Volume 14 Issue 117
Okada Manila Iconic Asia Entertainment
Action Game On Earth
Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +44 (0) 7727 969299 firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor:
email@example.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Editor North America David Mckee
email@example.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan
firstname.lastname@example.org International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods
email@example.com Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green
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www.totaldesignworks.com Subscriptions: Helen Holmes
Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...
...And what an issue. We start with a visit to the Okada Manila - $2.5 billion of investment in a prime location - Iconic Asian Entertainment indeed. Alastair Dick, Vice President of Table Games at Okada Manila talks to Bill Healey about the casino and its focus on entertainment. On a different scale, way back in 2007 I walked into the Hairy Lemon casino in Kyiv (where else?) and found they’d installed a Zuum roulette machine. It looked like a UFO – just as I’d described it after seeing it in London a few months before - I was stunned. “Did you buy it at ICE?” I asked. “No – we saw it in a feature in a trade magazine and thought it looked cool.” The casino manager pulled down a magazine from his shelf – this very title. Big silly grin. Eleven years on and I chat to Mitja Kolman, CEO and Founder Zuum Ltd, about the company and how it has progressed since those early beginnings. Still in Eastern Europe, I also had the chance to talk to Tim Klok, Business Development Director, Casino Flex Systems about how they can offer an inexpensive effective systems solution. Keeping to this theme...Peter White got the chance to talk to Johannes Kubi Özer – Global Sales Director and CFO at APEX. In a world dominated by merged mega companies, it’s nice to see smaller concerns still punching above their weight. We turn to problem gambling next and talk to Adele Duncan, Chief Executive and Peter Hannibal, one of the Trustees, of the Gordon Moody Association and the work they undertake to tackle gambling addiction. The Times They Are A-Changin’ in Atlantic City and Bob Ambrose is on the spot to tell us how and why. New venues and new approaches are revitalizing the boardwalk. Finally, Victor Royer interviews gaming veteran Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation who have created the innovative edutainment - Revenue Engagement Activation and Conversion Hub – or REACH System for short.
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Publisher: Peter White
Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869
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Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief Heading for Macau and G2E Asia? So are we... so drop me a line and maybe we can catch up: email@example.com
Contents 3 Editor’s page 6 Okada Manila Iconic Asian Entertainment Alastair Dick, Vice President of Table Games at Okada Manila talks to Bill Healey 17 The natural choice in Technology Glyn Thomas chats to Mitja Kolman, CEO and Founder, Zuum Ltd 22 Gaming Advantage Glyn Thomas chats to Tim Klok, Business Development Director, Casino Flex Systems 26 Today’s Challenges are Tomorrows Opportunities Peter White chats to Kubi Özer – Global Sales Director and CFO, APEX Gaming 32 Support for those that need it Adele Duncan, Chief Executive and Peter Hannibal, one of the Trustees, Gordon Moody Association speak to Peter White 38 The Times They Are A-Changin’ in Atlantic City And the Next Generation of “40 under 40” is a Part of the Narrative By: Robert Ambrose 41 Changing the Game Interview with Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation Creators of the REACH SystemTM by: Victor H Royer
Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
Okada Manila Iconic Asian Entertainment One of the recent additions to Metro Manilaâ€™s Entertainment City is the Okada Manila, set to become one of the iconic integrated resorts located on the cityâ€™s gaming strip. Weâ€™ve had an opportunity to chat with Alastair Dick, Vice President of Table Games at Okada Manila
Could you give us a bit of a background on your position with Okada Manila. What does the position entail? My role as Vice President of Table Games at Okada Manila entails many components. Reporting directly to the President of Okada Manila I oversee all Table Gaming related functions including customer satisfaction, project development, staff mentoring & development, statistical analysis budgeting and last but not least revenue generation. With a team of over 2000 staff and gearing up for a gaming product with over 500 gaming tables, there is a significant amount of planning and administration required to ensure the entire team is working towards our common goal of providing the best gaming experience in Asia. What is your background in the industry? What led you to Okada? I have been in the Gaming industry for 25 years, predominantly in Table Games but with exposure to all facets of Gaming and Hospitality. I started
my career at the Launceston Country Club Casino in Tasmania Australia, and after 13 years covering multiple roles from Table Games Dealer through to Shift Manager, as well as roles in Cage, Slots and F&B to name a few. I then moved to Macau spending 3 years with Sands Macau as a Pit Manager and Shift Manager before joining SJMâ€™s flagship property Grand Lisboa as an Assistant Casino Manager and then Casino Manager. After 8 years at Grand Lisboa I was approached to undertake my current role at Okada Manila as Vice President of Table Games. Okada Manila is a relatively new property. When did it open? We unveiled the property to the public on December 21, 2016 giving a special preview, during which we opened our gaming floor. We have since opened other amenities and areas, including our signature restaurants that offer a rich representation of the worldâ€™s cuisines, our iconic multicolor dancing fountain (March 31, 2017), and
our indoor beach club and nightclub, Cove Manila (Dec. 15, 2017). Okada has quickly become an iconic Integrated Casino Resort property within the city. What position does it hold within the Metro Manila gaming sector? Set in 44 hectares of prime land, Okada Manila is a US$2.4 billion investment in a $1 billion market. That’s why it is very special. But although it is the largest and most expensive property in Entertainment City, we are positioning it as an integrated resort with features that cater to different kinds of people. True to the company’s core principle, Okada Manila mainly stands for one thing: entertainment. While we have a casino and gaming area—possibly the largest in the country in terms of size and gaming options—we have a rich array of various amenities that truly spoil our guests with choices on how they would like to spend their time, from relaxation to shopping to dining and other kinds of
entertainment. For starters, we have a number of exciting signature restaurants, offering scrumptious feasts for casual, buffet and international dining. Guests can indulge in different cuisines from East to West. And of course, guests can opt to treat themselves to some shopping in the Crystal Corridor or Retail Boulevard or choose to unwind and relax in The Retreat, a world-class spa offering luxurious wellness treatments. Through our very own entertainment group, World of Wonders, we have gathered the most talented entertainers to offer one-of-a-kind and world-class performances to guests in the whole property. And for those looking for fun and unique entertainment, The Fountain and Cove Manila offer exciting ways for guests to enjoy memorable experiences. How many table games does the casino have? We have 355 table games currently in operation,
Alastair Dick, Vice President of Table Games at Okada Manila
Baccarat being the major game of choice followed by Roulette and Blackjack. How many electronic games are there at Okada? Okada Manila now has a combination of almost 3,000 slots and electronic table games that can be enjoyed by our patrons. Okada has an ongoing promotion called Wheels & Fortune 3. Can you give us some details about that? Wheels & Fortune 3: American Graffiti is one of Okada Manilaâ€™s biggest promotions to date where we are giving away over 50 million Philippine peso in prizes. The highlight of this promotion are the 2 bespoke bikes that were created by Orange County Choppers lead by Paul Teutul Sr. of the Discovery Channelâ€™s American Chopper. He created Cove Manila Chopper and Okada Manila chopper worth 13 million Philippine peso each. On top of the 2
bespoke bikes we are also giving away 10 Harley-Davidson bikes and millions in free play. This promo started January 2018 up to June 2018. For only 20 Points a Reward Circle member can earn an entry and get a chance to win their share of over 50 million in prizes. Everyone can be a winner in Okada Manila. Wheels & Fortune 3 is the predecessor of Wheels & Fortune 2 where we gave away over 40 million Philippine peso in prizes. The highlight was the grand draw that happened last January 1, 2018 where we gave away Ferrari California T worth 26.5 million Philippine peso. We also gave away 11 Ducati motor bikes and millions in free play during the run of the Wheels & Fortune 2 promo. This promo ran from June 2017 to December 2017. The first biggest promo Okada Manila did was the first Wheels & Fortune where we gave away over 27 million Philippine peso. The grand draw happened May 27, 2017 were Okada Manila gave away an
Aston Martin Vantage S worth over 18 million Philippine peso. We also gave away 4 sports bikes and millions on free play. This promo ran from January 2017 to May 2017.
• Earn More, Shop More where members who earn points during the earning period will get free vouchers that they can use for shopping at Marks & Spencer store.
Okada Manila has an ongoing slots tournament called Lucky Tiger 8 Slots Tournament and the Lucky Tiger VI Slots Tournament: Okada Invitational. We are giving over 6 million free play in prizes. We have given away over 46 million in free play since we started with our Lucky Tiger Slots tournament. Okada Manila just concluded the first ever Lucky Tiger Slots Tournament Champion’s League where the first prize was 1 million in free play. Okada Manila concluded a baccarat tournament called Okada Baccarat Tournament where we gave away over 7 million in prizes.
• Daily Dining Deals where members who earn points will get free vouchers that they can use to eat in any our restaurants.
Where does Okada draw its guests from? Okada Manila’s guests are mostly Filipinos/locals, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.
What type of tournaments are available for table games, electronic games?
Are there any restrictions on locals gambling in the casino?
