CASINO The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
Volume 16: Issue 139
You’re Happy; We’re Happy Jment Lim, Founder, Lucky Ruby Border Casino
6 Guest Comment ECA By Per Jaldung, Chairman of the European Casino Association 7 Guest Comment AGA By Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association 8 The sky is the limit Bill Healey chats with Jment Lim, Founder, Lucky Ruby Casino & Resort 21 Seaside Gaming in Northern Vietnam Bill Healey chats to Paul Simmons and Tim Nguyen, founders of Platinum Entertainment Limited, the management group for Royal Casino HaLong 26 Opening Up Casinos Peter White chats to Tableswin General Director Mr. Massimo Meneghetti 28 ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ ICE North America Digital 2020 Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming chats to Peter White 31 Relief now, recovery...when? The American casino industry copes with the X factor that is Covid-19 by David McKee 35 Revised Dates for G2E Asia 36 How To Cope In A Crisis Here’s what to do when the unexpected happens. Paul Mcgee – The Sumo Guy 39 Here To Protect The Ups and Downs of Being a Casino Game Protection Trainer by Richard Marcus 42 Deconstructing the Millennial Generation By Raymond Chan 45 Digital Gaming By Shaun McCamley 48 Taking a Land Based Casino Online By Robert Brassai 50 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.
Editorial: Editor: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 email@example.com Features Editor: Damien Connelly firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey email@example.com Associate Editor North America: David Mckee firstname.lastname@example.org Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan email@example.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: Robert Ambrose firstname.lastname@example.org
Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde email@example.com www.totaldesignworks.com Subscriptions: Helen Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org Web: Sudip Banjeree email@example.com IT: John Wiltshire firstname.lastname@example.org Volume 16: Issue 139
Welcome... ...to Issue 139 of Casino Life. There’s a well-worn saying that a tough times don’t last, tough people do. It’s being put to the test by the Coronavirus pandemic. The gaming industry has shown its mettle in the face of one of the greatest existential threats it has ever confronted. By the time you read this, casinos will either be reopening or cautiously preparing to do so. What you see when you return may be something of a culture shock. If what Macao has done and the U.S. gaming giants are contemplating is any indication, you will play to masked and gloved dealers, and every other slot machine will be kept out of service. Fewer people will be allowed in elevators, check-in will be more highly automated, and cleanings will happen even more intensively and frequently—never a bad thing. The global gaming leaders have been well-hydrated financially to survive this drought but for small casino operators it has been a matter of life and death. Since he penned his column for this issue, American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller’s persistence paid off and archaic rules keeping bailout money away from Peter White pint-sized operators have finally been waived. In the meantime, as terrestrial gaming has waned, the online sector has waxed substantially. As European Casino Association Chairman Per Jaldung warns, this only reinforces the need for rigorous online sector, which is developing an entirely new audience of stay-at-home players. Also, Shaun McCauley and Robert Brassai sort out the winners and losers in the digital-gaming sphere. Damien Connelly The handling of cash, chips and dice will be a sensitive point in the post-Covid-19 world, as Tableswin Managing Director Massimo Meneghetti knows firsthand. He shares some of the ways his company will step up to meet the challenge. The trade-show world has also been rocked. Unable to congregate in the usual fashion, convention organizers have to get creative. One instance is the online-only version of ICE Bill Healey North America to which we shall introduce you. Elsewhere, we explore the exotic demimonde of gambling at the Cambodian/Vietnamese nexus, home to Lucky Ruby Casino & Resort. Casino entrepreneur Jment Lim earned his stripes in the classic way of busting in as a croupier and working his way to the top. We also make a side trip to Royal Casino HaLong, one of Vietnam’s booming tourist-only gaming houses. And our ‘Sumo Guy’ gives us handy tips for navigating a David McKee time of crisis and keeping our sanity. Our thoughts and best wishes are with you all. Stay healthy, Stay Strong.
Peter White Editor
Stewart Hyde 3
Guest Comment: Per Jaldung
Support during challenging times By Per Jaldung Chairman European Casino Association
urope’s 1,000 casinos are currently closed. The European Casino Association is devoted to supporting the casino industry through this time of crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In just two months, the licensed land-based casino sector in Europe has gone from being a lively source of gambling activities, entertainment, shows, restaurants, and social events to a complete standstill. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by governments to halt its spread have had a devastating impact on our sector and created an uncertain future that must urgently be addressed by regulators, national governments, and EU authorities. In these dark times, there is also a clear and present risk of a rise in illegal, unlicensed gambling in the online sector. Such gambling operators, with irresponsible business interests, circumvent the public interest and do not apply adequate responsible gambling measures to protect minors, vulnerable individuals and problem gamblers. They also do not
pay taxes in the country where the player is located, thus creating an unequal playing field for legal, licensed operators in that country. The land-based casinos play an important role in the economy, providing work for tens of thousands of people and attracting not only local guests but also tourists from all over the world. These also spend substantial amounts on hotels, restaurants and other amenities outside of the casinos. The licensed casino industry in Europe is known for its significant contributions to society. Even though the casinos are closed, and the revenue streams completely turned off, the casinos still work hard to help in local communities. In Sweden, for example, Casino Cosmopol has partnered up with a Skill Shift initiative to offer employees, casino staff are generally very professional and ‘socially intelligent’, an intensive care training program that allows them to assist in the healthcare 6
Per Jaldung, Chairman of the European Casino Association (ECA)
sector in Stockholm. Casinos Austria is actively promoting the wearing of masks in support of the corresponding measures introduced by the Austrian government. Casino Monte Carlo SBM is spreading messages of hope all over its social media that draw on Monte Carlo’s famous savoir-faire. These are extremely challenging times, but we must not lose faith. The ECA is committed to working with all stakeholders to re-establish a strong and sustainable licensed casino entertainment sector in Europe. The ECA will be there to support its members across the continent as they prepare to re-open. #strongtogether www.casinolifemagazine.com
Guest Comment: Bill Miller
Supporting the industry through the CARES Act and beyond By Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association
he U.S. gaming industry started the year with a promising outlook: Americans’ favorability toward gaming was at an all-time high, casinos reported year-overyear visitation growth, and across the country, new states legalized sports betting as legislatures wrapped up their sessions. But as our industry prepared for a blockbuster March Madness, COVID-19 brought gaming to a complete standstill. Unprecedented government mandates closed all 989 commercial and tribal casinos in the country, impacting more than 650,000 direct gaming employees, 17,000 gaming supplier employees, and 350,000 American small business workers who are supported by the gaming industry. In all, these closures endanger more than $74 billion in wages annually for our employees and their families. When our doors close, it deeply impacts every community where we operate. Casino gaming supports thousands of local small businesses and more than $41 billion in annual tax and tribal revenue sharing nationwide, which funds local hospitals, first responders, and essential public services. Our commitment goes beyond tax dollars, which is why gaming companies across the country are donating thousands of meals to local food banks, contributing millions of personal protective equipment to health care workers, and setting up emergency funds to support employees. Supporting our communities—in good times and bad—has cultivated champions in every corner of the country and made our collective voice stronger than ever. Previous federal responses to natural disasters and financial crises have explicitly excluded gaming companies from economic assistance available to the broader business community, making our inclusion in the CARES Act a significant, precedentsetting moment. The COVID-19 economic relief package provided gaming companies access to $454 billion in loans and loan guarantees; important tax Volume 16: Issue 139
Bill Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Gaming Association
relief measures; $8 billion in targeted aid for tribal
communities; and extended benefits for furloughed casino employees. But our work is far from done. As Congress considers additional relief efforts, the AGA will continue to work with our members to ensure that gaming’s interests are prioritized. This includes pushing back on bureaucratic rules to ensure all gaming businesses receive relief equal to other industries and advocating for measures that will support the industry’s short and long-term financial outlook. Looking beyond the pandemic, the AGA is already working with operators and regulators to research and guide reopening best practices to get the industry back on its feet and welcome consumers when it is safe to do so. The gaming community has proved its resiliency time and again, and this will be no different. At the AGA, we are committed to helping lead the industry through such a pivotal chapter in its history. 7
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
The sky is the limit Bill Healey chats with Jment Lim, Founder and Managing Director at Lucky Ruby Border Casino
Volume 16: Issue 139
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
ack in 2019 I was fortunate to make my way through rural Cambodia to spend a few days at the Lucky Ruby Border Casino, located and Casino, located at a remote crossing on the Cambodia-Vietnam border. As a resident of Las Vegas, and somewhat familiar with the SE Asian casino market, I found this gambling outpost a refreshing change-of-pace. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve recently had time to chat with Jment Lim, founder and owner of two border casinos: Lucky89 and Lucky Ruby. Can you provide some background on yourself, and what led you into the casino gaming industry? First and foremost, I would like to thank Casino Life Magazine for taking this opportunity to interview me and allowing me to share my message with your readers. As a quick overview on who I am, my name is Jment Lim from Malaysia who started off as a mere casino croupier but grew to be a casino owner of two legal land-based casinos in Cambodia. The overview itself would sum up how I got in touch with the gaming industry which was eventually due to employment. Just like any young adult at that point of time, we were all out looking for opportunities to change our lives. During those years and even till this day, the casino industry was one of the best opportunities to earn a hefty amount each month. This was indeed the pulling factor that drew me and many others like me to start working in the casino industry to be precise. Little did I know at this point the journey that my life would have taken me on. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sincerely thankful for the knowledge I gained over the years by starting right at the bottom of the hierarchy as a casino croupier, and thus rising step by step to eventually setup my very own casino. In 2011 the Lucky89 Border Casino was started, cementing the fact that I had become a casino owner. This venture was not at all a bed of roses. From the start however, perseverance and determination led to the success of Lucky89, followed by the second casino that I set up in 2015, Lucky Ruby. The success achieved through the casino industry ultimately allowed me to do more for society on a larger scale especially within the community that surrounds my casinos. Subsequently this also led to me establishing more businesses in other verticals, primarily in the film industry, all of which are based on a holistic vision, 3 missions, 3 daily objectives for our employees and 7 important values. 10
On 14 February 2020, Lucky Ruby celebrated their 5th Anniversary. What are some of the accomplishments the casino has achieved during this period? The Lucky Ruby Border Casino just completed our 5th Anniversary celebrations in a grand scale indeed. The journey that has led us to this celebration has indeed been filled with multiple achievements over the years. From our viewpoint, we see accomplishments www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
or achievements via three factors for our business which are: • What did we achieve for the business? • What did we achieve for our employees? • What did we achieve for society? As I have mentioned earlier, everything done in my companies are done based on our vision, mission and Volume 16: Issue 139
