Playing away!


When you are on the road or about to take off on holiday, the services or the departure lounge is a welcome opportunity to have a coffee, use the toilet and perhaps stock up on a few purchases. And, if you have some time to kill – it is also an opportunity to play a few machines.

Personally, I am more likely to be found with a large glass of white wine, or in the Duty Free than in the arcade when traveling but in the interests of research I decided to check out the offering at Luton airport.

The brand Voyager Amusements appear at all the major UK airports and this one airside at Luton was well presented with a good range of amusement product and a separate section for 18s and over. There was a Fast and Furious Superbikes, Clena-Flex with tins of Heroes. “That’s silly you could never pick one of those up,” said my husband, missing the point. Outrun 2 SP was there as well as Harry Levy’s Jack in the Box. In the centre of the arcade was an air hockey table.

The Maxx Grab crane was filled with Meerkats from the ads and there is also a Guitar Hero and a Blazing Angels shooter. At the back of the arcade there was a £5 machine area which also contained a Need For Speed Underground and a Striker Pro. Meanwhile, the 18s and over had an Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and a lot of other machines from Barcrest and Red Gaming (Cat


So all in all, this is quite a comprehensive arcade for a compact area and the condition of the machines was good. Which was surprising considering that its primary feature appeared to be as a crèche to the under-fives. We were not the only ones allowing our toddler to climb on the motorbike simulators or drive the cars (after all they don’t know that they are not actually playing the game). It was a blessed respite from telling them not to run or climb on the chairs in the airport lounge.

We did put some money in the kiddie ride, but apart from that, I didn’t see anyone apart from other harassed parents who were using the equipment for free. And of course there is nobody there to move you on, because the concession is unmanned. There were more machines as we made our way to the gate. These were just gaming machines – perhaps a way of distracting the nervous flier! But again, there was nobody playing.

A week later and I am on the M4 coming back from Bath. I decide to check out the amusements at Membury. Almost as soon as you walk in, there are a selection of kiddie rides near the toilets and a couple of Time Buster skill games along one wall. A good opportunity for people to spend a penny before or after spending one. In the next retail unit, there is an AGC with a few B3 machines that are being played. In total, there must be about 8 machines in there and a noticeboard proudly displaying BACTA certification and Gambling Commission licences etc. But there are no staff again and although the 18s and over signage is good, I wonder who would know if a youngster played the games.

All this led me to thinking about the craziness of machine classifications. Why can £500 jackpot games be placed near kiddie rides in a service station, with no staff around, when pubs just get Cat C machines and there are plenty of people to check that no kids are playing?

I am not suggesting that airports and service stations are in any way not meeting the requirements when it comes to separating these games and labeling them as 18s an over. But if this works fine for them – why can’t pubs have the same concessions?

Comments (1)

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I totally agree with your comments about pubs being allowed £500 jackpot games. If anything, in the past I’ve seen kids playing £500 jackpot machines in family social clubs without anyone bothering.

As for motorway services why are there so few kids play areas anyway?

04/04/2011, 14:38

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