Long Live the Local Pub!

Long Live the Local Pub!

This is even more important now than in any other time, with what our local Pubs and Social clubs will be facing coming back from Covid19. Pubs and Clubs were the first to be hit and looking like the last ones to be allowed to re-open. At this stage we do not know the impact on our national treasures but I guess it is going to be a big hit without help from the government.

Local pubs keep communities thriving, pubs are under a range of tax pressures. 3 pubs a day close their doors for good!

Further information about the beer tax is below, however in the meantime, please sign the petition to Cut Beer Tax. You can do this here;

https://www.longlivethelocal.pub/

On October 29th 2018, then Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced a freeze on beer duty freeze in response to a 116,000 strong petition asking for a cut in Beer Duty. That freeze ends in February 2020 and current plans mean a Retail Price Index (RPI) linked increase is planned. The General Election means the Autumn Budget has been postponed to early 2020 so there’s still time to make a difference.

So why cut beer tax? The simple answer; in the UK, Beer is overtaxed.

The UK has one of the highest Beer Duty (tax) rates in Europe and is three times the EU average. The government collects £3.5 billion every year in Beer Duty, as well as almost £10 billion in other taxes on pubs and brewers. Today one in every three pounds spent in pubs goes to the taxman

Along with Business rates and VAT, Beer Duty is putting pubs under enormous pressure; every day pubs are closing their doors for good. And it’s getting worse.

The government increased Beer Duty in 2017 and froze it in 2018, with year on year RPI linked increases planned it’s likely that Beer Duty will increase by at least 3% every year for the foreseeable future.

The last time Beer Duty increased year on year was between 2008 and 2013 when the government put a Beer Duty escalator in place. The impact on the beer and pub sector was catastrophic, within 5 years there was a 24% decline in beer sales, 5,000 pubs closed and 58,000 people lost their jobs.

So now we need to fight.

Pubs have been at the heart of our culture for generations and remain one of our most valuable assets. The pub and brewing industries combined create jobs, encourage tourism, and most importantly provide a vital place for communities to gather.

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Pub insolvencies reach four year high!

Pub insolvencies reach four year high!

The number of UK pubs closing their doors due to insolvency hit 530 for the 12-month period up to 30th September 2019, a 13% increase on the prior year total, and the highest bankruptcy figure since 2015. Sterling weaknesses since the Brexit referendum have seen costs of imported alcohol rise, with a decline in young drinkers hitting pub profits.

I came across this article while doing some planning for Comrie during lockdown. What concerns me most is this is before Covid19 and what pubs and social clubs are having to go through at this present time. Yes there have been thousands of deaths and many more people ill, but when we eventually get out of lockdown who knows how the pub and club landscape is going to look. Then there are all the many hundreds businesses that feed off pubs and clubs.

The government have helped with grants, the furloughed scheme and bounce back loans but I do think that the leisure industry and especially the public houses and social clubs need extra help from the government. This is because Boris announced weeks before lockdown to stay away from pubs and clubs then add in the fact that these venues will be the last to open and with strict restrictions in place! Also the demographics of your typical social club customer are 60 plus which will make them less likely to go to their local until they know things are 100% safe.

None of us have a crystal ball but my betting is a lot of the pubs and clubs that were just getting by will not be opening there doors again, which will push up the numbers even higher from my original article that I found at the top of this blog post. Add to the fact how important these places are to the local community and this is not good news for the UK as a whole.

We at Comrie will be doing our best to help and work with the pubs and clubs that we supply fruit machines, jukeboxes and pool tables to. Some of our customers have been with us for 50 years and counting which is testament to our working arrangement but also they become more than just customers! Here’s to raising a glass of beer in one of our regular pubs and clubs in the not to distant future and hopefully celebrating the fact that Big Boris has done more the help this struggling sector…….

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Don’t rely on luck for your pub lotteries

As we are already into 2020 many operators will be planning promotions and activities for the coming year.

Many will be holding lotteries and raffles in conjunction with events that they plan to hold at their venue.

