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GGB Global Gaming Business Magazine

AMAZON VS. CASINOS AWARDS SEASON HI-TECH TABLES ICRG’S FELDMAN

November 2021 • Vol. 20 • No. 11 • $10

Goodbye Cash! What’s the difference between all the cashless solutions in gaming?

The

Future is Now

Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 Honorees Named

Player Acquisition Why the current pace of online gaming promotions cannot be sustained Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers



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CONTENTS

Vol. 20 • No. 11

november

Global Gaming Business Magazine

COLUMNS

30 COVER STORY Making Cashless Happen

10 AGA Pleased to Meet You

Effecting end-to-end cashless wagering in casinos almost always means partnerships between casino management system suppliers, payment/fintech companies and other technology providers, collectively making up all the moving parts of a cashless gaming network. Here’s what’s needed to remove cash from the gaming equation.

Bill Miller

12 Fantini’s Finance Big Names, Big Busts Frank Fantini

28 Making My Point Hidden Meanings Roger Snow

By Frank Legato

DEPARTMENTS

FEATURES 14 Marketing Sports Betting

36 Gaming vs. Amazon

4 The Agenda

Customer acquisition and retention are at the top of the list of disciplines that will be needed to keep the surging sports betting market on top.

In the wake of sweetheart deals given to Amazon in the form of tax breaks and incentives, one clear fact is that the gaming industry needs no handouts to bring good jobs to communities.

6 By the Numbers

By Marjorie Preston

By Brendan D. Bussmann

8 5 Questions 13 AGEM 50 New Game

40 Best of the Best

Review

The 20th annual GGB Gaming & Technology Awards head up a robust awards lineup at G2E.

54 Frankly Speaking

By Patrick Roberts

56 Cutting Edge

44 Table Innovation 18 Leaders Emerging The winners of the class of 2022 Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40, a program that recognizes young professionals making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry, includes these 10 profiled young leaders, and others to be profiled throughout the year. By Alex Goldstein, Roger Gros, Frank Legato, Krista McPherson, Chloe Paul, Patrick Roberts, Bill Sokolic, and Michael Soll

Technology is bringing new business to table-game pits in the form of progressives, side bets and utility products.

60 Goods & Services

65 People 66 Casino Communications

By Dave Bontempo

58 Caesars in Japan Caesars Entertainment has replaced France’s Group Partouche as one of the partners vying to operate an integrated resort at Wakayama’s Marina City in Japan.

With Alan Feldman, Chairman of the International Center for Responsible Gaming, and Distinguished Fellow for Responsible Gaming at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute

By Marjorie Preston

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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THE AGENDA

Welcome to the Show By Roger Gros, Publisher

e’ve called our business “casino entertainment” for many years, but who would have ever imagined that organizations like Disney, DraftKings and the NFL would become our partners? Yet it has come to pass, so maybe we need to make it more clear to these newcomers what it means to be members of this industry. First of all is social responsibility. The gaming industry has had a questionable image to overcome from the days that organized crime was involved when it was an illegal enterprise, and even after it became legal. It’s something the industry has worked hard to overcome, and with the help and advice of important people through the years, the industry is now seen largely in a positive light, if you take any stock in a recent survey produced by the American Gaming Association. More than 70 percent of Americans think gaming is a positive for the American economy. Over 90 percent believe it’s an acceptable form of entertainment. And 70 percent believe gaming behaves responsibly as an industry. That’s a far cry from the early days of legalized gaming and a monumental achievement when you consider the negative press gaming often receives. But let’s not be naïve. This positive view could quickly change if any of these newcomers don’t live up to the high standards of community involvement and responsibility. One needs only to look at the flurry of advertisements surrounding sports betting to realize that this could be a chink in the armor. When you can’t watch any kind of sporting event without being bombarded by messages to place your bets, that begins to irk some folks. And didn’t the daily fantasy sports companies learn this lesson early on? The backlash was brutal, with states suddenly realizing they had never legalized DFS and then banning it. While sports betting has been legalized in many states, legislators could easily return to the issue and reign in some of the freedoms operators now enjoy. And how about responsible gaming, or as we’re now calling it, safer gaming? Just plastering the 1800-GAMBLER number on every piece of advertising isn’t enough. The established gaming companies know that a dedication to protecting those vulnerable to gambling problems goes far deeper. Early on, the AGA established the International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) to research prob-

W

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

lem gambling and come up with some solutions to prevent it. They contributed millions without knowing how it would turn out, because they gave the researchers complete indepedence. Today, many of the recommendations of the ICRG are in use, but the industry understands we’ve just scratched the surface. Much more investment is necessary to determine if self-exclusion actually works, or how you can limit time on gaming devices without impacting those who have no problem with casino entertainment and many other issues. The GameSense program that started in British Columbia and spread to Massachusetts and then was adopted by MGM Resorts is a start, but it’s in its infancy. We need much more study and research to find out if it really works. The newcomers to the industry have to step up to the plate. And it’s not just the ICRG, it’s other organizations like Conscious Gaming, GamCare, the National Center for Problem Gambling and other groups that are doing good work on a shoestring budget. Where are the networks? How about the professional teams? It’s time to pitch in and do your part. Casino entertainment began to receive greater acceptance to the general public when they realized casinos were not just about gambling. They are experiences that touch every form of leisure, from fine dining to retail to spas and pools to high-quality shows and artists. Mobile sports betting and online gaming don’t have the advantage of a physical location where you can offer all those amenities, but it should still be about the experience. Don’t just take a bet and pay a bet. Create a community, like Penn National Gaming and Barstool Sports are trying to do. Be inclusive with your customers and don’t just milk them for every last dollar. Make them want to come to your site because they can enjoy the experience and feel like they’re a part of something bigger and better. So to the newcomers to the industry, welcome. It’s a great business, but only if you have great vision and a clear understanding that the responsibility to operate with ethics and compassion is important. Don’t screw it up.

Vol. 20 • No. 11 • NOVEMBER 2021 Roger Gros, Publisher | rgros@ggbmagazine.com twitter: @GlobalGamingBiz Frank Legato, Editor | flegato@ggbmagazine.com twitter: @FranklySpeakn Marjorie Preston, Managing Editor mpreston@ggbmagazine.com Monica Cooley, Art Director mcooley@ggbmagazine.com Terri Brady, Sales & Marketing Director tbrady@ggbmagazine.com Becky Kingman-Gros, Chief Operating Officer bkingros@ggbmagazine.com Lisa Johnson, Communications Advisor lisa@lisajohnsoncommunications.com twitter: @LisaJohnsonPR Columnists Frank Fantini | Bill Miller | Roger Snow Contributing Editors Dave Bontempo twitter: @bontempomedia Brendan B. Bussmann | Alex Goldstein | Krista McPherson Chloe Paul | Patrick Roberts Bill Sokolic twitter: @downbeachfilm | Michael Soll __________________

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Rino Armeni, President, Armeni Enterprises

Mark A. Birtha, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Hard Rock International

• Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, President, Lifescapes International

• Nicholas Casiello Jr., Shareholder, Fox Rothschild

• Jeffrey Compton, Publisher, CDC E-Reports twitter: @CDCNewswire

• Dean Macomber, President, Macomber International, Inc.

• Stephen Martino, Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer, MGM Resorts International, twitter: @stephenmartino

• Jim Rafferty, President, Rafferty & Associates

• Thomas Reilly, Vice President Systems Sales, Scientific Games

• Michael Soll, President, The Innovation Group

• Katherine Spilde, Executive Director, Sycuan Gaming Institute, San Diego State University, twitter: @kspilde

• Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association twitter: @NIGA1985

• Roy Student, President, Applied Management Strategies

• David D. Waddell, Partner Regulatory Management Counselors PC Casino Connection International LLC. 1000 Nevada Way • Suite 204 • Boulder City, NV 89005 702-248-1565 • 702-248-1567 (fax) www.ggbmagazine.com The views and opinions expressed by the writers and columnists of GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS are not necessarily the views of the publisher or editor. Copyright 2021 Global Gaming Business LLC. Boulder City, NV 89005 GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS is published monthly by Casino Connection International, LLC. Printed in Nevada, USA. Postmaster: Send Change of Address forms to: 1000 Nevada Way, Suite 204, Boulder City, NV 89005

Official Publication


EVE_GGB_LetsGo_FullPg_100121.pdf

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BY THE

NUMBERS

Online AcTiOn i

n one of its many reports on games in the industry, Eilers & Kreijcik Gaming publishes the “EilersFantini Online Game Performance Report,” where the company gathers data from participating operators and manufacturers of online games. In its latest report published in September, more than 50 percent of the industry were currently participating in the survey, covering more than 20,000 games at 23 casino sites, and the results were revealing. The survey included operators in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan where online gaming is legal. It’s clear in the top chart that players enjoy the games on mobile phones over desktop computers or tables. At the bottom, Apple’s dominance in mobile devices is clear, where the company’s iOS system is hugely favored over Android devices. To receive a full copy of this and any other Eilers & Kreijcik Gaming report, contact Rick Eckert at reckert@ekgamingllc.com.

Tribal Gaming Revenue Plunges

G

ross gaming revenues for fiscal 2020 totaled $27.8 billion for tribal gaming, a decline of 19.5 percent compared to fiscal 2019, according to the annual report from the National Indian Gaming Commission. The losses were primarily attributed to the impacts of Covid-19. Tribal gross gaming revenue for fiscal 2020 totaled $27.8 billion, a drop of 19.5 percent compared to fiscal 2019, according to a report recently released by National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland. Simermeyer said the decrease in revenue was not unexpected, and the Covid-19 pandemic was primarily to blame. “Every year, the annual GGR figure tells a story about Indian gaming’s successes, contributions to Indian communities and economic impacts,” he said. “This was highlighted even more during the pandemic. Nevertheless, tribes were on the forefront of creating standards, developing new safety protocols and sharing community resources. I foresee this decrease as only a temporary setback for Indian gaming.” Simermeyer said every NIGC administrative region experienced a GGR decline of more than 13 percent in fiscal 2020 (see graphic). The Rapid City Region posted the largest decrease of 36.6 percent. The GGR figure is an aggregate of revenue from 524 independently audited financial statements from 248 federally recognized tribes across 29 states. 6

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021


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NUTSHELL

5

Questions Paul Burns

President & CEO, Canadian Gaming Association

P

aul Burns was instrumental in the launch of the Canadian Gaming Association in 2005 and became the vice president at that time. In 2018, he was appointed president and CEO and recently led a successful effort to establish full sports betting in Canada via a bill in Parliament. He explains how that came about and what to expect as the provinces are now acting to establish sports betting. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at G2E in Las Vegas last month. A video and audio podcast of this interview is available at GGBMagazine.com in which Burns discusses the Covid shutdowns that have only recently been lifted and other issues surrounding gaming in Canada.

1 2 3 4 5

GGB: Congratulations on finally getting the bill passed in the Canadian Parliament to legalize full sports betting in the country. Tell us how that came about. Paul Burns: Well, it was a long time coming. We first started working on passing a bill in 2011. And the

success was quick… and then not so quick. We got the bill passed in the House of Commons and then it died in the Senate, where they refused to vote on it for three and a half years. This was bill No. 4. This time we had great help from the senators whose position had shifted over the years. The big difference was the professional leagues were there with us. The commissioners of the CFL and the NHL appeared before the committees. Those voices needed to be heard. We built this great coalition over the years with labor, casino workers, municipalities and the amateur athletic community in Canada all behind us. When it came to the hearings, the gaming industry wasn’t at the forefront, so we could talk about regulations and the black market in Canada.

To be clear, there was legal sports betting in Canada before this but you were required to make parlay bets, which didn’t resonate well with the public?

That was because it was legal under the lottery, where you sometimes had to make three bets. We estimated that the handle for the legal provincial sports betting in Canada was $500 million a year, where the offshore sites were doing $4 billion. And when you added organized crime into the equation, it was more like $10 billion. The product wasn’t right for the consumer, and when you can’t find what you want legally, you’ll find it somewhere else. How much did it help when PASPA was struck down in the U.S.?

That clearly helped. And the media penetration was tremendous. Most Canadians live within two hours of the border, so this was significant. You’d turn on the TV and see sports betting advertising. That also led the gray market in Canada to do more advertising. So the volume kept going up and up, and it hasn’t stopped yet. The devil is in the details, of course. Are you happy with the final shape of sports betting now that the bill is law?

The great part is that once the bill was passed we were done with the federal government’s involvement, so now it’s up to gaming regulators to do their work. The association has a committee where industry and regulators can talk through issues. Together, we set standards for cashless technology in casinos and then moved on to sports betting. So we were able to share knowledge with everyone. We invited regulators from the United States, professional handicappers, sports leagues, operators. We talked about fantasy; we talked about everything. How many provinces are considering sports betting?

Ontario was the first to get their standards out. All the products are available in Ontario, from daily fantasy to online to in-game betting. Other provinces are now working on it. In Canada, the provincial lottery corporations always have an upper hand with their products, so most of their online sites have been launched. There’s no retail open yet, and we’re a little concerned about how long that’s taking because we think that will drive business back into the casinos as we start to recover from Covid after the long shutdowns we’ve endured.

8

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

“They

Said It”

“I’ve seen this movie many times. If you don’t act to regulate yourself as an industry, regulation will be imposed on you, and it will not be pretty.” —Howard Glaser, head of government affairs, Scientific Games, warning iGaming operators to get it right in terms of responsible gaming

CALENDAR November 1-4: ICE Connect: Innovation & Connection Online. Produced by Clarion Gaming. For more information, visit QuartzEvents.com. VIRTUAL November 9-11: Betting on Sports Europe, Stamford Bridge, London. Produced by SBC. For more information, visit SBCEvents.com. LIVE November 9-10: G2E Asia, Venetian Macao. Produced by Reed Exhibitions and the American Gaming Association. For more information, visit G2EAsia.com. CANCELED November 16-18: SiGMA Europe, MFCC, Malta. Produced by SiGMA. For more information, visit SIGMA.com.mt. LIVE November 30-December 2: SBC Summit North America, Meadowlands Exposition Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey. Produced by SBC. For more information, visit SBCEvents.com. LIVE December 6-8: Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) Symposium, Tucson, Arizona. Produced by the University of Arizona. For more information, visit ua.rtip.org/symposium. LIVE December 12-14: NCLGS Winter Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Austin, Texas. Produced by the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. For more information, visit NCLGS.org. LIVE February 1-2: ICE London, ExCeL London. Produced by Clarion Gaming. For more information, visit ICELondon.uk.com. LIVE February 2-5: iGB Affiliate London, ExCeL London. Produced by Clarion Gaming. For more information, visit london.igbaffiliate.com. LIVE February 15-17: World Game Protection Conference, Tropicana Las Vegas. Produced by World Game Protection. For more information, visit WorldGameProtection.com. LIVE


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AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION

Pleased to Meet You G2E is back with amazing support from all quarters by Bill Miller

O

ctober brought a significant milestone in our industry’s recovery: for the first time in 720 days, the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) returned to Las Vegas to reunite the gaming industry, conduct business, and strengthen our future. The return of G2E to Las Vegas was the culmination of nearly 20 months of demanding work by the entire gaming industry to responsibly reopen under unprecedented conditions and an uncertain future. These efforts can be summed up in one word, and what I believe was the theme of G2E 2021: resilience. Because of our resilience, gaming’s future is no longer in question. Commercial gaming is on pace to set an all-time high in 2021 with revenue up in nearly every commercial gaming state and category. Tribal gaming is on the rebound, and casino suppliers’ pipelines are full again. We were fortunate to have Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus speak to gaming’s recovery at G2E, with a specific focus on Nevada—still the heartbeat of our industry. Walking down the Strip and through the city’s resorts, you could feel the energy has returned that makes Vegas the entertainment capital of the world. We also welcomed Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming’s Jim Allen, MGM Resorts International’s Bill Hornbuckle, and Wynn Resorts’ Matt Maddox to the G2E keynote stage, where they discussed their optimism for the future of gaming. The American Gaming Association’s inaugural Gaming CEO Outlook, released during G2E, showed that gaming CEOs share their optimism, reporting high confidence in sustained industry growth into 2022. The positive outlook is driven by favorable economic conditions and anticipated new hiring, wage growth, and capital investment—welcome news not just for gaming but for the communities across the country that rely on

our success. From the keynote stage to the education sessions and show floor, many other of the biggest topics in gaming were discussed at this year’s show: the sustainable growth of legal sports betting; iGaming, casinos, and omnichannel marketing; the gaming industry’s ESG efforts with a focus on prioritizing diversity and inclusion; the acceleration of casino payments modernization; the latest in responsible gaming and how to continue to

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Commercial gaming is on pace to set an alltime high in 2021 with revenue up in nearly every commercial gaming state and category. Tribal gaming is on the rebound, and casino suppliers’ pipelines are full again.

strengthen these critical initiatives; and much more. But most importantly, more than 13,000 industry professionals came together to get business done at G2E—something that’s just not the same on Zoom. Exhibitors arrived on the expo floor ready to present their newest innovations to key buyers who came ready to make deals. The outcomes of these conversations will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst to further invigorate gaming’s recovery. In the end, we left G2E 2021 even more unified as an industry. We proved our recovery isn’t just a foundation, but a launching pad. The future of gaming is now, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this great industry and what we accomplished together at G2E 2021. Bill Miller is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.


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FANTINI’S FINANCE

Big Names, Big Busts Regional gaming, iGaming and suppliers are in good shape, but what happened to the stars?

I

By Frank Fantini

n all the ways there are to invest in stocks, one of the most popular is buy and hold. That is, buy a stock for long-term growth and hold it for three or five years, or forever. In gaming, the regional casino stocks have made big money for buy-and-hold investors. The glamor names have been terrible. Las Vegas Sands, for example, is down 75 percent as of this writing since its all-time high of $144.56 way back in October 2007. That’s 14 long years. Likewise, Wynn is down 66 percent from its all-time high in 2014, another long stretch for the buy-and-holder to wait out. MGM Resorts is down 55 percent from its October 2007 high. The picture is better for more recent time frames. MGM is up 67 percent over the past five years and a whopping 370 percent over 10 years. Wynn and Las Vegas Sands also were less drastic over those shorter periods, but still lost money for investors. Wynn is down 14 percent over five years and 36 percent over 10. LVS is down 37 percent and 12 percent. Macau stocks likewise have been losers, with the exception of Galaxy Entertainment. Galaxy is up 23 percent over five years and 273 percent over 10. However, more recent events, including Covid, have taken their toll. Galaxy is down 53 percent from its all-time high in January 2007 and all the other pure-play Macau casino stocks are down 70 and 80-plus percent. As mentioned, the purely domestic casino operators have been the place to be for buy-and-hold investors. Every regional casino stock is up over the past five and 10 years. Eldorado-Caesars wins the long-term championship, up over 2,528 percent from the day Eldorado went public in its reverse merger with MTR Gaming in September 2014. The next biggest winners over the past 10 years have been Churchill Downs, up 1,673 percent; Boyd Gaming, 1,033 percent; Golden Entertainment, 978 percent; Penn National at 770 percent; Monarch Casino at 525 percent; and Century Casino, plus 538 percent.

12

Over the past five years, the biggest winners after Eldorado-Caesars have been Full House Resorts, up 522 percent; Penn National, 412 percent; and Golden at 308 percent. Further, the big gains by regional operators are not ancient history, like the all-time highs for the glamor and Macau stocks. Every regional casino stock hit an all-time high this year in a list that includes Red Rock Resorts, Churchill Downs and the most recent to go public, Bally’s. The four major suppliers have all made profits for buy-and-hold investors, led by Aristocrat up 2,011 percent over 10 years; Scientific Games, 976 percent; Everi at 852 percent; and IGT at 81 percent. Everi wins the five-year title up 879 percent, followed by Sci Games at 572 percent and Aristocrat at 176 percent. Aristocrat, Everi and Sci Games also are recent achievers, hitting all-time highs this year. If there is a common theme in the divergences of casino stocks, it is that purely domestic players outperformed companies that made big bets on Macau. Another lesson is that glitz doesn’t assure longterm stock price appreciation. Wynn and Las Vegas Sands spend billions of dollars on properties. Eldorado-Caesars, Boyd, Churchill Downs, Golden and their peers spend millions. Yet they provided the better returns for investors.