Are there additional promotions at Okada? We have monthly campaigns at Okada Manila, our current promotions include:
We have PAGCOR or Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation that acts as the regulator of the casino in the Philippines. There are no restrictions on locals gambling in the casino, however, minors and prohibited persons such as government officials are not allowed to enter playing areas of any casino in the Philippines. In addition to the casino, what draws other guests into the resort? Apart from its record-breaking dimensions, Okada Manila takes pride in its unique and world-class amenities. Its most iconic feature is The Fountain, a US$30 million light and water dancing fountain surrounded by more than a kilometer of projectionmapped entertainment space called the Crystal Corridor. Aimed to become Manila’s main tourism icon, this fountain is designed and developed by WET, the same team behind the world’s most popular water features in Las Vegas and Dubai.
Okada Manila is also home to the country’s first-ever indoor beach club and nightclub, Cove Manila. Enclosed in a glass dome, 100-meters in diameter and 30-meters in height, Cove Manila can host up to 5,500 guests and has featured worldrenowned music acts, such as Steve Aoki and Nelly. Lastly, Okada Manila boasts of one of the largest and most luxurious rooms in the industry. Ranging from 55 sqm deluxe rooms to 1,400 sqm villas, the property treats its hotel guests to breathtaking views of either the Manila Bay or The Fountain. Our rooms are an exemplar of modern conveniences as each carries a digital valet system, enabling guests to control room features such as lights, curtains, air-condition, television and other elements from a single touch-screen tablet. Does the resort’s proximity to the airport provide a benefit to drawing in guests?
Yes, the newly completed NAIA Skyway provides a direct link that makes the airport a mere 10â€“15 minutes away. Moreover, compared with the relatively more congested business districts of Makati, the Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas, Entertainment City offers visitors and tourists a more relaxed yet modern option for work and leisure. That is why location and accessibility serve as the two major advantages of Okada Manila over other similar destinations. Situated in some of the choicest parts of Entertainment City, Okada Manila enjoys glorious views of the Manila Bay sunset. Does Okada provide a Responsible Gaming program, and what is the focus? Yes. Okada Manila has its own Responsible Gaming program which adheres to the requirements and the spirit of Responsible Gaming Code of Practice issued by PAGCOR or the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. The main focus of the program
is to create awareness of the Responsible Gaming information via our website, sign, brochure and hotline so our patrons are able to make informed decisions about their participation in gambling and seek assistance on gambling problems from help centers if need be. Could you describe Okadaâ€™s loyalty program? Our loyalty program is called Reward Circle. Our membership is free and it comes with perks and benefits: for example, you can earn an entry in our Wheels & Fortune 3: American Graffiti to get a chance to win your share of over 50 million in prizes. Please feel free to visit www.okadamanila. com to find out more about Okada Manila and http://www.okadamanila.com/casino to discover more about our promos inside the casino.
Casino Life would like to thank Alastair Dick at Okada Manila for his time and contribution to this interview.
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Cove Manila Chopper
Okada Manila Chopper
The natural choice in Technology Glyn Thomas chats to Mitja Kolman, CEO and founder of Zuum Ltd
rom humble origins in a small Slovenian workshop, Zuum Ltd. has grown into a global presence, with affiliates in Las Vegas and corporate headquarters in the sunny Mediterranean climes of Cyprus. The journey, which began in 2005, has been shaped by moments of inspiration, perseverance, courage and luck. The company evolved through many phases, not least a difficult beginning, but eventually Zuum found a prosperous path. A company that began with a roulette wheel in ’05 made waves five years later at ICE London with its revolutionary Apollo Roulette. That was the first in a succession of annual roulette rollouts — Graphite, Opal, Crystal and Grand Crystal. Diversifying its product line, Zuum launched Air Bing in Murcia, Spain in 2015. Mechanical versions of blackjack and baccarat with real cards followed in 2016, succeeded the next year with the successful launch of a live-streaming platform. Zuum was born out of the enthusiasm for, and the love of gaming and far-reaching vision of its founder, Mitja Kolman. He has never been at a loss for ideas on how to approach the gaming industry in new and innovative ways. He shared some of these with Glyn Thomas. What has been the reaction from casino and gaming manufacturers and operators at shows such as G2E Las Vegas 2017 and ICE Totally Gaming? The common reaction was that Zuum’s latest revolutionary products not only attract the players who appreciate latest technology solutions but also offer to the players and operators much better gaming experience than other competitors. What has been the secret to how Zuum Multiplayers have been so successful with casinos? The secret is secret and should not be revealed. But it could be simple graphical design of the interface adjusted to the needs of the players. We made an analytical study of the habits of regular casino and roulette players, and the outcome gave us clear guidelines of how the interface should be designed. Also, attractive combination of the games is very important. Mixture of many different factors could be the secret. Who knows?
How do you sustain such a high level of innovation at your organisation? Innovation is a risk. Employees won’t take risks unless they understand goals clearly, have a clear but flexible framework in which to operate and understand that failures are recognized as simply steps in the learning process. We grew up as a small organization, which allowed us to move faster in implementing innovative ideas because there was less bureaucracy. We have an excellent team of engineers that is able to communicate with each other openly. These communications are not always friendly but at the end of the day it produces results. New ideas many times seem to be unachievable, but due to and based on the knowledge of some geniuses in the organization, we have been able to bring into live operation the Air Bing game, a unique machine due to its attractiveness, simplicity, outstanding design, and innovative approach to the traditional and well-known bingo game. How important have you found that the appearance combined with the level of touch sensitivity and speed of interactivity affects the appeal and game performance of the Zuum Multiplayer Roulette? Beautiful products are more successful. Modern technology helps us with the touch sensitivity in all areas of our lives. Just take a look at the last generation of cell phones, what we can do with them. The sky is the limit. They allow fast and interactive experiences. Both areas together, speed and interactivity, are the key elements of our Multiplayer Roulette. Players are nowadays very demanding, and only the best product and game is good enough for them. We have been striving to comply with this demand and it seems that we have been successful, since our loyal customers give us recognition day after day. What are amongst your organisation’s main goals for the next 12 to 18 months? To strengthen our leadership position in our strongest markets, and to try to conquer new and interesting markets. Roulette is still the best-selling product for Zuum and our latest-launched product Air Bing is completely ready to be commercialized worldwide, and we have huge expectations for this project in the near future.
You also have an extensive range of games. Can you explain to readers about the options and types you provide? Grand Crystal Roulette with an attractive LED Ring Topper is king and the most sold product in our company. But we should not forget other outstanding products like: New Bingo Air Bing â€“ the bingo Air Bing machine I am presenting in continuation of this interview. New Blackjack and Baccarat a three-to-five-player machine with mechanical cards is pure revolution and very attractive for the Blackjack-dedicated player. The mechanical-cards shuffling effect represents the live feeling, as though players were playing with a live dealer. Several machines will be installed soon in U.S. tribal casinos.
Our New Online Casino Platform was another big hit during year 2017. In this system, each playing station is programmed to load credits to playersâ€™ online accounts through smart devices like cell phones and tablets. At the moment, players can play live-stream games like roulette, Top 1, bingo and virtual games such as baccarat, blackjack and poker. And many more games are to come soon... Multi Gaming Theatre launched last October with configurations that contain several games, either fully automated or dealer assisted. Zuum Theatre Arena is what was just a dream a few years ago. Real-time betting on different games is just one of the key advantages of the new, multi-gaming platform. Players enjoy attractive games and the operators can best utilize the available casino floor space, since the number of playing stations are
adjustable to fit any available space in the casino. Zuum products are already favourites in many countries like Spain, Colombia, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Norway, India and Cambodia. During ICE 2018, we unveiled 123Roulette™, the standout game that has been created for tomorrow’s market today. Designed to broaden the roulette market by creating interest amongst seasoned players as well as attracting new players, the 123Roulette™ design just simplifies the traditional 300-year-old roulette wheel with a visually easier, numerical layout guaranteed to catch the eye. Unlike the traditional roulette wheel, invented by French scientist Honore Pascal in the XVII Century, 123Roulette™ is simpler in design. In in its preproduction preview at ICE 2017 in London, one visitor, remarked: “It just looks easier to beat than traditional roulette.” It’s incredible the interest shown by operators the world over, from Las Vegas and Florida to Latin America, Russia, Australia and South Africa. 123Roulette™ has been exceptionally well received by operators and players alike and will create new possibilities for higher roulette revenue. Versatility is an important advantage. What is the level of customization provided by your electronic gaming machines to casinos? Our level of customization is huge. Due to a relatively small organization [50 employees] we are able to listen to the needs of the casino operators, and react and submit customised solutions quickly. Our product portfolio and modular setup of the EGMs offer a variety options to the end customer. What would you like to say to gaming operators with regards to how your organisation’s EGMs can assist them with further development and innovation of their casinos? We have been working with some casinos from the beginning of their floor-plan development through to the full floor being operational. Our expert sales and technical staff have advised them with useful hints on how to improve the performance in terms of positioning and settings. This approach is unique since we have studied different floor plan configurations in order to be able to assist our
customers. And today we are happy to report that our customers like it. Can you explain to readers about your recently launched Air Bing? The bingo machine Air Bing has a mechanical random-bingo generator which gives an attractive addition to the well-known bingo game. And better still, the players can not only select their cards in two different ways, they can play their own lucky numbers. They can also play three-by-three or fiveby-five cards with the 75 balls inside of the air dome. Players enjoy Air Bing’s pace, with more playing time, excitement and fun. It literally attracts the players from when the doors open till closing time. And last but not least, it offers operators optimum opportunities to enhance results. The game has received overwhelming feedback from the European casinos and has had expressions of interests from the United States and Latin America too. Grand Crystal Top1 looks like a lottery-based game. Is that correct? Yes and no. It depends on the variant. In the Top 1 is the roulette game, where the numbers on the wheel are replaced with the 37 or 38 balls inside the air dome, representing the numbers on the roulette wheel. The game is the same, roulette, but the way the machine delivers the result is different. The mechanical arm lifts one ball and determines the result. Along with the electronic gaming products you also provide an eye-catching range of displays. Yes and thanks. We think that the roulette machine without eye-catching display is like a bride without the beautiful and glorifying dress. We have placed a strong emphasis on development and design of such signs, and have today a variety of different attractive topper signs which raise the level of attractiveness of our machines. One large piece in the mosaic of recent success storiesfor the company are our attractive, illuminating signs, for sure. What are the next events and exhibitions at which readers can see your range of electronic gaming machines? G2E Asia Macao, followed by G2E Las Vegas, Sagse Argentina and ICE London.
