iGB Diary: ID, North-East, catering tips and trade bodies

| By Hannah Gannage-Stewart
In this week's diary; an identity crisis, the Wirral, extra influence and teaming up!

This week the Campaign to Stop Internet Gambling has an identity crisis, the Wirral fears the loss of its bookies, iGB’s Most Influential Women turbo charge their influence and trade bodies get together.

Identity crisis
The Campaign to Stop Internet Gambling could probably do with a new name, after it used yesterday’s House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation to talk about how it states can earn revenue from legal online sports betting and gambling. Perhaps Campaign counsel Jon Bruning went off-script, perhaps the Sheldon Adelson-backed group is softening. It’s hard to say, especially as Bruning then called for the Wire Act to be restored, which going by the Coalition’s past statements, would ban online sports betting and gambling. At this rate we’ll need to launch a Campaign to Understand What the Hell the Campaign to Stop Internet Gambling is Talking About.

Trouble in the North-East
The Wirral has lost a grand total of five bricks and mortar gambling businesses since 2010, according to a data journalist at the local paper the Wirral Globe today. Local industry experts put the closures down to “the rising number of punters gambling online and the increasing costs of rents”. The Diary can’t help wondering how many pubs have closed in the Wirral over the last eight years? We’d putting money on it being more than five. According to figures from the Campaign for Real Ale great British boozers pubs were closing at a rate of 29 per week across the country in 2014. That figure has since slowed to two per day. But could bookies end up going the same way? According to the Wirral’s data journo the Association of British Bookmakers is expecting a rapid decline following the government’s decision to cut the maximum bet at FOBTs from £100 to £2. A spokesperson from the association said: “We anticipate that between 3,000 and 4,000 betting shops will close on high streets and in town centres across the country by 2020. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 high street jobs could be lost,” a spokesperson is reported to have said. “High street betting shops also face similar issues to other retailers, like competition from other forms of gambling, and the increasing costs of rent and business rates.” Now we just need to work out how to transfer a pint through the internet.

Force for good
The women featured in iGB’s Most Influential Women feature earlier this year (July/August Issue 111) came together for the first time last Friday to celebrate their contributions to the industry and discuss ways to improve access for women and other minorities. The dinner was hosted by Odgers Berndtson in conjunction with the All-In Diversity project and iGB. Women present included the National Casino Forum’s Tracy Damestani, Konstandina Zafirovska from BtoBet and Irina Cornides from JackpotJoy. It is hoped that the event will be the first of more to come, offering a business network, discussion forum for diversity initiatives and a mentoring scheme for underrepresented newcomers to the industry. So what did iGB learn at the dinner? First and foremost, that the most influential women in our industry are committed to creating a more level playing field for all genders and backgrounds in gaming… but also, that Odgers have some really rather swanky in-house catering! Who knew?

Odd one out?
With the government’s FOBT intervention having underlined the need for the UK gaming industry to act in a more joined up way to fight upcoming regulatory battles, consolidation talks between several of the main industry associations are reportedly afoot. The RGA is apparently speaking to the ABB, and the casino and bingo associations are also reportedly in the mix. Although talks are still in the preliminary ‘You dancin’? You askin’?’ phase, the Diary understands one big name is conspicuous by its absence. Which is Bacta, ostensibly due to the dedicated campaign it wagered against FOBTs alongside the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. But given this competitive threat will soon be massively diminished, this seems rather myopic and short-sighted on Bacta’s behalf (and possibly by the ABB if it’s still feeling bitter about the whole affair). Does Bacta really want to be left out all on its tod as the only outlier if the other organisations do manage to get it together? Come on guys, let’s move on in the interests of the industry.

That's all for this week igamers – have a wonderful weekend!

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