Infinity Gaming Magazine November 2023

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InfinityGaming www.gaming-awards.com | ISSUE140

GAMBLING REGULATORS FEATURE


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26 THE REULGATORS

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08 LAURA PERETTA

16 ENFORCER TO TERMINATOR

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.

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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.

16 ENFORCER TO TERMINATOR Christina Thakor-Rankin

32 SLOT MANAGEMENT 101 ANDY COSGROVE

36 ECA & BRITISH CASINOS

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Ryan Murray

CATCH A CAT

46 IGT AT G2E Lynn Pearce

GENTING MOVE FOR MACAU

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NEWS & MORE NEWS from the gaming industry

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A note from the editor couple of weeks. The IGA ceremony is a very special time, supporting charities and also recognising and rewarding those innovative companies, what makes an event is the people and the IGA is so lucky to have the very leading figures within the sector attending this awards evening.

IGA ARE YOU IN?”

Now on to the magazine and what a bumper edition we have for you, firstly

CONTACT US Clever Duck Media Centrix@Keys Keys Park Road Staffordshire WS12 2HA UK Tel: +44(0)1543 478 889 PRODUCTION Clever Duck Media Centrix@Keys Keys Park Road Staffordshire WS12 2HA UK

the superb Laura Peretta from Betsson speaking on how the WIG Diversity

Lana Thompson - Editor

Awards changed her life, we have also some brilliant articles from Christina Thakor-Rankin, Tim Cullimore, Andrew Cosgrove and Lynn Pearce.

The November Edition of the Infinity Gaming Magazine

Our own reporter Ryan Murray looks at questions the ECA inviting British Casilatest news.

Welcome to the latest edition of the InEnjoy the magazine.

this magazine we have only a few days 16th annual charity focused Interna-

media@cleverduckmedia.com

on the 11th of November, so please if “To Infinity and Beyond!”

ing to the website. Regards, nouncing all the superb finalists for the IGA 2023 and already we have broken records with the amount of entries we have received. Also we want to thank all our wonderful sponsors who believe in our work, so thank you all very much. Indeed, a big thank you also goes to our IGA judges who offer their time, expertise and support in going through hundreds of nominations over the next

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Business Partnerships Svetlana@gaming-awards.com

Editorial Content & PR

tional Gaming Awards (IGA) which close

In the December edition we will be an-

Sponsorship Opportunities Colin@cleverduckmedia.com

Marketing & Advertising claire@cleverduckmedia.com

left to enter the nominations for the

you not entered yet please do so by go-

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Genting and their Macau bid and also nos to rejoin and of course all the very

finity Gaming Magazine and as you read

PUBLISHING Infinity Gaming Magazine is operated by © Clever Duck Media Ltd ®

Lana The Editor


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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. www.1710gaming.com

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 andy.cosgrove@hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com or see http://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com/

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.

general manager and CEO

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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.


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Interview with

Laura Peretta Betsson Group

How WIG Diversity Changed my life

Hi Laura many thanks for speaking to Infinity Gaming Magazine, let us get straight to it and how long have you worked at Betsson?

lations and requirements. A diverse role giving me the opportunity to negotiate new contracts, deal with existing ones or work on exclusive

It’s a pleasure to be taking part in this

games dedicated to Betsson Group and

Q&A! I have now been working at Bets-

so much more projects.

son for 4 years – a true testament to the expression “time flies”!

What is it like working for Betsson?

What is your role at the company?

I am truly proud to be working with Betsson. It is so inspiring to grow in such

I am nowa Senior Supplier Relations

a diverse company and working with

Managerfor the Betsson Group – quite a

great colleagues from all over the world

long title I know, working with the 190+

with different stories and background.

gaming suppliers we have and being

As cliché as it may sound, despite be-

the liaison between our commercial, fi-

ing such a big company with over 2,200

nancial, compliance and legal arms. My

employees, you never feel like a num-

main focus is to support Betsson with its

ber. I have always found support from

international expansion.

my peers and management and it hasnot only given me pride in my work,

I am also responsible for the competi-

but also helped me grow on a personal

tor analysis for gaming suppliers in all

level. It is truly the individuals here that

the new markets we enter and operate

make the company as successful as it is.

in, working hand-in-hand with suppliers and keeping abreast with market regu-

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The company shows a strong influence to supporting diversity, inclusion and fairness towards all groups including women, how is your experience as a female leader within Betsson? iGaming is a fun and vibrant industry,

there to see. Be the right person for our company

Nowadays, working in Malta in iGam-

and together we will do great things – it

ing is important for me as it is the main

should be as simple as that, always.

hub to build relationships and the island at the center of the industry ac-

What is it like living and working in Malta?

full of opportunities – doesn’t matter of

tivity – most events happen here with people flying from all over the world. Being able to work in the headquarters

your background, gender or any other

That’s a question I asked myself when

is also a plus, . Betsson ensures every-

factors that make you who you are. If

I moved here from France over 7 years

one is made to feel welcomed and that

you are ambitious, willing to bring in

ago! This island reminds me a lot of the

they belong with onboarding, training,

new ideas and be part of the future of

south of France, - obviously fantastic

and fantastic events to make sure no

igaming, your skill set and talent should

weather, easy to access and many res-

one is ever left alone. This is crucial in

be the only requirement. This is what I

taurants with great food – guilty! The

any industry, especially in one that that

see happening at Betsson Group. Peo-

big difference in Malta is the access to

has grown in leaps and bounds over the

ple are driven to achieve the best they

a great career path. It seemed more im-

past 15 years.

can, regardless of who they are, where

portant for me to be a great colleague,

they come from, their background, their

being truly motivated and passionate

race, gender, sexual orientation, faith,

about what I loved rather than where I

etcThe people who helped implement

came from or which school I went to. I

this work culture have truly ingrained

think this mindset is what made me stay.

Betsson held a season of Diversity and Inclusion Conferences this year, how was your experience as an attendee?

it on every level – and the results are

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I was truly impressed at how serious

sion events that Betsson organizes and

these events are taken, and at the sup-

encourage them to send some of their

port and backing these conferences

staff to these and similar events.

get across the board. Betsson has taken the initiative to go beyond simple ceremonial events and managed to put together such a strong event with inspiring and knowledgeable speakers. The Conference in London this year was a

The company also nominates and attends the Women in Gaming Diversity & Inclusion Awards for many years now, have you been to these in previous years?

true success. Several woman AND men

When you were sitting there listening to all the finalist names and of course yours, can you remember what you were thinking? I must confess, hearing the resumes and achievements of my colleagues and fellow nominees made me think “there’s no way I can compete”.I could see and got the chance to meet amazing and dy-

were present from different compa-

I have heard of the Women in Gaming

namic women who were so deserving to

nies andindustries. This reallyshowed

Diversity & Inclusion Awards for many

this award. This just goes to show that

and helped strengthen the importance

years in the past but only attended re-

your work, drive and commitment is tru-

of diversity and inclusion, recognising

cently the 2021 and 2022 ones… I must

ly recognised, even when perhaps you

those who put their heart and souls into

admit, 2021 was my personal favourite!

are not even sure yourself how much

their work – whatever roles they hold. In a nutshell I must say Betsson is on a fantastic path with these events, and I hope I will be able to attend many more.

this goes noticed – both in the company

Indeed we know of course that last year (2021) you won Young Leader of the Year at the WIG Diversity Awards, did you expect to win?

Moreover, I believe every company

and the industry as a whole. Moreover, taking the award on behalf of Betsson was a brilliant experience. I personally feel that this award is as much

needs to take note of similar events and

Not at all. Being nominated was already

theirs as it is mine. Teamwork always

make them part of their staff’s learn-

such a great honour and filled me with

makes the dream work as they say!

ing and development programs. Every-

such pride, and to be honest that feeling

one should be present and be able to

was already quite overwhelming. Being

share their stories and learn why diver-

recognised in the industry was already

sity and inclusion are fundamental for

a huge win to me. Actually winning the

every company’s success. I take this

award was something truly special and

opportunity to invite other companies

a moment I will never forget.

to take note of the Diversity and Inclu-

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When your name was announced as the winner, wereyou nervous going on stage and making your acceptance speech?


