Trade welcomes news of gaming machine jackpots rising to £25
Jackpots on AWP machines in pubs will rise to £25 early in the new year, the Government has announced.
Minister for sport Richard Caborn (pictured) announced that jackpots on machines in pubs were to be raised from £15 to £25 when he spoke at the annual conference of gaming association BACTA yesterday.
But he warned the trade needs to focus on controlling the use of the machines by children.
"The gambling industry must continue to play an active part in ensuring that the controls against gambling on these machines by children are effective," he said.
He warned that failure to address underage gambling could lead ministers to introduce tougher regulations such as those included in the recent Gambling Review Body report. This recommended restricting the number of AWP machines in newly licensed pubs to two.
"How we take forward the proposals of the Gambling Review will be influenced by how effectively the industry ensures our current voluntary rules work," said Mr Caborn.
"These prize increases will give the industry more flexibility and freedom, but with that freedom goes responsibility. The Government's part in that will be to make sure any future legislative changes strike the right balance for the industry, the vulnerable and the country."
Mark Hastings, spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "It's encouraging that the minister has not only listened but responded to what the trade has been saying. Let's hope he responds in a similar way to what we have been saying about the Gambling Review."
He added that the pub trade was already controlling children's gambling. "We're very effective and there's no evidence that it is pubs that are a problem in this way," he said.
The announcement was the trade's first bit of good news regarding gambling for some time.
The Gambling Review Body recently devastated licensees with its recommendations to reduce gambling in pubs.
The trade is currently fighting the proposals. It has argued for a more relaxed attitude to gambling in pubs, including allowing betting.
Mr Caborn reassured the trade he would not make a decision on the report until spring 2002.
"The pub industry is making strong representations to me which will be factored into the decision," he said.
At last week's conference, BACTA launched its Game On campaign, with the slogan "Don't gamble with gaming".
The campaign is intended to highlight the possible threat to pubs and clubs in the Gambling Review as well as raising the profile of the industry.
BACTA president Keith Smith said: "The campaign is a banner under which we hope the gaming industry can unite. If all the recommendations are enacted they will have a devastating impact on our industry."