BACTA bans under-18s from playing Category D cash payout machines

Bacta – the trade association that represents the owners and operators of seaside amusement arcades, over-18 amusement centres, the companies that hire machines to pubs, clubs, bowling alleys, bingo halls and similar venues and the manufacturers and distributors of all types of amusement equipment – has voluntarily banned under 18 year olds from playing Category D cash payout machines of the type located in seaside arcades and family entertainment centres.

Its website announcement of 12 November 2020 reads as follows:

Bacta Division 1 members have voluntarily raised the age limit for players to play Category D cash fruit machines found in seaside arcades and family entertainment centres to 18.

The resolution was raised at an EGM yesterday to change the bacta Code to require members to prevent under 18s playing on these machines. Following this agreement, it will go to the online Annual General Meeting/Convention on November 26 to be ratified before coming into effect on March 1, 2021.

“Our members are all about providing fun and entertainment to the whole family as part of their annual holiday or day trip to the seaside. We take social responsibility extremely seriously and although Category D Cash Payout fruit machines operate at very low stake and prize limits which are predominately played by adults for fun and nostalgia, we wanted to do our utmost and limit any potential risks to gambling harm no matter how small, by following a precautionary approach and restrict all Under 18s from playing them in our venues” says James Miller, bacta President. “This approach will send a clear message of reassurance to all our customers that family seaside amusement arcades have and will continue to be safe environments for friends and families to have fun.”  

“The members’ decision to strengthen our Voluntary Code and restrict Under 18s from playing Cat D Cash Fruit Machines is further evidence that Social Responsibility is at the core of what we do,” says Trevor Sutton, Chairman of bacta’s Division 1. “These games will remain available to play by adults within our venues and importantly still allow family groups to play in close proximity to each other without segregation. As Operators, we intend to ensure that our offer remains safe, well controlled, diverse, appealing to all ages and most importantly represents a fun, wholesome experience creating memories that last a lifetime.”

“Category D fruit machines have been long considered as part of the entertainment offer associated with seaside holidays and a trip to the arcade. Regulators in the past have therefore not imposed an age restriction on them. However, our members understand that perceptions change and we want to ensure that we do everything possible to protect players,” adds John White, bacta CEO. “I am incredibly proud that our members have taken this responsible decision at a time when their businesses are suffering due to the COVID pandemic and the subsequent loss of trade.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the Gambling Related Harm APPG that has tweeted:

This is a welcome and important move by @bactauk and we applaud them for making this change voluntarily. We would also like to see them take the same action for non-cash payout Category D fruit machines.