BINGOLife Spring 2020 - Issue 31
AND THE WINNER ISâ€¦
Caller of the Year 2019
Buzz is buzzing
An Award winning game
Party Time with Club 3000 When Cardiff Calls... Just say Yes!
SETTING THE STANDARD Gamcare
BINGOLife Published by ACE Publishing Ltd
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Welcome to the Spring 2020 issue of Bingo Life. We start the New Year with a new issue and two industry trade shows: EAG and ICE. The Bingo Pavilion will once again be at ICE, in the South Hall: come and say hello! We hope that you enjoy the issue, and shows, and look forward to sharing news and stories with you in our Summer issue later this year. If there is an idea, topic or news item that you wish to share then be sure to let us know. Happy reading!
Published by ACE Publishing Ltd
Contents 1 Welcome to Bingo Life Spring 2020 Miles Baron 3 Chief Executive’s Foreword Miles Baron 5 Guest Comment Kate Chambers, Managing Director of Clarion Gaming 7
News Round Up
12 GamCare Training for Bingo Staff 13 Bingo Association Machine Messaging Trial Maps the Way Forward
32 Variety Update
14 An Award Winning Game – BINGO!
33 Variety Open Letter
16 Interactive Entertainment Bingo Life Interview with Willow Communications’ Steve Barlow
34 Bringing it Together Technology and time challenges: solved by SMART UI
20 It’s Time to Celebrate at Club 3000
37 Bingo Life chats to Damien Evans CEO Graphyte.ai
22 And the winner is Donna Kunyo 26 New roles Meet Paul Swindon, The Bingo Association’s new Head of Governance and Compliance 29 New Ways to Communicate Responsible Gambling Messaging: Shipley Creative chats to Bingo Life about their involvement with The Bingo Association and RG week.
41 When Cardiff Calls.. National Bingo Game VIP Experience 44 Setting the Standard GamCare’s Safer Gambling Standard: one year on 46 G2E Asia 2020 Bingo Life chats to Josephine Lee, Executive VP, Reed Exhibitions Greater China
32 issue 031
Chief Executive’s foreword
s we start a new year it is always a good opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months and anticipate some of what is to come.
There were some great customer experience highlights in 2019. In September, the National Bingo Game sent over 100 customers on a VIP weekend to Cardiff, visiting The Royal Mint. The National Bingo Game also sponsored the return of the National Bingo Game’s ‘Caller of The Year’ competition, the National Final of which took place in November at Buzz Bingo, Great Park, Birmingham: it was a great event. What the ‘Cardiff Calling VIP Weekend’ and ‘Caller of The Year’ events show, is that there is still an appetite for fun, entertainment and good old-fashioned excellent customer service. And Bingo operators and their teams know how to put on a show! In many ways, 2020 will be dominated by the recent election result and how it will affect the Bingo industry. At least the process of government can start to move forward after years of inaction. It now appears certain that a new Gambling Act is likely to occur, although how much of a priority this is for the incoming government and the new Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport remains to be seen. The Bingo Association will have to work hard, as will others, to get to know yet another set of Ministers and MP’s. It is crucial to build relationships and awareness of retail Bingo and how it is different from other sectors within gambling industry. But some issues are generic across the industry: for example, a mandatory levy for Research, Education and Treatment of problem gambling is all very well, but at what level will it be set? Any increase to the existing level of contribution for licensed retail Bingo is nothing short of punitive and a financial disaster. Meanwhile in 2020, The Bingo Association is pushing ahead with its rollout of Social Responsibility Messaging on B3 and Cat C gaming machines across all GB premises www.bingolifemagazine.com
following successful trials. This will be followed by the ability to implement time and limit settings on the same category of machines. Also, following a move on January 1st this year to ‘Think 25’, the Association has made available Miles Baron, Chief Executive, artwork for a range The Bingo Association of materials to assist members with customer and staff communication around the revised requirements for age verification checks. These measures are complemented by bespoke retail Bingo training courses on interaction and interventions for senior management/keyholders in licensed Bingo premises, delivered by the BA to member’s courtesy of Gamcare. These initiatives are all designed to assist in preventing customers experiencing gambling related harms from gaming machines and are in mitigation of the threat from the regulator of mandatory tracked play being imposed. Finally, members of The Bingo Association successfully passed the £1.6m mark in raising funds for Variety, the Children’s Charity, enabling the industry to present its 29th Sunshine Coach minibus to the Beaufort School in Birmingham, on 11th December. In addition to the minibuses we have also been able to a provide a wide range of grants and equipment, across the country, to improve the lives of children, helping them to realise their full potential. Look out for many more donations to very worthy causes in the Bingo community as we aim to reach £2m in total by early 2021. A big ’thank you’ to our very generous members and their customers. I look forward to seeing many of you at ICE 2020, on The Bingo Pavilion, which can be found in the South Hall, area section 18. 3
Dive into the future Tickets: icelondon.uk.com
35,000+ Attendees â€˘ 150+ Nations â€˘ 600+ Exhibitors
GUEST COMMENT: KATE CHAMBERS
It’s all about community!
f all the gaming verticals that are represented at ICE London, few - if any - can match the sense of community that lies at the heart of the bricks and mortar bingo experience. It’s a community, to paraphrase one major operator that ‘loves big fun, and big laughs’. People attend bingo because they share the values of the community of players, because it’s friendly, and because there’s a sense of a shared, lived experience.
ICE London also boasts a large community which enjoys a wide range of shared experiences - this despite the fact that they are drawn from over 150 nations. Although we refer to them as our stakeholders, and many of Bingo Life’s readers will fit into that category, they are also a community of customers, some of whom have a relationship with ICE that stretches back to 1990 when 16 pioneer exhibitors became the first to show high stakes gaming equipment at what was then referred to as ‘the London show’. In the same way that bingo would be nothing without its players, ICE London would not exist if it wasn’t for the many thousands of visitors, exhibitors, trade associations and media who continue to contribute to the success of the ICE brand. Without them, it would have been impossible to progress to where we are currently. We go into ICE London 2020 on the back of some significant and, most importantly, consistent growth. The brand is experiencing the most successful period in its history. Since we moved from Earls Court to our home at ExCeL London, attendance has increased from 21,336 in 2012 (the last time ICE was held at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London) to 36,093 in 2019. In terms of physical size, ICE 2020 occupies 39 of the 44 halls at ExCeL London and comprises 49,500sqm of net floor space. Working with our customers, we have introduced a new format and new tracks for ICE VOX - our Totally Gaming Academy is providing taster sessions of its courses and we have introduced www.bingolifemagazine.com
Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming
major new features, not least the Esports Arena that is co-hosting a $250,000 prize money tournament. Add to this our Pitch ICE initiative for fledgling businesses and upwards of 70 firsttime exhibitors and the outcome is an incredibly exciting, vibrant and best-in-breed gaming technology proposition. We have grown because our community has great faith and confidence in the ICE London brand. Thanks to initiatives such as our Ampersand community, we are able to canvass our stakeholders on new ideas and concepts before we introduce them to the show floor – it is a sensible and pragmatic way of always refreshing the offering and keeping everything new and exciting. After all, it’s only our customers and our community who enable us to grow and to be successful. As any progressive brand, whether it be in the entertainment space such as bingo or businessto-business events such as Clarion Gaming, will confirm - Ignore your community at your peril! I look forward to welcoming you to ICE London 2020 on 4-6 February at ExCeL London, UK.
Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming www.icelondon.uk.com 5
Building good connections NRM’s Engage is helping bingo brands build good relations with their customers Engage is an innovative, interactive marketing tool that significantly enhances the level of contact a retail bingo brand can have with its customers. Developed by NRM, Engage is being used by a growing number of respected entertainment brands including Beacon Bingo, BJ’s Bingo, Carlton Bingo, Cashino, Club 2000 Bingo, Majestic Bingo, Rank Group, and The Palaces. First launched and deployed in BJ Bingo clubs, Engage has been able to grow and develop thanks to NRM’s strategy of using open architecture technology. NRM Managing Director Andrew Ludlow believes the combination of powerful technology and flexibility is at the core of Engage’s popularity with progressive, agile brands that place the consumer right at the heart of their proposition. The Open Architecture platform can be used alongside NRM’s own membership/campaign builder platform, in the process creating a hugely powerful customer engagement platform. Engage, which was developed in partnership with retail bingo customers who have contributed to the product roadmap, represents a cost effective platform that can deliver a significant return on investment through targeted communications, with rewards and promotions sent direct to the end-user’s own device. Speaking ahead of NRM’s appearance as part of The Bingo Pavilion at ICE London 2020, Andrew explained, “NRM has consistently championed an agnostic approach to technology which means that we can work with our customers in order to produce solutions to meet their business needs as opposed to simply presenting them with a ‘finished’ product. Because we believe that technology should never be a straightjacket that serves to limit or restrict, Engage is www.bingolifemagazine.com
constantly evolving based on the requirements of our customers and our ultimate boss - the end-user.” The membership/campaign building elements of the Engage platform have been specifically designed for retail gaming environments and come packed with a range of uses and features. Additionally, it can link seamlessly into the mobile applications for which NRM is now recognised as an industry forerunner. Engage is designed to sit at the heart of a customer programme and provides some fantastic opportunities to drive improved customer engagement and reward loyalty through targeted promotional voucher campaigns, marketing campaigns, loyalty offers and products for redemption in venue. The added ability to set up configurable promotions through prize wheel and slot spin mechanics means the platform is truly flexible, offering the retailer a range of fun and engaging customer tools. Alongside the Engage Platform, NRM will be offering ICE visitors the opportunity to explore its range of consumer-centric mobile apps, its handheld AGC tablets and low-cost Bingo Express as well as Jigsaw, the touchscreen entertainment system of choice, used by destination venues including bingo clubs, holiday parks and AGCs, and which has most recently been adopted by the pub and club sectors. NRM can be found at ICE 2020 in The Bingo Pavilion in the South Hall. www.nrmgroup.com
NEWS: LEISURE ELECTRIC HP
Keep taking the tablets… Leisure Electronics and Wexel Gaming keeping clients’ tablets up to date
Leisure Electronics and sister company Wexel Gaming are ensuring that their clients are kept up-to-date with the latest developments in bingo and gaming-based tablet products on the high street, maintaining their position at the forefront of manufacture, supply and service to the traditional retail bingo sector. Chris Shipley commented, “We are proud to have been chosen for the recent refurbishment works by independent operators on both small and large scale projects including Castle Leisure, Carlton Clubs, Club 3000 and Majestic Bingo.
with customers old and new alike, and helping to maintain current player numbers as well as attract new and younger players.
