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:

www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk

 

 

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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 History Of Pool

What is billiards and how did it all start?

If you’ve ever wondered how billiards get started anyways then this is the article for you! Billiards A.K.A. Pool has a long and very rich history beginning in the 15th century. The game has been played by kings, commoners, presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike. It all began as a lawn game similar to the croquet played some-time during the 15th century in Northern Europe and probably in France and has evolved from that point into present day’s style of billiard/pool table and rules. Playing the game moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass (I’m not really sure why they decided to simulate grass), and a simple border was placed around the edges. The balls were shoved, rather than struck, with wooden sticks called “maces.” The term “billiard” is derived from the French language, either from the word “billart”, one of the wooden sticks, or “bille”, a ball.

Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. It has been known as the “Noble Game of Billiards” since the early 1800’s but there is evidence that people from all walks of life played the game since its inception. In 1600, the game of billiards was familiar enough to the public that Shakespeare mentioned it in “Antony and Cleopatra”. Seventy-five years later, the first book of billiards rules remarked of England that there were “few Tones of note therein which hath not a public Billiard-Table.”

The “cue stick” was developed in the late 1600’s. When the ball lay near a rail, the mace was very inconvenient to use because of its large head. In such a case, the players would turn the mace around and use its handle to strike the ball. The handle was called a “queue” meaning “tail” from which we get the word “cue.” For a long time only men were allowed to use the cue; women were forced to use the mace because it was felt they were more likely to rip the cloth with the shaper cue (it must have been all the trick shots they were trying to do).

Billiard / pool tables originally had flat walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off. They used to be called “Banks” because they slightly resembled the banks of a river. Billiard Players discovered that the balls could bounce off the rails and began deliberately aiming at them, and therefore the “bank shot” was born! This is where the billiard ball is hit toward the raid with the intention for it to rebound from one cushion as part of the shot possibly even 3, 4, or 5 rails and into the pocket.

Billiard / pool equipment improved rapidly in England after 1800, largely because of the Industrial Revolution. Someone decided to try using chalk to increase friction between the billiard ball and the cue stick even before cues had tips and found significant improvement in their performance. Billiard / pool players developed a leather cue tip, which a player can apply side-spin, top-spin, or even back-spin to the ball, was perfected by 1823 but of course as time goes on new tricks are created. The talent of a professional pool player is truly amazing! Visitors from England showed Americans how the use of spin can make the billiard ball behave differently depending on what type and amount of spin you put on the ball, which explains why it is called “English” in the United States but nowhere else. The British themselves refer to it as “side”. All billiard / pool cues used to be one single shaft until the two-piece cue arrived in 1829. Instead of a wooden billiard table slate became popular as the material for table beds around 1835 due to its durability for play and lack of that it will not warp over time like wood. In 1839 Goodyear discovered the process for vulcanization of rubber and by 1845 it was used to make billiard cushions. As for the size of billiard tables a two-to-one ratio of length to width became standard in the 18th century. Before then, there were no fixed table dimensions. By 1850, the billiard table had essentially evolved into its current form.

In Britain the dominant billiard game from about 1770 until the 1920’s was “English Billiards”, played with three balls and six pockets on a large rectangular table. The British billiard tradition is carried on today primarily through the game of “Snooker”, which is a complex and colourful game combining offensive and defensive aspects and played on the same equipment as English Billiards but with 22 balls instead of three. The British appetite for snooker is comparable only by the American passion for baseball; it is possible to see a snooker competition every day in Britain.

In the U.S. the dominant American billiard game until the 1870’s was American Four-Ball Billiards, usually played on a large (11 or 12-foot), four-pocket table with four billiard balls – two of them white and two red. This was a direct extension English Billiards. Points were scored by pocketing balls, scratching the cue ball, or by making caroms on two or three balls. What is a “Carom”? A “carom” is the act of hitting two object balls with the cue ball in one stroke. With many balls, there were many different ways of scoring and it was possible to make up to 13 pints on a single shot. American Four-Ball produced two offspring, both of which surpassed it in popularity by the 1870’s. One of the games used simple caroms played with three balls on a pocket less table was something known as “Straight rail” which was the forerunner of all carom games. The other popular game was American Fifteen-Ball Pool, the predecessor of modern pocket billiards.

