As the country’s leading independent manufacturer, Reflex Gaming, continues its development ahead of EAG. The company’s founder, Quentin Stott, discusses the importance of product, the potential player protection capabilities surrounding contactless and amusements’ position on the ‘kaleidoscope’ of gaming…
How do you evaluate the key challenges facing the bricks and mortar sector of the industry in 2019?
Quentin Stott: I think the biggest issue facing the bricks and mortar sector is that of economic uncertainty coupled with the huge disparity on offer compared to the online sector. Having said that, I strongly feel our sector should and does completely embrace being at the softer, more amusements-based, end of the gambling spectrum. Providing fun products in safe and well controlled environments make our sector what it is today and is the envy of many other international jurisdictions.
Other challenges through 2019 will be the continued weakness of the GBP over the Euro and USD, which makes the importing of many component parts, such as PCs and monitors, expensive. However this situation will no doubt continue the staycation effect for UK holiday makers, which will hopefully (weather depending) be a positive boost for the more seasonal areas of the business. I do also feel that the current regulations reduce the ability for product innovation and over the coming years I hope that the industry can work together with the Gambling Commission to take things forwards.
CS: What do you think should be on the industry’s shopping list over the next 12 months in terms of its dialogue with government?
QS: I personally feel that the DCMS and the Gambling Commission should work with the industry to enable new, non-cash, payment methods.There will be work around us coming to market for sure, but none will be as intuitive as,for example, contactless payments directly onto machines.I’m not naïve enough to think that the public perception of this would be a positive one and the Commission are typically super cautious, however, with most major banks now allowing customers to block their gambling spend via cards, I actually feel that this could enable greater player protection than is currently available. Those in power cannot be unaware of the massive shift in customer spending habits,so to allow land based machine income to whither on the vine seems simply ludicrous.I also think our industry should work to separate ourselves from the harder forms of gambling in the eyes of the government and the Gambling Commission. I do feel that the whole industry is increasingly looked on in exactly the same light, but there is a kaleidoscope of gambling products available and we are very much at the softer, amusement end of the scale, rather than offering a hard gambling proposition.The other thing I’d be shopping for is a further look into Cat C technical standards.We agreed a 100% holdover on non-monetary aspects of a machine and this was to be looked at again with a view to further relaxations. Unfortunately this seems to have stalled so I feel we should get it back on the items for discussion.
CS: How important are events such as EAG to the industry and how will you be using the show?
QS: EAG is a much welcomed opportunity to reconnect with customers, suppliers and industry colleagues following the Christmas break and discuss requirements as we all build up to the Easter period. In general terms, pub trade starts to pick up again towards mid-February therefore our current test products are an important part of thinking for injection in that period.
Reflex will be obviously using the exhibition to showcase our latest products and have appointments throughout the event where we can catch up with key customers.
CS: Where does the Reflex team get its inspiration from in terms of new product ideas?
QS: The simple answer is we have some very creative people.These key people excel in hardware design, technical knowledge, game and maths creation and graphical design. April this year marks the 15th year since we formed Reflex Gaming and over this time I’m extremely proud to be able to say that we’ve managed to attract some of the best talent in the industry.For a business that generally measures success in cashbox income, product is absolutely everything. The Reflex team are not only talented, but also focussed, driven and above all,passionate.The collective inspire the individual and vice-versa.