Global Gaming Business, November 2022

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ggB Global Gaming Business Magazine

november 2022 • Vol. 21 • no. 11 • $10

SportS Betting platformS g2e WrapUp What ComeS firSt When DeSigning gameS penn entertainment’S Jay SnoWDen

the Wheel Keeps turning

IGT keeps coming up with hit games, systems, sports betting and lottery products

Fremont Favorites Downtown Las Vegas is booming but it’s just the start

Leading the Way the emerging leaders

40-Under-40 honorees for 2023

Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers


TRIPLE THE RICHES, TRIPLE THE FUN! Charming characters come alive in Triple Coin Treasures™️ as they dazzle and dance across AGS’ new, next-generation cabinet Spectra UR43™️.

PlayAGS.com

©2022 PlayAGS, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All ® notices signify marks registered in the United States. All ™ and ℠ notices signify unregistered trademarks.


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CONTENTS

Vol. 21 • No. 11

november

Global Gaming Business Magazine

16 COVER STORY

COLUMNS

IGT Marches On

10 AGA How Long?

With venerable game brands, a thriving lottery business and a growing digital division, IGT is seeing booming sales, increased market share and a constant focus on research and development as it carves out its own future at the top of the worldwide slot market.

David Forman

12 Fantini’s Finance Higher and Higher Frank Fantini

DEPARTMENTS

By Jess Marquez On the Cover: IGT executives Roger Pettersson, vice president, core video, PMM and market research; Shondra Deloach-Perea, vice president, global field services, call centers & technology operations; Anthony Baerlocher, vice president, product development and advanced research; Vince Sadusky, chief executive officer; and Rachelle Rabago, vice president, technology, casino systems R&D and global system services.

4 The Agenda 6 By the Numbers 8 5 Questions 13 AGEM

FEATURES 22 The New Leaders The new class of 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 Rae Berkley, Jack Goodin, Roger Gros, Jess Marquez, Marjorie Preston, Bill Sokolic, and Brian Wyman

42 Annual Awards

52 Frankly Speaking

The AGA Gaming Hall of Fame, the AGEM Memorial Awards and GGB’s Gaming & Technology Awards were all handed out at this year’s G2E.

54 New Game Review

48 Designing for iGaming

As online gaming continues to spread to new jurisdictions, manufacturers weigh the use of proven titles with new game development for online. By Bill Sokolic

36 Downtown Revival

56 Sportsbook Tech

With new and redesigned casinos, a thriving pedestrian mall, new attractions and reliably gambler-friendly odds, Downtown Las Vegas is giving the Strip a run for its money.

The spread of legal sports betting jurisdictions has been met by constantly improving technology in the platforms that run the wagering engines.

By Marjorie Preston

By Dave Bontempo

60 Back to G2E

62 Goods & Services 65 People 66 Casino Communications With Jay Snowden, President & CEO, Penn Entertainment

Images and highlights from the first unrestricted, fully attended Global Gaming Expo since 2019.

NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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THE AGENDA

No Room For Nostalgia By Roger Gros, Publisher

Vol. 21 • No. 11 • NOVEMBER 2022 Roger Gros, Publisher | rgros@ggbmagazine.com twitter: @GlobalGamingBiz Frank Legato, Editor | flegato@ggbmagazine.com twitter: @FranklySpeakn Jess Marquez, Managing Editor jmarquez@ggbmagazine.com Monica Cooley, Art Director mcooley@ggbmagazine.com

W

e all know that Vegas and gaming in general is all about bright and shiny new things. Whether it’s a new slot machine, a unique promotion, a different way to recognize our customers, or even a brand new casino, the past is the past, and while it was fun while it lasted, it’s time to move on. When Station Casinos declared over the summer that the four Vegas casinos that had not reopened following the pandemic would be demolished and the land sold, it was something of a shock, despite the quest for shiny new things. It seems the Fiesta Henderson, Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho and Wild Wild West casinos had outlived their usefulness and were doomed for the scrap heap. Fiesta Henderson was like my hometown casino, since I would pass it going to and from my office every day. Not being a huge gambler, I didn’t really become familiar with any of the excellent employees, but it was a convenient place to stop and place my sports bets prior to the days of mobile wagering. Of course, I remember the wins more than the losses. Wild Wild West was one of the places I stayed when I first came to Vegas in the 1980s. It really was a somewhat sleazy motel (this was prior to Station’s ownership), but the casino was fun (lots of low limits and good rules) and the coffee shop was great. The other two, Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho, were in North Las Vegas so I didn’t go there often, although I remember being in Texas Station one night and running into George Maloof, who at the time was at the peak of his popularity as general manager of the Palms, with two women on his arms headed to the movies! Station explained that the customers from those four casinos had already been absorbed by other Station properties and reopening them was not necessary for their business. But seeing heavy equipment chomping away at Fiesta Henderson was disturbing to me. The good news is that Station plans four new casinos in the next decade across the Las Vegas Valley in neighborhoods currently underserved by gaming. I went to the topping off of the Durango

4

casino resort last month, and it will truly be a bright and shiny new property. Truth be told, Station is hardly the first casino company to use the “out with the old, in with the new” principle. Ride down the Strip with any longtime Vegas local and you’ll learn about the casinos that once stood where today’s glittering palaces stand. While people may wax nostalgic about the Desert Inn, the Stardust, the Dunes, El Rancho, Riviera and a dozen other now-defunct Las Vegas casinos—heck, by this time next year, we’ll probably be talking about the Mirage in the past tense—it’s hard to argue that their replacements are anything but top of the line. And this isn’t just limited to Las Vegas. Jay Snowden, the CEO of Penn Entertainment, told me last month that his company is completely replacing two of its Illinois casinos, Hollywood casinos in Peoria and Aurora. They’re being built in new locations closer to interstate highways and also in response to the new casinos going up across the northern tier of the state. Bright and shiny wins again. Even in properties that were built around historic buildings—like one of my favorite casinos, Detroit’s Greektown casino, now a Penn property—there always needs to be glitzy additions and renovations that keep them fresh. Mississippi and Louisiana are two other examples of upgrading. Once the home to those somewhat clunky riverboat casinos, those states have approved casinos going ashore with fancy new casinos and hotels. And with the new casinos comes increased revenues. So there is a limited time for nostalgia. One property that particularly causes me agita is the original Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, where I learned so much about the industry working for Steve Wynn. Later the Bally’s Grand, the AC Hilton and the Atlantic Club, the building today stands vacant and falling apart—a true white elephant. But that’s the exception, not the rule. In general, the demolition of one casino in favor of another is a good thing for the shareholders, the employees and the customers. Bright and shiny always wins out.

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

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 | David Forman Contributing Editors Rae Berkley | Dave Bontempo twitter: @bontempomedia Jak Goodin | Marjorie Preston Bill Sokolic twitter: @downbeachfilm | Brian Wyman ________________

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 2022 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

GGB



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BY THE

NUMBERS

ILLeGAL ChALLeNGeS T

he difficulty that the legal U.S. gaming industry has in reducing play on illegal gaming sites is highlighted in the U.S. Gambling Market Quarterly Report from YouGov.com. While gamblers in legal jurisdictions are more likely to use legal sports betting sites, when it comes to slots, tables or lottery, gamblers are split about using the illegal sites, as outlined in the chart at right covering the June 2022 period. Of course, there are many more states where online sports betting is legal—operating or approved now in 36 states plus Washington, D.C.—whereas online gaming is only legal today in six states, so the reluctance to use legal sites is more like no other choice except for illegal sites. The U.S. Gambling Market Quarterly Report also outlines the seasonality of sports betting, the growth of gambling in 2021, and much more. To obtain a copy of the report, visit business.yougov.com.

Online Gambing Activities in Last Month Legal vs. Non Legal States (Gamblers)

The healthy Outlook

R

evenue in jurisdictions across the United States continues to set records, as demonstrated by the latest “Heat Map” from Casino Consultants Consortium (C3) Gaming Group. The percentage change is noted in every reporting jurisdiction, with month-over-month, year to date for the month (YTD), and trailing 12 months (TTM or the past 12 consecutive months of a company’s performance data). And the news was good for almost all jurisdictions. Even where red might appear in one of the boxes, the TTM remained strong. Illinois, Maine, Kentucky and Rhode Island surpassed 30 percent in their TTM. The C3 U.S. Gaming Performance & Trend Report is a deep dive into the revenue reports from every state compiled by C3 partners Lawrence Sheen and Gerald Parisi. To obtain a copy of the reports, visit C3GamingGroup.com.

4,986

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022



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NUTSHELL

5

“They

Questions Joe Billhimer Executive Vice President, Cordish Gaming Group

easoned gaming veteran Joe Billhimer was named executive vice president of Cordish Gaming Group SPhiladelphia two years ago to direct the expansion of the company into Pennsylvania with the opening of the Live! and the mini-casino Live! Pittsburgh. Building the Philadelphia project during the pandemic was a challenge but well worth it, as both casinos have achieved remarkable success over a very short period. Billhimer spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros in a suite on the top floor of Live! Philadelphia in September. To hear and view a full podcast version of this interview, visit GGBMagazine.com. GGB: Let’s talk about the location of Live! Philadelphia and what it was designed to be. Joe Billhimer: Well, we are in the Stadium District of the city that has stadiums and arenas for the four

1 2 3 4 5

major professional sports, and I believe we have transformed the Stadium District into a great place to come watch sports. This is a full resort destination with a tremendous location right off I-76 and right off I-95. We have great access in and out. We wanted to create in the Cordish style a great resort destination in a regional market.

What’s it like when there’s a football game across the street?

It’s controlled chaos in the Stadium District. When the Eagles play, they sell out, so there are a tremendous number of fans who go through this facility on game day. We also have Phillies, Sixers and Flyers game days a lot more often, but an Eagles game day takes on a special meaning and requires a lot of preparation from our team members. You’ve got some beautiful rooms in this hotel. How has your ADR and occupancy rate been?

Our occupancy rate and our ADR have been well beyond our expectations, even during the pandemic. Obviously, we have a great spot here from a regional standpoint, but even locally we get a lot of staycations here. We haven’t gone after the four-diamond status yet but we certainly are a four-diamond type property. It’s as nice a hotel product as there is in Philadelphia in the luxury set. You’ve also got some very nice meeting space. How has that been received?

It’s been working great. I don’t want to keep going back to pandemic, but that first eight or nine months was very difficult to attract groups. But since then, the city of Philadelphia as well as our property have seen a revitalization of that segment. We’ve been continuously booking, and our 2023 is looking great. We’re starting to even see repeat groups coming back now because they know what to expect. And on the sports side, it’s a great way for a public company to host a board meeting. We have a group come in from St. Louis when the Cardinals are playing here. They have a meeting and then go to a game. It’s been a great sales tool for us. How has the sportsbook worked for you and your deal with FanDuel?

We were really looking for the integrated experience, not only just being a sportsbook, but being a sportsbook that had the amenity of sports and social and food. Our Sports and Social bar and restaurant is a new concept from the Cordish Group. It’s part of that DNA of the game day experience. On game days, we have a DJ and a lot of activity around it, so you feel like you’re at the game. And putting those two together has been tremendous in our partnership with FanDuel, just on the retail side of sports betting. And despite all the online activity, there’s still something different about coming into the facility and making that bet.

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Said It”

“It clearly shows that the mission has been successful. At the Gambling Authority, we are very happy that Danes prefer gambling sites with a Danish license. It is providers that we supervise and we check whether they comply with the applicable legislation.” — Anders Dorph, director of Spillemyndigheden, the Danish gaming regulator, on the achieving of 90 percent channelization 10 years after the regulated market was introduced

CALENDAR November 1-3: SBC Summit Latinoamerica 2022, Seminole Hard Rock Casino Hotel, Hollywood, Florida. Produced by SBC Events. For more information, visit SBCEvents.com. November 2-3: The Scandinavian Gaming Show, Copenhagen, Denmark. Produced by Eventus International. For more information, visit eventus-international.com/sgs. November 14-18: SIGMA Europe, MFCC, Malta. Produced by SIGMA. For more information visit sigma.world/Europe. November 22-24: Eastern European Gaming Summit, Grand Hotel Millennium, Sofia, Bulgaria. Produced by Association of Gaming Industry in Bulgaria (AGIB). For more information, visit eegamingsummit.com. December 5-7: Global Symposium on Racing, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, Arizona. Produced by the Race Track Industry Program, University of Arizona. For more information, visit rtip.arizona.edu/symposium. February 7-9: ICE London, ExCeL, London, U.K. Produced by Clarion Gaming. For more information, visit ICELondon.UK.com. February 28-March 1: Casino & Esports Conference, Alexis Park Hotel, Las Vegas. Produced by Gameacon Events. For more information, visit casinoesportconf.com. March 7-8: iGaming Next: New York, The Convene, Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Produced by iGaming Next. For more information visit iGamingNext.com. March 27-30: Indian Gaming 2023, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California. Produced by the Indian Gaming Association. For more information, visit IndianGamingTradeshow.com.



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AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION

How Long? The last 18 months of commercial casino revenue have set records, but is it sustainable?

T

he U.S. gaming industry has been on a record-setting roll the last 18 months and continues to post revenue records despite the country’s broader economic uncertainty. Through the first eight months of the year, national commercial gaming revenue is pacing an impressive 15 percent ahead of 2021’s all-time high. It feels like we’ve been asking the same question every month since early last year: Is it sustainable? As part of the American Gaming Association’s recent biannual Gaming Industry Outlook, presented by Fitch Ratings, we asked top executives across suppliers and commercial and tribal operators how they feel about the business climate over the next six months. About 70 percent of AGA member company CEOs or other C-suite executives offered their insights and indicated five key themes: 1. Gaming executives feel good about current business conditions, and more are optimistic than pessimistic about future conditions. However, for the first time, respondents had a net “tight” outlook on company access to credit, with more respondents indicating access to credit is tight (31 percent) than easy (8 percent). 2. In contrast with that generally positive backdrop, the overall pace of hiring, capital investments, revenue growth and customer activity is expected to moderate compared to earlier this year. Further, at the same time that most expect the pace of wage growth to continue to accelerate in the near term and access to credit tightens, more CEOs expect their balance sheet to improve into next spring. 3. Among gaming suppliers, expectations for future growth have also softened but still reflect strong demand for gaming units for both new and replacement use.

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

By David Forman

4. Whether an operator or supplier, executives face a range of business challenges. Supply chain issues remain the top concern even as the number of executives citing supply chain as a “factor limiting business” fell to 65 percent from a high of 75 percent in Q1 2022. Inflation and interest rate concerns (flat from Q1 20222) as well as concerns around the uncertainty of the economy (up from 46 percent in Q1 2022) also remain major limiting factors for the industry. 5. When it comes to capital investment, F&B and hotels are slated by many for more spending than normal. Additionally, parking and slot offerings are high on many companies’ capital spending priorities.

Taken as a whole, AGA’s Gaming Industry Outlook reflects an industry aware of the headwinds buffeting certain sectors of the economy, but also one that continues to benefit from strong consumer demand. It may be incongruent with the everyday media narrative, but that story line was visible to everyone in mid-October as the global gaming community gathered in Las Vegas for Global Gaming Expo 2022 to do business and celebrate the industry’s momentum. The pre-pandemic atmosphere on the show floor and the amount of business being conducted validated what we’ve heard from executives: gaming is back and our future is strong. David Forman is vice president of research for the American Gaming Association.


