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Smaller 10p coin costs millions at slot machines

BRITAIN'S amusement arcade operators do not find the introduction of the new smaller 10p piece, which made its debut yesterday, the slightest bit amusing.

It will cost up to pounds 6m to convert about 230,000 gaming machines to take the new coin, which is only slightly larger than the old 5p piece which was phased out two years ago.

'The problem is that where you have machines like these which both accept and pay out money then you have to make a double conversion,' said Alan Willis, general secretary of the British Amusement Catering Trades Association (BACTA).

The machines, found in pubs and clubs as well as in amusement arcades, cost up to pounds 30 each to convert and will have to be altered within the next few months to avoid losing revenue.

The introduction of the new 10p, which will complete the decimalisation of the coinage by ending circulation of the old two shilling piece, will hit cigarette machine firms as well as the gambling industry.

Most vending machines in Britain underwent a double conversion when the new 5p was introduced anticipating the change in the 10p. A final, relatively cheap, adjustment is all that is now needed.

However, cigarette machines only take 10p, 20p, 50p and pounds 1 coins and therefore were not converted when the new 5p was introduced. Hundreds of thousands of them will have to be altered at up to pounds 15 a time in the coming months.

'We are going to catch a cold this time,' said Graham Geeson, director of Josiah Brown Ltd of Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire, which operates cigarette machines throughout the East Midlands.

'Some of the electronic machines we have bought during the past 12 months will just need reprogramming but there are all sorts of problems with some of the older ones.

'I think the industry is going to be in a little bit of a turmoil over the next six months.'

Both the cigarette machine operators and BACTA complain that they get no financial help from the Government when the currency is changed and that the cost of converting equipment is not even tax deductable.

London Underground will have to spend pounds 130,000 over the next four months converting its 900 ticket machines. The alteration programme will begin next week.

However British Rail's Network SouthEast has, completely out of character, reached this particular destination early. A spokesman said that its ticket machines can already take the new 10p.