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Gaming Advantage Glyn Thomas chats to Tim Klok, Business Development Director, Casino Flex Systems
Tell us about CasinoFlex Systems International. We are a young company, founded in 2015. Bas Baarbe and myself created the company and we are naturally both very active here. Bas is responsible for the technical and R&D side of the company – my focus is commercial. We have many
years of experience in the gaming industry and that from different aspects – both as an operator and a manufacturer. Our in-depth knowledge of systems requirements led us to the clear conclusion that the market requires a new approach – that of CasinoFlex Systems International.
philosophy works with this. We do not believe in the notion that one system type fits all. On the contrary, the more tailored a system is to the individual customer requirements, the easier it will be to make use of, the more accepted it will be – all this means that the value of having a system increases correspondingly. We know how expensive competitive systems can be. Right from the beginning, our goal has been to create systems solutions that are affordable to the entire gaming market – not just large casinos – even the small street gaming operators. We believe we have been successful here. Is it expensive and how easy is it to operate? Your question leads directly on from my last comment. CasinoFlex Systems is very affordable to all types of gaming operators. Ease of operation is a key point as well. A system can only be beneficial if it is understandable for all and is easy to use on a day-to-day basis. That is where our long-standing experience plays a decisive role. We have put particular emphasis in creating a system that is intuitive to use and provides a host of information at a click of a button. That is another reason for the great interest in our solutions.
Can you provide our readers an insight some of the features of CasinoFlex? Our company was created to solve these problems: Systems are per se a complex subject matter. They make use of a great deal of information for different purposes. Some operators may have avoided the systems question in the past due to this apparent complexity – and also due to the cost of installing and maintaining such a system. Although the word gaming is generic for our industry, we all know how diverse it is and that local jurisdictions play a major role. Our company
From an installation standpoint, how easy is it to install into Casinos that may have a number of different types of machines and some that can be quite old? The complexity increases when operators have a mix of older and newer machines – which is often the case. In the past, systems companies tended to be a subsidiary of a slot manufacturer and so there may have been a focus on updating older machines when integrating such a system. We are a pure systems company. Therefore, we look to the problems our customers have on their gaming floor and cater our solutions to them. For example, we can provide mechanical meter interfacing and coin emulation – so enabling TITO and cashless for older slot machines as well. Operators thus benefit from the same features and functionality for their complete machine park. No operator has to part with older slots that still maintain their popularity in order to introduce a system. What areas of the Casino operation can CasinoFlex
System assist management in the optimisation of, for example, its EGMs on the Casino Floor, and how can it assist the marketing department? That is our focus. It’s about offering the right systems solution each and every time. We invest much time to ensure we know exactly what system is required. We often speak to a great number of persons in different departments, including slots and table managers as well as responsible management within marketing and finance. In this way we can get a complete picture. This creates a system that aids casino management in different ways – the marketing manager is looking for specific information in a different way to that of the operations manager, for example. This is the true strength of our system – that it is created with these different requirements in mind.
How would you describe the advantages of CasinoFlex Systems in comparison to alternative Software solutions on the market? At CasinoFlex Systems, there is no one system that fits all mentality. Each system is devised for individual requirements, which can vary enormously. We know and understand the market for systems through our long-standing experience. As an SME, the time to market is quicker and our personal approach makes a difference. We are a pure systems company that can connect all types of slots. Furthermore, our system is affordable to all in the gaming industry. What has been the feedback from Casino operators who have installed the CasinoFlex System? We have been overwhelmed with the positive
a Casino operator should look at installing a CasinoFlex System in their Casinos? We make a difference. We provide the right system, tailored to each and every customer. We invest our time and focus to get to know the needs of all the departments that make use of the system. Our system is simple to use and provides as well all the necessary information a government may require (with real-time information). Our system is affordable for all. How was ICE 2018 for you and can you provide any details on your plans for other exhibitions and events where you will exhibiting? We enjoyed a very busy ICE that confirms that our company is very much on the radar for operators searching for a system. We will be expanding our show diary. We have just come back from our very first FADJA Colombia where we exhibited. We are still buzzing from this show.
feedback we have received. This is our best motivation and motor for growth. As a smaller company that is strongly growing, we are proud to be the market leader already in Bulgaria. We are busy strengthening our global support network. The recent agreement with PEJ in Spain, for example, gives us much better access to this market. Larger operators are also seeing the benefits we offer and I think it is true to say that we have already gained much standing in the industry since our incorporation three years ago. This high level of respect we receive shows that our corporate philosophy is correct. Each and every customer is given the time and respect to find the right system, implement it and receive the necessary training.
There are Casinos that still use Excel software to store and manage data, which it is likely many consider is all they require, so what in your opinion are the key advantages of CasinoFlex Systems over the Microsoft Excel program? There are so many differences – our program is naturally created especially for casino requirements that often have to report information to their fiscal authorities. I have been able to explain many features during this interview. Our team is available to provide this information personally – I invite operators to get in touch and see how we can help. Is there anything else you would like to add? The fact that we are market leaders already in Bulgaria (the country where we have our headquarters) shows that we make a difference. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity for an interview with Casino Life to explain what has been happening in the meantime.
What are the most compelling reasons why
Kubilay Özer Global Sales Director at APEX gaming
Today’s Challenges are Tomorrow’s Opportunities
Peter White chats to Kubi Özer – Global Sales Director and CFO, APEX
n this age of mega-mergers, it’s appealing to see a family owned company like APEX holding its own against the big boys. As the manufacturing segment looks toward skill-based slots, APEX is right in there pitching. It has yet to make a substantial impact in the American market but has been adopted by Harrah’s Cherokee and, historically, tribal casinos are the first movers on the technicalinnovation front, which bodes very well indeed for APEX. How have the last 18 months been for APEX Gaming? They have been extremely busy and in essence a very special time. At APEX we place great emphasis on innovation – our company motto is to take
gaming to the next level. We are always listening and learning to understand this information, develop it, implement it and create new solutions that bring added value and greater excitement for players. As you can imagine, this is not an easy job. The past 18 months have seen us reaping what we have sown – for example, with our exquisite EVO3 games platform, the award-winning iDROP as well as our Jackpot Islands with our Dragon Egg game. We will continue to listen to our customers – we never rest on our laurels. Continual development is our key to success. Can you give further details of the new Jackpot Island with the Dragon Egg game and confirm whether it is available with your popular game
Leonardo’s Code as well? Our Jackpot Island is our complete solution, combining our Pinnacle slot machines in a multi-tier jackpot system. We have developed it to be an eyecatcher and for players to feel very comfortable with. The large overhead displays make up part of the game – for example the dragon in the game Dragon Egg can fly over the slots. This strengthens the feeling that this is a complete island on which several players can participate. We offer an amazing number of jackpot opportunities – up to 16 in total over the four major jackpot levels. That means that players have statistically win chances according to the way they play so that all types of players can play together and know their chances of winning reflect the way they play. We have three different physical jackpot island versions available at the moment – and we are working on more. The three are called the Pinnacle Premium 8 Jackpot Island (the large solution with 8 slots) and the two compact, smaller versions each with 4 slots: the Pinnacle Premium 4 Jackpot Island and the Pinnacle Premium Curved 4 Jackpot Island. The latter has slots with a large 43” curved display. Coming to your second question, I am pleased to confirm that Leonardo’s Code is also available and operators can simply switch between both games. On top of that, we are also developing brand new games for these Island solutions that we will be releasing shortly. Both Dragon Egg and Leonardo’s Code have proven very popular in Europe and Internationally. What do you think are the main reasons for the International appeal of both games?