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FANTINI’S FINANCE

Higher and Higher Raising salaries is an investment, not an expense, even in a recession

A

lot of attention has been given recently to the effects a recession would have on casino companies. It might be time to shift emphasis to inflation. Of course, the two are intertwined, as the antidote to inflation of higher interest rates might poison the economy into recession. But inflation in itself can depress the hardwon high operating margins that casino operators have achieved through cost reductions. In addition, the higher rates paid to debt holders create a competitor to stocks. Why, after all, own stocks in uncertain times when risk-free government notes pay over 4 percent? Plus, higher interest rates raise carrying costs for companies with variable debt and will add to the expenses of those seeking to refinance debt or borrow to fund growth. But let’s stick to inflation itself for right now. Wages are one major and obvious area of rising prices. Take two recent examples: • Atlantic City: The Unite Here labor union has negotiated big wage increases from AC casinos. Starting pay will rise from $18 to $22 an hour in the fourth year. That is a big increase. And you can bet what happened in Atlantic City won’t stay in Atlantic City. It will follow in some manner in the rest of the country. • Hard Rock has gone even further. It has raised pay for 10,000 non-tipped employees—95 percent of job classifications, including cooks, housekeeping and front desk workers—with minimum pay going from $18 to $21 an hour. Some workers will get 60 percent raises. In Florida, entry-level pay will rise $16,000. In Atlantic City, entry-level pay will go from $27,040 to $37,440. Hard Rock’s assertiveness might prove to be a brilliant strategic move by making it an employer of choice in lodging and hospitality much like Costco has become an employer of choice in retail, and helping it attract and retain high-quality employees who give it a competitive advantage that outweighs their higher costs. In other words, having the best workforce isn’t an expense. It’s an in12

By Frank Fantini

vestment that generates a return. But there is no question that, just like unions will negotiate higher wages for members, companies competing for labor will have to pay more in salaries and benefits. Inflation will affect a wide range of expense items from electricity to cleaning supplies. Here is a somewhat off-the-wall example, but the kind companies face—in his first-quarter earnings conference call, Full House Resorts CEO Dan Lee described how the price of crab meat had squeezed EBITDA margins at Silver Slipper Casino in Mississippi. The price had shot up 110 percent, and Full House spent $4.6 million for crab meat on a popular buffet item, up from $2.4 million in the previous year. The decision was made to maintain the buffet price and—you should excuse the expression—swallow the higher price of crab meat. Casino operators will be facing similar decisions in many more ways as inflation works its erosive way through operations. Put simply: In upcoming conference calls, it will be wise to look at the outlook for costs, as well as those for revenues. Stick With Results, Not Promises or Projections

OK, we’ve been at this long enough so that we know the lay of the online sports betting-iCasino landscape. Forget all of the news releases announcing new markets and sports sponsorships ranging from teams to star players to venues. The fact is we now know the leaders—month after month, season after season, jurisdiction after jurisdiction, all of the noise and headlines aside. Flutter’s FanDuel is clearly first in revenue share, followed by MGM and Entain’s BetMGM and DraftKings. There is a second tier of fast risers: Caesars, then Penn Entertainment and Rush Street Interactive. There are differences from market to market and in sports betting and iGaming in those markets, and there are smaller players making relatively big splashes in some places, like PointsBet in Michigan. And there will continue to be more announcements

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

promising transformational events. But the fact is that the Big Three are the Big Three, with Caesars growing to perhaps make it a Big Four at some point. Here are July’s rounded-off revenue shares from Fantini’s U.S. Online Sports Betting and iGaming Report: Flutter Bet MGM DraftKings Caesars Rush Street Penn Entertainiment The rest in the U.S.:

34 percent 22 22 7 5 3 a combined 7 percent

As enthusiasts for small-cap growth stocks, we will not discount the value of searching for rising stars among the smaller players. And we’ll certainly follow companies that serve the industry: data companies such as SportRadar and Genius Sports, affiliates similar to Catena and Better Collective, and games platform providers like Bragg Gaming. But for many investors, the game is among the big players, which means the six listed above. And for companies in the space, the time has come to switch discussion from promises to profitability, or at least credible paths to profitability in a reasonable time. And it might not be the pure players that are the best bets in this new digital wagering world. Caesars, Penn National and MGM have strong brick-and-mortar businesses to provide support and stability. Flutter has a big United Kingdom betting business to provide support, as well as Boyd Gaming, owner of 5 percent of the U.S. gaming network. How well these brick-and-mortar operations are aiding online ambitions—and not cannibalizing physical business—is another area that should interest investors. Online sports betting and iGaming now have fairly long track records to help investors make decisions, and the data is a lot more complex than the loud and blithe market share predictions too many company executives have gotten away with making. Frank Fantini is principal at Fantini Advisors, investors and consultants with a focus on gaming.


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AGEMupdate AGEM Member Profiles Silver Member Profile TransAct Technologies transact-tech.com

TransAct Technologies Inc. is a global leader in developing software-driven technology and printing solutions for high-growth markets including food service, casino and gaming, and POS automation. Having sold over 3.5 million printers and terminals globally, the company is committed to providing world-class service, spare parts, and accessories to support its installed product base. Bronze Member Profile Cole Kepro International

AGEM October 2022 Meeting Recap • With G2E in Las Vegas the week of October 10-13, AGEM did not hold a monthly gathering in October so its members could focus on show activities. AGEM will hold its next monthly gathering on November 8. • AGEM hosted a “meet and greet” event for membership with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on October 18. The event was not formal or focused on any specific policy, while allowing AGEM members to engage with the governor on behalf of the gaming supplier sector. • In addition to participating in a variety of events at G2E, AGEM proudly presented its annual Memorial Awards during the show. AGEM recognized longtime industry colAGEM President David Lucchese (l.) and Executive Director leagues Roy Student (Jens Halle Daron Dorsey (r.) flank Jens Halle Award winner Roy Student Award) and Frank Fantini (Peter and Peter Meade Award winner Frank Fantini Mead Award) as its 2022 honorees.

colekepro.com

Forthcoming Events Located in Las Vegas, Cole Kepro International, LLC is an industry leader and global supplier of designed and manufactured turnkey gaming cabinets and other fabricated metal products ranging from the medical to communications industries.

• AGEM will host its holiday reception on Thursday, November 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Panevino (240 Via Antonio, Las Vegas, NV 89119). Further invitations and details will follow in November. • AGEM will attend festivities surrounding dedication of the National Native Americans Memorial in Washington, D.C. November 10-11. AGEM was happy to sponsor and contribute to this worthy cause as part of the AGEM-GLI Philanthropic Initiative.

AGEMindex

Associate Member Profile BDO bdo.com

BDO delivers assurance, tax, and financial advisory services to clients throughout the country and around the globe. Currently serving more than 400 publicly traded domestic and international clients, BDO offers numerous industry-specific practices, world-class resources, and an unparalleled commitment to meeting clients’ needs.

AGEM is an international trade association representing manufacturers of electronic gaming devices, systems, lotteries and components for the gaming industry. The association works to further the interests of gaming equipment manufacturers throughout the world. Through political action, trade show partnerships, information dissemination and good corporate citizenship, the members of AGEM work together to create benefits for every company within the organization. Together, AGEM and its member organizations have assisted regulatory commissions and participated in the legislative process to solve problems and create a positive business environment.

The AGEM Index fell by 91.73 points in September 2022 to 739.77, an 11 percent decline from the prior month. Compared to one year ago, the index was down 306.97 points, or 29.3 percent. During the latest month, 11 of the 12 AGEM Index companies reported stock price decreases, resulting in 11 negative contributions to the AGEM Index and one positive contribution. The largest negative contributor to the monthly index was Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), whose 7.8 percent decrease in stock price led to a 44.19-point loss to the index. Additionally, Konami Corp. (TYO: 9766) contributed a 13.67-point decline in the index due to a 5.7 percent decrease in its stock price. The lone positive contribution to the index was Agilysys (Nasdaq: AGYS), whose 6.9 percent increase in stock price resulted in a 2.22-point gain for the AGEM Index. All three major U.S. stock indices saw month-overmonth decreases in September 2022, marking the second consecutive month of across-the-board declines. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 8.8 percent from August, while the S&P 500 declined by 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ fell 10.5 percent over the latest period. NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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All Systems

Go

As gaming evolves, so too does IGT, the industry’s most storied brand By Jess Marquez

F

or those in and around the gaming business, the name International Game Technology (IGT) has nearly become synonymous with gaming itself, akin to Kleenex, Google and other titans of industry. After pioneering video poker in the late 1970s and revolutionizing reel-spinners with Double Diamond, Wheel of Fortune and more by the early 2000s, IGT’s success was nearly inevitable—as gaming expanded and diversified, it became almost a given that IGT would lead the way, from its foundation of slots to video poker, lottery and systems divisions. For many years, it was all but impossible to walk into any U.S. casino without seeing those three letters in just about any direction you looked. However, no matter how influential a company becomes, its brand recognition becomes a finite, quickly depleting resource once adversity starts to hit; IGT is no different. By the 2010s, its octopus-like grip on the gaming industry and its facets gradually began to loosen. The company’s market share of North American slots dropped by 20 percent in the 10-year span from 2003 to 2013. That same year, industry analysts proclaimed that Bally Technologies had taken the title of top equipment provider. Thus, the multinational powerhouse faced a position of vulnerability like it hadn’t seen since founder Si Redd stepped away in the mid-’80s. Enter GTECH, the Rhode Island-based lottery giant purchased in 2006 by Italy’s Lottomatica, another lottery giant which was also facing a pivotal crossroads. On July 15, 2014, both sides announced they had struck a $6.4 billion deal, one that would reshape the future of both IGT and the gaming industry at large. GTECH added a worldwide lottery market to IGT’s gaming business, then-CEO Marco Sala proclaiming that “the combined company will enjoy leading positions across all segments of the gaming landscape.” A Reuters report from that day, however, described both as facing “struggling” domestic markets. Even after the merger was finalized, skepticism abounded—-in a March 2015 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, gaming journalist Howard Stutz asserted that “within the casino operating community,” the IGT brand and legacy would “mean nothing unless the products change.”

Entering a New Era For every year that’s passed since, the deal has looked increasingly fortuitous. The company’s international lottery empire has done nothing but expand, while its flagship slot titles such as Wheel of Fortune and The 16

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

“We’re a more global organization, so we have a broader perspective of the world. We have more product expertise, better IT expertise. And I think the company’s done a great job of working through those early combination challenges, to get to the point where we’ve been able to draw from the best and the brightest.” —Vince Sadusky, CEO, IGT

Price is Right have avoided stagnation by seamlessly transitioning along with every iteration of its slot technology. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, IGT has become a front-runner in the digital space, positioning itself as a market leader in the iGaming, sports betting and cashless payment sectors. The company tallied $3.88 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2014, per CompaniesMarketCap.com; by 2016, it was back to over $5 billion, and stayed above


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“Having IGT game design studios around the world is a true advantage. Regional teams apply their command of local-market preferences to their game design, and it inherently brings diversity of thought and experience to the game design process.” —Renato Ascoli, CEO of Global Gaming, IGT

$4.5 billion until the doldrums of 2020. Even then, it only took one year to get back over the $4 billion mark. Indeed, Sala and company did a commendable job of righting the ship and re-establishing the supplier as a model of consistency and innovation. The previous decade was a unique and resilient chapter for the company, but it ended on January 20 of this year, when media veteran and longtime board member Vince Sadusky took the wheel and assumed the role of CEO. Running a global company is like stretching a bed sheet over a mattress that’s too big—there will always be fires to put out and no one could ever stretch to get them all. Rather, the key is to find the right person with the right vision to weather the peaks and valleys, and IGT has tabbed Sadusky as the one to shepherd the company into its next phase of growth. Having been a board member for over 10 years, he has seen a lot of those ups and downs firsthand, and decades of executive leadership experience certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Prior to taking the reins at IGT, Sadusky notched an impressive run as CEO of some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, including Univision Communications, Media General and LIN Media. He also has a notable financial background, having founded multiple trading firms before spending five years as CFO of Telemundo Communications. That experience gives him a unique perspective, one that differs from other bornand-bred gaming industry leaders. “Having been in the entertainment business as my day job, I was really fascinated with the gaming industry in particular,” says Sadusky. “When I first thought about that business and what I might be able to offer as a board member, there were a lot of parallels to the entertainment business as well. A lot of change, and digitization as an outlet, was just becoming something that was eventually both disruptive and also an opportunity.” In addition to the promising growth across the company’s divisions, Sadusky notes that perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the new role is “centered around the opportunity in the digital space.” In many ways, gaming is following media trends in its quest to keep pace with younger, more technologically advanced audiences, and “given where the world is at today, with everyone on their personal devices,” it’s important for suppliers to emphasize its digital assets just as much, if not more than brick-and-mortar. By all accounts, the new boss is “really excited about the company’s ability to create a leadership position in both lottery and gaming, but also having invested significantly and made a real commitment to growth in our PlayDigital and iLottery space.”

Starting with the Bread and Butter For companies that are as multifaceted as IGT, decentralized command has to be relied upon for things to run smoothly, because no one person can take

on everything at once. When Sadusky saw the opportunity that was presented to him, he knew right away that “the combination of its three divisions was at a point in its evolution where the company was very strong.” That said, he also knew that his role as CEO revolved around “helping to set strategy and trying to drive value, overall value” for the storied brand—in order to do so effectively, he has had to rely heavily on his department leaders and their gaming experience. “We’ve just got amazing experience,” he says. “So many things have been tried over the years. We have great institutional knowledge around what works, what doesn’t work. So I think we’re able to very efficiently direct our product development and improvements across the organization, in each one of our three segments really, really well… “I’d say in terms of understanding the business, having been on the board for a number of years, and being part of the annual strategic planning for long-term plans, and the benefit of having seen things in the industry that have worked, and some tries that haven’t worked, I think it’s definitely a benefit.” One of the most important leaders Sadusky relies on is Renato Ascoli, IGT’s CEO of global gaming, long considered to be the company’s flagship division. Ascoli, like many others on the executive team, is a holdover from the GTECH merger who was instrumental in facilitating the regrowth of the IGT brand over the last seven years. Prior to taking over global responsibilities in July 2020, he was CEO of North America for several years, and through it all he’s had a big hand in the product development, management and strategy that Sadusky alluded to. Even Ascoli, however, attributes the success of the company’s games to his team members on the ground. “Having IGT game design studios around the world is a true advantage,” he says, because it allows for “regional teams to apply their command of localmarket preferences to their game design, and it inherently brings diversity of thought and experience to the game design process.” He also recognizes that “individual game designers tend to find their niche and excel in certain game genres such as stepper, VLT and video poker.” Mapping out the future is a tall task, especially with regards to game development and design in today’s ever-evolving industry, but Ascoli maintains that IGT’s “content roadmaps are predicated by both market demand and opportunity, as well as customers’ needs.” More than anything, today’s players want as many options as possible, and Ascoli recognizes that, which is why the company is “very keen on building upon proven mechanics and themes, as well as introducing new ones.” This duality was on full display at the recent G2E 2022 trade show, with the debut of the new premium licensed title Let’s Make a Deal, the latest iteration of the brand’s love of game show nostalgia; its PeakBarTop unit, long considered an NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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“Operators know that they can count on IGT for quick and reliable market access.” —Enrico Drago, CEO of Digital and Betting, IGT

industry favorite, was also retrofitted with innovative new sports betting features. For Sadusky, the potential for growth on the game design front, especially as the industry treks back uphill to pre-Covid averages, was one of the biggest incentives of taking on the role of CEO. “Certainly on the gaming side, I saw years of pent-up demand as a result of capital expenditure just getting slashed when our great casino-operator customers were having very difficult times with floors being completely shut down, and then significant Covid restrictions over time,” Sadusky says. “So, it’s been a two-year period where IGT made significant advancements in its next-generation game development, but didn’t have a good opportunity to really sell those, as a result of our customers having challenging times.” Analysts have echoed this sentiment, and are bullish on game demand moving forward. Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, one of the industry’s most trusted resources, said in its recent Slot & Table Forecast Post Second Quarter Update that slot sales are slated to grow by an impressive 11 percent next year, to over 85,000 units.

Doubling Down on Digital Its games may have laid the foundation, but the company’s continued investment in its digital offerings is perhaps the most impressive aspect of IGT’s evolution in recent years, and will continue to play a huge role in its growth moving forward. In many ways, iGaming and sports betting are the most underdeveloped sectors in the gaming industry, at least in North America, and Sadusky is hopeful that he can position the company to take advantage of opportunities yet to come. Helping him to achieve those goals is Enrico Drago, who has served as CEO of digital and betting since September 2021. Drago has championed IGT’s PlaySports and PlayDigital solutions, which have quickly become industry leaders for sports betting and iGaming operators, respectively. Due to the fact that the company “is licensed in so many jurisdictions worldwide and is highly skilled at navigating complex regulatory environ-

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ments, operators know that they can count on IGT for quick and reliable market access,” Drago says. This trust is what has allowed them to partner with other high-profile brands such as FanDuel Group, which has utilized IGT’s PlaySports solution since the U.S. sports betting industry took off in 2018. iGaming, however, is viewed as perhaps the one of the last remaining frontiers, in which case, “IGT PlayDigital is very well-positioned in the North American gaming market,” Drago says. “We’re currently the leading iGaming supplier in the U.S. and Canada and recently fortified our games and services portfolio with the acquisition of iSoftBet. The acquisition more than doubled the IGT PlayDigital content library to approximately 225 proprietary games, in addition to providing a world-class, proprietary game aggregation platform to distribute third-party games, and leading data-driven promotional and user-engagement tools.”



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IGT Resort Wallet

Even though iGaming is only currently legal in six U.S. states, its proliferation across Europe and elsewhere makes it a “really great opportunity moving forward,” according to Sadusky. He believes that its simplicity and accessibility will win out in the end, even if regulators are still catching up. “The approvals kind of go in waves,” he says, but he remains confident that “you’ll start to see more and more states approve

iGaming,” once officials begin to realize the magnitude of tax revenue opportunities that online gaming represents. In his estimation, “this is still early days for iGaming,” which is why it’s so important to establish oneself as quickly as possible. Of course, any discussion about the company’s digital offerings would be incomplete without mentioning its foray into the cashless payment sector, another sector that was unintentionally bolstered by the headaches created by the pandemic. IGT’s Resort Wallet with IGTPay solution has enjoyed massive success in the last two-plus years, most recently in the form of an enterprise-wide partnership with Station Casinos. The payment modules, part of the IGT Advantage casino management system, will now be featured in six of Station’s largest Las Vegas properties, representing a huge expansion in the biggest gaming market in North America. Additionally, the technologies were recently featured in the first trial of cashless solutions in New South Wales, representing massive growth potential. “IGT is very well-positioned in the cashless gaming market,” says


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The payment modules, part of the IGT Advantage casino management system, will now be featured in six of Station’s largest Las Vegas properties, representing a huge expansion in the biggest gaming market in North America.

Ascoli. “As the only supplier to offer a fully integrated, turnkey solution, IGT has a leading solution that is backed by proven technology, integrates with existing casino systems and delivers a highly favorable player experience… Because our cashless solution includes both the e-wallet functionality and the payments gateway, operators do not have to partner with additional vendors to offer cashless gaming.”

Taking the Current Where it Serves In many ways, the higher you climb within a company, the fewer decisions you have to make; it’s just that the ones you do make have the biggest overall impact. “A big part of the grade you get as a person fortunate enough to lead a company is how significantly you increase value,” says Sadusky. Now that both the company and the gaming industry are definitively entering a new chapter, the combination of continuing a legacy and taking risks is a tightrope that must be walked with equal parts confidence and prudence. Many subscribe to the idea that a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none,

but they likely never had the resources and global infrastructure exhibited by the likes of IGT. After all, Sadusky says, “We’re the only one that can say, ‘we service everyone,’ from the lottery in Georgia to iGaming in Michigan, to iLottery in Kentucky.” “When you go through a merger, let’s face it—you do have various cultures coming together. And there is discomfort, given that people come from different places and different backgrounds and different managers. But if it’s done right, you can look back several years later and say, ‘Look, we have the best and brightest people from each one of our organizations.’ “We’re a more global organization, so we have a broader perspective of the world. We have more product expertise, better IT expertise. And I think the company’s done a great job of working through those early combination challenges, to get to the point where we’ve been able to draw from the best and the brightest.” Ten years ago, it seemed unlikely, even to optimists, that the company would reach such heights again. But now that all cylinders are firing at full speed, look for IGT to re-cement its place as gaming’s biggest brand.

NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Young Love What happens when the enthusiasm of youth connects with the energy and opportunity of the gaming business? Recognition in the industry’s only program celebrating the accomplishments of the future leaders of the industry, Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40.

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he gaming business is exciting, if nothing else. Whether you’re a player or an employee, the game of chance is right at your fingertips. Players can become loyal and frequent customers and employees can see a way to a satisfying and productive career. That’s the goal of the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 (ELG) program produced by The Innovation Group and Global Gaming Business magazine (GGB), which originated the 40 Under 40 program nearly a decade ago. The program recognizes professionals under the age of 40 already making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry. The honorees were selected from a diverse cross-section of professionals nominated by their peers to be recognized for their achievements within and dedication to the industry in all its forms. From operations and compliance professionals to supplier-side innovators, responsible gaming experts, and professionals driving new gaming segments, the latest class of honorees reflects an industry in evolution. “This year’s selection process was as competitive as ever given the wide range of titles and segments represented,” says The Innovation Group President Michael Soll. “It’s an honor to help identify and showcase the remarkable individuals driving our industry into the future.” “The quality of this year’s Emerging Leaders class is really extraordinary,” says Roger Gros, publisher of GGB. “Their accomplishments at such a young age reflect the dedication of these professionals to their craft.” The decision to choose the honorees wasn’t easy. Over 150 nominations were received and the candidates were diverse and completely qualified. The class of 2023 was celebrated during the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 Networking Reception at last month’s Global Gaming Expo. This reception was sponsored by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), the Indian Gaming Association (IGA), and RMC Legal. In this issue, we profile 10 of the original 40 honorees. Each subsequent month, you’ll be able to read about the other honorees until all 40 have been profiled. Nominations for the 2024 Class of Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 will open in April 2023. For more information on the program, visit GGBMagazine.com.

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Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40, Class of 2023: Andrea Arrigo, Director of Database Marketing, Palms Casino Resort Joseph Byrd, Chairman, Quapaw Nation Chris Calitri, Account Executive, Ainsworth Game Technology Marissa Coleman, Vice President, Business Development, Gaming Society Lloyd Danzig, Managing Partner, Sharp Alpha Advisors Cait DeBaun, Vice President, Strategic Communications & Responsibility, American Gaming Association Tommaso Di Chio, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Compliance & Deputy General Counsel, Kambi Michael Donovan, Regional Vice President & General Manager – Midwest Properties, Bally’s Corporation Jonathan Doubilet, Managing Director & Vice President, Operations, U.S., Playtech Brianne Doura-Schawohl, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Doura-Schawohl Consulting, LLC Anamarie Ellis, Vice President of Casino Marketing and Operations, Ellis Island Casino Brooke Fiumara, Co-Chief Executive Officer, OPTX Anita Grim, Vice President, Hospitality and Labor Analytics, Caesars Entertainment Samantha Haggerty, Deputy Chief Compliance Officer & Regulatory Affairs Counsel, Penn Entertainment Dan Hannigan-Daley, Chief Executive Officer, Sports Info Solutions Marilyn Janssen, Vice President, Loyalty Services, Everi Holdings, Inc. Heather Jerrytone, Director of VIP Services, Yaamava’ Casino & Resort Matt Kaufman, Director, Digital and Interactive, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, LLC Steve Kohon, Vice President of Game Sales, West, Bluberi Gaming Brian Kraft, Head of Business Development, North America, Evolution Robert Levine, Chief Executive Officer, ComOps Ryan Loveland, Chief Financial Officer, Laguna Development Corporation Agata Maher, Director of Marketing Operations, Pechanga Resort & Casino Jamie McKelvey, Deputy Attorney General, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Diego Mejia, Sales Manager, Casino and Gaming, TransAct Technologies Incorporated Phylicia Middleton, Director of Marketing, Galaxy Gaming Alexandra Milkovich, Senior Interior Designer, HBG Design Kyle Piasecki, Vice President of Partnerships, Playmaker Bradley Pieper, Director of Sales (West), AGS Ashley Polo, Executive Director of Brand and Database Marketing, Encore Boston Harbor Rob Procter, Vice President, Game Development, Light & Wonder, Inc. Susan Quach, Senior Director, Customer Experience, OpenBet Stephanie Quiles, Director of Game Development, IGT Mike Robbins, Technical Compliance Specialist, Digital, Gaming Laboratories International Nick Ryan, Vice President, Casino Marketing, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia Shannon Semenuk, Director of Slot Operations, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Lee Terfloth, Chief Operating Officer, Out the Gate, Inc. Louis Trombetta, Executive Director, Florida Gaming Control Commission Christmas Uberuaga, Vice President, UberWins Studio, Aristocrat Jordan Whitten, Director of Slot Analytics, MGM Resorts International

NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

The Game-Changers

Setting Standards

Stephanie Quiles • Director of Game Development, IGT

Mike Robbins • Technical Compliance Specialist, Digital, Gaming Laboratories International

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n October, one of IGT’s newest casino games, Prosperity Link, was hailed as this year’s Best Slot Product in the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards. For IGT Director of Game Development Stephanie Quiles, it was a special pleasure to share the news with her design team, a gifted group that includes producers, mathematicians, artists, engineers and technicians. “They’re the heart of it all,” she says, “the amazing people who come up with the concept, then iterate on it to make it as fun as possible.” Since its debut in May, Prosperity Link has consistently ranked among the top three titles in the Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Report. Quiles is gratified to see her team hit another one out of the park. “The industry has gotten so competitive in the last 10 years, to have a success like that and see the numbers we’ve seen performance-wise is so great. Everybody’s really thrilled.” She describes game design as uniquely collaborative, from “rough brainstorm” through prototypes and simulated test games to quality assurance. All the while, the designers are “bouncing ideas off each other, giving feedback on what we think could be better,” then heading back to the drawing board until the product is market-ready. The process can be stressful, and the pressure ever-present to come up with a winner. When she and her team are facing down a deadline, solving a tricky problem or waiting for the verdict on a new title, Quiles says, “I remind myself of the fact that we’re lucky enough to make games, and what would be better?” A native of San Jose, California, Quiles once planned to be a math teacher. But a semester of student teaching made her realize the classroom wasn’t the best fit. In 2006, just out of college, “I stumbled into this job looking for other ways to use my math degree.” She joined IGT in Reno as an associate math product developer, then “climbed the ranks of game design.” “I did a stint in producing before switching to management. IGT has a great program that supports continuing education, so I got my master’s in business. I’m really passionate about the leadership side, empowering my amazing team to do their best.” The work is both abstract and artistic, math-driven and creative, a balance of left-brain and right-brain aptitudes. “This is not necessarily the job for everyone, but if you’re one of those people—both creative and super-technically skilled—this can be an amazing job,” she says. “These people are doing some complicated math. They can code. They’re practically software engineers themselves.” Quiles credits the team for any success she’s enjoyed. “They’re so skilled and talented, I truly don’t hold myself senior or superior. I’m there to help make their lives easier and empower them to do their best work. Sometimes that’s getting problems out of their way. Sometimes it’s challenging them to push outside their comfort zones, so they can grow.” The end game, as always, is entertainment, and it all starts with design. “Every time I tell someone what I do for a living,” says Quiles, “they’re kind of mind-blown about how cool and fun it seems. “And they’re right. It really, really is.” —Marjorie Preston 24

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

ike Robbins, technical compliance specialist at Gaming Laboratories International, has risen through the ranks and made a name for himself as an Emerging Leader of Gaming. On the floor of the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, Robbins discussed what’s made his career in the gaming industry a success. Asked what skills and personality traits he relied on at the beginning of his career that got him on the road to a senior position, Robbins said, “I was able to develop an ability to recognize patterns in rules, regulations, and technical requirements across standards early on. I was able to put that talent to good use for the benefit and success of regulators around the globe.” Robbins also cited the importance of mentorship and travel as contributing to his knowledge of the industry and positioning him to succeed: “There were many times where late hours were spent with my mentors discussing concepts of gaming technology which ultimately led me to conduct further research in the field to broaden my knowledge base,” he said. “The ability to travel the world representing GLI’s compliance team has allowed me to gain a view of gaming on a global scale. Moreover, it’s enabled me to build an understanding of the various regulatory nuances between regulated regions, which I can share with regulators, suppliers and operators globally.” He also noted the importance of his company culture in developing him as an emerging leader. “GLI is always looking to stay ahead of cutting-edge advancements in gaming,” he said. “Every week, the compliance team and I come across something new and are asked to provide research and insight on ideas, or to respond to questions from the industry. Budding young professionals right up to our top brass are relentless in efforts to build unsurpassed global insights. The ability to thrive and advance is the bonus that comes with hard work and passion.” Regarding passion, when asked what advice he’d give to emerging leaders, Robbins said, “Follow your interests.” Elaborating, he said that when iGaming first came online, he spent hours researching what he assumed would be a trend that would sweep the nation. While iGaming has yet to reach ubiquity in the United States, the knowledge he gained by pursuing his initial curiosity positioned him to understand another market that has rapidly expanded, sports wagering. This knowledge led to GLI’s development of the GLI-33 Standards for Event Wagering Systems and the GLI-19 Standards for Interactive Gaming Systems, which Robbins cites as his proudest career accomplishments to date: “Thanks to a lot of blood, sweat, and yes, the odd tear, and of course, the hard work of my team, I am proud to say we created and updated two groundbreaking technical standards which have been critical tools utilized by regulators around the world. In particular, most iGaming and sports wagering markets in North America have adopted GLI-19 and GLI-33, respectively.” It’s this trend that he believes is opening doors for young professionals looking to establish themselves. “The expansion of iGaming and sports wagering has provided more opportunities for growth within the industry. No longer limited by finite space on a gaming floor and differing demographics, operators are more willing to explore launching new and unique gaming content across multiple platforms.” —Jack Goodin is an analyst with The Innovation Group.


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

The Mayor of Philadelphia Nick Ryan • Vice President, Casino Marketing, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia

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taying close to home isn’t always an option for casino executives, especially those on the rise like Nick Ryan. But a series of events gave him the opportunity to go to work for one of his hometown casinos, Live! Casino & Hotel in Philadelphia, after breaking in at another casino just outside his hometown. When he was 21 he was working in the family construction business, and wasn’t happy about it. “I wasn’t really an outdoor guy,” he says. In a way, his first job in the casino business came to him in his dreams. “I had set my alarm one morning to get out on a job hunt, and when the alarm went off, there was a commercial playing for a new Harrah’s casino in Chester,” he explains. “So I went on the website, scrolled down and saw my dream job, VIP services coordinator. It felt like they wrote the job description specifically for me.” So he applied, and after hearing nothing, he called the executive in charge of hiring, and made him an offer. “Give me an interview and if you don’t hire me, I’ll buy you a $200 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant,” he said, even though he didn’t have $200. It worked, and led to a series of promotions in the player development realm within the Harrah’s/Caesars organization—with the assistance, he says, of the casino’s VP of marketing, Shonette Carew, who took him under her wing. He was then promoted to casino host—the youngest casino host in Harrah’s history, he was told—but he wasn’t prepared. He had no players, so he traveled to Atlantic City on his days off, got to meet and hang out with players and invited them up to Harrah’s Chester for dinner. Before too long, he was the casino’s most successful host, all the while being based at the Harrah’s Chester casino. While he did work at other Caesars properties in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Lake Tahoe and elsewhere, he turned down lucrative jobs that would have required him to leave the Philadelphia area. Then Live! came calling, and it was tempting. “I have three kids, and one of them has a heart condition and autism,” he explains. “If, God forbid, something should happen, I only want to be minutes away.” The Live! casino, in Philadelphia’s Stadium District, also played into another love of Ryan’s—sports. “I’ve always been a sports nut,” he says. “I follow all the Philadelphia teams, and to be within walking distance of all the venues was a dream come true.” Like most Philadelphians, he has a special love for the Eagles. “When I was young,” he says, “I bought a handicap shuttle bus for $2,000. We painted it in Eagles logos and colors and on the back we have a big mural of (former Eagle) Brian Dawkins.” Now in his role with Live!, his casino players get to tag along and get the gourmet tailgating experience. Ryan says he has connections with many former Philadelphia players, mostly the Hall of Famers, and brings them to events whenever possible.

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Going from the super corporate environment of Caesars to the familyrun Cordish Group has been a transition. “When we were first opening Live! during the pandemic, which was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” he says, “there was a moment where I was sitting at a table with the company president, Rob Norton, both of us handing out players club cards. We talked about each of our lives and experiences, and it was great. I can’t imagine ever doing that with any Caesars CEO.” But Ryan said his success is something he tries to share with the new hires to the Cordish Gaming Group. “I like to think they’ll be inspired by my story,” he says. “I tell them that no matter what they’re doing now, they can reach higher and do whatever they want. “Same thing when it comes to players. Your biggest player won’t always be your biggest player and your smaller player, who you really can’t do anything for today, will someday be a big one. I try to treat everyone like a million bucks and hope they treat me the same way.” —Roger Gros


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Farm to Tech Bradley Pieper • Director of Sales (West), AGS

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he Pieper family owns a 1,000acre cattle farm in Copalis Crossing, Washington not far from the Pacific Ocean. But working on the family farm was not in the cards for Bradley Pieper. He grew up watching his family pump profits back into keeping the farm operating. Saving for retirement was out of the question. “When I realized this, I knew I didn’t want to be a rancher like my father,” Pieper says. What he did was tap into his mother’s passion for technology and his father’s work ethic to create opportunities within the gambling industry. “Like most people in this industry, I wasn’t seeking it, but it found me, and I don’t see myself leaving it.” What sealed the deal were modern slot machines he saw while working on his associate’s degree in Arizona. “I was intrigued that casino slot machines were all computer-based. I hadn’t really ever thought about it, as I was always thinking coin-operated devices,” Pieper says.

After he obtained his degree from High-Tech Institute in Phoenix, Pieper landed a job at Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel in Rochester, Washington as an IT technician in 2004. In 2006, he moved on to Cadillac Jack’s resort in Deadwood, first as a service technician then as a service manager. After four years, he found a home at AGS as an account executive. “I love traveling and seeing new scenery from all over, so I loved the fact of changing careers,” Pieper says. “I was a little scared of having soft hands and working sales, but it opened my eyes and was the best career choice I have ever made.” A year ago, he advanced to a director of sales. As director of sales (West), Pieper oversees the western United States and Western Canada, a rather large territory. “I manage and oversee cabinet sales and gaming operation revenues while collaborating with customers and my team to deliver a great experience,” he says. Like any successful executive, Pieper owes much to mentors like Robert Perry, vice president of sales (South) at AGS. “He was one of my first mentors in the industry. We called him Perry Grit. I don’t think you need to say anymore (with that nickname).” As for advice to those considering a similar career choice, Pieper says to remember that gambling is among the largest small industries. “But to do it right, play the long game and it will always pay off.” It did for Pieper. —Bill Sokolic


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Creativity through Collaboration Alexandra Milkovich • Senior Interior Designer, HBG Design

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ith a master’s in interior architecture and product design, 13 years of diverse interior design experience, and an impressive portfolio of high-profile projects, Alexandra Milkovich has achieved incredible success in her tenure as the senior interior designer at the San Diego office of HBG Design. Her natural leadership abilities, creativity and inquisitiveness have put her on a straight trajectory towards excellence. Throughout her career, Milkovich has led designs of casino, hotel, and food & beverage venue experiences for gaming and entertainment clientele on the West Coast and nationwide. She was instrumental in creating the initial design concepts for the first-ever Rock and Brews Casino in Oklahoma and led the design of Sycuan’s vintage-industrial inspired Rank + File restaurant and bar during the $220 million expansion and renovation of Sycuan Casino Resort outside San Diego. Now the lead designer of several casinos, hotel, and food and beverage experiences for HBG Design clients across the country, Milkovich is thankful for the wealth of experience her work has provided her. “Every project has its own challenges and opportunities,” she says, “and being in the middle of those experiences has directly contributed to my knowledge and growth in the industry.” With her passion for “creating successful pathways to final interior design solutions,” Milkovich believes that truly thoughtful and impactful interior design is founded on comprehensive research and a strong understanding of the client’s brand, market, and project goals. Having extensively studied restaurant operations and designs, Milkovich describes her approach as promoting “bold design balanced with thoughtful moments where the eye can rest.” She has also pursued her passion

for the culinary arts through food blogging that highlights unique dining venue designs and beautiful plating designs. “Entertainment and hospitality design is an ever-evolving industry,” Milkovich explains. “We are always learning new things no matter how much experience we have under our belts.” Collaboration and mentorship are also crucial to success in Milkovich’s view, and both have been a large part of her career in the past and moving forward. She lauds her own mentor, previous ELG 40 Under 40 honoree Emily Marshall, as “a hospitality and entertainment design guru who tends to have the answer for everything.” She credits Marshall as a tremendous advocate for her career aspirations with a talent for creative problem-solving and a wealth of design experience. Now Milkovich herself has become sponsor to her entire interior design team at HBG’s San Diego office, meeting with each team member one-onone quarterly to help discuss ways to creatively achieve their career goals. She believes these individual meetings are essential to building strong relationships and achieving both individual and company goals. “I truly love to see people succeed, and I try my best to help them meet their goals in whatever way I can,” she says. “Everyone has good ideas, no matter their level or years with the firm, and we want to give each team member a voice. When people truly feel good about a design or career direction, they make a greater effort to succeed.” To the up-and-comers in her industry, Milkovich offers this advice: be patient, and really take the time to listen to your colleagues and take advantage of their expertise. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” she advises. “You will never move up in a career without pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.” —Rae Berkley is an analyst with The Innovation Group.


