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Volume 15 Issue 128

The formula for Casino success in balmy Aruba


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Editor’s Page

Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

Welcome to Casino Life...

Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 pwhite@ace123.com

Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +44 (0) 7727 969 299 glyn@ace123.com Features Editor:

Damien Connelly

dconnelly@ace123.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey bill@ace123.com

Associate Editor North America David Mckee

dmckee@ace123.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan

sophielbehan@gmail.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent:

Robert Ambrose

r.ambrose16@gmail.com

And welcome to Aruba, a place that’s been on my wish list for some time. I talked to Ricky Tromp, Director of Casino Operations for Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, about life on the island and running a casino on one of the best beachfronts in the world. Someone facing more troubling time is basically any UK casino operation but despite the odds seemingly tipped against them Aspers are performing very well. Damien Connelly caught up with Richard Noble COO to discuss how their high volume, low stakes entertainment focus is paying off and how they’re putting some of their profits back into the local community. JOA have always been at the forefront of technology for many years. Peter White interviewed Dylan Peyras Director of JOA Casino in La Seynesur-Mer about their latest innovation with virtual blackjack plus the phenomenal success of Aristocrat’s Lightning Link. Balancing a career in casinos against a backdrop of discouraging play beyond your means is an adept juggling act for Tracy Damestani CEO of the National Casino Forum and vice chair of the ECA. We find out more. American Gaming Association President Bill Miller is from outside the gambling industry and is one of only three CEOS the Association has ever had. That’s a tough job start but he looks the man for the job and we look forward to seeing his progress. We chat with Robert Ambrose and his son, Rob Ambrose, and then draw to a close with a look at the sterling work of our graphics partner Total Design works; US Sports; Crypto currency; and Robert Brassai’s latest in thought-provoking casino management pages that have been causing ripples on social media. We end with a round up of all that will be happening at G2E ASIA, and as ever, the Last Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief Word goes to Damien Connelly.

Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green

May 29-31, 2019 Biltmore Hotel, Miami, USA

rebecca@ace123.com

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde

stewart@totaldesignworks.com www.totaldesignworks.com

Subscriptions: Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com

Pre-register at www.juegosmiami.com

Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree sb@ace123.com

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Contents 3

Editors page

6 Sun, sand and slot machines: The formula for casino success in balmy Aruba Ricky Tromp, Director of Casino Operations for Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, chats with Glyn Thomas 14 Best-in-class venue for entertainment Richard Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group Limited, chats to Damien Connelly 21 JOA Express Peter White chats to Dylan Peyras, Director of JOA Casino in La Seyne-sur-Mer 23 The National Casino Forum Update By: NCF Chief Executive Tracy Damestani 29 Baptism of fire American Gaming Association President Bill Miller faces challenges from his first day on the job onward. Interview by David McKee 33 In Design Peter White speaks to Stewart Hyde, Director of Total Design Works 38 The Generation Game Robert Ambrose, Gaming Consultant and Educator, and son Rob, Software Engineer and Entrepreneur, Share Their Thoughts on Aspects of the Gaming Industry with Sophie Behan 41

G2E Asia 2019 Preview • DR Gaming Technology™ • TRANSACT • Cammegh

50 Morgan Stanley US Sports Betting Field Trip 51 Cryptocurrency application in iGaming By: Oron Barber 53 Manage this By: Robert Brassai 54 The Last Word By: Damien Connelly 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.

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Sun, sand and slot machines: The formula for casino success in balmy Aruba

Ricky Tromp, Director of Casino Operations for Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, chats with Glyn Thomas

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t’s fast approaching 30 years that Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino has been in the Caribbean. For the last 11 of those years its casino’s fortunes have been steered by Ricky Tromp. The casino has capitalized on its key location on the Palm Beach strip,

convenient to retail, dining and pedestrian traffic. The casino’s business, primarily drawn from the United States market, supports a staff of over 110 casino employees alone, all drawn from Aruba, by official decree. Defying superstition, the casino has 13 table games, as well as 240 slots. Hyatt Regency Aruba, which markets itself aggressively against its competitors, has felt the ups and downs of the U.S. economy. As Tromp once told Casino Life, “We were slightly impacted by the recession, but we managed to rapidly recover mainly due to our popular customer loyalty-programme, which allowed us to maintain its overall performance.” At the time of Casino Life’s last visit, a sports book was just in the planning stages. It has now been completed and is central to Hyatt Regency Aruba’s business plan for the future. This renovation sounds incredible. What will be the outcome of this upgrade?

Guests of the resort already enjoy recently enhanced rooms, suites, and a Regency Club Lounge, as well as the always-popular 8,000-square-foot pool complex. The next and final part of this project is to transform a separate beachfront space into a beautiful, three-story, adults-only pool.

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Is this the biggest renovation that’s recently happened? While the resort regularly undergoes updates to keep the amenity offering and overall look and feel fresh and relevant, this is definitely one of the biggest projects the resort has implemented since its opening. Are these renovation projects meant to attract a different type of customer? The new adults-only pool and casino additions definitely attract a different kind of customer – one who is seeking a vacation with a great combination of relaxation and fun. How does your casino fit within the ‘new’ and upgraded Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino? The casino was included in the overall enhancement of the resort with the creation of a sports book lounge for sports betting. This allows us to cater to sports enthusiasts who

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want to catch the game and get in on the action. We invest in our product offerings every year to keep our casino one step ahead of our competitors. What does your casino offer to your customers? Our casino opens at 10 a.m. with slots, followed by table games in the afternoon until 4 a.m., with live musical entertainment in the space right above our recently renovated bar. The casino offers 13 tables and more than 200 new slot machines, as well as the new sports book lounge. Our hosts are always ready to enroll you to become a member of our Advantage Players’ Club for great rewards. Not many casinos can claim to have a beachfront location, especially not on a world-renowned beach. Is there value in being literally on the beach? Hyatt Regency Aruba is known to have one of the best

beach locations on the island, with a nice bar on a pier over the water with exotic drinks and the best sunset one can imagine. Our casino has a very welcoming entrance on the boulevard strip that allows us to attract many visitors from other hotels. With a beachfront location, how will the renovated space benefit Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino? Having an adults-only pool will allow us to cater to a more affluent customer. The new pool with private cabanas will certainly offer guests an exclusive and private opportunity to relax and enjoy their trip. What distinguishes Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino from other casinos on the Island? We are very proud of our friendly staff that supplies the excellent service for which Hyatt Regency Aruba is known.

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Additionally, our location is within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, bars, lounges and malls. We also feature a unique bar here on property where guests can enjoy a beverage while playing poker slots. Our casino offers daily events and promotions, such as a daily happy gaming hour, slot tournament, money vault and more. How did you start working for the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino? I started my Hyatt Regency Aruba career in late 2008, and that gave me a great opportunity to learn and grow with the company. Hyatt Regency Aruba taught me its unique culture, and how to provide a level of constant care for

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people so they can be their best. Turning to operations, what are the biggest challenges running a casino on Aruba? Casinos on Aruba today are not the same as a decade ago, when Aruba was known as the Monte Carlo of the Caribbean. Aruba has very much grown to be a well-known tourism destination, with beautiful beaches, sunny days year round, great culinary options, and gaming. What’s it like working for Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino? I am very proud and enjoy working for Hyatt Regency Aruba


Who are your role models and why? Colin Powell is one of my role models. Reading his books truly inspires me. One of his quotes that I like the most is, “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.”

You have a lot of valuable industry experience. Some of our readers are at the beginning of their careers in our industry. What advice would you give them to help them develop their skills and improve their careers? Be passionate about what you do every day at work. If you want to develop yourself professionally, adopt a beginner’s mindset: Stay teachable, seek feedback, teach others, and embrace teamwork.

What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor or manager or role model? Strive to be the best you can be and never let anything get in your way.

Finally, given you live on Aruba, when you are not at work how do you relax? I love spending time with my grandkids while exploring our beautiful beaches and nature.

Resort Spa & Casino. It is a premiere island resort where employees are treated like family.

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Best-in-class venue for entertainment Richard Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group Limited, chats to Damien Connelly

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Mark Dolan(tv personality) alongside our lucky online winner and The Stig

gambling environment. Our approach has always been based on a high footfall, low spend model. Our venues are based on international standards, with quality restaurants, popular bars, large capacity poker tournament zones, community spaces and the latest gaming products. Increased regulatory requirements have had an impact on all gambling companies but we have risen to the challenge, implemented the required changes, and still have an impressive overall group performance.

Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us, Richard. Aspers Group can trace its roots to the creation of legal casinos in the UK in the early 1960s. How is the company performing today? The whole UK gambling industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Consumer confidence is at all time low, highprofile regulatory action against some operators has been well publicised, several politicians have been outspoken about the industry and there has been a media frenzy of anti-gambling stories. Despite these challenges, Aspers continue to do what we do best – delighting our guests on every visit in a safe

When one thinks ‘land-based casino’ one tends not to think of so many female customers and quite as high a percentage of Aspers’ management being women. Has that always been the case? It has been the case in the past simply because gambling has traditionally been a male-dominated industry and it has been difficult to attract enough women into senior management positions. It is an issue that we have sought to address and there are already a significant number of women within the management team – General Manager of Stratford, Head of Regulatory Compliance and Audit, Head of Marketing, HR Managers in each of our properties, the Head of Electronic Gaming and the Head of Catering for the Stratford property, and many others.

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Fortunately, as the industry continues to evolve the demographics are changing and as more women become guests, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the number prepared to take on more senior management positions.

That means there are three classifications for a landbased casino in the UK. Doesn’t that create confusion? In our management meetings, I constantly ask the team to look at the business ‘through the eyes of our guests’. They are visiting us to be entertained and have a level of expectation that we need to exceed. Guests do not

Aspers Group currently operates four casinos in the UK — two casinos under the 1968 Act and two under the 2005 Act. What’s the difference between a 1968 and a 2005 casino? To deliver the right balance between entertainment and gambling, and to grow a sustainable business, it is important that a property offers a variety of leisure and gambling products. Our venues in Stratford and Milton Keynes, both 2005 Act Large Licence Casinos, are able to offer this. From bingo to sports betting, from afternoon teas to social events for our slots club players and from comedy nights to weekend DJs, we are meeting the needs of our guests. The variety of entertainment and mixture of popular gaming product gives them a reason to return week after week. We also offer a similar leisure offering in our 1968 Act casinos, however with bingo and sports betting not permitted and limited slot numbers, the overall offering is less appealing.

understand the different classification of land-based casinos. When they visit a casino, they expect to find a safe and friendly environment, quality restaurants, great guest service, and gambling product at the correct price point for their needs. Currently 1968 Act casinos can only have 20 slot machines, 2005 Act casinos can have up to 80 slot machines for a Small Licence and up to 150 slot machines for a Large Licence, so the variety of product differs significantly between venues – our guests do not understand this and are often disappointed when their favourite machines are not available. Aspers opened the first 2005 Act casino at Westfield Stratford City eight years ago, so we have been operating different classifications of licenses for some time. I believe it’s time for Government to consider harmonising the 1968 and 2005 Act licences.

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UK casino managers are highly regarded even though British casinos themselves are quite small by


international standards. Is Aspers Group focused on the UK only? We are currently only focussed on the UK, both with our four land-based properties and our online casino which launched in 2017. We have ambitions to grow our portfolio and are open to looking for new opportunities both inside and outside the UK. We have a remarkable team of dedicated managers from many disciplines including hospitality, security, guest services and of course gaming. Although UK land-based casinos are generally smaller than some international venues, the UK still offers a number of larger footfall venues. Aspers Westfield Stratford City sits above the busiest shopping mall in Europe and welcomes over 4,000 guests a day. Benchmarking Westfield from my recent visits and observations, I’d say Aspers’ sweet spot is mass market — high volume, low spend per visit. What defines the success of Westfield? Westfield Stratford City retail is itself a destination venue with incredible transport links, drawing from a far-reaching catchment area. Our casino benefits from this reach. We have the largest casino in the UK located in the largest

shopping mall in Europe. Since opening our first casino in Newcastle in 2005, our strategy has always been to run high footfall, low spend, ‘mass market’ venues. Aspers Westfield Stratford City has the right location, and the ability to offer the right balance of hospitality and gambling product to deliver on this strategy. I was very impressed with the live tables area in Aspers Westfield. Some European countries have 5% live tables revenues, other countries have 65% live tables revenues. What split is more common in UK casinos? There are several different types of UK casinos, from 1968 Act to 2005 Act licensed casinos, from London to regional casinos, and then within London there are also the highend operations. Aspers Westfield Stratford City operates an extensive live table gaming operation with 60 tables generating approximately half of all revenues. Las Vegas generates most of its revenues from nongaming activities. Is non-gaming important to Aspers’ properties? With the largest of the properties being based within a growing postcode, E20, and with the proliferation of such a younger, professional market into the area, the focus on

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the non-gaming / leisure element of our casino is at the forefront of our positioning hence forward. Reinvestment within the non-gaming areas of the casinos is critical to our pathway forward, opening ourselves to a broader demographic including a more millennial clientele by providing a balanced offering. What explains Aspers’ success? Having two large licences has been the foundation of our success, entailing a greater footprint of a true casino floor. Having said that our colleagues at each of our sites are the real blueprint to our success, they encapsulate the mantra of a best in class service and experience for each of our visiting guests. We provide ongoing training and succession programmes for our teams and additionally offer a valuable rewards and recognition programme. We aim to be the first choice in casinos within the industry. We recently won four awards in this year’s British Casino Awards (Winners of Best UK Customer Service, Best UK Marketing Programme, Corporate Training Investment Award and Corporate Community Engagement Award) which demonstrates that we are leading the way in the industry. How is Aspers Southampton progressing? We have acquired the licence and we will move forward when the timing is right and share our plans at that point. Does Aspers Group research each property’s contribution to their local economies? We made a firm commitment to contribute to the local economies as part of our bid process for our Stratford and Milton Keynes licenses. However, we pride ourselves on being part of the communities in all the locations we operate in. We endeavour to recruit locally, local jobs for local people. We have strong links with local colleges to provide training. Where possible we use local suppliers. We also support a variety of causes; for example we have set up the Aspers Good Causes Fund in Stratford where we donate £100,000 to local initiatives; we have currently donated £800,000 to worthy causes of which we are very proud. In addition, all of our casinos contribute to local initiatives in their marketplace, supporting local groups. We also support the Aspinall Foundation (our overarching charity) and CHIPS which is the industry charity of choice. We also founded an organisation called CARG (Community Action for Responsible Gambling) which seeks

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to constructively address problem gambling issues in the community. It is a voluntary, not for profit group, a working partnership between local community based interest groups, designed to facilitate discussion, increasing knowledge and reduce the risks of problem gambling. When Aspers Southampton opens, Aspers Group will operate three of the eight 2005 large casinos allowed in the UK. From your experience operating both, do 2005 casinos generate the same levels of local economic contributions as 1968 casinos? As the scale of a 2005 Act casino is naturally larger than a 1968 Act casino, the number of employees, number of guests and level of revenue is higher, which in turn generates more benefit for the local communities. In addition, both Aspers Westfield Stratford City and The Casino MK have revenue sharing agreements with their respective local authorities. The overall gambling industry is being seriously questioned in the UK as you noted in your Open Letter to the Secretary of State published October 2016. Levels of trust and confidence have been negatively impacted by FOBTs. A recent discussion by UK politicians, recorded by Hansard, highlighted business activities by online gambling operators that are neither responsible nor sustainable. As a Responsible Gambling operator with an omni-channel presence, do the actions of such ‘less good actors’ concern you? We need to work together as an industry. At Aspers, we uphold a high standard of service to ensure a safe, fair, legal and caring experience that protects our colleagues and guests. Our first question focused on the past and the present. As we close our interview, what are your hopes and aims for the future? The UK gambling industry is facing unprecedented challenges. It is crucial that the whole industry works together to address these issues. Now is not the time to point the finger at different sectors, but rather work together to demonstrate that we are an industry that puts the customer at the heart of all our decision making. Aspers positions itself as entertainment destinations and everyone’s first choice of casinos. We will continue to work closely with the local communities in the market places where our casinos are based and deliver a premium level of service and experience for our guests within each of our sites.

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JOA Express JOA Casino is setting itself apart from the rest with leading-edge technological innovations. Peter White chats to Dylan Peyras, Director of JOA Casino in La Seyne-sur-Mer

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ICONIK and FPX, two firms that specialize in developing play-based applications of emotion metrics. JOA Express offers a novel and immersive experience, set in a Wild West world, that makes (re)discovering blackjack more accessible. It’s designed to appeal to a new clientele who are younger and more connected. Thanks to this JOA innovation, beginners can find out about all aspects of blackjack in a fun, instructive way and try their hand at the game. And seasoned gamblers will enjoy an original experience! Customers’ feedback has been very positive. What they particularly like is the fusion of virtual reality and the casino gambling experience. Every weekend, more than 30 gamblers give it a try. The emphasis on interactivity extends to JOA’s sports bars (described below), which are rapidly catching on throughout the casino chain.

