BACTA Conference looks forward

23/11/2012

The mood at this year’s BACTA Convention was one of quiet resignation. The days of railing against MGD are over and the reality of living with it begins. That is not to say that all the finer details of the new taxation have all been worked out yet – one of the issues that was raised several times concerned hybrid machines that feature both amusement and gambling games – how can one possibly work out VAT due on some games played, while paying MGD on others?

Andy Leggett, Deputy Director, Head of Alcohol, Tobacco & Gambling, HMRC couldn’t answer that one but promised that his team would work alongside the industry and use discretion wherever possible. One thing is for sure, the administration involved in managing MGD is going to be no mean feat for operators.

While delegates pondered the imminent new taxation situation, other speakers took a more long-term approach to the various threats and opportunities facing the UK industry. Helmut Kafka, First Vice-President of Euromat and President of the Austrian Association Automatenverband AT gave a fascinating talk on the impossibility of banning unregulated online gambling sites. He illustrated just how easy it is to travel incognito on the net and concluded with the sobering correlation between an over-regulated land-based gambling market and a proliferation of the use of unregulated online gambling.

Peter Bingle, PR guru and public affairs consultant spoke about the next General Election, which will take place in May 2015 and predicted that the current coalition government will dissolve before that date but that a new coalition would form after the election. His advice – we had better start being nice to everyone from all parties as any number of possible alliances could end up being struck!

John Penrose, Former Toursim Minister and MP for Weston-Super-Mare urged BACTA to join forces with other trade bodies in order to have a stronger voice in Westminster, although in the video clip shown by outgoing President Derek Petrie, it was clear that BACTA has achieved much over the past 12 months to highlight the plight of the industry – in particular amusement arcades – faced with the threat of MGD. The words of Petrie, “the end is nigh” appeared again and again on the newspaper clippings shown. But thanks to the work of BACTA and the determination of its members – thankfully Mr. Petrie’s words did not appear to reflect the mood of the delegation present.

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