BINGOLife Autumn 2015 - Issue 19
Welcome to EiG Berlin The Jewel In Our Majestic Crown Deloitte talks Bingo Tax Know Your Players: Gambling Integrity
LONDON cALLINg! From the 1st October the National Bingo Game is offering lucky players the chance to win one of
75 VIP LONDON* WEEKEND BREAKS FOR TWO! The National Bingo Game is open to all licensed bingo venues in the UK, including Holiday Parks, Working Menâ€™s Clubs and of course bingo clubs. To find out more about the National Bingo Game and how you could join visit nationalbingo.co.uk or contact Alastair Stewart on 01582 860 900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
nationalbingo.co.uk All players must be aged 18 or over. The National Bingo Game is played under the provisions of The Gambling Act 2005 and National Bingo Game Rules apply. Players should always gamble responsibly. For more information and advice visit www.gambleaware.co.uk. *Terms and Conditions apply, please see promotional leaflets in club or visit www.nationalbingo.co.uk.
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Editorial Editor in Chief - Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 email@example.com Editor - Miles Baron firstname.lastname@example.org Online Bingo Editor - Mark McGuinness email@example.com Associate Editor - Janice Chaka Guadalajara - firstname.lastname@example.org
Correspondents Asia - Bill Healey email@example.com Europe - Andrew Behan firstname.lastname@example.org International - Damien Connelly email@example.com UK - Alan Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org USA - Jack Bulavsky Las Vegas - email@example.com
Regular Contributors Bob Ambrose Independent Gaming Consultant
Production Design - Stewart Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org www.totaldesignworks.com Webmaster and IT - Sudip Banjaree email@example.com
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WELCOME from Miles Baron, Editor The Bingo Association (BA) serves 506 Licensed Bingo Premises (68 operating companies) and 16 Industry suppliers. 2014 was the year of Tax (MGD and Bingo Duty) and 2015 was predicted as the year of regulation, and to date has not disappointed. Age Verification, Anti-Money Laundering, Self-Exclusion and Social Responsibility are all hot topics from a regulatory perspective. All BA members are bound by The Bingo Association’s Code of Conduct when they join. As a member of IGRG (Industry Group for Responsible Gambling) a coalition of five gambling Trade Associations, The Bingo Association can influence the broader agenda around Socially Responsible Gambling despite being responsible for a relatively small element of GB Gross Gaming Yield (GGY). The Licensed Bingo Industry is a low stakes, high volume social gaming environment with few or no problem gambling behaviours, an assertion that is supported by the limited evidence that currently exists. However, there is a suspicion that Bingo is not as untroubled as its reputation would suggest. Increasing reliance on machine income (Mintel 2015) and the growing number of machines available in Licensed Bingo Premises are attracting attention. Self – Exclusion rates, a possible indicator of problem gambling are still relatively small but growing slowly. Add to this the issues raised by the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) in relation to B2 and B3 machines and the Industry starts to find itself defending its position on Socially Responsible Gambling. Therefore The BA supports research through RGT on problem gambling behaviours, particularly in retail Bingo Clubs. The Association accepts the inevitability that some low levels of problem gambling behaviour may exist. However, this research will allow the Industry to respond accordingly, using relevant and current Industry data to address any issues. We anticipate some initial findings in April 2016. The National Bingo Game goes from strength to strength. Ticket Sales are anticipated to grow slightly this year, partly due to the growth in premises participating in the game, especially Holiday Parks. Over 100 National Bingo Game winners are about to embark on the Cruise of a lifetime following last year’s successful trip. Our ‘London Calling’ promotion will take 150 lucky winners on a VIP weekend to the Capital including a trip to Mama Mia! and of course to a London Bingo Club on the Friday evening! In April winners were treated to a VIP experience at the Aintree Grand National. These once in a lifetime experiences are for many of our customers one of the ways that the National Bingo Game adds value to the Bingo experience and exceeds customer expectations. The Link Game ‘National Live’, offering instant cash prizes of up to £30k for a £1 stake, has celebrated its first anniversary paying out close to £10 million in prizes during its first full year and is increasingly played in non-traditional bingo clubs. 2016 will see improvements to and the evolution of both games. Miles Baron Editor
Editor Miles Baron CEO of The Bingo Association
Online Editor Mark McGuinness
6 Tax Update Philip Munn, Director of Deloitte talks to Bingo Life on Tax issues 7 Mecca 40 Year Anniversary Dedicated Mecca Bingo employee Marilyn Hanrahan celebrates 40 years of service this month 9 Bingo Lovers Gala Bingo invests ÂŁ5 million in brand new Southampton club 10 #LoveAWinner Share the #love The new National Bingo Game, complete with Jackpot 11 Know Your Players Social Responsibility is key 15 Revitalization of Charitable Gaming (Bingo) By Peter McMahon, CEO, Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario 18 A Life in numbers Bingo is not the only number centric sector 22 The Jewel In Our Crown Peter White chats to Majestic Bingoâ€™s Managing Director Mark Jepp
32 28 Multi-operator Service Damien Connelly chats to Nick Winslade, CEO. ISD Computer Services 32 Dynamic Gaming Technology Maurilio Silva, President of Ortiz Gaming, chats to Andrew Behan 35 Top Management welcome at EiG Berlin 2015 N aomi Green chats with Ewa Bakun, Head of Content Gaming, Clarion Events
22 The Editorial policy: The views and opinions expressed in Bingo Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or ommissions however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publishers written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! Excitement has been building over the summer months as the industry descends on the Global Gaming Expo (G2E). Yes! the Bingo Life team will be in town for what will be another epic and enthralling gathering of the great and good in land-based gaming and iGaming. Our industry, whether it is bingo, casino, poker or sports betting, continues to be preoccupied with talks of mergers and acquisitions that will create gargantuan gaming corporations. Everyone, it appears within the gaming supply chain, whether an operator or supplier, is looking to protect their existing market share. A lot of boardroom debate is taking place not just in terms of whether to accept a friendly or hostile takeover, but what this will mean in terms of growth opportunities as consolidation in the industry continues unabated. Ultimately as the big get bigger, they will be able to exert more pressure both commercially and financially to squeeze more from their businesses to pay back some of the debt they have accrued on their books during these mega transactions. Could these new super heavy-weight corporations become too big and miss opportunities in the marketplace? Perhaps, and some proponents suggest that innovation which has been a huge driver along with technology, may regress or even stagnate. As these new groups integrate their businesses, it will take some time for their corporate cultures, people and products to transition. For me, consolidation is a natural process of evolution between the land-based gaming and gambling www.bingolifemagazine.com
industries as they continue to flourish and indeed intersect with their digital gaming brethren. These new breeds of super-sized gaming conglomerates will herald a new chapter for both landbased and online to co-exist and develop new products that target the next set of digital native customers with a fully immersive digital gaming experience both virtual and venue based. Will we see more deals done in the backdrop at G2E? Absolutely, but what happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas!
Mark McGuinness Online Editor
News Round-Up Stride Gaming Plc enters social gaming through acqusition Lucky Pants Bingo, Bingo Extra, Jackpot Café, Jackpot Liner, King Jackpot, Big Top Casino, together with the online casino brands Spin and Win and Magical Vegas. InfiApps is an internationallyfocused mobile social gaming company, that has had 5.2 million player downloads of its flagship game called Slot Bonanza, and over 500,000 users worldwide. The Acquisition will provide the Stride Gaming group with an entry into the booming social gaming segment of online gaming forecast to exceed $12.3 billion in 2017, with users based internationally, in particular in the United States of America, Canada and Australia.
Stride Gaming plc, the multi-branded online bingo-led operator, which listed on AIM in May 2015, recently announced a major acquisition of InfiApps Limited. The Stride group headed by industry veterans Eitan Boyd and ex-Sportingbet boss Nigel Payne operates a multi-branded strategy which includes the online bingo brands Kitty Bingo,
Akamon Entertainment launches new flying pigs video Bingo title
Akamon Entertainment, the leading social gaming company which targets Latin America and southern Europe announced a distribution agreement with Zest Gaming who supply video bingo products. The deal sees Zest’s hugely popular Flying Pigs Video Bingo title launched on Akamon’s Viva Bingo and Slots platform and shall see a new series of Video Bingo launches throughout the next few months.
Online Bingo drives Rank’s growth Rank, Great Britain’s largest venue bingo and casino operator, reported a 16-percent increase in operating profit excluding exceptional items to £84m (117m euros/$132m) in the year through to the end of June 2015.
