AMUSEMENT arcades have been caught allowing underage children to use their betting machines.
A total of six out of seven arcades in Brighton and Hove allowed a 16-year-old boy to use fixed odds betting terminals after he was sent out in a test operation.
Brighton and Hove city councillors said the results of their tests were “shocking” and that there were real concerns about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBs).
Test exercise Council officers, assisted by the Gambling Commission, carried out the test purchasing exercise.
Only The Gaming Centre in Boundary Road in Hove passed the test and challenged the 16-year-old boy to prove his age on entry.
You have to be aged 18 to use FOBs.
At the other six venues the teenager was allowed to walk in and around the premises and play on a machine.
The premises that failed the test purchase were Connaught Leisure in George Street in Hove, Metrobet Bookmakers in Boundary Road in Hove, Regency Arcade in West Street in Brighton and Bridge Bookmakers, Nobles Amusements and Silverstreak Ltd, all in St James’s Street in Brighton.
The council has announced that all the premises have responded to findings and all have issued a commitment to improve their policies and procedures.
Improvements will include increased training and ensuring customers have to approach staff before playing.
Councillor Stephanie Powell, chaiwoman of the city’s licensing committee, said the results of the test purchases were “shocking”.
She said: “With gaming machines on the increase and the real concerns about fixed odds betting terminals where people can lose a lot of money very quickly, it is more important than ever that we take steps to protect young people.”
Paul Brand, operations manager at Metrobet, said he was aware of the incident which the firm had dealt with internally. He said it was the first instance of its kind in seven years of the firm operating in the UK.
He added: “The manager concerned did not see the youngster approaching the FOBs because he was busy at the time and he has been disciplined.
New system “We feel the procedures we have in place are adequate but since the incident we now have a new system where the FOBs are blocked so anyone entering the shop has to go to the desk where they can be challenged on age.
“This incident is not something we are proud of but we are all human.”
Nobles Amusements said it was “company policy” not to comment while Connaught Leisure and the other operators were not able to provide a comment by the time The Argus went to print.