Personal Note: AGA Hall of Fame The American Gaming Association once again honored gaming industry achievers with induction into the AGA Hall of Fame. They were all well-deserved, such as Gaming Laboratories International founder James Maida, who, I like to say, invented an industry with his testing lab. Others were Knute Knudson of IGT, attorney Jeff Silver, Delaware North Chairman Jeremy Jacobs and Seminole Tribe of Florida General Counsel Jim Shore. But for personal reasons, the most significant inductee was Dr. Mark Yoseloff. Yoseloff was cited for most recently founding the Center for Gaming Innovation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Before that, he was CEO of

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Shuffle Master, now the table games and associated technology division of Scientific Games. My association with Shuffle Master began in the mid-1990s when it was a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of a new-fangled device, the automated card shuffler, and one table game, Let It Ride. The game was invented by company founder John Breeding as a prop, in a sense, to demonstrate how his shuffler invention worked. The company was so small that, when I requested an investor kit, I got back just photocopied articles by the Minneapolis newspaper about the small local brokerage that was the only firm that covered the company. The CEO at the time was a likeable guy named Joe Lahti. He was a good salesman, but not as effective a CEO, perhaps in part because was wasn’t a gaming person or a Las Vegan. He basically commuted from Minnesota. He was succeeded by Yoseloff, a Princeton-educated mathematician who once solved a riddle that had baffled mathematicians for generations, including Albert Einstein. Yoseloff, the inventor of a game named Five Deck Frenzy, had been a consultant to Shuffle Master. As CEO he brought focus, a shrewd business mind, ability to recognize talent in all departments, continuous innovation and expanded product line. At the time, me and several investor friends were heavily into Shuffle, as we call it. And we were like family, knowing everyone by first name, from Yoseloff down to the receptionist, and always welcomed by Mark and other top executives whenever we visited. Eventually, a mature Shuffle was sold to Bally for $23.25 a share. My basis was $1.08 a share. It was a once-in-a-lifetime transformational investment for me. So it was great to see Mark, sporting a dapper bow tie and accompanied by his wife, receive recognition he deserves for such great achievements. Frank Fantini is the editor and publisher of Fantini’s Gaming Report. For a free 30-day trial subscription email subscriptions@fantiniresearch.com.


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AGEMupdate AGEM MEMBER PROFILE Global Payments Gaming Solutions (GPGS),

a division of Global Payments, enables the world’s gaming entertainment leaders to create enhanced consumer experiences and maximize spending across all physical and digital properties. With experience spanning more than 60 years in business and 20 years in gaming, GPGS has become a leader in the gaming industry, developing cutting-edge technology to modernize the industry’s cashless gaming environments. The ability of technology to provide goods and services in a completely digital, intuitive and nearly concierge-like environment has transformed the way all industries and sectors view the customer experience, including the gaming sector. To adapt to the changing nature of how consumers want to do business, we disrupted the way casinos allow patrons to fund their play. VIP Mobility enables true cashless casino gaming while providing an easier, more efficient way to fund play. Unlike traditional forms of wagering and betting, VIP Mobility enables guests to create digital TITO tickets on their mobile device by scanning an existing voucher or using their VIPpreferred e-check account. VIP Mobility interoperates with VIP Financial Center, the industry’s first true full-service solution providing convenient self-service TITO tickets, bill breaking, e-check, ATM and cash advance capabilities to casino guests that prefer to use cash. VIP Financial Center not only enhances the player experience, but it also helps casinos maximize spending across all physical and digital properties. The high-performance solution is designed to equip casino operators with robust service capability, high dependability, easy serviceability, and enhanced security, all in a slim profile design. This enables casinos to achieve maximum value for the floor space occupied by their kiosk solution. Recently, Viejas Casino & Resort implemented VIP Mobility into their suite of solutions. As the needs of patrons continue to evolve, Viejas needed a solution to improve funding optionality and expediency. Through the implementation of VIP Mobility, Viejas can provide additional convenience and transaction security to patrons. GPGS has partnered with Engaged Nation to lead its digital nurturing strategy for patrons. As a strategic marketing and communications partner, Engaged Nation will design, build and manage electronic messaging, including emails, player adoption, enrollment, internal team training and ongoing engagement.

AGEM Board of Directors Actions for October 2021 • Following the announcement earlier this year that AGEM Executive Director Marcus Prater will be moving on in 2022, the officers embarked on an extensive search for his replacement. This recently concluded, and after being ratified by the membership, it was announced that industry veteran Daron Dorsey will become the new executive director effective March 1, 2022. Dorsey has been an officer and general counsel of AGEM since 2016 but has resigned his post as officer until he takes up his new position. In line with AGEM bylaws, he is replaced by Ainsworth Chief Operating Officer Ryan Comstock. Over the next five months, Prater and Dorsey will work on a lengthy list of handover items to ensure a smooth transition. • AGEM’s initiative to change regulations in Nevada to allow for cloud-based gaming technology is progressing, with regulatory counsel Dan Reaser submitting a formal document to Chairman Brin Gibson and Chief of Technology Division Jim Barbee for review and comments. A period of public comment will follow before it can be moved up to the Nevada Gaming Commission to vote. These are positive moves, and a result of the GCB welcoming any new technology discussions. AGEM looks forward to continuing its good working relationship with the commission. • The Global Gaming Expo concluded, and initial feedback from AGEM members at the October meeting was favorable. Attendance was down around 50 percent from pre-pandemic levels, but generally it was felt that visitors were high quality and ready to do business. It was seen as the first big event to bring the industry together, and was carried out successfully and safely. Positive changes noted by members included lower sound levels from exhibitors as well as smaller crowds that made conference and education sessions more conducive. • The AGEM Memorial Awards presentation took place at G2E on the show floor on October 6. Sebastian Salat is the recipient of the 2021 Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism, and Alan Feldman is the recipient of the 2021 Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications. Due to travel restrictions, Salat could not be there in person, but gave a very emotional acceptance, via video link. Feldman was able to attend in person to collect his award. The whole ceremony can be viewed by visiting the AGEM website: agem.org/News.

Forthcoming Events • The newly named Bob McMonigle Memorial AGEM Cup Golf Tournament and Holiday Reception will take place November 30 at Southern Highlands Golf Course, Las Vegas. This annual event is the only social gathering that AGEM hosts, and it is therefore fitting that it has been renamed in honor of AGEM’s first president. • AGEM members recently approved funding for two forthcoming events. The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) will receive a $5,000 sponsorship for its winter and summer meetings. The Executive Development Program (EDP) Gender Diversity Scholarship sponsored by European Casino Association, partnering with AGEM, Clarion Events and the EDP, will receive $3,200 from AGEM to sponsor one of four scholarships to be awarded for this year’s virtual event.

AGEMindex

The AGEM Index continued its upward trend in September 2021, rising 33.86 points to a new high of 1,046.74. Over the past year, the AGEM Index has nearly doubled from 525.44 points in September 2020. The monthly rise in the index was driven by gains from five companies, which overcame negative index contributions by the other seven companies in the AGEM Index. The top contributor to the monthly index was International Game Technology, PLC (NYSE: IGT), whose 22.5 percent increase in stock price led to a 23.2-point gain for the index. Scientific Games Corporation (Nasdaq: SGMS) was also a significant contributor to the overall growth in the index, adding 22.67 points as the result of a 14.8 percent rise in stock price. The largest negative contributor to the index was Konami Corporation (TYO: 9766), whose 7.1 percent drop in stock price led to a 12.14-point decrease in the AGEM Index. All three major U.S. stock indices decreased over the month, with the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 experiencing declines of 5.7 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a 4.3 percent decline.

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Sportsbook Customers: Finding the Fish Sportsbooks are spending millions of dollars on customer acquisition in the U.S., even at the expense of profits. How long can the feeding frenzy continue? By Marjorie Preston

I

t was 2012 when three guys from Beantown launched a fantasy baseball contest out of a spare bedroom. Less than 10 years later, in 2020, Boston-based DraftKings went public with revenues topping $640 million, up 29 percent from 2019. And founders Jason Robins, Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman were rich as kings themselves. Despite dizzying top-line numbers, these three kings weren’t quite rolling in dough. DraftKings plowed more than 80 percent of revenues into customer acquisition for the year, and likely won’t turn a profit for several years more. Like its chief rival FanDuel, the DFS and sports betting behemoth is burning more cash than it keeps in the race for market share. “All the big online sports betting companies—the DraftKings and FanDuels, the BetMGMs and Caesars—have gobs and gobs of money to spend on marketing,” says Josh Swissman, founding partner of the Strategy Organization and CEO of Moneyline Sportsbook. “Whenever they raise money, they’re quick to say the vast majority of those funds go to grow their player base, at the expense of profits.” 14

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Shopping Spree It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not new. As far back as 2015, during the NFL season, the Seattle Times groused that DraftKings and FanDuel were “cramming their brands down viewers’ throats via television commercials seemingly between every series of downs.” In the week after kickoff, DraftKings ranked No. 2 in the iSpot.TV rankings of television’s Top 10 ad spenders, with FanDuel close behind at No. 5. By November, the two giants had spent more than $200 million on combined advertising. But that investment “put them in the pole position,” running neck and neck at the front of a fast-growing industry, according to Zak Cutler, former director of product management for DraftKings, now CEO of North American iGaming for Paysafe. “When you’re in that luxurious position, it makes sense to keep your foot on the gas and blow everybody else out of the water. DraftKings’ products retain well, so the spend is probably well worth it when you look at the lifetime player values (LTVs).”


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The sports betting giants “have the budget to spend large and still be OK, yet it’s often painted in a negative light—‘Oh, these costs are out of control,’” Cutler continues. But as more states legalize sports betting, and with millions of new users ripe for the picking, if one company doesn’t actively court them, another one will.

Sports betting has proven a bonanza for local TV, with $154 million spent in the first quarter by online sportsbooks, according to Nielsen (compare that to $10.7 million during Q1 2019). BIA Advisory Services reports that online gambling has the potential to drive more than $587 million into the local spot TV market by 2024.

Betting the House Sportsbooks deploy every weapon in the arsenal to win new customers. Traditional media—TV, radio, print and outdoor—are the trawlers, hauling in all kinds of catch, almost indiscriminately. Though scores of people will see those ads, only a handful will convert, and those conversions can’t be tracked. “But at the same time, you do get your brand in front of a lot of people in a relatively cost-effective way, not to say cheap,” says Swissman. “So that’s the top of the funnel.” Digital marketing narrows the focus. Banner ads on a sports site are viewed by fewer people, but those people are basically pre-qualified. Social media marketing is an opportunity to cultivate whole networks of would-be consumers and their “friends,” with purpose-built data analytics that let marketers see what’s working. Organic social media, through original content posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, invites fans to engage, follow and be part of an ongoing conversation—and it’s free. At the tip of the funnel is affiliate marketing, in which content-rich sports betting sites drive sales, one customer at a time. For each signup, the affiliate gets either a flat fee or a percentage of revenues over the life of the customer relationship. Big names in lead-generation include Catena Media, Better Collective and Income Access, a Paysafe company. And those players are supremely trackable. “The users click, they register, they make a deposit, so you really get a good sense of the unit economics,” says Cutler. “It’s a huge component of acquisition. TV and radio are much more expensive in terms of per-user acquisition, but there’s a lot of fuzz between those touchpoints, and at the end of the day a lot of folks are doing that for brand recognition and trust. It’s much different to see something in a Facebook ad or an affiliate site than if you see it on ESPN, NBC or Fox during a football game.” Affiliate marketing naturally indexes well from an SEO perspective, and can rank high in Google searches, he adds. “The beauty of it is the operator only pays an affiliate if someone makes a deposit. It’s one of the rare winwins in user acquisition.” Browsers who don’t commit right away aren’t necessarily lost; through retargeting, the seller can follow them to other websites and pop up with relevant ads, inviting them to come back.

Millions of new users are ripe for the company doesn’t actively court them,

All Sports Are Local

In this media arms race, Barstool Sports is an exception. It originated in 2003 as a print publication filled with gambling and fantasy sports tips, and was handed out on subways in the Boston metro area. It went online in 2007, and is now owned by Penn National Gaming. One figure holds that Barstool generates 60 million-plus unique visits per month. “Long before PASPA was repealed, that website was able to capture a huge, huge demographic—almost 20 years of acquisition of the male demographic from ages 18 to 60 who love sports,” says Cutler. “Unlike all the others who are allocating millions here and millions there, the Barstool brand showed up on Day 1 with a huge database of the online gambling demographic.” In a September interview, Barstool founder Dave Portnoy warned rivals DraftKings and FanDuel, “Once you stop spending, you’ll lose your market share.” According to a 2019 report from Deloitte Insights, TV—while hardly the medium of choice among younger adults—is “an island of strength” when it comes to sports broadcasting, hence the avalanche of ads during NFL games. “One of the reasons for this is that young people, especially young men, are betting on sports matches, and watching on TV those contests where they have ‘skin in the game,’” says the report. “In the United States, in fact, we predict that about 40 percent of all TV-watching by men 25-34 years old will be driven by this factor.” Sports betting has proven a bonanza for local TV, with $154 million spent in the first quarter by online sportsbooks, according to Nielsen (compare that to $10.7 million during Q1 2019). BIA Advisory Services reports that online gambling has the potential to drive more than $587 million into the local spot TV market by 2024. And per Central Marketing News, FanDuel only advertises “during NFL games that are served in regional markets where sports betting is legal and where mobile sports betting is offered.” That said, a big benefit for both DraftKings and FanDuel is that they can deploy marketing capital nationally, in the 40 states with DFS. “Even if they don’t convert on sports betting, they can convert on DFS so picking. If one it’s not money wasted,” says Cutler. “They can another one will. monetize in every state and can later cross-sell

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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“Ultimately this market is going to settle out with three, four, five competitors. There are too many competitors right now to sustain this level of spend.” —Amy Howe, CEO, FanDuel

those customers into sports betting when that state goes live.” Others with a smaller reach “can’t advertise in every state, because they’d be lighting that money on fire.” Also according to Neilsen, after local TV in the first quarter of 2021, gaming companies spent about $25 million on national digital spots and nearly $6 million on network TV ads. Outdoor ads and local radio combined for about $9.5 million. “Surprisingly, the largest share of online sports betting ads is currently allocated to local news programming,” Nielsen said, chiefly because local stations have “more control over their total ad inventory (versus sports programming, which typically occurs in primetime), and as a result, there is more flexibility to place ads in news.”

The Feeding Frenzy In August, DraftKings made a deal to acquire Golden Nugget Online Gaming for $1.56 billion in stock. At the time, it said the acquisition would “enhance our ability to instantly reach a broad customer base.” The feeding frenzy is not without an expiration date. Sports betting companies now invest “eye-watering” sums to lock down customers, says Swissman. Eventually, consolidation will calm things down. “But now is not that time—not this year, and not next year either, as new states continue to roll out new regulations and make sports betting legal. As long as that happens, there will be a scramble by operators for market share, with big bonuses and huge advertising budgets.” “This industry is trending toward more consolidation—think very, very large acquisitions in the $20 billion range that you’ve heard about,” agrees Cutler. “When that happens, it’s going to decrease the amount of fragmented, fractured spend you see, when 50 different operators all marketing in one state are gobbled up by three people… The frenzy goes down with the consolidation.” As newly appointed FanDuel CEO Amy Howe recently told the Financial Times, “Ultimately this market is going to settle out with three, four, five competitors. There are too many competitors right now to sustain this level of spend.” The U.S. sports betting market is a big pool with a lot of fish. An estimated 45 million Americans will legally bet on professional football this season, up 36 percent from last year. And fans in 30 states could be ready to legally wager on Super Bowl LVI next February. Meanwhile, there is a limit to people’s endurance when it comes to sports betting ads, and the backlash that began with the Seattle Times in 16

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2015 is picking up steam in 2021. In Colorado, for example, a year into legal sports betting, a sponsor of the legislation is worried about the onslaught of ads. “I thought that there was going to be at least some type of slowdown,” Rep. Alec Garnett told Westword. “I’ve seen a big uptick in the number of complaints from the public that we’ve been having about the amount of

The U.S. sports betting market is a big pool with a lot of fish. An estimated 45 million Americans will legally bet on professional football this season, up 36 percent from last year. And fans in 30 states could be ready to legally wager on Super Bowl LVI next February. sportsbook advertising.” “There is a real risk if advertising isn’t managed appropriately,” Brianne Doura-Schawhol, vice president for U.S. policy at EPIC Risk Management, told cobets.com. “We know from research that advertising plays a significant role in gambling participation and gambling behavior. An overabundance of advertising could negatively expedite the normalization of gambling participation. It could cause harm by influencing folks who shouldn’t be gambling.” Those concerns won’t go unnoticed by regulators, said Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman, who told operators, “It’s probably best that you all look at what you’re doing, because you really don’t want it regulated. You want to be able to operate in the free market and do what you’re doing.” At G2E, Howard Glaser, head of government affairs at Scientific Games, sounded a similar warning, saying, “I’ve seen this movie many times. If you don’t act to regulate yourself as an industry, regulation will be imposed on you, and it will not be pretty.”


Working for Generations Our future is shaped by the decisions we make today. That’s why we’ve invested $50 million to serve the needs of Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native communities, from housing affordability and financial health to scholarships and small business support. For over 60 years, we’ve been providing capital and financial services to Native communities and businesses and we’ll continue to work together to make better tomorrows for generations to come. Find out more at

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The Future is Now The next generation of leaders is ready to take control today BY PATRICK ROBERTS

E Gretchen Holzhauser

Andrew Diss

very year, with the release of the “Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40” list, the gaming industry gets to take a peek at the leaders of the future. As the next generation of gaming leaders, the nominees are generally assumed to be on an upward trajectory that will result in CEO, COO, managing director or chairman roles at some point in the years to come. But this year, several of the honorees are already at that level. This is indicative of the increasingly important role being played by younger members of the industry. In addition, 16 of the 40 members of the class of 2022 are women, once again demonstrating that the industry values the skills, experience and ethics of women. The industry is changing and women are taking the lead. The Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 program is organized by The Innovation Group and Global Gaming Business magazine. The program recognizes young professionals making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry today and in the future. The winners were selected from more than 125 candidates nominated either by a colleague who recognized their commitment and dedication to the gaming industry or by themselves, in the interest of inclusivity and with an appreciation for self-starters. “The past 18 months have given our industry and individuals within it the chance to innovate, to reinvent, and to reprioritize. This year’s nominees reflected that opportunity,” said The Innovation Group President Michael Soll. “The young professionals named to this year’s 40 Under 40 are not only well equipped to lead the industry out of these extraordinary times, but also uniquely informed to direct its future.” “As always, this year’s class represents the best and the brightest of the industry, and offers a really exciting glimpse into the future of gaming,” said Roger Gros, publisher of GGB. “We’re excited about the quality and diversity of this year’s class, which indicates a changing and improving gaming industry.” Nominations for the class of 2023 Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 will open in April 2022. The exact date will be announced in the March edition of GGB magazine.

