InfinityGaming www.gaming-awards.com | ISSUE139
WIG DIVERSITY 2022 ALL THE WINNERS & MORE
GAMING + ARTICLES + BUSINESS+ GLOBAL + ONLINE + NEWS+ AWARDS + etc
21 INSPIRING SPEAKER
52 NFT ROUNDUP
36 WHAT NEXT FOR MACAU
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.
36 WHAT NEXT FOR MACAU Christina Thakor-Rankin
42 SLOT MANAGEMENT Andy Cosgrove
46 CALIFORNIA DREAMING WIGD 2022 WINNERS
52 NFT ROUNDUP Lynn Pearce
CALIFORNIA SPORTS BETTING
NEWS & MORE NEWS from the gaming industry
A note from the editor either to a single winner or a competing company, each and every winner is applauded by the whole room, you truly are so special. One of the most emotional parts of the evening was the award given to the Playtech Team in Kyiv for Excellence in Customer Service, given the terrible difficulties the team has faced with many
having to relocate (the recipient is now living in the UK) because of the atroci-
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The whole room stood and applauded the award and it really did bring a tear to my eye.
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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 email@example.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
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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Inw.com INFINITY GAMING
California Sports Betting Battle Tops $500 Million
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.
New York’s Sports Betting Performance Below Par
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.
What Next for Macau? By Christina Thakor-Rankin
OVID has completely changed the landscape of the global betting and gambling industry. Those operating within the digital space (because they were already there or their business and/or regulation was able to shift quickly enough to accommodate a changing world) didn’t just survived - many thrived and continue to do so. Others were less fortunate. Those with destination land-based operations hampered by an inability to adapt due to inflexible technology or stiff regulatory constraints regulation were hitthe hardest, finding their futures hanging in the balance. The post COVID recovery has been mixed. Some land-based operators have found themselves slowly bouncing back, some such as Vegas have even seen a mild resurgence on pre-COVID footfall as those starved of physical interaction and experiences,
including the previously elusive younger generation, flock back. Others, again, have been less fortunate. Some such as South Africa and parts of Europe and the US have seen a slower recovery due to changes in customer behaviour and shift to the convenience and accessibility of online gambling, or tougher regulatory measures. Those who have been hit the hardest, however, are those with land-based operations where pivoting to an online offering has not been an option and where any attempts at recovery has been severely stifled by regulation, and arguably none more so than Macau where a hard-line approach to both COVID and gambling regulation has seen the Vegas of the east transformed from a city of gambling dreams to the stuff of nightmares. First there was the zero-tolerance
approach to COVID that saw Macau be not only one of the first to go into lockdown and one of the last to emerge from it, but also experience repeat cycles in a way others did not, resulting in a stop-start recovery that worked for no-one. Next came Beijing’s on-going clamp down on gambling which culminated just under a year ago in the arrest of 11 people, including Macau’s Suncity ‘junket king’, Alvin Chau a syndicate comprising over 12,000 gaming agents and 80,000 members across China, on money-laundering and illegal cross-border charges. The impact of this action was immediate and devastating. Not only did it result in an immediate suspension of trading on Suncity shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange the impact was felt across the wider industry with MGM China, Wynn Macau
and Sands China all seeing their share
him 20k. However, if the customer loses
emerging evidence as to the scope of
price tumble, but also the Mr Chau’s
10,000 of the bet, he has to pay the ca-
the investigation has been the first real
other interests including, Sun Entertain-
sino 10,000 and at the same time pay
tangible evidence of how determined it
ment Group whose share price plum-
20,000 to the illegal gaming group.’
is to crackdown on illegal gambling.
Suncity closed all of its VIP gaming
In order to obtain more illegitimate
Unsurprisingly the Macau regulators
rooms in Macau followed swiftly by a
benefits, the alleged illegal gambling
had to step up their supervisory over-
complete closure of the business.
group increased, in the name Sun City
sight resulting in a consultation process
VIP Room, the commissions for “double-
and a new gambling law covering eve-
According to the official indictment Mr
sided” side betting games, convincing
rything from more robust regulation to
Chau’s Suncity junket operations en-
customers to transfer the bet from the
government officials being involved in
gaged in a number of activities that
table legal for under-the-table betting,
the supervision of casino operations
saw Macau lose out on gambling tax
i.e. attracting customers to participate
and a reduction in the number of new
revenues in the region of $1 billion.
in “double-sided” activities.With such
casino licenses to just 6. The on-going
One of these activities is described
illegal activities, it tricked gaming con-
re-licensing process has been spiced
asdouble-sided betting (‘Tok Dai) taking
up by Genting, an operator previously
place through various VIP rooms over a
delivering false information to the Ma-
deemed unsuitable to hold a licence,
seven-year period between 2013 and
cau SAR, which resulted in a loss of rev-
throwing its hat not the ring at the last
his arrest in November 2021.
enue from the gaming concession to be
minute creating a situation of 6 licenses
and 7 applicants.
