Infinity Gaming Magazine July 2022

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InfinityGaming | ISSUE138










Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all external articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Infinity Gaming Magazine Any content provided by our feature writers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.



4 EDITOR NOTES Editor welcomes you to the latest edition of Infinity Gaming Magazine.

6 OUR WRITERS Meet our feature writers, the superb writers on our rosta.




NEWS & MORE NEWS from the gaming industry



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FINALISTS FOR WIG ANNOUNCED Welcome to the latest edition of the In-

It is going to be a superb evening come

finity Gaming Magazine and this month

the 15th September at the stunning Sa-

we continue our feature on influen-

voy Hotel, if you considering sponsor-

tial people this time speaking to the

ing the innovative, unique and original

founder of Digitain, Vardges Vardanyan,

event please do let the team know and

also Pascal Camia the COO of Casino de

you could join our already superb sup-

Monte Carlo and finally Matthew Garratt

porters in Playtech, Les Ambassadeurs,

the Chief People Officer at LiveScore

Eyecon, IGT, Greentube and Betsson.

Group. As always the magazine is also full of It is so interesting reading what these

great articles and news, to this thank

guys are doing in their respective busi-

you to Tim Cullimore, Chrsitina Thakor-

nesses well worth a read I promise.

Rankin, Andrew Cosgrove and the wonderful Lynn Pearce for writing some

However the big news is the Women

great articles.

in Gaming (WIG) Diversity Awards have now announced the finalists, so congratulations to all those who made the list, I want to thank all the judges for

Enjoy the magazine.

their time and efforts, this year saw the largest ever number of entries and also

“To Infinity and Beyond!”

the biggest participation of companies.



Sponsorship Opportunities Business Partnerships Marketing & Advertising Editorial Content & PR


Infinity Gaming Magazine Contributing Writers A magazine is only as good as the content inside and with some of the leading specialists within the gaming industry. With specialised articles covering customer service, the gaming law, new products, technology and current affairs with the sector the Infinity Gaming Magazine is delighted to showcase our superb line-up of contributing

Christina Thakor-Rankin Christina is Principal Consultant at 1710 Gaming Ltd, a specialist betting and gaming consultancy, delivering a range of services including licensing and compliance (incl. regulation, money laundering and social responsibility), business start-up, training and strategic re-engineering, project management, research, business analysis and development, to start-ups and

established multi-national operators and providers, gambling regulators, law enforcement and government agencies, media, and specialist interest groups and associations within the sector, in both established and emerging markets across the world.

Teresa Tunstall – Independent Gaming Consultant After many years of working in casinos in the UK and on USA ships as a croupier and inspector, Teresa turned from ‘poacher to gamekeeper,’ spending 16 years with GamCare, who offer help and support to those who develop problems with their gambling. Working closely with the betting and gaming industry, She developed strong links delivering Social Respon-

sibility and Problem Gambling training around the world, Teresa now works independently consulting on all issues relating to Social Responsibility and Problem Gambling. To contact Teresa regarding consulting please email:

Andrew Cosgrove - Slots Guru Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and continues to help clients succeed and exceed customer expectations.

Andrew can be reached at or see

Lynn Pearce Lynn has extensive senior management experience in online gaming. She is an experienced, data-driven, commercially focused, strategic marketing leader. She has over 15 years of proven success in gaming, from land-based casinos, to online gaming companies offering sports betting, poker and casino, live casino and Esports. Lynn has many start-ups under her belt

and is now co-founder and CEO of a start-up igaming company, Mobius Interactive Ltd, headquartered in Vancouver BC Canada.

Tim Cullimore From dealer to CEO in the U.K., Europe and North America, Tim has pretty much seen it all in Casino gaming. For over 40 years, from running slot rooms which needed to frisk for guns to the Ritz in Mayfair, arguably the most luxurious casino in the world, Tim has never stopped challenging what we think we know about casinos.


Tim is a well-respected Consultant to the gaming industry, encompassing project management and operational analysis, as well as representing and advising some key manufacturers within the industry. Tim is a renowned conference speaker and also proud to be visiting lecturer at the University of West London College of Hospitality and Tourism.


s t r o p p u S N I B B

y t i l i b a n i a t #Sus


general manager and CEO



Interview with

Vardges Vardanyan Founder of Digitain Industries Influential Series

Vardges thank you for speaking to the Infinity Gaming Magazine, to start Digitain has now be operating for over 18 years, which is a very long time in the iGaming business. How did it all start and what was it like when Digitain launched back then? I founded Digitain because I saw the need that operators had for a scalable, flexible and secure iGaming platform, particularly one with a quality, profitable sportsbook already integrated.

With Toto Gaming, we already had a large, experienced sportsbook team in place and also access to a wide range of technology skills within Armenia – so it was a logical step to combine our experience as an operator with our capability to develop solutions both efficiently and effectively in order to build an iGaming B2B business. Obviously, it was a bit difficult at first to gain traction in such a competitive market, but it was exciting building all these new capabilities,

such as developing a Sales function from scratch. Our hero product back then was definitely our sportsbook, and this was the key tool to help us break into the market and develop from there. Our experience as an operator helped us to understand what our partners needed to build a successful and sustainable betting operation and so we were able to ensure customer satisfaction early on. However, that was not the first company you launched within the online gambling industry, in 2003 Toto Gaming began, how over the years has that brand faired and was the launch of Digitain a natural progression to support Toto Gaming as it is a B2C platform? As mentioned, our experience and success with Toto Gaming put us on the path to launching Digitain, as we had most of the knowledge, skills and people already within the business, to give us confidence to launch a B2B operation.


9 ter than existing suppliers. What makes Digitain so successful, is it the software, the people, innovation, what does make a successful company within this sector? All of the above! Seriously, our people, the Digitain family, are our greatest asset. Innovation and quality outcomes emanate from having the right nurturing environment where the teams are supported and encouraged to develop and to make decisions. We invest in our people, in terms of the environment they work in and also the training and development they receive. To be successful, all customer-facing elements of our business have to effectively communicate - from product development to marketing, and from sales and account management.

Toto Gaming continues to do well, among the leaders in the markets it operates in. Brand recognition and reputation remain high, and we are seeking to leverage those aspects as we plan to expand the geographical footprint into other markets. Where did the idea to start an online gaming business come from back then? Originally, Toto Gaming was a retail operation and we had around 14 betting shops located across Armenia. We developed an online sportsbook in 2011 as it was obvious, to me, that the internet would expand, and ecommerce become popular within a short space of time. With the Toto Gaming brand already well known and trusted, due to our retail history, it made sense to expand our brand online in order to give our existing players and, of course new ones, access to our service online

24/7. Now in 2022 how is Digitain doing given that it is a hugely competitive marketplace? I’m happy to tell you that we’re thriving. The Digitain Family now numbers over 2200 people and we have a brand new, state-of -the-art headquarters in beautiful Yerevan and our range of B2B products and services are in the best shape ever. At ICE 2022, we showcased a number of innovative solutions, including Centrivo, a new, powerful, flexible iGaming platform and Digitain Live, our own, in-house developed Live Casino product. Developing our own products, such as the live casino, our virtual sports and our eSports versions demonstrate our confidence that we can provide our partners with additional, quality choices with regards to profitable content, that meets their needs bet-

Finding new partners and retaining existing ones is key, and this only can happen if the product is as good as you can make it and if the company is focused on delivering the very best in customer service. Our partners’ success is our success, so establishing an effective and longterm relationship with them is part of our DNA. You have launched another company last year called Galaxsys, what is the difference between them and Digitain and how has the company been received by customers? From 2020 onwards, we saw pretty spectacular growth in our Fast Games; for players simple, easy-tounderstand games that occupy a sweet spot between the sportsbook and casino. In order to support this growth, I decided to further support this success by giving this section their own managements sales and technology teams, in order to drive


11 more innovation and have a faster route to market by having a dedicated roadmap – and so Galaxsys was born. The team at Galaxsys are therefore able to move quickly and flexibly as a “start-up” operation, but with the security delivered as being a division of Digitain. So far, so good in terms of customer reception. ICE 2022 saw Galaxsys exhibit for the first time and the show was a success in terms of raising awareness and generating potential deals. Galaxsys’ fast, cashout style games and their portfolio of skill games are very popular, as well as easy to integrate and provide operators with profitable new content. For Galaxsys, I’d say the sky’s the limit! Can you tell us are there anymore launches of new companies to come this year or maybe next? This year we are looking to develop the group nature of our business. As we have grown, it has made sense to dedicate resources and capital, as well as people, to successful areas of our business. So, you have seen the development of Galaxsys from an internal tech team to become a Games Studio with its own product development, sales and management team. This approach ensures that there is no one inflexible Digitain roadmap. We will be continuing this approach with our Live Casino and other parts of the group.

