The humble pub slot machine is the only thing keeping many English pubs in business, this unlikely hero of the countries publicans is all that stands between them and bankruptcy. The English pub trade has been hit by a perfect storm of over regulation, economic down turn and poor weather. first came the smoking ban, then the credit crunch and now another wet summer. The only ray of light for some pubs is the flashing ones at the end of the bar in the shape of familiar pub slot machine. It now seems that the pub slot machine is the only difference between profit and lose for many public houses.

The advent of the smoking ban in the UK now means that 1 in 3 smokers now go to the pub less regularly according to trade reports. When you consider 21% percent of the England’s population smoke, even a small drop in visitors adds up to an awful lot of unsold beer! Not surprisingly very few smokers relish the prospect of spending an evening stood in a pub car park. It’s reported by The Times newspaper that revenues generated from gaming machines in public houses can contribute upwards of 25 per cent of their net profit. The Government’s latest review of stakes and prizes gave a boost to slot machine income after the increase in maximum jackpot to £70, which came into force this year.

It is hoped the increase in Jackpot prizes may help pubs close the gap on lost beer sales, but it’s unlikely that it will be anywhere near enough to save some pubs, which are closing at a rate of 52 per week. To add to the publicans misery this summer also saw the English football team crash out of the world cup after the group stage, which undoubtedly did not help sales, couple this with a wet summer and the outlook for the traditional English pub looks bleak.

It has recently been reported the new coalition government will be looking at ways to help the great British pub, ideas put forward include ‘Community Run Pubs’ which may see a village take part or full ownership of a local pub and use it as a shop, post office, library & pub. The pub could be run as a charity or a not for profit business. Other measure include ‘Private Members’ pubs which could charge a membership fee and try to gain a change in the law to allow smoking on the premises. Whatever the future holds it seems that the number of traditional pubs in England is sure to shrink over the coming years.

A number of publicans are hoping to form a pressure group to lobby MP’s for great support for the in battled industry.

By Gen Wright
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