Intertain launches slots as part of Bingo product in Spain Canada’s Intertain Group, the bingo and slots giant who recently bought online bingo brands Jackpotjoy and Spanish facing Botemania from Gamesys earlier this year, have launched slots to satisfy customer demand in the Spanish market. Botemania the market leading bingo brand in the regulated Spanish market has launched the slot games as part of the overall product and entertainment experience for players.
The company also reported a 21 percent increase in online gambling revenue with digital customers now representing 12 percent of the group’s total revenue. The digital division’s operating profits climbed by 14 percent to £3.1m.
Gala Bingo sale speculation continues
Zitro promises a big bang at G2E Zitro, the world leader in video bingo and innovative products, is promising a ‘BIG BANG’ gaming system that will be unveiled at G2E for this year’s show. The company will showcase their latest inventions created by the Zitro innovative ideas factory. BIG BANG is a new gaming system created by Zitro in which the player can immerse himself just by pressing the SUPER WIN button to enter an authentic entertainment experience; a true gaming dimension that is tipped to revolutionise the sector. Watch this space. www.bingolifemagazine.com
Speculation still continues in the GB market as Gala Coral Group seeks to offload its retail bingo division consisting of 130 bingo halls. Potential bidders named in the media include German behemoth the Gauselmann Group, along with private equity firms OpCaptia, Bridgepoint and Risk Capital.
Tax Update Philip Munn, Director of Deloitte, talks to Bingo Life on Tax issues
his tax update focusses on the Supreme Court decision in the Rank case. However, we have also touched on two indirect tax items in July’s Budget announcement.
Rank loses, but the fight goes on. The Supreme Court has released its judgment in the Rank case on the VAT treatment of certain gaming machine income from 2002 to 2005. While Rank lost, the litigation on this point has not been concluded. To recap, Rank had argued that it had overpaid VAT on some gaming machine income between 2002 and 2005. It lodged a claim to recover this VAT from HMRC. Between 2002 and 2005 some, but not all, takings from gaming machines were treated as being subject to VAT. Rank contended that this VAT treatment contravened the EU law principle of ‘fiscal neutrality’. The decision concerns the VAT treatment of s16/21 machines between 2002 and 2005. HMRC’s policy until 2005 was that s16/21 machine income was VAT exempt. However, HMRC changed its position and claimed that s16/21 machines should, in fact, have been treated as being subject to VAT. The Supreme Court agreed with HMRC and found that s16/21 machines were not exempt from VAT. This means that there was no disparity in VAT treatment between s16/21 machines and similar machines and so there was no breach in the principle of fiscal neutrality. However, other VAT exempt machines (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals or FOBTs) were available between 2002 and 2005 and so the courts might still find that there was a breach. Many bingo operators have submitted claims for overpaid VAT on gaming machines. We have summarised below the effect of this ruling on all of these claims: While Rank lost this case, it has a separate hearing at the First-tier Tribunal concerning VAT claims that relate to the period 2002 to 2005. Whilst the decision is disappointing this matter is not concluded.
Claims for overpaid VAT on machine income for periods between 2005 and 2013 are unaffected by this ruling. Summer Budget 2015: VAT - Use and Enjoyment The government announced that it is considering an extension to the VAT ‘Use and Enjoyment’ rules which might increase the amount of UK VAT suffered by gaming businesses outside the EU targeting UK customers. At present a UK service provider working for a gaming business based outside the EU would not usually charge UK VAT. If the proposed changes are enacted, it is likely to mean that some services would become subject to UK VAT if they were ‘used and enjoyed’ in the UK. For example, a UK company provides advertising services (advertising services were mentioned in the Budget announcement) to a company in Gibraltar targeting UK customers. At present, these services would not be subject to UK VAT. Under the proposals the advertising company might be required to charge UK VAT, thereby increasing the cost of the services by up to 20%. As many online gaming companies are established outside the EU, this could affect the VAT treatment of some of the supplies they receive from UK service providers. To reiterate, the government has not decided whether these measures will be enacted. If they are enacted, we do not expect them to be implemented before 2017. Summer Budget 2015: Alcohol Duty Fraud The government announced the creation of an ‘alcohol national control room’ in the Budget with the aim of reducing the sale of alcohol on which no duty has been paid. We expect this measure will lead to an increase in the frequency of control visits to any business selling alcohol, including bingo operators. If any Bingo Association members have any questions concerning any of the issues mentioned above, or any other indirect tax questions, please contact Deloitte on email@example.com.
Claims for VAT overpaid on machine income before 1997 appear much more difficult, although any business that has submitted a claim should take advice based on its specific circumstances.
FEATURE: MECCA 40 YEARS
Mecca 40 Year Anniversary Dedicated Mecca Bingo employee Marilyn Hanrahan celebrates 40 years of service this month
dedicated Mecca Bingo employee from the Sale Mecca club is celebrating 40 years of service this month.
Marilyn Hanrahan started her career with Mecca Bingo in 1975, where she began her journey through the company. Marilyn is now a Senior Assistant and has had the pleasure of watching Mecca Bingo grow and change over the past 40 years.
A favourite memory for Marilyn is the last grand opening at Mecca Bingo in Sale, as she fondly remembers all her colleagues and customers were “singing and dancing all day and night.” Marilyn commented: “There have been a lot of changes over the years, especially the changes in food and Mecca Bingo did not have waitresses back when I started.
FEATURE: MECCA 40 YEARS
I can’t thank Marilyn enough for all her hard work over the years and I believe her dedication to Mecca Bingo in Sale is extremely admirable.” We used to start work a lot earlier than 9am and we had such a laugh together, making hundreds of sandwiches and baking our own cakes!” David Walmsley, club manager at Mecca Bingo Sale, added: “Working with Marilyn has been a constant pleasure over all these years and I think Marilyn’s achievements are truly worth celebrating. I can’t thank Marilyn enough for all her hard work over the years and I believe her dedication to Mecca Bingo in Sale is extremely admirable.” To attend a Mecca Club you need to be aged 18 years or over and be a member of Mecca. Joining is free of charge and you can sign-up at www.meccabingo.com or at the club. 8
FEATURE: GALA NEWS
Bingo Lovers Gala Bingo invests £5 million in brand new Southampton club
ollowing previous announcements of a bingo tax reduction from 20% to 10% in the 2014 budget, Gala Bingo is keeping to its commitment to the Treasury with the construction of its first new build club in 9 years. With a total investment of £5 million, Gala Bingo is also expecting to create 50 new jobs for the local community. The new club in Antelope Park, Southampton is due to open in January 2016. It will introduce an entirely new concept to bingo lovers. The investment aims to change the perception of bingo by broadening the brand’s appeal through the addition of new differentiated zones in which to play bingo, and much improved facilities to attract a younger, modern-day audience to play happily alongside Gala’s traditional audiences who have grown up with bingo and still like to enjoy it in a quieter environment. The brand new venue will provide two places to play the same bingo games. It will be fully equipped with a newly designed, separated area, where the modern-day bingo player can enjoy the game without having to keep the noise down and a separate, 500 seat main hall,
with sound proof glass for the more traditional player, so both desired experiences can be protected, without impacting on each other. Additional features include a vibrant arcade full of the latest slot machines, after hours bingo, a pub-style food menu and a relaxed and comfy outdoor terrace that provides a pleasant environment for smokers, or just people who want to play bingo, in comfort, outside. Simon Wykes, Managing Director of Gala Bingo, comments: “Gala Bingo is delighted to keep to its commitment to the Treasury with the construction of a new build club. With a total investment of £5 million, the new Southampton club is a first in so many ways for Gala Bingo. It’s not only the first, full new build Gala Bingo club in 9 years, the new concept caters for all types of bingo players, both regular and new. There is something for everyone.” To find out more about Gala Bingo Southampton or register your interest in a membership, visit. For Gala Bingo latest news and deals go to www.galabingo.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @galabingo.