The word “pool” means a collective bet, or ante. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, involve a pool but it was pocket billiards that the name became attached. Another interesting fact is that the term “pool room” now means a place where pool is played, but in the 19th century a pool room was a betting parlour for horse racing. Pool tables were installed so patrons could pass time between races. The two became connected in the public mind, but the unsavoury connotation of “pool room” came from the betting that took place there, not from billiards.

How do I play Fifteen-Ball? Fifteen-Ball Pool was played with 15 object balls, numbered 1 through 15. For sinking a ball, the player received a number of points equal to the value of the ball. The sum of the ball values in a rack is 120, so the first player who received more than half the total, or 61, was the winner. This game, also called “61-Pool” was used in the first American championship pool tournament held in 1878 and won by Cyrille Dion, a Canadian. Later in 1888, it was thought fairer to count the number of balls pocketed by a player and not their numerical value. Thus, Continuous Pool replaced Fifteen-Ball Pool as the championship game. The player who sank the last ball of a rack would break the next rack and his point total would be kept “continuously” from one rack to the next.

What about Eight-Ball? Eight-Ball was invented shortly after 1900; Straight Pool followed in 1910. Nine-Ball seems to have developed around 1920.

While the term “billiards” refers to all games played on a billiard table, with or without pockets, some people take billiards to mean carom games only and use pool for pocket games. Through the 1930’s, both pool and billiards, particularly three-cushion billiards, shared the spotlight.

From 1878 until 1956, pool and billiard championship tournaments were held almost annually, with one-on-one challenge matches filling the remaining months. At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them. Pool went to war several times as a popular recreation for the troops. Professional players toured military posts giving exhibitions; some even worked in the defence Industry. But the game had more trouble emerging from World War II than it had getting into it. Returning soldiers were in a mood to buy houses and build careers, and the charm of an afternoon spent at the pool table was a thing of the past. Room after room closed quietly and by the end of the 1950’s it looked as though the game might pass into oblivion.

Billiards was revived by two electrifying events, one in 1961, the other in 1986. The first was the release of the movie, “The Hustler”. The black-and-white film depicted the dark life of a pool hustler with Paul Newman in the title role. New rooms opened all over the country and for the remainder of the 60’s pool flourished until social concerns, the Vietnam War, and a desire for outdoor coeducational activities led to a decline in billiard interest. In 1986, “The Colour of Money”, the sequel to “The Hustler” with Paul Newman in the same role and Tom Cruise as an up-and-coming professional, brought the excitement of pool to a new generation. The result was the opening of “upscale” rooms catering to people whose senses would have been offended by the old rooms if they had ever seen them. This trend began slowly in 1987 and has since surged.

In the 1920’s, the poolroom was an environment in which men gathered to loiter, smoke, fight, bet, and play. The rooms of today bear no resemblance to those of the earlier times. Until very recently, billiards was completely dominated by men. The atmosphere of the poolroom was very forbidding and women had trouble being accepted there. Nonetheless, women have been enthusiastic players since the game was brought up from the ground in the 15th century. For over 200 hundred years, women of fashion have played the game. In the past, it was very difficult for a woman to develop billiard skills because male players, her family, and friends usually did not support her efforts and it was not easy to find experienced female instructors or coaches. As these situations have changed, and continue to change, we can expect women to equal or even exceed men in ability and take the game to new heights.

Yes it is a long one this month, but a pool table can be a really important part of the mix for pubs and clubs. Apart from generating good revenue, they also help customers stay in longer which in its self is profit! If you are looking to get a pool table installed in your pub or social club on hire or profit share please call us today.

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The History Of Comrie, Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year for 2019

I have popped in to the office to catch up on a few things after the Christmas break with a clear head! As our rock and roll new year was at the pantomime with our seven year old daughter. I would not have it any other way as family is the whole reason we work hard and try to build a secure future. While sitting here and thinking about the year gone by and how we have helped lots of new and existing customers earn more money from there machines, it made me think about how this industry like many others over the years has changed. And perhaps this is a good time to post a brief history about Comrie which has now been supplying pubs and social clubs with fruit machines  for over 50 years…..

Comrie has been trading for just over 50 years, a lot has changed over that time. However the fundamentals, providing the latest proven machines and giving a first class service in the event of a breakdown has not changed in all those years.

Harry Greig was the founder of Comrie all those years ago after he settled in Coventry with his family. The company name came about as he lived in Comrie Close and he also liked the connection, having been born in Scotland, with a village in Scotland called Comrie, before his family moved south to Tottenham, London.