Both games appeal to the imagination of the players. The games naturally have great graphics with the corresponding sound. There is much more than meets the eye for both games. The player has different ways of reaching that goal – either of cracking Leonardo’s Code (and what code be more important than that?) or getting the egg before the dragon comes. The different games levels give them a special appeal as well. The way the feature games have been devised is something that players really enjoy. Have you any performance feedback yet from operators for your APEX Player Station (APS) electronic roulette that comes with the EVO slot games package. Yes, we have many satisfied customers in a great deal of countries around the world. Our automated roulette is very modern and extremely versatile and flexible. As you state, it can also be played with our EVO platform. That is especially convenient for players who like to switch between roulette and slot games – they can do both on the APS. Secondly, our APS can be linked to up to 4 different roulette wheels – both live and automated. In jurisdictions where this is allowed, it has proven to be especially popular. What do you think makes APEX cabinets unique and what was the reaction by visitors to the newly designed PINNACLE cabinet during ICE Totally Gaming 2018? I would say it is the mixture of several things: the design, making use of the latest technology, the way the cabinets look and feel, the lighting and naturally their quality. Naturally our experience in creating
the Pinnacle family plays a key role. The Pinnacle family has really come of age – we have quite a lot of choice. Our latest Pinnacle slots are fitted into the Jackpot Islands. We have the right slot for all types of players, for example the Pinnacle VIP Premium Lounge slot for those who like more comfort and place higher bets. Our latest Pinnacle is called the Black Series and includes exquisite LED lighting on the front side of the cabinet. The feedback we receive from our customers is very positive, stating that the APEX gaming machines are extremely reliable. We have been receiving this feedback for many years now – which shows we are doing the right thing. VIP Premium Lounge is the top-ofthe-range slot machine from APEX. What are the main features of this for those Casinos who are looking for that extra excitement? The Pinnacle VIP Premium Lounge slot just oozes comfort and offers a truly relaxing way to play. The extra-comfortable chair makes up part of this solution with the play buttons included on the chair – so the player can lean back and steer the game in this way. The 43” curved upper screen portrays the game even more – players can choose the screen on which to play on. Like any top-of-the-range product, the Pinnacle VIP Premium Lounge slot has the best a company can offer and we take pride in the popularity of our VIP solution. Naturally the compact design – offering so much product in such a way – adds to its popularity. Gaining endorsements from customers such as Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort who are
so impressed with their iDROPe that their Director of Tables Games, Ron Hager, stated “iDROPe has brought us a great many benefits”. This quality of feedback must be very rewarding and a contributing reason for the organisation’s increase in market share. That is very true. Ron is a stalwart personality in the industry and has decades of experience in table gaming. Harrah’s Cherokee is the most successful Harrah’s casino outside of Las Vegas. This casino is truly popular and receiving such a glowing endorsement here is extra special. It also confirms that we have listened properly to our customers and created a solution that brings true value and solves real problems. We originally brought the iDROP to Harrah’s Cherokee. Ron asked us to make some important adjustments – which we were very happy to do. We listened and this marked the birth of the iDROPe. The result: a very happy customer and an even better product – a real winwin. Today we are grateful in having received a larger number of endorsements from our customers around the globe. This points to the fact that the iDROP family of products has revolutionised the way cash handling is managed at live gaming tables, bringing measured value to operators, croupiers and players alike. APEX Mobile Slots provides patrons the capability to transfer between land-based slots and the mobile tablets without effort. What additional key benefits does it offer
Casino operators? APEX Mobile Slots is a great way to solve the challenge of over-demand. For example, on a busy Saturday night when all the player positions are taken on the APEX PLAYER STATION or APEX EGMs. the operator can provide the player with a tablet that is linked directly to the APS. A player can continue playing on the tablet from a different location in the casino, for example the bar. Thus, the APEX Mobile Slots gives the operator a further way of offering APEX games and gives players additional freedom. Popular APEX games are also available on this mobile-device. Furthermore, we can also connect the APEX mobile units with the APEX automatic roulette as well as to the live game wheels. Would you agree that technology and innovation in software and hardware have clearly been primary driving forces behind such innovative products as the iDROP and that this has changed the way cash handling is done at live gaming tables? Yes, of course. Your question reflects our company philosophy – to listen to the market and provide solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. We believe in change for the better. Our iDROP family is a prime example of how we can create something completely new by listening to our customers – something that changes the way our customers do their business and the way players behave. Now players can move much more easily between slots and live gaming and exchange their ticket directly at the table. Casinos that offer promotional tickets benefit even more as these can be exchanged directly at the table as well – long queues at the cage are now a thing of the past. The introduction of the highspeed version, iDROPs, has given this product family even more impetus and the interest in this version was extremely high at ICE. APEX Gaming has further Gaming Tables Solutions that include live gaming tables and automatic shufflers the Shuffle King 2
the Shuffle King 8 and the newest incarnation shuffle king 6. Can you explain some of the key features of these products? The Shuffle King range offers a true alternative in this costly segment. We have devised an affordable solution that retains all the speed, quality, security and longevity an operator requires. Depending on the game and location, we have three products to choose from: The Shuffle King 2, Shuffle King 6 and Shuffle King 8. The Shuffle King 6 is our latest addition - it can automatically shuffle up to six different decks of cards – an excellent solution in this market segment with its continuous shuffling ability. What do you think about the African market? The African gaming market remains very challenging. The barriers to entry vary and are often high, such as shipping costs and inconsistent local gaming jurisdictions. To be successful in Africa you need much experience and know-how. We have this through our team based in South Africa, led by Andy Hudson. We have the
advantage of our flexibility in creating solutions specific for local markets – something that I am confident will help us in Africa in the long run. What do you plan for the rest of the year? Will you launch any products? We will continue to support our customers and ensure that our new product launches reach the gaming markets around the world. These include the new ultra-fast iDROPs and our Pinnacle Black Series slots. We have plenty of work to do, that’s for sure. For example, we will be releasing new games for the Island solutions as well as for our multi-game-platform EVO3 APEX Gaming achieves strong staff retention. What appeals most to people working for the company? The management team is very positive, focused and driven. As a family-owned company, our philosophy is not just a statement – it is alive and being put into practice. We all work as a team
and work hard to achieve our common goals. This is our strength and something that makes working for APEX special. We all see that we are on an exciting journey and are taking not only gaming but also APEX as a company to the next level. Our company has grown in stature in the industry and if we had an index like ‘Best companies to work for in gaming’, I’m sure we’d be right amongst the top ones. As a company, we place much emphasis on flexibility and creativity to create local solutions. Coupled with our excellent time-tomarket, this often gives us an edge over and above the competition. What events and exhibitions are you planning to attend over the coming months that will give readers the chance to visit and chat with you? Our next key show will be the G2E in Las Vegas. We’ll be attending some local shows like the Romanian and Bulgarian ones in the autumn. Then it’s all eyes on the ICE again.