“At Leisure Electronics we are helping clubs to change layouts in order to encourage player numbers to grow, or at the very least, stabilise. As clubs continue to create separate, partitioned areas for a more talkative bingo environment, tablets and handheld terminals are key to making the space work and it is essential for operators that tablets, content and support networks be kept up to date. These ‘chat’ spaces tend offer a mix of traditional equipment and handheld electronic tablets/terminals, allowing for both the traditional bingo games, plus additional slot content including bingo variants, CatC and CatD games.”
Leisure Electronics and Wexel Gaming have a number of new products launching in 2020, including BingoPad – a low cost solution for offering bingo and other fun games, including Jive (musical) Bingo, raffles and tote, all delivered in a professional format, and an exciting product to enhance club operations, being unveiled at ICE 2020.
The atmosphere, technology, and the fact that players can chat amongst themselves, even during main stage games, creates a more relaxed environment, particularly for younger members and/or those new to club bingo, helping to deliver a fun night out that is not punctuated with enforced periods of silence, making their club a ‘go to’ social venue.
You can find the Leisure Electronics and Wexel Gaming at ICE in The Bingo Pavilion in the South Hall – stand BP1.
These newer areas in many clubs, referred to as the bar, Chat Café, Bingo Lounge etc, provide customers with an alternative to the silence of the main room during games called from the main stage – something that is finding favour
NEWS: BUZZ BINGO
Buzz Bingo nominated for Employee Engagement Award Buzz Bingo has recently been selected as a finalist for the 2019 UK & Europe Employee Engagement Awards, which is the first and only globally dedicated employee engagement awards and conference body. The awards body believes in inspiring and educating businesses to ‘remake’ the way organisations think about, and engage with, their staff to achieve their purpose. The awards were created to provide a platform to recognise excellence in employee engagement that both inspires action and drives the industry, and the employee experience, forward. The project that gave rise to the nomination was Zingo, a new internal app, that colleagues can download in order to keep up-to-date with the great things happening at Buzz: from watching VLOGS on company performance to celebrating long service awards, quizzes and competitions. Developed with Staffbase and Workvine, Buzz wanted to provide colleagues with more opportunities for two-way conversations so they could feel more involved in the business, its objectives and its future plans. Kate Bowyer, Internal Communication Manager, championed Buzz Bingo’s new employee communication strategy and plan: she explained, “Employee communications had previously been accessible through a monthly newsletter from the Chief Executive, an intranet or channeled through e-mails via individual bingo club’s general managers. This meant there was a lack of clarity for staff when receiving the information they needed, and there was no way for them to truly engage with what was coming out of the business.” Kate and her team wanted to change this and develop a plan which meant all team members were able to access and engage with what was happening. Buzz Bingo carried out user-journey testing and adapted both the content and design following www.bingolifemagazine.com
feedback from its staff. Changes ranged from very minor amends like moving buttons and adding more videos, to more extensive such as increasing the number of feedback mechanisms available across the app and adding ‘chat rooms’ where ideas can be shared across specific groups of colleagues from around the business. The app places Buzz Bingo colleagues at its heart, and the brand has made sure this is reflected in its content, tone and how it connects staff together. The app also allows colleagues to feedback to shape business decisions and new initiatives, such as the re-design of new company values, where colleagues were asked to talk about what was important to them when working at Buzz. This was done through the app on surveys, which has also re-shaped club menus. Buzz Bingo’s Executive team championed Zingo, and their support and encouragement meant that Zingo is recognised as so much more than just an internal communications initiative throughout the business. Ben Coxhill, Head of Retail Projects comments, “I have used the Zingo App since its launch as the primary communication tool amongst our team: we replaced our team WhatsApp group and haven’t looked back. It`s a great tool and allows us to communicate instantly with each other and as a field-based team that’s really important to us. I can also upload photos and videos; this makes it really easy to share best practice.” The creation of Zingo has also connected colleagues together in meaningful ways: through Zingo, Buzz asked staff to share selfies and pride stories via the ‘Celebrate’ section. This post 9
NEWS: BUZZ BINGO resonated so much with one staff member that he eventually decided to share a very personal story with his colleagues and the wider business. The app enabled him to share his experience as a gay man working within Buzz Bingo. He used the case study interview to explain how he’d never felt able to be himself in previous jobs, and never felt accepted, but after getting to know his managers he realised that Buzz Bingo was a family and accepting of him and his love of drag. The app enabled him to tell his story to the wider company, and in BuzzBeat, the internal quarterly Buzz newspaper, providing other staff members with an opportunity to show him their support and/or share their own stories. Corporate Social Responsibility is a key part of Buzz Bingo’s business and the brand has a dedicated page on Zingo where staff can promote charitable activities they are involved in. An example of this was the Dementia Friend programme which was run internally, and allowed staff to take a short course to understand how best to help dementia sufferers feel less alone and more accepted. Zingo is a big success at Buzz, in part thanks to the steps Buzz took to drive adoption, excitement and engagement amongst colleagues, including a naming competition and thorough user-testing with a sample group to gain feedback on content, look and feel, and ease of use, before rolling out to the whole business. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so they say, and staff reviews and comments show the real nature of Zingo’s success throughout the business. Michelle, from Top Valley, Nottingham: “I read the paper and find it interesting, and I get to keep up with things that I wouldn’t otherwise know by using Zingo, like the videos from Chris, the CEO.” Nathan Frankton, Purchase Ledger Controller: “I really enjoy using Zingo, especially the Buzz quarters section. I think it’s great to be able to interact with people across the business, especially being able to see what the clubs are up to. I thought the brilliant colleague section of 10
BuzzBeat was really good as it’s good to know about the successes within the clubs.” Debbie Taylor, Operations Support Manager: “I love Zingo & BuzzBeat! I feel they’ve really brought us closer together and made us more ‘one team’. We’re a people business and we love people! Zingo and BuzzBeat allow us to put faces to names, which is brilliant. People are queuing up to have their teams featured in BuzzBeat! I love the sharing of ideas and how we can actually see the fantastic things our clubs and support teams are doing so easily. The competitions and challenges are great, with everyone encouraging each other to do their best. I think having access to information and people on their own mobile devices empowers our colleagues too. I truly feel these two new ways to communicate have made a brilliant business even better! A quick poll at Buzz Bingo reveals the reasons Zingo is buzzing: • Executives able to communicate business updates quickly (Chris’s Updates etc) • Club managers and staff able to communicate with everyone (promotions, business ideas etc) • Everyone has a voice on Zingo; it’s not just for the Execs • Love the competitions • Find the Zingo chat service ideal to communicate with host instantly to support link games effectively • Daily update for jackpots • Photos of clubs, staff and managers (ie long service awards and club winners) • Staff involvement with charity • Encouraged to be involved in Health and Wellbeing (eg Dry January) • e-payslips - so much easier now online: no more paper -save a tree!
NEWS: BUZZ BINGO Karen McKeever, Chief People Officer at Buzz Bingo, said, “We wanted our internal communications to help reignite our colleagues’ passion for the business, and to feel more empowered to make suggestions and influence change. We really feel that the Zingo app has made this goal a reality, and we are so pleased to have been shortlisted for the Internal Communications award by the EE award body.”
Winners were announced on the evening of January 23, 2020, at the Employee Engagement Awards ceremony at The Troxy in London with the 2020 conference due to take place on April 1st in London. For more information visit: www.ee-awards.com
Buzz Bingo is named official gaming partner for The Voice UK Buzz Bingo is proud to be announced as the official gaming partner of The Voice UK. The bingo brand has signed an exciting, threeyear deal with The Voice UK,which will cover advertising rights and usage for the show’s theme song. The partnership launches with a 30 second TV advert promoting the exclusive Buzz Bingo gaming products. Buzz Bingo will also promote The Voice partnership and products to its online and in-club customers, and social media fans. To celebrate the new partnership, and the start of the 2020 season of The Voice UK, Buzz Bingo has also launched two exclusives: a new online slot game, The Voice™ UK: I Want You, and The Voice UK Bingo game. The exciting partnership will also live in club, with plans for The Voice UK slot games to be installed in club cabinets across the UK. The brand has also introduced The Voice UK bonus button jackpot game in club, which is the UK’s biggest rising party bingo jackpot.
viewer demographic that is closely aligned to our players. We believe that together we can offer a fun and exciting gaming experience for bingo and The Voice UK fans alike. Our exclusive Bingo Room and Slot game are closely aligned to the show and we believe we have created a unique and fun experience. We can’t wait to see what customers think of our new Voice UK games.”
