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Volume 15 Issue 135

All are Welcome

Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone, Sochi

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Editor’s Page Welcome to Issue 135 and a new face for Casino Life. My good friend Glyn’s primary role has recently resulted in him becoming a Managing Director of a Major UK Company, and with that come many more constraints on time and so he is stepping down as Editor in Chief of ACE Publishing Ltd. Our following edition will feature an open letter from Glyn. I am now stepping into the role of Editor, having been involved with interviews for Casino Life, along with its sister title Bingo Life, for many years. I look forward to catching up with everyone during ICE London in this new role. 2020 will see a revamped layout of the publication with a couple of new regular features but more about that in our New Year’s Edition. We begin this issue by looking eastward, specifically to Casino Sochi in Russia. It’s one of the success stories of that country’s casino industry, rebounding after being restricted to four outlying zones in 2009. Casino Sochi Director of Operations Paul Edwards talks to Casino Life about the increasing recognition of the Sochi area following the 2014 Winter Olympics and how foot traffic has skyrocketed in the past three years. He lets us in on how poker has been his casino’s secret weapon, as well as how Casino Sochi is opening new international markets. Hard Rock International’s Paul Pellizzari holds forth on the subject of responsible gaming, discussing his company’s initiative, PlayersEdge. Unlike some companies who have been governmentally yoked into addressing disordered gambling, Hard Rock is getting out in front of the problem and educating players, to boot. Interviewer Victor H. Royer isn’t shy with his opinions, either! Heading back east, we also take a look at how Ukraine has grappled with the issue of legalizing casinos. Having been outlawed (also in 2009), casinos are now being embraced as a source of potential tax revenue and a means of stimulating economic development in disadvantaged areas. Casino Life explains the minutiae involved in making this happen. In the aftermath of the United Kingdom election, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a solid majority in Parliament, guest columnist David Clifton looks at what it means for gaming. Regardless of the outcome, further restrictions seem inevitable. How will the industry respond? We also look in on Totally Gaming Academy, a hands-on program for the casino executives of the future, and Andrew Cosgrove examines that evervexing question for casino floor managers, How do you maximize your slot performance? ‘Blockchain’ is a word on seemingly everyone’s lips. We see how China is adapting to it. Robert Brassai examines the efficacy of managerial audits. We hope you’ll enjoy this issue and look forward Peter White Editor to seeing you at ICE London.



Contents 3

Editors page

6 All Are Welcome Paul Edwards Director of Operations at Casino Sochi chats to Peter White 16 Hard Rock Sets out to Change Casino Culture Interview with Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility for Hard Rock International by: Victor H. Royer 29 Ukraine’s Path To Legalization Of Gambling Business By: Natalia Pakhomovska, Partner, head of IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper & Ivan Shatov, Associate, IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper 33 The shape of things to come David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited 36 Totally Gaming Academy 2020 Interview with Andrew Spencer, Head of Training by Damien Connelly 41 Maximizing slot machine performance Management strategies that will take your slots performance from good to great by Andrew Cosgrove 45 Future of Fintech in Macau By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot 47 Un Certain Regard By: Robert Brassai 48 ICE London and SUZOHAPP 2020 50 Last Word By: Damien Connelly

Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.



All Are Welcome Paul Edwards Director of Operations ‘Casino Sochi’ chats to Peter White



ochi Casino’s story is one of success despite the odds. Russian casinos began to flourish in the nineties but as the millennium kicked in they became prolific. As of 2002, Russia was host to 58 casinos (30 in Moscow alone), 2,000 gambling parlors and as many as 70,000 slot machines that were loosely regulated and beginning to cause social problems. The Russian government, led by Vladimir Putin, identified this and acted decisively. Solution? Close it down and move it out of the populated areas. On June 30, 2009, almost all of Russia’s casino industry went dark. (This seems to have been a recurring Russian situation: The Soviets outlawed all gambling except


lotteries in 1928 also.) But there was hope. The solution was to allow Casinos to operate in four remote zones: Altai, Kaliningrad, Azov City and Primorye (Vladivostok). Originally licensed for 10 years, they were all extended with the exception of Azov that was moved to Krasnaya Polyana (Sochi). If this constriction of gambling seemed like a deterrent to investors, that has not been the case. Lawrence Ho made a beeline for Vladivostok. Caesars Entertainment kicked the tires on Azov City quite seriously before punting. Doom-and-gloom predictions made at the time of the ban (such as that the casino industry was being set up for failure) have not been fulfilled. In line with Mr. Putin’s policy of stimulating

