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GamingAmerica.com

Nov/Dec 2021

HEADING FOR GREATNESS After recovering in 2021, is the best yet to come?

• INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS FROM REGULAR COLUMNISTS

• GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS AND G2E REVIEWS

• LIVING IN AMERICA: FLUTTER, ENTAIN AND DRAFTKINGS 1 GAMINGAMERICA

• ROUNDTABLE: LOOKING AHEAD


COO, EDITOR IN CHIEF Julian Perry STAFF WRITERS Henry Moore Henry.Moore@gamingamerica.com

EDITOR’S LETTER

Ezra Amacher Ezra.Amacher@gamingamerica.com Michael Bartlett Michael.Bartlett@gamingamerica.com LEAD DESIGNER Brendan Morrell DESIGNER Olesya Adamska DESIGN ASSISTANTS Radostina Mihaylova, Inna Shtereva, Svetlana Stoyanova MARKETING & EVENTS MANAGER Mariya Savova FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT Dalia Ambrazaite IT MANAGER Tom Powling COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Deepak Malkani Deepak.Malkani@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 6279 US BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Aaron Harvey Aaron.Harvey@playerspublishing.com Tel: +1 702 425 7818 ACCOUNT MANAGERS Michael Juqula Michael.Juqula@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3487 0498 William Aderele William.Aderele@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 2062 Clive Waite Clive.Waite@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 0643 Martin Dilleigh Martin.Dilleigh@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0) 203 435 5628 Michelle Pugh Michelle.Pugh@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 5768 SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sam Ford Samuel.Ford@GamblingInsider.com Tel: +44 (0) 207 739 9918 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Warren Wilkinson warren.wilkinson@gamblinginsider.com CREDIT MANAGER Rachel Voit

JULIAN PERRY, COO, Editor in Chief How much better does it feel to look back on 2021 than 2020? For US gaming, this time last year was absolutely worlds apart, as casinos remained restricted, revolving credit facilities were extended and profit statements turned from black to red en masse. But, as actor Paul Rudd would say, "hey, look at us" this year. As our focus turns to 2022, and the many genuinely exciting opportunities coming our way, what better way to round up 2021 than to finally be back at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas? We look back on October's event. The key words repeatedly used by our reporters on the expo floor were "buzz" and "energy," and it was much the same for their many interviewees. It may have been a slightly different event to previous years – how could it not be given we've just endured a global pandemic? – but all the big players in the industry ensured they were present for the biggest tradeshow in US gaming. There, like in this magazine, the sector came together to reflect on a year of both growth and change. Nevada casino revenues are booming, online revenue is soaring; and just when you thought sports betting couldn't grow any quicker, a bunch of new states regulated the vertical. We have plenty of G2E-related content for you from the expo floor, including Q&As with TransAct, SuzoHapp, Bluberi, AXES and more, as well as a roundtable featuring interviewees exclusively from the home of their G2E booths. Elsewhere in our final edition of 2021, we look back on the year that's been and gone, as well as previewing 2022, with regular contributors Oliver Lovat, Jeffrey Silver, The Innovation Group and SCCG Management. Silver and Lovat both make some positive predictions ahead of 2022, as US gaming surges forward with the kind of revenue figures Macau casinos can at the moment only distantly dream of. Silver, in particular, thinks 2022 could be the best year in regulated US gaming history. What a return to prominence that would be following the disastrous, pandemic-embroiled 2020. Last year, our industry rallied. This year, it recovered. Next year, will it prosper? JP, Editor in Chief

FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE

WITH THANKS TO: Dave Kubajak, Caitlin Harte, Laura Olson-Reyes, Chad Hoehne, Tiffany Sadler, Christopher Justice, Thomas Zitt, Stephen Crystal, Jeffrey Silver, Oliver Lovat, Tracey Chernay, Earle G. Hall, Brooke Fiumara, Keith Kruczynski, Craig Libson, Scott Walker, Harry Barnick, John Connelly, The Game Day Gaming America magazine ISSN 2632-766X Produced and published by Players Publishing Ltd All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of Gambling Insider but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising therefrom. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.

OLIVER LOVAT

CEO, DENSTONE GROUP

DEREK STEVENS

OWNER, CIRCA RESORTS

CHECK GAMINGAMERICA.COM FOR THE BEST IN BREAKING NEWS



CONTENTS  6

FROM THE TOP

8

STATE OF THE STATES

10

GA HUDDLE

14

THE INNOVATION GROUP

18

PEER-TO-PEER

20

24 26

Gaming America writer Michael Bartlett reports from the expo floor at G2E.

50

We look at the latest developments in the legalization of sports wagering across the US.

Global Payments president Christopher Justice joins us for an exclusive interview on the growth of cashless payments.

40-49 G2E REVIEW

Our reporters speak to companies on the expo floor at G2E, including SuzoHapp, AXES, Bluberi, Gaming Arts, OPTX, TransAct, Incredible Technologies, CasinoTrac and Flexia Payments.

Thomas Zitt talks us through the trends that are informing licensing frameworks in different states.

Stephen Crystal, founder of SCCG Management, provides a rundown of top 10 lists from around the esports world.

50

Senior Analyst at Third Bridge, Harry Barnick, assesses breaking into America, as well as the market positions of industry titans Flutter, DraftKings and Entain.

DICKINSON WRIGHT Regular Gaming America contributor Jeffrey Silver talks us through his 2022 predictions – including the suggestion it will be US gaming's greatest ever year.

HAVE YOU TRIED 22? Regular Gaming America contributor Oliver Lovat looks ahead to 2022 – Casablanca style.

CGA WINNERS We review the industry's finest, who were crowned worthy winners at this year's Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas, which kicked off G2E week.

26

4 GAMINGAMERICA

THIS TOWN'S NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR THE THREE OF US

54

ROUNDTABLE: LOOKING AHEAD

60

HANDICAPPERS OR 'SCAMDICAPPERS'

62

PRODUCT REVIEWS

Industry experts from AGS, Table Trac, Incredible Technologies, TransAct and Interblock look back on 2021, and ahead to 2022.

Affiliate The Game Day writes for Gaming America about betting tipsters. Who can you trust?

We look at what's new on the market, as well as reviewing the products that won at this year's Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas.



FROM THE TOP

FROM THE TOP:

G2E ROARS BACK More than 13,000 attendees bring the buzz: Michael Bartlett reports as new products signal the future of our industry. Quite often in life we take things for granted, until that something is taken away from us, and then we appreciate it so much more. Case in point: The 2021 version of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), which took place the first week of October at the Venetian Expo Center in Las Vegas. G2E is presented by the American Gaming Association (AGA) and organizer RX. In their post-show press release, officials said the return to Las Vegas “highlighted the gaming industry’s resilience and innovation.” Some interesting facts and figures: The 21st year of the show attracted more than 13,000 global gaming professionals, including exhibitors, buyers and media from around the world; no less than 233 exhibitors, making it the largest in-person gaming event anywhere on the planet since the pandemic’s start; and there were five keynotes and 46 education sessions.

"OUR MANTRA IS: WE ARE GOING TO BE THE EASIEST COMPANY TO DO BUSINESS WITH." While every exhibitor was thrilled by the foot traffic at this year’s G2E, two were particularly impressed by the makeup of the crowd: “The level of executives attending was tremendously higher than I have seen before,” observed John Connelly, Global CEO of Interblock Gaming. “There were more C-level executive management attendees than in a long time,” chimed in Dave Kubajak, SVP of sales, marketing and operations for JCM Global. This was my first G2E, but drawing on 20-plus years of experience of being trade press for the technology and financial services industries, it was one of the “happiest” conferences I’ve ever attended. Caitlin Harte and Laura Olson-Reyes used the words “buzz” and “energetic” to talk about the positive atmosphere 6 GAMINGAMERICA

in the Expo Hall, so I know I am not imagining things. Harte, director of product marketing for Incredible Technologies, said, “We had a lot of foot traffic, quality meetings and tons of interest in our new products. There was a buzz around our booth, and really around the whole show.” Olson-Reyes, VP of marketing and corporate communications for AGS, reported officials with her company were concerned attendance would be down due to travel restrictions. "Everything was much better than expected. Our booth was consistently busy all three days. The show was so energetic. People were happy to see each other.” Trevor Croker, Aristocrat CEO and managing director, and AGA chairman, said in a post-G2E statement: “After the hardest year in our history, G2E provided a robust marketplace to drive the global gaming industry’s recovery forward. Nothing beats an in-person show – and we were thrilled with the audience and enthusiasm surrounding G2E 2021.”

NEW PRODUCTS POINT TO FUTURE OF GAMING Slot machines continue to grow in size and complexity, with several manufacturers bringing in 360-degree displays that immerse a player in the world of the slot. Finally, several companies talked about the importance of an omnichannel approach to gaming – linking the land-based and online gaming worlds. JCM Global had a crowd at its booth from the first minute the Expo Hall opened thanks to its ICB ASAP. The acronym stands for intelligent cash box with automated secure asset processing, but in a nutshell, it is a series of robots that take over the tedious task of counting the money that comes to the back of the house from all the various cash boxes on the casino floor. Kubajak told Gaming America the robots allow the casino to accomplish what typically takes five people to do with just one person monitoring the machine. “But we don’t see this as taking away jobs, we see this as an opportunity to reallocate resources,” Kubajak said. “At a lot of tribal casinos you see people get stuck in the count room. They can’t advance to anything else. With the intelligent cash box, those people can be moved to customer-facing positions.”


FROM THE TOP

Other features of ICB ASAP include addressing social distancing requirements, reducing chances for human error, theft or skimming – and therefore variance.

BLUBERI GOES HEAVY METAL Bluberi brought its Novus platform and new B49 cabinets to G2E 2021. Casey Whalen, the company’s chief commercial officer, described Novus as the latest Bluberi operating system with “state-of-the-art math and playing mechanics.” “The cabinets have a single, 49-inch monitor and 27-inch topper. The combination of playing mechanics with our art and graphics is something none of our competitors do better,” Whalen said proudly. Also on display was Bluberi’s partnership with Bzillions in the form of the new “Big Mech” cabinet and Iron Derby. Whalen said Big Mech is a mechanical reel product that breaks new ground with its metal form reels. “This game does not use the reel strips you normally see, these are laser-cut pieces of steel,” he explained. “No one else has these, so when people leave our booth that is what they will be talking about. Iron Derby is a marquee slot that evokes images of the carnival horse racing game.” “This is our first conference since G2E in 2019,” he said. “We launched a rebrand of the company and turned over the executive team. Our mantra is: We are going to be the easiest company to do business with. For this show, we are doing several unique things with our cabinets that we want to show off, and we want people to know they will have a frictionless partnership with us.”

starting in spring 2020, followed by equally abrupt attempts at restarts a few months later. They promise the disruptions are only temporary, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take for gaming equipment suppliers who cannot find parts. Bluberi’s Whalen said the company had supply chain challenges in “many significant parts” of its build and materials divisions, specifically, monitors and parts of the motherboard. “We couldn’t get sound chips,” he recalled. “Instead of a usual single-source, we had to tap multiple sources from third and fourth vendors. With that said, we feel pretty good about where we are now. We have managed to cobble sources together.” When asked if his company was impacted by Covid-related issues, Interblock’s Connelly made a face as if he had been punched in the gut.

LINKED PROGRESSIVE JACKPOTS, CONNECTING CASHLESS Among several new products AGS brought to G2E this year was its Bonus Spin Xtreme progressive system for table games. The product was Shortlisted for a Global Gaming Award in the Product Innovation of the Year category, Olson-Reyes noted. “This is a progressive side bet system with three concentric wheels,” she said. “It allows casinos to link all table games to progressive jackpots. It even works with roulette and craps, which do not normally work with jackpots.” Chad Hoehne, founder, president and CEO of Minnesota-based Casino Trac, said the company’s new financial services-connected mobile app changes the way players interact with money. He said the app connects with the casino’s financial services suppliers, allowing the funding of the player’s account in the casino for use on the gaming floor, and then later the player can transfer any winnings to his/her bank account.

SUPPLY CHAIN BLUES One of the few negative topics that burst a little bit of the happy bubble of G2E 2021 was the worldwide supply chain issues that have snarled every industry on the planet. Economists say the foul-ups are a result of the abrupt shutdowns

“Absolutely we were impacted by the pandemic,” he lamented, shaking his head. “With that said, I am very proud of my team because they have been able to keep lead times to 12 weeks or less. That is longer than we would like, but still within a reasonable time frame for our customers. We are seeing forecasts to cut that to nine to 10 weeks, but that is subject to change on a month-to-month basis based on supply chain issues.” Tiffany Sadler, global marketing director for SuzoHapp, noted the company has been battling delays for certifications and prototyping. “G2E is the deadline most companies set for their new products, so we were ready, but as far as production goes, we are not as ready as we would like to be for Q4 and into Q1,” Sadler explained. “We have a lot of product on the water or in the railyard.” G2E 2022 will return to the Venetian Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas October 10-13. It will be interesting to see if the industry keeps its buzz through the next 12 months. GAMINGAMERICA 7


AGA: LEGAL SPORTS BETTING

THE STATE OF LEGAL SPORTS BETTING WA

Washington

MT

Sports betting is only permitted in tribal casinos; there are no plans for legal state-wide mobile betting.

OR ID WY

Wyoming Legislation signed into law by Gov. Gordon on April 6, 2021.

NV

UT

CA

CO

AZ NM

Arizona 10 Tribal casino operators and 10 professional sports venues/teams.

