The UK Gambling Commission is calling on the pub trade to increase nationwide action to prohibit under-18s accessing gaming machines in establishments across the region.
This comes after a review of 170 pubs in England and Wales found that 84 per cent are failing to prevent under age individuals from playing category C gaming machines, also known under the ‘fruit machine’ moniker.
Helen Rhodes, programme director at the UKGC, commented: “The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not.”
The new study follows a sample taken last year which found that 88 per cent of pubs in England failed to prevent children accessing 18+ gaming machines.
In the new urges calling for increased action it stressed that local authorities have primary responsibility for regulating such machines, with businesses responsible for ensuring that they are compliant in checking age verification.
Staff are expected to stop children playing on the machines, and there should be clear signage indicating the age restriction.
Rhodes added: “The results last year were extremely disappointing and we have supported local authorities in their action to raise standards. This includes working with the providers of training to the pub industry to emphasise the legal requirements in training materials, as well as with the Home Office to work towards including materials on gambling in pubs in the curriculum for the personal licence holder course.
“The British Beer and Pub Association and UK Hospitality have responded to our call by issuing guidance to their members on the importance of enforcing the legal requirements. We urge the pub sector to respond to this opportunity to protect children and young people and to prevent the need for local authorities to take enforcement action.’’
Over the last 12 months the Gambling Commission has worked with local authorities and local police to test compliance with laws in place to protect children from the risks gambling can pose.