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ne of the largest casino operators in France, JOA owns 22 casinos which deploy a combined gaming firepower of 2,841 slot machines and 132 table games. It is catching the new wave of interactive gaming with branded ’21’ offer JOA Express, which combines a traditional casino game with virtual reality, bringing blackjack into the 21 century. If you are a newcomer to 21, it will provide a technologically enhanced hook, while the jaded fan may thrill to this new twist on an old favorite. Another interactive development at JOA Casino is the installation of 24 Aristocrat Lightning Link slot machines. The interconnected slots give punters the chance to compete against dozens of other plays for a linked jackpot. To hear JOA’s Dylan Peyras tell it, this emphasis on interactivity is paying off in a big way for the French operator. Can we start with the recent announcement of the launch of JOA Express at the JOA Casino in La Seyne-surMer. Please can you explain to readers this innovative, animated blackjack game and how it’s been received by the casino’s patrons? JOA Express is the first virtual-reality table to provide a blackjack taster. This unique attraction was fully devised and developed by the JOA Group in partnership with

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JOA Express is described as an immersive experience that involves players being equipped with a virtual reality headset… Equipped with a VR headset, players are invited to take a seat round a connected table. They immediately step into a Wild West setting and board the “JOA Express” train, where they’re welcomed by female croupier Lyse. The adventure begins while the train is still in the station, with a two-part presentation of blackjack. Once the rules have been taught, the train sets off and travels at full speed across the Arizona plains. Six further parts follow, and they’re all different – thrills are guaranteed! Thanks to the haptic table, the players can feel the train moving along the track. Gunfire riddles the carriage, the windows shatter, and fans blow on the players, giving a 4D sensation. The train ends up in a mine after a bridge explodes, upturning the blackjack table to leave the chips floating in the air. Do you offer training sessions for JOA Express? No, you can sign up for the JOA Express experience directly online, on the joa.fr website, or at the casino’s reception. It’s reserved for adults only, in compliance with current regulations. Food is also a vitally important part of the whole leisure and entertainment experience. What’s the main style of food served in the La Seyne casino restaurants? When it comes to non-gambling activities, the JOA Casino in La Seyne has plenty of selling-points – an exhibition area, a bar, an auditorium and two restaurants, Le Comptoir JOA and the 360°, which serve more than


Inauguration at the Casino JOA de La Seyne-sur-Mer of LIGHTNING link lounge in the presence (left) Laurent Jourdain, Directeur des Jeux Groupe JOA, (middle) James Boje Managing Director EMEA at Aristocrat and (right) Dylan Peyras Director of JOA Casino in La Seyne-sur-Mer

50,000 covers a year. The 360° is the JOA Group’s first semi-gourmet restaurant. Its fine dining, with a weekly

The JOA Casino in La Seyne also recently added Aristocrat’s Lighting Link. How has it been received?

change of menu that highlights seasonal produce and seafood, has earned a 70 percent occupancy rate. JOA’s new sports bar concept also offers light dishes – fresh sandwiches and kitchen-prepared jar desserts – at all hours.

And are there plans to roll out this jackpot game at other JOA Casinos? Lightning Link is recognized as a successful game. The JOA Casino in La Seyne and Aristocrat have decided to duplicate this game to create a concept of 24 interconnected slot machines that feed a joint jackpot. The dedicated area is a special space that offers maximum comfort and showcases the slot machines in a set design with unique lighted signs. This concept will soon be installed at the JOA Casino in Cannes-Mandelieu.

The JOA Casino in La Seyne also provides live entertainment. Can you tell us about the acts that perform at the casino? With its 500-seat auditorium, the JOA Casino in La Seyne is a prominent cultural player in the region… There’s an extensive program of events each season – concerts, stage plays, comedy, dance – offering spectators hugely enjoyable and emotion-packed experiences. Since the venue opened, nationally renowned standup comedians have performed at the Casino: Antony Kavanagh, Artus, Kheiron, Jean-Marie Bigard, Haroun, etc.

What were the key factors behind the decision to install the Lightning link Lounge? The JOA Group has always taken a bold, innovative approach to achieving its main objective: changing how people perceive casinos. This has led us to introduce novel products that are world or European exclusives. In recent years, we’ve

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The sports bar concept was developed in 2017 at the JOA Casino in Montrond-les-Bains (Loire county). Has it been extended to the JOA Group’s other casinos? After the JOA Casino in Montrond-les-Bains, the sports bar concept was launched in La Seyne in March 2019. It is currently also being deployed in other JOA Casinos including Saint-Paul-lès-Dax, Cannes-Mandelieu and Le Lac du Der.

offered our customers many new attractions on a sneakpeek or European-exclusive basis. We’re now maintaining this momentum with the Lightning Link Lounge concept. We’re proud to be the first group to launch it in France, and to be rolling it out in Europe too. At the JOA Casino in La Seyne, it opened on April 4, 2019. In choosing to add this concept to the casino in La Seyne, our aim is for this establishment to retain its leading position and remain the preferred casino for gamblers in its market area. The Lightning Link concept is a gambling pacesetter worldwide – it’s known, appreciated and acclaimed by gamblers in France but also globally...Lightning Link games are now on offer in 90 percent of our establishments. They’re among our customers’ favorite games – and they’re our best advisors. This attractive concept was put in place to satisfy existing customers in search of new games, sensations and gambling comfort, but also to recruit a new, more connected clientele. How many machines have you installed? And can you tell us about the game options selected for LIGHTNING link? Twenty-four interconnected slot machines, in an exclusive set design, offer a unique gambling experience, with bonuses and an even higher jackpot frequency, to give our players even more enjoyment.

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Can you explain the JOA Group sports bar concept, which gives patrons a gambling and connected-sport experience. The fully-connected Sports Bar is intended for fans of all kinds of sports. Inspired by the famous American bars, it offers, under one roof, everything you need for an evening of uninterrupted sport. It’s a place specially designed for sports fans to get together in a lively, sociable atmosphere. The Sports Bar concept perfectly illustrates JOA’s online and offline innovation strategy. Open to all, seven days a week, the Sports Bar concept offers all sports and gambling fans the chance to live their passion, with unique benefits and experiences: • watch their favorite sports events on a wall of giant screens in a 100 percent live-digital atmosphere, every day and at any time of day; • check the best betting odds; • get tips from joa.fr’s experts when placing bets; • on big match nights, gamblers and supporters can chat about sports news and debrief each other about competitions; • spend time with their partner or among friends over a glass of wine or a JOA craft beer; • have something to eat. All through the day and evening, the sports bar serves light dishes using fresh produce cooked in the kitchen (kitchen-prepared daily special, sandwiches, salads, etc.). The Sports Bar is totally modular: its atmosphere can be adapted to match the patrons’ profile and the sports events being screened. The venue is also suitable for organizing events: depending on the casino, it can play host to sports clubs, boxing nights, and bespoke private occasions. How effective are the new games and technology at attracting new customers? The new, more connected games are attracting a different, younger kind of customer. They’re making the gambling experience more fun and accessible.


Olympic Park Casino Tallinn Venue for the 2019 European Dealer Championships Final

The National Casino Forum Update

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By: NCF Chief Executive Tracy Damestani

racy Damestani (CEO) - The National Casino Forum is looking forward to the implementation of additional Player Protections with the voluntary introduction of Time and Money limit setting alerts being put into place on Machines by its core members. This comes ahead of the Gambling Commission’s call for evidence around Player Protection on Category B1 machines. These settings will allow players to set their own time and monetary spending limits on Category B1 machines and will send the players an alert once they have reached their limit. The NCF has been and will continue to work closely with its members, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

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and the Gambling Commission to ensure that all players are protected and empowered to enjoy their gambling experience. We have always been aware of the importance of ensuring our guests are provided with the very best in services, choices and protections. Increasing negative attention towards some parts of gambling will not diminish until public and political concerns are properly addressed. The NCF is also working on showcasing the positive side of the industry and drawing awareness to the great customer service, hospitality and entertainment our sector provides, whilst at the same time opening minds to the possibility of a career within Casinos. The Olympic Park Casino, Tallinn, Estonia, will play host


to 37 of Europe’s best dealers from 20 different countries. The UK’s own Catalina Huzum, Winner of the UK Dealer Championship 2019, and Chris Hall, First Runner-Up, will once again put their skills to the test to deal it out for the title of Europe’s best Dealer. The competition will follow a similar format to the UK Dealer Championship; the competitors will deal games of Blackjack and Roulette across several rounds whilst being ranked on technical skill, game control and hospitality. After the conclusion of each round the lowest scoring competitors will be eliminated from the main competition, however they will still be able to participate in the Side Events that occur prior to the final round. These Events consist of: Stack Pushing, Chip Cutting, Chipping, Card Handling and Mathematical challenges that will allow the Competitors a chance to show off skills across the table. The quality seen at the beginning of March in the UK Dealer Championship was only a sneak preview of the level of competition that will be seen in Tallinn. However Catalina and Chris are more than capable of bringing home the Championship. The Dealers will be competing for the chance to win €3000, sponsored by Scientific Games,

