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December 2016




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Phone: +43 2252 606 319

Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +38 976 007 007 Features Editor:

Damien Connelly Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey

Associate Editor North America David Mckee Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green

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Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...

We start with a project at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse – Victoria Gate in Leeds owned by GGV, where we chat to Patrick Noakes, Venue Director. With a passing nod to Westfield that also shares a position embedded with a major retail development, Victoria Gate looks as if it will experience similar success to its Stratford counterpart. A hop, skip and jump next over to France and we talk to Eric Cavillon, General Manager, Casinos & Development, at Group Barrière. After growth during 2015 the Group took stock and sold off a number of properties in preparation for 2016 which has seen an energetic reassessment of the portfolio and the start of some refurbishment works. 2017 will follow this pattern and the company should be in buying mode at ICE. And then to Malta where we talk to Mark Muscat, Administration Manager, Dragonara Casino Malta about their decision to switch their cash handling to Giesecke & Devrient. Meanwhile, industry stalwart Nelson Rose takes a sanguine look at what the new US president is likely to mean to gambling in the States. To say that he predicts unpredictability would be an understatement. Next up is Luke Ormerod of gaming-focused marketing agency Blueclaw who shares his insight into the most effective ways for casino operators to drive profit. The almost annual question of whether poker is a game of chance or skill is addressed yet again by Carl Sampson and he, like us, probably thinks that someone should nail down the coffin on this issue once and for all. I always think of it as both. Its down to luck that I happen to be on a plane where both pilots eat the contaminated fish mid-Atlantic but, following an appeal by air hostesses for someone who has experience with flying WWII simulators, it’s a matter of skill as to whether I can get that baby on the ground safely. On that subject of safety I’m just back from Cairo a few days after visiting Caesars casinos there (see future issue) and my thoughts are with those affected by the recent bombings. This is probably all old news by the time you read this but it has an immediacy for me. Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gambling Law group at the law firm DLA Piper weighs in with more timely information on what the Italian market has in store... never a dull moment. Bob Ambrose gets out his crystal ball for 2017 whilst Victor Royer casts his eye over what was good and bad about G2E this year. Finally we close with Mark Wayman telling you why you’re a loser and Paul McGee persuading you to not take such crap so seriously and be confident. Hooray! From myself and all the team on Casino Life: the non-award-winning, yes-we-keep-publishing-whilst-othersgive-in, no, we-don’t-publish-your-oldGlyn Thomas news-stuff, have a great 2017! Editor in Chief


Contents 3

Editors Page

5 The Entertainment Business Patrick Noakes, Venue Director Victoria Gate Casino, chats to Glyn Thomas 11 Barrière, the French leader Eric Cavillon, General Manager, Casinos & Development Casinos of group Barrière, speaks to Peter White 22 Winning Reductions Casino Life spoke to Mark Muscat, Administration Manager, Dragonara Casino Malta 25 President Trump and the Future of Legal Gaming by Professor I. Nelson Rose 33 T  he Most Profitable Marketing Channels For Casino Operators Luke Ormerod of gaming-focused marketing agency Blueclaw shares his insight into the most effective ways for casino operators to drive profit 36 Poker: Skill or Chance? “Chance favours the prepared mind” - Louis Pasteur by: Carl Sampson 38 T  he Italian gaming market in tension before the big change! by Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gambling Law group at the law firm DLA Piper 40 It’s year end prophetic declaration time I must tell you something profound for the coming year in gaming that will rattle you to the core! 42 G2E 2016 – Part One  The Good, the Bold, the Same, and the Old by: Victor H. Royer 45 The Godfather on crummy companies aka why top talent is passing your company: by Mark Wayman 48 Paul McGee Internationally known speaker, facilitator and author, Paul McGee is best known as the SUMO Man, teaching all to Shut Up, Move On 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 Premier Print Group Ltd.


The Entertainment Business Patrick Noakes, Venue Director Victoria Gate Casino, chats to Glyn Thomas

Who are Global Gaming Ventures? Global Gaming Ventures (Developments) Limited (GGV) is a privately owned UK casino development company. The business was established several years ago by Tony Wollenberg (a gaming industry lawyer and entrepreneur), who was later joined by Andrew Herd (formerly of Aspinalls/Aspers). GGV is backed by a leading US private equity firm. Creating an enjoyable fun and relaxed environment is an important factor in Leisure and entertainment venues. What kind of investment has Victoria Gate Casino made into the likes of audio-visual & lighting equipment at the Casino? The lighting (internal and external) plays a huge part in managing the atmosphere and defining

the ambience of an area. The AV outputs need to be carefully tailored to match the mood of the occasion, the time of day and the external light. We have used highly skilled specialists to create very varied bar and lounge areas that will have a very distinct look and feel, ranging from the more vibrant ‘Live Bar’ where we will be showing a range of sports on one of the largest video walls I’ve seen in a venue like this, to a quieter and more relaxed lounge feel in the ‘Curve Bar’ and the restaurant. Our experts have also given careful attention to the lighting on the gaming tables, creating ‘islands of excitement’. Is this Casino based on Westfield and do you think it


can emulate its success? We’ve not based the design or business model exclusively on any one casino, though we are always open to learning from other operators’ experience. Aspers Stratford is widely recognised as being a highly successful casino and there are some obvious similarities with Victoria Gate – for example the proximity of a major retail centre and convenient access to transport. That said, each of the current ‘large licence’ casinos in the UK occupy very different markets and it would be a mistake to assume that what works in one is naturally transferable to another. We’ve taken into account our location and the vibrant leisure market in Leeds and formed our offer and designs accordingly. Naturally, we’ve taken note of developments in casinos, both in the UK and abroad as we’ve developed our thinking and tried to marry best practice with our local knowledge. Will Poker have a high profile at this casino? Victoria Gate Casino will have a significant card room offer. We’ve recruited a dedicated poker manager


with extensive experience in the UK market and he’ll be putting together a range of tournaments and cash game offers. We want our poker room to be seen as ‘the place’ to play, in Leeds and across the North. Does the Casino have a sports bar? Yes, we will have two bars, one of which will be our live events bar – the Live Bar, which will have an enormous video wall and multiple large screens so we can show a wide range of sports and events simultaneously. We want to enhance the overall casino experience and create a destination venue. Unlike most casinos in the north of England, guests will be able to simply walk in – as you would any other leisure venue – and enjoy a meal, a drink, watch the big game and relax. No ID is needed to come into the premises other than for the ‘Challenge 21’ age checks that are familiar in pubs and clubs. The live events bar will have wallto-wall screens, specifically designed for watching sports and other events, as well as self-service sports betting terminals.

Glamour Excitement and Atmosphere is a powerful combination do you think this Casino has that magic combination? They say that the success of a casino is ‘in the bricks’ and we hope that our bricks will have the magic touch! Victoria Gate Casino will be a casino unlike any other in the north of England, it is an entertainment destination right in the heart of Leeds. The total project cost is close to £30m and it will be one of the biggest leisure venues in the city. In terms of look and feel, we want to be classy but also welcoming and accessible, in keeping with the Victoria Gate development (pictured above) of which we are a part and which is home to a number of high street and more aspirational brands like John Lewis, Russell & Bromley, Anthropologie, and Aspinal of London. And it’s that easily accessible city centre location (with 1400 parking spaces in and around the scheme), the quality tenants that surround us, the scale of the venue, the offer we have that will create an exciting, atmospheric, ‘must-visit’ venue.

Is this a Casino where you can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat whilst watching a major Sporting event as well as try your luck on the slots or at the tables? It’s exactly that. We have designed our casino to be a high quality leisure and entertainment destination. With a restaurant, function space, two bars and outside terraces, there’s plenty of nongaming activity to choose from. The food served in our restaurant will be freshly prepared in our own kitchens and we will cater for all tastes, with everything from popular mainstream cocktails to craft beers and speciality produce. We will soon be announcing further details, so watch this space! Value for money and quality of food is a challenge. What price band have you set for a meal and drink at the Casino? The Victoria Gate Casino will be an upscale venue with top quality production values. But I can let you into a small secret, which is that the expected success of our gaming offer means we can keep our prices competitive in the bars and restaurant. We will also be going out of our way to offer


some special ‘opening’ deals in the early weeks. In particular, those customers who sign up before opening can expect some really special bargain offers. But please keep it quiet! This new Casino has brought a lot of new investment to Leeds that involves over 180 new jobs. That’s something I’m particularly proud of. The scale of the venue will generate at least 205 full-time jobs at the casino across a variety of roles including gaming, waiting and bar staff, to chefs, cashiers, greeters, security and administrative staff – we are committed to employing at least 90 per cent of our staff from within the Leeds City Region. We’re recruiting individuals from a range of backgrounds and experience, from apprentices to those not currently in education or employment. Our employees are going to be learning a real craft. There will be the opportunity to train to NVQ level in cuisine, hospitality, gaming and a host of other fields which are all relevant to Victoria Gate Casino. I am also delighted that we have been overwhelmed by applications to join our team – over 1,000 people have participated in our recruitment process so far. We are selecting carefully to secure an enthusiastic and diverse group of colleagues who will warmly welcome all our customers and provide top drawer service.