In the early days it was mechanical fruit machines, mainly a make called Jennings. These machines are worth a lot of money today just in case you have one put away in the loft! They also operated machines called Bally Bingo machine that were also very popular.

Unfortunately at the start of the millennium, Harry Greig sadly passed away. The company continued under the guidance of Harry’s wife June and his son Mark. The type of machines changed but the ethos of the latest proven machines and good service remained.

Comrie was located for over 30 years in Britannia Street, Coventry, next to the old Coventry City Football ground on Highfield Road until they bought larger modern premises on Green Lane, Coventry, where they are still located today.

June Greig retired and Mark’s wife came in to run the company after 18 years at Coventry University Business School. A lot of changes have been made behind the scenes and Comrie has continued to invest heavily in the latest digital fruit machines for pubs and clubs.

Along the way, the company has purchased two of their local competitors and has grown to a team of 17 staff which also includes two Harry’s Amusements gaming centres named after the founder, Harry Greig.

Even in the last five years the coin operated gaming industry has been changing with digital machines and jukeboxes taking over, the new £1 coin and our notes changing to plastic, which has all kept us busy.

But, the next five years looks even more exciting with contactless card payments over taking cash and less and less people carrying cash, there is no doubt we will all be playing machines with contactless or even playing with our mobile phone. Who knows it might even be a cashless society.

We look forward to all these changes and will keep moving with the times to keep Comrie at the front locally with pubs and clubs in Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester and surrounding areas.

Here’s to another 50 years…..

 

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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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UK Summer Holidays

Summer holiday season in over which is good for local pubs around Coventry and the surrounding areas that we supply, as they have had a quiet summer since the world cup has ended.

Saying that lots of holiday spots around the UK will be happy with the excellent sunny summer we have had. We decided to take another staycation this year and headed up to the North East coast and toured around. We have some beautiful spots around the UK that are truly hidden gems.

One of these hidden gems is Robin Hood Bay, which is a small fishing village near the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. It is really picturesque. Another place we stayed at on our tour was Filey which is no longer a fishing village but has become a tourist attraction due to its large beach and great setting.

Of course no UK holiday would be complete without a trip to the seaside amusement arcades. This was the part that our daughter Macy loved the most and I think myself and Cheryl became pusher machine experts during this holiday. However we were definitely out done on the dance machine video game by Macy!

The arcades in Scarborough and Whitby were really busy and it was great seeing so many people enjoying family fun times playing amusement and gaming machines in the amusements arcades and making great memories.

Whilst we don’t supply pusher machines and video games, at Comrie we do supply pubs and clubs with fruit machines and pool tables which were all busy at all the amusements we went in.

And, no seaside trip is complete without tasting the local caught sea food.

We enjoyed the trip so much, we have said that each year we are going to visit a different seaside town in the UK which will also help or local economy, win win for us all :)

 

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Cash crisis

There is more cash in circulation than in previous years, but there is a likelihood of less cash machines on the high street due to a charging issue between banks and the network operators. So is cash in crisis or just short of change?

The “cash is king” adage is a bit of a strange one really. The Royals never carry cash, but have plenty of it. There are around two million people in the country that can only use cash, and likely have very little of it.

There is a sense of reality that cash will remain a stable currency force for some time – at least a couple of generations.

The Link network’s costs policy is a serious problem. Link’s review will look at the impact of cashless technologies over the next five years, and will aim to predict the future infrastructure that will be necessary to support consumers’ needs. In the meantime the company is being partially blamed by many for the recent ATM closures due to its decision to reduce the interchange rate banks have to pay ATM operators upon withdrawal.

Less ATMs on the high street, which is a clear and present danger, will certainly lead to less supply of cash. Let’s face it, even when you find an ATM, there is not much to spend your cash on anyway given the crisis of the UK’s half empty high streets.

Then there is the local councils threatening to charge business rates for hole in the wall cash machines. We also mustn’t forget the aggressive march of the contactless debit card – a momentum that will simply accelerate.

Cash is facing tough times, it is not going out of circulation, but it has an uphill battle. So, it doesn’t help when its own proponents like Link (The biggest cash point suppliers) undermine its very existence. And in doing so, this undermines every industry and family that depends on cash including having an effect on the amusements industry – especially in smaller seaside resorts – where may FEC operators are finding themselves offering one of the last few ATM’s in town.

This trend will only gain momentum as both government and big business continue to wage war on cash, resulting in higher costs for ATM operation, and FECs being used as the town bank.