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Legal Eagle

All in the Family Anamarie Ellis • Vice President of Casino Operations, Ellis Island Casino & Brewery; Marketing Executive, Marker Trax

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hen you grow up in a family business, it can be difficult to make a name for yourself and find your own passion within the industry it serves. Two family businesses makes it even harder, but that’s exactly what Anamarie Ellis has done in an impressively short span of time—as the newly promoted vice president of casino marketing and operations for Ellis Island Casino & Brewery as well as a marketing executive for Marker Trax, a digital casino marker provider, Ellis has done a great job thus far of balancing tradition with innovation, while also paving her own path in an ultra-competitive market. It all started, however, at the family dinner table, where she learned what it meant to understand the expectations of players and guests and provide top-notch experiences within the gaming and hospitality industry, which is where she always knew she would be. “I did always know that I wanted to work for my family in the business, so that was an easy decision to make,” says Ellis. “But from an early age, I was really empowered to just share my opinions to learn as much as I can from the people around me, and ultimately to take ownership in what I was doing. And that’s something that I try to instill in our team and all of our team members—to really just take ownership of the property like it is your own.” Ellis began her career in human resources, before quickly moving through the ranks on the operations side, ultimately serving as director of player development for the last four years up until her recent promotion. Now, she’s excited to take on a larger role at the family casino, and to get “even more exposure to the operations side as well as further developing marketing.” Not only that, but when her father, Gary Ellis, launched an innovative new digital casino marker program called Marker Trax in 2020, she jumped right in to help with development, testing, marketing and anything else that was needed. It might be a lot of work, but its growth thus far has been “very important and exciting,” something that she is “extremely proud to be part of.” Marker Trax was recently awarded the prize for Best Consumer-Service Technology in Global Gaming Business magazine’s annual Gaming & Technology Awards. For those who may just be getting started in gaming, Ellis has one piece of advice above all: be observant and share what you see with those around you. “Try to observe as much as you can and not only be observant, but to share those observations with your team and leadership,” says Ellis, “and don’t be afraid to get answers.” Outside of work, Ellis is a part of multiple women-led organizations, including Global Gaming Women and Nevada Women’s Philanthropy. She also is a passionate wine enthusiast, and recently earned her Level 2 Certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust—pinot noir is among her favorites, but, as she says, “you can’t go wrong with a glass of champagne.” —Jess Marquez 30

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Tommaso Di Chio • Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Compliance and Deputy General Counsel, Kambi

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ommaso Di Chio is as cosmopolitan as it gets. He grew up in Apulia, in Southern Italy, studied law in Rome and later in Brussels. He returned to Rome to practice law for four years. Then it was off to London to earn an LLM in commercial and IT law, qualifying as a technology lawyer. He joined Kambi in 2014 as a regulatory wave swept across Europe, where jurisdictions re-evaluated old regulations and approved new ones, not too different than what is happening in the U.S. and Canada, Di Chio says. “The strategic and cultural journey the business was embarking on at that time resonated with me,” he says. “There was a wide variety of unique and interesting challenges for the legal team to address.” While Italy was one of the most advanced countries in the gambling industry, the U.K. was one of the most forward-thinking, especially with online gambling. “Kambi represented an opportunity to be part of a fresh and exciting industry,” Di Chio says. Ending the sports betting ban in the U.S. boosted the already-established Kambi, which had the experience to manage regulations and re-regulations, providing the company with the “ability to interpret, react and adapt our technology quickly to meet the legislative approaches of individual states,” Di Chio says. As senior vice president of regulatory affairs and compliance, and deputy general counsel, Di Chio oversees Kambi’s regulatory affairs and regulatory compliance teams, working with lawmakers and gaming industry stakeholders from all over the world. This includes M & A. “In my time with the business, we have acquired more than 40 sports wagering licenses, in 19 U.S. states and 13 American Native reservations, creating an environment in which the regulatory function could become a commercial advantage for the business,” he says. “Some of my pivotal successes at Kambi include the processing of the first legal online wager in the United States post-PASPA in August 2018, and the award of one of the two online platform provider licenses available in New York.” Covid-19 smacked down most industries worldwide, but perhaps none more so than the sports betting industry as the majority of major competitions went down. The result left Kambi with a more limited schedule. Di Chio also led efforts to collaborate with state gaming agencies to expand what sports event could be wagered on. “The regulatory team at Kambi worked remotely and in close collaboration with regulators to ensure that the integrity of the offering was upheld, and new processes were put in place to ensure these protections were stronger than ever,” he says. “In addition, the pandemic brought about new ways of working and even more active dialogue between sports betting industry stakeholders. It is very encouraging that these processes have been maintained and built on in the following months.” It’s a fantastic industry to work in, Di Chio says. “But those looking to forge a career in this sector must come with a recognition of how gaming impacts both sports and society. It is a very heavily regulated industry, and lawyers should focus on understanding where they can have the greatest impact and effect positive change—gaming is driven by those interested in delivering best-in-class entertainment through the development of new technology and offering experiences that are both engaging and safe.” Asked what the future holds, Di Chio says it’s worth remembering that the sports betting industry in the Americas is just getting started. Many states in the U.S. have yet to enact regulation, while Ontario became the first Canadian province to legislate for single-event sports wagering earlier this year. Latin America, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil provide fertile ground. —Bill Sokolic


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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Lifelong Learner

Old Kentucky Home

Ashley Polo • Executive Director of Brand & Database Marketing, Encore Boston Harbor

Chris Calitri • Account Executive, Ainsworth Game Technology

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ever one to back away from a challenge, Ashley Polo has taken on two of the most high-profile casino resort launches in recent years. With the reopening of Atlantic City’s Ocean Casino Resort, Polo led the re-branding efforts that coincided with the first EBITDA-positive months in the property’s history, followed by joining the opening team at Encore Boston Harbor, where she has continued to add responsibilities as opportunities were presented. “I left Ocean in February 2019 after being hired by Encore Boston Harbor, a Wynn Resort, to oversee their brand marketing efforts,” she says. “As leaders moved on, I was asked to lead the social media and digital marketing teams. In 2021, I started focusing on the database marketing efforts as well, and continue doing so today.” After graduating from James Madison University, Polo began her career in marketing in the real estate sector. She transitioned to gaming as the director of brand marketing communications at Foxwoods Resort Casino, which started as a desire to be closer to family but became a passion as she learned the industry. “I believe that learning is a lifelong process,” she says. “This industry, and particularly in marketing, things are constantly evolving and changing. To remain knowledgeable and cutting-edge, I read white papers, connect with industry colleagues, take classes online, etc. You cannot be complacent in this industry, which is something I love.” Learning from others and building new skills are consistent themes in Polo’s rise in the gaming industry, and while she says she has gained valuable lessons from colleagues at all levels and departments, she makes special mention of some of her mentors. “I’ve been lucky to have many mentors that have helped me along my path, including many smart, strong female leaders in this historically male-dominated industry,” states Polo. “Jenny Holaday, Suzanne Trout, Annie Allman and Annette DeBois have all mentored me in various and unique ways. One trait consistent throughout all of these mentors was they were all incredibly present for whatever guidance or mentorship I needed at the time. Looking back, they likely did not have the time or bandwidth given their roles, but everyone was extremely giving of their time and expertise, and it is important to me to pay that forward.” Although paying it forward leads to extra hours on property, it is something Polo believes is critical to building cross-departmental company culture. “I often help individuals in different departments get exposure to what my team does,” she says. “We have people in our area shadowing our team—whether to learn new design skills, how we think about segmentation and reinvestment, training on our project management software or more. Despite being a significant amount of work in terms of preparation, our door is always open for someone who wants to learn.” —Brian Wyman is senior vice president, operations and data analytics for The Innovation Group.

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f you’re a Kentucky native, one of the assumptions is that choosing some aspect of the horse industry as an occupation is not going to draw odd stares from family or friends. Chris Calitri, of Lexington, can vouch for that. “The only gaming option in Kentucky growing up was (and still is) parimutuel horse racing,” he says. Don’t take that as a negative. Keeneland, located on the outskirts of Lexington, houses one of the oldest tracks in the U.S. “Growing up, going to the racetrack was always a special event in the spring and fall every year,” Calitri says. But it was at the Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans that Calitri’s career took root. “It’s where I learned the gaming industry.” It’s where he discovered an industry so fast-paced and ever-changing at all levels, no two days are ever the same. “It makes it easy to get up and go to work, knowing that you will have something new to deal with each day,” he says. Calitri received a B.A. in computer science in 2009 before he became part of the inaugural class of Churchill Downs’ Management Rotation Program. “I gained exposure to all aspects of management at the Fair Grounds,” he says. At the conclusion of the program, Calitri became a slot shift supervisor, and rose to slot shift manager. In October 2016 he joined Ainsworth Game Technology as an account executive. His role with Ainsworth included selling the concept of historical horse racing, or HHR. With HHR, bettors wager on past races. “The whole HHR project was born out of Ainsworth partnering with Churchill Downs, listening to what product they wanted, and developing the HHR product,” he says. As account executive with Ainsworth, Calitri’s job is to sell the products. “I get to meet with customers face to face, find their biggest needs, and work to provide solutions to their problems,” he says. “I really enjoy growing relationships with my customers and showing them the suite of products Ainsworth has to offer.” Two colleagues helped pave the way for Calitri. “Duncan McConnell was my first boss and mentor in the gaming industry,” he says. “At the time, he was the senior director of slots at the Fair Grounds, and now he is the senior director of gaming strategy at Churchill Downs Inc. Duncan allowed me to learn the operations and technical side of the gaming industry right from the start. He took me under his wing and gave me responsibilities always just ahead of my skill set. He was always willing to share his knowledge with me, as I matured in slot operations.” Deron Hunsberger, chief commercial officer at Ainsworth, has been a mentor on the sales side of the gaming industry, integral in Calitri’s development as an account executive. “He is always available for a quick chat, and he sees the big picture in sales: we have to provide solutions and value for our customers. He has taught me that all parties in a negotiation come out winners,” says Calitri, who plays disc golf and volleyball to relax. Calitri sees Ainsworth providing support for the Class III side of gaming as well as the historical horse racing side, but says other states should take note of HHR success in Kentucky, Virginia, Wyoming, and other states. “As more racetracks see the success that HHR can bring to their business, I hope that more states embrace the idea of HHR as a supplement to their live horse racing.” The phrase Calitri would use to describe the gaming industry is diverse. There are so many career paths—work directly with customers at the operations level of a casino; work for a company in the office on the back end. “You can even work for your state as a gaming regulator. There truly is something for everyone.” —Bill Sokolic



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EMERGING LEADERS OF GAMING

Follow Your Ikigai Lloyd Danzig • Managing Partner, Sharp Alpha Advisors

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s managing partner of Sharp Alpha Advisors, a venture capital firm in the sports betting and online gaming space, Lloyd Danzig plays a key role in more than 20 emerging companies’ growth trajectories. In his role, he provides startups much-needed capital investment as well as strategic guidance and industry access that few nascent companies achieve alone. Danzig’s pedigree—an economics degree from the Wharton School and a postgraduate computer science degree from Columbia—landed him on Wall Street for the first part of his career. It took a court decision to get him into gaming. “When PASPA was repealed in 2018, it was immediately clear to me how significant the opportunity was,” he says. “It felt like a story I read many times before was playing out right in front of my eyes. I got involved with a few startups, did a bit of angel investing, built a sweat equity portfolio through advisory roles, and positioned myself to raise a venture capital fund.” Sharp Alpha Advisors announced that it closed a $10 million raise in October. But Danzig also makes clear that this was more than just opportunism: “I’ve always been enamored by the math that underlies real-money gaming business models,” he explains. “A roulette wheel has 38 numbers on it, but it pays out 35-to-1. The casino cannot reliably predict how they will fare financially on any one spin, but they are so confident in the Law of Large Numbers that they will accept an almost-limitless level of wagering liability with confidence in long-term profitability. How cool is that?”

Danzig also notes that he’s been playing fantasy sports and betting on sports with his friends since they were 12 years old, and that this forms the basis of some of his life’s most fulfilling relationships. “My favorite thing about gaming is the way in which it serves as a vehicle for social connection,” he says. Danzig points to his mentors as a source of advice and inspiration. He calls his group of mentors “incredible.” “They deserve a ton of credit for putting me in the position I am in today,” he says. “Of course, you can’t use someone else’s map of reality to navigate your own, but I lean heavily on my mentors and advisers whenever I do something new, important, or exceptionally complicated.” Likewise, he talks about paying it forward through training and mentorship opportunities that he can provide for others. Danzig is in awe at what he describes as “such a large and impressive population of future founders and top-decile investors” and shares that he is “especially focused on volunteering as a mentor to aspiring venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.” He identifies the trends in gaming he sees the brightest young professionals focused on today, specifically calling out automation, personalization, real-time interactivity, immersion, and augmented reality as examples. When asked what types of advice and guidance he would share with younger folks eager to achieve this type of success, he dismisses “follow your passion” as a nice idea but “generally unhelpful advice,” quipping that “I don’t think I could have made a career out of Seinfeld trivia.” “Mark Cuban’s advice to ‘follow your effort’ is much more practical,” he says. But “perhaps ‘follow your ikigai’ would be an even better piece of advice.” —Brian Wyman is senior vice president, operations and data analytics for The Innovation Group.


TransAct Technologies would like to congratulate Diego Mejia, Sales Manager in Casino and Gaming, on being recognized as part of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2023 by Emerging Leaders of Gaming and Global Gaming Business magazine. With over 15 years of experience, Diego has proven to be an outstanding leader in the gaming industry. TransAct Technologies is proud to see your continued success!


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Saving Las Vegas: The Downtown Turnaround In the late 1980s, casinos in Downtown Las Vegas were in a losing battle with Strip resorts, neighborhood casinos and out-of-state casinos. Operators and lawmakers concocted a bold plan to save the industry. It was just crazy enough to work.

By Marjorie Preston

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ovember 1989 marked a turning point for the Las Vegas Strip. Days before Thanksgiving, Steve Wynn opened his $630 million Mirage casino. News accounts called it a “Fantasy Island” come to life, a “South Seas dream” with 3,000 hotel rooms, cascading waterfalls, a tiger habitat and the property’s signature feature: a volcano that spewed lava every quarter-hour, to the amazement of passersby. An Elvis impersonator, complete with Memphis twang, told a reporter the new resort would “give other hotels a run for their money.” The faux King wasn’t kidding. The Mirage kicked off the megaresort era that in the next decade saw the openings of Excalibur, the MGM Grand, Treasure Island, Luxor, the Stratosphere, New York-New York, Bellagio, ManThe Plaza’s giant Lichtenstein-inspired mural, dalay Bay, the Venetian and Paris Las “Behind Closed Doors,” by artist D*Face Vegas. Those properties, plus a growing “The right type of project number of locals casinos and casinos one trip to see Fremont Street,” the main becomes a catalyst for across state lines, almost put a fork in the according to Jan Jones Blackinvestment and reinvestment.” thoroughfare, birthplace of Nevada gambling: Downhurst, mayor of Las Vegas from 1991 to —Don Snyder, former chairman, town Las Vegas. 1999. With the opening of the Mirage, Fremont Street Experience “those numbers flipped, so less than 20 percent were coming. The whole economic enA year before the Mirage, Downtown gine of Downtown Las Vegas was casinos commanded one-fifth of the rethreatened.” gion’s total gaming market and recorded an 11 percent uptick in gross gaming “There was no energy Downtown, there were no people walking revenues. Less than two years later, those casinos posted a $39 million loss and around,” agrees Don Snyder, then a commercial banker, later president of drew just 16 percent of the market. Boyd Gaming, who was deeply involved in what would become the Down“In the 1980s, 80 percent of people who came to Las Vegas made at least town renaissance. “It wasn’t just casinos but neighborhood businesses that

Decline and Fall

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“The Fremont Street Experience absolutely changed the character of Downtown.” —Jan Jones Blackhurst, former mayor of Las Vegas

The Fremont Street Experience and the Viva Vision light show

were struggling.” Local shopping had been lost to malls. Seediness and the perception of crime also kept people away. Tens of thousands of jobs hung in the balance, not just in gaming and hospitality, but in government. At the time, local, state and federal officials were looking to move their offices to Summerlin, a spanking-new master-planned community promoted by Howard Hughes as a new city center. With nothing to lose, Downtown casino owners rolled the dice, joining policymakers to ensure old Las Vegas wouldn’t be left in the dust.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C… In 1992, Snyder and John O’Reilly, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, helped found the Downtown Progress Association (DPA), a public-private partnership made up of casino owners including Bill Boyd, Jack Binion, Jackie Gaughan, Phil Griffith and Jerry Turk. Also on board: Mirage mastermind Steve Wynn, who also operated the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street. These were big guys with big egos. Some were enemies as well as rivals. But as members of the DPA, they had a common goal and a one-for-all attitude. Their ideas were big. Bold. Outrageous. And they had to be, to make a difference, says Snyder. “Like a rock thrown in a pond, redevelopment has to really make waves. That was the philosophy—to do something big enough to radiate off Fremont Street” to the rest of Downtown. Wynn proposed recreating Venice in the desert, complete with man-made canals and singing gondoliers. That idea didn’t fly, but it got people thinking big (and later inspired Sheldon Adelson’s Strip resort, the Venetian). Another concept was really out of this world: a life-sized replica of the Star Trek Enterprise. The space station would include a restaurant with translucent windows that would shift from views of Downtown to outer space and back again. An engineer from Disney’s EPCOT Center delivered the pitch, and for a moment, the plan looked like a go. But some worried it would be a one-anddone draw, and fail to attract repeat visits. Paramount chief Stanley Jaffe pulled the plug. The third time was the charm. The DPA recruited architect and urban engineer Jon Jerde. Jerde’s specialty was “placemaking,” creating “urban entertainment centers” that per-

formed CPR on formerly dilapidated town centers. Jerde had served as “design czar” for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and was instrumental in the success of San Diego’s Horton Plaza and Minnesota’s Mall of America. Jerde sized up Fremont Street as “two walls of exhilarating lights (the casinos) and two walls of darkness (the sky and street).” He proposed to “simply wrap the entire area in light, sound and motion.” The central attraction would be a four-block, nine-story canopy over a pedestrian walkway, brought to life by a dazzling sound-and-light show. The concept was “beyond brilliant,” says Blackhurst, “in essence creating the world’s largest casino, because they all opened to the street. You could close it for special events. You could hold big Super Bowl parties down there.” The overarching structure would make it an all-weather destination that was easier for cops to patrol. The nightly sensory blitz could change according to the seasons, the entertainment schedule and the holiday calendar. The project was not without its critics, who opposed the use of eminent domain to develop the project, as well as the cost: about $70 million (twice that in 2022 dollars). “But we didn’t have a choice,” says Blackhurst. “We either had to create a spectacular experience, or what was happening on the Las Vegas Strip would close down Fremont Street.” A new hotel room tax—2 percent for Downtown hotels, 1 percent elsewhere—offset the investment, and casino owners kicked in millions in support of the new attraction. “So local taxpayers didn’t pay a penny,” says Snyder, who became the first chairman of what would be called the Fremont Street Experience. “It was really the visitors.”

