Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Memoranda


Memorandum submitted by the British Resorts Association



  The British Resorts Association is a recognised Local Government based Association representing local government sponsored tourism interest across much of the UK. While the membership is mainly coastal it is by no means exclusively resort based. We currently have 60 UK local authorities, 10 tourism board and 14 commercial organisations in membership. Background detail on the membership and the work of the Association can be accessed at

  Given our remit and our membership base, we have confined our comments to the major tourism issue for our membership profile, and not to the much wider and more complex, and often competing, issues for local authorities in general.

  In terms of tourism we take the view that the impacts and issues relate mainly to built resorts and, in particular, to traditional coastal resort towns.


  The role of the traditional family style arcade. Love them or loathe them, the traditional family arcades continue to fulfil a number of important roles within coastal resort towns of all sizes. They:

    —  provide all weather attractions open to all age groups, very often over an extended working day, and, often, outside the main tourist season.

    —  they are very often the main providers of important, but economically marginal, ancillary supporting service, particularly in smaller resorts (toilets, snack bars, beach toys and novelty retail etc).

    —  provide a viable commercial purpose for many commercially marginal buildings and structures, many of which are of architectural or historical merit.

    —  are clearly popular with the mass tourist market.

    —  provide significant direct employment opportunities both in and out of season.

    —  provide significant indirect employment via arcade suppliers and support services.

    —  as a consequence of the above they play a much more significant role in the typical resort economy than they might naturally be credited with.

  The Budd report recommendation appeared to single out the family style arcade for harsh treatment. Although Government proposals have modified both the tone and nature of the Budd recommendations relating to traditional seaside arcades there remains considerable concern that the proposals will serve to starve the family arcade of its traditional family business, resulting in either closure or a move to adult only gaming. Neither route is palatable for the operator and both would have very serious implications for the nature and style of the resort product and ultimately for the economy of the traditional seaside resort destination.


  The need for major regeneration of seaside resorts has at long last gained the profile it rightly deserves. Regeneration, however, requires an economic viable catalyst to kick-start the virtuous circle of wider regeneration. The liberalisation of casinos is one such new economic opportunity, which would assist a number of the resorts to achieve their plans for regeneration. We support and would wish to encourage:

    —  the development of one, possibly two, major resort casino initiatives in existing major UK resort towns. A town such as Blackpool already has the basic infrastructure, and could easily absorb the development and use it to reinvigorate much of their existing tourism product.

    —  the development of smaller scale casinos in those resort towns, which have an obvious market for, but are currently not allowed to have, casinos. In particular there are a number of resort towns with a significant tourist and conference market which have had long standing aspirations to include modest casino developments within their existing portfolio of attractions. Eastbourne and Harrogate are good examples of towns, which have such aspirations.


Key Concerns

  The nature and tone of the Budd report suggests that there is a presumption that the use of arcades by under 18 year olds is unsustainable and that it should be ended in due course after some further confirmatory research.


  Government has rejected the presumption, but are proposing to conduct further research and to act on it. We have no objection to the proposed research, however it is essential that this research is conducted fully and fairly. It must, for example, look at all aspects of gaming and the real and relative risk of the family style arcade in resorts as, say, compared to National Lottery Advertising on national television or the acceptance and promotion of horse racing and other betting based activity as legitimate main stream sports.

Arcades and Youth Issues

  While arcades can, on occasion, attract bored and sometimes troublesome local youths if no alternative all weather meeting places are provided, there is no compelling resort based evidence to suggest that arcades adversely influence children's social behaviour or indeed their long term attitudes to gaming. We are aware of a significant number of major social and economic issues within resort towns, the issue of arcades and their use by children has never been registered as one of these concerns.

Stakes and Prizes

  Our understanding is that Budd recommendations 61 and 63 combined serve to redefine most of the machines used in traditional arcades into one category. They also then recommend an indefinite freeze of maximum stakes at 10p and the prize at £5. The Government accepts this recommendation but do agree to review it in the light of their proposed research.

  Changing the legislation so that the stakes and prizes cannot be periodically reviewed is effectively to declare that the family arcade that predominantly use this type of machine have no long term future in their current form. Not having the option to consider changing the level in light of longer term, even possible shorter-term changes to coinage, currency values and technology is senseless. It also seems to reinforce the underlying message that it is pointless to consider longer term investment in family style arcades.

Tokens, Tickets and Novelty Items

  Budd recommendation 62 would have limited low stake machines to cash only prizes, effectively banning the use of tokens, redeemable tickets and novelty prizes. Government have rejected this but in doing so have limited the maximum "value" of the non cash prize to £5. Operators, not unreasonably, argue that at £5 the prizes are unlikely to be attractive and that as a result a whole class of machine will become redundant. They also argue that they can not be replaced by a viable lower stake lower prize alternative. We sympathise with the economic pressure this may bring in the short term. We also accept that there may be a reduction in the overall variety of machine and types of games operated in the future. This loss of variety may well reduce the broader appeal of the family style arcade, again threatening their longer-term future.


  Budd recommendation 64 suggested cranes should be removed from the controls altogether. Government rejected the proposal, presumably accepting that this would lead to proliferation. Regrettably the consequence of this is that cranes will now be caught up in the 10p stake £5 cash equivalent prize limitation. Cranes are a good example of machines which largely function on a higher stake and higher prize value, as highlighted in paragraph 3.6. While we support to retain cranes within the existing control regimes we would again urge that the level of cash stakes and non cash value prizes be reconsidered in the light of the reality of operating non cash prize machines on a viable basis.

Jackpot Machines

  The Budd report excluded the prospect of Jackpot machines being included within the designated adult areas of seaside arcades. The Government appears to support this position. While we would acknowledge that the White Paper makes significant concession in other areas of seaside arcade operations, we would argue that an absolute ban on Jackpot machines, regardless of circumstance is unjustified. Some operators may be willing and able to provide and operate secure manned adult only areas which are effectively premises within premises. In these circumstances we can see no valid reason why the adult area should not be treated in the same manner as a High Street adult gaming arcade and be allowed to operate the full range of gaming machines.


  We congratulate Government for commissioning this long overdue review. Despite our observations we believe that the Budd Report's recommendations are largely sound and that the Government's response has addressed many of the residual concerns raised after the report's publication. All that we would now ask is that the opportunities to aid resort regeneration through resort casinos and casinos are maximised and the potential inadvertent damage to the traditional seaside arcades are minimised.

2 May 2002

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