Gamestec, which supplies c.30,000 machines, predominantly to pubs, told the Department of Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) that the current system pub companies having approved supplier lists gives tenants confidence that the supplier is a “fit and proper” firm to deal with.
BIS has proposed outlawing the AWP tie as part of its proposed statutory pubco code.
Gamestec commercial director Peter Davies said: "To become a licensed machine operator carries significant cost and it is our firm belief and concern that removal of the machine tie would open the pub market to ‘rogue’ and ‘illegal’ operators who will cut corners, operate without the required licences and supply dangerous and poorly maintained equipment with illegal software or stake and prize controls.
"If the central vetting process managed by the pub companies is removed, how would a tenant have the resources to check all of the necessary legal obligations are in place before agreeing to take machines from a ‘supplier’? We are concerned the Gambling Commission and licensing authorities do not have the requisite resources to adequately police this and would see a Wild West-style free for all in the tenanted sector."
Gamestec is part of Novomatic Group and other suppliers in that group, Astra Gaming and Bell-Fruit, wrote separate letters to BIS opposing plans to scrap the AWP tie.
Tony Yates, commercial director of Sceptre Leisure, which supplies 22,500 machines to pubs, told BIS: “By removing the machine tie there will most certainly be an increase in illegal gaming machine supply, resulting in lost Machine Games Duty and VAT revenues for HMRC.”
Ken Mullarkey, sales director of SE Leisure, wrote: “Loss of the tie would lead to discounting, lower product quality, greater age and subsequently job losses in the sector.”
Peter Weir, chief executive of the IOA Group, which supplies 25,000 machines, told BIS: “We believe that Gambling needs to be regulated and controlled; the existing operator approval process ensures these controls are in place and this does give the tenant choice.
"Regulated suppliers invest in their training, health and safety and ensure that all necessary insurance levels are maintained; this would not be the case in a free for all."