Tomorrow (Monday 15th June) sees the opening of betting shops in England (Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland need to wait).
But in a somewhat surprising move, it has been confirmed that the estimated 3000 Adult Gaming Centres (AGC’s) and bingo halls across England will NOT be able to open. These include popular brands like Spin, Mr. Rigby’s, Buzz Bingo and independent slot arcades and bingo halls located in high streets and tourist resorts across the country.
Why bookies are permitted to open, but AGC’s and bingo halls aren’t is rather unclear. Sure, the government rules seek to 1) ensure social distancing in indoor environments, and 2) see customers enter a shop, do their transaction, and then get out as fast as possible.
And it’s true that bingo and gaming arcades make money the longer the customer spends in the building.
But by the same token, bingo halls and AGC’s tend to be much larger than the typical bookie. Couldn’t these establishments just spread the machines and chairs out a bit?
What’s more – bookies make a substantial portion of their profits from those FOBT machines, which by definition involve staying on the premises for a lengthy period of time.
Will FOBT machines still be on the menu from tomorrow?
All the indications from the bookies are that FOBT’S will be available. And if so, won’t that further add to the claims of unfair treatment from the arcade and bingo industries? Or will the government rules force bookie shop managers to chase you off the machine after a few spins?
It looks to us that this might be another case of an ill-thought-out set of rules.
It’s sure going to be interesting to watch.