FEATURE: SOCIAL MEDIA
#LoveAWinner Share the #love The new National Bingo Game, complete with Jackpot and ‘once in a lifetime’ prizes, is increasingly seeing players and clubs create their own media buzz through community and social networking sites
he National Bingo Game has seen 30 lucky players win the Jackpot and paid out over £5,000,000 in Jackpot Prizes, in addition to which it has sent 246 winners on VIP Cruises and taken 110 winners to the Grand National, all since February 2014. Beneath these stories are the stories of the people that won: who they were with when they won, what they do for a living, who they might share their prize with, what they might spend it on, and the triumphs or challenges they have faced in their life. This is what people want to know and see. all since March 2014 Love it or loathe it, almost every club has a Facebook page, with some also having a Twitter account. The National Bingo Game has both. Facebook and Twitter can be great tools for actively promoting the game and business, not just posts and tweets on the latest promotion, but news and more importantly pictures of winners. People relate to people and bingo is a people business. Increasingly obtaining news coverage of bingo winners can be a challenge as many of the national newspapers and magazines have their own online bingo site and are reluctant to cover bingo stories. Successfully harnessing the power of social media can be a great way to combat, or perhaps support, traditional media coverage. Is social media just an additional channel for advertising and promotional messages? Or is it a means by which clubs and players can engage and share? Leading social media specialists will tell you that it should be the latter, as a means to highlighting or alerting customers to the former. Get it right and you create a consumer army that will support and on occasions even defend 10
you. Resource it poorly and it will fail to deliver. Manage it poorly and not only will it ‘die on the vine’ but can actively work against you. In looking at a range of Facebook pages, club bingo, consumer sights, associations etc. it is clear that the key to a genuinely successful group is the frequency and relevance of posting, combined with the format of the content. The key is in the name: social and media. Yes, users want content that is informative and broadly relevant, but they also want to be entertained and have the opportunity to engage, either responding directly or by sharing content. Look back at posts on most Facebook and Twitter pages, those that have good content and are topical will get the most likes, faves, and shares: sure fire signs of successful engagement. Add a couple of relevant pictures or a video and these tend to offer further engagement opportunities. Reposting relevant and entertaining content from other sites may also add to the appeal of your particular page: the Daily Mail is the mostly widely read website in the world and not all the content they flag is theirs. National LIVE and the National Bingo Game offer life enhancing prizes every day of the week, with the latter offering a life changing Jackpot. Add to this operator and club games and there is a wealth of real people, real winners and real stories to draw on. As an industry, bingo has plenty of untapped talent and content. Clubs and players love a winner and love a party. Share the news, create a story and make your own media buzz: #LoveAWinner. www.nationalbingo.co.uk www.facebook.com/NationalBingoGame twitter.com - @NationalBingo issue 019
FEATURE: GAMBLING INTEGRITY
Know Your Players
Social Responsibility is key in so many ways to operating a successful and compliant buiness, but what is the real value of customer relationships for Bingo Operators in addressing this issue? Sarah Ramanauskas of consultancy Gambling Integrity tells Bingo Life the true value.
he framework for responsible gambling and player protection for the GB Bingo industry is codified both by The Bingo Association and the Gambling Commission. Staff will therefore be aware of their legal requirements and what they need to do to comply. However, it’s just as important that staff understand the vital role of their customer service efforts in supporting responsible gambling and keeping their customers safe. Bingo rightly prides itself on the level of customer service and customer care it provides as part of the play experience. With its high levels of staff/customer interaction, a bingo hall provides a fun, enjoyable experience for the vast majority of players. However, there will always be some customers who are at risk of spending too much money or too much time playing bingo: money or time that they cannot afford to spend. Building up a relationship with your regular players is key to ensuring you can keep them safe when playing. It’s often a change in their personal circumstances which will lead them to gamble more – perhaps a bereavement, job loss, or the stress of caring for a child or elderly parent. Discretely getting to know if they might be under more stress than usual can help
you make sure that their gambling doesn’t get out of control. Gambling can be used by the elderly in particular to help mitigate chronic pain, or loneliness. The bingo community is often a great help to those who might otherwise have few other people in their lives; however it’s also important that staff are aware of when gambling might be taking over someone’s life to the detriment of their wellbeing. Some ‘red flag’ behaviours to look out for are given in the box [overleaf]. These are not a definitive guide, but rather are meant to be used in conjunction with an appreciation of each customer’s normal behaviour.
FEATURE: GAMBLING INTEGRITY
The Bingo Association Code of Conduct 2015 The Code of Conduct for The Bingo Association includes the following important aspects of customer care: - ensure staff understand and are aware of Social Responsibility commitments through staff training programmes - support and implement The Bingo Industry SelfExclusion Scheme - participate in the annual National Bingo Age Verification Scheme - support a responsible marketing strategy, including giving clear information to assist customers in making informed choices - comply with the Gambling Advertising Code.
UK Gambling Commission Codes of Practice LCCP 2015: Key elements for staff interaction Licencees: - must make information readily available to their customers on how to gamble responsibly and how to access information about, and help in respect of, problem gambling - the information must be directed to all customers whether or not licensees also make available material which is directed specifically at customers who may be ‘problem gamblers’ - must put into effect policies and procedures for customer interaction where they have concerns that a customer’s behaviour may indicate problem gambling - must have training for all staff on their respective responsibilities, in particular so that they know who is designated to deal with problem gambling - must have provision to identify at risk customers who may not be displaying obvious signs of, or overt behaviour associated with, problem gambling: this should be by reference to indicators such as time or money spent - specific provision for interacting with customers demonstrating signs of agitation, distress, intimidation, aggression or other behaviours that may inhibit customer interaction
‘Red flag’ behaviours which show someone might be at risk - Playing for far longer than usual - Spending more money than usual - Appearing anxious, distressed when playing - Saying that they need to win - Borrowing money from other players - Swearing, is abusive or hostile
The majority of bingo players have a fun, enjoyable experience thanks to the care and attention of staff. But, staff are also on the frontline in ensuring that players remain safe when gambling. Getting to know customers, and knowing the ‘flags’ which signal that someone might be at risk, will help all staff have the right conversation at the right time. Staff need to be confident in approaching a customer that they believe is out of his/her depth and is at risk of becoming a problem gambler. Our work at Gambling Integrity has shown us that gamblers do appreciate a conversation with a staff member who is genuinely concerned. However, it’s important not to be patronising or imply that the customer has ‘a problem’. Once again, if you can build a relationship with your regular players, they are more likely to trust you when you express concern for them, and listen to the advice you give. Gamblers who have found themselves spending far more than they can afford, and possibly even taking money from friends and relations to fund their gambling habit, may become abusive and aggressive. In this case, we recommend that your most experienced staff, with specialist skills, should approach them and persuade them to seek help. There are a number of organisations in the GB who have years of experience in helping gamblers who have hit rock bottom; bingo staff should be confident in persuading their customers to get this specialist advice. Bingo Association members contribute to the work of these organisations – they are there to help your customers who are most in need. Customer relationships are not only important in making sure everyone has an enjoyable time; they should be your most important and effective tool in preventing harm amongst vulnerable customers. Sarah Ramanauskas, Gambling Integrity www.gamblingintegrity.com Gambling Integrity is one of the world’s leading consultancies in responsible gambling and provides eLearning courses for online and land-based gambling operators, together with specialist training for Customer Services staff, and advice on developing responsible gambling policies and materials. For more details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gambling + Integrity issue 019
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Revitalization of Charitable Gaming (Bingo) By Peter McMahon, CEO, Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario An Environment in Need of Change The Revitalization of Charitable Gaming (Bingo) in Ontario, Canada, was forged through a backdrop of a group of industry leaders [Commercial & Charitable] recognizing the need to either re-position Charitable Gaming or just stand by and watch the slow decline and eventual disappearance of this important sector. In 1992 there were 214 Bingo Centres in the province which, at the time, represented the largest bingo market in North America. All of those Centres were trading reasonably successfully. The sector (Bingo) generated in excess of $C1b Gross Stake and provided a platform for 7,000 local Charity/ Non-profit groups to raise valuable dollars for their community work. At that time it was one of three key gaming platforms in the province, the other two being traditional Horse Racing & Lottery. It is fair to say the Bingo Sector was not organized effectively, either from a Commercial Operator or Charity Group perspective, to present an effective advocacy platform on the Sectorâ€™s behalf, which would highlight and communicate the tremendous value and contribution each Centre made to the local Charity Groups, the Municipality and the local economy. Change was definitely required but getting all of the stakeholders aligned was going to be a challenge. Fast forward to 2015. We now have 60 Bingo Centres and continue to provide a platform for 2,800 local Charity/Non Profit groups and Bingo/Community Gaming is still in the game.
