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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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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Coffee Shops V Pubs

Coffee shops v Pubs – Frothy coffee v pint of beer

More than 2000 coffee shops have opened in Britain in just five years, with some towns now offering more places to get a frothy coffee than a pint of beer, according to a new report.

Between November 2013 and this month, 2158 coffee shops were opened by chain operators and independent owners, according to the new analysis by the retails intelligence firm, Local Data Company.

Meanwhile two pubs have shut for every new café that has opened in Britain in the same period. It seems the cup of coffee has become a cultural icon. People want a place they can go to, between work and home. For many of us, this is now the coffee shop.

It appears that it now socially acceptable to spend a significant part of the day in the coffee shop rather than the pub. You can sit down for a few hours with a group of friends or you can sit alone and get some reading or studying done. These days if you are caught drinking a beer by yourself at 2pm it is not as acceptable as a flat white.

The spread of increased numbers of coffee shops can be seen up and down the country and is unlikely to slow down. Experts predict the number of coffee shops will overtake pubs by 2030.

The Research and Policy Director at the charity Alcohol Change UK, said the rise in the coffee shop represented a cultural shift, with a decline in alcohol consumption among young people. The British Beer & Pub Association said its members were adapting, increasingly offering low-alcohol and alcohol free drinks.

So, it seems to be all change, the premium price that can be charged for espresso based coffee is key, as it can generate enough revenue to provide comfortable spaces that have proved so popular for socialising and work meetings. This just highlights to me a opening for pubs to offer quality coffee throughout the day to aim at these potential customers. Especially for people who are driving.

The one thing coffee shops can not offer is gaming machines (due to the law) and even pool tables or other amusement machines, more down to room. We are always saying it at Comrie – so many pubs and clubs do not have the latest machines on their premises, this means they are missing out on a lot of revenue. We have seen the revenue of our machines go up significantly due to the changes of the bookmakers machines, so don’t miss out. If you would like the latest digital fruit machines in your pub or club call us at Comrie today.

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The End Is Nigh…

End of free cash machines looms as contactless payments are on the up

Free cash machines could become a thing of the past, according to the consumer group – Which?, after it emerged that 1,700 ATMs were switched to charging in the first three months of this year alone.

Most of the ATMs affected are operated by Cardtronics, the UK’s biggest cashpoint operator, and the firm said it was poised to convert a further 1000.

Another major provider, NoteMachine, is also considering converting up to 4,000 of it’s 7,000 machines to fee. The company stated “we have always operated a free to use model wherever possible. However, unless urgent action is taken to reduce the pressure on ATM operators by reversing the interchange fee reductions, NoteMachine will be forced to begin converting ATMs to surcharging.”

The surge in fees comes as consumers switch to contactless payments for small purchases. There are currently about 52,000 free to use cash machines in the UK, BUT Which? warned this could fall by more than 10% in the coming months. Fees are at least 95p per withdrawal at the converted ATMs Which? has seen, and nearly a quarter of the machines charge £1.50 to £1.99.

Which? said that without regulatory action, the UK risked drifting into a no cash society that could shut some people out of paying for local good and services.

Digital gaming machines and fruit machines in pubs and clubs are suffering due to the lack of cash in peoples pockets as they use their card for contactless payments more and more. There definitely needs to be a change made so all machines can accept payment by debit card and keep with modern day payment methods. While there is talk about this happening, the UK is getting near and near to being a cashless society.

The UK is the 5th closet country to being cashless with Sweden leading the way (99 % cashless). With the country’s cash points disappearing we are being forced in to this situation and yet many industries are not ready.


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Another Tax For Pubs and Clubs!!!


The British music industry body that collects royalty payments is planning to more than double fees paid by pubs, bars and nightclubs to play recorded music. From July the fees will start to rise and by 2023 venues hosting DJ events – also to include cafes, restaurants and hotels will pay 9p per person per hour, as opposed to an average of 3.9p today.

The money is collected by Phonographic Performance (PPL) and distributed to artist and record companies whose music is being played. The changes will not affect venues that only use music in the background.

PPL have stated that the current tariff has been in place for around 30 years and PPL’s view, supported by economic analysis, is that the fees are too low to be an appropriate reflection of the value to the businesses of using recorded music.