The new Casino occupies over 50,000 sq ft which, for a UK Casino, is big. How many slot machines and tables will be in action at the Casino? We will have up to 30 live gaming tables with a mixture of roulette, card games (such as blackjack and punto banco), and dice. The poker room has space for over 150 players. There will be up to 150 slot machines as well as around 75 electronic gaming terminals. Millennials are an important age range. How have you catered for this market? We will cater to a wide and diverse audience from the serious gamer to the leisure market. Everyone is welcome and Millennials, as well as many other demographics, will be among our customers. We are aware, however, that Millennials are a particularly demanding group – they expect an interactive experience, top quality service and the latest food and drink offerings. We are also investing heavily in our social media activities which are an important part of fostering a ‘sense of community’ for all our customers but perhaps especially for the Millennials. In the longer term, we (like other casinos) are looking at the area of ‘social gaming’ and skill based gaming. These may ultimately appeal particularly to a Millennial demographic. What would you say are amongst the many

unique aspects of the new Casino? Style, size, location, diversity of offer and ‘open door’ entry are the foundation elements. But we want to build on this by recruiting and developing the best, most friendly, most efficient and most skilled customer service team. We are in the entertainment business and we want to provide an entertainment experience which delights all our customers – every single one, all of the time. Outline your career in gaming and the specifics of your role of Venue Director? Before joining Global Gaming Ventures, the operator of Victoria Gate Casino, I had a great 13-year career at Gala Coral Group. I ran the ‘North’ region for about ten years, which included Leeds and Bradford, before moving into central operations and ultimately taking on the divisional operations role. I was also a main Board Director of the combined casino, bingo, betting and leisure complex run by Gala in Gibraltar. Before Gala, I was General Manager and Regional Director at Ladbroke Casinos. This is where I picked up my ‘Casino General Manager of the Year’ title. How does it feel to be running the North of England’s first Super Casino? It’s an honour and I’m proud to be part of something special. What we have here is a

unique opportunity to build a best-of-class venue that covers not just gaming, but dining and entertainment, big game sports action as well as corporate hospitality. This is an exciting time for Leeds as the city adds Victoria Gate to its expanding retail and leisure portfolio. It is such a beautiful city and the central retail area is now fabulous with Victoria Gate and Trinity as its book ends. So it is an exciting time to be part of the launch of a prestigious new, next generation casino and entertainment venue. For those of our readers that enjoy visiting new Casinos can you provide them an insight into why Victoria Gate Casino is a must visit Casino and how they can be assured of being informed of when it will be open for business! We have the biggest and best casino offer outside London! No serious casino gambler in the north can afford to miss checking us out. I can assure them of a warm welcome in a venue which will delight and amaze. Please let us entertain you! We will soon be confirming the exact opening date (early 2017 is all I can say for now). We will be letting Casino Life know as soon as the date is fixed but you can also find out more by registering on our website ( or via our social channels – @VictoriaGateCasino on Facebook and @VGCasino on Twitter.


Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains

Barrière, the French leader

Eric Cavillon, General Manager Casinos & Development Casinos of group Barrière, speaks to Peter White 11

Eric Cavillon

What would you say are some of the additional unique aspects about Barrière Casinos that set them apart from their rivals? The Barrière group is France’s leading casino group with an overall market share of around 35%. In total, our casinos accounted for nearly ten million customer entries in 2015. What makes us unique? The Group is notable by the size and richness of its facilities. Six of the top ten French casinos belong to Barrière. We have casinos in the most beautiful French destinations such as; Deauville, Cannes, Paris and Enghien-les-Bains. Our casino in Enghien is the market leader in France, with a turnover exceeding 160 million euros in 2015. We also have the largest casino in Switzerland, in Montreux, a casino in Cairo, Egypt and we will soon open the casino of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. What differentiates us from our competitors is this Barrière mark, a culture of hospitality, inherited from the Group’s other businesses: hotels and restaurants. Barrière is also the subtle blend of the best location, top-of-therange decoration, a vast offer of gaming and leisure


activities and a personal service and at the same time both discreet and always listening. Barriere’s marketing is of the level of what is practiced in other industries with a CRM and digital application. Barrière website packs an impact and is very stylish. Clearly the brand is an important part of the Barrière Hotel Leisure operations marketing mix. To design our new website we have looked a great deal at what is done in France, abroad but also in other industries other than that of gaming. Our digital presence is based on three complementary tools: the new website, dedicated to the conquest of new customers, the mobile application dedicated to loyalty linked to our system of CRM “Carré Vip” and a free-to-play game and finally the social networks, Instagram and Facebook in particular. Our new website has 3 objectives: • Increase digital traffic by recruiting new customers and increasing service and experience

Casino Barrière Deauville

for loyal customers in casinos. Indeed, digital is often a tool of transformation; through teaching videos it lets people dream. • Develop online sales by the sale of gift boxes and vouchers, ticketing shows, booking restaurants and hotels as an extension of the Barrière experience. • Develop the use and experience of Barriere Casinos by making them more and more interactive to share the Casinos Barriere experience. What is involved in your role of Chief Operating Officer? I am the General Manager of the Barrière Group Casinos and a member of the Group’s Management Committee. I have three regional managers in my team, each of whom supervises about ten casinos and I am also responsible for the Group‘s Casino Games Management, Marketing, Development

and Security. I work in collaboration with all the functional support teams of the group, that is to say the HR, Finance, Communication, Technical, Legal and so on. I set, with my teams, the marketing strategy and the gaming offer. I report directly to Mr. Dominique Desseigne, CEO of the group and propose the strategy and prospects of the Casino business to the Board of Directors. I travel frequently to company sites to meet those who are closest to our customers and I am in regular contact with all our regulatory authorities. I am also vice president of the professional trade body, Casinos de France. What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying? I appreciate being able to develop and deploy a strategy with my teams, to convince and see our actions succeed. I like to go out and into the field and discover new talent at all levels, to see the enthusiasm and involvement of our Directors and


Casino Barrière Toulouse

their teams. Management and exemplarity are the key to success in my opinion. Development is also a part of my activities that I find particularly interesting. When times are hard, I like to be responsive and to overcome obstacles. I like challenges. What are the main goals for Barrière 2017 Following 2015, marked by significant market share gains, 2016 has been a year of transition with a significant strategic refocusing through the sale of 9 casinos and investments concentrated on digital communication and new mobile media. In 2017, Barrière intends to continue its marketing, animation, gaming and renovation efforts to defend and / or improve where possible our market share:


1. Intensification of the development of the offer: tests of new games, diversification of the offer of slots and electronic games; 2. Continued deployment of its new “Carré VIP” loyalty program with 8 new casinos equipped this year (making a total of 19 out of 28 French casinos); and 3. Continuation of the digital transformation at the level of existing casinos with new developments on the site and through the application “Barriere Pocket Casino” released at the end of October 2016. Renovation work is also planned at Deauville, Royan and La Rochelle casinos, as well as the creation of smoking terraces in Toulouse, Cassis and Lille.

The restaurant of the Casino Barrière Niederbronn

Finally, in the spring of 2017, the Group will inaugurate its first casino in sub-Saharan Africa, Casino Barrière Abidjan, the only casino in Côte d’Ivoire, just next to the Sofitel Ivoire. How important is hospitality and entertainment to Barrière? The Group has developed unrivalled offerings in the field of high-end leisure activities, based on operational excellence, quality of service and French style of living. Today, there are 33 Barrière casinos, including the one opening in Abidjan, 17 Barrière hotels, mainly 5 star and more than 120 restaurants and bars, including the famous Fouquet’s in Paris which has also been established in Cannes, La Baule, Marrakech and Toulouse. We offer more than 3,000 shows and animations per year. Casino

gambling is the Group’s principal business with more than 70% of turnover and we are leaders in our market. Having many prestigious hotels helps us in terms of image and also in our relations with local authorities. The Group also enjoys a strong reputation in the catering business with nearly two million meals served yearly. Being mainly integrated into the Group’s hotels or casinos, restaurants account for more than 11% of the Group’s turnover. The Group is also present in well-being with 13 spas (Cannes, Courchevel, Deauville, Dinard, Enghienles-Bains, Lille, Marrakech, Paris, Ribeauvillé), one thalassotherapy centre in La Baule , one balneotherapy in Ribeauvillé, but also in sport with three golf courses, two tennis clubs with more than 32 clay courts and we are partner to many horse


shows (Races, polo, jumping), and are distinguished through destinations located in tourist resorts of international renown. We are a global player in the leisure and entertainment industries. Can you provide readers an insight into the Le Carré VIP Barrière programme? The Carré-VIP program was launched in November 2014. In a market in decline, where the customer is constantly solicited by more and more efficient systems in the leisure markets such as airlines and hotels, recognition of the customer, was a priority. With the program “Le Carré VIP Barrière”, the major evolution, identified by work groups, was to set up a system of rewarding players according to their


spending and not according to their frequency of visits. The Carré-VIP program had 3 primary objectives: • Develop a detailed knowledge of customer behaviour • Develop the value of clients • Develop a strong attachment to the Barrière brand, the basis of the new fidelity. To date, eleven Barrière casinos have deployed the Carré-VIP program. By 2017, eight additional casinos will be fitted out, making a total of 19. What is the highest pay out for slots that the group

What are the most popular table games? In general, the American games are very successful. The recent introduction of Ultimate Poker, for example, is something that works very well for us. Does Barrière host Slot Tournaments? Slot machine tournaments have just been authorized in France. We had been among the “Tests Establishments” with the Casino Barrière Blotzheim. The trial had a great success. For 2017, these gaming systems, like the linked slots jackpot, for example, are part of our planned investments.

