What is a 'Refill Key' or 'Fruit Machine Key'?
A Refill Key or Fruit Machine Key is used by machine operators to refill fruit machines with coins or tokens without having the hassle of opening the machine up.
What make machines do Refill Keys work on?
Refill keys work on nearly all fruit machines, including:
However, the type of information given will vary from make to make.
Where do they go into the machine?
Although this varies slightly from machine to machine, it is always around the 'pay-out' tray and easy to locate. Just look for a straight lock, not the tubular lock shape which opens the machine. It is usually slightly above the 'pay-out' tray, to the right, or in the middle of the machine.
What do these keys actually tell you?
Refill Keys give you different information depending on which make machine you use the key on, this includes:
Hopper balance? What's that?
The hopper balance is quite simply how much money the machine has to pay out, a full machine holds £125 when full (although some machines with note changers may have 2 hoppers, therefore £250). If you use a Refill Key on a machine and find the hopper balance to be near £125 , then usually a lot of money has been lost on the machine and its likely to streak!. However, there is an exception to this which must be taken with caution. Some operators/ pub landlords refill their machines, usually for security reasons or if someone is emptying their machines. This would mean that a full machine would not necessarily pay out. However, with a little experience it would be very easy to realise this when playing. As a general rule:
Most major pubs refill their machines weekly.
Bookies tend to refill their machines daily.
Clubs vary a lot, could be daily, weekly or hardly ever, could be a very good place to use a Refill key!
Are these keys legal?
This is sometimes regarded as a bit of a 'grey' area, however many websites (and the BBC programme 'The Real Hustle") will state that they are definitely legal as:
The advantage gained is over other players, not the machine.
They don't alter the way the game plays.
They don't make the machine pay out money.
They don't damage the machine in any way.
They don't unlock any part of the machine, it simply operates a switch.
These keys are used by machine operators and fruit machine owners ( ie pub landlords) themselves to refill the hopper balance and change settings such as the volume.
However, common sense must always be used when using a key, after all a lot of people don't know about these keys and may think you are somehow 'cheating' the machine into paying. Although you may not be breaking the law, an establishment (such as a pub, club, video game arcade) has the right to refuse admission to you without giving any reason. This could result in you becoming 'barred' from certain establishments, take this as a warning! It is very easy to use these keys discretely and therefore avoid any hassle and embarrassment resulting from someone thinking you are doing anything illegal. Changing the volume will get you noticed!