Euromat president Jason Frost takes a look at what the new normal will look like for the industry, once we get back up and running.
I have been honoured to be a past president of Bacta and I am currently the president of Euromat the European gaming and amusement federation. I am a Showman and four generations of my family have operated amusement arcades. I have spent all my life in arcades. When my family operated family entertainment centres at the coast I would be in a pram in the cash desk while my mum gave change. I have always been in this industry and it’s an industry I know, love and earn my living from as an AGC operator. So, you could say I have the experience to comment on our industry. Most of the time the comments have been as president of Bacta or president of Euromat but on this occasion I want to share some of my thoughts with you as Jason Frost.
The industry is facing consultation on a review of the gaming act. With the situation we are all in with Covid-19 I wonder when this will actually happen? One thing I firmly believe is that change may be for the better.
Gambling on the high street comes in many forms. LBOs are moving towards self-service betting terminals where punters can place a bet on a terminal and watch the match or race on the screens in the venue: they can also play on a B3 machine if they wish.
High Street Bingo clubs enable their customers to play bingo as well as the chance to play gaming machines with stake options from10p to £2. They can also serve alcohol and have a coffee bar on the premises. Bingo Clubs offer the standard bingo games as we know them and also have AGC’s within them offering slots with stakes ranging from 10p to £2. All these venues are only available to players over 18-years of age.
There is a lot of cross over in these venues and players will often frequent all of them. So the key point is why couldn’t a single venue operating on the high street offer all the forms of gaming that are currently available in the different locations?
There is a very successful model in Spain where AGC’s are also able to offer sports betting on site. Most of the sites I have seen in Spain have self-service betting terminals in the front of the venue often supplied on a profit share basis by the large sports betting companies. The reason for this was when LBO’s were legalised in Spain they had to be on a licenced premise, so the model worked and it made sense to join up with the AGC operators and combine the sports betting with the AGC. It’s a great model for the LBO’s because they reduce the cost of being on the high street while still having customer facing businesses.
In the UK, wouldn’t this make sense?
So, take this as a model or vision:
Customers enter an AGC and in the front of the shop there are TV screens on the wall showing sports events. There are four self-service betting terminals where customers can place a bet up to a maximum stake of £20. There is a coffee bar with seating where customers can take time out and enjoy a cappuccino and something to eat. In addition there’s also the usual AGC offering as we know it today with stakes on the machines from 10p up to £2.
Customers could also play bingo in the same way as they do today in High Street bingo clubs. There could be another area where players would have to comply with an enhanced registration process enabling them to play on terminals offering a higher stake and prize equal to that available online – whatever that may be. To play these terminals they would have to deposit money in the same way as they would online. This way you would have all the KYC protocols and player tracking that online currently has but with the enhanced protections of having staff in the venue.
All of the above are currently available on the high street but in different venues, apart from the online offering which is actually available anywhere to anyone over 18 with a smart phone and internet access.
Who knows what the ‘New Normal’ will be after Covid-19 has left us, but It seems to me that this would be a far better way to manage the betting and gaming offering on the high street.
I believe it would be more efficient for the regulator to regulate a venue of this type and ultimately and most important of all it would be better for the customer with consistent and seamless social responsibility measures and the sharing of best practice.
Let’s seriously consider what the future could look like and lets talk about it so people hear.