Pub Companies - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Further written evidence submitted by the British Association of Pool Table Operators (BAPTO)

I am making this second submission to the committee because I sat through both sessions of the oral evidence and there was not a single question on the machine tie or any reference to it, to say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement and it leads me to fear the committee maybe overlooking this issue and ignoring the unambiguous recommendation of the previous inquiries that the machine tie be removed. I would like to make the following points:

1.  To illustrate how the machine tie not only allows pubcos to take advantage of their tenants but also allows them to distort the supply of amusement equipment to their tenants. I enclose an article published in the Publicans Morning Advertiser on the 9 June 2011 and a letter sent to "Coinslot" on the 23 June 2011 both by John Appleton a well respected figure in the coin machine industry.[12]

Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns and Marston's are currently "supply" pushing video AWP's into their tenanted estates they want total control over these machines and instant information of machine takings at their fingertips irrespective of other considerations, the machine tie gives them the power to do this because this mechanism gives them control over 15,000+ machines far far more than any other player in the sector.

John Appleton fears that the pubcos action could cost the pub sector around £160 million a year in lost gaming revenue and lead to further demise in the British machine manufacturing industry a fear shared by many other people in the industry. To add insult to injury the pubcos are trying to make a virtue of the fact that the terms on these machines are (after paying licence fee & VAT) 1/3 to machine supplier 1/3 to the pubcos and 1/3 to the tenant, Great! The tenant now gets only 1/3 of a machine that takes less money.

Once again the pubcos abuse the power the machine tie gives them, without the machine tie video AWP's would have to go into the market place and compete on a level playing field against other products which is how it should be.

The pubcos and the BBAPA are always at the forefront of attempts to increase stakes and prizes on AWP's they have lost sight of the fact that AWP stands for Amusement with prizes they want to change them into gambling machines which suits the video format.

2.  Many people in the coin machine supply industry who would like to see an end to the machine tie are afraid to speak out because they find themselves in a position where the pubco business is too big a part of their own business and if they speak out the pubco will take the business away from them. This is a similar situation suppliers to supermarkets find themselves in the massive difference between these two examples is that supermarkets use their power to drive prices down to their customers while the pubcos use their power to drive prices up to their customers

3.  One of the arguments put forward by the pubcos and their supporters is that if the machine tie were removed the tenants when emptying their own machines would under declare the takings, what a sad state of affairs when to defend a corrupt system they have to accuse their tenants of being potential "crooks" perhaps they are judging everyone else by their own standards and what does this say about all the owners of free houses in the country. Are the pubcos implying that they are crooks?

4.  I have read back over all the evidence facts and figures we have given to all the pubco enquiries over the years and those committees after studying all this evidence have all come to the same conclusion that the machine tie be removed, I personally feel worn out now and as if all the effort that has been put in has been a waste of time, it seems to me as if all the pubcos have to do is do nothing and they will "get away with it".

This issue is a classic example of the strong taking advantage of the weak and I personally believe if at the end of the day good does not triumph over evil then we are all wasting our time here.

Alan Boswell

Chairman (Bapto)

27 July 2011

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Prepared 6 October 2011