In a shock move, the DCMS informed Bacta last night that AGCs are no longer on the list of non-essential high street premises which will be able to reopen on June 15.
And in a cruel twist of irony, Betting Offices, listed alongside arcades for Monday’s opening, have been given the green light.
“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,” he added.
AGC operators have made significant investments to prepare for Monday’s reopening and this news will be a huge financial cost to them. Staff have been taken off furlough in readiness and machines have been refloated. Comprehensive social distancing and public hygiene measures have been developed and rolled out in accordance with Government and Sector guidance in all AGCs.
Bacta is calling for the Government to use 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. “If they delete the Term and insert FECs, so they remain closed and AGCs can then open,” adds John White.
Bacta represents the owners and operators of seaside amusement arcades, over-18 amusement centres, and the companies that hire machines to pubs, clubs, bowling alleys, bingo halls and similar venues. It also represents the manufacturers and distributors of all types of amusement equipment. This can range from children’s rides, to jukeboxes, fruit machines in pubs and clubs, crane grabbers, penny falls, tuppeny nudgers, test your strength machines, videos, pool tables and gaming machines