values. Thus we have to look at the accomplishments of Lucky Ruby in this direction whereby we must reiterate that one of the core reasons that we have a positive name in the industry is not because of our financial status but primarily our efforts towards society, people and our good employees. Let me share with you about some of the major accomplishments that we have achieved in our perspective as highlighted earlier. In what was 11
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Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
This venture was not at all a bed of roses. From the start however, perseverance and determination led to the success of Lucky89, followed by the second casino that I set up in 2015, Lucky Ruby
primarily farmland before we had opened our doors, we had been able to create an ample number of job opportunities for the local community as well as for those from abroad. This itself in an indirect manner had a positive impact on society as there was now a better way to improve oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s living standard. This gave families a chance to be reunited again whereby many often had to travel to the cities for decently paid jobs; now they could work close to home. Subsequently, we have also been regularly active in our social responsibility activities not only within the local community but also to far reaching areas, so that we can help those who truly need to be helped, Volume 16: Issue 139
creating a better life not only for themselves but also their families. In 2019 when the laws in Cambodia changed, some other casinos had opted to suspend operations, terminate employees and with a handful not even paying the hard earned wages of their employees. However, at the Lucky Ruby, we will never put our employees in a similar situation. To attest to this statement we did not terminate a single staff nor even reduce any salaries for any employee within our company due to the laws change towards online licenses in Cambodia. This is not because we are rich but despite the financial pinch on our company, we 13
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
value our good employees for all their contributions to our company and this is the way we take care of our employees which is once again in line with our companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission. We are fully committed to the vision and mission of our company thus no good employees of ours have to worry about uncertainties towards their future which is also the reason over the last three years we have given out several Million US Dollars as incentives to our good performing employees. Coming to the anniversary celebrations itself, this year was extra special when the No.1 singer of Cambodia, Mr. Preap Sovath had taken stage at the Lucky Ruby Border Casino to join in the celebrations 14
of the night. This was indeed not something common at any casino, but we did it in style at the Lucky Ruby. We were also joined by some prominent VIP guests that had travelled all the way from Europe to join in the celebrations as well. Cambodiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Svay Rieng Province has a busy border crossing on Highway 22 in Bavet where many people cross when traveling between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Bavet has been an established casino gaming location for many years. Lucky Ruby however, is located at a more remote crossing point in Svay Rieng at the Prey Vor-Moc Hoa Border. What was the draw to developing in www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
Coming to the anniversary celebrations itself, this year was extra special when the No.1 singer of Cambodia, Mr. Preap Sovath had taken stage at the Lucky Ruby Border Casino to join in the celebrations of the night. This was indeed not something common at any casino, but we did it in style at the Lucky Ruby Standing in this location that was surrounded by paddy fields, buffaloâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moving in herds and the farming community that was around us. This border was at that point something that was tens of years away from being a suitable location for a casino. Thus knowing that, starting a casino from scratch would indeed take time to grow both in terms of stability and trust from players. Taking into account the best practices already done where others set up at border location, I launched Lucky 89 back in 2011 to slowly let my new
this remote area? This was indeed an unprecedented decision if we were to solely look at it from an operational and financial stance in setting a business or so be it even a casino! Most individuals in my position at that point of time would have chosen a buzzing border location to set up their casino such as Bavet, Poipet and many others. However, for me, it was about doing things in a way that was not common but would be successful in the long haul. No great company that exists today was created based on a common business model, but was more towards taking a different approach towards the same objective. Volume 16: Issue 139
business grow. Only about 3 years ago, the road that we travelled on to get to the casino was very challenging in view of the muddy patches formed thus rendering the road inaccessible during bad weather. All of these have recently started to change with rapid developments in the area, leading to proper roads being built, a major immigration and custom depot being built in line with the internationalization of the current border crossing. These activities increased the potential for the location in the days to come. Thus coming back to your main objective of the question, what drove us to set up in this location and this would be simple which is I wanted space for my casino business to grow with lesser competition this allowing me to both manage and learn the trade better and at the same time build trust with potential players coming in to play at my casino.
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
When I visited the Lucky Ruby Border Casino in early 2019, immigration on both sides of the border was really intended mainly for Vietnamese and Cambodian. Would I be correct in assuming the focus for Lucky Ruby is for Vietnamese players? We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t per say target Vietnamese customers directly but this is more towards practicality as we are located along the border at Vietnam thus the majority of players would be Vietnamese. 16
However, we do get our fair share of foreign players as well at the casino. As we are not only a casino but have hotels and other facilities incorporated in our location thus it is also a tourist spot as well. However predominantly the players are mainly from Vietnam. The casino just went through an extensive expansion project. What was included in the new expansion? Well this question would need to be answered www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
We were actually the very first casino in the whole world to introduce a progressive jackpot for Baibuu which is a very famous Vietnamese table game commonly seen at casinos bordering Vietnam. This has indeed been a hit with our players with a good number winning big through the jackpot With the casino’s expansion, do you expect a broader range of nationalities visiting Lucky Ruby? We personally have seen a small influx of other nationalities already coming to our casino even with the current status of the border. The prospect of more nationalities is something that is yet to be seen but would certainly be a high possibility in view of the impending status change of this border crossing to an international border. In my visit last year, I noted almost all of the gambling is on table games. What are the patrons
with a pinch of salt indeed. Originally we had various additions that were part of the pipeline to be developed in the area such as Cambodia’s Largest Exhibition Hall, advanced facilities for the gaming industry, a diverse modern mini IR concept environment was a part of the planning. However due to the laws that have changed recently in Cambodia, we had to go back to the drawing block to redo our planning in order to make sure what we did would be suitable with the current situation in the market. Volume 16: Issue 139
favorite table games? Well that goes more towards player preferences. We as casino need to provide the table games that are suitable with the player preferences in order to give our player the best experience when they are enjoying at our casino. Bai Buu, Baccarat, Fan Tan, Tai Xiu (Sic Bo) and 3-Card Poker are some of the primary games enjoyed by the players at our casino. We were actually the very first casino in the whole world to introduce a progressive jackpot for Baibuu which is a very famous Vietnamese table game commonly seen at casinos bordering Vietnam. This has indeed been a hit with our players with a good number winning big through the jackpot. Does Lucky Ruby run tournaments, and if so, could you give an example? Well if we are referring this to the context of a poker 17
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
tournament then the answer would be no. However, we have our own twist at some of our tables which are more popular with the players in terms of jackpots. That being said, The Lucky Ruby Border Casino itself is the home of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first Bai Buu Jackpot. We have created our own version of a progressive jackpot for our baccarat tables that is indeed pretty popular with our customers. Both the Bai Buu Jackpot and Baccarat Jackpot have their own unique twists on them that would not be available elsewhere but indeed has made many customers go home winning big indeed. This itself shows that at our casinos, we are 100% fair and we are happy indeed when our players manage to hit the jackpot. In the casino business, this 18
is something that is fairly common whereby someone wins and someone loses where in this context sometimes the casino wins and sometimes the casino loses. On that note, this would indeed be a spoiler as we have recently created a tournament version for another game that has grown in popularity within the market which is the fish machine. We will soon be launching an all new fish machine tournament at our casinos. In line with our company values, we consistently strive to come up with new ideas and models for not only tournaments but various other games, events or activities that would bring more joy to our customers as thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what we in the casino industry need to be doing. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Lucky Ruby Border Casino
We have created our own version of a progressive jackpot for our baccarat tables that is indeed pretty popular with our customers. Both the Bai Buu Jackpot and Baccarat Jackpot have its own unique twists on them that would not be available elsewhere but indeed has made many customers go home winning big indeed of unwinding or simply chilling out. Other elements in the area also play a strong role in bringing customers towards our non-gaming facilities which primarily is from tourism in the area focused along the 100-year pagoda, thus our hotel facilities and restaurants fit in well to this requirement. The bustling border also recently saw the Lucky Ruby becoming the pit stop for the HungHau and Mekong Caravan tours respectively along with their
corporation with a local rising tour agency, JCY Tours that specializes in tours from Vietnam to Cambodia by utilizing the border at our location. Aside from the Casino, what non-gaming activities draw customers to Lucky Ruby? We developed the Lucky Ruby over the years to cater to various elements similar to an IR concept but on a humbler manner in view of our own space limitations. Thus we have embedded within our location various facilities that are commonly another drawing factor for both the players as well as non-gaming customers. These facilities cover our Karaoke rooms, Skybar, Authentic traditional Khmer massage and spa, restaurant as well as our very own disco that goes by the name of “Go Party Disco” and self-proclaimed as the smallest disco in Cambodia. The presence of these facilities allow multiple verticals within society to have more options in terms Volume 16: Issue 139
Noting from the casino’s YouTube channel, there are Incentive Days. What is involved with these Incentive Days? These incentive days conceptualized in line with our company’s mission in order to create a better life for our good performing employees and their families. I’m pretty sure there are no companies in Cambodia (maybe the world) that share up to 40% of its profit with all good performing staffs with no strings attached. I would like to thank Jment Lim for taking the time to chat, as well as the management and staff of Lucky89 and Lucky Ruby Border Casinos for their hospitality during my stay. 19
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Lead Feature: Royal Casino HaLong
Royal Casino HaLong
Seaside Gaming in Northern Vietnam
Bill Healey chats to Paul Simmons and Tim Nguyen, founders of Platinum Entertainment Limited, the management group for Royal Casino HaLong
merald waters and thousands of towering limestone karsts draw tourists to HaLong Bay, an enchanting UNESCO seaside community in northern Vietnam. As one of the leading tourist destinations in the north, expats and tourists typically journey to HaLong for a 2-3 day scenic cruise. Recreation, leisure and entertainment have been growing in this coastal city with golf, nightlife and casino gaming. One of the few casinos in northern Vietnam is the Royal Casino in HaLong. Casino Life has been fortunate to catch-up with Paul Simmons and Tim Nguyen, founders of Platinum Entertainment Limited (PEL), the management group for Royal Casino.