the illegal gaming group through Sun
The charge sheet also cites a number of
This is all taking place against a back-
City VIP Rooms betting with a private
other allegationsincluding illicit phone
drop of an order from China for Macau
rate agreed upon with the illegal gaming
and online betting revenues routed
to ‘upgrade’ its national security legisla-
group, thus, the customers’ bets on the
through front companies and under-
tion to the same standard as mainland
gaming table multiply, consequently in-
ground banks in mainland China into
China and Hong Kong. Whilst Macau has
creasing the client’s commissions.‘When
Suncity, and detail around the actions
been relatively stable since the hando-
the customer wants to bet 10k on the
and role played by specific individuals,
ver in 1999, Security Secretary Wong
gaming table, he simultaneously bets
including those responsible for technol-
indicated that the new amendments
20k under the gaming table with the
would act as a ‘preventive’ measure fol-
meted by almost 30%.Within a month
‘Customers have to pre-negotiate with
illegal gaming group….If the customer
lowing the social and political unrest in
wins, the casino will pay him 10k and
Whilst China has made no secret of
the illegal gaming group will also pay
its position, the arrests last year and
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Christina Thakor-Rankin Article reduce risks of transmission), the new gambling law and China’s arrest of the biggest junket operator (and a lesson to all others) have seen gambling revenuesfall away to almost nothing, and for many to predict that it is now game over for Macau.
These changes will widen the definition of subversion to include both violent and ‘non-violent methods’ and obviously increase the powers of the police in investigating and addressing crime -but how might they actually impact the casino sector specifically? Firstly, Wong indicated that:‘If there is no national security, there is no social stability and no economic development’ and that ‘The national security of the country, and thus the security and stability of Macau’. This could be interpreted to mean that whilst the Macau regulator is happy to issue casino licenses the operation of those premises could be heavily influenced by the new security laws, especially as the new gambling laws have already created an open door to greater governmental supervision on day-to-day casino operations. Secondly, the upgraded security laws would apply to any individual in Macau or overseas who was perceived to be or linked to a ‘foreign threat’. Most of the casino operators come from outside mainland China. Given China’s hard-line stance on vice and arrest of Macau’s ‘junket king’ on the grounds of facilitating Chinese nationals to engage in ‘illegal gambling’ and charge sheet that links illegal gambling to
money laundering and the transfer of funds from the mainland, how long before a casino in Macau, and by association its overseas owners, finds itself on the wrong side of the new law not through a breach of any gambling regulation but as a by-product of a wider socio-economic and political situation and the words ‘foreign threat, illegal gambling, subversion, money laundering, criminal’, and assets and individuals seized?Hopefully never - but given current global tensions not something to be entirely discounted either. Then there is also the wider impact of the new security law on the wider economy. Similar changes in Hong Kong saw massive impact on property values, and a drain of expatriate and foreign workers. Given mainland China has been encouraging Macau to diversify away from gambling to things like tourism the impact may not be as severe overall, but there will almost certainly be a financial hit to be absorbed by someone if Genting is successful in its application for one of the 6 licenses.
Maybe. But maybe not. Whilst China has stepped in and radically changed the landscape of Macau it has not actually prohibited gambling. It has introduced tougher measures and forced greater governmental involvement - but it has not prohibited gambling. This may be for a number of reasons. Certainly it will not have been blind to the fact that pre-pandemic gambling revenues were 6 times bigger than Vegas. Nor will it be blind to the fact that it’s casino industry has been a key factor in attracting tourism (just like Vegas) making it a key part of any transition process to diversification. It will also not be blind to the fact that its citizen like gambling. A lot. We know prohibition does not work. Consequently, maintaining a framework that allows its nationals heavily controlled access to gambling productsmay be a much more preferable alternative to the effort required to tackle illegal gambling on the mainland. Right now keeping Macaua live and kicking is it is in China’s best interests. The market is aware of this, and an announcement by the Macau regulator that it is due to announce its shortlist of license candidates this week has seen stocks in SJM Holdings and Sands China rally. Macau may be down, but it is definitely not out.
The fact is that Macau has suffered enormously in the last few years. A combination ofon-going COVID restrictions (the latest being casinos having to reduce the number of staff to
The 2022 Women in Gaming
CELEBRATING INFINITY GAMING
g Diversity & Inclusion Awards
G DIVERSITY INFINITY GAMING
Some 40 companies attended the 2022 WIG Diversity Awards, making it the largest gathering so far to celebrate the achievements within the sector.
The WIG Diversity Champagne Reception A TIME TO MEET OLD AND NEW FRIENDS AND OF COURSE TO NETWORK WITH COMPANIES STRIVING TO ACHIEVE DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
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Motivating & Inspiring Mindy Gibbins-Klein Talk
hen you have such an inspirational speaker at the WIG Diversity Awards all the audience listens, Welcome Mindy Gibbins-Klein: Mindy has delivered speeches and
training on thought leadership to over 50,000 executives, entrepreneurs and experts in 18 countries. She also speaks in schools, colleges and universities to inspire students to become future thought leaders. She can speak and train in English, Spanish and French. A Global TEDX and keynote speaker, she has written award winning books on Leadership, thoughtful Leadership and Leadership development. Mindy delivered a very personal talk based on her own experiences in acceptance and understanding, not just in business but in life also.
