Pier supports plan to protect children from gambling risk

12 Aug 2019

Unaccompanied children are no longer permitted to use some fruit machines on Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier as part of a voluntary national trial to help tackle teenage gambling.

The British Amusement Catering Trade Association (Bacta), which represents the interests of Britain’s amusements and High Street gaming manufacturers and operators, recently voted unanimously to try new measures on cash payout slot machines in seaside arcades.

It means under-16s will not be allowed to play ‘Category D’ machines at participating arcades unless accompanied by someone who is 18 or over.

A Category D machine is one with a stake of up to 10p per play, and a cash prize of up to £5 per spin.

At a recent EGM in London, Bacta members – including Weston’s Grand Pier – agreed the move following widespread talks involving the Gambling Commission, MPs and other stakeholders about growing concerns over people becoming addicted to gambling by starting young.

Advisory stickers have been placed on all the affected low-stake cash payout machines, and Bacta plans to evaluate the impact of this move at a meeting in September.

If the summer trial proves successful, Bacta aims to add the rules to its code of conduct, forcing all arcade owners to comply.

The Gambling Commission claims that such slot machines are the most common route into gambling for children.

The Grand Pier has 45 such machines which are clustered together in one part of the attraction’s Pavilion, and staff will supervise this area to ensure that customers comply with the trial.

Bacta’s CEO John White told the EGM in London: “As providers of family entertainment to nearly 20 million people annually, it is important we reflect what our customers want.

“We have listened carefully to the (ongoing) debate about children and gambling and we want to ensure we do everything we can to augment our existing safeguarding measures.”

Tim Moyle, General Manager of the Grand Pier, said: “Research suggests that any risk of gambling-related harm from seaside arcades is very low, but we support Bacta’s desire to reduce this even further.

“This trial is voluntary, but we had no hesitation in asking for a supply of stickers so that we could implement the new rules and support this initiative.

“Visiting arcades are a staple part of seaside holidays but we agree that it is vitally important that any risks to children are minimised as much as possible.

“We’re not out to spoil anyone’s fun, but we take our social responsibility extremely seriously and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the Grand Pier is a safe, fun-filled environment for the whole family to enjoy.”

For full details of the wide range of other events, activities and attractions available at the Grand Pier all year round, visit www.grandpier.co.uk

Pier supports plan to protect children from gambling risk
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