Laura Peretta Exclusive Interview

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I was – figuratively and literally – speechless. Not for a moment had I pre-planned any words to say should the impossible become possible – and it probably showed for a minute there for whoever was present that night, a few tears I must admit. But seeing so many women supporting me gave me the strength to deliver one of my first speeches on stage ever. I learned my lesson, always be prepared. I guess you can never know what can happen.

One of the great things about the WIG Diversity Awards is the amazing support each winner receives from not just colleagues but other companies cheering, what you think of this Laura? The feeling you get once you receive your first award is unmatched. I have received support and encouragement fromso many people since then, that it seems like my win and celebration was theirs too. From my side, the celebration was one for my entire team, not for any one individual. At the end of the day, it is all about celebrating hard work and changes within our industry.

women and diversity within the industry and do you think more companies should be involved?

But no time to rest on my laurels, we

given me more opportunities to meet

went back to work more driven than

talented people but has also given me

ever. Women working in gaming show

more responsibilities with more chal-

a more united front and express genu-

lenges –I was first nominated as a pro-

ine solidarity with each other because

motions manager and then went on as a

They are Crucial. Acknowledgment and

remember, in such a young and new in-

Supplier Relations Manager - a real pro-

appreciation for delivering results is a

dustry, it is no easy feat to move forward

gress and growth within Betsson.

big incentive in everything we do - be

and succeed if not with the support

it in our professional lives or our per-

and dedication of every member in the

But this award has not only affected my

sonal endeavors. I have been genuinely

team. Having said that, the support I ex-

role and work in a positive way but also

touched by how important these diver-

perience at Betsson and iGaming comes

affected me personally as I have gained

sity initiatives have been embraced by

from everyone, men and women.

so much more confidence. It helped me

everyone, and I am thankful to having

go through this “imposter syndrome”

contributed a small part to this end. It is

which is so much more common than

a no brainer for more companies to be

we think – and to show I have been very

involved and for more women to look

thankful to win another award a couple

onwards and upwards.

Has anything changed for you since winning the award? Moments like these invigorate you to

of months later. We just all need to start

work harder and aim even higher. It is

somewhere!

truly rewarding for anyone to see concrete results of their work, and winning this award was a realchance. Becoming Young Leader of the Year has not only

I am sure that WiG Diversity Awards has, and will continue changing more lives in

Before we let you go Laura, how important do you feel the WIG Diversity Awards in recognizing

the upcoming years.

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GAMING NEWS

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California Sports Betting Battle Tops $500 Million

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he battle for control over the Golden State’s prospective sports betting market has been a brutal affair. For some months now, the race for the keys to a particular lucrative treasure trove has been between two measures; Proposition 26, backed by 58 of California’s native tribal entities, and Proposition 27, advocated by a number of the U.S’ biggest commercial sportsbook operators. Such is the scale of the bounty on offer, both sides have thrown millions of dollars into marketing campaigns, desperate to convince the Californian electorate of the merits of their respective proposalsprior to November’s ballot box vote. It’s now been revealed that these colossal efforts have been facilitated by over $500m in funding donations, with support

coming through a number of different channels. Make no mistake, this has been an unprecedented level of spending. Indeed, perhaps perfectly illustrating the scale of expenditure, the California Secretary of State’s office commented that a usual measure featuring in a referendum would command around $10m in support payments. Proposition 26, commissioned by the ‘Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming’, which, if passed, would legalize sports betting in retail outlets based in tribal casinos and state racetracks, has received approximately $151.5m in donations so far. The Coalition has concentrated its efforts in challenging the ‘charitable’ claims made by its rival, which are evident in the official title of Proposition 27, ‘Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, Mental

Health, and Addiction’. However, the commercial sports betting firms advocating this proposal, such as industry giants FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM, have doubled down on their commitment to the aforementioned causes, and dismissed allegations that their campaign header purely serves as a clever marketing ploy. Given the financial strength of its sponsors, Proposition 27 campaign messages have found their way onto TV magazine shows and radio advertisements, whilst franchises carry the branding of its funding operators on the front of their jerseys. To press, the measure has been backed with $369,931,682 worth of donations.

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GAMING NEWS

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New York’s Sports Betting Performance Below Par

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perators in New York have presided over unprecedented handle figures since the inception of the state’s sports betting market in early January. A launch month wagering return of $1.67bn emphatically announced the Empire State’s arrival into the sportsbook sector, and immediately served to solidify its position as the industry’s most lucrative U.S jurisdiction. However, in terms of its financial performance, New York’s inaugural month remains its strongest to press. Clearly, that astronomical figure would have always been challenging to eclipse, but a concerning pattern began to emerge towards the Spring. Between April and July, New York’s handle numbers steadily declined,

resulting in the state dipping below the $1bn threshold for the first time in July. True, the traditional lull in the U.S sporting calendar can partially explain such dwindling returns, but a second consecutive month to register a total south of $1bn has raised one or two early Autumnal alarm bells. Indeed, in August, New York residents placed $872.2m worth of bets, a 9% uplift on the previous month, but still some way short of previous monthly tallies. Encouragingly however, gross gaming revenue climbed to $99.6m, a significant, 35% improvement on July’s $73.6m. Local sports betting stakeholders will be hoping the onset of the NFL season, which commenced last weekend, will propel more players to wager in September.

New York’s sports wagering theatre is dominated by betting giant FanDuel, who are headquartered in New York City. The operator was accountable for delivering 43% of the state’s total handle volume, generating a staggering $46.6m in gross gaming revenue in the process. BallyBet undertook its first full trading month, after becoming the latest enterprise to gain a New York license in July. The Rhode Island-based outfit took $1m in bets throughout the duration of August, earning just short of 100k in revenue.

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From Enforcer to Terminator Gambling’s New AML Challenge

By Christina Thakor-Rankin

A

sk operators and they will tell you that the regulator they fear the most is the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and rightly so. The UK regulator is responsible for just under 50% of the total £104 million gambling regulators have issued in fines so far this year (https://gamblingindustryfines.com). The remainder is made up of fines issued by gambling regulators in Sweden, Canada, the USA and Australia. InSweden, Canada and USA the focus has been mainly social responsibility and marketing infringements, but Australia is emulating the UK and placing more and more emphasis on AML. The first sign of this came in October this year when the NSW regulator issued Star Casino with a whopping £55 million (AU$100m) for facilitating money laundering. AUSTRAC is just warming up. In September, and barely a month after they were fined a record £17m by the UK regulator, the Australian financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC, (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) announced that it was launching an investigation into Entain. And earlier this month announced that it was now also looking into two other operators,

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Sportsbet, and the mighty Bet365. Elsewhere, earlier this year, China arrested and indictedMacau’s ‘junket king’ on charges or illegal gambling and money laundering, and introduced a new law that forgesstronger links between gambling and AMLand even greater powers of enforcement in relation to. And whilst the Swedish gambling regulator has yet to take action against an operator, this year saw the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) fine two payment providers, the Trustly Group and ClearOn, a total of SEK130(c. £10m) for ‘severe’ shortcomings in their management of risk and customers in relation to their biggest business area - gambling. AML is becoming a common theme. And this is just the beginning. Gambling operators across the world need to wake up to the fact that from hereon in things are only going to get tougher. Earlier this year, FAFT (the Financial Action Task Force) issued a new set of recommendations detailing how member states in the European Union should assess risks in the fight against money

laundering and terrorist financing- click here for info The report highlighted two key highrisk areas that required re-assessment and re-evaluation: crypto-assets and online gambling.The result of this is reevaluation is a report to the European parliament which lists the ‘Gambling sector’as a high-risk category in its own right - and no longer as just another subject entity grouped alongside other sectors such as financial institutions, estate agents, lawyers, etc. It also expands the scope of the regulations from casino to all types of gambling and all sectors: (1) Betting; (2) Bingo; (3) Casino; (4) Gaming machines; (5) Lotteries; (6) Poker; and (7) Online gambling, land-based/off-line (and gaming machines outside casinos). The identification of risks and recommendations is also expanded to include reference to:accumulators, hedging, match-fixing, pre-paid cards, crypto-assets, ‘mules’, ‘smurfs’, and ‘ghost matches’, ‘fruit machines’, ‘TITO’, electronic monitoring and identification.