MAG A Z I N E
Above Winner Sabine Mueller (right) – GAMOMAT - Industry Pride Award Below Betsson Group - Best Diverse Place To Work Award
Let The Awards Begin
Above Winner Relax Gaming - B2B Excellence Award Below Winner Rootz Ltd - Best Use of Technology
Above Company of the Year – (Supplier) went to Just for the Win
Right Best in Community Engagement All-in Diversity with Square in the Air
Winning an award Means Hard Work
Above Company of the Year – (Operator)went to Betsson Group Right Diverse and Inclusive Team of the Year - Betby
Top: Diversity and Inclusion Award - Light & Wonder Right Employee of the Year (Operator)- Ciara Nic Liam(Entain)
S E C T I O N T I T L E
Above Employee Network of the Year - Eyecon
Above Employee of the Year – (Supplier) - Tatyana Kaminskaya (SOFTSWISS) Right Winner HR Champion Award - Lorna Evans (Inspired Entertainment)
Above Excellence in Customer Service – (Supplier) - Team in Kyiv (Playtech)
And The Winners Keep On Coming, You are all Amazing
Above Employee Wellbeing AwardBally’s Interactive Right Excellence in Customer Service – (Operator) - Amie Foster (right) (LiveScore Group)
Above Industry Achiever Award – (Operator) Lori Peck (Bally’s)
Right Industry Achiever – (Supplier) Claire McDaid (Pragmatic Play)
Inspiring & Motivating Others
Above Innovator of the Year- Christine Lewis (Yolo Group) Right Winner Innovation in Employee Engagement - Betsson
We are the Champions!
Every Winner was Applauded by all in the room
Above Kimberley Broad (Games Global) - Inspiration of the Year – (Supplier) Right Annie Granham (Buzz Bingo) Leader of the Year (Operator)
Above Left Lisa Martin (William Hill) Inspiration of the Year – (Operator) Far Left Malin Dahlman (ComeOn Group) - Positive Role Model of the Year – (Operator) Left Linda Strålberg (Bally’s) - Star of the Future (Operator)
Top: Leader of the Year (Supplier) Victoria Dolan (IGT) Right Positive Role Model of the Year – (Supplier) Oana-Adina Rusu (right) (Greentube)
S E C T I O N T I T L E
Above Josephine Hellström (Casumo) - Young Leader of the Year – (Operator)
Above Meri Nersisyan (Digitain) - Star of the Future (Supplier) Right Winner Nicole Guilmoto (Eyecon) - Young Leader of the Year – Supplier
Singapore residents aversion to online gambling By Ryan Murray
recent survey conducted by market research experts YouGov has revealed that the majority of Singapore nationals are resistant to embracing iGaming platforms, regardless of the nature of the vertical in question. Indeed, whether in relation to sports betting or ‘games of chance’, a staggering 56% of the city-state’s population suggested they would support a policy prohibiting the domestic presence of online gaming firms. In YouGov’s overall rankings table, Singapore placed fourth highest for percentage of residents against iGaming pursuits, tucked neatly behind fellow Asian countries China and India. However, their proximity to these nations on the ‘leader board’ is perhaps somewhat surprising. Singapore’s slightly more relaxed, multi-cultural atmosphere is notably different from the environment Chinese and Indian citizens are accustomed to. The Communist government in Beijing have long-held an anti-gambling stance, invoking a state-wide ban ever since Mao’s acquisition of power in 1949, whilst many of those on the sub-continent are subjected to a particularly profound level of traditionalist conservatism. Nevertheless, the Spanish
were found to be most opposed to online gambling, with a huge 57% of natives against its presence. Interestingly, at the alternate end of the scale sits the United States and Canada, occupying two of the lowest four positions in the published chart. The percentages of those against iGaming in North America were therefore comparatively lower than the numbers tethered to the other sixteen-country strong participant field, with the U.S and Canada registering resistance figures of 33% and 41% respectively. Perhaps then, given that both countries have recently legalized the introduction of both online and bricks-and-mortar sports betting marketplaces (with, it must be said, a notable degree of success), there is a correlation between newly established gambling theatres and the volume of residents supporting this endeavour. Drilling further into Singapore’s data allows us to understand the generational nuances in the investigation’s results. This revealing report, which also surveyed subjects on other considerations in the contemporary gambling space, such as the role of marketing, social responsibility mea-
sures, and the post-pandemic retail industry, suggests that substantial differences in opinion exist between participant’s dependent on their respective birth year. Using standardized generational parameters, the poll deployed four different age-spans to categorize those interviewed: Generation Z (born between 1997-2009), Millennials (1981-1996), Generation X (1965-1980), and Baby Boomers (1946-1980). The bandwidth in results was striking. Those belonging to the two youngest groupings, representing Generation Z and Millennials in the survey, were significantly less militant in their stance on online gambling versus the overall average, with each sub-strata registering a percentage of those against its existence in the mid-40’s. Conversely, Generation X and Baby Boomers were far more unified in their reluctance to support iGaming endeavours, with around two-thirds of those questioned in these classifications highlighting their dissension. Therefore, could it be legitimately be assumed that Singapore’s defiance is slowly crumbling as younger generations push against historic cultural norms?
