The IT director of the London Palace Bingo Club (one of the UK’s biggest bingo venues) recently thought he was on to a winner when he ordered a stack of tablet devices directly from a manufacturer in China. However, it was definitely a case of game over when representatives from FAST (the Federation Against Software Theft) came knocking at his door.
After Chris Pugh purchased the new tablet PCs, a FAST audit subsequently identified that the club’s Microsoft products were significantly under-licensed, and the club then had to buy an open licence for 255 Windows Professional 8 products to cover the shortfall. Mr. Pugh says the decision to purchase the hardware directly from the manufacturer was made in an effort to lower the club’s total cost of ownership and that they believed that the pre-installed software was already licensed. However, he says that after FAST intervened and highlighted “the risks involved in dealing direct with manufacturers in China,” he now realises that the software was not fully-licensed after all. Mr. Pugh puts the unfortunate episode down to “an honest mistake” and says that the Federation Against Software Theft have helped the club make “positive changes” to both their procurement process and software asset management process.
Alex Hilton is the Chief Executive Office of FAST, and he advises any business which is considering cutting costs by using or buying cheaper Chinese products to be aware that there is frequently “a highly-complex and convoluted supply chain, with goods passing through several suppliers” before reaching their intended user. As a result, the licensing side of the process may not have been checked, and Mr. Hilton urges consumers to at least “check the legality” of the licences that any product is alleged to have. FAST is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to restrict, reduce and prevent the incidence of unauthorised dealings in computer software.
The London Palace Bingo Club is situated on the first floor of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in south-east London, and has room for more than 2,000 bingo players in a huge area they claim is the size of Wembley Stadium’s football pitch. It opens its doors seven days a week, and the club’s parent company – The Palaces – also has sister clubs in Great Yarmouth, Salford, and Felixstowe, as well as being the operator of an online bingo and casino site that is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.