The fees paid will be in proportion to the number of people at the venue, – to ensure events with different audiences are treated fairly – advised PPL. Smaller venues may have to pay less than they do no.

The has nevertheless been opposition from the industry. It was report that some venue will undoubtedly be pushed over the edge by this increase. Which in turn could lead to job losses at venue, and limit opportunities for up and coming musicians. A spokesperson of UK Hospitality which represents 700 companies, estimates the increase in costs to the industry at £49m. They added the changes would wring the last life our of venues. Village pubs that host weekly discos will be strangled.

In return to this comment, a spokesperson of PPL, said the changes were on behalf of more than 100,000 artists and record companies. They include session musicians, orchestral players, self-releasing artists and small independent record companies. They added that they did not recognise the £49m figure cited by UK Hospitality.

It is not as if Lady GaGa or Slim Shady are short of a few pound coins, this just feels like another kick to the groin for local pubs and clubs. Another cost/tax before they even open up their doors. Pubs and clubs as I keep saying are part of the back bone of the UK and bring community’s together in a day when no one seems to know their next door neighbor!

Looking forward if you would like to make sure your music is paying and not costing you money, then please contact us about our latest online digital jukeboxes for pubs and clubs at no cost to you.

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Illegal siting of gaming machines

Illegal siting of gaming machines

This is an issue we get phone calls about regularly asking if we can have machines in our kebab shop or is a fruit machine allowed in a certain location which is not visible.  If you have any concerns about the machine you currently have please feel free to contact us at Comrie as we have over 50 years experience dealing with fruit machines in pubs and clubs.

You cannot just site a gaming machine anywhere, there are rules and regulations that have to be adhered to.

You cannot site gaming machines in takeaways, cafes, food shops, minicab and taxi offices, non-arcade and other unlicensed premises.

Anyone allowing gaming machines to be used on these premises may be prosecuted under the Gambling Act 2005 with a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or 51 weeks imprisonment (six months in Scotland).

In order to site gaming machines on allowable premises, some form of premises-based authorisation is required from your local authority. In addition to this an operating licence from the Gambling Commission may also be required.

There are three types of premises-based permission;

  • A gambling premises licence from a licensing authority (typically for an adult gaming centre, for bingo, betting)
  • An alcohol premises licence from a licensed authority (typically for a pub, restaurant, club)
  • A gaming machine permit from a licensing authority (typically for clubs)

There is an exemption with genuine skill with prizes machines (SWPs). This type of machine can be sited with any permissions. SWPs must not have any mechanism that determines the outcome of the game, such as a compensator or other mechanism that makes the outcome dependant on chance. A game that contains an element of change (unless it is so slight that it can reasonably be disregarded) is a gaming machine.

There are no statutory limit in place regulating stakes and prizes for SWPs. However, SWPs offering a maximum prize greater than 350 are unlikely to be commercially viable and are therefore more likely to be gaming machines. It is important to assure yourself that any such machine is not a gaming machine prior to siting it in your premises.

In the past machines have been markets as a SWP machines offering games designed to look like recognised games of chance 9such as roulette, bingo or poker). Such machines are gaming machines and cannot be sited as SWPs.

To ensure that you stay within the law, if you are approached to site a gaming machine that you obtain the machine supplier’s full contact details and the supplier’s Gambling Commission operating licence number.

You should always be vigilant, ensuring that when you are approached to site a machine being marketed as a SWP machine, that you are satisfied that the machine is a genuine SWP and is not a gaming machine.

Further details are always available at:



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Micro Pubs The New Breed

While traditional pubs are closing at the rate of 18 a week, 600 Micropubs have opened in the last 10 years.

It became easier to set up a small independent public house, known to us as the Micropub, following the passing of the 2003 Licensing Act, which became effective in 2005.   

This meant that wannabe landlords no longer had to advertise their application in advance – at which point the big boys used to step in and object.

The original Micropub, The Butchers Arms in Herne, Kent, was opened in 2005 by Martyn Hillier after spending several years as an off-licence. In 2009, Hillier gave a presentation to the AGM of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), in Eastbourne, showing the simplicity of the Micropub model and encouraging other people to follow.

