Fruit Machine Refill Keys
A Users Guide

Information contained in this guide is purely for educational use. No liability is taken for your use of, or the accuracy of, this information. The use of a refill key may or may not be illegal. This guide is provided as is, without any warranty as to fitness for purpose, or any other warranties either expressed or implied. This guide is ©, therefore it may not be reproduced in any form, either printed or electronically without prior written consent.


Do you remember looking through the glass of a fruit machine to see how full it was? With the newer front opening fruit machines thatís all stopped as instead of tubes manufacturers are using hoppers as the payout mechanism, preventing you from seeing how full the machine is.  Thatís where a refill key comes in!

What is a Refill Key used for?

A Refill Key is designed to allow an machine operator (owner) to refill the machine with cash/tokens without having to physically open the whole fruit machine.  However Refill Keys can also be used to the players advantage, as depending on the fruit machine, Refill Keys can be used to display the hopper balance, the last win, the last bank, and even allow you to adjust the volume.

Where does it go?

Barcrest Fruit Machine with Refill Key inserted

The Refill Key fits into the lock on the front of the fruit machine. Itís normally either slightly above the pay out tray, on the same level as the pay out tray but to the far right, or in the centre at the same height as the pay out tray.  It does not go into the lock that opens the machine.  The image to the left shows a Refill Key inserted into a Barcrest Fruit Machine.

The Idea:

The idea of using a Refill Key is that most modern machines use hoppers, these hold £125 when full (some machines with note changers may have 2 hoppers).  When a fruit machine is full it normally means that a lot of money has been lost in it and that it is, or soon will be, gagging to pay out. Of course there are some exceptions to this, such as refills (which are described in detail below).


Some operators refill their fruit machines.  This is either for security or because someone is emptying the machines.  However this does mean that a full machine can play very badly and you can lose a lot of money!

There are indicators to this like the refill counter, which is normally located next to the coin slot.  This displays the number of units (each unit is normally 10p, therefore 10 units for every pound) that have been refilled with a refill key.  A fruit machine is normally refilled in this way when it owes money to the player (IOU).

Operators can also open the fruit machine and refill the hopper.  They then press the hopper float button on the machine to set the hopper level to full, unfortunately there is no way to tell when this has been done.  Generally if a full machine is playing badly it has probably been refilled.  Betting shops are the worst for this as they normally remove all money from the machine every night and refill it in the morning, pubs generally only refill once per week.  A lot of pubs donít actually refill the hopper, but just empty the cash boxes at the bottom of the machine, obviously this has no effect on the hopper balance, or how the machine plays.


On some machines (mainly in chain pubs or big arcades) you may see a little blue sticker with the word MIDAS on it.  MIDAS is a monitoring system, directly connected (via a little box behind the bar) to the pubís h.q.  It has the ability to monitor the machine and report errors in real-time.  Depending on the way the system has been set up the pub might get a call or the box behind the bar might beep to tell the staff if someone is using a refill key.  You have been warned!

Note Changers:

A few of the newer fruit machines also have a note changer built into them.  Most of these machines will have 2 hoppers, and will be refilled very often.  As the money from the hoppers is used to change the notes you should not use the hopper balance as a guide as to when to play the fruit machine.

Changing the Volume:

Being able to change the volume (audio) on a machine can be very useful.  Some fruit machines have very loud jackpot tunes so if you donít want to get noticed it may well be worth turning the volume down slightly. It is also useful, when playing in pubs with very loud music, being able to turn the volume up slightly so you can hear the machine. Just remember to change the volume back to its original level when you have finished.

5p Fruit Machines:

Although refill keys can be used on modern 5p/£5 machines, the information they provide is less important as most of them donít streak like their £15/£25 version.  For example the balance will fluctuate a lot less (i.e. the hopper balance will probably never go below £100), and will not be as relevant as 5p machines tend to be played with small change (which doesnít go into the hopper) rather than £1 coins.

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Page updated 24th August 2015