NEWLY LIVE, LEGAL (7 states)

AK

LIVE, LEGAL (21 states) NOT YET OPERATIONAL (22 states)

8 GAMINGAMERICA

HI


AGA: LEGAL SPORTS BETTING

As states recover from the difficulties of the last 18 months, sports betting continues to boom. Since we last examined the state of legal sports betting, an impressive seven states have gone on to launch their markets.

Connecticut Sports betting launched on October 19.

ME

ND MN

VT

CT

MD

NY

WI

SD

NH MA

MI IA

PA

NE IL KS

RI

OH

IN

WV

MO

KY NC

TN OK

VA

AR

SC MS

AL

GA

NJ DE DC

LA TX FL

Louisiana Tax Revenue to be spent on 25% childhood educational fund - 12% distributed to each parish - 2% wellness fund - 1% sports betting purse and the rest to the general fund.

Legal landscape as of October 6, 2021 (American Gaming Association)

GAMINGAMERICA 9


THE HUDDLE

INTERLOCKING LEGOS Christopher Justice, Global Payments President, speaks to Gaming America on the subject of cashless payments. Could you tell us about your background and Global Payments as a whole? I’ve spent the last 25 years leading business units for some amazing companies like Ingenico, the global leader in payment devices, Merchant LIC, the leader in connectivity for integrated systems, and First Data for Concord EFS, which was considered the “Porsche of Wall Street” by Investor’s Business Daily before its acquisition. I have been trying to help develop expertise around delivering secure payment solutions and rich customer experiences for some of the leading firms in various markets around the world. Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, McDonald’s, Nordstrom and many others. I have been very much focused on the payments world. How to engage customers at the time and place where they want to spend money, and then helping to deliver a compelling experience. In addition to those activities and certainly in addition to what I’m doing here at Global Payments, I’m on the board of the American Gaming Association (AGA) as well as Fintech Atlanta; all organizations are driven to promote growth in our ecosystem around the world. I’m also on the Executive Committee for BWB Strategy which is more in and around how investors take a look at these kinds of markets and where they should place their money. Back in 2017, I readily accepted the challenge to join Global Payments to digitally transform the gaming industry and bring some of that expertise that I’ve had in so many other markets. It’s been fun and exciting to be in the industry, and being able to work with the world’s gaming entertainment leaders; to create those compelling consumer experiences, to help maximize their spending across both physical as well as the digital properties of those organizations. The biggest thing that’s hit the industry, and what’s topical for most organizations today, is the focus on mobile cashless funding to enable a single, casino-branded application to work across the entirety of the resort. So, whether it’s my favorite slot, my favorite table, or I want to go and buy that bag for my wife from Louis Vuitton and dinner for my friends at Wolfgang Puck. 10 GAMINGAMERICA

The ability to do all of that from the palm of my hand means that, effectively, I’m bringing my own trusted device to the table. Thus, I’m able to leverage really important, bank-graded security to protect my personal information as well as my funds, engaging all of those activities in a very seamless way. This, coupled with the fact that the solution itself leverages existing systems and existing touchpoints within the casino, means I don’t have the same kind of change management an operator may have to go through with other systems.

"THE BIGGEST THING THAT’S HIT THE INDUSTRY, AND WHAT’S TOPICAL FOR MOST ORGANIZATIONS TODAY, IS THE FOCUS ON MOBILE CASHLESS FUNDING TO ENABLE A SINGLE, CASINO-BRANDED APPLICATION TO WORK ACROSS THE ENTIRETY OF THE RESORT." As we think about the challenges that organizations are having today filling open positions, nobody has the time to go through and train their staff on new ways of doing things; it’s one of those things that just has to happen naturally. We’ve done a really good job of managing the change management associated with all of that. Then, I think the last big part of it is because it’s consistent with how consumers use other applications, it’s got the same logical workflows and user interfaces that folks expect. It’s driving compelling results and I think that’s one of the things that differentiates what Global Payments is doing in this space from all of the other solutions out there; that are a lot more complex to implement, a lot more complex to maintain, and certainly aren’t having near the consumer uptake, just because it’s not a user workflow



THE HUDDLE

that anybody would tolerate. So we’re excited about where we’ve gone with the entirety of this solution.

It’s been a big year for cashless payments; there has been a lot of change and digitization in this area. How would you summarize 2021? It has certainly proven to be a significant year for growth. The number of customers who have contracted with some form of cashless roughly accounts for about 10% of all of the gaming devices in the US. So, it’s growing very rapidly. It’s the pandemic that ignited the need for safer, mobile interactions. The drive towards self-service, mobile and digital-first interactions is leading the way across every consumer market around the world. Mobile is growing more than 30% a year. It’s incredibly compelling and operators across the country are embracing it as the next new wave. If you go back 20 years to the implementation of TITO, that was Star Wars technology back in the day, nobody had a mobile phone and email addresses weren’t all that popular. So, to go from something of value, a token, to this piece of paper, seemed radical. Yet today, more people have a smartphone than have running water around the world. People use their phones the majority of the time and as of last year, the mobile phone became the main screen for the majority of the population. There is a demand for digital-first experiences and we’re seeing that in the rise of the use of applications like Amazon and Uber, and certainly how iGaming and sports betting are run around the country.

‘Cash or card, sir’ Cashless to me is a real game-changer with numerous benefits for the operator and consumer alike. It is one of those customer conveniences that will determine whose chair the consumer is going to sit in once the music has stopped. I liken it to pay-at-the-pump, where years ago none of the petroleum guys wanted to implement it because they’d make all their profitability from customers coming inside. But what they quickly realized was if they didn’t have pay-at-the-pump, consumers weren’t going to stop; and in fact, the majority of Americans will drive to the next station if the pump doesn’t accept their card. I think the same thing is going to happen here with cashless, in that it’s a solution that’s here to stay. It meets the expectations of the guest and it’s certainly going to help capture extraordinary market share for those early adopters who get in and provide that much more convenient way to play than their competitors. We’re seeing the results of that in the locations we’ve launched here throughout the last couple of years.

You have a big product in VIP Mobility. Can you talk us through what this offers to the market? There are tremendous benefits to both the operator and consumer. One of the things we find important and from all the 12 GAMINGAMERICA

research we’ve done, as well as the experience we’ve had rolling out mobile solutions around the world, is customer adoption is king. So, we’ve spent a lot of time focused on conversations with the customers. The process to get started is an application you download from one of the app stores like you would any other application. It’s a very fast and easy sign-up process; you can get started anonymously so we’re capturing 100% of the players as opposed to the 60 or 70% that wind up being carded in most organizations. But it’s very intuitive. I can get started with nothing more than a TITO ticket and scan that into my app no differently than I would deposit a check into my bank account; and I can also connect that to my other financial accounts. So, from the comfort of my seat, I can move money into the casino, I can play my favorite game and I can cash out and go on home without the safety, and security issues I would typically have carrying around large sums of cash. When you get to the operator side of things, I think the benefits there are numerous, but I would say the fact it interoperates with existing systems and doesn’t require change management is probably number one. It has a distinct cost advantage to get started. The operating and maintaining of it are very simple and easy and probably the most significant thing for everybody is that it’s driving increased frequency, increased coin-in, and increased GGR so the results and the ROI are compelling.



THE INNOVATION GROUP

OPEN-MARKET CASINO DEVELOPMENT: RESULTS AND PROSPECTS Thomas Zitt, EVP, The Innovation Group, looks into the landbased US gaming trends that determine licensing frameworks. Over the past three decades, the default paradigm for states considering enabling legislation has been to limit either the number of licenses available or the eligible geography. One must ask, though, how has this model ultimately performed? What factors should modern, emerging gaming jurisdictions consider as they develop their licensing framework? Several states in the South and Midwest instituted “riverboat” casinos. While confining casinos to riverboats was initially a way of making gaming legislation politically palatable, over time riverboat requirements have been dropped. Most “riverboat” states have a fixed number of casino licenses. Mississippi has no restrictions on the number of licenses, but casinos are

Millions US$

restricted to certain counties of the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River. Iowa has no set restriction by law; however, a rigorous approval process for new licenses and the objections of incumbents has kept the awarding of new licenses to only a handful over the past two decades. Horseracing and parimutuel industries persuaded several states to allow casinos at racetracks and frontons (termed ‘racinos’). At first, these racinos were typically limited to slot machines, VLTs, or video poker. Over time, most racinos were permitted to operate table games. Nebraska has recently legalized casinos at racetracks; but having failed to limit development to existing racing licenses, the state is now

Casino Gaming Revenue Trends: LA & MS

3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

0

Louisiana 14 GAMINGAMERICA

Mississippi



THE INNOVATION GROUP

contending with the question of whether to allow several new racing applications. Existing track operators are not overjoyed. Similar to the riverboat fiction, two states took advantage of Wild West nostalgia to institute casino zones in historic mining towns. Colorado allows commercial casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, and South Dakota in Deadwood. There is no limit on the number of licenses. Other states that have approved land-based casinos – such as Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia – have all limited the number of licenses available.

"AS NEW STATES DISCUSS GAMING, WILL ANY BREAK THE MOLD AND GO THE OPEN-MARKET ROUTE?"

Casino Gaming Revenue Trends: LA & MS

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

To this day, Nevada remains the only fully open-market commercial casino state. That said, when considering its charmed status, one must think about the advantages it had: The only casino jurisdiction in the country for decades, Louisiana Mississippi with the most populous state in the country right next door. Those conditions are not replicable, although Oklahoma – which is virtually an open-market tribal casino jurisdiction

– has benefitted from sharing a border with Texas. As new states discuss getting into gaming, will any break the mold and go the open-market route? There are reasons to think that will not be the case. The political advantages of limiting licenses are considerable: desire to control what is still perceived as a vice industry; desire to maximize state tax revenue and encourage blockbuster resorts; and incumbent lobbying efforts pushing for favored development (witness Virginia). Moreover, the economic case for an open market is not necessarily overwhelming. Twenty years ago, there was a lot of talk in Louisiana about how much smarter Mississippi was to let the market decide how many casinos to develop. At the time, gaming revenue in Mississippi considerably outstripped Louisiana; in 1999, it did so by as much as $1bn. However, starting in 2011, Louisiana began to pull ahead of Mississippi, and by 2015 it was bringing in $550m more than its regional neighbor. In terms of jobs, capital investment and gaming tax revenue, how do these two states and their different approaches stack up? Confining our analysis to 2019 to avoid distortions caused by the pandemic: Mississippi reports a larger payroll and number of jobs, which makes sense since there are more casinos and hotel rooms to staff.

Fiscal Year 2019 Comparison, LA v. MS ($M)

Gaming Positions

27,263

MISSISSIPPI 30,359

Hotel Rooms

6,287

11,314

Capital Investment*

$5,062

$4,624

State Gaming Tax

$518

$173

Jobs

16,585

19,360

Payroll

$502

$664

LOUISIANA

*Cumulative through June 2019

THOMAS ZITT

16 GAMINGAMERICA

Limiting the number of licenses comes with tax advantages, allowing a state to impose a higher rate, since casinos face a less competitive and more stable environment. Louisiana riverboats have a 21.5% tax rate compared to the 8% facing Mississippi casinos. Louisiana’s larger capital investment may seem counter-intuitive, as you might expect an open market to attract more development. However, limiting the number of licenses can facilitate a lower-risk investment environment and encourage resort development, as has been seen in modern gaming markets like Macau and Singapore. It should be noted that the reported Mississippi investment number includes divestment related to casino closures, most notably the largest casino in Tunica closing in 2014. Louisiana is not immune – the worst performing casino in the Shreveport-Bossier City market closed permanently after the pandemic – but the risk is lower.



SCCG MANAGEMENT

PEER-TO-PEER Stephen Crystal, Founder of SCCG Management, discusses the growing phenomenon of peer-to-peer esports wagering. Peer-to-peer esports wagering is still a significant and growing component of the overall gaming market, thanks to companies and technologies that democratize these contests among ever-widening groups of gamers. When discussing esports wagering, most people immediately think about professional esports game titles, leagues and high-profile tournaments. Most commonly supporting this cohort of gamers and gamblers are the sportsbook platforms and operators who, as generalists or specialists, provide markets upon which individuals place bets. Added to this category of esports wagering are the esports exchange platforms and operators which permit peer-to-peer wagering. One party on the exchange proposes a back bet on an event to occur. This party on the exchange is then matched with another party who believes the outcome will not occur and places a lay bet against the other party. However, professional esports is just the relatively high-profile nucleus of the overall peer-to-peer esports wagering opportunity. Part of the power of professional esports that creates so much excitement within the larger gaming communities is its brands’ power and the high dollar value of tournaments. These elements are the infrastructure for fan engagement; casual viewers need to get their arms around this complex industry quickly. To get an understanding of these key growth drivers, let’s look at some Top 10 Lists. Tournaments and colossal prize pools drive interest and excitement, and in 2020, the opportunities for teams and players were massive. Here are the top 10 total tournament prize pools by country: 1. United States - $19,699,634.11 2. Republic of Korea - $8,268,187.20 3. China - $6,196,088.83 4. Brazil - $3,766,636.58 5. Russia - $3,618,972.63 6. France - $3,586,718.45 7. United Kingdom - $3,462,150.84 8. Denmark - $3,230,339.57 9. Germany - $3,042,584.23 10. Canada - $2,927,177.48 From the opportunity these massive prize pools provide, here are the top-earning players in 2020. It should be noted that individual prize earnings do not correlate to player brand equity within the 18 GAMINGAMERICA