Volume 16: Issue 139
Could you provide background on how Platinum Entertainment Limited got its start. Who are the founders of the group and what are their experiences in the casino market? Platinum Entertainment Limited was formed in March 2019 by Paul Simmons and myself (Tim Nguyen). We had been working together in Vietnam and before that in Cambodia and Laos for the last 10 years. During this time we gained an invaluable understanding of the dynamics of the local gaming industry, both in terms of government regulations and marketing drivers. With the current expansion of the gaming industry, particularly in Vietnam, we saw the need for a knowledgeable consulting company with local experience to assist new entrants and existing operations establish and grow their operations. 21
Lead Feature: Royal Casino HaLong Paul Simmons, General Manager and Tim Nguyen, Managing Director, Platinum Entertainment Ltd
Paul has worked in the gaming industry for over 40 years starting in the United Kingdom, then South Africa and Australia where he was a member of the opening team of Burswood International Resort (now Crown Perth) holding the position of Executive General Manager International Business and prior to that, General Manager Casino. Since 2005 Paul held
PEL is deeply rooted in Indochina and has extensive experience across the whole region including Australia, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore and Nepal. This provides a unique experienced based skill set which can be applied to new facilities or existing properties across Southern and SouthEast Asia looking to establish and/or grow their business.
What is the group’s geographical plan? Will PEL reach beyond Vietnam?
PEL’s first client is the Royal Casino in HaLong Bay, Vietnam. What is PEL’s role with the property? PEL has been appointed as the exclusive manager of the Royal Halong Casino. Royal management recognized that the casino was operating following the same operational procedures and organizational structure that had been in place since the company’s inception and that as a consequence was functioning below it’s full potential. Our brief was to review and reform all work practices with emphasis on three core areas; organization structure, technology and operating procedures. A change management program was required covering effective training and skills upgrading for the organization. The process commenced by identifying champions in key positions to communicate the need for change. Following this, emphasis has been
senior roles in Galaxy Macau, Nagaworld Cambodia and most recently as the Group Head Operations for Silver Heritage Group overseeing their gaming operations in Laos, Nepal and of course Vietnam. Myself, having completed my B.A. in 2002 I took a position with the Royal Casino HaLong Bay, Vietnam as a member of the VIP Services department, which introduced me to the world of casino marketing. Following Royal Casino I moved to Cambodia holding positions with a number of casinos including a contract to set up the casino marketing department in Vietnam for Nagaworld. More recently I have held the role of Director of Silver Heritage Vietnam, and have consulted to a number of gaming companies in the region and of course I have now returned to the Royal Halong Casino in a consultant management role.
Lead Feature: Royal Casino HaLong concentrated on redefining the VIP Services and Marketing departments strategic direction, reviewing and amending casino operational procedures and raising skill levels equal to that of a contemporary international standard casino. From a facility and technology perspective the objective is to enhance the entire customer experience starting by redesigning the gaming floor layout and traffic flow, to introducing exciting and stimulating gaming promotions, and completely overhauling the gaming loyalty programs with the introduction of a comprehensive casino management system. Royal Casino is fortunate in that it already has a wonderful pool of young talent to work with. The local Vietnamese are famous for their warm hospitality and this provides the foundation on which we are able to capitalize and create an energized and welcoming atmosphere throughout the resort casino. How long has the Royal Casino been operating? Was PEL involved with the casino planning and opening, or did PEL come in after the casino was open? Royal Casino first opened its doors in 2003, PEL was not involved with the casino planning and opening. I was, however, a foundation employee back in 2003 which had given me valuable insights into where change needs to occur for Royal to be able to compete in a rapidly expanding industry in Vietnam. What makes Royal Casino unique? Apart from the genuine, warm hospitality of the Vietnamese staff, Royal Halong is located in the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Area Ha Long Bay, which is truly one of the most remarkable natural wonders of the world. A visit to the Royal Halong casino has everything one needs to ensure a most memorable visit. Ha Long Bay, which means “Bay of Descending Dragons” features 1,969 amazing limestone ‘karsts’ and isles in various shapes and sizes and has featured as the backdrop in numerous feature films, most recently the Hollywood monster movie Kong. Skull Island featuring Samuel L. Jackson was also shot here. Ha Long Bay is also home to the largest theme park in Vietnam attracting visitation from across the region and supports Royal Halong Hotel and Casino as an ideal venue where families are entertained while the adults can enjoy the excitement of the casino. Volume 16: Issue 139
The Royal Casino Ha Long Bay is within a UNESCO World Heritage site. This must draw many global tourists into the hotel and casino. What is the mix of customers to the casino? Yes Ha Long Bay is fortunate in that it is unique and attracts worldwide visitation however from a casino perspective the major player base is drawn from China, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia. Are local Vietnamese allowed to gamble at the Royal Casino? Current Vietnamese regulations permit entry for foreign visitors and Viet Kieu i.e. Vietnamese holding a foreign passport only, however, the government has relaxed this regulation recently allowing two new Integrated Resorts, of which one is yet to open, to trial entry for Vietnamese subject to mandatory minimum income requirements. Given the level of employment created by casinos and in an effort to stem the outward flow of Vietnamese gaming dollars estimated to be at least $1.2 billion to nearby countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore, we are hopeful this trial can be extended to include existing licensed casinos in Vietnam. Is there an active program to help locals with gambling addiction? Locals are not permitted entry so there is no specific program targeted at locals. We are concerned however that gaming in Royal Casino does not potentially lead to any of our casino patrons self harming through problem gambling and provide support via a voluntary self-exclusion program that they can join. In addition information on harm minimization is available throughout the casino.
What is the size of the casino in terms of area, number of table games and number of slot machines? The casino has no restriction on the size of the physical footprint of the gaming area and is currently licensed for 18 tables and 70 Electronic Gaming Machines. Are there tournaments at Royal Casino? Royal Casino has not held tournaments up to now but this is very much an area we will be concentrating on so watch this space. We are currently planning a Baccarat tournament in June and this will be followed by a Roulette tournament in August. 23
Lead Feature: Royal Casino HaLong
What are some of the marketing efforts to draw new customers into the site? As mentioned our initial focus is on rejuvenating the gaming offering in terms of the physical product and the human capital skill set. We intend also to capitalize on the expanding infrastructure linking Ha Long to Hanoi via the new expressway which has cut travel time by more than 50% and which now enables us to actively market in Hanoi, a city of over 7 million people with a large expat community both resident and
travelling businessmen, also the opening of the nearby new Van Don International Airport. By 2020, the airport is forecast to serve around 2 million passengers a year, with the potential for 5 million visitors by 2030 and is already servicing flights domestically from Ho Chi Minh City and internationally from Shenzhen, Changsha and Seoul. Further we are looking to partner with Junket operators seeking a new and exciting destination for their clients. Are there non-gaming activities that draw customers to the Royal Casino? Royal Halong Hotel offers our guests a relaxing and fully equipped spa and beauty therapy salon, two gymnasiums, two swimming pools, one indoor and one outdoor, the largest and most lavishly appointed KTV in northern Vietnam and of course just step outside and you have the majesty of the World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay and the largest and most 24
exciting theme park in Vietnam which is located a short ten minute drive from the casino. What type of social responsibility and community development is PEL involved with? Royal Halong has a long association with local charity donations and support, last year Platinum Entertainment Limited and Royal International Corporation executives attended a Christmas lunch specially prepared by the Royal Halong Hotel chefs for
the children of the orphanage of Quang Ninh Province. The home cares for disadvantaged and special needs children who have been abandoned or are blind, deaf, mute or infected with HIV. What are the guestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; favorite table games? As with most Asian casinos, Baccarat is the main attraction, accounting for up to 80% of play with the old favorites American Roulette, Blackjack and Sic Bo or Tai Sai making up the rest. Where does Royal Casino source itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gaming tables and slot machines from? Platinum Entertainment has established relationships with most major gaming equipment manufacturers and suppliers across the region and can provide door-to-door delivery in most cases. Regulations for the importation of gaming equipment into Vietnam are complicated and onerous. PEL has been involved in www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Royal Casino HaLong importing gaming equipment into Vietnam for many years and can provide a comprehensive logistical advisory service on request. What is the currency used for the table games and slot machines? All table games and machines are played in USD. How active are PEL and the Royal Casino in social media? What are the social media accounts guests and the general public follow, for both PEL and the casino? Social media marketing is an area of opportunity for Royal casino with the current Facebook page currently being reviewed. We use a number of different messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Kakao Talk and Zalo depending on the target demographic. WhatsApp is used popularly across the region but we find WeChat to be more popular with our Chinese guests and Kakao Talk is becoming increasingly popular with Koreans. Royalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website features the resort as a whole rather than focusing on the casino and in addition to our own website, PEL is also active on the business networking site Linkedin. What are some of the features of the enhanced loyalty programme that members can expect in the future? Loyalty management to date has centered around an in-house developed membership system. We are
in the process of replacing this with a proprietary Casino Management System which will enable us to link our slot machines and tables together, as well as link directly to the hotel and its outlets, a basic functionality these days, which to date we have not been able to offer. Rewards will include complimentary room, food and beverages as well as commission and rebates. Coupled with a robust CRM, we will have far greater knowledge of our guests and their needs, employees will be empowered to provide preemptive service decisions increasing the customers enjoyment level and our marketing team will be enabled to make more targeted and cost efficient marketing decisions. Casino Life appreciates the chat with Tim Nguyen and Paul Simmons at Platinum Entertainment Limited. We look forward to our next visit to HaLong Bay to experience the advances at the Royal Casino. Volume 16: Issue 139
Opening up Casinos Mr. Massimo Meneghetti, General Director, tableswin chats to Peter White
n the era of Covid-19, basic elements of gambling such as cash, chips, cards and tokens have become a ‘hot zone’ of industry interest. How does keep them clean without impeding the casino experience? That’s
Mr. Massimo Meneghetti
one of the questions that Tableswin General Director Massimo Meneghetti has been contemplating. He’s developing holistic solutions to these problems and has already brought some to market. It’s an example of what Meneghetti describes as one of his decadeold company’s strengths: adaptability.
