Happy New Year everybody!
Looking ahead I believe 2016 will provide plenty of opportunities for the UK amusements and gaming industries and there will be much to address, in particular with The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Gambling Commission and Ticket-in, ticket-out (TiTo) technology trends and developments high on the agenda.
As a business Praesepe needs to constantly adapt as I recently highlighted to Coinslot Magazine who asked me the following questions for its next edition:-
Were there any major new investments Praesepe made following EAG 2015? If so, how has this technology been received on the gaming floor?
12 months ago we wrote to all of our gaming machine suppliers informing them that we would only consider siting machines which are TiTo enabled or compatible. We took this firm stance as a result of the importance we place on TiTo as a break through development for both operators and players alike. There’s no doubt that TiTo is ticking every box throughout the Praesepe estate and is on course to become one of the single most important developments in high street gaming. Its impact on maximising machine uptime, improving security and driving uplifts in income have been profound. The cost of rolling TiTo out across our estate, which we anticipate will be completed by mid-2017, will be in excess of £2m — which is money very well spent.
Is there anything specific Praesepe will be looking to achieve or obtain at EAG 2016
I make no apology for this answer also being TiTo related, but we want manufacturers to harness TiTo in order to be more adventurous in their approach to game design and content. Prior to TiTo we were limited to round pound pay outs which restricts the way in which games are structured and presented, with knock-on effects on the player experience. Due to the fact that TiTo has been so well received the length and breadth of the country, we believe that it’s exactly the right time to break free from the straight jacket of round pound payouts. We would like to see games specifically designed for TiTo, taking the successful penny a line route favoured by many in US gaming and in the process enhance the gaming experience. I honestly believe this could be a game changer and we will be pushing this school of thought at EAG.
How has business been throughout 2015? In what ways has this performance affected forward-planning for 2016?
2015 was a very good year for the business, during which we set new standards in customer service, enhanced further the player experience and in many of our venues, achieved new income records. The economic recovery has permeated its way through the country – albeit at different speeds – and I’m pleased to say Praesepe has succeeded in taking more than our share of the increase in disposable leisure spend. To remain competitive you have to continue to invest in the infrastructure and to continue to provide the levels of comfort that consumers of leisure expect in the 21st century.
What level of focus does Praesepe put on the networking opportunities at EAG, as opposed to seeing new product?
We have an extremely positive relationship with the community of games developers and manufacturers and I would be disappointed if we went to EAG or any other industry show for that matter and were presented with a product that we didn’t know about already or indeed been involved in its development. Each year we hold the Praesepe Machine Symposium at which we bring together all of the manufacturers and we have an on-going dialogue with manufacturers across all levels of the business. There is an open invitation for manufacturers to access our venues, speak with our people and get market knowledge and insight from our customers. Furthermore, our profit share business model means that, in effect, we are in partnership with the manufacturers which means that we share a common aim and that’s to produce exciting player-centric gaming entertainment.
Does EAG tick all the boxes for Praesepe? Is there anything that could be improved upon to heighten operator engagement with the show?
I think it’s essential for the domestic industry to have the opportunity to get together at least once a year to meet, exchange opinions, collaborate on the big issues of the day and to network. EAG has succeeded in reflecting the industry and meeting its needs. A lot of the opportunities for engagement, as you put it, develop organically and as a result of the industry coming together, which I am certain will happen at the ExCeL Centre in January.