Good Vibrations The space opened on December 14, 1995, and quickly proved its worth. “You saw a pretty immediate gravitation to the attraction, and that’s what it was intended to do,” says Blackhurst. “It absolutely changed the character of Downtown.” Significantly, it spurred more development, and shored up the local economy against all the roller-coaster events that would follow, like 9/11, the Great Recession and the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Fremont Street Experience put a ‘floor’ under the ups and downs,” observes Snyder. “It really created a lot more upside, even when things were down. It did everything we hoped for.” NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Derek Stevens’ Circa Resort & Casino

The area’s newly cool vibe lured other innovators. In 2006, Michigan native Derek Stevens blew into Las Vegas, and would eventually put his thumbprints all over Downtown. The man called “Vegas’ modern carnival barker” and a “new-age Jack Binion” first bought the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, then transformed the old Fitzgeralds gaming hall into The D and developed the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. Starting in 2012, Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project pumped an estimated $400 million into real estate, dining, tech startups and other ventures in the district. In 2013, the late Zappos CEO relocated his company headquarters to Downtown’s former city hall building, bringing more than 1,500 employees with him. They and other visitors flocked to new attractions like the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum, which paid homage to Las Vegas’ storied past. For thrill-seekers, there was the SlotZilla zipline, which followed a few years later. Forbes magazine hailed the revival, saying, “Sin City’s dynamic downtown neighborhood is filling up with cool cocktail lounges, hot restaurants and chic boutiques.” Then came Stevens’ magnum opus. In 2015, he pulled down the old Las Vegas Club to build his Circa Resort & Casino, spanning a full city block at Fremont and Main, with a 44-story hotel, eye-popping three-level sportsbook, rooftop swimming pools and multiple restaurants and bars. It opened to great fanfare in October 2020, despite ongoing pandemic restrictions that forced patrons and employees to wear masks. In August, the resort debuted a 35,000-square-foot meeting and convention space, now open for booking. “Circa is a really good example of things that create energy and synergy,” says Snyder. “The right type of project becomes a catalyst for investment and reinvestment.”

All that Glitters The website of The D resort proclaims: “Maybe we’re biased, but we definitely think Downtown Las Vegas is better than the Strip—especially as the

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area continues to grow.” And grow it does. Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, owner of the Downtown Grand, looks ahead to even more pedestrian-friendly attractions. “It’s still not completely there,” he recently told the Las Vegas ReviewJournal. “If you’re in New York City, you feel very comfortable walking 10 blocks because there’s always something open. Downtown Las Vegas has gotten to be more like that, and the more we grow, the more critical mass just connects all the different areas and creates a more robust, walkable Downtown.” And what of the multimedia pedestrian corridor that set it all in motion? The Fremont Street Experience has undergone several multimilliondollar upgrades over the years, and is now considered a Vegas must-see. Its colorful canopy and kinetic Viva Vision light show have become a favorite of filmmakers, having appeared in movies such as Con Air, Starman, 3,000 Miles to Graceland and The Hangover, Part III. The district continues its slate of adult-oriented, un-PC attractions that keep the sin in Sin City, like an all-night, pre-Thanksgiving pub crawl called DrinksGiving. And the party keeps going. Las Vegas tourism peaked in 2019 at 42.5 million visitors, then plummeted to 19 million in 2020, but is back on the climb, and Downtown gets its share—according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, last year, 53 percent of all out-of-town visitors stopped Downtown, or roughly 17 million of 32.2 million people. The Fremont Street Experience puts the annual average visitation at 26 million. Looks like the big gamble paid off. As Andrew Simon, current chairman of the Fremont Street Experience, noted in a recent interview, “If you look at the investments that have been going on at the billions of dollars over the last few years, Circa and then Zappos and Downtown Project… It’s a whole Downtown area that it really saved. “Without the Fremont Street Experience, I’m not sure we’d see the Downtown we see today.”


Congratulations Rob Procter! Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 -2023

Rob Procter VP, Game Development Light & Wonder | iGaming

LnW.com The look and feel of the games and their individual components and displays are trade dress of Scientific Games Corp dba Light & Wonder and its Subsidiaries. All © notices signify marks registered in the United States. ™ and © 2022 Scientific Games Corp dba Light & Wonder and its Subsidiaries. All rights reserved. Light & Wonder is committed to responsible gambling. Responsible gambling features are proactively developed to ensure the safety and security of players while using Light & Wonder products.


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The Main Event

Jonathan Jossel, CEO of the Plaza Hotel & Casino

Q&A with Jonathan Jossel, CEO, Plaza Hotel & Casino f reinvestment reflects confidence, there may be no brighter harbinger for Downtown Vegas than the Plaza Hotel & Casino. The historic Main Street property, fully remodeled in 2010 and 2011, now has four large-scale additions in the pipeline: an animated Carousel Bar under the Plaza’s iconic dome; a new rooftop patio at Oscar’s Steakhouse; a Pinkbox Doughnuts location that serves, among other things, doughnut milkshakes spiked with alcohol; and Downtown’s first smokefree, social media-friendly gaming space, complete with the Brian Christopher Slots area that opened in 2021, the Plaza’s 50th anniversary year. “Like our neighbors and city leaders, we’ve been committed to revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas into a destination known for great art, dining, culture, hospitality, and entertainment,” said CEO Jonathan Jossel in a statement. The new developments “will further these efforts and transform Main Street into an unforgettable and must-visit place in Las Vegas for food, drinks and gaming.” GGB spoke to Jossel about Downtown’s unique personality and its recipe for success.

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GGB: By reputation, Downtown Las Vegas is friendlier and more walkable than the Strip, with better odds for gamblers. Is that a fair assessment? Jonathan Jossel: It’s indisputable that Downtown has better odds,

whether it’s single-zero roulette, 3:2 blackjack, 10 times odds on craps, or video-poker pay tables you just don’t get on the Strip anymore. It’s friendlier too, and it has a lot more history. What was lacking before was the quality of the experience. So you had the better odds, the history, the friendly people, but you didn’t have the reinvestment. That’s changed in the past decade. Now people can come down here for great restaurants, festivals, shows and live music. The Downtown experience today is second to none. Is there a typical casino customer at the Plaza, and in Downtown casinos in general?

What we’ve learned here at the Plaza is that you have to be adaptable to everything. Today we have 800 people here for bingo, mostly women, 60 years old and up. Last month, we had the Life Is Beautiful festival. Next month it’s a rodeo, which might be a group of guys from the Midwest, Texas and Oklahoma. We pride ourselves on being able to adapt to all these different demographics. That said, the core customer in our casino database is the drive-in market from California, Arizona and Utah, then the Midwest. Is Downtown “finished” at this point, or could it be better still?

It’s definitely come a long way, but in baseball terms, we’re not even in the bottom of the fourth inning. Downtown has a long, long way to go. 40

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

The Plaza is now adding a Pinkbox Doughnuts location and a patio at Oscar’s Steakhouse

In 2021, the Plaza opened a Brian Christopherthemed slots area, piggybacking on the appeal of the Youtube sensation

You have to give credit to Tony Hsieh, who was one of the first ones, along with us and a few others, that came into Downtown and started putting it on the map. But in terms of a finished product? We’re not even close. That’s not to take away from what we’ve done. You can look across the street with Circa and their sportsbook—people are coming to see that. Or look at the Golden Nugget and the great improvements they’ve made. There’s just so much more that’s going to materialize in the next 10 years that will make Downtown Las Vegas a prime destination for the whole country. And that’s what it’s all about, bringing people down here, giving them a great experience and getting them to come back and bring their friends and family. With everything so pricy these days, are people still willing to come and play? Do you see any economic clouds on the horizon?

It’s an odd time, for sure. Hearing a lot about inflation and other macroeconomic impacts, you might expect that at some point things could just slow down. But 2021 was the best year we ever had here at the Plaza, and I think 2022 could beat it. We’ve had the busiest 18 months ever.


2023 EMERGING LEADER OF GAMING

40 UNDER 40

CONGRATULATIONS ANAMARIE ELLIS DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING EXECUTIVE


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Celebrating Excellence

Industry honors abound at G2E

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he Global Gaming Expo returned in full force for 2022, bringing a full slate of industry awards along with it. This year’s honorees ranged from up-and-coming standouts to established leaders, touching all sectors of the gaming industry—here are three of this year’s most notable awards programs.

Let’s Get Technical

Vegas; and Skyelar Perkins, corporate slot director, Choctaw Casinos. Nominations for the 2024 GGB Gaming & Technology Awards will open in May 2023, and include new products and services to be introduced in 2023 or 2024.

GGB Gaming & Technology Awards 2023

The 21st edition of GGB’s Gaming & Technology Awards showcased the best in innovation

Best Consumer-Service Technology GOLD: Marker Trax—Marker Trax SILVER: Agilysis—IG OnDemand

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Best Guest Health & Safety Product GOLD: Vaask—Vaask

he winners of the 21st 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 North American awards program that recognizes excellence in innovation and practical application in all gaming disciplines. Hundreds of gaming products and services were entered this year into this important competition. “Every year, we are impressed with the quality of the nominations for the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards,” says Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine. “This year was no different. The innovation has accelerated following the pandemic and also has improved as gaming seeks more unique and interesting ways to create products and services that please customers. “And again, as in years past, it’s quite 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 October 10-13 at the Venetian Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Judges for the awards were: Claudia Winkler, president, 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

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Best Interactive Product GOLD: Acres Manufacturing— Cashless Casino SILVER: Quick Customer Intelligence—QCI Loyalty Best Productivity-Enhancement Technology GOLD: Duetto—Duetto RMS SILVER: IGT—IGT Advantage in the Cloud Best Slot Product GOLD: IGT—Prosperity Link SILVER: Bluberi Gaming— Devil’s Lock Best Table Game Product or Innovation GOLD: Interblock—Universal Cabinet SILVER: Light & Wonder—AToM



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Worthy of Praise The American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame Class of 2022 included three storied inductees

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his year, the American Gaming Association announced three inductees for the Gaming Hall of Fame Class of 2022, in recognition of their contributions to the industry:

Gavin Isaacs, former president and CEO, Scientific Games Corporation and current chairman of Games Global; Virginia McDowell, former president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos, current non-executive director at Entain, and co-founder of Global Gaming Women; and, Michael Rumbolz, former CEO and current executive chairman of Everi Holdings. “Gavin, Virginia and Mike have each helped transform the gaming industry in their own significant ways,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “From leading casino and manufacturing operations across the country to serving in a multitude of board and advisory roles, their influence has spanned the U.S. and global gaming industry—and we are all better off for it.” Since 1989, the Gaming Hall of Fame has recognized gaming legends, pioneers and business leaders for their lasting impacts on the industry. The Class of 2022 was honored during an invitation-only induction ceremony at G2E. “The Gaming Hall of Fame is comprised of individuals that have pushed the

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

industry forward through innovation, leadership and excellence. This year’s inductees are well-deserving additions to its ranks,” said AGA Chairman of the Board, Hard Rock International Chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen. Hall of Fame honorees are selected by an independent panel of gaming executives. This year’s selection committee members include: • Jim Allen, Chairman, Hard Rock International and CEO, Seminole Gaming • Kirsten Clark, Executive Director, International Association of Gaming Advisors • Jeffrey Compton, Business Manager, CDC Gaming Reports • Alan Feldman, Chairman, International Center for Responsible Gaming and Distinguished Fellow, International Gaming Institute, University of Nevada, Las Vegas • Craig Ferreira, Interim Executive Director, UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation • Dan Little, Chief Intergovernmental Affairs Officer, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians • Cassie Stratford, Senior Vice President, Legal Operations & Regulatory Compliance, Boyd Gaming, and President and Chair, Global Gaming Women • Steve Sutherland, President and CEO, Konami Gaming


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Gavin Isaacs

Virginia McDowell

Chairman, Games Global

Non-Executive Director, Entain; Co-founder, Global Gaming Women

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hen Gavin Isaacs arrived from Australia, his success at Aristocrat was noticed right away, and he rose quickly through the ranks, becoming CEO of the revenue-leading Americas division in 2003. He later joined Bally Technologies, where he led the development of new slot platforms and cabinets and increased participation revenue by double digits. Beginning in 2011, Isaacs served three years as the CEO of SHFL entertainment, where he grew the company to record revenues, globally expanded the slot business, and created meaningful opportunities in specialty table game brands both in brick-and-mortar casinos and online. In 2014, Scientific Games purchased SHFL and elevated Isaacs to president and CEO, where he led the acquisition of Bally Technologies, creating one of the largest gaming suppliers in the world.

V

irginia McDowell served as the only female president and CEO of a major gaming operating company from 2007 until her retirement from Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016. She now serves as a non-executive director of Entain PLC, where she chairs the Environmental, Social and Governance Committee and serves as the designated workforce director. McDowell also is the co-founder of Global Gaming Women, a nonprofit she helped establish in 2016 with a mission to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry through education and mentoring. During her 40-year career in gaming, she worked in casino operations in a number of regional and destination markets, including the Tropicana Atlantic City and the Trump Organization.


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Michael Rumbolz Executive Chairman, Everi Holdings

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ichael Rumbolz currently serves as executive chairman of the board of Everi Holdings, Inc., having previously served as CEO of the company from February 2016 to April 2022. At Everi, Rumbolz brought together the disparate functions of slot manufacturing and payment processing, transforming Everi into the massive gaming supplier it is today. During his long career, he has been involved in all aspects of the gaming industry, including gaming-related equipment and systems manufacturing and distribution, casino project development and construction, hotel and casino operations, casino fintech equipment and systems, casino regulatory technology, digital gaming, lottery and slot-route operations, and gaming legislation and regulation. He previously served as the chairman and CEO of Cash Systems Inc., CEO of Anchor Gaming Inc., and vice chairman of Casino Data Systems. Rumbolz has been a member of the board of managers of Seminole Hard Rock International since 2008 and a member of the board of directors of VICI Properties Inc. since 2017. He also formerly served as chief deputy attorney general of Nevada and chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Storied Careers Roy Student and Frank Fantini were celebrated with AGEM’s lifetime achievement awards

R

oy Student and Frank Fantini were named as the recipients of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers’ 2022 Memorial Awards. Student received the Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism and Fantini received the Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications. AGEM created the unique annual awards program to acknowledge Halle’s and Mead’s lasting impacts on gaming. This year’s recipients were honored on Wednesday, October 12 at AGEM’s G2E booth. Student is a 50-year gaming and hospitality industry veteran, respected worldwide as an innovator and leader. For the last 15 years, he has been the president and founder of Applied Management Strategies, a global management and marketing consulting company. Previously he served as president of Cyberview Technology, as founder and as chairman and president of Gaming Systems International (GSI), senior vice president of Sulcus Hospitality Group, vice president of the business systems division and VP of gaming operations for Gen-

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Roy Student

Frank Fantini

eral Instrument Corporation, hospitality business unit director for Siemans Nixdorf, president of Dirson Enterprises, and president of Intermark Gaming. He also was on the executive team of the opening of the original MGM Grand in December 1973. AGEM President David Lucchese, who also serves as executive vice president, sales, marketing and digital at Everi, said, “Throughout his career, Roy has bent the arc of the industry’s history toward innovation, from the landmark MGM property in 1973 up to the present day. His insights and opinions, along with the prodding and encouragement he has given and continues to give behind the scenes to leaders at all levels, have permanently shaped the industry and left a lasting legacy.” Fantini is a lifelong investor and career journalist, publisher, and executive. He created Fantini Research in 2000, publishing the first “Fantini’s Gaming Report” on the very first workday of the new millennium. Initially, Fantini’s Gaming Report served institutional investors, and it soon became a daily service to corporate-level gaming investors, both casino operators and those in games and technology. Although based in Fantini’s hometown of Dover, Delaware, the company evolved into one with employees throughout the U.S. In January 2022, he stepped back from his all-consuming schedule and sold Fantini Research to longtime business associate Todd Eilers at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. Fantini Research, under the leadership of longtime executive Ashley Diem, continues to provide its full range of services. AGEM Executive Director Daron Dorsey said, “Frank has been part of a gaming supplier executive’s workday for decades, whether through his research, commentary, analysis or interviews surrounding the gaming industry. His commitment and dedication to delivering insight and context to the ever-changing global gaming marketplace is greatly appreciated by our entire industry. Frank is a well-deserving recipient of this year’s Peter Mead award.”


