Work has started on a new half a million adventure golf course on Clacton Pier. The course will spread over two floors and is expected to open to the public this summer. It is part of the overhaul of the pier which is costing £4m.
The adventure golf course will be followed by new dodgems, a £500,000 children’s play area and a coffee shop.
Pier director Billy Ball told local press, “By the end of last week, we had around 45 workers, both in-house and outside contractors, pulling out all the stops to catch up some of the many hours lost due to bad weather,” he said.
“I am really pleased with their efforts and a lot has been achieved in terms of installing the new water mains, laying foundations, electric cabling and continuing with the reinstatement of the roof. We are experiencing a great deal of interest in this project, which will make us one of the premier attractions in East Anglia.”
The fiscal cost of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) on the taxpayer is found to be as high as £210 million, research suggests.
Analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), commissioned by bacta, the trade association representing the UK amusements sector, shows B2 machines could be associated with an excess fiscal cost in the hundreds of millions due to the impact on front line services. This annual loss equates to an estimated £1,723 per B2 machine problem gambler.
Hospital inpatient services are the hardest hit, standing at a £116 million loss, corresponding to over half of the total excess fiscal cost. Surprisingly, primary care mental health services appears to be the source of the smallest cost.
Ten Entertainment Group, the second largest ten-pin bowling operator in the UK with a total of 42 sites all trading under the Tenpin brand, has posted a rise in annual profit after it added new sites, boosted footfall at existing sites and sold more products per visitor.
Profit after tax jumped 43% to £5.2m, while adjusted profit grew by 18% to £13.0m on the back of 5.5% growth in sales to £71.0m. On a like-for-like basis, sales grew 3.6%.
The company declared a final dividend of 7p per share, adding to a 3p interim payout.Like-for-like sales in the first 11 weeks of the current financial year were up 1.7%.
‘Inevitably there was a trading impact from the unusual disruption caused by the widespread snow in week nine, resulting in a 1.1% impact on the like-for-like performance,’ the company said. Without the bad weather impact, the business would have achieved like-for-like sales year to date of 2.8%, it added.
As you will have seen in last week’s Spring Statement, the Chancellor mentioned the possibility of getting rid of 1p and 2p coins. On the back of this bacta’s Chief Executive John White took to the airwaves in defence of the 2p coin. Appearing on BBC Today Programme on Thursday 15th, the Jeremy Vine Show, and various radio stations the message was clear – don’t push out our 2ps, noting the devastating impact this would have on seaside pushers and the knock-on effect on the seaside economy.
Bacta put out a statement the following day, “We are delighted to announce that a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office stated last night “There are no proposals to scrap 1p or 2p coins in the consultation that HMT issued yesterday.”
John Bollom, Director of Ameco Arcade at Mumbles Pier also spoke to the press – telling Wales Online that he sees the eventual phasing out of the copper coins as inevitable, “I can’t give you a figure on how much it will cost us (if 2ps are scrapped), but it will be a large number,” he said. “We knew sooner or later that it was going to happen, I will be sorry to see 1p and 2p coins go, it will be a shame. There’s a real nostalgia about coming to the arcade and using the machines, it’s a tradition many families of many generations do.”
Mr Bollom said he had a number of ideas if the change took place. “We are currently trialing Oyster Cards. Customers are able to buy a card and put credit on them to use the machines. This is an option, as well as tokens, but it’s early days. There’s no point in moaning about it, less people are carrying cash on them so we are aware that this was always eventually going to happen.”
International Game Technology PLC holder of the largest slot game feature patent portfolio in North America, announced that it has signed a patent cross-license agreement with the NOVOMATIC Group; a full-service provider in all segments of the gaming industry.
Under the agreement, the NOVOMATIC Group can offer games including patented game features from the IGT portfolio, and will pay ongoing licensing fees to IGT. Financial terms of the agreement are confidential.
“Reaching this cross-licensing agreement with IGT enhances our global expansion strategy with access to compelling product features that have proven to be successful in North America and international markets,” said Thomas Graf, CTO of NOVOMATIC AG (pictured). “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to expand our creative capacity with this vast portfolio of game features.”
“We welcome NOVOMATIC to a comprehensive group of gaming industry leaders who have created a vast resource of game features patents,” said Michael Prescott, IGT Senior Vice President and General Counsel, North America Gaming & Interactive. ”IGT’s collaborative effort to build upon North America’s largest slot game feature patent portfolio now encompasses a global patent pool that we believe can foster continued industry-wide innovation.”
The long-awaited review into B2 stakes was finally revealed this morning and surprise, surprise – the result is an utter fudge designed to try and please everyone but most likely not going to please many – particularly in the retail pub and AGC sector.