Casino Barriere Menton

operate, and what have been the biggest pay outs won in recent years at the Casino? The highest amount paid by one of our casinos was 7.5 M€ at the Casino Barrière Saint Raphael in July 2013 on one of our linked multi-site slot machines. The Magic Casino Jackpot was one of the world’s largest linked jackpots and connected around 300 slots in 100 casinos. Today, the highest jackpot that can be won is of around 1M€ that can be found in the Deauville casino Is the cashless gaming option operational on all gaming devices at Barrière Casinos? Today the cashless systems are installed in nearly all our casinos. We still have some slots that accept coins as there is quite a lot of customer demand for this type of offer.

How popular is the Barrière Poker Tournament and do you welcome participants from across Europe. Also how much is the winning prize money? The first tournaments were organized by the group in 2007 and they have continued to evolve year on year in order to satisfy our customers. We have also previously organized nine EPT’s at Deauville as well as the WSOPs twice at Cannes and then in Enghien. Today, we continue to organise tournaments with Pokerstars, the France Pokerstars series and a national WPT. The 2016 season of the Barrière Poker tournament ended this year after a series of seven dates in France, in Deauville at the beginning of November. Our tournaments are always very successful and attract a European clientele who often cross borders (Belgium / Lille, Italy, SouthEast, Spain / Toulouse...). What percentage across the Casino operations of Barrière are local versus tourist and business people? The distribution of customers depends very much on the type of the establishments, depending on whether it is an urban casino or a resort casino. The Casino de Deauville, for example, a seaside resort located 200 km from Paris, records 50% of visits with the local population and 50% with Parisians. It is quite different for casinos such as Bordeaux, Toulouse or Enghien les Bains, the biggest casino in France, located 14km to the north of Paris and which has had a predominantly local population catchment area but which also counts on an important flow of tourists or business customers thanks to our Resort operations. In Enghienles-Bains, for example, we have two hotels, an auditorium with 200 seats, modular meeting rooms,


The App “Barriere Pocket Casino”

various restaurants, a 3,500 sq m health and sports centre and spa, a theatre of 600 seats, ... and of course the Casino, which allows us to host a population both leisure and business and to propose multi-activity packages and to set up bridges between our different businesses. Have you been to the Totally Gaming ICE this year? What did you think about it? I go to London every year; I appreciate being able to meet all the decision makers of the profession. You can judge the evolutions of the equipment and the developments of the games. My Games Management and Marketing teams also go there. Since my appointment to the position of DG Casinos Group, the Casino Directorship also goes to G2E Las Vegas. In my opinion, it is important to keep ones eyes peeled on the world of gaming, which evolves very quickly. What good causes does Barrière support? Barrière is closely associated with the world of arts and culture. The Barrière Fondation, which supports contemporary artistic creation, illustrates this cultural commitment since 1999.

The new Barrière casino website

Every year, our Corporate Foundation awards the “Writing ...for the screen and the stage” award in two categories: cinema and theatre. The objective is to help and promote the emergence of new talents and to support the diffusion of works. For the first category, candidates must present a feature film, original work completed; for the second, a dramatic work, written in French. Encouraging creativity also involves raising awareness among professionals: producers, distributors and theatre directors. Each of the two juries is composed of a dozen recognized, demanding and well known personalities. At stake? The sum of 31,000 euros: 8,000 euros is the prize for the winner and 23,000 euros for the promotion of his work. To date, nearly 30 projects have received support from the Foundation. We also have a Foundation in Switzerland. The Casino Barrière Montreux Foundation aims to support, in the Casino Barrière Montreux attendance area, non-profit public utility initiatives


The Carré VIP Barrière programme

carried out by public or she had been moved by private organizations the courage of persons in the following who, in the same fields: Culture (music, situation as her, were theatre , Pictorial arts, confronted with many cinema), Social, Sport other obstacles. It is in or Tourism. her memory that Mr The Barrière is Desseigne and through also a partner of him, the Barrière group the Association “Les wished to engage Bouchons d’Amour” with the association since 2001. This charity An electronic roulette in the Casino Barrière Enghien-les bains Bouchons d’Amour. aims to collect plastic This is a partnership bottle tops from various containers, mainly water that naturally fits with the Group’s overall corporate and soft drink bottles, (www.bouchonsdamour. responsibility strategy. A commitment and an com) and sell them at a price of € 210 per tonne to awareness shared by our 7000 employees who a recycling company. All the proceeds from these every day and throughout the year collect bottle sales are then donated in France for the benefit tops. Together we have harvested more than 255 of handicapped people in order to help them tons of plastic in 15 years. purchase equipment that is often too expensive or for occasional humanitarian operations. Abroad, How closely do you work with your marketing the association participates in various humanitarian team on gaming promotions? operations. Diane Barrière-Desseigne was severely Marketing is one of the essential parts of the handicapped as a result of her plane crash in 1995. business. So I’m very involved in defining the Notwithstanding the difficulty of her own situation, marketing strategy. I look very much at what the


Resort Barrière Ribeauvillé

competition is doing to our offers, the but above all I study electronic games and innovations in all the skill games even sectors and wonder though...these are how best practices not yet authorized in can be applied to our these are profession. Marketing very attractive and is, in my view, a correspond to the subtle blend of global current demand. In strategic vision and terms of the future, local operational e-sport and on-line sensitivity and both are 2016 Film prize of the Fondation Barrière, “Five” games in general necessary. That’s why I represent the main like to go to the field, see what slots work, talk to paths for the future. Our Partner Webedia, via our the managers of establishments about their feelings shareholder Fimalac, is already very involved in this about a particular operation, discuss with clients market. and so on. Having been a line employee and in customer What elements on the gaming floor in your service, how do you think that shapes you now? opinion present the biggest challenges and I am familiar with the field, have worked in many opportunities? operational roles and worked for several Casinos I would say principally the Electronic games because groups in France. This allows me to have a clear they combine the immediacy of slot machines overview of the market, the business and its with the mathematics of traditional gaming. The evolution, to understand the basic needs of our challenge ahead is to interest the Millennials Customers today and – hopefully – tomorrow...


Giesecke & Devrient BPS C4 in the Dragonara count room

Winning Reductions


Casino Life spoke to Mark Muscat, Administration Manager, Dragonara Casino Malta

ven if a Casino operation is making a profit, it still has to manage its cash handling effectively as any drop-in efficiency can have a decisive effect on profit. During a major refurbishment of the Dragonara Malta Casino earlier this year, Giesecke & Devrient installed a cash handling solution in the Casino’s count room, with impressive results, as Dragonara’s Mark Muscat explained to Casino Life.