Setting a Strategic Direction
in the province began to change. The Charity Bingo sector tended to focus on consolidation. While there was some merit in this at the time it masked the real challenges of the business. In 1996/97 the Commercial Operators began to explore a successful game from Great Britain (the National Bingo Game) where, during the evening session, all of the Bingo clubs linked together for one National game, offering a unique and premier prize. The Commercial Operators, under the then RGSO, began working with the AGCO [Regulator] on how this might be implemented in Ontario. This led to our first formal partnership with the OLG [Crown Corporation] resulting in the Charities being organized under the then PBCAA. This was a significant learning experience and showed the value of co-ordination and co-operation. In 1997 the industry, through and with the OLG, launched the successful SuperStar Bingo game. In 2005/06 two main initiatives were undertaken. The first was the conversion to c-Gaming in six pilot centres around the province, thus marking the first time that a Centre would be fully converted to 207:1:a under the criminal code. The second initiative was through the AGCO, under the Modernization of Charitable Gaming[207:1:b], where the revenue model was re-configured to better position the sector to deal with the challenges facing the industry - primarily enhanced gaming facilities at Racetracks, Casinos and the impact of the newly introduced non-smoking legislation. In both cases these achievements were made possible by working together and creating a plan for change.
During the course of the 1990â€™s the gaming landscape www.bingolifemagazine.com 15
In 2009, with the number of Bingo Centres in operation continuing to decline, the industry approached government directly to seek a mandate for change and support. Through tremendous hard work and communicating the value of the sector, a consensus for support was reached and duly granted under the Revitalization of Charitable Gaming (Bingo).
Creating Broader Partnerships A key element of this initiative has been the option of choice. This was not a mandated initiative. It was designed to ensure that those who opted in did so knowing full well it would require a long-term commitment and it wouldn’t be an easy road. Thus a ‘partnership’ approach was required from the Commercial Operator, Centre Charity Association, Municipality, Crown Corporation (OLG) and AGCO. Every one of these five groups needed to be aligned or, quite simply, it could not go forward. As with any new partnership framework there were cultural changes to accommodate the different needs of the partners and to establish their respective roles within the new framework.
continue to raise and deploy funds in real time in the communities in which they are located. There has been a tradition, dating back over 40 years, of this community engagement and the enrichment of those communities [where a Bingo/Community Gaming Centre is located] through the hard work and dedication of the numerous volunteers. The more successful the Revitalization Initiative can be, the more we can collectively support the Charities/Non Profit groups.
Understanding the Key Driver As we move forward, understanding the customer will be the key driver. Obtaining a greater appreciation and awareness of their behaviours, needs and wants is going to be critical. Through our partnership with the OLG, the c-Gaming team has undertaken comprehensive research into the ‘Bingo/Social gaming’ customer with some interesting results and learnings.
Committing to Investment
Offering an engaging social experience is the key to creating and delivering an enhanced service experience that is delivered in the most efficient manner.
The Commercial Operators had to agree to a baseline investment package for the initiative to be activated. The majority of Commercial Operators have gone beyond that baseline investment level and we are beginning to see innovative elements introduced around the province.
The expectations of the customer are evolving as society is changing in general. No company or service has remained static for 20 years and survived. Charitable Gaming is no different. We need to evolve, change and develop.
The minimum requirement of investment is $C450k which, given that most Commercial Operators are small business owners, has focused everyone’s mind on success [Average Centre conversion is now running around $C1.5m.] This investment level, which we are terming as ‘phase-one’, has also generated additional employment opportunities in the Centres, which is another good news story. It is about creating a more enjoyable ‘social environment and experience for the consumers’ where they can enjoy their leisure & social time with friends.
Supporting the Key Beneficiaries The Revitalization of Charitable Gaming (Bingo) is about securing the valuable platform that our Charities/Non Profit groups require to enable them to 16
A Balanced Approach As with all gaming environments, regardless of the channel, we need to be mindful of the need to balance development with responsible gaming practices. Charitable Gaming is no different. This initiative has engaged the Responsible Gaming Team at OLG to bring in resources and knowledge of this complex area into our Centres. Specifically, accessible Responsible Gaming kiosks are sourced from and staffed by the Responsible Gambling Council of Ontario, a highly regarded organization in this field. The regulatory framework has also been enhanced and updated, focusing on a Risk-Based Approach that is linked to a set of standards that are clearly defined and cover the broader range of gaming environments issue 019
FEATURE: ONTARIO from Resorts Casinos to i-Gaming. We are fortunate to have a respected regulator in the AGCO.
Making Headway – Long Way to go Since the initiative was launched, we have successfully converted 31 Centres to this platform. Well over 1,500 Charity/Non Profit groups are operating under this new framework and receiving the benefits that have been created. We have seen over $C25m (est.) in investment deployed in the sector and incremental local employment opportunities generated. To date it is estimated that $C72m has been raised for Charity/ Non Profit groups, which are deploying these funds directly into their local community under the guidance of the municipality.
An Initiative That Makes a Difference – In Real Time This initiative is remarkable in that it has five different partners all working towards the same goal but all with a different point of reference. This keeps the initiative balanced and in tune. It is generating investment, employment, immediate local funds, and a place for social interaction between friends. This is the main differentiator between Charitable Gaming (Bingo) and other forms of gaming. We want to make a difference. We want to strengthen and build on what has been achieved, and through constructive partnership and working together, to overcome challenges collectively. We are beginning to see the seeds come to fruition. Although there is a long road ahead, we remain optimistic for the future.
And this is just the beginning. We have, in phase one, 37 Centres to convert; a goal that is likely to be reached by mid to late 2016. The pace of these conversions has been tremendous but it is the beginning of the process. We still have a long way to go to maximize and leverage the opportunity.
Peter McMahon CEO Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario www.cgao.ca
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A Life in numbers
Bingo is not the only number centric sector, that once in your blood tends to remain; accounting and accountants can be similarly afflicted. But accountants drawn to bingo must surely be the ultimate manifestation of a life in numbers? Bingo Life talks to the National Bingo Gameâ€™s Matt Carey 18
FEATURE: MATT CAREY FINANCE
RGT 2015 Trek - Team Bingo on The Great Wall (left to right): Wayne Davies (Castle Leisure), Matt Carey (NBGA & Bingo Association), Janet Jepp (Majestic Bingo), Lyn Thomas (Majestic Bingo), Laurie Carpenter (Coronet Bingo Didcot)
While accountants apply their skills in every sector and business, changing between such radical streams are car manufacture and leisure is not perhaps such a common move s an accountant Matt Carey has heard most of the jokes made at the expense of his profession and is actually likely to share a few that perhaps you didn’t know.
Born in Luton, Matt’s love of numbers started early, studying Accounting and Finance at Leeds University, as a precursor to his studies for professional qualifications in 2003 with General Motors – generally better known, particularly in the Luton and Dunstable area where the National Bingo Game Offices are
based, as Vauxhall. As many will know the process of qualification for accountants is not an easy route, requiring study while at work, with progress dependant upon successful completion of each stage. Matt successfully made his way through each stage, adding to his CV as he went: • General Motors (2002 – 2007) • Bay Restaurant Group (2007 – 2010) - now part of Stonegate Pub Company • BrightHouse (2010 – 2011)
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FEATURE: MATT CAREY FINANCE • Torex (2011 – 2012) - subsequently part of Micros, now part of Oracle • Whitbread (2012 – 2013) Matt qualified in 2009, becoming a Chartered Management Accountant and a full Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounts (CIMA). While at Whitbread Matt was strangely drawn to bingo – applying for and securing the role of Finance Manger for National Bingo Game Association, The Bingo Association and Meeron in 2013. Like a true pro, in preparation for his interviews, Matt decided to immerse himself in the world of bingo, the only real numbers game, “I was expecting the customers to be the stereotypical ‘blue rinse brigade’”, said Matt, “but was pleasantly surprised to find the clientele covered 18 to 80+ and was broad church.” “It took me a few games to get used to the speed of calling, but once I got the hang of it I found I actually liked it! I’ve since visited various bingo clubs and it’s always great to see the sense of community in each club and pick out the regulars. It has now become part of life even away from work and I have been known to travel for bingo; I went to Beacon’s Record Breaking Colossus Night at Crickelwood in November last year, where they played for a £100,000 House Prize!” Matt’s responsibilities in overseeing the finance function across all three companies includes both planning and day to day activities: annual budgeting, audit, periodic management accounts, forecasting, invoice processing and payments, trends in stakes and prizes, management of retained stake funds, and preparation of final accounts for the various Boards. In addition to these core finance activities Matt also manages the relationship with IT suppliers and that office favourite: Health & Safety. In delivering this Matt is supported by Lina Kurgoniene (Management Accountant) and Angela Brient (Accounts Assistant). While accountants apply their skills in every sector and business, changing between such radical streams as car manufacture and leisure is not perhaps such a common move. So what is Matt’s view on the leisure sector and bingo? “Like many other parts of the leisure and hospitality sector, bingo has had a tough time in the last decade. The smoking ban in 2007 and the global recession saw the number of clubs reduce dramatically, a situation that was
compounded by the prevailing tax regime of the time. The rise and proliferation of online gaming provided a jolt, but in some ways not the long term threat that it was initially perceived to be. For other parts of hospitality and leisure (such as pubs, restaurants, bowling alleys, cinemas) online did not pose the same threat as there is no direct online substitute for them.