Matti Kankainen from Veikkaus Casino Helsinki Winner European Dealer Championship 2018

with the First Runner-Up taking home €1500, sponsored by ICS Europe, and €750 going to the Second Runner-Up, sponsored by Casino Locking Systems. Eager eyed judges from across the Continent will gather in Tallinn to use their expertise and enthusiasm to whittle down the competitors to find Europe’s best Dealer. The European Dealer Championship is thoroughly enjoyed by participants, judges and spectators alike. It is a thrill to watch Dealers showcase their flare and passion for their craft. The enjoyment is contagious as the tension of competition is broken by the camaraderie and laughter shared between all participants and the judges. The natural charisma and charm of the Dealers emphasises the entertainment side of the industry whilst the talent showcases the hard work each Dealer puts in behind the scenes. At the end of the competition, after the winners have been announced, there will be an After Party that promotes

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and encourages the industry to get together, socialise and communicate amongst each other. This allows everyone involved to relax and provides a wonderful networking opportunity over drinks and dinner between competitors, judges and media outlets, which stimulates innovation and creativity within Casinos. Professional and personal friendships develop which helps the Casino Industry across Europe work together to build a better and safer gambling environment and to share information across venues. The After Party really does sum up what the European Dealer Championship is all about: tough and fiercely fought competition followed by operators working together to better and further the Casino industry. At the UK Dealer Championship in March the first World Dealer Championship in 2020 was announced by Tracy Damestani, National Casino Forum CEO and Vice Chair of the European Casino Association. This will bring the best Croupiers from across the world, including a select few from the European Dealer Championship, to deal it out for a chance to be crowned the World’s Best Dealer. This new chapter will help put the entertainment and skill of the Casino Industry on the World stage, highlighting the hard work, talent and flair that goes into being a Croupier, opening up new career avenues to everyone.

Tracy Damestani, CEO, The National Casino Forum

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t h e

M V P s

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i L O T T E R Y

B E T T I N G


Bill Miller President American Gaming Association

Baptism of fire

American Gaming Association President Bill Miller faces challenges from his first day on the job onward. Interview by David McKee

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merican Gaming Association President Bill Miller is the third occupant of the leader’s chair of the U.S. gaming industry’s premier lobbying group. Whereas founding president Frank Fahrenkopf was the consummate insider, more seen than heard, and successor Geoff Freeman was an activist, Miller splits the difference. Where Freeman led from the front, clashing with Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson over Internet gambling, Miller takes a more conciliatory view, one close to Adelson’s. Unlike Fahrenkopf, he is quick to embrace tribal casinos as an integral part of the industry with a compelling story to tell.

Miller arrives at a time of turmoil in the gaming industry, thanks to Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court has struck down the Bradley Act (or PASPA), setting off a stampede of states legalizing sports betting with pent-up eagerness. Also, whereas then-Attorney General Eric Holder had broadly reinterpreted the Federal Wire Act of 1961 as permitting Internet gambling, current Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is trying to re-bottle the genie, even briefly construing the Wire Act to ban online lotteries (an exposed position, quickly evacuated). However, if anybody knows how to navigate Washington it will be Miller, who has six years as senior vice president of the Business Roundtable to his credit, along with a

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stint as national political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and, from 1994-1999, tenure as chief of staff to Rep. Constance Morella. In the middle of all that, Miller did crisis-management work for international firm Brunswick. And he will have crises to manage in his new job. There was no easy induction for Miller. As he tells it, he was thrown in on the deep end his first day in office... Miller: You caught me on Day 92 and I can’t say every day is more exciting than the first day because my first day was the day of the reinterpretation of the Wire Act. It’s hard to get a more consequential piece of information on your first day than that. I didn’t spend any time filling out my HR paperwork, I’ll say that. Speaking of the Wire Act, what are the principal challenges facing the AGA as we approach 2020? The first and probably the thing that is consuming so much of the industry right now is sports betting legislation, the stakes around sports betting. For the AGA, while we’re not a sports-betting association, it is such an important development. It was an issue that the AGA felt was very important during the court-case process up to the Supreme Court and feel very strongly that we need to get this right because we are moving into a place where – across the country – there was only one state where you could legally bet on sports and now we have 11 that have passed [legislation] and eight that are operational. So as this rolls out, it’s both a challenge and a great opportunity to migrate individuals who enjoy betting on sports but by and large have been betting illegally, whether through bookies or online, offshore illegal accounts – to migrate that group of individuals into state-regulated environments where they’re safer. It’s easier to understand anomalous behavior and identify inappropriate betting that could be the result of individuals who are conspiring to fix games or those sorts of things. But most importantly, we are going to have a lot of new regulators who are going to have new portfolios that are very different from lotteries or straight casino gaming. So obviously that would be Number One. Part would also be making sure the legislation that is moving is appropriate. So far we’ve had a number of the leagues and the NCAA gone on and asked for statutory data rights or integrity fees, and so far every piece of legislation that has been signed into law in these states has not included either. That’s a good thing because, at the end of the day, the deals that happen should be of a commercial nature and not a statutory nature.

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There’s been some noise on Capitol Hill about federal regulation of sports betting. Do you support it? If yes, what’s your reasoning? If not, what’s the case for the status quo? The gaming industry is well-regulated, with over 4,000 regulators at the state level. To the degree that there is a previous example to look at, it is a terrible one. PASPA was federal legislation to regulate sports betting and it was an abject failure. The Supreme Court believed that and it has now opened up the possibility for the states, which have a lot of experience in working with all different types of gaming, everything from lotteries to bricks-and-mortar to emerging elements around [daily fantasy sports] and sports betting, and this is best left to the states that have experienced and strong regulatory setups to ensure that. I would further say I’ve been up on the Hill a lot and I’ve talked to a lot of senators, a lot of members of the House and there has been very little interest among members of the House or the Senate to take up federal legislation on this. But I’ll go back to my point that the only reason there would be federal interest, in my opinion, is if we don’t get it right in the states. The Obama administration interpreted the Federal Wire Act broadly to permit Internet gaming. The Trump administration reversed that and, until recently, interpreted the Wire Act to even prohibit online lotteries. Where does the AGA stand? You can kind of try and divine the intent of either the 2011 [Office of Legislative Counsel] guidance opinion or the 2018 guidance opinion. The one thing that all businesses crave is certainty. Whenever you have the Department of Justice or any government agency reinterpreting statute without actual congressional interest or activity it does make it more challenging to interpret what that is. The fact that there’s a federal case that’s moving forward in New Hampshire has the prospect of creating a level of certainty through the judiciary that is important and is important to do rather quickly. My view is we have people in the AGA who represent many different facets of the gaming industry and have all looked at the 2018 opinion and the further guidance that Rod Rosenstein gave last week but I think they’re looking to the courts to get further clarity. What is the importance of Internet gambling to the industry? ‘Internet gambling,’ it’s a term that requires a little


bit further refinement. So the AGA does not support i-gaming or Internet gaming per se but does support Intra-net, intra-state mobility. That is a distinction that is important. What is i-gaming? In its broadest sense, I go online and I get on a computer, and it doesn’t matter where I am in the world – but that is Internet gambling and the AGA has never been supportive of that. How does your experience as a former congressional staffer help you to work the corridors of power? I am a person who did spend a significant amount of time up on the Hill as a chief of staff, as a lobbyist both for the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recognize that these individuals, these staffers – and members of Congress – are bombarded with information every day. Their schedules are horrendous from meeting with constituents, meeting with stakeholders on multiple issues, from foreign relations to domestic health care. My view is you have to get to the point. If you have an issue you want to raise with a staffer you want to get to the point, you want to make sure it’s done with research and factual basis, and that factual basis is not too heavily slanted. My experience is, as a guy who has advised my congresswoman on everything under the sun, the people that I relied on the most – outside lobbyists, think-tank people, constituent groups – the ones that I found most valuable were the ones that were very respectful of the crush of visits and meetings, and so they were respectful of time. They were able to come up with a report that me as a staffer should find valuable, got to the point very quickly and was very factual. Which of your previous jobs best prepared you for the presidency of the AGA? We are all a sum of our experiences. My view is here, in the gaming industry, there are some big personalities and large figures, and there are oftentimes disagreements with regard to policy and/or direction and/or prioritization. But I feel like when you work for, as at the Business Roundtable, 204 Fortune 500 CEOs directly, there’s a similar dynamic. So trying to build consensus among strong individuals with divergent views was something I did successfully at the Business Roundtable, and at the U.S. Chamber you had a similar dynamic in probably even starker relief: I was the political director there but I was also the point of contact for 2,600 state and local chambers, and 600 trade associations. So my understanding of the trade-association world is heavily influenced by those two experiences and probably it

