In the UK, a leading figure in the gambling sector has stated that 30,000 jobs in the industry are at risk due to ‘delays in policy decisions’ as more and more businesses close every week.
Nick Harding is President for the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA) and also serves as Chief Executive Officer for Praesepe, the firm behind online games site CashinoGaming.com. In an article penned for Monday’s issue of The Time Online entitled Government Should Raise Stakes To Save Gaming Industry, he wrote that, although ‘dithering’ had always been a part of Britain's political culture, time is now rapidly running out for the nation’s amusement arcades alongside the wider pay-to-play leisure industry.
“Far from heralding a liberalisation of the gambling laws, the 2005 Gambling Act has introduced greater regulation for land-based operators yet none for the online casino operators that provide unregulated games for UK players,” read Harding’s piece.
“The tougher regulations have distorted the market, shifted the balance in favour of some sectors at the cost of others and imposed significantly higher fees. Put together with an economy entering recession, changes in consumer leisure patterns and the smoking ban, the industry has been brought to its knees. Seaside arcade revenue is down 21 percent with 136 reported closures since July 2007 with an estimated 850 jobs lost.”
After painting such a dismal picture, Harding stated that the industry does not need or want a multi-million cash bail-out from the Government but only minor changed to current legislation.
“What we need is an adjustment to the maximum stake and prize limits on the most widely used machines to a maximum one-pound stake for a £70 prize,” wrote Harding.
“If we can achieve this, without any political dithering, then I am certain there will be a significant effect on virtually every sector of this industry.”