STEPHEN CRYSTAL

esports and gaming community, as many of these accomplished players are only well known within niche communities. 1. Sven “DrNykterstein” Magnus Carlsen - $499,420.48 - Grand Master Chess 2. James “Clayster” Eubanks - $373,325.00 - Call of Duty 3. Ian “Crimsix” Porter - $368,200.00 - Call of Duty 4. Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal - $358,625.00 - Call of Duty 5. Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro - $351,625.00 - Call of Duty 6. Cuyler “Huke” Garland - $347,375.00 - Call of Duty 7. Paulo “PVDDR” Damo da Rosa - $300,000.00 - Magic: The Gathering Arena 8. Hikaru “Hikaru” Nakamura - $289,807.19 - Grand Master Chess 9. McArthur “Cellium” Jovel - $256,550.00 - Call of Duty 10. Christopher “Simp” Lehr - $250,708.33 - Call of Duty Who are these professional esports companies and brands driving excitement and growth? Given the diversity of the industry, this question deserves its own fuller conversation. Still, from the perspective of consumer-facing brands, which drove a lot of fan attention, Forbes published a good article last year: A list of the 10 most valuable esports companies; based on interviews with esports organizations, analysts, advisors, investors and their 2020 revenue. 1. TSM - Valued at $410m, fielded teams in League of Legends, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Icon Influencers, Magic the


SCCG MANAGEMENT

Gathering, PUBG, PUBG Mobile, Rainbow 6, Super Smash Bros, Team Fight Tactics and Valorant. 2. Cloud9 - Valued at $350m, fielded teams in League of Legends, Overwatch League, CS:GO, Fortnite, Halo, Hearthstone, Rainbow 6, Super Smash Bros, Teamfight Tactics, Valorant and World of Warcraft. 3. Team Liquid - Valued at $310m, fielded teams in League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota2, Fortnite, Hearthstone, PUBG, Rainbow 6, Super Smash Bros, StarCraft II, and Valorant. 4. FaZe Clan - Valued at $305m, fielded teams in Call of Duty, CS:GO, FIFA, Fortnite, PUBG, Rainbow 6, Valorant. 5. 100 Thieves - Valued at $190m, fielded teams in League of Legends, Call of Duty, Fortnite and Valorant. 6. Gen.G - Valued at $180m, fielded teams in League of Legends, NBA 2K, Overwatch League, Fortnite, PUBG and Valorant. 7. Enthusiast Gaming - Valued at $180m, fielded teams in Call of Duty, Overwatch League, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Madden and Valorant. 8. G2 Esports - Valued at $175m, fielded teams in League of Legends, CS:GO, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Rainbow 6, Rocket League, Sim Racing and Valorant. 9. NRG Esports - Valued at $155m, fielded teams in Call of Duty, Overwatch League, Apex Legends, Fortnite Rocket League and Valorant. 10. T1 - Valued at $150m, fielded teams in League of Legends, Apex Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Overwatch and PUBG. Esports teams and organizations also give rise to true legends – great players who have built a direct relationship with the professional esports and gaming media audience because of their impact on esports. While this list is subjective, TheScore published a video describing its picks and justification; and it’s a strong argument. Here’s its list: 1. Lee “Flash” Young-ho - Starcraft, Starcraft II 2. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok - League of Legends 3. Filip “NEO” Kubski - CS:GO 4. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein - Dota 2 5. Daigo “The Beast” Umehara - Fighting Games 6. Justin Wong - Fighting Games 7. Adam “Armada” Lindgren - Super Smash Bros 8. Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz - CS:GO 9. Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao - League of Legends 10. Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev - CS:GO The next category of peer-to-peer esports wagering opportunity exists within platforms that support the ranking of amateur players based on their skill level and historical performance within that platform, allowing those ranked players to bet against their competitors. Finally, we come to our last category, comprised of casual gamers who wager and compete against others on platforms where unranked players are connected and compete

for their agreed-upon wager. The growth of this entire category of esports wagering is driven by the explosion of esports and gaming media content. If you aren’t an esports or gaming media consumer, it is natural to misunderstand the scope and scale of this audience content. In 2021, Major League Baseball drew 105 million viewers, the NBA drew 231 million viewers, and the NFL reached 281 million viewers. Compare this to esports leagues in 2021, which captured the attention of over 474 million unique viewers. As in all things, it’s high-quality content that drives interest and interest that drives participation.

"PEER-TO-PEER ESPORTS WAGERING IS A SIGNIFICANT COMPONENT OF THE OVERALL GAMING MARKET." This esports content viewership continues to grow. Last year, we saw 23.9 million monthly esports content viewers. By the end of 2021, we expect to see this audience grow to 26.6 million monthly viewers, followed by 31.4 million monthly viewers in 2023. Professional esports wagering is just a part of the total esports wagering market, including casual and amateur players. Asia-Pacific (APAC), North America and Europe represent esports top three markets, with APAC contributing over half of the world’s total esports viewers and revenue. Generalized gaming content is the catalyst for esports growth – a massive pool of casual and amateur gaming media content, watched by over 1.2 billion viewers in 2020. Where is all this gaming content? The four most popular streamed gaming video content sources are Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming and Discord. In Q2 2021, the total number of hours of gaming video content watched was staggering. Twitch viewers watched over 6.5 billion hours of content worldwide, with over 1.3 billion viewed on YouTube Gaming and 1.2 billion on Facebook Gaming. Today, with the gaming industry exceeding the size of the movie and music industries combined, its demography also continues to expand. Once dominated by males, today, almost 50% of the gamer community in the US and Europe is female. In generational terms, 60% of GenX, 77% of Millennials, and 81% of GenZ play video games daily or weekly, over seven hours per week. So, given all this, how does the growth of esports and gaming media correlate to growth projections for esports wagering? In 2020, the esports wagering market was approximately three billion, one billion coming from sportsbook esports wagers and two billion from peer-to-peer wagering. By 2025, this is expected to grow to 12 billion, esportsbooks contributing two billion to the 10 billion projected to come from peer-to-peer wagering. GAMINGAMERICA 19


DICKINSON WRIGHT

WILL THE DIGITAL WORLD STILL NEED BRICKSAND-MORTAR CASINOS? Following his recent induction into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame, Jeffrey Silver, Of Counsel with Dickinson Wright and regular Gaming America contributor, asks an all-important question for US gaming firms. My stepson just graduated from college and (thankfully) found a job, which meant that his mom then handed him the invoice for his upcoming insurance renewal with the family’s insurance carrier. It was at that point the shining light of “independence” was illuminated, because $1,800 for a six-month renewal was no small sum for a person starting out and just barely making over minimum wage. Undeterred, he immediately went online for a solution and found a relatively new, internet-based insurance company with a new concept. The carrier monitors your driving habits for 30 days through an app on your phone. The app records your speed and compares it with the posted limit. It looks for the abrupt application of the brakes and makes sure you’re not texting while the vehicle is in motion. If it determines you’re a “safe driver,” it will provide coverage for a fraction of the cost charged by a “conventional company.” Instead of having office locations in virtually every city and 56,000 employees nationwide, the internet-based carrier has 20 GAMINGAMERICA

no bricks-and-mortar locations and a total of 800 employees, most of whom are engaged in processing online sign-ups and answering text messages. It may take a little longer to respond to a claim, unless it was accompanied by a compelling Tik-Tok video; but hey, this is bare-bones coverage to satisfy state law and it does offer towing as part of its package! This comfort and confidence that the digital world offers for solutions to every want or need got me thinking about the future of bricks-and-mortar casino operations; especially all of the locations that don’t necessarily offer the “resort experience.” A recent drive across country had me passing by casinos in New Mexico and Oklahoma that were barely more than a tent or a pre-fab building. Would these locations continue to have the same level of visitation as the younger generation becomes more connected with “being connected?” The most recent RFP processes in other states and international locations all require a substantial investment in bricks-and-mortar.


DICKINSON WRIGHT

Some refer to it as the “resort experience” or “integrated resort.” In adopting their legislation, political leaders recognize that if land-based offerings are to have any “staying power,” they must rely upon an abundance of amenities and/or events. The main aspect of land-based properties that cannot be simulated is the personal interaction and camaraderie at nightclubs and the day club social pools that go by names like “Stadium Swim,” “Mandalay Beach,” “Garden of the Gods," and "Elia Beach Club.” What fun! That cellphone can order a gourmet meal delivered to your door, but it will likely be lukewarm and far from the glamorous ambiance and scintillating aromas found in a restaurant setting. This counter-marketing strategy is evident in Las Vegas with its emphasis on “being there,” with the action of major events, sumptuous dining and exquisite suites… Oh, yes, and both live-action sportsbooks and traditional gaming. One need look no farther than the newest offerings, Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip with its restaurants and attractions, and the Circa hotel in Downtown Las Vegas; which has elaborate pools and a full-sized stadium sportsbook that is the envy of the industry. One weekend this summer in Las Vegas, there were over 125,000 visitors as onsite spectators for four separate sporting activities all in sold-out venues (the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team at Allegiant Stadium, a NASCAR race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team at the T-Mobile Arena and the Las Vegas Aviators AAA Baseball team). Add to that the standard-yet-spectacular amenities, and Las Vegas definitely appeared to be open for business following a year of emptiness and lockdowns. Given the other plentiful diversions, it is unsurprising that online sports wagering in Nevada has a much smaller share of the State’s total gaming revenue compared with other jurisdictions. According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, as of 2020, there were 192 sportsbooks in Nevada with a few more added since that survey was published. The total number of land-based sportsbooks nationwide is approximately 300, so you can see Nevada is the place where in-person wagering is still dominant. Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Delaware, North Carolina, Arkansas and New York only allow in-person wagers and do not permit any online wagering. Perhaps this is due to a more “protectionist” view towards the bricks-and-mortar industry, but it certainly puts all of the regulatory accountability in one basket. However, the UNLV report said that the total revenue earned from all Nevada sportsbooks in 2020 was only approximately $7m ($12m in 2019), whereas, according to legalsportsbetting.com, since 2018 the revenue derived from mostly online sports wagering nationwide totaled over $3.3bn, with New Jersey and Pennsylvania leading the way.

Online sports betting revenue nationwide appears to be strong and growing with analysts seeing it as a $40bn market. It used to be “location, location, location” but this old real estate adage has been replaced by “cash flow, cash flow, cash flow!” This is reflected in the investments in online wagering made by the dominant land-based gaming companies which do not intend to leave this sector to others. In April 2021, Caesars Entertainment completed its $3.7bn purchase of the British bookmaker William Hill, which already had a large

JEFFREY SILVER

share of the US online betting market. MGM Resorts International has disposed of its real estate holdings in favor of a cash flow model in virtually all of its land-based casinos. The excess cash generated by these property sales appears headed toward an Integrated Resort (IR) in Osaka, Japan, where future projections of cash flow are expected to rival Macau. Not to be outdone, Caesars Entertainment just announced a partnership with a Toronto-based investment company to operate an IR resort in Yokohama, Japan. MGM Resorts, which recently acquired the remaining 50% in the Aria Resort from Dubai World, continued its focus on cash flow rather than property appreciation, by entering into a contract to acquire the Cosmopolitan Casino in Las Vegas. Thereafter, eschewing real estate portion, it will operate both facilities and sell the Aria property to the Blackstone Group and the Cosmopolitan property to the Cherng Family Trust. I had a chuckle to see how things have come full circle when this was announced, because the Trust, formed by Andrew and Peggy Cherng, are the founders of the fast-food chain, Panda Express. Years ago, when I was President of the Riviera Hotel, I put the first GAMINGAMERICA 21


DICKINSON WRIGHT

fast-food restaurant, a Burger King, into a casino, much to the disbelief of the other operators! BetMGM, a partnership between MGM Resorts and industry giant Entain Holdings,, has become the exclusive betting division of MGM, for both online and in their landbased locations. Its operations are already approved in at least 11 other jurisdictions; and the company has entered into alliances with major sports leagues such as the NBA and WNBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Hockey League, as well as individual teams, restaurant chains and publishing companies. Also riding the wave to sell cashflow expectancies is Scientific Games which just announced that its online sports betting entity, Open Bet, would be sold to the Endeavor Group, the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. DraftKings, another giant player in the online sector, whose land-based presence has been to operate sportsbooks within existing bricks-and-mortar casinos or stand-alone sportsbooks where permitted, recently offered an astounding $22.4bn to purchase Entain Holdings (although this was laster withdrawn). Earlier this year, MGM Resorts made an $11bn offer to purchase the Entain subsidiaries and thereby gain full control of BetMGM, but that offer was rejected. It is unclear whether MGM Resorts will jump back into this bidding war, but it are said to have a veto power over control of BetMGM. Not to be outdone, FanDuel, the DraftKings rival in fantasy sports, has recently announced it will offer sports wagering in the state of Washington. Another question in the evolution of online sports wagering is whether cryptocurrencies will become permitted legal tender. There are already discussions leaning in that direction; but given the volatility in value, a future bet, sometimes for an outcome occurring the next day, would also involve currency speculation if the winnings would be paid out in Bitcoin units that were worth substantially more… Or less. (At this time of writing, China had just declared all cryptocurrencies to be illegal causing Bitcoin and Ether to tumble). Nevada Gaming Regulators do not permit wagering with any currency that is not US legal tender. Although sports wagering is the hot topic for today, it does not encompass the entire sustained popularity in traditional gaming. In-person wagering on video lottery terminals (VLTs), which are referred to as slot machines in Nevada, are still wildly popular across the country, whether they be located in bars or casinos with full amenities. While as a Nevadan, I would view them as an accompaniment to something else (whether it is to pass time before a meal, a show or just to hang out with friends) there are some who are mesmerized by the sounds and flashing lights of these devices and can be engaged for hours. While this may be a separate discussion about problem gambling left for another day, the question is whether staring at a tiny, 22 GAMINGAMERICA

hand-held mobile device would carry the same cache, loyalty and attention. I have always said there are so many more elements to the gaming experience, that I find it difficult to imagine the current generation of smartphones could hold anyone’s interest for more than a few minutes, let alone hours. That is not to say something more interesting in terms of inventive software isn’t on the horizon.

