I have been honoured to be a past president of Bacta and am currently the president of Euromat the European gaming and amusement federation. I am a 4th generation showman and 4 generations of my family have operated amusement arcades. I spent all my life in arcades , in the beginning when my family operated family entertainment centres at the sea side I would be in a Pram in the cash desk while my mum gave change. I have always been in this industry and its an industry I know and love and I am an AGC operator myself. So, you could say I have the experience to comment on our industry, but most of the time the comments have been as president of Bacta or President of Euromat but I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you from me Jason Frost
The Industry is facing consultation on a new gaming act to replace the 2005 act. With the situation we are all in with Covid-19 I wonder when this will happen ? . One thing I do think is that change may be for the better.
Gambling on the high street comes in many forms, LBO,s are moving towards self-service betting terminals where punters can place a bet on a terminal and watch the match or race on the screens in the venue and they can play on a B3 machine if they wish. High Street Bingo clubs offer bingo where players can play bingo and also have the ability to play many categories of gaming machines ranging from 10p to £2 maximum stake, they can also serve alcohol and have a coffee bar on the premises. Bingo Clubs offer the standard bingo games as we know them and also have AGC’s within them offering slots. And the AGC where we can offer slots ranging from 10p to £2 maximum stake. All these venues are only available to persons over 18 years old.
There is lots of cross over in these venues and players will often frequent all of them. So why couldn’t a Gaming venue on the high street offer all the forms of gaming that are currently available in the different locations?
There is a very successful model in Spain where AGC’s are also able to offer sports betting on site. Most of the sites I have seen in Spain have self-service betting terminals in the front of the venue often supplied on a profit share basis by the large sports betting companies. The reason for this was when LBO’s were legalised in Spain they had to be on a licenced premise, so the model worked and made sense to join up with the AGC operators and combine the sports betting with the AGC. It’s a great model for the LBO’s because they reduce the cost of being on the high street while still having customer facing businesses.
In the UK, wouldn’t this make sense?
So, take this as an example:
You enter an AGC and in the front of the shop there are TV screens on the wall showing sports events and there are 4 self-service betting terminals where customers can place a bet up to a maximum bet of £20. There is a coffee bar with seating where customers can take time out and enjoy a coffee and something to eat and the usual AGC offering as we know it today with stakes on the machines from 10p up to £2. Customers could also play bingo in the same way as they do today in High Street bingo clubs. There could be another area where players would have to perform an enhanced registration process where they could then play on terminals that would be effectively on line and giving a higher stake and prize equal to that available on line, whatever that may be. To play these terminals they would have to deposit money in the same way as they would on line. This way you would have all the KYC and checks in place and player tracking that on line currently has but you would have the enhanced protections of having staff in the venue with eyes on the customer as well.
All of the above are currently available on the high street but in different venues, apart from the on line offering which is actually available anywhere to anyone over 18 with a smart phone that can access the internet.
Who knows what the “New Normal” will be after Covid-19 has left us, but It seems to me that this would be a better way to manage the betting and gaming offering on the high street. I believe it would be more efficient for the regulator to regulate a venue of this type and ultimately and most important of all better for the customer as all the social responsibility measures are the same across the various sectors and best practice would be shared.
Let’s think of what the future could look like and lets talk about it so people hear.