May 30 - June 1, 2018
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Adele Duncan CEO dedelivering the closing speech at this annual event at the House of Commons
Support For Those Who Need It
Adele Duncan, Chief Executive, Gordon Moody Association and Peter Hannibal, Trustee, Gordon Moody Association speak to Peter White
ompulsive gambling is a progressive disease, as with alcohol and drug addiction. However, with alcoholics they eventually start falling over, drug users overdose, but with gambling addiction, if a compulsive gambler runs out of money, they can simply take the watch off their wrist and sell it and continue. The public perception of addicted gamblers is as negative as it is for alcohol and drugs with many associating compulsive gamblers with criminality. In this edition of Casino Life, I interview Adele Duncan and Peter Hannibal to learn more about the organisation Gordon Moody, and its treatment programme for addicted gamblers. Define your roles at the organisation? Adele: I came to GMA in July 2017 as the new Chief Executive so my role is to ensure that we deliver what the charity was set up to do almost 50 years
ago i.e. To provide support and therapeutic services to those who are pathological gamblers in our residential treatment centres and in our mixed model of care programme as well as support those with gambling related issues with our on-line Gambling Therapy Programme. I have overall responsibility for the operations and management of the charity and to report to the Board of Trustees (who are all volunteers) on issues to enable them to carry out their role in governing the charity in line with legal regulators the Charity Commission. Peter: I joined the GMA Charity in May 2016 as a Trustee Member of the Board along with my other 7 fellow Trustees which includes the Chair. Collectively, we have ultimate responsibility for governing the charity and directing how GMA is managed and run. Trustees are non-exec positions, so whilst we have oversight of how GMA operates, we have no direct management influence as individuals. Everything is
agreed at board meetings or in specific committees and executed through Adele and the Senior Management Team. When was the Charity originally set up and why has it the name of a person. What were the principal aims and ambitions when founded and are they all being achieved? Adele: The Charity was originally set up in 1971 and was the first ever charity set up to work to support specifically problem gamblers. Our founder was the Reverend Gordon Moody and he set up the first Gamblers Anonymous in the UK. Whilst doing this work he realised that many individuals, despite attending weekly meetings, were struggling with their addiction in between meetings largely due to the fact that they had nowhere to live or had very little support from others. Without a safe place to focus on their recovery it was very difficult to resist the urge to gamble and to start work on overcoming the addiction which was blighting their lives. Reverend Moody therefore set up the first specialist hostel in 1971 in South London and named it Gordon House (which became the name of the registered charity) and then the second residential treatment centre was set up in Dudley in the late 1990s. The centre was purpose built with the support of the local authority and in partnership with a local housing association. Peter: Our on-line Gambling Therapy service was set up in 2004 and continues to expand its reach today into more countries with different language therapists able to support those who do not have English as their first language. In 2014 we introduced a new , unique and innovative women’s service pilot combining a 12 week programme of short term residential treatment with one-to-one counselling to fill a gap in provision which has been long overdue. In 2017 we also piloted the same mixed model of care programme for men. There is an increasing emphasis on evaluation to provide evidence that what we do works and our annual Impact reports are available to download from the website show convincing statistics. Future plans include finding ways to open additional bed spaces to meet the increasing demand for our residential service and we are also increasing online support in other languages through our Gambling Therapy website. We know that the Gordon Moody Association residential programme meets an essential need for those people
with a severe addiction to gambling. How does the expertise gained from your previous employment assist you in your role? Adele: My experience, prior to coming to GMA was in the specialist housing and addictions field. I had worked for a charity supporting those with drug and alcohol addiction and that has proved valuable in understanding addiction and the behaviours and impact of that to the individual, their families and local communities. I also worked closely with the Board and especially with the clinical governance issues of providing support in residential treatment in relation to health and safety, risk assessments and management; legal responsibility as a charity as well as giving clear leadership and direction to a team. Peter: I have some 40 years knowledge and experience in the UK Gambling Industry and am one of two ‘Industry’ Trustees on the board. The majority of GMA’s funding is volunteered in one way or another by organisations from within the Industry, so having such a network of contacts is useful for effective stakeholder communication. I also have a strong business background, which has many facets that become useful in any progressive organisation that is looking to improve and evolve. The GMA is no different in this regard. More and more is being expected from the Research, Education and Treatment of problem gambling and gambling related harms and the GMA needs to keep pace with or ahead of those expectations. Have you found more gamblers are created by one particular form of gambling? Adele: Those who come into our treatment centres and who access our on-line Gambling therapy service have used a range of means by which they gamble. We see people having had challenges with sports betting; gambling in casinos, at the bookmakers and on-line. We treat the person for their gambling addiction and the ways and means that they have found themselves at our doors are varied with us ensuring we are non-judgemental in how we support them in their recovery. In years gone by there was ‘a hierarchy’ by which gamblers would not necessarily consider other gamblers being the same ‘type of gambler as themselves’. However, that is no longer the case.
Gordon Moody Association â€“ some of staff team at staff planning day September 2017
When did the Women Gambling Treatment Programme get started and is this in response to an increase in the number of women who have become addicted to gambling? Adele: The Mixed Model of Care programme for women was developed in recognition of the fact that there was then no specialist female only treatment programmes to meet the needs of women who are struggling to overcome their gambling addiction. Our residential treatment centres are the only ones of their kind in the UK; however, they support males only. Having previously set up a womenâ€™s only residential programme that unfortunately proved unviable, we looked at more empathetic alternative ways to achieve a similar service. This new service was subsequently set up to combine two short term residential retreats with 12 weekly therapy sessions delivered either online or face-to-face. The two retreat elements of the programme are over one 3-night residential stay followed by one-to-one counselling every week until the next 2-night residential stay where the women are able to look at what they have learned, discuss any problems experienced during treatment, and create a personal plan that will enable a gambling free future. The initial pilot was for one year in 2014 and we have since been successful in securing funding until 2021 to run three programmes a year for the women who need it. With women generally being the primary carer for children or others, it is often difficult for them to be able to leave their homes for any length of time to access residential treatment programmes which are usually up to 12 weeks. This programme enables
the women to get effective treatment and support from other women. Our completion rates for this programme are over 75% and we can treat up to 36 women a year in this service. The Gordon Moody website https://www. gordonmoody.org.uk/ is very well designed with easy to access information and advice. The website must be one of the first points of contact for those in need of help. Adele: For those who want to access residential treatment the first port of call is our website. This was redesigned in recent years and we will be looking to further update it over the next year as well. The majority of those who come into residential treatment will apply directly themselves via our website. We are keen to ensure that the first point of contact is easy and user friendly for those seeking treatment and the process ensures that we accept those into residential treatment who need it. For those who do not meet our criteria or who are not pathological gamblers, we would offer to refer them to other agencies to seek the support that we feel will meet their needs. People can refer themselves or go via their GP or other professional, but the person needs to want to come into treatment themselves. As much as family members or loved ones may want the person to access treatment we must ensure that that person themselves is ready as residential treatment is a hard, personal and emotional environment for someone to come into. However, we of course support people with that and the therapy that they engage in means that they should be able to overcome their addiction with the
right support and community approach that takes place in our centres. In relation to our Gambling Therapy programme this can be accessed directly on-line and we had over 2.3 million hits on that website over the last year. We also have a unique and specialist App which can be downloaded that gives people advice and support in much the same way that the website does. We have seen an increase in use of the app and the Gambling Therapy programme especially since we have relaunched our new-look website so we are currently looking at ways to increase the hours of support that we can provide.
above. It has often been said by professionals that the human brain can have a weakness to become addicted to anything it finds pleasurable. Gambling is one of those addictions, but the significant difference as Adele has explained, is that it is hard for friends, relatives and even GPs to spot. But as we innovate and develop new ways and products to entertain ourselves, as a society we must always be alert to, and on the lookout for, harm being caused as a consequence. The video gaming or eSports world is good example of this where addiction is on the increase, particularly with the young. And teachers and parents donâ€™t always know the difference between gaming and gambling, Do you think mainstream society should have a because there can be some similarities. The UK better understanding and appreciation of addictions Gambling Commission have similarly been struggling than they currently have? to reach a firm position on issues with gaming in a Adele: Absolutely, the issue with gambling addiction society where there is a compulsion to conflate the is that it is a hidden two things. But is it addiction. It is a not for the Gambling solitary addiction, Regulator to regulate which those who a completely separate come to us have sector altogether. The generally led a Gaming Industry is double life to where gambling was purposely hide their some ten years or problem. With drug more ago, when it is and alcohol addiction only just waking up to there are, in a lot of the need to confront cases, obvious signs and deal with the Members of the Board of Trustees at the House of Commons Stakeholder that someone is issues and harm it is event November 2017: Mark Otway, Treasurer; Rob Lemon; Rekha Wadhwani (chair); Peter Hannibal; John Blake; Lindsey Hayes struggling. Whereas causing. with gambling, it is These are examples much harder to detect and pick up the signs. of mainstream issues that society is not identifying quickly enough to help those that get into difficulty It is important that in these times where there is so early on. much advertising and access to gambling options and choices, that the pathway to support for the In your opinion do you think there are other relative few who it affects so detrimentally should initiatives those organisations involved in the be more obvious and options for that support need Gambling industry in the UK can do to assist in to be much clearer and accessible. We work with educating the public about Gambling that includes some small organisations that are doing great work the likes of Lotteries? raising awareness in schools with children and I Adele: I believe that there are initiatives being would suggest that this should be a part of the planned but I think that there is a naivety of what PHSE education that all schools carry out along with gambling is and the harm that it can do for a awareness about other addictions. Prevention is percentage of those who gamble. The fact that the always better than cure. general public do not see things such as the National Lottery and scratch cards as means of gambling is a Peter: I completely agree with what Adele has said concern. Better understanding of where that can lead
Question Panel at University of East London event launching initial findings of research in partnership with Dr. Steve Sharman; Dr. Amanda Roberts; Dr John Turner.
