UK gaming centres plan for reopening

Bacta is calling on the government to offer support.
Bacta is calling on the government to offer support.

UK trade association publishes a plan for reopening of gaming centres in the amusements and gambling machines sector.

UK.- Bacta, the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry, has published planned measures for the reopening of gaming centres following the Covid-19 lockdown.

It has also called on the government to lend support to the industry.

The association has sent a report entitled “Returning the FUN to Britain’s High Streets and Seaside Towns: A plan to get the amusement machine sector back to work” to the government and trade bodies.

The report proposes measures to allow family entertainment centres and high street adult gaming centres across the UK to reopen as soon as possible.

Measures include staff training and PPE provision, the rearrangement of machines or use of plexiglass to create greater distancing, limits on customer numbers, clear signage, and the use of hand sanitiser and screened redemption counters.

Bacta called on the government to make a decision on reopening as soon as possible because businesses would need at least two weeks to prepare.

The new report also reveals the difficulties faced by gaming centres during lockdown.

It says operators are facing 55 per cent of normal operating costs despite taking no income during lockdown. It also stresses that the supply chain is unprotected by current government support offered to public-facing businesses.

For large seafront arcades that do qualify for rates relief and grants, the £51,000 grant cap was insufficient, it said.

Bacta also emphasised that the seasonal nature of the industry means gaming centres may be worse hit than other business sectors in the UK.

The association is asking the government to provide help to the gaming machines sector.

It calls for a series of measures to help the industry weather the storm, including continuing the Job Retention Scheme for the duration of closures and possibly beyond the lockdown in the case of seasonal businesses.

It has called for the government to offer 100 per cent rates relief for 2020/2021 also covering the supply chain, a tapered increase in grants for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000, deferral of indirect tax payments including PAYE, VAT and MGD until Summer 2021, and rebates from local councils and the Gambling Commission.

It also calls on the government to declare an additional public holiday for late summer or autumn to make up for the Easter and Early May Bank Holidays lost during the lockdown.

Bacta CEO, John White, said: “We believe this will be relatively inexpensive support for our industry from a government perspective, possibly within the tens of millions. Pre-Covid-19 our sector generated over £1.6billion in revenue and contributed £2billion to the UK economy, supporting over 34,000 employees.

“The amusement machine industry in whatever guise wants to help get the country’s economy up and running again. Not all businesses will make it through the crisis and into next year. With the right support, most will, battered and bruised maybe, but nevertheless willing to get back to business. The industry will nevertheless do all it can to ensure that it plays its part in controlling the potential threat of Covid-19 by changing the way it operates.” 

In Germany, the industry organisation Die Deutsche Automatenwirtschaft (DAW) has produced a video to show politicians that gaming centres could take the necessary measures for a quick reopening once the Covid-19 lockdown is eased.

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