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electronic monitoring and identification. It does not stop there. The report also includes the requirement to consider ‘exchangeable tokens’ (could this apply to bonus funds perhaps?) as a crypto asset, and a recommendation to reduce the current €2,000 AML threshold for due diligence checks to a much lower value. This is HUGE on so many levels - and its impact on gambling operators and the industry should not be underestimated. It also means that every gambling regulator in Europe in its capacity as a ‘supervisory authority’ now has to make money laundering a key aspect of its compliance and enforcement framework and across all types of gambling, not just casinos as has been the case previously. This new report comes ahead of the establishment of a new centralised EU AML authority (‘AMLA’) due to be implemented in 2024 and whose role is to create a single EU rule book for

AML/CFT by overseeing the implementation and enforcement of the ‘6th Money Laundering Directive’, which includes 22 predicate offences including failure to supervise, and sanctions that include uncapped fines and closure of the business. Operators will need to consider the dual threat of not just gambling regulators sharing information and taking a lead from each other (- is it really just a coincidence that the Australian AML regulator announced it was investigating Entain just after the UK regulator fine?), but also a centralised European agency able to share information with it’s peers across the world, and a new reality where a sanction by one regulator automatically triggers others to also investigate Those outside of Europe should also take heed. There is little comfort for those operating from .com hubs with the firstly shining a light on Malta, and now on Gibraltar, where they are hoping to see significant fines. Whether this extends to the Isle of Man and Alderney waits

to be seen, but irrespective, both will be required to have something by way of equivalent regulations if they want to be able to do business with Europe. And anyone operating out of Curacao should be mugging up on the Netherlands regulations as a blueprint for things to come. And for the rest of the world. The FATF is an international organization responsible for preserving the integrity of the global financial eco-system. It’s recommendations are applied internationally. This means that if it considers gambling to be a high-risk activity in Europe, then it also sees gambling as a high-risk activity everywhere else too. For operators everywhere else it is only a matter of time before they start to feel the pinch of the new recommendations. For those licensed in the UK, sleepless nights for fear of what the regulator could do are a way of life. For those who are not - welcome to our world.

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GREENTUBE ROADMAP FOR 2023

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ith a new year on the horizon, Infinity Gaming Magazine looks back at a selection of the best games to be released by Greentube over the last twelve months as they prepare to dazzle players with their impressive 2023 roadmap. The Vienna-headquartered company enjoyed a spate of success having released games in over 30 markets that make use of its most innovative mechanics and features including the legendaryDiamond Link™ and Cash Connection™features. The Diamond Link™ feature offers players the opportunity to trigger one of four jackpots. These jackpots can be found in all Diamond Link™ slots, with additional bonuses, rewards and features such as Wild Spin, Sticky Spin and Colossal Spin that vary from game

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to game. Greentube’s Cash Connection™ series of slots also gives players an opportunity to win lucrative jackpot prizes via its Lock & Spin feature that sees special symbols locked in place whilst resetting free spins occur, paying out huge cash prizes. Both of these legendary features have found their way into a multitude of top performing Greentube releases, gaining a global following in regulated markets around the world. It comes as absolutely no surprise that the games we’re about to review have earned a reputation for themselves as the studio’s most popular releases in the last year.

Diamond Link: Mighty Santa With the festive season quickly approaching, it would be remiss of us to not start by looking back atDiamond Link: Mighty Santa.Released in Novem-

ber 2021, this tongue-in-cheek slot changes all perceptions we might have had about Santa Claus, as he appears as you’ve never seen him before. This hardcore version of Santa is mean, lean and tattooed, with a unique style


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that sees him better suited to delivering beatings as opposed to Christmas cheer. Accompanied by an equally mean reindeer, Mighty Santa can hand out jackpots worth up to 1,000x the player’s total bet. Diamond Link: Mighty Santa boasts a multitude of in-game features that spice up gameplay including Wild Spin, Sticky Spin and Colossal Spin features. The Wild Spin feature sees players granted a free spin with a random number of wilds in play, the Sticky Spin feature sees players receive a free spin in which all wining symbols are locked in place and additional re-spins are awarded, and the Colossal Spin feature sees the middle three reels host a giant symbol for a single free spin. Should players be lucky enough to land six diamonds anywhere on the game reels, they will be transported to the game’s headline Diamond Link feature. As an extra gift,Santa offersplayers additional chances to trigger that sixth diamond if they narrowly miss out by a single symbol. Cash Connection™ - Golden Book of Ra™

Released in September of this year, Cash Connection™ – Golden Book of Ra™ added a brand-new dimension to one of the world’s most recognisable and iconic slot franchises. This high volatility 5-reel, 10 payline slot delivers all the gameplay fans of the franchise have come to know and love and but boosted with the addition of the Lock & Spin feature. Triggered whenever six or more coin symbols land on the game reels during base gameplay, this feature sees players collect free spins for a Free Games mode that will kick-start once the Lock & Spin feature comes to an end. Before the Free Games can begin, a special expanding symbol is chosen from the iconic Book of Ra.This symbol will expand to cover three positions on the game reels and pays for all lines. The biggest wins in Cash Connection™ – Golden Book of Ra™ can trigger whenever players manage to fill every single space on the game reels with special coin symbols during the Lock & Spin feature, awarding the GRANDjackpot.

Cash Connection™ – Voodoo Magic™ One of Greentube’s most recent slot releases, Halloween-inspired hit Voodoo Magic™, is filled to the brim with magical win potential, a spellbinding Lock & Spin feature and most importantly four lucrative jackpots. This 5-reel, 243 payline title follows the traditional Cash Connection™ format that sees players trigger the Lock & Spin bonus, offering them three resettable free spins. During the bonus round, coin symbols are locked in place upon landing on the reels, allowing players the opportunity to fill the reels with every additional free spin coins. Whenever these coins appear, the free spin counter resets back to three. Jackpot hunters can rejoice that Cash Connection™ – Voodoo Magic™ features two local jackpots and two progressive ones that are shared with other titles in the Cash Connection™ series of games. The game’s GRAND jackpot can be won during the Lock & Spin feature when players manage to land 15 coins, filling the entire screen with prizes.

INFINITY GAMING



GAMING NEWS

Seven Companies Apply for Paraguay Sports Betting

T

he process of establishing a nationwide sportsbook franchise, which would be permitted to operate in all but one of Paraguay’s seventeen regional provinces, has entered its next stage. The South American state’s native gambling regulation enforcer, Conjzar, has this week confirmed that seven parties have formally applied to acquire the five-year franchise license, which would permit one of these suitors to run a federalized, countrywide, sports betting enterprise. Conjzar have pursued an aggressive advertising campaign, as they look to generate energy and credibility around a nascent market which they

believe to be soon worth approximately $500m per annum. There’s certainly be no shortage of national interest, with many of the country’s most prominent sportsbook firms entering their hat into the ring. Jockey Club Paraguay 7, Saltos SA, Consortium B Gaming, Consortium Empresa Fun, Hy Hao Yun SA, and Daruma SA, who facilitates its operations through the Aposta.LA retail betting brand base in Greater Asuncion. There is also an independent bid from local businessman Luis Carlos Adler Benitez. The successful applicant will be able to offer sportsbook odds in all districts, with the exception of the capital municipality.

The franchise model has faced criticism from several observers, no less than the APOJA, a prominent Paraguayan trades body, who assert current gambling legislation does not allow passage to this style of industry. The group also challenged whether handing a contract of such proportions to a single entity was in the market’s best interests, and suggested Conjzar focus would be better spent on improving Paraguay’s existing regulatory framework.