to is needed much more widely and the impact that it has on a whole family and the cost to society needs to be better researched and evidenced. Peter: There are a number of problems caused by the approach that the government takes to different types of gambling. For instance, a bricks and mortar casino has restrictions on what machines it can operate, and is specifically prohibited from offering access to online products as one of their licence requirements, yet their customers can take their own mobile device into a casino and play web based casino games and machines games with unlimited stakes and prizes. This effectively circumvents the regulatory restrictions, which are put there for a purpose, one of which is to supervise and monitor gambling activity. Similarly, a gambler can buy any number of lottery scratchcards at £10 per time from their local supermarket, with no limit on the amount they can buy, with a jackpot prize of £4m, with children watching on from their pushchairs. This happens with very few of the responsible gambling measures and preventions that other premise based gambling businesses are required to have in place as a condition of their licence. Add to this the anomaly that a 16 year old can legitimately gamble with these £10 per go scratch cards, but they have to wait until they are 18 before they can go next door and spend £1 in a gaming machine. Is it morally acceptable for the sale of National Lottery Scratchcards to have less regulation, controls and limitations, and for the people that buy them to have less protection (compared to other types of
gambling) when the government and the regulator both have obligations to maximise revenues from lottery sales? Is there anything else you would like to add? We have been working in partnership with Lincoln University over the last few years on reviewing the data that we have gathered of those who have come into our centres over a period of more than 15 years. The initial findings of this were launched at an event at the University of East London in January this year with some interesting findings. The first paper ‘Trends and Patterns in Gambler Behaviour’ is due to be launched over the coming months which has identified a concern around the health related findings. It concludes that increasing numbers of gamblers are accessing treatment with a co-concurring mental health disorder and are already taking prescribed medication. Worryingly, approximately 30% of those accessing residential treatment have tried to commit suicide prior to starting treatment. It is therefore imperative that the gambling industry, gambling support services and wider health care services work together to ensure that gambling problems are identified and support provided before the individuals reach this crisis point. For those wishing to find out more about Gordon Moody how can they contact you? Contact via our website www.gordonmoody.org.uk or www.gamblingtherapy.org or via email to Adele. firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Times They Are A-Changin’ in Atlantic City And the Next Generation of “40 under 40” is a Part of the Narrative
tlantic City is a centuries old story of hospitality centered in a landscape of hotels, boardwalk, beach and ocean. In the early years, employees played out their roles, as working-class members, raised families from the wages of their seasonal employment opportunities. Others found more indiscrete occupations in the prohibition era inspired, “alcohol rumrunning network,” in the back bays; supplying the then, illegal gambling rooms of the city. Personally, the memories of my childhood include the landscape of Atlantic City in the 1960s with its carnival attractions and warm sandy beaches. Years later in my late teens, I worked in the city’s marina district as a radio announcer. In the late 70s as old stately hotels were imploded into the city’s history, I began employment in the casino industry. Even today as a university instructor in casino management, the city is still part of my classroom discussion. I must also state that I met my wife of 38 years in the city as well, less I be cast adrift in the ocean that borders the city. Through the years, its employees have worn many uniforms, with none more famous than the casino dealers and floor people in the backdrop of the gambling/hotel landscape that began in 1978, with the opening of the first casino, then known as Resorts International. It is important to see the casino industry in “real life” terms. An industry about people operating in a cyclical environment both from an employment, as well as a social model. It is an industry that is built on relationships with all the connections and needs of a community. A regional casino footprint has long been responsible for side-bar, community-growth that proliferates in terms of housing, schools, retail,
culinary and so much more. The presence of the industry brings a community together. As the amenities of Atlantic City grow and diversify in product, a new commerce and a secondary infrastructure is again growing to accommodate the needs of the year-round regional community. That community has chosen to make South Jersey not only their work place, but also their home. I recently attended The AC Weekly Top 40 under 40 awards ceremony at the Borgata in the Marina District of AC. I was there to honor a member of the Top 40, one of my former colleagues and friend Steve Ebner, Director of Slot Operations at the Borgata. These awards are presented through a collaboration between the Greater Atlantic City Junior Chamber of Commerce (The Jaycees) and Atlantic City Weekly. It is recognition of those professionals, under 40 years of age that have made their presence known in several industries throughout the Atlantic City, South Jersey region. The nominees are from a diverse local business community and represent a wide range of disciplines and job titles. This type of recognition program reflects, in part,
the sense of community the gaming industry has spawned for this region, beyond the centric casino industry itself. Besides gaming and hospitality professionals, the “Top 40 under 40” winners included the next generation of regional movers and shakers from all industries. The sense of community and renewed regional growth was evidenced by the diversity of the nongaming companies represented by the winners. This year’s winners included, Middle School Teachers, University Professors, Attorneys, Nursing Staff, Industrial Suppliers, Retail Associates, and members from religious communities. These are members of a social fabric that live in all communities. These Top 40 people are the next group to take this region to the next level. Those of you that have read my commentaries in the past about Atlantic City, know that I never gave up on the city, even in its darkest hours. What is the next chapter in the Atlantic City storybook? As we look into 2018 and beyond we see a renaissance. • The Hard Rock’s footprint is being created out of a past vision on the former site of the Taj Mahal. An investment of over $500 million by the Seminoleowned corporation • Ocean Resort (former Revel) will also be opening this summer, recently announcing their entry into a franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotel Corp. The name recognition certainly helps to identify a property that will be competing with some very well-established brands in the AC market. • MGM is sending a strong signal of commitment since it took complete ownership of the Borgata last year. Borgata continues its role as a premier property in the market. • On line gaming in New Jersey has created a strong following in its few short years and continues to be a strong contributor to the gaming industry in NJ. • Stockton University will soon open its 675,000-square-foot, $220 million Stockton Gateway Project. It will be the new headquarters for South Jersey Gas and include a campus for the university.
• Under development is an $81 million residential complex featuring 250 apartments in the inlet section of the city. • As of this writing, the Sports Betting Issue remains with the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled for a summer ruling. Right now, SB is only legal in four states. Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. • A recent successful auction by the Casino Development Authority (CRDA) of 92 properties will open up development opportunities as well as add to the tax rolls. • And there are new signs of life springing up along the boardwalk and city streets in terms of retail and culinary. • Recently, Atlantic County’s economic outlook got a rating boost from Standard and Poor’s Global Rating. There is a new optimism in this region. A one step at a time initiative, not only by investors but the next generation of empowered employees. From the smallest independent new business start-up to the larger resort projects, the city and its regional landscape is again at a new beginning. At the helm are the best of the next generation of employees focused with a commitment to make it better. The Top 40 winners are a “generationalniche” representing the thousands of workers that put in their time and effort to grow the community. The Times They Are A-Changin’ (B.Dylan) Bob Ambrose Gaming Consultant, Adjunct University Instructor @bobAmbrose
Jerry Epstein â€“ CEO of Engaged Nation
Changing the Game: How Gamified Marketing Drives Players From Playing Online to the Casino Floor Interview with Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation, Creators of the REACH SystemTM by: Victor H Royer
t Casino Life magazine, we have the great pleasure and privilege in meeting and interviewing all of the great leaders of the gaming industry, from casino operators, equipment manufacturers, support and suppliers, as well as marketing, communications, and brand experts. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation, and discuss the development of their REACH SystemTM, now deployed at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Arizona, USA. Jerry is a recognized leader in marketing communications, with three decades experience in leading companies with innovative strategies for brand development, new product launches, and marketing communications. His marketing “firsts” have been instrumental in the development and implementation of products, brands, and programs that successfully launched new concepts, corporations, and industries worldwide. A pioneer in developing innovative marketing solutions for the gaming and tourism industries, Epstein developed the positioning for the new “four corners” in Las Vegas. He has consulted with more than ten major Las Vegas casino properties, including Excalibur Casino & Hotel, Luxor Casino & Hotel, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, and New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Engaged Nation was founded in 2008 by Las Vegas gaming executives Bill Paulos and Jerry Epstein. Today, the company has risen to become a leader in digital gamification. Their vision? To create a cutting-edge gamification system that would transform traditional websites into dynamic, revenue-generating experiences that would provide significant benefits to both consumers and companies. Jerry, first I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. As you know, Casino Life Magazine takes great pride in interviewing leading industry CEOs and Senior Level Management to better understand both the companies that they work for or own, as well as what are the key attributes for their success. Please tell our readers about yourself and your role at Engaged Nation. I’m the CEO of Engaged Nation and have been since
