“I am writing to confirm that there is no coronavirus-related law or government guidance requiring amusement machines in pubs in England to be switched off from Step 3 of the government’s Roadmap (no earlier than 17 May 2021).”
That’s the official line from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport confirmed in a letter sent to Bacta to allay the fears of operators concerned that local authorities will attempt to turn gaming machines off on Monday.
Written by Sue Harling, head of land-based gambling at DCMS, the note reinforced the return to business, adding: “From Step 3, a wide range of indoor entertainment businesses will be reopening, including arcades, bingo and casinos which all offer gaming machines.”
The letter will provide a welcome sense of comfort for the industry which has become accustomed to extra zeal from councils when it comes to applying Covid rules to gaming machines.
That punitive posturing is not an option come Monday morning, indeed, it’s against the law to halt machine play from the 17th.
Writing to members this week, Bacta said: “As previously mentioned, some local authorities in England, have been saying amusement machines cannot be switched on in pubs from May 17th. This is not true. Attached is a letter from DCMS that clarifies the matter. It refers to our covid secure guidelines on managing machines in pubs agreed with UK Hospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association. These have not changed since last Summer. I have also spoken with UK Hospitality and they have now included a Question and Answer in their official guidance (page 15) that makes it clear that machines can be switched on. Here is a link. https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/FAQs.”
Outside of England, Bacta believes the position on machines is generally accepted, advising: “In Scotland the Government guidance is clear on this point so hopefully members will not have an issue. In Wales I have no reports of problems (nor any clarification from the Welsh Government).”