Arcades feel the pinch
Dominic Bareham THE future of some of Great Yarmouth's traditional seafront amusement arcades could be in jeopardy after a 4pc increase in gambling licence fees, it was claimed this week.
THE future of some of Great Yarmouth's traditional seafront amusement arcades could be in jeopardy after a 4pc increase in gambling licence fees, it was claimed this week.
Some arcade owners fear they may have to make staff redundant because of the combined effects of the rate rise and a dismal Easter which, they said, resulted in a 78pc fall in takings compared with the same spell last year.
Many managers are also angry about new regulations reducing the cost of slot machines from £2 to £1 a play. These came into force last September and have also hit profits.
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Under the rises, which have just come into force, a new licence will cost £470 more and renewing one goes up by £90.
Yarmouth Borough Council cabinet agreed to the increases to cover the cost of increased enforcement work associated with the new rules under the Gambling Act 2005.
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Les Page, manager of Neptune Palace arcades at Gorleston, said his business was feeling the pinch from the new slot machine regulations and changing holiday habits.
He said: “No increase would be welcome at the moment for my arcade, however small, however large. There are a lot of arcades just hanging in there, and anything that costs any more would not help the industry.
“I will keep the arcade going for as long as possible, but the question is: Is trade going to pick up?' If we get a half-decent summer then that can pay for the quieter winter months.”
Andrew Mavroudis, a director of the Atlantis Arena complex, which includes Silver Slipper Amusement Arcade and Caesars Palace, said his business had lost £75,000 over Easter when visitor numbers were down because of the snow and cold.
He said the rate increase might mean he would not be able to buy the new amusement machines that would help to draw in customers, and staff might have to be laid off.
“We are going to have to think of ways to prevent the losses; when we have got extra staff and not got extra money coming through the door then we will have to make staff redundant,” he said.
His brother Chris, who runs the Silver Slipper arcade, felt the government was hitting arcade owners hard with new regulations and fees and said he was worried about investing in more machines because he thought he would be charged more.
But he vowed: “I won't close because it is my livelihood.”
Andrew Beattie, manager of Triangle Amusements on Marine Parade, said he would normally take on two extra staff during the winter months but could no longer do so because of the financial squeeze. He added: “It will have an adverse effect on our takings and our profit. The arcade sector is not exactly buoyant at the moment.”