If there is one thing that people living in the UK are known for, it’s their love of pub slots. Visit just about any pub throughout the country, and you will undoubtedly see at least one or two ‘pub fruities’ on display. In fact, bigger pubs, particularly those found in larger city centres like London, Manchester, Cardiff, will often feature a bank of pub slots, ready for action.
Pub slots are enormously popular with both men and women that enjoy frequenting their favourite public house, and most enjoy a few rounds of slots with their pint, with not too much harm done. However, as with any form of gambling in the UK, there is a slightly darker or more troubling side to pub slots or gaming machines.
Two of the main areas of concern involve the rise in gambling addiction, particularly as it relates to playing slots in pubs, and underage gambling. The first issue is one that has been around for a long time and, while most pub patrons are able to enjoy a few spins on their favourite fruities with no issues, others find it difficult not to become addicted to trying to win back what they lost. Add to that the fact that alcohol can dull the senses and impair good judgement, and you can easily see where the problem arises.
However, the second issue is one that is somewhat newer and just as much of a dangerous situation. This has to do with the alarming rise in underage gambling and, while it may seem an impossible scenario in a public house, you may be quite surprised. Most pubs in the UK are family-friendly affairs, and families will often visit their local pub with an eye towards enjoying a bit of local entertainment, a Sunday roast or what have you.
Public houses can often be very busy and popular days means that the place is ‘packed to the rafters. With all this commotion and parents busy with activities, it is not inconceivable to imagine a child sneaking off and trying their luck on a pub slot. Afterall, they seem harmless enough and look great, with their attractive fruit symbols, blinking lights and cheerful sounds.
Parents of children under the age of 18 may be asking the question right now, “how bad is the problem really?” If the UK Gambling Commission is stepping in, you can imagine that the problem has gotten serious enough. In fact, according to a recent review of public houses in England and Wales by the UKGC, as much as 84% of all pubs have failed to prevent patrons under the age of 18 from accessing and gambling on pub slots.
The UKGC classifies these types of slots as Category C gaming machines, which are more commonly known as fruit machines. According to the UKGC, local businesses (pubs) are responsible for checking and verifying the age of those playing on their machines, by asking for identification and verifying the ages of the players.
The UKGC is taking this matter very seriously and, over the past year, has worked very closely with local authorities as well as local police units, to ensure that local businesses are in fact compliant with existing laws governing under age gambling.
Ultimately, the fact remains that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to play on any machine found within a pub’s premises that has been classed as a Category C gaming machine. As per the license agreement between the UK Gambling Commission and the pub owner, it is the onus of the owner of the public house, to ensure that no one under the legal age is able to access or play on the machines.
It is also expected that the owner of the pub conveys these duties to their staff members, and they are expected to ensure that no child has access to the machines. In the event that a child (anyone under the age of 18) does gain access to the machine, staff are expected to either remove them from accessing the machine or report them to management.
Pub owners must also clearly display signs that indicate that all pub slot machines can only be accessed or enjoyed by patrons over the age of 18 years.