Gaming America Nov/Dec 2022

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GamingAmerica.com

Nov/Dec 2022

SLOTS OF THE F FUTURE UTURE Where is technology leading this cornerstone of the casino experience?

 G2E IN REVIEW: We look back at America's biggest gaming tradeshow of the year  GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS: The winners revealed  VIEWPOINTS: Industry executives discuss how table games are changing




COO, EDITOR IN CHIEF Julian Perry EDITOR Cameron Saunders Cameron.Saunders@gamingamerica.com

EDITOR’S LETTER

STAFF WRITERS Robert Collins Robert.Collins@gamingamerica.com Ricky Gray Jr. Ricky.Gray@gamingamerica.com LEAD DESIGNER Brendan Morrell DESIGNERS Olesya Adamska, Christian Quiling DESIGN ASSISTANTS Radostina Mihaylova, Svetlana Stoyanova, Gabriela Baleva MARKETING & EVENTS MANAGER Mariya Savova FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT Julia Olivan 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 ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE Ariel Greenberg Ariel.Greenberg@playerspublishing.com Tel: +1.702 833 9581 SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Michael Juqula Michael.Juqula@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3487 0498 ACCOUNT MANAGERS William Aderele William.Aderele@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 2062 Grover Ho Grover.Ho@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0) 203 435 5628 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Michelle Pugh Michelle.Pugh@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 5768 CREDIT MANAGER Rachel Voit WITH THANKS TO: Stephen Crystal, Oliver Lovat, Bill Pascrell, Richard Metcalf, Brian Christopher, Rob Ziems, Derik Mooberry, Phil O'Shaughnessy, Cassie Stratford, Brandon Walker, Dima Reiderman, Peter Herem, Tjaša Luin Peric, Gabe Baron

JULIAN PERRY,

COO, Editor in Chief

CAMERON SAUNDERS,

Editor

G2E, the industry’s biggest trade show, was held in Las Vegas once again in October, as a sense of normality continued – no masks, no social distancing, but plenty of networking, slots and table games. Every morning the show was held, thousands of conventioneers would have to walk past the casino floor of the Venetian; that is, past the cacophonous ringing of hundreds of slot machines. And, of course, there was the small matter of the most prestigious Awards ceremony in gaming, as the Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas took place – we bring you all the winners in our dedicated section later in this issue. Slot machines are the big daddy when it comes to Las Vegas gross gaming revenue, a fact we are highlighting in this, the November/December edition of Gaming America. In just one example, Nevada's September revenue of $1.24bn was made up of $856.2m from slots – very much the lion's share. In these pages, one can find an investigation of how far slots have come and where they will go. Buttressing this feature is an interview with slot influencer extraordinaire, Brian Christopher, a man who has dedicated his adult life to helping the masses better understand how to maximise their enjoyment of playing; even if that inevitably means parting ways with some of their hard-earned entertainment dollars. Elsewhere in our pages, you will find an interview with Global Gaming Women President Cassie Stratford. I was able to catch up with her at G2E and find out what the group she leads is doing to bring gender parity to the C-suite level of this industry. Additionally, this issue contains features on such companies as Amelco, BtoBet and TrafficGuard, while we have articles – insightful as ever – from our regular columnists Stephen Crystal, Oliver Lovat and Bill Pascrell. Editor Cameron Saunders

FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE

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.

AMY HOWE

CEO FanDuel

HECTOR FERNANDEZ

CEO Aristocrat Gaming

CHECK OUT GAMINGAMERICA.COM FOR THE BEST IN BREAKING NEWS



GAMING AMERICA | CONTENTS

08

12

08

FROM THE TOP

16

ADAPT OR FAIL

10

SPORTS BETTING GOES SOUTH

18

SPREADING THE SLOT GOSPEL

12

EXPANDING MICRO-BETTING

22

THE NEW PIONEER CLUB

G2E was back to full capacity this year, and we were on hand to give an assessment of the event.

How is the drive for regulated sports betting going in the most football crazy part of the country?

Stephen Crystal of SCCG Management lends his expertise to the possibilities of micro betting.

26 6 | GAMINGAMERICA

In his column, Bill Pascrell tells us what casinos must do to stay relevant to young players.

In our trademark Huddle feature, Gaming America interviews Brian Christopher, the slot world's foremost influencer.

Our resident historian Oliver Lovat takes a look at the varying fortunes of Downtown Las Vegas.


CONTENTS | GAMING AMERICA

50

Cassie Stratford

26

IN REVIEW: THE GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS

46

SLOTS OF THE FUTURE

50

LEVELING THE LADDER

52

PROVIDING SOLUTIONS

54

PREPARING FOR BIG THINGS

56 61

We take a look at this year's winners of the most coveted prize in the industry.

56

63

Tjaša Luin Peric PRODUCT REVIEWS

A closer look is taken at the newest products shaking up the consumer experience.

Gaming America asks some of the leading slots manufacturers in the world about the direction in which slot technology is moving.

Global Gaming Women is one of the most important advocacy groups in the industry. We find out what is on its agenda.

Amelco USA's head Brandon Walker tells us how a company can best take advantage of the vast American market.

BtoBet's Dima Reiderman tells us what his company hopes to offer the US.

VIEWPOINTS

In this edition of our stalwart Viewpoints section, we look at the ways in which table games are changing with the times.

FIGHTING THE BOTS

Richard Metcalf at TrafficGuard explains how bots are hindering the marketing strategies of sportsbooks.

63 GAMINGAMERICA | 7


GAMING AMERICA | FROM THE TOP

Holly Cook Macarro Reid D. Milanovich

Ernest L. Stevens The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Erika Nardini

BACK AT FULL SPEED Gaming America explores the floor of the biggest gaming trade show in the country to get a sense of where things stand. In Las Vegas, the long corridor leading from the casino floor to the Venetian Expo was chock-a-block with people on each day of G2E 2022, as representatives, players, and movers and shakers from the gambling industry filed in to celebrate a return to form after last year’s event had been held under the cloud of Covid-19, at half capacity, and after the 2020 event had been canceled altogether. In total, it was announced that 25,000 showed up for the event that was held from October 10-13, a figure nearly double than that of the year before. 8 | GAMINGAMERICA

The mood was giddy as everyone was ‘happy to be back,’ the most common refrain heard throughout. Walking into the cavernous, blue-carpeted trade show venue, the attendee was met with the hum and din of these many thousands of enthusiasts. Before them was row after row, aisle after aisle, of booths set up by companies – mostly suppliers, game developers, and big manufacturers. Here was Evolution with a screen prominently placed of such size and fidelity to cause any movie theater owner to blush. Moving to the center of the room, you

would come across the suppliers of cashless technology, of casino management systems, of data analysts, and of the top cyber security companies in the industry. The fun was placed along the back wall: the major slot and ETG developers, who occupied by far the largest, loudest and most colorful booths. It was these nether regions of the capacious venue that were most heavily trafficked by attendees. The biggest reason the show is so well attended? To see what all these players of differing stripes had been up to over the last year. Operators showed up to take


FROM THE TOP | GAMING AMERICA

Bill Miller

Sandra Douglass Morgan

a look at the ways in which they could improve the casino floor. Every vendor I asked could boast a fair that had wildly exceeded their expectations. The co-CEO of data company OPTX told me how it had gone at the end of the first day. Her response was telling: “If the show ended right now, we would regard it as a fabulous success.” As a journalist, one of the great opportunities presented at G2E is the ability to speak with industry leaders and get a sense of where things are going in the next year. On the tip of everyone’s tongue (not just at the event but across the country) are the economic headwinds that might lead to a 2023 recession. I had the opportunity to speak to Bally’s Corporation chairman and financial whiz Soo Kim about the matter: “I think it’s a tale of two cities. Obviously, Wall Street is basically shut down. Equity markets are horrible and there’s no lending. Treasuries are down 15% for the year, and

that’s pretty brutal. So that’s one world. But the real world has almost record low unemployment. Everyone has got jobs. We still can’t staff all positions. I think that’s what’s causing the wage inflation and the price pressure. I think what the Fed is trying to do now is the right move: to slow things down... I just don’t think that will be a 2008, 2002 style recession.” He would go on to note that Vegas is doing as well as it ever has, even if the rise in gas prices is putting a dent in casino traffic on the casino floor. Elsewhere, especially in the keynote addresses and other ancillary events, company leaders noted the stark disparity between record profits occurring simultaneously with plummeting share prices, indicative of this bizarre disjunct in the economy. At one event, IGT CEO Vince Sadusky noted that while profits are as high as ever, shares have gone down 37% over the last year. He went on: “There’s clearly a lot of uncertainty in the global marketplace

right now. The great thing is we’re achieving our numbers. We have great strength in each of our consumers, and so far we’re not seeing any deterioration in the consumer." The ill winds on the horizon did not seem to dampen anyone’s mood on the floor. How could they if profits remain at a high across nearly the entire industry? Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (which, in concert with RX produced the event) had the following to say in his exclusive interview to us: “This is the global gaming center of the world, and if you want to see what’s new and exciting in the gaming industry, this is the where you come. We’ve seen extraordinary participation from the exhibitors and from the buyers. Whether you are a manufacturer or a purchaser, a casino, this is the place where you want to see the latest and greatest in new technology and new games.” With another G2E done, things keep looking up for this growing industry! GAMINGAMERICA | 9


GAMING AMERICA | SPORTS BETTING SOUTH

SOUTHERN COMFORTS If ever there was a part of the US that could be called 'football country' it would be the South. Yet sports betting lags slightly in that region when compared to the rest of the country. Here we take a closer look.

OK AR

TX LA

TEXAS

No one from Texas will say they’re in the South. They’ll insist they’re in Texas. That said, the state is regarded as a golden goose in terms of legalized gaming. Will regulated sports betting be introduced at the next legislative session? Many believe it to be likely.

10 | GAMINGAMERICA


SPORTS BETTING SOUTH | GAMING AMERICA

NORTH CAROLINA

Already with two retail betting locations, North Carolina is a state where people see much momentum for online betting. That’s not to say it’s a foregone conclusion. Just this past session, the state senate defeated a bill that would have allowed it. Perhaps next session…

ARKANSAS

Sports betting in Arkansas became legal in 2018, but it was relegated to one of the state’s three casinos. That all changed earlier this year when mobile sports betting became an indisputable fact of life.

TENNESSEE

In Tennessee, one need not partner with a casino in order to operate a sportsbook, making the Volunteer State an especially popular destination for fledgling operations.

NC

TN SC

MS

AL

GA

FL

FLORIDA

The debate surrounding sports betting in the Sunshine State has bee considerably more controversial than in other markets. Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis threw his support behind it in a deal with the Seminole Tribe, but federal courts took umbrage and put a stop to it… at least for now. GAMINGAMERICA | 11


GAMING AMERICA | SCCG

EXPANDING MICRO -BETTING MARKETS In another contributing article, Stephen Crystal of SCCG Management lends his expertise to the issue of micro betting.