The impact on Casino operations big and small has been devastating as it has been for most industries. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for society and business in the months ahead? The storm caused by the current global pandemic is proving to be the most serious and most complex problems to deal with as a global society; the whole world in every aspect, from health to the social aspect through to the economic, will have to be completely rebuilt and readapted to the new lifestyles that COVID-19 is imposing to everyone. The need for distancing and hygiene etiquette will herald a new social order that will impact how we behave and interact as a society. Each industry will be affected to varying degrees by the new requirements for acceptable participation, for example the derisking of touch points for handling cash, cards and chips to provide effective safeguarding in the gaming environment is a big dilemma for operators. We are talking about a huge challenge for businesses everywhere but we don’t have to be scared about it, we have to find the way to live together with this new dimension of life and, most of all, to find new business strategies. Can you explain the Tableswin approach and the various steps you recommend that will enable Casino operators to restart. 26
Our approach towards restart is to collaborate with our customers on ways to support exit strategies in such a way as to provide practical and cost-effective deployment. Fast response to operator initiatives and immediate need is of primary importance and suppliers must be ready to support at every level with their experience and know-how to provide practical retro-fit options as a first-step to re-start. I’m pleased to say that Tableswin are already actively deploying a number of new applications designed to help its’ customers equip themselves with practical solutions and adapt quickly to the new safety and personal protection regulations; for example we can supply a new HYGIENE STATION MACHINE that can clean and defect Chips, cards or banknotes, and any other accessory in different quantity and size, www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Tableswin by using a natural element, the OZONE, so even in the total respect of the environment. This machine is already available and we are proud to say that it is the unique solution in this sector for now. What else would you like to add about what tableswin can do in these times to assist Casino operator. Certainly our focus has expanded to this new market need, concentrating on finding SOLUTIONS that help our customers to restart their business: Tableswin are working closely with itsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; client operators to understand their exit strategy and identify the key requirements such as DISINFECTION of chips and banknotes , but also DISTANCING PRODUCTS for example the SEPARATORS PANELS ADAPTABLE for slot machines and gaming tables already existing in each Casino. Tell us about tableswin? Tableswin was established in 2010 to manufacture and supply specialist gaming equipment to the Casino Industry. The primary focus of Tableswin is our capacity for designing custom solutions to ensure we
create something for our customers that is perfect in form, feature and use. In recent years, Tableswin expanded their core offering towards technology-related solutions and are now quickly establishing ourselves as an integrated gaming supply house with international reach. Our quality assurance is underpinned by 40 years of high-end furniture design and manufacturing knowhow supported by experienced teams of creative artists and craft experts. What is unique about tableswin? I believe that what distinguishes Tableswin today is the ability to adapt to customer requests but also to the market: customization also in this moment remains our main feature: even the chips-washing machines are in fact customizable! Is there anything else you would like to add? The message we would like to give is that Tableswin are ready for this new challenge that we face from the changing market, and we would like to face this challenge TOGETHER with our customers; so STAY SAFE, BUT STAY READY!
www.tables-win.com Volume 16: Issue 139
Feature: ICE North America
‘Beyond Tomorrow’ ICE North America Digital 2020
Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming chats to Peter White
uring the Coronavirus pandemic, trade shows and conventions have been dropping left and right. This puts a strain on industry members who rely on events like ICE North America to keep abreast of developments in gaming. What to do? Enter Ice North America Digital, a virtual version of the New Orleans trade show, delivered online in bite-sized morsels. Kate Chambers of Clarion Gaming walks us through how it came about and what to expect. For those who may want to know more about what is happening with ICE North America 2020 could we commence this interview with an explanation what is the situation with regards this year’s event and its Digital version and the 2021 Event? It’s no exaggeration to say that COVID-19 represents the world’s most serious public health crisis for generations. It is having a horrific and far reaching impact on every facet of life, and for the time being at least, the pandemic is changing the way in which all of us conduct business. After lengthy consultation with our partners and colleagues, we took the decision to transport the fantastic content produced for ICE North America online and create the ultimate digital content experience, comprising three hours of outstanding content each day running from Monday, May 11 to Friday, May 15. Rather than trying to recover any of our costs, we are making every element of the ICE North America digital experience totally free, which means absolutely no pay walls and no hidden charges. It was very important that we didn’t simply cancel but instead explored a way in which we were able to continue to engage with our stakeholders albeit using a very different approach. Of course we would much prefer to have been able to do this face-to-face in New Orleans, but the entire team is focused and excited to be involved in the first edition of ICE North America Digital. I think once again, this shows how important it is to have a strong and robust brand that the industry including our speakers, really trusts. We will return in 2021 committed to the delivery of another best in class, professional and compelling in-person ICE North America. 28
Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming
How is ICE North America going to work and how can they subscribe? ICE North America Digital has been curated to deliver the same expert insights delegates would have received at the in-person exhibition and conference. Our philosophy is to view business as a lifetime relationship and not as a transaction, which is why we are supporting our customers in the way that they have supported us and helped our brands to flourish. As such we opted to make the streamed industry content, discussions and debate totally free. There are no hidden costs or pay walls. The topical content is being delivered by 40 industry experts, across 10 sessions and delivering 15+ hours of learning. For purely technical reasons each seminar is limited to 500 subscribers. We have already experienced huge demand for places, so we encourage anyone interested to sign up as soon as possible by visiting www.icenorthamerica.com/ice-north-america-digital The timings are 4.30pm – 6.00pm BST/8.30am – 10.00am PST.
What are the main topics on the conference schedule for the live streamed series of webinars? In broad terms, the subjects comprise: iGaming, News Reporting, Guest Insights, Non-Gaming Revenue and Integrated Resorts, iLottery, Customer Acquisition www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: ICE North America and Retention, PASPA, Sports Betting, Payments, and Corporate Citizenship, with insights provided by experts from land-based, sports betting, tribal and hospitality technology industries. The opening module looks at iGaming and whether it represents a threat to the US gambling eco-system. This is followed by a session entitled - ‘Capturing eyeballs and market share: An opportunity for performance marketers?’ which explores the opportunities to harness credible news reporting as a way of building brand recognition. On day two, the first stream looks at how digital marketing can be used to optimize offerings and improving guest insights to drive revenue, followed by the role of non-gaming entertainment in generating income with particular reference to the future of IR when over 50 percent of all revenue will come from non-gaming activities. Day three will focus on iLottery, how to get noticed in a crowded online space, what’s required to launch and how it can complement retail operations. This will be followed by an analysis of the challenges facing customer acquisition and retention. Thursday, the penultimate day of ICE North America Digital, will analyse where the United States industry is two years after the PASPA repeal and what the future holds for sports betting regulation across the US. Our final two sessions of ICE North America Digital will ask Is Cash still king? and the future for meeting consumer demands for fast, safe and secure transactions. We then have arguably one of the most significant and timely macro issues surrounding sustainability and how the industry in its broadest sense can present itself as a good corporate citizen.