Armenia Wine is a modern winery that represents the renaissance of the history of Armenian winemaking. From the very beginning I set a goal to produce wines that would become the guide to the world of Armenian winemaking. Today the company produces both wines and brandies.

we also work with over 650 growers from winemaking regions across Armenia. During 13 years of hard work, I’m delighted to report that Armenia Wine has become a leader in our local market and has gained the title of the largest wine exporter also, enlarging its export geography to over 40 countries worldwide, cooperating with over 60 importers.

Since 2017, we began the development of organic vineyards and today we have about 82 hectares, but

Away from the industry and you are the founder of the Armenia Wine Company for nearly 15 years now, can you tell our readers what is Armenia Wine like and do you export and to where?



Interview with

Pascal Camia Chief Operating Officer Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer Industries Most Influential Series

It was interesting to see that you dedicated your award to your colleagues across the European gaming community, how important has it been to maintain strong links with stakeholders across the continent over a challenging last two years? Thank you for talking to the Infinity Gaming Magazine Pascal, let’s start with congratulations on winning Casino Operator of the Year, how does Casino de Monte Carlo ensure its successful?

customer finds his own way to enjoy the Casino de Monte-Carlo legend. We also

Joining the ECA was a brand-new step

make the most of the Product offer we

back in 2017. We joined the profession-

have in the premises: the journey within

als of the industry to be involved and

the casino is maximized,

get a voice within the main topics of the land-based casinos with our fellow

Know-how: the key to excellence, trans-

partners of Europe. I have been very in-

Innovation and a clear vision allow us

mitted from generation-to-generation

volved in, first as the Vice-President of

to be agile, focused and up to date on

since 1863.

Marketing and now as Vice Chairman &

client’s expectation. We always look for

member of the Board.

new ways to offer a unique and memo-

The Monte-Carlo Societe des Bains de

rable journey to our clients.

Mer Resort is a precious competitive

Our European partners suffered a lot

and attractive asset offering our clien-

during multiples lockdowns and the

At the Casino de Monte-Carlo we have

-tele an enlarged experience (4 luxury

fluid situation during COVID. They re-

developed different casinos experienc-

hotels/ 7 Michelin Stars / 53 luxury

mained closed for long period of time,

es in one place, to make sure every

stores …)

while we weren’t, thanks to the Princely Government’ actions and a strong



sanisanitary program that protected

Europeans able to travel in complicated

both staff & clients.

terms (zones, tests, quarantine) giving

ter the partial easing of coronavirus restrictions?

them the opportunity to have an outlet Being and remaining united within the

and safety.

industry is a value message we felt natural to take.

How did your company navigate through the financial and emotional stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic?

Not significant but we realized how important entertainment is for people. We

Overseas clients locked and unable to

had lines in front of the gaming rooms

travel by being in relation with the PR

when we reopened on June 5th 2020

teams to always stay in touch with them

and the emotion in our staff to see cli-

& tell them we were ready to welcome

ents back.

them in the aftermath. We felt the lust of life yet the fear of cliOur Customer Relations Department

ents that is why we needed to ensure

The major point during this challenging

did a great job and kept an amazing

our strong sanitary program for all par-

time was to be agile & fast. We had to

bond with our clients giving them also


adapt very quickly since every single

the care they needed while visiting. We

action was pressured by the fluid situ-

also organized micro events within the


Resort with a strong health program always keeping in mind that a safe outlet

So, we decided to keep the contact with

and a tailor-made service were impor-

our clients and talk to everyone:


Locals able to visit with a strong promo-

Have you noticed a significant change in customer behaviour af-

tional program and offers.

How far do you think the gaming sector is from full recovery, and do you feel that Monacan society/its marketplace is in a good position to react to any future COVID-related setbacks?


14 a number of years, how do you ensure you stay relevant, and offer players a contemporary experience that doesn’t drift too far from your historical identity? We maintain our identity, our DNA that has been building our reputation up for more than 150 years, whilst developing offers and experiences to match up with new clientele expectations. A couple of years ago we started to develop the concept of nomad casino, offering table game experience to the youngest generation outside casinos in a very fun way.

It’s clear that the casino has a strong emphasis on responsible gaming, what are you currently focusing on in this field? Responsible Gaming is part of our CSR vision and has been a priority to protect We all live and learn. We know now that

We still expecting Asian Market to reo-

customers and develop loyalty. The ECA

the situation is fluid quite fragile. We

pen which give us the opportunity to

give us recommendations and specifi-

can’t talk about full recovery as of now,

spend sometimes innovating while

cations to be certified.

but we try to think the worse is behind.

waiting! The renewal of the certification should

We had good result on the last FY still we want to be wise, careful and ready. Our watchword is agile since the begin-

What are the key elements of the company’s commercial strategy over the next twelve months?


happen by the end of the year, and we are doing everything we can to meet the expectations of customers and authorities. We focus on employees train-

To capitalize on our integrated Resort

ing and customer information. We have

We had a great and strong support of

offering unique and surprising experi-

training task forces within the casinos

our government; we rely on them for

ences within our hotels, casinos, res-

teams to ensure the respect of the

the upcoming months, and we try to see

taurants. Examples: Alicia Keys concert

guidelines and the best practices.

the silver lining by seeing our clients so

on the Casino Square on July 18th, the

thrilled and happy of their experience

development project of the Café de

with us.

Paris Monte-Carlo, completed by summer 2023…

Given recent travel limitations and vaccination mandates, have you noticed any major difference in where your customers are coming from?

To develop our new Customer Relation Management program connected to our

Casino de Monte Carlo seems to be taking impressive efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and promote greener ways of working. How do you feel the rest of the industry is doing in this regard?

loyalty program, to offer more and more tailor-made experience within the Re-

Honestly our efforts have been mainly


focused so far on adaptation to interna-

We noticed a major switch during lock-

tional regulation, and then on Responsi-

downs. We hosted many locals, from

To highlight our vision: to be the most

ble gaming. Time has now come to turn

France & Italy. Since last Summer Inter-

exclusive resort offering a unique and

gaming activities into sustainable ones.

national Clientele is back and we are

new art of living.

We are all at the first footsteps.

happy about that.

The casino has been existence for


Pascal Camia Interview


How have your qualifications in Hotel and Hospitality management supported you in your current role? My Hotel and Hospitality management qualifications are precious assets to my position as Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer Chief Operating Officer. Hotel School gives you a peopleoriented and open-minded education. You must be focus on clients, associates, suppliers coming from everywhere in the world. Mainly in Monaco. When I was Head of the Gaming Operations, I realize that casino dealers and managers had the same background, and I implemented the same methods and tools for running the activity. C.O.O. now is a pure combination of gaming and hotel operations and management.

How do you engage and motivate your colleagues to deliver the inarguable outstanding level of service you provide?

pared to any other place in the world.

te-Carlo was awarded several times:

All our employees benefit from a per-

“Casino of the Year” in 2019 and 2020,

sonalised 9-year training programme to

“Best Gaming Operator UK & Europe” in

First, we probably have the most amaz-

get highly experienced in all the games

2020, “Best Casino Operator” and “Best

ing workplace, a historic building set in

we propose in Monaco, even the most

Overall Casino” in 2022.

the most exclusive VIP Resort offering

complex, French Roulette, the Monaco

luxury hotels, restaurants, Opéra Gar-

DNA, and the craps. Not to forget Know-

Connection with the international gam-

nier Monte-Carlo, entertainment, night-

how, transmitted from generation-to-

ing industry given by our active partici-

life, and shopping activities etc, ideally

generation since1863.

pation to the ECA, is another key moti-

located between Mediterranean Sea and South Alps. Then training. Here it cannot be com-

vation factor. As our employees can get Worldwide recognition. It is also very

involved into international events such

motivating to work for an internation-

as the European Dealer Championship,

ally renowned and acclaimed casino. As

we organized in Monaco in May. They

you mentioned it above Casino de Mon-

can exchange best practices.





Japan Considers Expanding Sports Betting


olitical figures in Japan are reportedly presiding over a decision to ease restrictions on the country’s limited sports betting marketplace. The island-state has traditionally been reluctant to engage in gambling activity, and remains the only G7 representative to not facilitate an all-encompassing sports wagering sector.

are prepared to consider all avenues to realise this aim. Allowing sportsbooks access to wider markets is a proposal that has gathered momentum in recent times. In April 2021, it was rumoured that the elite-level J-League and Nippon Professional League, which represent football and baseball respectively, could introduce sports betting activity by 2024.

Currently, native players are able to exclusively place bets on horse racing, motorsports, and cycling events, but do not have access to conventional odds on popular local pastimes such as football and baseball. However, this could be set to radically change.