“ANOTHER QUESTION IN ONLINE SPORTS WAGERING IS WHETHER CRYPTOCURRENCIES WILL BECOME PERMITTED LEGAL TENDER.” With that said, here are my personal predictions for 2022: 1. With pent-up demand for fun and entertainment, together with the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions and the availability of new treatment regiments, the bricks-and-mortar casino industry overall will have its best year in history. 2. Contrarily, given the continuing travel restrictions on international visitors and the controversy over renewal of licenses in Macau, the international casino industry may not see the same kind of strong recovery. 3. There will be a continuing interest in sports wagering, but as US inflation rises and worries regarding disposable personal income grows, not every competitor in the space will be successful. I would also note that inflation and supply line problems are becoming a real issue in the US (recently, one of the largest “dollar store” chains, Dollar Tree, announced its merchandise, which traditionally sold for $1, could be increased to as much as $1.50!) 4. Low interest rates will continue to fuel the consolidation of gaming assets, as valuations also continue to escalate; however, there will be a realization later in the year that higher taxes and less spendable income will pare back that enthusiasm. 5. Las Vegas, with its sporting and entertainment event marketing, together with the return of major conventions, will lead all US markets in the gaming recovery. Of course, all of this is predicated upon gaining control over Covid, the People's Republic of China reining in its fiscal woes, and the continuing support of the gaming industry by political leaders, wherever they are serving. With that hope, I am wishing everyone a safe and prosperous 2022.



OLIVER LOVAT

“HAVE YOU TRIED 22? I SAID 22” Regular Gaming America contributor Oliver Lovat looks back on 2021, anticipating record gaming volumes in 2022.

IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW. If you don’t, prepare for spoilers, and spoilers are permitted in explaining a scene from an 79-year-old movie. It is from Casablanca, perhaps the greatest movie ever made. The scene features two young refugees that have escaped Nazi Europe and are gambling their savings on roulette to attempt to win funds to afford an exit visa to come to America. They are losing. Humphrey Bogart’s Rick whispers an instruction to bet on 22, and the refugee places the last of his resources on the number. To nobody’s surprise, 22 hits. “Leave it there” murmurs Bogart in his distinctive drawl. Again, still to nobody’s surprise, 22 hits once more. The couple now have funds to escape Casablanca and begin their life in the new world. For those of us that have studied finance, at some point we will all have modeled risk. Within the discipline, the random event scenario is known as a Monte Carlo Simulation, so named 24 GAMINGAMERICA

after the famous roulette wheels that are associated with the principality, and the random nature of the outcome. It appears that in 2020/2021, Covid has given us a random event to skewer all our assumptions and rethink our decisions. Yes, Covid is unique with effects more pronounced. However, unlike roulette, the following action is not a random outcome, and in Las Vegas there is a pattern to what happens after crises that has emerged over decades.

ESTABLISHING THE PATTERN Since the 1950s there have been many periods of economic turmoil, with many leading to technical recessions. Early in the evolution of the city there were three recessionary periods. The first came between 1953 and 1960, the time which coincided with the early growth of Las Vegas. In 1955, Life Magazine asked readers to consider if Las Vegas’ boom had overextended.


OLIVER LOVAT

The question was fair as in the past half-decade, openings had included The Desert Inn, Sands, Sahara, Dunes, Riviera, Moulin Rouge and Royal Nevada, while the Hacienda, Fremont, Mint and Tropicana were all under construction. The Royal Nevada didn’t make it. The 1960s saw a long period of economic growth which further consolidated the viability of Las Vegas’ casinos, with Caesars Palace, Circus Circus and Kirk Kerkorian’s debut, The International, all opening. Towards the end of the decade, the US entered an 11-month recession triggered by rising inflation – GDP fell 0.6%. Worse was to follow in 1973, when the Middle Eastern conflict led to the Oil Crisis, which caused a deeper economic shock; this time a 16-month recession saw GDP fall 3% and unemployment hit 9%. The twin crises over this period led to ownership changes in several properties, also enabled by the loosening of licensing restrictions. But despite the economic chaos, visitation grew by 72%, from 6.7 million visitors in 1970 to 11.6 million in 1979. I have written previously in this magazine about the triple-peril that faced Las Vegas in the early 1980s (fire, economy and competition in Atlantic City) and how the city recovered quickly to break new records (and a 52% increase in visitation over the decade).

"AFTER A CRISIS, LAS VEGAS BOUNCES BACK." Even the eight-month recession following the Gulf War in 1991, with a GDP decline of 1.5% and 7% unemployment rate, couldn’t stop Las Vegas; the 1990s saw visitation grow from 21 million to nearly 34 million over the decade, with almost 50,000 new hotel rooms in the city, including the opening of many of the megaresorts that define today’s Strip. The new millennium opened with a double whammy; the dot-com crash and the 9/11 attacks on New York. 2001 saw the first drop in annual visitation for nearly 20 years, (from 35.8 million to 35 million) as the nation’s airlines were grounded. Despite the national shock, Las Vegas’ recovery was swift and visitors returned to the city in record numbers. By 2007, the mythical 40 million target was in sight, (with 39.2 million visitors). Yet, as we know, the Great Recession was to have devastating consequences for Las Vegas. Financial stress was seen across the market, with construction halted and room rates plummeting. The nadir was 2009, as visitation fell by 10% to 36.3 million in 2009. Again, we were asked if Vegas was finished; but with a little hindsight, the reporting of Las Vegas’ demise was a little premature. Between 2007 and 2011, over 18,000 new rooms were added to the market (from 132,000 to 150,000). Occupancy fell from 90.4% to 83.8% in that timeframe, explained by the 1.4 million fewer convention delegates (as corporate travel was curtailed)

and the increase in inventory. As America recovered, though, so did Las Vegas – and then some. In 2014 the barrier was broken, 41.1 million people visited, rising to 42.3 million the following year. In 2016, the 6.2 million record for convention delegates that was set in 2006 was finally bettered. Room inventory was at 88.9% in 2019, with many resorts reporting occupancy at over 95%, seven days a week. Strip gaming inventory incrementally increased annually to a 37% increase between 2000-2019 ($4.8bn to $6.5bn). All was good, and then Covid came to town.

CLOSING TIME/OPENING TIME In late 2019, I was asked for my thoughts on what lay ahead for the upcoming year. I wrote, “With so much of the global economy precariously balanced, any one of a hundred unrelated events could have a direct negative effect on Las Vegas. The tipping point for many disasters is not far away.” Not even in the wildest of Monte Carlo simulations did we foresee an enforced closure of all of Las Vegas’ casinos, bars and restaurants. Early 2020 was rough for Las Vegas. We all know the story of empty streets, shuttered restaurants and furloughed workers; but we also know that despite early hiccups, as operators adapted to the new conditions, Las Vegas’ performance proved predictable. Occupancy rates are rising, rates are creeping up, conventions are cautiously returning, artists are performing to packed venues and in the casino, according to the LVCVA mid-year report, average gaming budgets increased from 2019 levels by $62 to $653. In fact, the news is better than that, with Nevada monthly gaming revenue currently pacing with the best recorded, McCarran was the busiest non-hub airport in the land – and that was with very limited international travel.

TAKING BOGART'S ADVICE If the history of Las Vegas tells us one thing, a random crisis hits when we least expect it. If history tells us another, sentiment towards Las Vegas is overly pessimistic, as after every crisis, it bounces back – better. This year has seen the beginning of that rebound. Next year will be bigger. Expect more development, investment and new owners coming to market. Palms will reopen, Rio will have a new operating team, and entertainment behemoth Resorts World will be fully operational. Sports will be massive, perhaps with some new teams relocating to the city further driving visitation, international tourists will be free to travel and meet that pent-up desire to escape their restrictions. And fed up of meeting on flat screens, conventions will return in force. We may have hit the bottom, but the inside money is on the post-Covid Las Vegas recovery to hit record levels in ’22. I said ’22. Oliver Lovat FRICS leads the Denstone Group, which offers strategic consultancy on customer-facing, asset-backed investments. He is visiting faculty at Bayes Business School at City, University of London. GAMINGAMERICA 25


GGA WINNERS

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

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GGA WINNERS

LAND-BASED INDUSTRY SUPPLIER TO WIN LAND-BASED INDUSTRY SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR MEANS A LOT TO US. IT’S BECAUSE OF OUR PEOPLE, OUR CUSTOMERS AND OUR PRODUCT THAT WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE STANDING HERE WITH SUCH AN AMAZING HONOR. THANK YOU, EVERYBODY. - Hector Fernandez, President, Americas, Aristocrat

ARISTOCRAT

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LAND-BASED PRODUCT Sponsored by

WE ARE ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED TO WIN THIS AWARD. IT HAS BEEN A FANTASTIC PERIOD FOR US TO ACCELERATE OUR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND THIS AWARD IS FOR ONE OF THOSE PRODUCTS: IN THE CLEAR. THANK YOU. - Cath Burns, Executive Vice President Customer Experience, Aristocrat

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SLOT OF THE YEAR

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WE JUST WON SLOT OF THE YEAR FOR BUFFALO LINK. IT’S AN AMAZING PRODUCT THAT WE LAUNCHED THIS YEAR; A TON OF HARD WORK WENT INTO THIS FROM OUR HRG STUDIOS, THE CREATORS OF LIGHTNING LINK AND DRAGON LINK. THIS IS OUR NEXT GREAT GAME – AND THIS AWARD PROVES IT. - Jon Hanlin, SVP, Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat

ARISTOCRAT

GAMINGAMERICA 27


GGA WINNERS

LAND-BASED OPERATOR

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CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF US, TO ALL THE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF WYNN RESORTS. SO PROUD TO HAVE WON THE LAND-BASED GAMING AWARD FOR GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS 2021. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. - Brian Gullbrants, President Of Wynn Las Vegas

WYNN RESORTS

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BETMGM

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ON BEHALF OF EVERYONE AT BETMGM, THANK YOU FOR THIS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. WORKING EVERY DAY TO PROVIDE THE BEST EXPERIENCE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS. IT MEANS A LOT FOR US TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED IN THIS WAY. SO THANK YOU. - Richard Taylor, Responsible Gaming Program Manager, BetMGM



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DIGITAL PRODUCT

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I’M SO HAPPY TO BE PART OF AN AMAZING TEAM THAT HAS PUT EVERYTHING AND ALL OF THEIR EFFORTS TOGETHER SO WE CAN BE HERE TODAY. - Sarah McAughey, Head of Customer Success, GeoComply

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DIGITAL INDUSTRY SUPPLIER

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WE JUST WON DIGITAL SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR AND IT’S A HUGE HONOR. WE ARE WORKING REALLY HARD TO MAKE GAMING AS FUN AS POSSIBLE FOR PLAYERS AND TO SERVICE OUR OPERATORS. TO BE RECOGNIZED BY YOUR PEERS IS SPECIAL, WE WORK REALLY HARD TO MAKE GAMES WE THINK PLAYERS ARE GOING TO LOVE, BUT HAVING PEER RECOGNITION IS ESPECIALLY COOL, SO WE’RE GRATEFUL THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

EVOLUTION

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- Todd Haushalter. Chief Product Officer, Evolution



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PRODUCT INNOVATION WE’RE REALLY EXCITED THAT WE’VE WON THIS AWARD FOR RESORT WALLET WITH IGTPAY. IT MEANS EVERYTHING TO US; WE LOVE RESORT WALLET BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IT’S THE BEST CASHLESS SOLUTION IN THE MARKET TODAY.

IGT

- Nick Khin, COO, IGT

PROPERTY - LATAM WE’RE SO PROUD OF THIS AWARD. OUR HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO PUNTA CANA IS GORGEOUS AND DESERVES ALL OF THE ACCOLADES. - Gina Morales, VP of Brand Reputation, Hard Rock International

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CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT

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IT’S A PLEASURE TO RECEIVE THIS AWARD ON BEHALF OF ALL THE HARD-WORKING TEAM MEMBERS AT CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT THAT DAY-TO-DAY BRING OUR REWARDS PROGRAMME TO LIFE, TO HELP ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS REAP THE REWARDS THEY’VE EARNED THROUGH THEIR TIME AT THE COMPANY. - Gavin Whiteley, Caesars Entertainment, Head of Loyalty & CRM

PROPERTY - NORTH AMERICA

CIRCA RESORT & CASINO

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HERE WE ARE WINNING NEW RESORT OF THE YEAR. I COULDN’T BE MORE PROUD OF THE TEAM, AND VERY APPRECIATIVE AND HUMBLED TO WIN AN AWARD OF THIS STATURE. SO MYSELF AND MY TEAM ARE GOING TO CELEBRATE A LITTLE BIT – IT’S PRETTY AWESOME. - Derek Stevens, Owner & CEO, Circa Resort & Casino



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ON BEHALF OF THE SAN MANUEL BAND OF MISSION INDIANS, WE’RE SO PROUD TO RECEIVE THIS AWARD HERE AND BE RECOGNIZED HERE AT G2E. THANK YOU. - Peter Arceo, General Manager, Yaamava' Resort & Casino, San Manuel

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PAYMENT SOLUTION WE ARE ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC TO WIN, BEING HERE IN PERSON WITH OUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES. WE ARE GLAD TO BE A PART OF IT AS OUR BUSINESS GROWS; THANK YOU VERY MUCH, GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS. - Omer Sattar, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Sightline Payments

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AMERICAN EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

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THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS AWARD. BEING CHOSEN AS A LEADER OF THIS COMPANY IS A GREAT HONOUR. IN THE END, IT’S ALL DOWN TO THE 8,000 LAND-BASED TEAM MEMBERS WE HAVE WHO KEPT CASINOS OPEN DURING THE PANDEMIC, AS WELL AS THE 1,600 NEW TEAM MEMBERS WE JUST ADDED FROM THE GAMESYS ACQUISITION – OUR NEW TECHNOLOGY TEAM. SO WE’RE REALLY EXCITED TO LEAD THAT GROUP AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE AWARD. - Soo Kim, Chairman, Bally's Corporation

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BALLY'S CORPORATION 38 GAMINGAMERICA AMERICA



G2E REVIEW

TAPPING IN SuzoHapp is looking to tap the surge in US sports betting popularity, offering new printers and terminals at G2E. Michael Bartlett caught up with global marketing director Tiffany Sadler at the show to find out more. SuzoHapp supplies a variety of product lines to not just the global gaming industry, but also amusement, vending, industrial, transportation and retail markets. Tiffany Sadler, global marketing director for SuzoHapp, sat down with Gaming America at the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas to discuss new products, as well as the challenges it is facing as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

What products/services did SuzoHapp unveil at this year’s G2E? We had quite an offering, starting with our new sports betting terminal line, SBT 1000, a standard terminal. The SBT 500 is a bar-top terminal and our new over-the-counter unit. In addition, we launched our partnership with CountR in the CRT (cash redemption terminal) market. We are offering three different options – the gold unit, which features full ATM functionality; the silver unit, with a uniquely small footprint; and 2Pay, a cashless card-to-ticket terminal that is ultra small. We also unveiled a new video topper, SH1950, and two new handle mechanisms.