6 4

The industry is far past the inflection below for the 2020 data of the top six point, where the focus of sports betting leading operators by revenue. operators shifted from vertical integration to customer acquisition. The most THE BRANDS BATTLE FOR prominent brands and operators have HEARTS, MINDS AND DEPOSITS pushed nearly incomprehensibly sized What’s at stake for these giants and their promotional and marketing budgets to REVENUE new sports book operations in the US? IN USD (BILLIONS) support the war for US sports bettors’ The next chart shows the revenue from loyalty (or even just attention). commercial casino operators as it grew These global gaming titans shape the from 2018 to 2021. sports betting industry in the markets in That $4.3bn in commercial sports where they operate. Just look at the chart book revenue came from sports fans

2 REVENUE IN USD (BILLIONS)

STEPHEN CRYSTAL

0 6

MGM Resorts

Ceacars Entertainment

4

Las Vegas Sands

Penn Entertainment

Boyd Gaming

SCCG Management Wynn Resorts Founder

2 0 MGM Resorts

Ceacars Entertainment

Las Vegas Sands

Penn Entertainment

Boyd Gaming

Wynn Resorts

SPORTSBOOK REVENUE IN USD (BILLIONS) SPORTSBOOK REVENUE IN USD (BILLIONS)

5 4 3 2

4.33 5 4 3

0

1.55

2 1

1

4.33

0

0.43

0.91

0.91

0.43

2018

2018 12 | GAMINGAMERICA

1.55

2019

2019

2020

2021

2020

2021

across the US who bet on their favorite sports – part of the 46% of American adults (a population of over 106 million) with “at least some interest in sports betting.” The US is far from done unlocking markets. Goldman Sachs projects 40% annual growth over the next decade, with many more US states regulating sports wagering for their citizens. Furthermore, understanding that the size of the commercial gaming market is around half of the total US gaming market, with the majority coming from tribal gaming operators, the whole picture could be double that amount. Therefore, given the size and value of the US sports betting market, the speed of its growth, and its role in acquiring and retaining


SCCG | GAMING AMERICA

new demographics for these gaming giants, the investment in the market warfare is, and will continue to be, multidisciplinary. The Channels are the Battlefields: Micro betting joins the suite of markets, extending the options of traditional sports bettors in the United States. We are increasingly reaching sports bettors through multiple channels -- brick and mortar sportsbooks, quick bet terminals, mobile on-premise and online wagering. The Markets are the Soldiers: Across those channels, we’re offering in-play wagering, spreads, fixed odds, pari-mutuel wagering, fantasy sports wagering and, most recently, exchange betting with Prophet Exchange and Sporttrade in New Jersey. The Sports are the Flags they Carry: We make these markets for an ever-growing

list of sports of interest to the US bettors, including emerging niche sports to US sportsbooks, such as pickleball, frisbee

golf, darts, skateboarding, surfing and esports.

DEFINING AND DIFFERENTIATING MICRO BETTING FROM IN-PLAY WAGERING

"THE DATA AND THE RICH ANECDOTAL NARRATIVES WE RECEIVE FROM OUR CLIENTS AND PARTNERS IN THE INDUSTRY SEND US A CLEAR MESSAGE"

Let’s start with definitions. Micro betting is a subset of in-play wagering. According to standard convention, what sets them apart is micro-betting markets which: 1. Do not directly relate to mechanics determining who wins and who loses the game. 2. Describes an event about to happen and whose duration is short; eg, a single pitch in baseball or the subsequent free throw in a basketball game. Micro betting, or betting on specific game outcomes, has become an increasingly popular part of the legal GAMINGAMERICA | 13


GAMING AMERICA | SCCG increasingly popular part of the legal sports betting industry. This type of wagering allows players to place bets on individual plays, yardage or drives. These bets tend to be smaller than traditional bets, and they’re ideal for the whims of millennials and younger gamers. Micro-betting apps like Betr, which is marketed as a TikTok for sports betting, cater to people with short attention spans. Thinking about customers holistically is essential, but we need specialized marketing teams supported by machine learning-powered CRM platforms to help these sportsbook operators tactically. Micro-betting has become popular in the US because it provides an exciting experience for fans. Micro-betting companies can improve their odds by analyzing underlying data feeds, fan behavior, and bet history and then converting these data into micro -bet opportunities. This allows users to experience a better, more customized betting experience. The need to extend the role of marketing operations into operational support roles for sports wagering operators has never been more critical. This increasing complexity of the sports betting experience and the development of its long tail of options are all in service of product diversification and the ability to attract the widest audiences to their brands, player account management systems and wallets.

THE VALUE OF MICRO BETTING TO CONSUMERS Simple, Low-Risk Point of Entry. Traditional prop bets focus on teams, players and games. In addition, these bets must wait until the game has concluded to be settled. Sports bettors, especially novice participants, love micro-betting’s clarity, excitement and immediacy. They don’t have to understand the entire rule set of a particular sport, nor do they need to wait for the whole game to resolve. I’m betting on something simple and sweet, like, whether or not the basketball player, ball in hand and ready to throw, will make or miss their shot. Will the 14 | GAMINGAMERICA

"IMMEDIATELY OBSERVABLE OUTCOME THAT WILL BE RESOLVED IMMINENTLY, QUICKLY, AND WITH A RELATIVELY LOW BARRIER TO ENTRY IN TERMS OF THE AMOUNT BET"

pitcher’s next throw exceed 100 miles per hour? Discrete bites of excitement pay off quickly and trigger more endorphins than winning a contest with a long payoff period.

THE VALUE OF MICRO-BETTING TO SPORTS BOOKS Attracting new customers. Bettors don’t need any expertise in a sport. They’re betting on a discrete, immediately observable outcome that will be resolved imminently, quickly and with a relatively low barrier to entry in terms of the amount bet. This is a fantastic tool to attract new, casual sports bettors. Increased Handle. Micro-betting and live in-play wagering had much the same effect in sportsbooks that the near -incomprehensible multi-reel slot games, with hundreds or more pay lines, had on slots. It has a transformative impact on betting volumes. The faster these microbets resolve, the quicker the bettor is put back into play for the next one. The next question is, how many micro-betting markets can we create and manage risk for the sportsbook? Cost-Efficient Scalability through Tech: That next hurdle - scalability - is modeling and automation so that available micro-betting markets in any game can be expanded to meet consumer demand. New companies are bringing machine learning and artificial intelligence-driven products to sportsbook operators to help them set probabilities and lines for every possible micro-betting or in -play wagering event in the majors. Once this

is mastered, it will only expand from there. Fast Growing Share of Sports Betting Handle: Simplebet co-founder Joey Levy reported that their client, DraftKings, “...accounted for more than 30% of the sportsbook’s college football handle,” and “For Super Bowl LVI, micro-betting made up more than a quarter of [DraftKing’s] in-play betting handle.” Given the propensity of micro-betting to continue to resonate with younger sports fans, which are not yet avid sports book customers, this is a target-rich demographic for player acquisition. The data and the rich anecdotal narratives we receive from our clients and partners in the industry send us a clear message. We will continue to pursue best-in-class tools and technologies to support micro-betting for our friends in sportsbook operations throughout the US. We will test these solutions rigorously for their operational practicality: 1. Will the platform integrate with the sportsbook management system’s modules and AI/machine learning powered CRM platform? 2. Does the product intelligently and transparently manage itself, or does it require an army of consultant services to maintain integration and operations? 3. Does the value the solution brings sufficiently offset any additional effort or attention the marketing, risk management, and trading teams must expend? The best-in-class technologies for micro -betting will have to clear all three hurdles to become a practical part of any sports betting operation.



GAMING AMERICA | BILL J. PASCRELL

CASINOS MUST ADAPT OR FAIL Bill J. Pascrell, III, Esq. again lends his expertise to explain what casinos must do to keep up with the times.

Twelve years ago, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened its doors. This highly anticipated luxury resort boasted 2,995 rooms, nine retail boutiques, three pools and the Boulevard Casino. Many other casinos boasted larger footprints than the Boulevard, but what they didn’t have was the Marquee: a 40,000 square-foot nightclub embedded in the resort, featuring seven bars and bottle service. The owners of the Cosmopolitan invested $87m in the Marquee, and it became the highest-grossing club in the nation with $80m in revenue in its first year. The Cosmopolitan’s owners didn’t grow the gaming floor to epic proportions. They limited it, to accommodate for features like the Marquee, that could draw in younger generations who have little interest in playing baccarat. This trend has only grown since 2010, and we now see brick-and-mortar casino operators taking one of two paths: adapting to shifting demographics and interests, or failing. To be clear, the US casino industry is thriving. Caesars and MGM Resorts International reported record-high Q2 16 | GAMINGAMERICA

performances for their Las Vegas properties in early August. New Jersey’s nine casino hotel properties earned $276.9m in July, an increase of 8% year-over-year. Massachusetts casinos generated a $38m increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021. These impressive gains are promising for the brick-and-mortar casino industry, which relies heavily on a physical presence for players to meet face-to-face – and I wouldn’t be surprised if casino executives are convinced that they can safely do business as usual to achieve the profits they’re looking for. Despite these recent performances, however, there is a pressing need for these executives to adapt to a series of cultural, demographic and technological changes that are shaping the gambling industry as we know it. Brick-and-mortar casinos, which have a physical presence in which players meet face-to-face, are facing clear challenges. Five of New Jersey’s casinos of this type won less from in-person gamblers this July than they did in July 2019, while the state’s casinos as a whole saw their profits decline from Q1 to Q2 of this year. In July, Pennsylvania’s

BILL J. PASCRELL III ESQ. Princeton Public Affairs Group Partner casinos earned less revenue from slots and tables than they did in July 2021, when the state had two fewer locations. Fitch Ratings recently predicted that Las Vegas gaming revenue will decline by 10% next year. Brick-and-mortar casinos are under threat from four key trends: the increasing popularity of online betting, the cultural