However, there are a series of considerable obstacles to navigate. In accordance to media outlet, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda has suggested a shift implementation of any rule changes is unlikely. It’s likely Hagiuda is acutely aware of the challenges faced by Japan’s recent integrated resort campaign, where local residents and political officials alike have stoked

The Japanese government have long since targeted additional revenue generation in sporting pursuits, and

up anti-gambling sentiment across a number of communities. Furthermore, it’s believed concerns around potential match-fixing in baseball may prove to be a significant stumbling block. Betting is prohibited under Japan’s Professional Baseball Agreement, and, given the sports immense following, this could produce a destabilising impact on the whole liberalisation movement. Nevertheless, the sheer scale of commercial opportunity may serve to erode the level of opposition. Indeed, analysts have projected that opening up Japan’s sports betting industry would likely return revenues in excess of a staggering $65bn per annum.



Review of the UK’s Gambling Laws: the story so far. By Christina Thakor-Rankin


he last time the UK made a change to its gambling laws was in 2014. What was merely an ‘amendment’ to the Gambling Act 2005, resulted in one of the most radical shifts in power from operator to regulator this industry has ever seen, catapulting the Gambling Commission from impotent white-list observer to omnipotent sanction wielding overseer. No surprise then, that the thought of a complete overhaul of the UK’s gambling laws sent shivers down the spine of the UK sector. And not just the UK. With gambling regulators around the world increasingly emulating the UK regulator’s more stringent approach tosocial responsibility and operator accountability, the ramifications of changes to UK law could be felt globally.


So, where are we with all this. This is the story so far: The Culture Secretary announced that the government was launching‘a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age as committed to in the manifesto’ (basically making good on an election promise).

communities from the potentially life ruining effects of gambling-related harm. We need to ensure our regulatory and legislative systems continue to deliver on the original aims of the 2005 Act, which remain the government’s priorities: the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy which is also crime free.’

The review called for evidence that would be used ‘to assess whether we have the balance of regulation right. Gambling is a fun leisure activity for many people, with nearly half of adults gambling each month. We respect the freedom of adults to choose how they spend their money and the value of a responsible industry which protects players, provides jobs and pays taxes. But it is essential that we prevent exploitation of vulnerable people and protect individuals, families and

All very reasonable given how much the world has changed in the last two decades. The bit that spooked the industry was the bit that said that the review would look to explore ‘Online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission’ including ‘Protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed’ and ‘the action customers can take where they feel operators have


feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements…’ To show they meant business the announcement included the raising of the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 effective from 2021. The call for evidence from all stakeholders lasted 16 weeks closing at the end of March 2021, with the white paper (the findings of the review) due to be published before the end of 2021. But almost 18 months after the review was launchedstill nothing, with the release delayed again, and then again against a background of speculation as to the reasons for the on-going delay, concerns and scaremongering from both sides -those calling for greater consumer protections versus those fearing the impact of greater restrictions on the industry, and filibustering.

The reasons for the delay have ranged from the need to take the time to fully consider all of the evidence and the impact of any proposed changes on both customers and industry, to political reshuffles, to the legal challenge from Camelot when it lost the bid for the National Lottery, to uncertainty about Boris Johnson’s long-term future as Prime Minister. The concerns and scaremongering have ranged from the continued impact of harm on customers caused by ongoing delays to the implementation of new measures designed to enhance protections - although to be fair the Gambling Commission, they have not allowed the delays to the white paper from preventing them from taking a proactive approach in the interim, issuing and then updating their COVID-19 guidance, some of which is now due to become a mandatory requirement rather than guidance as of September 2022 - to

industry have cautioning against measures that would have ramifications on not just customers but also the wider economy as a result of a potential increase in unregulated black market oversees operators targeting UK customers and giving them what licensed UK operators are no longer able to, to a loss of jobs and tax revenue due to changes causing an irreversible decline in the industry. With gambling being such a divisive and emotive subject, and with so many vested and competing interests at stake the delay should probably not have come as a surprise to anyone. What might give a clue as to what the future might hold is the government’s own shifting position on this.


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UK Gambling - The Story so far

The review was as a direct result of an election manifesto. A promise to do something if they won the election. Politicians of all persuasions are notorious for making election promises that they either cannot keep or have no intention of keeping.The Conservative party pledged to review gambling laws in its 2019 general election manifesto. The white paper was, originally expected before the end of 2020, but delays meant that the review was only launched at the end of the year, which automatically pushed the white paper into 2021. Since then, the release of the white paper has been delayed again (expected before the end of 2021), and again (probably February 2022) and again (maybe May 2022, with no real reason ever having been given. Does the fact that this process has been the subject of delays right from the very start provide some insight intothe government’s position on this and their actual appetite for change, or is it really a case of taking the time to de-tangling multiple views and perspectives and


truly understand the long-term impact before committing pen to white paper? Just as it seemed the government was getting ready to publish, cue a last-minute intervention by Jacob ReesMogg the Minister for Government Efficiency, appears to have expressed a concern that the ‘nanny state’ proposals represent an unwarranted intervention in people’s lives and should be ditched. A source within Whitehall is quoted as saying: ‘Rees-Mogg is trying to block it. He is telling MPs that the whole thing is a load of nanny state nonsense.It’s ideological with him – he doesn’t think the state has a role in dealing with problem gambling despite the misery it causes. For now he is using delaying tactics – raising a whole load of questions about the details - but it looks like his agenda is to block it.’ It is now known if his investment company Somerset Capital Management has any interests in the gambling or associated industries.

reduction in gambling operator revenues as a result of new restrictions is likely to hit the Treasury at a time when the government needs every penny it can get. Last year (2020/21) the total tax revenue driven by gambling establishments was £2.83 billion. This was down £182 million (6%) compared to the previous fiscal year (2019/20). Any new restrictions will inevitably see a further drop in future years. The irony is that a process that started as an electoral promise to do more to protect players could end up being de-railed by the desire to maintain revenue, and a government electing to put their own losses above the people they promised to protect.

Irrespective of this the reality is that any



Interview with

Matthew Garratt Chief People Officer - (LiveScore Group) Industries Influential Series

Hi Matthew good to meet you so to start, One of the key LiveScore values is to ‘Respect Sport’. How far does this impact upon recruitment decisions? Do you feel it’s necessary to have a real passion for sport to join this part of the business?

stay up all night to watch the NBA or own a season ticket for a sports team, but they have passion about working with enormous volumes of data that can be used to enable LiveScore to deliver innovative products and reach fans who are passionate about sport.

Our goal at LiveScore Group is to fuel fans’ passion for sport. We aim to recruit people who share this ambition because it’s at the core of what we do and this manifests itself in different ways. For example, a data engineer may not

Whilst a passion for sport is welcomed, and can be advantageous for certain roles, displaying passion for our products, services and organisation is hugely appealing in

that it can provide us with different viewpoints and ideas that help us develop and improve on existing products and services. We are focused on being inclusive, spotting the brightest talent, as well as listening to our employees and supporting them to become the best they can be. In turn, we aim for our future employees to understand and respect the importance of sport to our customers. This allows us to place the customer at the heart of what we do and provide them with our world class products and services. The I.D.E.A forum sounds like a fantastic way to raise awareness of matters relating to Diversity & Inclusion. Can you tell us more about it? We formed the I.D.E.A forum in 2021 with the help of The Clear Company, and the proactive support of our board. Our initial focus was increas-


23 Undoubtedly the ability of sport to shift attitudes and increase awareness of causes cannot be underestimated. This has been evident through the voices of courageous athletes across the globe, including the likes of Jake Daniels, whose actions have helped pave the way for more people in sport and wider society to feel pride in themselves and not feel a need to disguise or feel ashamed of their identity,sexual orientation, race or gender. Everyone working in sport can further continue to support these movements by aiming to enhance visibility and increase awareness of important issues, emphasising the importance of inclusion for those from marginalised or lesser represented backgrounds. Whether it’s a brand, a rights holder, or a national governing body, it is crucial to support trailblazers and work towards sport being something that is truly for all. ing skills and awareness, looking at ways to improve and to help us understand ourselves better with an aim to be more inclusive. This process encouraged us to think, behave and ultimately hire in a different way. As an industry there is always more work to do, and whilst I’m not keen on hitting specific targets or a ‘quota’, the three key areas I want to look at are: 1. Focusing on grassroots recruitment, aiming to attract a more diverse workforce that helps change the make-up of the industry for this generation and beyond 2. Ensuring that all our employee’s voices are heard, and nothing is lost, particularly if their voice is not part of the majority 3. Staff and employees can learn from each other, sharing experienc-

es and understanding each other’s viewpoints. I am particularly excited about our employee-led groups within the company that allow for anyone to create a group if they are passionate about a specific topic or cause. This has seen the formation of the Pride Employee Group and a Women in Gaming Employee Group. Our job in the people team is to enable those groups to continue to flourish, and I hope to see new groups founded by our employees arise in the future. In recent times, causes such as BLM and LGBTQ have had an increased presence in sports. We’ve even had the first gay professional footballer to come out in the UK since 1990. What do you think the future of D & I looks like in sport, and how are sports betting companies supporting trailblazers in this space?

