Size is all relative says David Snook

12/12/2012

The UK is reckoned to be the second or third largest market in Europe, behind Italy and Germany, and perhaps vying in numbers with Spain.

Traditionally, we always say that the UK has 240,000 machines – about the same as Germany and perhaps a little ahead of the numbers in Spain. The implication is that they are all equivalent machines, namely AWPs in pubs, or Category C as they are known in the UK and Category B in Spain.

This is never really important, unless you want to impress those in the continental markets or to influence politicians in some way with the power of the sector. But we do bandy about 240,000 as a throwaway figure for AWPs, and it isn’t accurate.

The difference is that while the numbers for Germany and Spain are all AWPs, the UK figures are far more complex. Into that 240,000 we have to toss B3 machines, the high-jackpot gambling machines which are permitted in arcades in small numbers. There are about 13,000 of them. Then there are 20,000 Category D, which is the very low stake and prize game popular in seaside arcades. Plus of course 35,000 fixed-odds betting terminals and a couple of thousand casino slots.

The point is that in AWP terms to draw a straight comparison with Germany or Spain – not that ‘who’s the biggest’ really matters anyway – you would have to put the UK down as 130,000, broken down as 55,000 in pubs, 30,000 in AGCs and 45,000 in a mix of other locations.

What’s the point of all this? Nothing really, except that if you say something enough times it somehow gets set in stone and, in Category C terms, or AWPs, the UK is NOT as big as Germany or Spain.

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