BILL J. PASCRELL | GAMING AMERICA

focus on skill-based games, growing expectations from regulators of robust responsible gambling measures, and shifting demographics. Each of these must be addressed by casino operators to ensure their long-term survival. One of the fastest-growing segments of last year’s global gaming revenue was esports, valued at over $1bn in 2021. One of the chief differentiators between esports and other types of gambling is that it’s overwhelmingly skill-based, and its dramatic rise in popularity points to a growing interest in skill-based games across gambling sectors. When most people think of brick-and -mortar casinos, they think of a few staple games: blackjack, poker, roulette, and slots, to name a few. So long as casinos rely on these legacy games for the bulk of their revenue, they’ll ultimately be relying on gamblers to stay satisfied with the same offering they’ve been used to for decades –and one thing we’ve learned in the gambling industry is that you have to diversify your offering to keep people interested. Brick-and-mortar casinos must increase their focus on skill-based games and expand

their offering altogether. Putting aside the immediate missed potential for revenue growth, these casinos will face existential crises if they don’t expand and change. It’s been well-established that brick -and-mortar casinos are primarily visited and funded by older generations. Players between the ages of 60 and 70 represent the largest share of slot revenue for the casino, whereas players between the ages of 20 and 30 represent the smallest share of revenue for brick-and-mortar casinos. This disparity in demographics doesn’t extend to other forms of gambling: more than 60% of sports bettors, for example, are ages 40 or younger, and the rampant growth in esports is largely attributed to millennials. To fix their demographic problem, brick-and-mortar casinos must expand entertainment options for young people and reshape their view of what a casino is – and what it can be. If the pandemic has taught the gambling industry anything, it’s that gambling companies can’t rely on in-person visitation for revenue. Despite Covid-19 slowly loosening its grip on American culture and business, Las Vegas visitation has yet to

surpass pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the pandemic allowed for unprecedented growth in online sports betting, which continues to challenge brick-and-mortar casinos. New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar casinos, for example, are facing stiff competition from New York, which began offering mobile sports betting earlier this year. As more and more states legalize mobile sports betting, land-based casinos will have to improve their integration of online betting to ensure their ability to attract younger, tech-savvy bettors. The vast majority of bettors do so responsibly. Yet, by some estimates, five million Americans may experience a gambling problem every year. Problem gambling isn’t just something to wave away with a 1-800 number at the bottom of a television ad: casino operators must take this problem seriously, and strongly advocate for responsible gambling, or risk facing the same crises that have plagued European gambling operators for years, which stemmed from initially lax responsible gambling regulations. Entain Foundation US, for which I serve as a trustee alongside Martin Lycka, SVP for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling at Entain Plc, and former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer are advocates for heightened regulations, an increased focus on addiction research, investments in player monitoring technology and more responsibility on the part of operators. I believe these developments are crucial, not just to protect players but to ensure the survival of the gambling industry itself. Brick-and-mortar casinos aren’t going anywhere – at least for now. We can reasonably expect these fixtures of American society to continue attracting customers in high numbers for the foreseeable future. However, to ensure their long-term survival, casino operators need to be aware of these clear trends and be prepared to address them head-on. Anything short of a robust effort to adapt to these changes in demographics, technology, culture and the regulatory environment will fail to protect them from the rapidly shifting environment in which they operate. GAMINGAMERICA | 17


GAMING AMERICA | THE HUDDLE

SPREADING THE SLOT GOSPEL Brian Christopher, President & CEO of BC Ventures, is one of the foremost social influencers of slots games. He sits down with Gaming America to discuss his story and what’s new in the world of slots. What is a day in the life of an influencer like?

"WHAT I’VE DONE

HAS MADE IT SEEM FAR MORE

FUN... AND TO

BE FAIR SLOT

MACHINES

HAVE GOT A LOT MORE FUN"

I love what I do but it is a grind. The job is seven days a week, involves tons of travel and takes a long time to set everything up. It's a fully-fledged business with ten employees who are doing great work for us, which is non-stop. Currently, we’re based out of Palm Springs, though most of my time is spent on the road.

How did you get into this realm of slot influencer? It was a job that had never existed before, so I never intended for that to happen. I just put out some videos for fun that resonated with people and they kind of took off immediately. And because of that, I uploaded more videos, and they took off. I got a lot of subscribers and a lot of views because I couldn’t believe how quickly things were progressing with it. This was over six years ago now and it’s just not slowing down at all.

What I’ve done has made it seem far more fun... and to be fair, slot machines have got a lot more fun. It used to be like, put in three quarters, get one spin, see if you get a cherry. It wasn’t very exciting. Now there’s a ton of bonuses and a lot more excitement on the floor, so that’s catching on. People are realizing: ‘Hey that’s a cool thing to do, playing slots.’

Can you talk about the evolution of slots? How has the technology changed since you’ve been doing this? When I started at 19 we were using tokens and it was a lot of fun. It was very slow paced though: putting in a token, then a token, then another token. Then if you won, say, $1,000, you’d be waiting literally

There may be some preconceptions about slot game users being older. Do you think operators have a hard time marketing slots to younger people? I think a lot of them do have that problem and that’s what I’m doing a better job of. If you take a look at our Facebook page, it skews more toward millennial males. However, I think things are changing, with the audience getting younger and more diverse. Before there was a stigma about slot machines; people were embarrassed if they went to a casino and lost money playing slots. 18 | GAMINGAMERICA

Watch the full video online at gamingamerica.com/ga-huddle



GAMING AMERICA | THE HUDDLE ten minutes for them to spew out all these tokens. Now, the pace has sped up dramatically, if you press ‘cash out,’ you get your ticket in five seconds. The denominations and the bet numbers have also definitely increased over the years. It used to be a single-line game, or maybe a three or five-line game, but now you’re seeing 50 or even 100-line games. You can win in 7,000 different ways. To a non-gambler it’s confusing, you could see lights flashing and fireworks going off and think, ‘Oh! I just won a jackpot!’ but in reality, you just won 37 cents. It’s hard for a new gambler to understand how much they’ve won and what they should be looking out for, that’s really my job. I’ll do that in every video: explain everything. Like, what we’re looking for, how we just won and how it helps people.

What’s the most you’ve ever won? The most I’ve personally won on a physical slot machine was about $24,000. It was during a live stream on Dollar Storm at the Plaza. We do group pull slots, as well, so we had tons of people and everyone was putting in $100 dollar spins and we won about $45,000. On the online slots, I play on Play Chumba, and I was spinning $180 a spin and won $280,000.

Do you feel that slot design is done more with land-based or online in mind? Generally, they are designed separately. At G2E, I had that conversation with a company that has thousands of games. I said, “Do you ever think about moving this into a physical casino, and they said, ‘No we don’t.’" But we are seeing that come out a lot more, especially from the actual slot machine side. Light & Wonder, for instance, their slot machines have their own apps, so they can cross it over very easily. And I think very soon we’ll see my game – Brian Christopher’s Pop'N Pays More slot, which was produced with Gaming Arts – put onto an app. 20 | GAMINGAMERICA

What do you think about hybrid slots, with apps and physical slots? This could help slot machines get smaller and, on the casino floor, isn’t space money?

from, so if there’s one game I know and love, I’d probably play that at a casino as well.

They don’t seem to be getting any smaller, they seem to be getting bigger. Bigger is better at the moment and the screens are getting wider or taller. Some are 20 feet tall now, it’s ridiculous. Personally, for me, I like to play a game at the casino that I already know how to play. On Play Chumba I’ve had to learn how to play a whole bunch of games that I didn’t know how to play before and I’ve come to love them, I wish those were on a machine at a casino. As well, there are thousands of games to choose

I feel like only 10% still have the levers. You don’t need the levers, you can just press the buttons. We’re just lazier people nowadays and pressing the button is easier than reaching over and hauling the lever. As I’m filming, it doesn’t look good to always be reaching over and pulling.

What about the levered slots?

One person I spoke to at G2E said the old-fashioned slots have higher payouts. Is that true? There is certainly that conception. Definitely the higher the denomination the higher the payout percentage, and that’s where a lot of the old ones are located. Casinos definitely keep that under wraps, so when we get the stats back from, say Nevada, they tell us the stats by area, like from Downtown and so on, not from each individual casino. They’re very tight-lipped about some things, but we certainly know the higher the denomination, the higher the payout slip.

What is the best slot floor you’ve seen either in Vegas or anywhere in the world? I’ve talked about the Plaza and there is a curated area of my favorite slot machines there, so to me, that’s my favorite area. They’re also building an expansion now that will be the first smoke free area in Downtown Las Vegas. There will be a completely separate entrance, so you don’t even have to go through all the smoking areas, that has all my favorite games. There are a lot of casinos that are known for getting the newest and greatest slot machines before other ones. The Yaamava’ out here in California is one of those. It’s a behemoth. I believe it has over 5,500 games on two different floors, and every time I go there I’m blown away by it.



GAMING AMERICA | OLIVER LOVAT

THE NEW PIONEER CLUB Gaming America goes downtown with Oliver Lovat, who explores how 'Old Las Vegas' has risen again from the ashes of obscurity. In one of his earliest columns in 2015, Oliver Lovat observed that Downtown Las Vegas was undergoing a transition. In the past seven years, this has become a highly successful repositioning. It is worth taking time to review the history of this iconic market and learn what recent developments have meant for repositioning legacy assets.

EARLY PIONEERS Vegas Vic may be all that is left of the original Pioneer Club on Fremont Street but it acts as a homage to the original innovators of the American gaming industry that cut their teeth in this narrow precinct. Called ‘Old Las Vegas’ by many tourists, determining the heyday of the Fremont Street area is highly subjective. For some, it was the post-war decade, when gaming mavericks Benny Binion, Sam Boyd, Bill Bennett and Jackie Gaughan held court, working alongside Mafia guys that had relocated to Las Vegas. Or perhaps it was the 70s, by which time many of those same executives had managed to raise capital and build their own properties. Kell Houssels Jr, Jackie Gaughan, Frank Scott, Sam Boyd and Bill Boyd all teamed up to open the Plaza in 1971, with the latter duo opening The California in 1975. Steve Wynn, who was to attain legendary status in this industry, learned his trade at the Golden Nugget. He managed the property, initially on behalf of a syndicate of investors, including Gaughan, in a run from 1973 to 2000. Although Bob Stupak’s Glitter Gulch and the Herb Pastor’s Golden Goose added to 22 | GAMINGAMERICA

OLIVER LOVAT Denstone Group CEO the colored neon of the street, the final significant build of this generation of hotel -casinos was The Sundance, which opened in 1980. The Sundance was owned by Moe Dalitz, the alleged former leader of the Cleveland Mob. Dalitz’s ownership was to be short-lived, as he applied to be the licensee. Despite his elevation from gangster to community philanthropist, such tributes did not wash with the Gaming Control Board and he was unable to be licensed. When the Mob finally retired from Las Vegas, as the Gaming Control Board effectively foreclosed on their operations, it was the father and son team – Sam and Bill Boyd – who was entrusted to operate the Fremont Hotel on the corner of Fremont and 4th, alongside the much larger Stardust. They added Main Street Station to the

portfolio in 1993. By the mid-1980s Fremont Street was almost entirely owner-managed. Jackie Gaughan’s properties bookended Fremont Street, with the El Cortez and The Western to the east, and The Plaza and Las Vegas Club to the west. The Binion family acquired The Mint in 1988 and merged it under their Horseshoe brand. Other properties, including Fitzgerald’s, were then owned by Reno-based Phil Griffith and there were others independently operated. By the late 1980s, The Golden Nugget aside, the area with a shadow of its former glory, with the area crime-ridden and untouched by wide-scale investment. Outside the Downtown Las Vegas (DTLV) market, there had been investment in neighboring locations, such as Mesquite and Laughlin. Meanwhile Atlantic City had surpassed Las Vegas as the US gaming capital. The 1990s were to prove further challenging to DTLV as the Mega Resort era began on The Strip, pulling gamblers away from DTLV with newer casinos opening at an unprecedented pace. Michael Gaughan, Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming had developed a strong suburban casino offering across the Las Vegas Valley, capturing the play of local customers that once occupied Fremont Street. These new properties were safer, cleaner, newer and larger than their DTLV predecessors. They were also very successful. By the 1990s, many of the families that had made their names in Fremont Street had diverted resources to the liberalizing



GAMING AMERICA | OLIVER LOVAT

"THE EXIT OF GAUGHAN, AND THE SALE OF HIS REAL ESTATE PORTFOLIO, ENABLED ENTRY FOR A NEW GENERATION OF PIONEERS"

of gaming markets across the US, which were generally less competitive and could generate higher revenues unfettered by any historic footprint. By the turn of the century, despite attempts of former Mayor Ron Lurie to drive investment Downtown, and the pedestrianization and the introduction of a video canopy over the street in 1995 led by Mayor Jan Jones, Fremont Street certainly felt neglected compared to the Strip. To many within the gaming industry, it was considered moribund. Between 1993 and 2009, the only new property to open in DTLV was Stupak’s Stratosphere, but, technical boundaries aside, Stupak’s final roll of the dice is considered by many to be a Strip property. When records started being collected in 1992, 30 casinos were operating in DTLV. By 2005, this number had declined to just 19. Only those with great vision – or the slightly crazed - would have believed in the future of DTLV in the early 2000s. Luckily, such folk exist.