Stevie Shaves, Chief Digital Officer at Buzz Bingo, said, “Since the rebrand last year, Buzz Bingo has been going from strength to strength and now is the perfect opportunity to partner with a brand that is so well recognised, like The Voice UK. Just like Buzz Bingo, The Voice UK is a hugely popular entertainment brand and has a
Steve Watling, Controller of Gaming Operations, ITV stated, “We are excited that Buzz Bingo is The Voice UK’s official gaming partner for the next three years. The Voice UK is all about finding amazing entertainment and bringing the nation together, which fits perfectly with Buzz Bingo’s brand and priorities.”
NEWS: GAMCARE TRAINING
GamCare Training for Bingo Staff Social Responsibility and Customer Interaction
he Bingo Association has worked with GamCare to develop training on social responsibility and interaction, specifically for bingo club managers/keyholders
Following a successful trial of the training in August last year with compliance and HR professionals from several bingo operators, the Association committed to initially running a total of twelve courses (each with 16 places). The one-day training event, aimed at managers, deputy managers and other key club personnel, is designed toÂ increase confidence when dealing with vulnerable customers, and those showing signs of distress. Despite the fact that retail Bingo has very few customers who develop problems with their gambling the Industry cannot afford to be complacent. Building on the recognised strengths of bingo operators with their customers, these sessions will help senior 12
club employees to maximise the effectiveness of interactions with vulnerable customers, ensuring they get the most appropriate support as swiftly as possible. The GamCare training is a CPD accredited Level 2 course and demand for the training has grown since the launch of the pilot, with 18 courses already fully booked. The Association is looking at adding more dates and locations to meet future demand. Courses are for a maximum of 16 delegates at a cost of ÂŁ1,750 per day: Organisations can arrange courses exclusively for themselves at a location of their choice or join other Bingo Association members to form a cohort. For more information please contact Sharon Salmon at The Bingo Association: e: firstname.lastname@example.org issue 031
NEWS: MACHINE MESSAGING
Bingo Association Gaming Machine messaging trial maps the way forward
ithin the February 2015 License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) the Gambling Commission suggested that the gambling industry should work harder to improve messaging in the areas of play, product and general Social Responsibility messaging. The Association has been exploring improved socially responsible player communications and messages since then, and in late 2018 undertook a limited initial trial of messaging on B3 gaming machines. The results indicated that there was merit in expanding the trial to a larger group of venues and machines: this extended trial took place in March 2019 in the Midlands across 1,200 machines in 22 premises. Independent evaluation of the trial by Chrysalis revealed that: â€˘ On screen messages can support an RG strategy â€˘ Some evidence suggests that messages have started to effect behaviour of gamblers Previous research studies confirm that existing responsible gambling messages currently in use across the gambling industry are too technical and lack impact, with customers stating that they lack player empathy, fail to stand out and are relevant only to the problem gambler. The Association worked alongside behavioural research specialists Revealing Reality and eventually settled on four key messages to be used for a national rollout across both Category B and C machine cabinets. In conjunction with BACTA these impactful messages will be regularly rotated every six months to ensure they are fresh. To support this rollout non-digital assets will also be available via Shipley Creative. Messages can be added to other customer touch points such as EBTs and TITO tickets. The rollout of these www.bingolifemagazine.com
messages will be completed by the end of March in all Bingo Association and BACTA member premises, and is supported by all gaming machine manufacturers. 13
NEWS: BINGO ASSOCIATION PARTY CONFERENCE
An award winning game – BINGO!
Party Conference Bingo, secures full house win for The Bingo Association and PLMR at 2019 PRCA Awards The Bingo Association, in conjunction with Westminster based agency PLMR, won an award for hosting the best Party Conference Reception at the 2019 PRCA Public Affairs Awards. The award was won for the ‘Charity Conference Bingo’ reception’ which was held at both the major party conferences. The Bingo Association was keen to run a unique party conference event where they could highlight the wider contribution that the bingo industry makes to communities every day. PLMR’s Public Affairs Team and The Bingo Association planned the concept of ‘Conference Bingo’, deciding that the focus should be on the fun element of bingo, creating an environment that was different to the heavy political debate and focus on Brexit negotiations. The event allowed delegates to engage with important issues such as how bingo can contribute to tackling loneliness in our society, whilst raising money for charity.
“The event allowed delegates to engage with important issues such as how bingo can contribute to tackling loneliness in our society, whilst raising money for charity” The reception was a great success: at the Conservative Party Conference the first game was called by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, RT Hon Nicky Morgan, and was attended by over 90 people and media outlets, including The Telegraph, Sky News and BBC Radio 5 Live. In Brighton, at the Labour Party Conference, The Bingo Association were joined by: Carolyn Harris, Chair of the APPG for Gambling Related Harm; Dawn Butler, 14
Miles Baron, Dawn Butler and lucky winner
Shadow Women and Equalities Minister; and the Chair of the APPG for Bingo, Anna Turley, as our special guest callers. As part of ‘Conference Bingo’, winners were invited to donate their winning prize to a charity of their choice, resulting in The Bingo Association donating over £1,000 to charities including Help for Heroes, Cancer Research UK, Mind, and The Children’s Society. To date The Bingo Association has raised £1.6m for their charity of choice, Variety - the children’s charity. issue 031
The No. 1 Association for bingo Shaping policy Developing business Driving the industry agenda The Association for all things bingo â€“ working with senior management and operators for more than two decades â€“ successfully promoting and developing the interests of all bingo operators. For industry news, comment and information on the benefits of membership, visit www.bingo-association.co.uk T 01582 860921
E email@example.com gambleaware.co.uk
FEATURE: WILLOW COMMUNICATIONS
Interactive Entertainment Bingo Life Interview with Willow Communicationsâ€™ Steve Barlow How did 2019 treat Willow Communications and what are the prospects for the company in 2020? 2019 was a fantastic year for Willow Communications across all areas of our business; retail bingo, casino, AGC, hospitality and leisure. The granting in 2019 of our Gambling Commission licences to provide facilities for the playing of bingo was a catalyst to further develop our established and proven BiGD platform (Bingo Information Graphical Display), which is now used by most UK multi-site retail bingo operators. 2020 promises to be a very busy year with exciting new bingo and jackpot games being launched with several of our retail bingo clients. Our Bingo and Jackpot manager software is deployed on our BiGD platform to provide paper based games presented on the in-venue public display screens to deliver dynamic rich media game content. 16
2020 will also see the launch of Event, our stand alone, modular entertainment platform. Event hosts local and linked bingo, music and karaoke, games and digital signage. We will also be introducing a fun bingo themed game to our interactive dart board platform which was launched at the end of 2019. Do you provide pretty much everything from an audio visual operational standpoint? For audio visual system installation, integration, maintenance and servicing, yes, we do. We have been providing sound systems and screens to retail bingo operators since 1992. In 2020 we are adding LED wall technology to our portfolio of display solutions. LED wall technology works very well as a matrix board replacement. issue 031
FEATURE: WILLOW COMMUNICATIONS
We also offer a unique warranty agreement with Philips that provides either a three or five year on site warranty depending on the screen range installed.
All our products sit on our network control panel, with some clients opting to have direct access to this which enables them to complete several maintenance tasks in-house.
Our Command application automates all the key audio visual system management processes when linked with our BiGD graphic display system and to the club XSCe and SRCe.
Security of client data is a key focus to us. Our decision to implement ISO 27001, a framework for managing IT security, will ensure compliance and correct processes are followed with our clientâ€™s data.