INFINITY GAMING


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Genting’s Move to Acquire a Macau Gaming Licence By Ryan Murray

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asino operators in Macau must feel as if the gloom which has descended over their enterprises of late will never shift. A series of unprecedented challenges have presented themselves over the last two years, with the latest a potential nail in the proverbial coffin for one of the territory’s six gambling powerhouses. Indeed, despite the tumultuous events catalysed by the coronavirus crises, which proceeded Genting’s licensing application prior to last month’s submission deadline, the Malaysian firm’s last-minute inclusion in the tendering process could serve as the biggest threat to any one of Macau’s discerning casino giants. True, if one of the port-city’s operators are to miss out on renewal, it would be difficult to imagine a more bitter pill to swallow. Concessionaires in what was the

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world’s most lucrative gaming strip, have been battered from pillar to post in recent times. The onset of the harrowing COVID-19 pandemic may have signalled the starting point for this protracted, turbulent period, but there has been more to this storyline than issues exclusively connected to curbing the spread of infection. True, even before problems began to surface in earnest, this chapter of Macanese gaming was always set to be laced with an element of drama and ambiguity. The state’s twenty-year-old licensing framework, established in 2002 to address the local hegemony enjoyed by gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, was rapidly moving into its conclusive phase. Therefore, as 2020 approached, thoughts naturally began to shift to how Macau would take the opportunity to reform its gaming landscape as its structural components neared their review. A new bill would need to be constructed,

agreed, and integrated, whilst operators would likely need to re-acclimatise to a significantly different environment, one which would be more reflective of contemporary influences, such as player protection and social responsibility, which have significantly risen in stature throughout the intervening two decades. However, the situation soon became even more complex last year, when Macau’s long-running junket industry came under fierce scrutiny from Beijing. Although the Chinese are often rightly positioned as the interfering older brother in affairs which are supposedly devolved to Macau’s legislature, in this case, it’s difficult to place blame at the feet of Communist Party officials in the north. Numerous arrests were made as authorities uncovered a deeply embedded culture of money laundering and illicit financial conduct, forged via links


23

to criminal syndicatesin the mainland

the last twenty years. Genting’s role as

investment in the leisure sector con-

and beyond. Perhaps the highest-profile

the ‘seventh’ contender means that, for

tinues to build growth. Indeed, the firm

case, involving much-maligned Suncity

the first time, current incumbent licence

have a number of thriving theme parks,

chief Alvin Chau, revealed the extent to

holders will have to stave off competi-

including two immensely popular sites

which Macau’s VIP sector had become

tion from a rival bidder. Yet, this reality

in native Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur-

poisoned by the illegal operations of

for Macau’s bruised operators is all the

headquartered group also have several

junket profiteers, with tax evasion,

more virulent when one assesses the

revenue streams in mainland China,

fraud, and more sinister offences all fre-

credentials of the competing candidate.

no less than theGenting Resort Secret

quently taking place.

Garden, which hosted freestyle skiing In stark contrast to the fortunes experi-

and snowboarding events at the Beijing

Therefore, even with the cutting impact

enced by those operating within Maca-

Winter Olympics earlier this year. True,

of the coronavirus crisis aside, Macau’s

nese borders, Genting’s revenues have

such is the scale of success in Genting’s

operators have been forced to navigate

now returned to pre-pandemic levels,

non-gambling ventures, approximately

a treacherous path over the last 24

benefiting from increased consumer

35% of company revenue is secured

months or so. Nevertheless, they must

spending in regions such as south-east

away from the gaming table.

now summon the energy to protect their

Asia, North America and Europe, as the

status as one of the former Portuguese

process of gradual abandonment of cor-

These profitable endeavours are not

colony’s six gaming license holders, as a

onavirus-driven social restrictions nears

only useful in supporting financial per-

seventh prospective suitor circles omi-

full completion. In contrast, revenues in

formance, but also conspire to make

nously above.

the city-state have shrunk dramatically,

their licencing application, for reasons

with casino venues haemorrhaging al-

other than current fiscal prowess, far

Although Macau’s General Assembly

most two-thirds of their GGR in 2021

more appealing to Chinese lawmakers.

amended a host of long-held regula-

compared to the lastfull year of trading

For years, the Xi Jinping administration

tions when producing its newly-estab-

unimpacted by the virus.

has put pressure on the Macanese au-

lished gaming reform bill, which in turn

thorities to diversify the state’s trading

set the tone for the licensing conditions

Moreover, Genting’s suite of commercial

reach, focusing on markets aside from

tethered to the territory’s gambling

interests, which involves both gaming

its lucrative gambling space. Beijing will

marketplace, one directive remained

and non-gaming enterprises, provides a

argue their guidance has been vindicat-

consistent – the number of available

genuine platform for exponential future

ed in recent times, with the pandemic

operator licences. Since 2002, just six

growth. Involvement with the hospital-

emphatically exposing the region’s

gaming permits have been in circulation

ity industry, which includes 40% own-

over-reliance on its gaming sector, and

at any one time, despite these changing

ership of an ongoing project in Macau,

in particular its now fallen junket sec-

hands on several occasions throughout

has garnered impressive returns, whilst

tor. True, prominent market analyst

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JOIN THE EPIC BATTLE ON 13th DECEMBER. www.gamomat.com


GAMING NEWS

25

Albania Set for Sports Betting U-Turn

L

awmakers in Albania have opted to legalize sports betting, a mere four years since the country decided to outlaw all gambling verticals. Aside from a negligible number of casino enterprises, Albania put a halt on gaming and sportsbook operator activity at the end of 2018. However, given the current financial climate, with rising energy prices, a cost-of-living crisis, and markets still recovering from the harrowing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, European governments are having to think creatively about how additional funds can be generated to support their respective ailing economies. It’s believed that a significant €17m in taxation payments would be levied

each year in a newly re-formed sports betting sector, which would be likely mainly re-invested into Albania’s sporting infrastructure, and towards their national athlete pool. Banning the overwhelming majority of gambling establishment has served to push activity underground, with arrests an all too regular occurrence. Advocates of legislating a renewed sports wagering bill have suggested that both age and maximum bet limits should be imposed, and Prime Minister Edi Rama has asserted that any reintroduction of sports betting would be subjected to ‘extreme conditions’ that would help authorities to closely monitor and regulate the marketplace. Incumbent Commanding Director of

the State Police, Tonin Vocaj, who only just assumed his new role last month, has expressed his support towards the move, but was quick to stress his opposition towards a re-engagement of ‘games of chance’. Unfortunately, the re-legalization of sportsbooks will come into effect from 1st January 2023 – just thirteen days after this year’s World Cup final in Qatar – surely a substantial opportunity missed.

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26

GAMING REGULATORS ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

By Tim Cullimore

E

ver since the early days of the type of casino which approximated those we see today there have been some aspects of operations that won’t have changed. Whether in 1912 when the grand casino in Deauville, Northern France opened, or even earlier in 1824 when the Kurhaus and Casino, opened in the chic German wellness resort of BadenBaden, first became prominent there has always been one bone of contention, the controlling authorities and the related taxation. For what seems like forever casinos have been in a constant battle with the neighbourhood gaming police, or perhaps more often in the early days with the local tax inspector. Every jurisdiction has its particular peculiarities surrounding the relationship between the controlling authorities and the casino operators. In Great Britain visiting Gaming Board inspectors would tie themselves in knots when reluctantly accepting a cup of tea, making a very important point of not show-

INFINITY GAMING

ing favour or being considered too familiar with the casino management. Conversely in France it has always been felt important that the inspectors of the Police des Jeux are familiar with the day-to-day operations in the casino so therefore a semi-permanent table in the casino restaurant was believed to be of the utmost necessity. When, some years ago, I was visiting the Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission in Melbourne, Australia I was amazed to find they had their own suite of offices in the casino itself, and a video surveillance room for their own use. And of course, the famously rigorous Nevada Gaming Control Board has powers that some sovereign countries would envy. So, I think it is a safe bet to say that despite all the differences in how casinos are regulated there has always been a certain “them and us” attitude from the casino management, and that back in Deauville after the successful

debut of that magnificent casino the Directeur Générale must have sat back behind his desk, puffed on his cigar and thought about what exactly he had to do to keep the inspectors at bay, muchas his counterparts do today, over a century later. There is though I think one difference in the managementof casinos from then to now and that is how senior casino executives are perceived. Back in the day the top guys (and yes back then it was alas always guys) would have been pillars of their community, the top dogs, the best around, respected on a par with the Mayor or local bank manager. They were chosen for being well respected and perhaps a little feared, but no one would question their knowledge and ability.