economic growth in newly developing regions with gaming, the Crimea has been ear marked as the next zone of casino expansion. Casino Sochi is one of the success stories. Founded in the city that was put on the map with the 2014 Winter Olympics, at 33,000m2 it is perhaps small by American standards but able to comfortably accommodate 2500 players at any one time. It has 569 slot machines, up to 140 gaming tables – Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Russian, Texas Hold’em & Stud Poker, among other amenities. It even has a dress code, something you’d never find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Its external appearance is elegant and designed to complement the surrounding alpine resort.

Director of Operations Paul Edwards, like many top managers today in operations started from the ground up – originally taking a blackjack course, and accumulating experience from the many casinos and countries he worked in. With 22 years of experience in Russia, Casino Sochi lured him away from Lawrence Ho’s Tigre de Cristal in Vladivostok to direct operations for this showpiece Casino in the newly formed gaming zone. In this conversation with Casino Life, Edwards discusses the attraction to Sochi, the Krasnaya Polyana gaming zone, the effect of the World Cup on the city, the importance of poker—another stark difference from the U.S.—and the future of the junket business, among other topics.


Paul Edwards, Director of Operations, ‘Casino Sochi’


Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone represents one of the newest stages in Russia’s zonal casino development. How is the Resort performing since its opening 3 years ago? The city of Sochi changed significantly with the 2014 Winter Olympics and created an ideal location for the new gaming zone. We have capitalized on that and implemented an ambitious expansion policy that has focused on the Casino and entertainment offerings to

Crown) with a Blackjack course back in ’86 to get me through University, and I was captivated by the business with its dynamics of mathematics & hospitality and that passion is still going strong.

make Krasnaya Polyana a year round destination for Russians and foreigners alike. Currently our portfolio consists of Casino Sochi, the flagship, attached to the 5 star Marriott Hotel with up to 140 tables and 569 slots. Boomerang Casino located in the adjacent resort Rosa Khutor with a ‘Hard Rock’ theme and catering to the fun Casino gamblers with 20 tables and 225 slots. Our ‘Bonus’ slots hall has just doubled in size to 178 machines and caters to the casual walk in guests. The business has seen solid year on year growth and gains in international recognition through our active Junket program – after 35 months of operations we have surpassed 1.6 million visits by guests from 149 different countries – and are now well established as the leading Gaming Zone in Russia.

took a path less travelled in those days to Poland and then on to Russia where my 6-month contract in ’93 turned out to be the beginning of something big. The nineties were the heyday of the Casino business in Russia and the competition was fierce, so you only survived with impeccable service and competitive loyalty programs – and of course out of this Russian Poker was created. After spending four years in Moscow at the Casino Royale, I was General Manager of the Taleon Casino in St. Petersburg for the next fifteen. It was quite a disappointment when the Casino’s were closed down in 2009, but 6 years later I was back for the opening of Tigre De Crystal in Vladivostok in Russia’s far east. When the opportunity to be part of the Opening Team for Casino Sochi came up, there was no hesitation. In Russia there are four gaming zones (with a fifth opening in Crimea shortly), but none of them come close to having the infrastructure and potential to attract Russian and International customers like Sochi.

What led you to get into casinos & gaming? Well it all started in Perth at Burswood Casino (now

Where has your path taken you, and what led you to Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone? After working in Casinos in Australia and South Africa I




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What is life like in Sochi? Sochi is an amazing location with both the sea and the mountains - it is absolutely pristine with an incredibly mild climate and definitely the best lifestyle of all the Russian cities that I have lived. The Casino is located in the mountains about a 30 min drive from the sea, and the Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone consists of several resorts that were built 5 years ago for the winter Olympics so everything is state-of-the-art with all the modern amenities – water-parks, cinema’s, spa-centers, shopping malls and of course a huge variety of incredible ski slopes. Is the Resort Seasonal popular for example in Winter during the Ski Season then in the Summer for the hot weather and sea along with events such as Formula 1 Grand Prix? Before the creation of the gaming zone the Krasnaya Polyana resorts were only utilized effectively during the winter season with a large number of skiers and snowboarders flying in from Russia and all corners of the globe. Of course, speaking of Sochi as a whole, the flow of tourists is traditionally a summer destination and also depends on international events such as Formula 1, the World Cup and various international forums and concerts. All of these events have proven to add value to the offerings and promote Sochi internationally.