THE NEXT GENERATION There is much debate as to what the 24 | GAMINGAMERICA

turning point in the fortunes of DTLV was. Some claim it was the unveiling of the Fremont Street Experience, the opening of Neonopolis in 2002, or perhaps efforts made by the formidable Mayor Oscar Goodman to drive visitation. However, evidence points to the real trigger being the retirement of Jackie Gaughan in 2004. The exit of Gaughan, and the sale of his real estate portfolio, enabled entry for a new generation of pioneers. Ultimately, the longtime associate and friend of Gaughan, Kenny Epstein, acquired the El Cortez, with London-based Tamares investment group buying the remainder. One cannot overstate the scale of risk taken by Tamares owner, Poju Zabludowicz, investing millions of dollars in vacant land and crumbling real estate. Yet he believed that DTLV’s best days were yet to come. Formative to the change was Jonathan Jossel, coming from Tamares’ London office, who brought dynamic real estate skills and was later charged with operating its casino assets. Others soon joined the revival. There was Tony Hsieh, who had zero interest in gaming but rather saw DTLV as a perfect testing ground for his

experimentation in workplace design and social innovation. And then there are Stevens brothers – Derek and Greg – from Detroit. Fueled by a love of both gambling and sport, the pair invested in the Golden Gate casino before acquiring it whole. This was followed by investment in Fitzgerald’s, renaming it the D, and then funding Circa which opened in 2020. Tamares provided much of the land and buildings that Hsieh and the Stevens had needed to implement their business plans. As noted, in 2005, DTLV had 19 operating casinos; however, by 2019, this had risen to 26. The performance metrics are impressive. As Covid-19 hit Las Vegas, despite the protestations of both DTLV casino owners and Mayor Carolyn Goodman that the draconian measures were both unnecessary and unwanted, DTLV was shuttered, stalling eight consecutive years of growth. And yet, on reopening, DTLV seemed remarkably well placed to recover, and unlike in previous decades, was significantly more diversified. The great residential experiment of building condos on The Strip failed. Although


OLIVER LOVAT | GAMING AMERICA

residences were scarce, those that lived in DTLV enjoyed it. The desire for Las Vegas residents to organically demand an urban core is a curious phenomenon, anticipated by few, and Downtown became the closest thing to a true city environment it had. The younger generation, many of whom were emigres from larger cities, actively relocated to DTLV as a first choice. Moreover, locals that had never spent their leisure time in DTLV started coming to explore the range of social activities on offer.

RISING FROM THE ASHES This new range of business owners and concepts has been highly adept at supporting the non-gaming aspects of the district, particularly mid-week, where conventions dominate mid-week business on The Strip. Visitation to DTLV comprises almost 40% of those living in Las Vegas, while 30% are visiting from The Strip and a further 27% are staying in DTLV. The shortage of available real estate has led to the redevelopment of the Arts District, once a no-man’s-land in-between the two tourist centers. The increase in land values for future development has been a feature

of recent years and it can only be a matter of time before there is full connectivity through the central corridor.

LESSONS FROM THE NEW PIONEERS So, what can we learn from the reinvention of DLTV that is useful for those that wish to re-program older or legacy properties and for the growing number of casino resorts that are in urban settings? This new generation of pioneers has innovated by looking back as well as forward. The DTLV journey is not complete. This isn’t a new opinion, but events attract people, and in DTLV, every event is a major event. Every sports game, every stage, every Friday and indeed every July 4th or Thanksgiving is an occasion to celebrate – with other people. Programming for nearly everything is considered and promoted. Development of this entertainment programming is not just top-down, but bottom-up. (Ironically traditional production shows have not been successful in DTLV). People love people and DTLV has more compressed socializing than perhaps any other area in the country.

Moreover, this new generation are great promoters, inspired by the old pioneers who had their names above the door and knew their customers by name. Derek Stevens is seen as frequently on the casino floor as he is on TV. Jossel likewise has a very popular podcast. Developing a personal connection with customers was the foundation that built DTLV and one that has been lost, as the casino business scaled up and ultimately fell into corporate ownership. Finally, the most important lesson is placemaking. Whether it be architectural design, respect for the past and the omnipresent references to history, if you are in DLTV, you actually feel that you are in DLTV. The legacy of the place has not been erased, rather it has been deliberately immortalized, not just in the museums and casinos, but also in restaurants and bars, hallways and guest rooms. Together, these aspects have given confidence to owners, investors and customers to believe that when we talk about the real heyday of DTLV, we are actually living through it. Or maybe the best yet to come. GAMINGAMERICA | 25


GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

THE WINNERS Gaming America walks you through the big winners at the Global Gaming Awards as 500 prestigious industry guests witness the crowning of 2022's Las Vegas winners.

26 | GAMINGAMERICA


GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022 | GAMING AMERICA

GAMINGAMERICA | 27


GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

"WINNING THE LAND-BASED OPERATOR AWARD MEANS SO MUCH TO US AND WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS INCREDIBLE HONOR." LAND-BASED OPERATOR OF THE YEAR Gina Cadahia, VP of Brand Reputation, Hard Rock International SPONSORED BY:

"WE ARE VERY THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE HAVE WON THE GLOBAL GAMING AWARD FOR THE PEAKBARTOP FEATURING SPORTS BETTING." LAND-BASED PRODUCT OF THE YEAR Phil O’Shaughnessy, Vice President, Global Communications,Events&Sustainability,IGT SPONSORED BY:

Nick Khin, COO, IGT (right)

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GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

Ryley Eakin, Fraud Analyst, GeoComply (holding the Award)

"WE’RE VERY EXCITED THAT OUR IDCOMPLY PRODUCT HAS WON THE AWARD FOR A SECOND YEAR IN A ROW." DIGITAL PRODUCT OF THE YEAR Mahmoud El Shennawy, Director of Business Development, GeoComply SPONSORED BY:

30 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

"WE ARE SO EXCITED TO WIN THIS AWARD. EVERY SINGLE YEAR WE WAKE UP AND THINK ABOUT HOW WE CAN BETTER SERVICE OUR CUSTOMERS AND OUR PLAYERS." LAND-BASED INDUSTRY SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR Hector Fernandez, CEO, Aristocrat Gaming SPONSORED BY:

"WE ARE ECSTATIC IN WINNING THIS AWARD FOR DIGITAL INDUSTRY SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR." DIGITAL INDUSTRY SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR Fredrik Bjurle, Director of Products, Evolution SPONSORED BY:

32 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

"THIS SPORTSBOOK SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR AWARD MEANS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS. IT SHOWS TO US AND OUR PEOPLE THAT WE ARE DOING THE RIGHT THINGS WITHIN THE COMPANY." SPORTSBOOK SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR Gerard Starkey, SVP Marketing & Communications, Kambi

SPONSORED BY:

"I AM DELIGHTED TO BE ACCEPTING THIS AWARD ON BEHALF OF MY ENTIRE ORGANIZATION. I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF OUR PERFORMANCE AND AM INCREDIBLY PROUD OF OUR TEAM FOR ESTABLISHING A LEADERSHIP POSITION." DIGITAL OPERATOR OF THE YEAR Amy Howe, CEO, FanDuel 34 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

SPONSORED BY:

"WE ARE A BIT OVERWHELMED WINNING THIS AWARD TWICE IN A ROW, AND I WAS JUST GLAD I COULD COME AND ACCEPT THIS AWARD ON BEHALF OF OUR TEAM." PROPERTY - NORTH AMERICA OF THE YEAR Derek Stevens, Owner & CEO, Circa Resort & Casino

"THE GUEST EXPERIENCE IS WHAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT AT MGM RESORTS AND EVER SINCE WE LAUNCHED, OUR GUESTS AND CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN EMBRACING IT." CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAM OF THE YEAR Marc Jacobson, Senior Media Relations Manager, MGM Resorts International SPONSORED BY:

36 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

"IT’S A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE WON THIS AWARD TODAY WITH A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR OWNER DR HENRY CHENG AND THE PRESIDENT OF OUR PROPERTY GRAEME DAVIS, WITH THEIR DEDICATION AND CONTINUED INVESTMENT AND BELIEF IN THE PROPERTY." PROPERTY - LATAM & CARIBBEAN OF THE YEAR Mark Juliano, Chief Gaming Officer, Baha Mar SPONSORED BY:

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GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

SPONSORED BY: Rob Ziems, President, Aruze Gaming America (holding the Award)

"ARUZE GAMING IS SO HAPPY TO WIN PRODUCT INNOVATION OF THE YEAR FOR GO GO CLAW. THANK YOU SO MUCH, THIS MEANS SO MUCH TO THE TEAM." PRODUCT INNOVATION OF THE YEAR Lesley Hodges, Senior Director of Marketing, Aruze Gaming

"THIS IS A CULMINATION OF A LOT OF HARD WORK FOR OUR AMAZING STUDIOS, STUDIO 54, WHO CREATE SOME OF THE BEST PRODUCTS IN THE INDUSTRY." SLOT OF THE YEAR Jon Hanlin, SVP Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat Gaming SPONSORED BY:

40 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

"WE’RE THRILLED AGAIN TO WIN THE AWARD FOR PAYMENT SOLUTION FOR TWO STRAIGHT YEARS, WITH OUR GOAL BEING TO DELIVER THE OPTIMAL PAYMENTS EXPERIENCE FOR PEOPLE ACROSS THE GAMING INDUSTRY." PAYMENT SOLUTION OF THE YEAR Jonathan Michaels, SVP Strategic Development & Government Affairs, Sightline Payments SPONSORED BY:

SPONSORED BY:

"WHAT AN HONOR TO FOR SAN MANUEL TO RECIEVE THIS AWARD AGAIN TODAY. THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW AND FOR US IT MAKES US SO HAPPY AND HONORED TO HAVE THAT PARTNERSHIP AS A COLLABORATION, WHILE WORKING WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS." RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman, The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians 42 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LAS VEGAS 2022

SPONSORED BY:

"IT HAS BEEN A REMARKABLE YEAR. IT WAS A YEAR AGO THAT I FORMALLY STEPPED INTO THE CEO ROLE AND I COULD NOT BE MORE DELIGHTED. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS AMAZING AWARD." AMERICAN EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR Amy Howe, CEO, FanDuel 44 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | SLOTS

SLOTS OF THE FUTURE As technology changes the world, slots are no exception. Gaming America’s Cameron Saunders took a look for himself. Growing up, the stereotype was a rather sad one: widowed retirees sitting at a slot machine, cigarette dangling from the lips, a 32 oz. cup of quarters in the cup holder, a lady whose only evident mobility was to move the arm just enough to pull down

on the lever ad infinitum. Racket from the machines suffused the room as lights blared garishly. And then? All is vindicated. JACKPOT! The coins come splurting out of the machine. The once unbudging

"AT THE LAS VEGAS-BASED ARUZE GAMING, DEVELOPERS ARE FULLY COGNIZANT THAT THESE TWO STREAMS ARE GROWING TOGETHER"

body jumps for joy in disbelief at her windfall. This is what makes it all worth it. This is the old stereotype. It is largely out of date. You could even say it is about 90% out of date, since many of the people I talked to about slots on the casino floor today said that only 10% retain that lever or have that quarter input. Indeed, the last decade has seen slots evolve from this earlier stereotype to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. Technology has taken over, making machines more visibly impressive as the games have increased in complexity, multiple buttons and touch screens having replaced the singular lever. The modern slot machine can appear beast-like, with a huge arching screen. In some cases they can even appear as tunnels. Zitro Games is a Luxembourgish slot manufacturer that has stayed ahead 46 | GAMINGAMERICA



GAMING AMERICA | SLOTS

"IN ADDITION, NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE AFFECTING SUCH AREAS AS PAYOUT. CASHLESS TECHNOLOGY HAS BECOME COMMONPLACE, WITH A CARD REPLACING THE OLDER CUP OF QUARTERS"

of the curve in terms of technology and has seen its US operations expand significantly over the past few years. The company’s US CEO, Derik Mooberry, spelled out for Gaming America some of these changes in hardware: “Slots are continuously changing and evolving… We’ve seen a tremendous amount of hardware innovation. The advent of curved screens and the cabinet sizes themselves have changed radically. You used to see that every cabinet in every casino was a dual-screen cabinet. Now we’re seeing tall cabinets with big screens and ultra HD graphics, lots of angles and supports, and the accessories that go with them as well. They have all really gone to new heights.” Mooberry also notes how changes in slot design have profoundly affected the user experience. He goes on: “There are lots of evolutions in terms of ways to reward players. There are a lot of new ways to do free spins and to award players. Players find these exciting. The one thing we have an obligation to do as a manufacturer is to make the games continue to be exciting for the consumer.” In addition, new technologies are affecting such areas as payout. Cashless technology has become commonplace, with a card replacing the older cup of quarters. Headquartered in Reno, IGT is among the leading slot manufacturers in the world. Unsurprisingly, it is doing what it can to stay in the lead in terms of cashless 48 | GAMINGAMERICA

technological innovation. IGT VP of Global Communications, Events and Sustainability Phil O’Shaughnessy spoke to us about what advantages cashless technology was bringing his company’s customers: “In innovating with cashless, seeing how players interface with the machine – our Resort Wallet with IGTPay – has enabled a transformation of slot play experience by allowing players to connect to their funds, to card into the machine and loyalty program from the convenience of their phones. That makes for a more fun player experience.” And then there is the revolution in online gaming. As more states allow iCasino (the tally is up to six for now, with more on the horizon), more people are playing slots on their cell phones and other mobile devices. This revolution brings with it bold implications for how slots will be designed in the coming years. What will be designed first, the land-based slot or the online game? How will design in one influence that of the other? And will there be a world where hybrid slots are commonplace (ie, will we be sitting in front of a slot machine while looking at our phones)? Mooberry at Zitro sees the two worlds as increasingly intertwined. He noted that, despite the fact the company designs for both the online and the land-based player, the two essentially grow alongside one another: “We design for both. And the player is slightly different. While you’ll see

a game that works well for both land based and for online, the way you can configure it and the bonus rounds will be slightly different.” At the Las Vegas-based Aruze Gaming, developers are fully cognizant that these two streams are growing together. I asked group President Rob Zeims if online slots would come to dictate the design of land-based ones. This was what he said: “Maybe dictate is too strong a word. I might go with influence. But we’re still in the early days. I don’t know if in ten years it will be dictating. But I do know a number of manufacturers that start in the online world by taking their land-based games and importing them for online. A number of those that are a bit more mature in that market are developing for online as a way of sampling what they think will be successful for land based.” Despite this, Zeims concedes, “They are still very different markets.” It seems slots are going to bold new places with the blending of all these new technologies. But after speaking to the industry leaders, I couldn’t help but wonder what the people thought. Were they enamored with the new style of slots or were they, like me, nostalgists? One night I walked the floor of Circus Circus, one of the most nostalgia-inducing casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. I quietly walked up to players, many of whom were too focused on their machines to pay me any mind. Sure enough, about 10% of the slot machines on the floor were of the old lever sort. I walked up to a couple “from back East” who was playing on one of the old ones. They were convinced that the payout was greater on the older ones. The husband told me: “These have better odds. They pay back more. You win more often. That guy right there just hit $1,000.” But then I went over to the newer, electrified, lit-up machines and the players were just as sanguine. As one lady told me: “It doesn’t really matter to me. Playing is playing.”


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GAMING AMERICA | GLOBAL GAMING WOMEN

LEVELING OUT THE LADDER Cassie Stratford, President of Global Gaming Women (and otherwise an SVP at Boyd Gaming) fills us in on the progress being made for women and diversity in the gaming industry. the numbers become more and more skewed towards males, unfortunately. The AGA started an initiative to address this problem. Out of that, it was spun off into its own NPO organization thanks to the hard work of our founding board members back in 2015 and really was focused on the professional development of women in our industry. So it started with trying to create opportunities for educational programming. The focus was not substance based, so you didn’t have to be in marketing or slots or sales – really it was just focused on professional development. And also networking, as we all know that’s a really important part of the business. We’ve focused on those pillars and expanded from there, in terms of what our different offerings look like.

How many members are there?

Cassie Stratford

Can you please explain what Global Gaming Women (GGW) is and what it does? It’s an organization that was borne out of a project by the American Gaming Association (AGA). We took a critical look 50 | GAMINGAMERICA

at the issue of adversity and specifically gender diversity. We found that there was a lack of females in the higher ranks of the industry. On the frontline level. there is more of a gender parity, but when you get to the higher levels,

It’s a free-to-join organization, and we have a membership database which is about 7,000 at the moment. It’s not a paid membership, you can simply go to our site, sign up and start to receive information about the programs. After events like G2E, we tend to see big influxes of sign-ups, which is fantastic One thing that is surprising is the amount of males who turn up to our events to learn and listen and to be allies. In the ‘Lean In’ breakfast we recently held, there may have been about 20% men in there. Some


GLOBAL GAMING WOMEN | GAMING AMERICA

"WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY, ONLINE AND SPORTS BETTING, I THINK THAT IT’S NOT SO MALE-DOMINATED ANYMORE. I’VE NEVER SEEN IT AS UNIQUELY MISOGYNISTIC AS AN INDUSTRY"

were there to support and some were there to share their expertise. I think that is something that can help move the needle too. It can’t just be women supporting women. It has to be everyone looking at the industry and saying, is there more we could be doing about diversity? How can we all do that together because if you stick to an exclusive group, you aren’t going to support the problem.

a piece of that is diversity. So companies are having to answer questions about the diversity of their board. It’s forcing companies to start identifying and developing female talent, because you can’t just check a box and put any woman in if they don’t have the skillset – it doesn’t help the company. It doesn’t help the individual.

How would you characterize the state of women in the industry?

No, I actually don’t. It’s an industry that has been around for a long time in the traditional sense, in the brick-and-mortar sense, and it was male-dominated at the time when it developed and grew. As we see the industry really take off, when it comes to technology, online and sports betting, I think that it’s not so male-dominated anymore. I’ve never seen it as uniquely misogynistic as an industry. Whenever you have an industry that’s mostly run by males then of course you are going to see some biases. I think it’s human nature to want to be around people who are more like you. It’s okay to admit that. But then you have to ask ‘Am I getting any unique perspective from people who aren’t just like me?’ Because you’ll be better off from having different points of view. Going back to your question about

I see this in my normal job at Boyd Gaming and in this role: there are so many incredible women. Smart, good people who help build cultures. And that’s what shocked me: that historically there haven’t been so many women in these senior leadership roles. We’re seeing movement in that regard, and I think that’s an amalgamation of a lot of positive things coming together. I’d like to think that part of that is due to what’s being accomplished by GGW. Without a doubt, it’s being done now due to some female trailblazers in the industry, helping other women come up to navigate the steps. I think it’s also because of male allies, I’ve had incredible male mentors who have helped me along across the years. Public companies are now being forced to think about their ESG obligations, and

Do you think that the gaming industry is inherently more misogynistic than other industries?

misogyny: just from my personal perspective, I’ve had some fantastic female mentors but also some fantastic male mentors, people I would not have developed my career without. They’ve been nothing but supportive throughout, so my experience has been a positive one. You’re seeing more and more women do it. Sandra Douglass Morgan is now the President of the Raiders and she was Chair of the Nevada Gaming Board, she’s fantastic. Sports isn’t just for men anymore, that mold is being broken, though there may still be that image of the industry. But when you get a closer look in, you see that's wrong.

In 3-5 years from now, what would the achievements of GGW look like? My hope is that someday, an organization like this will become unnecessary, that we would have solved this gap in our industry and we don’t need an organization like this that is solely focused on solving that problem. That said, I think there will always be a need for opportunities for people in our industry who want to grow, who want to focus on their personal and professional development, and who need that little boost of encouragement. My hope for our organization is that the statistics will one day speak for themselves in terms of more diversity in numbers. I hope we can continue to grow and offer programs to help people work in such an interesting industry that is unlike any other and combines all these different aspects. We have to be the best we can be and part of that is fostering talent and solving whatever gaps there are. Within GGW we have committees to address diversity in other areas or else it defeats the purpose – for instance, one that focuses on Tribal operators. Do we have programs that are helpful for different international markets? We’re looking at groups that feel underserved. GAMINGAMERICA | 51


GAMING AMERICA | AMELCO USA

PROVIDING SOLUTIONS Amelco USA’s head Brandon Walker tells us how a company can best take advantage of the opening of the American sports betting market. What new trends have emerged in the world of American sports betting over the last year? The big thing that’s really picking up right now up is micro markets and player props. Data and stats-based betting are what’s driving this – and when you look at the way sports fans track and follow the likes of LeBron James and Tom Brady, it becomes easy to see why customers are so data 52 | GAMINGAMERICA

-driven. This is propelling a new dynamic for bets being placed throughout live sports. I have every expectation that live betting is going to get better and better. Prop markets are already becoming well known by players, especially if you look at what Betr and Jake Paul are showcasing with their new platform, and we’re seeing that get bigger and bigger; so for me, that is a trend that every operator wants to

capitalize on right now. Looking at demographics and player preferences, it’s easy to see why they are growing so fast. The US has such a fantastically diverse range of sports on offer every day, with hundreds of world-class players competing on a daily basis. Given prop bets focus on every minute, every second and every action, and then factor in the ability to bet on


AMELCO USA | GAMING AMERICA of only three suppliers licensed to serve the market, and have shown the ability to create a completely new ecosystem for the first time for online.

mobile at home – with the whole social betting aspect delivered by the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel (especially with fantasy sports) – and it immediately becomes easy to see why it plays into next-gen demographics and their decisions.