Tim Cullimore Article

So how is it that today, across the world, corporations are being held to account due to the lax management within their operation, and this applies to both land based and on-line activities. We have the extraordinary stories coming out of Star Casino in Sydney, Australia, with quotes such as “not suitable to be concerned in or associated with the management and operation of a casino”. Then we have the £9.4m fine given to 888 UK Ltd for both social responsibility and money laundering failures. Now, I have been in casino senior management for a very long time, and I recognize the pressures executives are under to maximise financial gain, or at least to minimise those elements that can depress profit, but the disconnect

27

between operational profit making and any sort of compliance awareness seems difficult to comprehend, and is frankly baffling.

enough, smart enough, and perhaps tough enough to block all activities which may put the whole corporate edifice in danger of collapsing.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about how these issues may arise, and the two things I keep coming back to are firstly the myopic focus on customer retention by the operations and marketing teams, and secondly what I perceive as a lack of understanding of day-to-day operations on the gaming floor or web site by the compliance team.

I know that the companies I mentioned earlier are massive operations, but communication in today’s corporate environment should be second nature, and if the compliance department is so divorced from daily gaming activities a new structure needs to be found, and quickly.

How is it that gaming and marketing can circumvent all the checks and balances put in place to avoid the very problems that arise, and how come the compliance department isn’t quick

I am sure that the new people brought in rectify the errors of previous administrations will give these issues their full attention, but even the brightest can be side-tracked by events, and unless they have truly dedicated compliance officers in place, and only if the

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Tim Cullimore Article

operations teams are 100% committed to the cause of effective social responsibility programmes and AML procedures, and only if they all have the complete support of the highest levels of management will a company do the right thing for the right reasons, which is not to defend the prevailing corporate orthodoxies, but to operate in an environment where criminals cannot prosper and the vulnerable cannot be harmed. Most of us who have worked in customer facing roles have participated in training to help us better understand what we need to do to uphold stringent social responsibility and AMLpractises. But how many members of the compliance departments who have not come up through the gaming ranks, who have perhaps trained in legal or accountancy, have been given thorough and serious training and been given proper experience of front

29

of house activities. If this is not the case it is no wonder that communications are so bad, and that senior management are left blind sided when a major issue arises. Who polices the police? If there isn’t an independent agencycontinually giving oversight and feeding back impartially to the CEO and Board members, mistakes will continue to be made, and they are very expensive. And I am not talking about an auditor coming in once a year to give either a gold star or a black mark, but an agency that has no fear or favour and answers to no one but the Board and shareholders, because as we know, corporateresponsibility means that one of these days a whole board of directors will be up in front of the judge. So as James Marshall Hendrix so presciently asked, “Are You Experienced?”.

Hands up all those who still think Land based and Online Casino gaming activities are not the same industry and are mutually exclusive. Tell that to the companies that are lining up to buy properties in France with the law expected to be changed in some nottoo-distant future to allow some form of online gaming. To risk repeating myself (yes, those who know me will tell you that is a recurring occurrence), Land-based needs Online to maintain a relationship with its clients, especially when the physical bond is broken (anyone recall Covid?) and Online should be looking for a “Shop Window” in the corporal world, to maintain trust and give the impression of permanence. Watch the industry as this phenomenon grows.

Marriage of Convenience

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Genting Macau Article

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firm from Macau’s strip. True, with a strong Chinese presence in its leadership personnel and a more regionalized presence than several other licensed firms, Genting would surely be deemed a more fitting candidate when filtered through the lens of Chinese foreign policy. Ben Lee, the creator of reputable gaming consultancy firm IGamiX, has endorsed this notion, suggesting ‘it’s probably the right opportunity for Beijing to remove one American (operator), if not two’. Time will tell whether such a resolute action will materialise.

We won’t have to wait long to see if Genting’s potentially ground-breaking efforts have proved successful. The delayed publication of the special administrative region’s gambling reform bill resulted in the current regulatory framework technically elapsing, and therefore the industry is in essence operating on borrowed time. In early 2023, a new era of Macanese gaming must commence, Samuel Yin Shao Yang, of financial ser-

be in essence promoting the case of

where increased authority control, fur-

vices group Maybank,remarks, ‘Macau

a business whose commercial results

ther transparency, anda rising threshold

has been told over and over again to

have been secured in trading condi-

of social responsibility will be the new

focus less on Chinese VIPS and more on

tions at odds with the environmentXi

order of the day. Perhaps a fresh face

non-gaming, but they pretty much paid

Jinping’s government have enforced

will accompany these changes….

lip service to that idea. So now, they

upon Macau’s ailing group of operators.

have to really make a hard divert to that

Some have suggested, such as Terry Ng

philosophy’. Genting’s myriad income

Indeed, China’s zero-COVID policy has

of Hong Kong-based sports brand Dai-

channels will therefore undoubtedly

down much to undermine casino rev-

wa, that a re-configuration of the status

offera proposition which alignsfar more

enue generation, and thrown Macanese

quo would pre-empt ‘far too much dis-

with China’svision for the region.

concessionaires on a path of seemingly

ruption’ in already testing times. How-

unrelenting decline. Rolling lockdowns,

ever, it seems there are several reasons

If this dynamic does serve to promote

mandatory face-mask wearing, harsh

why Genting’s incorporation would

the Malaysian operator’s case, a painful

quarantine rules, travel restrictions,

help rather than hinder, with a strategy

sense of irony won’t be lost on Macau’s

and the widespread requirement to

likely to bepolitically agreeable to Ma-

six current licensees. True, Genting’s ex-

frequently produce negative COVID-19

cau andBeijing, and, most importantly,

pansion plan has been driven by acces-

tests, have all served to significantly de-

financially advantageous to the region’s

sibility to various international markets,

stabilize the local economy, which, as

wounded gaming sector.

however, more importantly, it’s been

aforementioned, is index-linked to the

able to sell its products, in land-based

fortunes of its gaming giants.

establishments, to millions of consum-

At the moment one can only speculate, but perhaps, for one unlucky licensee,

ers – a luxury not afforded to Macanese

Escalating Sino-U.S. tensions may also

a lengthy pitch on the planet’s most lu-

casino interests. Therefore, should Chi-

inject hope into Genting’s cause, as

crative casino strip is coming to an end.

nesesupport for Tan Sri Lum’s Genting

Communist Party officials may take the

empire become a factor, Beijing would

opportunity to oust an American-based

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32

Slot Management 101

How to ‘Control’ your slots of problems! By Andy Cosgrove You defined, measured,analyzed and improved your slots of problems and your boss is now waiting for you to fail!No more running. It’s time to sustain your improvements and taste success.