of assurance that, if the data pool was stretched to a fully global context, the Republic of Singapore would likely have more online gambling critics per head than the international average. However, it’s also true that enough evidence exists to suggest that younger generations may in the future challenge the hegemony of this currently prevailing view. Furthermore, although facilitated in a different trading environment, one should also cast an eye to the recent surge in activity surrounding the country’s land-based gaming estate. Scheduled development to the city-state’s two integrated resorts would suggest that operators understand there to be Perhaps not. This conclusion maybe
Whichever way the results of YouGov’s
a growing local appetite for improved
a little dismissive, but possibly also
latest dip into the global gambling
gambling facilities. Moreover, a speedy
understandable when reviewing re-
arena are interpreted (and there are
recovery towards pre-COVID revenue
sponses to an alternate question which
various vantage points from which to
levels, far ahead of numerous other ju-
featured in YouGov’s survey: ‘’To what
scrutinize the data), it’s inarguable that
risdictions, also supports this concept
extent do you agree or disagree with
huge swathes of Singapore’s approxi-
of increasing popularity. This trend may
the following statement: ‘The rules and
mate 5.7m inhabitants are generally
take some time to wash through intothe
regulations around online gambling are
against the provision of online gaming.
digital landscape, with some residents
generally too strict where I live’.’’
However, this is perhaps expected when
perhaps a little fearful of the proven ad-
analysing these figures through the lens
ditional risk of drifting towards harmful
Amere quarter of the individuals vetted
of the island’s cultural ratios. Indeed,
behaviours when using online betting
said that regulatory online gambling
despite being a state famed for ethnic
applications. Nevertheless, in this con-
rules were too strict, which arguably
diversity, catalysed by foreign business
text at least, it feels like the navigation
portrays a desire to ensure operators
investment and a thriving ex-patriot
of Singapore’s entrenched societal and
are kept on a relatively short leash.
community, an overwhelming propor-
cultural resistance towards the gam-
Again, rather unsurprisingly, it was the
tion of the population (circa 80%) are
bling industry is a process well under-
Baby Boomer demographic who were
of Chinese or Indian origin. Therefore,
most vocal about the need to curtail
if these citizens have any resonance
and closely govern the actions of casino
with the lands their ancestors departed,
Ultimately therefore, the survey will
and sports betting companies, with only
it could well explain why Singapore’s
most likely confirm to domestic gam-
20% alleging that current guidance was
resistance to gambling remains more
bling companies a truth that they al-
overly demanding. Nevertheless, the
pronounced than all other sovereign
ready know: a decent proportion of
largest proportion of those undecided
nations (with the exception of Spain) in-
Singaporeans are indeed averse to on-
on the degree of strictness within Sin-
cluded in the study.
line gaming. However, what may be of some considerable comfort to casino
gaporean legislative controls was also So, what conclusions can we draw from
and sportsbook operators is that the
the findings of the YouGov commis-
winds of change are not only starting
Most importantly however, Millennials
sioned, ‘Global Gambling 2022: The
to blow, but they are swirling amongst
made up the largest contingent of those
consumer view in the gambling debate’
the youngest demographics of the na-
who disagreed that gambling laws were
review? Well, perhaps just tentative
tive population. Therefore, the medium-
too intrusive, serving to undermine, at
term future looks set to be tangibly
those born in the middle of last century.
brighter than what some may have pre-
least to some extent, this concept of definite eroding opposition.
Yes, it’s fair to say with a heavy dose
Philippines heading to an online gambling ban?
he Philippines’ iGaming sector has experienced some notable challenges in recent years. In particular, significant concern has materialised in relation to the activities of POGO’s, (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators), externally based gambling firms who have a licence to trade within the realms of country’s digital space. Such is the scale of their illicit behaviour, it’s virtually an open secret that many of these organizations have express links to criminal syndicates. Now, influential politician Joel Villanueva, who was elected Senate leader earlier this year, has mobilized a piece of legislation that would spell the end for the island-state’s online gaming sector. Villanueva is steadfast in his belief that iGaming should have no place in Philippine society and suggests that its removal would serve to completely eradi-
cate problem gambling, despite his plan permitting the continuation of bricks-and-mortar casino operations. The ban would be draconian in nature, fixing heavy penalties to those who engage in any form of online play. It’s understood that those who would ignore the proposed guidance could serve a custodial sentence of up to six months and be fined up to PHP 50,000 (US$8,710), more than double the national salary average. Nevertheless, if the undesirable practices of POGOs are strengthening Villanueva’s hand in discussions surrounding the online industry, then PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation), the organization empowered to regulate the native marketplace, are working hard to undermine the Senator’s calls for change. Last weekend, PAGCOR rescued 140 foreign individuals from a mass kidnapping conducted by
a POGO, one of a string of fifteen similar incidents in recent months. Although there are less active POGOs than in previous years, largely due to a vicious cycle of crime and subsequent falling revenues, their threat remains a serious one. Concerningly, Villanueva’s ‘AntiGambling Act’ is gaining traction in the Senate, with several high-ranking officials now endorsing this bill. However, the east Asian state’s political chambers have resisted pressure to discard iGaming in the past, with neighbours China recently lobbying for a complete ban on POGO outfits. ThePHP 7.18bn (US$149.3m) generated in GGR each year was enough to convince politicians to fend off Beijing’s advances – perhaps a similar response will see Villanueva’s campaign put to the sword in the coming weeks.