You’ve been working with LiveScore Group for over a year now, who are still a relatively new business. How far has the company evolved over the twelve months? Is there a clear culture and identity, or is that still in its formative stage? LiveScore Group has a very distinct culture and set of values. Despite only being here a relatively short time, I have noticed an evolution and growth in aspects of the culture and identity of the business. For me, the most exciting thing about working hereis the passion, drive, and enthusiasm from the top down at every level. You have considerable experience in the gaming business, having worked for The Stars Group for over seven years before assuming your current role. How would


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you say your role has changed and working for the companies differ? There are many similarities between both companies, with key values including the importance of placing people at the heart of everything that is done and allowing people to be authentic at work. At LiveScore Group, we are going through an exciting stage of our evolution and growth that is hugely beneficial for all of us involved in creating something special for our employees and customers. Having worked for various large organisations, whilst there are benefits, often that comes with a layer of bureaucracy and constraint.We have afirst-class team at LiveScore Group which means when an innovative idea arises in the morning it has the potential to be delivered the same afternoon which I find extremely stimulating and rewarding.

hospitality and retail industries. Are there any similarities between working in these environments, and delivering a role in the gaming sector?

you inspire and engage your team, and make LiveScore Group somewhere that people want to come and work? The simple answer is leadership!

Both industries are fast paced in nature and subject to constant change, whilst focus on the customers and players ensures people are central to our organisations. Of the industries I’ve worked in, I believe the gaming sector has more constraints from a regulatory and governance perspective than any other. Despite this, I love that the industry is full of incredibly passionate people, with experts fanatical about creating the very best products. That shared obsession and love for sports, our products and our services is amazing and contagious to be around.

We have great offices in fantastic locations around the world, with great benefits including table tennis, games consoles, free breakfasts and a fantastic panoramic roof terrace where we enjoy parties. However, whilst these things help for our people to enjoy where they work, I see them as the icing on the cake rather than the key reason people want to work here. Without strong leadership underpinning our values, allowing our people to be authentic to themselves and helping them reach their full potential, then we’re just any other place to work and we’re definitely not that!

One of your passions is creating ‘better places to work’. How do

You’ve previously worked in the


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Hard Rock Executive’s Email Creates Storm In New York


fter it was announced that New York would play host to three new downstate casinos, several of the industry’s bighitters immediately began jostling for position. A bricks-and-mortar gaming license in a state which has shown an overwhelming appetite for gambling through its sports betting endeavours will undoubtedly feel like gold dust to many an operator. However, reports have emerged in this week’s New York Post publications that one prospective suitor has potentially been overly zealous in their pursuit of a venue license. A senior executive from Hard Rock’s casino division, an organization operated by Florida’s Seminole Tribe, has landed his company in hot water after comments made in a company-wide e-mail. The unnamed individual reportedly encouraged employees to make dona-

tions to incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul’s election campaign, supposedly in an attempt to curry favour in the upcoming licensing tendering process. It’s believed that the e-mail could be interpreted as an illegal effort to financially back a specific political agenda. To compound the issue further, Hard Rock recently facilitated a fundraising event for Hochul, which took place at the company’s new hotel property on Times Square, just nine short days ago. On the exact same day, group Chairman Jim Allen pledged a donation of $25,000 to the Democrat Party candidate. Furthermore, there has been widespread agitation across the firm to garner financial support towards securing another term for Hochul, with $100,000 in donations raised to press. Company chiefs also gave the option for donors to purchase a co-chair position for the recent fundraiser, with

the $25k per seat proceeds going to Hochul’s campaign coffers. Hard Rock have emphasized that invitations sent out for the event had ‘no reference to a casino or casino licensing process in New York’. It also commented on the e-mail controversy, which was apparently posted on the same day as the fundraiser and Allen’s donation. ‘’Hard Rock International takes these allegations very seriously and immediately initiated an internal investigation to determine whether anyone in our organization violated company policies related to political contributions.’’ New York’s downstate licensing bidding process is scheduled to commence prior to the end of 2022.



The Great Resignation has turned into the Great Debate! By Lynn Pearce


t’s been a long time coming and was certainly spurred on by the Covid pandemic. However, it did not start there, although it was highlighted predominantly by the pandemic, with the unprecedented mass exit across many industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021 and only now are employers beginning to ask why and seriously starting to take action to stop the continuation of this long-term trend. There are worker shortages everywhere, from hospitals, to restaurants, to the travel industry and beyond. It is very interesting to note that the numbers are easy enough to attain, yet the data is silent on the causes, even though problems within the labour force have been well documented since mid-2020 during the pandemic lockdowns. Apparently, most industries are still struggling to operate at pre-pandemic levels, due to the difficulty in hiring staff. It is also interesting to read about the reasons


cited as to the exorbitant number of resignations, however, it would appear that there is still more speculation than actual data right now. Mental health issues abound, you read about it daily in articles, magazines, talk shows and on TV, but I don’t believe we have truly assessed the depths of depression caused from losing loved ones, without the support of friends and family around, the loneliness of the lockdown– there are a myriad of reasons which are causing depression in all age groups. Thepandemic and ensuing lockdown caused untold misery and pushed people to levels of stress and anxiety never seen before. In fact, I do not think that many employers truly grasped the effects of the lockdown on their staff, and I personally feel that they need to show a lot more empathy and compassion if they want to retain their staff at all levels. Some employers have taken these facts into consideration and are either allowing fully remote work or a hybrid

working arrangement for their staff. Strangely enough, several employers are mandating their staff to return to work in the office. There seems to be no middle ground, although there are probably good reasons for both scenarios. Couple that with the current state of the global economy and you begin to wonder whether the great resignation trend will continue for much longer. Just this past week, in his usual Q&A session with employees, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that “this might be one of the worst downturns we’ve seen in recent history.” He has also scaled back on hiring and told employees that they will be under more performance scrutiny than before. Meta is not the only tech company scaling back,


we have seen a number of the larger tech companies downscaling due to the global uncertainties, like Unity, Niantic and even Chinese tech giants Tencent and ByteDance. Right now though, we still have a situation of a tight labour market with a huge amount of job opportunities, so it is a “buyers“ market for job seekers wishing to work remotely, or within a hybrid environment – this is what many HR personnel are calling the Great Reshuffle. The pandemic caused many workers to question their working conditions, and a lot of them decided they liked the balance of working from home, taking time out for leisure activities, reconnecting with family at home and working even more productively and for longer hours than they did at the office, mostly due to not having to commute back and forth daily. As the lockdowns eased and the economy rebounded with plenty of jobs available, I think this gave the majority

of people the opportunity to push back against returning to work. People also had the time to re-evaluate their lives and decide on a different direction if they had the means to do so. Those that could afford to retire may have reconsidered their work-life balance and decided to not return to work at all. One has to look at the reasons why people work, as many of them want more than just to earn a salary. They love the camaraderie they get from work, developing lifelong friendships along the way. This fosters a feeling of common values and goals – and in fact, contributes hugely to the success of the companies they work for, which is the reason most companies would prefer to have their employees back in the office. Perhaps if these employers could find a way of strengthening the company culture and ethos through higher levels of transparent communication and feedback, it would incentivize the employees to want to come back to the office full-time, with more positive

feelings about the workplace. To make the hybrid model work will take much longer to achieve this kind of unity, unless companies take the opportunity of making those days in the office more beneficial for them, in the sense of building the business together, sharing of ideas, networking and fostering a healthy culture, supporting all the roles of all the employees, listening to their feedback and taking into consideration the entrepreneurial mindset of the younger members of staff – then only will the hybrid model work towards the success of the company, and who knows, it may actually become the model of the workplace in the future, for most organizations.