I

n my previous article we focused on the improvement phase of Six Sigma where we turned the practical problem of bill validators rejecting at a high rate into a statistical problem with the goal of finding a statistical solution prior to implementing a practical solution. The last phase of the Six Sigma methodology is where we attempt to ensure thatthe gainsmade with our projectremain in place. We’ve designed your bill validator maintenance plan to perfection and now it’s time to turn your statistical solution into an operational masterpiece that might even convince your boss to give you and your team a pay rise without even asking for it! The Control phase can be broken down as follows:

INFINITY GAMING

• Lean Controls • Defects Control • Statistical Process Control • Six Sigma Control Plans Lean Controls – Lean Tools add the discipline required to further sustain gains from your well thought out bill validator maintenance project. The root cause of any Six Sigma project is waste and using Lean Tools will result in the kind of waste eliminationthat will help reduce bill validator errors, improve performance and boost customer satisfaction levels. Lean controls are designed to be used together so it’s essential that the necessary controls and management support are in place to ensure a sustainable outcome.The main Lean tools are as follows:

• Workspace organisation – The use of the “5S” practices that lead to a clean and manageable work area. • Visual factory–visual aids that identify opportunities for improvement such as decreasing bill validator downtime or minimizing inventory. • Standardized work – including standard operating procedures and maintenance schedules. • Kaizen – Is the philosophy of continuous improvement that can take your bill validator from rejecting 1 bill out of 10 to 1 out of 10,000 and to accepting bills 99.99% of the time. • Kanban – Inventory control method designed to minimize waste and keep your bill validators accepting at their optimal pace while minimizing costs.


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Defects Control–The best way to defect prevention is to design it right into the product or process as follows • Via product / process design – such as using high quality products and best practices that ensure that optimal bill validator acceptance rates are achieved • Via full automation – this could includesystems that monitor you bill validator performance such as automated error log’s, and acceptance rate reports. • Process interruption – technology such as automatic “machine disabling” technology that can be used to deactivate a slot machine when a bill validator rejects above a defined rate. • Mistake proofing – usingcloud based maintenance schedules that send email alerts if the bill validator maintenance hasn’t been done. Statistical Process Control (SPC)– statistical techniques are used to monitor and manage performance. As we already know performance is determined by how the inputs (cur-

rent maintenance strategy) effect the output (bills being accepted). When applying SPC it’s important to know that the only way to control the output is by controlling the inputs that directly contribute towards the desired result. In other words, the more effective the design of your bill validator maintenance programme, the higher your bill acceptor rate will be. SPC includes the following: • Control methods (ranked by effectiveness) 1. Countermeasure – process improvement designed to eliminate the defect (improved method of transferring credits to your slot machine) 2. Flag – a built in process that will detect an error (live bill validator error reporting) 3. Inspection – short term containment (Supervisor makes regular quality audits) 4. SPC by fully trained operators – Stats are monitored to detect bill validator errors by trained staff

5. SOP’s – procedures are developed so that users perform best practices 6. Simple SPC’s – Reports exist but are not used effectively • Special Cause Tests – there are 8 available tests for detecting variation in your process that include the use of control charts todetect abnormal standard deviation measurement points from the central line(known as outliers) based on upper and lower control limits for acceptable performance. For example, if your normal bill validator rejection rate is one in one hundred and it jumps to 1 in 10, this will show on your charts as outside of the acceptable bill rejection rate limits. Control Plans–The last (but not least) component of the control phase is the control plan. The first part of the control plan is selecting the solution where considerations must be made regarding the impact,the cost and the time required to implement the improvement

INFINITY GAMING



Andy Cosgrove Article

before moving forward. Six Sigma uses a template known as an‘Improvement Matrix’ where process outputs are rated in terms of importance to the process. The outputs are rated against the potential process improvements (the inputs) that you will implement to optimize the bill acceptance rate of your slot machines. The highest rated improvements become the first to be implemented. The second part of the control plan are the control plan elements which are as follows: • The training Plan – address who will be impacted by the improvement plan, who needs to be trained to maintain your bill validators and who is qualified enough to train the staff • Documentation plan – is necessary ensure that what has been learned from the project is shared and institutionalized. Documents include Process Maps, flow diagrams and SOP’s. In order to keep records accurate, responsibilities must be assigned, and approval processes implemented.

35

• Monitoring plan – Assures gains are achieved and sustained and provides insight for future improvement activities • Response plan – Outlines processes to follow when, for example, all your bill validators decide to reject everything and create panic in your casino. • Aligning systems and structures – Are the basis for allowing people to change their behaviors permanently and include setting new performance goals, new policies and procedures and employee incentives Conclusion – Now it’s time to take your new bill validator maintenance strategy live which you can now do with the upmost confidence because after defining, measuring, analysing, improving and controlling the way your bill validators will function, you can now enjoy the moment and watch them perform like a winning formula 1 race car, like an Olympic gold athlete, or even like a symphonic orchestra.

Your customers won’t notice the fruits of your labor, not because they don’t care, but because you successfully used the Six Sigma methodology to meet and exceed their expectations and add the kind of value to their entertainment experience that will keep them coming back for more and make your competitors look on with nothing but admiration. 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 andy.cosgrove@henimgwaycasinoconsulting.com or seehttps://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com/

INFINITY GAMING


36

eca accepts british casinos how does that work? By Ryan Murray

T

he announcement that a handful of UK operators were set to become fully-fledged members of the European Casino Association certainly came as a surprise to many in the gaming industry. In 2020, UK casino interests de-registered from the organization, a development catalysed by Great Britain’s formal exit from the European Union earlier that year. Indeed, the departure of native gambling firms from the continent’s leading casino trade association was hardly surprising, with UK and European relationships cooling across most commercial and industrial sectors, pre-empted by rising tensions in the political theatre between Westminster and Brussels. For many, the movement of UK operators away from the ECA was a natural consequence of the Brexit vote. True, the decision to leave the European Union, a result of the landmark referendum on 23rd June 2016, was more than a simple in/out verdict based on EU policy and governorship. Itrepresented a resounding condemnation of contemporary political discourses, a rejection of the pan-European experiment, and the advent of a movement which has given voice to an apparent ‘silent majority’. If the 52% majority sealed by the Leave campaign at the Brexit ballot box caused some fairly

INFINITY GAMING

seismic tremors, then Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S presidential election, less than five months later, caused reverberations off the political Richter scale. A whole new way of doing things, designed to challenge the socalled ‘established elite’, was well and

withdrawing from the EU was a better idea than continuing affiliation, it would be reasonable to assume that a proportionate number of individuals operating within the gambling sector, whether as senior custodians in casino firms or otherwise, were of the same opinion. Moreover, it’s probable their view on the EU was cultivated from an entrenched feeling of disillusionment and frustration, as opposed to balanced criticism on the operational and legislative tendencies of the organization. By extension, one could safely assume, that a similar opinion regarding the ECA existed, given that the association often aligns itself with the position of EU policy-makers.

But why is all this important when reviewing the impact of the ECA’s proclamation on UK membership?

Indeed, these splits don’t feel like amicable divorces motivated by a series of modest disagreements; more breakdowns in relationships caused by fundamental differences in outlook, forged along deep, divisive lines.

Well, firstly, it allows us to understand and position the importance of British re-admission. Although the political stance of each operator remains unclear, the original decision of all UK companies to cancel their membership two years ago was likely far more than a default reaction to a wider movement of cutting European ties. Given that, ultimately, more Britons believed

Therefore, it seems rather bizarre, that a mere two years on from UK resignation, the European Casino Association now boasts eight British-based enterprises in its roster of members. This notion is further strengthened by the current climate of relations between the UK and European Union, with Johnson and now Truss both making little effort to curry favour with the

truly gathering momentum.


37

supranational body. True, if anything, exchanges between the two camps have become even frostier in recent months. Nevertheless, this is a mutual re-integration process, with both sides demonstrating a substantial level of enthusiasm and resolve towards re-establishing collaborative ways of working. Perhaps, this is an indicator that British businesses are not prepared to sever links quite as readily as successive Conservative administrations. UK efforts to revert back to ECA membership were propelled by Hippodrome Casino Chief Executive, Simon Thomas, a consistent advocate of cross-European co-operation within the gambling industry. ‘’We worked closely with the ECA’s board in order to make it possible for the eight companies to return to the Association’’ said Thomas, commenting on the revitalised relationship, adding ‘’given that we all share the same opportunities and

threats, it was important that we work together towards common goals and share experiences and knowledge. We know that both UK and European casinos stand to benefit through this partnership as we will be able to take advantage of the knowledge base that is shared across the European retail casino sector through the organisation.’’ Thomas’ Hippodrome venue, alongside the seven other well-known UK casino establishments, were inaugurated as ECA members at the bodies’ latest General Assembly meeting, which took place amidst the luxurious surroundings of the Casino Baden resort in Vienna. Officials from Aspers Group, Crown Aspinalls, Genting Casinos UK, Les Ambassadeurs, Mayfair Casino, Rank Group, Metropolitan Gaming, and of course the Hippodrome Casino London, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to secure the UK’s passage back to association membership, whilst also affirming their commitment as individual affiliates of the ECA.

