Arcades blame gambling law for tough times

Seaside amusement arcades and amusement centres are being threatened by the new Gambling Act 2005 and have blamed the law for a loss of more than a fifth of their income.

New restrictions in the law specify a limit on the number of machines in a venue and also limit the top stakes available.

According to the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA), job cuts since the new law was introduced on September 1st have run into the hundreds, with several arcade venues operating under a cloud of uncertainty.

BACTA are also wary the players will be migrating from their ‘softer’ entertainment venues to those where harder forms of gambling are available, with bigger prizes and stakes, and possibly causing a rise in gambling addicts.

“The corollary of this must be a potential increase in problem gambling rates,” said Nick Harding of BACTA.

“This is an outcome nobody wants, and is the exact opposite of the objectives of the Gambling Act.”

Under the new act, maximum jackpots on machines have been set at £500 with maximum stakes cut from £2 to £1. Furthermore, venues were allowed an unlimited number of machines but that has now been cut to four.

MP’s representing constituencies that are based on the coast, and where most amusement arcades are situated, claim the Gambling Act has created an uneven playing field between amusements centres and adult gaming venues.

However, the arcade and amusement sector should not hold its breath for anything to change. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have said it would be “unusual for us to visit a new piece of legislation so soon after implementation”.

Editor, - 2008-02-06 12:08:35

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