Grainne Hurst

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Brandt Iden

Heather Thomas

Brett Colbert


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2022 Class of Emerging Leaders of Gaming, 40 Under 40 Lauren Bates, Vice President, West Games Sales, Konami Gaming, Inc. Travis Bussey, Vice President, Hardware Engineering, Everi Holdings Inc. Eunice Chua, Director, Global Gaming Operations, Marina Bay Sands Justine Clay, Senior Director, CX, GAN Brett Colbert, Director of Product Management - Global Gaming Operation, Scientific Games Andrew Diss, Chief Strategy Officer, Meruelo Gaming David Forman, Senior Director, Research, American Gaming Association David Garcia, Executive Director Analytics & Optimization, Foxwoods Resort Casino Jon Hanlin, Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat Gretchen Holzhauser, Vice President, Human Resources, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort Grainne Hurst, Director Corporate Affairs, Entain plc Brandt Iden, Head of Government Affairs, U.S., Sportradar Steven Iverson, Attorney, National Indian Gaming Commission Krystal Jones, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia Lisa Kerbawy, Director of Marketing, FireKeepers Casino Hotel Michael Lee, Executive Director of Casino Regulatory and Compliance, Venetian Macao Heather Lee Lommori, Director of Sales, Engaged Nation Colin Mansfield, Senior Director and Sector Head, U.S. Corporates - Gaming & Leisure, Fitch Ratings Joseph Marchetti, Director of Systems and Audit, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) Jonathan Michaels, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development and Government Affairs, Sightline Payments Russell Mifsud, Director-Head of Gaming, KPMG Malta Laila Mintas, CEO and Board Member, PlayUp Dennis Mullen, Director of Sports Wagering and Paid Fantasy Sports, Indiana Gaming Commission Steph Nel, Managing Director for the Americas, TCSJohnHuxley Vishal Patel, Engineering Manager-Technical Services Bureau, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Michael Peacock, Associate, DLA Piper Scott Riley, Gaming Enforcement Manager, Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission Sarah Robertson, Vice President, Sales, Kambi Harley Rockhill, Head of Enterprise Analytics, Resorts World Las Vegas Anna Shahbazyan, Regional Director-Latin America, BetConstruct Vik Shrestha, President, Chorus Gaming Jamie Smith, Director of Sales-Table Games, AGS David Stone, Director of Sales–Canada, Incredible Technologies Daniela Sulier, Director of Slots, Arcade and Retail Operations, Harrah’s & Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Heather Thomas, Senior Safety Manager, San Manuel Casino Adrian Vella, President, North America, Tipico Richard Veltri, Chief Operating Officer, Coolbet, GAN Sierra Weyer, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Sycuan Casino Kate White, Vice President of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming Daniel Zweben, Executive Director, Moelis & Company

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Asking Questions David Forman • Senior Director of Research, American Gaming Association

A

Data Decisions Sierra Weyer • Director of Enterprise Analytics, Sycuan Casino Resort

B

ridging the divide between data and business operations is the quintessential challenge for any analytics professional, and Sierra Weyer is uniquely equipped to overcome this challenge. Her on-the-ground experience early in her career cultivated the operator mindset needed to be successful in this area, and makes her more than deserving of the emerging leader distinction. Born and raised in Las Vegas, a career in the casino gaming industry was a natural fit for Weyer. After obtaining her bachelor of science in hospitality and gaming management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Weyer joined Scientific Games in 2016, where she led on-site software implementations. Training customers on casino systems was a key part of her role at Scientific Games, and this experience helped build the front-of-house mindset that would be pivotal in her transition to analytics. “I was on the floor training table games employees how to input ratings into a new system or working with marketers on optimizing their promotions,” she says. “This allowed me to truly understand the operational processes, and I carried that understanding with me as I moved into analytics.” Weyer’s transition to analytics began in 2018 when she joined the casino optimization team at the Venetian as an analyst. Her talent in this field was quickly recognized, and, in less than two years, Weyer moved from an analyst to her current role as director of enterprise analytics at Sycuan. Weyer achieved her ongoing growth by building a supportive network and a group of mentors. She continues to build on the strengths that have led to her career success by participating in industry groups, such as Global Gaming Women, and pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. Looking to the future, Weyer is excited to grow the analytics team at Sycuan Casino. Weyer is motivated by the fact that her hard work and expertise both result in positive impact to the tribal community. Weyer knows a strong analytics team with collaborative ties to front-line managers is critical to future casino success. She is thrilled to build a steadfast culture between analytics and operations needed for data-driven decision making at Sycuan. —Chloe Paul is manager of analytics for The Innovation Group.

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fter graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history from George Washington University, David Forman faced the challenge of finding employment during the peak of the Great Recession. To initially offset his lack of experience and increase his odds of finding employment, Forman spent over a year gaining experience through various internships. By doing so, Forman was able to quickly learn a wide range of skills and knowledge leading him to serve as a board fellow for the Charter Board Partners, an organization that advises Washington, D.C. charter school boards on school governance and long-term strategic planning issues. Early on in his career, Forman learned the value of being comfortable with what he didn’t know, being able to learn on the job through asking questions when entering a new industry. “You can ‘fake it ’til you make it’ to some extent, but it’s a lot less stressful to just ask for help or ask someone to explain how something works,” he says. This approach has proven to be very useful throughout Forman’s career, especially when learning new industries. In 2010, Forman transitioned over to Edelman, a global communications firm, as an assistant account executive. While in this position, Forman continued to ask innovative questions and to absorb as much information and experience as possible. Forman’s ability to absorb the information around him and translate it into meaningful solutions did not go unnoticed. Within 10 months, he began to climb Edelman’s corporate ladder, moving into the position of account executive and eventually senior account supervisor. Ultimately, Forman reached the position of vice president in the Crisis & Risk practice, where he helped clients navigate high-risk communication challenges and led the firm’s Business & Risk Intelligence group, providing clients with information used to inform strategic decision-making, to influence legal proceedings, and to alter the public narrative around high-profile issues. Forman transitioned into the gaming industry in late 2017, after accepting the position of director of research at the American Gaming Association. At the time, Forman had no real experience in any particular industry, and absolutely none within gaming, but was intrigued by the excitement that the gaming industry offered. Within this role, Forman began to strategize the vast amounts of data the gaming industry had to offer and apply meaningful innovations. Nine months into the position, Forman accepted the role of senior director of research, where he has been able to lead AGA’s research efforts and where he manages the production of research reports and analysis on the full spectrum of issues affecting the gaming industry, including taxation and economic issues, sports betting, responsible gaming, consumer perceptions, and regulatory matters. Forman attributes his recent success to being able to utilize AGA’s leadership and innovative work environment in order to think through issues in a productive and meaningful way. “AGA provides a lot of latitude to go out and create things or implement a new idea,” he says. Forman attests that this has allowed him to truly be successful. Recently, Forman has been able to focus on building out industry data sets and developing new tools to assess long-term trends. Moving forward, he says he is excited to “continue to build out relatively new products like our gaming revenue dataset and our gaming outlook index over the next year or so. “It’s going to be interesting, and something that we hope will change how people think about AGA research, positioning us more as a hub of industry data.” —Krista McPherson is an analyst for The Innovation Group.


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Cool Start

Intelligent Business

Richard Veltri • Chief Operating Officer, Coolbet, GAN

Kate White • Vice President of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming

P

W

eople come to gaming as a profession for very different reasons. For Richard Veltri, three reasons stood out: the sheer diversity of the industry, its complexity, and its global reach. “Those are the main reasons I still find the gaming industry exciting,” says Veltri, chief operating officer of Coolbet, a division of GAN. “I was initially attracted by the technological challenge and opportunity to build a proprietary sportsbook solution.” As COO, Veltri has a hand in a lot of pies day-to-day. “I have a fantastic team which consists of sportsbook operations (online and retail), casino and games, business development, cybersecurity, business intelligence, project management and quality assurance,” he says. That covers just about everything. Veltri grew up in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. He earned a bachelor of science in engineering, electronics and telecommunication and an MBA degree from TalTech in his hometown. He spent more than 10 years in telecommunications, IT and marketing before joining Coolbet in 2016 as project manager and data protection officer in the Estonia office. Covid-19 has changed the way he and his colleagues work and collaborate. “We have had to adjust on finding a new way for effective remote working and to ensure that people remain engaged, motivated and creative,” says Veltri, who relaxes by going on long-distance runs, which tend to be meditative. “Moreover, due to remote work, topics around mental health and emotional well-being at the workplace have become more important than ever before.” Was the impact of Covid-19 an obstacle in Veltri’s career? Perhaps, but he has developed a philosophy when it comes to these situations. “I firmly believe that one of many superpowers we all possess is the ability to change our perspective,” he says. “When doing so, we open up a whole new set of possibilities, and we may turn our obstacles into opportunities. Some of the best ways to help us obtain a new perspective from my personal experience is to listen to your colleagues, ask more questions, collect data, reflect and lay down the facts.” That said, when it comes to the gaming industry, the most influential person for Veltri has been Anders Karlsen, his predecessor at Coolbet and the current president of GAN B2C. “While being very pragmatic, he always values the individual and has put people first and foremost. This has absolutely been the main success factor in terms of growth, innovation and ultimately long-term shareholder value,” he says. But in the end, it’s about the self. “Listen and trust your instincts even more than in the past,” Veltri says. —Bill Sokolic

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hen Kate White grew up in Las Vegas, the mantra she heard over and over was “Don’t get into the gaming industry.” So, she spent more than 10 years at a successful startup, Vegas.com, which books hotels, shows and the like. You can guess what happened. “I wanted a bigger challenge in a larger industry. When I found out how much actually goes into operating a casino, I was hooked,” White says. Armed with a B.A. in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno, White worked in various capacities at Vegas.com, much of it associated with business intelligence. “Data is our industry’s most underutilized asset,” she says. “The casino creates so much rich information that could be used to advance our industry in ways that haven’t been explored before—bringing that information to our leaders and changing the way this industry thinks of the future.” White’s first position within the industry was in business intelligence at Pinnacle Entertainment. Less than three years later, she joined Penn National Gaming, where she now serves now as vice president of business intelligence and IT program management, a mouthful of a title. “As the leader of our BI efforts, we liaison to all our property teams to get them the information they need to make decisions,” White says. “We help facilitate getting real-time key performance indicators and dashboards into the hands of our 40plus properties across the U.S. Along with that, I also oversee our technology project management efforts.” As Penn National continues its transition into a technology company, White helps supervise multimillion-dollar projects for new technology platforms, services, and enhancements to a digital footprint. White cites the latest push, a large cashless project. “I’m helping oversee as we get digital wallet, Bluetooth card-in and funding all from our in-house developed mobile app.” Like everyone else, White had to deal with the impact of Covid-19. “I’m still acclimating to the new post-Covid work life,” she admits. “Our corporate officers continue to work from home, and it’s been an interesting challenge to maintain professional relationships virtually.” The desire to take on any new challenge has shaped White’s success. “At many points in my career, new opportunities arose, and instead of holding back out of fear of failure, I engaged, fully knowing I may not get it 100 percent right, but I’d do the best job I possibly could.” The one mentor who resonates with White a lot today is Penn National CEO Jay Snowden. “He’s shown us what it means to step out of your comfort zone and take on new things to really grow this industry,” she says. White hopes to remain at the forefront of change and innovation in gaming. Her advice to her younger self—and it applies to newcomers to the industry— “Never stop learning about your industry, your company and yourself. You’ll continue to grow as long as you continue to be inquisitive and push for positive change.” —Bill Sokolic


TO THE WORLD, SHE’S IN THE TOP 40. TO US, SHE’S #1. Konami Gaming, Inc. is pleased to congratulate Vice President of West Game Sales Lauren Bates, as one of this year’s Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40. Her unmistakable expertise in forging meaningful partnership helps propel the global gaming industry to broader innovation, inclusion, and achievement. www.konamigaming.com


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

A Canadian In London

Scott A. Riley • Gaming Enforcement Manager, Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission

Sarah Robertson • Vice President, Sales, Kambi

S

cott A. Riley has a desire for helping and uplifting others to succeed. Growing up, he always believed he would use this trait to inspire the next generation as a teacher. However, after a devastating tragedy in his life, Riley eventually found his passion for the tribal gaming industry and devotion to the success of tribes, not just in the Southwest, but across the country. Riley had a humble upbringing; as an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, he grew up on the reservation in New Mexico and was raised by his grandparents from birth. Riley’s ambition was to study mathematics and become a teacher for his tribe. That all changed when his grandfather passed away while he was away at college. Riley returned home, and without much certainty on which direction he wanted to take his career, took a job in surveillance at one of the nearby gaming operations. After learning the industry for two years from the operation side, Riley applied for the tribal gaming regulatory body for the Pueblo of Acoma. This turning point catapulted his career, and after a short while he realized that his decision to move to the regulatory side was the best career choice he could have made. While working for the Pueblo of Nambé, Riley discovered that his new career path aligned with his personal and professional values of integrity and humility, traits he learned from both of his grandfathers. He found that by working for a tribal gaming regulatory body, he was able to assist tribes achieve their goals of selfgovernment, self-sufficiency and self-determination. Riley credits his decision to pursue a position on the regulatory side as the point when he knew he wanted to spend his career working in the tribal gaming industry. Today, Riley is employed by the Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission and was recently named acting gaming enforcement manager. In this position, he is responsible for overseeing the regulatory enforcement activities at the pueblo’s gaming operation. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico, Riley is pursuing a graduate degree in legal studies at Arizona State University. He is passionate about his work and considers it to be a “privilege” to assist the tribes he works with in achieving their goals as sovereign nations. Riley credits his passion for helping tribes succeed to both of his grandfathers. While his maternal grandparents raised him, he grew up with strong relationships with both his maternal and paternal grandfathers. “Both of my grandfathers were devoted to serving the people of Laguna Pueblo unconditionally,” he says. “It is their strength and wisdom that is instilled in me to continue being devoted to serving tribal nations. I will continue to walk the path that they have made in hopes that someday I can return the same respect to the next generation of leaders.” It is from his grandfathers that Riley learned that commitment to the success of tribal communities leads to a meaningful life. Riley acknowledges those who have had a great impact on his career and on his life. He specifically mentions how his daughters drive and motivate him, and that it is very important to make them proud. “When facing adversity, I think about my daughters,” he says. “They help me realize how precious life’s gifts are and to be appreciative for the days ahead. Teaching them that success is achieved by learning from mistakes, failure, challenges, and overcoming our fears.” Riley says these traits help him triumph over life’s obstacles. —Alex Goldstein is an analyst with The Innovation Group. 24

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

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anadian native Sarah Robertson obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Brunswick in 2010. And with that degree in hand, she entered the gaming industry through a job with Income Access, a digital marketing company for iGaming and other affiliate services, based in Montreal. “Montreal is a fun place to live,” Robertson says of the seven years she spent at the company. “Montreal’s iGaming space is made up of a lot of young people. There was a great opportunity for a lot of growth.” However, in 2018, Robertson moved to London to join Kambi and its global sales team. Kambi provides premium sports betting services to licensed gaming operators globally, with its end-to-end sports betting services including odds compiling, customer intelligence and risk management, built on an in-house developed software platform. “There are unlimited possibilities in gaming, and you can start anywhere. You can find what interests you and find a good mentor—that really helped me. From a technology standpoint, gaming is at the forefront in many ways, especially in sports betting companies like Kambi,” Robertson says. Some of Robertson’s mentors included Nicky Senyard, founder and previous CEO of Income Access; Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, vice president of strategy for Income Access; and Cecilia Wachtmeister, executive vice president of group and business functions at Kambi. “They are all great examples of successful women in gaming, and they gave me a lot of the tools to succeed,” she says. “They really helped develop my skill sets.” At Kambi, where Robertson holds the position of vice president of sales, she works with top-tier global operators to lead through sales and partnership opportunities. To date, Kambi has more than 30 partners. “The core focus of our business is on North America, with Canada a focus now, too,” she says, with Ontario having approved single-event wagering and other provinces expected to follow suit. “Kambi is excited for the launch of regulated single-event wagering, and we look forward to successful partnerships in Canada.” So, how does Kambi stay competitive? “We are singularly focused on sports betting, meaning we know what it takes to succeed in this market and are not distracted by other verticals,” Robertson says. “We are sports-only focused, with a business and platform built by sports and sports betting enthusiasts.” More recently, Kambi has increased its focus on the esports opportunity with its acquisition of esports data and technology company Abios. “We have a dedicated in-house team for esports, and it’s long been a focus of ours,” she says. “We hope to create synergy with Abios, and we look forward to working with them to create a best-in-class esports product.” When it comes to Robertson’s future, she says there’s an exciting opportunity and room to grow at Kambi in the next few years. “I believe the future is extremely bright for Kambi, and I am really excited to play my part in its ongoing success.” —Bill Sokolic


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Career Investment Daniel Zweben • Executive Director, Moelis & Company

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aniel Zweben, executive director at Moelis & Company, brings unique experience to clients to address the gaming industry of today. With early exposure to both online gaming and the media industry, Zweben sees both sides of the equation in an increasingly important relationship between the industries. With over 10 years of investment banking experience coupled with a career start as an M&A lawyer, Zweben is poised to play a leadership role in the gaming industry’s dynamic transactions of the future. Since joining Moelis in July 2018, Zweben has focused on gaming, digital media, film and television, and sports and esports transactions. He has contributed to the completion of multiple high-profile transactions including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, debt and equity financings, leveraged buyouts, and restructurings. Since joining, Zweben has advised on over 20 transactions, representing prominent gaming and media industry clients. Prior to joining Moelis, Zweben was a director at Lazard covering gaming and media clients and an associate at UBS Investment Bank in the company’s Financial In-

stitutions Group. Prior to that, he was an M&A lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. How did Zweben become involved in the gaming industry? Upon moving from New York to Los Angeles in 2014, he began covering both gaming and media clients, including casino operators and B2B technology suppliers, mobile gaming companies, movie studios, esports, and digital media companies. The repeal of the federal sports betting ban in 2018 would lead these industries to collide. Zweben notes a few trends across the sports betting industry that highlight this convergence. First, in the battle for customers, the industry will continue to see the intersection of media, entertainment and gaming. Zweben sees that fans are looking for deeper engagement and expects that richer and more robust statistical and analytical integrations and other betting-focused enhancements to telecasts and streams will continue to enhance the user experience. Zweben is thankful for the many mentors that he has worked with and learned from throughout his career. Zweben holds a B.S.M. in finance and economics from Tulane University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. His personal interests include travel and new dining experiences, and spending time with his wife Lauren and two sons, Grayson and Parker. —Michael Soll is president of The Innovation Group.


