Stakes raised for pub operators under new gambling regime

06 October 2006 by
Stakes raised for pub operators under new gambling regime

Pub owners will be able to raise the pay-out limit on fruit machines, following a concession from the Government.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has given the go-ahead to increase pay-out limits on fruit machines from £25 to £35, ahead of the Gambling Act next September.

DCMS announced the measure in response to lobbying from the main trade bodies in the sector, including Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of BISL, said: "Working with the major trade associations who have an interest in this area, we convinced ministers of the hardship the industry was experiencing at this low-stake, low-price end of the market."

"As a result they have bought forward the changes to stakes and increased the prize for the ‘pub' machine to £35," she said.

A spokesman for the BBPA welcomed "the modest" change as a step in the right direction.

It should help soften the blow of next year's smoking ban in England and Wales for pub operators, which fear fruit machine revenues will be hit hard as smokers go elsewhere.

High-street operator JD Wetherspoon, which has pubs in Scotland and sites that have been smoke-free in England and Wales for almost a year, recently reported a fall in gambling revenues at its no-smoking pubs.

However, because the changes put fruit machines into a higher tax bracket, operators are unlikely to see benefits from the agreement until they are reclassified in next year's budget and the rate of tax is lowered.

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By Chris Druce

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