What is the variety of Restaurants food and style at the Resort? In a business where there is no tangible long term return on ‘investment’ for the customers we have focused on ensuring that the experience they have on property exceeds their expectations, and as we can’t guarantee a win, we can certainly ensure a culinary delight second to none. ‘Brunello’ restaurant rises to this challenge, offering unique, tantalizing dishes from our renowned Russian celebrity brand Chef Ilya Zakharov that epitomizes ‘fine dining’. The “Buffet Restaurant” provides a wide selection of Russian, European and Pan-Asian cuisine (Chinese & Indian), we also have a family restaurant The Bazar,


which specializes in traditional Caucasian dishes such as khinkali, khachapuri and open grilled specialties, as well as signature salads from a variety of local herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables. The World Cup was a great success and provided the world with the opportunity to see Russia in a new light. Did this have a positive impact on the Gaming Zone? The event itself enabled us to attract customers from as far away as China and Brazil, but more importantly the organization was outstanding, security was friendly and


the atmosphere was electric. It was immediately evident that the 3 month ‘fan pass’ which gave foreigners an automatic visa when they purchased a ticket, not only boosted tourism during the event but generated repeat business for the Casino. As a result of this there is a plan to move towards electronic visas for Sochi by the end of 2020. You have achieved some outstanding success in attracting the world’s top Poker tournaments, was this part of your overall strategy, and how did you accomplish it?

Poker was essential to attract a large base of players all year round and develop an additional revenue stream and marketing platform. As the Russian online marketing was restricted it meant that there was an opportunity to create a synergy with online Poker platforms by offering Live Poker Tournaments that proved valuable for both organizations - to this end we created a partnership that promoted events with the world’s top Online Poker Sites and Players. After three years of operation, Sochi Poker Club is now well established on the world poker circuit having held

over 30 major international poker tournaments with a total guarantee prize pools of over 39 million euros. There is a major tournament held every month in conjunction with the top poker brands PokerStars, Partypoker, 888poker and Pokerdom, and all the major tournaments Millions, WPT, WSOP, EAPT, EPT and of course our own Sochi Poker Festival (SPF). The record prize pool for a Tournament was the Millions that amounted to just over 9,000,000 euros. World poker celebrities have also visited Casino Sochi including: Phil Ivey, Paul Foix, Bertrand Grospellier, Mike Sexton, Michael Mizrahi, Leon Zuckernik,


Rob Young, Chris Moneymaker, Fatima Moreiro de Melo and many others. The face of the Sochi poker club this year was the famous Russian comedian, showman and TV presenter Garik Kharlamov. You mentioned creating an active Junket program, could you elaborate on that and the effect it has had on business? Being in a location with 52 countries within a 4-hour flight radius, our priority was to create a competitive junket program and establish Sochi as a destination of choice for our international guests. Direct flights were a big factor, if you are trying to plan a trip; nobody wants to take a 12-hour flight when it is literally just three or four hours away from where you are living. To this end we initiated flights from Tel Aviv – Sochi last year, that started off with two flights a week and built up to 15 flights a week this summer! The latest route that


we opened is Dubai – Sochi in July, with Delhi – Sochi & Shenzhen – Sochi starting at the beginning of 2020. This has had a positive influence on promoting Sochi – in August this year on average 28,400 people a day were flying through Sochi airport, compared to 2014, which saw 23,000 people a day during the Olympics. The Junket business has grown exponentially and we have active Agents and Players on a regular basis mainly from Israel, India & China. How is your rewards program structured, and what are the key points in your opinion? The Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone has an extensive multi layered rewards program that extends seamlessly to all of our properties. The key is ‘cashless’, and once the player has funds on their card they can use it extensively throughout the properties for slots, tables and F & B - the whole time generating more points anywhere they use