My first experience of a bingo club was two and a half years ago, just before I started working for the NBGA/BA. Since then I’ve introduced family and friends to bingo, all of whom have enjoyed it Amends to the prevailing tax regime have eased the position for many operators, allowing them to reinvest in their business and bingo, as a product, remains popular and relevant. Though the method and pattern of consumption is evolving, with electronic tablets and late night bingo all part of that process. My first experience of a bingo club was two and a half years ago, just before I started working for the NBGA/BA. Since then I’ve introduced family and friends to bingo, all of whom have enjoyed it. I have even had our auditors (KPMG) playing bingo as part of their work with us. I think that many people still hold on to an outdated view of bingo, bingo players and where it is played; something that the industry works hard to dispel. Unusually bingo has provided me with the opportunity to travel and trek abroad as part of the company’s support for the industry charity the Responsible Gambling Trust. Teaming up with other members of the industry I trekked in the Sahara Desert in 2014 and this year the Great Wall of China, which was reported in Bingo Life. The two trips have been inspirational and raised money for an important cause and I am hoping to be included in next year’s trek to Kilimanjaro.” Equally active in his private life Matt is a keen Squash player, who also organises the leagues and competitions at his local club; a sports enthusiast: rugby league, rugby union and football, Matt also has a passion for Homebrew, wine and beer! Who says that you can’t mix work and pleasure - it seems that the numbers do add up for Matt.
The Jewel In Our Crown Peter White chats to Majestic Bingo’s Managing Director, Mark Jepp
Mark Jepp, Managing Director, Majestic Bingo
year on from our previous interview and there has been a lot happening at the organisation? Yes there certainly has. We have completed 2 major club refurbishments creating 2 purpose built Gaming Lounges that we launched with some aplomb using special guests and soap stars, we have also completed a number of smaller capex projects. On top of this we have launched a staff recognition scheme called ‘The Jewel In Our Crown’ that rewards ‘above and beyond’ customer service delivered by our club teams via customer nominations. We have also published our second internal newsletter called ‘Majestic Moments’ when we collate all the fun stuff and local community-led activities our club teams have been involved in including local carnivals, bingo jamborees and family fun days – and by the end of the year we will have raised over £30,000 for Variety – The Children’s Charity. Our latest initiatives include launching a new website/online bingo offer later in the year, as well as rolling out a brand new membership system. This year has also involved the signing of a four year deal with Playnation to supply Server Based Games. How are the installations progressing and have you 22
had any feedback yet on performance? The rollout is now complete and like all these things there certainly has been a customer adoption curve to consider. Culturally, I think our customers were in a different place to Mecca and Gala in terms of their exposure to the latest gaming machine products, including the benefits of TITO, so the uptake has been a little slower in certain clubs. However, via great customer service and education we have begun to gain traction across the business. Playnation have a number of exciting initiatives, updates and upgrades later in the year that will allow us to grow the product even further. You have recently entered into a contract with the company ISD for their Membership System. What were your reasons behind your choice and what will be the primary gain from this investment? After reviewing the alternatives the choice was easy as the system is clearly the best in the market. We believe Maxim will materially improve how we communicate with our customers and allow us to be much smarter on a number of levels, including how much collateral we need to create and distribute. We have also agreed at board level to recruit a Marketing Manager to assist the business in getting the most out of the investment. issue 019
FEATURE: APOLLO BARROW We are currently running 5 separate membership systems due to historic legacy issues. We looked at several systems and identified the ISD system as the preferred choice - flexible and powerful, but easy to use. It also fits nicely as we are currently installing the ISD MIS software. We wanted to install a centralised system which would give us improved data to enable us to engage better and focus on our members’ preferences. We spend a substantial amount on advertising our offers to members and we will be able to better target customers and remove the volume of mail-outs. The system will also help us with strengthening our compliance procedures. In addition to Barcrest / Scientific Games, you have also trialled and entered in to a supply agreement with Astra Gaming UK, which also adds up to a lot of investment. Is this investment in new slots paying off for Majestic? I am very excited about our tie-up with Astra/ NOVOMATIC and believe this will take our gaming machine offer to the next level. I have done my research around the terminals, currently available games and the content pipeline. I am confident we have a road map in place that will grow our cash box and the number of customers who will engage in an improved gaming machine experience. NRM is another organisation familiar to many in GB Bingo operations and with this organisation Majestic has entered into an agreement with a system titled Jigsaw. Can you explain to readers the features and benefits gained from this system? Jigsaw has been a valuable addition to the Majestic business. In terms of features what impressed my team was the depth of content available in an easy to use PC based application. Content covering music, Karaoke, in-venue advertising and a range of interactive games and quizzes has provided us with a really clever suite of activities to better allow us to engage with our customers. The benefits of this have been demonstrated in varying
degrees. What we have seen is a more structured, flexible and cost effective way to communicate to all our customers across all venues with the advertising module. The music and Karaoke provide a tailored music experience. Having carefully selected playlists and all the current chart releases has ensured a consistent approach that creates a more professional and appropriate environment for our customers to enjoy. At Majestic we have been keen to introduce more fun and reasons to attend our venues; the interactive games and quizzes have really allowed us to engage with our customers. We have seen a change in customer behaviour with earlier attendance and later stays as people participate in these activities. It’s still early days and we are evolving the use of Jigsaw in the business, but I am confident it’s adding that extra bit of sparkle and professionalism to our business and that’s not a bad thing in today’s competitive market! You mentioned that the gaming areas are not just about the machines, it’s about the lighting, layout and design along with background music that all combine into creating the best relaxed and enjoyable environment for patrons. The Apollo Bingo & Social Club Barrow in Furness is a great example. I agree, Barrow is a great customer led example and it crystallises our beliefs and experience around product, service and environment. Of course products (games & content) have to be strong but these need to be supported by great customer service that really understands the needs and desires of the player along
FEATURE: APOLLO BARROW further installations of this game in other Bingo Halls? Initially we will look to move the product around on some kind of road show/stay of residence but ultimately I think we will purchase additional units. Vortex along with systems such as Jigsaw are proving extremely popular with our customers and from our perspective allow us to deliver the More, More, More part of our strategy…More Fun, More Games, More Prizes. Food & Beverage and how its presented and promoted has also seen a fresh approach along with sponsorship from Carlsberg. Can you explain more about the various initiatives that have been employed? We have implemented a national approach with our suppliers on F&B and have found good partners to work with in Carlsberg, Britvic, Nestle & Brakes.
