When it comes to the demise of cash, Peter Hannibal, chief executive of the cross industry strategic body, the Gambling Business Group, believes it’s down to the industry to develop its own cost-effective solutions pointing out that some are already available.
From a low stake gaming perspective do you think the issue of contactless/non-cash play is the elephant in the room that the Gambling Commission is choosing to ignore?
This is a difficult dilemma for the Gambling Commission. The consumer migration towards cashless commerce is undeniable and the Commission’s current direction of travel puts the consumer at the heart of their thinking. But debit card transactions are specifically prohibited in legislation, and to change it will require government intervention. In the current climate where operators are being asked to be more socially responsible, there are very few, if any, sponsors in Parliament of what would be regarded as a relaxation of this regulation.
Every metric is confirming the unstoppable rise of contactless over cash – is there a danger that the AGC will be the only venue on the high street that won’t/cannot accept contactless?
This scenario is actually in the hands of AGC operators, although there are costs attached to the solutions. AGCs can, and are offering contactless transactions via ATR and TiTO. But cashless doesn’t have to be contactless. Either way, operators will need to invest in the technology that enables cashless transactions in their premises, but it can be and is being done.
The Pub AWP relies on loose change paid out at the bar – what happens when the majority of wet sales are conducted by card?
I think this ship has already sailed. The majority of over the bar sales are already cashless, and the trend with pub machine revenues is going in the wrong direction. If ever there was an urgent and critical need for change then this is it. We can not expect the DCMS or the Gambling Commission to offer any answers for the reasons stated, so it is up to the industry to come up with a cost effective solution that does not fall foul of legislation. It is good to see that there are a number of products currently emerging and entering the marketplace.
Is there an argument that playing by card would mitigate the risk of under age play?
There absolutely is. And the banking industry is in the process of reformatting the card numbering standards that will include age identification. But this is some way off and those that understand these things appreciate that card based play is indeed a form of player ID and therefore tracking – which has to be more responsible than anonymous cash. But Ministers will not be able to see past the fact that machines would be transacting direct with (leading to the wrong perception of clearing out) a bank account.
What’s next on the GBG agenda?
The Gambling Business Group has created a suite of protocols for TITO exactly for this reason. Cash is no longer the consumers preferred choice of currency or method for playing machines. We have also created an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) standard for the use of digital cash with gambling machines. All of these standards are put together by the GBG members and are created to enable all systems and solutions providers to deliver products to a common process, whilst ensuring that all machines from any manufacturer can communicate with them. Fortunately, the GBG membership had the foresight to create these standards. There is a further set of requirements identified by members to take us into the next stage. All of this is on the premise that we are not expecting any help from either the DCMS or the Gambling Commission in this area.