Strength in Numbers

Member companies from 22 countries Nearly $21 billion in direct revenue • 61,700 employees 13 publicly traded companies • ONE POWERFUL VOICE Address worldwide industry expansion, regulatory and legislative issues • Discounts on major trade show booth space Promote responsible gaming initiatives • Updates from influential global industry leaders Advertising discounts in leading industry publications • Educational partnerships benefiting students and members Visibility in AGEM’s print advertisements • Exposure for publicly traded companies in the monthly AGEM Index Join AGEM today and work together with the world’s leading gaming suppliers. Daron Dorsey, Executive Director +1 702 277 3641 • Daron.Dorsey@AGEM.org Tracy Cohen, Director of Europe +44 (0) 7970 833 543 • Tracy.Cohen@AGEM.org Connie Jones, Director of Responsible Gaming +1 702 528 4374 • Connie.Jones@AGEM.org Design & photo-illustration by Jeff Farrell.com • AGEM and charter ESP member since 2007.

AGEM.org

©2022 Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM). Membership list current as of October 2022.


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By Land or Cyberspace Whether creating games for land-based casinos or the online gaming space, the game design process is similar—to a point By Bill Sokolic

T

he Penn State-Michigan game on October 15 attracted a full house at the stadium in Ann Arbor. Others watched from home or from sports bars. Still others took in the game on their phones, a tantalizing alternative to chilly weather. And that’s the point. You have options to experience the same game, says Joe Kaminkow, chief innovation officer for Aristocrat Gaming. The same approach applies to slot games, land-based or online. Though online gaming goes back almost 10 years, it gained strength during the Covid pandemic when online betting was the only game in town. Growth continued even as casinos reopened. The advance in both iGaming and brick-and-mortar gaming speaks to the enhanced roles of each moving forward. A dozen years ago, Australia-based Aristocrat unveiled a buffalothemed game in a retail setting. It proved a huge success. The oncepowerful beast of the Plains states will soon bring its stampeding act to the U.S. online casino market, according to an announcement October 10 at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. Buffalo slots have grown to 35 variations. Once the online version hits the marketplace, you can play among the buffalo on your tablet or phone and on a bigger screen in a casino. The majority of International Game Technology’s PlayDigital themes originated from land-based games and then were adapted for the online casino environment, says Gil Rotem, IGT president, iGaming, citing Wheel of Fortune, Cleopatra and Scarab. “There have been a few exceptions over the years where successful

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

iGaming games were later adapted for casino play, but that is not the standard,” Rotem says. But even that is changing. IGT’s recent acquisition of iSoftBet doubled PlayDigital’s portfolio with many of the additions designed specifically for iGaming, Rotem says. In 2016, IGT introduced the world’s first omnichannel wide-area progressive, Powerbucks, in Canada. Since then, the popular game has paid out more than $3.4 billion, Rotem says. “The game has always been popular in Canada, but during the pandemic, when brick-and-mortar casinos were closed for an extended period of time, Powerbucks gained even more popularity and was able to still reward lucky online players with life-changing jackpots.” The Powerbucks link is supported by a large library of base game themes including Wheel of Fortune slots.

“This type of omnichannel content gives players the option to win those legendary Wheel of Fortune jackpots, anytime, anywhere.” —Gil Rotem, President, iGaming, IGT


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“Inspired by the success of Powerbucks, we will soon launch the first omnichannel Wheel of Fortune linked progressive in the U.S.—IGT’s Wheel of Fortune Triple Gold Gold Spin game,” Rotem says. The product will link all land-based Wheel of Fortune $1 wide-area progressive games with online and mobile Wheel of Fortune games across New Jersey. “This type of omnichannel content gives players the option to win those legendary Wheel of Fortune jackpots, anytime, anywhere,” Rotem says. The popularity of online gaming has accelerated, Rotem says. “I think the expansion of sports betting, coupled with individual states’ need to generate revenue, has also increased the dialogue on expanding iGaming in the U.S. I would expect this trend to continue for the next several years. The long-term success of online gaming will ultimately come down to three simple things: accessibility, user experience and quality content. “There is plenty of room for both,” Rotem says. “There will always be players who prefer one channel over the other, but that is OK.” Just as a person visits a movie theater to catch a film has a different expectation than if he or she was watching a movie at home via Netflix, players expect different experiences from the two gaming channels. “An online player may spin for a few minutes at a time throughout the day, whereas a player in a casino could enjoy slots for a couple of hours and go home,” Rotem says. For most of IGT’s products, land-based games serve as the source material for online versions, or development on each side takes place on an equal basis. And at times, a retail version will follow the success of the online one, Rotem says. Sometimes converting land-based games to the online arena can be relatively fast, says Aristocrat’s Kaminkow. “It gives us a little edge to get the game out there quicker,” he says. “We can easily move one side to the other.” With the online space, you gather data quicker and decision-making faster. Land-based games provide information at a slower pace, Kaminkow says.

Chicken or the Egg Of course, many suppliers decide on online game introduction during the design process itself. “We have the approach of developing some online and some land-based games first,” says Sigmund Lee, chief technical officer for AGS. “How we decide the quantity for each is based on our capabilities and product category goals at the time. There are pros and cons, mostly driven by user experience and platform restrictions.” Land-based content requires more effort. “I think you will continue to see a convergence of both styles that end up being a unique offering to mobile and land-based platforms,” Lee says. “Players now have the opportunity to play market-leading content once only found by visiting a brick-and-mortar casino from the comfort of their home or waiting for a bus,” says Gary Hardy, vice president of business ops, interactive gaming at AGS. “In return, we get access to an ever-widening player base.” Says Rotem, “The industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, so it’s hard to say where the balance between online and land-based gaming will be in five years. I think we’ll see iGaming continue to grow in popularity as more juris50

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

“We are seeing more and more crosspollination of players between the two environments, which is enhancing the overall value-add proposition.” —Kent Young, President, Americas, Bragg Gaming Group

dictions legalize it, especially in the U.S.” IGT PlayDigital has expert game designers working in studios dedicated to creating high-performing games. In the last year, “we have increased and diversified our in-house talent, and we have significantly increased the cadence of releasing games,” Rotem says. Over the next year, IGT plans to add more than 60 games encompassing a mix of omnichannel games. Land-based and online game design are very different animals, says Kurt Hansen, head of Aruze Interactive. “Compare the giant screens and speakers on the casino floor to your favorite tablet or the phone in your pocket, and you will know why we must treat each very differently,” Hansen says. “But the future could bring the kind of convergence in which land-based and online product develops in parallel, using the same graphics team.”

Omnichannel Success Spin Games, now part of Bragg Gaming, has a long history of deploying both land-based and iGaming titles throughout North America, often with huge success, says Kent Young, president, Americas, Bragg Gaming Group. Land-based titles have had great success in the iGaming space, Young says. “We have also seen iGaming-first titles do well. This is often based on titles that have performed well in international markets with strong game mechanics and proven applications.” The ongoing development of online games in the future will encompass a mix of both land-originated titles and iGaming-first titles. “In the medium term, I think we will see most U.S. suppliers continue to develop for landbased first and deploy across iGaming once performance has been proven in the land-based space,” Young says. “We see iGaming as complementary, and a true value-add to the land-based offering.” iGaming allows for cross marketing to existing players as well as the ability to tap into new market segments such as a younger demographic, Young says. “We are seeing more and more cross-pollination of players between the two environments, which is enhancing the overall value-add proposition. “Over the longer term we may see more of a hybrid approach where games are developed initially for both segments, and in some instances we will see iGaming-first titles ported into the land-based segment.” The ability to bring iGames to market faster and more cost-effectively than on the land-based side enables Aruze Interactive to test game themes, math models, etc., to determine if the iGames are successful enough to build on the land-based side. Yet, it will not be viable to squeeze all land-based games into a digital footprint, Hansen says. “At the end of the day, whether we are designing games for land-based or online, our goal is to develop games that people enjoy playing.”


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FRANKLY SPEAKING by Frank Legato

Masks, Poker and the Good Life

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ow, G2E without masks. As you read this out there in the future (don’t tell me what happens; I like to be surprised), I’m guessing you had a boffo Global Gaming Expo last month. But here in the past, I’m just about to embark on my travel to the big trade show. The travel’s not off to a good start. When I booked my flight, the engine that lets you select your seat wasn’t working. By the time I went back to select, only middle seats were left. For a five-hour flight. I just know I’m going to be wedged between two sweaty 300-pound linemen for five hours, with screaming babies in the rows in front and behind. (Yes, I’m an optimist.) (UPDATE: It came true. A 300-pound lineman. Quite the pleasant trip.) But what the hey—as I said, it’s G2E without masks. I don’t have to recognize my industry colleagues by their eyebrows, or interview people to get quotes like “Well, muphruphh, wmmfruff. Absoluphhrff.” I’m guessing they even had a carpet over the trade show floor this year. Last year, we walked across concrete for three days because they evidently thought Covid would leap up from rugs to attack attendees. (I understand rug germs can even penetrate N95 masks.) Of course, you already know whether there was a rug this year or not. Or more specifically, your hip joints and bunions know. Mine are still recovering from last year. But let’s not spend our entire monthly moment of jocularity with me speculating on stuff you already know. There are other things in the industry that require being made fun of. Like that poker scandal in California. In late September at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, poker player Robbi Lew called an all-in bet by Garrett Adelstein, who was showing an open-ended straight flush. He didn’t draw the flush, and she won the $269,000 pot with a jackhigh hand. Adelstein accused Lew of cheating, since she had been playing conservatively all night. There was a heated discussion away from the table, during which Lew asked, “What’s going to make you happy?” According to Lew, Adelstein answered, “To give me my money back.” And she did. She gave him his money back. What’s this world coming to? Doesn’t anybody watch cowboy movies anymore? What happened to poker players saying, “You accusin’ me of cheatin’? Them’s fightin’ words!” I suppose it’s for the best. You don’t want poker players facing off with six-shooters on a California freeway. Afterwards, Adelstein told a CBS reporter that he never asked for a refund, but the fact she did give him his money back showed there was something going on. Here’s how he described the situation to the reporter: “Not only did she never consider making a call anywhere close to this before, but she instead very often folded bluff catchers to river bets, only calling when her hand was quite strong. Now all of a sudden she is playing a

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NOVEMBER 2022

10X stack size compared to before and is calling a huge overshove with no pair no draw?” OK, I guess I need to learn pokerspeak, because I didn’t understand a word of that. Folded bluff catchers to river bets and a 10X stack size with a huge overshove? He may as well have been wearing an N95 mask. Moving on, there are many things I love about my job. I get to visit exotic casino venues and write about people playing games. I may not be in the press box at a ballgame, but it’s still fun. I also get to peek into how the other half lives—meaning obscenely wealthy high rollers. I recently came across a story on Wynn Las Vegas, and their “ultra-exclusive” series of sold-out wine and dinner parings. In this case, 20 guests at a time are forking over $10,000 per person for dinner and wine tastings. Well, it does come with a Wynn Tower suite, so that makes it a bargain, right? Ten grand for dinner and wine, highlighted by a sampling of wines from the Domain H. William Harlan family of wineries in the Napa Valley. It says here a bottle of Harlan wine can cost anywhere from several hundred to “many thousands of dollars.” There’s a six-bottle limit for purchases. Thank goodness. I can see myself carelessly maxing out my credit cards for 15 bottles of the stuff. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll save my money for the Hardwood Suite at The Palms. For just $25,000 a night, you get a suite that has a private basketball court, with its own locker room. I don’t play or even like basketball, but I have to find some way to unload all the money I won by cheating Garrett Adelstein at poker. No, I didn’t give him his money back.


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NEW GAME REVIEW by Frank Legato

Bull Blitz

Konami Gaming

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his new game series on Konami’s Dimension 49J cabinet features the holdand-re-spin feature popularized on last year’s All Aboard series, with an extra twist and unique free-game bonus features. The two inaugural titles are Bull Blitz Fortunes of the Orient and Bull Blitz Roses & Riches. Aside from the themes, the games contain the same common features with slightly different free-spin features. The base game is a five-reel video slot with payline configurations corresponding to the denomination—the penny and 2-cent versions have 50 paylines; the nickel and 10-cent versions have 25 lines; the $1 and $2 versions, five lines. The main feature is the Bull Blitz Bonus, a hold-and-re-spin event featuring gold coins as cash-on-reels symbols. Gold coins on the triggering spin lock in place, and the free-spin meter starts at three. There also are symbols corresponding to one of the five progressive

Sinatra

Light & Wonder

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his is the second game on L&W’s new Landmark 7000 Wheel stepper cabinet, which features a wedge bonus wheel and 32-inch portrait video monitor above three mechanical spinning reels. Sinatra includes a wealth of archival footage of Frank Sinatra singing his most popular songs. The base game is a three-reel stepper in five-line or nine-line configuration. In the base game, five, six, seven, eight or nine symbols with gold-record watermarks in the base tame trigger the Sinatra Bonus, which plays video of a few songs while awarding a progressive that corresponds to the number of record symbols. Much like the legendary Bally Quick Hits mechanic, the number of records determines the progressive prize, up to the Grand, resetting at $10,000—or in Nevada, $200,000 on a wide-area progressive link—for nine records.

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Manufacturer: Konami Gaming, Inc. Platform: Dimension 49J Format: Five-reel, five-, 25- or 50-line video slot Max Bet: 25, 125, 200, 500 Denomination: .01, .02, .05, .10, 1.00, 2.00 Top Award: Progressive; resets at $10,000 Hit Frequency: 24.89% Theoretical Hold: 8.01%-10.01%

jackpot levels that can appear during the Bull Blitz feature. Additional gold coins return the spin meter to three, and the bonus proceeds until no gold coins land for three spins or the entire reel array fills with the coins. The added twist to this feature is the “Xtra Hit” symbol. Any time that lands during the Bull Blitz spins, the player is awarded the accumulated balance of all locked coins, in addition to the total of the coins in place at the end of the feature. On Fortunes of the Orient, three lantern symbols trigger six free games. Nudging wild symbols appear on all but the first reel during the free spins. On Roses & Riches, three rose symbols trigger five free games. During each of the free spins, at least two of the reels will contain all wilds.

Manufacturer: Light & Wonder Platform: Landmark 7000 Wheel Format: Three-reel, five-line or nineline stepper Max Bet: 5, 9, 15, 27 Denomination: 1.00 Top Award: Progressive; $10,000 or $200,000 (WAP) reset Hit Frequency: 25.52% Theoretical Hold: 11.3%-13.51%

Three symbols with wheel watermarks trigger the bonus wheel, which includes credit symbols, Sinatra—triggering the Sinatra bonus—or nine gold records, triggering the Grand progressive jackpot.


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Manufacturer: Everi Holdings Platform: Empire Format: Five-reel, 243-ways-to-win video slot Max Bet: 375, 750, 1,875 Denomination: .01, .02, .05 Top Award: Progressive; resets at $6,000 (.01), $12,000 (.02) or $30,000 (.05) Hit Frequency: Approximately 40% Theoretical Hold: 5%-17%

Press Your Luck Series Everi

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his brand extension of the popular Everi game based on the long-running Press Your Luck game show brings the top modern game mechanics and HD graphics to the popular theme. The two new titles, available on Everi’s Empire MPX and Empire Flex cabinets, are Press Your Luck Whammy Bucks and Press Your Luck Whammy Wilds. They are similar in their features, with Whammy Wilds adding multipliers up to 4X. The base games are five-reel, 243ways-to-win video slots, available in 1 cent and 2 cent stand-alone denominations, or a multi-denom version with a choice of .01, .02 or .05. There are three bonus events, hosted by “Whammy,” the devilish character which, on the 1980s game show, would end the player’s bonus round. The main feature is the Press Your Luck Bonus, a hold-and-re-spin event. The reels transform into cash-on-

reels symbols that look much like the prize display from the TV show. Cash symbols lock in place for three re-spins, and any more cash symbols return the spin meter to three. Filling up the entire 15-spot grid with cash prizes awards additional “Whammy Prizes,” or it triggers the main wheel bonus and the chance at one of seven progressive jackpots. The Big Bucks Bonus features a spin on a horizontal wheel to land a credit prize that can value in the hundreds of dollars. Randomly, when it stops, it will “nudge” to a larger credit award. There is a piggy bank above the reels that grows when special symbols land. Randomly, the bank will break to trigger the Whammy Wheel bonus and at least one guaranteed progressive jackpot. All seven progressives are on the wheel, and some of them indicate the progressive plus an extra spin, potentially giving the player two progressive prizes. The top “Epic” jackpot resets at $6,000, $12,000 or $30,000, depending on the denomination. The new games also are available on the TournEvent tournament system.

