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Eye on the prize – machine boost for pubs

On 17/01/14 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

This week’s increase in fruit machine prizes to £100 is another welcome move from Government to assist the pub sector. The BBPA has been pushing for an increase in prizes for Category C (also known as AWPs or fruit) machines and the reinstatement of the Triennial Review, whereby prizes are reviewed every three years.

With many companies and licensees changing their operating style over the last few years to an increasingly food-led approach, the number of machines in pubs has declined over the last decade. However, machines remain a key part of the wider product and entertainment mix that a large amount of pubs offer, and we are pleased to see that the Government has recognised this fact. The income from machines is important to the economics of many pubs, and for some business the income from machines can have a key impact on their viability. An increase in prizes to £100 will deliver significant benefits to the pub machine sector, as well as the resultant positive impact on manufacturers and the supply chain. Based on feedback from members and previous experience from 2009, we estimate a revenue uplift of ten per cent over two years from the £100 prize increase.

The BBPA and its members do of course recognise their responsibilities in respect of preventing underage play of machines, and ensuring that machines in pubs remain a fun activity ancillary to the main attractions of socialising, eating and drinking. With this in mind, we have recently updated our code of practice on machines which reminds operators of their responsibilities with regard to staff training and placement of machines so they can be supervised. BBPA members have also been encouraged to incorporate underage play and social responsibility messaging in any promotion of the new prize level.

There are still challenges in the pub machine sector. The implementation of Machine Games Duty last year was an issue for pubs – the headache of registration was a particular problem in leased/tenanted and independent businesses, where advice and information on MGD was harder to disseminate. This was a major change licensees had to deal with at a difficult economic time – and we will be arguing to let this new tax bed in and not increase the rate going forward.

The BBPA has a Panel dedicated to machines and other pub entertainment such as satellite TV and music copyright, where members are very active in all relevant issues and works to protect and promote gaming machines in pubs. Please contact me ( if your company wishes to be represented on the Panel or for further information.


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