Slot Management 101
How to ‘Improve’ your slots of problems! By Andy Cosgrove You defined, measured and analyzed your slots of problems but your boss is putting pressure on you to turn all your analysis paralysis into tangible results that add real value. It’s time to take action… or run for the hills.
n my previous article we focused on the analysis phase of Six Sigma which shows how to turn a practical problem into a statistical problem with the goal of finding a statistical solution prior to implementing a practical solution. The Improvement phase is where your dreams of keeping all your bill validators accepting every single bill all of the time and time after time. It’s crunch time, time to earn you paycheck, time to exercise your trade craft, time to walk the walk, talk the talk and prove that you and your team are the best team for the job. It may also be time for your boss to say thank you for a job well done. So, what more can you tell me
about the Improve phase?–Before implementing the final solution that will keep your bill validators running at an optimum acceptance rate, the improve phase starts with more advanced process modelling designed to Identify the vital few X’s (input variables) that are causing your customers to leave your establishment. Then comes experimentation which helps to optimize the X’s before simulating and validating your process improvement. Finally, and the part you’ve been waiting for, is implementing theprocess improvement prior to the Control phase which is the final phase of the Six Sigma methodology. The key deliverables of the Improvement phase are as follows:
• Process modelling: regression • Advanced process modelling: MLR • Designing experiments Process modelling: regression–Before regression comes linear correlation analysis which is used to measure the strength of the association between two variables known as X and Y, where Y represents the Output and X is the input. In casino talk, Y represents the bill validator accepting your customer’s bills and X is the dirt that makes your bill validator reject bills as a ratio of 9 out of every 10. Linear correlation analysis will determine the following:
• If the frequency of annual cleaning(X) increases and the acceptance rate (Y) remains the same, there is no correlation between cleanliness and the bill acceptance rate
gives the mathematical
• If you increase the frequency of annual cleaning (X) and the acceptance rate (Y) increases, there is a correlation
determine the regression equation. The Regression Equation can mathematically predict Y for any given X, for example, If you clean your bill validator twice a year instead of once, you should achieve a 50% better acceptance rate given the same amount of usage. Being able to predict future results based on existing sets of data (acceptance rate and cleaning frequency) will not only make your operation more efficient, but it may also make your finance department smile!
• The higher the correlation coefficient score (r), the higher the correlation between the frequency of annual cleaning and bill acceptance rate will be. • The correlation scale starts at minus one (-1) which represents a strong negative correlation and plus one (+1) which represents a strong positive correlation.An ‘r’ score of between -0.2 and 0.2 means no significant correlation. Correlation ONLY tells us the strength of a relationship while regression
relationship or the prediction model. The last step to proper analysis of continuous data is to
Advanced Process modelling: MLR – MLR stands for multiple linear regression, and where simple linear regression uses 1 input (X) and one output (Y) to predict results, MLRuses multiple inputs(X’s) to predict one
single output. MLRalso accounts for residuals that represent any variation that could be affecting your bill validators from operating at a higher acceptance rate. Putting it simply, MLR produces a much more accurate prediction model for moving you closer to bill validator Utopia. The following two inputs (X’s) could be used as part of your prediction model for a higher bill acceptance rate using MLR • Input (X) number 1 =cleaning frequency • Input (X) number 2 = number of games played • Output (Y) = Bill acceptance rate Designing Experiments–Now that you’ve identified the vital input X’s that are making your bill validator not accept bills it’s time to put your theories to the test by using designed experiments. The desired results of experiments are as follows:
Andy Cosgrove Article
• Problem solving – to eliminate defective products or services • Optimizing – mathematical process is desired to increase the bill acceptance rate • Robust design – to provide consistent bill validator performance and designing processes while knowingly understanding which variables are difficult to maintain • Screening – necessary when there is limited past process data or when statistical conclusions prevented the optimum performance of you bill validators Design of Experiments (DOE) shows the true cause and effect relationship of the Input (X) Output (Y) of interest. The DOE Methodology includes the following: 1. Define the practical Problem (low bill acceptance rate)
cleaning frequency (X)) 4. Choose the levels of the Input variables (a 2 level test could involve a cleaning frequency of 1 time per month and another of 1 time per year) 5. Select the experimental design, execute the experiments and collect the data (experimental design depends on the amount of input(X) variables being tested such as cleaning frequency and games played) 6. Analyze the data and draw statistical conclusions 7. Draw practical conclusions and replicate or validate them(to minimize the affect of any unhidden bill validator headaches!) 8. Implement Solutions (success).
2. Establish the experimental objective (improve bill acceptance rates)
Graphical DOE is achieved via Interaction plots which make results much more obvious and present them in a way that even the casino manager might understand!
