In the past, ninety percent of cafes had a slot machine, now it is only one in five. The old neighborhood pub is slowly disappearing and with it the slot machine. “You don’t want that atmosphere in your pub.”
It’s a dying statue. Men on a barstool behind the slot machine, often still wearing the jacket, bacon next to it. Hours and hours. In the past, there was also an ashtray on the cupboard. It was a gold mine for the bar owner. The proceeds from the slot machine – usually fifty percent for the bar owner, fifty percent for the landlord of the machine – often paid the rent. Two customers behind the cupboard yielded much more money than a whole counter full of drinking customers. It is impossible to drink at the speed of the fruit bud.
Five types of gin
But the old neighborhood pub is slowly disappearing and with it the slot machine. This will be replaced by lunch tents or cafés with a concept. No more ox sausage, but five types of gin. Take café Engels, corner of Oosterpark and Beukenweg. Once a brown bar with Persian carpets and slot machines. A little messy in the end, just like the clientele. Bar Bukowski, the next branch on the tree of the Three Wise Men from East, opened at this location in 2013. The slot machine did not return, but a bar of shiny tiles did. It wasn’t even an option, says co-owner Riad Farhat. “A slot machine belongs to a café of the past. I don’t think it’s necessary, it’s not fun either. You come to the café to drink, not to gamble.”
There is no slot machine left in any of the cases that the Three Wise Men took over, and there are now a dozen of them. You can call that policy. Farhat: “A new generation of catering entrepreneurs has emerged and they look differently at catering and exploitation. A cupboard like that may pay the rent, but I am not at all concerned with that.”
One hundred thousand guilders
Only in Elsa’s on Middenweg – owned by a Farhat partner – are slot machines. “But they have been there for twenty-five years. They also fit in Elsa’s.” Café Hesp is one of the classic old brown bars of the city, a place where a slot machine would certainly fit, but when Han van Beek took over the business, one thing was certain: get rid of the slots.
Once ninety, now twenty percent
It is unclear how many slot machines there are in the Amsterdam catering industry. National figures are known, however, because every cabinet must be reported to the Gaming Authority. There are about 40,000 of them, but those in arcades and casinos are included. Forty percent is in the catering industry: about 16,000. Its decline is also difficult to obtain in figures. The Gaming Authority has only been compiling figures for a few years, before that was the task of Verispect, and before that the Netherlands Measurement Institute.
No connection to the internet
The rules for a machine in a café are also stricter than those in an arcade or entertainment center such as coin master free spins. There, with a bet of twenty cents, there is a maximum loss of seventy euros per hour, and the profit a maximum of 2500 euros per hour. In the café, the reels of a machine spin less quickly and, even with a bet of 20 cents, the loss is a maximum of 40 euros per hour, and the profit a maximum of two hundred euros. “That is not really an attractive game for players,” says Sanne Muijser of the VAN, the trade association for slot machine operators.
The industry is also helping itself. Boxhoorn: “We miss the connection with the youth.” And Muijser. “The range of games has grown old.” A major disadvantage for the industry is that the machines have to run solitary, so they cannot be connected to the internet. A proposal to lift that ban is in the hands of the House of Representatives.