Jackpot Carnival Aristocrat Gaming

Manufacturer: Aristocrat Gaming

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Platform: Neptune Single his is the launch game for Aristocrat’s Format: Five-reel, 1,024-ways-to-win new Neptune Single cabinet, which offers video slot the cinematic presentation of the NepMax Bet: 880 tune Double with a single 48-inch curved monitor. Denomination: .01, .02, .05, .10 (playerJackpot Carnival is a festive game group with selectable multi-denom) player-selectable multi-denominations that inTop Award: Progressive; $8,888.88 reset cludes clever carnival themes. Inaugural base games Hit Frequency: Approximately 40% include new versions of the popular game families Theoretical Hold: 6%-11% Buffalo, Timber Wolf and Power of 88. All three base games are five-reel, 1,024-waysto-win video slots. During base game play, hurdygurdy carnival music pipes along. Voice-overs on the game imitate carnival The player spins for barkers. (“We have a winnah!”) four Bonus Balls that The common bonuses are the Clown Feature, the Hammer Feature and can award multipliers up the Jackpot Carnival Feature. There also is a free-game feature that differs be- to 25X. The player presses the tween the three base games. Play button to drop a ball Three or more bonus symbols trigger the Pick Feature. The player down the screen and chooses either the Free Games Feature or the Jackpot Carnival Feature. into one of five prize In the Jackpot Carnival feature, one free spin is awarded with at least one buckets. Jackpot Carnival symbol on each reel. Players are awarded cash-on-reels valThe Hammer Feature is a take on the test-your-strength hammer-and-bell ues for those, as well as the opportunity to win one of four progressives, the games. Players strike a hammer on the bottom of several rows to generate credit top resetting at $8,888.88. awards and multipliers rising to a maximum of nine rows. A clown or hammer symbol on the fifth reel triggers the Clown Feature The free games vary in quantity between the three base games. Buffalo includes or Hammer Feature, respectively. 2X and 5X multipliers in the free games; Power of 88 features stacked reveal symbols; In the Clown Feature, the screen displays a carnival-style game board. Timber Wolf includes 3X and 5X multipliers. NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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Know the Score Sports betting platforms have to be flexible and add new dimensions according to different situations By Dave Bontempo

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eep running up the score. Vendors serving the burgeoning sports-betting market do another victory dance in the revenue end zone. They can even spike the ball. Wagering numbers constantly soar, spreading frenzy throughout an industry loving its can’t-miss sector. There is nothing but upside. More states steadily legalize this gamingindustry windfall, while others chafe about missing the boat. According to the Legal Sports Report, which publishes monthly and annual sports-betting figures, more than $152 billion has been wagered nationwide in the post-PASPA era since 2018. That has produced more than $11 billion in revenue and nearly $2 billion into state government coffers. And that’s only with 26 states tabulated. Gaming officials salivate with the looming impact of major markets like Massachusetts, set to debut in 2023. California and Texas, which don’t have legalized sports gambling, may adopt sports betting in the next couple of years. The American sports-betting market—lucrative yet not fully tapped—excites companies that serve it. They don’t need to build a brickand-mortar fortress to capture this clientele. Any sports-betting platform, mobile wagering innovation or infrastructure enhancement can grab some of this revenue.

Why Sports Betting Ascended Few predicted the depths of this betting bonanza, born from the confluence of pent-up demand and cutting-edge innovation. One factor was the injection of sophisticated mobile betting, just as

sports betting became legalized. This put a sportsbook in one’s hand, far more convenient than a brick-and-mortar property requiring a drive, parking and a long walk. A second was the experienced European companies ready to service the exploding American market. Factor number three: gamblers are betting telephone numbers. Knowing they will be paid—unlike the reality of illegal sports wagering—they unload staggering amounts of money. Nearly every weekend, a sportsbook reports a six-figure payout from a small investment on a multi-legged parlay. And some investments are not small. An early-season NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots encouraged six-figure, in-game betting. Two separate bets exceeding $300,000 accompanied the heavily favored Packers trailing 10-7 at halftime. The gamblers were laying odds of more than 3-1 on what they considered a sure thing. This wagering tactic is normally reckless. Where else will someone bet nearly $400,000 to win comparative pocket change? That’s the nature of high-level sports bettors. They are not casual-interest players. They don’t care for a random number generator or a relaxing day playing the slots. Many shoot for the stars, leveraging a six-figure bankroll. That’s why early projected estimates of sports-wagering impact were dramatically low. It was difficult to predict all of these elements aligning. We know now, it has been a colossal cash cow. Operators and vendors aren’t the only winners. State governments have run the gamut from being good to greedy sports-betting partners. But because sports change, situations change, the entire sports betting world is volatile. And platform providers need to be flexible.

According to the Legal Sports Report, which publishes monthly and annual sports-betting figures, more than $152 billion has been wagered nationwide in the post-PASPA era since 2018. That has produced more than $11 billion in revenue and nearly $2 billion into state government coffers. And that’s only with 26 states tabulated. 56

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IGT’s PeakBarTop with Sports Betting offers the company’s top-performing video poker game groups like Game King and Super Star Poker, along with keno, slots, roulette, and sports betting on a single device

BarTop Payday Plaudits keep mounting for IGT. The sports-betting space is represented in its PeakBarTop with Sports Betting product, which was developed by IGT sports betting chief Joe Asher. IGT’s transformative PeakBarTop with Sports Betting brings the bartop experience to a whole new level. It seamlessly offers the company’s top-performing video poker game groups like Game King and Super Star Poker, along with keno, slots, roulette, and sports betting on a single device. The innovation embeds sports-betting capability into the poker bartop. Patrons can be sitting at the bar, playing video poker with their friends, and, presto, change gears to wager on a game. Are you at the book or at the bar? You’re at both. This is a cutting-edge technology for two reasons. One, it blends two different activities into one. The poker tables are no longer a long walk from the sportsbook. Two, it brings the book to the customer. It’s there, as a conven-

ience, but it doesn’t have to block out other activity. A natural fit for bar and sportsbook environments, the PeakBarTop features Bluetooth technology that integrates with IGT’s cashless gaming systems technology. “IGT’s PeakBarTop with Sports Betting is a truly dynamic solution that is unlike anything ever seen in the gaming industry,” says Darnell Johnson, IGT senior director of product management, video poker. “In creating the PeakBarTop with Sports Betting, we took every detail into consideration to ensure the solution delivers a quality player experience and elevates the bar environment.”

Game Parlay On Kambi continues to parlay its inside position as a B2B sports-betting platform into a leader embracing the strong American market. The European company, long experienced in sports wagering, was one of


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the first to help American operators hit the ground quickly once states allowed sports wagering. That made a big difference, enabling operators to launch in time for NFL and college seasons in recent years. Casinos found a ready-made partner who could either deliver a turnkey sportsbook or provide a range of managed services. Its latest unveiling at G2E was a same-game parlay, displayed across two sports, placed on a kiosk. A gambler can make a two-legged parlay on an MLB playoff game and combine it with another two-legged parlay from the NFL, all on one ticket. The appeal is multifold. A gambler can be on site at a brick-andmortar facility, break away from some other function, and place a bet. The beauty of a two-sport, two-legged parlay is the concept that multi-bet parlays are hard to hit. A gambler might hit the first two of three NFL bets, but often loses the third. Here, a player can hit two wagers from two different sports and cash out at a nice price. Parlays have been a major focus for Kambi over the last year. Kambi delivered a winner last fall with its Game Parlay. Company officials say that 45 percent of NFL bettors and 30 percent of college-football gamblers placed a Game Parlay bet last year. That’s bound to either sustain or improve, as parlays satisfy the multiple-action enticement similar to side bets at casino games. Kambi later rolled out Game Parlay for the MLB season and has a major product in place to capture a significant part of the market. The company integrates its product into a rich environment. Besides the booming NFL and college football markets, Kambi seeks to maximize a rare parlay with the bevy of activity between the World Cup and the Premier League. The World Cup runs from November 20 to December 18 and the Premier League starts December 26. Suddenly, there’s a prolonged period for high-level soccer bets. Jonathan Hurst, Kambi’s head of soccer, indicates that international football (soccer in the United States) is a hotbed for developing new patrons. He says that 78 percent of new customers on the Kambi network placed a bet on Euro 2020 and that 76 percent of them placed a second wager. It can be logically assumed that many players made multiple bets. Kambi also strengthened its capacity to deliver its products, announcing in September that it acquired award-winning front-end technology specialist Shape Games. The addition of Shape Games extends Kambi’s presence within the sports betting value chain and enables the delivery of the front end through either turnkey or modularized packages. Shape Games transforms the way customers interact with the Kambi system.

The Bandwagon GAN Sports continues to thrive with its a seamless plug-and-play experience for its partners to launch their desired sportsbook, whether that’s retail on-property, online or both, its officials say. The platform allows partners to select if they’d like to manage risk on some or all sports or enable their team of over 70 traders to do so on their behalf. The platform also allows for localized pricing. The company demonstrated the bells and whistles of its operation at G2E, showing the different leaderboards, wagers and geographical information showing operators where people were winning money. The company announced the successful launch of GAN Sports for Island View Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi in late September. It is the first of what’s expected to be a robust cadence of GAN Sports launches throughout 2023. GAN Sports is a modern sportsbook technology platform based on the multiple award58

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Kambi delivered a winner last fall with its Game Parlay. Company officials say that 45 percent of NFL bettors and 30 percent of college-football gamblers placed a Game Parlay bet last year. winning Coolbet technology that has been adapted for the U.S. B2B market. The launch of retail sports betting across 20 internet-connected kiosks will shortly be complemented by the “Bet the V” mobile sportsbook. This mobile solution is enabled by GAN’s market-leading GameSTACK Player Account Management (PAM) system for omnichannel sports betting via retail kiosks or personal mobile devices while on-property. “Following our 2021 acquisition of Coolbet, we are thrilled to announce the premiere of GAN Sports, perhaps the most innovative sports experience available on-property anywhere in the U.S. today,” Dermot Smurfit, president and chief executive officer of GAN, says in regard to the Gan-Island View partnership. “We are greatly encouraged by the sales momentum for our omnichannel sports betting technology and managed trading services solution, and anticipate a highmargin financial contribution as the economics of B2B sports technology provision is highly favorable and incremental to our existing B2B offerings.”

World Cup Deals BetConstruct targeted international operators regarding the unique timing of the World Cup. Because the event was moved back due to the blazing heat in Qatar, it now butts heads on the weekends with professional and college football. Operators may have other priorities than the World Cup. BetConstruct proactively addressed the situation, rolling out an offer on its omnichannel platform. It provided companies an opportunity to start betting and gaming business on the BetConstruct platform for nearly 50 percent off the normal price, according to the company website. The offer is good through December 18. The company also allows existing partners to switch to BetConstruct’s sports and gaming platform for no setup fee and with a three-month smart package that includes CRM, affiliate marketing, agent system, statistics, DDOS protection and hosting. Many of those features come with the company’s all-in-one betting software BetConstruct Sportsbook. Throughout the industry, there is no shortage of hype or hysteria regarding sports betting. It seems that everybody finds the end zone. States look to balance their budgets on it. Operators don’t want to be without it. Companies race to get their products into the market. All realize they could get a backache reaching down to pick up the money from this operation if they do it right. That’s why the industry loves these numbers. Just being in the game provides a strong chance to win.


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G2E Back in Full Swing for 2022 Unrestricted and international, the Global Gaming Expo comes roaring back

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or the first time since 2019, the gaming industry came out in full force for the annual Global Gaming Expo. Attendance and exhibitor numbers were just about back to prepandemic levels, and the biggest companies and figures from around the world converged in Las Vegas to see the latest and greatest that gaming has to offer. The attendance for the 22nd edition of the global convention came in at just under 25,000, nearly doubling last year’s total of 13,000. Over 350 companies and exhibitors displayed the latest and greatest in gaming innovation, which is in an increase of over 40 percent from 2021. Additionally, more than 80 keynotes and panels were conducted, with leaders from all sectors of the industry coming together to discuss gaming’s biggest trends and topics. Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), the event’s presenting sponsor, said in a release that “G2E 2022’s pre-pandemic atmosphere is a milestone for our industry and a testament to our collective excitement around gaming’s future. G2E’s Event Vice President Korbi Carrison added, “The energy and excitement at this year’s show announced that gaming is all the way back and made it the most impactful G2E yet.”

Education Highlights Always a staple at any G2E is the education program that stretched over three days this year. Topics ranged from cashless gaming to stopping illegal gaming to the potential for growth of gaming, both online and land based. Some highlights:

Growing the Game Poker has long been considered to be a man’s game, but the number of female players is on the rise, thanks in part to Poker Power, a company that aims to teach women valuable leadership skills through the game of poker. Poker Power offers a female-focused app that teaches the game in 12 steps, with a life lesson to go along with each. Through a partnership with the Women’s Poker Association, Poker Power also offers a list of rooms throughout the country that are considered to be female-friendly.

Emergence of Urban Design Now that gaming is expanding like never before, space is starting to become limited, which means that architects and designers are tasked with doing more with less. On Monday, October 10, three of the most prominent figures in gaming architecture—Cuningham Principal Brett Ewing, JCJ Principal Bob Gdowski and MGM Resorts Vice President of Design Suzanne Couture—met to discuss the emergence of urban gaming, and how stacked development will become key for casinos in busy markets.

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Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

Integrity Above All Sports betting is without a doubt the fastest-growing sector in the gaming industry, and with that comes added responsibilities in terms of regulation and game integrity. Representatives from all sides of the issue, including New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Deputy Attorney General Michael Golub, Kambi Senior Vice President of Risk and Compliance Oliver Lamb and Matt Fowler, director of integrity for the International Betting Integrity Association, met to discuss the ins and outs of identifying and preventing instances of match fixing and other integrity issues.


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“Not Today, Colonizer” The battle between California’s sports betting measures, Props 26 and 27, has reached legendary proportions, and it appears neither will pass in November, which would represent a huge victory for tribes and a huge loss for out-ofstate operators. Three tribal leaders—Jacob Mejia, director of public affairs for Pechanga Development Corp., James Siva, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association and vice chairman of the Morongo tribe, and Sara Dutschke, chairwoman for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians—discussed why the high-powered Prop 27 was not enough to defeat a united front of California’s tribes. The session was moderated by Pechanga.net’s Victor Rocha.

Slots Galore As is typical, the trade show floor was dominated by the slot manufacturers. In last month’s GGB, we offered detailed descriptions of most of the new games in our annual “Global Games” feature. However, many of the manufacturers saved products specifically for reveal and launch at the G2E show. Here are some highlights: • Aristocrat launched NFL-themed video slots. All 32 NFL teams are included in multiple game types, including hold-andspin, licensed themes and stepper games. The great feature here is that players pick their favorite team at the beginning of the game, and all symbols, bonuses and icons reflect that team, even as far as icons of the particular city, like the Philly cheese steak for the Eagles. • Everi held its first charity slot tournament at its booth since 2019 on its TournEvent system, with members of the media joining several slot influencers to compete for prizes that went to their favorite charities. On the game front, there were a variety of new entries in each of Everi’s categories, and on each cabinet. On the cinematic Empire DCX, the company launched Little Shop of Horrors Director’s Cut, with bonuses and reel symbols recalling the characters and situations of the 1986 comedy starring Rick Moranis. But this game went beyond that to include game features based on deleted scenes of the film, seen for the first time (in art-enhanced versions) on the new slot. • IGT used the G2E show to introduce Let’s Make A Deal, a new high-denomination ($1, $2, $5, $10) premium slot on the large-format Peak65 cabinet. The game takes cues from the famous game show for all its bonus

features. For instance, bonus features typically end when the player lands a “Zonk,” which is the word that has always signified a “bad deal” on the game show. The main bonus is the “Big Deal of the Day,” a simple picking bonus—the player picks Door No. 1, Door No. 2 or Door No. 3. The game reveals the results behind the two doors not picked before revealing the player’s prize, which can be credits, multipliers or one of four jackpot “deals.” The Grand Deal returns a wide-area progressive resetting at $500,000. • Incredible Technologies launched the first-ever electronic, multiplayer roulette game for Class II. The company is the first to calculate the math of the ETG to accommodate Class II rules. Class II Roulette includes an RNG-driven physical wheel, with each ball launch mapped to bingo cards visible in the corner of the player-station monitors. Other than the bingo cards on the player display, the progression of the roulette game is seamless to the player. • Light & Wonder launched a new cabinet it had kept under wraps until the show, with great new games. The Cosmic cabinet features a 49-inch portrait screen on a 28-inch base— the same base and depth as the original Bally Alpha Pro Wave cabinet, allowing much flexibility for operators in placing the new giantformat presentation. Accenting the edges is a fused display of fiber optic tubes. L&W showcased the first of two inaugural games on the cabinet, Frankenstein. (The follow-up will be Dracula.) Frankenstein uses that substantial real estate with great animation of the famous monster, complete with instantly recognizable sound effects. When “It’s alive!” covers the first reel and the wild monster symbol covers the fifth, credit awards zap in lighting to the monster. (His reaction to the zaps is priceless.) NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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GOODS&SERVICES

EVERI SELECTS PROVE IDENTITY TO MITIGATE FRAUD

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veri Payments Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Everi Holdings Inc., has selected Prove Identity, Inc. as one of its solution providers for identity verification services. With industry-leading payment solutions, Everi empowers casino operators to successfully deliver on all aspects of the emerging mobile ecosystem, including funding for on-premise gaming devices, payments at point-of-sale machines, and providing customers multiple options to access funds while on the casino floor. Everi CashClub Wallet users will utilize Prove’s Trust Score to secure their customer experiences across a number of different scenarios ranging from digital onboarding to digital account servicing and ongoing authentication. Trust Score is a real-time measure of phone number reputation that can be leveraged for identity verification and authentication purposes and passively analyzes behavioral and cryptographic authentication signals from authoritative sources at the time of a potential transaction to mitigate fraud such as SIM swap and other account takeover schemes. Prove’s Identity solution will validate consumer-provided personal identity information and confirm phone number ownership using authoritative data, including device and phone number data, while maintaining privacy for all customers. The tool will allow Everi to further reduce bad actors and fraudulent accounts, and reduce user friction throughout the customer lifecycle. Proprietary reason codes are also available to offer additional insight into risk.

