When you’ve been part of an exhibition for more than half a century and hold the title of being its longest continuous exhibitor, your opinion counts for something. John Stergides, Managing Director at Electrocoin, whose association with ATE started in 1969 reflects on the past and looks to what the future holds for both EAG and the industry it serves.
John Stergides, Managing Director of Electrocoin, the famous industry brand which was recognised at show for being the longest continuous exhibitor at EAG and before that ATEI, believes that a healthy and vibrant trade exhibition has a pivotal role in helping to nurture a healthy industry.
Reflecting on the mutually supportive relationship between industry and event he said: “It’s incredibly important to have a dedicated exhibition catering for all sectors of the industry including both amusements and gaming. EAG (and before that ATEI) provides operators and all the many thousands of people who are directly involved in amusements and low stake machines the opportunity to meet, discuss the business and most importantly come and see the latest games, products and services which make-up our industry.”
As the award he received from EAG Chairman Martin Burlin testified, John Stergides’ long relationship with the show first began as a visitor in 1969 and has subsequently flourished into Electrocoin being the longest continuous exhibitor.
“My first show was the ATE when it was held at Alexandra Palace” he confirmed. “I was excited to be a part of an exhibition which I had seen advertised and read about in Coinslot whilst working at the Golden Goose arcade in Old Compton Street.
“After that first experience, ATE became a must attend annual visit until we progressed to taking a small booth which was located behind the stand occupied by London Coin. The fact that Electrocoin has navigated both good and bad times and is still able to contribute to the show fills myself and the entire team with great pride. It goes without saying that we all greatly appreciate the award.”
Exhibitions inevitably reflect the dominant trends taking place in the industry sectors that they serve and for John Stergides those trends have not always been positive. He noted: “Up until the late 1990’s UK arcades featured a breadth of games including AWPs, pushers video and pintables etc. The arrival of Section 16 machines and the 2005 Gaming Act ushered in a new generation of gambling product and with that the removal of more traditional arcade-based entertainment machines.”
He added: “The B2 machines which took over Betting Shops and were nicknamed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling created social problems that had never existed previously and I would go as far to say they came perilously close to destroying our industry. Many arcades were either forced to stop trading or sell to bigger organisations which could afford to wait for better times. Removing B2s from the high street was the best possible outcome and we can thank Boris for that!”
Coming right back up to speed and the emergence of a revitalised EAG following the challenges of Covid, John believes that the show and the industry are aligned. “As an exhibitor the impression that we got was that operators attending EAG 2023 were planning for and investing in the future. This was the first time for many years that we have received such a positive reaction from show visitors and the overarching feeling shared by many is that we are at last getting back to normal.”
He continued: “Whilst there will always be room for improvements, I agree 100 percent with the view that EAG has rediscovered its mojo and I’m sure it will get even better particularly if it can take place later in January.”
As to the value of EAG and how to get the most out of the exhibition, John is happy to reference his experience with sons Gabino and John Anthony watching title-chasing Arsenal: “We put a lot of effort and energy into pre-marketing our presence at show and it certainly works for us. EAG represents the industry’s first event of the year and everyone should be a part of it and be on the front foot. It’s like being at the Emirates for the start of a game – the atmosphere just gives everyone a fantastic boost!”