The Rank Group send copies of the Game Plan to over 150 members of Parliament, in attempt to build bridges with the U.K Government over gambling legislation.
The Rank Group figurehead, Ian Burke, has decided to take a proactive approach towards an improved gambling environment with the release of ‘Gameplan,‘ the 16-page report described as, “a candid exposition of Rank’s approach to regulatory and fiscal reform.”
It’s no secret that Burke believes that the politicians play a huge part in stigmatizing the casino business with their constant references to terms such as ‘casino banking’ and ‘casino capitalism,’ when going vocal on the failings of investment banks. Burke believes that the use of this type of vocabulary has magnified the difficulty in getting a fair hearing from the government on reform issues. But instead of just complaining about the treatment his beloved industry is receiving, he has actually put pen to paper with the creation of the Gameplan, a report that has been sent to more than 150 members of parliament, over 8,000 employees and raised awareness amongst its 1.1 million consumers.
Essentially, the report is a request to the government to rethink its approach to the regulation of gambling. Instead of concentrating on harm minimization, Burke suggests that they should widen the scope and concentrate on economic growth through three specific reforms: reducing bingo taxation to 15%, devolving responsibility for the issuance of casino licenses to local authorities, and allowing casino operators the ability to meet rising consumer demand.
Instead of fighting with the government, Burke suggests a stronger more uniformed alliance. This vision sees an increase in value to Rank, the government and the consumer if everyone could just play along nicely.
“We must challenge ourselves to offer more to society – and to make sure that our efforts are visible and valued,” said Burke.
The Gameplan states that the mission of Rank Group is to thrill and delight, meet customers needs for fun and excitement while all the time looking after their comfort and safety. A mission that Burke believes is made all the more difficult by anachronistic regulations and an overly complex taxation system. It seems Burke can see that in order to grow profitability it is going to need a little bit of help from the Houses of Parliament. In an almost you scratch my back mentality the report focuses on the 20% tax levy that currently exists in the form of Bingo Duty, requesting a reduction to 15% and in return the government tax coffers will swell sizably. The report uses authenticity and candidness as a methodology to lure the government into their way of thinking. It states that a report commissioned by the Bingo Association Ernst & Young, calculated that a reduction in Bingo Duty from 20% to 15%, would result in a tax revenue benefit to the exchequer of £35 million in the first four years. It also recognizes that the Treasury also has a report that shows a somewhat different outcome, and suggests that the information be shared to find the true value that reduced taxation can bring to both parties.
Rank also open their heart on their views on consumer choice, suggesting that casinos should be allowed to be built in areas where there is demand, and criticize the current regulations that restrict this from happening to only 60 areas of Great Britain. To offer a compromise Rank even suggests the creation of a ‘portability’ licensing scheme that would allow existing operators to relocate dormant licenses from one part of the country to another, dependent on supply and demand. Rank state that they would seek to relocate five such licenses in the next five years that would require more than £30 million in cap-ex and create 700 new jobs, generating £87 million per year in local and national taxes.
Finally, Rank concentrate on putting customers first by allowing them a greater range of gaming options. Once again the tit-for-tat modus operandi is used as the report suggests that an increase in 1,200 gaming machines in Rank owned properties could create £4.4 million in machine gaming duty, increased revenue for Rank and a big smile on the face of the consumer.
Whether or not the report is read by the right people in Westminster remains to be seen, but you have to applaud Ian Burke for getting off his chair and trying to do something about the issues that are stifling his business, whilst also recognizing the difficulties that governments face in such testing economic conditions.