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Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...
We lead stateside with David McKee interviewing longtime Casino Life stalwart, Michael Silberling CEO, Affinity Gaming LLC, talking enthusiastically about the company’s past and future – from maintaining differing brands in different locales to making a bold gesture on charity contributions. Next up I get the chance to catch up with Thérèse Liljeqvist, General Manager at Casino Cosmopol Stockholm, about the casino scene in Sweden and how skilled, multi-lingual staff contributes to making lasting impressions amongst guests. Following the ethos of “enthusiasm first – then training for the job” the results speak for themselves. Enclave is a name you will hear more of in the future as they recently broke ground on a huge conference and hospitality complex that will bring high-end technology to this market. Find out more on their ambitions on page 22. Juegos Miami is the latest hot event to be hosted by Clarion and this is echoed by Charles Hiten, Chief Executive, Merkur Gaming Americas, who maintains that the attraction of Miami as a destination is, for Latin American visitors, a powerful draw in itself. Read more on page 27. Peter White visited Zane Mersich, CEO of NOVOMATIC UK, in their new offices to talk about the fruits of their R&D labours – evident each year in the breadth and scale of the offering at ICE. Rebecca Green meanwhile chatted to Eric Benchimol, CEO Win Systems, about their achievements over the past 20 years and the benefits they can offer casinos looking for a systems upgrade. Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gaming and Gambling Group at DLA Piper clues us up on what’s happening in Italy; Bob Ambrose considers a state takeover of Atlantic City; whilst Victor H Royer is like a dog with a bone as he sees Las Vegas being steadily removed from what made it great in the first place – gambling. Meanwhile Mark Wayman continues his series of insights into recruitment
Subscriptions: Helen Holmes
Finally, Paul McGee (the Sumo guy) takes a look at how people respond when they are going through change – and what you can do about it.
Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree
G2E Asia in Macau beckons – see you in May!
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Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief
3 Guest Comment Jo Mayer Clarion Gaming Director begins our preview of the new event Juegos Miami 4 Absolute Entertainment David McKee chats to Michael Silberling CEO Affinity Gaming LLC about the company’s future 12 Creating Memories Glyn Thomas chats to Thérèse Liljeqvist, General Manager at Casino Cosmopol Stockholm, about how staff contribute significantly to making the casino offer unique and unforgettable 22 Breaking New Ground Enclave set to Collaborate, Captivate and Celebrate 27 Juegos Miami Preview We feature one of the most prominent sponsors Merkur Gaming 30 Reaping the Harvest Peter White talks to Zane Mersich, CEO of NOVOMATIC UK, about the fruits of their R&D labours 35 Integrating Solutions Rebecca Green chats to Eric Benchimol CEO Win Systems 38 Italy is the market to watch now! By Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gaming and Gambling Group at DLA Piper 40 Will a State Take-Over of Atlantic City and Additional Casinos “Save Atlantic City?” What’s next? Robert Ambrose 42 The Great Corporate Disconnect Why numbers alone don’t always tell the whole story: Victor H. Royer 45 The Wrong Time to Meet an Executive Recruiter is When You are Unemployed Career Tips from a Head-hunter Mark Wayman 47 What every leader needs to know How people respond when you are going through change – and what you can do about it’: Paul McGee 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.
Guest Comment: Jo Mayer Jo Mayer previews Juegos Miami – the event which has been ‘tailor made’ for the Pan-Latin American & Caribbean gaming industry
their experience he Latin in international American and markets with regional Caribbean knowledge to provide gaming market a comprehensive is evolving and perspective on the developing at a fast pace, gaming opportunities in with the region expected the region. to witness a 44% growth The Totally Gaming by 2020 - the second Academy, led by Lucien fastest in the world. It’s Wijsman, is bringing against this backdrop two of its prestigious that the first Juegos training courses straight Miami is being held to the heart of the at The Biltmore, Coral LatAm Gaming market Gables, Miami, 31 May – and JCM Global will be 3 June. presenting the inaugural I think some people ‘JCM Global LATAM Golf may have assumed Classic’ which will be a that we would simply fundraiser for St. Jude’s take the successful ICE Children’s Research template and apply Hospital. The event it to this part of the was inspired by gaming world – but that could icon Jens Halle, a major not be further from the advocate for gaming in truth. Prior to launch we Latin America and the spent over 12 months Jo Mayer Clarion Marketing Director Caribbean. listening to the market in Juegos Miami is an invitation only event and order to understand exactly what it wanted from in order to guarantee the best networking and an event. On the basis of that process, our goals learning opportunities, attendance will be limited are to provide the industry with an event which to senior decision makers (owner, director, C-Level delivers a refreshing mix of product, learning, exec) from operating companies (private and knowledge-exchange, training, networking and public including state lotteries), government and socialising, all within a professional and dedicated regulators from the Latin America and Caribbean environment. region. To apply for your place, please register at There will be a unique insight for Conference www.juegosmiami.com delegates with 30 thought leaders marrying
Entertainment Michael Silberling CEO at Affinity Gaming, LLC sat down with our Associate Editor David McKee in Las Vegas to talk about the companyâ€™s future 5
ou wouldn’t think to look at it but, behind a generic office door in Summerlin, Nevada, lie the headquarters of a national casino company. Affinity Gaming is firm both new and old, having been reconstituted from the ashes of Herbst Gaming, which crashed and burned under the financial weight of buying both a large Nevada slot route and three MGM Mirage casinos (for $400 million) at the height of the casino boom. Bankruptcy quickly followed. The Herbst family is no longer involved and Affinity is now held mostly by investment firms. One of these (Z Capital Partners) tried to take the whole kit and caboodle private but ultimately settled for being largest shareholder among many. In the meantime, Affinity was reinventing itself as a leaner but more geographically diversified company. Two casinos in Pahrump, Nevada, and some slot routes were sold to Golden Entertainment. In return, Affinity got three casinos in Black Hawk, Colorado – the Golden Gates, Golden Gulch and Golden Mardi Gras. Terrible’s Searchlight, in rural Nevada, was sold to the Herbsts. Three northern Nevada casinos – the Sands Regency, Golden Ranch and Terrible’s Dayton were also sold. In addition to establishing a Colorado foothold, Affinity maintained presences in Las Vegas (Silver Sevens), Primm (Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino, Primm Valley Resort & Casino, and Whiskey Pete’s Resort & Casino), in Sparks, Nevada (Rail City), in Iowa (Lakeside Hotel & Casino, in Osceola), and in Missouri (Mark Twain Casino & RV Park, in La Grange, and St. Jo Frontier Casino, in St. Joseph). Michael Silberling stepped into this reorganized Affinity Gaming on August 26, 2014. With him he brought a vast portfolio of casino experience and a new management team. Silberling’s variegated background includes stints everywhere from Scotland to South Africa and many places in between. He has been a managing director of London Clubs International (in which capacity he revived the Playboy Casino in London), general manager of Harrah’s Reno, president of Australian operations for SkyCity Entertainment Group and senior vice president of four Caesars Entertainment casinos in Missouri and Iowa. Not many casino executives would name Monty
Python’s Life of Brian as their favorite film or Thomas McGuane among their preferred authors – they usually cite Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” or Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat.” Most recently, Silberling moved Affinity to the charitable forefront, announcing a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, beginning with a donation of at least $100,000. Casino Life found Silberling jovial, unpretentious and quick to get to the point. According to your official biography, you’re a former bartender and dishwasher. Is that how you broke into the casino industry? It’s not, actually. As a young kid in the Seventies, I worked to earn a bit of spare cash as a dishwasher in Colfax, at the Copper Kitchen. So I was in the hospitality business from a young age, as a middleclass kid. I was on financial aid at private school and college, and had to earn a little bit of money for books and spending, so I was a bartender there but I didn’t consider the casino business until I got out of graduate school at UCLA, even though the first elective course I signed up for in college was “Probability in Gambling.” I did not know when I took that course that would end up as my career. [laughs] Having been a line employee and in customer service, how do you think that shapes you now? It’s very helpful for me to know, having done it, how difficult some of those jobs are: shift work, weekend work, holidays. So I never take it for granted. I didn’t come up and in my first day put on a suit and tie, never do a hard day’s work. I’ve been at the dishwasher with broken glass. I’ve been in front of an upset customer at the bar. It gives an appreciation of the difficulty of hospitality work. Is there any similarity between the competitive dynamics of your favorite sport, rugby, and the gaming industry? I’m a fan, having played team sports through high school and university, of the lessons it teaches around work and trust, and collegiality in working together. Not everyone needs to play sports to be successful in business, but as you look at the sum of the parts of the things that I did before I joined the casino business, being part of a team helped me in my transition into management.
