Fruit machines through the ages

The first fruit machines were slot machines, but the first slot machines were not fruit machines.

That’s because the term ‘slot machine’ originally applied to all coin-op machines, including vending machines and automatic horse racing machines similar to those still found in amusement arcades to this day.

Starting from the 1880s, if you won on one of these horse racing machines, you might receive a prize in the form of cigars or drinks – yes, pub slot machines have existed since the very first days of coin-op gaming machines!

Interestingly, these machines led to a commonly used saying for games that almost (but not quite) landed on a prize – “close, but no cigar”.


One-armed bandits and fruit machines

Towards the end of the 1880s, coin-op machines started to pay cash prizes. These included ‘tip the balance’ machines similar to modern-day coin dozer/push-off machines, and ‘wheel of fortune’ style games.

By the mid-1890s, American inventor Charles Fey had created the first slot machines similar to the pub fruit machines you see today.

Fey’s second slot machine to enter mass production was 4-11-44, a one-armed bandit based around the three winning numbers in the lottery game Policy.

Soon after, he created Liberty Bell, and the benchmark was set for modern slot machines. The reels still did not feature fruits, but the combination of playing card suit symbols, plus lucky horseshoes and bells was a big step towards the fruits we know and love today.


20th century fruit machines

Fey’s factory – and almost all the first-generation Liberty Bell machines – were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

This disaster may be partly responsible for the rise of 20th century fruit machines. In 1910, a partnership between Fey and the Mills Novelty Company produced Operator Bell, a new version of Liberty Bell with – at last – fruits used as the symbols on the reels.

During the decades that followed, these Mills-produced fruit machines evolved to use wooden cabinets that were much lighter than the original cast iron, and much quieter mechanisms.


Modern pub fruit machines

The past 50 years have seen pub fruit machines evolve yet again, with the introduction of secondary feature boards and much more complex gameplay and gamble options.

In the 21st century, touchscreen fruit machines have become more commonplace, with pub quiz machines adding to the gameplay options for patrons too.

The choice is wider than ever – and with new games, features and rules being introduced all the time, who knows where fruit machines will go next??

Putting pub pool tables outside for summer

Putting pub pool tables outside for summer

We’re often asked about putting pub pool tables outside for summer, and despite the notoriously unpredictable British weather, the answer is yes, you can.

However, there is, of course, some care and attention needed to make sure you don’t end up with flooded felt or boggy baize following a seasonal downpour.

The Manco Automatics team have got you covered – and your outdoor pub pool table should be covered too, just in case!


Outdoor locations for pub pool tables

Most of the rules of outdoor locations for pub pool tables are the same as for indoor pool tables, including:

  • Relatively flat, level, stable ground.
  • Adequate cue clearance on all sides.
  • Not blocking emergency routes or creating a hazard.

If the basics are all accounted for, then there’s usually no reason why you can’t put a pool table outside in a beer garden or on a terrace.

And by doing so, you can also free up the equivalent space inside, which is ideal if you plan to screen major sporting events this summer or just want the floor space for tables.


Extra considerations for outdoor pool tables

You may have seen outdoor pool tables at pubs and bars in Mediterranean holiday resorts, but it’s important to realise that the UK is unfortunately not a Mediterranean country.

Our climate means it is very likely, if not inevitable, that the summer months will see heavy rain – and our clients in Greater Manchester will know that more than most!

Because of this, you need to take some precautions if you want to put pub pool tables in the beer garden or elsewhere outside.

A suitable shelter or canopy is essential. Ideally, it should provide a permanent cover to protect the table surface against rainfall, allowing for the fact that rain can blow in at an angle in squally weather.

For security reasons, coin-operated pool tables should ideally be in an enclosed area such as a fenced-in beer garden and/or supervised directly from the bar or via CCTV.


Need help with an outdoor pool table?

We’re happy to help you decide if an outdoor pub pool table is a sensible decision for your premises and to troubleshoot any additional preparations you should make before installation.

Our team can deliver and install an outdoor pool table or if you already have one of our pub pool tables indoors, we can come and professionally relocate it to your beer garden.

To find out more, contact your Manco representative today and we’ll get the cue ball rolling.

How pub gaming machines can help you stay open

The British pub industry is showing signs of more positive performance, but recent figures still show pubs are closing at an alarming rate – so could hired pub gaming machines be the answer?

According to a report from Altus Group, nearly 1,000 UK pubs called last orders for the final time in 2018.

That works out to around 76 per month, which is only 55% of the long-term average of 138 closures per month in the first seven years of the decade.

However, the British Beer & Pub Association’s chief executive Brigid Simmonds says pubs are still being taxed out of business.

“Too many pubs are still closing because of huge tax pressures from elsewhere, especially from eye-wateringly high beer duty and VAT, so we cannot be complacent,” she said.

“On a typical pint we pay 46 pence in beer duty and cutting this is one of the best ways to help pubs. Pubs pay on average £140,000 in tax each year.”