3. Select the output (Y) and Input (X) variables (bill acceptance rate (Y)
Conclusion – Over 80% of projects will realize their solutions in the ana-
lyze phase but Designed Experiments can be extremely effective. If you’re confident with your solution at the end of the analyze phase, then stop but if you have doubts, use designed experiments to help you over the finish line. What’s important to remember is that the sole purpose of a Six Sigma project is to eliminate your poor bill validator acceptance problems and transform it into a solution that you, your team, your customers (and maybe even the marketing manager) can be proud of. Coming next time is the Control phase which is the final phase in the Six Sigma methodology. 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/
California’s sports betting chances hang on a knife edge By Ryan Murray
or many interested spectators, it seems entirely implausible that California is yet to have a legalized sports betting marketplace. The highest populated U.S state, with the strongest financial leverage in the country, is currently uncharacteristically missing a colossal commercial opportunity. Since the overriding of the archaic PASBA legislation by the Supreme Court in 2018, a consistent wave of state-level legislative activity has served to induct over 30 jurisdictions to sports betting. This in turn has pre-empted a bountiful return for U.S and foreign-based sportsbook operators. The federalized governments who have presided over this landmark change in the nation’s approach to gambling are an assorted bunch, with cultural heritage or political tradition seemingly not a huge influencer in whether a state decides to embrace this new vertical. This perhaps makes California’s exclusion from the market all the more remarkable. If typical, conservativeleaning communities in the likes of Wyoming, Kansas, and Arkansas can stomach this significant recalibration of an American traditionalist view, how have the famously left-leaning, progressive Democrats of California not conspired to create
a thriving sports betting industry of their own? The answer is relatively simple, but somehow also incredibly complex to unravel. Ultimately, the sheer scale of a prospective Californian market has just been too difficult a cross to bear. Indeed, a fierce battle has ensued in the Golden State, as various suitors, armed with proposals and measures on how they would facilitate localized sports wagering efforts, lock horns. Their reward for winning this contest is access to a huge financial treasure chest, perhaps unprecedented even in the lucrative early days of America’s nascent sports betting landscape. In its opening eight months of trading, New York’s sportsbook operators have taken over $10.35bn in handle, supporting them to generate close to $800m in gross gaming revenue. It’s alleged that a fledging Californian theatre would invite even higher sums, and in turn would overtake the Empire State in becoming the nation’s most lucrative betting powerhouse. The stakes have simply been too high. For months, various factions have squabbled over who should govern the state’s native market, with various tribal interests, commercial giants,
and card room operators all fighting for supremacy. Now, after a protracted and particularly bruising skirmish between potential stakeholders, just two candidates are left standing. The competing measures of these parties will be put to the Californian electorate in the second week of November, as residents determine the conclusion of this saga at the ballot box. However, which, if any of the proposals, will the majority of voters opt to support? Proposition 26, which confirmed its place in Autumn’s referendum over twelve months ago, is a venture chiefly sponsored by the state’s native tribal groups. The ‘Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming’, is collectively backed by no less than 58 tribal entities. Their subsidiary campaign, colloquially referred to as the ‘No for 27’ movement (the proposition number of the opposing measure), has earned the support of a number of key local organizations, such as the California State Association of Counties and the California League of Cities, alongside a host of teaching unions and political exponents. Although their motiveforjoining forces withthe coalitionis perhaps more rooted in their resistance to Proposition 27, as opposed to supporting any initiative
49 that promotes the introduction of gambling, these groups have undoubtedly added further credibility to the Proposition 26 cause. If successful, the proposal would permit the establishment of retail sports betting facilities at tribal casinos and state race tracks. Through historic gaming compacts, Indian operators have long-held the ability to offer classic table games and slots from sites located on government-granted reservations. Therefore, in this sense, the integration of sports betting through this legislative mechanism would feel more like simply adding an extra vertical, as opposed to having to re-invent the wheel from scratch. The proposed legislation states that a standard 10% tax levy on revenue would be applied, with funds re-directed towards problem gambling support programmes. However, if the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming is focused on using more traditional, in-person methods to accommodate the arrival of legalized sports wagering, then Proposition 27, otherwise known as ‘Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, Mental Health, and Addiction’, is all about embracing a new, perhaps more glossy,virtual approach. Indeed, one of the key differentials between these two conflicting campaigns lies in the operational space in which they would both exist. Proposition 27, which is largely bankrolled via the deep pockets of several of North America’s most powerful sports betting firms, advocates the introduction of online sportsbook applications. If successful, this would mean that Californian players would have uninterrupted access to markets via their smartphone, in turn removing the requirement of travelling to a casino and wagering in the flesh.
tive operators pay an eye-watering $100m license fee to have the privilege of running a digital sportsbook, supplemented by a $10m annual renewal fee. Although the role of commercial organizations is largely overlooked by the Indian coalition, Proposition 27 permits tribal interests to collaborate with the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel or BetMGM to create a locally accessible mobile sports betting platform. However, the measure is very much reserved for the big boys of the business, such as the early industry pace-setters referenced above. Indeed, in order to hit the bid’s qualifying criteria, any market participant must already be active in at least ten other U.S states. As a consequence, should the ‘Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, Mental Health and Addiction’ manage to establish their hegemony, smaller sportsbooks would need to latch onto the coattails of those with a nationwide presence via partnership agreements.