Every organisation wants the very latest technology, is that something your organisation can deliver on? We can, but we are very conscious that simply using technology for technologyâ€™s sake is not a sensible proposition. Any technology solution we propose must be scalable for multi-site operators, and in every instance must demonstrate some return on investment. With complete systems the primary factors are reliability, security and ease of use. Does Willow score well in those three areas say compared to organisations that have various systems that all are made to communicate such as from the visual displays to lighting and food and beverage cash and card payment systems? Reliability across platforms has always been a key consideration during product development and deployment. Our BiGD platform was ten years old in 2019, and some of the original media players installed are still in use and running 2020 content. www.bingolifemagazine.com
All our products are designed to be simple to use, and in many instances the processes and scheduling are automated. Every product is designed to be modular and to communicate with internal and external applications. This is key to provide the required integration to and from third party applications such as gaming or sports data, business management systems or epos or membership systems. The positives of working in the Bingo industry. The Bingo industry is a very positive and exciting sector to work in. We are fortunate to have great clients who are always open to new ideas, and we have a lot of fun developing these with them. To be honest, most of the time it does not really feel like work at all.
www.willowcommunications.com 01604 877 001 17
FEATURE: BINGO 3000
Itâ€™s time to celebrate!
t has been a busy few months for Club 3000: in addition to all the exciting club developments they also have the honour of being home to the current National Bingo Game: Bingo Caller of the Year, Donna Kunyo, from Club 3000, Middleton. On September 27th last year Brian Fraser officially opened the doors of their brand new venue at Marina Drive in Ellesmere Port. Club 3000 transformed the venue with an innovative design and layout, providing customers with a first-class experience. The club, which is managed by Kevin Boden and a team of 35 staff, features a vibrant 20
arcade, large luxurious seating, a fabulous bar and food court, and seats for over 750 customers. Club 3000 also bought five Mecca clubs as going concerns, in the last quarter of 2019: the clubs bought were Hyde Road (Manchester), Ipswich, Greenock, Leith and Cwmbran. The clubs are currently integrating with the Club 3000 brand, during which time it is business as usual, ensuring local customers do not miss their bingo. A further benefit for regular players at each club is that they will still see friendly familiar faces as Mecca staff at each of the clubs transferred their employment to Club 3000, with no job losses. issue 031
FEATURE: BINGO 3000 Brian Fraser on the mic at the opening of Club 3000, Ellesmere Port
Opening night, Club 3000 Ellesmere Port
All of the five clubs purchased are great venues, within fantastic communities and Club 3000 are proud to continue to offer customers a fabulous bingo experience. The new venues continue to offer something for everyone – both frequent and new players. The pace of development is not slowing down for 2020, with a busy year ahead for Club 3000: the completion of a £1.5million refurbishment at Liverpool’s Stanley Park club is due at the end of January, with a re-launch in February, in addition to which work is commencing on their £7million new build super-club in Blackpool, due to be open in 2021. www.bingolifemagazine.com
The Club 3000 Team, Ellesmere Port
FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME CALLER OF THE YEAR
And the winner is… Caller of the Year 2019: Finalists Christopher Graham, Donna Kunyo, Rhys Evans, Michael Farley, Jason Davies and Bob Manwaring
n the 24th November, The National Bingo Game: Bingo Caller of the Year made a triumphant return after an eleven year hiatus.
The National Bingo Game welcomed over 500 people from across the UK to the final of this exciting, and popular, competition hosted at Buzz Bingo Great Park, Birmingham. Each finalist came with their own swathes of supporters from their club, bringing an atmosphere that could only be described as electric to the event. Customers were greeted with a glass of bubbly and a sit down meal as they spent the day cheering on the finalists. Over 200 entrants applied for the competition and coveted title, with hopefuls whittled down 22
via qualifying events held across the UK. All contestants were then judged by a panel on their knowledge of the game, showmanship ability and their skills as a caller, with their eyes firmly on the number one spot as ‘National Bingo Game: Caller of the Year 2019’. The winner of the competition becomes an ambassador for the National Bingo Game as well as receiving a trophy and £1,000 prize money. The judging panel at the national final comprised of: CEO of The Bingo Association, Miles Baron; Bingo Caller of the Year winner 2007, Blake Robson; Lyn Staunton, Variety representative; and former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson. Blake Robson, the last winner in 2007, was one issue 031
FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME CALLER OF THE YEAR Previous Winner Blake Robson, new Champion Donna Kunyo and Alastair Stewart from the National Bingo Game
of the toughest judges and said, “I am thrilled that the competition has made a comeback. Winning this competition all those years ago paved out my career for me: I’m now a full-time entertainer thanks to the skills and professionalism bingo taught me. It was important for the contestants to relish the opportunity as it was truly a once in a lifetime experience for me. I am honoured that I was able to be an ambassador for this great game for the past eleven years.” Blake continued, “I had the t-shirt but It was worn out and time for me to pass it on to a new winner. I didn’t pass on my crown, the title and honour of being an ambassador easily: the finalists had to show they had something special about them. I was looking for the ‘X-Factor’ and the finalists didn’t disappoint!” The lucky finalists who were able to showcase their talents to the judges and be in the running for the crown were: Jason Davies from Mecca Wrexham; Michael Farley from Beacon Cricklewood; Rhys Evans from Castle Merthyr www.bingolifemagazine.com
Tydfil; Christopher Graham from Carlton Stirling; Bob Manwaring from Buzz Middlesbrough; and Donna Kunyo from Club 3000 Middleton. Each caller had three minutes to wow the judges with their performance whilst calling out a game to over five hundred attending players and supporters. The finalists provided a great array of different talents in their acts including an energetic Elvis impersonator, three professionalquality singers and two natural crowd entertainers. However, it was the caller from Club 3000 Middleton, Donna Kunyo, who stole the show and snapped up the first prize. Donna showed professionalism and great knowledge of the game whilst also having a captivating stage presence. Donna performed ‘This Is My Life’, an Italian song (La Vita) made famous by Dame Shirley Bassey, ending with a standing ovation, before going on to call a game. Once all finalists had performed, there was a brief interlude just in time for the nerves and excitement to build before the winner was 23
FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME CALLER OF THE YEAR announced. A crowd gathered surrounding the stage as the intensity of the announcement grew, until it was finally announced, closely followed by an ecstatic uproar from the Middleton supporters. After winning the title, Donna commented, “I still can’t believe I have won the National Bingo Game: Caller of the Year. It was such a great honour to be a part of the day and to be up against incredibly talented finalists was great fun, if not a bit nerve wracking. I am so proud to be a part of this industry and to be an ambassador. This competition truly shows people coming together which is what bingo is all about.” CEO of The Bingo Association, Miles Baron comments, “This year’s finalists didn’t disappoint; they all were so talented and had clearly been very well practised in their acts which made picking the winner a tough decision. However, Donna’s performance was outstanding and she was the well deserved winner of the National Bingo Game: Caller of the Year 2019.”
Caller of the Year 2019 – Donna Kunyo
The Caller of the Year will return later this year when the National Bingo Game begins its’ search for 2020’s Bingo Caller of the Year.
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FEATURE: PAUL SWINDON
The Bingo Association’s new Head of Governance and Compliance, Paul Swindon
he Bingo Association was pleased to announce a new member of its management team at the end of last year, Paul Swindon, who joins Chief Executive Miles Baron and the team from the British Association of Removers. While not joining immediately from a gambling background, Paul is no stranger to the industry or trade associations. Born and bred in Harrow, Paul studied Business and Finance, attending college in Watford, and currently lives in Hatfield: in respect of the Association’s offices in Dunstable, he has always been very much a local. It was while at college that Paul received his gambling industry induction, through working at Ladbrokes in their then Head Office in Rayners Lane: coincidentally the MD at that time was Chris Bell, who is currently a member of the Rank Group Board. While Paul’s induction was very much at the sharp end of the business, in the Telephone Betting Centre, it did give him his first brush with fame taking bets from a wide variety of customers including celebrities, sportsmen and TV personalities. On one particular occasion Paul received a request from a Mr O’Connor to place a larger than usual bet on a rugby match. Always diligent and mindful of procedural and compliance issues, Paul told the client that in light of the amount he would need to seek approval from his supervisor: while Mr O’Connor was less than impressed at being kept waiting, Paul did receive approval to accept the bet from his supervisor, but with an unusual aside: give him anything he likes, as long as he does not sing! Paul Swindon
Paul’s attention to detail served him well and issue 031
FEATURE: PAUL SWINDON
he was later promoted to the Bet Authorisation Centre (BAC) at Ladbrokes: it was clear at that time that the die was cast for a career connected to regulation and compliance matters. Whilst at the BAC he also witnessed sporting history in the making, as jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori won all seven race at Ascot in September 1996, creating an air of excitement, not only on Ladbrokes finance department!
“I felt that I wanted a new challenge in an industry or sector quite ‘removed’ from the removals and storage industry. Having always enjoyed working in a Trade Association, representing Members at industry level, the challenges that Governance and Compliance bring, my ideal was a new trade body, rather than a complete change of roles. www.bingolifemagazine.com
Moving from BAC to BAR (British Association of Removers) in 2004, Paul took up the post of Membership Services Manager. During his time at BAR he held a number of management roles, including Commercial Manager which saw him take responsibility for, and management of, membership recruitment and retention, annual conferences and events, plus all promotional, marketing and media activities. In October 2012 Paul was promoted to the position of Company Secretary and Head of Compliance for BAR and its group of subsidiary companies. As part of the senior management team, supporting the Director General, he was guardian of a number of key assets including the Association’s Rules, membership criteria and Code of Practice, in addition to being actively involved in a number of internal working groups and external stakeholder groups. Having been at BAR for 15 years, Paul has established an enviable raft of skills and experience, he said, “I felt that I wanted a new challenge in an industry or sector quite ‘removed’ from the removals and storage industry. Having 27
FEATURE: PAUL SWINDON always enjoyed working in a Trade Association, representing Members at industry level, the challenges that Governance and Compliance bring, my ideal was a new trade body, rather than a complete change of roles. When the post with The Bingo Association arose it was too good an opportunity to pass up. It really appealed to me, offering the change in sector I was looking for and the familiarity of a Trade Association, in a sector that I have some previous experience of.” Paul’s interest in all matters procedural and compliance related also extends to some, but thankfully for his family’s sake, not all of his free time outside of work: currently he is Vice Chairman of the Independent Compliance Assessment Panel (ICAP) for the Motor Ombudsman. This is a select committee tasked with monitoring effectiveness through the review of annual performance data, analysis of accredited business performance and compliance issues, and the application of sanctions should they be required. During his spare time he likes to spend as much
time as possible with family and friends and follow Tottenham Hotspur. In addition to being a spectator of football, he is also a keen martial artist, currently learning Karate alongside his son, which he told us was both special and painful, in equal measure. But beware, they are both just two grades away from their 1st Dan Black belt! However, he assures us that his main passion is music: specifically playing guitar and more recently the bass guitar, considering himself an ‘aging rocker’ who has played for a number of bands over the years and written a ton of music. The realisation of his boyhood dream, Wembley – playing live, not playing football – however, still eludes him, but his love of 90s American rock band Matchbox Twenty helps keep the flame burning. Despite a full schedule he is still very much the doting father and fun-loving husband, with a penchant for professional level wind-ups: with his attention to detail and liking for compliance, we advise all to be alert and welcome Paul to the bingo industry and gambling sector.
