Application granted for an over 18’s gambling centre at amusement park

AN application to add an over-18s gambling centre at an amusement park in Ryde has been granted — despite fears it may impact a ‘deprived’ area.

In the first virtual meeting of the Isle of Wight Council, the Licensing sub-committee approved a licence for Harbourlight Amusements, which runs Peter Pan’s Funfair and Amusements on Ryde Esplanade to incorporate an adult gaming centre premises.

This means machines with a higher cost and higher win payout can be added to the family amusement park but in a separate area for over 18s only.

A representative of Harbourlight Amusements told the meeting other businesses on the Island already have what they are asking for, in a separate adult section.

These included Arcadia, up the road from Peter Pan’s in Ryde, and at Sandown Pier.

The family-based business, which has been operating the playground for the past three generations, said it wanted to extended the facilities that were available for families to use and where adults can play on high jackpot machines — but not win as much as you can online, at casinos or playing bingo — and would only account for 1.5 per cent of the entire playground.

The spokesman said there was no intention of it being a large gambling arcade, only offering a small area for adults where they can spend £2 from time to time in order to win a £500 jackpot.

Children would not be able to see the machines, be encouraged to play on them and would be kept away completely.

Staff wouldreceive training in ways to help out vulnerable people should they need it and polices and practices at other Harbourlight Amusement parks wouldcome into play at Peter Pan’s.

The application did receive objections from members of the public and bodies in Ryde but chair of the meeting Cllr Charles Chapman noted his surprise that no representations were made by police, children’s services or other authorities.

The Ryde Society said placing the adult gambling centre in a playground for children, in one of the most socially deprived areas in the country. did the exact opposite of what the current legislation and the Isle of Wight’s own gambling policy requires and asked for the application be refused.

A member of the public objected to allowing the adult gaming in the child friendly play area ‘on every level of common sense’.

They said: “It would change the whole ambiance of the area and attract a wider clientèle that could change the entire social dynamic of the area and be detrimental to the general public, particularly to the children.”

Mayor of Ryde, and representative of Ryde Town Council, Michael Lilley echoed the sentiments saying the type of gambling associated with the high cost high payout machines was likely to ‘bring adults who deal in drugs, abuse, drink and anti-social behaviour into contact with very young children and give them the opportunity to influence them’.

He said: “There has been a number of incidents in the last week which conflicts with families that particularly walk in the area and use that facility and the installation of the centre will increase that.

“Outside the door of this gaming facility you will have very young children going round rides and coming down slides and this is a temptation unnecessary in an area that is dedicated for family.”

Cllr Lilley also said there wasclear evidence children with autism were attracted to gambling, and being in a family area, would only attract them further.