During the planning stage, what did you and your department decide was the most cost effective and efficient approach to financial transaction cash handling operations? At the planning stage, we mapped out the requirements on the basis of efficiency and effectiveness of the system. From an efficiency perspective, the objective was to perform ‘counts’ with less human intervention which meant reducing

errors and completing counts in a timely manner. We also wanted to ensure that what we gained in terms of efficiency also corresponded in terms of effectiveness in that we wanted a machine that is robust and that we could rely on, with very stringent SLAs and a Maintenance programme that fulfils our requirements. What where the key reasons behind the choice of supplier for the cash handling equipment and associated management systems? The choice of supplier for the cash handling equipment was surprisingly quite straightforward. It was obvious from the initial presentation that G&D would provide us with a solution that met our requirements and that this would be achieved with a high standard of professionalism. The product fit the bill and the investment was within our expectations. How much training was needed during the

installation and pre-opening preparation of the staff involved. Has it been a technological adjustment for some or has it been relatively straightforward? As one might imagine, replacing a process that requires a heavy element of human intervention with one that requires very little human interface must work well all the time. This is more so in a critical and sensitive process such as cash handling. Training and on-going maintenance was always going to be critical


aspects of our decision making. G&D provided an intense one week training programme for our staff and this worked very well for us. This technology, developed for the banking industry, has advanced considerably in recent years, with gains in productivity, security and staff reduction. But it isn’t cheap. How did you reach your decision to automate cash counting at the Dragonara? A thorough investment appraisal was undertaken before we went on with purchasing the cash handling equipment. We knew the cash handling machine from G&D was not cheap but the pros far outweighed the cons and the payback of this system is pretty quick. Automating the count leaves very little chance for human error and reduces the headcount in the process. Moreover the count is completed in much less time. We have gone from a six hour process with a headcount of three to a process involving only one individual for less than three hours. The math is very simple. We have also adopted the G&D machine for


TITO tickets which previously had been done by the cashier. This process is not included in the automation system, which means that the machine scans the tickets during the count itself. Have you anything else you would like to add about this automated cash handling and financial transaction system? Our experience with G&D has been exceptional. After years counting cash through two separate machines with many individuals involved and the need to verify errors throughout the process, we have now streamlined the process with one counting machine that undertakes its own verification with less staff intervention. G&D have also been exceptionally helpful in getting us going and their after sales service has also been great. How would you sum up the whole experience? G&D have provided us with a counting machine that is state-of-the-art where it comes to counting, sorting, batching and eventually the exportation of data for reporting purposes.

Professor I. Nelson Rose

President Trump and the Future of Legal Gaming by: Professor I. Nelson Rose 25


irst, the facts: Former casino owner Donald J. Trump won the most Electoral College votes. Hillary Rodham Clinton beat him by almost million popular votes. But Trump will be inaugurated President on Friday January 20, 2017. The Republican Party lost seats in Congress but will keep control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Trump’s election may feel like a shocking surprise, but the best polls accurately predicted this result. The leading pollster, Nate Silver and his, consistently and repeatedly emphasized that Trump had a 30% chance of winning. Everyone connected with the business of legal gambling, a business based on probabilities, knows that a 30% chance is something that happens all the time. A casino patron has much worse odds of betting on Red at Roulette and having Red come up three times in a row. In fact, there was a greater chance of Trump winning the Presidency than of a player betting on Red and winning just two times in a row. As a former campaign manager, I agree with Nate Silver and the Clinton campaign that Hillary would have been elected President if not for the letter from Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey. Just 11 days before the election, Comey publicly announced that new Clinton-related emails had been found on a laptop owned by Anthony Weiner. The timing was particularly bad for Hillary because the impact of Trump’s poor performances at the debates and his “Grab them by the pussy” recording were fading. The letter reminded millions of Republicans, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot... it’s a Clinton,” a name they consider a scandal factory. There was no time for another round of Trump Twitter craziness; plus, his campaign managed to take away, for a few days, his ability to tweet. But blaming a single factor such as the Comey letter is somewhat ridiculous in a close election, or even in one that is not so close. Sure, Hillary would have won if a few tens of thousands of voters had switched from Republican to Democrat in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But she also would have won if a few tens of thousands of Democrats who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 had bothered to vote in 2016. And Hillary never even campaigned in Wisconsin. As for the Comey letter: Yes, the Hatch Act makes it clear that a federal government employee is not


allowed to “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” But even assuming it would be possible to prove that Comey had the intent to help the GOP, so what? This is not a criminal statute. In fact, the worst that could happen would be that Comey would lose his job and pay a $1,000 civil fine. And those emails would not have been there to be found if Hillary Clinton had not improperly used a personal server. Reinforcing the “Clinton = Scandal” connection, Hillary kept Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, as her top aide, even after Weiner’s sexting became a national scandal not once, but three separate times. So we are left with a country more deeply divided than at any time since the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras of the 1960s. And it is important to remember how those turned out, if we want some idea of what this election will mean for legal gaming. The spotlight of media and culture has always been focused on the anti-war and other Baby Boomer movements of the 1960s. But the reality is that the political fights were won by the Establishment; it was the Republican, Richard Nixon, who won the election in 1968 and again in 1972. This resulted in a major boost to legal gambling. Nixon wanted to increase the power of the Republican Party. The most notorious example is his “Southern Strategy,” openly courting white racists in the South. He succeeded in turning the “solid South” from nearly 100% Democrat to nearly 100% Republican. Much less well-known is his out-reach to Indians. Native Americans were, and are, by no means a solid block vote for either party. Although small in number, they are concentrated in low population states, including Alaska, New Mexico and the Dakotas, where they can swing elections. To win Indians over to the GOP, Nixon issued a strong Statement on Indian Policy in 1970. The result, quite unexpectedly, was Indian gaming. Nixon’s executive branch appointees, including Secretary of Interior Walter Joseph “Wally” Hickel, endorsed Indian bingo as a way of reducing tribes’ dependence on federal funds. Indian bingo, created, in large part, by Pres. Nixon, morphed into tribal casinos through a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and an Act of Congress.

The Indian Gaming Regulation Act was supported both by conservatives in Congress, who wanted to get Indians off welfare, and liberals, who supported strengthening tribal self-government. It was another conservative Republican, Ronald Reagan, who signed IGRA into law. He liked IGRA because it helped make so many tribes selfsufficient. But Reagan liked IGRA even more, because he was a strong believer in states’ rights. IGRA not only allowed states to co-regulate Class III games; it expressly empowered the states to decide what forms of gaming federally recognized tribes would be allowed to offer. That is why the tribes in Utah do not even have the right to offer bingo. Trump is no Nixon or Reagan. For all their ethical and even personal problems, both Nixon and Reagan were within the historic bounds of normal politicians. Nixon, for example, had goals and beliefs beyond himself. He helped create Indian gaming to win support for other, future Republican candidates. And he had an ideology, including believing in states’ rights, smaller government and individuals making their own financial choices. That is why he did nothing to block the other great expansion of legal gambling during his tenure: state lotteries. And Reagan did the same, facilitating the continuing spread of state lotteries and the then-new idea of states other than Nevada licensing privately owned casinos. Trump, on the other hand, appears to have almost no ideological beliefs, or at least is willing to change his mind before even ending a sentence, no matter how public his former position. Among the few core ideas he does seem to consistently support is capitalism, at least for the rich and powerful, even at the cost of harm to society and the environment. He also appears to support states’ rights, which would normally include gaming. It has always been up to the individual states, not the federal government, to decide on the states’ public policies toward legal gambling. That is why Nevada and Utah can share a border and yet have such wildly different laws on the subject. So the future legal environment for land-based gaming is mostly positive. The federal government, including Congress and the pesky Department of the Treasury, will most likely be backing off from constant oversight of casinos. Anti-Money Laundering regulations for casinos will be softened,


so long as there is no suspected link with Islamist terrorists. States will be free to do just about anything they want, when it comes to allowing or expanding land-based operations of state lotteries, including introducing Video Lottery Terminals. And more jurisdictions will introduce legal casinos and racinos, perhaps with less regulation by state governments as well. This will inevitably lead to conflict and confusion, such as is now taking place in New Jersey. Racetracks desperately need slot machines or VLTs to survive. But allowing tracks and state lotteries to install gaming devices creates competition for nearby casinos, including those in the same state. The politics of this will become dirty and messy. Gaming on the Internet is a completely different matter. Online poker is already licensed and operating in Nevada, and full Internet casinos can be found in New Jersey and Delaware. Poker players in Nevada and Delaware can join in an online game with players from both states. The present and prospective operators are privately owned companies and not governments, as in Canada, so you would think that Trump and the Republican majorities would be in favor of more capitalism. That might be the case, except for two factors: 1) Many in the GOP believe it is governments’ role to tell people what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes; and, 2) Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s influence over the next two, and possibly four, years should not be underestimated. He is a true billionaire, and Trump likes to hang out with the very wealthy. More importantly, Adelson is the biggest single contributor to political campaigns in the history of the United States, a much larger donor than Trump himself. Adelson can gain access to both Trump and the GOP leaders in Congress. And Adelson passionately opposes Internet gambling. The main thing stopping Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress from ramming through a bill outlawing all online gaming is the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate. The rule effectively requires there to be 60 votes before a bill can become law. The GOP used the filibuster rule to kill almost every piece of legislation proposed by Pres. Obama, even when Democrats had a majority in the Senate. With 52 Republican senators (and Vice