with a best in class environment. The correct lighting levels, background music, social areas and comfortable seating all play a part in creating the right ambiance – we really do not want to process our customers around the venue but ensure there are areas for them to relax and game at their own pace. Management is also a vital part of improving performance from venues. What is your approach to maintaining motivation and commitment from those in charge and at the sharp end of customer service? Good people don’t need motivating, they just need to believe in the journey they are on by having a clear strategy and tactics. It is the role of Majestic’s senior team to ensure all of our club teams understand that journey and the direction it is taking. Clearly there is a bit around ensuring our teams are rewarded and incentivised for the great work they are and will be doing. However, the team we have in place is typically motivated by the success of Majestic and that desire drives them on to better/smarter ways of doing things. I am very fortunate to have a great supporting senior team at Majestic who are not in any way self-serving – they really are committed to making Majestic a great (& fun) place to work. Apollo Bingo Mansfield recently installed a Vortex Machine which is proving very popular. Do you see 24
Our relationship with Carlsberg has delivered remerchandising of the Bars as well as initiatives which include sponsorship of key events such as a National Game win and re-launch parties. We have worked with Brakes to broaden our food offer in the clubs and this has been a huge piece of work. This has included expansion plans in some clubs which customers have responded very positively to. Nestle & Britvic have provided us with a variety of options including top of the range hot drink offers and vending, as well as a number of other staff and company initiatives. Variety The Children’s Charity is also at the top of the priority list at Majestic. What have you in store for fund raising events? By the end of the year we will have raised over £25,000 for Variety and our club teams should be extremely proud of this (as am I). Once it was announced that The Bingo Association had chosen Variety, The Children’s Charity, we really got behind Variety as a life affirming charity we could believe in and undoubtedly wanted to support. Our clubs and Head Office have really stepped up to the plate and organised fund raising events from Wing Walks, to 6 hour log flume rides and Family Fun Days in our car parks to charity bingo Games. 12,000 miles in 3 months is a lot of mileage, which does indicate that the growth and success Majestic Bingo is experiencing has not been by luck but by hard work by you and your staff at Majestic and Apollo Bingo Halls which must be very satisfying. Yes very satisfying, our mantra is you make your own issue 019
General Managers and Assistant Managers, Nationwide Opportunities - Majestic Bingo Ltd We are currently recruiting for talented General Managers and Assistant Managers to join our successful team. The Majestic experience is all about the personal touch, we create an exciting, vibrant environment for our customers and staff alike. We utilise the latest entertainment technology and we tailor this to our individual clubs. We offer lots of fun for our customers but with a truly local flavour. As a company we recognise that it’s our club teams that make the difference to our customers and we understand the importance of engaging our employees and rewarding great performance. We are looking for dynamic and enthusiastic, individuals who are passionate about delivering excellent customer service and standards as well as possessing an excellent business brain. Our General Managers and Assistant Managers truly are the crucial element in our success, being empowered to make the key decisions on policy and promotions and taking ownership of their club. In return for this we offer a competitive salary as well as excellent benefits including private health care, personal pension scheme and a generous bonus scheme. Are you: • A General Manager or Assistant Manager In the Bingo Industry • Able to lead and inspire a team • Energetic • Hard working • Operational focussed • IT literate. Proficient in Microsoft Office applications Do you have? • Experience in managing P&L’s with full accountability • Successful track record of managing, motivating and inspiring teams to meet customer needs in a service led culture and achieve goals and targets within a changing environment • Excellent oral, written and inter-personal communications • The ability to adopt new technologies/ideas • The ability to deliver results • A full UK driving licence
If the answer is yes to all of the above? Then we want to speak with you. If you are interested and want to hear more... Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Enclose your CV and tell us about yourself and your current situation.
FEATURE: APOLLO BARROW luck. Bingo is by no means an easy sector to operate within but if you do the right things and are focused on the long term and the customer as well as being prepared to invest in the right areas then you can make it work…and grow!! I have driven up from Tunbridge Wells to see this impressive Bingo & Social Club just after it celebrated its 16th Birthday Bash, and where the new amusement area called the Lounge was officially opened, which was by all accounts a lot of fun for all? It was great fun. On the Party Night we had soap star Antony Cotton (Sean Tully from Coronation Street) in attendance to call a game of bingo and cut the ribbon as well as a Take That tribute band to play the evening out. Throughout the evening we had free drinks and nibbles available for our customers and some of the staff used their ‘Hidden Talents’ such as juggling and stilt walking!! Clearly there has been and continues to be a steady level of continued investment in the Group, and that can only be made if a certain amount of long term approach is applied. How much of an advantage is it having Luke Johnson as owner? The great thing about having Luke as the majority shareholder (for me anyway) as you have identified is the long term approach we have taken to the business from day one. We really want to build a customer-led business that is not short-term EBITDA driven. However, delivering a profit is important and we are here to make a profit (this is not something to be embarrassed about) and the size of our profits is a measure of how our customers value our products, our efficiency and our ability to deliver value for money. Luke supports our customer-centric approach of developing the business, our willingness to invest in existing and new clubs, willing to develop in destination and local businesses (not just flat floor) as well as investments in systems and infrastructure – we are trying to create a truly great bingo offer and not doing this via shortcuts. Social Media is also growing each month as a more and more effective way of keeping patrons informed. What is your organisation’s approach? Do you have Majestic Bingo Twitter and Facebook? As I mentioned earlier we are recruiting a Marketing Manager and one of their clear priorities will be to ensure we have a group wide approach to social media. At the moment there are a number of clubs using elements of social media well. However, this cannot be said for
all of our businesses, so a more joined-up approach is required. Over 60% of our customers own a smart phone, so it is clear that developing our social media strategy and presence is extremely important. How often do you attend exhibitions and which ones do you think are best and why? I try to attend all of the key events each year with G2E and ICE being at the top of list. However, I am sending Ben Pitts to G2E this year as I promised him I would…I will miss being there though!! Trade exhibitions are extremely important not just on a product and content level to ensure I am keeping up to date with what’s out there and what’s working, but on a people level also. There are a number of fantastic operators in bingo such as Castle Bingo, Club 3000 and Shipley’s and the chance to meet up with these guys throughout the year at exhibitions such as ICE is not to be missed. And finally what are your primary goals with Majestic Bingo for 2016? - Meet/exceed budget - Grow the top and bottom line - Invest surplus in acquisitions if they make sense - Continue to develop our existing clubs - Ensure we continue to wow our existing customers by offering a great bingo experience with a local flavour.
FEATURE: ISD COMPUTERS
Multi-operator Service Peter White chats to Nick Winslade, CEO, ISD Computer Services Nick Winslade, CEO, ISD Computer Services
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ick it is good to catch up with you again. Every time we chat I’m always impressed by how well ISD’s business is doing. What have been the major new developments in 2015? Indeed, it’s been another good year for ISD. We are very fortunate with the mix of products and services we supply and with the customers we work with within the gaming industry. We are always busy enhancing our existing products or developing new products. This year our major new developments include the launch of our Customer Loyalty product and the development of the Bingo Industry Self-Exclusion Scheme for The Bingo Association. It is a big year for operators in the UK with the requirement for self-exclusion schemes. How is ISD participating? The requirement for each operator to facilitate a customer wishing to self-exclude from gambling has been in place for some time now. Indeed many of ISD’s customers have been very much ahead of the curve in regard to social responsibility and self-exclusion. ISD’s Maxim.NET Membership and Direct Marketing product has had the ability to allow customers to self-exclude since 2006. The current LCCP requires land-based operators to put in place a mechanism for customers to self-exclude for a minimum of 6 months from their premises. By April 2016 land-based operators must be able to process a self-exclusion request from a customer and process to ensure it such that the customer is also self-excluded from the same kind of gambling in all other premises. Whereas previously, operators could run a self-exclusion scheme that only affected a single premises. The Bingo Association finalised requirements for a multi-operator solution in May 2015 and ISD was selected to provide the software development. The software is now complete and we will begin deployment with operators. Core to the self-exclusion service is the database containing the details of customers who wish to self-exclude. Customers can be added to the database or checked if they are on the database in two ways; either by logging in to the self-exclusion web site or by using application interfaces (APIs) connected to their existing membership systems.
You mentioned your new Customer Loyalty product. Can you tell us about some of its main features and benefits? Customer Loyalty schemes within the gaming industry come around in cycles. Sometimes they are in vogue and other times not. The key really is to operate a scheme with definitive objectives and definitive timescales in mind. Branding is also a major element. Being able to launch a new scheme under a new brand is a key ingredient to keeping the scheme fresh in the minds of customers. ISD’s Customer Loyalty solution links directly with our Maxim.NET Membership product. The solution is essentially a rules-based points and rewards scheme; any number of rules can be set up for issuing points. Points are issued to customers for visits, book sales and for electronic spend. Some Bingo sessions are of more value than others so points can be issued at different rates for each session and each day and for different levels of customer spend. Each points rule can also apply to different customer segmentation. For example, one rule may apply to the top customers, another to lapsed members or for hitting spend thresholds or attending on specific sessions. The Customer Loyalty solution sounds very flexible but how do you communicate all this to customers? Customer communication is also flexible. Customers can be notified in advance that they will receive certain points awards or bonus points for attending specific sessions and can be notified when they have received points. In exchange for points, customers can redeem points against a catalogue of products. The product catalogue is completely under the control of the operator. Some products may always be available and some products may only be available on certain days or sessions. Typically products within the catalogue are for books and meals but third party products and prizes are also available. ISD supplies a ‘rewards kiosk’ which shows customers their points’ totals and what products they can redeem their points for as well as a full audit trail of points issued and redeemed. The link with ISD’s Membership product and our SMS service ensures customers are kept well informed with the latest rewards and offers. Because we can issue messages to customers at the admissions kiosk, the rewards kiosk and by SMS,
“B P i m ng an ag
FEATURE: ISD COMPUTERS we keep the overall costs of operating the Customer Loyalty scheme to a minimum.
always pushing forward trying to make the products better.
