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Written on 18th February 2020
So the great promise of a new year and a new beginning is just a continuation of 2020, for now at least.
We expected the lockdown and were ready for it as best as we could, but its hard for many, and, we fear that the toll it will take on people mentally for some time to come.
We can hope and double down that this will be the last lockdown and there will be a hunger for the British people to keep the money 'in house' and boost the much needed sectors in our wonderful United Kingdom.
Some have fared better than others, most takeaways are booming and almost all online businesses have excelled at rapid pace. It is therefore going to be interesting to what will happen to the high street and IF the 'rot' that has already been apparent for many years will be 'too set in' to be treated.
We await the budget in less than a fortnight and we hope that the high street will be assisted and the online businesses paying a much fairer tax to allow the traditional outlets to have a slight chance of continuation. It would be a pretty dull affair if the towns that we all live in had 'no town' as we know it and would remove our 'hub' for meeting up and having a bit of time out.
Behind the scenes we have been flat out. It has been a bizarre and very challenging time. The first lockdown was almost novel, it was new and felt for us all as our time to shine as a generation to stand up and be counted. There was, for a time, a sense of togetherness and adherence to the lockdown rules and concern for those who were alone.
As the lockdowns and 'open up to close again' and tiers (and tears) were flowing we became 'used to' the new lockdown lifestyle. We are still in a lockdown and for some time to come we feel and fear for our sector.
In this politically charged world there have been the most odd decisions and quite frankly disastrous moves made by the industry, who are sadly led by groups of people that have no idea to be a customer. The army of operators that are supportive of such craziness have to wipe the brown stains from their noses more often than Mr Kipling makes a cake.
So coming back with BACTA making the industry adopt an over 18 rule for five pounds (or under) jackpots (same restriction as FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS) we have a pensive view of the future and shape of things to come.
Twenty Five years ago (you can check the videos, many are OLDER and show BIGGER STAKES) it was agreed to put a limit of 10p £5 jackpot for children to play. All those years ago £5 was still a decent amount of money, I used to get £1.50 from my mum and £2 from my Nan a week as pocket money only a couple of years earlier than this. When I was a young lad I could play the 'current jackpot' that was the HIGHEST stake and prize anywhere, they were all over the arcade floor with no such 'over 18' area.
Ticket machines make those who that operate them phenomenal amounts of money. These machines often 50p a play but more are becoming £1 are the money spinner for any arcade. Children are placing immense amounts of money in these machines for a few tickets that get them very little for their money. Ticket machines are completely tax free, with this I mean MGD (machines games duty). An average ticket machine in the summer would take around £1000+ per week in a reasonably busy site (this is based on actual figures seen).
So you can see my surprise that the old fruit machine pastime that has been enjoyed, and still is, will be targeted because of.. well I am unsure about this bit. Lets look at the facts of a fruit machine against something ticket related.. A fruit machine has a MINIMUM % payout of 70% and a Ticket machine 30%. A fruit machine (for under 18) has a maximum stake of 10p and a ticket machine seems to vary but is usually 20p-£1. The max Jackpot for a fruit machine is £5 cash and a ticket machine seems to be 1000 tickets. So you see the less risk is in the facts, the tired old fruit machine with a few reels and some lamps VERSUS the great big ticket monster of a machine that dazzles with its vibrant lights. Is a fruit machine MORE of a gamble than a ticket machine?
As you all know we do NOT operate ticket machines, so perhaps we may be deemed as bias, however we have always held balanced views on things and if the consensus feels we are wrong then we will accept that but personally I think the fruit machine is as deserving as anything else. Many of you reading this now (thanks for sticking through the waffle) will smile brightly for the memories as a youngster with your family having a play in the arcades, on ALL genres of machines. The support for the classic fruit machines is at a highest level and shows no signs of decline.
It would not surprise me if our politically motivated and out of depth/touch 'powers that be' will take away the 2p pusher and cranes, many in the industry with believe this to be the case.
By making fruit machines over 18 now when the stake and prize is laughable is an admission that they never should of been allowed for all ages in the first place.
Moving on (finally) ..
Bognor, Chatham and Tonbridge Mr Ps Classic Amusements look like warehouses! The floorspace is NO SPACE, there is more room in an old slam door train toilet. We have cleared arcades that are closing across the country, we have cleared stores, the wealth of games we have are bonkers. Thankfully we are licenced to sell, supply, maintain machines but my god we have got more coming in than we could possibly release!
We have some gems in and we are looking to radically change the games we have across ALL arcades. Don't forget too that Maidstone will be returning at some point so that will have a showcase of classic machines.
For the families we have some wicked bits that have come in too, including a new pusher that dispenses prizes as you play. We are frantically trying to refurbish some other classics from years gone by, and cannot wait to let everyone enjoy the magic again on these old favourites.
As many of you will have seen we have rebooted our reelfruits YouTube channel to ensure that the latest classics and behind the scenes shenanigans are there for all to see. For latest content please subscribe, all videos are AD free for your enjoyment.
I would like to thank all of our team (in no order) Phil, Dave (Shocky - dont feel right calling him Dave), Kev and Jade for their loyalty and belief of good things to come. We all know that the fun hasn't even begun yet and we hope that we can take you all on that journey with us.
Sorry this has dragged on a little but you said you all wanted the waffles back -you must be madder than me!
All the best and stay safe people!
All the best,
Dave, Amelia, Ruby and Scarlett xxxx