Although a considerable number of analysts will likely deem this a rather odd move, perhaps one can see some advantages in re-registration. A movement which has enjoyed a bourgeoning presence in European land-based casino circles, the ECA stage various gatherings and events in order to promote the status of its member organizations, harness opportunities for networking and collaboration, and agitate positive discussion on social responsibility and gambling care. Furthermore, the European Casino Association facilitates a partnership scheme, open for those involved in a multitude of areas across the industry, including equipment suppliers, software developers, security systems producers, and payment technology experts. This affords the chance for such firms to nurture relationships with their customers, and conversely gives casino operators early access to the latest products and platforms. Yet, it’s difficult to grasp why the eight

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ECA & British Casinos

Yet, it’s difficult to grasp why the eight afore mentioned casino concessionaires would feel it necessary to attend such events, and indeed forge these new connections, when the apparatus to do all this exists within UK borders. Established in 2019, the Betting and Gaming Council offers support to more than 90% of the country’s retail betting outlets, bricks-and-mortar casinos, iGaming platforms, and Bingo companies. Championing the efforts of its members throughout the gambling sector and beyond, the Council is passionate about its role in pushing the threshold of industry standards, helping to breed a culture built on fairness and integrity, and improving how operators are perceived in the public eye. Arguably, the Betting and Gaming Council has done more to positively

39

influence the UK’s gambling agenda in its three-short years in operation than the European Casino Association has achieved in its comparative three decades of existence. On safe gambling, the Council has launched a raft of successful policies and campaigns which have served to make a material change on the way players interact with betting applications and land-based venues. The ‘Bet Regret’ initiative, driving awareness of the risks of problem gambling and how vulnerable players can access support, is funded each year by a colossal investment of £3.8m from its members, and has helped raise awareness and discussion on socially responsible gaming to unprecedented levels. On advertising, the Betting and Gaming Council administer stringent controls on the way its registered members market content to customers, with particular

strides made in underage and footballrelated advertisement policies. The organization’s Player Protection Toolkit, which incorporates a multi-faceted approach to curbing dangerous gameplay, including the integration of ‘APAS’ (Anonymous Player Awareness System) into fixed-odds betting terminals and demanding members commit to industry-acknowledged self-exclusion schemes, has also earned plaudits from a range of sector stakeholders. The ECA have undoubtedly also worked hard to force improvements in how their respective community adopts safer gambling practices. However, it can be reasonably contested that much of their time is spent submerging themselves in bureaucratic conversations concerning regulation, rather than proactively implementing new protection projects.

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ECA & British Casinos

41

Why then, UK gaming firms would feel compelled to register for European Casino Association membership is somewhat of a head-scratcher. True, across many disciplines, to use Simon Thomas’ words, it’s often the case that individuals, businesses, and indeed societies, are ‘stronger together’. Yet, making a concerted effort to join the ranks of an organization that has presided over, at best, an extremely modest impact on the nature of UK gaming law, seems a slightly fruitless endeavour, particularly when there’s a ready-made, more productive equivalent much closer to home. There’s certainly no reason to be overly negative about the re-introduction of the UK into the ECA fold; after all, a body who has limited reach in affecting serious gaming matters is unlikely to be the source of any real headaches for the wider industry. Indeed, this is more about understanding the ‘why’, as opposed to become too bogged down in any concerns. Yet, currently, there seems little in the way of compelling reasons as to why this specific band of operators have opted to pursue ECA registration; true, we mayneed to wait to see whether any deeper motivations manifest themselves. or aggressively championing industry reform.

crumbs as opposed to making tangible contributions to direction-setting.

Indeed, a cursory glance at the European Casino Association’s strategic objectives tells you all you need to know about where their immediate focus is honed. The body seems disproportionately engaged in reviewing EU legislation, attempting in vain to influence decision-making processes which are largely controlled by the political leaders of the European Parliament. Despite its posturing and bluster, the reality is that the ECA is afforded little genuine input into the major regulatory decisions that shape the gaming environments of respective EU members; feeding off policy

Therefore, unfortunately, the association operates as a largely toothless organization, unable to add real value to the continent’s casino-based narrative. In truth, the ECA feels more like the nodding dog of European Union gaming policy, as opposed to a rottweilerprepared to go into battle when required – a development metaphorically summed up by the location oftheir group headquarters, an office block on the Square de Meeus, which is overshadowed by the domineering European Parliament buildings a mere 400m away.

Another consideration is the immediate next steps – will this trigger a domino effect, tempting numerous UK casino companies to swell continental association membership? Or will the buck stop with those who were unveiled as ECA allies at the organization’s September conference? Whatever the outcome, it’s safe to say that its impact on the British gaming sector, unlike the Brexit vote that prompted the initial parting of ways, will surelybe fairly remote.

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GAMING NEWS

43

Illinois Takes Second Spot in U.S Sports Betting

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portsbook operators in Illinois witnessed another staggering monthly revenue return in August, despite presiding over a quiet time in the American major sporting event calendar. Indeed, betting firms in the ‘Prairie State’ generated a colossal $565m in gross gaming revenue throughout the 31 days of August, positioning itself as the second most lucrative U.S jurisdiction within the sports wagering racket. Illinois eclipsed New Jersey’s likefor-like figure by roughly $8m, quite an achievement for a state market just over two years in existence. True, industry expert Dave Briggs, from local analysts PlayIllinois.com, emphasized the importance of this reality in considering the market’s potential scale in

the medium-term, ‘’We are really talking about going back to March of 2020 when all this stated, so to already pass such an established sports betting area as New Kersey, that really shows it’s got quite a future’’ Despite the state’s impressive performance, Illinois GGR was still some way off New York’s barnstorming returns, with the ‘Empire State’ setting the pace amongst inter-U.S. markets since an unprecedented launch in January pre-empted an opening month handle figure of over $1bn. Nevertheless, the same threshold has just been surpassed in relation to Illinois’ progressive revenue, with the vast majority of earnings secured via its mobile sportsbook platforms – just 6% of the overall number since the market’s

inception was procured through inperson sports betting. Furthermore, the state benefited from a sizeable cash injection, receiving just shy of $70m in operator taxation payments through August; accounting for around 40% of the total tax pot accrued since going live. The results, published by the state’s native regulator the Illinois Gaming Board, demonstrated a remarkable 41% uplift on the previous year, and illustrated a monthly run rate of +9% moving out of July.

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To catch a CAT MOVE SWIFTLY By Lynn Pearce

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he one thing I have found out the hard way lately, is that it is impossible to catch a cat, literally and figuratively. My son and his family moved home about a month ago and he took his dog and 3 of the 4 cats with him, however, Fatty (the greedy cat) decided to hide under the Wendy House where it is impossible to get her out. She had seen the other cats being placed into cages and this really freaked her out, as she is very highly strung and my son, together with the entire neighborhood tried to coerce her out by feeding her with catnip and yummy foods, which she would only eat when everyone had left, because of her high anxiety at the time. Every day my son went down to try to get her out and into her new home, but then he had an unfortunate accident and broke his arm, so driving to the house was out

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of the question. This is when I stepped in and continued the battle of catching the cat, going to the house daily, which thankfully is not occupied, as the new owners only arrive in a months’ time, and I had been given permission to get the cat out before they move in. This is proving more difficult than I imagined! Every day I get closer to her, she sits a distance away from me, close enough for me to pounce – and one day I did just that! I pounced, she took off at the speed of lightning and I ended up flat on the ground, headfirst into the sandy patch and covered in food with my mouth full of sand and bits of grass. To say the battle to catch the cat is heating up is an understatement. Unfortunately, right now, I have limited time to sit around and wait for her to emerge from under the Wendy House as I am also trying to launch a new brand and the stress and pressure is enormous. I

will be forced to bring in the animal experts to assist me, which I really wanted to avoid, as I do not want to frighten her unnecessarily – but I am very quickly learning that it is almost impossible to catch a cat! And the bigger the cat, the more difficult – think of lions, jaguars, tigers, leopards and especially cheetahs, who sprint and can accelerate from 0 to 64 mph (103 km/hr) in just 3 seconds, outpacing most racing cars. The speed and agility of cats is incredible. Even the fastest human cannot outrun a cat! Now I understand why they always named Ethernet cables CAT – for fast internet speeds.