"I HAVE EVERY EXPECTATION THAT LIVEBETTING IS GOING TO GET BETTER AND BETTER"

Will you be making a stronger push in Canada as that continues opening?

BRANDON WALKER Head of Amelco USA

Absolutely, keeping a close eye on Ontario in particular – waiting for the right opportunity before we make our play. I’m very interested by a number of the big-name brands that have already debuted there, so we’re keen to see how they make an impact and what players build their expectations on for gameplay. We will then move in when we’re ready.

How are your key clients in the US? How has Amelco positioned itself to exploit the evolving market? We’ve positioned ourselves to work with operators that are looking for the complete rollout across multiple states. We’ve really made a name for ourselves in the US as the industry’s most comprehensive multi-channel platform provider. This means our full end-to-end solution – mobile, web, kiosk and casino – as well as our PAM system, which covers every section of the customer journey. In my view, what makes us the best to deliver in this dynamic market is the fact that we don’t need to rely on any other platform or software supplier to make the machine run, everything is under one roof. In short, we’re able to offer absolutely everything. Nothing slips through the net for us, and we’re proud to be ahead of the game when it comes to the evolving market.

What new products is Amelco looking to promote right now? We’ve got some really exciting tools in our armory right now, one of the best being our recent integration of BetSwap, which is almost a hybrid between an exchange

and a cashout – where punters can buy and sell their bets in the marketplace. For me, it’s a great element that can further drive engagement and retention. Think of it as a mini eBay embedded into the sportsbook. For example, players can now put together a parlay and then if they decide they don’t fancy it anymore, they can sell that bet on the marketplace. Looking ahead, we’re always looking to stay ahead of the game. Our ecosystem is full-service, so whatever our operator partners want, we make it our mission to get it.

What American markets does the company have its sights on in the coming 12 months? Ohio is big in our plans at the moment, followed by Maryland and Massachusetts. Ohio saw betting content launched in the state earlier this year in a collaboration between Advance Local and XLMedia, and Massachusetts followed suit in September, with these companies providing betting content on MassLive. com – Massachusetts’ leading local news site. These are all new states and we’ve got big plans to make an impact. As a case in point, what we’ve done in Arkansas is a great example. We’ve been able to be one

They’re doing great – we’re here to deliver the best of the best and we make sure that our partners have the best game in town. We cover the entire multi-channel with the US’s most comprehensive platform, and with a large focus on our multi-state rollout for each of our big-name partners, we’ve been able to deliver a real variety of sports betting online, iGaming and a top-notch retail experience through our kiosks. I’m very proud of our status as one of the best platforms out there, and we take great pride in translating this performance into client success.

Where does the company see the biggest prospects for growth in the American market? Aside from the three states we’ve already discussed (Ohio, Maryland and Massachusetts), tribal opportunities are something we should be keeping an eye on. We’ve done great work with tribal casinos over the years and have provided them with a unique bridge into the online world for the first time. With our excellent tech, we’ll be certainly looking to capitalize on that in 2023 to further develop the market. GAMINGAMERICA | 53


GAMING AMERICA | BTOBET

PREPARING FOR BIG THINGS BtoBet’s Managing Director Dima Reiderman sits down with Gaming America to discuss the supplier’s plans for America. BtoBet is part of a group that includes NeoGames, Aspire Global and Pariplay. How do you complement each other? Earlier this year it was announced that NeoGames acquired Aspire Global and all its subsidiaries. NeoGames and Aspire Global used to be the same company nine years ago. The former was focused on iLottery and the latter focused on iGaming and sports. So the foundations of the relationship between Aspire Global and NeoGames go back for quite some time.

"THE INDUSTRY IS BRIMMING WITH CONSIDERABLE POTENTIAL GROWTH IN THE MEDIUM TERM"

Now that the acquisition has been finalized, taking a broader look at the iGaming industry, we are seeing a strong tendency for provincial, state and national lotteries to expand into other verticals, thus looking for more and more sports and online iGaming content. 54 | GAMINGAMERICA

With this in mind NeoGames, Aspire Global, BtoBet and Pariplay naturally complement each other, with all companies not only culturally fitting well together, but with the full value chain that is now offered by the group – from sports content to iGaming content, as well as managed services and support. They are a perfect fit for each other. It goes without saying that even prior to NeoGames’ acquisition of Aspire Global, BtoBet and Pariplay, the North American market was high on its agenda. Now we are seeing a further acceleration from this point of view, being readily-licensed in multiple states in the US and provinces in Canada. This really changes the dynamics of who we are, what we can offer and where we can go live with our solutions.

How important is it for a sportsbook solution to be localized for the US market? Realistically speaking, sports betting has been live in the US for around four years. What we’ve seen since the historic decision in May 2018 is a lot of operators wanting to launch immediately, get out ahead of the competition and register a market share advantage. The suppliers obviously were there to support them. Nonetheless, there has been some pain in the market. Solutions were not tailored for the traditional US market. In the early stages, there were discrepancies in terms of the betting experience that the US punter was used to and what he was actually being delivered.

One has to keep in mind that there are significant differences between the US and European markets, and one formula, albeit successful in one market, will not be equally successful in the other market.

Do you see a bright future for iGaming in the American market? Although still in its infancy, the market has undeniably grown faster than predicted. There can be no doubt that the increase in regulated sports betting, coupled with the exciting prospect of regulation in many more countries, states and provinces in the years to come, has attracted the attention of an even greater selection of businesses for the first time, businesses that are keen to leverage the capabilities and assets they have built in other sectors. This trend is particularly apparent in the fast-growing North American market, which has seen major corporations enter the iGaming foray. The US market’s potential is further highlighted by the data published on a regular basis by the American Gaming Association (AGA), which has established that US commercial gaming generated record gaming revenue in Q2 this year, despite macroeconomic difficulties and increasingly challenging year-over-year comparisons. Despite all this, the gaming industry’s trade body stated that the consumer spending trend has maintained its momentum, with the US industry set for a second consecutive record-breaking year. The AGA highlighted that this year’s second quarter should mark a stretch


BTOBET | GAMING AMERICA

"IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT EVEN PRIOR TO NEOGAMES’ ACQUISITION OF ASPIRE GLOBAL, BTOBET AND PARIPLAY, THE NORTH AMERICAN MARKET WAS HIGH ON THE AGENDA"

of challenging yearly comparisons, with the year-on-year growth rate slowing from the 13.1% registered in April to the 10.7% registered in May and which further decreased to 2.5% in June. Nonetheless, the fact that these months register among the top ten months in terms of gross revenue in US gaming history is an indication of the strong trend registered over the past year. From a sport perspective, the $1.42bn in quarterly sports betting revenue marks a 58.7% increase from the same quarter last year. Of particular interest is that $449.8m of this revenue was generated by sports betting markets that were not live one year ago. Should one exclude these new markets, the sports betting revenue for Q2 2022 would still register an 8.4% increase when compared to the same period last year. The H1 performance for this year also promises to be another record-setting year for commercial sports betting, with the $3.04bn in revenue registered in the first six months of 2022 resulting in a year-on-year increase of 63.9%.

As already mentioned, the US is high on the agenda, so hopefully, in the short term, we will be able to announce our entry into that exciting market. At the same time, I’m proud of our achievements in a relatively short period. We have consolidated our market position in Latin America and Africa and nowadays are considered the go-to sportsbook suppliers in the regions, while at the same time expanding our presence in the more mature European market.

exciting. The industry is brimming with considerable potential growth in the medium term, and this, coupled with ongoing digitalization, will only lead to further innovation. However, in order to capitalize on these opportunities, we need to keep on pushing with the development of our scalable sportsbook to meet the requirements of the local regulators and ensure that our partners will be able to launch a sportsbook that is unique to its brand and customer base.

Where do you see BtoBet 18-24 months from now? We are constantly reaching new heights. The company is in great shape, yet this is no reason to rest on our laurels. The global market opportunities ahead are

Dima Reiderman GAMINGAMERICA | 55


GAMING AMERICA | VIEWPOINTS

FROM LAND-BASED TO IGAMING In this edition of Viewpoints, industry experts discuss how technological progress is affecting the Table Game sector

TJAŠA LUIN PERIC Chief Executive Officer, Alfastreet Tjaša started her career in the gambling sector at Alfastreet in 2010, learning the trade as Executive Assistant to the CEO and then taking the reins herself six years later. Slovenian-born, Tjaša achieved her Master's Degree in Business Administration at the University of Primorska.

56 GAMINGAMERICA

JOHN CONNELLY Global CEO, Interblock An industry expert, Connelly began his career at Bally's, where he worked as Vice President of International and Vice President of Business Development. He took on a new challenge, becoming the CEO of Interblock, in 2015.

GABE BARON

ROB ZIEMS

Vice President, Table Products, AGS

President, Aruze Gaming

An accomplished expert in casino gambling, table games, ETGs and hybrid table game systems, Baron spent four years with Scientific Games before he joined AGS in 2018. He was promoted from Senior Director of Table Products to Vice President of Table Products in 2021.

Ziems is something of a company man, having spent over 11 years with Aruze, where he has worked in a variety of roles. These include Corporate Secretary of the Board of Directors, Global Chief Legal Officer and President (a position he has held since 2020).


