12-sided £1 coin problems start for slot machines

If you read the tabloids you’re likely to have seen alarmist headlines in recent days, claiming that the new 12-sided £1 coin due to enter circulation in March 2017 “won’t work in slot machines”.

Depending on your choice of newspaper, you could be forgiven for thinking we are facing a coin-operated apocalypse, with some publications seeming to say the new coins cannot be used in slot machines at all.

But this is not the case – as we have mentioned in recent weeks, many gaming machines, pool tables, juke boxes and other coin-operated equipment should just need either a software update or a replacement hardware cash slot.

It’s important to do this promptly, so that when the new 12-sided £1 coin enters circulation in March 2017, all of your gaming machines are already equipped to accept it.

Remember also to make sure they do not continue to accept the round pound as payment once it is no longer legal tender.

We are taking enquiries now on this issue – so if you have slot machines in need of attention, we will be happy to help.

Incidentally, during the last few months of the round pound, it’s worth looking out for £1 coins minted in 2016, which will be the last circular £1 coins.

Although the Royal Mint has produced round £1 coins this year, they are only available as part of collectors’ sets – and will therefore only enter circulation if one of those sets is split up and spent as ordinary currency.

This should mean very few 2016 £1 coins ever go into circulation before the new 12-sided £1 coin replaces them in March – and that could ultimately make them worth much more than their face value in the years to come.

If you have any enquiries about retrofitting your gaming machines, pub pool tables and juke boxes to support the 12-sided £1 coin, or if you still need to upgrade note slots to accept the polymer £5 note, contact us immediately to make sure your machines are not paying out on non-legal tender.

Tom Watson calls for top stake of £2 on FOBTs

Labour MP Tom Watson has launched a petition calling for a £2 maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), a controversial category of gaming machines that have been linked with large losses over a short period of time.

FOBTs – officially classified as B2 gaming machines – are typically seen in bookmakers’ shops and currently have a top stake of £100 per play, with the result of each game known within a matter of seconds.

At around 20 seconds for one complete play cycle, they leave the player at risk of losing up to £300 in the space of a minute – and potentially much more over the course of a complete session.

Many gamblers are becoming addicted to B2 gaming machines, partly due to the thrill of playing for such high stakes, and in some cases in an attempt to claw back substantial losses.

The stakes are high in the most literal sense – and while only a small number of FOBTs are allowed in each betting shop, the large bookmakers’ chains have been accused of simply opening a new shop ‘around the corner’ in order to install even more FOBTs in a small area.

All of this adds up to a situation in which players are no longer participating for fun and entertainment, as with the vast majority of pub fruit machines, and this is when gambling becomes a concern.

Mr Watson’s petition was launched on October 24th and gained almost 500 signatures in its first two weeks.

He said: “If Theresa May is serious about breaking with the Tory tradition of putting profits before people, the government must reduce the maximum stake on these addictive machines from £100 to £2.”

The petition coincides with the upcoming review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures, which includes a specific remit to focus on the impact of B2 gaming machines, and which is currently the subject of a Parliamentary call for evidence.

B2 gaming machines ‘under review’ in Parliament

A newly launched Parliamentary review includes a focus on the societal impact of B2 gaming machines, commonly known as fixed-odds betting terminals or FOBTs.

These are the high-stakes terminals seen in betting shops, which currently allow a maximum stake of £100 on a play cycle that can be completed in as little as 20 seconds.

B2 gaming machines have been linked with heavy losses in a matter of minutes, as well as being highly addictive due to the ‘thrill’ of the high stakes and, in the worst cases, individuals trying to win back substantial losses by gambling more.

On October 24th Tracey Crouch, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport told the House of Commons that FOBTs will be a particular area of focus in the upcoming Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.

“The review will include a close look at the issue of B2 gaming machines (more commonly known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – FOBTs) and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the player or the communities in which they are located,” she said.

An open Call for Evidence is accepting submissions from interested parties until December 4th, although it is likely to take around 18 months for any final conclusions to be drawn.

Bacta, which represents the UK gaming machines industry, have confirmed that they will be making a formal submission, which will form part of the consultation responses.

The consultation period coincides with the launch of a petition by Labour MP Tom Watson, who is calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to enforce a £2 maximum stake on FOBTs.

He urged her to avoid “putting profits before people” by ensuring the top stakes on B2 gaming machines are reduced substantially, and helping to combat the addictive aspect of them and the risk of quickly running up sizeable losses.