it. The players accumulate points on turnover and the lower tier levels have additional built in ‘trip points’ that can be used to purchase flights and/or accommodation, and participate in lotteries & internal promotions based on their gaming activity. Diamond & Premier cardholders enjoy an extensive range of personalized services and maximum privileges also based on their turnover. What have been the best performing slot machines and EGMs at the Casino? We have a wide range of machines from various manufacturers and traditionally Novomatic were very dominant in Russia, however, there is a lot of competition and the gap is narrowing. Our brands include such companies as the Austrian company Austrian Gaming Industries, Euro Games Technology from Bulgaria, International Games Technology - an American company that merged not so long ago with the German company Atronic, Scientific Games from the USA and the Russian manufacturer Igrosoft. Our Casinos are also connected with a wide area network ‘Mega Jackpot’. What does the Casino Sochi hold for those that have missed out the last 10 years? One of the greatest accomplishments was to change the attitude of Russian customers to the Casino business

following a lot of negative press leading up to the creation of the gaming zones – it is not Russian roulette – it’s entertainment! Everything from the sophisticated light interior & welcoming staff to the concerts, shows and tournaments is dedicated to make the Casino a great night out. So for those that have missed out on the last 10 years, a truly integrated international resort in a magnificent location is waiting to be discovered! Casino Life Magazine would like to thank Paul Edwards and the team at Krasnaya Polyana Gaming Zone for their time and cooperation with this article.


Hard Rock sets out to change Casino culture Interview with Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility for Hard Rock International by: Victor H. Royer


asino Life magazine recently had the opportunity to interview Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility for Hard Rock International, which is the first US-based gaming company to develop its own fully-immersive, branded casino-and-player interactive program for responsible gaming, called the PlayersEdge. This program is intended to not only educate players about their own gaming decisions and choices, but to also educate the Hard Rock casino staff and managers on how to interact effectively with casino players on the topic


of responsible gaming, including how to spot potential problems in players who may benefit from this educational program. Starting with game facts and casino etiquette, PlayersEdge helps players understand their own behavior, identify risks of gambling, and develop positive play habits. For those whose gambling has gone too far, PlayersEdge offers the assistance of voluntary self-exclusion and referrals to professional help and counselling services. While many casino companies offer assistance with problem gaming, and usually offer not only instructional

tad bit wary of this concept as a whole. Personally, after 36 years in the casinos of Las Vegas, and elsewhere in the USA, it seems to me that this is kind of taking the “political correctness” disease of today’s world a bit too far. After all – isn’t the idea of casinos supposed to be to keep the player playing? Or – is this kind of an old concept, like perhaps my own perspectives on the subject? Well, that’s precisely why we are here to find this out directly from the man whose task it is to implement and promote this program: Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility for Hard Rock International. Paul, first I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. As you know, Casino Life Magazine takes great pride in interviewing leading industry CEOs and Senior Level Management members to better understand both the companies that they work for or own, as well as what the key attributes are for their success. Please tell our readers about yourself and your role at Hard Rock International. Paul: As VP of Global Social Responsibility, I lead responsible gaming (RG) and social responsibility (SR) efforts for Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. For 10+ years I had a similar role at Ontario Lottery and Gaming, where our program won many awards, nationally and internationally. In terms of my career, I have worked in social responsibility since 1995, in a variety of roles including: program design and delivery; standards and evaluation; research; purpose-driven marketing; and stakeholder relations and communications.

programming on their in-house TV channels, and social media platforms, but also brochures and phone numbers where to access help, Hard Rock International seems to be the first US-based gaming company to use players’ voices, consider the needs of all types of gamblers, and integrate this approach into the culture it wants for its employees . The goal appears to be to create an environment of mutual responsibility, in which both the casino – and the player – share jointly. OK – so this sounds pretty good, so far. However, some older casino veterans, such as myself, are perhaps just a

Please explain to our readers just exactly what is the PlayersEdge concept, and why is it important. Paul: PlayersEdge is a gambling education program that has been designed to make gambling facts, tips, positive habits relevant for all gamblers. As a casino operator, our role is to prevent and mitigate the effects of problem gambling. For those people who may be experiencing risk and harm, we provide support and referrals to professional services and voluntary self-exclusion. For the vast majority of players, we can help improve gambling literacy. For new and casual players, we can help them understand how games work, rules and etiquette, strategies for setting time and money budgets, determining ‘what kind of player’ they want to be. For regular players, we can advise them on signs of risk, and steps to take when breaks are needed. This segmentation strategy is key to PlayersEdge, and


is critical to appealing to gamblers’ actual interest in learning about gambling and their own behavior. We are launching PlayersEdge with messages that speak to different segments, and will refresh messages in the casino environment (digital messages, print collateral, social media, direct communications to players) so that players receive an ongoing stream of education. The segmentation approach is also the foundation of the training that we provide to all guest-facing employees through an on-line training program, “Frontline Fundamentals”. For supervisors and managers, we add a 2-hour classroom session, “Supervisor Support”, to deepen knowledge of segments, signs of potential problems, on how to interact with guest who may be experiencing harm. OK, but isn’t the idea behind any casino company to keep the player playing? Isn’t this kind of taking the “political correctness” of current times a bit too far? Paul: PlayersEdge is designed to be relevant, interesting and engaging for players, and to add value to their experience. Casinos need gamblers to return to their properties year after year if the industry is to have a sustainable base of customers. When players understand gambling and its risks they are

Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social better able to manage their play in a selfResponsibility for Hard Rock International directed fashion. PlayersEdge is based on the “informed Aren’t “smart” or “educated” gamblers a risk to the decision-making” approach in which Hard Rock provides casino? What if Hard Rock is so good at teaching education and support to enable healthy play habits. proper gambling to it’s patrons that it creates so many Hard Rock cares about the well-being of our players advantage players that it kills it’s own profitability? and does not want to see them experience harm. Casino Paul: PlayersEdge will be teach gamblers about the operators have an obligation to provide assistance and realities of concepts like “house advantage,” so that referrals to those who can benefit from professional they understand the facts of wagering. From a business support services. Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have perspective, “house advantage” still applies at all of our supported access to counseling services, as a promoter casinos. and a funder, for decades. We want people to enjoy the entertaining experience For employees, the PlayersEdge strategy clarifies and of wagering on an uncertain outcome. Hard Rock believes defines what their role is in helping players. that players and the industry are better off with informed The measures of success, which will be evaluated, are: players. do players find PlayersEdge to be a valuable part of their experience? And, do employees find its information and Were any of these considerations even a part of the the training helpful when they are on the gaming floor? discussion before implementing this PlayersEdge


program? If not, why not? And if Yes, how were these decisions handled? Paul: Hard Rock believes that responsible gaming can and should be an integral part of customer experience and service. This support does not contradict the objective of providing customers with exciting experiences on the gaming floor, or at any of the other amenities we offer at

books), for more than 30+ years, and I can tell you from direct and personal experience that casinos, casino corporations, and casino executives – including those with whom I had relations at the Hard Rock in Florida – have absolutely NO interest in “listening” to anything, much less gamblers – especially when it comes to casino operations, or what the players actually want, or say.

our properties. The field of responsible gaming and problem gambling have developed and matured over the last decade. Basic program elements --such as gambling education, training employees, referrals to voluntary self-exclusion and gambling counseling services— are well embraced by the industry. Leading industry operators and organizations around the world, including the American Gaming Association and its members, provide and promote responsible gaming efforts. Hard Rock believes that this approach will continue to remain important for the future success of the industry.

Including the detailed information that I personally compiled for them in my confidential reports and studies. So – what’s different now? Paul: The messages and information conveyed by PlayersEdge are communicated in a voice that sounds like players speaking to each other. Our work to create the program involved examining how gamblers think and talk about gambling, what kinds of information and messages are relevant and interesting to them, and the kind of voice in which they speak. Historically speaking, many responsible gaming programs around the world have used voices and tones that sound like an external authority instructing players on “what is best for them”. Hard Rock wanted to more effectively reach our players, so we gave PlayersEdge a more direct-sounding voice.

In your PR release you are quoted, in part, as follows: “We built PlayersEdge by listening to gamblers. We want to communicate the right information by appealing to how they actually think and behave in casinos.” – I’ve been a casino consultant, and gaming expert (55


In another part of the PR release, it says, in part, that the

PlayersEdge was “… Informed by independent research and expert perspectives …” – Just exactly which experts, what research, and what were these “perspectives”? Paul: Independent perspectives include: our gambling addiction services partner, as well as insights from academic research and “gray” literature . Hard Rock also undertook its own market research (obviously not “independent” but helpful) for the development of PlayersEdge. We learned from “perspectives” that include: gambling literacy is a priority; operators have a role to play in educating and supporting players; and that information must be relevant to the needs of players. Examples of perspectives that informed PlayersEdge: 1. The Florida Council for Compulsive Gambling collaborated on the development of PlayersEdge. 2. Insights gained from independent research provided foundational thinking for its development. Here are three specific examples: • The Responsible Gambling Council: an example of one study: https://www.responsiblegambling.org/rg-newsresearch/rgc-centre/research-and-analysis/docs/defaultsource/research-reports/informed-decision-making • The Reno Model: https://www.amazon.com/ Responsible-Gambling-Primary-StakeholderPerspectives/dp/0190074566 • Responsible Gambling: Primary Stakeholder Perspectives: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/ B:JOGS.0000040281.49444.e2 3. For those who are interested, I would recommend reading articles from the following researchers:

