Firstly it would be churlish of me not to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I do hope that 2020 is a successful and prosperous year for all of you and I look forward to catching up with some of you at the ICE show in London in February.
Last year I suggested that a ‘Low Stake Alliance’ ( LSA) should be formed in the UK between BACTA, the Bingo Association and BALPA. This suggestion seemed to resonate with everyone I subsequently spoke to and pleasingly was also one of the topics discussed in the afternoon at the BACTA Convention.
Whilst I am clearly not privy to the discussions taking place at a senior level in any of these august bodies I do have to say that thus far not much seems to have happened? I don’t know whether any meetings have taken place between the CEOs nor whether there have been any meeting of minds between the three Chairmen. Maybe there was, but if not then I would say that I have never felt more concerned about the future of the industry and that without an Alliance, (formal or otherwise) the ‘Low Stake, High Volume’ sectors of the UK Gaming and Entertainment industry will see themselves increasingly marginalised in the coming year(s).
All of which, (as opposed to simply being a case of Nick Harding droning on again) brings me neatly to the subject matter and to suggest that a first initiative from the LSA could and should be the urgent production of a White Paper that sets out some simple ideas and initiatives that could form the basis of future changes in regulation in the UK, the obvious corollary of which must surely be a new UK Gambling Act.
If you look up White Paper on Google it will tell you that, ‘A White Paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision’.
Given the impressive range of of initiatives already issuing forth from the offices of the newly formed Betting and Gaming Council it is impossible to imagine that Brigid Simmonds’ team is not already well on the way to presenting their own White Paper to government and that this will naturally be written from the perspective of those Companies represented by the BGC. The Low Stake Associations must anticipate this and work swiftly towards creating a balance in the sector and ensure that what might seem to be sensible concessions for regulation proposed by the team in its control tower on the BGC Aircraft carrier don’t create a wake that overwhelms small and medium sized operators bobbing around in their yachts and dinghies.
I know that some of this is repetitive but I don't apologise because as any politician will tell you if you say something often enough it may start to gain some momentum. I do hope that we see the three Associations working towards an agreed White Paper as swiftly as possible and I would also suggest that if a working party is established then they should invite Peter Hannibal from the Gambling Business Group to join the team, he is a very sensible man.