Story dated 14th March, 2001.

There has been something of a revolution in coin-op games in Belgium. In bars and cafés throughout the country, slot machines (or AWPs - Amusements With Prizes) have been disappearing leaving behind a perfect space for a pinball machine.

The cause of the removal of the slot machines is a change in the laws covering the operation of coin-op machines.

Pinball News reader BigBangJoe (Janick Pauwels) has researched the changes and relates the story:

In short, gambling in any form is strictly forbidden except those games which are approved by the Government. Slots were approved but after the government got complaints about youths getting addicted to it, this approval was revoked.

The Government views those approvals not as a right to exploit those machines but as a favour - as an exception to the general rule - and they give themselves the right to withdraw those exceptions whenever they want.

After the original law of 1902 and some amendments, gambling was redefined from scratch in 1997. In December 2000, the division of gambling equipment whatever into categories was reviewed, and slots have changed category.

What is not included in this definition are games of skill - i.e. games with the following properties:

  • It's allowed to ask some payment but...

  • Pure luck is only partly involved in determining the outcome
    (that's where the skill comes in).

  • The only profit the player is allowed to get is the favour of continuing play without having to pay extra (a free game or something like that).

  • All other gains (for this player or any other) are prohibited.

Pinball definitely falls into the "skill" category, but slots clearly not.

This does not mean that slots are not allowed anymore, it means that they are only allowed in the few places which are allowed to organise gambling (and are strictly under observation from the government)

Conclusion: pinball is of course still allowed and slots have disappeared almost completely in Belgium (and I have checked several places where they used to have them: those horrible machines are really gone!)

Those touch-screen thingies are not very popular anymore (it's always the same) so video-games and pinball are all that's left. I know Belgium is just a small country but maybe other countries will follow this example!

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