The Valencian Community parliament has voted in favour of a new gambling law to prevent gambling addiction and underage gambling which will see arcade operators, bookmakers as well as bar and restaurant owners, where gaming machines are set up, adhere to strict minimum distances and take various player and youth protection measures.
There will now be a minimum distance of 850 meters as the crow flies between venues and educational institutions. Amusement arcades and betting shops must carry out age checks at their entrance doors and check whether a player is registered in the official game file (Registro General de Interdicciones de Acceso al Juego (RGIAJ)).
Screens of slot machines in bars and restaurants must be switched off when not in use. Bar and restaurant owners must activate the devices by remote control if a player wants to use them as with how cigarette machines are operated. While Parliament insists that the new regulations are the best way to fight the region’s increasing gambling addiction, many land-based gaming providers fear they could be forced out of business.
The workers’ union for arcade employees (Unión de Trabajadores de los Salones de Juego) believes 426 arcades could be threatened with closure due to the new laws. This could result in 2,500 employees losing their jobs.
Gaming association Cejuego has also criticised the new regulations. Alejandro Landaluce, CEO of CEJUEGO, said: “Planning must be homogeneous for the entire sector. In Valencia this has not happened. There has been no dialogue with the sector. Regulatory development has not been homogeneous. Discontinuing machines in hotels, with 200 meters in lounges and then 700. We love when there is a law that homogenizes and is regulated in this way, such as that of Galicia. We have made our opinion known to the Valencian Administration and we will do it again when there is a procedure in the Cortes.”
Fidel Molina, the chairman of the Spanish machine distributor COMATEL, said: “We will go to extremes to defend our bars and restaurants.”
According to him, around 10,000 hospitality businesses may be forced to close due to the minimum clearances required by the Gambling Act.