Your career has taken that I’ve worked with Michael Silberling CEO at Affinity Gaming, LLC you to casinos in at is a powerful tool. least eight countries. What best practices You’ve worked on from overseas have and off for Caesars you tried to import to Entertainment. the U.S.? What aspects of its I have trouble corporate culture keeping track of all inform your work the different places today? that I’ve worked. I started at the Promus It’s been somewhat Companies, which opportunistic in that later became Harrah’s I do like seeing the Entertainment, which world, so I’ve seized later became Caesars opportunities to do Entertainment. A that in this business. data-driven business My first international is certainly something job was in Auckland, I took from Gary New Zealand, and we Loveman during his had never opened a leadership. Conducting casino in New Zealand, business with the so everybody that was utmost integrity is there was opening something that I the first casino in learned from Phil Satre on the North Island. during his tenure as We had people from CEO. Those are the South Africa, England, thematic pieces that Australia, the United come through. The States. The people majority of my career that succeeded there was with Caesars. It were the ones who realized there were different has informed a lot of people in the industry. You’ve ways to do business. And those who would listen got ex-Harrah’s with Tim Wilmott as CEO at Penn to the different points of view [of] like ‘How do you National Gaming, Anthony Sanfilippo as CEO of shuffle the cards,’ to the broader ones like ‘How Pinnacle Entertainment. It was a good business to do you design a restaurant’ or ‘What are customer learn the blocking and tackling, and core business tastes in different parts of the world’ were the skills. ones that were more successful in an international environment. So when I’ve gone to different How did you go about relaunching the Playboy continents, countries and locations – and I have casino in London? lived in London and Australia and New Zealand, and That was certainly an intersection of opportunity worked in Cairo and Lebanon and Johannesburg and and need. We had a business in the middle of Punta del Este [Uruguay] and Windsor, Canada – I Mayfair, which is an upscale area of London. We have tried to keep my eyes wide open to learn. I try were somewhat capital-constrained, given the to also think if I’ve seen an experience of how to capital structure of Caesars Entertainment. Playboy do something better. That two-way street of trying had a rich history in London in the casino business to learn and observe and understand what they’re and had exited London but I thought that brand still doing, and bringing the summation of lessons from resonated in Mayfair, having been a successful casino all these different locations and very wise people during the Sixties and Seventies. So I got a vibrant
brand. I had outside funds for a business that needed refurbishment. So we had some fun bringing Playboy back to London. Leaping forward to Affinity, what is your company’s relationship with Z Capital Partners, now that Z Capital has dropped its takeover bid? Z Capital remains the largest shareholder in the business and has two seats on the board of directors, so it’s a very traditional relationship, working with all board members to maximize value for the shareholders. Was there a difference of philosophy that prompted Z Capital to pursue a takeover or did it simply want a bigger piece of the pie? You’d have to talk to Jim Zenni of Z Capital to understand their motivation to try to buy a bigger piece of the business. I can’t know for sure. In the year and a half [of his tenure], we’ve had successful results, if not industry-leading results in terms of EBITDA growth on a percentage basis in 2015. We were up 30 percent in 2015, defined by EBITDA. If someone believes that’s going to continue, they want more of the business, but that’s pure speculation.
How do you intend to, as your biography puts it, “refocus the marketing and brand position of Affinity Gaming at each individual property”? The purpose of marketing, on the quantitative side, to steal a quote from Gary Loveman, is to profitably influence customer behavior. I don’t think we looked at that in enough detail, so we continue to look to see what’s the elasticity of demand and what can we do to enhance that value proposition for the customer in a profitable manner. A good part of our financial growth in 2015 was based on getting much more data-driven in marketing. When we talk about each individual property, I would like to do further work in 2016. I do not expect to use a brand approach. We’re not going to be McDonalds, where every location is exactly the same. Our business in Osceola is different from our business in La Grange, which is different from our business in Sparks, Nevada. So we really need to position each property in its local community in a manner which resonates with the local customers. Certain places, like Silver Sevens, in Vegas, are very competitive with several casinos in walking distance. Other casinos are regional casinos which are the only ones for miles and miles – and what do you need to do, not only with food product but with the customer-service program? The whole
story is how I like to think about it: What is the story that we are going to tell at each of these individual locations that is understood by all our employees and customers? We’ve got work to do to get to the place where that is understood by everybody. In a market like Primm, Nevada, where you own all three casinos, how do you market them so as to avoid redundancy? There we need to position each of the three casinos to each other at that location, and Primm Valley would be for our highest-value customer. We have a spa there. We have our nicest restaurant. That’s where our best gaming customer would go. Whiskey Pete’s is our more value-driven proposition, for someone who would be more price-sensitive, and Buffalo Bill’s is really built for occasions. We’ve got the Star of the Desert Arena and that’s where we’ve been highlighted in the New York Times for our work in the Hispanic community and some of the Hispanic concerts we’ve done, as well as more-traditional programming. We do car races there and most of our bus business goes there, so Buffalo Bill’s really flexes when we can put event-driven entertainment into the place. So we really have three separate offerings. We’re quite happy to have folks take the monorail
and visit all three, because we have different restaurants, games and experiences in all of them – but they all have an individual identity. With tribal casinos to the west and Las Vegas a few miles to the east, what’s your constituency in Primm? It’s largely a regional-drive market, so the high desert California area [is it] and we need to make the value proposition such that folks will drive past a more local California tribal-gaming experience and come to us. So what is the combination? We have a good relationship with the local golf course, we have discount shopping, we’ve got the shows, the rides, so we have to have a value proposition that says, ‘Hey, why don’t you come and drive a couple of hours and visit us’ for what’s largely a weekend business. Without making a value judgment on the decisions of your predecessors, why did Affinity trade the Pahrump market for the Black Hawk, Colorado, market? Without having been here at that time, that’s very difficult to know the thought process. In general, the cash flow coming out of Colorado is larger than that coming out of Pahrump. In my perspective, I am
interested in managing businesses of a certain scale, revenue and profitability level that the Pahrump business falls lower than. How are the Colorado casinos performing these days? Colorado as an overall market has had a very good year. Some of our markets are more competitive than others. Colorado is one of our competitive marketplaces, with a number of casinos within short walking distances. Some of our competitors have been spending money refurbishing casinos, building parking, building hotels, and we’ve found that to be one of our more challenging markets and are putting heads together, making sure our brand position, our value proposition, the story that we tell by our employees and our customers is as important there as anywhere. We’ve had the most [revenue] growth out of the Nevada casinos but we’ve had strong growth out of the Midwest as well. Why do you think the Nevada ones are doing especially well? I’m generally bullish on Nevada, from a macroeconomic point of view. It’s tough, as you look at various indicators out there – with housing prices
and a variety of other things – and sometimes you get mixed signals. I’m positive on northern Nevada, with the Tesla [battery factory] construction and job-growth initiatives. I also see positive indications in southern Nevada. We are doing, on top of a reasonable economy, a better job of running our business. I don’t think it is rocket science: We’re doing our blocking and tackling, which is a combination of a reasonable economy and running the business better. Where does Silver Sevens fit into the bigger picture? Is it a tourist draw or a locals casino? If you look at our business, the majority of it is locals. With the hotel and and casino property being so close to the Strip, we attract guests from regional, national and international markets, as well. If you sit out by the pool you’ll hear languages spoken from a number of different places. So we need to – and we have been – run those businesses together. We don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. We want to continue to be a draw for those folks whose business is very proximate, as well as having a compelling hotel product, as well as a valuepricing proposition with proximity to the Strip and the Thomas & Mack Arena to get people to stay with us from all over the world.
Having inherited a slimmed-down company, would you choose to grow it on a same-store basis or through acquisitions? In the over a year and a half that we’ve been here, we’ve been successful in growing it on a same-store basis. It’s important to work with the board to make sure that we’re continually evaluating what our strategic options are. We have a competent team with a proven track record and a strong balance sheet. You’re increasing your charitable giving. Didn’t you just have an event for Alzheimer’s research? Thank you for asking. My business is thinking about different constituencies. One is the financial shareholders, one is the influencers in your business, the customers, and the other is the employees. Many of those folks live in the local community. It’s not a luxury, it’s a smart way of doing business, of being involved from corporate social responsibility. I’ve taken all of our 11 casinos and allowed them, as they see fit, to participate locally if there’s something want to be involved in Osceola or Black Hawk they are welcome to do so. But we have a corporate umbrella of supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, and I reviewed literally thousands of charities. The vast majority – 99 percent-plus – were all amazing and good causes,
but the Alzheimer’s Association really resonated with me. It’s one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Unlike some other causes of death, like heart disease and HIV, whose rates of death are decreasing, Alzheimer’s has increased over 70 percent. Someone develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds. There’s no cure in sight. It’s challenging not only for the victim but also for the caregivers, as there is an eight-to-10-year timeframe typically where a person with Alzheimer’s gets progressively worse. The Alzheimer’s Association not only works on education and research, and treatment of the afflicted, but they also work with caregivers who are really sacrificing their life, and this is a cause that’s personal to me -- my mother passed away with Alzheimer’s – as well as something that’s prevalent in the business. I was happy to find and match Affinity Gaming up with such a great cause. We are the largest contributor to the Alzheimer’s Association in Nevada and we have an umbrella gift, in that we’ll be working with Alzheimer’s associations in every jurisdiction and property that we operate. From my perspective, making sure that we have a good relationship with the regulators, the financial community, the employees, the customers and the community is important and this is just one small thing we can do.
