Following a decision by Bacta members to introduce new age restrictions on Category D cash fruit machines, industry figures from gambling concern groups and the government have recognised the sector’s commitment to social responsibility.
Leading industry stakeholders have reacted positively to the news that Bacta has chosen to impose a minimum playing age of 18 on Category D cash fruit machines found in seaside arcades and family entertainment centres.
The resolution was raised at an EGM and agreed voluntarily by Bacta members last week and once ratified at the association’s AGM, will come into force on March 1, 2021.
Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston was among the first to react, stating: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves safely in amusement arcades. This commitment is a welcome step to reassure customers that children are being protected from harm.”
Lord Foster of Bath, Chair of Peers for Gambling Reform, was equally embracing. He noted: “I am delighted Bacta has taken the very important step of making Category D complex machines available to over 18s. This demonstrates that Bacta take social responsibility extremely seriously and I commend them for taking this action voluntarily. I would like to see others taking similar initiatives to limit potential risks and gambling harm.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, said: “It’s very welcome that Bacta has acted on a precautionary basis to restrict Category D fruit machines to over 18s. All gambling sectors would do well to emulate this approach by listening to and acting on public and political concern.”
The leading educational charity, YGAM, have also welcomed the steps taken by the members of the trade association. Chief executive Lee Willows wrote: “This is a significant move by Bacta and we welcome the increased focus on protecting children and young people. It is encouraging to see operators making important changes voluntarily as we approach the government’s review of the Gambling Act. Everyone connected to the sector must work together to ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent harm and safeguard future generations.”
Bacta CEO John White explained that category D fruit machines have been long considered as part of the traditional entertainment offer associated with seaside holidays and a trip to the arcade.
“Regulators in the past have therefore not imposed an age restriction on them. However, our members understand that perceptions change and we want to ensure that we do everything possible to protect players,” said White. “I am incredibly proud that our members have taken this responsible decision at a time when their businesses are suffering due to the COVID pandemic and the subsequent loss of trade.”