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Anti-Casino Group in Osaka Aims To End IR Hopes


apan’s current gambling liberalisation programme hasn’t gone quite according to plan. Only two prefectures managed to assemble formal bids for integrated resort licenses, despite that the national government hopeful of allocating three permissions, and keen to vet a number of proposals in order tor each their decision. Furthermore, there has been tangible resistance from anti-gambling campaigners, and considerable swathes of the native population. In Osaka, who joins Nagasaki as one of the two cities who have a chance of seeing a gaming venue established, an anti-casino group has taken their protestations into the political sphere. On Monday, it declared that it had acquired enough support to challenge

the implementation of an IR in a local referendum. The city, located on Honshu Island, requires at least 2% of citizens to endorse an initiative before a formal vote can be triggered. The group acquired 208,552 signatures backing their efforts to quash Osaka’s IR programme, and had these handed over to the Election Administration Commission to verify. To reach the 2% threshold, only circa 70% of these signatures would need to be proved legitimate by the Commission, a reality which has been unofficially confirmed in the last 48 hours.

who hold substantial lobbying power in local governmental policy making, will undoubtedly exert their influence in an attempt to block the vote. Moreover, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura, although technically bound to set the parameters for a referendum, has already expressed his resistance to taking this issue to the ballot box. Nevertheless, Yoshimura’s comments were recorded early this month, and therefore he may feel duty-bound to stage a vote given this week’s developments.

However, there is significant pro-IR sentiment in the prefecture’s political chambers. The Osaka Restoration,



Let The Games Begin! By Tim Cullimore


s it any wonder that the great artists, writers and poets gravitated to the light and beauty of the Cote d’Azur, and above all Monte Carlo? To wake and open the curtains to the sight of the bluest sky imaginable, joined on the horizon to the wonderful Mediterranean Sea. I have often asked my friends who live and work in Monaco if they just take it for granted after a time. You will be pleased to know that every single one of them appreciate on a daily basis how lucky they are to have their commute from one side of the Principality to the other, around 2 kilometres. Following my previous article where I spoke about arriving in Monte Carlo after not travelling for over two years here is the continuation of my modest adventure. After a grand “petit dejeuner” in the Hotel Hermitage we were off to the start of the competition proper. A group photograph was called on the steps of


the Grand Casino, and then we were led to sumptuous Salle Privé where the European Dealer Championship was to be held. And what a room! Not since my days working at the Ritz Club have I spent so much time in such a wonderful space. And as we were growing to expect the organisation by the teams from ECA and SBM was excellent.

readers who are not trained in the arcane arts of the Croupier, these are key skills without which a dealer can never succeed. Through my company, London Gaming, I was honoured to have sponsored these individual prizes, especially poignant as it is over 40 years since I started my journey in the industry as a dealer.

Firstly, the judges were coached on the criteria they would be using to adjudicate the dealers, and there was some serious pan-European experience there on the judging panels, pit bosses and managers from over a dozen countries, and then the presentation of each contestant within their individual groups, where each one would be tested on all aspects of their work on Roulette and Blackjack.

For some of the contestants the pressure was intense, whilst others seemed to shrug it off like it was a Friday night in their regular workplace. It is important to remember that coping within an intense workplace is one part of a dealer’s skills. The start was worthy of a top TV game show, with music and announcements of the first contestants to take their places. This is the second event I have attended, either side of the Covid pandemic, and the professionalism just keeps getting better and better. I can see this being televised in years to come.

As well as the main prize for European Dealer Champion there were 5 prizes for specialist skills: Chipping, Chip Cutting, Card Dealing, Roulette Pay-out Addition and Stack Pushing. For my


Silence fell as the serious business of competing got under way. Judges had their clip boards and spectators walked from table to table, admiring the skills of the participants. So many languages being spoken, truly a pan European event, taking politics out of the equation it really felt that the world was getting back on its feet and that we were all part of the same family, Casino Folk. Time for a break, and great food as always was being served. I ruminated on the fact that 20 years ago there would have been a cloud of cigarette smoke hanging over the proceedings, and that wine and beer would have been served, but we are in enlightened timesnow, so the smoking was restricted to a balcony, but boy did they have a view, overlooking the Mediterranean with Monte Carlo Beach in the distance. A brief walk outside reminded me of our good fortune to be in such a splendid place. And then back to the serious business. Late into the afternoon the dealers

strutted their stuff, building their confidence as the day wore on. And with a gala dinner to look forward to, or was that just me, the organisers had had the good foresight to start the second day’s proceeding at a later hour so that everyone could make the most of the evening to come. Later that evening, as we lined up to enter the beautiful dining room of the Hotel Hermitage it was wonderful to see all these young people in their finest. I also reflected on the enlightened attitude of their employers, allowing the time off and footing the bill for attending the event, well done to them.

A later start maybe, but everyone looked bright eyed and eager to get started. As the points tally was kept secret no one knew who was leading but the rumours were rife as to who had performed best. And as I was sponsoring the individual skill test I was particularly interested to watch those. I fancied I was a pretty good dealer in my day, but these ladies and gentlemen were a cut above, and not just technically. Their whole attitude exuded professionalism, a credit to their industry. It was clear that many of these participants are future GeneralManagers and company leaders, the path may be long but those with the right attributes have a great career ahead of them. I would trust my gaming floor to them all.

The music was lively and just raucous enough, the speecheswere entertaining (how often do we get to say that, not too often) and the food and service exemplary. Table hopping was the order of the night, catching up with old friends, and finally a last drink before preparing for the next day.


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As the afternoon wore on we could see the stress levels rising. Self-recrimination and frustration of having made a small mistake were being talked about between contestants and their supporters. You could see how much doing well meant to them all, no one was here to make up the numbers. The tension was ramped up even more by a gracious visit by His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco. How wonderful to see our industry being graced by his presence, everyone was charmed. The afternoon turned into evening and all that was left was to prepare for that night’s awards ceremony. Another beautiful events space in The Hermitage awaited us, and as we gathered the excitement grew. A few more words from Per Jaldung, the eminent chair of the ECA and then the announcements were to begin, but first another wel-

come glass of champagne to calm the nerves. And then it was all over in a flash, the individual awards first, my honour to present all 5 of them to very deserving winners, and some very happy people, followed by the main event. Third, second and finally first prizes were announced, and the 2022 European Dealer Champion was announced too much cheering and applause, a very popular winner and perhaps a little unexpected and unassuming, enough to say that this is perhaps the Swiss way. Yes a winner from my old home country and what agreat person. Rather than list all the winners here I suggestyou go to the European Casino Association’s websiteto see all the details. And perhaps the most exciting news of all, there will be a 2023 event, and it is to be held in the Mediterranean City of Dreams in Cyprus. Can they top

the Monaco experience, well the bar has been set very high, but I know I will be there because this event deserves all the support the industry can give it. Without these dealers doing their craft every day in our establishments we can close the doors and the popularity of online live gaming promise a great future for the profession. Perhaps one day a winner from a live casino studio, or maybe do a Eurovision and invite the Australians? Finally, a last goodbye and promises to keep in touch with all our colleagues spread across Europe. If you can attend or support this event I fully recommended it, looking at these dealers I can assure you that our industry is in very good hands.



Brazil’s complicated relationship with gambling By Ryan Murray


or decades, Brazil’s stance on gambling was as transparent as it was ruthless. After the introduction of the prohibition law in 1946, virtually all gaming verticals became dormant, with the exception of a handful of low-stakes pursuits. Yet, in recent times, a traditionally conservative state has entered a period of cautious liberalisation. Right across the political, social, and cultural spectrum, a greater number of Brazilians are embracing a more modern, progressive

way of being, something which has become acutely visible within discussions on gambling. Now, Brazil’s lawmakers have conspired to propose a number of bills, aimed at developing a nascent, regulated gaming industry. This legislation would serve to completely re-calibrate the Samba nation’s current economic landscape, with analysts projecting that Brazil, with effective regulatory measures in position, would become one of the top 5 gambling marketplaces on the planet.