BRAGG, SEGA SAMMY INK LICENSING AGREEMENT

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ragg Gaming Group, a content-led iGaming technology provider, announced that it has en-

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tered into a licensing agreement with Sega Sammy Creation Inc. (SSC), a globally recognized provider of slot games for land-based casino slots, under which Bragg has exclusive rights to distribute select titles from SSC’s popular content portfolio to iGaming operators in the U.S., U.K. and other global markets. The partnership between Bragg and SSC furthers the company’s content-led strategy, bringing to Bragg’s partner lineup a new and globally recognized content provider with strength in the growing North American market. SSC is a unit of Sega Sammy Group, the Japanbased holding company best known for its pachislot and pachinko machine businesses as well as its SEGA-branded video game entertainment systems, arcade games and content. Under the terms of the exclusive licensing agreement, Bragg will license select SSC titles, adapting the games for the North American, European and other regulated online gaming markets. All titles developed using SSC’s intellectual property will join the “powered by Bragg” library of exclusive slot titles from its partner studios.

STATION CASINOS PARTNERS WITH IGT FOR CASHLESS SOLUTION

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nternational Game Technology, PLC has agreed to a multi-year partnership with Station Casinos to supply its Resort Wallet and IGTPay cashless gaming solutions to Station’s six primary Las Vegas properties, via the STN Cash mobile app. “Station Casinos continues to be the leader in guest experience, providing our guests leading-edge technologies such as IGT’s Resort Wallet and IGTPay that drive slot play, distinguish our casinos and reward our loyal Boarding Pass members,” said Tom Mikulich, senior vice president of innovation for Station. “Our IGT-powered STN Cash app is deployed across our entire Nevada enterprise and has introduced efficiencies and player conveniences that support Station Casinos’ growth and profitability targets.” The STN Cash app is now available for download for both Apple and Android users. Players can create a protected Cashless Wagering Account via the IGT Resort Wallet, and then transfer gambling

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

funds directly into slots with the help of IGTPay technology. Those funds can then be cashed out or stored in the STN Cash account. One of the biggest advantages of the new system is that Station players will no longer need physical Boarding Pass cards to play; they can now do it all through their smartphone and automatically accrue and redeem reward points during their play.

RED SQUARE, FOUNDRY PARTNER TO CREATE AGENCY

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ith decades of combined experience in integrated advertising, marketing and strategic communications, Nevada-based Foundry and Alabama-based Red Square Agency have merged to create the largest gaming-focused creative agency in the country, Good Giant.

“Good Giant delivers large agency resources, depth of talent and world-class thinking with the service and attentiveness you would expect from a little studio,” said Rich Sullivan, CEO of Good Giant. “Because we believe the bigger we get, the smaller we should act. “It was important to communicate that as we grow, we’re still focused on the things that shaped us. By bringing continued success to our clients, we’ve grown to become leaders in our industry, and we’ve done it by never losing sight of the good that got us here—good values, good work, good people.” According to Jim Bauserman, chief marketing officer for Good Giant, the new name is the embodiment of what the agency is and what it strives to be. “Our new name bridges who we are and what we stand for,” said Bauserman. “Our clients get all the perks of a large agency with the personal service and attention they’d expect from a smaller shop with something to prove. And for our team, we’re still us—good people who are giants in our field striving to make an impact.”

GMA, THE STRATEGY ORGANIZATION TO MERGE

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lobal Market Advisors (GMA) and The Strategy Organization (TSO) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create an industry-leading gaming and hospitality consulting company that delivers value to its clients in the gambling, hospitality, iGaming, Web 3, sports bet-


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ting, esports and entertainment industries. The new company will have offices in Las Vegas, Denver, Europe and Singapore to deliver consulting, advisory, management and executive placement services to its current and future gaming, sports betting, hospitality and entertainment clients around the world. “We’ve known and worked with TSO principals for years,” said Steve Gallaway, managing partner of GMA. “Their cutting-edge knowledge combined with GMA’s expertise will allow us to help bring all customers into the modern-day era of gaming and hospitality.” “When we originally formed TSO, we built our organization around longstanding relationships, trust and respect,” said Josh Swissman, founding partner of TSO. “Since the beginning, we have always held GMA in high regard and respected their position in the marketplace, so joining forces felt very natural and complementary. Most importantly, this combined group will be able to better serve its clients both now and well into the future.” Seth Young, managing partner for TSO, added, “The combination of TSO and GMA creates an organization with the infrastructure and resources that are on the same level as the nation’s largest consulting firms, and it positions this new team for strong growth. The combined group’s breadth and depth of expertise in the gaming, hospitality, iGaming, sports betting, entertainment and Web3 spaces is unmatched.”

taken as a business in a short space of time, and we look forward to reaching and entertaining even more players through Light & Wonder’s network.”

CIRCA COLORADO ADDS GLOBAL PAYMENTS SOLUTIONS

JCM’S FUZION SYSTEM INTEGRATED WITH EVERI CASHCLUB WALLET

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CM Global has integrated Everi’s digital CashClub Wallet technology into JCM’s FUZION system. This integration expands the growing number of methods for the CashClub Wallet to transfer funds via mobile phone directly to even more slot machines using virtual TITO technology, giving casino players additional transaction options for their gaming play. The integration is an expansion of the working relationship between JCM and Everi. The two companies previously completed virtual TITO buy-in at the EGM late last year, and this latest integration adds support for virtual TITO cash-out at the EGM. The JCM and Everi partnership has created one of the largest footprints of mutual customers for the two companies. JCM’s FUZION technology enables both NFC and Bluetooth transactions at the EGM. The integration with Everi’s CashClub Wallet uses NFC technology, with plans for Bluetooth enablement in the future, giving further choice to operators and players.

lobal Payments Gaming Solutions announced that Circa Sports Colorado is the first online sports betting operator to integrate its new online banking feature. The new integration is expected to boost enrollment approval conversion and radically improve the user experience for Global Payments’ industry-standard ACH network, VIP Preferred. Circa patrons can choose whether to enter their bank information manually or use online banking credentials, allowing for faster and easier enrollment. Existing patrons can also enjoy this up-to-date technology by using this online banking enhancement to add additional funding sources to their VIP account. The changes to VIP Preferred are designed to increase enrollment approval, improve enrollment speed, eliminate manual entry mishaps and emphasize safety and security. The Online Banking integration is also intended to appeal to younger patrons who are more likely to use bank credentials.

AVATARUX PARTNERS WITH LIGHT & WONDER

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vatarUX has signed an agreement with a subsidiary of Light & Wonder, Inc. to greatly expand the reach of its immersive slots portfolio to operators in new markets, including North America. The major partnership will see Light & Wonder bring the popular PopWins as well as other original mechanics, such as MultiPop, to its extensive operator network via the OpenGaming content aggregation platform. The deal will see eight new titles by AvatarUX, released in major markets across the globe. Nicola Longmuir, CEO at AvatarUX, said, “Light & Wonder is one of the defining brands in the iGaming space, and we’re delighted to sign this important distribution deal with them. “It is a real testament to the strides we’ve underNOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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PUBLICATION

AN ANNUAL INDUSTRY REPORT

Don’t miss your opportunity to reach tribal gaming executives from all corners of the industry!

GGB Magazine is proud to announce the 2023 edition of TRIBAL GOVERNMENT GAMING: An Annual Industry Report, the most comprehensive publication available covering all Class II & Class III tribal gaming operations. More than just a directory or resource guide, Tribal Government Gaming features editorial coverage of cutting-edge issues such as tribal sovereignty, Indian gaming regulation, economic diversification, nationbuilding, compacts and more.

Tribal Government Gaming is a highly visible publication with a circulation of 20,000, including bonus distribution at NIGA in March 2023, OIGA in August 2023, G2E in October 2023 and other appropriate trade shows and conferences.

Tribal Government Gaming reaches key decisionmakers in the Indian gaming and traditional casino industries, including operators, regulators, manufacturers and vendors.

As an annual publication, Tribal Government Gaming will offer a one-year shelf life providing increased frequency and recall for advertisers. Sponsorship opportunities are available for increased marketing awareness.

Ad Space Deadline: FEBRUARY 22, 2023 I Publication Date: MARCH 1, 2023 For more information on advertising, please contact

Terri Brady, Director of Sales & Marketing

phone: 702-248-1565 x227 I email: Tbrady@ggbmagazine.com


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PEOPLE WILSON NAMED PERMANENT CEO OF LIGHT & WONDER

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ight & Wonder announced that its board of Matt Wilson directors has named Matt Wilson permanent president and chief executive officer, and a member of the board. Wilson, who headed the company’s gaming division, has served as interim CEO since Barry Cottle’s departure. “The board of directors unanimously determined that Matt is the right choice to lead Light & Wonder’s next chapter, given his impressive track record, extensive industry experience, and pivotal role in transforming our business,” said Jamie Odell, executive chair of the Light & Wonder Board of Directors. “Matt has demonstrated impressive leadership, strategic vision, and a passion for our business. The board is confident in Matt’s ability to unlock the full potential of Light & Wonder as we enter this exciting next chapter.” “I am honored that the board has put their trust in me to lead Light & Wonder as we work to capture the incredible opportunities ahead,” said Wilson. “I’m excited to work with the best team in the business as we chart our cross-platform future. With a portfolio of evergreen franchises and platforms, combined with a strengthened balance sheet, we’re well positioned to drive substantial growth and shareholder value.” In connection with Wilson’s appointment, L&W also announced that Siobhan Lane, senior vice president and chief commercial officer of gaming, has been named the new chief executive officer of gaming. Wilson is a seasoned executive with nearly 20 years of gaming industry experience and a proven record of driving growth and creating value. Prior to joining Light & Wonder, Wilson served as president and managing director, Americas at Aristocrat. Lane has served as Light & Wonder’s senior vice president and chief commercial officer, gaming, since February 2020, overseeing all aspects of the commercial gaming business, including product management, marketing, and data & analytics.

BEDDIS NAMED AS AGA EVENT, MEMBERSHIP LEADER

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he American Gaming Association announced

Maureen Beddis

Maureen Beddis will join its executive team as senior vice president, membership and events. In this new role, she will lead AGA member relations, business development and events including Global Gaming Expo (G2E). “We’re delighted to welcome Maureen to the AGA at this critical time for our association and industry,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Maureen’s career is defined by her ability to drive strategy, convene members and deliver results. Her significant experience as an association executive will bolster our already-strong team and help lead our organization into the future.” Beddis joined the AGA on October 31 following 16 years at the Vision Council, most recently serving as executive vice president, membership and strategic initiatives. In this role, she led membership, organizational strategy and operations, including serving as the member liaison to the Vision Expo shows and bringing new talent into the industry and organization through DEI and Emerging Optical Leaders programs.

LYNN MAH PROMOTED TO CFO AT AINSWORTH

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insworth Game Technology (AGT) announced that longtime finance executive Lynn Mah has been promoted to the role of chief financial officer, effective January 1. Mah replaces Mark Ludski, who has held the position since 2000. He will stay on as company secretary to help facilitate the transition, according to the company. Having first joined the company in 2007, Mah previously served as group finance manager before accepting the recent promotion. AGT Chairman Danny Gladstone said in a statement, “We congratulate Lynn on her appointment to the role of CFO; I am confident she has the necessary attributes to provide significant value to the group in her new role as CFO.”

GARY FRITZ APPOINTED PRESIDENT OF MGM INTERACTIVE

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GM Resorts International announced the appointment of Gary Fritz as president of MGM Resorts Interactive. Fritz will oversee and Gary Fritz advance MGM Resorts’ diversification strategy by expanding the company’s digital platforms organically and through acquisitions. This includes driving growth and innovation through the company’s sports betting and iGaming platform, BetMGM. Serving previously as head of gaming for IAC,

Fritz recently led MGM Resorts’ successful acquisition of LeoVegas, a leading global online gaming company with access to several jurisdictions around the world. In his new role, Fritz will be responsible for the company’s growth strategies in digital gaming, including both organic growth and potential M&A activities.

KAMINKOW IS ARISTOCRAT CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER

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ristocrat Gaming announced that Joe Kaminkow has been appointed its new chief innovation officer. In his new role, Kaminkow “will help drive innovation across Aristocrat enterprise, including in new gaming products and mobile game genres,” said the gaming supplier in a press release. Joe Kaminkow Kaminkow will report to Aristocrat’s chief product officer, Matt Primmer. He will also work with teams across the group’s various business segments, including Aristocrat Gaming, Pixel United and Anaxi, the latter the newly rebranded online real money gaming (RMG) division. Kaminkow holds more than 130 patents encompassing game design, operations, and networks.

GGB

November 2022 Index of Advertisers

Acres Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Advantech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 AGEM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 AGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2, 34 Aristocrat Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19, 68 Axes.ai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Bluberi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Casino Player Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 ComOps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Everi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5, 28 Fantini Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Fox Rothschild LLP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 HBG Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 IGT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14-15 Interblock USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 J Carcamo & Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Live! Casino & Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Marker Trax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Playtech Ltd. PT Services Delaware . . . . . . .9, 25 Quick Custom Intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 Red Square Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 Reed Expo G2E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Scientific Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27, 39 SNA Displays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 TransAct Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Tribal Government Gaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Westar Architectural Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

NOVEMBER 2022 www.ggbmagazine.com

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CASINO COMMUNICATIONS

Q

&A

Jay Snowden

President & CEO, Penn Entertainment

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enn National Gaming had been the leading regional gaming company for at least the past decade, but in the last few years, it has embraced an omnichannel approach to the business. Jay Snowden, the president and CEO, has taken an aggressive stance in positioning the company for growth in the digital field without taking his eyes off the land-based casinos. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at G2E in Las Vegas in October. To hear and see a full version of this podcast where Snowden talks more extensively about Barstool, theScore and the company’s digital strategy, visit GGBMagazine.com.

GGB: A lot of things have changed since we’ve seen each other. The first is the name of the company. Why did you do that? Jay Snowden: We changed it for several reasons.

We’ve evolved so much as a company over the course of the last three or four years. We were predominantly a regional gaming company, and we spun off all of our real estate in 2013 and 2014. So what we’ve been really focused on is evolution into more of an entertainment company. We are now owner of two of the best sports media brands in North America, with Barstool Sports and theScore. We also now are operating in 14 states as an online sports betting operator, and a handful from an online casino perspective. So we felt like National Gaming Inc., didn’t really describe who we are anymore, and we felt “entertainment” was broadly more appropriate for us. And so the name change made a lot of sense, and it really speaks to not just the company we’ve become, but I think importantly where we’re going as a company. Tell us why buying Barstool and theScore made sense for the company.

That’s something that we knew we needed to do as a company, because regional gaming in and of itself isn’t high growth. And we consider ourselves a growth company. We felt like once PASPA was 66

overturned in May 2018, that opened the door for us to really think differently about the company going digital, and to really focus on an omnichannel strategy because we have structural advantages.

If you don’t have a very compelling digital and/or omnichannel strategy, you’re facing extinction in the relatively near future. So we needed to pivot, we’ve pivoted, we’ve embraced it, and here we go!

We own the brands that you mentioned. Those aren’t joint ventures. We’re not just investors. And we also own our brick-and-mortar assets and those licenses. So we can get customers, whether it’s through online sports betting or a casino visit or online gaming, or really loyal followers of our sports media assets and brands and the content behind those brands, bring them into the ecosystem and then introduce them to all of the other offerings that we have and do cross sale. That’s why I feel strongly that any business sector you look at, if you don’t have a very compelling digital and/or omnichannel strategy, you’re facing extinction in the relatively near future. So we needed to pivot, we’ve pivoted, we’ve embraced it, and here we go! You recently announced expansions of some of your properties on the land-based side. What was that all about?

It’s another part of our strategy for growth. And you have to remember that even though a lot of the focus for the industry over the last couple of years has been on digital and online sports betting, at the core of our omnichannel strategy are our brick-and-mortar casinos. They generate most of the revenue and a tremendous amount of cash flow for the company. We’ve got best-in-class assets in most of the markets where we operate, but

Global Gaming Business NOVEMBER 2022

there are a few that aren’t best in class, and we’ve been wanting to address that. Two of the ones that are best in class just needed more hotel capacity. In the case of M Resort here in Las Vegas, we have 390 rooms today. We’ve been busting out of our seams for the last several years. So we announced that we’re going to build another hotel about the same size— 375 rooms. We’re also adding a hotel in Columbus—200 rooms and about a $100 million investment. We’ve been needing a hotel there since day one. We’ll break ground at the end of 2023. That one’s probably a 12 month-to-15-month build. In Illinois, two of our assets aren’t best in class and really have become less competitive over time. They’re just dated riverboat barges, one in Aurora and the other in Joliet. In Joliet, we’re going to actually move our license about five or six miles away to a new development, a mixed-use development, since we no longer have to be on the water. It’s right off of two major interstates. And then the last one, which is the largest investment, is a $360 million relocation of our Aurora riverboats. And similarly, we’re moving that one seven miles away right off of Interstate 88. The beauty of that project is that one, it’s right off the interstate, but two, it’s right next to a Simon Premium Outlet Mall that already attracts 7 million or 8 million people a year. Are you making these changes in Illinois because of the casinos that have been approved in the northern part of the state?

We consider the moves to be both offensive and defensive. You can sit back and do nothing. You can sit on your hands and you can continue to lose market share and revenue. And that’s not a compelling business strategy from my perspective. This is not just, “Hey, the riverboat barges are old, we need to build something new, but build ’em at the same location.” This is a brand-new build at more favorable locations. And so, even though there’s new supply coming into Illinois, we believe this will make us a lot more competitive in Joliet and in Aurora.


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