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Mastering Slots A CEO and a Mother Laila Mintas • CEO and Board Member, PlayUp

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or Laila Mintas, her career has been one of challenges met, challenges overcome. It’s working. She’s now CEO of PlayUp U.S., a division of the online-only sports betting and fantasy sports company. Mintas got into sports betting in law school at Humboldt University in her native Germany when she wrote her Ph.D. thesis on online sports betting. The thesis became a book. At the same time, she felt the laws in Germany posed a problem when it came to sportsbooks; the country ran them as a monopoly, keeping private bookmakers out, she says. “I felt it was a conflict and I came to the result that it violates European law and needed to be removed,” Mintas says. “A year after my book was published, the European Court decided in the same direction, confirming my thesis.” She landed a job with FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football before taking a position in New Jersey to work for Sportradar. “I helped build Sportradar’s U.S. business up to a market share of over 85 percent. There was nothing I could learn or solve from there on. It would just have been copy and paste, which is nothing I was interested in doing. That’s why I moved on. I left when we hit the valuation of $2.4 billion,” Mintas says. Mintas moved to Las Vegas and created Dr. Mintas Consulting. She invested in tech companies in the sports betting arena, building up a portfolio. “When I met with PlayUp, I was very intrigued by the proprietary technology,” she says. Another challenge met when she took a job with the company. “Having been the first employee, I built the U.S. market for PlayUp from scratch, to now being an operator—live in two markets, New Jersey and Colorado, with various launches coming up shortly for sports betting, iGaming and horse racing,” Mintas says. In her role as CEO, Mintas is involved in all strategic decisions in the U.S., even on a global level. Throughout, Mintas has been the only woman in an executive role at the company. “This is something that needs to urgently change in our society,” she insists. “Gender, race and religion shouldn’t matter.” As a mother of two young children, Mintas saw Covid as another challenge to master. “It has been interesting working finally from home after I was traveling around 200 days a year,” she says. “We were able to organize our day-to-day in a way that allowed us to spend more quality time together but also to run the business efficiently.” Throughout her career, Mintas has considered obstacles as just another challenge. “I always tried to see obstacles as opportunities to think outside the box and to be innovative and creative,” she says. “Those have been the situations that have let me grow to the person that I am today.” As for her own approach, Mintas stopped planning a long time ago. “Life always comes different anyway,” she says. “I learned to listen to all advice I can get but then to make a decision based on what I feel comfortable with, no matter what other people think or say. My advice would be to make your own decision.” —Bill Sokolic

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Jon Hanlin • Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat Gaming

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on Hanlin’s six years at Aristocrat Gaming have coincided with the greatest success in the supplier’s long history. Aristocrat game groups have become legendary player favorites, and the company’s games are consistently at the top of industry performance surveys. As senior vice president of commercial strategy & business analytics, Hanlin sets the product roadmap for the company’s slot games and manages the rollout of those products to industry slot floors. The fact he has been singularly successful at his job—he joined Aristocrat in 2015 as a senior director and has rapidly progressed to his current executive post—has much to do with the perspective he brought to the job. It is an operator’s perspective, gleaned from nearly 10 years with Caesars Entertainment, as the Eastern regional vice president of slots, and then all gaming. It was an invaluable education in the slot business for a person who had known nothing of the games side of the business when he started. Hanlin’s training is in finance. After graduating from Temple University with a BA in finance (he has since earned his MBA), he joined Caesars in 2006 in Atlantic City, as a financial analyst. Within three years, he would be managing slot product for the operator. “I entered Caesars as a labor analyst, and then moved into gaming analytics,” Hanlin says. “So, I had a basis of knowledge around how to work with numbers, and analyze a slot floor, and then a mentor of mine who now is on the board of Aristocrat, Pat Ramsey, shepherded me into slot performance and the operational world of slots. That training at Caesars is really is the foundation of the knowledge base that got me to where I am today.” Hanlin’s education would continue at Aristocrat, where his operational expertise was applied to the process of slot development and marketing in perhaps the best atmosphere possible. He joined the company


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Government Oversight Jonathan Michaels • Senior Vice President, Strategic Development and Government Affairs, Sightline Payments

F only months after the release of the mega-hit Lightning Link, and the supplier has been on a sustained roll ever since. Hanlin says the sustained roll can be traced to the top talent in the industry. “I looked at Aristocrat as a great opportunity because they had great products,” he says. “They had just reorganized, and we talked about acquiring some of the top game design talent in the world.” In fact, the company already had one of the top game design teams in the business, including EKG Hall of Fame members Joe Kaminkow (now chief innovation officer) and Scott Olive, along with widely respected pros including Daniel Marks (now senior VP of gaming) and Ryan Hawkins (senior VP of design & development). Hanlin says the names added to that list, including former WMS design chief Alon Englman (now senior VP of game design) and Christmas Uberuaga (VP of the UberWins Studio), have added to what is a truly world-class design team. It also eased his transition from operator to supplier. “I knew this collection of game design talent would drive market share and drive growth,” Hanlin says. “What I focused on immediately, and continue to focus on, is to bring the operator lens to that strategy—the relationship between the design and manufacture of games and getting them on the floor in front of players. “When you’re on the operator side, it’s all numbers-driven. Whereas you come to the manufacturing side, it’s about what’s in the game. Part of my job is marrying the internal view of this mechanic and this theming with what the operator is going to look at— Does it perform?” Hanlin has applied his analytics and operational expertise to make the most of Aristocrat’s talent pool. “It’s really an honor to be a shepherd of sorts to this great product,” he says. “It’s just amazing to work with these people, because they really are creative geniuses. For them to trust me with putting their games out, and getting them out to our sales staff and into the field, is quite an honor.” Hanlin’s advice to other emerging leaders? “Always be curious. Be open to learning new things, and find your authentic self in the world.” From finance to the slot business, it’s clear Hanlin has found his own authentic self. —Frank Legato

or Sightline Payments, it’s been a big year. Just a few months ago, the company celebrated becoming Nevada’s first fintech unicorn—a company worth $1 billion or more. Part of the benefits of that designation is that Sightline was able to hire a stable of talented executives from all sides of the industry in all disciplines. One of them was Jonathan Michaels, who is in charge of strategic development and government affairs. Michaels’ big break in the industry came when he was hired by the American Gaming Association, a few years removed from the University of Maryland, to run the organization’s membership program in 2014. This job didn’t exist earlier at the AGA because membership was strictly limited to gaming companies and recruitment wasn’t necessary. But that changed when Geoff Freeman became president and CEO. He tasked Michaels with expanding membership by attracting non-gaming companies that were active in various parts of gaming, as well as tribal gaming enterprises. “You have to remember that in 2014, the gaming industry was a vastly different place,” he says. “Tribes were prohibited from becoming members of the AGA by the bylaws. Sports betting legalization wasn’t even being considered. Online gaming was really just in New Jersey. We decided we needed to go after companies that were peripherally involved with gaming and give them a voice and a seat at the table.” Expanding the AGA’s membership was only the start for Michaels. He was involved in many initiatives driven by the AGA, including its establishment of best practices in cashless payments, a key reason he was recruited by Sightline. At Sightline, Michaels says he’s responsible for three areas—government affairs, corporate communications, and strategic development, that he calls the “catch-all bucket.” “That’s leveraging my experience with the AGA and how we grow our business,” he says. “We don’t want to do the same old expansion. Can we do business with stadiums or different casino options? It’s been about eight months now and I’ve been loving every minute of it.” He believes that cashless payments are the wave of the future, and the acceptance by operators and casino customers will quickly accelerate. “If you provide a technology that is going to make your players’ lives easier, they’re going to use it,” he says. “And from the operator’s perspective, the single biggest thing that gets undersold in all of this is that the cost of cash is enormous. There was a study done recently that determined the cost of processing $100 in cash was between $5 and $15! At Resorts World Las Vegas, they don’t want the pit bosses being bean counters. They want them interacting with the guests and creating a great experience, because that’s more productive for the company.” Michaels recognizes the people who helped him on the way up. He cites Ron Rosenthal, a creative executive at the AGA at the time who recruited him. “Ron taught me the value of teamwork,” says Michaels. “I was so used to working with a strict division of responsibility. Ron said that didn’t matter and that our job was to get it done, and there’s no line of where your role stops and someone else’s begins.” He also credits Sara Slane, the AGA leader on sports betting now running her own business, and Elizabeth Cronin, who still heads government affairs for the AGA. He says that AGS leader David Lopez wanted his team to think like CEOs, and that really impacted him. At Sightline, he’s working with people he’s known for years. “(Co-CEOs) Joe (Pappano) and Omer (Sattar) I’ve been working with since the beginning of my tenure at the AGA,” he says. “I’m very familiar with them and they’ve had a huge influence on my career, obviously.” Why would people pursue a career in gaming? Michaels says it’s an easy sell. “One of my old professors at the University of Maryland who taught sports management also taught one gaming course each semester,” he explains. “I spoke almost every semester to the class. Nobody in that class was thinking about gaming as a career, but I came in to say it can be. We need to get that message across. Who wouldn’t want to work in that business right now? Sports betting is hot. Payments are driving technology innovation. The future of the gaming industry is incredibly bright.” —Roger Gros

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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MAKING MY POINT

Hidden Meanings Business is just business until it isn’t….

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phorisms not about business that are about business.

Top five answers on the board. Survey says...

“A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. When you refer to yourself as a “wit,” and are rumored to have answered when asked by a customs agent if you had anything to declare, “only my brilliance,” you had better be able to back up those actions with words. And he did, coining such gems as “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” and a personal favorite, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” But the comment about the cynic is more than a catchy quip; rather, it’s sage advice for any biz dev peeps out there. If you’ve ever debated the acquisition of a company or a product, it’s easy to focus on how much it costs rather than how much it’s worth. That’s why a lot of deals are done—or not done—based purely on standard multiples of revenue or EBITDA, or whatever metric is in vogue at the time. While this can work, especially with established cash-cow-type products, when uncertainty abounds, such a lazy approach can lead you to: 1) overpaying for something; or, 2) passing on something because you undervalued it. Or as they are known in the trade, $@%# and Double $@%#. “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” —General George Patton Not to say you should ready, fire, aim, but if you wait for perfection beyond fallibility, you’ll never pull the damn trigger. There’s only so much you can analyze and re-analyze and overanalyze before taking action. Which is why any tactical plan needs contingencies, and contingencies to those contingencies, etc., etc., etc. You can’t anticipate everything, so why try?

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By Roger Snow

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” —Bruce Lee In other words, don’t mess with a specialist. Whether it’s a person or a team or a division or a company, focus matters. The less you do, for the most part, the better you will do it. And the inverse rings just as true: Nothing good will come from trying to do it all, to be everything to everyone.

When you have “nothing to lose—

speaking of clichéd aphorism—you have everything to gain. To that extent, it’s quite liberating. You can’t make the situation worse, so in theory, anything you do can only make it better. It’s all upside.

“Things without all remedy should be without regard.” —William Shakespeare If Lady Macbeth is whispering to her husband, or a supervisor is offering counsel to a subordinate, the message is the same: What’s done is done. $@%# happens sometimes. Whatever. You can’t let a blunder haunt you to the point you’re on one knee, talking to disembodied skulls or wandering around aimlessly and decrying the meaninglessness of human existence. Get over it. Move on. But… Just don’t make the same mistake twice.

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

“I’d p—- on a sparkplug if I thought it’d do any good.” —General Beringer, in the movie War Games Now let’s state for the record that no, doing this to that wouldn’t have mitigated Beringer’s problem—trying to stop a glitchy computer from triggering global thermonuclear war—but that’s not the point; this is: When you have nothing to lose— speaking of clichéd aphorism—you have everything to gain. To that extent, it’s quite liberating. You can’t make the situation worse, so in theory, anything you do can only make it better. It’s all upside. If you want to point to a case in point, wag your finger at the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Because this is what the Kennedy administration faced in those 13 days in October: 1) Soviet nuclear missiles were being assembled 90 miles off the coast of Florida; 2) More missiles—and troops—were on their way; and, 3) U.S. military commanders wanted to bomb those silos to smithereens and follow up with a ground invasion to ensure they were non-operational. Which in turn would have resulted in the annihilation of Cuba. Which in turn would have led to the deaths of Soviet soldiers. Which in turn would have led to the Soviets retaliating by attacking a NATO target in Europe, most likely West Berlin. Which in turn would have led to the U.S. and its allies counterattacking. Which in turn would have led to, well... Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain. Not to spoil the ending, but cooler and cleverer heads prevailed. With no perfect options available, advisers to Kennedy came up with this p—-on-asparkplug idea: a naval blockade of Cuba to keep additional missiles and troops off the island, and an overture to the Soviets to remove their missiles today, and we would remove ours—albeit six months from now to camouflage this quid-pro-quo to the public—in Poland. This let everyone involved save face and kept the Cold War just that... Cold. Roger Snow is a senior vice president with Scientific Games. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Scientific Games Corporation or its affiliates.


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Going Cashless

International Game Technology’s Resort Wallet

As casino operators seek to provide cashless, contactless payment options to customers, they have a wealth of system and technology choices By Frank Legato

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s modern consumers, we all take cashless and contactless transactions for granted. We swipe a card or tap a smartphone to pay for our coffee, we use our phones for Uber, we use Venmo to give people money. Cash has taken on a distinctly diminished role in our daily transactions. Except, until recently, on the casino floor. Casinos have been one of the last bastions of the cash transaction. Cash has remained part of the casino mystique, even as technology providers from slot system suppliers to fintech companies have for years offered various ways operators can remove cash—and the high cost of handling it—from their gaming floors, or at least reduce it. The idea of a cashless casino, of course, is nothing new. It was the 1990s when New York’s Turning Stone Casino first converted into a totally cash-free floor, with deposits at the cage funding play on a mag-stripe card. Over the past five years as technology has advanced, a wide range of vendors have marketed deposit systems, digital wallets and other technology to enable cashless play. Then 2020 happened, and the need to offer players an option to handling the filthy lucre became urgent. Now, operators are examining their options for enabling cash-free payment on the gaming floor. And those options are many. Over the past year, several partnerships have been announced to combine technologies into a complete end-to-end cashless gaming experience. Strict payment technology companies like Sightline, Global Payments and others, technology companies like Acres Manufacturing, and the four main slot manufacturers with proprietary casino management systems are partnering to provide operators with cashless technology. The reason there are so many partnerships is that the process of providing cashless play on the floor is one that requires multiple actions, to effect withdrawal of external funds without a requirement to physically deposit cash at a casino cage. On one end, a system must be able to interact with financial institutions that are the source of funding. The source must be verified, the funds must electronically transfer into the casino’s financial ecosystem, and they must be

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

transferred to the player’s slot machine in the form of credits. There are vendors that specialize in technology to achieve each of these aims. Add in the casino management systems, by which operators store all machine-related data, and you have another point of interaction in the ecosystem. “The payments industry is basically a bunch of moving parts,” comments Craig Libson, CEO of Flexia Payments, which specializes in the first leg of the cashless journey. “What we’ve built is the bridge between the casino management systems, both on the online gaming and the land-based side, with the financial networks. “That connection is critical, because the first thing you have to have is a bank willing to issue accounts. And our accounts happen to be Mastercard accounts. We’re the only ones in this industry that are majority-owned by an FDIC-regulated bank, which gives us the stable banking relationships some of the other payment companies don’t have.” There are, of course, other suppliers that provide the link to the financial networks, such as Everi Holdings, whose fintech arm has provided that link through its legacy companies for decades. But the other end of the cash journey—placing credits on the customer’s game—is just as vital. And that leg invariably goes through one of two SAS ports on the back of every slot machine. “The SAS ports are where all the data comes from,” explains Noah Acres, chief operating officer of Acres Manufacturing. “If you’re plugged into the SAS port, you get all the data from the slot machine, and within SAS are also commands to change the credit meter balance on the game. Only one SAS sport has the the ability to change the credit meter balance. That SAS port is currently occupied by the legacy casino management system. Therefore, any time you want to add to the game script, you have to interface with the CMS. “If you operate a casino and use a CMS—whether it be Aristocrat, IGT, Konami or SG—you cannot interface to the game but through that CMS. Historically, the interfaces to the payment networks have not been available.”


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Acres Foundation reports any SAS meter change in real time. In September, Acres Manufacturing launched the Acres Wallet, a single-interface solution that combines the cashless function with data gleaned from the loyalty function of the Foundation system.

Acres’ Foundation casino management system provides a proprietary pathway to that credit meter, he says. “We connect directly the machine’s primary SAS port and have the ability to change the game’s credit meter on command. We consider ourselves the last piece of pipe that connects to the game. Our system can interface to any payment processor—Sightline, Everi, Marker Trax, Global Payments, etc.—and move money from the wallet to the game. We can even support multiple payment processors simultaneously.” In September, Acres Manufacturing launched the Acres Wallet, a single-interface solution that combines the cashless function with data gleaned from the loyalty function of the Foundation system. “In addition to a cash balance, the Acres Wallet can also hold all the player’s points, free play, updated line of credit or any other store of value relative to the gaming experience,” Acres says. “The Acres Wallet provides a thrilling peripheral experience during live play. Because the wallet is able to update in real time with every spin of the slot machine, points and credit meter balances are updated in real time. The casino can send in-app messages to the player relative to their play, and can even bonus players within the Acres Wallet. “In addition to cashless, our wallet provides an entire experience. Realtime data allows in-app marketing and even features bonuses that can be linked to any game in the house.”

CMS Partners Acres has partnered with several companies over the past year in providing cashless services, including Everi. “In the case of Everi’s CashClub Wallet, a customer will move money from their banking system into Everi’s wallet,” Acres says. “When a player tells Everi’s CashClub Wallet to send $100 to their favorite slot machine, CashClub and Foundation communicate with one another to conduct the transaction. Everi tells Foundation to add $100 to the player’s credit meter, and Foundation does so instantly.” CashClub Wallet is being rolled out by Penn National Gaming as the cashless solution for its casinos across the country. The technology is steeped in the tradition of Everi’s legacy companies, from Central Credit check-cashing services to the former Global Cash Access, the leading ATM supplier to casinos. “The CashClub Wallet is actually connected to external funding sources for the patron and a patron profile is created,” says Darren Simmons, Everi’s executive vice president and fintech business leader. “We create a system and a platform for patrons to be able to access those external funding methods through the banking system, and that can mean through card associations like the Visas and Mastercards of the world, as well as ACH-type transactions. That’s the piece that Everi has invested in and built an infrastructure around.”

Everi’s CashClub Wallet module also is now offered as part of the Aristocrat Gaming CMS, Oasis 360. “We’ve got a really good relationship with Aristocrat,” says Simmons. “They were great to work with in terms of our integration and the development partnership, and we continued to look at how we can improve what that experience is like for the operator and specifically for their guests, because the guest experience is what’s going to win the day for the success of this technology.” “Aristocrat’s Customer Experience Solutions (CXS) division offers Digital Wallet as a contactless payment experience for guests,” says Jared Mayberry, senior vice president of customer experience solutions at Aristocrat. “This solution allows them to use their smartphones to transfer cash to and from EGMs and tables while paying for restaurant meals, show tickets and/or hotel rooms. To gain access, a player downloads the operator’s mobile app, links their membership, and adds money to the digital wallet for use across the resort.” Mayberry adds that since Digital Wallet operates through a mobile app, it can be used off-property as well. “The benefit of the Aristocrat Digital Wallet solution is that it allows operators to offer the same experience for a player whether they are at home, at the resort, or on the gaming floor. Operators who choose Aristocrat’s solution can take the entire package or only the modules that they need to complete their guest’s mobile experience.” Aristocrat has most recently extended its cashless solution to table games in partnership with Boyd Gaming. In mid-October, the two companies announced the launch in Nevada of the Boyd Pay Wallet, a cashless payment solution for table games powered by Aristocrat’s Digital Wallet technology. The field trial is the latest enhancement to Boyd Gaming’s cashless technology solution. Boyd Pay Wallet will be integrated into Boyd Gaming’s B Connected app, allowing players to use their mobile device to fund table game wagers without withdrawing cash from an ATM or redeeming tickets and chips at the cage. Another CMS supplier that has forged partnerships with payment companies is Konami Gaming. The supplier’s popular Synkros casino management system has been used as the basis for cashless solutions for several casino clients. The Synkros cashless wagering module, called Money Klip, was first introduced to market seven years ago. “Konami has continued to actively enhance and innovate its integrated cashless technology,” says Tom Soukup, senior vice president and chief systems product officer for Konami. “We began by successfully introducing cashless technology with cruise industry operators, and we’ve continued to advance the technology from there, providing a robust integration layer for cashless transfers to/from financial payment processors, resort-wide NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Konami’s Synkros cashless wagering module, called Money Klip, was first introduced to market seven years ago

player mobile applications and extending cashless wagering and TITO support to table games.” To effect seamless interoperability, Synkros provides an easy-to-use Synkros Integration Layer (SIL) to facilitate fast integration with existing third-party kiosk and/or financial payment processors to build a frictionless cashless player experience. “In many senses, Konami is Switzerland,” Soukup says. “We do not force an operator to only use a specific kiosk or financial payment processor vendor like some of our competitors. “The cashless module is fully integrated into Synkros cage, slot and table game accounting and reporting. Regarding the EGM, cashless is support in addition to ticketing and player tracking/slot accounting using a single slot machine interface board (SMIB). There is no need to purchase/install additional in-machine hardware and/or run another network on the slot floor.” Another slot and system supplier regularly engaging in partnerships to provide cashless solutions to customers is Scientific Games Corporation, which includes its Unified Wallet product as part of its casino management systems. Unified Wallet enables cashless solutions for slots or tables. The Unified Wallet package allows players to link their smartphones to credit or debit accounts, and allows them to use their phones to tap into the loyalty program, as well as “tapping” credits to the meter on slots. Most recently, SG partnered with Sightline Payments to implement Sightline’s Play+ mobile payment solution at Caesars Entertainment properties, marketed as “Caesars Entertainment Play+.” Guest funds can be easily and instantly loaded through Sightline’s specialized proprietary network, and deposits of winnings could be made instantly available to guests on their Caesars Entertainment Play+ prepaid card.