Given the financial and membership profile of the two contrasting tenders, many initially assumed that Proposition 27 would leverage its considerable strength to move well ahead of the Indian-backed alternative. However, this prediction is far from an accurate reflection of the current, ground-level reality, with the ‘No for 27’ campaign managing to locate and subsequently chip away at its opponents particularly fragile Achilles heel. Indeed, ironically, the largest challenge facing the ‘27’ contingent is a product of the nature of their incredibly successful commercial approach. Many across the local community, including independent organizations, politicians, and vocal residents, believe the group’s aggressive and unrelenting pursuit of profitwould comfortably supersede any commitment towards social responsibility initiatives; a narrative that the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming have cultivated
Their proposal demands that prospec-
well in recent weeks. Even anti-gambling protesters have aligned themselves, given their shared distain, with the proponents of the Coalition’s measure, perhaps now viewing Proposition 26 as the lesser of two evils. Furthermore, opponents have attacked the seemingly contrived nature of the Proposition 27 campaign. They believe that the measure’s full legislative title is in itself an illustration of how far commercial operators are prepared to go in order to secure profits and establish supremacy. The coalition asserts that dropping in terms such as ‘homelessness’, ‘mental health’ and ‘addiction’ is a clever marketing ploy in an attempt to curry favour with the Golden State electorate, and acts as a smokescreen to their true money-driven motivations. This tactic, perhaps aimed at chiefly floating voters,seeks to convince that the proposal is in fact an altruistic enterprise, and therefore something that could be mutually advantageous to all parties; the bettor, the operator, and the suffering. Few have fallen for this rather cynicalmethodology, with many, not just those whose allegiances lie with the coalition, questioning the integrity of Proposition 27’s charitable dimension. In the words of Los Angeles Times journalist Michael Hiltzik ‘the gambling firms are all public-spirited in their way, but do you really think they care about the crises of homelessness in California as opposed to drinking deeply of the potential profits from online gambling in the vast California market? Me neither.’ True, a quick scan over the numbers certainly suggests a lack of credibility. The ‘Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, Mental Health and Addiction’ would clearly generate their donations to these causes via the deployment of their proposed taxation framework. Yet, charges on participating operators have, like Proposition 26, been positioned at just 10%of their
total gross gaming revenue. Not only does this mean that a colossal chunk of bettors’ cash would remain in the bank accounts of most of the continents’ most successful sportsbooks, but it would also result in California presiding over one of the lowest tax rates within the United States’ legalized sports betting arena. The two most highly taxed markets, New York and Pennsylvania, set rates at 51% and 36% respectively, whilst only a tiny handful of states have introduced revenue taxes at 10% or lower. Furthermore, there’s some plausibility in claims that these charitable causes have been selectedthrough a populist lens, unashamedly seeking to manipulate what’s currently ‘in-vogue’. This is because, with very little research or engagement of the topics identified as the most suitable for investment, the conspirators behind Proposition 27 would have noted that local Governor Gavin Newsom has already announced an enormous support pack-
age in these areas. The $12bn pledged over the next two years dwarfs the anticipated figure delivered by the proposed sports betting tax rate, and would indeed add just 4% to Newsom’s already costed commitment. Even from a purely crude perspective, the chosen causes are somewhat of a headscratcher in the context of contemporary Californian politics. Most residents, particularly given that Newsom’s scheduled spending plan already supports most of society’s most vulnerable, would have most likely preferreda charity programme focusing oneither more ‘progressive’ concepts, such as green energy solutions and water conversation, or current, contentious local issues, such as school funding or aid for domestic abuse victims. PTO
presence of American sportsbooks, the most diplomatic action for those with no horse in the race would be to tick the box of each rivalling camp. However, for those who have tracked this momentous battle, the polarizing nature of the campaign trail will likely have compelled most to pick a side.
There’s also merit in the theory that the mental health care element is largely a contradictive endeavour. Many believe that this ‘solution’ is a loosely-veiled reference to problem gambling support, meaning that those requiring medical intervention would have likely developed harmful behaviours through using the very platforms of those throwing dollars at their recovery. Unsurprisingly, these developments have conspired to seriously damage the chances of a Proposition 27 victory. However, that’s not to say that its plucky counterpart is likely to earn the 51% majority required in order to have a mandate for industry control. The unprecedented marketing campaign, which has seen both sides of the contest contribute to a recordbreaking $364m advertising spend, has given an opportunity for commercial operators to utilize their pre-existing connections to TV networks and sports teams. Through these channels, they’ve been able to bloody the nose of the Coalition through their consistent presence in advertisements, magazine shows, and across the jerseys of leading sports franchises, without
quite landing a knockout punch. Yet, regardless of the tactical point scoring, playground-style feuds and grotesque campaign expenditure, the current reality of the situation is this: the analysts now believe that neither side will emerge with over half of the electorate’s backing. Shockingly therefore, it looks increasingly likely that we’ll not see sports betting in the largest, and most affluent state in the country, for another year at the very least. Indeed, experts believe that having twoproposals, both focused on the same industry and promoting, at least to the normal Californian on the street, relatively similar guiding principles, will cause confusion, apathy and dilution at the ballot box. True, in a general sense, having two possibilities to choose from will always serve to reduce the overall likelihood of one earning an outright majority. Thus, by extension, this undermines the chances of any type of sports betting sector materialising as a product of November’s vote. Therefore, in the best interests of ensuring California finally embraces the newly-established
Furthermore, it’s the first time in U.S electoral history that competing sports betting measures feature in the same referendum, and therefore the traditional, ‘single up or down’ system is replaced by having voters select one, two, or neither option(s). Analysts, such as those based at the influential Eilers&Krejcik Gaming research centre in southern California, believe this dynamic will create a sense of ambivalence, and discourage the electorate from properly reviewing each proposal. When residents stand with pen in hand at the booth, this may easily propel some to spoil their vote, rather than opt for a route they may later regret. Indeed, Eilers&Krejcik Gaming say they are now ‘leaning negative on California’s sports betting legalization prospects this fall’. So, could one of the most heated contests seen in the primitive history of legalized U.S sports betting result in defeat for two valiant competitors? If so, it would be the first time that a state-wide referendum on gambling would have failed to deliver a positive outcome, with Arkansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Maryland all successfully pushing through legislation at the polls. Unfortunately,as per the scale of funding invested in this intense fight, it looks as if defeat at the ballot box may be another record-breaking act that California’s sports betting suitors will have to endure.