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Getting the message across New ways to communicate responsible gambling messaging
head of Responsible Gambling Week 2019, we paid a visit to Shipley Creative’s base in Leigh, Greater Manchester as they have been key in supporting and preparing materials for the RG Week campaign and The Bingo Association’s own social responsibility machine messaging trial. Shipley Creative first started working with the RG Week team in 2018, taking the existing Responsible Gambling Week identity, updating it for the 2019 campaign, and deploying it to a range of artworks for materials to promote the Week. Copy and messaging for the materials came as a result of independent consumer research and the RG Week team, with input from GamCare. In readiness for the Week artworks were being produced for various print items (posters, business cards, leaflets, banners) and digital materials: including animation of static materials for use in digital environments, such as social media and web. Turning a static poster into an animated piece of digital collateral certainly brings it to life, making it more engaging, helping to get the message noticed and ideally read. We are taken into the production area where state of the art print engines (large printers) were churning out posters, mailing pieces, bingo book inserts and flyers, with pull-up banners coming out on a separate large format printer: hundreds and thousands of printed products effectively and efficiently designed, printed and ready for despatch, whether as individually mailed items or bulk delivery to bingo clubs, AGC’s, holiday parks, betting shops, football stadia and other venues across the UK. It was in the midst of this that we found General Manager, Anthony Halliwell. “Our team of graphic designers have worked www.bingolifemagazine.com
TITO ticket messaging
closely with the RG Week team for many months to get to this point,” Anthony explains, “working on various creative solutions in a wide range of formats, to ensure ease of access for the various organisations accessing them: this campaign goes across the entire gambling sector and beyond, to such organisations as Citizens’ Advice and other information services. “We have a full team of designers here who are able to take print designs into the digital arena, or vice versa, which proved valuable for the RG Week campaign. Our Video Designer Tony Mottram, was able to quickly translate static posters into basic animated video content for use across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and web.” It was the ability to create animated content and understanding the diverse range of video formats and sizes that was to benefit both RG Week and The Bingo Association. The Bingo Association had been exploring machine based messaging and how to get safer gambling messages directly in front of customers, at the point of participation, and were in dialogue with a number of the leading 29
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FEATURE: SHIPLEY machine manufacturers to explore the possibility of messages being displayed on the top boxes of machines. The machine manufacturers were open to this route providing that: • Their clients, who owned premises where machines were located, were in agreement • That the messaging was approved by them and would not conflict with client messaging • That material was provided in the correct format. The Bingo Association, a strong supporter of RG Week, wanted to trial appropriate messages that built on, rather than challenged RG Week messaging and design. Through cooperation with the RG Week Team, the Association agreed to produce a range of messages, using some of the RK Week headline messages, in a design similar to RG Week but in completely different colours. Anthony commented, “Our experience of RG Week meant that we were very well placed to assist The Bingo Association with its initial social responsibility messaging trial.” Shipley Creative were familiar with the RG Week design and the Association’s colour palette, so once messages had been agreed and a full list of the varying required video formats collated, The Bingo Association trial could proceed. Working with the largest machine manufacturers Shipley Creative produced a suite of video graphics animating approved Association safer gambling messages. These were then loaded as advertising content and screensavers on a wide range of product from SG Gaming, Blueprint, Astra, and Inspired Gaming, who then distributed them to agreed machines on approved trial sites. After trialling the video content in venues across the Midlands, The Bingo Association were pleased to report a positive response and recall from customers seeing the messages, which has www.bingolifemagazine.com
resulted in an expanded trial, and messages have now been made available on the reverse of TITO Tickets. When it then became time to start preparing for RG Week 2019 the key information obtained on video formats, and relationships built with machine manufacturers as a result of The Bingo Association’s initial trial, enabled Shipley Creative to work with the RG Week team quickly to produce messaging content in the right format for the various machine manufacturers. As the vast majority of the machine manufacturers’ clients had also committed to actively support RG Week this ‘joined-up’ approach to production and dissemination of safer gambling messages proved a great benefit all. If you have any queries about The Bingo Association machine messaging trial or material please contact Paul Swindon at The Bingo Association: (T: 01582 860921). For further information on RG Week please visit: www.responsiblegamblinguk.org. For enquiries regarding print, digital, and TITO tickets please contact Shipley Creative: e: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 01942 364500, 7 days a week. 31
FEATURE: VARIETY UPDATE
Bingo ♥ Variety
he bingo sector and bingo players’ love for Variety continues to raise important funds for the charity and shows no sign of diminishing: The Bingo Association would like to thank all its members and their customers for their fundraising efforts and support since 2015, bringing the current total of funds raised to over £1.6 million: 2019 saw over £305,000 raised. November and December 2019 saw the Association present their 28th and 29th minibuses: in November, Carnforth School in Worcester were celebrating the arrival of their new bus with staff, pupils and representatives from Buzz Bingo and Majestic Bingo, and in in December it was the turn of the Beaufort School in the Midlands to celebrate the arrival of their new bus with staff, pupils and representatives from BJ’s Bingo. Sara Wood, Head of School, Carnforth School said: “We are most grateful to the Variety Club and The Bingo Association for their generosity which has enabled us to have the school’s first minibus. This will provide our pupils with greater opportunities to experience new events which would not have been possible due to ever increasing transport costs. These opportunities will help to broaden pupils horizons and further enrich our curriculum. It will also enable us to take part in sporting fixtures. The school’s first trip aboard our new bus will be to a hockey tournament next week. We know this bus will continue to provide very valued resources for many years to come.” Steve Robinson, Head of School, Beaufort School said: “Beaufort school were delighted to be approached by BJ’s Bingo via The Bingo Association to fund a brand-new minibus. This bus will be used to provide our children with real, immersive opportunities to learn, which support 32
Mark Jepp from Majestic Bingo, Miles Baron and Sarah Wood Head of Carnforth School
their work back in school. We can’t wait to train new drivers and use the bus for trips as part of our ‘Out and about’ topic in the spring term!” The provision of specially adapted mini buses to special needs schools has become a firm favourite with The Bingo Association members, who enjoy the opportunity to meet teachers, parents and pupils in their local community, seeing first-hand where funds raised go and exactly how great a difference the provision of a bus can make, changing the lives of pupils, parents and teachers. The Bingo Association have committed to supporting Variety the Children’s Charity, until they reach the incredible target of £2 million. Collectively as an industry they know that they can make that figure within 18 months, based on the fantastic efforts and results of all The Bingo Association’s members over the last five years. Raising £2 million will be an amazing achievement and one that The Bingo Association and its members can celebrate. loudly and with pride when the time comes. issue 031
FEATURE: VARIETY UPDATE
Dear Bingo Association Members, GE CHILDREN’S LIVES THANK YOU FOR HELPING US CHAN
en whom Variety, the sick, disabled and disadvantaged childr On behalf of the many thousands of g an incredible £305,000 raisin for all you n, I would to thank Children’s Charity, supports across Britai million. It takes a huge £1.6 over to to support Variety’s work during 2019. This brings the total raised such a huge sum and for this, raise to ation dedic and t itmen amount of energy, passion, time comm we are truly grateful. our beneficiaries and their the great privilege to meet many of During my time at Variety, I have had are able to give has a vital and we grant single every and each families. I have witnessed how support live every day we support. Many of the children we significant impact on the lives of those impossible or at best be often can tasks e simpl lete g to comp with unimaginable challenges. Tryin every child should have and loneliness. Our simple belief is that cause stress and feelings of exclusion and enjoy the best them d aroun world tial, take part in the the opportunity to reach their full poten possible childhood. mber and the many Loves Variety fundraising week in Septe The money you raised through the Bingo rt for children suppo of range wide a de provi has enabled us to and as the other activities throughout the year grow to nues conti en led and disadvantaged childr most in need. The number of disab more necessary. even es becom give we help the pressure on families increases,
rting Variety. Going your commitment to continue suppo We are incredibly grateful to you for to raise is spent with care hard so work all that every penny you forward we will continue to ensure and Great Days Out. ment ine Coaches, specialist equip and it will help us fund even more Sunsh e do let us know ing with you throughout 2020. Pleas We are really looking forward to work a, please don’t forget medi l socia using are you If ghout the year. If we can help you in any way throu to help raise the and ers partn ty chari celebrate our fantastic to hashtag @VarietyGB, it’s great to y or an organisation in your network famil a is there if ion, addit In orks. profile of Variety to your netw them to contact us. that Variety could help please do ask en whose lives you Once again, on behalf of all the childr my heart. of m botto the help, I thank you from For more information about Variety
have changed and those who you are
please visit www.variety.org.uk.