VIEWPOINTS | GAMING AMERICA

w the ETG to forecast ho However, t ul ic ff di is ars. ric: It Tjaša Luin Pe evolve in the next few yenot change a industry will at the ETG market will are constantly we believe thbecause manufacturersand features to lot, especially w cabinets, new games s. On the other developing neisting and younger playerwer personnel attract both exors are also looking to lo ment for having hand, operat an undeniably strong arguemic, almost all costs, which isno floors. After the pand power, causing ETGs on casi huge issues with man and for ETGs. markets faceor even increased demles results after maintained ry satisfied with the sa pecting a good ve Alfastreet is ely difficult years and is exalready full until two objectiv 2023, since production is ificantly lower beginning to is year. We expected signturned out to be the end of the beginning of 2022, but it uction by more od demand in th site and we grew the pr . % 50 the exact oppo an th

no, in the area of a casi another. y an e in ag rm or t to im logy in one fo a peripheral : It is difficul om fr John Connellynot impacted by techno s, ay w of ts. As de is future, that ue to evolve in a multitu isting live table game piility to ex in ab ng ’s nt ti en casino ETGs co d by complem impact on a on of standpoint ane witnessing a positive es, through the utilizati ago. ar m ar e ga ye w , e a lt bl ly su ta on a re ched r existing live not possible yield-up theiin a manner, which was s Vegas, Interblock laune La bl , ta in gy lo isting g Expo techno to enhance ex Global Gamin ETG At this year ’soduct category designedon of technology – Live stry, a new pr s though the utilizati action from the indu g positive re , Live Blackjack, and Live game offering w te overwhelmin alers can no Pits. With aned Live Craps, Live Roulet ld Interblock, de we introduc ETG Pit setting. With the house advantage/hoan Baccarat in anons per hour, increase ts, and provide players triple decisi eliminate overpaymen ing experience. percentage, mate, personalized gam inti

ONAL I T I D A R T L WIL ES BE TABLE GAM TRENDS BY AFFECTED TGS? E M O R F G EMERGIN

th rked with bosee : Having wo Gabe Baron le Games extensively, I and b ETGs and Ta ent as both supportivemes. gm se G ET e live table ga er th tary to fully complemen act as a gateway for new ng ETGs often players both by removi ng table games ion factor and by bringiwer the intimidatity to learn titles at a lo the n w the opportu casino’s side, ETGs allo ore m limit. On the be run at higher and of the pit tables to s, maximizing the use in a it profitable limr space allocated to them ally a limited floo ns. So, all in all, this is rer both o fo ti lot of loca lationship and healthy symbiotic re ators and their players. oper

e prevalent, become mor ay migrate s G ET s A s: Rob Ziem ble game players m nos for traditional ta e is always room in casi gas or er Ve Th to e s. G m co to ET ty of people of that nostalgia. Plenr an experience, and part t think fo Atlantic City table games. So no, I don’l table experience is pletely replace traditionaho love ETGs will com er, I could see players w come Gs as they be games. Howev migrate to ET eir benefits, such es m ga e bl ta able with th uch more comfortspeed of play, reduced to ation d gr se te in ea d cr , an as in s. Like ss or cashless points, chipleplays and player positionve, but ol is d ev al to it nt ig d ea f o casinos are m and the any industry, e things worth keeping, e. os m th so e of e there ar ble game is on traditional ta

GAMINGAMERICA 57


GAMING AMERICA | VIEWPOINTS

to say t it’s difficult At the momenthe next five years, c: ri Pe in Lu in Tjaša lts will be like r example, what the resupends on many factors, fo to get, how le because it de ket share we will be ab w many new ar how much mation will develop and hoterritories. gaming legisl be released in different ’t expecting licenses will s positive and we aren ear period, -y ay lfa A street st s for the upcoming five changes in be ge ill an w ch e c ther ’ drasti ld ‘stabilizes so aware that but we’re al ing trends after the wor riods. The pe global gam rrent series of critical s who need after the cu ople are social creature life outside y fact is that peith one another to enjono venues to connect we and we don’t see casi y time soon. their hom by online gaming an front of in ed being replac certain though, we areindustry. is r g ou in th in One velopments interesting de

operators by traditional ecifically, re si de g in Sp grow casino floor. ly: There is a John Connel online gaming on the g content. At Interblock,rs te in ra m to incorpo interested in livestrea s to provide our partne casinos are iastically exploring way ntent in an integrated play our co no. Online players we are enthus si the ability to and players hether online or in a catering a casino, than the manner, w t expectations when en ed to. The rate of play, n factors have differe stry has grown accustom many other du in r ou s aspects, and idge online gaming al ci player so , ds to br metho distribution levant when attemptingvironments together. g are more re itional table gaming en y integrate both gamin d el an iv ct gy and trad fe lo ef no to tion. The tech to g the ability ETGs, havin gether, is the clear solucasinos and their players r to le segments these machines enab ket in a manner that othee innovation ofapt to a progressing mar Gs is demonstrated by th s ea efficiently adcannot. The success of ETand appeal across all ar form factors te of player penetration g sector. gamin increasing ra of the global

THE HOW DOES ARITY UL RISING POP AMING G OF ONLINE E GAMES? BL AFFECT TA

another , I think this is Gabe Baron: in/win situation similar to/ G w ET ry e ta th , en as em e pl m sa com t exactly the g will but maybe no lationship. Online gaminent to re nt es co e uc od Live Tabl tr ation ETGs do-in do the thingsmove some of the intimidoperly pr re e d ar an s s er ay player rther, when pl , the online space factors, but fu ivized nt ce in d an son play marketed to y affect, and drive in-per floor e el liv tiv e si th po to n ca new action larger and bring this’s more about building a and e It ac t. sp en e environm se overall in the tabl t and customer ba g them to the excitemen e. So, id tin ov ac pr tr n at ca en th live casino lifts all ships' a es iti en am that other ario. a 'rising tide tome, this is er than an either/or scen th scenario ra

58 GAMINGAMERICA

e rity of onlin sing populaore players to ri e Th s: Rob Ziem actually inspire m available gaming can es. Table games are not ailable in m av t ga no e bl ’re ey try ta uch and specifically, th everywhere, ith the comfort of your co a direct w be your home, ing is not meant to em. mplement th TV show. iGam mes, but to cotwo integrate; as ga e bl ta to the threat mes will will soon see I believe we play online, many table ga ut, as I B . le more peop itch to an online format sinos – ca sw in e a gi th al e st ak m ill room for no replaces said, there’s stthat iGaming completely y . el es it’s not lik bletop gam traditional ta


VIEWPOINTS | GAMING AMERICA

rent t offers diffe ric: Alfastree antee the safe Pe in Lu a aš Tj rs. sures to guar security mea achines to the operato est h m ig f h o e n th io with operat inals ucts comply All o u r prod rity standards and all termthat re cu su se as g in to s m ga ve h security lock are fitted wit manipulate them. We hasures n ca y mea rit cu nobody se st re lay, as the seve implementede side to control the gamep ty of ili ib ar w ss ft po so e e th on th l and monitor well to controany cabinet abuse. d we products an fers premium t it is to secure a of et re st lfa A w importan e are constantly understand ho therefore w g on the casino n io at er safe op t is happenin ha tify any w g monitorin wide, to be able to iden sure to e d rl ak o m w d rs an o o e fl es in advanc possible issu prevent them.

pany in the the first comcentury ago. as w ck lo rb r of a ly: Inte John Connel te an ETG, over a quartemarkets, around the d ea te cr la to gu d re rl o 0 . The word w sed in over 23 s for decades We are licenave maintained businesmpany and there is no world, and h synergistic with our co ience. r exper sting of 'integrity' is substitute foith the independent te ultiple m w ed processes from ion, combin e Our dedicat and secondary approval al QA/QC processes ar e rn bs th te la t in u r o u h o it w fy certified ri l this space, ictions, ve global jurisd . An attempt to enter , would be a monumentag. le rd in co ab m d re ga k en of trac dep ithin this area owledge and applicable kne rate of advancements w th task given

URITY WHAT SEC UST BE M MEASURES D TO TE IMPLEMEN E INTEGRITY TH MAINTAIN LE GAMES? AB OF YOUR T

rols Internal Cont s defer to thet, the progressive ay w al e w le mos Whi Gabe Baron: customers first and fore e professional eye of a of our casino ploy really depend on th essential for all casinos is , systems we des and their floor staff. It aler calls no more bets er de al a ke ta de re d ’s fo an be casino tting sensors . It is also ers are placed that the wag is able to lock in their be begins y la ep m er ga al the hands before so the de into the tray rstand how to identifytrigger for ck ba s ip ch de e th sed the dealers un mmunity-ba essential thatr prize events, be it a co a qualifying hand for titles ge or ig , portant is form which tr rm. Just as im in Xtreme plat our Bonus Sp r STAX progressive platfo nus events and paying played on oud nature of processing borge prize event requires the protectewhen they occur -- any lae progressive system’s the jackpots authorization through th ls, calls for additional additional ace, and at certain leve e prizes. Our systems dealer interf thorization to award thwork hand-in-hand to ly t au managemen s’ Internal Controls realeryone involved. ev ng ti ec ot and the casino pr , ay secure the pl

e gaming or er it ’s onlin ty is highly h et h W s: Rob Ziem at the table, securi industry. in-person, e gaming and gambling to ETGs th in to ilt t bu an rt es impo security featur players and There must be among both ristic of any on si llu co t that preven an important characte prevent dealers – it’s are especially primed to reduce game. ETGs they are programmed toforms of cheating, as ity for collusion or otherof hands the opportuny reducing the number ing on unfair play. B a table game and rely ces of operating med automation, chan pre-program g are greatly reduced. cheatin

GAMINGAMERICA 59


GAMING AMERICA | VIEWPOINTS

e ite conservativ stry is still quas the players du in s G ET e ges, ric: Th Tjaša Luin Pen’t expect any drastic chan, which are radically and we do preferences and habits reet is investing a n st have their owslot machine players. Alfa ake existing games m to to d is se al signs oppo ent and the goadding new features, de the in g, in rs lot in developm tic re tu en ing and manufac more interestntent. There are already itional table games, co ad e tr m x’ ga bo d e an entage of such ng ‘out of th market offeri e there is a very low percg term. but as we se mentations in the lon games we do not imple tely new ket nting comple y novelties in the mars are ve in f o s rm an er m d e In te vi se ro p ill t w o sl we lity of believe thatpletely opposite to what s and menta – again com possible that the habitext generation, but doing. It is ill change with the n or innovations will w the players t it is unlikely that maj en . at the mom be required

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OR WHAT MAJ S IN N INNOVATIO S ARE ON E TABLE GAM IN THE ON THE HORIZ EARS? Y NEXT TWO

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60 GAMINGAMERICA

to maintain ery industry rently hubs ev in d ire qu novation is re sinos are inhe Rob Ziems: In advantage; and while ca over time into what we e ge iv an tit ch see major em a compe lieve we will we’ve seen th of nostalgia, r the next two years, I berough ETGs. There are ve th love today. O the table games space sics and hybridize them; in as n cl tio no va si ca is. Today’s inno example of th ibilities to take endless poss to Win Craps is a perfect it’s a mix of poker lovers, Aruze’s Roll are unlike any before – ration of digital natives s ne casino player fans and then a new ge ence. Hybrid ETGs can ri ot sl pe al ex on obvious ve si traditi more immer aking them an looking for a these in various ways, m no floor. si of appeal to all choice for the modern ca


BOTS | GAMING AMERICA

THE NFL, SPORTS BETTING AND INVALID TRAFFIC Richard Metcalf, Global VP of Sports Betting and Online Gaming at TrafficGuard, shows us how we can score more depositing customers by beating the bots. Five years ago, sports betting was almost entirely outlawed in North America. Over the past few years, the number of states that have legalized sports betting has exponentially grown, and the market is now estimated to reach $10bn by 2028 in the US. A staple in American sporting culture, the NFL brings competitiveness, community and, for the most dedicated of fans, high stakes. However, it’s not just a crucial time for supporters, but for sports betting operators that have an opportunity to capture a wider target audience, scale marketing campaigns and drive up the number of depositing customers. However, sports betting operators are up against substantial gambling tax and customer acquisition costs. In comparison to countries like the UK which does not tax winnings, the tax rate on betting earnings ranges from 2-3% to over 50% from state to state. Customers need much more convincing from sportsbooks to bet, especially if they know half their winnings will disappear the moment they win. Across the US, sportsbooks are scaling their marketing to match. The idea that the sports betting industry is a niche entertainment market confined to one location is long gone, and with no federal advertising rules specific to the sports

betting industry, digital marketing campaigns are being scaled to increase margins and the user base. The problem is that this pits sportsbooks up against several unique challenges in the form of invalid and fraudulent traffic.

