Underage Gambling leads to No More Slots at Blackpool’s Happy Dayz Arcade
With the help of the UK Gambling Commission, the Blackpool Council has vowed to crack down on underage gambling at family arcades where adult slot machines are often found. One such location, the Happy Dayz entertainment complex in Blackpool’s Golden Mile section of the Central Promenade, recently came under fire when investigators discovered underage patrons were being permitted to enter the arcade’s ‘adults only’ section to gamble on slot machines.
The signage throughout the arcade clearly noted that only adults of 18 years of age or more were permitted to enter the arcade’s real money slot machine zone. But that didn’t stop one 15 year old boy from walking in and dropping coins into a gaming device. No employees of Happy Dayz—including the owner, Peter Turner, who was there that day—made any move to stop him either.
As it turns out, he wasn’t just any 15 year old boy. As prosecutor Victoria Cartmell told the court, he was one member of a group of children sent into the arcade as “test purchasers”. Under the watchful eye of the Gambling Commission, the adolescents were directed to enter the arcade and naturally attempt to access the arcade’s adult gambling section.
“They were seen putting money in a Category C machine which has a payout maximum of £35 and was positioned in the adult only area,” Cartmell told the court. She went on to explain the official Code of Conduct in regards to individuals under 18 years playing gaming machines that offer a cash reward, and that Mr. Turner was in direct breach of that code by making no effort to thwart underage gambling in his establishment.
It was also noted by Ms. Cartmell that this was not the first violation for Mr. Turner’s Happy Dayz entertainment complex. She noted that during a previous “test purchase” phase, he had also failed to notice and/or prevent underage patrons entering the adults-only section of the arcade and placing bets on the gaming machines.
The prosecution confirmed that Mr. Turner has since removed the “adults only” section and all real money gambling machines from his establishment to ensure that future incidents of underage gambling cannot take place at the Golden Mile’s popular location.
“I have been in this business since 1972 and I was horrified when I failed,” confessed Peter Turner. “The area has gone and we have lost the investment put into it.”
Note: There seems may be misinformation circulating in media reports. The Blackpool Gazette reported that Peter Turner is 52 years of age, but being in business since 1972 would mean he owned his first arcade at the approximate age of 9.
Arcades Grooming Children to be Adult Gamblers?
Some have complained that arcades like Happy Dayz need to be shut down completely as they are nothing more than grooming parlours for future gamblers. Many of the games found at these locations are designed to mimic traditional casino gambling amusements. Just because they don’t pay out in cash like a casino, doesn’t mean they aren’t training our young children to gamble when they grow up.
The picture below (taken by a past visitor and uploaded to TripAdvisor) clearly shows non-paying games that mimic 3-reel slot machines and roulette located adjacent to the usual line-up of all-ages arcades, including a typical crane machine that awards stuffed animals.
No doubt, removing real money gambling from the location is a step in the right direction, but the UK Gambling Commission may need to seriously reconsider what is and is not deemed a permissible game for children in arcades across the nation.