Very best wishes
Jo Carter CEO t, London NW1 0AG Variety House, 93 Bayham Stree ariety.org.uk ter@v jo.car E: 8129 7428 020 T: and No. SC038505 (Scotland) Charity No. 209259 (England & Wales) www.variety.org.uk UK Registered
FEATURE: SMART UI
Bringing it together Technology and time challenges: solved by SMART UI
ingo Clubs are communities in themselves and ones that need to thrive to survive, with each club selling an exclusive experience comprising of many elements. Each element has to be managed, delivered and monitored for its continual improvement and invariably comes with its own management information interface. Consequently, binging together all the various management reports from these elements to build a full picture of the business can be a time consuming and challenging, not to mention inconvenient, process: necessary, but time consuming for venue managers, who are responsible for the profitability and performance of the business unit. 34
SMART UI has been developed specifically with bingo clubs in-mind to help collate management and performance data, interpret it and its relevance to their business operations. SMART UI then presents easy to read data, graphs and dashboards, from which decisions can quickly and effectively be made. SMART UI comprises of a series of modules taking data from existing business software packages into a â€˜Head Up Displayâ€™ dashboard to provide instantly available and easyto-read business information. There is no need to change any current business software. issue 031
FEATURE: SMART UI Currently, software used in the bingo sector is likely to include applications such as MAXIM, ORION, SAGE, and EXCEL, to mention but a few: SMART UI integrates with each application independently. Using Machine Learning processes, which is a series of statistical models, SMART UI interrogates each set of data whilst cross referencing it with historical data, such as previous performances and forecasted data, such as budgets. And then, using its own set of algorithms, SMART UI will provide up-todate business information: some of it, such as admissions, can be real-time. With the rigors of compliance becoming a key factor in day-to-day operations, SMART UI’s Self Exclusion Module provides real-time data ensuring compliances are recorded and reported within the business. SMART UI has been a deliberate slow-burn introduction to the bingo sector. It was debuted at BJ’s Bingo over twelve months ago and in the intervening period has seen significant development. Lee Rich and his team at BJ’s have been a key factor in shaping SMART UI’s fit to the market, and our relationship with Lee and his team is set to continue. Out latest SMART UI client is Ireland’s largest bingo operator, Jack Potts Bingo, owned and operated by Capital Entertainment and Leisure. Chief Operating Officer Darren Butler and his team have again pushed the boundaries and development agenda, driving further innovation and development. The age-old question: ‘Does it make me money?’ gets a simple answer - yes. The packages connectivity to membership software applications such as MAXIM, provides instantly available data, on not only admissions but also spend. Its automated algorithms deliver accurate data to help drive targeted promotions and campaigns via both SMS and e-mail. It also saves money through reducing time taken to analyse data and produce reports: its ‘Head Up Display’ presents easy-to-read business information and graphs, in terms of performance and measured against YOY www.bingolifemagazine.com
Tony Eyre, SMART UI
variances, trends, and budgets. This information is administered daily and can be processed to a P&L level for Board reporting and management performance reviews. The fact that SMART UI does this 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365 days a year offers genuine performance, management and financial benefits. For a package that takes the role of a data analyst you might expect the up-front cost for accessing benefits to be prohibitively high, particularly for smaller operators, but the packaged price is wholly governed by the size of each business and their existing processes and business software. Its modular build allows operators to buy only those that they need and will actually use: the price also includes product training, covering introduction and refresher options. SMART UI has been developed by EBI Software, who while relatively unknown in the bingo sector are no newcomers. Led by industry technologist Tony Eyre, who has over 28 years experience of product innovation and marketing in the UK gambling sector, he works alongside Chris Cowan, another industry veteran with 35 years experience of developing business information software for manufacturing and supply chain management businesses, many of which are household names. For further information on SMART UI visit W: website www.smart-ui.co.uk or e: email@example.com 35
Personalised Lobby Game Recommendations Real Time Messaging Next Best Action Request a demo today email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +44 203 600 1008 web: www.graphyte.ai
Bingo Life chats to Damien Evans, CEO, Graphyte.ai Could we commence this interview with a brief history of Graphyte, when it was founded, and the principals behind how it came to be created? We founded Graphyte back in April 2018 when my co-founder Rob (Davis, ex-CTO Ladbrokes Coral) and I left Ladbrokes Coral after working closely together for many years. Throughout our time at Ladbrokes we’d been working to find ways to differentiate the customer experience for gaming players through personalisation. We’d managed to get some more simple features live, like making product recommendations to users based on their profiles, and seen strong uplifts in turnover and GGR. The challenge came when we tried to buy-in technology to deliver personalisation across every product and channel, nothing in the market even came close to fitting the complexity, scale and nuanced needs of a high-volume gaming site so we decided to fill the gap ourselves, and Graphyte was born. Am I correct in describing the tailored gaming choices Graphyte provides its clients as a personalisation-based algorithm that learns from the players game choices and provides them recommendations, rather like Netflix? Our first product, Recommended, does exactly that using a farm of algorithms to inject personalised product and content recommendations from the full spectrum of gaming verticals, including bingo, casino, slot, sports and lotto. These product recommendations can be pushed to any channel a brand is operating, ranging from mobile web and app sites, to e-mail and other below-theline CRM channels, right the way through to physical terminals in bricks-and-mortar shops and casinos. Can you explain to readers its key features and why it’s been so successful? www.bingolifemagazine.com
Damien Evans, CEO, Graphyte.ai
The biggest factor, without a doubt, is that every component of Graphyte has been built with gaming operations and marketing in mind. That means that every piece of functionality, every algorithm, is completely specific to the needs of a gaming operator and to serve the needs of the gaming player. This laser focus on the industry is what amazes clients and prospects when they see it for the first time. A solution that can personalise any vertical, on any channel, that the operators control - Graphyte is effectively a twoyear roadmap in a box. Further to this, the scale of our Intelligent Layouts product is really resonating with operators. Intelligent Layouts is the pinnacle of deep 37
FEATURE: GRAPHYTE personalisation, enabling operators to serve a fully-unique website to each user, with the potential for every game, menu and category to be uniquely served based on each users profile. How does the machine learning element of Graphyte work? We are constantly running a suite of ML models and algorithms to drive a multitude of different outputs, some of which are very specific and focused, like cross sell and journey interventions, and others slightly more generalised for product recommendations and navigation. Something else that makes us stand out from the crowd is our approach to gaming data: we’ve built our own proprietary augmented database for gaming products which allows us to be much more sophisticated and accurate in our modelling approach. This is an important part of our value proposition, since we find in almost every case that the product data gaming operators have available is extremely limited so it’s great to be able to overcome that hurdle for our customers. Bingo is a strong area of focus for Graphyte, can you elaborate on this a little more? Bingo is an amazing product to personalise and we work with some of the biggest bingo operators in the UK. As a result, Graphyte has a uniquely strong proposition for the sector. In short, we make it effortless bring the very best of your bingo offering and tailor it individually to each user. For example, identifying low-ticket bingo players and showing them the most relevant rooms and slots in real time. Or algorithmically identifying players to cross sell to slots with uniquely targeted games, even if they haven’t engaged with a slots product before. Bingo players have proven surprisingly receptive to personalised content, and so long as the content stays relevant it is overwhelmingly beneficial to the customer experience and long-term relationship a player has with the bingo brand, particularly in an age where so many users have multiple accounts. 38
Player engagement and interactivity are often a key determining factor in customer retention so have you any statistics yet on the success of your product? We have seen really exceptional uplifts across every metric, from conversion rates of 40%, deposit uplifts over 20%, doubling player days, bounce rate reduction of 30%, all ultimately leading to significant top-line turnover increases. With this technology you must gain a lot of player statistics that can be used by the client to further develop their offering to customers? Absolutely, all our clients have access to Graphyte’s internal analytics dashboard to delve into product, customer, attribution and conversion performance. We like to go a step further with our customers, so we schedule regular deepdives where we review what’s working, how customer behaviours are changing and advise on how to improve content and game placement on the site, or in marketing campaigns below the line. In most cases, thanks to the real time nature of Graphyte, we often have richer data than the operators and can surface insights that they cannot yield themselves. issue 031
Investment in research and development, combined with customer service and support, must add up to a busy work schedule? It is phenomenally busy but at the same time hugely stimulating. We have a genuine passion for personalisation and love the industry, and one of the most gratifying elements of working in a growing technology start up is the ability to respond quickly to our customers needs and see the impact straightaway. Some of the ideas our clients have are extraordinary – and in many cases we’ve been able to build them into Graphyte in a matter of hours, getting the changes in straight in front of their players. This is virtually impossible in bigger tech firms, and a real benefit of working with a company like Graphyte. Graphyte products will also have applications in a number of associated sectors in addition to gaming. Have you plans to extend the application of your technology into neighbouring sectors?
In many ways, betting and gaming is the hardest industry to solve in personalisation, and a lot of the tech we’ve built would port across to retail or travel for example. In the immediate term we’ll continue to focus on gaming and working on the product roadmap. What are amongst Graphyte’s main goals for the next 18 months? We’re well on the way to being the complete solution for automated marketing and customer experience optimisation, and thoroughly enjoying the journey to get there. Intelligent Layouts, our full site personalisation product, is capable of quietly revolutionising the way content is presented on betting and gaming websites so we’re making it both more flexible and easier to use via the front end of Graphyte. We’d like to get it on every site globally – a small ambition! Thank you, Damien, for sharing your time with Bingo Life.
