Jason Frost (Euromat): 'Wider economic factors have a negative impact on gaming spending'

29 December 2023 - 10:15

Jason Frost, Euromat President, highlights that the European gaming industry has recovered pre-pandemic levels in terms of attendance, but inflation is impacting consumer discretionary spending.

Written by Carlo Cammarella
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The pandemic is over and the world, at least apparently, seems it is right back where it started. However, among the problems that many sectors are facing is that of inflation, partly due to the war in Ukraine and partly to the climate of uncertainty we are experiencing. Even in the gaming market there have been many structural changes and the situation is undoubtedly different from that experienced before the health emergency. Jason Frost, president of the European Gaming and Amusement Federation, talks about these issues to Gioco News.

After the pandemic, the European gaming industry has reached 2019 levels. What has structurally changed since that time?

“Today, the European gaming industry has recovered to pre-pandemic levels in footfall and customer numbers, but caution is advised due to inflation's potential impact on discretionary spending. However, this recovery has been accompanied by some structural changes that are reshaping the industry. To provide you an example, regulators have enhanced their focus on responsible gaming practices recognizing the importance of player well-being and prompting the implementation of responsible gaming tools like self-exclusion programs, player education campaigns, and stricter advertising regulations.”

Regarding the payment system, has there been any progress in 2023?

“In recent times, we have been strongly advocating for innovative payment systems in the land-based gaming industry, emphasizing the sector's reliance on cash due to regulations.  However, consumer preferences are shifting towards cashless payments, creating uncertainty. Limited member states allow the indirect use of non-cash payments through pre-paid cards or Tito systems making this an exception rather than the rule and no jurisdiction allows direct payment onto machines using cards. In the Uk we are seeing a degree of innovation, where app-based payment has been piloted in several locations in the country. Wider adoption across Europe necessitates dialogue with regulators. Euromat addresses this by establishing a payments taskforce, bridging the gap between the gambling sector and the evolving payment landscape.”

As for responsible gaming, do you think that has there been progress in 2023?

I think the industry is always year by year making strides in respect of social responsibility. However, this is unfortunately not always recognized by regulators. We’ve some seen some jurisdictions e.g. Croatia are considering the implementation of have implemented heavy-handed interventions, such as player cards, which raise privacy concerns. We live in a Gdpr era where the good practice in every other industry is minimizing data collection but in gambling the impulse of regulators seems to be the contrary. It’s worrying and we’re pushing regulators to acknowledge the importance of privacy friendly interventions that balance responsible gambling with player privacy.”

What will be the challenges, the obstacles to overcome and above all the goals in 2024?

“The European economy continues to look precarious. We are facing a number of challenges, including inflation, supply chain disruptions, and a surge in utility bills, particularly in areas such as electricity. The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which initially contributed significantly to price hikes across Europe, has become curiously absent from recent news updates, which is particularly striking given the widespread repercussions the conflict had on various economic factors, prompting questions about the current status and implications of the situation. We should be mindful that wider economic factors could have a negative impact on consumer spending, including spending on gambling activities. Additionally, the upcoming European elections are likely to lead to big gains by populist parties, extremism in politics leads to more uncertainty which is bad for any business.”



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