and I’m certain he might be getting a little bit of a grilling, as I’m certain I’m.
I do know that the reform of the 80/20 rule is of great curiosity to a lot of you right here right this moment.
Our white paper and session recognised that the 80/20 ratio of low to medium stake gaming machines is not match for objective.
We totally recognise that you just imagine that this present ratio doesn’t permit you to meet buyer demand, and that this has led to the upkeep of enormous numbers of machines, that are underused however vitality intensive. This case is undesirable for each companies and the buyer.
We subsequently proposed to modernise this ratio to raised mirror buyer demand. However we’ve got a duty to make sure that prospects are offered with a real provide of decrease stake playing alternatives in an effort to preserve a protected playing surroundings.
To assist inform determination making round industrial flexibility and a genuinely balanced product provide, we’ve got sought further proof. This consists of the session in addition to an business information request in regards to the use and performance of various classes of machines. My division and I are extraordinarily grateful to Bacta and different commerce our bodies for his or her willingness in sharing such proof. The information we’ve got obtained will assist be certain that our insurance policies proceed to be proof led, and we are going to take into account it alongside the session responses to reach at a balanced and measured resolution.
I recognize the issues that John has raised relating to Choice 2 and the robust views which have been expressed about this proposal. That’s the reason, partially, to make this coverage a hit, it has been important to assemble a wider vary of proof via a rigorous session course of. That’s the reason we additionally consulted on eradicating the 80/20 rule fully. This course of will present us with the arrogance that our coverage modifications will ship on the white paper priorities of modernising the sector, whereas sustaining acceptable safeguards in opposition to playing hurt.
I’m certain a lot of you’ll be happy to see that the federal government has dedicated to permitting cashless funds to be made on gaming machines.
Fee strategies have shifted considerably in recent times, with many shoppers on the excessive avenue not carrying money as they used to. Having visited Novomatic and Merkur’s excessive avenue arcade venues in Hammersmith, I recognize that there are methods for patrons to make use of their card via issues like ticket-in-ticket-out machines.
Nonetheless, the present prohibition on the direct use of debit playing cards on machines is out of step with how folks count on to have the ability to pay for issues. The flexibility to make use of debit playing cards on gaming machines is a mandatory modernisation to make sure that the sector is ready to sustain with altering shopper preferences.
As you’ll recognize, such a major transition won’t be achieved in a single day. There might be technical challenges that producers and operators might want to work via collectively.
Nonetheless, we are going to set out a framework of minimal requirements that have to be adhered to if a machine is to just accept direct cashless funds. Central to this framework is the necessity to guarantee robust participant protections are in place to safeguard in opposition to playing hurt.
The proof offered via session has been extraordinarily useful in shaping our ideas on this and we are going to set out extra particulars within the authorities’s response to the session.
The ultimate measure which I wish to contact on is our dedication to introducing an age restrict on ‘money out’ Class D slot model machines. This measure is crucial for guaranteeing that youngsters and younger individuals are not uncovered to the dangers related to underage playing.
As Bacta members, I wish to thank all of you for main the way in which on this problem. The voluntary ban undertaken by Bacta members on beneath 18s in 2021 was an vital step ahead.
We at the moment are legislating on this to make sure that all venues, together with these exterior of the Bacta membership, adhere to those requirements.
I’m conscious that a few of you’ve got expressed issues about any potential requirement that these machines could also be moved to an age-restricted space. I wish to reassure you that we’ve got made no such proposal to do that. We recognise the worth of sustaining these machines on the flooring of Household Leisure Centres for using adults, whereas their youngsters get pleasure from penny pushers and the assorted different amusements that these venues have to supply.
I’m certain a lot of you might be eager for additional readability on the measures and an understanding of the timelines for implementation. My officers are at the moment analysing the responses submitted via session. We intend to publish the federal government’s response in early 2024, which is able to define our exact coverage route on all of those points.
All the measures outlined above would require secondary laws, and we intend to take the mandatory steps to implement these measures by summer season 2024. As with all secondary laws, these timelines might be depending on parliamentary time.
Along with the land-based session, we additionally lately launched a session on the statutory levy, the third session that we dedicated to delivering within the white paper.
The introduction of the statutory levy is a vital counterpart to the broader suite of regulatory protections we and the Playing Fee are implementing. Whereas we might all agree that we need to forestall hurt earlier than it happens, it is usually essential that the general public has entry to the precise assist if and after they may want it, and that regulation is knowledgeable by high quality and well timed analysis.
I need to see elevated, unbiased, sustainable funding to be directed the place it’s wanted most. It will be certain that folks throughout our nation could make knowledgeable choices about their playing and know the place to show for help ought to they want it. Now we have proposed a levy price of 0.1% to be paid by land-based arcades, which is lower than the speed proposed for on-line playing operators, betting outlets and casinos. We imagine that that is proportionate method and mustn’t place undue burden on the sector.
As for the producers, single-site operators and distributors, I perceive your concern relating to the proposed 0.4% levy price. The laws is obvious that the levy must be paid by all these with a licence. Nonetheless, we would like the construction to be clear, truthful and proportionate. We’re eager to listen to from business and can take all proof we obtain into consideration when making a closing determination.
That session closes on 14 December and, should you haven’t accomplished already, I encourage you all to submit a response.
Thanks as soon as once more for inviting me to talk right this moment, and I hope that the remainder of right this moment’s discussions are productive. I hope that in my time because the Minister I’ve proven that my door is open and it’ll stay open as we proceed to ship what I hope would be the proper insurance policies for a sustainable future.
I’ll now be joined by Sarah Fox, DCMS’s Deputy Director for Playing and Lotteries. We’d be very completely happy to take any questions you’ll have in regards to the playing overview and the measures the federal government is taking to help the sector.