Nevertheless, the road to establishing a fully-fledged, locally operated gaming sector is one which has so far been paved with considerable angst and ambiguity. This deep-rooted sense of the ‘unknown’ is largely a product of Brazil’s legislative framework, which surprisingly fails to constitute any form of legal recognition, or by extension definition, of gambling. This has subsequently caused, perhaps unsurprisingly, some profound inconsistencies. For example, despite existing as a game eternally associated with the casino gaming floor, poker is deemed entirely legal in the country, officially permissible under the guise of a ‘game of skill’. As there is no place for gambling within formal law, it falls into the jurisdiction of Brazil’s Civil Code. Therefore, any legal efforts to construct a suitable set of regulatory guidelines for gambling has forever taken shape as a protracted, complex, and often frustrating enterprise. Certainly, the



latter of these descriptions has proved particularly accurate in the latest campaign. However, irrespective ofcurrent headaches, pro-gambling advocates will surely be elated with recent progress, and will have genuine hope that a regulated market is within touching distance. In 2018, the native government, through the lever of federal law number 13,756, authorised offshore, online sportsbook operators to offer odds markets to Brazilian residents. The result was emphatic. The newly-constructed digital market presided over four years of astronomical growth, and placed Brazil squarely on the sports betting map. Now, the world’s leading operators have descended on the receptive Brazilian market, reaping considerable financial reward in the process. However, whilst foreign commercial outfits are free to extract profit, the lo-

cal economy continues to toil. Without regulation, the state can only wield limited taxation demands on companies located outside the confines ofits own borders. Furthermore, as native operators are clearly excluded from the sector,considerable opportunities to generate re-investment, reduce unemployment, and glean incremental business are being routinely missed. Andre Gelfi, a representative of Swedish betting platform, Betsson, currently supporting company operations in Brazil, recently proclaimed that the Brazil’s unregulated gambling market could turnover upwards of R$60bn (US$11.7bn) this calendar year. Many believe it’s time for Brazilians to acquire a bigger slice of this particular lucrative pie. This is a sentiment shared by many taking seat in the country’s political chambers, with a sizeable quote of lawmakers agitating to make this notion a

reality. Moreover, momentum on this front has gathered significant traction in recent months. In late February, the National Congress pushed through bill PL 442/91, which articulated a clear plan for the legalization of bricks-andmortar casinos, bingo halls, sports wagering, and the immensely popular underground, native pastime, ‘Jogo do Bicho’. The latter, an animal number game traditionally facilitated by some of the more unsavoury, criminal groups of Brazilian society, does already hold legal status in Paraiba, but is currently outlawed in the remainder of the country’s 26 administrative regions. A considerable cross-section of politicians has thrown their weight behind the bill, anxious to cash in on a commercial opportunity that could stem the nation’s economic bleeding. Brazil


Brazil’s Complicated Gambling Relationship


has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with its much-maligned government criticized for a lacklustre, ill-strategized response to the unfolding crises. Unfortunately, the same cabinet could serve to preempt further damage to an already ailing economy. Indeed, Brazil’s incumbent Liberal Party administration, headed by maverick figure President Jair Bolsonaro, has mobilized against the introduction of gambling legislation. In recent weeks, their efforts have intensified, undoubtedly catalysed by the mounting pressure Bolsonaro faces as a consequence of challenging election poll results. Brazilian voters go to the general election ballot box in less than four months-time, and will ultimately decide whether the current leader, or leftleaning ex-President Luiz Ignacio ‘Lula’ da Silva, is appointed the republic’s head of state. Currently, political commentators believe Brazilian Worker’s Party chief has a marginal edge on his opponent. Therefore, understandably, Bolsonaro is keen to avoid taking any action which would lead to the alienation of his core support, and has therefore defaulted to conservative ground when addressing questions relating to gambling. The under-fire President is particularly reliant on the backing of Evangelical groups, a Protestant movement which now accounts for roughly one-third of the total Brazilian population, and holds significant influence in political circles. Evangelical lobbyists have the personal ear of Bolsonaro, and have repeatedly utilized this direct communication channel to advance their cause. In recent weeks, Marco Feliciano, a member of Congress with close Evangelical ties, expressed his opposition towards a newly submitted sports betting bill, urging the President not to sign-off on the proposed measure. ‘’I am an evangelical pastor. I was

elected to represent this segment. We are against any type of game involving cash betting. The game destroys families. That’s the door to the casino’s’’ said Feliciano, unflinching in his condemnation of gambling. Bolsonaro duly complied with his rather instructive request. However, one can’t help but feel that a certain amount of political posturing is at play. Despite all of his gesticulating and anti-gambling rhetoric, the Liberal Party leader is still quick to emphasize the possibility of a future bill. Nevertheless, by positioning this as a potential inevitable consequence of Brazilian democratic procedure, he’s been able to occupy somewhat of a hazy, centreground position. This is perhaps best illustrated through his comments on the prospect of a final bill sign-off. The 67-year-old, who has been at the top seat of Brazilian politics since the turn of 2019, has assured voters that he will veto any format of gambling legislation presented to him. However, conversely, he’s been equally as quick to reinforce that if the chamber decides to overturn the veto, there’s extremely little he can do.In doing this, he’s managedto maintain a healthy distance from those in

favour of legalization, without severing ties completely.Bolsonaro will be hoping, from this position, he can be agile, and move his stance dependent on the prevailing direction of public and political opinion. However, precisely which way this wind is presently blowing isextremely difficult to gauge. A survey conducted by the DataSenado Institute, a native research firm based in Brasilia, seems to suggest that the public are swaying towards favouring legalization. The probe, which was conducted over three months between March and May this year, demonstrated that 58% of participants believed that the implementation of a regulated gambling market would be advantageous for Brazil’s tourist economy. Moreover, 61% of those questioned were of the view that gaming would accelerate the country’s tax revenues, thus improving state infrastructure and services. There is also increasing, tangible support in political corridors of power, as the realisation of the material impact this could have on Brazil’s impoverished masses slowly sinks into the hearts and minds of the country’s policy-makers.

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Brazil’s Complicated Gambling Relationship - Continued

The World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for this December, only serves to hammer home the scale of the potentialbounty on offer. A football-mad nation will be glued to television sets this winter, desperate for its footballing heroes to lift the suffocating gloom of recent months; for many if given the choice, this experience would be accompanied by a betting slip clasped in hand. However, this optimism isthen juxta-positioned by forces such as the ‘Parliamentary Front Against Gambling’, a Senate faction who have invested millions in a campaign to derail the journey towards legalization, and underline the apparent threat of problem gambling, money laundering, and social decay. The mere presence of this group has been enough to substantially concern pro-gambling representatives. Key advocates in the Senate, such as Eduardo Girao, member of the left-wing populist party, Podemos, have reluctantly conceded that the sheer weight of numbers behind the PFAG movement may make it impossible to gather enough votes required to overturn a Bolsonaro veto. Perhaps even more worrying were the sentiments of newly-appointed Senate chief, Carlos Portinho, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Party. He asserts that the chamber should be in no rush to push through any legislation,citing 2023 as a suitable time to discuss major draft proposals, such as the aforementioned PL 442/91 bill. Here, Portinho appears to be unashamedly towing the party line, absconding fromunder-

takingany potentially divisive decisions prior to the October election. In truth, the battleground now reflects a straight shoot-out between left and right ends of the political spectrum, set against the backdrop of a country attempting to understand how its social and cultural heritage fits into a more progressive, liberalized world. For the time being, the possibility of Brazil constructing a regulated gambling sector hangs in the balance, another pawn in Bolsonaro’s political game of chess- at least that is until autumn.

The irony is that the election winner may not have a decisive impact on whether Brazil formally embraces gambling for the first time in a generation. Despite his scathing criticism and pledge to do everything in his power to block the advancement of a bill, Bolsonaro’s bark will most likely turn out far worse than his bite. It could even be alleged that Bolsonaro, should he win the election, will be hoping for a revitalised effort from gambling advocates. It may well reverse some of the significant, self-inflicted wounds the President has conspired to deliver since his term began three short years ago.


The chastising opportunity that will undoubtedly now slip through Brazilian fingers will be the inability for any prospective native operators to capitalize on football’s international showpiece event. Even if there was an abrupt about turn in government policy, it would be unlikely that the current timeframe would be sufficiently long enough to dispense licenses, mobilize betting firms, and engage the population. That particular boat has surely sailed now. Although the tug-of-war between the two opposing sides of the debate will inevitably continue now into the new year, it does feel as if legalization will occur at some stage in the near future. In the interim, a battle which is principally old versus new, standing still versus moving forward, and rejecting liberal practicesversus embracing change, will rumble on. Brazil may have to quickly address these conflicts of cultural direction, symptomatic of a nation wrestling with its ‘perceived’ moral compass, or risk sinking further into the economic mire.However, surely, over time, progress will prevail. Nevertheless, in the short-term at least, it’s worth extracting the positives. If Brazil do go to the Middle East this winter and emerge victorious, Bolsonaro’s delay may have saved a lot of local bookmarkers a significant Christmas pay-out….. .



How to Analyze your slots of problems! By Andy Cosgrove You defined your problems and ran for the hills.You measured the size of the problems and purposefully lost your cell phone! However, your boss still demands results, so what next?


n my last article we focusedon the measurement phase of the DMAIC methodology which uses data to narrow downthe vital fewfactors that influence the behavior of a system or a process. A good real world example of the effective use of the measurement phase could be discovering that a key reason why your slot machines aren’t making money is because the bill validators aren’t working properly. Once measured, the next stepis to discover the root causes for why your bill validators aren’t working and effectively make proactive decisions based on inferential data (as opposed to dubious information thatyou heard through the grape vine!) to improve performance and ensure that your bill validators are


being the best that they can be.most difficult and time-consuming phase in the DMAIC methodology. But if you do it well, and right the first time, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and maximize your chance of improvement. The measurement phase consists of the following modules:

amore effective preventive maintenance schedule that will help keep your bill validators working better and for longer. The key deliverables of the analyze phase are as follows:

So,what more can you tell me about the analyze phase?–The Analyze phase builds on the principles of the define and measure phases by introducing techniques to find root causes byusing experimentation along with Lean principles to find practical solutions to process problems. In other words, the analyze phase will allow you to leverage the root causes of your bill validator woes and help you to design

• Inferential statistics – To draw inferences about the process or population being studied by modelling the data in such a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty

• ‘X’ shifting – Multi-vari analysis, classes and causes.