ThĂŠrĂ¨se Liljeqvist General Manager, Casino Cosmopol, Stockholm
Creating Memories Glyn Thomas chats to Thérèse Liljeqvist, General Manager at Casino Cosmopol Stockholm, about how staff contribute significantly to making the casino offer unique and unforgettable
met Thérèse last year at G2E when we had our Casino Life reception at the Wynn. With busy times in between it’s taken until now to complete our interview but it gives a clear insight into how the Casino Cosmopol ticks.
Thérèse, as you know we at Casino Life take great pride in interviewing leading industry CEO’s and Senior Level Management both to get to know the companies that they work for as discover their key attributes for success. Please tell our readers about yourself and your role at Casino Cosmopol. First let me introduce you to the casino world in Sweden. Casino Cosmopol has casinos in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Sundsvall. They are all individual units within the company and Casino Cosmopol in turn is a subsidiary to Svenska Spel that is a state-owned company group. I am, since 2011, the General Manager of Casino Cosmopol Stockholm, the largest of our four Casinos with approximately 550 employees. As GM I’m ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in the Casino. I have been in the Hospitality business all my life and I’ve previously been General Manager at hotels within the Hilton group and the Grand Hotel group. For me the distinct difference in working at a
casino, apart from the regulations that are strict, is communicating with 500+ employees that mainly work at night. My leadership is focused on making everybody feel acknowledged and valuable; something that requires some face time on an at least a weekly basis, so I have had to adapt to working in a different environment. I always want the employees to know that they are appreciated and that I, as General Manager, know that they are the ones that really make a difference; So I put a lot of effort into meeting employees in all sorts of forums and during all hours. I also initiated our “Staff days” where the management team and all our staff get together in small groups and discuss our current issues. No idea, issue or opinion is too small or crazy to be discussed in this forum! What has been the approach employed by Svenska Spel to the Casinos? “One size fits all” or a more local approach with each operation having their own individuality - founded on the club’s location and the community it serves? Casino Cosmopol is a subsidiary fully owned by Svenska Spel. This means that Casino Cosmopol is a separate company yet technically a part of the
group. The four casinos that form Casino Cosmopol are completely different in size and also somewhat in character and therefore the adaptation to the local market is important and crucial to achieve success in that specific market. There is, however, a significant coordination both within the Casino Cosmopol and with Svenska Spel regarding Responsible Gaming, purchasing, education, policy work, communication, etc. Creating an enjoyable, fun and relaxed environment are important factors in
entertainment venues; what kind of investment has Casino Cosmopol Stockholm made into these areas? During the last year we improved our shows and restaurant and entertainment. We believe it should be fun to take a break from gambling in our Casino. We have moved the main restaurant, Jackpot Grill & Bar, to make it larger and better situated in the Casino; we also created a SportZone bar and entertainment area with large screens showing live games. Whenever we put a show together or an event for a customer we have a supplier that will
customize any equipment and technical knowledge we need. To keep up the glamour we recently renovated our poker room and the total overhaul that it turned out to be made it more appealing to our players. This is something that we hear on a daily basis – and that makes us happy! Can you explain a little more about how Casino Cosmopol has evolved over recent years? In an effort to raise the feeling of commitment and enthusiasm, in our managers as well as our employees in general, we have put a considerable amount of time and effort on issues such as our core values and corporate culture. In order to be professional when meeting guests, the staff need to be well-informed about what is happening in the casino and prepared to do their best to deliver a world-class service experience. It is however, a challenge to communicate daily information to 500+ employees that work all hours of the night (and day), have different languages and culture and without computers… It takes commitment and leadership skills from our managers. To keep up, the Casino is offering courses in leadership for existing managers as well as a training program for future leaders. As a
confirmation of our great success in this area Casino Cosmopol was awarded 1st place in the class;” The Educational Development Programme of the Year in the Land-based Casino Sector” at the Totally Gaming Awards a couple of years ago. This and many other efforts are contributing to the positive development in our yearly employee survey, last year we reached all time high! We also have, during the years, had a number of activities for employees to enforce the importance of service excellence. We have a yearly staff conference where we award best performance in number of categories such as “outstanding role model”. We also educate hosts and hostesses to hold courses in inspiration for their fellow employees. Any new plans ahead? Our latest project, which will become a permanent feature, is a service concept called “Creating Memories” which we are introducing in all of our four Casinos, starting this spring. It is an effort to raise our level of service to our guests even higher and involves checklists and transcripts that will help our staff in delivering outstanding service every time. We aim for excellence and this will get us
closer to the goal. How has Casino Cosmopol developed ways of providing promotions and incentives to its customers through social media? Our license to offer gambling (issued by the state) gives us very few opportunities to market our gaming activities. What we can do is market ourselves in the Casino and hopefully turn our guests into ambassadors for our excellent service. We also have partnerships with, for example, companies handling our shows and they in turn will talk about us in their online channels and social media. Along with this we publish information about our restaurant, events and shows on our Facebook and Instagram accounts plus advertise on the internet. Does your tourist and business traveller element explain why you have over 80 different nationalities working across the Cosmopol Group that involves Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and Sundsvall? As the majority of our guests at all the Casinos are local it doesn��€™t reflect on our staff. It is rather a reflection of the country in general. Sweden is a
country with a high level of immigration and we have many initiatives designed to get newly arrived manpower ready for a job quickly. The Casino is part of these efforts and we are proud to have a very including corporate culture. In a recent workshop with all our four casinos our diversity was one of the things that our employees were the proudest of. This is something we definitely use in our communication to attract new talents. Another factor is that we do not demand a lot of experience or knowledge from the staff we recruit, since we train them. You have to be 20 years old and have a positive attitude and great personality. We â€œhire for attitude and train for skillâ€? - it is easier than the other way around. As an international casino we also receive a fair amount if spontaneous applications from around Europe. For us it is an advantage to have such a diverse workforce when we are meeting our guests. Something else that is worth noting is that 55% of our managers are women, this differentiates us from the gambling world in general and it gives us a good balance in our management group. We are happy and proud of this development and our plan is to maintain this percentage in the future
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recruitment of managers What are the procedures in place at Casino Cosmopol to tackle money laundering? Yes, money laundering, and not the least, terrorist financing, is a serious issue. We welcome and support the recent push of FATF and the European Parliament to extend the vital obligation to counter money laundering throughout all of the gambling industry. At Casino Cosmopol we have worked with this important task since the start in 2001. Historically, when some casinos were deeply tied to the mafia, the casino business was particularly prone to be used for money laundering purposes. Vast sums of illicit money could be funnelled through the casinos’ back doors so to say. As a state owned and thoroughly supervised casino obviously that risk is precluded at Casino Cosmopol. Other than that it is important to map out risks and develop strong and effective policies and procedures for “Know Your Customer”, “Customer Due Diligence”, “Suspicious Transaction Reporting” etc. At the end of the day, much of the
staff is involved and it is therefore critical to train and train again. What are the popular table games at the Casino Cosmopol Stockholm? Our most popular games are Black Jack, Roulette and Poker, we also have Punto Banco a popular game which is similar to Baccarat that we don’t have at the moment. We are looking at additional table games for next year – so keep your eyes open! What is your policy of trialling new games and EGM’s? As a state-owned company we are obliged to follow the law that dictates public procurement in Sweden. Therefore, we cannot try out or purchase games from any other supplier than the ones that are contracted. In the last round of procurement, we had two completely new suppliers – Aristocrat and Merkur. We have not had the time to get them ready and onto the gaming floor yet but we are excited about having some new suppliers. We try to make things happening in the casino
to make it exciting to come to us. One of the things we do for our guests is a concept called” Limited Edition” on our slots. It is a couple of premium slot machines with well-known themes such as Michael Jackson, Avatar and Batman. They tour our four casinos and stay approximately 3 months in each casino. The idea is to offer slots that are a bit different and extra fun. Whenever we premier these games we have an event with staff dressed up as let’s say Michael Jackson and we treat our guests to excellent food and drink (non-alcoholic) from Jackpot Grill & Bar– it is a concept that both staff and guests love to participate in. Promotions and incentives are an important mix of patron loyalty what are the provisions like at Casino Cosmopol as far as prizes and rewards for patrons? Because we have such a strong focus on Responsible Gaming, provisions and incentives really have no place in our Casino. Our main focus lies on the personal touch and the hosting instead. We put great focus on the games to be fun and that our guests should play responsibly. We are working
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proactively with responsible gaming and have a close dialogue with our guests. In this way, we are a different gaming company. Quality and affordability have been two key words associated with food and drink at Casinos catering for many of their local regular patrons what is Casino Cosmopol approach to food and beverage? We have adapted our menus in the restaurant to suit our players and regulars. The player’s main concern is actually time; the food should arrive quickly. They prefer easy-going food like grilled meat with trimmings, at a reasonable price. We also have satellite outlets around the casino where we offer a limited menu that contains more light snacks. This way the guests have easy access to food and drinks throughout the entire casino. Apart from that, we cater to all sorts of events and parties and have an array of menus to choose from for this type of happenings. Casino Cosmopol Stockholm offers a wide range of international casino games, bars, great food and exciting entertainment – all under one roof, right downtown in the Capital of Sweden. What makes Casino Cosmopol Stockholm unique? The building is located in the absolute city centre of Stockholm and is almost a 100 years old. It is originally an old movie theatre that used to
showcase spectacular grand premiers. It has also been a nightclub with artists like Ella Fitzgerald performing. Throughout the Casino we have created a very glamourous feeling. There are large crystal chandeliers and they each have 8,000 pendants and a cassette vaulted ceiling with impressive murals that also appears on the surrounding walls. It’s really beautiful! There are five floors of slot machines, table games, restaurants and bars. Many of our guests are in fact surprised to find that, apart from the regular casino games, there is an array of entertainment options. As mentioned previously we have a new SportZone where we show sporting events from around the globe on large TV screens. Our newly renovated restaurant, Jackpot Grill is also the place for glittery, glamourous dance shows and other entertainment. In the Casino we also offer fairs, PR and release parties as well as meeting and event opportunities for up to 500 people. But the thing that I’m probably most proud of is of course our extraordinary staff. We have worked hard, and still do every single day, to make our guests feel welcome. All of us are aiming to be accessible, caring and committed to our guests and strive to create memories every day. Our wish is that every single guest that leaves us does so as a new ambassador for the Casino.