would be difficult for me to assign a relative importance of one of those experiences over the other. How do you see the AGA’s new alliance with tribal gaming evolving? It’s a very important relationship. I will say that in my first week I had a call with Chairman Ernie Stevens of National Indian Gaming Association. I wanted to make sure that he understood that despite the fact that I did not come from the gaming industry and there’s only been three CEOs in the history of this organization, that the partnership between the tribal nations, NIGA and AGA is critically important. I did a panel with Chairman Stevens over at the ICE Show in London, in my second week here. My first domestic trip in the U.S. was to Tulsa [and] Oklahoma City, for a gaming series of events with the Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw [tribes], and got to see first hand how important gaming has been to the tribal nations. It is my strong belief that, as an organization we are stronger because we have tribal members, and we are stronger because we have a very good and sustained relationship with Chairman Stevens and NIGA. What are the priorities for your coming tenure? We talked a little bit about the issue that’s in front of us today in sports betting and making sure we get that right. That is something we will spend a lot of time on as a trade association, ensuring the regulators are communicating with each other, creating some elements and support for best practices, making sure that the federal interest in this issue remains minimal. In terms of regulatory modernization, that’s a really important element to what we should be thinking about, as well. As it relates to telling our story to the important audiences that we are in some cases large economic engines in communities. But as someone who spent a lot of time at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce I had a great appreciation for these economic anchors that exist around the country and the gaming industry has an incredibly great story to tell. In many cases, the operators locate in the service areas and hire disproportionately underserved populations. The creation of jobs and entry into the middle class. But, more importantly, this industry creates opportunity for upward mobility that few other industries do. Telling the story about what we’re doing on responsible gaming and making sure that we are telling the economic-value story, the value proposition that gaming creates [is important].

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07/03/2018 11:07:18


In Design

Peter White speaks to Stewart Hyde, Director of Total Design Works about the success of one of the industry’s leading print and web design agencies We would like to commence this interview with a history of your company and an overview of the services it provides. Total Design Works has been operating for around 7.5 years now. We offer four main services to companies across a wide range of sectors including recruitment, estate agencies, accountants, architects and obviously the gaming industry. These services are web design, branding, print design and print management. We give you the opportunity to market your business across a wide range of platforms through visual creation in both print and digital design.

This year’s ICE London was Total Design Works 7th year of involvement with the show. What aspects of ICE London impress you most and what benefits can your organisation provide exhibitors for next year’s exhibition? ICE London is an impressive exhibition and we met an impressive calibre of representatives from the Gaming Industry during the three days of the show this year. The way that we can help exhibitors for next year’s event would be mainly through our print design and management service. We have built strong and longlasting relationships with a number of established printers in the UK and further afield. This enables me to get the

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best possible prices coupled with the ability to manage the entire process of producing print collateral from concept through to delivery. This in turn means that we can save clients time, money and any hassle of trying to organise their printed projects and make sure that on the eve or morning of the first day everything is printed and delivered ready for the client to present. Also because we will be exhibiting ourselves we are on hand should there be any questions or extra copies needed at short notice; piece of mind shall we say. Over the years you have in addition to your design work on Casino Life and Bingo Life magazines also designed pull up display banners and handouts. This is correct. We have the ability to produce banners, stands, counters, flags, leaflets, brochures and various materials that prospective clients/exhibitors would feel necessary to promote their particular business. This allows all marketing material to be kept in-brand and create the right image and message to their potential clients. Total Design Works have also assisted other organisations with their various promotional materials and displays over the years.

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We certainly have. As mentioned earlier we have worked with a number of different clients from an array of sectors – our biggest focus alongside gaming has been the recruitment sector where our clients have events and exhibitions throughout the year so constantly need print collateral produced. The feedback has always been positive and the one phrase that is always used is “You removed all the hassle and delivered as required”. We find in this ever evolving fast paced world of business that organisations no matter how big or small just want to concentrate on doing what they are best at and be safe in the knowledge that other elements are being taken care of so we place ourselves as an extensive member of their team when our services are needed. What other sectors is Total Design Works involved with and do you see aspects of any of those that have similarities with the Gaming industry? I guess I have pretty much answered that in the previous question really. The common themes through all the sectors we work with is time, money and hassle. Each is more important than the other depending on what the particular project is but they are all massively relative on each occasion. What are amongst the key benefits Total Design Works can bring to exhibitors to ICE London 2020? Our services give the following benefits to exhibitors… • Remove hassle • Give back time • Save money • Ensure quality • Increase revenue • Present their brand in a clear, concise and creative way Total Design Works also work with a number of the leading UK Daily Newspapers? We have worked with various different Nationals and locals in our time. Our most recent projects have been with the Daily Mirror which is now recognised as Reach PLC. We helped produce printed products for the FIFA World Cup, The Royal Wedding, the Armistice Commemoration as well as a number of other one shots required. What is your opinion from a creative, design and editorial integrity perspective of magazines that have mostly press releases compared with those that have exclusive feature interview content provided by journalists that often come with a wide variety of images? From a creative point of view there really is no comparison because when content is exclusive, images are strong

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and when there are a big selection to choose from it really allows me to get the feel of the feature and then execute the strongest visual to really express what is being projected. Press releases can be a lot more restrictive and in my experience sometimes a fair bit more soulless, plus you know that there could well be something similar being created in a number of other publications so it becomes a lot more difficult to design a feature that is unique in it’s approach if that makes sense. Total Design Works must have built up over the years an impressive level of knowledge and understanding of the Gaming industry? Well that’s for others to judge I guess, but through working with both Casino Life and Bingo Life, reading through all the different features and attending the ICE show for the past few years we have certainly been able to get a much better grasp on the gaming industry but I’d be dismissive to say we have a full knowledge because that would be underplaying the sheer importance and magnitude of the industry itself. One thing I can say is that there are some very interesting characters involved in a number of different capacities and that there is a huge revenue turnover throughout which I suppose goes without saying really. Is there any specific design work that you specialise in for companies that you think can assist for example exhibitors at ICE London 2020? I would say aside from any design or print collateral for particular events our expertise really is in magazine creation for both B2B and consumer titles. As mentioned earlier in the interview, we have the ability to work with clients from the concept stage all the way through the design process and then on to the final printed product which we believe is a huge advantage to a business knowing that everything can be catered for under one roof so to speak. Anything else you would like to add? Total Design Works is ready to assist exhibitors at various shows throughout the year by designing and managing the print process and relieve clients of any stress and hassle, giving time back and leaving exhibitors safe in the knowledge that all is being taken care of and delivered on time. How can readers best contact you for quotes and consultations? The best way to make contact is by calling 0330 223 0550 or via email at stewart@totaldesignworks.com. Alternatively head to our website www.totaldesignworks.com

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The Generation Game

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Robert Ambrose, Gaming Consultant and Educator, and son Rob, Software Engineer and Entrepreneur, Share Their Thoughts on Aspects of the Gaming Industry. By: Sophie Behan

heir Difference in Age, Has Never Been a Generational Divide. Robert is a former Atlantic City Gaming Executive, consultant, university instructor and freelance writer. Rob, thirty plus years his junior, is a software engineer, former professional gamer and blackjack dealer. He is also the founder of software and

