Bacta joined forces with a broad range of stakeholders and individuals including the Church of England, The Royal Society for Public Health, numerous local authorities, gambling addicts, reformed addicts and representatives from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons in an unequivocal show of support for a reduction in the maximum FOBT stake to £2.
The All Party Parliamentary Group Impact Event, which was attended by bacta National President Gabi Stergides, Chief Executive John White and a delegation of bacta members, drew on the findings of the influential Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), whose key findings demonstrate the impact of a maximum £2 FOBT stake to be up to 47 percent lower than that suggested by the Government’s initial impact assessment.
Reflecting on last week’s event, which was organised by Carolyn Harris MP (Swansea East) and held in the Palace of Westminster, John White said: “This was a powerful rallying call which brought together otherwise quite diverse groups united in their support for a maximum £2 stake. The event not only demonstrated the breadth of the support but also the intensity of that feeling. The government could not help but to have been moved by the passion of speaker after speaker advocating the necessity of the £2 maximum stake. On the basis of the evidence it is unconscionable to argue for any higher figure. The CEBR findings have served as an impressive counter point to that quoted by the government, which failed to take into account any aspect of income redistribution arising from such a reduction or the costs of addressing the very significant social problems caused by FOBTs.”
Showboat, one of the most established amusement arcades in Great Yarmouth has gone on sale. The arcade on the promenade, Marine Parade, has been trading for more than 40 years. Owners Derek and Carol Ann Smedley bought the business nine years ago and are retiring, albeit reluctantly.
Mr Smedley told local press: “We’re sad to go but the time has come for retirement and hopefully somebody can take it on and keep it going. We’ve really enjoyed it.”During their ownership, the arcade has undergone continual renovations and only recently a £24,000 pusher has been installed.
Mr Smedley said: “We’ve got cranes, fruit machines, pool tables, air hockey, kiddy rides and the pushers, which take colossal money, they do very well. There are all sorts to please all. We’ve spent a lot of money on the arcade renovating it, including having double glazed bifold windows put in.”
Above the arcade is a large three bedroom flat, described as a “tip” when the couple inherited it, however, this too has been fully refurbished.
The Showboat is available on a freehold basis and the £575,000 asking price includes the three bedroom flat above the arcade.
Intelligent Business Transfer are marketing the business. For more information, or to put in an offer call the agents on 0800 612 7718 or email email@example.com
Work has started on a new half a million adventure golf course on Clacton Pier. The course will spread over two floors and is expected to open to the public this summer. It is part of the overhaul of the pier which is costing £4m.
The adventure golf course will be followed by new dodgems, a £500,000 children’s play area and a coffee shop.
Pier director Billy Ball told local press, “By the end of last week, we had around 45 workers, both in-house and outside contractors, pulling out all the stops to catch up some of the many hours lost due to bad weather,” he said.
“I am really pleased with their efforts and a lot has been achieved in terms of installing the new water mains, laying foundations, electric cabling and continuing with the reinstatement of the roof. We are experiencing a great deal of interest in this project, which will make us one of the premier attractions in East Anglia.”
The fiscal cost of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) on the taxpayer is found to be as high as £210 million, research suggests.
Analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), commissioned by bacta, the trade association representing the UK amusements sector, shows B2 machines could be associated with an excess fiscal cost in the hundreds of millions due to the impact on front line services. This annual loss equates to an estimated £1,723 per B2 machine problem gambler.
Hospital inpatient services are the hardest hit, standing at a £116 million loss, corresponding to over half of the total excess fiscal cost. Surprisingly, primary care mental health services appears to be the source of the smallest cost.
Ten Entertainment Group, the second largest ten-pin bowling operator in the UK with a total of 42 sites all trading under the Tenpin brand, has posted a rise in annual profit after it added new sites, boosted footfall at existing sites and sold more products per visitor.
Profit after tax jumped 43% to £5.2m, while adjusted profit grew by 18% to £13.0m on the back of 5.5% growth in sales to £71.0m. On a like-for-like basis, sales grew 3.6%.
The company declared a final dividend of 7p per share, adding to a 3p interim payout.Like-for-like sales in the first 11 weeks of the current financial year were up 1.7%.
‘Inevitably there was a trading impact from the unusual disruption caused by the widespread snow in week nine, resulting in a 1.1% impact on the like-for-like performance,’ the company said. Without the bad weather impact, the business would have achieved like-for-like sales year to date of 2.8%, it added.
As you will have seen in last week’s Spring Statement, the Chancellor mentioned the possibility of getting rid of 1p and 2p coins. On the back of this bacta’s Chief Executive John White took to the airwaves in defence of the 2p coin. Appearing on BBC Today Programme on Thursday 15th, the Jeremy Vine Show, and various radio stations the message was clear – don’t push out our 2ps, noting the devastating impact this would have on seaside pushers and the knock-on effect on the seaside economy.
