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Report: Government to Seek to Ban Under-16s From Game Arcades

June 19, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ A study showing that as many as 100,000 youths skip school daily to play slot machines has prompted the government to propose banning children under 16 from arcades, a report said Sunday.

The government will recommend the new law next month when the Home Office releases the study by a psychiatrist, who estimates that 500,000 British children are hooked on the machines, The Sunday Times reported.

Emanuel Moran, who conducted the study, compared an addiction to slot machines to dependencies on alcohol or drugs, the report said.

″When children find themselves in that situation, it’s a type of desperation,″ the report quoted Moran as saying.

″Even if they get over it, they have wasted vital years,″ he said. ″If you go into the history of people who, in adulthood, had a serious gambling problem, large numbers of them started in their teens.″

Moran was quoted as saying that young people addicted to the machines steal money from their parents or friends to gamble.

British laws say people under the age of 18 cannot gamble, but the report said slot machines are available to children in amusement arcades, railway stations and other public places.

A voluntary industry code says that children under the age of 16 should not be allowed to enter gaming arcades unless accompanied by an adult.

In order to turn the code into law, the report said the government plans to give local authorities stricter licensing powers and create penalties for arcade operators who break the new rules.

It quoted Alan Willis, general secretary of the British Amusement Catering Trades Association, as saying his group opposed the proposed changes.

″We accept there are one or two young people with problems, but the numbers are small,″ he was quoted as saying.

He said his association was working to tighten its disciplinary procedures but felt that the voluntary industry code was effective in keeping young children from the arcades.

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