‘It’s a joke’ - Adult arcades furious at government U-turn over June 15 reopening
PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 20 June 2020
Adult amusement arcades which were due to reopen on June 15 have hit out at the Government for an “11th hour U-turn” which has left the industry hanging in the balance.
The government initially took the view that adult gaming centres (AGCs) were akin to high-street betting shops and could open June 15 under the banner of “non-essential retail” rather than leisure - a category which family amusement arcades, with their 2p slot machines and high customer turnover, more clearly falls under.
But at the “11th hour” on June 11, AGC operators were suddenly informed the government had changed its mind. The bookies, however, were allowed to go ahead and open.
Charles Thurston, who owns The Mint and Silver Slipper arcades in Great Yarmouth, said he was furious at the government’s backtrack.
He said: “This decision, communicated to us via email just days before we were due to re-open, has come as a massive shock.”
But in response, a spokesperson for the government said: “All decisions on reopening businesses are made taking into account the latest scientific advice.
“We are working directly with BACTA and other representatives from the leisure industry on finalising guidance that will help arcades reopen when it is safe to do so.”
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They added that arcades would be considered as part of the next phase of re-openings in July.
But Mr Thurston said the decision was “completely irrational” and felt like “a kick in the teeth”.
Likewise, for the Merkur Cashino in Lowestoft, things were “completely ready to go” before the news came in last Thursday.
Mark Schertle, chief operating officer for the company, said: “Our entire team is disappointed by this decision.
“It is understood the government believes ‘arcades’ would not be able to comply with guidelines for retail because the customers require ‘dwell time’ to partake in the activity.
“I don’t understand how they can make a decision like this at the 11th hour when all of our preparations were nearly complete.”
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