President Mike Pence, who can vote in case of a tie), the GOP could eliminate the filibuster rule. I do not believe the Republicans will do so for two reasons. First, they know that sometime in the future they will again be in the minority in the Senate. The filibuster rule is the main weapon the minority has to slow down or even stop the majority from doing whatever it wants. Second, there are individual Republican senators who have openly opposed Trump. Many come from blue or purple states, with lots of Democrats waiting to see if their representatives act in ways that are as arrogant and reckless as their leader. In addition, there is the issue of the states that already have online gaming. New Jersey and Delaware are safe blue states, so Republicans don’t care about hurting their feelings. But Nevada is a swing state. Nevada voters will long remember if the federal government comes in, in the name of some overriding morality, and stomps on their state’s right to decide whether or not it wants Internet poker. And there are more than 30 other states that use the Internet for bets on horseraces. Congress

amended the Interstate Horseracing Act to expressly allow the states themselves to decide whether they wanted Advanced Deposit Wagering. More than half have opted in, allowing people to bet from their homes and offices by computer on horseraces. The racing industry and the millions of jobs it creates would be irreversibly crippled if patrons were required to once again be physically present at a racetrack to make a bet. A dozen states allow residents to buy lottery tickets over the Internet. All but a half-dozen states now operate state lotteries, and all those lotteries would love to have more exciting games for their customers, preferably available on their cell phones. Completely closing down online sales of state lotteries would most dramatically impact the named beneficiaries of state lottery revenue. The Illinois State Lottery, for example, transfers more than $50 million every month to the Common School Fund. One interesting legal question is what will happen to the decision of the U.S. Department of Justice that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. The Wire Act is one of the few federal statutes that could apply to online gambling. And it is the only one,

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other than the federal anti-lottery laws, that can apply to gambling that is legal under state law. The DOJ’s Criminal Division had always stated publicly that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling. Two days before Christmas in 2011, the DOJ at the highest level reversed this position. This “Christmas present” from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel allowed the states to offer every form of gambling, except sports betting, to their residents, over the Internet. DOJ decisions like this are almost never reversed. When Obama’s Attorney General announced that the DOJ was no longer approving water-boarding and other forms of torture, there was no great demand for Congress or a future AG to overturn the decision. But, again, Trump is different. If Adelson cannot get Congress to act, he can ask Trump’s Attorney General to announce that the DOJ is reversing its decision. The DOJ could then announce that the Wire Act does make all forms of online gambling illegal. Trump has chosen Alabama U.S. Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III (R.-AL) to be his Attorney General. Sessions is a social conservative,


one of the right-wing Republicans who feel that government should enforce morality. Before he even took his seat in the Senate, he announced he was in favor of the “Kyl Bill of 1997,” which would have outlawed all online gambling. On the other hand, he is strongly for states’ rights. Interestingly, Sessions has never signed on to any of the more recent attempts, funded by Sheldon Adelson and nicknamed the “Adelson Protection Acts,” which would have eliminated Internet gaming. The only way for all forms of remote gambling to be safe would be for supporters of Internet gaming, including Senator Harry Reid (D.-NV), Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, and Rep. Joe Barton (R.-TX), to get a bill through Congress and signed by Pres. Obama to codify the Christmas present, locking into statute that the Wire Act only applies to wagers by non-participants on sports events. It is possible the current Congress would pass such a bill; but gambling is such a low priority that it probably will not even be considered. Without an Act of Congress, Sessions as A.G. will probably reverse and eliminate the Christmas present. Operators of all forms of legal gambling will

then have to file lawsuits to protect their present and future operations. Fortunately for operators and suppliers, the few federal courts that have looked at the issue have ruled that the Wire Act is limited to wagers on sports events. Of course, Pres. Trump now gets to appoint federal judges. One of the most unpredictable areas is sports betting. Trump himself owned the New Jersey Generals in 1984-85. Given his interest in casinos, we might assume that he is in favor of sports betting. But it is impossible to know how this issue will play out in his mind, what lobbying he will be subjected to, and whether the new Congress will be able to function enough to pass any new laws. The gaming industry is optimistic, unduly so, in my opinion. More important than Trump is the Wire Act, which can only be amended by Congress. The National Football League has more than enough political power to prevent a sports betting bill from getting out of committee. The growth area of the last few years, daily fantasy sports, faces the most interesting challenges. DFS ran into a buzzsaw of problems last year. As I correctly predicted, DFS operators and their allies had enough financial and political power to delay all of the civil actions they were facing, while they lobbied state legislatures to expressly make them legal. The two giant operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, have succeeded admirably, convincing nine states to license fantasy games. But the two companies have just about run out of money. They now are trying to merge. Federal antitrust law and regulators would seem to present insurmountable barriers. FanDuel and DraftKings control more than 90% of the DFS market. But antitrust law relies on the rule of reason: the illegality of a monopoly is in the eyes of the beholder. A monopoly isn’t always a monopoly, if it is at least theoretically possible for new competitors to arise. Under a President such as Barack Obama, and his Attorneys General, antitrust law has been seen as a way of protecting the general population from the economic abuses created by a concentration of the market in the hands of a few. Under a Pres. Trump? Trump likes unrestricted capitalism. I suspect a Pres. Trump and whomever he appoints as his AG would have no problem with this merger.

Probably the greatest unknowns – the threats – facing the legal gaming industry under the new regime is the complete unpredictability of Trump himself and his impact on the world. It is difficult to overstate the danger of having a President who could launch nuclear missiles just because another world leader insulted him in a tweet. Short of that threat, we still face trade wars; ostracism from the community of nations; a dramatic fall-off of visits from foreigners, especially Muslims and from Spanish- and Portuguesespeaking countries; and economic crises. It is important that we not normalize Trump. Trump has already named Stephen K. Bannon, head of the neo-Nazi alt-right site, to be the chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House. Trump himself has no moral center: We have never had a top government official who lies continuously and is so blatantly out to enrich himself and his family. Trump is a nationalist, so he will push for deficit spending on infrastructure, like roads. This will create jobs and is good for the gaming industry. But a government built on a world-view that has no connection with reality has to eventually collapse. We just don’t know if it is going to be runaway inflation or another Great Recession – or worse. Trump has already caused diplomatic problems for the United States, even before he has been sworn in. By taking a call from the President of Taiwan and openly saying that he might abandon the one-China policy, he has outraged the Peoples Republic of China. Trump apparently does not understand how important it is to the leaders of the PRC that the U.S. not recognize Taiwan as a separate country, or what it means to the Chinese to save face. When the PRC retaliates, will it be to prohibit its citizens from traveling to Las Vegas? And there are other dangers. This is a President who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax. He has promised to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement to fight climate change; an agreement ratified by 111 countries. Casinos in Atlantic City should redouble their flood insurance. And if you run a track in southern Florida, you had better just relocate -- or teach your racehorses how to swim.


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The Most Profitable Marketing Channels For Casino Operators Luke Ormerod of gaming-focused marketing agency Blueclaw shares his insight into the most effective ways for casino operators to drive profit The Most Profitable Marketing Channels For Casino Operators Casino operators know that not all customers – or web visitors – are of equal value. At the same time, player acquisition is at the forefront of any online casino operator or white label business. However, while some marketing channels might seem appealing, it’s vital to understand the total cost of acquiring a full transfer deposit.

The Casino Search Engine Landscape The casino sector is one of the most stable markets in the UK betting and Igaming industry.

Casino Trends

Looking at data from 2004 to present, there has been a small decline over the past five years but use of casino related search terms has remained strong. It’s clear the casino market is still thriving but making money from the right player acquisition is important. At Blueclaw we work with a wide range of casino operators and ambitious white labels, meaning that we have a unique (and objective) knowledge of the financial element within the online casino vertical. Too often, we see companies that have embarked on strategies that, though profitable, are not delivering the potential volume of ideal customers – and it all comes back to understanding finance, and the value of different marketing channels.

100 75 50 25 1 Jan 2004

1 Oct 2007

1 July 2011

1 April 2015


The Finances: The specific figure for individual casinos will differ but an average lifetime value of a casino player is £380 GBP over a two-year period. Data like this (provided and aggregated from a variety of operators and white labels between 2015 and 2016) is a useful benchmark. We can relate the average lifetime value of customers to the costs of each online marketing channel in order to answer the key question – are customers profitable, and are they profitable enough?

Google Adwords and Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising: Google pay per click may seem like a good route for instant traffic and quick wins. However, this type of advertising must be used with caution. Many non-branded operators depend on a minimum 50% sign-up from click to deposit to be financially viable. Operators need to ask themselves – can they be competitive enough to achieve this, given the bid values for the hottest terms?

100 75 50 25

1 Jan 2004

1 Oct 2007

1 July 2011

The cost per click for the main generic search terms is typically too high for any operator to convert a profitable player.

1 April 2015

So where can casino operators make money from PPC? Bidding on the games themselves is a great way to achieve a low cost per acquisition (CPA) from PPC advertising.

live casino

1k – 10k High


online casino live

10 – 100 High


live casino online online casino

100 – 1k High


10k – 100k High


on line casino

100 – 1k high


casino websites

10 – 100 High


Pushing phrases around the “free” niche brings in players who are interested but will take a bit longer to convert into a full transfer deposit. Player management and engagement is essential at this point.

