What’s the difference between Billiards, Pool and Snooker?

Cue sports have been around since the 1340s and it’s commonplace to see pub pool tables, members club snooker tables and even the occasional bar billiards table in towns and cities around the UK.

Billiards is the oldest set of rules, originally played outdoors on croquet lawns, and eventually on an indoor board covered in green fabric to simulate grass – a practice that continues to this day with standard snooker table baize.

It was over 500 years before snooker was invented in 1875, by putting together rules of two billiards variants: pyramid pool, which used 15 red balls, and black pool, which used different coloured balls.

While the word ‘pool’ has been linked with versions of pocket billiards for centuries, the modern game of eight-ball pool was not invented until the early 1900s and has become the standard variant played on pub pool tables in the UK.

What to know about Billiards

Billiards has a lot of variations. Some use tables with no pockets at all. Some – called pocket billiards – use a table similar to a familiar snooker table or pool table with pockets around the edge.

In most versions, you can score points by hitting an opponent’s ball with your own after banking off a cushion or cannoning off another ball on the table, although there are a lot of other rule sets in use around the world.

The first time you see a bar billiards table can be quite a surprise. That’s because instead of pockets in the sides and corners, it has holes in the middle of the playing surface itself, with points scored depending on which hole your ball drops into.

Pool and snooker can be thought of as specific rule sets of pocket billiards, although the popularity of both have made them sports in their own right.

What to know about Pool

Pool is not a single game, but a collection of similar variations of pocket billiards. For instance, pub pool tables come in a variety of sizes, and the game can be played using ‘spots and stripes’ or red and yellow balls.

There are other versions of pool too, such as 9-ball, which uses nine balls arranged in a diamond instead of the usual 15 in a triangle.

What to know about Snooker

Snooker is much more clearly defined, with a large table of specific size and fixed rules about gameplay, scoring and fouls.

But it’s still governed by the same body as billiards – now called the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

If you’ve never tried it, a game of full-size snooker is well worth an hour or two of your time. But with the challenge of such a large playing surface and tight pockets, it’s no wonder most casual players prefer to stick to their local pub pool table instead.

Get your venue ready for Easter 2021

Don’t be caught out by the early Easter this year – it’s time to get your venue ready if it’s not already.

In 2021 Easter Sunday lands on April 4th, and while that’s not the earliest possible date Easter can be (which is March 22nd) it’s also a long way from the latest, which is April 25th.

This also means Easter comes before the planned reopening of some hospitality businesses on April 12th, but it’s the perfect opportunity to show your local customers that you are preparing to reopen.

By putting up your usual Easter decorations, you can show that your venue is active and start building some buzz, so that on April 12th when outdoor customers can return, you have a socially distanced queue waiting at your door.

Ideas for Easter 2021

This year might need some lateral thinking to make the most of the major calendar events, and Easter is no exception to that.

If you won’t be open until the following Monday, you could consider putting on a belated Easter event – it wouldn’t be the only thing delayed by Covid over the past year.

Or broaden your theme to a celebration of Spring, which is spot-on for the reopening of businesses and reawakening of the UK’s shared social life.

Eggs are very Easter-specific but bunnies, butterflies, flowers and fairy lights can all stay in place throughout the Spring and Summer, so get stuck into some decorating!

Easter entertainment options

When hospitality reopens, it will be outdoor-only at first, so make sure your entertainment options reflect this.

If you’re interested in putting your pub pool table outside until indoor customers can return, read our guide Putting Pub Pool Tables Outside For Summer. It was written before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, but in general the same rules still apply.

That includes suitable protection for your pool table in case of rain, some level ground for it to stand on, and plenty of clearance around it for comfortable cue action.

More ideas for outdoor entertainment

Your pub jukebox can help with all kinds of entertainment – modern digital jukeboxes come equipped with karaoke and built-in bingo games, which can be enjoyed outdoors just as much as indoors.

Again we can help if you’re interested in using your pub jukebox in this way, or replacing an old analogue jukebox with a more modern, (literally) all-singing and all-dancing digital jukebox.

For more great suggestions on making the most of your outdoor space this summer, read our article from last year, Fun Outdoor Beer Garden Event Ideas.

How we can help

Get in touch with Manco Automatics by calling 0161 870 7777 and we can help you to work out what safety precautions you need to take, in order to offer outdoor entertainment to pubgoers in line with the ever-changing COVID-secure restrictions in Easter 2021.

And finally, as conditions (hopefully) continue to ease in the coming months, let’s make the most of the summer whatever the weather, with brighter days ahead and the long overdue chance to get hospitality back in business.

The impact of COVID-19 on gambling review

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on in-person gambling – in fact the Gambling Commission has stopped collecting statistics from licensed betting operators (LBOs) due to the tighter restrictions imposed in November 2020.

At the end of January 2021, the GC published its latest assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on gambling in the UK, covering the period from March to November and looking at both real-world and online gambling.

Some of the headline figures from the latest update include:

  • A month-on-month increase of 3% in active online gambling accounts
  • A month-on-month increase of 4% in total online bets placed
  • A 4% increase in online slots bets to over 5.2 billion
  • A 3% increase in gross gambling yield from online slots to £177 million
  • A record high number of active online slots accounts (2.8 million) during the pandemic

The average online slots session now lasts 22 minutes, an increase of one minute over the previous month, while 8% of sessions – 2.2 million in November – last over an hour.

Cause for concern?

Despite the increase in longer gambling sessions and across-the-board increases in active accounts and betting activity, the GC reports no immediate need for concern about an increase in problem gambling.

“The consumer research data continues to show that across the population as a whole, there is no evidence of a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity in the COVID-19 period,” it said.

