Fruit machines have been in existence since the late 19th Century in some one form or another. Within the UK they have been a huge part of the pub, club, and social scene, popping up in just about any venue that could get a license to host one.
The truth is that they are lucrative machines so they can create a fair bit of revenue in a relatively short space of time, even in places that have low footfall. But as times change and people rely more and more on their phones the number of fruit machines in the UK are starting to dwindle.
One of the latest changes from the UK Gambling Commission has limited the amount that can be wagered on these types of machines and the amount they pay out. On top of that, licensing has become stricter and more expensive, ensuring that fruit machines aren’t used in places with children or vulnerable adults.
The demise of the fruit machine in pubs and clubs has meant that the second hand market is now booming. There are a huge number of them for sale that you can use in your own home, and given the number of specialist retailers people seem to be lapping them up.
How to buy a Fruit Machine
You’ve a couple of options when buying your fruit machine. One of the most popular is eBay, where there are a number of machines that seem to pop up each week.
In terms of cost, from eBay you are able to grab machines ranging anywhere from about £50 up to £300 and everything in between. There are some that are listed for up to £1,000 as well, but these tend to be special edition machines and don’t seem to be selling all that well to be honest. A bit too much of a stretch for most, perhaps.
At the lower end of the market are machines that have generally been refurbished, and although they are in working order they have likely seen better days. You may find that not all machines have been converted to accept the new coins in the UK, so it’s worth bearing this in mind as well.
To give you an example, this is one that was recently sold for just £31 on eBay:
For those that don’t, know this is Classic Red Hot 6 which was part of a popular series of games developed by Crystal. The seller stated that everything was working apart from a couple of dead lamps, which are easy enough to replace. It even came with a manual and all keys, which is important as this is going to allow you access to the machine should anything go wrong, or you need to remove/replenish any money. You should remember to check these are included before you agree a purchase.
All in all, for £31, this was an absolute bargain that someone had snapped up – we’ve not seen many in that price bracket in such good condition.
As you increase your budget you are going to be able to get hold of a wider range of machines and in better condition too, as well as machines with more features. A massively popular version of Deal or No Deal by Bell Fruit often commands higher prices.
On the right is an example of one machine that recently sold for £156 on eBay, which is a low price considering it’s in such good condition. The good thing about these machines is that they are newer and less prone to break downs. Even if they do break, parts are generally cheap and fixes are easy, hence the slightly higher price tag.
It’s worth noting a couple of things when buying off eBay though:
- You won’t always get a warranty with it, so you are often buying unseen and taking a risk. Some might not include refunds either, but then these are often reflected in the price. Try to buy from people who’ve sold these types of machines in the past and have plenty of good feedback. A lot of companies are located on eBay now, so it’s not like you have to buy a machine from random Bob who’s clearing his shed out.
- The price doesn’t usually include delivery. These are big machines so they aren’t cheap to ship. You will either need to pick it up yourself in a suitable vehicle (nothing smaller than a large estate car) or pay to have it shipped to you. A general shipping fee of around £65 per machine seems to be the standard.
As we mentioned in the first point, there are reputable sellers that are based online with a huge range of fruit machines to choose from. A couple that we like are:
The pricing from these are a little higher than you will find on eBay – prices tend to start around £100 and can be as high as £400 for some of the latest machines – but what you get from these companies is reassurance. Both of the companies that we have mentioned offer 30-day warranties with each of their products. This means that if there is problem within 30 days they will either fix, replace, or refund you the costs of the machine depending on the circumstances.
A really nice feature is that a lot of the machines have YouTube videos attached so you can see them working and functioning before buying. Delivery is a fixed price service, again at around £60, and pick up for free is available if you live close by.
Also, it’s worth noting that all the machines go through a full service before being shipped on, be it new or used. So while it may be more expensive than buying a machine from random Bob’s shed, it’s probably safest.
Do you need a license?
Obviously for pubs, clubs, and public spaces then a license is going to be needed. You can apply to the UK Gambling Commission for a license, but it’s more likely that you will need a Single Machine Permit. These permits are not for commercial businesses and are for people who want to play or fix these machines. Here’s the official blurb from the Gambling Commission website:
“Single machine permits are not intended for those that are operating a commercial business; for that you will need a full gaming machine technical operating licence.
If you collect gaming machines (fruit machines, slot machines) as a private individual and you want to sell, repair or maintain a single machine or part of a gaming machine, you may be able to apply for a single machine permit instead of a gaming machine technical operating licence.”
Licenses for these types of permits are really cheap at just £25.
If you are just looking to host the machine in your house and only have it for your personal use then you do not need a license. However, if you allow your friends or people in your house to gamble for real money then you will need to apply for the Single Machine Permit as mentioned above.