DCMS has confirmed that operators of UK ‘adult gaming centres’ (AGCs) in England will not be allowed to reopen their venues as anticipated on Monday 15 June.
Listed as retail venues, UK arcades had been scheduled to reopen from the start of next week alongside betting shop counterparts, a decision previously communicated by the government on the weekend of 23 May.
However, yesterday evening DCMS announced that adult gaming centres had been reclassified as leisure premises, pushing back their business reopening timetable to 4 July, alongside restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and casinos.
DCMS stated that the decision had been undertaken as gaming centres could not fulfil social distancing rules enforced on retail businesses.
The government’s decision has been met by an instant outcry from industry stakeholders who counter that a further delay will cost the arcade sector millions in lost revenues and having to extend employee furlough programmes.
John White, CEO of British arcade trade association BACTA, lambasted the DCMS decision, stating that it held ‘no logic’ and no regard of the consequences facing business owners.
“Bacta is calling for every member to act immediately by phoning and emailing any political contact that they have whether MP or local councillor, to tell the Prime Minister that he has made a serious mistake and he must reverse this outrageous decision,” White urged.
Responding to DCMS actions, Bacta has pushed the department to clarify its judgement to members.
The association also referred to the term ‘amusement arcades’, as used by the government ‘schedule 2’ Coronavirus Response Act, as imprecise as it makes no distinction between adult gaming centres (AGCs) and family entertainment centres (FECs).
White added: “Operators have made significant investments to prepare for Monday’s reopening and this news will be a huge financial cost to them. Staff have been taken off furlough in readiness and machines have been refloated. Comprehensive social distancing and public hygiene measures have been developed and rolled out in accordance with Government and Sector guidance in all AGCs.”