• Hypothesis testing –Using sample data to improve process capability X-Shifting – In the define phase we used process mapping to help identify

Andy Cosgrove Article

all the possible reasons (the X’s) for why your slot machines aren’t making money. In the measure phase we refined the probable causes even further. In the analyze phase we start to “dis-assemble” the data even further still and let it tell us the naked truth behind why your bill validators fail to live up to their expectations. Multi-vari analysis is the first part of X-shifting and is a tool that graphically displays patterns of variation. The MultiVari Chart helps in screening factors that are effecting your bill validators performance by using graphical techniques to logically subgroupdiscrete X’s known as independent variables (such as how results areaffected when a bill validator is tested by different members of staff ) plotted against a continuous Y or dependent variable (the averageoutput or acceptance rateof the bill validator). By looking at thepattern of the graphed points conclusions are drawn about the largest family of variation. Multi Vari charts can help reveal information that your tech supervisor might not want you to know such as: • The effects of your “supposed” preventive maintenance schedule on bill validator performance • The effects of usage over an extended time period on bill validator performance


• The effects of each staff members technical abilities on bill validator performance. Understanding classes and distributions of data is also an essential part of the analyzephase as it will enable you to further screen those X’s that are causing your bill validators to malfunction and provide you with the understanding andability to accurately interpret the different classes of data which, without wanting to put you and your slots analyst to sleep, are as follows:

non-normal distribution curve. Inferential statistics - One objective of Six Sigma is to move from only describing the nature of the data or descriptivestatistics (the bill validators aren’t working because...) to that of inferring what will happen in the future with our data or Inferential Statistics (we can improve the bill acceptance rates if…). As with most things associated with Six Sigma, there as a standard approach to using Inferential statistics that will maximize the results as follows:

• Normal distribution – IS NOT a plot of observed data, and the curve is estimated based on the data’s mean (average) and standard deviation from the mean. Many Hypothesis tests assume normal distribution and if the assumption isn’t satisfied nothing can be inferred about the future. The closer your bill validator performance data is to the mean, the higher the rate of bills being accepted.

1. What do You want to know? (whyspecific slot machines aren’t making money)

• Non-normal distribution – Data may follow a non-normal curve for a number of reasons, such as variation caused by a bill validator becoming less effective over time. This causes data, that would otherwise be normal appear not normal. If 3 out of 10 bill validators have a low acceptance rate, this might cause a

4. How will you collect the data? (On demand systems logs, test results…)

2. What tool will give you the information you need? (Management systemsandtesting equipment.…) 3. What kind of data does the tool require (rejection rates and bill count statistics…)

5. How confident are you with your data? (Is a 98% rejection rate and low bill drop data the only reasons my bill acceptors not working?)




Slots Of Problems


Anaccurate definition of inferential statistics is as follows: To use data to draw inferences about the process orpopulation being studied by modeling patterns of data in a way thataccounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations. Sample size and error types must also be taken into accountas both play an essential part in the ‘Central Limit Theorem’ which will scientifically help you improve performance, reduce bill validator errorsand transform your customers into raving fans. The central limit theorem states that, “As the sample size becomes large, the new distribution will form a normal distribution regardless of the shape of the population distribution of individuals.” In other words, the greater the number of bill acceptor tests you carry out, the greater the accuracy of your overall rejection rate test results will become. Introduction to hypothesis testing–Your goal as a slots manager is to improve performance and therefore process capability. This translates into the need to move the process mean and to decrease standard deviation in order to reduce bill rejection rates and maximize usage (and hopefully revenues). Because it can be too expensive, tooimpractical, or too time consuming decisions can be made based on sample data which is the key reasonwhy hypothesis testing and central tendency are so important. Hypothesis testing first converts a practical problem into a statistical problem with 2 possible outcomes (bill validator working within specification limits or not).It then states a statistical solution and converts it into a practical solution that will ultimately produce a beneficial outcome.The 3 fundamentals of hypothesis testing are as follows: • Tests for central tendency –the average rate of bill acceptance around which your data pointsare clustered. • Tests for variance–compares your bil-

lacceptancerate test results to a target • ANOVA–Analysis of variance (does the same bill validator test the same in a similar machine or when tested by another employee?) Without getting too technical, hypothesis testing will help you improve the process capability of your bill acceptor by using sample data.Hypothesis testing also helps determine focal areas that can be leveraged for improvement that could be something as simple as improving you preventive maintenance strategy or training your staff on how to clean them using a best practices approach. Conclusion: The aim of the analyze phase is to identify those significant variables that are stopping your bill validators from working within their specified acceptance and rejection limits. Once the variables are identified, you should be able to use inferential statistics to leverage these menacing X’s and use them to improve performance and increase revenues, make your staff

proud of a job well done, and have your raving fans crying out for more, more, more.Over 80% of projects realize their solutions in the analyze phase but now we must move on to the Control phase to ensure that we can sustain your bill validators success.Six Sigma is a proven scientific problem solving methodology that will help keep your bill validators, your slot tech’s and maybe even your boss performing at a consistent high level of performance… so what are you waiting for? Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and is available to help you succeed and exceed customer expectations via contracted consultancy services. Andrew can be reached at or see




California’s Online Sports Betting in November Vote?


he ambiguous nature of California’s prospective sports betting landscape has been a consistent feature since conversations regarding the potential legalization of sportsbooks in the state began. A protracted battle has ensured between various groups, each keen to see their proposal become the system of rule in a new sports betting environment. Given the scale of commercial opportunity on offer, the fight has been intense, with a number of stakeholders lending support to measures which protect their interests. However, in the next 24 hours, this fog will slowly start to ascend. Yesterday evening, the deadline passed for county officials to finalize their checks of petition signatures. Campaigns have been asked to produce heavily-backed petitions, with a threshold number deciding whether their respective mea-

sures can advance to the ballot box. This vote is scheduled for November, and will ask Californians which plan they deem most suitable to facilitate a nascent sports wagering industry. A proposal which supports the establishment of an online marketplace, spearheaded by the ‘Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support’, is currently awaiting its fate. Due to the random sample method executed in this process, county officials will need to return a volume of signatures that projects, rather than confirms, that 1,096,853 residents have proactively endorsed the measure. By the end of last week, the 50 counties who had already offered visibility on their signature numbers, estimated a combined total of 741,470 people had put pen to paper to show their

support. Therefore, given that the Golden State’s two biggest counties are still to declare – Las Vegas and Riverside – it’s now widely believed that the proposal will be progressed to the fall vote. The draft legislation, advocated by a number of the country’s largest sports betting operators, would go head-tohead with a tribal-backed initiative. This alternative option, which booked its place on the ballot over a year ago, would see sportsbooks land at native casino venues across the state. Should both measures receive enough votes at the November election, the courts may need to intervene to provide clarity on next steps.



Could China be subtly mobilizing itself for online gambling?


ambling, , like several other pursuits in the People’s Republic of China, is a taboo subject. Since the end of the Chinese Civil War, and the subsequent emergence of a communist-led government in 1949, virtually all forms of gambling have been outlawed. Yet, China’s aversion to gaming is so acute, that not only does it prohibit the practice of betting within its own borders, it forbids its citizens to engage in gambling on foreign shores. Of course, this supplementary rule has been continuously circumnavigated in recent times, with natives often visiting casino and sportsbook establishments external to China. Beijing does not recognize, or perhaps more likely does not want to acknowledge, the country’s overwhelming appetite to gamble. However, international operators have not looked this particular gift horse in the mouth, creating specific marketing campaigns to reel in Chinese players.