Bacta put out a statement the following day, “We are delighted to announce that a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office stated last night “There are no proposals to scrap 1p or 2p coins in the consultation that HMT issued yesterday.”
John Bollom, Director of Ameco Arcade at Mumbles Pier also spoke to the press – telling Wales Online that he sees the eventual phasing out of the copper coins as inevitable, “I can’t give you a figure on how much it will cost us (if 2ps are scrapped), but it will be a large number,” he said. “We knew sooner or later that it was going to happen, I will be sorry to see 1p and 2p coins go, it will be a shame. There’s a real nostalgia about coming to the arcade and using the machines, it’s a tradition many families of many generations do.”
Mr Bollom said he had a number of ideas if the change took place. “We are currently trialing Oyster Cards. Customers are able to buy a card and put credit on them to use the machines. This is an option, as well as tokens, but it’s early days. There’s no point in moaning about it, less people are carrying cash on them so we are aware that this was always eventually going to happen.”
International Game Technology PLC holder of the largest slot game feature patent portfolio in North America, announced that it has signed a patent cross-license agreement with the NOVOMATIC Group; a full-service provider in all segments of the gaming industry.
Under the agreement, the NOVOMATIC Group can offer games including patented game features from the IGT portfolio, and will pay ongoing licensing fees to IGT. Financial terms of the agreement are confidential.
“Reaching this cross-licensing agreement with IGT enhances our global expansion strategy with access to compelling product features that have proven to be successful in North America and international markets,” said Thomas Graf, CTO of NOVOMATIC AG (pictured). “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to expand our creative capacity with this vast portfolio of game features.”
“We welcome NOVOMATIC to a comprehensive group of gaming industry leaders who have created a vast resource of game features patents,” said Michael Prescott, IGT Senior Vice President and General Counsel, North America Gaming & Interactive. ”IGT’s collaborative effort to build upon North America’s largest slot game feature patent portfolio now encompasses a global patent pool that we believe can foster continued industry-wide innovation.”
The long-awaited review into B2 stakes was finally revealed this morning and surprise, surprise – the result is an utter fudge designed to try and please everyone but most likely not going to please many – particularly in the retail pub and AGC sector.
Despite recommending that the government lowers the stake to £2 on slot machine style games on B2 – the Commission recommends that ‘casino-style’ games such as roulette – which are far and away the most popular games played on FOBTs be cut to £30 or below. The Guardian newspaper says, “The recommendation is likely to be seen as a victory for bookmakers, who derive more than half of their annual revenues from FOBTs and say a cut to £2 on these games would force shops to close and cost jobs. Shares in William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral rose around 4% after the news.”
However, the Guardian’s Greg Wood claims the battle for a £2 stake is not lost in a later article where he states, “It is also worth noting that while the review recommends a cut to a £2 maximum stake for “slot”-style games on FOBTs, it does not come down firmly for £30 for roulette, which is by far the most popular game on FOBTs. It suggests that it should be “£30 or lower”, and thereby puts the ball very much in the court of Matthew Hancock MP, the culture secretary, who is the politician charged with making the final decision.
“Hancock is a smart operator who will consider the full range of issues – and political implications before he makes his choice. These include the likelihood – indeed, near-certainty – that the next Labour manifesto will echo the pledge in the last one to impose a £2 limit. If Hancock goes with £30 and is seen to cave in to pressure from the retail gambling, it will be a stick that his opponents will beat him with at every opportunity.”
We await bacta’s official position on today’s announcement.
Small gambling businesses are being invited to Gambling Commission workshops as part of a drive to raise standards across the industry.
Operators who run betting shops, bingo halls and arcades are being invited to the events to find out how they can ensure their businesses are fair, safe and crime-free.
Helen Venn, Gambling Commission Programme Director, said: “The aim of the workshops is to engage with smaller operators who may not routinely contact us and to support them in providing gambling facilities that consumers can have trust in.
“The workshop sessions will cover common compliance findings and e-services, assurance statement overview, anti-money laundering risk assessments, multi-operator self-exclusion schemes and local risk assessments.
“There will also be opportunities to ask our compliance team questions during the day.”
The workshops will take place at the Gambling Commission offices in Birmingham on 12 March and at the City Chambers in Edinburgh on3 May. For those not operating near Birmingham and Edinburgh, a webinar is planned for later in the year.
Small operators interested in attending any of these events (including the webinar) are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sega Amusements has plans to create a new arcade in a shopping centre in Westquay, Southampton, according to local press reports.
The unit, which is below a Showcase Cinema is 337sqm unit, currently designated as a cafe or restaurant and council planning chiefs will decide on whether to grant a temporary change of use for five years, with a further five year extension if the arcade is a success.
If plans are accepted, the amusement arcade could create up to six new jobs – four of which would be part time roles.