Gaming Operators along with Industry Manufacturing and Supply organizations need to know what they can expect post Coronavirus. How is ICE North America 2020 Digital going to address many of their issues and concerns? Wherever it’s relevant or appropriate, the content has been updated and analysed against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has clearly had a profound impact on the global gaming market. ICE North America Digital, has been curated to help the industry navigate the way ahead. Understandably, there is an awful lot of uncertainty about what the future looks like and our experts comprising high-profile thought leaders including the likes of Michael Daly, General Manager US, Catena Media; Daniel Kustelski, Co-Founder and CEO, Chalkline Sports; Brian Edwards, Founder & CEO, Edwards Technologies, Inc; Bobby Soper, President & CEO, Sun Volume 16: Issue 139
Gaming + Hospitality and Colleen Birch, SVP, Revenue Optimization, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – to name but a few – will help the industry to embark on the road to recovery. While there will be a sharp focus on North America we will also be encouraging an exchange of information and insight from different parts of the world. Even within Europe countries are approaching the crisis in different ways and are at different stages of lockdown. What role do events and exhibitions play in the current climate? Everyone in the global gaming community is under pressure and for many that pressure is intense. The pledge we make to all of our stakeholders is to work alongside them and deliver the very best opportunities to help improve and develop their business. This undertaking is even more important during periods of uncertainty, unease and upset such as the one that we are all currently enduring. Clarion Gaming has helped the global industry to enjoy the good times and we are resolute in our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the industry during the bad times. The strap line or slogan that Clarion Gaming has adopted is ‘Beyond Tomorrow’, which encapsulates what we always work hard to deliver and that’s a vision of the future. Rather than look back on the past, we are always looking to the future, helping our stakeholders to identify opportunities and rise to the challenges. How are you planning to deliver the all important
networking opportunities? On the Friday, the last day of ICE North America Digital, we are hosting a Wrap-Up Networking Party. The live online meet-up will allow our digital delegates to focus on what matters most and that’s connections. The mixer provides a smaller scale, more personalized platform for the gaming community to stay connected at a time when physically we’re more disconnected than ever, it also delivers access to a wider range of participants than those typically able to attend an in-person event. Once the event begins, there are networking icebreakers, topical breakout rooms, video conference capabilities and more in order to facilitate valuable and easily accessible connections. We have used a company called SwapCard in order to introduce this networking capability. This means that there will be opportunities for participants to ask questions. They will be able to engage with the speakers after the sessions have concluded. 29
Feature: US Congress Cares
Relief now, recovery...when? The American casino industry copes with the X factor that is Covid-19 by David McKee
eeling numbers on a slot machine are a staple of casinos. But in mid-March of this year, it was casino-revenue numbers that were reeling from the Coronavirus pandemic, as state after state shut down its casinos, climaxing with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mandatoryclosure order on March 17. “It’s been devastating. All of the casinos in the country are shut down, 652,000 employees are unable to go to work”, said an industry lobbyist. “That’s in addition to upwards of 20,000 Americans who work at gaming supply and manufacturing companies who are impacted by this, 250,000 small-business workers whose companies rely upon gaming for their livelihood. So you’re talking about upwards of a million people whose jobs are immediately impacted and ultimately if casinos are closed until MidMay, it’s a $40 billion or $50 billion loss of activity to the American economy.” He continued, “People in Las Vegas appreciate this more than most but where people tend to not understand our business much, there’s some sort of legal gaming happening in 43 states and that’s up to 48 if you include lottery. But we are in communities all across this country, supporting local nonprofits, hiring local.” That same day that Sisolak’s order came down, a story in the Washington Post disclosed that casino companies had huddled with the American Gaming Association and its members had come up with a four-point wish list for Congress. They desired 1) direct cash payments, 2) tax deferments, an idea the AGA had already been promoting, 3) special bankruptcy protections and 4) zero-interest or low-interest loans. Initially it was feared that, given cheap access to capital, companies that had been laying off employees en masse would use the ready money to buy back stock on the cheap or divert it into executive bonuses. As written, the CARES Act precludes that and some companies have already publicly sworn off stock buybacks. MGM Resorts International was ahead of the curve when then-CEO Jim Murren nixed a scheduled, $1.25 billion share repurchase even before the worst of the crisis hit, a move that got Murren fired, it would Volume 16: Issue 139
Casey Clark, Senior Vice President Strategic Communications, American Gaming Association
appear. While some companies have laid off employees by the thousands, others are staying the course. In the time of Covid-19, Sheldon Adelson has emerged as the conscience of the industry. His Las Vegas Sands vowed not to lay off or furlough any of its approximately 10,000 employees and to extend pay and benefits for a month—a deadline extended by a fortnight when Sisolak added two weeks to his quarantine mandate. In a letter to the New York Post, Adelson wrote, “To my fellow corporate executives who are looking at spreadsheets and trying to determine the impact this crisis will have on sales and share prices, let me say our job as business leaders is now as simple as it is challenging. It is to maximize the number of employees and their families that we can help–and help them for as long as possible.” By the end of the month, with families of geese promenading up the middle of the Las Vegas Strip and coyotes roaming the streets of San Francisco, Congress passed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). Gaming got most of what it wanted...but not everything and the devil would be in some of the details. Still, it was a vast improvement on past legislation like the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, which had left the casino industry out in the cold. 31
Feature: US Congress Cares
The key provisions—for casinos and their constituent businesses—of the CARES Act included … • Access to $454 billion for loans and loan guarantees and other Federal Reserve lending programs, with the interest on loans being tax deductible. (Wynn Resorts had advocated pure handouts but didn’t get its wish.) • A special loan facility for businesses of 500 to 10,000 employees (which covers all but the biggest casino companies) giving them access to loans on the condition that they retain or rehire 90 percent of their workforce, complete with benefits. The cost of capital is low: 0.5 percent to 4 percent, with some loans being forgivable. • Losses from 2018 through 2020 become taxdeductible to the extent of as much as 100 percent of tax owed or more, potentially generating tax refunds for businesses. • Fifty percent of Social Security tax payments can be deferred for 2020, half due next year, half in 2022. • Interest expense on EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, crudely known as cash flow) goes from 30 percent tax deductibility to 50 percent for two years. “That’s a significant expense for many large companies and being able to [increase] that deduction will substantially decrease tax liability,” says economist Jeremy Aguero.
• Capex maintenance becomes immediately taxdeductible, instead of having to be depreciated over 39 years. “For many folks, the tax-code thing’s archaic,” explains Aguero, “and very difficult to parse. But when you’re dealing with it each and every day, like these companies are, those kinds of deductions can mean millions of dollars that are available to sustain wages and salaries or health-care costs. Those will be the difference.” • $8 billion – out of a desired $18 billion – for tribal governments’ increased expenses. Many, though not all, tribes have lost their main source of income due to casino closures. There’s much more but those are the highlights. There’s 32
Feature: US Congress Cares no assurance of how much loan money the gaming industry, in all its facets, will get. Many other businesses, especially hotels and airlines, are clamoring for relief. Explicates AGA Senior Vice President Casey Clark, “There’s any number of businesses or industries that will be vying for the access to all the loan provisions and guarantees that are within the CARES Act. There’s hundreds of billions of dollars available but certainly there’s no dedicated funding within that for gaming.” Adds Aguero, “That’s largely dependent on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has a great deal of discretion relevant to the allocation of those funds. In addition to that, funds that will come to the state of Nevada are not in a single pocket. Not all casino companies are larger than 500 employees. Some are fewer than 500 employees, which would allow them to participate in the small-business-loan activities.”
Or will it?
Much to the dismay of the AGA, when it read the fine print it discovered an arcane Small Business Administration rule that precludes modest-sized gaming entities from participating in the Paycheck Protection Act. Also off-limits are Economic Injury Disaster Loans. “In an old SBA regulation, it precluded any entity that derived more than one-third of gross annual revenue from gaming from getting those loans. Our interpretation and our belief is that the congressional intent with the CARES Act superseded that and made all these loans available to all entities,” says Clark, who adds that the
AGA and the Congressional Gaming Caucus have been lobbying Mnuchin and the SBA to accept their interpretation. Aguero divides gaming-dependent small businesses into three categories: 1) small casinos and taverns; 2) suppliers of services like laundry and catering; 3) businesses where casino employees spend their income, anything from medical services to grocery stores. Of the second category he says, “Those companies are also very vulnerable and, arguably, in some ways more vulnerable during this downturn.” “In SBA’s efforts to quickly issue guidance on the PPP, they relied on antiquated, discriminatory regulations that ignore today’s economic reality and the congressional intent behind the CARES Act, which states that any business concern shall be eligible to receive an SBA loan if they meet specific qualifications regarding their number of employees,” fumed AGA President Bill Miller in a formal statement. “Unless amended, these Volume 16: Issue 139
initial guidelines will irreparably harm one-third of the U.S. casino industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans that rely on gaming businesses for their livelihood … the inclusion of gaming businesses in the PPP is critical to help ensure employees can remain connected to their employers, stay off of unemployment, and quickly return to their jobs when this pandemic subsides.” Even if the SBA relents, will the CARES Act be enough? Nobody seems to think so. “Sufficiency is in the eye of the beholder,” says Aguero, adding that the total package of $2 trillion may be a huge number but “is it likely to solve all of our problems? Number one, it’s not going to solve every problem for every person. I don’t think it was intended to.” Nor does Clark, who says
there’s already discussion on Capitol Hill on yet another stimulus package: “Part of that will revolve around what we see happening with the access to capital, how much capital is available. I think everyone expects there will be another relief package,” Clark says, adding that on the upside, “There’s capital that can be accessed that is very cheap, to allow our members to keep supporting their employees as long and strong as they can.”
State of siege
And how long could that be? Companies are taking stock (pun unintended) of how long a Coronavirus crisis they could survive. Cash is king. Las Vegas Sands, could last 14 months, so much does it have socked away. Of course, it only has two U.S. casinos. That helps. The more properties, the higher the ‘burn rate,’ Penn National, with 41 casinos, is running through $6.4 million per day, while MGM Resorts International’s high-end properties are costing it $14.4 million a day. 33
Feature: US Congress Cares
Between cash and credit, MGM could hang tough for nine months. Penn’s situation was more desperate,
having only five months’ capital, a situation exacerbated by the fact that it rents almost all of its casinos from real estate investment trusts (REITs). A measure of Penn’s dire straits was its recent sale of the Tropicana Las Vegas to a REIT in return for five months of free rent—at a $52.5 million loss. That buys Penn two extra months of survival. Of the CARES Act, Aguero says, “its effectiveness for helping us weather the storm is largely dependent on an unknown factor, which is the storm itself. How long does it take us to get to the other side of the coronavirus crisis? If it happens in relatively short order, yes, it will be helpful for us. If it is longer, it is going to be much more difficult and additional measures may be necessary.” How is the industry weathering aforesaid storm? Manufacturing lines are idle. Casinos are dark. Small businesses that once relied upon casinos to supply a major tranche of business now face an X factor of unknown severity and duration. 34
A study commissioned by the Nevada Resort Association minced few words: “The immediate impacts sourced to COVID-19 have the potential to eliminate 320,000 jobs earning wages of $1.3 billion per month. Notably, these losses are being temporarily mitigated by companies continuing to pay idle employees, a condition which is unsustainable...Assuming the tourism industry is effectively shuttered for 30 to 90 days, the recovery will require 12 to 18 months and the impacts are devastating for the Nevada economy.” (Aguero estimates it could be twice as bad as the Great Recession of 2008, which saw hobo encampments go up along Las Vegas streets.) Summarizes Las Vegas think tank Applied Analysis, “The impacts associated with COVID-19
are unparalleled and economically staggering. Should companies’ ability to maintain payroll and health care coverage diminish, hundreds of thousands of employees and billions in wages and salaries will be immediately at risk as will the very core of Nevada’s economy and its fiscal system.” And that’s presuming a three-month shutdown of the resort economy. Further than that, no one dares think. The AGA, however, maintains a positive mind frame. “People are cooped up in their homes. They want to go out and have fun, but they want to make sure that the health and safety issues are addressed to their satisfaction,” Miller told Global Gaming Business. “It’s easy to shut things down. But,” he cautioned, “opening things back up is much more difficult.” Concludes Clark, “We are economic engines powering these communities but they’re desperate for us to maintain our position and come back stronger than ever. As soon as it’s safe for our employees to do so, we’ll get back to work.” www.casinolifemagazine.com
News: G2E Asia
G2E Asia to Be Held December 2020
lobal Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia – the marketplace for the Asian gaming and entertainment industry – is postponing the 2020 edition of G2E Asia to December 1-3, 2020, at the Venetian Macao. “The health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees, and employees is paramount,” said Josephine Lee, chief operating officer, Reed Exhibitions China. “The rapidly evolving situation makes it too difficult to host G2E Asia in a safe environment this summer. Based on our continued monitoring of the global health crisis, and in consultation with our customers and
the Macao government, we have made the decision to postpone G2E Asia to December. We look forward to continuing to support Macao’s resilient gaming industry and its recovery when we reconvene in December.” G2E Asia will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with all G2E Asia stakeholders to provide updates as available. For more information, please visit: www.g2easia.com.