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design consultancy; Ambrose Gaming. Casino Life sat down with both father and son to discuss their views on gaming industry topics. Bob, what is your role in the industry today? Bob: I am a gaming consultant and also instruct at the university level. I collaborate with industry


professionals, report on my research through consulting, academic lectures and the freelance publication of my articles. Rob, you have worked directly in gaming as a blackjack dealer, and with your casino clients through Ambrose Gaming. Tell us about yourself and how growing up in a gaming environment, (both from your dad and your own) paved the path for where you are today. Rob: Gaming has always been a passionate and social outlet for me. Game experiences are meant to be challenging, socializing, and stimulating. They demonstrate talent, logic, and luck. I spent most of my youth seeking game experiences through soccer, basketball, and competitive video game tournaments, while also developing my skills as a software developer, designer, and artist. Once I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia in 2009, I decided to experience first-hand what it’s like to work on a casino floor by becoming a certified dealer at Harrah’s Philadelphia. As I was slinging cards on the weekends, I maintained my day job as a software developer and continued to advance my career as a professional esports player. Those opportunities led me to starting my own business. Ambrose Gaming provides services in custom software, design, and gamification. I transitioned away from competing and now serve as an on-screen esports analyst at international tournaments and launched my own esports strategy application, Trick Stat, which allows teams, coaches, and analysts to discuss and draw strategies on in-game maps. What attracted you both to the gaming industry? Bob: I was drawn by the psychology of the gaming/ hospitality model, fascinated by the data collection that defines the markets, and in awe of the evolving state of technology and products. I found my niche in casino operations, pursued it to the executive level in Atlantic City and in the Midwest in casino development. Rob in part was exposed to the casino gaming industry through me, which was enhanced through his Esports involvement. We are from different generations and have a unique perspective as well as different skill sets; yet we come to many similar conclusions about the gaming industry’s future. Rob, can you follow up on your dad’s thoughts about

the industry and do you agree with him that although you are from different generations there are many parallels in both your views? Rob: Absolutely. Gaming is much more than just the casino floor experience. It’s an entertainment hub with endless opportunities for amenities. The properties are destinations to discover new cuisines, see a live show, or watch your favorite game. The thrill of the games is always there for you, boasting the latest tech and bright lights. It’s important for these properties to keep feeding their entertainment machine and stay relevant to the next generations of customers. This is how my dad and I get lost in conversations for hours. One of the recent industry changes has been in the area of Sports Betting in the US. What are your thoughts? Bob: Bringing Sports Betting (SB) into a recognized, legal, transparent model has meant jobs and an additional tax stream, even with some states reporting lower numbers initially. It also provides another “market-driver” in customer visitation for casino properties and revenue. Companies have been growing their market since the PASPA repeal in the US. However, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) recent re-interpretation of the “WireAct of 1961,” we have to see where this all shakes out in the courts and if there is any direct impact. Rob: From a consumer perspective, sports betting is an extremely engaging way to watch a game. I’ve personally enjoyed the social aspect of fantasy sports and have witnessed the presence and buzz that sports betting has brought to Atlantic City. Each property has their own spin on it, but ultimately, it’s about fostering a fun and competitive atmosphere for watching your favorite games. What formula helps to give a property consistent high marks in customer service? Is top executive involvement part of the ingredient? Bob: A properties presentation of customer service is the canvas of the customer experience. I have spent my entire career involved with the customer service platform, both in presentation and education. Simply training employees will provide skill sets to accomplish short-term goals; however, there is no depth to the model. Educating the employees as to what is behind the customer service experience, and going beyond

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the often “trite,” property scripting, is where the real learning resides. Team building relies on a mix of educated talented leaders that coach and lead diverse, multi-generational and multi-cultural groups of employees, reflective of the property brand. Leaders must be active participants by managing and placing employees in positions where they are most challenged. It is a commitment by property leaders to offer first, their time, as well as commitment. A successfully “learned” hospitality culture will transcend from the employees and frame a positive guest experience. Rob: A customer centric business model is what I’m most attracted to. If I get the sense that the staff and services are supporting me and are enriching my experience, I’m willing to come back and spend more money. People develop devotion to a brand, and there is nothing more valuable than that. Invest in good people and take care of your customers. This will come back two-fold. My dad is spot on with this one. I will add that to run a successful business, it’s imperative to attribute qualities of both leader and manager. As a leader, you must be able to motivate, inspire, and challenge your teammates. As a manager, you must plan, delegate, and execute. These skills are applicable to any industry or team environment.

However, a good portion of both males and females can be found participating in Esports. I have watched this Esports market grow for the past 15 years through Rob’s involvement. I knew that there was a fit within the casino industry, they just had to figure it out. Companies are buying-in for advertising and sponsorships as major sports franchises are purchasing teams. The Esports environment may be “virtual” but the stakes are real. What direction do you think the gaming industry is currently taking with the skill-based product? Has it had the impact many thought it would? Bob: In some instances of initial “roll-out,” it has been a slow start. Whether it is marketing issues, skepticism by properties to what the games will bring to the bottomline, or the sophistication of the game in terms of the players. The games will evolve in content and player acceptance and will find its place on the gaming floor. Rob: Skill based games provide a more immersive experience for those who grew up in the digital age. A joystick or game controller is a far less intimidating interface than a live dealer or slot lever. Add in a controlled variance of skill, and you’ve got yourself a formula for hours of entertainment for the millennial gamer. People are willing to pay for fun if the experience is engaging and social. The traditional slot game offers very little compared to the game experiences of today.

How will Esports events, with their mass gathering of millennials fit into the future casino/hospitality model. Rob, you are a former player with deep roots in the industry. How has that impacted your view? Rob: Esports has dramatically increased its influence over the years, and advertisers are paying attention. The production value of broadcasts gets better each year through innovative tech and dedicated venues. The casino is a perfect marriage for hosting esports tournaments. Typically weekend long events, there is plenty to see and do on property as a spectator or a competitor who gets knocked out early. Not to mention all of the staff who help put on the show! Hosting an esports event gives you the foot traffic of all attendees in addition to the live-stream viewers at home who gain exposure to the casino’s brand. Bob: Advertising Age Magazine once described the Millennials as a difficult market to reach (males 21-35.)

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Bob, and Rob, any final thoughts? Bob: Change is a constant! ln the past couple of years we have seen many acquisitions, start-up initiatives and new gaming products driving the industry. Sometimes the initial release of products and technology are not easily definable in gaming’s consumer market place. Change takes time! I think the future is the blending of generational amenities into a seamless connectivity, with something for most everyone on the gaming floor and throughout the entire property. The model as always will be fluid. Rob: I’ve always admired my dad’s career. It’s amazing to see our paths continue to cross over. The future is bright for the casino gaming industry. As technology and entertainment continue to evolve, the industry must remain adaptable. I eagerly await more father-son debates on the next big thing.


Preview of G2E Asia 2019

DR Gaming Technology • TRANSACT • Cammegh

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Jurgen De Munck Chief Executive Officer and co-founder DR Gaming Technology™

Leveraging Technology. Delighting Players DR Gaming Technology™s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Jurgen De Munck discusses his Company’s showing at G2E Asia in May. Jurgen, G2E Asia 2019 will be your 3rd showing in Macao. What expansions have taken place for DRGT™ of late? To date our systems and jackpot installations in Asia have taken place in Laos, Vietnam, and The Philippines, amongst others. The most recent of which was a 150 Machine project at the Grandz VIP Club in Caloocan, Manila in February in association with our Asian partners RGB International. It comprised a full floor install of our casino management system, inclusive of our world-leading 8.8” drScreenUltra player tracking units. Our BlackJack11’s Tables Jackpot side-bet game continues to perform extremely well in Europe, Africa as well as in Mexico, and I am confident that this success will soon spread to Asia too, along with our recently launched Poker21’s.

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BlackJack11’s is a really simple, fast and easy-to-learn game that is currently the best performing tables side-bet game on the African continent; our recent roll it out in Mexico is also gaining momentum, where one operator is already looking at tripling their install base, and we have interest in at least another 50 of these tables in the region over the next 12 months. Poker21’s, the follow-up to BlackJack11’s, was launched in London in February, and the support for this game has also been strong. With two tables-specific jackpots on offer we believe that we now have a formidable Tables jackpot offering for the Asian market.   In addition to the above, you also established DRGT™ Africa late last year. What are your plans for Asia? Well as you know we increased our presence in Latin


America towards the end of 2017, by adding new offices in Mexico and in Colombia to our existing sales office in Peru, as well as offices in Uruguay and Paraguay in 2018. DRGT™ Africa was established through a mutually beneficial deal that saw us and our local partner Grand Parade Investments acquire our long-standing African distributor Simplicit-e Gaming Solutions. Notwithstanding the above, we are of the view that with the correct partners in place, and their aligned commitment to providing operators with world-class installation support, and ongoing after sales and service support, there is no reason why we cannot start to build a similar success story in Asia too, with the assistance of our long-standing customer and partner RGB International. Based on this, what does attending G2E Asia mean for DR Gaming Technology™? Asia remains a relatively new market for us, and as a

result, and as you correctly noted earlier, this will only be our third showing at G2E Asia. Having firmly entrenched ourselves in Europe and Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean over the last decade and a half, the East has steadily started to become a more and more important growth opportunity for us. That said, running a global business is not as easy as one thinks, in most cases one cannot simply replicate a (generic) business model and sales strategy. The above said, what product solutions have you decided to focus on at this year’s show, and why? Tables drive Asia’s gaming business, and as such our integrated Tables Management System will be a key G2E Asia show piece. The relevant technology drew significant interest at both G2E Las Vegas last year, as well as at ICE in London in February, and I am confident that it will do the same in Macao.