From Comrie’s point of view, potential customers have less physical cash in their pockets to put in to machines and with our hands tied on not being able legally to have our machines take card payments to play, this puts us in a very tricky situation going forward. We see the younger generation carrying less and less cash, if not none at all as they have been brought up with card and contactless payments, so our industry is chopping at the bit to move with the times.  No doubt the long term future will be a cashless society, Sweden is already 99 percent cashless with only 1 percent of the county paying in cash!

If you are looking to move with the times and have the latest digital fruit machines for your pub or social club on hire please call Comrie. Big changes are ahead…..

 

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Who Let The dogs Out…..

Sit ….and behave

What is your dog policy in your pub or club? With so many blown up media stories about dog attacks, it seems that the public are becoming more fearful of man’s best friend.

Whilst I admit,  I do wince myself when I see a young lad walking down the street with is baseball cap on, plastic bling hanging round his neck with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a thin lead that would not hold a gerbil. But what we have to remember is most dogs, in fact 99.9% are friendly and well behaved.

We spoke to a few Midland clubs about this and some do not let dogs in (except guide dogs) and others only let dogs into the bar area and not the lounge. One club even operate a curfew where dogs are allowed in the bar area up until 6pm and had to be kept on a lead all the time. This seemed a good solid policy so everyone knew where they stood.

Paws for thought…. if we don’t have a policy this is when things seem to escalate, as running a pub or club you well know!

I will leave you with a few dog quotes..

‘Chasing your tale gets you know where…except back where you started’

‘If you want the best seat in the house…move the dog!’

‘One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him’ – Chinese Proverb

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IDEAL PUB

Have you ever wondered, just what it is that makes us choose one pub over another?  So what is it that makes an ideal pub? Well we have the answer right here;

The list of ingredients making up Britain’s ideal pub were compiled by market researchers YouGov Omnibus from a survey of 2,113 adults. It confirms what the jukebox sector has long avowed, that music, be it live or background is very important to the pub-goer.

Some ingredients might seem a little strange – bookcases, Victorian architecture and tankards, for example? Others more understandable – (27 per cent would prefer a ban on kids!). Good to know that pool tables and fruit machines made it onto the list – just!

What would make it on your list?

  1. Serves meals (67 per cent)
  2. Beer garden (63 per cent)
  3. Fireplace (52 per cent)
  4. Bar staff know your name (51 per cent)
  5. Sells snacks (50 per cent)
  6. Sells real ale (37 per cent)
  7. Live music (35 per cent)
  8. Background music (35 per cent)
  9. Pub quizzes (34 per cent)
  10. Allows dogs (32 per cent)
  11. Doesn’t allow children (27 per cent)
  12. Has bookcases – with books (25 per cent)
  13. Snooker/pool table (24 per cent)
  14. Serves cocktails (23 per cent)
  15. Shows football/sport (18 per cent)
  16. TVs on walls (17 per cent)
  17. Dart board (17 per cent)
  18. Victorian architecture (16 per cent)
  19. Leather seats (14 per cent)
  20. Tankards (14 per cent)
  21. Sells cigarettes/tobacco (6 per cent)
  22. Fruit machines (5 per cent)

We at Comrie think that fruit machines should rank a lot higher as they are the most profitable two foot square space you can have in your pub or club. If you would like to chat about the latest and profitable digital fruit machines for your pub or club please give us a call and we will be more than happy to tell you about what is working at the moment.

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Team Night Out

TEAM GOLF CHALLENGE

At Comrie we believe having the right team is so important to the business. Especially when most of the team are dealing with our customers on day to day basis.

We get plenty of feedback from pubs and clubs who we supply machines to about how friendly and efficient different members of our staff are. Which is great to hear as any business is only as good as its staff.

So, we like to invest in team nights out so we can all do some team bonding and get to know each other outside of the working environment.

This time we headed to a new pace we had heard about called Ghetto Golf in Birmingham. Mini golf with a Ghetto twist. From the moment we walked in we were all amazed how good the place was done up and what a fantastic vibe there was.

For just £10 each you play 18 holes of mini golf and each hole is themed. You play in a full size american bus for one hole and another has some interesting obstacles as you can see from the photo below! Our favourite hole has to be the one with the traditional pub theme which even had a fruit machine in, so we all felt at home.

As usual it was a competitive affair between the Comrie team and lots of fun. After we stayed on for beers and the food was very tasty as well.

We are all looking forward to the next works night out already.

 

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