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Volume 16: Issue 139
Feature: Paul McGee
How To Cope In A Crisis Here’s what to do when the unexpected happens. Paul McGee – The Sumo Guy
Feature: Paul McGee
or over twenty years I’ve been writing and speaking about the subjects of change, resilience, leadership and dealing with uncertainty. So, as we all learn to navigate unchartered waters in unprecedented times, I wanted to share four ways we can cope.
Understand how your brain works
In his bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about two systems in our brain. Our Fast system is our primitive, emotional brain. I often represent this brain with a red baseball cap. It’s the oldest part of our brain and its primary purpose is to keep us alive. Its number one priority is our survival. It’s this part of our brain that triggers our fight, flight or freeze response. However, because it’s super-fast in how it processes information it often reacts to situations without having the full facts. If it had a motto it would be ‘Act first, think later.’ There are times when this part of our brain is incredibly helpful. If a driver suddenly swerves into your lane, you brake immediately. (A string of expletives may normally follow!) You don’t think, or weigh up your choices, you just react. But your fast response could save your life. In the current Coronavirus crisis, our Red Cap brain is on high alert. In fact it’s on overdrive. Our very survival, and that of our loved ones, is under potential
threat and this is dominating how we engage with the world right now. We are living in uncertain times, equivalent to walking through a maze blindfolded. No one is sure what the future holds exactly, and to compensate we crave information. Sadly some of that information is neither helpful nor true. It’s fake, and it can make us lose our ability to think and respond calmly under pressure. That’s where our Slow brain, which I represent with a blue baseball cap, comes in. It’s the logical and rational part of our brain. It helps us to analyse data, to reflect and to plan. Unfortunately, it’s our slow part of the brain that we need to consciously and intentionally access. While Red Cap brain reacts impulsively and on auto pilot, accessing Blue Cap brain takes longer. As a result, we need to acknowledge and recognise that at times we may all react to the Coronavirus crisis irrationally. Volume 16: Issue 139
We can lose perspective and panic. When we’re in survival mode our first thoughts, perhaps understandably, are about our needs and the needs of our close family. We don’t really need all those toilet rolls and paracetamol. By stocking up excessively we may create a degree of security for ourselves, but also potential pain for others. So it’s important we recognise the impact of Red Cap brain: that it is operating instinctively, in a reactionary (and often illogical) way to the challenges we face. That’s why learning to slow down and taking a moment to pause and access Blue Cap brain is vital at this time.
Manage Your Mental Diet
The ocean is full of water, but it’s possible to be lost at sea and die of thirst. In fact, drinking salt water is not only detrimental to your health, it also makes you thirstier. The same can happen with our consumption of information. We crave certainty but this can lead to us feeding our minds with more and more news that isn’t always true. Stories that can, on occasion, exaggerate the real picture and provide a distorted view of reality. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a member of the happy clappy brigade. What we are facing is incredibly serious and unprecedented. In no way do I want to downplay the huge impact this virus has had and will have on peoples’ lives. I know that from my own experience.
Speaking at events is how I predominantly generate my income. All my events for the next few months are cancelled. Some will be rearranged, but a number won’t. My two elderly parents are vulnerable and live alone, so I’m not writing from a place of cosy comfort. I’m writing from a place of reality. A few days ago I discovered that, given my current symptoms, it’s likely that I have the Coronavirus. But if we are going to remain resilient and strong for ourselves and others, we need to manage our mental diet. We need to consume water that is pure, not salty. We can’t control what is going on in the world right now, but we can influence what’s going on in our inner world. A really great question to reflect on, and one that will engage your Blue Cap brain, is this: ‘Who’s in charge, the thinker or the thought?’ Here’s the deal. You’re in charge. Remember that. 37
Feature: Paul McGee But feasting on a diet of negativity and despair will only exacerbate your anxiety. Now I’m not suggesting we play the denial card and pretend everything is fine when clearly it’s not. What I am asking is simply this: how balanced is your mental diet? We need to be prepared and we need to be informed, but we also need to avoid feeding our fears. I know that’s easier said than done. But here’s one idea that will help. Having struggled with my own anxiety issues, even before this global crisis began, it’s something I practice every day. And it’s something I will continue to do, even when this current situation is under control. Every day I ask myself the following three questions: Question One – What Am I Thankful ‘Four’? That’s four specific things you’re thankful for that happened the previous day. They don’t have to be life-changing or amazing, just four simple things that could be easy to take for granted, but which you are grateful for. It could be a cuddle with your cat, an easier commute to work, a catch up with a friend, or managing to find a shop that had some toilet rolls! Question Two – How Am I Showing Kindness to Others? This could be as simple as asking a harassed checkout operator how they are, smiling, and saying thank you. It could be checking in on a neighbour to see if they need anything. It could be donating to a charity that will be under particular pressure at the moment. Again, it’s not about life changing actions, just simple acts of kindness. Question Three – How Am I Showing Kindness to Myself? Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s crucial to our success and sanity. So apart from looking out for others, don’t put yourself and your needs at the bottom of your priority list. Perhaps it’s going for a walk, having a nice long bath, or choosing to do something that either relaxes or revitalises you. Either way, make sure you look after yourself if you want to be a support to others.
Our current situation might limit the physical connection we have with others, but let’s get creative 38
– there are still plenty of ways to connect. Perhaps some people might rediscover the lost art of talking on the phone, writing a letter or sending a card. Join a Facebook group, start a WhatsApp group, and when it’s appropriate, spread humour. We live in serious times, but sometimes it’s really helpful not to take ourselves too seriously. I know I’m not finding having to self-isolate easy, but I’m connecting with lots of people and those funny memes and videos they share are definitely lifting my spirits.
Hippo Time is OK
What do Hippos do in mud? They wallow. And we all need to give ourselves permission to do the same. We need to allow ourselves the time to digest what could be the huge disappointment of cancellations and schedule changes, whether that’s a holiday, family birthday party, a graduation, or even a postponed wedding. It’s OK to be gutted, frustrated and seriously hacked off. In fact, it’s normal. The only crumb of comfort is knowing it’s not just you facing these setbacks. However, the next point is crucial. Hippo Time is Ok, but it’s temporary. If you look at China and see how the country is slowly (but cautiously) returning to normal, it’s an indication that what we’re facing now is not permanent. So be careful of becoming too stuck in the mud. One question I often ask myself is ‘How important will this be in six months’ time?’ The aftershock of this crisis will, I’m sure, be felt for months and potentially years to come. But I’m also hopeful that the picture in six months’ time will be a better and more hopeful one than it is now.
Paul McGee – The SUMO Guy Paul McGee is a motivational speaker, Sunday Times bestselling author and visiting Professor at the University of Chester. He’s authored eleven books to date, including the best seller How Not to Worry. Paul is an international speaker, speaking on topics relating to change, resilience and leadership. He has spoken in 41 countries to date and his books have sold in excess of 250,000 copies world wide. For more information go to www.theSUMOguy.com.
