Lots of families and couples spend their vacations at Center Parcs. The resorts are usually fun and child-friendly. However, a recent event caused a bit of a shock. It appeared that once of the Center Parcs resorts had an arcade where children could take a gamble. This is obviously illegal, because no one under the age of 18 is allowed to gamble.
Violation of the law gambling
Gambling is illegal under the age of 18 to prevent early gambling addictions. However, Center Parcs violated this law by having several arcades for children. The Gambling Commission discovered 4 slots in the resorts in Lommel , Peer and Vietsalm in the Ardennes. Children could gamble on them up to 261 euros! Just as striking is the fact that even standard arcades or casinos don’t use so much money for their slots. So it comes as no surprise that the Commission closed down the slots immediately.
Political discussion about gambling and children
The Center Parcs incident is not entirely new. There were talks about ‘illegal’ gambling and children in the Netherlands before. A couple of years ago a company called Gamestate also had arcades where children could play. Politicians warned that minors could develop gambling addictions because of this. They wanted Gamestate to close its doors. However, the Gambling Commission did not forbid Gamestate.
No permission for arcades
After their discovery, Gambling Commission send a letter to Center Parcs. It urged the company not to establish arcades for children without a permission. At first the company said that children could only play skill games at the resort. A check from the Commission proved otherwise. The children could even play Roulette type of games and the Wheel of Fortune! These are well-known games of chance. The fact that the children could bet with a lot of money, up to 261 euros on the ‘Big Bass Wheel’, also showed that something wasn’t right.
No Bingo games as well
Center Parcs has changed its opinion. It now agrees to close down the slots for children. The Gambling Commission checks regularly if companies operate in accordance to the gambling law. This is obviously not always the case with Center Parcs. It also didn’t have a permit to organize Bingo games. It’s only allowed to organize a Bingo night if the money is donated to charities. This wasn’t the case at Center Parcs. The resort has agreed to do this. It’s not clear yet if a fine will be given to Center Parcs.
Slots and the Dutch gambling law
The arcades of Center Parcs are operated by a Dutch company called Alcrea. It has established three arcades in the Netherlands in total. Players can place a very high bet over there, if they want to. However, Center Parcs should never have been a place where this is possible. It would all have been perfectly fine though, if it only had skill games pinball and airhockey alone. Alcrea first has to adjust the slots before they will open again. This will take some time, because the slots have to meet the Dutch gambling law.
Amusement parks in the Netherlands
Interestingly enough, there are some exceptions when it comes to amusement and gambling. There are several amusement parks in the Netherlands (in Dutch also known as ‘luna) where you can take a gamble with small bets. Of course it’s still illegal for minors!