Breaking New Ground
Enclave set to Collaborate, Captivate and Celebrate
wo months ago, 3G Productions broke ground on Enclave, a 75,000-squarefoot venue that will consist of spaces for corporate meetings, conferences, trade shows, weddings and receptions, broadcasting events, training and seminars,
rehearsals and live entertainment. It will be located one mile from McCarran International Airport and four miles from the Las Vegas Strip. 3G Productions is Eli Stearns, CEO & President; Keith Conrad, Chief Operating Officer; and Jay Curiel, co-founder and Senior Vice President. Jack
Enclave: From left: Heather Coldwell, Director of Meetings & Special Events; Eli Stearns, Managing Partner; Keith Conrad, Managing Partner; and Jay Curiel, Managing Partner
Bulavsky, Special Assignment Correspondent for Casino Life, talked to Stearns and Conrad during groundbreaking ceremonies. Tell me more about 3G and Enclave. Stearns: Back in 2004, Jay and I formed 3G Productions, Inc. This came about after years of seeing events struggling in venues that were not suitably designed for superior productions. That led us to believe there had to be a better way for high profile clients. Enclave was created over time to meet this need and we plan to have construction completed by Fall of this year. We’re already booking events for January 2017. The inspiration for Enclave began as 3G
Productions was looking for more space as our lease was expiring. Always searching for ways to improve, the question was raised on how we take the new space opportunity to bring greater value and create better experiences for our customers. The answer was to start with a clean sheet of paper and create a one of a kind, compelling, multi-functional venue for demanding clients. And in Las Vegas, that’s a challenge because it is one of the greatest cities for meetings and conventions due to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Chambers of Commerce exceling in brining people together from around the world. Conrad: 3G has grown beyond our imagination. We have over 500 employees and full operations in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Our audio rental and production business has continued to flourish. We’ve built new business from global broadcast events to national festivals and concerts. We proudly partner with the Riot Games, Insomniac, DirecTV, AEG and Life is Beautiful. Additionally, we have added integration and installation departments as well as a non-union stagehand and rigging labor division. Our install division has completed projects such as the audio system in the Axis Theater where Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez perform and the Chelsea at Cosmopolitan where Bruno Mars has performed. On the labor division, we are the in-house labor provider for the Mandalay Bay Event Center and Bellagio, and were recently awarded the contract for the new T-Mobile Arena. It’s been a wild ride to say the least and we feel the train has barely left the station. Can you go into more detail about Enclave and what it’s going to offer clients? Stearns: MGM, Caesars and others have wonderful event spaces that set the bar very high. However, customers always expect more in Las Vegas and that’s why we scrutinized every project design detail to guarantee Enclave will excel in all areas. We planned for the future knowing that technology will bring new opportunities as the landscape is rapidly changing from social media to virtual reality. Live streaming and broadcasting are solid, everyday undertakings for us. One of our clients hired 3G’s broadcasting team to deploy our network communications equipment and engineers to Berlin for the finals of the most popular e-sports event
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where 36 million people around the world watched video games played live - on their smart phones and computers. That’s twice the amount of people that tuned into the NBA finals on TV. Conrad: Enclave will help businesses interact more effectively and successfully even as our complex infrastructure blends into the background. So when guests want to collaborate, captivate or celebrate, we’re able to deploy our excellent technical and production standards of excellence. That means more than enough power on hand where it’s needed (inside and outside), structural framing to handle the most demanding loads at any one point, clear ceiling heights in excess of 31 feet, elephant doors to drive in boats, trucks and anything else you would need to display, and acoustically designed walls and ceilings for sound clarity and noise abatement. There are great opportunities for branding the entire building for someone’s corporation or wedding. Enclave is a beautiful canvass for its customers to turn their visions into reality and a medium to inspire people’s voices to be heard. Everything is designed to elevate the client’s experience. Furthermore, Enclave is pursuing a
strategy to be LEED compliant, specifically being resource efficient through its use of energy and environmental design practices. Stearns: With an in-house partnership with its sister company 3G Productions, Enclave will be able to provide Audio/Visual, Technology and Production that will bring our extensive experience and expertise to all programs. 3G Productions has worked across the globe giving clearer insight into the international markets and their specific needs. The flexible design of event space provides the perfect fit for the international market. In addition to traditional spaces such as conference rooms and ball rooms, Enclave will offer Production Rooms, Living Rooms and two separate Garden Spaces, as well as other spaces that allow groups greater flexibility for their total program. Its location near McCarran International Airport allows for a level of exclusivity and privacy not typically found in facilities. Couple this with the fact that the venue is designed especially for events where no ratiolimitations will be placed on spaces available per number of guests. Simply put, any size group may have as much space as they want provided they pay the minimums attached to the associated spaces.
Why Las Vegas? Conrad: 3G Productions already has a base operation here and because the city is one of the largest event cities in the world, it was a natural fit for the Enclave Project. It allows us to capitalize on all our extensive resources and contacts and bring this expertise to new clients. How do you plan to market Enclave against other facilities in the city? Stearns: Heather Coldwell is Director of Meetings & Special Events for Enclave and she will be educating prospective clients to all the possibilities for events at Enclave that may not be available at other venues in Las
Vegas. Our marketing focus places a heavy emphasis on the production value and expertise we bring to events of any size at an extremely competitive rate.Â Additionally, Enclave will offer key incentives such as free parking and free basic WI-FI for all groups.Â Enclave plans to work with various key industry partners to provide a diverse range of services from multiple caterers for more menu variety to specialized services such as beverage experts meaning sommeliers and mixologists who can help coordinate new elements for events.
The Merkur Sun is set to shine brightly at Juegos Miami Interview with Charles Hiten (Chief Executive, Merkur Gaming Americas) Are you looking forward to Juegos Miami and what are your hopes and aspirations for this new event? Merkur Gaming is positive that Juegos Miami will provide a really great showcase for the ever growing expansion of our brand and our teams across Latin America. This promises to be an uniqueevent: not a trade show, not a conference, not a networking opportunity with a strong social aspect ... but all of those things wrapped into one package. As a concept it is exciting and, as I said, unique: so we are very much looking forward to meeting with the invited guests and showing them and discussing with them our product offering. The organisers spent over 12 months talking to the market before developing the unique format for Juegos Miami – is this bespoke approach to developing events for the gaming sector something that you welcome? Timely in depth discussions between event organisers and the exhibitors are always welcome. Those discussions and the exchange of ideas that
they bring can only be to the benefit of those who really matter: the attendees. Clarion Events host the biggest and best gaming show on earth, ICE Totally Gaming, so when they add the additional experience and knowledge of their US partners, Urban Expositions, organisers of the recent successful NIGA event, the pedigree for Juegos Miami is certainly well established. How would you assess the attractions of Miami as a host city? Having Miami as the host venue was at the heart of the concept that developed into Juegos Miami. The name says it all and the attraction of Miami as a destination is, for Latin American visitors, a powerful draw in itself. As one gaming luminary once described it: ‘Miami is a great place to visit. It is one of the greatest Latin cities ... and it is really close to the United States!’ Where do you see the big wins occurring in Latin/ South America?