Web3 and NFT mini roundup
By Lynn Pearce
FTs (non-fungible tokens) are everywhere, in the daily news, no matter where you look online, the adoption of NFTs are spreading on a global scale, with no end in sight, whether it is articles on Web3, or ticketing for events, or in fashion articles, there is just an endless stream of news around the various use cases for NFTs – even FIFA have launched an NFT platform for soccer-themed digital collectibles on the Algor and Blockchain in the run-up to the World Cup later this year. I expect this will expand the accessibility of NFTs even more, as presumably they will feature memo-
rable moments and imagery around all the soccer games, capturing the highlights for sports fans throughout the games. They are not the only ones moving ahead on the Algor and blockchain – one of the original music streaming companies, Napster, (which many of us have forgotten about) announced their planned move into the Web3 space with their $Napster token. According to an article written by Sujith Somraaj in June 2022, Algor and made news when they partnered with Limewire and launched a music-centric marketplace featuring the works
of artists signed on Universal Music Groups label. The artists, including Travis Barker, Brandy and Nicky Jam, will launch exclusive artwork, music and fan experiences, as they transition their platform from a peer-topeer filesharing website to an NFT marketplace. Even Mercedes and McLaren have got into the NFT act. Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team together with FTX released free-to-claim NFT “Ticket Stubs” as well as unique and rare NFTs created by some of the world’s leading artists.
Lynn Pearce Article
The British luxury supercar - McLaren’s Automotive announced the launch of their MSO Lab, which will house limited-edition McLaren NFTs and their first release, The Genesis Collection, showcased one of their most well-known automobiles. In March 2022, Crypto.com announced it would be the FIFA World Cup’s exclusive exchange sponsor, apparently ditching their $495 millionsponsorship deal with UEFA, most likely in order to take up this deal. When I read a short while ago that the south Korean electronics giant, LG had launched its own NFT market-
place, called LG Art Labs into the USA market, for television owners running webOS 5.0, I knew that the NFT trend towards mass adoption was about to explode, in my humble opinion. The marketplace enables them to buy, sell and trade NFTs from their own homes – this is going to be big. According to the recent article on Decrypt, the Solana NFT project y00ts got off to a really great start, topping secondary markets as the creator NFTs sold for a significant premium over the mint price. And let’s not forget about my all-time favorite – Sorare, the web3 startup
who played a major role in spearheading NFTs and digital collectibles, including NFT-based fantasy soccer and MLB games and who have now taken on NBA Top Shot with the upcoming launch of an official NBA fantasy basketball game, which will co-exist with the Dapper Labs Top Shot and the NBAs own The Association Project. This exciting initiative, (created in partnership with the NBA and NBPA), allows the NBA to continue its push into web3 with a platform that will let users collect cards based on pro players from the league and to enter leagues that provide card rewards to top performers on the platform.
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Lynn Pearce Article
Having been fascinated about NFTs, from a creator perspective since I first read about non-fungible tokens, I have joined many communities, both online and locally offline. These are generally friendly and helpful places to find out anything and everything about NFTs and the trends that are developing and those projects that have come to fruition, plus, I get to learn something new every day, including the arguments for and against the use and widespread adoption of NFTs. One of my favorite communities is Veefriends, led by Gary Vaynerchuk’s idea of building a community using NFTs ad smart contract technology, which is quickly developing into one of the strongset and largest communities in Web3. VeeFriends is a collection of 10,255 NFTs, all hand-drawn by him. Another community I follow, for obvious reasons, is the popular World of Women, a collection of 10,000 NFTs representing strong and powerful
women and minted on the Ethereum blockchain. This project is led by the artist Yam Karkai with the mission for inclusivity in the Web3 space, creating opportunities for women and diverse creators. NFTs are everywhere – with the fashion industry being one of the early adopters, as NFTs create unique digital assets that cannot be replicated – and coupled with their real-world assets, increase the value exponentially. According to Abimbola Abe, a writer who documents his journey with web3 and NFTs, this was very well demonstrated by D&G with their recent sales of a crownwith diamonds and a digital NFT version of the same crown as part of its groundbreaking “CollezioneGenesi” which sold for an eye-popping $6 million.
could still join the virtual fun on the “next best list” as an owner of the Forbes Virtual NFT Billionaires collection – such a cool idea! I believe the NFT trends will continue towards mass adoption, as the NFT utility can be used as evidence of ownership, to bring people together in diverse communities, for rental purposes, ticketing for events, all manner of purchasing opportunities in gaming and other industries – the technology is available to us and we are only limited by our own imagination, as the scope of potential applications is amazing! -------------Read more from Lynn Pearce every month exclusively in the Infinity Gaming Magazine.
Forbes launched their fun and fabulous 100 Billionaires NFTs in April 2022, so even if you did not make the list, as a subscriber to Forbes, you
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