Were your production timelines and/or new product reveals disrupted by the pandemic? If so, how? The pandemic definitely posed a challenge for us, mostly in delays for certifications. We also saw delays with prototyping due to supply chain issues. For the most part, G2E is the deadline most companies set for their new products, so we were ready; but as far as production goes, we are not as ready as we would like to be for Q4 and into Q1 of 2022.

TIFFANY SADLER

this show because most of our European clients were not here. Therefore, we did not bring the products that apply to Europe. Because we were operating with space limitations, we were a lot more strategic. Instead of relying on passers by, we used it as an opportunity to get our customers to come by for appointments – and it worked. We have pretty much had non-stop meetings since the show began. With two primary launches – sports betting terminal and CRTs – we wanted to show how well they work in sequence with each other. We showed that with a demo for our customers, demonstrating the process, both cashless or using cash for a bet and then cashing out. Sports betting is really taking off, so this is a critical market for us.

Is this the company’s first convention in a while? We had a presence at OIGA [Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association] and SAEE, which is the Southern Amusement and Entertainment Expo. We didn’t have a booth at OIGA, but we worked with one of our partners and presented products through their booth. At SAEE, our booth was more last-minute and scaled down from what we normally do.

What was the goal for SuzoHapp at G2E? Even at G2E, we scaled down significantly from what we did in 2019. Our booth was half the size it normally would be for 40 GAMINGAMERICA

What are SuzoHapp’s goals for the rest of 2021 and into Q1 of 2022? Because of all the supply chain issues, we have a lot of product on the water or in the railyard, so our goal is to move it as quickly as possible. We want to give our team the support and resources they need to move products as fast as possible given these delays. In Q1 2022, we will work with our partners to continue customizing our differentiators. We will be looking for different locations and different options to tailor the experience for every customer.


G2E REVIEW

OPEN AND CLOSED LOOP AXES CEO Earle G. Hall speaks exclusively to Gaming America at G2E. Can you give us a brief overview of AXES? AXES was founded in 2008 to provide a solution to a problem that was transpiring in Mexico at the time: Gaming had become legal but it had to be cashless from day one. We were approached by a group of investors that were building casinos in Mexico with a simple premise, that we had to be on the Cloud (and this was early, in 2008). We had to make it work in real time, we had to do end-to-end KYC of clients, we had to monitor anti-money laundering restrictions, and we had to enforce responsible gaming regulations. Our remit slowly expanded from there. Around 2012, clients began asking for things like rewards, player’s clubs, jackpots and promotions. By mid-decade we were introducing cashless payments solutions, first with an e-wallet and then with Tito, our smart card. It was around this time that we started building our app store.

"BY MID-DECADE WE WERE INTRODUCING CASHLESS PAYMENTS SOLUTIONS." Our cloud is built on Microsoft Azure, which brings with it many advantages: It’s highly secure, resilient and uses blockchain technology. We’re ahead on this one. They are sorting out glitches in the tier-one market that we figured out 10 years ago.

What challenges do you encounter in trying to grow your brand? Without trying to sound facetious, it’s easy to do this stuff in Nevada or California. It’s not easy to do this stuff in under-developed countries. For us to prove the worth of what we were doing, we wanted to be able to extract data in real time in places like Paraguay, in places like Colombia, or in places in Africa and Asia where we were having speed and security issues. When we built the system, we built it with military grade design so that it would be bulletproof by the time we introduced it to first-tier markets. Now we are ready. Over the last two years, we’ve been slowly integrating into the United States, gearing up for this trade show, to do an official North American

kickoff. We’ve just raised some capital and have $26m in our bank account to start the USA commercialization project.

What has your experience at G2E been like? It’s been overwhelming. Everybody’s coming in and saying that we are the only people here that are doing cashless. I can’t help but agree with them. We’ve been doing closed-loop cashless for 12 years now. One of the odd things we’ve found on the floor this week is the total state of confusion when it comes to what cashless is. People don’t know that it is actually two separate worlds, open-loop cashless and closed-loop cashless.

What is the difference? Closed-loop cashless means you are running a system that does not connect to a banking system. So, when you come in to a casino, you go to a cashier, you go to a kiosk, you go to some form of taking the currency and moving it into the casino’s closed loop system. Honestly, it’s something you see all over the world. Even Starbucks has a closed-loop system which then connects to an open-loop system. We’ve been doing closed-loop cashless for 12 years now. As for open-loop, this is partnering with banking companies or virtual banks. This week has been overwhelming for us because everybody seems to be ready to go to the Cloud. At the same time, everyone is frightened by the prospect of getting hacked. It is a fact that, in 2021, more tribes and casinos have been hacked than in the last 10 years combined.

Why do you think these hacks have picked up? It’s because they are old fashioned, they are client-server based. If you could imagine having all the money in the world to keep safe in your house, how safe would it really be? Can you trust the security? For a long time, everyone thought that client servers were the only way to go because the Cloud was regarded as dangerous. What has happened over the last five years is all of banking, all of fintech, has become cloud-based. So, just like I said at the international gaming regulators conference in Boston a few weeks ago, where I was the opening keynote speaker: If you could only realize that if you’re client server, rather than cloud-based, it’s not a case of if you’re going to get hacked, it’s a case of when. This is because you don’t have the money to invest in enough security to not be vulnerable. GAMINGAMERICA 41


G2E REVIEW

HEAVY METAL Reels of Steel slot and Big Mech cabinet led Bluberi’s G2E portfolio. Michael Bartlett caught up with CCO Casey Whalen. reel product with metal form reels. These are not the reel strips you normally see in the interior of a slot machine, these are laser-cut pieces of steel. The Big Mech cabinet is 9-feet tall. No one else has these, so when people leave our booth that is what they will be talking about. Iron Derby is a marquee slot that evokes images of the carnival horse racing game.

Were your production timelines and/or new product reveals disrupted by the pandemic? If so, how? Yes. We have had supply chain challenges in many significant parts of our build and materials. Specifically, we have faced shortages of monitors and parts of the motherboard. We couldn’t get sound chips. Instead of a usual single-source, we had to tap multiple sources from third and fourth vendors. With that said, we feel pretty good about where we are now. We have managed to cobble sources together.

CASEY WHALEN

Bluberi prides itself on being an “inventive” game developer, and at the recent Global Gaming Expo in its hometown of Las Vegas it went big – literally – with an oversized new slot game that combines new and legacy features. Casey Whalen, chief commercial officer for Bluberi, sat down with Gaming America during the show to discuss the very large (steel) elephant in the room.

What products/services did Bluberi unveil at this year’s G2E? Our Novus platform and our b49 cabinets. The Novus platform is the latest Bluberi OS (operating system) with state-of-the-art math and playing mechanics. The cabinets have a single, 49-inch monitor with HD 4K graphics and a 27-inch topper. These cabinets are used with titles such as Waves of Fortune and Colossal Dragons.The combination of playing mechanics with our art and graphics is something none of our competitors do better. Our partnership with bZillions was seen in the form of our new “Reels of Steel” game, inside what we are calling the Big Mech cabinet and Iron Derby. Reels of Steel is a mechanical 42 GAMINGAMERICA

"THE BIG MECH CABINET IS 9-FEET TALL. NO ONE ELSE HAS THESE." Is this the company’s first convention in a while? This is our first show since G2E in 2019.

What is the goal for Bluberi at G2E? We launched a rebrand of the company, turned over the executive team. Our mantra is: we are going to be the easiest company to do business with. For this show, we are doing several unique things with our cabinets that we want to show off and we want people to know they will have a frictionless partnership with us.

What are Bluberi’s goals for the rest of 2021 and into Q1 of 2022? Our No. 1 goal is to deliver the launch of the Big Mech cabinet before the end of the year. Also, to continue to deliver competitive content to the b49 cabinet.


G2E REVIEW

KEEPING GAMING FUN Ezra Amacher talks with Keith Kruczynski, Gaming Arts VP of Game Development and Design, to hear about exciting trends in game design and the importance of music in the gaming experience. What’s your overall impression from the G2E floor? It’s definitely amazing to be back right, having another G2E in 2021. Everything that we’ve done from the beginning has been fun for the gambler. We’ve always wanted to make sure that that’s who we are, that’s who we’re coming across as. This year is no exception to that rule. Especially now as we’re debuting our VertX Grand 49-inch cabinet. We have two families. To start with you have a Let’s Spin, which is a game for your absolute hardcore gambler. You get your bars and sevens, your wheel with the multiplying multipliers on that central feature. Then we have our Pub series. This one has some volatility, but it’s definitely more fun, more for entertainment. We decided to go with four different pub games. One takes you to Mexico, one takes you to Italy, one takes you to Russia and the other takes you to Ireland. Drinking and gambling, they go hand in hand right? So, each one has its own in-house written and sung music which is absolutely fantastic. Kaleigh’s Pub has beer and shots of whiskey, Isabella’s Tequileria has margaritas and shots of tequila, which you know is probably my least favorite of the bunch only because of the bad situations I’ve been in because of tequila. Sophia’s Cellar has wine and, of course, Anastasia’s has martinis and shots of vodka. It’s really cool being a small company. We’re allowed to have some fun.

Can you tell me about your creative process? I’m free to say Heidi’s BierHaus is one of my favorite games of all time. I remember seeing that in a casino the first time being very pleasantly surprised. They did a great job with the music and the excitement they built around that. I’ve taken my daughter to Disney World and Epcot. You walk around Epcot and you see all the adults walking from country to country, having their drinks. I want to take that experience and put it on the gaming floor. It’s also great being a small company. We embrace the spirit of fun. Jean Venneman is our recently promoted COO and everyone loves her. She’s been in the industry forever. She’s actually the model behind Sophia’s Cellar. So we got to do that, and everyone’s been asking her to take pictures here at G2E. It’s been really, really cool.

Is the art and music done house? What games are your most successful? We have the K9 Studio, which we started four years ago or so. It was nine of us to begin with, so that’s why we called it the K9 studio. All the assets, all the math and engineering were done here in Vegas or up in Colorado. We have some virtual employees. Having virtual employees before the pandemic was great because we already knew how to work remotely, we already knew how to have those Slack meetings and those conversations without being right next to each other. So that was a huge benefit for us. We have The Pub Series, Let’s Spin, and then we’ve debuted Casino Wizard VIP for the first time. Casino Wizard has been our number one product. Coming into this three or four years ago, we never thought of ourselves as being an ETG company. But when we did that, we became one, and it was extremely, extremely successful for us.

"EVERYTHING WE’VE DONE HAS BEEN FUN FOR THE GAMBLER." So what we decided to do on our VertX Grand cabinet was have a new version of Casino Wizard, called Casino Wizard VIP. Casino Wizard has blackjack, baccarat, craps and roulette. On VIP we’ve added Pai Gow poker, Big Six wheel, triple card which is three card poker, as well as a game that we invented in house that we’re really excited about, called Swap In poker. I’ve been blown away by the response that’s received from everybody. We also have a great game that’s been the hero of the show for us called Kung Fu Empress. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback. And then there is Jackpot Go, which is kind of our take on the lottery style game that people will really, really pick up. We’re debuting our first 3D engine games, Cash Quest. you know we are a Linux-based company. We really enjoy it. That’s going to open the door for us to do a lot more things in the very near future that we are extremely excited about. GAMINGAMERICA 43


G2E REVIEW

DATA SOLUTIONS We sat down with OPTX CEO Brooke Fiumara to speak about the state-of-the-art data aggregators her company has been developing. What is the background of OPTX?

What is OPTX biggest challenge?

OPTX was founded in 2019 and we are now about two years old. My co-CEO and I, founded a company on the premise that we wanted to create a technology platform that really blocked and tackled the day-to-day challenges that operators face in marketing, slots and player development. We wanted to position this product for what we knew lay in the future. There are no shortage of new data sources coming online for casino operators; think sportsbook, think online gaming, think social gaming. These operators are going to need a product that takes all of that data – everything that’s happening within their four walls and everything that’s happening outside of their four walls – make sense of it and take action on it. And so, that’s exactly what OPTX does. I mean, that’s one of the foundations of our product: Helping brick-and-mortar casinos figure out how to take in all of the information from what is happening outside the building. How can a bridge be created between brick-and-mortar, iGaming, racing, and sports betting. And then how can that information be gleaned for insight into attributes about players, attributes about machines, and then turn that into an automation of campaigns and one-to-one marketing. That’s what everyone’s striving for. A tool like OPTX allows you to collect massive amounts of data and make sense of it. We connect directly to all of the different systems that exist in a casino or through third party systems, like online gaming, and we pull all of that information into a single essential data warehouse. From there we do all of our transformations, all of our queries, all of our analytics, AI models, ML models. Then we turn it into what is you see as the end user, OPTX.

