Report 3: Changing the law

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Location: Somerset

Report 3: Changing the law

Post by woodpen161 »

This is one of three reports posted briefly on eBay UK in the Coin-Operated category before eBay removed them. Because they're relevant to us, I'm re-posting them here.

Report 3: Changing the law

OK so by now we have a number of issues:
The law effectively makes most private sales of vintage one armed bandit and Allwin type machines a criminal offence. I'm still trying to find out the maximum fine, but it goes with up to two years in prison.

eBay's policy is to disallow the listing of all slot machines because they fundamentally misunderstand the law.

eBay listings get cancelled because someone reports them to the eBay listing police.

It seems to me that we have a number of possibilities

a) Somehow, we get whoever is whingeing to eBay to stop. Then we carry on selling illegally in the hope that the gaming board doesn't really care and would just as soon turn a blind eye. A good old British common sense compromise.

b) We get the law changed and then eBay policy. This means we can sell legally anywhere any time (including the local paper and antique fairs).

Route a) is probably OK if everyone will play ball, and will rumble along quite nicely till we get a zealot in the eBay community, or someone at the Gaming Board who wants to make a name for himself (or herself).

If my current experience is anything to go by, changing eBay will be substantially the most difficult.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that we need to start at the top and work down. If we can get the law changed, then eBay's policy may change, and then whoever is reporting your listings will have to take up another hobby.

So far I have established that the Gaming board, maybe unofficially also think that current restrictions are daft. They have told me that they will 'not oppose' a change in the law to allow a free market in vintage machine.

I have written to my MP, who has been in communication with a minister's private secretary, who feels that the current situation is 'over burdensome' and mentions getting 'sensible' treatment of vintage machines.

However, to the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who has taken these steps. It really needs all (or at least some) of you to do the same.

I sent an email to my MP, which so far seems to have had some positive response, but I can't see the law being changed on the basis of one email from a yokel in Somerset. To date, I have had nobody whatsoever even offering a defense of the current law in respect of the private sales of vintage machines to other private collectors.

At the end of this report is a suggested text of a letter you might copy to your MP. They are currently compiling a list of barmy over regulation, and this one is a cracker!

Anyway, if we want the law changed, we have to do something. All publicity will be good publicity Write to your MP, to the papers, the BBC, or maybe we could have a bring-and-buy/sell day somewhere, and invite the press, TV Gaming Board and Police!

If anyone knows how to set up a web site where we can register post and read news etc. Please do!

One thing is certain, the law in respect of sales, supplies and maintenance of privately owned gaming machine is totally unreasonable, completely stupid, and unnecessarily criminalizes a lot of good decent people whose only real crime is to have a minority interest.

Appendix: Sample email/ letter to send to your MP

Sorry to disturb you, but I just don't know where else to turn.

I am a criminal thanks to a piece of ludicrous legislation that make no difference whatsoever to real criminals, but criminalises harmless ordinary people with a minority interest.

I and many others like me have an interest in, and an appreciation of, the design and artistry of antique slot machines. These machine are typically over 25 years old, fully mechanical in operation and use obsolete non legal tender coins such as old pennies, sixpences or shillings.

They generally have a maximum payout of 12 coins, and are by any reasonable interpretation, completely harmless.

I have a small collection of such machines, some of the classic 'one armed bandit' types, and some known as 'flick ball' machines of the type that used to be on seaside piers in the 50s and 60s.

I am strictly a private collector of such machines, NEVER make them available to the public, and occasionally like to buy or sell the machines to other private collectors.

According to information I have received from the machine specialist at the gaming board, I am effectively a criminal.

Whereas owning such a machine is OK, any attempt at selling, supplying or maintaining such a machine requires a gaming board section 27 license, which costs a massive £5920. - Now, if a coin gets stuck, or a spring needs replacing, not unusual in a machine at least 40 years old, fixing the problem is 'maintenance' and requires a license.

They do offer a once-in-a-lifetime-good-for-one-month-only permit to sell one machine as a concession.

In the light of recent moves to deregulate the operation of gaming machine, surely something can be done to allow for sales between private collectors, and for small businesses that restore and maintain these harmless old machines?

Can you do anything to help get this ridiculous situation resolved?

My hobby is completely harmless, hurts nobody, yet falls foul of the law.

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