The entire Latin American continent is a gaming ‘hot spot’, you can judge that not just by the appetite for gaming entertainment but also in the ever increasing sophistication of the market, at all levels: operators and players alike. You had representatives from your Latin American subsidiaries at ICE – was that a productive experience? ICE is a global event and so we planned to have representatives from all of our business areas in London. We were, however, very pleasantly surprised by the number of visitors that we received from all across Latin America. Our various teams all reported being exceptionally busy throughout the show and that definitely helped to create the ‘buzz’ around ICE that has already been widely reported. Whilst ICE is a major international gaming event, do you think it’s important that the industry also has smaller, dedicated regional events such as Juegos Miami? Historically there have always been a small number of what we can describe as global trade shows; ICE, G2E in LasVegas and G2E Asia in Macau being the current examples. As well as these far reaching events we all know that there are also many, many events that are smaller in size but no less important in terms of what they provide to the industry in their particular catchment areas. Therefore, these events have to be market specific: they have to bring added value to the markets they serve. Juegos Miami is a case in point. The concept of the event is to bring together, in an ideal and attractive location, all the various elements of the Latin American, Central American and offshore (cruise ship) gaming industry and, through the exchange of ideas and experiences, add value to the whole region. That represents a huge challenge but, given the global experience of the promoting organisation, a challenge that can be met. Do you design for the idiosyncrasies of various markets and how do games for Europe, for example, differ from those for LatAm? As we just discussed in relation to trade shows, the worldwide gaming industry is diverse on all its levels. Therefore the challenge for manufacturers is to innovate and produce gamingattractions that are market specific. So game design must always start withmarket knowledge. What are the dominant player preferences? Time on device players, gaming
entertainment players or avid players? What effect does that have on the volatility characteristics of a game and what legal requirements apply? Only with that knowledge can game design actually begin. The magic of the game designer’s art is in combining every element of the particular market’s requirements and preferences and that is as true of Latin American markets as anywhere else. How does Merkur Gaming do that? By having the very best design team and by marrying their creativity with the many years of gaming experience and market knowledge gathered by being an established market leader. Gaming trends, particularly those of the slot machine market, change frequently. Gaming, at all levels, has the ability to take on the characteristics of a chameleon, re-inventing itself in order to provide ever greater gaming entertainment and satisfy the demands of players for games that provide new thrills and new dynamics. For designers, that challenge is their motivation; rising to that challenge is their reward. Does the German reputation for excellence in technology and engineering give you enhanced traction across all export markets including those in South America? The global reputation of the ‘Made in Germany’ brand remains as strong as ever. One of Merkur Gaming’s cornerstones is the solid excellence of its products and the respect that those products, Made in Germany’ have achieved around the world. The progress of Merkur Gaming in Latin American gaming has been and continues to be remarkable. That is something on which we will continue to build as we expand our activities in a market that is hugely competitive but also one that provides enormous potential for our future growth. Reading through the trade press, there seems to be an enthusiastic and very positive mind set in place at Merkur – is that an accurate assessment and to what do you attribute it? Merkur Gaming’s symbol is the Merkur Sun and being part of one of the greatest and most respected names in gaming, the Gauselmann Group, that sun will shine ever more brightly as we continue to build our brand and produce the product innovations that will without doubtbring us even greater success, in Latin America and elsewhere around the world, in the future. For more information visit www.juegosmiami.com
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A G2E EVENT
Zane Mersich, CEO of NOVOMATIC UK
Reaping the Harvest Peter White talks to Zane Mersich, CEO of NOVOMATIC UK, about the fruits of their R&D labours
ach year the NOVOMATIC stand at ICE appears to be larger. Not just in size – which is pretty impressive (Taxi!) – but in the sheer volume and variety of product. Think a gaming application and they have it covered: from AWP to SWP; from online to bingo; and not forgetting the core slots – whether upright, slanttop or the V.I.P. cabinets. 2016 has clearly got off to a flying start for NOVOMATIC UK after what was a very successful ICE – the major deal with Grosvenor Casinos is impressive! ICE has given us great momentum at the start of 2016 and we’re very excited about the UK casino market. The UK is a dynamic market and has always been a hotbed of innovation in both land-based and online gaming. The competitive bar in the
UK is quite high and so we are really pleased to be considered as a leading company in such a competitive space. We are grateful for this major deal with Grosvenor and happy to be part of this fantastic sector here in the UK.
It’s satisfying when all the investment in development that NOVOMATIC employ into product development is acknowledged by customers. This is the case with the comments from Simon Beacham, Head of Electronic Gaming for Grosvenor Casinos being typical: “With new cabinets and content from NOVOMATIC consistently outperforming their predecessors, this investment was a logical decision to make as there was a very compelling argument to undertake this extensive deployment of new product.” What Simon has said is absolutely right and we are always very honoured to receive a positive endorsement such as this from a seasoned senior executive to know we’re going in the right direction and delivering on our customers’ needs and expectations. When launching a new product we always strive to have the best possible offering and doing this in such a competitive environment can be challenging. This applies to our extensive range of products, whether we’re bringing out new cabinets or games, as well as our very exciting aServe™ Server Supported Gaming (SSG) system, which allows game content to be downloaded via remote servers and provides complete reporting, diagnostics and fixing functionality. The system delivers live player data on patterns of behaviour, game preferences and staking
levels for different games, offering an invaluable tool for operators. The contract with Grosvenor Casinos involves from a UK standpoint a lot of Slots, so can you provide readers details on what EGMs and systems are involved? This is one of the bigger deals that has ever been done here in the UK and constitutes 200 NOVO LINE™ B1 gaming machines and 80 NOVO LINE Novo Unity™ II multiplayer terminals that will be deployed across Grosvenor’s entire estate of UK casinos. The installations are taking place during the first half of the year and include leading cabinet innovations such as the DOMINATOR®, GAMINATOR® III and NOVOSTAR® V.I.P. machines. Astra Games, a 100% subsidiary of NOVOMATIC UK, also now does the distribution for all the NOVOMATIC multiplayer products in the UK and this is an exciting opportunity because there will be a deployment of NOVO LINE Unity™ II multiplayer technology as part of this deal. Do you have any other large installs ongoing or in the near future? We have been absolutely delighted with the performance of our casino product supply division to date and we’re also very excited for the
future. We have a great range of products – with impressive new cabinets, great technology and most importantly, great games – so, what I can say is… watch this space! At NOVOMATIC, we focus on tried, tested and proven products and that’s something our duality allows us to do as we’re both a manufacturer and operator on a global scale, which means that we can perfect our product in some of our own locations before releasing them to customers, thus releasing a product that we know performs on the floor. How has the UK market changed or evolved over the last 5 years? What predictions can you make about the future of the market, and what is NOVOMATIC is role in that future? One of the most exciting things we have going forward is the SSG platform, as it provides us the opportunity to rapidly deploy our class-leading games in a very efficient and effective manner. We can make new game content available to an estate of connected machines at virtually the touch of a button and we can do this simultaneously across land-based, online and mobile spaces. For instance, some of our leading games that can be found at Grosvenor casinos are also available on their online casino. We’re also very excited about land-based casinos here in the UK, and in general. Casinos are a great place for people to meet, socialise, have fun and some of our new technology that we’ve recently launched in the UK really supports that, such as our NOVOSTAR® V.I.P. products that are proving to be hugely successful here in the UK. So if you’ve got class-leading game content and you couple that to innovative cabinet technology like the V.I.P. range of products that we have, it’s a winning formula.
JUEGOS MIAMI se celebra r la capital AN en Miami, de América Latina!
AN EXCLUSIVE INVITATION TO THE SHOWCASE EVENT FOR THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GAMING COMMUNITY
Integrating Solutions Rebecca Green chats to Eric Benchimol CEO Win Systems It’s been over 20 years Player tracking, Jackpots since Win Systems was and Business Intelligence founded and in that time included as a solution the organisation has package. Our CMS is a developed business World versatile system that Wide. Operating in such a can be installed both in diverse variety of cultures small and big casinos, must be an interesting and can consolidate challenge? several venues through Companies that intend to its Multisite solution. The expand worldwide and do Player Tracking is a very it successfully have to be useful and important aware that the different tool to collect customer markets have their own information for marketing characteristics, laws, actions. Another module language, etc. and this included in WIGOS™ is Eric Benchimol CEO Win Systems becomes the challenge. the Table Management A product may work and which connects the be perfect for one market and in another need some table games, integrating live games in the casino’s adjustments. This is true also for our industry, and operation. Together with the other WIGOS™ modules, especially regarding the local laws and governmental the casino can be managed efficiently to maximize its regulations. Before offering our product to a new profitability. market we make sure it is certified by GLI and To give the option that best suits each client, complies with all the requirements and needs of that WIGOS™ also supports the most important payments specific market. environments (TITO, Cashless, MICO). Cultural diversity is also a challenge, but if well WIGOS™ is so popular worldwide not only because managed you can get the full benefits. The mix of of its features, but because it works great. It is nationalities we have in our company helps us to important to stress as well that we not only offer understand the different variables in each market an excellent product, we also have our 24/7/365 thanks to the contribution of each person at Win. Multilingual Customer Service that is always ready to help with any aspect of WIGOS™ and its Can you provide our readers an insight some of infrastructure, whatever size the customer is. the features of Win Systems Casino Management The cost-benefit factors also impact on the decision Systems (CMS) as well as an insight into why it is so making and WIGOS™ can run on average servers, and popular amongst casino operators World Wide? in most migration cases use hardware in-situ. Our We offer WIGOS™ CMS with all its features such fees are also one of the best in the industry in terms as Reports and Analysis, CRM, Loyalty programme, of value for money.
