Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA)

  BACTA, as the leading trade association representing the UK gaming industry is delighted to have the opportunity to feed into the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into new media and creative industries.

  BACTA has a specific interest in the development and production of gaming software by manufacturing members. This sector of the UK gaming industry has historically provided many international trading opportunities for the UK and continue to sustain a diverse and growing home market for both the "home" and "out of home" leisure experiences, thereby ensuring the long-term appeal of the industry to the leisure and entertainment market.

INTRODUCTION

  1.  BACTA (the British Amusement Catering Trade Association) is the largest trade association for the UK's Gaming and Amusement industry. We currently represent the interests of over 685 companies and 1,170 individuals. The membership covers all aspects of design, development and operation of predominantly, but not exclusively pay to play machines and the end products provide entertainment to customers in the full spectrum of leisure facilities in the UK including licensed premises, members' clubs, family entertainment centres, adult gaming centres, bingo halls, casinos and bowling alleys. Additionally, our membership is involved in the creation of digital content for a large range of entertainment media including interactive TV, the internet and mobile technology.

  2.  The industry has long had a reputation for innovative design and has often been at the forefront of technological developments. Its strength in both home and overseas markets is largely based on the creative and innovative environment that this fast moving sector of the leisure industry creates. A large number of the employees within the industry are engaged in the creative process, through advances in electronic and PC technology, the creative product design and of course system architecture and content software.

  3.  The gaming and amusement industry represented by BACTA members also upholds the highest levels of good working practices and socially responsible design in the development and operation of products.

  4.  BACTA is pleased to submit evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into new media and the creative industries and is very pleased to make the following submission for consideration.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

  5.  The UK gaming and amusement industry has always embraced technological advancement and has often been in the forefront of the utilisation of new technologies into commercially viable product developments. The ability of the industry to harness its inherent creativity to utilise new technologies has been the foundation on which the industry has developed and grown.

  6.  However, over recent years, the industry has experienced difficulties as changes in the world market have not been reflected in the regulatory environment within which we operate. BACTA welcomes the Gambling Act 2005, which recognised the changing face of technology and the need for the regulatory framework to be able to keep pace with those changes.

  7.  BACTA would welcome continuing dialogue with government and others regarding the need to recognise changing consumer demand and in addition create an environment to encourage innovation and creative skills, thereby allowing the industry to develop products that can meet the key challenges and offer opportunities for business growth both at home and overseas.

  8.  BACTA members wish to be at the forefront of the development of products that will meet the ever increasing demands of the consumer, for whom technology has opened up many new and often competing sectors of the media. We are seeking to maintain an industry which can not only continue to meet these domestic market demands but also compete in what is becoming an increasingly global market place.

  9.  BACTA believes that in order to achieve these goals for the industry, government needs to recognise the important role that our industry plays in the growing Leisure Sector and fully engage with the industry to create a regulatory and legislative framework that encourages innovation.

  10.  BACTA members would welcome government recognition that would lead to an active and open dialogue on methods by which our industry can grow to meet the needs of the consumer through UK led industry and furthermore, provide a new impetus to the opportunities that exist for the exporting of the creative and innovative skills beyond that currently enjoyed.

  11.  As background, our current industry is a major supplier to many of the European gaming markets, exporting some 20,000 games last year, and has an active market in amusement and ancillary products throughout the world. By encouraging the continued advancement of technology and creative skills into the industry, new and significant growth opportunities exist for all sectors of our industry.

  12.  In addition to the obvious end user products our industry creates, many areas of innovative design have been spawned from the amusement and gaming industries within the UK. Some of the most innovative and creative money handling systems have been developed through our industry and are now providing both quality jobs within the UK and growing export opportunities. Network architectures developed for the UK amusement and gaming businesses are now finding new applications overseas, and content developers are now looking at the world opportunities created through the internet, interactive TV and mobile technologies.

CONCLUSIONS

  13.  BACTA welcomes the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and would like to take the opportunity of improving the understanding and respect with which the UK gaming and amusement industry is held by Government.

  14.  Only by encouraging a continued recognition of innovation and creativity in the industry will BACTA members be able to compete and prosper in both home and overseas markets.

29 March 2006





 
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