A lottery is a kind of gambling which has the following key elements:

  1. You must pay to enter the game
  2. There is always at least one prize
  3. Prizes are awarded purely on chance

The Gambling Act 2005 contains strict controls on the types of gambling activities that can tale place at premises licensed for the sale of alcohol. Provided that you un your event with the strict criteria laid down by the act, it is possible for alcohol licensed premises to hold certain types of lotteries/raffles without needing any additional form of licence or permit.

Listed below are some key points to remember when thinking about operating a lottery or raffle.

Customer lottery/raffle:

  • Proceeds from ticket sales have to be spent on prizes (less deductions for reasonable expenses incurred, such as the cost of the tickets) Note that a customer lottery is not suitable for charity fundraising (you could consider a charity raffle)
  • The maximum value per prize cannot exceed £50. The prize can be cash, goods, or a mixture of both.
  • Advertisements can only be on the premises. There cannot be any promotional material available outside of the premises itself.
  • Tickets can only be sold to a customer when they are on the premises.
  • Every ticket must give the name and address of the premises and the price of the ticket. It must also state that the tickets are only available to customers of the premises and are non-transferrable.
  • Only one draw per seven days is permitted to take place.
  • The rollover of prizes is not permitted.
  • Children under 17 cannot take part.

Charity Raffle:

Must be provided as an incidental part of another event. This event does not have to be being held for charity, but you must adhere to the limitations as its operations.

A maximum of £500 can be deducted from ticket sales for prizes but additional prizes can be donated.

A maximum of £100 can be deducted to cover any reasonable expenses.

No rollover is permitted.

Tickets can only be sold at the time of the event.

If you require any further information, this can be found on the Gambling Commission website.

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Pubs committed to tackling under 18 gambling in face of Commission warnings

The Gambling Commission has called for pubs to take further action to stop under-18s from playing gaming machines – and the sector has already responded.

Over the past 12 months, the regulator has worked with local authorities and police to test compliance with laws in place to protect under-18s from the risks gambling can pose, finding that 84% failed to prevent it on at least one occasion. This is an issue already acknowledged by the BBPA and UK Hospitality, who last month joined forces on a new initiative to tackle underage gambling in pubs.

While recent figures are down from the 88% failure rate from a sample taken last year, the Gambling Commission said the rules for the machines are still not being appropriately enforced.

“The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not” said the Commission’s Programme Director, Helen Rhodes. “The results last year were extremely disappointing, and we have supported local authorities in their action to raise standards. This included working with the providers of training to the pub industry to emphasise the legal requirements in training materials, a well as with the Home Office to work towards including materials on gambling in pubs in the curriculum for the personal licence holder course”

The BBPA and UK Hospitality are working with their members to produce an updated Social Responsibility Charter for Gaming Machines in pubs. The Charter incorporates a Code of Practice aimed at promoting collaboration and training to prevent underage gambling.

Core principles include collaboration across the sector to help address underage gambling, as well as offering support to staff to ensure they understand and meet their legal responsibilities.

Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds said, “It is important for pubs to ensure that their gambling machines are not used by those underage. Not least because failure to do no could result in action being taken by local authorities to remove gaming machine entitlements, when they offer both entertainment and much needed additional revenue for over taxed pubs”.

We have recently wrote in all our sites to warn them to be on the look out for any potential underage trying to play machines. This can also pay dividends because at the same time you are keeping an extra eye on your machines to make sure no unfamiliar faces are trying to cheat them. this is something we have had happening over the last month, we will be posting more about this soon. If you are looking for the latest digital fruit machines in your pub or club please call Comrie today.

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Some Good News

Pub numbers – finally – on the rise after decade long decline

For the first time in a decade, the number of licensed pubs in Britain is on the rise. The country has lost an average of over 700 pubs each year since 2010 – a trend of decline which at one point looked as though it might be unstoppable. But according to new data from the Office of National Statistics, 2019 has enjoyed a net gain of 320 pubs on the 2018 tally – despite facing a multitude of industry obstacles like business rate changes, economic instability, and a decline in the consumption rates of alcohol.