What results have operators seen so far? All the operators using our Customer Loyalty solution can keep full track of the scheme using the analysis and reporting tools we provide. When they target a particular customer segment or a particular session they can see the results immediately and measure increases in attendance and sales. Of course one of the main objectives is customer retention, particularly in the top customer segments. Being able to target different rewards to different customer segments really allows operators to manage their marketing budgets better and focus on the customers that matter.
Another thing is that I have over 30 years of experience providing solutions for the Bingo Industry and with that comes an understanding of the market. This allows us to work closely with our customers, to understand their requirements and develop good software solutions.
For organisations not familiar with ISD Computer Services would you just remind of us of your other main products and services? ISD’s main product is still our Membership and Direct Marketing solution. The ability to maintain an accurate database of members, carry out targeted marketing to members via direct mail, e-mail and our SMS service is still where we get the most demand. Our Cash Management solution is used extensively within the Bingo industry and proves to be very successful. Linked to the Direct Marketing solution is our SMS broadcasting service. This is used by our customers within the gaming industry and also a broad spectrum of customers from other industries wishing to interact with their customers. Finally, let’s not leave out our custom software development. Custom software development is still a major part of our business and fundamental to what and who we are. As far as I can see ISD’s Membership and Direct Marketing solution seems to be installed in the majority of GB Bingo sites. Clearly your customers like it. What do you think is the key to this and how do you move forward when you have such a big market share? We don’t really think about the extent of our Membership and Direct Marketing solution within the market we generally just focus on our customers, their requirements and providing them with the best products and support that we can provide. It has been pointed out to us on a number of occasions that we have around 70% market share; people might perceive that this would make us complacent but that’s not our style and certainly our customers will say that we are
Following on from my previous questions, do you plan to take your products into other market sectors? Fortunately creating demand for our products has never been one of our issues. The main issues about moving into another market sector is gaining the knowledge and expertise of that sector and then having the time and the resources to customise your software accordingly. As a company we have always been very busy with the customers and the sector within which we work. However we would certainly like to branch out and may be that will happen over the next year. Outside of gaming the enquiries we get come mainly from gyms, leisure centres and fitness clubs.
MEMBERSHIP I DIRE
ISD’s internet b you to manage from any intern anywhere in the
I’ve also heard that ISD have been working with Majestic Bingo, a new company within the UK market. How is this progressing? Yes, we are delighted to be working with Majestic in fact we have been in discussions for such a long time they actually feel like one of our long term customers. We will be rolling out our Maxim.NET Membership and Direct Marketing product and our Cash Accounting product to their entire estate over the coming months. Majestic is a new brand operator in the GB and in our l Customer Data Management discussions they have brought a refreshing approach l Admissions Capture to their customers and to the Bingo market.
There’s no easier more cost
Segmentation and Targeting
Finally, moving forward,lwhat are the major items in Campaign Management ISD’s business plan? l Direct Marketing and Response Tr More of the same really. We have a full development l Direct Mail schedule for the next 12 months with enhancements to our existing products, work to do on selfexclusion and a lot of custom software development. It’s another busy year ahead.
25 yea Bingo
Dynamic Gaming Technology Maurilio Silva, President of Ortiz Gaming, chats to Andrew Behan
n time since your company was founded, you have grown into the largest and most successful supplier of electronic bingo in the world. Can you tell us what qualities distinguish Ortiz Gaming Bingo Slots from the rest? The Ortiz Gaming mission is “To provide entertainment and happiness to people through the products and provide our customers growth,” this is what has made us successful for over 20 years, and made our games unparalleled. We are always focusing on innovation and industry trends to produce the best, hitech, mathematically superior, and most importantly fun products which create excitement and engagement to the player. This unique combination ensures increased time-in-chair and revenue for the casino. Your main markets have been Mexico and South America along with Europe all of which have experienced fluctuations in their markets in recent years, how has Ortiz Gaming coped with these changes in legislation and economic climates? Every market has its own ebbs and flows, but prior to entering any market Ortiz Gaming does extensive research and planning so that we can maintain a strong Maurilio Silva, President of Ortiz Gaming foothold as we grow and expand in that that growth, we are a significant competitor in the region. Once established, we stay focused market as casinos continue to demand our most on meeting the ever-changing needs of the market. exciting and top selling games. Growing firmly and progressively has kept us from wavering in the presence of industry challenges. In North America, Six Bingo™ is our number one selling game. Six Bingo™ takes the familiar 5x5 bingo card How is Ortiz Gaming expansion into North America game to a new level by adding multiple cards and extra progressing? bonus balls. Six Bingo™ features exciting graphics and Ortiz Gaming was welcomed into the North American rich sound; designed for the player engagement and gaming market almost four years ago. Shortly after increased revenue generation, making this product a entering, we were already being called one of the top star among both the casinos and players. gaming manufacturers in the region. Today, continuing 32
FEATURE: ORTIZ GAMING What would you say are the main benefits that gaming and specifically Bingo operations gain from partnering with Ortiz Gaming? Solutions! Ortiz Gaming is creating solutions for the gaming industry. For bingo hall operators, products like Bingotronic™ and OrtiZone™, can turn a standard bingo hall into a hi-tech bingo gaming area, maximizing space and increasing revenue through player engagement. These products offer various customizable options, from game styles, device options, and even lounge and seating arrangements, so operators can provide the perfect space for their clients, and have the right product mix for operational growth. Investment in technology and product development is critical to any organisation involved in this highly competitive market. What is Ortiz Gaming’s policy on investment in innovation and product development? Research and development are a priority for Ortiz Gaming. This is incredibly significant as we progress in this hi-tech era. For us, at Ortiz Gaming, we cannot be stagnant; always pursuing integrating the latest technology into our games, cabinets, systems, and platforms. Technology is developing exponentially and we maintain to be ahead of the curve. For this reason Ortiz Gaming has been on an intense path of development and technology and we plan to continue. Ortiz Gaming has an impressive list of best sellers and new games for 2015. Are they all region specific and are there more on the way for G2E Las Vegas 2015? What is great about the products we have is that they outperform the gaming floor average regardless of the region. None the less, some games develop a following around the world. In North America, Six Bingo™ is our number one requested game. In Asia, PiliBingo™ is a
fan favourite, allowing players to play 20 bingo cards at once while features a lovable fluffy character called Philip, who is also a big hit on his own. Triple Bonus™, as its name describes, has three time the bonuses added to the classic bingo game, and still remains our number one game in Latin America and Europe. We have many more games being displayed at G2E this year and I would bet that many of our new bingo, slot, keno, and lottery games may quickly become big hits among fans. In which markets and geographic regions are you seeing most growth? Globally the gaming industry is blossoming and ripe with innovations as the industry is changing so quickly. New products, ideas and concepts are emerging; technology is making way for new developments as well as enhancements in the player experience. This year alone we have seen a lot of development in the virtual and online spaces, which I foresee translating into global industry growth as the bridge between these areas is more cohesively developed. Additionally, technological innovations are driving a new look and feel to the classic casino. The industry is demanding hitech, sleek, and immersive cabinets like our O-Future™ and O-Circle™; they are demanding features with
exciting add-ons like our community bonus games, and the Sky Paper™ feature; overall the industry is demanding more in terms of customer experiences and revenue. As the landscape continues to change globally in this new age of gaming it will lead to significant growth in various markets. What was the reaction at this year’s ICE to the new O-Circle cabinets? This cabinet has been a show stopper for us. Since its launch, O-Circle, our evolutionary cabinet with a 42” curved display, has generated quite a reaction. The gaming industry has called it “sexy”, “immersive”, and even “industry changing”, and we are excited to get these reviews, and feedback.
