11th June 2020
TWELVE HOURS TO SAVE OUR AGCS
Earlier this evening we were told that the Government has at this exceptionally late stage decided not to allow AGCs to open on Monday. Even more galling, LBOs will be.
We need every member to act immediately by phoning and emailing any political contact that you 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.
If you can’t ring them here is a template you can use. Please try to use your own words if possible. I also attach the bullet points that we have this evening sent to our political contacts for your information.
URGENT HELP NEEDED TO SAVE MY BUSINESS
On 11th May the Government published guidance stating that amusement arcades could reopen as non-essential retail businesses this Monday, 15th June. This included businesses like mine operating Adult Gaming Centres.
This evening I learnt that this decision has been reversed. There is no logic as to why as Betting Offices, also listed in the 11th May Guidance, are to be allowed to open. We both offer similar retail leisure entertainment to similar over 18 year old customers. We have developed and rolled out precisely the same social distancing and health hygiene protocols for our customers, who in fact number far less in my business than in competing LBOs.
I have spent a fortune getting ready as Government advised, purchasing PPE, installing screens between machines etc. I have had to re-float machines taking a significant chunk of my reduced cash reserves. I have taken my staff off of furlough with all the cost that entails. This completely illogical decision means I will now have to make redundancies. I am seriously considering how I can continue to operate.
Can I ask you please to immediately get in touch with the Prime Minister asking him to reverse this decision. I understand that Regulations are being laid tomorrow hence the need for urgency.
Please telephone me on XX to discuss this if you need to.
INDUSTRY SUBMISSION MADE TO NUMBER TEN.
Thanks for taking my call earlier. Below are the principal reasons why the reversal of the decision to allow AGCs to open is both wrong in principle and practice. I cannot see how two very similar High Street venues can be treated differently. There is no logic to it and the consequences are nothing short of catastrophic for the AGC sector.
- Britain’s c3000 AGCs are non-essential retail and so should be allowed to open on the same day as other non-essential retail.
- They should not be treated any differently to Licences Betting Offices (LBOs) which are being allowed to open on Monday:
- They are shops offering low stake low prize recreational gambling to over-18 customers.
- They share customer demographics and compete for machine playing customers because LBOs have amongst their offer, four of the same categories of Gaming Machines as found in AGCs. In addition they offer in LBOs, Self Service Betting Machines
- In fact, LBOs have more customers than AGCs
- AGCs have invested heavily in social distancing and staff/customer hygiene – very similar to LBOs. It is a safe environment for customers:
- Comprehensive social distancing and public hygiene measures have been developed and rolled out in accordance with Government and Sector Guidance in all AGCs.
- Even a busy AGC will have very low footfall, typically in single figures, on the premises at any one time throughout the day.
- AGCs have spent an estimated £2.5 million on PPE and reconfiguration of AGCs to ensure social distancing between customers/staff.
- There will be a huge financial cost to AGCs who have made extensive reopening preparations. A number may be forced to close because of this measure which will have a knock-on effect on local economies and unemployment levels:
- All staff have been taken off of furlough ready for re-opening on Monday, adding around £2 million per week to the industry’s wage bill.
- Re-floating machines ready for customers has taken around £100 million out of the industry’s cash reserves.
- As a result of the Government’s decision to now not permit AGCs to open on Monday we are expecting redundancies running into the thousands.
- The impact on the supply chain is equally as serious. Companies supporting the AGC sector, eg manufacturers which service customers products, engineers, etc have also been taken off of furlough ready to go.
- Our front-line staff are predominantly female, many on part-time contracts and on minimum/living wage.
- The Sector employs in total circa 15,000 people and generates around £400 million contributing on standard multipliers nearly £500 million to the UK economy
- It is a simple matter of using Gambling Act definitions to make the distinction between AGCs and FECs as the term ‘amusement arcades’ used in Schedule 2 of the Coronovirus Act is imprecise. Delete the Term and insert FECs so they remain closed and AGCs can then open.