Despite recommending that the government lowers the stake to £2 on slot machine style games on B2 – the Commission recommends that ‘casino-style’ games such as roulette – which are far and away the most popular games played on FOBTs be cut to £30 or below. The Guardian newspaper says, “The recommendation is likely to be seen as a victory for bookmakers, who derive more than half of their annual revenues from FOBTs and say a cut to £2 on these games would force shops to close and cost jobs. Shares in William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral rose around 4% after the news.”
However, the Guardian’s Greg Wood claims the battle for a £2 stake is not lost in a later article where he states, “It is also worth noting that while the review recommends a cut to a £2 maximum stake for “slot”-style games on FOBTs, it does not come down firmly for £30 for roulette, which is by far the most popular game on FOBTs. It suggests that it should be “£30 or lower”, and thereby puts the ball very much in the court of Matthew Hancock MP, the culture secretary, who is the politician charged with making the final decision.
“Hancock is a smart operator who will consider the full range of issues – and political implications before he makes his choice. These include the likelihood – indeed, near-certainty – that the next Labour manifesto will echo the pledge in the last one to impose a £2 limit. If Hancock goes with £30 and is seen to cave in to pressure from the retail gambling, it will be a stick that his opponents will beat him with at every opportunity.”
We await bacta’s official position on today’s announcement.
Small gambling businesses are being invited to Gambling Commission workshops as part of a drive to raise standards across the industry.
Operators who run betting shops, bingo halls and arcades are being invited to the events to find out how they can ensure their businesses are fair, safe and crime-free.
Helen Venn, Gambling Commission Programme Director, said: “The aim of the workshops is to engage with smaller operators who may not routinely contact us and to support them in providing gambling facilities that consumers can have trust in.
“The workshop sessions will cover common compliance findings and e-services, assurance statement overview, anti-money laundering risk assessments, multi-operator self-exclusion schemes and local risk assessments.
“There will also be opportunities to ask our compliance team questions during the day.”
The workshops will take place at the Gambling Commission offices in Birmingham on 12 March and at the City Chambers in Edinburgh on3 May. For those not operating near Birmingham and Edinburgh, a webinar is planned for later in the year.
Small operators interested in attending any of these events (including the webinar) are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sega Amusements has plans to create a new arcade in a shopping centre in Westquay, Southampton, according to local press reports.
The unit, which is below a Showcase Cinema is 337sqm unit, currently designated as a cafe or restaurant and council planning chiefs will decide on whether to grant a temporary change of use for five years, with a further five year extension if the arcade is a success.
If plans are accepted, the amusement arcade could create up to six new jobs – four of which would be part time roles.
The Beast from the East has caused delays on the new £4m development at Clacton Pier, forcing bosses to draft in extra workers.
The landmark is set to become a major attraction in East Anglia – boasting a new £500,000 indoor and outdoor adventure golf course over two levels, as well as a £500,000 children’s play area.
Only pier contractor TSI, which is carrying out the main steel construction, continued throughout the big freeze, but all other activity on the build came to a halt. When the worst of the snow hit, bosses also took the decision to close off the top end of the pier and all rides were shut over the weekend.
Pier director Billy Ball said “The team worked on in bitterly cold temperatures and freezing winds on the Monday, but once the Beast from the East hit us the next day it was very difficult to carry on. The design team was able to finalise technical details for the shell of the building but we definitely lost some time on what is a pretty tight schedule.
“However, we are confident that with some improved weather and extra workers coming on board this week that we will still be able to open the new adventure golf course, children’s play area, new first floor dodgems and coffee shop in July.”
The mainstay of hundreds of seaside amusement arcades is the 2p machine, operated with one of the smallest denomination coins and used in innumerable payout machines, rolldowns, pushers and other novelties.
The coin is under threat. The Spring Statement, a document laying out some financial ideas and policies from the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, mentioned the possibility of getting rid of 1p and 2p coins. This, said the Chancellor was “digitisation of payment.” It was no more than a subject for discussion, but nevertheless it rang some warning bells at bacta, the UK’s trade association.
“The 2p machine is a product loved by generations of families,” said association CEO John White. He was interviewed on BBC Today, the peak-hour morning radio show, and he emphasised the damage that the removal of the coin would do to seaside arcades and family holidays.
“It is by far and away the most popular coin for seaside pushers… there are seven pushers on 2p coins to every one that’s on 10p coins. Getting rid of them kills the product and, as one of the principal drivers of income in arcades, therefore, could destroy hundreds of arcades around the coast. Seaside economies would therefore be badly affected.”
by David Snook