Central & South America are important markets for Win Systems because Casino and Lottery operators in the region where amongst the first to install WIGOS. Today, we are a consolidated brand in Mexico where we have the biggest market share with WIGOS™ CMS, and most of our clients are located in Central and South America. In 2015 we have entered 7 new countries where we were not yet present and for this year we also expect to continue with the same rhythm of expansion, not only in those markets, but also in USA and Europe. Win Systems is clearly proud of its quality control and rigid testing regime as can be seen by your list of values on the www.winsystemsintl.com website. We are partners with our customers, we want them to grow and improve their revenues by offering them solid and reliable systems with the experience of error-free transactions. To achieve this it is important to carry out the strictest quality controls and testing on every product and service that we offer. Win Systems Server Based Solutions have been approved by Gaming Laboratories, how important has that certification been and why did you chose GLI? We work with the most important certification laboratories and are very satisfied with GLI, one of the world’s leaders for gaming certification. We also work with other important laboratories in the different locations, such as BMM and some local ones. How effective and easy to operate have operators found the SBS feature that provides cloud-based statistical analysis reports? i-stats, the WIGOS™ CMS advanced visual intelligence tool, allows easy access to preconfigured reports showing real time information, therefore allowing monitoring and control of one or several casinos (through our Multisite module). And it has the advantage of being accessible anytime and anywhere from any tablet connected to Wi-Fi. The success Win Systems has gained from its Integration of Gaming and Lottery products for a multi-channel environment has been clearly been achieved with the combination of your in-house team of expert technicians whom have applied their knowledge, skill and experience and incorporated into
the development process that clearly encompasses the latest technology. The reassurance and knowledge that customers have knowing that their operations have such high quality of technicians at Win Systems must act as a superb endorsement of the organisations expertise. In fact, our customers trust us because from the beginning they experience the quality of our service and product. We follow each step of the process from the moment the client decides to install WIGOS™ and build a long-lasting relationship with them. We make sure we satisfy their needs during the process and that they are always in the best hands, starting with our sales people, then our Project Managers and the team of engineers working on-site to install the system, and of course our customer service team, always available to give any kind of support. We are continuously investigating to bring to the market the latest innovations and to achieve this, we have an experienced and qualified team. So far we have invested very little in publicity and only participated of the main tradeshows; it is the word of mouth from our customers that helps expand and make Win Systems a well-known brand in the industry. Can you explain why the company has a centralized control system for casinos and lotteries and what are the benefits of this approach? Win Systems has its roots in the lottery systems and then moved into the Casino Management Systems (CMS) markets using the robust infrastructures developed in previous products. Nowadays we live in an environment where everything is connected and the information is real-time. In its beginnings Win Systems anticipated the future in gaming, and introduced an innovation in the industry by using its expertise in critical infrastructure systems to develop a real-time transaction processing platform for ServerBased connected remote terminals. Since the technology is available, decision making is based on real-time information, therefore today it is a must to have a centralized control system for the management and profitability of these businesses. Is R&D all centred in Barcelona or are there other research departments located at your other offices in Mexico, Rome, Beijing and New York? We have recently created a new Software Innovation team in Argentina to work on innovation projects
and strategic development. We are looking to expand our development power in other parts of the world in order to optimize the 24 hours cycle, and following this plan, this year we have also formed a development node in Mexico. The Lottery industry has seen growth World Wide over recent years, how do the Win Systems Lottery Management Systems match up against alternatives from other suppliers? Win Systems has a deep knowledge and experience that not many lottery solutions suppliers have. We have our origins in the lottery, which has driven us to our present reality. Since then, we continue to invest in the product and we are very dynamic when we need to adjust to any new requirement that the business may demand. Recently, we have added to our team of professionals with extensive operational experience in the lottery division, with the aim of strengthening that business unit. Tablets can and do provide organisations direct access to performance based statistics reports so with the Win Systems CMS can your system provide Operators such instant real-time information, on for example slots & EGM’s performance across any number of Casinos, and can this all be accessed on the move via a tablet with this System and if so how easily? Apart from i-stats, the WIGOS™ CMS advanced visual intelligence tool that I have already briefly described, Smartfloor is a Business Intelligence tool that we have recently launched, also assisting casino managers in making real time decisions in their venues and understanding customer behaviour, thanks to the analytical data extracted from the casino operation. This cutting-edge application shows the floor map in 3D and is specially designed for use on a tablet or smartphone with Wi-Fi, providing the user with total freedom to move around the venue. In addition, Smartfloor includes a sophisticated dispatching module for optimizing personnel management to provide an immediate response to the customer’s needs. Win Systems provide a comprehensive range of games for operators however how compatible is the CMS with other supplier’s games slots and associated networked devices?
Win Systems does not produce games slots, so compatibility with the machines of the different suppliers had to be a must from the moment WIGOS™ was developed. And of course, since it is common for casinos to have slots from different suppliers, compatibility is crucial to connect all the machines of the venue and provide a centralized control. What exhibitions are you planning to exhibit at for the remainder of this year were readers can see demonstrations of the Server based System and Casino Management System in operation? As said previously, we are growing in the US so of course we want to be close to that market. We have already been present with a hospitality suite at G2E Las Vegas the previous years, and with full agenda, so this year we won’t miss it. By the end of May we will be participating of Juegos Miami, and by the end of the year, we will be having a booth at Sagse Latin America @ Buenos Aires to meet the local operators as well as those from the nearby countries attending the tradeshow. For those Casinos that may have an operating system that is reliable but aging, what is your advice to them with regards to upgrading their operating system? Our sales speech is always honest and transparent: “If you have a system solution that complies with your expectations and gives you the support you deserve, stay with it.” But if you are looking for an excellent system that will exceed your high expectations, from Accounting and Statistics to Business Intelligence and Player Tracking, and to be the tool that will boost your sales and optimize your casino management, then Win Systems is the solution. And if you consider that the Service offered is important, that your provider must always be reachable, accountable and with a strong sense of service to resolve any requirement of support, let’s say, to offer an outstanding customer service, then Win Systems is definitely the best partner that you can find.
Italy is the market to watch now!
By Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gaming and Gambling Group at DLA Piper
tâ€™s a very exciting time in the Italian gaming market with the recent and upcoming regulatory changes accompanied with the new licenses that might lead to an earthquake in the market.
Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gaming & Gambling Group at DLA Piper
What happened in the first months of 2016? The new year started with a new tax regime for sportsbetting and poker tournaments. Both games switched from a turnover based tax regime to a GGR tax regime. In particular, sportsbetting is now benefitting from an 18% GGR tax regime in case of land based sportsbetting and 22% GGR tax regime in relation to online sportsbetting. At the same time, poker tournament, skill games, fantasy sports and eSports are now subject to a 20% GGR tax regime. Such changes were accompanied by the completion of the full liberalization of the sportsbetting liberalization. Operators are no longer dependent on the schedule of bets/events published by the regulator and on the receipt of the results of the bets from the IT provider of the regulator, Sogei. The Italian sportsbetting offering is now aligned with the .COM offering, with the sole peculiarities that the bets/events need to be previously approved by the regulator and results have to be notified to the servers of the Italian gaming authority. These changes resulted in major financial results as Italian licensed online operators reported total sports wagers of â‚Ź 970 million in Q1 2016. Finally, the Lotto tender which was expected to be a
battle for the Lottomaticaâ€™s throne ended with the same status quo. A consortium led by Lottomatica was the sole bidder and therefore the beneficiary of the awarded license.
What will happen now? The second quarter of the year started with a major action by the Italian police against the unlicensed market. This action, followed the judicial earthquake already occurred last year, might convince some operators to obtain an Italian online gaming license. And the timing is favorable since by mid of 2016, the Italian gaming regulator is expected to award 15,000 betting shop and corner shop licenses and 120 online gaming licenses. In particular, for what concerns the land-based gaming market all the current licenses will expire and a bidding process for new licenses will be launched, while around 40 online gaming licenses will expire which means that there will be room for at least 80 new entrants in the market. Additionally, regulations on bets on virtual events and bingo will substantially change in the next months, introducing much more flexibility for operators in the offering of the games, removing some regulatory restrictions that appeared unjustified. Also, with effect from 1 January 2017, the taxation on online bingo will switch to 20% of the GGR. The conditions are favorable in the market, we will see who is going to be able to better exploit the opportunity.
