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The below letter is from John White, CEO of bacta, the trade body which represents seaside arcades and adult gaming centres across the UK.
Congratulations on your appointment as Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy. We enjoyed a positive working relationship with your predecessor, Chris Philp MP, and look forward to enjoying a similarly productive relationship with you and your team.
The upcoming review of the 2005 Gambling Act provides a vital opportunity to update legislation to reflect the modern and rapidly changing nature of the industry. The result must be a system which delivers the most socially responsible products, provides the Gambling Commission with the powers it needs, and is fit for purpose in the 21st Century.
As you know, bacta represents the amusement machine industry and supply chain. From creating jobs on the high street, permanent and seasonal work at the seaside, and high-tech manufacturing jobs in the supply chain, the amusement and gaming industry drives economic growth and spreads prosperity to all corners of the UK. Indeed, we provide economic activity in some of the most deprived areas of the country. We are also the sector that provides juke boxes, fruit machines and pool tables to pubs and clubs helping to support what is now, sadly, a dwindling number of venues. You will know both from when we met a few years ago and from direct correspondence that our sector is an important contributor to the local economy in Folkestone.
It is vital that the upcoming Review recognises the importance of the land-based sector to the wider industry, whilst also taking steps to ensure that those businesses on our high streets, seafronts and across the supply chain are given the support they need to flourish.
Ahead of the publication of the Review, which we have heard could be as soon as next week, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our views on the Review and how it can support our members.
We were concerned by reports last month that the White Paper may not support our ask to allow debit card transactions for gaming machines in venues. It is our view that, while the Review is supposed to be about bringing the act into the digital age and redressing the balance between online and offline, such a move disadvantages members like ours, and stands in contrast to the wider societal trends towards cashless payments. This was a view we set out in a letter to the Prime Minister last week, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you directly.
I hope you will be available to meet with us ahead of the publication of the Review, and look working with you in your new role.