Fruit machine stagnation leads to calls for Government action

Fruit machine stagnation leads to calls for Government action

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 Posted by Michael Lawson
The AWP machine decline is reflective of that felt by the wider hospitality industry

The British AWP (amusement with prize) industry, like the wider hospitality sector, faces an uncertain future in the face of increasing financial pressures, and there has been calls for the government to take action to ease the situation.

Earlier in the year, an auditing company revealed takings from fruit machines have fallen by an estimated £600 million over the past decade, with average weekly income decreasing 25% since 2007.

These figures come at a time when British pubs are witnessing a similarly challenging situation, with as many as 15 venues closing each week, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPB).

The organisation is calling for a cut of one penny in Beer Duty, as the Chancellor finalises his plans for the annual budget due to be presented on 22 November.

Increased competition from fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which can offer far larger prizes, is another factor affecting fruit machine sales.

While FOBTs offer a maximum prize jackpot of £500, AWPs’ are restricted to £100, with maximum stakes curbed at just £1.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the BBPB, told TotallyGaming.com: “The AWP sector does face challenges and this makes the Government‘s current plans not to increase stakes and prizes disappointing, as there is a need to keep these games as exciting as possible for players.  

"Modest increases would  keep these machines within a low-stake and low-prize format, yet safeguarding an important income stream for many pubs.

“The sector is responding to these challenges with innovation; addressing the issue of contactless payment, moving to digital machines which can store multiple games, and allowing online access to fix software problems, which can reduce operating costs for pubs.

"Innovation will help to safeguard the role of machines in pubs for many years to come, but a change in stake and prize is essential too.”

Totally Gaming says: It comes as no great surprise to hear AWP machines are witnessing a considerable decline in profitability. Given that the vast majority of these machines are located in pubs, their drop in income goes hand-in-hand with that of the wider sector, and the competition from betting shop FOBTs has only exacerbated the problem. Calls from the BBPB for a small increase in maximum prize money seems like a logical and reasonable remedy, but time will tell if this advice is taken on board by the Chancellor, when he announces his annual budget at the end of the month.

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