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Notwithstanding the Tables bias referred to earlier, our general casino management system, and its associated player tracking interface, as well as our world-leading slots jackpots will no doubt also feature high on many visitors’ agendas. We have secured some considerable business in the region of late and we hope to expand on this. You mentioned the challenges in tailoring offerings for different markets. What would you say is specific to Asia-Pacific? I think to an extent, as a systems developer and supplier, our core product is not as susceptible to nuances in culture as are actual casino games and themes. The above said, our engagements with operators at last year’s Macao show did play a vital role in driving our product focus for the region, and what was pleasing to see and hear was that generally their primary needs were quite similar to those of our European, African and Latin America customers: casino management systems that are user-friendly, flexible, and use the latest technology, and jackpots that surprise and delight players. With that global view, what do you think will drive market demand in the next couple of years? We are all about the player, s/he drives all of our development, and I don’t see that ever changing. I read recently that a study by Microsoft, showed that 54% of customers will increase their expectations for customer service today compared to a year ago. It did not surprise me in the slightest, and I remain of the view that this a fact across all consumer sectors. Companies that will survive in this environment are those that not only manage to meet their customers needs, but actually drive those needs, many times off of advances in existing technology or new developments of their own. Our ‘Player First’ mantra drives all of our development, and I remain firmly of the view that DR Gaming Technology™ has to date managed to meet these pre-requisites for success in todays icreasingly customercentric world. Our challenge remains to at least keep ahead of the proverbial ‘curve’, albeit that we’d far rather be defining it. Our ability to now seamlessly integrate Tables game play data into our accounting, cage and reporting modules bears testament to this, as does our world-leading drScreenUltra player interface, as well as our continued reign as the service provider with the widest number of jackpot configuration options on the planet.

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TransAct’s team for the Asian region includes Rashid Suliman (right), who serves as the Vice President of Global Gaming for Asia-Pacific and Kit Leong, who works as the Technical Sales Manager in Macau

TRANSACT grows in Asia in “Epic” proportions

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he time has come for the industry to descend on the undisputed capital of gaming— we are in Macau for G2E Asia. TRANSACT is pleased to attend and exhibit at the show, where they are displaying their premium line of gaming products, which include the Epic 950®, Epic Edge™, Epicentral® and Epic 880®. Year after year, TRANSACT continues to increase its market share and presence not only in Macau, but across all Asia. “We are delighted to say that 2018 was an extremely eventful year for TRANSACT in Asia with several major developments that added to our already significant

footprint in the region,” said Tracey Chernay, Senior Vice President of Global Casino, Gaming and Lottery. “Attending G2E Asia gives us the perfect opportunity to maintain and increase our strong current business relationships with our partners, casinos, manufacturers, and systems companies.” At the show, TRANSACT is eager to showcase the Epic Edge™ TITO printer, which is the industry’s most advanced casino printer. Featuring an unmatched 300 DPI print resolution, the “Edge” delivers over two times the image quality over all other current printers in the market. The firmware update port has been upgraded to a speedy USB and a micro SD card slot allows quick and easy firmware

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updates on the casino floor. Additional unique features include a single rugged outer chassis with Serial, USB and Netplex ports, and a faster ServerPort™ connection. Environmentally conscious, the “Edge” also includes an adjustable ticket bucket that accommodates standard tickets and smaller, paper-saving tickets. This feature is perfectly designed to reduce paper usage and save money in concert with the ecologic programs being implemented in casinos. TRANSACT is working on the integration and approval process for the “Edge” with slot manufacturers around the world, including all major game manufacturers in Asia and Australia. As there has been an elevated interest and demand for loyalty products throughout Asia, TRANSACT is pleased to show the latest iteration of Epicentral. Epicentral is the gaming industry’s only enterpriselevel promotion and bonusing software suite that can target customers in realtime while they play their favorite slot machine or electronic table game. TRANSACT has integrated Epicentral with the major systems providers in Asia to provide a seamless coupon and loyalty experience for the casino operators. “Our main focus this year is to work closely with our partners on new opportunities for Epicentral and the rollout of Epic Edge,” said Rashid Suliman, Vice President of Global Gaming in Asia Pacific. “We strongly believe in our products and the remarkable results they can offer to our customers. We look forward to continuing to set the standards high in both printing and

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software solutions as more casinos implement them.” Attendees will also have a chance to view the Epic 950, which is the industry standard in TITO printing and is currently installed in over 750,000 slots throughout hundreds of casinos and gaming operations worldwide. One of its most recent installations in the Asian market includes the Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc Vietnam, which opened its doors with the Epic 950 printers exclusively in all their slots and ETGs. Additionally, the casino chose the table top version of the Epic 950 printers throughout their cage and back of house areas. With sports betting continuing to grow in popularity across the globe, TRANSACT will also demonstrate its Epic 880, which has long been the default printer used in established sports betting markets. In addition, TRANSACT will display the Epic 3000, which is the world’s leading online lottery ticket printer. The gaming team will be on hand at Stand A719 and would love to talk through the range of products to anyone who wants to stop by. For more information, visit TRANSACT-tech.com


G2E Asia 2019 Preview Cammegh, manufacturers of the world’s finest roulette wheels return to Macau for Global Gaming Expo Asia 2019, ready to exhibit their best of breed roulette wheels and displays.

Following successful installations in the UK, Cammegh will be introducing the Mercury 360 Mini, a three quarter size roulette wheel fully loaded with rotor and in-rim sensors, for reliable and rapid game result detection designed to increase game turnover. Ideal for podium

installations the Mercury 360 Mini will enable operators increase productivity from 70 games per hour to 120. The Mercury 360 Mini is already popular in the United Kingdom with Aspers, Grosvenor and Genting’s already benefitting from the performance uptick.

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Another unique roulette offering on show will be the Mercury 360 RRS, so named for its random rotor speed. A hit of the recent ICE show in London, it is quickly becoming on Cammegh’s top sellers. Andrew Cammegh, Director at Cammegh said, “The uptake with the RRS technology is becoming a main factor when selecting a roulette wheel. The unprecedented levels of security that RRS delivers has for many operators become an unavoidable choice.” Cammegh will also be featuring the Slingshot II, the unique, patented, automatic wheel, established with our customers the world over. “The Slingshot II does many things supremely well, but its unique characteristic of having the ball in view at all times is its USP, giving unique levels of confidence with customers and operators in equal measure”, explained Mr Cammegh. At the show, the Mercury 360 roulette wheel will feature the Halo upgrade, a band of LED that track the motion of the ball, and changes colour at ‘no more bets’,

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helpful for dealers and surveillance in monitoring late bets. The Mercury 360 roulette wheel in all its guises meanwhile continues to be distinguished by its four inrim sensors, providing unrivalled reliability and speed of the winning number recognition. Cammegh’s emergence into the licensed game space will also be well represented, with Spread Bet Roulette and Spread Bet Baccarat on show. Both game variants make use of Cammegh stunning customisable Billboard Display system recording and displaying the respective game and side bet results. For more details on the whole of the Cammegh product range, please visit cammegh.com, but if you will be attending G2E Asia, Andrew Cammegh and his colleagues, Elliott Banks and Rob Foord will be pleased to welcome you onto their stand: A1419. For further information please visit www.cammegh.com or call +44 (0) 1233 820 771


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Through timely, in-depth analysis of companies, industries, markets, and world economies, Morgan Stanley has earned its reputation as a leader in the field of investment research. North America Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC 1585 Broadway Avenue New York, NY 10036 Tel: +1 212 761 4000 Europe Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc Cabot Square, Canary Wharf London E14 4QA England Tel: (44 20) 7425 8000 Fax: (44 20) 7425 8990 Asia Morgan Stanley Shanghai Representative Office 77/F, Shanghai World Financial Center 100 Century Avenue, Pudong New Area 200120 Shanghai People’s Republic of China Tel: +86 21 2033 6800 Fax: +86 21 2033 6919 Australasia Morgan Stanley Level 39, Chifley Tower 2 Chifley Square Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia Tel: +612 9770 1111 Fax: +612 9770 110

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US Sports Betting Field Trip