Consumer data from the Gambling Commission shows about one in eight people (13%) have gambled more since the COVID-19 pandemic began, yet 27% have gambled less and the remaining 60% have gambled about the same.

For real-world venue operators, including pubs and clubs that provide gaming machines to patrons, this is a reassuring sign of a stable market demand waiting to return to bricks-and-mortar premises.

Get ready to reopen

The future roadmap is still not set in stone, and likely depends on the balance between COVID-19 vaccinations and new variants of Coronavirus over the course of 2021.

However, we would urge all hospitality operators, pubs, clubs and other venues to get ready to reopen, and welcome all enquiries about new gaming machines or delayed maintenance and upgrades to your existing fruit machines.

Remember too that other significant market trends – such as the move to polymer banknotes and 12-sided £1 coins – still need attention if your machines have not been updated to prevent the use of expired currency.

The shutdown has caused significant challenges across all sectors, but this is the time to take whatever actions are necessary to get back to business as soon as you’re given permission to open up.

Slot machine and gaming trends to watch out for in 2021

All indications are that the current Coronavirus vaccination efforts will allow 2021 to become the year of the grand reopening, and for hospitality operators it’s not a moment too soon.

Venue managers will be looking to attract as much business as possible – within any COVID-secure restrictions, of course – and the gaming machine sector is here to support that ambition.

Despite the lockdowns of the past 12 months, it doesn’t mean there are no new developments in slot machines and gaming in general, so what might this year bring?

Cashless coin-op machines

We’re likely to continue to move towards coin-op machines that don’t require coins, and slot machines with no slots, as cashless gaming machines become more commonplace.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made all kinds of cashless payments the first choice, as handling physical money represents an avoidable risk of transmission.

But it’s also a matter of convenience. In the States, tapping a prepaid card on a designated part of the machine is a familiar way to pay for arcade machines and fruit machines.

With the move towards cashless payments propelled even faster forward by COVID-19, this could be the year for UK fruit machines to follow suit.

Touchscreen gaming machines

The pandemic is not necessarily bad news for touchscreen gaming machines, which are more hygienic than you might imagine.

More and more pub entertainment machines are touchscreen, including quiz machines, pub jukeboxes and a growing number of fruit machines too.

Touchscreens are smooth and easy to clean, plus they mean there is often only a single point of physical contact with the machine – give the screen a quick wipe with an appropriate surface cleaner and it’s COVID-safe once again.

Quiz machines and digital jukeboxes are already mostly touchscreen, but with more video fruit machines appearing in pubs in recent years, 2021 might prove to be the pivot point when mechanical buttons become a thing of the past.

COVID-themed fruit machines

Finally, will 2021 be the year for COVID-themed fruit machines to hit the market, or is it still too soon?

Slot machine manufacturers are notoriously unafraid to come up with games based around the big news stories – and there’s no bigger story than Coronavirus.

This probably won’t happen while the virus is still a significant threat, but you can bet that once the first round of vaccinations is complete, Coronavirus fruit machines will hit the market.

It’s all part of the British sense of humour and finding the bright side on the darkest days – will you be installing a COVID-19 slot machine in the months to come?

For more information about our own fruit machines, call Manco Automatics today on  0161 870 7777.

Top trends for hospitality businesses in 2021

After a uniquely challenging 12 months, we all hope that the top trend for hospitality businesses in 2021 will be a return to normality, as the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines allows social distancing restrictions to be relaxed.

But what other related and non-related trends can we also expect to encounter as the year progresses? Here’s our pick of five top trends to look out for in hospitality in 2021.

Entertaining everyone

At Manco, we know the value of entertainment including pub jukeboxes, pool tables, quiz machines and fruit machines, but in 2021 this will be magnified like never before.

The promise of a return to socialising outside of our own homes will see many more people making good use of their local pub, restaurant or social club.

Installing as many forms of on-site entertainment as possible will help you to cater to a broad range of desires and demographics, so you can welcome this tidal wave of revellers back to your premises as soon as it is safe to do so.

Paper to plastic

It’s likely that paper £20 notes would have been withdrawn from circulation were it not for the pandemic.

The polymer £20 note launched in February 2020 and the Bank of England will give at least six months’ warning before its paper predecessor stops being legal tender.

But with the pandemic putting contactless card payments much higher on the agenda, it’s likely that in 2021, payments will trend from paper to plastic one way or the other.

Food and drink

Eat Out to Help Out was a brief but welcome break from the social distancing restrictions in the summer of 2020, but other than that, many Brits have had little opportunity to go out for food and drink over the past year or more.

Food was already important to many hospitality businesses, even traditionally drinks-focused venues like pubs, and as we move through 2021 and beyond, providing a good menu of food and drink will be an important way for many hospitality businesses to win back custom.

Brexit break-up

The UK’s divorce from the European Union is bound to have an effect, whether it proves disruptive to supply chains or a more subtle influence over the course of the year.

Some hospitality operators may choose to embrace Brexit, by listing more British brands and locally produced goods on their menus.

Others may choose a different route, focusing more on the continued availability of continental European brands to reassure customers that despite Brexit, their favourite beer will still be there when they want it.

A new normal?

It’s hard to know exactly what the post-pandemic period will look like, and one ‘trend’ for this year is its unpredictability.

By preparing for every eventuality, with a carefully curated food and drink menu, card payment capabilities, and broad entertainment such as pub pool tables, quiz machines, fruit machines and jukeboxes, you can make sure your venue is the first choice for new customers.

As 2021 draws to a close and we put COVID-19 behind us for good, this gives you the best chance to retain as many of those customers as you can, for an even more prosperous 2022 and beyond.

We wish our customers good health and if you’re preparing your venue for entertainment, call Manco Automatics on 0161 870 7777 and we’ll be happy to help.