Payment Partners Sightline’s Play+ system is being hailed as a success at Caesars. Sightline is one of several pure payment technology companies currently benefiting from the surge in demand for cashless solutions. “Play+ is the premier cashless funding source for iGaming, mobile sports, on-premise slots, table games, sports betting, horse racing and lottery gaming,” says Sightline Co-CEO Joseph Pappano. “Play+ is also a robust and innovative fintech platform that allows for transactions outside of gaming on point-of-sale and ATMs worldwide via the physical Discover prepaid card that each patron receives upon enrollment in Play+. “Most importantly, Play+ allows for immediate cash-out functionality from the patron’s gaming/wagering account whether physically or on a sports/iGaming platform. No other cashless solution can replicate this functionality like Play+... Because of our patented SPAN network, funds transfer is bi-directional. The player can cash out from digital wallet to 32

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

their Play+ account, which gives them access to their funds immediately.” Last month, Sightline partnered with Mastercard, Inc. to release the Play+ Mastercard system at Resorts World Las Vegas. The Play+ Mastercard system uses what is termed tokenization technology. It replaces a physical card number with a unique token that can only be used by the merchant that requested it, and which is said to provide additional security to cardholders. Sightline’s Play+ system is part of Resorts World’s pioneering system of cashless payment availability throughout the resort. “The foundation of Play+ is to provide customers with a safe, secure and responsible payments experience to fund their gaming and entertainment,” said Pappano in a press release. “As consumers increasingly seek digital-first experiences, we’re pleased to partner with Sightline to enable a fully digital engagement for the patrons at Resorts World Las Vegas,” added Chiro Aikat, executive vice president of products and innovation for Mastercard in North America. Another pure payment/fintech company that has been a leading partner in providing cashless solutions is Atlanta-based Global Payments Gaming Solutions. The company’s VIP Mobility cashless system has been a preferred solution in Indian Country, most recently being applied at California’s Viejas Casino and Oklahoma’s Downstream Casino Resort. “VIP Mobility is the industry’s first mobile solution enabling true cashless gaming from funding through cash-out,” says Global Payments President Chris Justice. “VIP Mobility was designed to solve a number of problems for all stakeholders, including the operator, the payment network, the regulator,

Global Payments VIP Mobility cashless system has been a preferred solution in Indian Country, most recently being applied at California’s Viejas Casino and Oklahoma’s Downstream Casino Resort


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and most importantly, the consumer. “For patrons, a common pain point in gaming is waiting in line at the ATM or cage to fund their play. VIP Mobility enables patrons to skip the line and access funds directly from their phone. Patrons can create digital TITO tickets on their mobile device by scanning an existing voucher or using their VIP Preferred e-check account. Patrons can then pair their mobile device to any slot or table game by scanning a QR code to fund their play.” He adds that players can reload winnings to their phone after play, and can use the system at different casinos using VIP Mobility after a single registration. “Unlike other cashless solutions, VIP Mobility does not require additional technology certifications on the floor, creating an effortless transition to cashless gaming,” Justice says. “It is the only solution of its kind to bring a modern approach to gaming. By harnessing the flexibility and ease of Global Payments’ groundbreaking VIP Preferred e-check network, plus functions like eCheck and Choice 4 deferred settlement, patrons can directly transfer funds from their VIP Preferred balance to their favorite game.”

End-to-End Solution International Game Technology has offered cashless modules for years as part of its IGT Advantage casino management system. This fall, it has brought all those elements together in Resort Wallet with IGTPay, which the company calls the industry’s only fully integrated turnkey cashless solution. “We are in fact the only casino management system in the industry that has a fully integrated and built-in payment gateway,” said Nick Khin, IGT senior vice president and chief operating officer, in a recent interview with GGB. “It really gives the players the ability to transfer money from external sources—from their bank account, credit card, etc.—directly to their player account, without a need to connect to a third-party payment solution.” According to Jacob Lanning, senior director of business development, payments for IGT, the company has offered cashless solutions as part of its systems business for years. “We’ve had a cashless solution in the marketplace for quite some time,” he says. “The underlying technology has been around for more than 20 years. A smart-card version of the technology has been used in South Africa and South America. It also was used at Motor City in Detroit quite some time ago.” The solution there was an on-property wallet/wagering account solution used at the slots. In the past five years, IGT has combined those elements with IGTPay, an external payment gateway, and other technology to form what is now the Resort Wallet solution. “The core banking portion, IGTPay, was actually developed originally in August of 2012,” Lanning explains. “And it’s been in the domestic U.S. in other forms of regulated gaming since 2018—iGaming and sports betting as well as retail lottery. These components have been in the product mix for quite some time; I really just think that over the past couple of years, operators and regulators in the land-based gaming space have been looking for ways to bring those technologies to bear in land-based casinos.” Lanning says it has been over the past two years that the complete turnkey cashless solution—Resort Wallet with IGTPay—has been perfected. It is now on field test with what he identifies as “a major corporate customer here in Nevada.” The company also has secured deals with California’s Agua Caliente and Oklahoma’s Indigo Sky casinos, which will employ the solution soon. The fact that the solution is available only within the Advantage CMS has 34

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“The key differentiator is the breadth of data that we have and understanding of the transactions that are going on across the network. That allows us to do a few unique things because we’re both the (solution provider) and CMS provider.” —Jacob Lanning, Senior Director of Business Development, Payments, IGT

given an additional selling point to a system that already had a growing footprint. “The key differentiator is the breadth of data that we have and understanding of the transactions that are going on across the network,” Lanning says. “That allows us to do a few unique things because we’re both the (solution provider) and CMS provider. We see all the slot transactions the customer is doing on the casino floor, and we also see the banking transactions. We can use that in a few different ways to help the casino operator. “First and foremost is marketing and incenting those types of behaviors that will ultimately drive adoption of these new technologies. For example, in the sports betting world, deposit bonusing with play has been one of the most successful types of bonuses that have driven adoption of mobile sports betting applications. We can leverage the fact that we have data on both sides of that transaction in order to execute bonuses of that nature.” While Resort Wallet with IGTPay does not require third-party partners to provide the cashless solution, that does not mean IGT partners with no other suppliers in the cashless area. Many of its Advantage system partners have existing contracts with payment vendors; in these cases, IGT integrates the IGTPay module with those other systems. One of the most recent partnerships is with Sightline. “Many of our customers have already partnered with Sightline, potentially because of sports betting,” Lanning says, “and they want to make sure that the customers that have signed up for Sightline for sports betting purposes can also use those same accounts at the slot machine. That’s one example of an integration that we’ve done in order to make sure that the player experience is what’s focused on.” Lanning says the IGTPay gateway and its access to banking networks has led to other partnerships. “For example, we have partnered with Global Payments for ACH transactions. We’ve partnered with Worldpay for credit and debit card processing. We’ve partnered with Sightline and PayPal as e-wallet providers. It’s not that there’s no other parties involved; it’s just more of that technology stack is specific to IGT.” Most payment professionals understand that while the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the move toward cashless capabilities, the transition was going to happen in any case—and cashless options will be a requirement long after the pandemic has subsided. “If you think of the broader world and how people transact in their everyday lives, the reality is over the last five years, we’ve seen a significant amount of change,” says Lanning. “Whether it’s paying for a cup of coffee or getting your groceries or your haircut, most people are using some form of contactless or cashless transactions in their everyday lives. What we found from our player research is that a significant portion of players have an expectation that this is the type of technology moving forward.” “Casinos are one of the last remaining cash-dominant businesses in our economy,” says Acres. “I’m not certain if/when cash will completely disappear from casinos, but cashless adaptation will steadily increase in the coming years until it is the dominant form of transacting.”


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Nix the Economic Incentives Gaming is a driver that does not require handouts By Brendan D. Bussmann

A

ny development project in any industry will have various levels of economic impact. This includes the number of jobs it will create, the investment that is brought into the project, and the economic spillover. Whether developing a new project on a greenfield site or a brownfield site, or redeveloping a building or area within any community, any development around the globe will bring these economic impacts. When major industries look toward developments, and when cities look to attract new sectors or build upon existing developments, state and local governments will put forward a series of tax incentives, grants or other tools to lure these businesses to cities. These include big businesses that typically bring hundreds to thousands of good-paying jobs in manufacturing, technology and other sectors along with some level of investment into a facility. The effects of these inputs into a community will compound to create a multiplier effect on the regional economy. One of the best examples of this was the race for Amazon’s new headquarters a few years ago when city after city across the United States began to chase the magical unicorn in hopes of landing this opportunity. With this race came tax incentives, credits and other options that were provided by municipalities in an effort to land a deal with one of the world’s most valuable brands. It is a tactic that has been used across the country for years. The gaming industry, however, is a different beast. When gaming opportunities come up in jurisdictions, there are no tax incentives and no additional concessions. In fact, typically there are additional development agreements that will ask bidders for anything from infrastructure improvements to funding community programs that may be impacted by the development. This is in addition to the gaming tax that is paid by an operator and several other taxes such as hotel occupancy taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, and other fees associated with the normal course of development and operation of smaller casinos and integrated resorts alike. It is a com36

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plete 180-degree turn from the way that municipalities deal with Amazon and other companies. The gaming industry does not ask for anything up front, but in the end, these developments can have as strong of an impact on a community, if not the greatest, because they do not drain cities with incentives that other businesses like Amazon ask for in order to do the deal.

Amazon’s Lure Just a few years ago, cities across the United States were clamoring to become the site for the next Amazon headquarters, dubbed Amazon HQ 2.0. Cities were looking for the same splash of activity that Seattle saw between 2010 and 2016. The Brookings Institution reported that during that time, Amazon was estimated to have generated $38 billion in economic activity. This includes the new restaurants, housing, entertainment and other aspects of the city that were a direct result of employees for Amazon, compounded by the number of jobs and spillover that was created in other industries to support those workers. The multiplier effect was in full gear for cities that were seeking significant impact from a potential development. When Amazon launched the process, they demanded that each jurisdiction list up-front the number and types of incentives that would be available for this $5 billion investment from the company. As noted, this could include land, tax incentives or deferrals, and how they would be implemented should a city or region be selected to win what could be compared to Willy Wonka’s golden ticket to the chocolate factory. Amazon did have other considerations, though, besides the obvious desire to move into an attractive market beyond what a city or region may normally offer because of their current geopolitical makeup. Other factors that were considered by Amazon included the proximity to a metropolitan area with at least 1 million people, a talented workforce, the availability of an international airport, and access to mass transit in and around the city. The development also hoped to expand at the time of its announcement


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When Amazon issued a request for proposals to add a second headquarters to complement the first one in Seattle (l.), over 200 cities and regions responded, offering billions in tax incentives and guarantees, something gaming projects that promise investment and jobs never request or receive

to as much as 8 million square feet over a decade. After the first round, there were 238 proposals for Amazon to consider that covered cities and regions across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Las Vegas, which did not make the final cut, said at the time that it did learn a lot from the process. Of the 20 finalists that were selected, most had similar characteristics in having outstanding higher-education institutions, a strong base of tech talent, and robust mass transit systems to move the local and transient populations around the city and region.

HQ 2.0 Commitments

of four of its five designation locations, including Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth. The fifth site in Richmond still faces a vote by local residents which will occur this November. Based on the current project cost estimates, the five projects combined will bring $2.25 billion in investment, and this does not include the additional impact that will be seen through indirect and induced investment to support these projects both during the construction and operational phases. Additionally, each of the five sites estimates a minimum of 1,300 permanent jobs. Also, commitments have been given to the local municipality for each development that in some cases put forth $100 million in further investments, as would be the case should Richmond proceed with its development. Most importantly, the economic impact that is generated across the state in these projects does not come with any demands or incentives from the government, as these developers instead bring investment in infrastructure in and around their sites to support the development.

Arlington, Virginia became the chosen site for Amazon HQ 2.0 after several problems emerged with a strong site that was considered in the New York City area. Today, Amazon is still committed to creating 25,000 new jobs and investing more than $2.5 billion over the next decade into the city and the immediate region. They are in the construction phase on a site at Metropolitan Park and continuing the development process on its second phase The Impact of Gaming at PenPlace. While the most immediate comparison can be seen in Virginia, the impact Amazon did make a commitment by creating a community fund dithat is felt by gaming can be seen by other projects throughout the United rected toward building better neighborhoods through a $381 million HousStates as regional gaming has expanded. One example is Pennsylvania’s ing Equity Fund. Amazon is estimated to be paying an average annual salary Wind Creek Bethlehem, formerly Sands Bethlehem, that was built in place of at least $150,000 plus benefits. of the old Bethlehem Steel Mill and turned into a vibrant rebirth on the The Commonwealth of Virginia rolled out the red carpet to help facilisouth side of the city. tate the landing of HQ 2.0. Part of this includes a $295 million commitTo date, over $1 billion has been invested in the site, while also preservment to projects that would help enhance the transportation infrastructure ing several places within the site, including many of the buildings that in the region. This was in addition to the $570 million that was already committed in Arlington County and the city of Alexandria. The commonwealth also made a major commitment to invest in top tech talent and build a pipeline for the current and future needs of the commonwealth. This includes investment in K-12 through post-graduate level work. Additionally, Virginia added a post-performance incentive that triggers once Amazon has produced these new jobs. Amazon will receive $550 million in incentives if it creates 25,000 jobs that meet the minimum threshold. It will receive up to $200 million in additional incentives if it creates a total of 37,850 jobs. The commonwealth believes that the return on this investment to lure Amazon will be 6-to-1. Meanwhile, in 2020, the commonwealth legalThe Caesars resort in Danville, Virginia is one of five state casinos that—unlike Amazon—will receive ized gaming, and is still undergoing the development no handouts but will guarantee almost as many jobs as the Northern Virginia Amazon headquarters NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Encore Boston Harbor paid $30 million for the land and more than twice that remediating the land— usually the role of government

housed the production of steel for Manhattan skyscrapers as well as the ships used during World War II. This preserved a piece of American history while also bringing new developments to the immediate area including new hotels, restaurants, and other developments. While the property still looks toward additional development phases in its future, it provides a solid example of a project that had a profound economic impact on the region, delivered on its promises, and improved the community without asking for additional development dollars from the municipality in return. Another example is Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts, just across the harbor from Boston. The $2.6 billion investment into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts saw the redevelopment of an old chemical site that had a history dating back to the 1800s of pollutants that contaminated the ground along the Mystic River. While Wynn paid $35 million for the land, it spent more than double that amount to remediate it, roughly $76 million, so it could be repurposed for the development. This is money that typically would have come from government sources, but was instead covered by a private developer for the betterment of the community. The project continues to have a strong economic impact on the city of Everett and the larger Boston region as it rebounds from the Great Shutdown and continues giving back to the community, in addition to the taxes it continually provides locally and to the state.

Not in Gaming’s DNA As highlighted in the examples above, when gaming enters into a new jurisdiction, developers typically do not ask for anything in return. They meet with local government to go through their traffic studies, impact on core services, impact to the surrounding neighborhood, and other key aspects as they not only introduce themselves to the immediate area but to their business partners in the development. This is the standard operating procedure for mature gaming companies and tribal entities that take pride in understanding the communities in which they operate. However, for each of the multiple organizations that do it right, there is always an exception to the rule. This happened most recently in Omaha, Nebraska where a private entity, Ho-Chunk, Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is seeking a gaming license to develop War Horse Casino in the central area of metro Omaha. Ho-Chunk is new to these developments, as it seeks its first commercial casino licenses not only in Omaha but also in Lincoln, South Sioux City,

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and Norfolk, Nebraska. This past summer, Ho-Chunk sought $17 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) for their project. TIF is supposed to be used for a project that would not otherwise happen if it was not for this additional funding source. While it failed to meet the criteria, as the project would have been developed regardless of the additional financing by the Omaha City Council, it left one of few if not the only blemish on the strong record of gaming companies not to seek public funding to complete a development. Nebraska just recently legalized casino gaming on the November 2020 ballot through the approval of the voters, with a majority of the gaming tax proceeds dedicated to property tax relief, providing an interesting paradox for the potential development. As the legislature looks to provide additional structure to the emerging gaming sectors, rumors continue to swirl that this type of additional funding will not be allowed for gaming-related projects.

Gaming is a Solid Economic Engine While cities throughout the United States clamor for big business to bring good-paying jobs and investment to their cities, the incentives that they use— as seen with the chase for Amazon’s HQ 2.0—largely defeat the purpose. Gaming continues to provide a solid source for investment and economic impact to the immediate communities and the surrounding regions that they serve. Gaming companies come into a community, ask for permission to bring in a trusted form of entertainment, and not only pay the property, payroll, and other local/state taxes but additionally pay a gaming tax, all without incentives in return. The incentives that the gaming industry believes in are those that it provides to local communities in return for the opportunity to do business within a city or a region. Meanwhile, other sectors and companies like Amazon will look for tax breaks and other incentives to help with their developments. The examples provided above highlight why gaming continues to be a viable economic generator for communities when done properly. This involves setting an appropriate tax rate that will allow maximum investment for the right size of a project and the jobs that would be created. Gaming companies assist with training of the workforce including everything from casino-specific jobs to hospitality, and they give back to the communities in which they operate—all while being good partners and examples for other sectors to follow. Brendan D. Bussmann is a partner and director of government affairs with Global Market Advisors (GMA).


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Award Season Industry honors return this year at G2E By Patrick Roberts

T

he arrival of the Global Gaming Expo each year means some of the industry’s most important awards programs are ramped up. With the absence of a live G2E in 2020, this year brought out even more honors. Here are three of the most important awards programs, and the winners, revealed in Las Vegas in October.

Technically Precocious The winners of 20th Annual GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are the best in class

GGB Gaming & Technology Awards 2022 Best Consumer-Service Technology GOLD: IGT PlaySports: Crystal Betting Terminal w/ Multigame (right) SILVER: Acres Manufacturing Company: Foundation Casino Management System

Best Guest Health & Safety Product The winners of the 20th edition of gaming’s most respected technology awards were announced just prior to G2E by Global Gaming Business magazine. The GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are the only awards that recognize excellence in innovation and practical application in all gaming disciplines. Hundreds of gaming products and services were entered into this year’s important competition. The gaming industry was shut down for much of 2020, but the development of new products, games and services continued. As a result of the pandemic, the program added a new category, Best Guest Health & Safety Product, which will continue with the 2023 edition. “We were overwhelmed with the quality of the nominations for the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards this year,” says Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business. “The innovation has accelerated and the recovery from the pandemic will also accelerate as a result of the effectiveness of these products. “As technology advances at a rapid pace, it’s often difficult to evaluate the most innovative and unique products. The judges for the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are some of the most skilled, dedicated and respected executives in the business, so their opinion carries a great deal of weight. The winners of this year’s edition beat out some amazing competition and demonstrated true innovation.” The awards were presented at G2E at the Venetian Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Judges for the awards are: Claudia Winkler, president of GHI Solutions; Rob Russell, gaming analyst, Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C.; Frank Neborsky, general manager, the Downs at Albuquerque; Gerhard Burda, president and CEO, ESCAPES Advisory Services; Cliff Paige, slot director, South Point Casino Resort, Las Vegas; and Skyelar Perkins, corporate slot director, Choctaw Casinos. Nominations for the 2023 GGB Gaming & Technology Awards will open in May 2022, and include new products and services to be introduced in 2022 or 2023. 40

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GOLD: Gaming Arts: Playerguard Systems (right) SILVER: Agilysys: PanOptic Kiosk

Best Interactive Product GOLD: GAN: GameSTACK (right) SILVER: Scientific Games: OpenGaming

Best ProductivityEnhancement Technology GOLD: Acres Manufacturing Company: Optimal Poker Analyzer (right) SILVER: GLI: CMS Testing Automation

Best Slot Product GOLD: Konami Gaming: Dimension 49J (right) SILVER: Aristocrat Technologies: Wild Wild Buffalo

Best Table Game Product or Innovation GOLD: AGS: Bonus Spin Xtreme (right) SILVER: TCSJohnHuxley: Chipper Champ UV


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Catching Up With no ceremony in 2020, the American Gaming Association honored two classes of the Gaming Hall of Fame at G2E this year At this year’s G2E, the American Gaming Association (AGA) inducted two classes of the Gaming Hall of Fame, 2020 and 2021. It recognizes leaders who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to the gaming industry.

