Industry bodies ‘disappointed’ with Government decision on pub machine spending cap

01/11/2017 - 06:00
Leading pub industry bodies have spoken out against yesterday’s (31 October) decision by government not to raise the amount customers can bet and win on pub amusement machines.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) called the decision to retain the current stakes and prizes as “disappointing”.

ALMR chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “These proposals, if implemented, would miss a much-needed opportunity to assist pubs at a time of an unprecedentedly tough trading environment.

“Amusement machines can be the lifeline for pub operators, who are facing so many rising costs such as business rates, beer duty and employment costs.

“Pub customers are able to gamble much larger stakes on their phones, so we believe it would be preferable that such activity is more visible and therefore better regulated.”

BBPA chief Brigid Simmonds agreed on the importance and potential of the machines.

“It is disappointing that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is not proposing an increase in either stakes or prizes for pub machines, as we had proposed," said Simmonds

“As today’s report does recognise our evidence on the important role that machines play in pubs, this should be backed up with modest increases in stake and prize levels.

“Proportionate increases would keep machines as low-stake entertainment, whilst remaining attractive for pubgoers, so that they can continue to provide this valuable income stream for pubs.”

The ALMR said it was also disappointed that the Government had not considered increasing pubs’ automatic entitlement of two machines to four.

“This straightforward move would have unlocked a potential revenue stream for pubs without undermining social responsibility work being done by venues," said Nicholls.

While limits on the category C and D amusement machines allowed in pubs are being retained, a 12-week consultation on stake reduction on larger-stake betting machines was announced by gambling minster, Tracy Crouch, to “better protect consumers and communities.”

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