Coinslot – Any Questions with Peter Davies
Peter Davies is Business Development Director at Gamestec, which is in the middle of a busy week as the largest buyer of pay to play equipment. As well as covering both gambling exhibitions, the firm is also hosting a suite at IGE in the Chelsea Rooms on Level 1 of Earls Court.
1) How important are the January trade shows for Gamestec in its operating capacity? Have you seen most of the equipment before?
The January Trade shows are a key date in our calendar as they provide an opportunity for us to set our stall out and to meet our suppliers as well as our customers. As the largest buyer of pay to play equipment, we use the show to identify new products and trends. Our key market in pubs and other entertainment venues is changing and we are constantly looking at ways we can ensure we offer the best product range going forward. Although we will have seen and tested the majority of the relevant products, IGE gives us an opportunity to understand how these machines are viewed by our customers and how they fit in with their businesses. There will be one or two new products to us, particularly from international suppliers, and we will be keen to seek out new opportunities. At Preview we demonstrated that we are leading the market by delivering innovative new products that fit in with the environment of our existing customers. Some fill a gap in the market while others are completely new to the UK market. Our exclusive products and services are on show at IGE in the Chelsea rooms on Level 1 of Earls Court and we’ll be inviting customers on a personal tour of our latest product range.
2) How has the £70 jackpot bedded in since its introduction last year? Was there a response in the cash box?
Gamestec felt the changes in stakes and prizes legislation were very important to both the licensed trade and our industry. That said, it has been difficult to assess the full significance of their impact after such a complex year. Pub closures were on the rise before the recession really took hold and the downturn has only accelerated this. We have to look at the success of the changes in the context of declining revenues for the pub trade. We worked extremely hard to ensure we had thousands of brand new machines and marketing materials installed as quickly as possible. Gamestec installed over 8,000 machines in the first month. Initial figures were very encouraging and we saw a spike in income levels. Cashbox figures have since calmed down and performance has been consistent through difficult trading conditions. Despite not seeing the results some were predicting in the industry, we are sure the legislation has helped to prevent a further decline in machine incomes.
3) As the biggest single site operator in the country, do you feel an additional responsibility in terms of the wider industry?
Yes – this was one of the underlying reasons for acquiring Leisure Link’s pub business. Had the acquisition not gone ahead, the market would most likely have become destabilised and the confidence in the remaining businesses would have been affected. Gamestec has been through a difficult integration as a result but has emerged a much stronger organisation. This can be demonstrated by our new management team and our commitment to drive the industry forward by developing the products and services we deliver. We take our social responsibility extremely seriously and work closely with the regulator and the various trade associations on industry matters. Gamestec is also the largest employer in the sector and we take the care of our staff very seriously. Despite challenging trading conditions, we continue to invest in employee development, improving our business processes and enhancing our working practices.
4) Will video cat C gaming machines start to overtake analogue AWPs in terms of performance this year or will Category C always be an analogue market?
I see growth in the Digital Category C sector in 2010. Gamestec will be bringing an integrated solution to the market during this year and we are in the process of commencing commercial trials. I also believe there will be a place for analogue products in pubs for some time to come. Gamestec’s approach to the market is one of offering versatility. In our opinion the one size fits all solution isn’t sustainable across a market sector under increasing commercial pressure. We will be able to offer a full range of digital and analogue products to our customers, tailoring the offer to maximise income for each individual venue. Our business is ideally a partnership with the licensee and there is evidence to show that those who actively manage their gaming estates along side us benefit financially.
5) What are Gamestec’s plans for 2010? Are there any breakthroughs on the horizon?
2010 is an important year for the pub trade. Their focus is very much on bringing people back into pubs and attracting new customers. We have to tap into how the licensed trade is changing and deliver entertainment products that appeal to both the existing and new customers who don’t see the appeal of traditional fruit machines. I’ve already mentioned digital Category C machines, but we also predict an evolution of SWP games. This product needs to develop if it is going to maintain its place in licensed venues. Licensees also need to take more control over their gaming estate. Our new onsite service management system i-assist not only helps eliminate faults and carries out system checks, but also helps establish which games are popular and played most often. We are working to develop additional revenue streams through in-pub advertising and pull-tab lotteries. Our partnership with Clear Channel will see us roll out Socialite digital advertising screens over the next few months. We also see important revenue potential in TabBOXX, an advanced touch screen pull-tab lottery ticket dispenser in terms of visibility, ease of use and offering the additional benefit of screen-based promotions.