Class of 2020 • James Maida, President and CEO, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) • Jeffrey Silver, Gaming & Administrative Law, Of Counsel, Dickinson Wright PLLC • Dr. Mark Yoseloff, Former Chairman & CEO, Shuffle Master Inc., Founder, Center for Gaming Innovation, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Class of 2021 • Jeremy M. Jacobs, Chairman, Delaware North • Jim Shore, General Counsel, Seminole Tribe of Florida • Knute Knudsen, Jr., Vice President, Global Business Development, Tribal Ambassador, IGT “Each of these pioneers has left a unique, indelible mark on our industry,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Under their leadership, tribal gaming has boomed, professional sports leagues have embraced sports betting, and the gaming industry is thriving despite the challenges we’ve faced over the past year and a half.” Since its establishment in 1989, the Gaming Hall of Fame honored an annual class of industry leaders, until last year, when the selection and the event were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Classes of 2020 and 2021 were honored during a ceremony at G2E’s Chairman’s Reception. “This year’s honorees have been key players in proving that gaming is a world-class entertainment experience,” said Aristocrat Technologies CEO and AGA Chairman Trevor Croker. “We’re proud to recognize them and the important role they’ve played shaping gaming into the dynamic industry it is today.” Hall of Fame honorees are selected by an independent panel of gaming executives. This year’s selection committee members include: • Joe Bertolone, Executive Director, ICGR at UNLV • Kirsten Clark, Executive Director, International Association of Gaming Advisors • Mary Cheeks, President and General Manager, Jamul Casino • Trevor Croker, CEO, Aristocrat Technologies and Chairman, AGA • Christie Eickelman, Vice President, Global Marketing, GLI and former President, Global Gaming Women • Alan Feldman, Board Chairman, International Center for Responsible Gaming • Brian Hansberry, President, Gaming, Delaware North • Steve Sutherland, President and CEO, Konami Gaming, Inc. • Virginia Valentine, President and CEO, Nevada Resort Association

Knute Knudson, Jr. Vice President of Global Business Development and Tribal Ambassador, IGT Knute Knudson, Jr. has dedicated his career to tribal gaming and the entire Indian community, serving as an advocate, mentor and transformative business leader. His efforts have influenced the success of hundreds of tribes as they established and expanded their Indian gaming operations across the U.S. In his early career at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Knudson led efforts to implement the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, working on compacts, trust applications and National Indian Gaming Commission appointments. He played an integral role in securing economic self-sufficiency for Indian Country throughout the 1990s, and authored Getting Started in Indian Gaming, which became the blueprint for the first decade of tribal gaming startups. Knudson is recognized across the industry for the vital role he played and continues to play in the growth and economic modernization of tribal gaming.

Jeremy M. Jacobs Chairman, Delaware North Jeremy “Jerry” Jacobs is a pioneer of gaming and hospitality. He is currently chairman of Delaware North, owner, chairman and governor of the Boston Bruins, and chairman of the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors. Jacobs is credited with leading the transformation of Delaware North into a global company with roots in gaming, hospitality and entertainment. From casino gaming in its early days to sports betting today, Jacobs has helped stakeholders understand the benefits of the industry to the economy and communities. He built coalitions of competitors who shared the same goals and always played the long game, which is reflected in today’s thriving, modern gaming industry. This is most evident in the NHL and sports leagues’ transformation on sports betting. Jacobs is enabling critical partnerships among gaming operators and the leagues and franchises by educating colleagues on the mutual benefits of sports betting. The more than 200 sports-gaming partnerships today would have been inconceivable when Jacobs started his career, but his vision and commitment to gaming’s growth paved the way. Today, Delaware North owns or operates gaming destinations in seven U.S. states as well as in Darwin, Australia, and also owns Ruby Seven Studios, a leading social casino developer. The company recently announced a partnership with GAMING1 to launch Gamewise, a joint venture for sports betting and iGaming. NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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James R. Maida President and CEO, Gaming Laboratories International James R. Maida is a legend in the casino business. As a lawyer in the New Jersey regulatory system, he quickly saw his agency overwhelmed with requests to test slot machine systems—so he began to do it himself out of a spare bedroom in his apartment. Maida started Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) in 1989, and has grown it into an international company serving the needs of the industry and regulators alike. Through Maida’s innovation at GLI, jurisdictions everywhere have embraced gaming, unencumbered by the burden of establishing, running and continually funding their own government-run labs.

Jim Shore General Counsel, Seminole Tribe of Florida Jim Shore’s career has defined the Florida gaming industry and reverberated across tribal gaming. As the first member of the Seminole Tribe to become a lawyer, he has served as the Seminole Tribe’s general counsel since the 1980s, and is credited with leading the compact negotiations and legal efforts that helped make the Seminole Tribe and its gaming ventures the success they are today. Shore recently led compact negotiations with the state of Florida to expand into new forms of gaming.

Dr. Mark Yoseloff Retired Chairman, CEO, Shuffle Master, Inc.; Founder, UNLV Center for Gaming Innovation Dr. Mark Yoseloff’s innovative mind transformed casino table games and today inspires the next generation of gaming. As a Ph.D. in mathematics, Yoseloff created classic games like Mississippi Stud Poker and other legendary table games. The owner of hundreds of gaming patents, he led Shuffle Master from a small shufflingmachine company into an international giant introducing groundbreaking products and services to the casino floor. Yoseloff then used his talents to create the Center for Gaming Innovation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to teach the next generation of game creators. His internationally acclaimed program has led to the creation of countless new games and patents—all owned by his students, to empower them on their path into the gaming industry.

GGW Recognizes Achievers with Becker Award In an October 6 ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas, Global Gaming Women (GGW) honored a select group of women with the Patricia Becker Pay It Forward Award. Recipients were recognized for their commitment to women’s professional development and advancement and other philanthropic efforts. The 2021 Patricia Becker Pay It Forward Awardees are:

Jeffrey A. Silver Of Counsel, Dickinson Wright PLLC Jeffrey A. Silver’s contributions to gaming, and specifically Las Vegas, reach every aspect of the industry, from regulatory to casino operations to legal. Silver first made his mark in gaming when he took a stand against organized crime as a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and subsequently laid the foundation for corporate investment in gaming. His reputation opened the door for innovation when he took on leadership roles at various Las Vegas casino resorts. Silver is attributed with bringing the first food and beverage corporate partners into the casino, leading “the Burger King Revolution” that was key to driving middle-class tourism to Las Vegas in the 1980s. Silver’s third act as an internationally recognized lawyer and trusted adviser has helped shaped today’s global landscape.

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Katie Lever Chief Legal Officer, Lottery.com Katie Lever has been a dedicated supporter of GGW since its inception, and led the creation of its initial mentorship platform. A member of the board since GGW became a charitable organization in 2015, Lever has been an invaluable part of fundraising efforts, which have enabled GGW to expand its impact across the industry. At the height of the pandemic, Lever created a new online series, “Trailblazers, Power of Questions,” to offer inspiration during the shutdown as well as ongoing opportunities for development. She has been a champion, role model and mentor for women in the industry.


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Alisia Pulella Senior Client Partner, Franklin Covey Since joining GGW in 2014, Alisia Pulella has been an invaluable asset, helping bring GGW its first major event, “The Power of the Suit.” She is an active member of the Mentorship Committee, was a founding moderator of GGW’s Lean In Circles, served as a coach for new moderators, and hosted numerous Lean In Mixers. In 2020, Pulella leveraged her coaching experience, her industry connections and her passion for others to create GGW’s Virtual Master Class Series, which offers continuing education, discounted professional services, and ongoing connection of industry experts to women around the world.

Kate White VP of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming In 2020, GGW struggled to determine how to produce and offer classes and member support during the pandemic. That’s when Kate White stepped in to establish new technology options for GGW programs. White helped streamline some operational efficiencies

of the organization and created analytics around GGW members and programming to share the value of the organization with others. She has participated in many Lean In Circles, and remains a tireless advocate of the Circles, which help professional women in gaming keep in touch.

Lauren Bates VP, Gaming Sales West, Konami Gaming, Inc. Lauren Bates, who joined the GGW board in July 2018, is currently the board’s second vice president and co-chair of the Mentorship Committee. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, she helped transition that committee to online deliverables, including the GGW Master Class Series. She also engaged with women through Lean In Circles, ensuring consistent communication and support during a turbulent time, and worked to re-engineer content in the changing work environment. In 2020, Bates, her co-chair and the international group All In Diversity hosted 400 attendees for a two-day Zoom event. That event led to the formation of additional Lean In Circles this year, including the first international circle. With 6,000 members in 42 states and 12 countries, GGW works to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry. GGW brings together women from all segments of gaming to enrich their professional and personal lives.

Congratulations We are all so very proud of you.

YOU ROCK!! All the love, Will, Adam, Dru, Pops, Judy, and GG

Kate White Vice President of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming

Class of 2022


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Table Evolution Floor-wide progressives, live tables online and live table technology are moving the pit forward By Dave Bontempo

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pread the table-games love. The sector’s innovation umbrella contains new and upgraded products, market-entrance breakthroughs and recognition of outstanding personnel. Enhancements occur on several fronts. One involves blending the bells-and-whistles thrills of slots into wild-card options for its classic games. Although table games move more slowly than slot action, new products enrich both customer enjoyment and house edge. Another advancement showcases online craps in a sophisticated, wellthought-out theme. And young personnel continue energizing this gaming area, as the most recent G2E summit reveals. As the fourth quarter of 2021 hits full stride, the sector and some significant companies have accomplished noteworthy milestones.

Multiple Bonuses AGS enjoys bonus time, “Xtremely.” The company’s Bonus Spin Xtreme prevailed on a high-profile stage at G2E, earning a Gold award in GGB’s Gaming & Technology Awards. It is the only table progressive that can link all tables within a casino and offer a single shared progressive jackpot. Recognition also reached an individual level. Jamie Smith, the company’s director of sales, obtained a personal “Bonus Xtreme,” by being recognized for her excellence driving this product. She was named among the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40, presented by GGB. John Hemberger, AGS senior vice president of table products, hailed the product’s success at gaming’s prized gathering. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that Bonus Spin Xtreme got the recognition it deserved,” he said. 44

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

“From the get-go, this product has been a game-changer that has helped AGS in its pursuit to be the No. 1 table game progressives company in the world.” AGS offers a library of more than 50 unique table games, table game side bets, and other table products to entertain players and drive revenues in the casino pit. With more than 5,400 placements around the globe, AGS’ game portfolio offers something


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for every type of player, including the fastest-growing progressives in the industry, premium poker titles, blackjack side bets, and variations of baccarat and roulette. Bonus Spin Xtreme is the latest star in that lineup. Bonus Spin Xtreme is AGS’ innovative progressive side bet system. Its groundbreaking design, which features three concentric wheels, enables Bonus Spin Xtreme to award all participating players with a community prize, as well as award one player position with an enhanced prize, which may be a progressive jackpot. Bonus Spin Xtreme can offer a single shared progressive jackpot—a feat which has never been accomplished with any product in any casino, AGS officials say. What makes this product a game-changer is its ability to provide just one unique progressive jackpot winner for community-style table games like roulette, baccarat and craps, while enabling all participating players to be rewarded with a community prize. Three jackpot levels, including AGS’ popular must-hit-by progressive, accelerate player engagement, officials add. Anticipation builds as the jackpot gets closer to hitting. Because casinos can use Bonus Spin Xtreme to link every table game on the casino floor, casino operators will only have to seed each progressive meter one time, and the progressive meters will grow much more quickly. This will add tremendous attraction to players seeking to win a larger prize and provide operating efficiencies, AGS says. To augment its growing library of proprietary table games, side bets and progressives, the company offers well-designed, efficient table game equipment intended to drive operating efficiencies, increase revenue, and enhance the player experience. AGS has launched the new Pax S single-deck packet shuffler designed for specialty games. The sleek Pax S shuffler features sophisticated and secure card recognition technology, fits into existing table cutouts for ease of installation, and deals more than 50 table games, with the ability for easy configuration to support additional games. The Dex S single-deck card shuffler features a streamlined design with less moving parts, making it exceptionally functional and economical. The Dex S is ideal for poker rooms to increase efficiencies, due to its automated card shuffling, which shuffles a single deck in less than 36 seconds. Dex S offers efficiency, security, and ease of service and maintenance. And with a footprint that fits into existing table cutouts, operators can easily install the Dex S without changing their current layouts or replacing any tables. The chip tray is another force in the AGS lineup, with its newly engineered ACOT Chip Tray and no-peek device, available together or separately. The ACOT solution combines an easily accessible 12-tube table game chip tray with a separate no-peek device designed to provide greater levels of security for blackjack tables. With a lock-ready lid and mounting hardware, the streamlined ACOT Chip Tray is designed to fit perfectly within a 46

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

property’s existing cutout for ease of installation. The no-peek device uses a large housing to increase protection from prying eyes.

Roulette with a Twist Following the signing of an exclusive agreement to distribute the game in the U.S., London-based table-game supplier TCSJohnHuxley debuted Richer Spin Roulette at this year’s G2E. Richer Spin Roulette is a new side bet that adds a twist to roulette. Played alongside the traditional game, Richer Spin Roulette features a unique TCSJohnHuxley roulette wheel with an inner cylinder that has gold and silver bonus bet icons. This counter-rotates to the outer number ring, allowing the two to spin on independently rotating cylinders. The easy-to-learn game is available for single, double and triple zero games. Bets are placed on a number racetrack adjacent to the traditional roulette grid, and winning bets are determined by the number the icons line up with once the wheel comes to a stop. There is no limit to the number of side bets that can be placed. With the one gold icon paying out 300-to-1 and the nine silver icons paying 100-to-1, there are lots of chances for higher payouts to the traditional game. “We are really pleased to add Richer Spin Roulette to our portfolio, as it’s a great game that promises to make a big impact on gaming floors,” says Steph Nel, TCSJohnHuxley managing director for the Americas. “Not only is it a really exciting side bet that offers players the chance to win big payouts from small wagers; it’s also extremely attractive to operators as it increases table drop while retaining a strong house edge.”



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The Evolution Surge Evolution Gaming has evolved, and continues to place a footprint in the North American table-games market. “Live casino games have been part of Evolution’s DNA since the company’s inception in 2006,” says Jeff Millar, commercial director of North America for Evolution. “We have only scratched the surface in what we have released in North America, and we’re extremely excited to release Live Craps in all the U.S. iGaming jurisdictions. “The game of craps is complex, and working with regulators on the nuances of the live-dealer (online) version of the game has taken a bit of time,” he adds. “But we are finally there, and we’ll be announcing our first U.S. launch in the coming weeks.” Millar is excited about the company’s Live Craps, a variation on a successful theme. The pass line is now, well, online. This unique Live Craps game is set in a beautiful underground speakeasy-themed studio. It is a lively and fast-paced game with many ways to bet and even more ways to win. “Our Live Craps is a unique version of a well-loved classic,” Millar says. “A dice launcher throws the dice, the cameras follow the dice close up, and an online player will be updated on how other players are betting by looking at dynamic statistic boards on the wall. “The game comes in two forms, our unique underground speakeasythemed Live Craps and our First-Person Craps, an RNG version that comes with our unique ‘GO LIVE’ button. The game might seem a little overwhelming for first-time players, but we make sure that our games are enjoyable for old hands and new players alike.” Millar says a built-in interactive tutorial and “Easy Mode” are available. Players can immerse themselves in the game and learn to play without any pressure, where only straightforward bets are available. “For players who want to get straight into the action, we’ve created a ‘My Numbers’ display, guiding players very clearly on which number will give them a win,” he indicates. “In Live Casino you’re not bound by placing craps bets in multiples either—it’s much easier to place a bet in Live Craps, and you always know how much you’re playing for.” The introduction of Live Craps will complete a menu of what players are already familiar with when visiting a land-based casino—Evolution’s core products already include blackjack, Infinite Blackjack, roulette and baccarat, Millar says.

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During the casino closures from the pandemic, these familiar games were a relief to online operators in serving their customers who were seeking a land-based casino experience, he asserts. “Yet even as casinos begin to reopen, we still see strong player demand for the authenticity that our Live Dealer games have to offer,” Millar says. “We work in a resilient industry—the pandemic proved that—and while we had to adapt our operations, we continued to see high demand for our products. It’s meant we can continue our plans to expand and develop in new markets.” Craps in North America has been a favorite of land-based casinos and has had a long history, not only in the casino world but throughout movie history, Millar says. “When we first started brainstorming Live Craps, we wanted to play around with the setting, creating an atmosphere and visual experience that would speak to the game’s past—and what better way than creating a narrative that’s set in the ‘speakeasy’ era?” he says. “We’re in the ‘New Roaring 20s,’ and it felt right to bring this iconic theme back to players. Although we’ve yet to release the game into the North America market, we expect players to enjoy all the familiar betting options that are available on craps in a land-based casino. The multiple camera angles that show the dice being thrown and the result, as well as the interactive chat with a real dealer (wearing suspenders, of course!), will provide a true-to-life experience—as if the player were standing in front of the table at a casino.” Millar says when Evolution first launched the game, it was a unique development in the world of gaming, and that hasn’t changed. “It was the first time players anywhere could play authentic Live Craps online on their phones, tablets, desktops or laptops,” he says. “We’ve made it easier than ever for new players by introducing easy-to-play user interfaces with various helpful features. Before releasing the product to the U.S., we realized from our initial iteration that we needed to incorporate a few additional features that American players would expect to see. “We always focus on the player experience, and tailoring that experience to be localized to the markets we serve. For every market we create, there’s a team behind it that’s always looking at improvements they can make to ensure that players are getting the best experience possible. This has always been what has set us apart from other providers.” Throughout the industry, the creative use of table games—whether via the equipment to accommodate them or by exciting new ways to play them—remains a strong point of interest for companies that supply the properties.


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NEW GAME REVIEW by Frank Legato

Prize Stacks: Tiki Jungle AGS

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iki Jungle is one of two games (with Tiki Shores) in AGS’ new Prize Stacks game family. The game, on the Orion Portrait cabinet, combines a cascading wins feature with expanding reels. The base game is a five-reel, 30-line video slot on a three-by-five reel array. Randomly during primary game play, an extra row of symbols is added in what is called the “Reel Rise” feature. The number of rows can increase from three to four to five, six or a maximum of seven rows, with the number of paylines increasing to 40, 50, 60 or 70, respectively. One or more “Prize” symbols on any of the first four reels with a gold tiki trigger symbol on reel 5 triggers the main Prize Stacks feature. The tikis turn into cash-on-reels symbols, and the player is awarded the credit values. The values then cascade down to be replaced with other symbols, paying with each cascade until they exit the screen at the bottom. Any Grand, Major, Minor or Mini symbol appearing on the reels during the Prize Stacks feature awards the corresponding progressive jackpot. The top Grand progressive resets at $5,000. Randomly during the 30-line primary game, the main tiki character will jump on screen to expand the reels. The bigger the stack, the more that value multiplies as it goes down the screen. In the free-game feature, the reels automatically grow one row with each spin, up to the maximum seven rows. The bigger the reels, the bigger the stacks.