Losing the “free” related terms within the campaign will lift the cost into a negative point very quickly:

free slots cleopatra

10 –100 High


rainbow riches free play

1k –10k High


free slots rainbow riches

100 –1k High


free rianbow riches

100 –1k High


rainbow riches free spins

100 –1k High


free cleopatra slots

10 –100 High


play rainbow riches free cleopatra free slots


10 –1k High


100 –1k High


Unless the operator has a very good conversion rate losing the “free” term could be costly. The conclusion is that operators must invest in their websites, the user experience and value they provide, while also being honest with themselves over how effective they can be at making sure traffic from paid channels is profitable.


SEO is a longer term strategy. But in the long run a casino domain ranking high for generic and game terms will drastically drop the cost of customer acquisition. The graph below shows one month’s search traffic, with a click through rate of 5% and a sign-up rate of 5%. The revenue is calculated on £380 average lifetime value over a two year period. This only shows ten of the leading non-branded search terms,

rainbow ones

1k – 10k High



1k – 10k High


guns n roses slots

10 – 100 High


There are over 3000 non-branded casino search terms in the UK sector and the analysis did not include the game names. Operators looking for a longer term profitable business should include SEO as one of the core player acquisition strategies. Achieving and maintaining high organic rankings not only delivers high volumes of ‘free’ traffic, it also has other benefits. Ranking well organically for search terms (should) help lower the cost of PPC campaigns as the site content is deemed relevant and valuable by search engines.

Affiliates Affiliates are one of the core strategies for any operator but there is an instant loss of 30%

Keyword casino online casino online casinos casino online casino games online casino uk internet casino real money casino

Search Volume

depending on the deal in place. Affiliates should be used as part of a longer term strategy. A young casino operator will need be aware of the likely negative impacts during the first six months of the casino’s operating period. Any new casino operator should use all three areas to help lower the overall average CPA of a full transfer deposit, as part of an integrated, intelligent strategy – but it takes focus, and knowing the right strategy for your business at the right time.

An area to avoid. Money can be wasted very quickly on poor strategies. Certain terms in the casino sector are worth avoiding. The no deposit sector is one such example:

CTR 27,100 22200 5400 5400 4400 2900 2900 2400

The “no deposit” sector may seem attractive but the conversion from sign-up to full transfer deposit can be very disappointing, unless your customer onboarding process is particularly smart. Casino operators with good internal CRM and player management can take advantage of this niche but

Sign Ups 1355 1110 270 270 220 145 145 120

67.75 55.5 13.5 13.5 11 7.25 7.25 6

Revenue £25,745.00 £21,090.00 £5,130.00 £5,130.00 £4,180.00 £2,755.00 £2,755.00 £2,280.00

using PPC and Google Adwords will often lead to a negative player value. For more information on player acquisition in the casino sector contact Blueclaw on 01132 343300 – or visit to learn more, or request benchmarking data for the games you offer.


Poker: Skill or Chance? “Chance favours the prepared mind” - Louis Pasteur by: Carl Sampson


he age old argument of whether poker is a game of skill or chance has reared its head again. In fact this argument has even been taken to the courts in the past few years. Many sharp minds have decreed that it is a game of chance. Are they right or wrong? The answer to the argument is actually a simple one and as a professional poker player then I am best placed to answer it properly and accurately. Poker is a game of skill…..end of story! Well actually that can’t be the end of the story because otherwise there wouldn’t be an article.

Which people call it a game of luck? Firstly we need to examine which types of people are referring to poker as a game of luck! It certainly isn’t the people that are making vast sums of money from playing the game! It always seems to be nonpoker players or non-serious poker players that are academics. It may also be serious poker players who for whatever reason can’t make the game pay. If you point to the serious poker players that can’t make the game pay as some sort of proof then you


would be way off the mark. Serious poker players who are not making money have deep flaws in their thinking processes. They either haven’t kept up with the latest developments in poker theory, are too set in their ways, overvalue their own skill level or are simply picking the wrong games.

Why the answer confuses academics? The point is that poker really is a game of luck most of the time! However it isn’t a game of luck all the time and that’s the key! The difference between those two statements is bridged by the skill and knowledge of the player. So just when is poker a game of luck? Well that tends to stem from the times when your skill level is insufficient to provide you with an edge over your current opponents. It could also apply if the dynamics of the game forbid you from using skill like with some poker tournament structures for example. This basically means that luck will win the day in any one session. Poker tournaments are a great example where the result is heavily based on luck. So if you play in forms of poker that are heavily luck based or you have insufficient skill then you can call

poker a game of luck! The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the players that frequent card rooms are not good enough to gain an edge……this is where poker is a game of luck!

A Simple Experiment to Prove the Point Let us pick a simple game like coin tossing. Now we know in advance that this game has no skill and the result of the coin toss will be random. However when we play for money then the equation changes under certain conditions! Let us say that me and you decide to play for money on these coin tosses. The pivotal point comes when I negotiate the terms of the bets in my favour. You agree to pay me $10 when I win and I pay you $8 when you win. Each coin toss cannot be predicted and will be totally random and so the results are luck based. However the key thing is that the financial consequences of the luck based events are not luck based at all. We know in advance that over a large sample size that heads and tails will cancel each other out. Every academic in the world would accept this to be true without reservation. So for every one hundred times that I win I win $1000 while you only win $800 for every hundred wins. This turns a totally luck based result into a game where you can earn money. In fact because you know in advance that the results are totally luck based, this would allow you to still carry on playing even if your opponent initially won more coin tosses than you and was ahead in money terms.

But it’s a bad example! I can hear thousands of unconvinced readers screaming right now…..but a coin toss analogy is a bad example! They would argue that no sane person would give someone $10 if they lost a coin toss and only accepted $8 if they won. Of course you would be right but here is the point. As I said, I quoted the coin toss because it was a simple example. A simple example for a very simple game! However poker is not a simple game, in fact it is a very complex game. A game so complex that the exact same thing is happening without players realising it! Their results and overall lack of skill get lost within this complexity and especially if they don’t track their results. Skilled poker players win more money on average from the pots that they play than unskilled ones.

They win more on average per pot, per session, per week and per year. The way that the cards are shuffled and dealt is a totally luck based thing just like the coin toss was. However just like in the coin toss example, the financial consequences of a luck based event (the shuffle and dealt hands) isn’t luck based. A skilled player would win a $100 pot in a situation where a player with lesser skill may only win $80. The skilled player recognised that despite his moderate strength hand that his opponent would call a small value bet on the river. He figured out that his opponent’s range and the action to date coupled with the pod odds that he was giving his opponent meant that a value bet was going to be profitable. The unskilled player couldn’t figure this out and so didn’t make the extra bet and didn’t pick up the $20.

Argument from ignorance Any full time poker professional who has played online poker basically proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that poker is a game of skill. Poker professionals who play online often multi-table! The best ones play as many as 1000 hands per hour. Full time players often play more hands in one year than the old time players played in a lifetime. These facts would stagger a non-poker player or someone ignorant in online poker. Their sample sizes are so large that mathematical models prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that their results are skill based. You can’t pay bills, a mortgage and keep a family for ten years on something that is luck based. So the academics and non-poker players that call poker a game of luck need to do more research. Psychologists have a term for people that debate topics with insufficient data...“argument from ignorance”! However, as previously stated, they do have a case sometimes. Poker needs certain game dynamics to be in place for there to be profit potential. Once these exist then winning money in poker can be as easy as picking apples from a tree. It’s a matter of having the right skill and the right game. Carl Sampson, Professional Poker Player/Coach/ Author


The Italian gaming market in tension before the big change! by Giulio Coraggio, Head of the Gambling Law group at the law firm DLA Piper


he stress is accumulating in the Italian gaming market because of the delays in the issue of new licenses, but also some new opportunities are opening up.

The new betting shop and online gaming licenses 2016 was supposed to be the year of a major reshuffling in the Italian gaming market because of • the expiry of all the betting shop/ corner licenses that shall be replaced by 15,000 new licenses to be awarded by means of a tender process; and

• the expiry of some major online gaming licenses to be replaced by 120 new online gaming licenses. Both categories of licenses above are open both to current operators and new entrants in the market. However, due to political reasons, the tenders for both licenses have not been launched yet. The good news is that such political issues which,


especially with reference to online licenses, are totally unrelated to the gambling sector, are expected to be sorted by December 2016. And indeed, most of our clients have already prepared all the necessary paperwork in order to be ready for the tender.

The international liquidity does no longer look like a “chimera” The discussions around international liquidity seem to quickly progress after years of debates that had not led to much… After the recent approval by the French Parliament of the law allowing international sharing liquidity, negotiations between European regulators have been “frenetic“. The most likely scenario at the moment appears to be an agreement between Italy, France and Spain to happen in the coming months. But, the reaction of some commentators has been that such solution might not lead to major benefits. A wider opening to all the countries where operators offer their games in compliance with local laws might be more effective. This would avoid the long negotiations between regulators, and each country might allow sharing liquidity with the countries where local licensed operators are able to prove to act in compliance with applicable laws, obliging their operators to at least comply with the restrictions imposed by their law, also in “shared” games. And such assessment on legality of operations might be outsourced to certification entities, as it already happens with the technical approval of platforms.

