All-weather fruit machines that smokers can play outside are planned by pub bosses to combat a huge slump in takings.
The new generation of one-armed bandits are urgently needed because income from pub machines is down GBP 200million in the past seven years. Many landlords, already struggling to survive competition from cut-price supermarkets, are getting rid of fruit machines because they make a loss.
Last year’s smoking ban, the credit crunch and higher beer prices have all contributed to help kill them off.
Now trade bosses want to develop machines that can be used in beer gardens – and are pressing for the pay-out limit to be lifted from the present GBP 35.
Keith Smith of the British Amusement Catering Trade Association, said: „The vast majority of people who play fruit machines smoke, so the smoking ban is having a very serious impact.“ The British Beer and Pub Association said online gambling was also luring away trade.
They added: „We’d like to see pubs given a fighting chance and the size of prizes lifted.“