we founded the company ten years ago (2008). I came out of the marketing communications industry – I’ve been doing that all my life – and have had the great fortune to represent and introduce some very innovative products and industries, everything from PlayStation to YouTube to Bud Light. And I take great pride in what we’re doing here with our proprietary, patent-pending system that does something that no other company in the country offers. My partner Bill Paulos and I built the REACH SystemTM from a casino operator’s perspective to bring the excitement of the casino floor to players wherever they may be, and to drive incremental property visits and revenue. You and your company were recently honored with a Romero Award. Please tell us about this award, and your thoughts about being honored for your 30+ year career in the marketing and gaming industry. We’ve been very grateful to have been recognized by the casino industry, especially during the course of the past year as we were the top vote-getter in the Game Changers Marketing Awards, one of the Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Technology Products, and with the Romero Award for executing a digital marketing program that significantly increased the return on a floor promotion as it drove property visits and revenue. What was so great about the Romero Award was that it was voted on by gaming experts and authorities who recognized our digital platform as the best in the industry for producing effective and measurable results. In your career, what would you consider to be the highlights? In addition to the great work we’ve done at Engaged Nation, I take a look at a number of different clients I’ve had the privilege of working with through the years. I take great pride in being part of the team that was at the forefront of changing consumers’ perceptions of video games. Back in the ‘90s, we introduced the positioning of Sony PlayStation. Marketing was really targeted at teenagers before PlayStation—we changed it to include 20 to 35 year olds. Expanding that marketing base was really the start of what you see today as a national obsession
for anyone from 8 years old to 80. I also think back to the work we did for Anheuser-Busch, everything from how to position their “spokesdog,” Spuds Mackenzie, to all their promotions for the Olympics, the World Cup, and a variety of other sporting events. And I always took great pleasure in having the opportunity to work with President Reagan very closely for five years during the opening of the presidential library and helping to bring the World Cup soccer tournament to our country. You can also thank—or blame me—for introducing karaoke to the U.S. [Author’s Note: No one can blame you for karaoke, Jerry – none of us here at Casino Life would dare, considering our efforts in this field of endeavor!] In all these things, we really took a look at not just what the product or situation was, but also the question of how do you frame this as an experience to the consumer? And that’s really been the hallmark of my career, I think—looking at what opportunity exists and helping some of the largest companies in the world to extend their brand and establish new ones. Engaged Nation recently deployed the REACH SystemTM at Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Arizona. Please tell us about the REACH SystemTM, and what it does for your casino clients. REACH means “Revenue Engagement Activation and Conversion Hub,” and what we do is convert online traffic and engagement into revenuegenerating property visits. The REACH SystemTM does this through what we call “edutainment” – education presented in an entertaining way. We use incentive psychology and advanced AI to reward players’ participation in online activities with virtual currency, instant rewards, and drawing entries. Key to our “play, earn and redeem” program is the way we create a greater perceived value of the incentives and rewards we provide. Specifically, players are not just getting something for free, but rather something they earned or won, and through that, we see a higher conversion rate from online to on-property offers. But, even though we incentivize them with an offer, it’s really not solely about the offer. We believe that true gamified marketing is the essence of offering an experience. What we’re doing at Twin Arrows is creating an
The Raving Engagement Laboratory: Adding Gamification to Casinos
The birth of REACH ConventionTM
Jerry Epstein leads the grand finale seminar at Raving Consulting’s 20th National Indian Gaming Analytics & Marketing Conference
online experience that every casino operator looks to do on the floor. People don’t come to play an individual game once – put a quarter in, then leave – you want them to become part of the experience that you’re offering on the floor on a continuous and on-going basis. And that’s what we’ve strived for in our program at Twin Arrows –people play edutaining games such as crossword, trivia, word search, and 30 others – and we’re teaching them everything about the property. In exchange, they get virtual credits they can use in the redeemable reward section. It’s almost a pick-your-ownpromotion. It’s segmented based on players’ worth to the property and drives players back on a regular
Engaged Nation receives the coveted Romero Awards
basis. Our approach allows us to generate effective and measurable engagement where players become true brand ambassadors who come more often and drive more revenue. Please tell us about Twin Arrows Casino Resort, and how the REACH SystemTM has benefited their customer relations and casino-to-customer marketing. When customers come into Twin Arrows’ system, private-labeled as “Bonus Rewards,” our system already knows who they are since we make accounts for every player in the database based on their worth at the property. With a higher-level player, we can give them an instant reward like a free dinner at their steakhouse or a VIP staycation, and a lower-level player may get a buy-one-getone offer. We understand who the players are and improve the player experience in a way that works for them and the casino. Our program is very similar to the player point program. When it was first developed back in Laughlin in the ‘80s, so many operators said, “Oh, that’ll never work. There’s no way people are going to want to do things in an automated way—it’s all about the personal touch.” But as we’ve all seen, automation can be a very effective tool if it’s done in the right way, as we do with our REACH SystemTM, to enhance the customer experience, and ultimately the financial return for the casino itself is significant. What has been the most successful approach employed by Engaged Nation for marketing decisions and choices for a gaming-resort destination property? I’d say the “secret sauce” of our approach is that people can come back on a continual basis.
Gamified marketing comes in many shapes and forms, and most casinos think it’s just slapping your logo on a game and giving a single offer, but we see the key as framing the offer with entertaining content and a fun and rewarding experience that keeps your players connected to your property and brand. Would you rather have a 30-second commercial in a great television show, or would you rather supply the content for 30 minutes that people get engaged with? That’s a subtle form of marketing very much like the product placement I was involved with in the ‘80s – making the product an integrated, familiar symbol of an experience. The key is, gamified marketing should not be a one-time hit to someone. When you send someone a single gamified email, which I’d say is the equivalent of a 30-second commercial, you’re reintroducing yourself and trying to break through the clutter every time. We do single offers with our REACH OneTM campaigns, but the key is really continuous engagement. We did a focus group once where the respondents said, “We get up in the morning, have our coffee, then play your games and activities.” That tells me we’re engaging and rewarding them in a way that really cultivates brand ambassadors. It’s just like in a player’s club. They want people to sign up for a player’s club card. Why? They want to market to them, become part of their family, and have them come back on a repeat basis. That’s exactly the kind of approach we’ve taken online. We’ve taken what works on a property floor, reconfigured it, and put it into a digital format. Creating an enjoyable fun and relaxed environment is an important factor in leisure and entertainment venues. How is Engaged Nation positioned in today’s competitive business and visitor environments? I think that we’re incredibly well-positioned and given the awards and accolades we’ve won just over the course of last year, people are going to see how we can benefit those spaces. When we began this company ten years ago, we were so far ahead of the curve, “gamification” wasn’t even in the dictionary until 2011. I get a kick of thinking back to when I took people out to one of the first Facebook seminars and they looked at me and
Jerry Epstein with President Ronald Reagan
groaned, “Yeah, right, like this concept will make it.” And when we talked about digital engagement, people’s eyes glazed over. But as we now talk to them and other corporations beyond the casino industry, they understand the importance and the value of effective digital gamified engagement. We take great pride in being at the forefront of this digital revolution as we drive people to any casino or hospitality-type location in tremendous numbers. Studies show that digital clutter is at an alltime high and people are just getting to the point of looking for new ways to stop the overload of advertising coming towards them. Every business should be concerned about this and looking at ways to make marketing more fun and engaging. Because that’s why people are primarily going online— they’re watching YouTube videos, they’re playing Candy Crush—they’re looking for entertainment options. Our phones have become digital, portable entertainment units and the question is are you breaking through to have people connect with you or are you just part of the never-ending noise? Effective gamified marketing can absolutely break through, and we’ve proven with our clients that we probably do it better than anyone else.
What would you say makes Engaged Nation unique as a choice in casino marketing, as this applies to major gaming properties in Las Vegas, and casino destinations worldwide? I’d say our real uniqueness lies in how highly scalable and customizable the REACH SystemTM is for any property, regardless of their size or location, and its ability to deliver effective programs that appeal to each of our clients’ individual markets and unique customer bases. We develop a customized solution based on each property’s challenges and opportunities, whether it be reactivating players, acquiring new customers, or enhancing loyalty programs that generate incremental visits. The way that we approach gamified marketing is based, in large part, on developing an understanding of our clients’ business goals, their customers, and how they’re doing business. We then translate that to a solutions-based program to meet their specific needs. Digital engagement is not one-size-fits-all by any stretch of the imagination and we firmly believe that a customized “agency model” approach nets a much greater return for our clients—both large and small.
Twin Arrows Casino Resort
How has Engaged Nation evolved in recent years? In many, cases we’ve evolved because of the collaborative way we work with clients. They give us a challenge, we create a solution. I’ll give you three examples. We had a property come to us and say, “We love your system. We want to test it in a way that we’ll either give you 100% of the credit or blame in trying to reactivate customers.” So, our challenge was to reactivate customers who had not been there for more than a year. Our program would be their only touch points—no direct mail, no other outreach at all. And they had tried gamified e-mails and direct mail, and they weren’t seeing any uptick at all. With our 12-week sprint program, we successfully reconnected them with the property with a 49% e-mail open rate that resulted in more than 6,000 resurrected players. That directly led to thousands of property visits and incremental profits that dropped to the bottom line. And all this came about during a brainstorm with a client, what we now call REACH ReactTM. Our REACH 30TM program was born in a similar way. We had a property putting a lot of money in an on-floor insured promotion at their property back
East. They were worried that because of the time of the year and weather, they wouldn’t be able to draw people in repeatedly and that a bad storm on the day of the event could upend the whole thing. We themed a six-week promotion based on their event called “Snow Me the Money,” with the ultimate goal of driving incremental visits and more people to the floor for the grand finale, and we helped to increase the number of property visits per person by four during that five-week promotional period. It helped drive more than 16,000 property visits the first four weeks and an additional 2,000 incremental visits during the finale. The net result was the most successful online to on-floor promotion in their history, as it generated more than $200,000 in incremental revenue at a two-hour grand finale event. In another case, a client came to us looking for a way to keep their employees engaged and updated about new promotions and company news. This led to another addition to our extensive product suite, REACH TeamTM, which Twin Arrows Casino Resort recently launched in tandem with its customerfacing system.