Lynn Pearce Article

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Bill Gates wrote a book in 1999 titled: Business at the Speed of Thought, teaching us how to build a “digital nervous system” – (an information flow), which makes me think of Fatty the nervous cat again and the possibility that perhaps he was trying to catch a cat himself when he wrote that book! Haha! But the important takeaway from that book discusses how technology can help run businesses better and the need to view technology as a strategic asset, and offers detailed examples, of many successful companies today, think Dell, Microsoft and Amazon. Putting those scenarios together got me to thinking – launching a new brand, product or start up business into the overcrowded gaming industry is almost as difficult as trying to catch a cat! So why not use a cat’s methodology to launch the new brand – resulting in my new brand positioning statement being “catch me if you can”!! Any new business, or brand launching in today’s crowded marketplace should take their queue from observing how the catsstalk their prey (doing their due diligence) and then make their move, acting swiftly and decisively, without hesitation. This is because they have done their homework, set their goals (KPIs), seen the lay of the land (competitor’s technical advantages and pitfalls of being slow to react to changes in their environment), researched their prey’s potential strengths and weaknesses, (have their go-to-market strategy fine-tuned) and are ready to act at any given moment. In the world of “eat or be eaten” you need to be thoroughly prepared and ensure that everyone in your team is on the same page, heading in the same direction, with proper

communication being key to your success, from the top down. Proper processes need to be in place, in order to deliver extremely well-executed products and novel solutions to your clients’ pain points, beating out your competitor with his superior budget and unlimited resources. Even more importantly, when taking on a wellknown brand or strong competitor in your space, you need to take the fight to them - and not play on their turf, where they have the advantage of bigger budgets and resources.

(no legacy software) than your more mature competitors, you have the “unseen and unknown” factor of a fresh approach, can afford to be more tactical in your marketing and technology stack and have the ability to move fast with a smaller, tightly-knit and highly skilled team focused on achieving their goals and KPIs, allowing you to explore every possibility and taking every advantage and opportunistic event that you can in order to survive and thrive, and most importantly, toward success in all your endeavors.

As a new startup business or brand, youhave the opportunity to engage with newer technologies and apps

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IGT PlayDigital at G2E Powered by Content, Focused on Growth

At G2E 2022 it was abundantly clear that IGT PlayDigital is wellpositioned in the growing iGaming market. IGT PlayDigital operates in more than 22 regulated jurisdictions around the globe and is the leading iGaming supplier in the U.S. and Canada.At G2E, IGT PlayDigital focused on its recently expanded content portfolio and comprehensive suite of player engagement and promotional tools. One year into his tenure as President of iGaming for IGT, Gil Rotem shared with iGaming Post what he believes is the key to their continued success. Since Rotem joined the Company, IGT PlayDigitalhas made some powerful, strategic moves to strengthen its positionas a leader in the iGaming space. This includes the acquisition of iSoftBet which significantly strengthened the Company’s iGaming offering by doubling IGT Play-

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Digital’s content library and providing a world-class third-party game aggregator. It also enhanced their position in European iGaming jurisdictions.

stand their customer base and the jurisdiction in which they are operating.IGT PlayDigital uses marketfocused, player-based research to develop a data-driven proprietary games roadmap for each operator.

“With the acquisition of iSoftBet, we are integrating award-winning technology to offer a wide range of content to engage with all players,” said Rotem. “Our portfolio has expanded to include omnichannel games, proprietary themes, and original content. This range of content creates value for players, and if we create value for players, we know it will be good for the operators as well.”

“In order to create games and player experiences that are entertaining and enjoyable, it is critical for usto analyzeplayer data and incorporate it into our games.We spend a lot of time on the small details of each game to ensure our content resonates with all types of players and delivers a quality experience that is always top-notch,” said Rotem.

IGT PlayDigital knows that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to providing top-performing games, which is where Rotem’s previous B2C operator experience comes into play. He says it’s important to work with each operator to under-

A frequently used industry buzzword over the last few years has been “omnichannel.” While it may be a new concept to some suppliers, IGT is no stranger to the linking of land-based and digital games. In fact, IGT introduced the world’s first


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and only omnichannel wide area progressive,Powerbucks, in Canadamore than six years ago.

bucks games and jackpot themes.”

Inspired by this success, IGTPlayDigital will soon launch the first omnichannel linked progressive in the U.S. with its Wheel of Fortune Triple Gold®Gold Spin™ game. The jackpot for this online game with be linkedto more than 15 land-based Wheel of Fortune $1 wide area progressive games. “IGT’s pedigree in land-based gaming enables IGT PlayDigital to offer omnichannel games that have significant player affinity and familiarity, broadening the potential player base and driving growth opportunities for operators,” said Rotem. “Over the next year, we plan to add more than 60 new games to our portfolio, including a mix of omnichannel games such as our awardwinning Prosperity Link, new Power-

Gil Rotem In addition to its high-performing proprietary games, IGT PlayDigital partners with other suppliers to offer new experiences, engaging

game mechanics and creative content through its third-party game aggregation platform. This, coupled with IGTPlayDigital’s in-house studios of expert game designers, have allowedfor an increased cadence of releasing games without compromising the high-qualitycontent players have come to expect. With partnerships all over the world, IGTPlayDigital is uniquely positioned to leverage its vast solutions portfolio across platforms to maximize profits for customers, enhance player engagement, and drive operator and player convenience. As more jurisdictions regulate iGaming, especially in the U.S., IGT PlayDigital expects to be on the front lines, maintaining its market position as the leading B2B iGaming supplier.

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GAMING NEWS

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GambleAware Urges Further Transparency

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roblem gambling support charity GambleAware, have suggested research findings published by scholars at Bournemouth University demonstrates the urgent need for more clarity around customer messages positioned on gaming sites. The study, sanctioned by GambleAware as the latest instalment in its ‘Responsible Gambling Projects’ campaign, was designed to explore the scope, presence, and level of transparency in customer communications on iGaming platforms. The probe returned some concerning results, with a host of recommendations produced in an attempt to help operators address issues with website content. Researchers referenced a number of instances where there was tangible risk attached to how consumers may interpret information. This included occasions where gaming firms had failed to provide an honest account on the ‘genuine probability’ of winning, instead offering

an inflated view on potential returns. Further guidance was also given in reaction to how online casino sites manipulate certain materials to engage customer bases, suggesting that a lack of openness around advertising algorithms and the extensive deployment of promotional offers was not conducive to a fair and consistent gambling environment. The study also called for operators to offer greater education around the ‘negative’ aspects of their enterprises, such as the reality of how profitable gambling is likely to be, and the inherent risks attached to high levels of betting activity. GambleAware hopes that the significant list of recommendations, which also contained considerations for authorities and lawmakers concerned with producing future gambling regulations, will be taken seriously across the industry. However, those co-ordinating the study emphasized

that previous, similar research does already exist in this space, and are therefore perhaps pessimistic about the chances of widespread uptake. Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, believes this cause would be helped if the government eventually produced its long-awaited gambling industry policy plan. ‘’This report makes some important recommendations for gambling operators to place greater focus and importance on safer gambling messages on their websites and ensure people are aware of the risks’’ This research serves as further proof that we need to see the gambling White Paper published as soon as possible to avoid further gambling harm’’.

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