Our biggest challenge is constantly recruiting, and I think everybody, regardless of their industry, you know we face those same challenges, especially with a technology company. We’re a fast-growing company, and we are always out there looking to hire the absolute best resources; fast-growing companies need fast growing teams.

What has the response from clients been to your technology? There are two sides to this answer. The first side that I want to mention is something that we hear all the time, which is: 'I cannot believe how great your customer service is.' Operators are not used to picking up the phone on a Friday night and recording an issue, a challenge, or having questions, and the vendor gets an answer right away. We have committed as a company to being a true partner with our customers. That means we are working days, nights and weekends because casinos are a 24/7 business. 44 GAMINGAMERICA

Are you enjoying visiting G2E in person? Yes. Zoom fatigue is real. Being here at G2E has given us an opportunity to meet some people we’ve been talking to for a while now, in person, for the first time. It gives us the opportunity to show them the new features that we’ve implemented since they last saw the product. It’s also gives us an opportunity to meet so many new connections and find many new opportunities to really help solve the challenges facing operators. This show has far exceeded our expectations in terms of turnout and in terms of decision makers that are here looking for new technology. We are looking to help solve their problems through technology. That’s what we’re here to do.

What is OPTX’s approach to fundraising? We are privately funded, and currently today we are not seeking additional funds needed to scale.

What is next for OPTX? We want to grow the scale of the product and scale of our customers. So, we’ve got an incredible pipeline of partners, new customers coming online that are so excited to use our product and see what the impact on their business will be. It’s going to be amazing, but I’m also super excited for the product development. We’ve got an incredible data science team that’s doing groundbreaking things on the artificial intelligence side, whether it’s making predictions and recommendations around very specific players, or making predictions and recommendations on slot performance and optimization. I think that you’re going to see what is already a best-in-class product in the market excel in the next six to 12 months to far beyond anything that people have yet seen.



G2E REVIEW

BRINGING THE EDGE Michael Barlett speaks to TransAct Technologies SVP global casino and gaming, Tracey Chernay. TransAct Technologies Incorporated is a global developer of software-driven technology and printing solutions for high-growth markets, including food service, casino and gaming, POS automation, and oil and gas. TransAct has sold more than 3.3 million printers and terminals around the world. Tracey Chernay, SVP global casino and gaming for TransAct Technologies, sat down with Gaming America at the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas to discuss new printers, an integrated software system to modernize how casinos distribute offers to players, and how to survive supply chain shortages.

to players to allow casinos to provide loyalty rewards and incentivize players to come back to them. It has a new feature called Mobile Host, which uses a tablet to make those same types of offers by a casino employee walking the floor. The casino host can print an offer to a known player. It provides more flexibility and ways to use Epicentral. Because we are active in the sports betting market, we have the Epic 880, which differs from ticket-in/ticket-out printer because a sports betting ticket can be varying lengths. The Epic 880 is a roll-fed printer.

What products/services did TransAct Technologies unveil at this year’s G2E?

Were your production timelines and/or new product reveals disrupted by the pandemic? If so, how?

We are featuring the Epic Edge ticket-in/ticket-out printer. It is our flagship product for use in slots, video lottery terminals and cash redemption terminals, along with other devices. We are also featuring the Epic Edge tabletop printer, which is designed for the cage as well as marketing and promotions desks. It takes the Epic Edge and builds it into a nice cabinet. On the software side, we are unveiling Epicentral, a software system that prints intelligent offers to players while they are playing. The offers are based on a number of criteria – time of day, carded or uncarded play, and more. It automates promotions

Supply chains are interrupted worldwide, but we have been able to supply product to all of our customers all over the world without delay or interruption. We have to face challenges every day, but we are meeting demand. We have a multi-pronged manufacturing capability, with a facility in Ithaca, New York and some offshore. Our operations department deserves an award for what they have been able to do.

Is this the company’s first convention in a while? We did NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association), OIGA (Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association) and WIGA (Washington Indian Gaming Association). We are very devoted to our Native American property partners and like to support them at their trade shows and give them the products they need.

What was the goal for TransAct at G2E? We want to see each and every one of our customers, and many of those who are here at the show, to be able to show them what is new and focus on the Epic Edge. Ultimately, we want to grow sales by creating a demand for our product.

What are TransAct’s goals for the rest of 2021 and into Q1 of 2022?

TRACEY CHERNAY

46 GAMINGAMERICA

We have a high amount of concentration in driving new Epic Edge sales in casinos throughout the world. That is done by showing the benefits of our product, including our higher-resolution printers, our firmware, and the communication capabilities we build in. We have had a strong recovery year and we want to continue that level of sales through 2021. In 2022, we hope to really step up our sales and win some competitive share.


G2E REVIEW

INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGIES RELEASES FIRST NEW PLATFORM SINCE 2013 Prism VXP features three screens, one triggered by game play. Michael Bartlett sits down with Caitlin Harte to find out more. Illinois-based Incredible Technologies is known for both its casino products and video games such as its headlining Golden Tee Golf franchise. Caitlin Harte, director of product marketing, sat down with Gaming America at the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas and gave us an update on the company’s big reveal at G2E.

What products/services is Incredible Technologies unveiling at this year’s G2E? The main product making its debut is a new cabinet named Prism VXP. It is our first new platform since 2013. We have made different iterations of the Infinity platform all along. Prism features three screens, including a 55-inch screen in the back that uses a commercial-grade motor to rise up 13 inches. The expansion feature is integrated into gameplay. Different games have different themes and features. The Prism VXP definitely is the first of its kind.

Is this the company’s first convention in a while? We were at NIGA [National Indian Gaming Association] and OIGA [Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association]. It was our first time exhibiting at OIGA.

What is the goal for Incredible Technologies at G2E? G2E is a much bigger presence for us. Our main goal is to show off the new platform and to connect with our customers for the first time in a long time.

What are the company’s goals for the rest of 2021 and into Q1 of 2022? One of our main focuses with the new cabinet launch is making it a priority for the rest of this year and into next year, but we also will make sure to keep supporting our existing products.

"WE ARE PRETTY PROUD OF THE FACT WE WERE ABLE TO DEVELOP A NEW CABINET DURING THE PANDEMIC. NONE OF OUR EMPLOYEES WERE FURLOUGHED." Were your production timelines and/or new product reveals disrupted by the pandemic? If so, how? We actually are pretty proud of the fact we were able to develop a new cabinet during the pandemic. None of our employees were furloughed. We are keeping tabs on supply chain issues. We are having to order inventory a lot further out than usual.

CAITLIN HARTE

GAMINGAMERICA 47


G2E REVIEW

CASINOTRAC DEBUTS MOBILE APP AT G2E Company creates two-way connection for players, as Michael Bartlett talks to Chad Hoehne. account in the casino for use on the gaming floor. There is a two-way connection. The player can use the app to download money to the player account, and then later transfer the winnings back to their bank account.

Were your production timelines and/or new product reveals disrupted by the pandemic? If so, how? No. Fortunately, we were in a strong position with inventories and technical staffing going into the pandemic. So we were able to maintain all our staff to produce new products during the time the casinos were closed.

CHAD HOEHNE

CasinoTrac is a Minnesota-based supplier of casino management systems, including options for table games, guest rewards, marketing analysis, vault/cage management and more. Gaming America sat down with Chad Hoehne, the company’s founder, president and CEO, on the first day of the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, to discuss how a business survives the pandemic, CasinoTrac’s latest product and what lies ahead.

What products/services did Casino Trac unveil at this year’s G2E? The important new product is our financial services-connected mobile app. The app provides all of the traditional marketing player offers, interactive games and other features of earlier mobile apps, with the addition of connectivity to the casino’s financial services supplier, allowing the funding of the player’s 48 GAMINGAMERICA

"WE ARE CONTINUING TO FOLLOW OUR LONG-TERM VISION TO BUILD OUR PRESENCE IN THE CASINO MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS SPACE." Is this the company’s first convention in a while? This is our third show this year, having attended NIGA [National Indian Gaming Association] and OIGA [Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association] prior to G2E.

What are Casino Trac’s goals for the rest of 2021 and into Q1 of 2022? We are continuing to follow our long-term vision to build our presence in the casino management systems space through product placements and expanding brand recognition efforts.


G2E REVIEW

THE CARD OF THE FUTURE Imagine collecting data, loyalty points, eating and betting with the same card. Gaming America sat down with CEO Craig Libson and president Scott Walker who run Flexia Payments, the company that is bringing the world that very card. What would you say is your company mandate? Scott Walker: Our mandate is to penetrate our product team in the United States and Canada. That’s where our focus is. That’s the complete focus of Flexia Payments. We’re experienced. We’ve done this before. We’ve gone in to different jurisdictions. Now we’re just penetrating this North American market. Complete cashless solution. We’re the only ones with a multi-account MasterCard solution. What we do is we’re basically a bridge between the gaming system and a banking system.

What is distinct about your technology? Craig Libson: What we’ve done is unique. We’ve spent five years in Mexico where it’s totally cashless by law, they use just a closed-loop cashless gaming card. What we did is develop a multi-account MasterCard that replaces a traditional cashless gaming card and loyalty card. So this one piece of plastic serves three functions: It’s a MasterCard debit card that you can spend in the store, it’s also a gaming account for your gaming wallet inside slot machines, and it’s your loyalty card. It’s issued at the cashier. What happens is a customer who may have a loyalty card at the casino will be upgrading to this. Swipe the loyalty card and it’ll say your name, address and mobile number. Maybe it’ll ask for your social security. They swipe that in CMS. They hit the button. The data comes to us. We activate the MasterCard, then they throw this out. This is their new loyalty card, MasterCard and gaming account.

What are the benefits of using this new type of card? What happens is, they’ll get a link to download our app. The card will be in the app. This card now has a master debit account on the MasterCard Network. So, you’ll see this card has $960 on the MasterCard account and it’s $39.31 on it. Our app allows the customer to move money in and out. So, if I’m in the street and I want to buy dinner, I can spend $960. From the casino, if I want to stick this in the slot machine right now, I can only play with $39.91, but if I want to play with more, I can move the money

up and down. Now I want to add another $10 here, but I put in the amount and we tell this system to increase the balance so that, in real time, I can move this $900 into my gaming account and stick it into the slot that I want to play. If I want to leave and go out to dinner, I can move it back into my MasterCard. Same piece of plastic.

"THIS IS THEIR NEW LOYALTY CARD, MASTERCARD AND GAMING ACCOUNT." The other thing is when I spend money in the MasterCard network, I go out and buy dinner for $100, we can tie into the rewards program in the casino like an airlines card. I use my Delta SkyMiles because I’m on a plane. The customers we’re going after are the locals casinos’ repeat customers. Our customers want to use this to buy their dinner because they get loyalty points in the casino. The casinos like it because the customer has to come back to the casino to get that free play, free meal, free drink or free parking. It’s a very coordinated marketing activity with the casinos. So, it’s cashless. There are promotions. We give the casino a portal where they can send a promotion to the customers, not only based on what happens inside the casino but on their demographics and by what they spend. A lot of our local casinos are in shopping malls or big retailors, so if they go to a sports bar and they want to do a promotion for that sports bar, we can say all right, we’ll give you the data on all your customers who spend more than X amount of money at a bar in the last 60 days, or men who are between 20 and 40. And you can target a promotion at the casinos to fit those demographics. As you can see, we’re covering a lot of bases. It’s about cashless gaming. It’s about the whole benefits and security wrap, but it’s really helping the casino market to its customers better. GAMINGAMERICA 49


HARRY BARNICK

THIS TOWN’S NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR THE THREE OF US

50 GAMINGAMERICA


HARRY BARNICK

Gaming America contributor and Senior Analyst at Third Bridge, Harry Barnick, analyses the race for market share in the US. Out of industry behemoths, DraftKings, Flutter and Entain, who comes out on top? GAMINGAMERICA 51


HARRY BARNICK

Breaking into America Flutter CEO Peter Jackson recently said: “The expansion of the US market represents the single most exciting opportunity for Flutter today.” With Amy Howe now at FanDuel’s helm and DraftKings initially exploring a $22bn offer for Entain, this article looks at how big gaming companies are attempting to break into America.

