Jottings…Simon Storer – Head of Communications bacta
When the Gambling Commission revised the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice last year, one of the big changes it demanded, was the way by which the industry would provide a self-exclusion service to all its customers.
Self-exclusion is not new to bacta members and an opportunity for customers to self-exclude has been available for some time, albeit on an individual arcade basis. The big difference in this latest change, is that from now on the industry is required to offer an exclusion service that will allow an individual customer to exclude him or herself from a number of similar arcades within a specified area.
As another step on the long road of social responsibility, on the face of it this development is not particularly unreasonable, although the average number of exclusions from Adult Gaming Centres is just one and a half exclusions per arcade per year. So in terms purely of cost benefit analysis, this would be pretty difficult to justify, but as I am beginning to understand, the demands that are made of this sector are frequently quite different from other less controversial sectors.
The devil, of course is in the detail and developing an industry wide solution that is efficient, useable and cost effective proved to be much more of a challenge than it first appeared. Not helped by the relatively short time-scale in which to agree, develop and implement a scheme and in my opinion the fundamental error of allowing rival schemes into the market place.
None the less, following the relatively short and admittedly painful gestation period, bacta successfully launched its self-exclusion scheme last month with great fan-fare and with great support from across the industry. We met the deadline so that the AGC sector could be compliant within the LCCP requirements.
Our scheme is run by bacta Self-Exclusion Services Ltd (BSESL) and is an easy to use web-based scheme, free for all AGC operators until the end of September 2016. As required, it allows an AGC operator to provide the opportunity to anyone who wishes to self-exclude themselves, to do so from all AGCs in a particular specified locality.
So there you have it, for those who think they are spending too much time or money gambling in an Adult Gaming Centre all the support and advice they need to help them break the cycle is available. From trained staff, advice helplines, take away leaflets, explanatory websites and extensive literature, the customer is being given unprecedented support from within the industry. All good stuff of course and we sincerely hope that this will provide the support and improve the environment for those who need the help; problematic and problem gamblers are in no one’s interest, not least the problem gambler themselves or the AGC.
Social responsibility really has to be at the heart of all we do as a sector. And bacta is very serious in helping our members understand the importance of this, not just because it plays well with opinion formers, legislatures and our detractors, but because importantly it is commercially beneficial, which in the current economic climate has to be a key driver.
But the flip side to this is that we need a progressive and supportive response from both the Gambling Commission and the government. We have come a long way and will continue on that journey but they need to acknowledge this by helping us implement a progressive and modern approach to our business model. Working with the industry to allow innovative improvements, technical developments, increased game times, and yes a review upwards of stakes and prizes is not much to ask in the light of all other challenges and the considerable pressures our sector faces.
The 2016 Triennial Review is the vehicle for these changes and it must be underway later this year. The industry is doing its bit, it is time for others to do theirs and to balance their demand upon us for regulatory change with our desire to develop to innovate and to improve.