The Superenalotto tender seems interesting According to the budget law that the Italian Government is about to approve, there will be in 2017 a tender for the award of the license/s for Superenalotto since Sisal’s is expiring.

bidders can offer a lower consideration; • the license holder will be entitled to use the telecom network dedicated to the management of the games, also for the provision of other services (e.g. payment services), subject to the approval of the gambling regulator; • the license holder shall commit to an investment plan to update the network and, if it does not comply with its terms, the amount that is not invested shall be transferred to the State; and • in order to enable the transition between the current license holder (Sisal) and the new entrant, the regulator will assign the right of usage of the network managing the Superenalotto to the new license holder. The Superenalotto was an extremely popular game around ten years ago, but due to the competition from other games it became less popular. However, the major driver of its success is given by the jackpot which has recently been of €163 millions that were awarded to a player who had bought a €3 ticket. We will see whether anyone will be willing to challenge the position of Sisal. And the competition might come both from abroad and from other Italian operators such as Lottomatica/IGT which was recently awarded with the Lotto license. If Lottomatica/IGT is able to become the holder of both the Lotto and the Superenalotto licenses, this might consolidate a position of leadership in both the land based market of numbering games and the payment market since Lotto and Superenalotto are an “easy” way to include shops in their payment network. However, it will be interesting to see whether any antitrust issues will arise...

The terms of the tender will be • the starting bidding price will be of €100 million; • the consideration for the license holder will be of 5% of the amount collected from players, but


Robert Ambrose, Gaming & Hospitality Instructor, Drexel University

It’s year end prophetic declaration time I must tell you something profound for the coming year in gaming that will rattle you to the core! 40


heard you can tell the future by reading tea leaves. I didn’t realize that you were supposed to read them before you brew them. Very messy but I will give it a try anyway. My 2017 prediction will not rattle your core. And if you are the serious member of the gaming industry that I think you are, I suspect you have already taken its temperature this year and know what I am about to tell you. But please humour me in that I enjoy writing. This former casino executive turned academic always feels like he has to teach something. So please take out the yellow highlighter and run it through some of my comments to humour me. The several corporate transitions we witnessed on the gaming manufacturing side will still be settling in 2017 after a “leap frog” series of buy outs in 2015-2016. There will be more pieces of the puzzle snapping into place as the acquisitions continue to right-size and adjust to their new corporate organizational chart. But as you write down all those New Year’s resolutions you’re not going to follow, do follow this one. Skill Based Games. It’s time to watch the start-up companies and know what they are producing. I’m writing about those folks with the fresh eyes and new research models that see what is inside the gaming cabinet as a layered model of skill rather than a game of chance. Their insight from the video game arena is providing the gaming industry with new “maps” both in the challenge of the game and for the future of the industry. It is quite refreshing to see them deliver the goods from the mysterious world of video gaming. Watch your company accountant’s head spin on what I am about to say. In some cases the math models might not be what you are used to initially but it will work out. Meet the regulations and do the fine tuning in real time operation on the casino floor. Initially these new platforms are a small portion of your landscape; they are early models but guaranteed to grow both in features and customer loyalty. I have mentioned before that as someone from the baby boomer generation I have a bird’s eye view through my Millennial son, Rob (AKA Immortal Spawn) when he plays the video gaming circuit as a serious competitor in the eSport arena. So fellow boomers if you’re in denial about what the

Millennials are doing in gaming just attend one the eSport events or watch on-line. I know I am singling out the accountants again but, it’s time to stop the analytics, put down the reports and surveys that dissect the Millennials and watch a live video gaming event in 2017! I guarantee it will open some eyes. As brick and mortar properties begin to turn quiet slot areas into new arenas of skill based product, properties like the MGM Downtown in LV are bringing an entire new meaning to the slot term “tournament.” Keep an eye on them in 2017. Hosting the video tournament play will be just as important as having skill based product on your floor.

Let innovation be the driver in 2017. I can summarize 2017 in gaming this way: Knowledge through research and collaboration is “key” to staying relevant. In the past couple of years we have seen many acquisitions and a continual outpouring of start-up initiatives and raw talent driving the gaming industry into newer, sometime less easily definable areas initially. There will be more of that and change in the gaming industry is a constant! And you don’t need a fortune teller to tell you that. You already know that the industry continually challenges itself with new initiatives and creative ways to offer the best in experience. I further predict you will see the benefit to cross marketing and blend generational differences into a seamless connectivity with something for everyone on your gaming floor and throughout your entire property. And here is one right off the tea leaf. Take a thought from the past to go forward into the future. In the May 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review. The article is “Mentoring Millennials” by Meister & Willyerd, highlighting a reverse mentoring model. A Millennial is teamed with a senior member of management. The goal is for the senior to learn from the Millennials. Tap into the future in 2017. It is right in front of you and already on your payroll. Bob Ambrose Gaming & Hospitality Instructor, Drexel University


G2E 2016 – Part One

The Good, the Bold, the Same, and the Old by: Victor H. Royer


ach year the World Global Gaming Congress and Expo – known as G2E – descends upon Las Vegas during the last week of September, filling the showroom floor of the Sands Convention Center with new Slots, Table Games, Skill Game innovations, services, suppliers and – once more this year – the Integrated Resort Experience, also featuring the Food and Beverage Pavilion on the main showroom floor. This year more than 25,000 gaming industry professionals attended the convention, growing the attendance from previous years as the gaming


industry finally recovers from the effects of the Great Recession, and the plethora of recent mergers and acquisitions. This year there was much to shout about, much to talk about, much to see and to experience. Industry giants like Scientific Games – Bally, WMS and Shufflemaster being their best-known brands – occupied a large section of the gaming floor of the convention. The biggest booth was the new IGT, minted from the merger of Spielo and IGT, and sporting a new look, and many new games and innovations.

However, undoubtedly the highlight of the entire Convention was my visit with the 2016 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Eugena Washington or, perhaps, my holding Conan O’Brian’s severed arm at the Sharknado Booth. While my colleagues in the gaming industry may not exactly agree that those were the actual highlights of the 2016 G2E, the fact remains that the new Playboy Slots, promoted by Ms. Washington at the Scientific Games booth, and the Aristocratcreated Sharknado Slot machines, are both worthwhile addition to any gaming floor – and hence, perhaps, among the actual highlights of the convention. One of the more interesting aspects of the modern G2E is the Integrated Resort Experience. This combination of gaming and non-gaming exhibitors and suppliers allows everyone to

experience the totality of the gaming business on the main convention floor, and this has truly proven to be a success. This was also the case last year, but in previous years the non-gaming segments of the industry were in separate halls, or pavilions, and that sometimes proved to be difficult to fully experience, especially given the large scope of the convention itself, and the multitude of items to see, try, and witness. My favourite among these integrations is the addition of the Food and Beverage pavilion to the main convention floor. For a hungry reporter on a meagre budget – make that no budget – wandering the convention floor, visiting the F&B pavilion within a short walk from the main gaming exhibits was terrific! Not only could we see and experience some of the exhibits we would otherwise most likely not see or visit, but there were finger-foods to sample, great steaks on which to nibble, and then a visit to the Beverage Pavilion for a short snifter of something-or-other. It made the entire convention greatly more varied and appealing, and not just from that one perspective. Kudos to the organizers of G2E for having the foresight to make this experience truly integrated. I hope it will continue to be so. I will be writing more about what I saw at G2E throughout the year, but here, in this article, I want to briefly mention some of what I saw, and what caught my eye, and my interest. This was the most talked-about item at G2E 2016. From the Spielo division, an innovation on the Sphinx 3-D, this new version of these games was designed in 4-D. The way it works, as I experienced it, 4-D means that you can actually use your hands, and reach into the 3-D effect and actually manipulate the images inside the 4-D experience using your hands and gestures. It’s a very interesting concept, and one that may eventually evolve into a Virtual-Reality type of slot machine for the main casino floor, without the need to use the over-theeyes visor-type viewers, which are now necessary for Virtual-Reality experiences. I’d like to see this technology applied to the Playboy Slots. As Mr. Trump might put it, we all could be grabbing some very interesting symbols. Based on the hugely-popular TV sitcom – which is still doing well in re-runs – and the equally popular episodes featuring the famous Soup Nazi, this