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Will a State take-over and additional casinos “Save Atlantic City?” What’s next? Governor Christie pushing one of the City’s famous rolling chairs on the Boardwalk?
the casino referendum was he decades of passed with the help of an the Atlantic City advertising campaign to experience (both “save the city.” Ironically, pre and post decades later, we see the gambling) has same sales pitch to “save it very little meaning now. again” by adding additional Atlantic City has become a casinos in the northern part political football. It seems of the state (November like everyone with a pen, Voter Referendum) in hopes (including me) has offered of stopping the flood of their thoughts on how New Jersey residents visiting Atlantic City arrived to its border state casinos in current point of negative Western Pennsylvania and financial instability. And New York where precious tax there is plenty of blame to revenue is being left. go around. Whether the state of New This island built on white Jersey becomes the new sand and entrepreneurial Robert Ambrose Instructor Gaming & Hospitality local manager and kick starts vision has been the footprint Center for Hospitality & Sport Management the ailing city coffers to save for centuries of personal Drexel University it from bankruptcy or not, dreams and monetary Atlantic City will still lay claim schemes. The city has always to its past memories of glory days and its promise of been a tourist driven community built on decades new beginnings. As sure as a seashell can be carried of fictional advertising-lure that often became the in with the oceans tide, Atlantic City will also find its city’s truths. So much has changed since Englishman place back in the sand. Thomas Budd, was given the island in the 1600’s. Recently I walked the dark musty halls of the Yet so much has remained the same. former, closed Revel Resort, where strategy was It’s heyday of “glitz and flash” of the 40’s and 50’s once as blue as the ocean and the formula “to be led to squalor and decay in the 60’s and 70’s until
different,” imploded in its own ideology. That “buildit” they will come philosophy was a strategy of the 1980 and 1990 resort/gaming models. New entrepreneurs have entered the island arena to invest. They see opportunity and their plans are very strategic in their diversity of application. Get used to Atlantic City and the new model as a work in progress. Today the model reflects strategic “realism” and a common sense approach in the initial ground game; with a feasible study that clearly defines the approach for such a financial undertaking. Build it with a defined researched market plan and they will visit once. Build it with attention to a diverse marketing plan within reality based initiatives reflective of the market and they will return.
Work in Progress • Developer Glenn Straub has vowed to reopen at least part of the Revel under a different name. • Developer Bart Blatstein now owns the closed Showboat and plans to open it under a new concept. He also has revamped the Pier at Caesars into the “Playground.’ • The Steel Pier continues to be developed reflecting its history in entertainment. • The new convention center at Harrah’s in the Marina District by Caesars Entertainment opened this year. • The “bar” was raised at the Tropicana with renovations to the property assuring its place in the competitive arena of resort operations. Maybe the “good old days,” were just that? I’m confident that an Atlantic City model in some form will be there for future generations. The next time you take a stroll on the boardwalk in Atlantic City take this thought from the great Bob Marley. “Don’t worry about a thing. Cause everything is gonna be alright.” Bob Ambrose, Instructor Gaming & Hospitality Center for Hospitality & Sport Management Drexel University
The Great Corporate Disconnect Why numbers alone don’t always tell the whole story – by: Victor H. Royer
n first glance, some of the gaming revenue numbers from recent months look pretty good. Statewide in Nevada, they’re up by about 8%. Las Vegas Strip is up around 8%, while Downtown is up by about 9%. Baccarat has been flat for several years, so – leaving out Baccarat – the Las Vegas Strip is up by a bit over 3%. Overall visitor volume to Las Vegas is soaring. So are the number of conventions, and convention attendance. By some estimates, the corporations that now own and run Las Vegas – by and large – now generate only about 35% of their overall revenue from gambling. A sad drop from the 70%-plus in years past
(and more). We all know the reasons – well, at least most of them. Baccarat is down because the Chinese are cracking down on corruption, and that takes away some of the “whales” who like to play Baccarat. At least that’s the excuse that’s being widely quoted just about everywhere. Additionally, the actual amounts wagered by these Baccarat “whales” on the game itself have fallen by about 15%. So – fewer “whales” spending less money – equals flat performance. While Baccarat was initially touted as the way out of the recession for casinos, the fact turned out to be that – basically – the Las Vegas
Strip has had generally flat revenue over the past several years. Counting the excuses as well, of course. Slots, on the other hand, saw a rise of about 3.5% on the Strip. Sounds better, right? Well, almost. What’s missing in all of this? It’s the number I mentioned earlier – that evershrinking revenue from gambling. Why is that so? Because the casino corporations keep ignoring the very reason WHY Las Vegas exists in the first place! As well as WHAT made Las Vegas DIFFERENT from every other city. And the same goes for the Government. The LVCVA – Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority – is sucking up Tax Dollars directly from tourists, but instead of promoting Las Vegas as a GAMBLING destination – as it always was and always SHOULD BE – they are instead paying millions to tear down casinos, like the Riviera, and replacing everything that made Las Vegas unique with all things OTHER than casinos and gambling! This is a terrible prescription for total disaster! The signs are already here, and all around. Dropping casino revenue is NOT because visitors to Las Vegas don’t gamble, or don’t want to. It’s dropping because the casino corporations, and the government, are doing everything possible to DISTRACT the visitors from gambling, and steer them AWAY from the casinos! Sports arenas, parks, day clubs, night clubs, a sickening proliferation of “celebrity” chefs and restaurants where you pay $1,000 for a pea-sized piece of meat with some parsley strew about it, and more and more convention halls instead of casinos – all of this has three major impacts: One – it clogs the streets with traffic, and the sidewalks with pedestrians, causing more and more accidents, crime, and hooliganism. And since the casinos are no longer interested in protecting their sidewalks – like they once used to – it all falls to the Police, who are themselves understaffed and overwhelmed. Two – the conventioneers don’t gamble, so all they do is contribute to the mess of congested traffic, keeping the people who actually want to gamble out of the casinos and stuck in traffic, while at the same time raising room rates to astronomical amounts which regular gamblers either can’t afford, or just
refuse to pay – and at the same time also contributing to the disgustingly high costs and prices for everything else! Conventioneers are on expense accounts, so they don’t care. But their combined influence is like a plague of locusts descending on the once great and green pastures of a glorious Las Vegas, and then leaving it dry, torn, tattered, overpriced and dead to anyone who actually came to see the once worldfamous Neon Jungle. Three – this “kissing-up-to-the-conventioneersand-non-gamblers” has the direct effect of shifting the casino corporation’s revenue AWAY from the 20% to of 40% steady profitability, as derived from CASINO operations, and instead shifting this to the seasonally-uncertain and economically-unpredictable and volatile NON-gaming revenue, which makes – at best – about 1% to 6% profit – ON A GOOD DAY. The rest of the time this fiscal model falls flat on its face, and so the corporations are sucking the revenue from their gaming operations in order to “make the books look good.” This has the direct effect of cannibalizing the company itself, and destroying it from within. In effect, these casino corporations are devouring their own profits and financial stability by raping themselves from within, while at the same time complaining about falling gambling revenue and “interest in gaming” from visitors. NOT SO! The fault in flat gaming numbers is the TOTAL DISINTEREST from the casino corporations in the CASINO itself as a revenue-generating source. And this disinterest is ENTIRELY DUE to the IGNORANCE of the people who are leading these corporations – NONE of them are gamblers, or grew up in the gambling world, like the founding fathers of Las Vegas, who understood what the fiscal model should be. They stuck to it – and while they did, that’s why Las Vegas, and its casinos, were so hugely successful, and why Las Vegas was thought of as the Greatest City in the World. OK – so some might say: But the Slots on the strip are showing a healthy growth. Yup – true. But why? Because the casino corporations have been sticking it to the slot players by LOWERING the payback percentage to God-awful levels! There are some casinos on the Las Vegas Strip that have reduced their slot payback percentages all the way to the State-mandated minimum of 75%. At least
