BGC, Rank and Bacta welcome DCMS proposals for land-based gambling

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The Betting and Gaming Council, Rank Group and Bacta have shown their support for the land-based gambling proposals published by the UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The DCMS published the new regulations in response to a consultation regarding measures relating to the land-based gambling sector from the April 2023 gambling white paper.

After reviewing the consultation responses, the DCMS intends to increase the number of gaming machines allowed at certain land-based casinos to 80 and more than 20 for smaller casinos; allow a 2:1 ratio of Category B to Category C and D gaming machines in arcades and bingo halls; allow direct debit card payments on gaming machines; introduce an age limit of 18 and over for the use of ‘cash-out’ Category D slot-style gaming machines; and increase the maximum chargeable premises licence fees.

The next step for these regulations will be for them to be presented before Parliament.

BGC – ‘much needed reforms’

In response to the DCMS’ proposals, BGC CEO Michael Dugher said that the council welcomes the changes, stating that cashless payments, additional gaming machines and sports betting inside casinos will help the industry meet the needs of customers.

Dugher noted: “Casinos are a vital pillar of the UK’s leisure, hospitality and tourism sector and we welcome the Government’s consultation response which is positive progress on the modest, long-overdue but mission critical modernisation reforms needed for the land-based casino sector to compete and thrive.

“Casinos currently employ more than 10,000 people, contribute £300m annually in tax and generate an estimated £800m a year to the UK economy.

“Much needed reforms on cashless payments, gaming machine allocations and allowing all casinos to offer sports betting will strengthen the sector to better meet the needs and expectations of their customers.”

Rank – ‘modernisations cannot come a moment too soon’

Rank Group also expressed its approval of the proposals, with CEO John O’Reilly noting that the modernisations will help its venues.

He stated: “Today’s Government response to the land-based consultation is good news for Rank. Providing the legislation is on the statute books by recess in late July, we are looking forward to improving the customer proposition in our venues with a roadmap of investments and improvements in the months and years that follow. 

“The legislative modernisations cannot come a moment too soon, so we are pleased with the progress contained in today’s announcement.”

Dugher has also requested for the government to provide guidance on when these new regulations will come into effect for the land-based gambling industry.

The BGC CEO said: “While we welcome these proposals, attention must now shift to the timeline for implementing policy changes and we urge the Government to urgently set out a clear timeline for progressing the relevant legislation to make them reality for our members.

“Too many casinos have sadly closed in recent years as successive administrations failed to deliver the changes we needed to protect jobs and growth. The BGC and our fantastic casino members have campaigned for these new measures for years to allow businesses to modernise, innovate and grow, and we strongly welcome the Government’s approach to ensure casinos are better placed to make that happen.”

Bacta – cashless play by 2025

Bacta also welcomed the DCMS proposals, with President John Bollom noting that the organisation will work with the UK Gambling Commission to introduce cashless play for next year.

Bollom stated: “This is a good day. The Minister is to be congratulated for creating the conditions which will allow the land-based sector to go forward. The progress achieved is a testament to the hard work of Bacta and our members in making the case for reform. 

“I would like to thank all the Bacta members who have helped in this campaign which has taken four years. 

“We hope that Parliament will give a smooth passage to these proposals, so they are passed into law before the General Election. Bacta will actively engage with Gambling Commission officials to ensure the introduction of cashless play in 2025.”