Wheel of Fortune High Roller IGT

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his game, launched at last month’s Global Gaming Expo, is one of the titles celebrating the 25th anniversary of IGT’s Wheel of Fortune slot game franchise. It also is the inaugural game on IGT’s new Peak65 cabinet, with its imposing 65-inch 4K monitor. Wheel of Fortune High Roller features a versatile wheel bonus that can include multiple pointers, progressive jackpot slices, multipliers and mystery bonuses. The base game reprises the expanding reels mechanic first seen in the hit game Hexbreak3r. The reels expand with a “High Roller Arrow” that adds multipliers and extra pointers to the bonus wheel. With a variety of wheels that can award massive wins and a rich free games bonus, the game includes an abundance of entertaining features. Players advance to achieve wheel spins, large stacked multi-way wins, jackpot wheel spins, and the highly entertaining free games bonus. The base game is a ways-to-win format—no 50

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Manufacturer: AGS Platform: Starwall x Orion Format: Five-reel, 30-line video slot; expands to 70 lines Denomination: .01, .02, .05, .10, .25, .50, 1.00 Max Bet: 800 Top Award: Progressive; $5,000 reset Hit Frequency: 32.27% Theoretical Hold: 2.98%-13.81%

paylines, wins registered by adjacent symbols. The primary three-by-five reel array returns 243 possible ways to win on each spin. When an arrow symbol lands on any reel, the reel grows one position, thus increasing the number of ways available to win. At maximum expansion, the reels return 59,049 ways to win on each spin. Three jackpot spin symbols landing in any base game spin award the jackpot wheel with guaranteed big wins. The player is awarded unlimited free games when three partial stacks of the free games portrait symbol are triggered, ending when one of their reels reaches a bonusending wheel. During the free games, the reel interface moves down instead of up, giving the player a great chance for larger multi-way wins as the bonus continues. The graphics package showcases metropolitan opulence in the base game, and then shifts to carefree exotic world travel in the free games. In addition to the Peak65, the game is available on the PeakSlant49, CrystalDual and CrystalSlant cabinets. Manufacturer: IGT Platform: Peak65, PeakSlant49 with Wheel Format: Five-reel, 243-ways-to-win video slot Denomination: Multi-denomination Max Bet: 880 Top Award: 1,000,240 credits Hit Frequency: Approximately 30% Theoretical Hold: 11%-14.1%


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Jie Jie Gao Sheng: Lucky Lion Ainsworth Game Technology

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his new game family from Ainsworth (the other launch game is “Fortunes”) includes a persistent-state feature that increases prize amounts, and a picking bonus that can result in various numbers of free games with multipliers. The base game is a five-reel, 243-ways-to-win video slot. During the primary game, landing golden ingot symbols increases the prize amounts for various line combinations. Other ingot symbols increase the number of 2X, 3X or 4X Free Games. The increased amounts stay in place until that line combination or free-game round is hit. During paid games, any three or more scattered Free Games symbols trigger the Lucky Scroll Bonus. The player chooses a coin from the selections. The chosen coin will reveal either free games, 2X, 3X or 4X, and the player will be awarded eight free games, or the current free game count for 2x, 3X or 4X free games, respectively.

The game also includes 33 “mini meters.” The mini meter feature will allow players to visually see possible wins with pays that may even be higher for lower symbol counts. It gives the player the opportunity to chase the free games and prizes. This feature may incentivize players to play a little longer in hopes of getting the big win. Manufacturer: Ainsworth Game Technology Platform: A-STAR Curve Format: Five-reel, 243-ways-to-win video slot Denomination: .01 through 100.00 Max Bet: 500 Top Award: 908,570 credits Hit Frequency: Approximately 50% Theoretical Hold: 4%-15%

Mystical Pearl Konami Gaming

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his new game family, comprising Mystical Pearl Mermaid and Mystical Pearl Neptune, is featured on Konami’s core Dimension 27 cabinet. Game play on the undersea-themed linked progressive focuses on collecting simmering pearl symbols for a hold-and-re-spin bonus that can result in one of four jackpots—static prizes of 1,000 times the denomination (Mini) and 5,000 times the denomination (Minor), or progressives resetting at $500 (Major) and $5,000 (Grand). The base game is a five-reel video slot that can be configured with 25 or 50 paylines. Six or more pearls scattered on the reels trigger the hold-and-re-spin feature (this occurs every 80 spins on average). During primary or free game spins, the main character (Mermaid or Neptune) randomly adds pearls to the reels before they stop spinning. Credit prizes are attached to the pearls, and the pearls stay in place as the other reels spin in a three-game persistent cycle. Icons corresponding to all but the top Grand jackpot also can appear during the hold-and-re-spin feature. The Grand is won by filling all 15 reel symbols in the array with pearls. The Mini, Minor and Major jackpots scale upward with higher bets. According to the company, the Major jackpot hits an average of every other day on a four-machine bank. There also is a five-game free spin feature. During the free spins, all wild symbols are 2X wild symbols that double the pays. Both the primary game and free-spin round feature Konami’s trademark “Action Stacks,” stacked symbols that result in huge wins. They are more prevalent in the free games, when multipliers can be added to the wins. The games can be configured in multi-denom setups of either low (penny, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents) or higher denominations (10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents or $1). 52

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Manufacturer: Konami Gaming, Inc. Platform: Dimension 27 Format: Five-reel, 25-line or 50-line video slot Denomination: .01, .02, .05, .10, .25, .50, 1.00 Max Bet: 300, 600 Top Award: Progressive; $5,000 reset Hit Frequency: 16.24% Theoretical Hold: 6.09%-11.99%


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FRANKLY SPEAKING by Frank Legato

Live and In Person Getting back to Global Gaming Expo was like getting back to normal... almost

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couple of weeks ago, I got back from Las Vegas, where, as you can imagine, I was reveling in returning to something I had taken for granted over the years. That’s right, The Rat Pack Is Back at Tuscany Suites. No, I’m talking about human contact. A physical, in-person trade show. With Vanna White, no less. The Global Gaming Expo. Live. There also was the nostalgia of a solid concrete trade show pathway. Remember those, from the 1980s? I do. There was never a carpet, no matter how thin, in the path between the booths in those days. It was like walking across a giant basement, seven hours a day for three days. But at least I got to meet celebs back then. Well, not the 1980s back-then. That was before the TV-themed slots came along, after which I’d get to meet Gilligan, the Professor and Mary Anne, straight off their 20-year, three-hour cruise. Back in the ’80s, I got to meet people like Little Rascals star Spanky McFarland, who was paid by some cash-gadget manufacturers to hawk widgets at their booth. He was in his late 50s at the time, but he still looked like Spanky. Put him in a striped jacket and a beanie cap, and there would be no doubt: It was the Spankster. He was in a suit and tie. So it wasn’t the same. But I digress. The thing about schlepping around trade show floors on hard concrete in the 1980s was this: I was still in my 20s. I could hump magazines around in a rock quarry with little or no physical discomfort. (And I often did, just for the sheer fun of it.) I’m in my 60s now. I need a rug. Even if it’s just a thin layer of fuzz. Dress shoes on hard concrete? For four straight days? Just. Shoot. Me. After four days, I was walking like Walter Brennan as Stumpy in Rio Bravo. Still, there was always the heavily carpeted foyer leading to the ballrooms and the meeting rooms, so I could make wide swings between slot manufacturer booths and rest my feet a bit. And I was exaggerating the dress-shoe bit. I actually wear my officially sanctioned trade-show footwear for these events: Hush Puppies, with the insoles you get at the podiatrist. I could walk across Death Valley in those shoes. (And I often do, just for the sheer fun of it.) But still, if the G2E people are seeking my input, my feedback as an exhibitor, this is my first suggestion, my first “bullet point,” if you will: Put back the damn rug next year. I’m dying here. Aside from that, it was sort of an unusual G2E show. Everybody had masks on. People you haven’t seen for two years would say, “Hey, Frank!,” and you have to try to recognize them by their hairline. (OK, not a big task in my case.) You stammer, and then you say, “Oh, great to see you, Larry!” 54

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

But of course, it’s not Larry. It’s Phil. Larry’s the guy you called Phil 10 minutes ago. And while all of us industry colleagues were happy to gather in person after two years, it was still a little weird. Some didn’t know whether to shake hands or fist-bump, or some weird conglomeration of fist, elbow and hand. It appears we’ve forgotten how to greet industry colleagues while we’ve been away. Let’s work on that. No doubt, this is all symptomatic of what we’ve been through collectively for the past year and a half. We’re not sure about human contact. Not just yet. But soon. All in all, it was a boffo G2E week, and I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the game, in the moment, in person, grinning for award-presenting photos, visiting everyone’s booths, and playing new slot machines for free. As trade shows go, it’s hard to beat this one. Oh, and about that The Rat Pack Is Back at the Tuscany, it’s a real show. Singer/impersonators dress up like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. and run through all the stale off-color ’50s wisecracks, and stand up there and croon, just like in the old days at the Sands. All due respect, enough with the Rat Pack stuff, OK? We’re to the point where we can put on shows like Zappa Is Back. Or, Emerson, Lake & Palmer And Kansas Are Both Back. I’d buy tickets to either of those shows before any Rat Pack shtick. It’s time for the nostalgia to shift to the generations of people who are, you know, still alive. Just sayin.’


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CUTTING EDGE by Frank Legato

Mobile Chip Cleaning PRODUCT: The Pit Manager MANUFACTURER: Elite Chip Care

lite Chip Care, a casino chip cleaning service that uses the process of Ultrasonics to kill bacteria and other pathogens from chips, has launched The Pit Manager, a mobile chip-cleaning cart designed for singleperson operation. The Pit Manager is fully mobile and self-contained. No setup is required—the user simply adds hot water, plugs the unit into any 110-volt outlet and turns the power on. After chips are cleaned and sanitized, the user simply empties the tank through a front ball valve, rinses the tank interior with clean water, wipes it dry and stores it for the next session. The unit requires no heavy cleanup, and requires no maintenance since there are no moving parts that would require repairs.

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The Pit Manager cleans 39 mm and 43 mm chip sizes, and also cleans acrylic chip racks and poker chip trays. For more information on the product, which won an award in 2019 in the “Top 20 Most Innovative Products” competition, contact Clay Dubois at clay@elitecasinogaming.com, or visit elitechipcare.com.

Engaging Players PRODUCT: FUZE Player Engagement Tools MANUFACTURER: Bragg Gaming

ragg Gaming now offers FUZE, the sophisticated suite of player engagement tools for iGaming. Designed and developed by Bragg’s wholly owned subsidiary Oryx Gaming, FUZE is a state-of-the-art set of gamification and engagement tools, designed to enhance the player experience, boost online casino operator KPIs, and increase player lifetime value (LTV), all from a single platform. FUZE comprises a player engagement suite that includes tailor-made activities, tournaments and other events to engage players or longer sessions, increase player acquisition and retention, and maximize LTV. The suite includes: • Tournaments with real-time leaderboards: multiple types of tournaments to target specific types of players, offering a diverse array of entertainment and engagement features. Real-time leaderboards add a social dimension to regular online casino play with dynamic competition campaigns, boosting engagement and increasing game play. • Quests: tailor-made player journeys keep players entertained while completing challenges and hunting for prizes. • Mystery Jackpots: an innovative approach to progressive jackpots that adds excitement and provides additional winning possibilities. • Achievements: personalized player engagement through gamification. • Opt-in Tournaments: transparent and consent-minded approach to promotional competitions. • Recommendation Engine: customized game suggestions based on the player’s interest patterns. • Real-time CRM Campaign System: awards player persistence and loyalty in real-time. Operators can automatically trigger a reaction to players’ online activity and offer tailored promotions based on their actions, ensuring maximum player engagement and experience.

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• Free Rounds: promote or revive games by letting the players get ac-

quainted with them through an already-accomplished promotion tool. • Promo Push: send push notifications to keep players informed and en-

gaged within the game or on the website. FUZE player engagement tools light up online casino promotion KPIs, with proven results during a case study promotion showing up to a 306 percent increase in bets, a 272 percent increase in game rounds, and a 239 percent increase in the number of players. However, results after the case study promotion have shown even more impressive long-range effect of a 364 percent increase in bets, a 288 percent increase in game rounds, a 288 percent increase in the number of players, up to three times higher traffic at game launch and up to 10 times more returning players. The FUZE player engagement platform is easy to set up and configure and requires no additional integration. FUZE is powered by the Oryx Data Analytics Platform (DAP) where real-time data is collected and processed. For more information, visit bragg.games.


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Caesars Back In Japan

Two U.S. casino giants will play roles in Japan now that Osaka has chosen MGM Resorts By Marjorie Preston

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n late September, the group chosen to develop an integrated resort in Wakayama, Japan announced a new member of the consortium: Caesars Entertainment. Clairvest Neem Ventures, a unit of Vancouver-based Clairvest Group, disclosed that Caesars had joined its partnership, replacing France’s Group Partouche as would-be operator of the US$4.21 billion project. Together with the local government, they will jointly bid for a license to site, develop and operate an IR at Wakayama’s Marina City. Clairvest Neem Ventures (CNV) also includes esports entrepreneur Mario Ho, son of late Macau casino kingpin Stanley Ho; SJM Holdings Co-Chairwoman Angela Leong; and William Weidner, former president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Working with late Sands founder Sheldon Adelson, Weidner helped to design and develop Macau’s Cotai district, and megaresorts including the Venetian Macao, the Venetian Las Vegas and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Also on the team: Brad Stone, former president of global operations and construction at Las Vegas Sands. In a news release, Clairvest said Caesars joins the consortium “in full compliance with Japanese law and with no capital commitment.” It called Caesars “one of the gaming industry’s best-known brands and an elite casino operator” and referred to the overall entity as “one of the most experienced IR development and management teams in the world.” “We are thrilled to partner with Caesars Entertainment,” said Eddie Woo, CNV representative director. “Caesars and CNV share a common vision for Japan’s national IR program. Not only will it serve to enhance the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic through increased international visitation, but we are confident that together we can create a resort that provides significant local economic stimulation in Wakayama prefecture, throughout the Kansai region and the rest of Japan.” “Caesars is an iconic brand, and we are proud to partner with CNV to bring it to Japan,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “We believe our experience blends perfectly with CNV’s and look forward to creating something special with them for the Kansai region.” In an analysis on ICE365.com, Muhammad Cohen noted the “major about-face” for the largest U.S. gaming operator. “Caesars’ reentry dramatically changes the Japan IR race that previously lost Caesars, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and Genting Group,” Cohen wrote. “For Caesars, it’s the first land-based international expansion since its US$17.3 billion reverse merger with Eldorado Resorts in 2019.” Caesars’ history in the region has been on and off. In August 2019, the company withdrew from the Japan race to concentrate on the merger. Last February, the combined company revealed it disposed of Caesars’ stake in a Korea casino hotel project, with Reeg joking, “We sold it for some barbecue pork.”

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

Clairvest’s proposal for the Wakayama IR (pictured in an artist’s rendering) is estimated to be a US$4.21 billion investment, built on an artificial island called Marina City

By The Sea In nearby Osaka, another U.S. gaming giant, MGM Resorts International, has joined with Japanese financial conglomerate Orix to seek an IR license on Yumeshima Island. Both cities are about a 40-minute drive from Kansai International Airport. And while Osaka is the population center, with 2.4 million residents to 375,000 in Wakayama City, Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka insists the proximity won’t hurt, and could create a casino cluster that benefits both operators, as in Macau, Las Vegas or Manila’s Entertainment City casino zone. Cohen believes Caesars wants to seize the opportunity in Japan that it missed in Macau. In 2001, the company then known as Harrah’s Entertainment passed on a bid for a Macau license, and in 2007 blundered with the purchase of a Cotai golf course, which it hoped to leverage for a new

MGM Resorts International has joined with Japanese financial conglomerate Orix to seek an IR license on Yumeshima Island


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concession. Six years later, it sold at a loss of US$150 million. Caesars’ announcement came a day after Osaka formally endorsed MGM’s IR plans, but the choice was anticlimactic: the partnership of MGM and Orix were the sole bidders. They plan a US$10 billion complex with a casino, 2,500 hotel rooms, more than 700,000 square feet of conference and exhibition facilities and a variety of food and beverage offerings. Meanwhile, the Osaka government released details of MGM’s proposal. According to the materials, the consortium expects annual gaming sales of JPY430 billion (US$3.87 billion) and non-gaming sales of JPY110 billion, meaning total sales of JPY540 billion. The project is being referred to as “WOW next to the Kansai and Osaka region.” The initial investment amount for the complex is confirmed at US$9.7 billion, with employment opportunities for 15,000 people. The consortium expects 20.5 million visits annually to the property: 14 million domestic-customer visits, and 6.5 million visits by international visitors. Bill Hornbuckle, president and CEO of MGM Resorts, said in a statement, “We will work closely with the prefectural/city municipal governments to deliver an iconic, uniquely Japanese destination warranting Osaka’s selection as home to one of Japan’s first integrated resorts.”

Nope From Yokohama Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, withdrew from the bidding in August with the election of an anti-IR mayor, Takaharu Yamanaka. It’s been speculated that the country’s largest city—Tokyo, with a population of 14 million— could now step in as an IR candidate. According to the Nevada Independent, analysts have long viewed Tokyo as the prize. Gaming consultant Brendan Bussmann of Las Vegas-based Global Market Advisors suggested the Las Vegas companies as well as Genting Berhad, Malaysia-based owner of Resorts World Las Vegas, might also return to Japan. “While (Japan) appears to be set at the current three locations, there are some scenarios that would allow for additional sites to be added either because not all three are selected or another site emerges before the April 2022 deadline,” Bussmann said. Initially, most major operators planned to compete in Japan, drawn by estimates that Japanese casinos could bring in between $20 billion and $25 billion in annual gaming revenues per year at maturity, at the time second only to Macau. The Covid-19 pandemic sent many of those operators scurrying, though MGM remained steadfast.

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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GOODS&SERVICES in summer 2022 within Caesars Atlantic City. The

The new Nobu restaurant at Paris Las Vegas

CAESARS, NOBU ANNOUNCE EXPANSION

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aesars Entertainment Inc. and global lifestyle brand Nobu Hospitality recently announced they will extend their holdings, adding two new Nobu hotels and restaurants at Harrah’s New Orleans and Caesars Atlantic City, adding a Nobu restaurant at Paris Las Vegas, and renovating the first Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In a joint statement, Nobu founders Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper said, “We opened our first Nobu Hotel in 2013 at Caesars Palace, breaking the mold and doing something that had never been done before by placing a boutique experience inside one of the most iconic resorts on the Strip. “We now have expanded the collection around the world, and we have a robust pipeline of destinations in development. We are excited to take this next step in our growing partnership with Caesars.” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg commented, “Our relationship with Nobu has been an unparalleled success in Las Vegas, and as we continue to invest there and in New Orleans and Atlantic City, we felt it was the perfect opportunity to deepen and expand that relationship. Nobu’s sophisticated elegance is the perfect complement to the multimillion-dollar renovation projects we are developing in all three cities, all of which are fast becoming the nation’s top modern sports, gaming and entertainment destinations.” Nobu Hotels and restaurant concepts are described as a blend of modern, cool luxury and minimal Japanese tradition. The Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace offers 182 guest rooms and suites, including the lavish rooftop Nobu Villa and one of the world’s largest Nobu restaurants. A multimillion-dollar refresh will be completed by the end of this year. A new Nobu restaurant and lounge will open at Paris Las Vegas in early 2022, the second Las Vegas restaurant developed by Nobu Hospitality and Caesars Entertainment. Nobu Hotel Atlantic City is scheduled to open 60

venue, which will include a Nobu restaurant, is part of Caesars’ $400 million renovation, to be completed by 2023. The project will include high-end remodeled rooms and suites, new interior design elements, gaming floor enhancements and many more additions. Finally, in 2024, Nobu Hotel New Orleans and restaurant will open within the new Caesars New Orleans, following a multimillion-dollar makeover of Harrah’s New Orleans. Matsuhisa’s famed fusion cuisine blends traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients. He opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles in 1987. The first Nobu-branded restaurant debuted in 1994 in TriBeCa in New York City. The brand now includes 17 locations in the U.S. and 30 more worldwide.

IGT TO TRIAL DIGITAL WALLET IN AUSTRALIA

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nternational Game Technology PLC is planning a trial of its Resort Wallet with IGTPay cashless gaming system at a New South Wales club, Club York in Sydney. The trial is part of a “Regulatory Sandbox” to trial digital wallet products in a live venue, announced by the New South Wales government in May. IGT’s trial will offer four key innovations, including a digital loyalty card stored on the patron’s phone, a venue wallet which allows spending on non-gaming across the venue, allowing direct card deposit to the venue wallet, and EFT/POS funding (via a card) to a customer’s player account or TITO ticket. Customers will need to supply proof of identity and link their digital wallet to an Australian bank account. However, data privacy will be a central theme of the trial.

