Optimism is back with Triennial Review – Nick Harding

09/11/2011

Following hard on the heels of the reintroduction of the £2 maximum stake on B3 gaming machines comes the announcement from the Gambling Minister (John Penrose) that it is his intention to reintroduce the ‘Triennial review’ of stakes and prizes for the UK gaming machine sector. The decision by the last Labour government to remove the Triennial review process (which had been so successful for over thirty years) was a pernicious act by an incompetent administration and one, which almost closed the UK manufacturing sector down.

Production fell over seven years from over 80,000 units annually to around 10’000 with a significant consequential loss of jobs. In fact a good friend of mine closed the doors of his factory only three weeks ago, a business which had employed over 200 people for nearly 25 years. So, just in the nick of time it looks as though we will see a new Triennial process and operators and manufacturers alike will be able to plan R&D, production and sales around an established three year process.

 Hopefully, the announcement by the Minister will mean that we will see a review next year, not in three years time, but we will deal with that in due course. In the meantime there is certainly cause for celebration. Continuing on the subject of gaming machines we held our annual ‘Machines Symposium’ in Milton Keynes last week. Over twenty representatives of UK manufacturers and software suppliers spent the morning with our Operations and Business Development teams to discuss a wide range of issues led by our Head of Gaming Machines, Nigel Davies who gave a presentation that covered all aspects of the first 100 days of implementation of the new B3 machines.

He then went on to outline the Praesepe ‘wish list’ for changes to not only B3 games but also Category C and D. On which subject I am also delighted to note that on the 7th November we are expecting ratification by the Gambling Commission to a raft of significant changes to the way that we can operate Category C games and although we are unlikely to see much in the way of implementation until early in 2012 nevertheless I do feel as if the Gaming Machine sector is finally starting to move up, having seemingly bumped along the bottom since 2007 when the 2005 Gambling Act was implemented. The obvious point to remember about our business in particular is that we are very operationally geared with a fixed cost base.

This means that when you lose revenue, or fail to grow it, the effect is significant but of course the reverse is true and if we assume that 2012 is going to benefit not only from the continued contribution from B3 games, but now also ‘new format’ Category C games then we should be very optimistic as to the effect of these changes.

Nick Harding November 5th 2011

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