Jeremy Godden, managing director of Godden Gaming, is preparing to open the doors at his Palace Amusements AGCs supported by a full range of personal protection equipment, hygiene protocols and health initiatives for both customers and staff.
“The aim is to hit the ground running and demonstrate right from the outset that we are a Covid secure business,” Godden Gaming MD Jeremy Godden explained to Coinslot. “When players come to our venues we will undertake a discreet temperature check, they will be given a face mask if they have left their’s at home and my team will be protected by face shields and gloves. I want to build a reputation for providing the warmest welcome to the safest AGCs.”
In terms of the much talked about FOGO – Fear of Going Out – Jeremy Godden believes that will be eclipsed by a desire to mix and socialise in those environments that players know and feel secure in.
“A lot of my team live in the communities where they work and know their customers as friends and neighbours,” he confirmed. “The feedback we are receiving is that they can’t wait for the venues to reopen. AGCs, particularly those at the coast, are a bit like the Social Clubs of the 1970s in that they fulfill a really important community function. While some of the older customers might take a while to get used to the new way in which we have to operate I think the familiarity and security of the surroundings will overcome any initial apprehension they may have.”
One of the issues that Godden believes is holding operators back in their endeavours to readjust businesses is the 80/20 rule. “This is a totally arbitrary number and I have seen no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it has helped with the industry’s social responsibility commitments. AGCs would be much better places with fewer machines and I, in common with everyone in the sector would like to see it go. I think part of the role of the regulator is to permit the industry to prosper so It would be useful if the Commission could share any evidence they may have to suggest that 20 percent is anything other than a figure that’s just been plucked out of the air.”
As far as phase three of the lockdown restrictions are concerned, Jeremy Godden is working towards July 4 as the likely earliest date for the doors to open at the company’s Jimmy G’s FEC brand, named in honour of his father.
“FECs are a harder one to call” he stated. “Of course, we can uphold the protocols but the question remains will it be commercially viable? In the absence of a vaccine, at some stage society has to learn to manage the risk which means the rule makers will have to trust the public. The consequences of not doing so will be far reaching and profound.”