Feature: Richard Marcus
Here To Protect The Ups and Downs of Being a Casino Game Protection Trainer
on’t get me wrong about the downs! There’s nothing I love more than getting a call from a casino asking me to come to their property and train their Tables Games or Surveillance Staff. The pay is excellent and if I didn’t get those calls, I wouldn’t have much to do with my professional life anymore. After all, spending the first 25 years of adulthood as a casino cheat doesn’t exactly put together an eye-catching resume for most of the world’s job markets. The job itself is not easy, especially if you’re in the latter stages of middle age or beyond! In my case, there’s lots of international travel involved, and that alone takes a lot out of you. And then there’s the scheduling. Virtually all training takes place during the week, so when you’re on the road, you find yourself killing lots of non-profitable time in hotel rooms. The actual training sessions pass quite quickly because they are never boring. However, at the end of the day you feel it because you’ve been on your feet talking for eight hours straight, even during lunch because attendees are always coming up to you asking questions and making comments, which is all good. And in cases where I train at one property for an entire week, the voice can go AWOL by the end of day 3 or beginning of day 4. And I rarely use visuals! But I am not complaining. Overall, my training sessions, both to individual casinos at their properties and to open multi-group casino seminars in major gaming areas, are quite rewarding experiences for me, and I would think as well for the grand majority of the attendees who participate. However, there are some frustrations, the biggest one being attendees who don’t come to a seminar with an open mind. The first thing game protection training attendees need to have to come away with something valuable from a training session is an open mind and a willingness to believe the possibility of something seemingly impossible, even Volume 16: Issue 139
when it happens to them. I like to say to an audience, “If I were some guy you met in a bar and I told you the moves I pulled off in casinos, you would tell me to take a hike with some expletive at the end. That is understandable, but, unfortunately, some attendees take that same attitude at a training session. Then I say, “But if what I am going to tell and show you over the next several hours are not reality, then I wouldn’t be here standing in front of you, would I?” The point simply being that I would not have received 39
Feature: Richard Marcus
But if what I am going to tell and show you over the next several hours are not reality, then I wouldn’t be here standing in front of you, would I? a call from their casino department heads to come and train the casino in the first place. This usually gets most of the people who didn’t come to the training with an open mind to open up their minds. But not all. However, I can deal with that and it’s not frustrating. You cannot expect everyone to believe in new elements of training that contradict what they have already learned or experienced, especially if their previous trainers were good. What does get my goat is when that disbelief is replaced by ignorance, over-aggressiveness and just plain resentment against me. Some people just don’t accept learning game protection from an ex-cheat and have to vent that resentment by challenging me at every step and corner. Challenges are fine and I encourage them, but not when they get out of hand or 40
have little to do with the training in progress. For example, at a European international event not long ago, I was doing a segment on daub cardmarking, using 3-card poker as an example. So without asking the attendees which 3 cards would the card-markers be most interested in marking, I just got right into it telling them they would mark the Qs, Ks and As since they are the most important cards in the game. But as I started showing it, one attendee, actually a well-respected operations manager from a major European casino with 30 or 35 years’ experience, challenged me and said they might want to mark the 2s, 3s and 4s instead. At first I thought he was joking but he persisted to the point where he was disrupting the seminar. I kept asking him why would they mark the 2s, 3s and 4s instead of the three most important cards to the game. Then I thought maybe he didn’t know the dealer qualifying rules. But he did know them and still persisted that the likelihood of marking the 2s, 3s and 4s was no different from that of marking the Qs, Ks and As, given only 3 ranks of cards would be marked. Well, I lost my cool and let the ignorance of this person get to me. I argued with him until I was blue in the face and finally had to say lightheartedly, “OK, sir, you’re right....” After the seminar, another attendee who had witnessed my frustration approached me and said, “You know what? You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Everyone here paid a significant amount of money to attend your class. If someone wants to behave like that, just move on. Don’t let it interfere with what you’re trying to accomplish.” I explained to him how it bothered me so much because I really care about people learning and getting something out of my seminars. He just shook his head and said succinctly, “Sometimes you just can’t give insight to those who wanna be blind.” And then he recounted a story about Steve Jobs, whom I think is one of the greatest human beings to ever step foot on earth. He told me that Jobs once said in an interview that when hecklers at his presentations would stand up and shout out something nasty about his products, like this or that iPhone sucks, he would just take pause for 10 seconds, look upward and take a deep breath, and then just go on about what he was saying about the product. He said that calmed him down and avoided confrontations.
Feature: Richard Marcus
I have since adopted the Steve Jobs method of dealing with onsite frustration and it has indeed helped me. Thank you, Steve. I would like to close with one incident that happened a few years back that is the epitome of not keeping an open mind. In one session, an elder attendee challenged me on a certain type of roulette cheat move. He said it could never be done on him or anyone else in his casino, and he took it to the wall and seemingly
would have bet his life on it. Well, as fate would have it, not only could it be done on him and his casino, it WAS done on him IN his casino! Twice! You see, while I was in the casino-cheating business for 25 years I kept records on every move I ever did, all thousands of them. I charted who the dealer was, who the floor supervisors were, if there was any heat, if surveillance was called or another pit notified, etc., etc. It just so happened I recognized this particular attendee as a dealer I had beaten with the same cheat move some years prior. He had very distinct physical characteristics. Of course his adamant refusal to accept reality pissed me off, but of course as well, I couldn’t say that I had done the exact same move on him twice...for two reasons: 1) It would not be acceptable etiquette on my part; 2) He would have never believed me anyway! That...is the frustration of game protection training. So if luck has it that I ever visit your casino to do some training, please keep an open mind! Volume 16: Issue 139
Richard’s new eBook “Casino Game Protection from Both Sides of the Table” will be released on May 15th. Contact him at his website firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn to order.
Deconstructing the Millennial Generation
illennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1996. Gaming companies today are learning that if we want a sustainable growth, we’d better pay attention to the millennials. They make up 31.5% of the global population and that amounts to some serious purchasing power…they already spend about $200 billion a year on goods and services, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Clearly, understanding them is very important for our business and here are some basic common facts we know for the millennials: • a strong understanding of self, expression and morality; and • are comparatively more focused on
connecting and engaging with those who share their personal and ethical values like people, band, or celebrities. • they have huge buying power! • The way they learn about products and services is radically different from the advertising-focused marketing of earlier generations. • The group overall is tech-savvy and social media-driven.
Raymond Chan, Managing Partner, Alphaslot
How to connect millennial market with Gaming? We know millennials derive pleasure from engaging with like-minded people. We know they derive more value from experiences than objects. But what are these experiences? What is the means through which they achieve this? We are trying to give the answer here. 42
Peer Influence In one survey, a mere 1% of Millennials said their trust in a brand is increased by its advertising. They’re actually turning to friends, family members, and online reviews for reference. For decades, major brands spent money on TV and print ads to get the more market share. Now we should think different, to spend more effort and investment on IP and KOL (key opinion leader) influence. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Community Building Because of Millennials’ affinity for social media, we must build a deeper, two-way relationship with their peers. Learning a couple examples from the consumer industry: Coca-Cola Co. has rolled out its personalized-name soda cans and invited customers to share their own photos and comments using the hashtag #shareacoke on Twitter and received a big success. Johnson & Johnson also launched a campaign in which Millennials could take to YouTube
and share their experiences dealing with acne. It tapped into the sense of real-people experiences in the community that so they can see real value out of it directly. It is time for us to re-think how our loyalty programs are structured today and make the modifications accordingly with a closer linkage to the social media like IG and Twitter.
not going to work as before. To stay competitive, business should segment the market and related product based on the demographics, lifestyle choices and values of the gamer tastes, and adopting different campaigns and product targeted to those different groups.
The Bottom Line With more than 73 million members, targeting new business on the Millennial generation can’t go too wrong. As a result, gaming companies should be busy by now figuring out the incentive to earn the trust of Millennial consumers: As they mature and advance, their purchasing power are the one keeping the industry sustainable in the long run.
Going Mobile According to one report, the average Millennial reaches for his or her smartphone as often as 45 times a day. The trend is putting pressure for us to create mobile-friendly websites and apps where consumers can more easily research products or conduct a transaction, even the product are physically located on the traditional casino floors. The prevalence of mobile devices is even affecting the millennials spending behavior. Millennials are also using their smartphones to compare prices and look for coupons as they roam around the shopping mall. We can expect that they are doing the same when walking around the casinos (and the shopping mall attached to most of them). Even local regulations may restrict the use of ads for gaming activities, other entertainment events are not in the restricted list which the casino operators have invested billions into already. Get the right messages onto the millennials phone screen will definitely help the foot traffic on the casino floor and help in brand building with their peers.
Greater Diversity Millennials are the most diverse generation according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The number of people in this age group who classify themselves as “non-Hispanic white” is just 60%. Furthermore, those in millennials group have varied family backgrounds. As a result, the one-size-fitsall approach to marketing and product offering is Volume 16: Issue 139
About Raymond Chan Raymond Chan has 25 years of experience building award-winning teams and products with global technology companies. He joined Alphamirai and co-founded Alphaslot in 2018, played a key role in developing long-term strategic relationships with Fortune 500’s senior leaders for the company over his career. He also co-founded two other technology companies, TGG Interactive and G3 Asia Ltd. Earlier in his career he spent 10 years R&D in Silicon Valley and was part of the founding team that established the E*TRADE Business Intelligence Data Center in North America. Mr. Chan holds an engineering and management science degree from the University of Waterloo and earned his Sir Isaac Newton physic scholar in Canada.
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Comment: Shaun McCamley
Digital Gaming Who Are The Winners In This Time Of Crisis
s we move into prolonged lockdowns and increased social distancing measures, the ability to connect through social media platforms has become increasingly important. So will platforms that offer a combination of social interaction and gambling be winners in this time of immense disruption to our normal daily lives? History tells us that every major crisis has its winners and losers. Covid19 is no exception and from all reports the majority of the online gambling industry has been hit hard. But which online gambling segments are going to be the winners or losers and what will be the key reasons behind success or failure?
Sports has been particularly hard hit with all of the major betting sports being forced to cancel events, leaving punters with very little to bet on. Operators have been left with football from Belarus, Russian table tennis and horse racing from Sweden.
Step forward virtual sports. The most sophisticated products mash real archive video footage together to create realistic virtual events based on historical statistics which are impossible to predict. Sports data feed companies have started offering sports book operators ‘virtual’ betting which use sophisticated AI algorithms. Simulated markets can be created which produce results as close to the real thing as possible by trawling through the archives of historical data. Punters can bet on final results or even participate in ‘in-play’ markets, while bookmakers benefit from 24 hour play in place of scheduled events. Tennis is one of the most popular virtual sports for the simple reason that it is data-heavy in terms of statistics that can be analysed and the fact that there are so many different things to bet on. Apart from overall results, bets include the number of aces, second serves or total points won by either or both players. Volume 16: Issue 139
Betting on financial markets is largely unaffected although the volatility is certainly an issue when attempting to evaluate risk. But stock market indices, individual equity spread betting and currency betting should continue to do well, albeit in a volatile manner. 45
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Comment: Shaun McCamley
Bingo and Poker
The demographic of bingo and poker will remain the same and even increase slightly with individuals selfisolating or in lockdown seeking social entertainment at home.