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FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME – CARDIFF CALLING
When Cardiff Calls... The only answer is YES!
Cardiff Calling Winners, with their haul of prizes from VIP Bingo night
ast year the National Bingo Game was once again on the hunt for more #BingoVIPs. Players lucky enough to have won, or been taken as guest, on a National Bingo Game VIP Experience know just how extraordinary these experiences are: every thing pre-booked, pre-arranged and winners treated to the very best. In 2019, Cardiff Calling saw 53 lucky winners and their chosen guests join the ranks of lucky #BingoVIPs and spend the weekend of a lifetime in the Welsh capital Cardiff: the promise ‘We’ll Keep a Welcome’ was certainly true.
The weekend started with lucky winners checking in at the Hilton Hotel in the centre of Cardiff and tucking into a light lunch, before getting ready for their VIP Bingo Night. Welcomed at Castle Bingo in Cardiff, Newport Road, the Castle team looked after everyone, spoiling Cardiff Calling winners with a glass of bubbly and a special cuddly bear, which proved a very lucky mascot for some, with lots of winning shouts from lucky winners and guests. When the last game of the night had been called and won, the fun continued back at the hotel with some tasty late-night snacks and a night cap or two, giving new friends a chance to relax and chat.
On Friday 27th September 104 winners and Guests checked into the Hilton Cardiff for their #CardiffCalling #BingoVIP weekend - and what a weekend it was!
Saturday started promptly, with a full buffet breakfast served exclusively for Cardiff Calling winners in a private room: fortified with tea, coffee and breakfast winners and guests set off to
FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME – CARDIFF CALLING conversation. The excitement had kept everyone of the ‘edge of their seat’ and even caused some at key moments to jump out of theirs.
Host Keith ‘Kiosk’ Lee, accept prize from Miles Baron
discover where some of their prize money was made and the history of money at The Royal Mint. Cardiff traffic was kind and the transfer by private coach arrived a little ahead of schedule, allowing everyone the opportunity to taste a Welsh Cake, before small groups were then taken on their private tours. Such is the security on site that no cameras are allowed to be used on certain parts of the tour, a policy that is policed quite firmly! The beginning of the tour focused on the actual production of coins and the various stages and machines involved, after which groups were escorted through to a secure, safe viewing area beside the factory floor. It was here that it became clear just how many countries’ coins are produced at The Mint – the range was quite bewildering and spanned the globe – as guides explained which coins were being produced at each production and finishing station. Having viewed the manufacturing process on the factory floor, each winner and guest then got to see up-close a special 50p piece being ‘minted’ just for them, which they were presented with as a memento of their visit. Traffic was not quite so kind on the transfer back to the hotel for lunch, nor was the weather, but anticipation about the afternoon’s performance of award-winning musical, Blood Brothers, kept excitement levels high. Live theatre and the performance of Blood Brothers did not disappoint: as guests arrived back to the hotel it was ‘the’ topic of 42
Barely had the excitement of the theatre started to slow, when it was time to ‘Dress to impress’ for cocktails, dinner and dancing. Winners and guests were invited to attend a private cocktail reception with a special performance by the Newport City Male Choir: the acoustics of the venue amplified the splendour of the sound, which attracted considerable interest from other hotel guests who asked if they were able to attend. Wowed by the sound of a traditional male voice choir, winners and guests were ready for their gala dinner. Miles Baron, CEO of the National Bingo Game, was host and Master of Ceremonies for the evening, formally welcoming winners and guests and thanking them for helping to make the experience so memorable, and presenting a number of special Cardiff Calling Awards. No National Bingo Game event can be complete without a little bingo: provided with dabbers at their table, winners and guests got ready to play the Cardiff Calling Flyer to win, what they thought was a bottle of champagne, but there was not one winner, but a room full of winners! Everyone received a special Cardiff Calling red dragon to take home. When every last dragon had found a new home it was time for the party to swing and soul band Some Kind of Wonderful took to the stage, keeping the party going until the small hours. After a super Saturday night, not everyone chose to attend the private tours or Cardiff Castle on Sunday morning, deciding to opt for a little more sleep and a leisurely breakfast instead, before making their way home. National Bingo Game Business Development Manager Alastair Stewart said, “It was an amazing experience for winners, their guests and the hosts: all making it a truly memorable experience. The positive response from people during the weekend and e-mails and cards that followed after have been overwhelmingly positive. The issue 031
FEATURE: NATIONAL BINGO GAME â€“ CARDIFF CALLING The Winning Clubs: 23rd June: Mecca Bingo - Blackpool 23rd June: Mecca Bingo - Aberdeen 23rd June: Buzz Bingo - Basingstoke 23rd June: Buzz Bingo - Edinburgh 24th June: Mecca Bingo - Blackpool 24th June: Mecca Bingo - Glasgow Quay 24th June: Castle Bingo - Bridgend 24th June: Buzz Bingo - Chatham 25th June: Castle Bingo - Swansea 25th June: Palace Bingo - Great Yarmouth 26th June: Buzz Bingo - Widnes 26th June: Buzz Bingo - Castleford 26th June: Buzz Bingo - Wavertree 26th June: Buzz Bingo - Coventry (Savoy) 27th June: Mecca Bingo - Thanet 27th June: Buzz Bingo - Enfield 27th June: Buzz Bingo - Wakefield 27th June: Premier Bingo - Perth 28th June: Mecca Bingo - Hartlepool 28th June: Mecca Bingo - Acocks Green 28th June: Mecca Bingo - Burton on Trent 28th June: Mecca Bingo - London, Wood Green 29th June: Mecca Bingo - Wrexham 29th June: Buzz Bingo - Bristol 29th June: Buzz Bingo - Barnsley 30th June: Mecca Bingo - Hartlepool 30th June: Buzz Bingo - South Shields 30th June: Mecca Bingo - Swansea 30th June: Mecca Bingo - Burton-on-Trent 30th June: Mecca Bingo - Glasgow Quay 3rd July: Mecca Bingo - Oldham 3rd July: Mecca Bingo - Liverpool, Knotty Ash 3rd July: Buzz Bingo - Slough
hard work and planning that goes into NBG #BingoVIP experiences is all worthwhile when you see and hear player reactions to them, but a key part of delivering these events is also the hosts who work with us on them: drawn from across the industry their experience and enthusiasm really bring things to life in a genuine way. Thank you to our Cardiff Calling Hosts: Jason Harries (Castle), Demi-Leigh Jorgensen (Buzz), Lorraine Dukes (Buzz), Will Taylor (Buzz), Kim Jones (Mecca), Leigh Vose (Mecca), Tony Beverley (Mecca) and Keith Lee (Cosmo). To see photographs and a video of the #CardiffCalling weekend and winnersâ€™ reactions please visit our Facebook page. @nationalbingogame www.bingolifemagazine.com
Another Win for a Cardiff Calling #BingoVIP
New friends at VIP Bingo night
Cocktail time: Cardiff Calling Winners get ready to party
Host Demi-Leigh Jorgensen and Winners, ready for curtain up at the theatre
FEATURE: GAMCARE – SAFER GAMBLING STANDARD UPDATE
Setting the Standard GamCare’s Safer Gambling Standard: One Year On
amCare is the leading provider of information, advice and support for those affected by gambling related harms across Great Britain. Alongside operating the National Gambling Helpline, open 24-hours a day and offering a range of support and treatment services nationwide, they also use their expertise to provide training and accreditation for the gambling industry, including through the Safer Gambling Standard. The Safer Gambling Standard was launched a year ago and working alongside the BSI, (British Standards Institution,) GamCare has ensured that the Standard is a recognised mark for gambling operators licensed in Great Britain: to date five gambling businesses have already completed and achieved the accreditation, with more enroute. Currently 20 operators are actively working with GamCare on achieving accreditation. What does the Safer Gambling Standard evaluate? The Standard looks at ten criteria for both landbased and online gambling operators: 44
• Corporate governance and risk management • Collaboration and sharing best practice • Operator spend on safer gambling, including the most recent percentage annual GGY contribution to organisation(s) that undertake research, education and treatment (RET) regarding gambling-related harms • Protection of children, young adults, and vulnerable customers • Customer information, profiling and interaction • Product design and innovation in safer gambling tools, and the deployment of products in environments which minimise the risk of customers experiencing gamblingrelated harm • Self-exclusion • Advertising and promotion • Staff training and development • Addressing problem gambling amongst staff. The assessment process involves a review of an operator’s policies and procedures, interviews with staff, website reviews and premises visits. It also examines a range of areas to get a true sense of an operator’s organisational culture, and how that culture is led from the top.
