Wake up and smell the coffee! Arcades must look at the big picture


Coin-op Community received this article from a member of the industry with many years of experience, but who would like to remain anonymous!

“After the Government removed the concession of allowing high jackpot AWP s to be played in Arcades, the trade was up in arms that these games could still be freely played on FOBTs in betting shops. Everyone moaned that this was unfair to FECs and we in the coin machine trade were being harshly treated. What was good for the goose was not good for the gander and all and sundry in the trade took up the cudgel looking for a way to have the government reverse its’ stance or at least legislate to allow similar games to be played in arcades.

But this was not to be, and it seems so many years on that nothing in this direction has progressed. No way will the powers that be legislate in favour of Arcades, and no way will they take away the concession of FOBTs to be played in betting shops.  So we have come to a stalemate.

Although BACTA  - led by the extremely able Leslie Macleod –Miller – have battled vigorously over the years to have the decision reversed it has not come to pass, and we now start 2013 from exactly the same position as we were in years ago.

When the position was first made clear that the use of high jackpot machines were to be curtailed in amusement Arcades this writer exhorted operators to “Wake up and smell the coffee”. Times had changed and a new era was being born, one bereft of these games and one where fun and enjoyment was the new watchword for the arcade industry.

Those operators who chose to ignore the passage of time and think that the louder they cried the more government was going to listen to them were suffering from delusions. Time had moved on, and as Fitzgerald had written is his translation of “the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ” in 1860’s

“The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

A quotation never more apt when thinking of trying to get the powers that be reverse their decision.

“Wake up and smell the coffee” gives a positive instruction to present day arcade owners; not to wallow in their own grief and misfortune but to stand up and grasp the new opportunities that present themselves. Those that do can take advantage of these new conditions and alter the focus of their Arcades to offer the family customer a fun filled experience where all visitors can participate as a family and spend an hour or two of diversion.

Arcade owners should make their premises a destination, where the family en bloc can enjoy games and participate in winning toys and novelties to show rewards for their spend. A piece of equipment or an attraction in itself could be installed to excite patrons and draw customers and give hours of fun to family groups. It is not enough to put in a new row of gambling machines and hope that this will draw custom and turn a mediocre arcade into a money-making venture. Operators have to look at the bigger picture and think of the years to come.

Things will not always be the same. Now is the opportunity, as we approach the EAG, to grasp the nettle, and make those capital purchases that will influence discerning visitors to come into a friendly and welcoming environment, and the whole family will have hours of fun and entertainment.


Comments (2)

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Positive encouragement for coastal arcade and FEC owners and operators with which I agree. Sadly of no assistance for the beleaguered town centre AGC operator finding themselves increasingly surrounded by LBO`s. All suggestions in this direction most welcome!

16/01/2013, 15:31

I quite agree with your anonymous writer, for years I have preached, mostly to deaf ears, that we are not going to be able to compete with these new locations such as FOBT’s that put enormous tax monies into the government coffers, and have more political clout through their strong lobbyists than we do as such a small sector of the gaming industry.

In the 1950′s the traditional amusement arcades made money with various novelty games and “Penny Returns” wall machines.

Even when the 1963 Betting and Gaming act allowed amusement arcades to have fruit machines with regulated payouts, The strong Brewery lobyist got machines legally placed in public houses.

In those day’s we has traveling showmen protested the fact that our livelyhood was in jeophody, and those of us who had settled down and opened seasonal seaside arcades formed The Seaside Operators Association to try to protest about the various gaming taxes so heavily impossed on us, we got knowwhere, the official association representing the arcades sector was the ACA (Amusement Caters Association) and on the other side of the fence was the ATA (Amusent Trades Association) who represented the single site operators who operated in local clubs and pub’s under a new legislation.

As you know these two associations joined forces along with the P.O.A (Phonographic Operators Association) and became B.A.C.T.A who in my personal opinion did very little because there was so much conflict of interest between all of the various parties various represented.

It was the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain that obtained more for their members than any other association, because it represented a body that were all going in the right direction.

I have always said that B.A.C.T.A was like a bunch of Old Dog’s with no teeth, and a dog with no teeth coul;d not bite anybody, I said in 1987 that if we did not fight and stand our ground, the day would come when you would see only Betting Shops and Casino style operations being allowed to operate in a profitable way. that was 25 years ago.

We must now because of the weak representation afforded us by our trade associations in the past, must pay the price. The door was first opened when we allowed the Brewery’s to dictate to our industry, then we had a noose hanging over our heads by the gaming board, who generously allowed us to operate (Although always Illegal) the nudge feature of our AWP machines, and then every time creators and designers (Including me) came up with something new that was outsideof the control of the gaming board, our so called defenders of the industry, B.A.C.T.A. sided with the gaming board under the threat that if a designer pursured such actions, the gaming board would revoke the Nudge feature on all of the manufacturers machines, and also one must remember that B.A.C.T.A received a royalty on every machine that was produced with this feature from every manufacturer.

So without further rambling on, let us takle the advice of the anonymous writer andyes, “Smell The Coffee” and go in a different direction and instead of having amusement arcades that cannot compete against other similar locations that offer higher stakes gaming.

Make your Amusement Centers, destination centers, there are so many other factors why this should be done, we are also competing with locations such as the Internet, we must convert to “Destination Locations” that cater for a family wanting to have a good night out with good food and entertainment that they cannot receive anywhere else.

I would suggest the first place to look, if existing arcade owners believe this is the way to go, is the highly successful “Dave & Busters” that are operating just such operations.

If there are still non-believers out there, I can be reached at anglobritish@aol.com and would be glad to supply more facts and figures about these operations.

Let us take out the words “Fruit Machines’ from the Amusement Arcades and replace them with “Rememption Games” as the WAY TO GO.

Freddy Bailey in exile in the U.S.A.

Freddy Bailey
19/01/2013, 19:17

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