The bacta senior team comprising president Gabi Stergides (pictured), vice-president James Miller, former president Jason Frost and chief executive John White, took the opportunity to progress bacta’s arguments across a range of issues with the toxic nature of FOBTS and the need to reduce significantly the maximum stake, topping the agenda.
Stergides believes that bacta’s arguments were well received by thought leaders and opinion formers who were present in both Brighton and Manchester.
He said: “Our experience at both party conferences confirmed the importance of having a trade association which is capable of engaging with politicians – both national and local – political advisers and the commentators who help to set the political agenda.
“In Brighton we were able to demonstrate the relationship between amusements and tourism when we hosted Conference delegates, including MPs and local councillors, on the iconic Brighton Palace Pier, one of the country’s most successful free admission tourist attractions whose business model places great reliance on the income derived from amusements.
“Despite the bookmakers taking a stronger presence at the Conservative Party conference, delegates in Manchester were equally receptive to our arguments. I think the opportunity we have had to engage at this level represents a productive use of time and resource as our industry faces one of its biggest challenges.”
White, who represented Bacta on two fringe forums organised by the highly respected Institute for Public Policy Research, believes the bookmakers defence of FOBTS crumbled under scrutiny.
“The consensus in both Brighton and Manchester was that any policy to reduce the well documented harm caused by FOBTS must include a significant reduction in stake,” he said.
“Our opponents strategy was to attempt to muddy the waters, something that the audience in Manchester simply did not accept.”
He added: “Party conferences represent an opportunity to meet,network and influence. We Engaged with politicians including Secretary of State for Digital,Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Rt Hon David Evennett MP and one of the Conservative Party’s most respected intakes from the 2017 election, Kemi Badenoch, MP.
“In addition, we also had the opportunity to meet with commentators and journalists such as Laura Kuenssberg, Nick Robinson And John Pienaar from the BBC and Michael Crick from Channel 4 News.”