After a last minute U-turn, adult gaming centres in England will not be permitted to reopen today, June 15, despite the government’s announcement that non-essential retail businesses can reopen.
According to Bacta, the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK, they were informed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Friday evening that AGCs will longer feature on the list of non-essential high street premises which are permitted to reopen.
Betting shops, which were listed alongside arcades for Monday’s openings, will still be authorised to resume business as long as the premises are COVID secure.
Bacta has since called for its members urgently call any ‘political contact that they have’ to get the decision reversed.
“I cannot see how two very similar high street venues can be treated differently. There’s no logic to it and the consequences are nothing short of catastrophic to the AGC sector,” said Bacta CEO John White. “Bacta is calling for every member to act immediately by phoning and emailing any political contact that they have whether MP or local councillor, to tell the Prime Minister that he has made a serious mistake and he must reverse this outrageous decision.”
Having been included on the original list of non-essential businesses to reopen, AGC operators had made ‘significant investments’ in preparation of opening their doors today. This U-turn, according to Bacta, is set to have a huge financial cost.
Bacta is calling on the government to use the Gambling Act definition to clarify the distinction between AGCs and FECs as the term ‘amusement arcades’ used in Schedule 2 of the Coronovirus Act is ‘imprecise’.
White concluded: “If they delete the Term and insert FECs, so they remain closed and AGCs can then open.”