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single site operations in bars and pubs, has not led to more business within the arcades. Te geographic spread of the smaller locations meant that players had easy access to local machine play, whereas the larger surviving arcades are not as convenient for this kind of player. Te result is that the single site players have melted away.”


Te affect of the legislation in the Czech Republic has been to effectively remove the amusement with prize player from the market. According to Mr. Mikoska, as an online operator in the market, SYNOT has not seen a spike in online play that would suggest that single site players have migrated online. Mr. Mikoska believes that while a younger generation of players have adopted online gaming in the Czech market, the older pub generation of players has not migrated either to the larger land- based locations or towards online play. What impact this has on problem gambling figures in the country will make interesting reading.


SYNOT - MULTIPLE GEOGRAPHIES SYNOT’s David Mixa presented the new curved SPIRIT cabinet at ICE London 2020 SYNOT channels the gaming Spirit at ICE 2020


Te Czech Republic street market has stabilised over the course of 2019 and the outlook remains calm for 2020. All locations have been adapted to meet the requirements of the latest gaming regulations in the country. Te only change now to hit the market will affect lotteries in 2020, with a tax hike from 23 to 35 per cent for revenues, which will not impact the sports betting, slot arcades or casinos in the country. However, in December of this year, a further change to the gaming landscape in the Czech market must be adopted by operators, which will see the introduction of an excluded persons register


Te new player registration scheme is an electronic system that links to a government database from which live information about players can be pulled to ensure that anyone self-excluding from one gaming hall or casino is excluded from all locations across the country for a set period of time. According to Czech operator and games supplier, SYNOT, the market has stabilised in the Czech Republic after the devastating effects of the most recent gaming legislation, but the impact of the new registration scheme is another unknown variable that’s likely to affect business into 2021.


In addition to national legislation, local city municipalities continue to independently enact anti-gambling policies, the latest is the shift in the capital city, Prague. A new gambling law in the city, if enacted, would prohibit the operation of slots city-wide across all locations from slot halls through to casinos. Te law would effectively bar everything but live table operations in the city. Approvals for the new law are set to take place in March. Prague would join the 457 Czech


municipalities (of the 6,200+ in the country) that have already implemented a total ban on slot machines.


Te changes in the Czech Republic since the new regulation was enacted in 2017 have been huge. Slot gaming hall numbers across the country have dropped from 7,600 individual locations in 2017, to 1,800 by 2019, an overall reduction of more than 75 per cent. Te number of gaming machines has halved in this same period, from approximately 80,000 in 2017 to under 39,000 in 2019.


SYNOTtip’s Petr Mikoska described the situation: “Operators are seeking to survive in this new marketplace. Te fall in operations has stabilised at less than half the figure from 2017. Te remaining arcades must operate a minimum of 15 machines per location, and a minimum of 30 in casinos, which has eliminated the single machine business completely, with only the largest operators able to continue operating a greatly reduce estate. What we’ve seen as an operator is that the closure of the


Synot’s success in Greece’s VLT market is well documented but with over 5,000 machines operating in the country with well above average results, the company’s progress shows no signs of slowing in the near term. “Our results have been fantastic,” enthused SYNOT’s David Mixa at ICE 2020. “We are very happy with our performance in Greece working with a very progressive operators such as OPAP, which is doing an amazing job providing a top-level environment for players.” Te only fly in the ointment for the continued growth of the market in Greece is the recently introduced ban upon smoking indoors. As the country with the highest tobacco consumption in the EU, Greece has largely ignored the introduction of a smoking ban in 2010. However, a mid-October ban last year came into effect with fines now ranging from €500 to €10,000, whereby repeat offenders are likely to have their locations closed. Enforcement of the ban is increasing and represents a threat to the profitability of many locations across Greece as revenues fell in October by 2.6 per cent, 19.3 per cent in November and a massive 27.7 per cent plunge in December due to the ban.


Lots of attention is being poured into the Ukraine market at the moment as a new gaming law takes shape in a market that could support over 40,000 machines. Meanwhile, Poland is yet another market that’s rebuilding its gaming machine sector after a total ban. It’s expected that the market could see around 25,000 machines in the near future, with ad hoc gaming halls springing up across the country. "Lots of arcades are opening very quickly, but we expect the market to settle before the end of the year,” explained Mr. Mixa. “We have started working with the major operators in the country and expect to install several thousand machines in 2020. As more and more licensed operations open across Poland, we expect to see the end of illegal operations as a result.”


SYNOT continues to expand its reach into the Balkan markets, with Serbia and Croatia performing strongly, and in Romania too, where SYNOT’s machines are performing in the top five in each of these markets. At the ICE show in London, SYNOT unveiled a new Premium 4K cabinet with curved monitor. Te stunning, as yet unnamed unit, will be ready for sale in the coming months to compete in an international marketplace that has shown its appetite for curved 4K devices.


NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA P61


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