“If this is the mindset that we all face, in the words of the Starks, ‘Winter is coming’”

Martin Burlin 2020 Review EAG Online
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In a two-part series, Coinslot speaks to a range of stakeholders in the industry and asks them to share their views on what has been a roller-coaster of a ride. What started out as a year of huge promise turned suddenly after the emergence of Covid, lockdown, Brexit, economic recession and a gambling review – 2020 has changed the entire industry landscape. There’s optimism, anger, criticism, frustration, good news, bad news – an interesting Christmas read for all, with one notable exception. The folk devil of 2020 will be clear to all of you pretty early on, although the heroes of the year are drawn more widely from across the community.




I usually never like looking back. I believe that every year you have success & failure. Learning from failure is an important skill as it teaches you how to better proceed.

2020 has been a shocking year and I am not sure that the Government, Opposition & their advisers have learned from their mistakes. Destroying the economy should never have been a serious option.

There have been many front line staff whom have performed magnificently . Whether it is in hospitals or delivering goods to older people in lockdown. Those who ran PHE, however, failed miserably when they looked COVID-19 in the face. When I see the NHS, I am reminded of a quote by Napoleon at Waterloo watching a cavalry charge by the British Greys, “There Gentlemen is the finest cavalry in the world, led by donkeys.” It is a similar situation with frontline staff & their bosses.

Going forward, hopefully the Vaccination Program will be both in full swing & prove successful. Otherwise the Experts will have us in lock down for ever.

The major principles of running any business will remain the same. It is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances that become more important. However, the Leisure Business needs the public to be able access our products. It’s all about attracting the “Leisure Pound.” The big question is how big will that £ be. Personal debt is rising as is unemployment. Having “borrowed,” I use the term loosely as it’s more like printed, all this money inflation is on the cards. At some stage the economy will be rebalanced, taxes will rise taking more money out of our customers pockets. Added to this there will be a swathe of Green Taxes.

Faced with all these pressures we are now confronted with a Gambling Review. To those of you, who view this as an opportunity to improve our offering, may I advise caution. Since the original 1960 Gaming Act all other Acts have further impinged on our activities. The current Act, following The Budd Report, was supposed to control On-Line Betting & introduce the Super Casino. It did neither but it did legalise B2 in betting shops. This actually skewed the market & brings us to where we are today!

If you have not listened to the presentation that bacta made to APGG may I recommend that you obtain a recording. It is chilling. If this is the mindset that we will face, in the words of the Starks, “Winter is Coming.”

Even if a Brexit deal has been put in place, I think that by this summer more people will still prefer the staycation. So the coast should have a good season. By June, vaccinations should mean the end of the tier system & we should be back to some normality. Our Industry needs to be ready to embrace the challenge. With this in mind can I recommend that you log onto EAG on line on 27th-28th January 2021 There will also be excellent Seminar sessions, to be announced. I know that it is not the same as getting together & socialising but on these two days we can imagine.”

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