Victor H. Royer

new series of slot machine – with TV personality Larry Thomas, who played the Soup Nazi and was nominated for an Emmy for his performance – certainly has be making of a hit on the casino floor. The perennially-popular Country and Western singer Tim McGraw was immortalized in Slot Machine lore with the new video slot game from Aristocrat. Presented in the Arc-Double cabinet, McGraw was cheered by the throngs as he descended to the convention floor, and made even the cage look cool! From the Food and Beverage Pavilion I present the Quick n’ Easy greaseless fryer. This is a wonderful innovation, which makes great-tasting food in a totally greaseless environment. This process makes finger-foods, such as pizza-rolls, taquitos, French fries, and other items quickly, efficiently, and healthily. Even First Lady Michelle Obama is a fan of this product, because it completely eliminates cooking grease, while at the same time still making fried foods that taste good – the kinds of foods that we all love to eat. Many schools in the USA are now using this technology, to make foods that kids love to eat, while at the same time reducing fats, and the “bad” side-effects of traditionally-friend foods. I love this product, and


have eaten the foods made in it. If you don’t know it, look them up. It’s worth it. From the world of Clean Air in the casino comes Plasma Air, a company that specializes in ionization air cleaners for a clean-air casino environment. Especially relevant for casinos where smoking is permitted – which it still is in all casinos in the United States – these products from Plasma Air significantly reduce smoking-related particulates in the air, resulting in a cleaner and better, and more comfortable casino for all players, smokers and nonsmokers alike. These are just a few of the many interesting items that I experienced at the 2016 G2E. Naturally, there was a lot more to see at the convention, and I will be sharing that with you in future columns.

Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services & Research. He is a 33 year veteran of Las Vegas gaming, a 26 year consultant to the gaming industry, author of 48 books, and more than 4,000 articles on casino games and gaming. In addition he has researched and authored over 300 industry reports on the subject of player preferences, marketing, player development and customer relations. He can be reached at:

The Godfather on crummy companies aka why top talent is passing your company by: Mark Wayman


y name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years my day job has been recruiting high end talent for the gaming/casino and high tech industries. Placed 600+

executives, starting Director level executives at $100,000+, and my average placement is VP or “C” level executives at $200,000. The Executive Recruiting business funds my true passion – charity and community. A portion of my


revenues is donated to a dozen local and national charity organizations, including Make-A-Wish, Opportunity Village and Olive Crest. For more information check out Originally published July 2014, my last several articles focused on tips and advice for executive candidates. Today we switch from the “sell” side (candidates) to the “buy” side (hiring companies). Ever wonder why certain companies get all the best management talent? Or why other companies can only attract mediocre talent, and in many cases, go out of business? Based on my ten years of executive recruiting, here are a few of the attributes that separate the great companies from the crummy companies. PEOPLE power the engine and are the difference between success and failure. Here we go! Death by Due Diligence – Also known as “analysis paralysis”, the company can’t get out its own way and make a hiring decision. Recently a client called me to work on a VP search. Queued up three excellent candidates. After six weeks and three sets of interviews, the hiring manager told me, “We want to have them fly across the country and interview a fourth time.” My lead candidate took a job down the street…at their competitor! This is a REALLY important point! Not only did they not get the “A” candidate, he went to their competitor. I pulled my other two candidates. If it takes you three months and four interviews to make a decision, you won’t be hiring anyone good. This is a “talent scarcity” market, and “A” players get multiple other job offers. Tyre Kickers – There are companies that insist on having a dozen candidates interview for every position. Notice I did not say “qualified candidates”. At the very senior level, you would be lucky to get three strong candidates. Sometimes you only get one. There is a reason we call them “A” players – they are the top 10%, all gainfully employed and rarely in the job market. While the crummy company is trying to assemble a full slate of candidates, the “A” candidate they wanted already took a job offer. Dude, Your Hiring Process is Broken – HR is not communicating with the hiring manager (and vice versa), the hiring manager is “too busy” to interview the candidate, there are panel interviews


that never get consensus and “personality tests” that pretty much disqualify everyone. Did I miss anything? Am I right? The hiring process should never be more than four weeks, and I have clients that get it done in two weeks. If you treat candidates poorly during the interview process they are going to question whether your company is a good place to work. Poor Company Culture aka The Daily Floggings – You may be the biggest in your industry and/or you may pay the most; however, if you treat employees like dirt, you will be branded as a crummy company. Big cities can be like Mayberry RFD – everyone knows which companies treat their employees poorly. On the other hand, I had a CEO ask me two excellent questions the other day. “How is our culture viewed from the outside world; are we seen as a desirable place to work?” and “What are we doing wrong from a hiring perspective? How can we improve the process?” Really good questions! What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – If a candidate invests time and effort to interview with your company, the least you can do is provide closure. Feedback would be even better, but at least the professional courtesy of a simple, “Thank you; however, we have another candidate that is a closer fit for our role.” If you treat candidates poorly or unprofessionally, they will remember you to their friends…and not in a good way. Refusing to Pay Market Compensation Rates – In a bad economy you can do what you like and still get a thundering herd of candidates. When the market turns positive, though, compensation dictates who gets the “A” players. This is especially true with high tech executives. Companies paying well above market rate get the best talent; companies paying well below market rate get the unemployed and unemployable. Anyone that tells you money does not matter…does not have any. Contracts – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Don’t make the contract process arduous, complicated and lengthy. We are not negotiating an aerospace missile contract. One client made so many redlines to my contract I was concerned the Attorney fees would be more than my commission. On the other hand, a new client was referred to me last week. The HR executive had a job description, knew the salary compendium

and clearly articulated her business requirements. When I asked about a contract she said, “Only if you need one.” I responded, “Never sued anyone, never been sued. I’ll send you a great candidate, you send me a cheque.” Remember What Your Mother Taught You: Play Nice – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Most human resources executives are VERY good. I have a few clients where the HR person should probably be the CEO. That stated, a few HR executives are territorial and feel recruiting is THEIR job. Rather than treat Executive Recruiters like a trusted advisor, they treat them like a vendor. If you don’t believe in Executive Recruiters, that’s fine…but play nice. No Rabbit Holes Please – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Recently a company spent two weeks getting our contract completed, then said “Go, go, go!” So I dropped everything to work on the search, and you guessed it, they cancelled the search halfway through. I had 20 hours invested that I won’t get paid for. And this was the second time they did that to me, but make

no mistake, it will be the last time. If you want to promote internally, awesome! Completely support that approach, but make those decisions PRIOR to engaging an Executive Recruiter. No rabbit holes please! Shake Hands and Part Friends – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Never alienate an Executive Recruiter. Three good reasons. First, YOU will need their help when you get terminated and need a job. Had a hundred guys tell me, “That will never happen to me”….then it did. One day you are family and the next day you are UNEMPLOYED. Second, you don’t want Executive Recruiters warning good candidates off your company. A VP, HR once emailed me his concerns that I was “advising candidates not to apply to their company.” Candidates seek my counsel all day, every day. If a company has a toxic environment, I’m not going to give them two thumbs up. Third, do you really want an Executive Recruiter making it their mission to poach your best employees? There is no value in burning bridges. Just shake hands and part friends.

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Paul McGee

Internationally known speaker, facilitator and author, Paul McGee is best known as the SUMO Man, teaching all to Shut Up, Move On


ltimately the aim is to help people whatever their age or background to get the best out of themselves, get the best out of others and get the best out of life. Here are a couple of useful strategies for coping with any setbacks. I’m OK I’m OK, and I’m not OK. I’m still the person I was before this event, with all my strengths and qualities. But I’m also hurting from what’s happened. However, these feelings are temporary and they do not define me. Neither will this event determine my future – my response to what’s happened will be the determining factor. I allow myself to feel low, to feel angry and to feel pain. That is a healthy and normal response. But I will not remain feeling low, angry and in pain. This is temporary. It’s part of my journey. It’s not my destination. I will pull through – if I choose to. And that’s what I choose to do. Because deep down, at the centre of who I am, I know I’m still OK. Paul McGee

FIVE SURE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE 1. Remember the 90/90 Rule. Ninety percent of the impact you make when you meet someone for the first time is made within the first ninety seconds. Want to appear confident?


Then act confident. Remember first impressions count. Greet people in a positive way, always smile and make eye contact 2. Silence the Inner Critic. The most important person you will ever talk to is yourself. So quit beating yourself up when you make a mistake and instead think ‘What can I learn from this and what will I do differently next time?’ Confident people learn to coach not criticize themselves. 3. Invest in Your Image. When you look good, you feel good. People do judge a book by it’s cover, so dress by design and don’t leave your image and the impact you make to chance. 4. Take Risks. Routines can be great, but make sure you don’t slip into a rut. Confident people know their self belief grows when they move out of their comfort zones. So try new things, visit new places and meet new people. 5. Communicate Your Needs. People are not mind readers, so ask for what you want. Use clear ‘I’ statements about how you feel and what you think. As you do so, you will not only appear more confident, you’ll also feel it as well.

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Casino Life December 2016

Casino Life December 2016