A quick guide to gambling machines in pubs and bars

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Gambling in pubs isn’t a modern-day activity – it dates back to the 1400’s. Henry VII restricted indoor games in 1495 when he realised how they were distracting Tudor pub men from playing archery.

Over the years, as technology has advanced, so too have pub gaming machines. The pub slots you see today are a far cry from the ‘Liberty Bell’ slot which was manufactured by Charles Fey in 1899, but this was created eight years after the popular ‘slot’ game by Sittmann and Pitt of Brooklyn, New York was released in 1891. Sittman and Pitt devised a gaming machine which featured five drums with a total of 50 card faces – it was based on a game of poker. The popularity of this game took off and could then be found in many different variations – a bit like todays slots industry.

Gone are the days where slot machines featured an arm (one-arm bandit) that you pull and with technology being so powerful these days, slots are being reinvented totally.

Various pub games

You won’t only find fruit machines in pubs, nowadays, you’ll find arcade machines, table game machines, fixed odds betting terminals and even quiz machines – all of which require you to insert money to play. Where’s there’s gambling, there’s money to be won, but knowing when to stop is vital.

Statistics show that there are as many as 400,000 people in the UK with a gambling problem (this includes online gambling on slots, casinos and sports betting) and is just the tip of the ice berg. When the fun stops, you should stop. Never gamble more than you can afford and never chase wins. If you think you have a gambling problem, there is help available from GameCare and other regulatory bodies.

Licensed rules

• All pubs and bars must follow a series of strict rules set out by the Gambling Commission, when it comes to gaming machines – it’s this or be handed extortionate fines. A few of the rules are:

• Pubs that choose to make machines available to the public must only do so during the hours that the premises licence allows the sale of alcohol.

• It is the responsibility of the Designated Premises Supervisor to ensure that any machines made available on the premises are supervised either by staff or other means, in order to prevent under-age access on under 18 prohibited machines.

• Qualifying alcohol licensed premises are entitled (under Automatic Entitlement) to provide two gaming machines of category C or D upon notification to the licensing authority (LA). Category C and D machines can accept bets of a maximum of £1 with a top prize of £100 on offer.

It is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure the machine meets the regulatory requirements prior to making them available for use to the public. If a machine fails to meet the requirements above, it is the business owner and not the machine supplier that is liable for this failure.

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