Bacta to challenge UK’s AGC reopening dates

Bacta has complained about the later reopening of AGCs.
Bacta has complained about the later reopening of AGCs.

The British Amusement Catering Trade Association is mounting a legal challenge against the government alleging discrimination.

UK.- Bacta, the association that represents the UK amusement sector, is looking to mount a legal challenge against the government over the continued closure of adult gaming centres (AGCs) in the country.

The British Amusement Catering Trade Association raised its concerns after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The current schedule envisages some non-essential businesses, including betting shops, reopening on April 12, while AGCs, bingo halls and casinos must wait until May 17.

Bacta has instructed global legal firm DWF Law to investigate whether there is a case for discrimination.

The association delivered a letter directed to Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, that says it “cannot ignore the decision’s discriminatory impact and the long term hit to the AGC industry which would flow from it”.

The letter states: “The government is still required to exercise its decision-making rationally, in a non-discriminatory way and in accordance with legitimate expectations.

“It therefore remains plain that the disparity is not based on any good evidence justifying it.

“Even when the point was specifically raised as a parliamentary question, tabled on February 19, 2021, Nigel Huddleston MP only noted that the ‘roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, while preserving the health and safety of the country’.”

John White, CEO of Bacta, said in a statement: “We are doing everything we can to focus attention on the unfair, and we believe illegal, treatment of AGCs in the reopening roadmap.

“The decision to prevent this one venue on the High Street from opening with all other retailers is not only discriminatory, evidence for it is absent and it lacks any logic.” 

White mentioned a case in which the association took legal action for a situation of discrimination and said it could now use the same legal resources to challenge the government

He said: “We have decided to take legal action and were heartened by the government’s U-turn following the Sacha Lord case, where the Greater Manchester night-time economy advisor brought a court case against Matt Hancock on behalf of the hospitality industry and won.

“This case also mentioned the discriminatory impacts of closure decisions as contributing to the government’s decision being unlawful, as did the complete lack of evidence to justify it – in this case the requirement to have a substantial meal with a drink when the tier system was brought in, which Lord successfully argued discriminated against certain ‘sections of society’ as thousands of pubs were forced to close.”

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