The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed the imminent review of pub gaming machine limits, after income from gambling slumped in the first year of the smoking ban.
The BBPA has been campaigning for a change to the Gambling Act 2005 to grant the pub industry a level playing field with gambling outlets.
Changes to the UK’s gambling laws limited the number of fruit machines and quiz machines publicans could have on the premises with a single licence to two, although payout limits increased from £25 to £35.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport plans to review stake and prize levels in the industry by June 2009, but will now conduct an immediate review of the lowest category gaming machines (paying out no more than £5 in prize money).
Mark Hastings, director of communications at the BBPA, said: “It is very good to see DCMS bringing this process forward. There is a strong case for another look at pub gaming machine prizes.
“Following the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005, we need to ensure a level playing field for pubs. We will be putting that case clearly during the consultation process.”
However, sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, said: “While I understand that some parts of the industry are experiencing difficulties, ever increasing stake and prize levels should not be a general solution to the industry's economic problems.”
In January Marston’s said that its machine incomes had fallen by 10% since the introduction of the smoking ban as fruit machine players, often smokers, went elsewhere.
By Christopher Walton
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Published by: The Caterer