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.
JOHN STERGIDES MANAGING DIRECTOR ELECTROCOIN
How will you look back on 2020?
It started off in a very positive manner and we were very optimistic for the year ahead especially with the popular and successful line of products we had like the Skill Cut Winner, Ball paradise, pinballs and more.
However, as you know, there was a sudden shock in the form of Covid 19 which caused a huge disruption to the world which removed any optimism and positivism gained at the start of the year. It has been a difficult year for the majority of businesses and the population however it could be worse and we have just have to take it in our stride and adjust with the times and hope that 2021 will be better and that we will see the back of this virus.
What, if any, were your highlights of the year?
As mentioned, we had a very positive start to the year and the energy and outlook of our industry was looking good however since Covid 19 struck, its very hard to pick any highlights.
I guess that there is a ‘better ‘understanding of the virus is in some way a highlight but if we had to pick one, it was at least the majority of operators were able to open in the summer and many of those we spoke to were generally very pleased with the results.
How have the events of 2020 changed your view on how you run your organisation, how we run our industry and how the various authorities run our country?
We have been running the business the same way as we have done for the past 45 years but with a few changes to comply with the current situation.
The industry has adapted. However, it is clear that the local authorities do not understand our industry (and many others) fully as those in the supply chain have not been supported with enough help during the Covid situation and have been running the country to suit their own ambitions which includes changing roads to bike lanes, longer time period bus lanes etc as they are not thinking forward beyond Covid.
Covid, Brexit, The Gambling Review: what do you think will happen in 2021?
Covid will probably carry on and hopefully the vaccination will start to bring it to its end before the Easter but at the moment it is killing our industry and businesses.
Hopefully Brexit wont affect us too much as it may help our industry as maybe fewer people will travel abroad for holidays.
The Gambling Review, we are back to square one , when they reviewed it in 2005 they got it wrong and hopefully they wont make the same mistakes like last time and let the big companies dictate the terms. Hopefully this time they will do their best to protect the vulnerable unlike the 2005 act, which instead of protecting players, they caused more harm by introducing £100 stakes. Hopefully the new law will also make it more or less what is was before with lower stakes, low prizes bringing back the AWP spirit and also allow manufacturers to develop multi entertainment games with gambling for people to enjoy and have fun.
Finally, we hope they bring the online operators in line with land based stake and prizes.
If you had to pick a Hero(ine) of 2020 who would it be and who would be your folk devil?
Hero – Captain Tom Moore, at 99 years old, he set out to walk back and forth in his garden, 100 laps was the aim, to raise £1,000 for the NHS during the early stages of the Covid crisis. In the end he went for 200 laps and managed to raise over £30 million and it just shows, that even during difficult times, if you set your mind to it, you can beat expectations if you have the determination and drive to do so.
Folk Devil – Boris Johnson Advisors – He chose the wrong advisors who have taken advantage of his excitement to solve the problems. They have handled the crisis poorly, took decision slowly and have backtracked on many decisions to then only follow suit with what the rest of the world when it came to taking the necessary precautions and measures.