so goes the scuttlebutt, among the “off-the-record” overpriced nightclubs, silly parks and sports arenas, crowd. and congested traffic. So what happens then? And, of course, our ever-shrinking revenue, meaning The enthusiastic visitor comes to Las Vegas, eager we will have to keep “reorganizing” ourselves, like to play in the casino. They find a slot machine, put making our properties into REIT’s, and so on. Until, of their money in the currency validator, and press the course, one day, this will all come crashing down, and button. And whoooosh! Their money is gone in a flash! Las Vegas will be just a blip on the map, known worldNot even enough time to get a cocktail – assuming, of wide and The Nicest Ghost Town that once was great. course, that the casino still has service, and that the So the story goes, as told in the boardrooms of the servers will actually show up in something resembling casino corporations, and their paid-off and bought a reasonable amount of time. government officials. Metaphorically-speaking, of I’ve actually sat in Strip casinos where NO server course, as a journalistic conjecture. came by at all for over 2 hours! And at night, after Still, the facts remain – as long as the casino Midnight, when most of the real gamblers come out corporations keep ignoring the casino, and our to play, Strip casinos often have NO service at all! government keeps ignoring what actually makes Try it – just go and see if you can find a server, a Slot Las Vegas great and interesting – and as long as the Attendant, or Supervisor. Good luck! IF you can find leaders of our industry aren’t gamblers, or know ANY employees that can anything about it, we will help you. continue to see this slow And this is why casino decline in what always players just don’t like it was unique about Las here any more. Vegas. Lousy paybacks, lousy And so, sometime service, no respect soon, we might indeed for their patronage, become a section in the overpriced rooms, Wikipedia pages of the overpriced restaurants, 22nd Century, where it overpriced bars, will say: overpriced everything, “Las Vegas – the and – overall – a prettiest ghost town in complete disregard and the world. Once a great disrespect for gamblers and glorious center of Victor H. Royer President of Gaming Services & Research as valued guests. casino gaming, known On the other hand, as The Neon Jungle, if you are a conventioneer, then this is different. All but now dead and done as a wasteland of endless of a sudden you get your butt kissed at every turn, Convention Halls, rotted Parks, and empty Sports and casino executives will drool over you as you Arenas.” spend $300,000 in their overpriced restaurants and I’m sad that this will be the future of my Las Vegas – nightclubs. but glad I won’t be here to see it. But what about the Baccarat player who bets $300,000 per hand? Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services Well, they don’t matter any more. & Research. He is a 33 year veteran of Las Vegas Gamblers? Huh? What are those? Yuck! They just gaming, a 26 year consultant to the gaming kind of pass-through, and so we have to tolerate them. industry, author of 47 books, and more than 4,000 But not for long! When we have our way – with the articles on casino games and gaming. In addition help of the Government – soon Las Vegas will be just he has researched and authored over 300 industry like any other convention town … full of convention reports on the subject of player preferences, halls, and nothing much else. Except, of course, marketing, player development and customer for the overpriced hotels, overpriced restaurants, relations. He can be reached at: DrVHR@aol.com
Mark Wayman The Wrong Time to Meet an Executive Recruiter is When You are Unemployed – Career Tips from a Head-hunter
y name is Mark Wayman, and for the last eleven years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars. Every day I receive a dozen unsolicited resumes from executives in career transition. Translation, cold calls from folks that are unemployed. Like most Executive Recruiters, I only work with executives I know personally, or that I receive through referrals. This article outlines why the wrong time to meet an Executive Recruiter is when you are unemployed, and provides a few tips for putting your name at the top of an Executive Recruiter’s candidate list. Relationships Trump Talent – If you don’t
remember anything else from this article, remember this: relationships trump talent every day of the week. Mediocre, unqualified executives get great jobs on a regular basis. Why? Because they have strong relationships, and a former boss or peer juices them into the job. People hire candidates they know and like. I recently worked on a “C” level position and submitted three excellent candidates. All three of my candidates were better than the person that was eventually hired, however the hiring manager worked with that candidate previously…so he got the job. You are correct – life is not fair, but this is how it works. On the other hand, I see highly competent, talented executives lose out on jobs they should have won. Why? They don’t play well with others. They burn bridges, and as Walt Disney once said, “It’s a small, small world.”
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Relationships trump talent…period! Here is the Secret to Being on an Executive Recruiters Candidate List - If a Recruiter has three candidates, and they all have the same skill set, the Recruiter will submit the candidate they know personally. Why? Because they know and trust them. And companies expect Recruiters to personally vouch for the candidates they submit. Want to get to the top of a Recruiters candidate list? Help them out with referrals. Check in with them regularly when you DON’T need a job. Stay in touch. Be helpful, and it will get you to the top of the candidate list when you need it. Recruiters Get People for Jobs, NOT Jobs for People – It is important to understand how the Executive Recruiter makes money. Recruiters are paid to fill jobs, and they are laser focused on it. If they don’t fill their open roles, they don’t eat. They are not career coaches; they are not in a position to figure out your personal situation and fix it. As my race horse trainer used to say, “I have jockeys, I need horses.” If this case, “I have candidates, I need hiring companies and jobs.” It’s not personal. Executive Recruiters Focus on clients (hiring companies), not candidates. Finding a Job MUST Be a Priority – It’s shocking how many unemployed people are “too busy” to interview. Great way to get a Recruiter to drop you like a bad habit. Remember, YOU need a job, I HAVE a job. YOU need to make yourself available. Make your job search a priority. Recruiters Don’t Like to Be Gang Tackled – A lack of planning on your part does not constitute a crisis for the Recruiter. Being aggressive with a Recruiter will get you dropped like a hot rock. Don’t call hourly or daily with “just checking in” or “any new jobs?” messages. Have a six to twelve month rainy day fund, so you don’t come across as desperate. Needy and high maintenance is not attractive. No Cold Calls or Unsolicited Resumes Please – The best Recruiters only work with executives they know and trust. Meeting a Recruiter for the first time when you are unemployed is a terrible strategy. Possibly you can pull it off by having one of the Recruiter’s big clients refer you, but even that is a longshot. If you don’t have two or three good Recruiters in your rolodex, ask your peers who they like, and get introduced NOW. Build the bridge before you need to cross the river.
What every leader needs to know How people respond when you are going through change – and what you can do about it’: Paul McGee
Paul McGee, The SUMO Guy, International Speaker and Best-selling Author
enjamin Franklin once said “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes”. I think if he was alive today, he would add a third, change. The big ‘C’ is now constantly on the agenda both in and outside the workplace. It’s an exciting time to be alive with unprecedented opportunities for discovery and development. Yet there is also a flip side. With change comes uncertainty and anxiety. Despite our insatiable appetite for the new and the different, we also cling to the comfort and security of the familiar. The clash of these two worlds means we live in ‘crazy times’ where excitement, stress, advancement and breakdown co-exist like a typical family gathering at Christmas.
So how do people respond to change in the workplace? Let’s explore six responses.
the last ten years, here are my top tips for dealing more positively with change.
1. The Cynic. They have seen it all before and are convinced the change will never work and may question the motives behind the change. However, despite this verbal resistance, cynics invariably and begrudgingly go along with the change.
1. Understand the reason. People need to understand the reasons for the change and you may need to seek out the consequences of not changing.
2. The Camper. This person sits on the fence and is neither positive or negative about the change. They seem prepared to ‘sit it out’ and see how others in the team respond. 3. The Co-operator. They seem resigned to yet more change, so you rarely hear complaints, but are more likely to hear “Oh well, it’s going to happen so we might as well get on with it.” 4. The Champion. Openly welcomes and promotes the change. It might have been their idea, or they see a direct benefit to themselves. Whatever the reason, they are definitely on board. 5. The Confused. The change seems to overwhelm them and they feel unable to respond either positively or negatively. They struggle to grasp the implication of the change and may well go into denial as a way of coping. Of course their confused state may also have something to do with the lack of clear communication surrounding the change. 6. The Conspirator. Seeks either covertly or overtly to resist the change. This person simply doesn’t believe the change is a good thing and they are committed to ensuring it doesn’t work. They may employ a number of tactics in order to sabotage the change. What Can We Do About It? The good news is that in most cases, people’s responses to change are not permanently set. As people we are more like clay than concrete. Having worked with organisations around the globe over
2. Get involved. Seek ideas on how best to implement the changes. When Clive Woodward took over the England Rugby Union Team, the players decided what the consequences would be for players being late to team meetings. He introduced the ideas, the team implemented the detail. 3. Go for quick wins. Nothing is more demotivating than seeing things getting worse as a result of change. Margaret Thatcher wanted a quick win during the Falklands conflict. Despite being of no real military significance, the Capture of Goose Green provided the quick moral boosting win she and the commanders craved. 4. Have some Hippo Time. Not all change has a clear benefit. Acknowledge that you may need time out to wallow and reflect (Hippo Time) to air grievances and talk through any issues. 5. Go Greek. When Greece won the 2004 European Championships they did not have the best football players, but they had the best team. Do all you can to encourage the team to come together, work together and have fun together. 6. Remember to S.U.M.O. Despite all your best efforts and intentions, mistakes will be made and not everyone on the team will positively embrace the changes. But there comes a point when we all need to Shut Up, Move On. (If you want to download 7 questions I devised to help people S.U.M.O. visit http://www.theSUMOguy. com ) Change can be a challenge but by adopting some of the above approaches, it doesn’t have to lead to a crisis.
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