There is of course one colossal exception to the rule. Macau, the former Portuguese colony located in China’s south-east, has enjoyed legalized gambling throughout its history, despite its geographical proximity, and eventual incorporation into, the Chinese state. China gained control of Macau in 1999, following 442 years of Portuguese imperial stewardship. From this point, it’s held the status of a detached, special administrative region, presiding over a

legislative system similar to the more westernized concept of Home Rule. In manyways, Macau’s integration model was a carbon copy of Hong Kong’s, who had experienced a similar transition two years earlier, with Britain withdrawing their presence in the territory in 1997. These anomalies to the highly centralist Chinese system are divided by a tiny stretch of the South China Sea, with only 65km of water separating the two unique


provinces. Hong Kong has had a regulated betting sector for over 40 years, with many practices still influenced by the nature of British law. However, it’s Macau who easily grabs the headlines when it comes to its native gambling exploits. Since a major overhaul of its gaming framework at the turn of the twentyfirst century, the city-state has endured a meteoric rise within the gambling space. In the last decade (with current COVID headaches aside), it’s materialised as the planet’s number one gaming hotspot, overtaking Las Vegas’ world-famous strip in the process. In 2019, the last calendar year unscathed by the harrowing coronavirus pandemic, Macau’s six casino concessionaires generated an eye watering MOP292.5bn ($36.5bn) in gross gaming revenue. This sterling performance feels an all the more impressive feat given its neighbours systemic reluctance towards gambling. However, could China’s long-held reservations soon be overturned? Could the unthinkable happen, and the one-party republic embrace a nascent gaming sector? This may seem a distant possibility, but there has been growing momentum around this notion over the last weeks and months. If the

national government is to take such an unprecedented step, political commentators have assumed a market would materialise amidst an online, rather than bricks-and-mortar, backdrop. The potential motivations behind such a dramatic about turn in policy are numerous. A financial injection Xi Jinping’s administration has suffered greatly in recent months, a victim of its own aggressive ‘zero-COIVD’ policy, which has served to hugely undermine the world’s fastest-growing, developed economy. Indeed, this has perhaps been felt most acutely in Macau, whose toiling casino venues are spiralling into financial chaos. The national government need a shot in the arm – and fast. Introducing a legalized, online industry, receptive to all gambling verticals, would be one way to accelerate its recovery trajectory northwards. The United States has proved, beyond immeasurable doubt, that a gambling liberalization campaign can inject huge cash revenues into challenging economic theatres. The U.S federalized system, which empowers local jurisdictions to construct its own commercial marketplaces, is perhaps the polar opposite to the apparatus adopted by

highly-centralized communist regimes, built on the principles of state intervention and an equal distribution of wealth. Nevertheless, regardless of the style of governance, such is gambling’s draw and current global popularity, one would assume that China would reap similar rewards as those on the other side of the Pacific. We’ve also seen booming new industries emerge in South America, central Europe, and across swathes of Africa. Even their historic enemies over the East China Sea are set to construct integrated resorts in Osaka and Nagasaki over the next twelve months. Surely, in a ‘socialist market’ economy which permits private entities to rub shoulders with state-run enterprises, this specific opportunity is simply too great to ignore? The prospect of an exclusively online channel to facilitate gambling activity would also dovetail nicely into China’s seemingly pathological desire to uphold its suffocating coronavirus restrictions. Lockdowns, mask-wearing, negative test requirements, social distancing, and quarantine stipulations have all, for most societies, permeated daily life for over two years. However, with most nations now discarding the overriding majority of these virus-defence mechanisms, China’s stubbornness to lessen social curbs has barely faltered. In late June of this year, Jinping shortened inbound travel quarantine requirements from fourteen to seven days. Given the stoicism of Beijing to press, and the fact that this represented the first, nationwide reduction in the potency of COVID-19 rules since the onset of the pandemic, the loosening of this single measure made headline international news. Even the President has refused to leave the mainland in this period, over 900 days since China imposed its first national lockdown. Therefore, it seems incredibly unlikely that Asia’s greatest superpower will return to a state of preCOVID normality anytime soon. Currency clues - PTO



CHINA for online gambling?


or some time, the Chinese have been experimenting with digital currencies. This in itself is not a particularly noteworthy enterprise, with the rise of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens a well-documented phenomenon. Nevertheless, the point of difference here is the scale, organization, and regulation of this venture. The digital yuan, which carries the exact same value as the traditional, material yuan (¥), is a state-sponsored currency model. Therefore, and as a product of its unapologetically leftwing ideology, the electronic yuan is heavily controlled, regulated, and monitored. All transactions can be logged, vetted, and itemized, with each and every exchange visible to a central database. Given the level of censorship that currently pervades Chinese society, some critics have cynically argued that this level of transparency provides another opportunity for governmental social tracking. Whatever the motivation for its bourgeoning presence in the people’s republic, its stature in the Chinese economy would certainly relate to an effective payment methodology for a fledgling iGaming sector. A swift, efficient, and trackable pay system, which avoids intervention from the banks, would slot perfectly into an entirely digitized environment. This would enhance play time, improve on-site experience levels, and significantly reduce the risk of illicit financial practices – to almost zero. Yet, perhaps there is a more sinister indication of China’s under-the-radar movement towards online gambling. This notion stems from its ongoing political, social, and economic approach in Macau. For at least two decades, the Maca-


nese economy has ultimately been built on a fragile house of cards (no pun intended). Its reliance on its native gaming market is huge, with over 80% of its financial income contingent on the activities of its six licensed casino operators. The pandemic has brutally exposed this over-dependency, with its economy seemingly sliding into turmoil. China’s reaction to these developments have been interesting to say the least.

Rather than invest in a market which has systematically proven itself to be, in ‘normal’ circumstances, incredibly resilient and profitable, Jinping’s Communist Party have instead encouraged Macau’s legislative assembly to recalibrate its commercial direction. In some ways, this seems like a relatively plausible approach. The COVID-19 crisis may have accentuated Macau’s lopsided economic model, but its compulsive focus on the performance

51 reaction, would leave itself vulnerable to such occurrences. Macau also serves as an ideal pressure release valve for the mainland’s consciously more repressive method of governance. By permitting its citizens (in a non-COVID impacted context), through the Individual Visa Scheme, to regularly visit Macau (and, as part of this programme, Hong Kong), it offers some respite and relief from China’s strict social code of conduct. Indeed, this reality applies not only in a gambling context, but also to escape the draconian laws imposedon other aspects of everyday life.

of its strip will certainly have resulted in missed financial opportunities elsewhere. Perhaps Beijing’s insistence that industries such as tourism, manufacturing, and telecommunications should be further explored isn’t a bad suggestion. However, does this conceal a more insidious agenda? Is this a ploy to proactively weaken the internal competition, in preparation for a mainland assault on the gambling industry? Should China establish an exclusively online sector, these allegations seem difficult to corroborate. As we’ve seen as a result of intermittent lockdowns, the relationship between land-based and digital gambling is often heavily index-linked. One typically deflects from the other, but the overall volume of wagers placed tends to stay fairly consistent. This was certainly the case throughout many native industries during the pandemic, with the percentage mix of monthly revenues fluctuating dependent on whether retail kiosks and casinos were open or closed.However total monthly GGR’s, providing other market conditions were fairly similar, were pretty much the same each term. However, would China really be fearful that a south-eastern outpost, regardless of its profile and reputation across

the gambling community, really impact its own, prospective online marketplace? Perhaps a player in Guangdong province, whose visited neighbouring Macau for an extended period of time, may opt for the ambience of the casino floor, rather than interacting with a 5-inch screen for several hours. However, its unlikely that a consumer in faraway Shanghai would embark upon a 1,5000km road trip, just to absorb the sights and sounds of the Macanese strip, regardless of how mesmeric these might be. Yet, it would be naïve to dismiss this theory completely. After all, this regime has been accountable for far more foreboding acts than this in the past. Although, surely recent episodes, specific to events in Macau, could also be interpreted as strong reasons to assume China will maintain its conservative stance on gambling. Beijing was noticeably appalled by recent allegations of cross-border money laundering, unsavoury junket activity, and illicit financial practices in the city-state. It may have let the port territory to administer punishments, but the Chinese did not hold back in their scathing condemnation of these revelations. It seems difficult to contemplate that China, given its

Movement away from such a regimented, embedded position may feel like a distant prospect. Whether it be Mao, Deng Xiaoping, or incumbent leader Xi Jinping, all have repelled the lucrative lure of enabling a gambling industry; a temptation that has become more pronounced by the decade. Loyalty to policies of old is part of the very fabric of modern-day China, with genuine political reforms over the seventy oddyears of Communist rule coming few and far between. However, if it can relax the principles of its entire economy in order to encourage privatised investment, then an acceptance of gambling can surely also be entertained. Whether it’s the apparently relentless continuation of strict COVID protocols, its pre-occupation with online currencies, or an apparent underhand strategy towards an unassuming Macanese legislature, all of the pieces in this particular jigsaw seem to fit quite neatly. In an intensely monitored society, few internal commentators will likely express a similar view, but the watching world is gradually considering whether the impossibility of a legalized Chinese gaming sector could perhaps one day become a reality.