New Year New You

After the busyness of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it can be easy to accept that January is a quiet month and rest on your laurels. However, if you want 2018 to be your best and biggest year, you should use the next few weeks to give your pub a makeover.

Could your seating be improved?

Think about the layout of your pub, especially if you’ve not adjusted the seating for many years. Would another configuration work better? Would you benefit from having a couple of poseur tables and stools by your windows? They can make your pub always seem busy, drawing people in off the street.

If your chairs are ripped, consider replacing or recovering them. Outside seating mightn’t be a priority at this time of year typically, but if you have outdoor heaters, you should make the most of this space. Smokers in particular will appreciate having comfy seating to sit on while they chat.

Are you offering the whole package?

It’s vital that you keep your punters entertained when they come back in their droves following a ditched dry January. Give them the freedom to decide what music is played with a video jukebox, install a quiz machine and have a pool table or two. Hiring the equipment you need can cost less than you think, when you turn to Manco Automatics.

Pool tables can be a welcome addition to any pub or club as they allow groups of friends and family members to compete against each other, and you could arrange regular pool competitions too. Those playing will spend longer in your establishment, so are more likely to order extra drinks and food… which will keep your tills ringing.

Do your walls need a lick of paint?

It’s amazing the difference a coat or two of paint can make, whether you decide to stick with your current shade or opt for a different colour completely. You want to make a good first impression so make sure your entrance area is looking smart. Toilets shouldn’t be overlooked either. If they look dirty and uncared for, punters will find this off-putting and they may decide to go elsewhere.

For more tips on increasing your pub’s profits in 2018, click here >


Switch gaming machines to polymer £10 notes by March 2018

With the new year nearly upon is, it’s time to consider the sense and sensibility of switching gaming machines to accept the Jane Austen polymer £10 note.

The Austen £10 launched in 2017 and the polymer banknote has since replaced any lingering paper £10 notes in most people’s pockets (although paper £10 notes are currently still legal tender – more on that in a moment).

Remember too that the polymer £20 note is coming, although it’s not due to arrive until 2020, while the £1 coin changed from its historic round shape to become a 12-sided coin in March 2017.

All of these changes need adjustments to coin and note-operated gaming machines, and you may have already had pub fruit machines adapted to the polymer £5 note when it launched in autumn 2016.

But the £10 note launched much more recently – only in autumn 2017, in fact – and its paper predecessor ceases to be legal tender from March 1st 2018 as, ironically, the Charles Darwin £10 note becomes the latest victim in the evolution of British currency.

If you have not yet had your pub fruit machines, pool tables, quiz machines and juke boxes, along with any other note-operated gaming machines, adapted to accept polymer notes, it is time to do so.

Some machines, especially more modern fruit machines and quiz machines, may only need a software update, basically so that they recognise the dimensions of the new £10 note and how it differs from the old version.

In some cases, especially on slightly older gaming machines of all kinds, a hardware upgrade might be able to replace or augment old note slots not only to recognise the new note, but also to be able to grip the smooth surface of the polymer without any problems.

Unfortunately in some cases older gaming machines will not be suitable for an upgrade either by updating their software or adjusting their hardware – but Manco can at least advise on a suitable replacement machine if you need one.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, the important point is that the old paper £10 note, which is already relatively scarce, will cease to be legal tender completely from March 1st 2018, and updating your quiz machines and fruit machines is about more than just lost earnings from people trying to play using the new note.

By leaving machines with note slots that accept the old £10 and recognise it as legal tender, you are at risk of paying out to a player who has paid with a banknote you can no longer cash – arguably an even more significant reason to have the work done ahead of time to accept the new £10 note and crucially, to reject the old one.

Brexit and the general election are no longer credible excuses for government to ignore gambling machine issues

With Brexit negotiations due to commence in just a few days’ time, households and businesses alike remain in the dark as to the true extent of any potential fallout – with the pub trade very much in that boat.

Until we know more, what does the future hold for publicans?

In the 2017 Spring Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that all alcohol duty rates would rise with retail prices index (RPI) inflation.  The price of a pint of beer would increase by 2p, while a bottle of wine would rise by 10p; the BBPA had alleged that putting the price of beer up by 2p would result in “4,000 job losses and more pub closures”.

Given that the Tories won the national vote, just, these rates will be in place at least until the next Budget.

It has previously been argued that community pubs cannot simply rely on beer sales to make a living; so looking at additional streams of revenue through fruit machine or gaming machine hire becomes more of a necessary option for landlords.

However, there is a whole raft of potential issues that surface with this change in tide. For starters, such a move endorses – or certainly appears to encourage – gambling, which has a wider negative social impact.

The limit per spin is currently £100 but industry insiders, including us, are lobbying to make this just £2.

The government has intervened to a degree, limiting betting shops to just four machines each but as a consequence there has simply been more and more betting shops springing up and gambling of this nature costs the state around £1.6 billion; whether that be in aftercare, court cases or jail sentencing.

In addition, Tory MPs Tracey Crouch and Karen Bradley have researched that 1% of the population, approximately 600,000 people, are affected by such machines with the issue escalating in town centres.

A proposed 2016 review has continually been postponed due to Brexit and, more recently, the general election but the silver lining to this all is that with Mrs May remaining at Number 10, the review should still be on table – and not merely thrown away.

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.

Bingo! How gaming machines help get you a full house

The UK land-based bingo industry has undergone plenty of changes over the past decade or more, with challenges from online gambling and the rise of fixed-odds terminals, but gaming machines from traditional low-tech legacy machines to modern digital machines can help you to flesh out your offering and attract a younger crowd too.

Bingo in the early 2000s shook off its old image of pensioners in a hushed hall, with more of a party atmosphere, big-money link games and events to attract the younger generations in each family.

The market has continued to mature since then, and bingo halls have now found a second revenue stream as a social destination, especially for big celebrations like hen nights, workplace outings, birthdays and anniversaries.

With this new, younger crowd, your venue will thrive best by catering for a broader selection of tastes, and by offering alternative forms of gambling and entertainment for in between the main bingo games.

Gaming machines are the perfect way to do that – providing entertainment to individuals and small groups, without requiring any direct human interaction from your staff, and with the ability to keep people engaged whether they are playing or just watching from nearby.

Manco has been maintaining gaming machines in bingo halls for nearly 50 years. During that time, we have acquired incredible knowledge and experience of maintaining and operating gaming machines in the bingo environment. Data retrieval, networked machines, community gaming are but a few of the modern developments in bingo gaming that we at Manco deal with on a daily basis.

The machines that you operate benefit your club on a number of levels, first by engaging customers already on your premises, so that they stay longer and spend more, while also attracting more members to join so that they can enjoy all of your facilities, from your gaming machines to your live bingo games, bar area and any food you might serve too.

Together, these advantages are helping to support a revitalised land-based bingo market, with plenty of potential for the future as the current younger generation’s own children reach maturity.