This year we have already experienced significant new growth globally, solidifying Ortiz Gaming as a leader in the Gaming Industry internationally. What have been the highlights for you so far this year and what excites you most about the second half of the year? The first half of this year has been eventful for Ortiz Gaming. We have received increased demand for our stunning line of products, while continuing to develop new games, product lines, and working on expanding our business. This year we have already experienced significant new growth globally, solidifying Ortiz Gaming as a leader in the Gaming Industry internationally. Continuing down this road we have a lot of exciting surprises in store to unveil at G2E. For those attending this year’s G2E Las Vegas Show, what can they expect to see in your booth? G2E goers should ‘raise their expectations’, making sure to plan enough time to see all things new from Ortiz Gaming. This year we have nearly tripled our product offerings and had to double our booth space at G2E to make room for all the new bingo, slot and keno games; and the new cabinets, systems, and hardware we will be offering. Additionally, Ortiz Interactive, our interactive gaming division will present new takes on our classic games ―from online, to server-based, to electronic bingo and everything in between. 34
Meet the Ortiz Gaming team G2E Las Vegas on booths 3267 and 3867
FEATURE: EIG BERLIN 2015
Top Management welcome at EiG Berlin 2015 Naomi Green chats with Ewa Bakun, Head of Content Gaming, Clarion Events 2014 was the first EiG in Berlin. How was it? It was great. Moving to a new city is always exciting, but also challenging as we need to understand the dynamics of the city and the venue. Last year we decided that it was time to create a new experience for our delegates by moving to a non-exhibition venue that allowed us the flexibility and freedom to design our attendees’ journey and build everything, including networking areas and conference rooms. We didn’t get everything right, but by creating a very open floor plan that integrated all of the different areas into one, I hope we managed to build an Photos, people, or groups Explore Create Upload EiG space that was welcoming and inclusive of all, while giving everyone an opportunity to learn and network in the way that suits their needs best. Being in Berlin, the gaming, investment and startup hub of Europe, also re-invigorated the event, which benefited from the German capital’s fresh thinking, edginess and creativity. 8/29/2015
IMG_8585 | Flickr Photo Sharing!
Can you be specific about the changes planned for this year’s event and will social mediaBackmarketing feature to album amongst the seminar topics? Follow Totally Gaming Because the event underwent such significant changes IMG_8585 in 2014, we decided to solidify them in 2015 and continue to attract outside industry speakers and focus more on the long-term industry’s growth with our 2025 stream. EiG has always attracted iGaming decisionmakers and innovators and it will continue to do so in 2015. But we’re also making a bigger effort to bring a wider community by offering dedicated learning aimed at equipping the product, marketing, compliance and business development teams with tools to implement the Vision and the Strategy set by the Board and https://www.flickr.com/photos/totallygaming/15021992964/in/album72157648989284432/
senior management. So we’re encouraging the top management to bring their teams with them (in particular as there is an Operator deal – buy 3, get 10 tickets) to learn and network, and get the tools to put their Vision and Strategy into practice. Another big change, as part of an effort to embrace the entire ecosystem, is EiG’s focus on the evolving affiliate sector, with sessions dedicated to affiliates, welcome to EiG for free. By coming just a couple of days before the Berlin Affiliate Conference, affiliates will get a chance to interact with the industry’s top decision makers, feedback on the customer response Sign In Sign Up to products and understand the product roadmap to prepare for the future.
Social media marketing features in the programme in the discussions around building online communities and focused on affiliate marketing. Can you provide any further details at this point on this year’s conference program Speakers & Topics? We have around 100 speakers confirmed to date and expect more, so it’s difficult to talk about all of Taken on October 22, 2014 0 0 faves comments them. But what sets All rightsEiG reservedapart is its focus on bringing experiences from outside the industry (and we’ve had Canon EOS 5D Data Scientist for Amazon.com and the founder of Travelocity.com speaking before). We have tried to match a keynote speaker to some of the key topics that underpin the agenda, for example we have former CEO of Imperial Tobacco speaking on industry reputation, head of digital for itv news on multi-channel experience, Thomas Cook digital advisory chairman talking about evolving customer behaviour, chairman of the biggest eSports league on this latest trend and Samsung’s 1/3
FEATURE: EIG BERLIN 2015 director on the future of devices. The change in pricing to one price for all? We introduced one pricing across the exhibition and conference last year and that stays. We also built the conference rooms in the middle of the showfloor to encourage the free flowing between the learning, networking and exhibition areas. As we do want to attract more operators, we are also keeping the Operator Package deal in which customer facing gaming companies can send 10 attendees for the price of 3 only. And affiliates come for free. EiG Advisory Board is a new development for the conference. What are the members objectives and requirements? We started the EiG Advisory Board in 2014 and it was so valuable that we called one for our US event as well, GiGse. We always consult with the industry while researching topics to create agendas for our events, but with the Advisory Board we wanted to create more meaningful engagement and really get to the gist of some of the industry issues to make sure we reflect them with required depth. As EiG was undergoing such big changes in 2014, we also wanted to consult with the industry to validate our thinking, new formats and ideas for speakers. Right now we work very closely with our Advisory Board members who have been extremely helpful in recommending speakers and advising on the agenda. What would you say are the main benefits that online operators can gain from attending this year’s EiG? One of the key benefits of EiG is the networking opportunities it provides to connect with EiG’s 1500-plus decision-makers in attendance. EiG is generally known for the quality of its audience, and also for the dynamics it offers where more in-depth business conversations take place, allowing our attendees to truly build and develop business relationships. That dynamic sets EiG apart from events like ICE where things are way more fast paced to maximise time at the show. From the learning perspective, the main benefits this year will be really understanding the changing industry ecosystem to reposition your business and offering, and to spot opportunities that might come out of the intense consolidation. As the fragmented European regulation continues to be a challenge, more and more operators are looking further afield for expansion so we’ll be focusing more on emerging markets, in particular Africa, Eastern Europe and South America so our delegates
can connect with experts on operating in these growth markets. As I explained above, learning from other sectors has always been an EiG strength – no other event features that many outside industry speakers who can offer a fresh perspective and inspiration. Start-ups have also been EiG’s constant with the LaunchPad competition we have been doing since 2008, Start-up Village and one-on-one mentorship sessions we’re offering. After GamCrowd and William Hill Labs launched their startup initiatives, I think it’s clear that there is a race to spot the disruptions that might transform iGaming and EiG will be attracting startups to meet with, invest in and/or sign partnerships with. Mobile & Tablet gaming continues to expand in popularity throughout the world. How is EiG’s conference program catering for the many and varied rapidly increasing gaming trends? Mobile is here to stay; it’s no longer a fringe channel. Omni-channel is the big buzz word, and operators’ dream, but there are challenges on the road to achieve a truly omni-channel approach. New technologies and devices pop up (almost) every day and operators wonder when is the right time for them to deploy them to offer an experience in line with their brands. There is a mobile-only generation to be acquired and some operators report 60% and more of their traffic coming from mobile, which means that mobile is a must for operators, not a choice. Topics around how to achieve omni-channel gaming, how to take the full advantage of the new devices and technologies available and how to embrace the mobileonly generation will all be discussed at EiG by speakers from William Hill, Paddy Power, LeoVegas, BoyleSports, Samsung and others. For those of our readers attending EiG can you provide us details on registration and are there any special discounted deals this year? The easiest way to register is to go online on www.eigexpo.com or contact us directly by emailing my colleague Adam Roebuck at adam.roebuck@ clarionevents.com or calling +44 207 394 8118. Last year we slashed the prices and introduced just one price that gives everyone access to both the exhibition and conference sessions. But we do offer preferential rates to operators (buy 3 tickets, bring 10 delegates); we have a few of those still available. Affiliates come for free.
GAME-CHANGING INSIGHTS. Technologies unveiled. Services and products to be bought. Insight to be gained. Connections to be made. But only one place in the world to find them all together.
SEPT 29 - OCT 1, 2015 SANDS EXPO CENTER LAS VEGAS
INTRODUCING THE INTEGRATED RESORT EXPERIENCE AT G2E, FEATURING END-TO-END CASINO RESORT SOLUTIONS, INCLUDING SLOTS AND SKILL-BASED GAMES, CMS AND P.O.S. TECHNOLOGIES, STAY WELL AMENITIES, CUTTING-EDGE FURNISHINGS AND SIGNAGE, LOYALTY PRODUCTS, F&B AND FRANCHISE CONCEPTS AND MORE. ALL IN ONE PLACE: G2E, HELD SEPT. 29-OCT. 1 AT THE SANDS EXPO AND CONVENTION CENTER IN LAS VEGAS.
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