Lottery will probably be unaffected unless house hold income is severely diminished as people continue to seek the life changing win.
Slots and classic RNG table games are likely to be unaffected with demand perhaps increasing as boredom sets in at home. Likely chargebacks will increase as a result of players betting over their heads. Operators therefore need to put in place responsible limits and protective procedures to minimize harm to both players and operators alike. Live Dealer platforms are threatened by the social distancing requirements, with many operations already shutdown. After looking around at just what’s available a beacon in the otherwise depressing landscape is a IOM licensed social centric platform called Live Solutions, a B2B provider, whose casino table games platform seems eerily well suited to the current environment. The system has been built from the bottom up over the last two years to be completely managed
and run in a distributed network using the company’s proprietary software. This means that all of the staff, and there are more than 1800 of them, work from home all over the world and log in to the virtual office using chrome browsers. They have access to video meeting rooms and ip telephony and it seems to replicate every aspect of office life except the actual building. The firm operates “Casino Floor Live” which is an infinitely scalable table games environment, with each table hosted by a live presenter. The players all get to video chat with each other and the host which creates the social interactions and activity which is craved by individuals forcibly in lockdown these days. It’s been described as “Zoom for casino”. The tables can be hosted in any language and using any currency, with local presenters, speaking the local language, with local knowledge, working from home. With many individuals in lockdown, craving social Volume 16: Issue 139
activity, the product seems to tick all the boxes and is already reporting very high demand from revenue starved operators. As I mentioned before and wrapped up in all of this is the need for online operators to act responsibly with a duty of care to staff and players alike; this is absolutely paramount. Most regulated and responsible operators realise the increased risk that loneliness through self-isolation will have on players. Trust is key and earning that through providing responsible gaming measures is vitally important. Platforms whose model is heavily skewed toward real time social interaction and who have responsible gaming policies will definitely be the winners. This will become evident when we eventually come out of this crisis and start getting our lives back to some sort of normality. Social isolation is going to be with us for quite some time, so the key message to operators is to act responsibly and look toward the long game. Players should look for responsible sites where they can safely have fun playing and interacting with other users and remember, bet with your head, not over it.
Biography Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd has over 39 years’ experience in the land based and digital gaming industries. Recognized by Global Gaming Business Weekly as one of the top 25 industry people to watch. Holder of Key Management Gaming Licenses issued by the USA and Australia. In 1999, as a pioneer and early operator in online gaming, he founded BingoWorkz which developed and operated the internet’s first networked gaming solution using Flash technology. Since 2001 building Euro-Pacific-Asia Management Consulting into a leading firm that provides advice, casino management services and turn-key solutions to the land based and digital gaming industries. A former President, CEO, and SVP of international gaming resort destinations. Commissioned to establish international casino resort developments in Australia (Perth) the Philippines (Subic Bay) Vietnam (Ho Tram) Tinian and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Shaun is regularly invited to serve as chairman, keynote speaker and panelist at major gaming conferences around the world. As the Managing Partner for Euro Pacific Asia Consulting, Shaun continues to consult to the industries’ major land based and digital gaming operators.
Manage This: Robert Brassai
Taking a Land Based Casino Online Robert Brassai
ith the recent lock down of landbased casinos all over the world, the search for alternative revenue streams intensified. People and businesses as well mostly like to stick to what they know or what they think they know, so they search for these revenue sources in gaming alternatives such as online casino, sportsbook, lottery and all other online products that have to do with gambling. We at Sense 4 Gaming in the past 2 months have had quite a few inquiries and requests from land-based operations to investigate ways their business could be taken online. Most casinos have a very simplistic approach to this, thinking, that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an instant money maker and anyone can do it. In fact, land-based casino management mostly think of the online world as a light version of themselves, kind of like a little brother. The truth as always is a bit more complicated. That little brother has been growing fast in the past years, has developed his own distinct personality and traits,
thus relating to him and understanding him is not as simple anymore as you would think. So, how do we bring these estranged brothers closer together and eventually make them work in unison for the family business. What do land based casinos have that would give them a competitive advantage over an online gaming business starting from zero. To do this comparison, we are going to look at a single licensed jurisdiction and ignore for the sake of this exercise grey and black markets, that more or less anyone could operate in. When starting a land-based business, your single most important factor to driving customers to the property and thus to success used to be location. With the emergence of online, location lost some of its luster, but in the case of regulated online gambling, while youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not looking anymore at a 90 kms radius as your catchment area, borders of the country you are licensed in will be your barrier to recruiting players. 48
You will have three important advantages over your competitor starting from zero: • Your database of players • Your brand • Your trustworthiness In general, your biggest expense when starting your online operation will be recruiting players to your site. CPA or cost per acquisition is a dreaded number that can easily determine together with other cost factors like taxation, supplier shares and affiliate percentages how profitable your online gambling business is going to be. Having a well-maintained database of your players will simply kickstart your business and will give it a financial base, that your competitor can only replace with serious up-front investment. When we are talking about using your database, it’s not only offering those regular players of yours extended time on device, but also recruiting all those casual visitors you signed up during the years, who did not have the funds to gamble at your expensive casino, or for other reasons stayed away from publicly showing their interest in placing a bet on tables or slots. Online gambling is a lot more democratic, a lot cheaper and a lot more anonymous. So, if you did a good job at signing up everyone that went through your door to your loyalty club, now it’s time to reap the rewards of your good work and foresight. Let’s just hope, your marketing people kept the database relevant with up to date phone numbers and email addresses. Building brand awareness is another costly and time-consuming exercise. If once again your casino is successful in the territory, and has been around for a few years, most probably your brand is known to most people even if they don’t have a propensity to gamble. That brand awareness will make it so much easier then for you to recruit new players to your online gambling business. Easy to imagine, that a new player to be will click on the banner with the name that sounds familiar when presented with the choice. When a player walks into a land-based casino, they would never expect not to get paid when they win. This scenario is simply out of the question. Land based casinos have created during the decades a certain trust in the public eye. Not necessarily the case in the online world. One of the most important factors when judging an online operation is its trustworthiness. There are zillions of player forums dealing with the subject and trying to guide players towards well tried out casinos Volume 16: Issue 139
Manage This: Robert Brassai
When we are talking about using your database, it’s not only offering those regular players of yours extended time on device, but also recruiting all those casual visitors you signed up during the years, who did not have the funds to gamble at your expensive casino, or for other reasons stayed away from publicly showing their interest in placing a bet on tables or slots. and sports books, that actually pay them and in a timely manner. There is a long history on why this stigma hunts the online industry which could be the subject of another article, but suffice to say, that your land based history will give your players a serious reassurance, that their play dollars are going to be in good hands. There are of course a dozen other factors giving you a competitive advantage when you have a land-based background, but here we covered the three most important ones. If and when you decide to take your casino online, one more serious consideration would be, not to do it only as the extension of your existing business, cause then you are destined to a slow and frustrating death. Also, the people that run your existing business, however professional they may be they are strangers to the online world and simply don’t have the knowledge you need to succeed in the online sphere. Trust the future of your business to professionals with a proven history in successful online operations. In the long run, if you play it well, both teams will learn from each other and eventually create a bond that will benefit both sides of the business. For a painless and smooth start and transition, we at Sense 4 Gaming offer our services with relevant knowledge of both sides of the gambling industry and with a proven track record in taking land based operations online.
Last Word: Damien Connelly
Learn From Hard Rock, Disney and Theatres
es Misérables is one of the most successful theatre productions of all time. It was turned into a movie and has its own colloquialism. You can’t visit theatres and cinemas right now. However, you can watch Les Misérables’ concert online by going to https://www.lesmis.com/concert. Self-proclaimed as “The Armchair Theatre Event Of The Year” presenting a digital concert to remain engaged with fans emphasises the value of content; especially content that is unique, branded/trusted, engaging, and sought after. Content enables brands to extend their reach and customer touch points beyond the physical into the digital realms. Your resort casino(s) may be closed, the Internet is both open and roaring; Netflix’s 1Q20 new subscribers were +64% compared to 1Q19, and the new Disney+ streaming service has gained over 50 million subscribers within five months of its U.S. launch.
“Great storytelling inspires and uplifts, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to deliver a vast array of great entertainment rooted in joy and optimism on Disney+,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit. Having relevant omni-channel content for your customers to engage with has never been more useful 50
and important than under the current conditions. Content that supports and adds value to your brand helps maintain relevance with your customers. Referencing my ASMR discussion from Last Word issue #138, content that helps your customers reduce their stress and anxiety levels and helps them relax is likely to be particularly beneficial right now: beneficial to your brand; beneficial to your customers; and, most likely, beneficial to your local community and health system. Mental wellness is at least as important as physical wellness.
Hard Rock’s Rock Om® Mental wellness was historically more important in some cultures than in others. That’s changing. Yoga is one of the most widely available meditative practices that has global awareness and reach. Since quarantines were introduced around the world,
streaming content has become more and more sought after. Some of the most popular streaming content channels since quarantine have been physical fitness and mental wellness. Several yoga channels have seen subscriber numbers explode. Rock Om is Hard Rock’s yoga experience. While I’d say it’s not quite got the onground-online balance correct yet, it has the required assets to make this a long-term winner for its brand. It’s a simple use of the yoga concept that’s relevant to Hard Rock’s musical history, Rock Om is intelligently branded, and it’s engaging. Everyone is talking about tomorrow being different from yesterday. That means you need to change your operations. The easiest way to change is to copy what other business’ and industries have done – why reinvent the wheel? So, what will you change that will help your operations and your customers in the future? www.casinolifemagazine.com
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