Automatic Machine Services Ltd (AMS) is one of the UK’s leading independent gaming and amusement machine suppliers. As a family-run organisation, established in 1960, they supply fruit machines, pool tables, juke boxes and other amusement machines to pubs and clubs across the Southeast of England.
In early 2020, AMS partnered with Game Payment Technology (GPT), a joint venture between the amusement and gaming machine industry trade association, bacta, and payment industry specialists, Polar Moment. AMS became early adopters of the Game Payment solution, installing this into an initial roll-out of 50 fruit machines.
Jason Jarrett, managing director at AMS explains why they chose to become early adopters of the Game Payment solution: “We pride ourselves on investing in quality products, to maximise income for everybody concerned, which is why innovation and development of technical advances in machines is paramount to us. That’s why we’re always so interested in applying that to our products and giving that to our customers so that everybody is receiving the best quality and opportunity to maximise income. Any advances in technology and making things simple and easier are things that we always want to apply to our products.”
Another key factor in AMS’s decision to become early adopters, was that GPT is majority owned by bacta. Bacta is the trade body that represents the interests of Britain’s amusements and high street gaming manufacturers and operators. It is therefore trusted by the government and by the industry. Jason commented; “Some of the other cashless payment solutions in the market are not supported by bacta in this way, so we knew Game Payment was going to be more stable and less of a risk. Having bacta involved gave us every confidence that it was going to work and be successful.”
The roll-out began in February 2020 and AMS were happy to be involved in the early stages and have their input included in the development of the product. 50 venues across southeast England were chosen to trial the Game Payment-enabled machines. AMS worked closely with these venues to ensure they understood the new technology and what sort of questions they might get asked by players. Jason stated: “Everybody we spoke to about the app embraced it, and said ‘yes let’s give that a go, that sounds like a great idea’. It’s very simple to use, very quick to connect to a machine, and gives the player confidence that their money is secure.”
Just as the rest of the industry has suffered due to the pandemic, the roll-out was interrupted by the first lockdown in March 2020. Nevertheless, as the restrictions began to ease over the summer, initial data showed that the value of cashless funds per machine was more than 4 times the pre-launch forecast. Bacta’s head of finance and operations, and a director of GPT, Robert Gibb stated: “We are delighted at the feedback and data. This validates our development strategy and the attention to detail that underpins the entire GPT player experience.”
Looking ahead to the future, as the restrictions start to ease, GPT will be able to continue the successful roll-out of machines. Jason commented: “I genuinely believe that once we roll out in greater numbers, after we return to normal, the usage will take over from the cash… in the next two years or so we will see the release of machines that won’t have cash handling functionalities in them because there’ll be no need, or no demand.”
GPT are also developing a software version of the hardware installed in each machine, as well as a version designed for family entertainment centres. Tim Stratton, director at GPT stated: “A silver lining of the delayed roll-out is that we’ve had time to work on new developments and expand GPT’s product range. These two additions to our products mean that GPT now has a solution for all types of amusement machine, with a consistent, easy-to-use experience for players.”
Despite the relatively short period between successive lockdowns, Game Payment has proved itself both technically and commercially. Jason summarised the main benefits to AMS: “… It’s innovative, slick, so simple to connect to a machine, add your money and play. It’s easy to use, easy to understand and it’s gone out there and it’s been used – that’s the proof of the pudding”.