Bacta, the trade association representing the UK amusements and low stake gambling industry, has contacted the UK government expressing its concern at how businesses in the sector are being unfairly treated by the banking sector, in some cases having their facilities withdrawn often at short notice.
In evidence provided to the Treasury Select Committee, bacta CEO John White said: “We want to confirm that a number of our members have had their banking facilities suddenly and unexpectedly removed. The reasons’ given are that the banks consider gambling, even low stake low prize activities such as ours, as a money laundering risk – which is nothing short of preposterous. Furthermore, we have been told that banks consider gambling to pose a reputational risk which, they say, offends their Corporate Social Responsibility policies.”
He added: “Irrespective of anyone’s moral perspective on gambling, there should be no circumstances other than illegality, for a bank not to offer banking services to any of our members.”
Confirming the legitimacy of the industry he wrote to the Committee: “It is important to note that this is a highly regulated industry. All operators have to be licensed in some form by the Gambling Commission and venues must be licensed. The conditions under which operators conduct their business are set down in law or via the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). Furthermore bacta members must adhere to the association’s Code of Conduct and Social Responsibility Charter which goes beyond the law and LCCP in promoting high operating standards.”
Outlining how a decision to refuse banking services will have major consequences for a business. He noted: “The time and cost of finding another bank is significant. The debt position of customers can be severely impacted and lending facilities cannot simply be replicated.
“It appears that a moral or political judgement is being made about a business, with little if any real transparency or opportunity to challenge a decision. Small to medium sized businesses are simply not resourced to take on a big bank.”
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