ACRES DEBUTS PAYACTION SPORTS BONUS AT G2E

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cres Manufacturing Company (AMC) introduced the PayAction Sports Bonus as part of its 2021 Global Gaming Expo lineup. The unique

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

bonus uses a live sports data feed to trigger a bonus round on any slot machine connected to AMC’s Foundation casino management system. “Foundation gives casinos unprecedented ability to connect slot machine behavior with live realworld events,” said Noah Acres, chief operating officer of AMC. “Players are going to love the feeling of winning more just because their favorite team scored, and they’ll be willing to play more just to experience the thrill.” The PayAction Sports Bonus works by interfacing a live sports data feed with any slot machine connected to the Foundation casino management system. When a goal, touchdown or other configured event occurs, all designated machines enter a bonus sequence that is automatically paid to the game’s credit meter. The company describes the bonus as highly configurable, with casinos able to select any team or player in any sport into the promotion. Any measurable statistic can be used to trigger the bonus, and prizes can be paid to the game’s credit meter or to the Acres Wallet in either cashable or non-cashable credits. Eligibility can also be configured to ensure profitable operation of the bonus. “We’re actively negotiating with sports franchises, athletes and brands interested in distributing their own branded jackpots,” said Acres. “PayAction is just the latest example of how AMC is using Foundation to reinvent the player experience.”

SIGHTLINE, IGT, KONAMI ANNOUNCE CASHLESS PARTNERSHIPS

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n October 4, Sightline Payments LLC and IGT, a subsidiary of International Game Technology, announced a partnership to deliver cashless gaming solutions through Sightline’s award-winning digital commerce platform Play+ and IGT’s IGTPay full-service funding solution, Resort Wallet, and PlaySports sports betting platform. Play+ has been added as a funding method into IGT’s land-based cashless wagering solution of IGTPay and Resort Wallet. By adding Play+ into IGTPay, players can fund their Resort Wallet accounts via Play+ and then use those funds for gaming and entertainment at casino properties. Consumers have come to expect the convenience of cashless payment options in their everyday lives, and this partnership will enable operators to provide a convenient, cost-effective and safer alternative to paying with cash. “Our technology enhances the gaming experi-


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ence for both players and operators, and working in tandem with IGT’s complementary suite of products will help us transform even more traditional casino floors into fully cashless ecosystems,” said Sightline Co-CEO Joe Pappano. “This partnership will provide players with the greatest variety of funding and withdrawal options while driving increased engagement and loyalty through a seamless digital payments ecosystem.” The digital options made available by this partnership will empower customers with robust tools to self-monitor and govern their own spending and gaming behavior. Guests can track spending, set daily or hourly spending limits, and more, while casinos will have increased visibility and tools to ensure that guests are gaming responsibly. Sightline has also partnered with Mastercard to launch the Play+ Mastercard, which players can load for use in their non-gaming activities, sports betting, online gaming, and casino wagering accounts.

CONSCIOUS GAMING, IXUP TO PARTNER IN U.S.

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onscious Gaming and GeoComply Solutions Inc. announced last month that they will take part in a pilot agreement with IXUP Ltd. to leverage the latter’s secure data collaboration technologies in the U.S. online gaming and sports wagering markets. The collaboration will work across platforms and jurisdictions to address next-generation needs for responsible gaming and integrity. Conscious Gaming, a Nevada-based nonprofit founded by GeoComply, uses technology to support a safer and more responsible online gaming environment. GeoComply, based in Canada, is the global market leader in geolocation security, and the leading specialist in fraud prevention and cybersecurity to U.S.-based sports betting operators. The company services nearly 100 percent of the U.S. iGaming market. Under the terms of the agreement, IXUP will contribute its world-leading secure data collaboration technology as well as develop, operate and maintain the jointly developed product. GeoComply will contribute its existing “PlayPause” self-exclusion product and be responsible for assisting with all regulatory matters, as well as overseeing all 62

sales and marketing efforts with its existing extensive customer base with the major U.S. online betting operators. GeoComply has successfully deployed PlayPause in Pennsylvania via a partnership with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and is engaging with additional gaming regulatory agencies as well as major U.S. sporting leagues regarding the provision of this exclusion product. Anna Sainsbury, founder of GeoComply and Conscious Gaming, commented, “With the significant growth of sports betting in the U.S. market, it is imperative that stakeholders proactively mitigate problem gambling and effectively manage impermissible bettors. Whether a player has self-excluded or if they are prohibited from betting due to regulatory restrictions, a technology solution will be available that gives operators the confidence that they are compliant. IXUP’s unique secure data collaboration technology will be key to bolstering PlayPause, and we are extremely excited to be working with them to deliver this proof of concept and ultimately make this product available across the broader North American sports betting and iGaming landscape in coming years.” The final IXUP-enhanced PlayPause product is intended to be deployed as a distributed, fully encrypted and highly secure cloud platform to enable impermissible bettors to be registered and queried in a privacy-preserving manner, the companies stated. The platform will use a blend of military-grade encryption techniques (including homomorphic encryption) to ensure data is protected and controlled by data owners at all times, yet still enable the data to be searched to identify impermissible bettors. The scalability of the cloud platform will ensure the solution can support the growing size of the sports betting market and the significant amount of data that will need to be queried in real time as a resource, the partners said.

GREEK CASINO OFFERS LATEST NOVOMATIC GAMES

net and with high-visibility jackpot signage, the bank makes a distinct footprint on the main slot floor. Another broad bank of V.I.P. Lounge 2.32 machines features the Impera-Line HD Edition 6 multigame mix with 56 titles, including classics, fruit games and proprietary Impera games. To complete the installation, 14 Novostar SL 2.24 cabinets comprise a third new machine bank featuring Premium-V+ Gaminator Editions 5, 6 and 7. All machines have been arranged so as to comply with Covid-19 safeguards. Sokratis Charitatos, general manager and director of casino operations at the property, said, “We actually didn’t think that this installation would be completed in such an extremely short time. Yet Novomatic kept their word and proved to be an exceptionally good partner: All our wishes have been fulfilled, and the first weeks of operation prove that our players love the new games. Based on this experience, we will certainly extend our Novomatic offer in the near future.”

ARISTOCRAT ENTERS WASHINGTON SYSTEMS MARKET

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J’s Bingo & Casino in Fife, Washington, has partnered with Aristocrat Gaming to bring a rewarding employee and customer experience to their guests and a more data-driven tool box to the casino staff. Aristocrat converted BJ’s existing system to its technologically advanced Oasis 360 casino management system.

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ovomatic recently installed a diversified selection of cabinets, games and progressives to the slot floor at one of Europe’s largest casinos, Casino Loutraki. The gaming hall in Corinthia, Greece is part of the five-star Club Hotel Casino Loutraki resort. Its slot floor offers almost 700 slots and 40 roulette ETGs including 12 linked progressives. A new bank of 10 Panthera 2.27 machines featuring the Thunder Cash link enhances the casino’s jackpot offer with a linked progressive across the titles Emperor’s China, The Great Conqueror and Empress of the Pyramids. Presented in Novomatic’s best-selling multi-screen upright cabi-

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

The conversion marks a milestone for Oasis 360, as it is the first casino system entry in Washington state replacing a legacy system. Aristocrat is on an aggressive schedule of converting dozens of casinos across the U.S. to Oasis 360. “We worked closely with BJ’s to design a package of solutions to address a number of their business challenges, filled with innovative marketing, engagement, and operational tools that empower them to


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retain and grow their customer base within a competitive market,” said Cath Burns, executive vice president of customer experience solutions for Aristocrat. “Both guest and operator experience is at the heart of everything we do, and great partnerships of this kind are the driving force in continuing to move our industry technologies forward.” BJ’s players will benefit from Aristocrat’s Oasis 360 system with new ways to win, earn bonuses, engage, and have exciting incremental visits. Powering the player experience are Aristocrat’s One Link Loyalty Kiosk, PlayerMax Mobile, and other engagement tools. BJ’s casino staff also will benefit from the Oasis 360 system, with several tools that greatly enhance operational efficiency including EnrollMix, nVision, and Unattended Jackpots. Each of these applications empowers team members to improve processes that ultimately result in enhanced guest experiences.

GARY PLATT MANUFACTURING LAUNCHES NEW DIVISION

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eno-based Gary Platt Manufacturing has created a new division to concentrate on seating for the hospitality industry. The Sierra Nevada Hospitality division will focus on all hospitality seating including banquet, conference, restaurant, bar and hotel seating. Renowned hospitality seating authority Eric Segal has been named president of the new division, bringing more than 20 years of experience and industry knowledge to Gary Platt. The division will mark the first time Gary Platt’s premium and proprietary foam will be a component of hospitality chairs as a premium upgrade. The highly resilient foam does not break down even after years of use, and solidifies the durability and sustainability of all components of the chair for years to come. “For far too long, the hospitality seating industry globally has been focused on function and style. We are changing that starting today,” Segal said. “The innovative designers and artisans at Gary Platt are bringing comfort, function and durability to every component of hospitality seating with their signature upgraded foam option.” Gary Platt Chief Commercial Officer Joshua Corrick said, “Never tell the Gary Platt design team something can’t be done. We are creating a landmark in the hospitality industry: a chair with unsurpassed comfort, unsurpassed durability, and unsurpassed quality, all at an affordable price.” Gary Platt’s Sierra Nevada Hospitality division has wasted no time in making its mark and has al-

ready secured flagship agreements with Caesars Entertainment and Resorts World Las Vegas.

WYNN RESORTS SETS ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS

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ynn Resorts officials have announced the company’s commitment to fight climate change in the coming years. “A truly great company, one founded on the belief that excellence is not just an aspiration but a necessity, and operating in today’s socially and environmentally fraught world, is called to a higher standard: to take responsibility, not just for our decisions, but for the all future impacts of those decisions,” Wynn CEO Matt Maddox said in a report on the Las Vegas-based firm’s environmental, social and governance policies. Wynn will reduce or offset all carbon dioxide by 2050 and increase renewable energy use to 50

percent of consumption by 2030, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Decision-making with careful consideration to the impacts 20 or 30 years from now isn’t just essential, it’s an existential imperative,” Maddox said. “That is what the future demands of us.” The Wynn Resorts sustainability program, known as Goldleaf, includes scientific solutions to a wide range of environment and climate challenges unique to each resort that Wynn Resorts operates in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.

ENTAIN FOUNDATION FUNDS UNLV GRANT

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he Entain Foundation U.S. announced it will provide a founding grant to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a pioneering betting and gaming research initiative. The project, a first for the U.S., will blend scientific research with operational expertise to apply best practices in responsible gambling, policy and health. The Entain Foundation U.S. is a nonprofit organization funded by Entain, the global sports betting, gaming and interactive entertainment operator and co-owner of BetMGM with MGM Resorts International. The grant illustrates Entain’s continuing commitment to responsible gaming policies and practices.

NOVEMBER 2021 www.ggbmagazine.com

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PEOPLE ASHER NAMED PRESIDENT OF IGT SPORTS BETTING

AGEM APPOINTS DARON DORSEY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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nternational Game Technology last month appointed Joe Asher as president of sports betting, effective October 1. Reporting to Enrico Drago, IGT CEO digital & betting, Asher will lead the Joe Asher ongoing expansion of the IGT PlaySports sports betting business in North American markets. Asher joins IGT having recently served as CEO of William Hill US. He held this position from 2012, when the business was created, until it was sold to Caesars Entertainment Inc. in April 2021. Asher joined William Hill when it acquired Brandywine Bookmaking, a company he created as a startup in 2008. Asher’s background in the gaming industry is built on a lifelong passion for the race and sports betting business. Honored as a member of the Sports Betting Hall of Fame Class of 2021, he has held management positions at several racetracks including Brandywine Raceway, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway and Foxboro Raceway. Asher also was the Delaware News-Journal’s thoroughbred racing handicapper for Delaware Park. He also became the youngest track announcer in North America, calling races at Harrington, Foxboro, Brandywine and Dover Downs. Asher continues to announce horse races, serving as a guest announcer at the Elko County Fair every year.

ICRG APPOINTS NEW PRESIDENT

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he International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) announced the appointment of Arthur Arthur Paikowsky Paikowsky as its new president. His appointment took effect on October 4. Paikowsky replaces Dr. Russell Sanna, who joined the ICRG in 2016, and is now retired. Paikowsky has served on the fundraising team of the Birthright Israel Foundation for 13 years. He has worked in the nonprofit organization sphere for 43 years and has served organizations that have raised $1 billion for not-for-profit causes. Prior to working with the Birthright Israel Foundation, Paikowsky served as a fundraising consultant with Chai Hopes LLC and as executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. He earned a master’s degree in social work at Yeshiva University. 65

he Association of Gaming Equipment ManufacturDaron Dorsey ers (AGEM) has announced the appointment of gaming industry veteran Daron Dorsey as its new executive director, effective March 1, 2022. Dorsey will succeed Marcus Prater, who has served in the position since 2008. Dorsey has previously served as senior vice president, general counsel and group compliance officer at Ainsworth Game Technology in Las Vegas, and has been an officer and general counsel of AGEM since 2016. He also served as general counsel for William Hill US after several years at two established law firms, Snell & Wilmer LLP and Jolley Urga Wirth & Woodbury. Dorsey has been a member of the state bar of Nevada since 2001 and is admitted to practice before state and federal courts in Nevada, along with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

GAMING ARTS’ VENNEMAN NAMED COO

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aming Arts LLC, an end-to-end provider of electronic gaming machines, bingo, keno and casino promotional systems, announced the appointment of Jean Jean Venneman Venneman to the role of chief operating officer, effective immediately. Venneman previously served as chief commercial operator. Venneman said she’s “appreciative of the continued faith that David Colvin (Gaming Arts owner) and Mike Dreitzer (CEO) have placed in me. The future of Gaming Arts has certainly never been brighter. We have come so far in such a short amount of time and still have great opportunity in front of us.” In another key appointment, Mike Smykowski has been named director of sales. Smykowski came to Gaming Arts after a decade-long successful tenure in gaming sales at Ainsworth Game Technology.

LONGTIME MGM EXECUTIVE NAMED PALMS GM

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n September, the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (SMGHA) announced that Cynthia Kiser Murphey has been named general manager of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. SMGHA Nevada LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SMGHA, is in the process of acquiring

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

the Palms from Red Rock Resorts Inc. Following the close of the transaction, Murphey will be responsible for the operation of the Palms. The resort, which has been closed for Cynthia Kiser more than a year, includes Murphey approximately 700 hotel rooms and suites, multiple casual and upscale dining options, meeting and convention space, a 2,500-seat theater, pool and spa and the Palms Place condominiums. Murphey is the former president and COO of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and held multiple leadership positions at MGM Resorts International from 1992 to 2008, including a tenure as senior vice president of HR at MGM Mirage.

SCIENTIFIC GAMES NAMES CONNIE JAMES CFO

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cientific Games Corp. announced the appointment of Connie James, currently chief financial officer of the company’s gaming division, as corporate executive vice president, chief financial officer, treasurer and corporate secretary.

GGB

Connie James

November 2021 Index of Advertisers

Acres Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Adam White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 AGEM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 AGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Aristocrat Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9, 68 Aruze Gaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Casino Player Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Digitlant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Everi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5, 25 Fantini Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 FireKeepers Casino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 G2E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Gaming Laboratories International . . . . . . . . . . .21 GAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Global Gaming Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Global Gaming Business/Casino Style . . . . . . . . .64 iGaming Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 IGT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45, 67 IGT PlaySports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 IT Technology Solutions (BetConstruct) . . . . . . . .33 J Carcamo & Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Konami Gaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Scarlet Pearl Casino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Wells Fargo Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 World Game Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57


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CASINO COMMUNICATIONS

Q

&A

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Alan Feldman Chairman of the International Center for Responsible Gaming, and Distinguished Fellow for Responsible Gaming at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute

lan Feldman has a long pedigree in the gaming industry. His first role was with Mirage Resorts as the vice president of media relations. When Mirage was purchased by MGM, he became the senior vice president of public affairs. At the same time he retired from MGM Resorts, he was appointed chairman of the International Center for Responsible Gaming and a short time later was named distinguished fellow for responsible gaming in a newly set up group at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at G2E 2021. For a full podcast of this interview visit GGBMagazine.com.

GGB: You wear two hats with two great organizations. Is there a way you can segment them, or are they really symbiotic? Alan Feldman: They are symbiotic and a little

bit overlapping, and once in a while they need to be segmented. Obviously, as chair of the ICRG, there’s a fundraising role that I play there, and now that I’m working at UNLV, there’s occasionally a fundraising role there, too. Fortunately, the work that these two organizations do is symbiotic, but it’s also separate. At UNLV, we principally do applied science and research—trying to understand what’s going on in the marketplace, and how the things we know about responsible gaming are being applied. And we’re at the very, very, very infancy of that. As opposed to at the ICRG, where we started with “What is problem gambling? What does that actually consist of? And what does it look like, and how do you develop treatments?” And we’ve made enormous progress; in the 20 years that we’ve been doing this, we’ve established baseline research that’s now in practice. The very fact that the disorder of gambling is considered a substance-use disorder is 66

because of the work that scientists who are funded by the ICRG have done. But now there’s plenty of other work to do. What’s going on with subpopulations? How does gambling interact with different races and different genders and different ethnicities? How is gambling even contextualized in those communities? What is the impact of Covid going to be? We all know we have a looming mental health crisis coming in this country, and frankly around the world. How is that going to interact with gambling, particularly now as gambling is undergoing this explosive growth? So there’s a lot of work for both organizations. We’ve been seeing an increased emphasis on responsible gaming over the past year or two. Some believe that is corresponding with the legalization of sports betting. Do you agree with that?

I think that we’ve seen an increased discussion over responsible gambling. I don’t know that we’ve actually seen the kind of movement in responsible gambling that the industry needs to take. And what I mean by that, is whenever there is a discussion of responsible gambling, the industry will talk about its commitment to responsible gambling. And I don’t doubt that at all; it’s true. The problem is that the regulatory community has defined responsible gambling as knowing what problem gambling is all about. And therefore, the commitment that is made is to comply with regulation. And so, the commitment to responsible gambling is to train all of your employees what problem gambling is all about. And to have information available to customers, that they might be able to understand what problem gambling is about, and have a phone number to call if they need help. The challenge is, that’s not responsible gambling. Responsible gambling is actually telling the customer what to do in order to keep gambling safe and affordable and fun. And the

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2021

industry needs to step up into that space. That doesn’t mean not complying with the regulations. It may also mean, frankly, getting in front of regulators and asking them to change their point of view about this. We clearly need to do a better job of explaining what disordered gambling is, what problem gambling is, and what it means. But that’s also government’s job. That’s also the public health sector’s job. That’s also the education community’s job. We’re not alone in that. The problem with an addictive personality, which we discovered through the research at ICRG, is that people with problem gambling generally have problems with some other addiction. A comorbidity with alcohol, with sex, with drugs, or something like that. How do you segment each one?

You’ve got a couple things going on at the same time. You have genetic predisposition, which is, what was going on with your parents, and your grandparents, and maybe even going back many generations, because if there has been addiction and trauma in your past, then you are walking into a situation with a greater propensity to become addicted to something. Then it’s just a matter of exposure to a given activity or a given substance that may trigger that addiction. The comorbidity is that gambling patients are much more likely to also have a problem with other substances—drugs or alcohol. A huge number are smokers—well in excess of 70 percent. A fundamental question that’s going to take a while longer to get to is whether or not any of these substance use disorders—drugs, alcohol, or gambling—are secondary issues or primary issues. Did the anxiety and depression help drive people toward those things? Or did those things bring on anxiety and depression? And there is no binary answer here. I think that there’s probably a blend of circumstances that exist in different people, different circumstances in their lives. But here again, this gets to the whole notion of a lot of the work ahead for the ICRG to continue to try and answer.


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