So how big is the market? Everyone seems to have an opinion on the total addressable market (TAM) potential for the US gaming market. It’s obviously huge, but how big? Sadly without a crystal ball with which to forecast which states are going to legalise online gambling,

Our experts say regulation is unlikely to pass before 2025. If it does, the state could be extremely lucrative with a TAM of up to $4bn. Secondly, Texas. Similar to California, the size of the state makes it an attractive opportunity. Unfortunately, there is no legislation in place and, with the Assembly only meeting every 2-3 years, our experts suggest that operators will have to wait until at least 2022-2023 before the state begins to open up to sports betting. Thirdly, Florida. Equally big, equally problematic. At the moment a draft agreement is with the Seminole Tribe, which has special status. It is talking to the Governor of the State of Florida about a negotiated compact, but people close to the matter

“WITH COST PER ACQUISITION (CPA) AS HIGH AS $300, OPERATORS ARE STRUGGLING TO IMPROVE PROFITABILITY. A PUSH TO REDUCE THIS COST BY UP TO 25-50% WOULD LEAVE OPERATORS IN A BETTER POSITION, THOUGH DOING SO WOULD REQUIRE A LOT OF DISCIPLINE AROUND HOW THEY SPEND THEIR MONEY.” we have to accept it will range somewhere between $20-25bn in the next 5-7 years. There are also some important variables to consider; for instance, the extent to which sports betting and random-number-based games such as roulette, slot machines and blackjack become legal. At present, key lobbyists are prioritizing the legalization of sports betting. It is an easier sell to legislators who want to be seen to be tackling the already pervasive black market for sportbooks. Although operators such as Entain argue that iGaming has huge potential, our experts strike a more conservative tone. It is equally important to consider which states are likely to legalise sports betting. Here, there are four big geographic questions. Firstly, California. This large and populous state with nearly 40 million people presents an exciting opportunity, not least because many of its inhabitants enjoy relatively high disposable incomes. However, there’s a catch. Given the number of stakeholders involved, ranging from Native American tribes to powerful political forces, agreeing on legislation looks unlikely. It is a longer-term dream rather than an imminent reality. 52 GAMINGAMERICA

say an agreement is far from certain. Finally, we have New York. The state has given early 2022 as a timeline, although a delay in this schedule could be expected, given the amount of time it takes to collect and respond to applications before selecting partners. Our experts suggest a TAM of $1-1.5bn in revenue for this state. Beyond geography it is also important to consider what is included in TAM. Many operators and the media include free bets, but this can be misleading. Doing so inflates the number we see thanks to the attractive deals present in the market. For instance, Caesars has offered customers a $5,000 risk-free bet. This brings us to the next big question in the US: how to improve profitability and customer acquisition costs.

How to improve profitability? With cost per acquisition (CPA) as high as $300, operators are struggling to improve profitability. A push to reduce this cost by up to 25-50% would leave operators in a better position, though doing so would require a lot of discipline around how they spend their money. We are hearing their focus should


HARRY BARNICK

shift away from free bets into affiliate marketing and better user experiences. Similar to more mature markets, marketing spend should reduce to 30-35% if operators are to improve their margins in the US. Tax rates are also crucial to profitability. Most states range between 10-20%. However, New York has implemented a 50% tax rate, limiting the profit potential for operators in the sector. As more states open up, operators will hope for taxation rates of 20% or less.

Who will win in this context? The important factors that determine which operators will be granted a licence or skin from a state are relatively straightforward. Legislators will look at whether an operator is fit and proper, financially stable, and what sort of experience each party brings to the table. The largest companies should shine during this process. Beyond this, what do we see from some of the largest operators? DraftKings – Customer acquisition and analytics has been this company’s forte since it established itself in the market. The daily fantasy sports platform also presents a huge advantage. The company’s name is already well established in the US market and less money has to be spent improving credibility in the eyes of the sports betting customer. That being said, DraftKings has less history operating in

and it has a wealth of experience in online gambling and online sportsbooks. Flutter also has deep pockets funded by its diversified geographical footprint, where mature markets generate positive free cash flow. Entain – Entain is breaking into the US via its BetMGM brand. Its key differentiator is proprietary technology. It allows the company to grow share of wallet with existing customers, enticing them with new attractive bets and improving the lifetime value of the customer. Its customer loyalty programme is also integrated with the MGM Resorts platform, allowing customers to redeem their points across multiple sites. All of this improves the customer journey and consequently improves retention. Unfortunately, branding continues to hold back the BetMGM partnership in the US.

What about consolidation? As the fight to the top rages on, scale continues to be an advantage. In this context, we have seen a wave of consolidation across the sector, from Caesars’ acquisition of William Hill to DraftKings’ recent bid for Entain. While the outcome of the latter deal remains unclear, more consolidation is expected as operators seek to combine forces in an increasingly competitive and complex sports betting landscape.

“CALIFORNIA IS A LONGER-TERM DREAM RATHER THAN AN IMMINENT REALITY. OUR EXPERTS SAY REGULATION IS UNLIKELY TO PASS BEFORE 2025.” mature markets, which gives experienced operators like Flutter Entertainment and FanDuel an opportunity to take market share. Flutter – Flutter is achieving strong market share gains in the US for three reasons. It has recognizable brands (in FanDuel, Fox Bet and PokerStars), its technology is strong,

HARRY BARNICK

GAMINGAMERICA 53


ROUNDTABLE

ROUNDTABLE: 2021 IN REVIEW - AND LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022 LAURA OLSON-REYES, American Gaming Systems, VP of marketing and corporate communications

Laura Olson-Reyes has over 20 years experience in gaming. In her role at AGS she oversees various marketing initiatives, external and internal communications, and community relations. Previously, she served three years as the executive director, community and corporate Relations for Scientific Games, where she had responsibilities for external and internal communications, executive visibility and thought leadership, and corporate social responsibility. AGS are a supplier and designer of electronic gaming machines, table products, and interactive gaming solutions. CHAD HOEHNE, Table Trac, CEO, CTO, president, founder

Table Trac develops a suite of casino management solutions, providing modules for guest rewards, loyalty clubs, marketing analysis, guest services and accounting. Hoehne is responsible for leading the Company’s technology initiatives. He has a BS in Business Administration and Finance from Minnesota State University. Prior to founding Table Trac in 1995, he worked for a Minneapolis-based electronics and software company. CAITLIN HARTE, Incredible Technologies, director of product marketing

Incredible Technologies is a casino gaming manufacturer with video slots live 33 US states. IT provides video slots for the Class II & Class III markets, for HHR partners and has titles available online for both social & RMG via its iGaming partners. The gaming division of the company is located in the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills, IL with a secondary office in Las Vegas, NV.

TRACEY CHERNAY, TransAct Technologies, SVP global casino and gaming

Chernay joined TransAct in 2005 as senior vice president, marketing, bringing in-depth understanding and extensive experience in global marketing strategies to TransAct as the company expanded international initiatives and implemented growth strategies across its entire business. In 2006, she was named senior vice president, sales & marketing for the point-of-sale and banking business. In 2007, Chernay moved to Las Vegas and assumed responsibility for product sales and marketing for the Casino and Gaming industry. Chernay was promoted to her current position in 2010. JOHN CONNELLY, Interblock Gaming, CEO

John Connelly has an extensive background within US and international markets. During the pandemic, he made health and safety a priority for his workforce while methodically ramping-up R&D efforts to better serve customers and offer solutions that have aided in bringing players back to the casino floor safely. Interblock is a developer of electronic table gaming products. The company was founded in 1989.

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ROUNDTABLE

TRACEY CHERNAY: One trend I noticed was having fewer games on the casino floor and really focusing on product that is going to return on investment. The casinos put out the most popular games that are going to bring players back.

CHAD HOEHNE:

Cashless, cashless in all of its variations.

WHAT IS A KEY SHIFT YOU HAVE SEEN HAPPEN IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY IN 2021

LAURA OLSON-REYES:

Companies are coming out of the pandemic a little bit leaner and more laser-focused than before. They are focusing on their core business. AGS and our competitors are ramping up R&D, focusing on recruiting outstanding talent. This is pushing innovation forward faster than usual.

CAITLIN HARTE:

From 2020 into 2021, a lot of gaming companies thought about how they could diversify their offerings. Online gaming became popular, and they diversified into new markets, including Class II and historical horse racing. It is good if it keeps companies innovating and reshaping themselves. Competition is healthy for all of us.

JOHN CONNELLY:

Proliferation of online wagering and sports betting.

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ROUNDTABLE

JOHN CONNELLY:

CHAD HOEHNE:

I see cashless will encounter its challenges, both in technology and with regulators across the various markets. Casinos will be adding cashless as an option to existing funding methods for their games, not yet replacing current currency acceptance at the games.

I see an increased level of sophistication in the gaming segment relative to floor management. There seems to be an overwhelming momentum to find additional methods by which to optimize casino floors through the utilization of technology and innovation. An example would be the industry is quickly migrating toward the methodology of offering traditional live table games at $25 or higher, while anything below that denomination driving player behavior toward automated, electronic technology. This position is predicated on the fact electronic table games have advanced to create greater player acceptance.

LIKEWISE, WHAT IS A PREDICTION YOU HAVE FOR GAMING IN 2022

LAURA OLSON-REYES:

Things are going to return to normal. Now that we have vaccines and lately a good treatment for Covid, we are going to see casinos start reinvesting in their floors. Casinos after the pandemic came back pretty quickly because players had been at home and wanted to get back. Investments were delayed because people were waiting to see how it went. In 2022 there will be more confidence than ever. Casinos floors really carried casinos – not the hotel part, not dining – so they will be looking to invest.

CAITLIN HARTE:

At this year’s show there is a lot of new content, but not a lot of hardware. In 2022 I expect a lot of new hardware.

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TRACEY CHERNAY:

I envision many more casinos are going to adopt automation technology, such as offering promotions to players. Interest in Epicentral is way up because casinos are operating with less staff, but they want to make players feel valued and want to come back. Combine that with some interest in cashless – a very hot trend right now. We see people taking the cashout ticket and scanning it back into their digital wallet at the end.



ROUNDTABLE

CHAD HOEHNE: We have built up our marketing and sales efforts, along with ensuring our product pipeline is open to be able to reach record sales and installations in 2022.

TRACEY CHERNAY: We are focused on creating demand at the casino level for our product. We do that by explaining the benefits the Epic Edge has over any other printer in the market, including a higher-resolution printer that allows for a higher acceptance rate in bill validators, the best firmware, and standard serial and USB communication built in. That is key for manufacturers that are integrating printers. Pair that with the Epicentral, the two types of printers give a value-add to the casinos.

CAN YOU BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR STRATEGY FOR NEXT YEAR

JOHN CONNELLY:

LAURA OLSON-REYES:

Continue leveraging our existing hardware, content and slot cabinets. We are coming out with our next line of slot cabinets, but they won’t debut until 2023. Obviously this means continuing to build our team, our R&D department.

CAITLIN HARTE: For the past 6 months we have been looking to keep our Class III footprint strong while we expand into new markets, while we look into Class II, online gaming and HHR.

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First and foremost, Interblock will continue to scale our company internally toward our core products to continue to meet increased customer demands and incremental placements we are seeing on a global basis. In addition, we will be aggressively exploring how to utilize our global infrastructure and product segment knowledge to bring greater revenue synergies to the organization.


ROUNDTABLE

JOHN CONNELLY: I see the stakes as never being higher for the traditional land-based segment. We need to quickly adapt as an industry to both monetize and protect future and current revenue streams. There is a tremendous amount of advantages we have as a land-based gaming industry, which is going to enable us to have significant strategic advantages as the online gaming business evolves. With that said, there is a window of opportunity with online that we need to capitalize on before it closes.

LAURA OLSON-REYES:

2022 will be a great year for both. New online gaming jurisdictions will continue to open up and attract people. The pandemic prompted people to try online gaming and they liked it, and then when casinos reopened people came back because they wanted the whole experience. People will continue to support both.

HOW DO YOU SEE 2022 GOING FOR BOTH THE ONLINE GAMING MARKET AND THE LAND-BASED ONE, RESPECTIVELY

TRACEY CHERNAY: Clearly there

is a tremendous amount of interest in online gaming, but it is not an area we are active in. In land-based I see casinos upgrading technology, especially automated technology, and those trends will continue on into 2022.

CAITLIN HARTE:

I think we are going to see more of an omni-channel approach for the two segments. Instead of putting out a new game in land-based, waiting to see if it does well, and then releasing it online, we will see simultaneous launches.

CHAD HOEHNE: Land-based gaming will continue to be strong and to grow, along with the demographic they serve.

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THE GAME DAY

HANDICAPPERS VS. ‘SCAMDICAPPERS’ Sports betting analysts from The Game Day explore the world of betting tipsters, and explain how punters can find trust in this ever-growing service.

With legal sports betting as accessible as it has ever been, the question arises: Who do I listen to for an edge? Clearly, most of the action is on social media, but which voice is worth engaging with? With the ever-growing need to wade through an ocean of information – determining what information to research and which tipster picks to use or ‘tail’ – being a casual sports bettor has never been more complicated. Like anything complex, betting on sports requires a sound long-term plan and the ability to be on the lookout for possible hurdles.

BANKROLL MANAGEMENT, HANDICAPPERS, & ‘SCAMDICAPPERS’ Bankroll management involves two steps: Set (1) a total amount for your betting budget (your bankroll), and (2) an amount for each individual wager (unit). Generally, bettors are recommended to place 1-5% of their bankroll on an individual wager. Sometimes, a tipster will recommend a bettor put down an 60 GAMINGAMERICA

amount well above one's comfort zone. In this event, a ‘scamdicapper’ might’ve just blown their cover. ‘Scamdicappers’ often charge exorbitant fees for their services and advise you to go beyond what your resources allow, emptying your pockets on a single wager. They will even get you to the point where they recommend you stake double or triple your allotted budget so that you will place their minimum bet on a sensationalized ‘Lock of the Day’ type of tip. If you vary the amount you’re placing on each bet, you’re only increasing the margin for error,” says pro bettor Kenny Bets Big. “[Betting for the long term] is no different than when you invest in stocks or cryptocurrency. You spread it out and diversify it to give yourself the best chance for long-term profitability.”

