Hamburg/Berlin (dpa) – The existence of the German slot machine industry is threatened by illegal slot machines and state regulation.
More and more companies would have to give up or be pushed out of the market, said Georg Stecker, spokesman for the board of directors of the umbrella organization for the German slot machine industry, the dpa in Hamburg. “And this is happening on a large scale through the wrong regulation, that is, through distancing rules or the prohibition of multiple concessions.”
Thousands of jobs are at stake, Stecker said. “Many companies have already been destroyed.” In addition, illegal offers endanger the protection of minors and players.
Corona responsible for falling sales
He sees evidence of this in two studies, which on the one hand show the sharp rise in illegal slot machines in Germany and, on the other hand, the sharp declines in sales in the legal slot machine industry due to state regulation.
In the latter, Hans-Günther Vieweg of the Cologne Retail Research Institute (IFH) arrives at the forecast that after a corona-related drop in sales of 45 percent to 3.6 billion euros in 2020, the industry will also face a further drop in gaming device sales of around one in 2021 Third or 1.9 billion euros should come out.
Therefore, the loss of sales is greater than that of the restaurant sector, which was also heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As of 2020, around a third of the around 210,000 slot machines in Germany at the time were located in catering establishments. “This additional sales loss of €600 million compared to the restaurant industry was mainly due to regulation that greatly reduced and restricted commercial slot machines,” says the Vieweg study. At the same time, the mandate to channel towards legal gambling is frustrated.
By 2021, Vieweg expects a further decline in the number of devices, by 20 percent to 170,000. Compared to 2014, that would be a 63 percent drop in commercial slot games overall.
In addition to the scarcity of supply due to distance rules, the ban on multiple concessions for arcades and the restriction to only two devices in the restaurant sector, slot machine gambling is also being made artificially unattractive with Technical Guideline 5, Stecker said. This policy has been in place for a year and a half.
Criticism of the illegal gambling market
“If the game is artificially slowed down and the player is artificially exposed to pauses, it means that interest in this game fades,” Stecker said. That plays in favor of illegal providers. “Then you end up in ‘pseudo arcades’ or ‘pseudo gastronomy’ with illegal devices or in some back rooms of kiosks, without any protection for the players.”
In his field study “Illegal Gambling Market Outlook 2021” published in February, Jürgen Trümper from the gambling addiction task force also showed this connection: one in three devices he inspected at more than 1,400 gambling establishments Gambling in 13 federal states was therefore illegal. He also justified this increase with the low expectation of profits but also of losses due to legal provisions.
However, unlike the plugs, Trümper spoke out against facilitating legal slot machines and called for a better fight against illegal offerings.
demand for more options
“If you want to drain the swamp of illegals, then you have to give legal companies more options,” Stecker said. “That means, for example, permission to install more games or more attractive ones.”
It is important that regulation is based on quality. “The fact that operators are checked to see if they are certified or meet certain standards (…) But if only the folding rule is applied and the distance to the next arcade decides who is closed, then that is fatal, and not only for organized companies, but also for the protection of minors and players.”
Supply reduction is currently only taking place in the legal area. “That means the right operations are being dismantled: rock-solid, family-run businesses, often in the second or third generation, with skilled employees who are subject to social security contributions.”
According to the umbrella organization, around 70,000 people work in arcade companies in Germany, two-thirds of whom are women. There are currently 500 apprentices in the two vending machine-specific professions of vending machine service specialist and vending machine specialist. In addition, training is offered in numerous other professions.