“Almost Out” of Funds, Massachusetts Arcades Push to Reopen


Ryan Family Amusements, an arcade and bowling alley chain in Massachusetts, is among many operators in the state wondering why they can’t open until Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan, which won’t happen until there’s a vaccine for Covid-19.

The owners told the Cape Cod Times they don’t think arcades are being treated fairly under Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, which has allowed casinos to reopen while their small arcades – which make up 70% of their revenue – were moved from Phase 3 to Phase 4 without warning (the bowling and food components of the company’s business have been allowed to open).

“We were very strong before this happened,” said Bill Campbell, the company’s vice president. “Now we’ve used the money we had in the bank and are almost out of the PPP funds we got.” Campbell also participated in a mock Boston Tea Party event aimed at getting businesses opened sooner, as reported by WCVB.

In preparation to reopen, Ryan Family Amusements spent more than $200,000 on air purifying systems, Plexiglas shields, sanitizing equipment and more. The work was done anticipating an early July opening under Phase 3. “On July 2, when they announced Phase 3, they didn’t say anything about arcades,” Campbell added. “It was when we checked the state guidelines that we saw arcades and ball pits had been moved to Phase 4.”

Historic Salisbury, Mass., arcade Joe’s Playland is also feeling the hurt, telling CBS Boston that it’s been financially “devastating.” The business makes 70% of its money during the summer season, according to co-owner Dan Abdulla. He and his brother and fellow co-owner Fred had also prepped their facility for an early July, Phase 3 reopening.

“We know there’s a lot of high touch areas in our business, but that’s no different from a casino or gym,” Abdulla said. “If there’s more that the governor wants us to do, he can tell us. But let us open and we’ll do what we have to.”

Family Entertainment Group’s George Smith said: “I’m sympathetic to decision makers – what they have to do is tough and we are in a health crisis – but we have no direction as to what we need to do to reopen. Our industry overall knows the sensitivity for what we do. We’ll do whatever it takes just as long as we have a chance for survival.”

Citing the waning days of what would have been their summer season with no reopening date in sight, he said: “We’re facing an existential threat. Many businesses will not survive this. We’re going to die unless we get relief. Letting other people know what’s going on is important. We need as many people collectively as possible,” he said. To learn more and get involved, contact Smith at [email protected] or Rick Kirby at [email protected].


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