It’s common to find two gaming machines or slot machines in UK pubs. There is a legal provision for up to two gambling machines on the premises included in a pub licence. However, the use of these machines is strictly limited to licenced drinking hours only, and players must be over 18. Because of this, they are unlikely to be placed in family areas or dining areas and so can be easily avoided if necessary.

Over the years, various quiz machines or arcade games have come in and out of fashion, but the slot machine is the online and pub favourite that has stood the test of time.


The slot machine with five rolling drums, each with ten card faces, was invented in New York as far back as 1891. Within a few years, these had adapted to become the ‘one-armed bandit’. There was a slot for the coin and an ‘arm’ to pull to spin the wheels. A money drawer was attached to collect the winnings. These new machines included pictures of oranges, lemons, melons and cherries, and the playing card suits, and in the UK, they were often referred to as ‘fruit machines. The machines were incredibly popular and became a feature on the piers and in the penny arcades in seaside towns. The electronic slot machine didn’t make it into pubs until later than you might imagine – in 1999.

With so many design changes to slots over the years, certain slot machines have become very collectable and nostalgic and are a part of popular culture.

If you enjoy these kinds of games, do note that the maximum payout for pub machines is £100 and that any fixed-rate odds on roulette, poker or blackjack games will be more favourable at a casino or online.