Redemption reigns supreme

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Redemption has been rising in prominence and performance for FECs for some time, and over on the Kentish coast, manager of Playtime Amusements Steve Dawson believes its influence now dominates the seaside sector.


Operating three FECs on the Kentish coast, Cain’s Amusements is expanding its redemption offering in Coin Castle, one of its two Leysdown-on-Sea venues, in preparation for the upcoming season.

Coin Castle was taken on just under two years ago by the operator, adding to its self-titled FEC in Herne Bay and Playtime Amusements in Leysdown-on-Sea. For the summer ahead, the company is remodelling the prize shop and increasing the redemption offering at its newest venue, which Steve Dawson, manager of Playtime Amusements, believes is “the way forward” for the seaside sector.

“It’s worked very well for us the last few years, and most importantly our customers love it,” he said, before describing some of the machines that have performed well in 2018 so far.

“Big Bass Wheel has been very popular, then there’s the DC Super Heroes machine from Bandai Namco, which gives tickets and cards.”

In Playtime Amusements, a mix of classic and contemporary has been producing great results, providing entertainment for all members of the family that visit.

“Space Invaders attracts a lot of older customers – in their 40’s like me, and then the kids see them playing and winning tickets, and they jump on as well,” he continued.

“Another video-based game that’s stood out is Crossy Road, as the kids have all been playing it on their phone, and they come into the arcade and it’s: ‘Wow!’ – A much bigger version. Also, in Coin Castle, we have Spongebob Jelly Lab which gives out cards like the DC game, and Let’s Bounce – a great looking machine that gets a lot of attention.”

The rise of redemption has been well- documented, and while formerly it was replacing traditional machines, manufacturers have increasingly been merging the two together.

“I would say now, with the pushers we’ve got, that half are with redemption tickets, and they are by far the most popular ones now,” Dawson continued.

“And we get as many people playing to win the tickets as they do to win the prizes in the machines.”

Indeed, it seems redemption’s rise has fast become redemption’s reign, however even the strongest concept comes with its fair share of challenges. While redemption’s all fun and games for customers, for managers like Dawson, a busy bank holiday can turn into a race to keep tickets refilled.

“It can be quite a thing trying to keep up with our players,” he explained.

“On a busy bank holiday we can be racing around, constantly replacing tickets on the machines. It would be nice if there was some way in which we could cut back on paper, but also save time for the customers as well, because they’ve got to go to the ticket eater and feed their tickets in.

“We have customers in the campsite that come back with carrier bags of tickets, and they are there for 30 minutes feeding tickets into the machine. I’m sure somebody will come up with a nice bright idea that will move that forward a bit better, for example card systems are already out there, and we do use loyalty cards for the redemption shop.”

The conundrum, however, is that armfuls of tickets have become part of the theatre for players, and rocking redemption’s winning formula is a risk that must be managed carefully.

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