It proved to be a catalyst with the Rat Race Ale House in Hartlepool opening six months later and Just Beer Micropub in Newark-on-Trent opening August 2010, soon after followed by The Conqueror Alehouse the same year. Since then, there have been several more Micropubs opening such as The Just Reproach in Deal, Kent and the Bake & Alehouse in Westgate-on-Sea, Kent.

In June 2012, the Micropub Association was set up by Stu Hirst and Martyn Hillier as a resource for other would-be Micropubs, to give free advice on the setting up and running of a successful micropub. Hillier wrote on his website:

The Micropub Association will be a place where like-minded real ale lovers can share their Micropub experiences. The Micropub Association will also be a platform for the new Micropubs to tell the beer drinking community about themselves. A successful Micropub is based upon good ale and lively banter and I want this to come across through the Micropub Association. Ultimately Martyn would like to think that they could become a useful lobby group to support the likes of CAMRA and SIBA, promoting the real ale experience.

From 1 October 2014 the Micropub Association launched its official Micropub recognition scheme, which allows Micropub owners to register as a Recognised Micropub Member. To qualify a micropub must commit to holding up the tenets and ethics of the Association’s definition of what it means to be a Micropub. Once accepted a personalised certificate, with one year’s validity, is issued for display in the establishment to demonstrate to visitors that it is promoting the ethics and tenets of what it means to be a Micropub. In 2015, Hillier was named Campaign for Real Ale campaigner of the year for launching the Micropub Association.

In April 2015, planning permission was granted to open the first Micropub in Scotland, in Kelso in the Scottish Borders

It is great to see new licensed premises open up whether they are pubs, micro pubs or even clubs as so many different business rely on these premises for there own businesses to survive, just like our selves at Comrie supplying fruit machines and jukeboxes to all these pubs and clubs.

Here’s to many more openings over the next few years, Cheers


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The Unaffordable Pint

The exorbitant price of a beer in the pubs may well be keeping lots of punters at home, suggests pub advocacy group, The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

In a recent online YouGov poll, 45% of people who votes claimed that the average cost of a pint in the UK was “fairly unaffordable”, whilst 11% said it was very “unaffordable”.

As it stands the average cost of a pint in the UK is now £3.20.

No prizes for guessing which city tops the highest end of the pricing scale! A cold one in London will now set you back around £5.20 – with many landlords pushing the price over the £6 mark!

Other pricey beer hotspots include Oxford (£4.57), Bristol and Edinburgh (both£4.35) and Brighton (£4.24). Meanwhile, Carlise is the place to head for pint value seekers – at £2.35, its average pint is just 2/3rds cost of the national median.

CAMRA have pointed to a variety of tax increase levelled by the Government on landlords in recent years – including business rates, beer duty and VAT, as the cause of the increase in pricing. With premium and mass-market beer being sold in bulk from supermarkets for as little as £1 for a can, landlords and their coin operator suppliers are suffering a significant market-loss as punters opt to drink at home for less.

“It is no surprise that most people are finding pub pints unaffordable, given the tax burden they are facing” said a spokesperson from CAMRA. “Beer drinkers will naturally look to a more cost effective way to enjoy a drink, such as buying from off licences and supermarkets for home consumption”.

As the rate of the pub closures, particularly in the Southeast of England continues to grow apace, the treasury’s preliminary indications of the November budget show no signs of relief for publicans. At present, the treasury has claimed that beer duty will rise a further 2p, despite the fact that pubs are due to lose £1000 in small business rate relief next year.

“The result of closures is incredibly detrimental to our local communities and to our own personal connectivity”, CAMRA added.

“Having a good local makes people happier, better connected and more trusting. They help bring communities together and support the local economy. The reality is that there are a few places that can replicate the benefit provided by the nation’s pubs, and once they are gone, they are gone forever.

We at Comrie could not agree more with what Camra are saying. Local pubs are a vital part of our community especially in this day and age where people do not seem to know any of their neighbours these days. But if you go to your local friendly pub people still do that old art called talking!!!

If there was a minimum pricing policy this would raise alcohol prices in the supermarket which in turn would put off underage and heavier drinkers but have no detrimental affect on our public houses and social clubs. As the article states it is not just pubs that are going to suffer even more but any business feeding off them, when is many.

This is also why pubs and social clubs need the latest fruit machines and up to date digital gaming machines to ensure they can generate good machine revenue to help them through these difficult times.

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