Low-hanging Fruit Machines


Daniel Boffey of The Observer, wrote the sort of badly researched article on Sunday 20 November 2011 that the industry is more used to seeing from the likes of The Daily Mail.

The article accuses fruit machine operators of taking advantage of the recession to open up gambling dens in the most impoverished parts of the country. The article quotes the National Centre of Social Research which has released a report on where gaming machines are sited. However, in no place in the article is any reference made to what kind of gaming machines are being referred to.

Instead of calling all kinds of gaming machines “fruit machines” which to most people means AWPs – it seems likely that in fact most of the machines being referred to could in fact be FOBTs. The article also makes reference to Harriet Harman’s contretemps with the LBO sector during the recent BISL conference and yet, once again, the coin-op sector gets the bad press.


Read the full article below and please leave comments:

Slot machines and gaming arcades are proliferating across Britain, as the economic downturn forces the closure of shops and leisure outlets.

The first major study of where fruit machines are located has revealed that areas with high unemployment, dominated by the lowest socio-economic groups, tend to have the most.

These areas include the Welsh valleys, Yorkshire towns such as Barnsley and Halifax, and urban areas near Glasgow, such as Airdrie and Stirling. The same is true of places where people are predominantly aged either between 16 and 34 or over 75, particularly seaside towns such as Brighton and Bournemouth.

But the study, by the National Centre of Social Research , also shows that relatively affluent towns, such as Altrincham, just outside Manchester, and the shopping precincts of new towns and cities such as Milton Keynes and Peterborough are now host to what the researchers termed “high-density machine zones”, where there is at least one gaming machine for every hectare, an area the size of a rugby pitch.

Researchers suggest this may be because shops and leisure outlets are closing, but there is a demand for some sort of entertainment and the gambling industry is grabbing the opportunity.

Heather Wardle, director of research at NatCen, said: “There are clusters of high-density machine zones and in those areas people are more likely to be economically inactive, in lower, manual occupations and from low-income families. But the pattern is more complicated than that. It is not uniform.

“These high-density areas are not only in poor neighbourhoods. There are relatively affluent areas with a high density of machines. Altrincham is a relatively wealthy area but has a high density of machines, and you think, why is that? And it could be because of a lack of other leisure and recreation types on offer in that area. We know Altrincham town centre had one of the highest rates of retail vacancies in 2010.”

Last week Harriet Harman, the shadow culture secretary, argued from studying her own constituency of Camberwell and Peckham, in south London, that betting firms were deliberately opening branches in poor areas, pushing families further into poverty and creating a link between benefit dependence and gambling.

She also called for tighter rules on “evil” high-stakes games machines which had created a “casino on every high street”. Labour wants new powers to enable councils and local people to stop betting shops opening. However, the Association of British Bookmakers claims that there is no evidence that poverty is exacerbated by betting.

The NatCen study found that 383 areas in the UK were statistically defined as high-density machine zones and cross-compared them with the 2007 multiple deprivation index to achieve its results. The work was commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Fund, a charity established to provide research for the regulatory bodies set up by Labour in the 2005 Gambling Act.

Comments (1)

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Like you say, once again the poorest sector of the industry is getting the blame for people who are heavily gambling.

Who is challenging these statistics, are they being published alongside these so called statement of facts.

If operaters in our industry are installing their equipment in low income area’s it is probably because the retail business in those area’s are struggling for business so much , that it is easier for an operator to get those locations.

I would like to know what qualifications these people have to be able to make such ridiculous comments in the first place. Any good arcade operator will not open an arcade in such high crime area’s mainly because of his/her equipment being broken into or valdalised.

On the other hand high street betting shop’s have been in abundance in the these area;s that are mentioned for more than 60 years, why not put the blame on the betting shop operaters, or as the poorest sector of the business the arcade owners not got as strong a lobbyist as the bookmaking association.

Like I said before I left the U.K. in1989, “The only way to win is to fight back” and not pamper to the needs of the Gaming Board.
In 1982 I was denied a gaming machine license in the U.K. purportably because I lived outside of the U.K. and could have possibly been controlled by undesirable elements.

Now some of the biggest operaters and manufacturers in the U.K. are owned by companies such as Scientific Games and Cesars Palace Resorts who were either started or controlled by some very undesirable ellements that were riddled with corruption in the past, and that is a matter of record . Like they say corruption starts at the top.

Freddy Bailey-
Coin Machine Industry Historian

Freddy Bailey
26/11/2011, 21:45

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