The reduction in the pub numbers over the last decade has been heart breaking, following change to both business taxes and alcohol duties. But hopefully these figures signpost a reversal of fortunes. Hooray

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Happy New Year For 2020

Happy new year for 2020 from all at Comrie.

What a great way to start the new year, to find out that the nations favourite tipple is actually good for us. Well we at Comrie will certainly be raising a glass or two, to our good health and the health of our beloved pubs and clubs :)

Don’t worry, be hoppy.. why beer is good for you

It is research well worth raising a glass to – beer can be good for our health. Scientists have discovered that some beers are bursting with probiotic microbes – bacteria and yeast credited with a host of benefits, from combating obesity to getting a better night’s sleep.

Examples include Belgian beers Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel and Echt Kriekenbier, which are rich in probiotic yeast. Unlike most beers, these brands are fermented twice – once in the brewery and again in the bottle.

The second fermentation increases the strength of the beer and creates a sharper, drier taste. Importantly for health, the in-bottle fermentation uses a different strain of yeast to the traditional brewer’s yeast/ This yeast doesn’t just convert the sugar in the grain into alcohol, it also makes acids that are poisonous to bacteria that can make us ill.

Professor Eric Claassen, a gut bacteria expert from Amsterdam University said: “You are getting a stronger beer that is very, very healthy. We don’t want to give people a licence to drink more beer. In high concentrations alcohol is bad for the gut but if you drink just one of these beers every day it would be very good for you. “

Research from the University of Nebraska in the US found that some bottles of beer contain up to 50 million probiotic or ‘good’ bacteria. Once in our gut, probiotic bacteria kill rival ‘bad’ bacteria linked to illnesses including autism and bowel cancer.

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Don’t Lose Your Gaming Machine Permit!

Wetherspoons faces licence withdrawal

A JD Wetherspoon’s pub in Wanstead could be set to lose its gambling machine permit and automatic two machine entitlement after failing to prevent underage gambling in two separate police operations.

Redbridge Council licensing committee will meet on the 19th November to discuss whether The George Public House should be allowed to operate its seven machines, after a 15-year-old police cadet used them to gamble uninterrupted in January and July of this year.

Despite staff training being undertaken following both incidents, the council is now considering stripping the pub of its 2012 gaming licences altogether.

“JD Wetherspoon regrets the failure of the two test purchase exercises,” said Wetherspoon’s head of legal Nigel Connor, responding to the 10th July warning from the Council.

“We would of course be more than willing to meet representatives of the authority as an alternative to the enforcement action proposed, in order to show that the necessary measures are in place at the pub to avoid recurrence”.

This is quite simple to avoid and most local pubs do not have the footfall of a Wetherspoons pub so they should be able to keep an eye on their gaming machines. Ensure that your fruit machines are located with-in sight of the bar (the nearer the better). Also that all your staff have been told to approach anyone who looks under 21 who tries to play the machines to ensure they are old enough. If you would like more information on this please contact us at Comrie and we will send you more details of training for you and your staff. We supply pubs and clubs with fruit machines in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, Leicester, Northampton and Coventry and we can say nearly all the locations we deal with are on the ball with this issue, but it is best to refresh your staff to be safe.

 

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Gaming machines and ATM’S – can they be located near each other?

Gaming machines and ATMS  – can they be located near each other?

There is a code of practice for gaming machines in alcohol licensed premises which can be found on the Gambling Commission website.

There is a specific code provision that requires gaming machines to be located in a position where someone who wishes to take cash from an ATM must cease gambling in order to so. There is no specific rule regarding the distance that must be between the ATM and the gaming machine, but the further apart you can position them the better.

You will also need to be aware that it is also a requirement for gaming machines to be located in a place within the premises so that their use can be supervised, either by staff whose duties include such supervision – including bar or floor staff or by other means such as CCTV.

On another point and just as a reminder –  once you have obtained a permit, check how long it lasts for because you are usually required to renew a permit and the renewal can vary between councils. This is for when you have more than two machines, otherwise pubs have a right to two gaming machines on their premises.

