Story dated 13th January 2001.

Pinball in the Netherlands looks set for a boost following changes to the country's gaming laws. The new rules and their effects are explained by Dutch Pinball News reader Gert-Jan from Leeuwarden.

In 1986, the Dutch government revised its old gaming laws. Every machine that could accept a coin
was covered by this law. They divided them into three types of coin-machines: Vendor Machines, Skill Games and Gaming Machines.

Vendor machines were machines that gave the same product every time when coins were dropped
and for the same price. Nothing could be won. Examples are cigarette machines, condom machines,
snack machines etc. Also soccer tables and biljarts(pool) are Vendors machines in Holland. (There's nothing to win.)

Vendors machines are licence-free and may be placed and operated anywhere without quantity restrictions.

Skill games are coin-operated machines that provide a game to play. The result of this game is shown by some score meter and the duration of the game depends on the players skill. A player may even win a free game. It's not allowed to pay any prize for the game result other than longer playing time.

Skill games need a model licence (Green sticker) and for every game that is operated, a location licence is required.

Gaming machines are what is known in England as AWP(Amusement With Prizes). In Holland they need a model licence and a location licence. Gaming law rules that the machine must pay out any prize in any game stage if player wishes so.

The law also ruled that Skill games and Gaming games (games that need the model licence) are only allowed in horeca places. Horeca is short for HOtel, REstaurant and Cafe.

Every place that sells food or drinks is restricted under this Horeca Law and needs a licence to operate this business. So, coin-machines (not vendors) are only seen in bars, cafe's, restaurants, diners, snackbars and the famous Dutch "Coffee-shops".

A special item in the Horeca Law is that they define two types of horeca. "Wet" and "Dry" types.
Wet-horeca is where they sell alcohol. (Bar, pub, cafe, restaurant)
Dry-horeca is where they don't sell alcohol. (Snackbar, "Dutch-coffee-shop")
(With Dutch coffee-shop I mean places where it's allowed to sell soft drugs like hash, weed and marijuana.)

Local authorities may rule about how many machines of which type may be operated in each kind Horeca, with a maximum of 2 machines.

So, to summarise:
The city of Amsterdam may rule that in dry horeca 2 gaming machine are allowed and in wet horeca 2 skill games are allowed.
The city of Rotterdam may rule: dry horeca = 2 skill games, wet horeca =1 AWP

Thus this differed from city to city. In most town however, the rule was:
Dry horeca: 1 skill game and 1 AWP
Wet horeca: 1 skill and 1 AWP.

Since July 2000, a new gaming law was introduced and some things changed.

Cities may no longer set their own standards like before.

Dutch law ruled that:
Dry horeca may operate only skill games (e.g. pinball).
Cities may set the limit, but the minimum is 2 skill games.
Wet horeca may operate both types, but cities must set a maximum of 2 for AWPs.

This means a huge change for many operators. In Holland, there is
a snackbar on practically every street corner and every city has its "Dutch
coffee-shops" (My city Leeuwarden has 14 Dutch coffee-shops!)

Under past law, in these dry horeca you could find at least one AWP.
Under new law, they'll be gone.
And not in one city, but in the whole Netherlands.

So, what must operators operate in these dry horeca? To many, the answer is Photoplay.

Many operators have placed 2 Photoplays in the horeca, but...

What we see after operating Photoplay for almost 5 years is that the hype is over. The profits from most of our Photoplays are declining. The yearly "updates" can't break this path. Also the Masters series makes the profits rise for a short time.
It seems, players have seen enough Shanghai and Fun Towers.

I, as a Pinball lover for many years, have promoted pinball in our company policy. The result was placing 2 pinballs in these so called Dry
locations and guess what...
Their profits where huge compared to the Photoplay Masters standing beside them.
Players were really enthusiastic about the Pin-game. Some had never seen one.

This proved for me, that as so many things, Pinball has its own conjuncture. I remembered the articles in the early '80s saying that Pinball was dead due to the Pac-Mans and Space Invaders.

I foresee that more operators will find out that Pinball is not as dead as they believe. Since they have to operate something in the dry horeca , and 2 photoplay's is not an option, I think more and more will settle for 1 Photoplay and 1 Pinball.
The change in the law was the start of this conclusion.

This is not the only issue. We all know the reputation of Pinballs regarding maintenance. This was one of the strong points for Photoplay. They never needed any service like Pinballs.

This is how we see it:

Suppose you have 50 dry horeca locations and you operate 100 photoplays. What do you do when players are no longer satisfied by the game anymore.
Rotate them??? No. Update them? Yes, once a year...

In other words, when it's over, there nothing you can do to attract players again.

Now, suppose you have 100 (different) pinballs and players on one location are no longer satisfied?
You rotate them. This way every machine will produce maximum profit at every new location.
This means, in the long run that Pinballs are making much more money.

As you can understand, our policy is going back to Pinball and our experience in the last months are showing we are on the right track. I think it won't take long for other operators to follow.
That means that in a while, Pinball will be back in Holland like before.

Now, there's still one problem.
Distributors are no longer selling Pinballs since the closure of WMS. One has bought a series of Striker Extremes, but he hasn't sold one of them. (Yet)

The reason for this is the high price due to the high Dollar.
However, if our profits will be kept the same as now, even this high
price will be overcome when Stern or I.P. make games like WMS used to do.

We compare this to Photoplay, who have the same price as Pinballs.

If there comes no other machine that creates the same hype as Photoplay, I'm sure Pinball will revive in Holland and if Photoplay keeps going down, other European countries will follow.


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