Twin Arrows Casino Resort – featuring the REACH SystemTM from Engaged Nation
Is it possible for Engaged Nation to improve yet further on the programs and events as they are now? If yes, what are the plans, when will they be available, and how will they serve your existing and new clients? Absolutely. Over the course of the next 90 days, we’re adding 30 more games and activities to what’s already a fairly extensive library. We also just finished testing a new component we call “Blackout Bingo.” It can be configured in many different ways, but essentially we drive people around to different locations at a property to obtain special bonus codes that they enter on our site, which blacks out squares on a digital bingo card. The goal is to get people to experience different property amenities in a different, fun way. It can also be configured to include a special insured prize—similar to what McDonald’s and others do with Monopoly games. Our approach works differently than most of those types of “play for play” promotions in that we let customers play for free, then drive them to the property, knowing that they’ll pay there. We also plan to offer a new product that’s been requested by many of our casino clients who have been disappointed in other companies’ programs that just cost too much. It’s the single gamified
e-mails that can go out on an as-needed basis to boost individual events at a property. For us, it will be an easy lift as we’re just using the core of our continuous engagement system for a standalone gamified e-mail rewards system. Although we use these e-mails very effectively in our more comprehensive system, we also know that there are cases where just a single message and game is required. And I’m happy to say that we’re able to offer REACH OneTM at a price point that no one will be able to match. How have Engaged Nation’s programs developed over the years in ways of providing promotions and incentives to client casino’s guests, and in accessing entertainment options, tickets, facilities, and other resources? We had a property that was looking to have us promote a single concert. So, we themed the entire site to this one event they put a lot of money into for this ‘80s group, which had really just one hit song back then. We put up a video, so people could hear that one hit song, featured their faces in a matching game, and created fun trivia questions about the group, so by the end of the promotion everyone was an expert about them.
The motivational component was that people were awarded drawing entries for each completed activity for the opportunity to win a VIP meet and greet with the band. This directly led to the single fastest sellout this property ever had for a concert. That’s what I mean when we talk about customization—we can theme a property’s site for an on-floor promotion, a new buffet offering, or anything, for that matter. These types of singularlyfocused themes can really help a property in a way that they’ve struggled with in the past. We bring a casino’s entertainment options to life as we extend its reach and effectiveness. Does Engaged Nation cater primarily to casino clients, or is there a general, wider, application for your programs and services? We know that there’s huge interest in, and a market for gamified engagement out there, well beyond the casino industry. Over the course of the next few months, you’ll be seeing some major announcements from us about significant expansion into a variety of new vertical markets. That’s all I can say for now.
We don’t want to be viewed as a billboard, a TV ad, or any other kind of traditional media. Traditional media provides reach, frequency and air. We provide results. There’s no question about it. Just off the top of my head, we helped to drive 64,000 conversions for one of our clients this past year from their website to the property. If you can make it fun and rewarding in the right way, you can have a very successful conversion rate from digital to the property floor. Most properties are just beginning to feel comfortable with this type of marketing where they hadn’t in the past. We believe—and we’ve proven—that this really gives our clients a competitive edge in the marketplace. It’s only a matter of time before this type of digital engagement is not just a niceto-have, it’s going to be a musthave. Just like with a player’s club, properties are going to feel like they’re left behind if they don’t have a program like what the REACH SystemTM can offer.
Please explain the phrase “gamified” – and how this applies to the REACH SystemTM. Gamification comes in many ways, shapes, forms, and indeed, definitions. It can be How does Engaged Nation’s just slapping your logo on a REACH SystemTM bridge the game or having a full marketing Twin Arrows Casino Resort – Bonus Rewards gap between home, online, system. We cover essentially and in-casino entertainment for the whole gamut of gamified a client casino? marketing products. But in its most simplistic form, It’s interesting because I think most casinos lose gamified marketing is about making any experience that connection between online and the in-casino fun. entertainment experience itself. Most websites or Let me give you an example. Back in grammar mobile apps, for the most part, serve as just a static school, you got a little star on your paper for doing library. People come, they see what promotions are good work. That’s a precursor to getting badges, going on for the next month and then they leave. trophies, and experience points like we have on our It’s more informational than entertaining and it REACH SystemTM – that’s gamification. It’s doing doesn’t specifically bring people to the property. things that not only give customers an offer, but as Casino operators look at some of these websites I said before, giving them an experience. Building or apps thinking that they have to have them only up a bank of virtual currency, collecting trophies, because everyone else does. What they should be getting your name on a leader board – that’s a asking is, what do you do with them to drive people fully-immersive experience that really focuses you to the property itself? on what’s happening. You’re looking for the reward,
but you’re really enjoying the experience that leads up to that. And when it’s all done right, it leads to a natural viral marketing campaign. We’ve had some programs with more than 3,000 free Facebook post shares that prove this very thing. It’s almost impossible with our kind of system and approach to narrow it down to a single sentence and bullet point other than saying, “It’s fun and it produces amazing results in many different ways.” We also believe it should be free to the end user, otherwise it becomes “pay for play” and, in essence, just a loyalty program. Additionally, what does “edutainment” mean in relation to the REACH SystemTM? “Edutainment” is educating people in an entertaining way. How many people today are really interested in learning something online? Everyone wants to play a game! When you take a look at the data, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that people want to have fun. By educating people in an entertaining and rewarding way, we see a tremendous jump in participation. People aren’t necessarily reading different things on your website, and we know this from all the data. Think about it: you put up an entire website, spend money to bring in entertainment, change the menus, upgrade the hotel rooms, have different monthly gaming promotions, and countless other things that you’ve done to improve the customer experience. Unfortunately, we’ve proven from our own research that people only know a fraction of what’s actually happening at a property even when that information is available through the website. When they get there, they’ll take an extra 15 minutes—which they could be using to play on a machine—to learn about what’s going on that day. In some cases, they don’t even know there’s a promotion surrounding a slot machine they’re playing! What we do is we increase the return on anything going on at the property, because in so many cases people get excited about what’s happening before they get there. They know where they want to go and what they want to do thanks to how we “edutain” them. Clients tell us that we’re the most effective advertising that they do because we work with the idea that the most valuable customer is your current customer. If you treat them the right
way and educate them about what’s happening at the property, you can enhance their experience when they get there. Isn’t that really the goal of good customer service? Promotions and incentives are an important mix of patron loyalty. What are the programs like at Engaged Nation as far as creating and marketing prizes and rewards for patrons of your casino clients? For example – is there a points-system for guests purchasing entertainment services, such as tickets to shows, events, and so on? We have people on our staff who spent decades on the casino marketing side, so we take great care in how to structure rewards and incentives that drive people to a property. Since those rewards can be rotated—they can be swapped in or out, or their value in virtual currency can be changed—a casino’s individual needs really govern how their program looks. We can base crossword questions on a new restaurant to drive up foot traffic, instantly reward players with tickets to a show that needs more seats filled or create trivia questions based on their hotel amenities to fill up rooms. We really work with the property to determine what the most successful content and rewards would be in driving more players to the property. Quality and affordability have been two key words associated with food and drink at casino resorts, catering to many of their local and regular patrons, as well as visitors. How does Engaged Nation’s REACH SystemTM help your clients maintain and enhance these, and related, services and facilities? We have become probably the most popular product when it comes to food and beverage. Not only are we driving awareness and people to the restaurant, we’re driving the additional bottom-line revenue. There isn’t any better way for them to help boost awareness, interest, and participation in food and beverage than by featuring amenities in a fun, free experience. We’re able to post a video of a chef talking about something new and different at the restaurant or feature any frontline employee for that matter. We can help turn employees into personalities and create a connection with a guest before they even step inside. We also came up with something very innovative
Screenshots of Engaged Nation’s REACH SystemTM for Twin Arrows
with our clients that we call “Community Partner Rewards.” We went out with one client and signed more than $50,000 in incentives from nearby businesses. Players are using their virtual currency for rewards at retail stores or escape rooms or wineries, but they must visit the casino first to get them validated. That’s significantly increasing the value of their virtual currency, driving more visits to the property, and creating more opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing when these players go out into the community. How would you sum-up the future of gaming entertainment marketing for Las Vegas, for Tribal Gaming, and in general? There’s been such an incredible evolution in gaming through the years. If you go back to old school Vegas, it was all about gambling. Give players free food, free rooms, and they’ll play. But then the city changed quite a bit. I was heavily involved in the
building of Excalibur, Luxor, MGM, and New YorkNew York – the “mega resorts” as they were called at the time. They made Vegas more of a destination market and more focused on entertainment than gaming. People wanted to come for that experience. If you look at it today, more than 60% of the revenue comes from activities off the floor. That’s not necessarily happening to tribal casinos and smaller casinos across the country, but I use that example to accentuate the fact that the casino industry now finds itself in the entertainment industry, not just gambling. Take a look at Vegas or regional properties and you will find movie theaters, bowling alleys, and spas. They need to look at appealing to a wide variety of audiences and generating revenue that comes from off the floor. How do they generate revenue from millennials who are much more averse to gambling? Casino marketers are faced with some of the greatest challenges that they have ever encountered in their careers. At the same time, with a product like the REACH SystemTM and others, they’ve got opportunities that they’ve never experienced either. It’s really going to come down to those who are willing to venture outside of their comfort zones to see and take advantage of those opportunities and to overcome some of the challenges. Someone can just sit down with their phone and play an app for hours, time that they could’ve used to go to your property, but they got absorbed in an online activity instead. So, you can either watch other entertainment forms pass you by or join the digital revolution and do a little experimentation to see what works best with your property. If you’re smart about it, you can overcome being in a remote location, being a smaller property than other properties, and you can play with anyone out there because of how cost-effective digital marketing really is. The opportunities just abound for everyone, it just depends on if they’re strong enough and have the appetite for trying something a little new and different. Thank you, Jerry, for your time, and for sharing this with us, and the readers of Casino Life magazine. Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.
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