If you would like more information about fruit machines and the permits/license’s required please contact Comrie on 02476 249070

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Protecting the Young..

Protecting the Young..

A lot of work has been done to protect the young and venerable from playing gaming machines and rightly so. Fruit machines have not been allowed in takeaways, cafes or chip shops or other similar places where children have access to.

Pubs and social clubs are required to have their gaming machines either within sight of the bar or monitored by CCTV and staff to ensure anyone underage on the premises do not play the machines. The age of which to play these machines is 18. (Eighteen years old).

We own and operate two adult gaming centre in Birmingham and Derby, where our customers come in solely to play the gaming machines. Therefore we have gained a lot of experience of what machines people like to play. In our amusement arcades, we decided many years ago to have a 21 year old minimum policy. It keeps all of our regular customers happy and also makes it easier for our staff to spot any underage customers, as we all know young lads these days are over 6ft with beards growing but are only 16 or 17!

It does then bewilder me that with all this hard work fruit machine companies are doing to stop underage gambling, then the Government let 16 and 17 year old walk into a shop and spend £1 and up to £10 on a single scratch card to gamble. From the stories we hear it does not stop at that.

Fruit machines do get some bad press but with all the regulation in place, gaming operators work hard to ensure underage gambling does not go on in their premises.  These days to gamble on a fruit machine you have to visit a place with a licensed bar. Like a pub, social club, bingo hall and casino, or a registered gambling venue like an adult gaming centre.

This brings me to the story behind this blog. Whilst visiting the “real” Father Christmas in Lapland, Finland in December (and Yes, I was on the good list), I was amazed to see rows of gaming machines in corner shops and supermarkets.

As you can see from the photos the machines are next to the fridges, as you pop in for a pint of milk or a bar of chocolate you can have a gamble!

It just goes to show, that whilst we are a very liberal gambling country, we also do plenty to ensure the young people do not play gaming machines.

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Pool Table Hire For Pubs and Clubs

At Comrie we know how important a good quality well kept pool table is for keeping customers in your pub or club drinking. Many places take extra revenue from the nights they have pool table teams playing. This in turn helps get repeat business from regulars to practice. We can supply you a pool table on hire for your pub or club but if you prefer we also do a revenue share deal with no cost, or as quite a few places do now you can buy your own table. We sell and install pool tables which will provide you with years of trouble free revenue. We even do a deal where you can trial one of our new digital machines and pay for the pool table from the income of that machine so you have no out lay!

5 “interesting facts you didn’t need to know about the Great Pool Table

1 – Until the 1920’s, billiards worldwide were heavily biased towards carom –the more traditional variety of the game. The game we know as pool was dying it was played by just a few old men. Well how times have changed. Now pool is played in social clubs, bars and pubs worldwide!

2 – The first female champion was a man – let’s just say that in the 1890s not many things were as politically correct as they are today. Pool was one of them – with women pool players getting a bit of a rough ride. Still there were some championships around, and the first one recorded one was won by a “lady” under the name of Frances Anderson. After going unbeaten for 25 years and winning plenty of wagers, she finally revealed her name was Orie – a man. Still that’s quite a dedication to a hustle!

3 – The cushions were just to stop the balls falling off  – the original “banks” on tables were installed to stop this problem, however it didn’t take crafty players long to work out that they could shoot balls off of them to hit different angles – hence we now have the “bank shot”!

4 – Play pool, go to hell – During the 1500s the Catholic Church actually denounced playing pool as sin (although what wasn’t back then?). In France the game was actually banned for a number of years. Many years later in the early history of the USA, pool was actually banned in a number of states. However, the great American tradition of the speak-easy included pool tables, of which Thomas Jefferson was a known illicit owner.

5 – Pool actually started outside – that’s right, all billiards games (bar billiards, snooker, carom and pool) are all descended from an outdoor game that resembled croquet – which was popular in France during 1400s. The game was so popular that during the long winters the game was transferred indoors as a table game – the traditional green felt represents the lawn. The word “billiard” comes from the French word for “mace”, as before the days of the pool cues the game was actually played with a wooden mace style instrument…

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