A SHIFTING LANDSCAPE Online sports betting is on the rise. By 2025, US online sports betting revenue will reach an estimated $5bn, significantly more than land-based sports betting revenue at $1.5bn. Where previously an individual would approach a counter, bet and pay and then leave, operating online

opens the door to more incentives to drive bets, including boosted odds and free bets. However, by introducing an incentive, sports betting companies open themselves up to the presence of bots. These bots are automated to redeem the promotions and act like human engagement – but never actually convert into depositing customers. Incentives are a fantastic way to drive new users to your site, but with the invalid click rate ranging between 20-37% in this industry (far higher than the average across other sectors) you’re losing significant amounts of marketing budget to useless traffic.

THE CHALLENGE FOR APPS

"IT CREATES AN OPPORTUNITY TO REACH AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED TARGET AUDIENCE AND, WHEN DONE RIGHT, DELIVERS A SIZABLE RETURN ON INVESTMENT"

This shift from offline to online betting methods will also increase the number of sports betting operators encouraging on-the-go betting within an app. It’s a lucrative market: in under six months from its legalization, New York State generated $302m in tax revenue from mobile sports betting. Attribution fraud and SDK spoofing performed by some bad actors in the mobile advertising ecosystem are a big threat to revenue and marketing data. Actions like clicks and installs that are misattributed, meaning associated with the wrong source or channel, completely GAMINGAMERICA | 61


GAMING AMERICA | BOTS disrupt the marketing data you use to make decisions on what strategies to scale up and which should receive less investment.

INFLUENCER MARKETING

Affiliate marketing is rising in popularity among sportsbooks because it creates an opportunity to reach an already established target audience and, when done right, delivers a sizable return on investment. The largest sports betting operators may have thousands of affiliate partners on their books, each earning a commission when a pre-agreed action is performed by the target audience, such as redeeming a free bet. With a bounty on offer, there’s a huge incentive for affiliate partners and influencers to ignore or perpetrate fraud, all while you’re unsuspectingly paying out.

"SPORTS BETTING OPERATORS ARE UP AGAINST SUBSTANTIAL GAMBLING TAX AND CUSTOMER ACQUISITION COSTS"

sports betting companies can protect themselves will result in significant savings and a much stronger conversion rate to depositing customers.

THRIVING IN A BOT-FREE MARKET

BLIGHT OF BOTS

The sports betting industry in the US generated a revenue of $4.33bn in 2021, a significant rise from the $1.55bn generated over the previous year, and that number is expected to continue to grow as more states launch legal sportsbooks. Sports betting companies are vying for a place in a crowded market with limited targeting,

Bots are filling up sales budgets, taking marketing budgets and wasting money that is invested in trying to push them further down the sales funnel when it’s impossible they will ever convert to depositing customers. During a period when more people are betting than normal, digital marketing budgets are growing and more states are legalizing betting, these combined losses stop sports betting operators from giving themselves the best chance of growing their market share. Sports betting operators shouldn’t limit their marketing strategy to mitigate bots or implement hard-line strategies that discount genuine traffic. Nor should they be panicked. The first step is as simple as just widening the visibility operators have into what invalid traffic is, how it affects the industry, and which of its marketing methods are impacted most by bots. It’s important operators take advantage of the lack of awareness on the issue within the industry, and put themselves ahead of the curve by then taking the steps to implement a technology solution that meets their needs. A clearer understanding and better insight into how

Richard Metcalf

62 | GAMINGAMERICA

and relying on free bets, boosted odds and attractive promotions to stand out. Bots and bad actors stand in the way. However, with a greater understanding of the challenge, and by identifying and partnering with a solution provider that can stop bots before they can take advantage of marketing incentives, one can save budgets and reinvest it into making companies stand out. As more sports betting companies rapidly emerge across North America and sporting season gets underway, this competitive edge becomes a great asset.


PRODUCT REVIEWS | GAMING AMERICA

WHAT'S NEW Gaming America takes a look at some of the market's newest and most exciting gaming products, available both for online and land-based players across the country. A LEGACY OF SUCCESS INTO THE FUTURE Everi showcased the full depth and breadth of its gaming products portfolio at G2E 2022, including its robust pipeline of core and premium games and high-performing cabinets, all aimed at enabling operators to generate higher returns on their investments in its products. Player Classic Signature™, the newest addition to Everi’s three-reel mechanical portfolio, is inspired by the more than 15 years of success of Everi’s Player Classic® and Skyline™ cabinets, which continue to rank as top-performing cabinets in industry reports year after year. The innovation behind Player Classic Signature™ means that it was built for the future, while the classic look and feel honors and respects the rich history of Player Classic® and the

loyal stepper player. Everi’s deep understanding of the stepper player guided its design decisions for the cabinet, resulting in enhanced overall functionality. The cabinet features a four-button deck for easy bet selection and quick play; a clear digital touch meter panel to improve player ergonomics; and wider, more intelligent and more powerful spinning reels for added excitement. The interactive pay tables are larger and positioned front and center to help simplify gameplay, while the high resolution 28-inch top box monitor improves game marketability with an updated topper to match the cabinet’s aesthetic. New technology integrated into the cabinet also enables Everi to deploy high -performing three-reel mechanical games in markets that historically have only consisted

of video products, as well as new gaming markets including Historical Horse Racing. Player Classic Signature™ launched in March 2022 with three distinct game families, including Gems Deluxe Series, Jackpot Power Series, and Extra Spin Series, and was featured at G2E 2022 with new classic stepper titles, including Platinum Signature Series, Crowns Diamond Respin Series and Pay Upgrade Series. This new form factor indicates the core mechanical segment is stronger than ever as the cabinet was the most demanded pre-launch gaming product the company has ever had since its debut with positive reviews from both players and operators – as Everi continues to dominate the mechanical product segment on industry performance charts.

Everi Slots

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GAMING AMERICA | PRODUCT REVIEWS IGT – PEAKBARTOP WITH SPORTS BETTING Building on its momentum in sports betting and decades of leadership in video poker, IGT has introduced a transformative component to its widely successful PeakBarTop cabinet – the option to place sports bets. The winner of the ‘Land-Based Product of the Year’ category in the 2022 Global Gaming Awards, the operator-configurable technology enables players to make in-play and pre-game wagers on comprehensive sports betting menus while simultaneously playing top-performing IGT games. Entertaining titles offered on the PeakBarTop with Sports Betting include Game King, Super Star Poker,

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Keno and Scarab, which can all be paused in-progress to place a sports wager. “IGT’s PeakBarTop with Sports Betting is a truly dynamic solution that is unlike anything ever seen in the gaming industry,” said Darnell Johnson, IGT Senior Director of Product Management, Video Poker. “In creating the PeakBarTop with Sports Betting, we took every detail into consideration to ensure the solution delivers a quality player experience and elevates the bar environment. As the far and wide leader in video poker content and hardware, IGT is excited to see the PeakBarTop with Sports Betting win the Land-Based Product of the Year award.”

A natural fit for bar and sportsbooks environments, the PeakBarTop with Sports Betting offers innovative features that take the bartop experience to a whole new level with first-rate ergonomic design and viewing angles on a 23-inch curved full-HD display. The cabinet also incorporates enhanced lighting and sound, a USB charging port, and Bluetooth capabilities that integrate seamlessly with IGT’s cashless gaming systems technology. Meeting the demands of customers in a constantly evolving industry, IGT’s PeakBarTop with Sports Betting is the perfect solution for players who seek unrivaled functionality and more integrated gaming experiences.


PRODUCT REVIEWS | GAMING AMERICA THE QUICK CUSTOM INTELLIGENCE (QCI) PLATFORM The Quick Custom Intelligence (QCI) Platform has been proven in 85 casino resorts, delivering real value to the QCI community by solving the core business challenges facing marketing, player developmentL and gaming analysis. The QCI Platform uses complex mathematical calculations and AI algorithms to deliver complex casino data involving various types of formats coming from a multitude of systems into easy-to-use formats that enable real-time operational empowerment. Most impressive within the QCI Platform are the marketing automation capabilities and the ability to create customer segments

based on all manner of resort activity through data from existing systems. QCI Marketing users are building campaigns inside the tool with extremely complex personalized marketing offers and highly targeted segmentation, such as one property that identified 45,000 customer segments using the QCI Platform. A major achievement of the QCI Platform is that it is both easy to use and capable of empowering sophisticated users to manage actions based on detailed data with extensive drill-down capabilities. The QCI Platform has proven successful at satisfying a range of user needs, from the C-level executive getting automated reports delivered daily, weekly or monthly right to

their inbox without needing to ever login to the tool, to the slot analyst ‘super-user’ taking advantage of the patent-protected slot market basket analyzer that is enabled by QCI’s proprietary metrics and algorithms, providing a lens to connect spending behavior with customer preference. Michele Habig, director of marketing for Bluewater Resort & Casino said, “We’re looking forward to having immediate, real-time access to guest information that doesn’t require a programmer or data specialist. The clear and concise information QCI is able to provide ensures that we are making intelligent and data-driven decisions within our marketing and player development programs.”

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GAMING AMERICA | PRODUCT REVIEWS ARUZE GAMING - ROCK PAPER SCISSORS INSTANT WIN Rock Paper Scissors Instant Win brings a school-yard favorite to the casino floor. Its enchanting music and bright lights featured across the Muso Curve’s 55-inchT touchscreen display are sure to pull in passersby, and, with each play leading to a chance at an even bigger prize, gamers and gamblers are sure to come back for the thrill time and time again. The new Activ-Play® addition transforms the classic tie-breaker hand game into an up-leveled, wheel-of-fun, an exciting chance to win big. With each win, players receive a rotating prize. Gamers don’t have to worry about ties here – in the event of a tie, players are rewarded with a rematch at no extra cost. Even better, the prize values go up each time they tie, up to five times. “Games like Rock Paper Scissors are what make our dreams at Aruze a reality – truly taking traditional games a step further in innovation,” said Senior Director of Marketing, Lesley Hodges. “Who would have thought that a game as simple as rock, paper, scissors could be turned into a high-energy, rewarding game that people want to play over and over again? It’s the perfect addition to our suite of Activ-Play games.”

"GAMERS DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT TIES HERE – IN THE EVENT OF A TIE, PLAYERS ARE REWARDED WITH A REMATCH AT NO EXTRA COST" 66 GAMINGAMERICA