Whilst acknowledging this year as having been “incredibly tough”, Novomatic UK’s head of business strategy Paul Terroni has urged amusement stakeholders to hold on just a little longer – and ride the wave of a resurgent economy (and new Gambling Act) in 2021.
As a disastrous 2020 comes to a close, Novomatic UK knows full well how hard circumstances have been for its customer-base.
“These have been incredibly difficult times for the sector, and will be even more so in the coming weeks with AGCs and FECs being required to close in the new Tier 3 restrictions,” the company’s director of business strategy Paul Teronni told Coinslot in interview earlier this week.
“The coming year presents much uncertainty with Covid continuing to harm our business, the tough economic conditions and Brexit serving to potentially destabilise the economy. We also of course don’t know what the outcome will be of the upcoming gambling review.”
These are all headwinds faced by the Novomatic Group itself of course – with Terroni acknowledging that 2020 had been an “incredibly tough year for us.” But he also went onto explain how the tough times had seen the company become “very closely engaged with government,” with Terroni and his colleagues intent on fully explaining the depth of the troubled waters the UK amusements and gaming sector now finds itself in.
“The government seems yet to fully understand our sector and the way we operate – we’ve seen that in the way they have responded to us during Covid,” he told us. “Looking ahead we need to continue to foster an understanding of our work and the value we bring to the British economy and local economies up and down the country.”
“The government must allow our businesses to open in Tier 3,” he continued. “We are Covid secure with low dwell times and should not be treated differently to bookmakers when it comes to reopening.”
And indeed, with a broad swathe of arcades throughout the country still forced into closure – short-term prospects for the sector remain undeniably bleak. But Terroni urged operators to wait just a little longer – and assured them that brighter days lie just ahead.
“There is a great deal on the horizon to be optimistic about for our business, with the Covid-19 vaccines on the way, the economy slowly returning to strength and the Gambling Review enabling us to foster a strong dialogue about what our sector should look like in the years and decade to come,” he explained.
“Of course, it’s not going to be easy and there is a lot to do in 2021, but I think we will be able to get back to doing what we do best – which is creating a fun, safe and engaging experience for our thousands of customers.”
NOVOMATIC’S TERRONI: NEW GAMBLING ACT, NEW PROSPECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY
“As everyone is very aware, the current Gambling Act is wholly outdated and needs to be brought into the 21st century. This is our once in a generation chance to build a strong legislative framework that allows our business and others’ to thrive and prosper in the future. We need the capacity to innovate but also to provide extra protection to our customers using technology such as biometrics. We also need the chance to achieve parity for landbased businesses and online and with it, a triennial review to allow the sector to keep introducing new technologies and increase stakes and prizes on and offline, at the very least in line with inflation and market trends.
This upcoming review will take place in a totally different context of course. Not only have we had Covid-19, but the public and political perception of gambling is going through a process of transformation: with much greater scrutiny and criticism of the sector. It is of course right that the sector is scrutinised and that we strive to do our best to ensure player protections, but we also need to set out how far the industry has come in this regard and our work with parliament and the DCMS to build good relationship – which mean we can work together to develop the industry in the most socially responsible way. This is why Novomatic has long supported the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm.
We hope that we and others in our sector will be able to continue to engage with them and help to explain what is often a misunderstood part of the sector.”