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organ Stanley shared its research with Casino Life after visiting Atlantic City, attending investor days and meeting companies including MGM, Caesars, Ocean Resort, Resorts/Mohegan Sun and Tropicana/Eldorado Resorts. 1. More states to legalise: Up to 10 states could legalise sports betting in 2019. Onground licenses for the four upstate New York casinos could be granted in 2019. 2. More online than onground: US sports betting revenues in 2025 forecast to be $5B, mostly online. New Jersey sports betting handle was 80% online in February. 3. March Madness delivers: Atlantic City sportsbooks were busy during Morgan Stanley’s mid-week visits late March. Betting customers also grew F&B and table revenues for casinos. 4. AC remains competitive: Hard Rock and Ocean Resort are targeting core gaming customers. Hard Rock continues to develop its entertainment roster. Ocean Resort is advertising its casino more and activating its legacy database. Read about Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort in Last Word issue 125. 5. Daily Fantasy Sports impresses: FanDuel’s early Key Performance Indicators in NJ are impressive with customers twice as ‘sticky’ as those in Paddy Power Betfair’s other markets. Land-based, online and media operators also noted the ‘stickiness’ of betting customers. Morgan Stanley Research: morganstanley.com/what-wedo/research


Cryptocurrency application in iGaming Acquiring new users by offering a safer and anonymous ecosystem

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Oron Barber CEO and Founder CoinPoint Gaming Inc. oinPoint is playing. a premium On another note, marketing centralized networks, where agency founded most of the operators are in 2013. residing, are extremely Owned by CoinPoint Group susceptible to hacking as Inc., the agency is now their networks have a single working with a number point of data collection of all-scale businesses in which hackers can easily the crypto space. With tamper with. Contrastingly, a wide range of clientele blockchain streamlined from cryptocurrencies markets, blockchain, and fintech, the process by accumulating the data on a peer-to-peer CoinPoint aims to educate the market about the current network thus practically neutralizing all hacking attempts. state of blockchain affairs, but also to foresee the Some casinos even installed a non-custodial system in technological breakthroughs that will shift the market. which the players always have full control over their funds. Throughout the past couple of years traditional This implies that players do not need to deposit the funds casinos have been operating in the shadow of directly on the platform, but rather link their wallet to cryptocurrency casinos which managed to surpass them the platform so that each placed bet is deducted directly due to their disruptive features. Suffice it to say that from their wallet. This ensures the players that even if

the DLT technology found its “holy grail” precisely in the iGaming industry. Operators started off by integrating cryptocurrency payments and once they witnessed the amount of interest the payment method generated, they initiated its full-scale integration. The act of integrating cryptocurrency payments is very straightforward and conducted by industry leaders – CoinPoint – at one click away. Nowadays, there is an array of decentralized casinos which offer an unprecedented ecosystem based on security, immutability, and speed. Players found this very convenient as the fees are often brought down to a bare minimum. To top it all off, operators are being fully transparent by displaying their open-source code to the public along with their smart contracts guaranteeing the provable fairness. Ultimately, blockchain provides a solution to all players who want to remain anonymous as they do not require any personal information prior to

the malicious attack occurs, the players’ funds will remain intact. Marketing casinos in general has become tricky as the social media conglomerates such as Facebook and Twitter restrained all casino and cryptocurrency related topics altogether. Cryptocurrency community, however, didn’t yield to this. Cryptocurrency experts have exploited an opportunity and built decentralized social media that are widely used for different types of business, iGaming being one of them.

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Manage this by Robert Brassai

Operational Optimization In Casinos

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perational Optimization has become one of those hot topics in the past years that everyone talks about. A few operations even decide to get some kind of a program going, but most casinos on the old continent simply

give it a miss. The most common barriers for such programs are reluctance to change and self-preservation. As a consultant most of my work is indeed helping casinos optimize their operations and thus increase their bottom lines. When offering my services to friends, excolleagues running casino companies in Europe they very often turn me down saying that contracting me would suggest to their owners, boards, that they are not doing their jobs properly. The good old notion of “why fix it if it’s not broken” is cemented into most organizations with long standing management teams. Strong unions can further complicate starting an optimization program and hinder any effort introducing new technologies or threatening work places. All this despite well documented success stories showing healthier organizations, greener numbers and happier employees and most importantly customers that return and do so more frequently. Operational optimization is all about relevance. The areas you want to look at are the following; • The Product (Gaming, Hotel, F&B, Entertainment, Facilities) • Service and Colleagues (selection, training, company culture, service) • Procedures and Processes (efficiency, control, secure operations) • Marketing and Promotions (customer segmentation, data analysis, relevant offers) Simply put, in an ideal world you should be able to motivate each one of your customers to visit your property with offers that are meaningful for them. When they do visit, they should be able to find the right product at the

right price in the right place on the floor. They should be attended to by colleagues whom they find pleasant and professional in a safe and comfortable environment. The biggest advantage of casino companies in today’s competitive world is the amount and quality of data they generate on their patrons. A decade ago any optimization effort would rely on the professional knowledge, insight and experience of the management teams in question. Today these same managers have an enormous amount of data at their fingertips, telling them almost everything they need to know about their business. The data needs to be analysed and properly interpreted though to turn those ones and zeros into meaningful decisions that could seriously improve operations. There are plenty of software solutions out there helping our executives make sense of the data. There are more and more companies that after realising the importance of data analytics to their profitability shift the traditional balance of power from operations to analytics. Many of these data analysts come from sectors like banking, retail and the like, without any experience in casinos. They could still make a huge difference for the company, but in most cases there is little or no cooperation between the different departments that would be responsible for improving operations. The simple reason for this is conflict of interest. The solution would be integrating analytics into the gaming, marketing and finance departments instead of positioning them either under or above them. With data, casino companies have an incredible opportunity to hugely improve their profitability. Whether they achieve this or not will mainly depend on how they organise their workflow and motivate their managers and not on how much they spend on data tools.

Biography Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.

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The Last Word by Damien Connelly

Innovation in Casinos Welcome to The Last Word. We touched on innovation in my Last Word in issue 127. This issue of Casino Life has some great examples of innovation, including JOA Express. We’ve been covering JOA Groupe for years and it remains for me one of the best European operators. They innovate on product and facilities, and are testing the connections between offline and online to deliver new experiences for their customers. One of the best suppliers is Cammegh. We covered its Random Rotor Speed roulette wheel in issue 126. I visited Cammegh’s booth at ICE London and the Mercury 360 RRS wheel really caught my attention. It is such a ‘natural idea’ it seems all roulette wheels should have this RRS feature. Cammegh has done a great job developing it. And operators around the world are showing their interest in Cammegh’s RRS wheels from what I hear from the casinos I communicate with. These examples show that regulation does not have to stifle creativity. France has strict laws for land-based and online casinos. JOA manages to innovate. So too does DRGT.

The Innovation Dilemma Barriers to entry in the land-based casino industry are significant. This reduces the principle behind the Innovator’s Dilemma that a successful market-leading incumbent can be disrupted and lose its market leadership…although this has happened to a certain degree with revenue being siphoned from offline to online, reducing GGR for certain operators. Holland Casino is one example. This operator estimates online annual GGR as high as €600 million. With online legalised and the Dutch government factoring in tax revenues in its 2020 budget, we should see innovation in The Netherlands’ market – as with JOA Groupe, Holland Casino has been testing new technology products in its casinos including Virtual Reality in recent years.

The S-curve and What it Means Creating and improving a product or service takes time and many changes…mostly small changes. The first phase of changes provide minimal value to the customer but

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in time the base is created and the value increases significantly. Once the base is created, each following change is considerably better than the last. At some point the most valuable improvements are complete and the value per iteration is minimal again. In the middle is the most value; at the beginning and end the value gains are minimal. Smartphones are a good example of this as they are nearing their enddevelopment. We are seeing the start-phase with hybrid and skillbased casino machines. They are new, innovative products that are in the beginning of their S-curve. The companies involved in developing them, and the operators who have placed them on their floors, are learning what these products could do. What these products will offer customers once they near their end-development is unknown at present – their futures are fluid. As is the case with Mixed Reality (includes Virtual and Augmented Reality). Having worked with VR for 30 years, I’m excited to see its fluid future in JOA and other casinos.

Damien Connelly innovates and achieves growth for both people and companies. His experience spans Cloud, food and drink, gaming, retail, and TMT. One client recently sold for over US$5 billion. He specialises in Content, Marketing and Sales. You can contact Damien at dconnelly@ace123.com


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Casino Life Issue 128 Volume 15  

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Casino Life Issue 128 Volume 15  

www.casinolifemagazine.com