FEATURE: GAMCARE â€“ SAFER GAMBLING STADARD UPDATE Those organisations achieving the Standard are reviewed every two years, however they are also encouraged to actively work on the recommendations provided from their assessment in order to meet additional areas of good practice in minimising gambling harm. GamCare also offers a range of training products which can support continuous professional development (CPD) for staff across the business and can additionally assist customer service teams to refer directly into support and treatment services where appropriate for customers. How is the Standard keeping pace with the changing landscape of the gambling industry? The Safer Gambling Standard has been developed from academic evidence in safer gambling practices, service user input, and GamCareâ€™s knowledge and experience from over 20 years of work supporting those affected by gambling harms, plus the gambling industry itself. An expert panel reviews the provisions of the Safer Gambling Standard each year to incorporate any changes in regulatory requirements and good practice guidelines, as well as feedback from GamCare service users and new insights from academic research. Updates to the Standard this year include amends to the section regarding the level of RET and internal spend contributions, as well as additional items regarding minimising harms in respect to vulnerable customers. Bingo operators, such as the Buzz Group, have already achieved the Standard and GamCare are very happy to support others to get this underway. They offer a full scoping meeting with each operator to get to grips with the companies, sites and premises in their portfolio to fully understand the scale of the business, and to provide a practical approach to accreditation. What does the Standard mean for customers? The Standard is a quality mark which will help to demonstrate that gambling businesses strive to ensure a sustainable customer base, provide tools for their customers to safely manage their gambling and continually improve their processes to protect the young and vulnerable. www.bingolifemagazine.com
Five reasons to apply for the Standard 1. Allows customers and the gambling industry to identify operators who have adopted high standards in safer gambling. 2. Operators will be able to see how they compare to others in the area of safer gambling. 3. Operators receive expert, independent advice throughout the process and a detailed assessment report upon completion. 4. The Standard is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure it continues to promote good practice and build upon developments in gambling regulation. 5. Fees paid towards accreditation go back into supporting those affected by gambling-related harms. The Standard recognises the operators who offer support to the customers they identify as experiencing gambling harms, provide boardlevel leadership in safer gambling, and continually assess the local area around their gambling premises so that they do not appeal to, or accept custom from, children or vulnerable people. These operators will be recognised via a dedicated website launching this spring, with additional information on how customers can assess the companies they may wish to gamble with according to best practice in player protection and safer gambling. For more information visit: W: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/our-work/ for-gambling-operators/social-responsibilitytraining/ e: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEATURE: G2E ASIA
G2E Asia 2020
Bingo Life chats to Josephine Lee, Executive VP, Reed Exhibitions Greater China
very year, over 95% of Asian casino operators attend G2E Asia to look for cutting-edge products and solutions and gather information and market intelligence on upcoming industry trends. Held in Macau – the heart of Asian gamingentertainment - G2E Asia is the ideal hub where professionals network and conduct business. Bingo Life caught up with Executive VP at Reed Exhibitions Greater China, Josephine Lee, to hear about exciting developments planned for this year’s show taking place 19, 20 and 21 May.
computing, cyber security solutions, business intelligence for integrated resorts (including hospitality-industry robotics, smart building and sustainability solutions) and smart technology. Also new to the 2020 show floor is the Sport Betting Zone, to meet the needs of Asia’s rapidly growing and extremely popular digital sports sector.
What’s new for G2E Asia in 2020? Each year, G2E Asia strives to add depth to the event experience with new and exciting offerings that best reflect industry growth, together with expanded exhibitor profiles and (targeted) networking opportunities.
Having attended G2E Asia 2019, we can confirm that it was a huge success, with both floors very busy and the conferences proving very popular. What keeps your attendees coming back year after year? Annual favourites and must-attends include the G2E Asia Conference Program, three days’ worth of intensive and highly-relevant content delivered by a team of globally renowned industry experts.
G2E Asia 2020 is excited to introduce its newest Smart IR segment. Smart IR Tech Talk will gather industry experts and influencers to discuss and showcase the latest in IR tech, innovation and business solutions that are redefining the customer experience, including AI, cloud
Part of the event’s attraction also includes its unmatched variety of targeted networking events. This includes our popular series of Segmented Industry Networking events, comprising small, interactive and industry-specific gatherings for slots, table game and lottery professionals; Cotai
FEATURE: G2E ASIA Connect, a full-day guided tour exclusively for G2E Asia professionals offering an inside look at Macau’s prospering integrated-resort scene; and the highly-anticipated G2E Asia Awards and gala event, which recognises the industry’s top achievers and innovators. In addition, Artbiz Asia Forum, a first-of-itskind, business-to-business platform connecting arts and culture circles with Asia’s integrated resorts, will be returning after a successful debut, together with Esports Connect Asia, a dual business-and-networking platform serving the entire eSports value chain. How is G2E Asia responding to the steady growth of land-based and online sectors? G2E Asia strives for diversity with offerings relevant to all corners of the industry’s gaming and non-gaming sectors. Its targeted onsite activities provide an optimal environment for conducting business, while making new connections and learning the latest and upcoming trends. In addition to its expanded offerings in sports betting and integrated resorts, G2E Asia 2020 will see the return of the Parts & Components Pavilion, Asia’s first and only trade platform dedicated to the showcase of parts and components of the electronic gaming machine manufacturing industry; and Segmented Industry Cocktails, offering specialized gatherings for slots and table game professionals. Many 2019 additions, including ESports Connect Asia and Artbiz Asia Forum will return after successful debuts. The Game Development Zone, exhibiting the latest game development products and services from leading technology companies will also return. All of these events deliver unprecedented business, educational and networking opportunities in their field, with an added option of customised business matchmaking. How will you be catering to the Sports Betting and eSports Gaming Sectors? Throughout the year, our team strives to keep www.bingolifemagazine.com
on top of changes and trends in the industry to maximize both relevance and efficiency. Sports betting, a highly popular and emergent sector, will have a new prominent show-floor presence in 2020 with a showcase of the latest digital sports products and solutions, spanning datadriven software, sports betting systems, sports book and race book software, and virtual sports solutions. The Esports Connect Forum, newly launched in 2019, together with eSports-exclusive networking cocktails, is designed to help participants further develop business strategy, while growing their industry expertise. As a dual business-and-networking platform serving the entire eSports value chain, it brings together Asian and international industry leaders to share the latest products and trends to best capture this rapidly growing market segment. Will there be coverage in the conference program on anti-money-laundering and the initiatives involved with Know Your Customers along with security and surveillance systems? Anti-money-laundering, as well as security and surveillance systems, have always been one of the main conference sections of G2E Asia. In 2019, a roundtable discussion focusing on Financial CRIME Risk Prevention and Detection Trends was held on day 3. The conference also included a session on Cyber Security and Data Privacy: Using New Tools to Prevent Data 47
FEATURE: G2E ASIA exhibitors set to showcase the cutting edge of the industry. As with your sister show in Las Vegas, can we also expect to see an expanded exhibitor profile in the Integrated Resorts sector? Absolutely. G2E Asia 2020’s new Smart IR segment will boast an exhibitor profile spanning across AI and business intelligence for integrated resorts, including hospitality-industry robotics; smart building and sustainability solutions; and smart technology. Breaches and Cyber Attacks. Responsible gaming has always been one of the core G2E Asia conference themes: this year G2E Asia will deliver up-to-date trends and in-depth thought in this regard. Though planning for G2E Asia’s three-day Conference Programme is a year-round affair, it’s still early days for confirming agenda topics. Our teams ‘call for paper’ stage is still in full swing as they seek out critical topics that define what’s shaping the future of the global gamingentertainment industry. Conference programme details will be officially released later this month. For those that haven’t yet attended G2E Asia 2020, why is it the region’s must-attend event? The G2E Asia team has come a long way to secure our position as the must-attend marketplace for the Asian gaming-entertainment industry. Now over one-decade strong, the event has evolved into a complete one-stop shop for showcasing and sourcing the industry’s latest products, services and technologies, with a variety of value-added opportunities found nowhere else in Asia. Its unmatched networking and learning platform delivers three days chockfull of interactive gatherings and a comprehensive conference program led by top industry leaders, influencers and experts from Asia and beyond. Regardless of the state of their business or career, industry professionals keen to stay up-to-date and at a competitive edge shouldn’t miss out on our 14th G2E Asia in 2020, with a projected 30,000 sqm of exhibition space and nearly 200 48
The Smart IR and Innovation Tech Talk will deliver an IR-exclusive learning and networking platform, where over 100 future technology leaders from integrated resorts, suppliers and governments are expected to congregate, exchange, and get inspired, while discussing applications of innovative technologies and solutions to drive better customer engagement and enhance industry efficiency. With more events being set up in Asia, what plans do you have in place to ensure that G2E Asia remains the region’s No 1 event in the gaming industry? G2E Asia has solidified its reputation as the region’s must-attend marketplace and largest sourcing gaming-entertainment platform with a growing global reach. The element of competition will always exist. It can’t be avoided. And in a way, we welcome it as it keeps us on our toes and drives us to make each edition bigger and better. Competition or no, for over a decade, our team works tirelessly throughout the year to deliver an event experience that meets the ever-changing and evolving needs of our attending professionals – very much like the industry we serve. We never stop growing. To find out more about this year’s show and conference program visit G2E Asia’s website at: www.G2EAsaia.com: Multilingual staff are available to answer any queries and you can visit their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. issue 031
CONNECTING PEOPLE AND INNOVATIONS IN THE ASIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
娛樂業界與創新科技 Market Trends. Quality Products. Networking. 市场趋势、优质产品、建立联系 G2E Asia: Informs smart business decisions. 亞洲國際娛樂展：助您作出明智的商业决策
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