In the United Kingdom, slot machines are called “fruit games” or “fruit slots”. UK regulations on fruit slots are defined under the Gambling Act 2005. A fruit slot is defined as “a machine that is designed or adapted for use by individuals to gamble”. The Gambling Commission definition goes on to specify that “most gaming machines are of the reel-based type” and says they are “also known as fruit, slot, or jackpot machines”.
These gaming machines are called “fruit machines” because so many of them use fruit icons as their reel symbols. This is a throwback to the original slot machines in the United States. On the early Liberty Bell machines designed by Charles Fey in the first half of the 20th century, fruit was actually part of the prizes (when cash prizes were outlawed). Later, the connection remained and they became the reel symbols from game designers.
UK slots have similarities to Las Vegas style slot machines, though the ones designed for play in the pubs and clubs of the UK involve lower stakes and smaller prizes than the Vegas slot machines. The smaller jackpots range in the thousands of pounds–not the millions. Like any other class of gaming machine, though, the top fruit games can have large jackpots. Progressive fruit games exist, though they are rarer in the UK than in the United States.
In this article, I want to discuss the top companies in the UK market, while discussing the many types of fruit slots and a few of the top titles. For a discussion of Vegas-style slots, drop down to the Class A gaming machines discussion on this page. For now, I want to talk about the fruit slots which most UK players think about when the term is used.
“Amusement with Prizes”
The Category C games have a number of names: “Amusement with Prizes”, AWM, one-armed bandits, and (most commonly) fruit machines. I mention the fruit machines first because that’s what readers are likely wanting to read about. These are the fruit games located in British pubs, nightclubs, and video arcades. AWPs usually have 3 reels and somewhere 16 to 24 symbols on each reel.
If winning combinations appear, the player receives a coin amount, free spins, or a bonus game (called a “subgame”). Category C machines have lots of features and subgames, to keep the punter’s attention. The machine tabulates results using a pseudorandom number generator, instead of a true RNG.
Some of the best-known features include the “Hold” option, in which one of the reels can be held in one location. The “Nudge” feature allows a punter to nudge a symbol one single step in the reel rotation, to complete a winning combination. These add a minimal level of skill to the game, since players have to recognize winning opportunities. Most are quite obvious, though.
“Hold after a Nudge”
Common cheats are published online for the fruit machines. The tips provided for these cheats give the impression that gamblers can increase their odds by using these methods, when in fact the house edge does not change. The “hold after a nudge” cheat supposedly increases the chance you’ll win after an unsuccessful nudge.
Raves or Streaks
Category C gaming machines offer multiple jackpots, which are called “streaks” or “raves”. After a bettor wins a jackpot, they have the opportunity to continue winning more prizes in succession. Because UK law has rules for a maximum payout on Class C games, players have to make an additional wager by hitting “Start”. The extra bet tends to be 1 single coin. The payout percentage usually is set at 78% by most pubs, though the legal minimum payout percentage is 70%.
Category B Gaming Machines
The Category B gaming machines are the “fixed odds betting terminals” or FOBTs found in licensed bookmakers and betting shops in the United Kingdom. The most common type of FOBT is the electronic roulette machine.
Four types of these machines can be found: B1, B2, B3, and B4. The main difference has to do with the size of stakes and the prizes offered. Electronic roulette is handled by the B2 machines.
Category A Gaming Machines
Category A fruit games are those planned for the “Super Casinos”, a plan which was ended by Gordon Brown not long after he became Prime Minister in 2008. These were going to be Las Vegas-style slot machines with unlimited stakes and jackpots. These were planned for the “regional casinos” or “mega casinos”, as stipulated under the Gambling Act of 2005. The Class A games were controversial, because they were considered to be addictive, due to the lottery-sized prizes on them.
A short list of 8 mega casinos were submitted for licensing. These were to be at Wembley Stadium in Brent and the O2 in Greenwich (both inside London), as well as casinos in Manchester, Newcastle, Blackpool, Cardiff, and Ibrox Park in Glasgow. The eighth site would have been either in Meadowhall Centre, Sheffield or in Bramall Lane, East End at the Don Valley Stadium. Nineteen other sites were rejected. These ranged from Coventry to Midlothian to Thurrock.
British Fruit Slots Manufacturers
The top UK-based manufacturers include Barcrest, JPM International, BFM, Impulse, Vivid Gaming, Dransfield, and Red Gaming. Also, Bell-Fruit, Empire, Mazooma, and Games Gamestec are all UK game machine companies owned by Novomatic Group these days. Greentube is an online and mobile fruit game developer owned by Novomatic. Greentube describes itself as producing “casino and skill games, Poker, Bingo and free multiplayer 3D games”. Astra Online provides Internet fruit machines and is owned by Novomatic Group, too.
As you can see, the United Kingdom has enough activity that it can support many manufacturers of gaming machines. One has to be on top and Novomatic Group continues to add gaming companies to its portfolio. Whether mega casinos will ever exist in the UK is left to doubt. If so, then another market for UK fruit slots will exist.