CHALLENGES IN WINS, LOSSES & VERIFYING PICKS Prospective bettors looking for help should check on the transparent sharing of win-loss records with the total units won or lost. Unfortunately, an albatross still hangs


THE GAME DAY

around the neck of the betting industry: the potential fabrication of bets, which can be manipulated with internet publishing tools. “No one actually hits 90% of their bets and is up 10,000 units in a season,” said Matthew Holt, President and CEO of US Integrity who also serves as Vice-Chair of the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association. “But if you can show that, through the course of the season, you are maintaining a success rate in the 53-58% range, and it is being tracked transparently, that may help drive some customers your way.” Sports betting publishers are aiming to promote transparency as the field of public 'experts' grows. “From a record tracking perspective, if someone wants to keep a public record, our site ensures that when a user locks in a pick, it actually exists at a sportsbook,” said Rob Pizzola, pro bettor and COO of Betstamp, a site that locks and tracks betting predictions from registered, approved personalities. “This prevents users from uploading picks after the games have started or gone final (past posting) or from posting fake lines that were never available to boost their record." Context matters, though. A pundit’s win-loss record can go a long way toward building credibility. However, if a bettor has a losing record, that doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t profitable or worth following. If someone has lost more bets than they’ve won but actually finishes up in their units, that might underscore a talent for finding +EV (positive expected value), which can strike a big return in calculated opportunities.

“PROSPECTIVE BETTORS LOOKING FOR HELP SHOULD CHECK ON TRANSPARENT SHARING OF WIN-LOSS RECORDS WITH THE TOTAL UNITS WON OR LOST. UNFORTUNATELY, AN ALBATROSS STILL HANGS AROUND THE NECK OF THE BETTING INDUSTRY: THE POTENTIAL FABRICATION OF BETS.” BE CAREFUL USING BETTING TRENDS & STATS While acquiring advice from the right tipster can set bettors on the right track, learning how to correctly research and use betting stats and trends the correct way will also help. From NFL records against the spread (ATS) to strokes gained

data for a golfer on the PGA Tour, the data at bettors’ fingertips could help determine value plays. However, blindly letting established data dictate your bets can go horribly wrong. For example, one widely circulated NFL Week 6 stat highlighted the New York Giants’ 9-1 record ATS versus the Rams across their last ten meetings. Is it wise to think New York is 90% likely to cover again? Probably not. Heading into this game, the Giants were dealing with plenty of injuries. Additionally, so much time had passed between those 10 matchups that this data lacks relevance. “Trends are no substitute for the individual merits of a game,” according to Kevin Davis, a sports bettor and writer at The Game Day. “Most of the time, trends represent a small sample size and are not actually applicable to the current game’s situation. If they are, sportsbooks have generally already baked them into the line.” Be wary of tipsters who lean too heavily on data that may not help.

PRO TIP: FOLLOW CLOSING LINE VALUE One trend that often plays well in long-term betting is closing line value (CLV): the pregame price that a bettor gets on the market compared to when the game starts. For example, if an NFL handicapper puts in an early-week bet on the Dallas Cowboys at +7.5, and the game kicks off on Sunday with the Cowboys at +6, the bet at +7.5 holds a point and a half of value ahead of the market. That closing line value may not make a difference in the result of the bet, but over time, planting a flag on the right side of line movements will pay off. The inverse of this can reveal flaws in a tipster’s approach. “If a bettor is showing negative closing line value, it is highly improbable that a winning record is sustainable in the long run,” Pizzola said.

RECOGNIZE INDUSTRY & PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY Transparency in this exponentially expanding industry will help bettors, publishers, and tipsters all the same. Many sportsbooks offer tools to help set limits on bets placed, units wagered, and more actions over a predefined window (of course, bettors or their loved ones are advised to seek professional counselling if gambling is becoming a problem). With a measured approach and an education on these crucial practices, beginners can take informed, carefully planned steps to create a safe sports-betting hobby that will hopefully also work toward stronger self-monitoring. “There is an opportunity for industry regulators and operators to unite and fight back against the fraudulent activity from tipsters with nefarious intent,” Holt said. “But to do so, the industry must first put processes in place to register and identify the individuals selling the tips. This is a long, expensive process that will require significant resources but is well worth it for the consumer protections it will provide.” GAMINGAMERICA 61


PRODUCT REVIEWS

WHAT'S NEW? Gaming America seeks out the newest and most exhilarating products on the market as land-based and digital suppliers up their game. We also review three Global Gaming Award-winning products.

GAMECO: ARCADE-STYLE GAMBLING MACHINE As technology and gaming have continued to transform, new players have shown interest in engaging in modern gambling experiences. Capitalizing on the opportunity to capture these emerging audiences, GameCo has developed a way to combine the interactivity of mobile apps and video games with gambling. Inspired by popular mobile apps and video games, GameCo creates titles that engage existing and new casino audiences by including features like level-progression and power-ups. With a portfolio of sports, casual, and arcade-style games, GameCo titles are designed to appeal to a broad audience.

GARY PLATT MANUFACTURING For more than 20 years, Gary Platt Manufacturing has been the world’s leading provider of performance casino seating, and a new collection has been launched for the Strip’s newest casino resort, Resorts World Las Vegas. Engineering teams worked closely with RWLV to create a unique collection where Gary Platt’s legendary comfort meets ingenious designs, innovations and details for the modern consumer. The collection consists of four new models: Aurora, Dakota, Ezra and Zephyr. Appearing across the slot floor, the new Aurora is a model of ingenious design, with a player-adjustable pedestal base, round footrest, rear seat vent and a quick-change seat. The Aurora’s deliberately modest arms gently surround players, and the chair back is covered in custom-designed upholstery (pictured). High-limit players are accustomed 62 GAMINGAMERICA

For example, Mystery of The Secret Temple is set in ancient Egypt, where players make matches to complete 100 levels and unlock bonus rounds as they progress. In Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream, players experience a game designed by the Grammy-nominated artist. The game takes place on a race track, while players listen to music from his Dim Mak label and complete levels to win cash rewards. Featuring GameCo’s GamersEdge skilled-based technology, players are rewarded for strategic play. Additional titles include the slot Sweet Spot Golf featuring a three-slot reel front-end with mini-games where players must hit the button in the sweet spot to win. Lastly, GameCo’s Millionaire Solitaire is a traditional solitaire game where players sequence cards up and down, and with each consecutive play the streak meter increases.

to special treatment, and the Dakota has unrivaled quality with player-adjustable pedestal base, Gary Platt’s signature Epic footrest and a quick-change seat. The high-limit tables area also features Ezra’s extended arm, while traditional games enjoy a shorter arm. Gary Platt created both full height and 20-inch height versions, all with round tapered legs of real wood, gold stretchers and sabots and quick-change seat. The Zephyr chair, designed especially for Baccarat players, features subtle ergonomics that comfortably position the player to lean forward, enhancing the way these players enjoy the game. Sportsbook fans are also greeted with inspired innovation in Gary Platt’s Sportsbook Club model. Comfort will keep players sitting and cheering longer, and modern amenities like USB and electrical plug-ins give Resorts World Las Vegas customers the technology difference they expect.



PRODUCT REVIEWS

HOUSE ADVANTAGE: HALO LOYALTY PLATFORM AND BALLY BET House Advantage, the loyalty and gaming operations technology provider, has integrated its HALo Loyalty platform and the Bally’s Corporation sports betting platform, Bally Bet. The first-time integration creates a unified process for enrolling and extending loyalty program benefits to Bally Bet mobile bettors, and is live in the Colorado and Iowa markets. The integration automates Bally Rewards and Bally Bet program enrollment, betting activity, rewards earning and redemption for players using Bally Bet for mobile sports betting. House Advantage engineered and deployed a scalable system that synchronizes member accounts from mobile registration to Bally’s land-based casinos, and vice versa, as well as provided real-time rewards for all sports betting activity on the Bally Bet platform. House Advantage credits the existing relationship between the two companies for its ability to develop the integration quickly and effectively. With the rapid legalization and expansion of mobile betting across the US, it was vital to unify the Bally Rewards program loyalty benefits with the digital gaming experience and expand Bally’s ability to engage and reward the growing audience

segment. House Advantage is well known in the industry for custom integration solutions that enhance the customer experience and generate new marketing opportunities. The HALo platform is currently installed in the Bally’s Black Hawk casinos in Colorado and Iowa where Bally's operates mobile-exclusive betting statewide. The integration allows bettors in each market to earn rewards and redeem at any Bally’s property nationwide. HALo delivers demonstrable value to casino operators by providing a centralized platform integrating all patron spending and behavioral data across enterprise touchpoints: gaming, hospitality, retail, entertainment, online, social, mobile, sports and more. The HALo suite of loyalty solutions enables real-time delivery of highly tailored, branded programs and incentives across these multiple disparate systems, creating a frictionless and engaging universal guest experience.

IGT: USWITCH MULTI-GAME FOR THE CRYSTALCURVE CABINET

IGT is expanding its presence in Latin America with the installation of USwitch Multi-Game video slots at the Casino New York in Medellin, Colombia. USwitch is offered on the CrystalCurve gaming machine and bundles include IGT Proven Performer games in categories that stand out in ultra-high definition. 64 GAMINGAMERICA

The CrystalCurve cabinet allows users to play IGT’s most popular games such as Mistress of Egypt, Golden Jungle and Hexbreaker 3. Furthermore, ITG’s USwitch multi-game selection system will allow players to quickly pick their preferred theme. “We are thrilled to be the first casino in Colombia to offer players this world-class gaming experience that puts so many top-performing games on one elegant piece of hardware,” said Noraldo Orozco, owner of the Casino New York. CrystalCurve machines feature heavily on the Casino New York’s gaming floor and are popular among visitors for their eye-catching visuals. “Introducing IGT’s USwitch multi-game bundles in Colombia on the CrystalCurve cabinet positions our customers to further benefit from our market-leading cabinet and content portfolio,” added David Flinn, IGT's regional vice president South America and Canada. “Given the realities of today’s more restricted, socially distanced environment, the ability to combine such a high caliber of games with the CrystalCurve cabinet is a distinct advantage for casinos, as it maximizes the entertainment offered on each machine.”



PRODUCT REVIEWS

IGT

Over the years, IGT, winner of the Global Gaming Awards' Product Innovation of the Year Award, has established itself as a leader in the cashless space through its high-performing and user-friendly Resort Wallet and IGTPay modules for the IGT Advantage casino management system (CMS). Resort Wallet is a versatile cashless payments module that can be deployed in several ways to meet the specific needs and demands of the gaming venue in need. The Resort Wallet can also be coupled with IGTPay to deliver an integrated turnkey solution. Resort Wallet can be deployed in two different ways. Firstly, “carded” cashless using a casino-branded loyalty card. Players load cash into a personal digital wallet from either the

casino cash desk or a slot machine, and access those funds from any slot machine or table game using the card. Secondly, “cardless” cashless by using a digital wallet on a mobile device. When patrons employ IGT’s Resort Wallet feature with any Cardless Connect-enabled gaming machine, their smartphone is turned into a secure digital wallet. Funds in the digital wallet can be redeemed for cash or safely maintained for the next play session. Renato Ascoli, IGT CEO global gaming said: “IGT winning ‘Product Innovation of the Year’ in the Global Gaming Awards is an excellent start to our G2E 2021 and a reflection of the market relevance and vast potential of our Resort Wallet and IGTPay cashless gaming technologies. The Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas is among the most lauded gaming industry awards programs and we’re pleased that our transformative Resort Wallet and IGTPay solutions stood apart for their innovation, and the many benefits they deliver to our customers and their players.” IGTPay is available in a number of jurisdictions, including Oklahoma, which launched the payment platform throughout the Indigo Sky Casino, Wyandotte, Okla in September.

GEOCOMPLY

ARISTOCRAT

GeoComply’s all-in-one KYC and AML solution, IDComply, aims to achieve the industry’s highest verification rate through a multi-vendor waterfall workflow. The winner of this year’s Digital Product of the Year, IDComply streamlines operators' KYC and AML processes through increasing user acceptance by checking users’ IDs against multiple KYC vendors. It also streamlines multi-state KYC by reducing the operator’s compliance overhead, using IDComply’s compliance engine to stay on top of KYC requirements across all jurisdictions. Lastly, IDComply reduces manual verifications through improved success rates gained via automated data verification, lowering the need for manual reviews. David Briggs, founder and CEO of GeoComply, added: “We’re really happy to be providing both KYC and geolocation compliance to Amelco in support of its expanding sportsbook operations in the US market. “With KYC and geolocation compliance critical aspects of online betting, it makes sense to manage both using a single API and back-office. Plus, the benefits of having seamless multi-state KYC capabilities along with multi-vendor fail-over capability for age and identity verification is huge.”

Housed on Aristocrat’s MarsX Portrait cabinet, Buffalo Link, the winner of Slot of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards, aims to combine the thrill and functionality of Aristocrat’s famous Lighting Link and Dragon Link games, with the theme and features of the gaming industry’s most recognized slot brand, Buffalo. The game introduces the tried-and-tested Hold & Spin functionality and five denomination sets to the Buffalo brand. Looking back at the legacy of Buffalo, Buffalo Link retains its classic Free Games feature along with exciting new enhancements. The slot features 2x and 3x wild multipliers available on reel 5; Aristocrat hopes players will be looking for those signature base game Buffalo wins. Unique to the Slot of the Year winner is a new mystery must-hit-by bonus, awarding either Free Games or the Hold & Spin bonus feature, bringing players an added chase on their bonus pursuit. Furthermore, the slot brings a single-site linked progressive with multi-denomination functionality to the Buffalo brand. From Buffalo Link’s Hold & Spin feature, players have an opportunity to win the linked Grand Jackpot, standalone Major, or static Minor and Mini bonus awards. Aristocrat Technologies is a subsidiary of Aristocrat Leisure Limited, the company employs over 6000 people, operating in 300 gaming jurisdictions in more than 90 countries.

RESORT WALLET WITH IGTPay

IDCOMPLY

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BUFFALO LINK