Coral Island: Slots of Fun

Coral Island in Blackpool is large sea-front ‘amusement arcade’ with slot machines, video games and fast food outlets. Flashing lights and rich carpets contrast with the dull overhead illumination. The staff have drawn and pinched faces and the clientele wander from one machine to another holding large plastic tubs containing the cash from which they so readily part. Judging by their clothes and hairstyles, some would be well advised spending a little more of it on themselves. The local tourist information site explains that ‘Coral Island is Blackpool's largest indoor free admission family attraction. Explore and enjoy an action-packed day filled with fabulous food and family favourite seaside rides and redemption games as well as adult gaming and prize bingo.’ Redemption is not a word I would normally associate with such a place. Amazingly, it’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. That’s right- if you’re feeling bored on Christmas Day, you can pop into Coral Island and enjoy an ‘action-packed day’ and ‘fabulous food’. Perhaps it beats a Turkey dinner with the In-Laws. 

One of the games I saw brought back memories of an ill-spent childhood. Hundreds of tuppenny pieces are on two oscillating surfaces. By dropping more down the shoot, players hope to dislodge more in return. See how they hang over the edge: if only a single coin could dislodge them. Several pounds’ worth of two-pences later, and they are still winking at you.


Gambling establishments only open for business because most people lose. Some will go on to win, but this merely encourages the onlookers to gamble a little more themselves. Isn’t this machine a fitting picture of the general pursuit of wealth? One puts in so much effort and time, but none obtain the happiness they anticipate. On the way home from last night’s Bible Study, two Porsches and a Bentley passed me. Maybe one won the lottery, another laboured hard in business. But what difference does it make? They stood by life’s tawdry slot machine inserting their coppers and scooped up even more. They accrued sufficient to buy the car, the house, the holiday, and the rest.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Sadly, there are many thousands of people whose hearts are at Coral Island.