I feel frustrated when I review gaming income performance in most tenanted pubs because it is frequently sub-optimal. That frustration is growing as digital machines are taking an increasing footprint in the sector – and rightly so!

The issue is that the lack of float refilling by the tenant may cause the machine to lock out and not accept credit. There’s loads of data showing this and it impacts on the bottom line for the pubco and tenant or for the free trader.

In managed pubs it is much less of a problem because it is part of the daily routine for the staff. Indeed, some managers are even incentivised in doing it. It is that important, it is written in their operating manuals.

I know that there’s a cost for the  change. I know there’s a little bit of time required each day to refill, but managed pubs don’t do it for fun! The benefit is simply increased take.

I believe that the time is coming, quite quickly, when Cash-In Ticket Out will be the only solution in the tenanted pub sector. The technology exists, albeit needs a bit of tweaking; the digital products exist; the game content exists and the correctly prices solution could be win:win:win for operators pubco’s and tenants.

The issue is consensus. A big enough, solid enough consensus to give confidence to the supply side to commit a cost-effective solution. A consensus that it may cost a little bit more to deliver what is going to be required and an proper, open review about what the best solution for everyone looks like. The industry has a habit of pubco’s and suppliers keeping development plans “quasi-secret” with individuals wanting to stamp their own mark or have a slightly different solution, just to be seen to be unique. The market is not as big as it used to be, though it is still important.

What is needed is first an understanding, then a single solution with commitment to a change in the responsibilities and relationship between the pubco and the tenant. I am sure that we will all see further CITO and TITO ( Ticket-IN:Ticket-Out) developments at the next trade show. However, without a consensus there will be slower progress. It’s time that tenanted retailers worked in unison with machine suppliers to deliver cash-in:ticket–out.

I’ve just read the BACTA “Serious Business of Fun!” publication. It is a tale of woe for Category C manufacturing and income, in-fact described as “depressed and parlous”. In reality, it is time for the tenanted to “parlez”, set the direction and timescales for change and move forward. Technology offers opportunity for improvement and unlike humans rarely looks back. Let’s get on with it! Together!

Russell Wood