A possible way for some venues to increase revenues – and crucially, profits too – is to install more hired pub gaming machines including pool tables, fruit machines, quiz machines and jukeboxes.


How do hired pub gaming machines help?

When you install hired pub gaming machines like quiz machines and fruit machines, you diversify your revenue streams while also giving customers more reasons to stay on your premises.

Although there are still taxes to pay, such as Machine Games Duty on pub gaming machines that pay out cash prizes, this is calculated as a percentage of the net profits after deducting any prizes paid out – so pub fruit machines, quiz machines and other cash games remain profitable.

Manco Automatics are able to provide gaming machines on a profit share basis, which reduces the upfront costs even further when you choose to install them on your premises.

There are also plenty of coin-op machines for pubs that do not pay cash prizes, for example pool tables and jukeboxes, all of which add entertainment and customer retention, as well as bringing in cash revenues.

Finally, our pull tab machines are a great way to add a gaming machine to private members clubs, with a variety of different machine sizes and ticket stakes.

The industry may not yet be out of the woods, but circumstances do appear to be improving. By diversifying your income-generating revenue streams with one or more pub gaming machines, you can add to your profits and sail into calmer waters ahead.

Keep customers entertained on bank holiday weekends with a jukebox

Bank holiday season is upon us with the long Easter weekend followed very quickly by May Day and the Spring bank holiday – so it’s the perfect time to consider installing a jukebox to keep customers entertained and on your premises for longer.

A jukebox is a family friendly option if you’re expecting to have more children on your premises during bank holiday weekends, as there’s no gambling involved, so you don’t have to worry about restricting access to only people who are 18 or over.

It’s also fast for people to use, as it can take from just a few seconds to a couple of minutes to place multiple song selections, after which the machine is freed up for the next paying customer to add their songs to the playlist.

Finally of course, jukeboxes add entertainment throughout your premises, as the songs customers choose play out over your speaker systems.

This can mean the music played is a better fit for what people actually want to hear, and it can also create some fun moments when a song comes on that your regular customers are not impressed by!


Jukebox options from Manco

We have a few different jukebox options to choose from, and the main question is whether you want to play just the music, or also the pop videos for the songs people select.

If you have screens throughout your venue, a video jukebox is a great option and can justify charging people more for each song selection.

Because of this, our two main options are:

  • Audio-only sound systems.
  • Linked video jukeboxes.

We can help you to get set up with screens and projectors if you need to install new equipment to show videos.

Our video jukeboxes also have the ability to display advertising graphics on your screens, further increasing the revenue potential for your business.


Ask us about jukebox installation

Our engineers have worked on jukebox installation at many venues across Greater Manchester and the north-west, from the jukebox itself, to a network connection to download new songs, to screens and projectors for video jukeboxes.

To find out more about jukebox installation, contact Manco Automatics today and we can schedule installation to catch as much of your extra bank holiday custom as possible.

This is a very busy time of year and the earnings potential is huge as we head into summer, so call us today on 0161 870 7777 and we will schedule your jukebox installation as soon as possible.

What are the most popular games on quiz machines?

Quiz machines are a great way to keep individuals and groups of family and friends entertained while they’re in your establishment, with the added appeal of a potential cash prize for players with a good enough knowledge of trivia.

But what are the most popular games on quiz machines? Some of the most popular quiz machines are Games Warehouse Paragon quiz machines, and these are where you’ll find some of the top quiz machine titles too.


Pub Quiz

With easy gameplay, a familiar format and a good chance to win back your stake, it’s easy to see why Pub Quiz is the first port of call for many players.

This is just one of the traditional pub quiz titles on Games Warehouse quiz machines, which also include games like Pints Make Prizes and the music-focused Pop Quiz.



Students are some of the biggest players of quiz machines in Manchester, so daytime TV crossovers like Pointless have huge popularity and appeal.

Familiarity with the TV show makes it easy to understand the gameplay as it translates onto a Paragon quiz machine, and there’s plenty of fun even in a losing game.


Deal or No Deal

The phenomenal TV success story has translated onto almost every possible gaming platform, including quiz machines and pub fruit machines, and remains a go-to option for many players.

Deal or No Deal on quiz machines has been given several updates over the years since the TV game show first launched, and there’s even Deal or No Deal No Questions for players who want to skip straight to opening prize boxes.


Pixel This!

One of the most popular modern games on quiz machines, Pixel This! is designed in the style of a mobile gaming app, which again helps to give intuitive gameplay to new players.

It’s a hangman-style word game with clues in the form of pixelated pictures that gradually become clearer – the faster the player guesses correctly, the more points they earn towards the next cash prize payout.


How much does it cost to install a quiz machine?

If you want to offer these most popular quiz machine games and many more to your patrons, you can do so at zero upfront cost.

Manco Automatics supply quiz machines in Manchester on profit-share agreements. That means:

  • No upfront cost.
  • No monthly rental fee.
  • Payments based on profits.

If you want to know more about how to get a free quiz machine in Manchester, contact Manco today on 0161 870 7777 or email and we will be happy to help.

Manco Automatics Ltd