• Dr. Michael Wohl, Carleton University • Dr. Sally Gainsbury, University of Sydney • Dr. Robert Ladaceour, University of Laval • Dr. Kevin Harrigan, University of Waterloo • Dr. Dan Brown, University of Waterloo • Dr. David Hodgins, University of Calgary • Dr. Howard Shaffer, Harvard University • Dr. Alex Blaszczynski, the University of Sydney As general background, the field of responsible gambling program development and research has grown and matured over the last couple of decades. Different types of research are common, including market research, independent academic research, and industry-led applied research. Hard Rock is also a member of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, which funds independent research.


And in another part of the PR release it says, in part: “The segmentation strategy behind PlayersEdge is also the foundation for new training and culture-building programs rolling out at Hard Rock.” – Doesn’t this kind of sound like corporate double-speak? I mean, just exactly what does this mean? In my experience the staff of any gaming property that is faced with this kind of corporate “strategy” will both “tune out” and “sigh deeply,” and then mutter to themselves in the lunch room: “Oh poop! Another corporate doo-doo for us to deal with.” Or something to this effect. I don’t mean to poo-poo the principles here – I have always maintained that an informed player is a better player – but when it comes to your Staff, who have to implement this program, isn’t that kind of “dry company-speak” a little unclear? Paul: PlayersEdge training and culture-building approach is


designed to: define and clarify employees roles; build skills and knowledge that enable them to effectively provide information and supports; reinforce and model behavior. It is also designed to be interesting and engaging. We are and will continue to evaluate effectiveness. This training includes the following components: 1. 30-minute online module, “Frontline Fundamentals” for guest-facing employees: explains the basics of problem gambling; explains the behavior signs that employees observe, what they mean within the context of player segmentation; what actions they can take; when to escalate to more senior managers. Approximately 15,000 employees take this training 2. 2-hour classroom training “Supervisor Support” for

“I better understand: • Basic facts about problem gambling and behaviors I observe in gaming environments • The appropriate information I need to provide new, casual and regular players.” “I am better able to: • Effectively interact with and support players showing serious ‘red-flag’ signs • Make responsible gaming information/support part of my job providing exceptional guest service.” To date, the average score from the more than 600 employees (trained to date) is 4.6/5, across all 4 questions. Hard Rock will incorporate employee feedback as it evolves PlayersEdge and training, with a continued focus on making the program relevant and valuable to employees. 3. Culture-building: All Seminole and Hard Rock properties now have Responsible Gaming teams, comprised of manager or above level personnel from different operational functions (slots, tables, security, marketing, F&B, etc). These teams implement program elements (like PlayersEdge, training) and reinforce objectives of training on an ongoing basis through communications with staff (pre-shift meetings, back of house communications etc). They will also be critical in helping to evaluate effectiveness. Over the next two years, other reinforcements will be

managers and supervisors: this training builds upon the online module. This class session is interactive, using role-playsand scenario-driven discussions, to build skills enabling employees to effectively interact with guests who demonstrate different behavior signs. It was co-designed and is co-delivered with the Florida Council for Compulsive Gambling and with Dr. Rory Reid, from UCLA. This training will be updated and delivered every three years, and reinforced with short modules each year. This year, approximately 1,000 supervisors and managers at Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming properties will complete this training. Employees evaluate the training based on four questions:

added: a database to (anonymous to the player) track the interactions that employees are having; defining specific roles for different types of employees; short annual online training that expand upon and reinforce foundational training will be provided for front-line and supervisors. And then there is another part of the company statement that refers to “Frontline Fundamentals.” Well, what exactly is that? How – precisely – are you expecting your employees, and management, to actually do this? Meaning in the field, and on the casino floor. And then do it without antagonizing the players, or causing the staff to be so uncomfortable with the concept that they’ll actively avoid situations where they become exposed to it? Paul: For details on “Frontline Fundamentals” please see my earlier answer. You are right to ask about how we avoid “antagonizing the players, or causing the staff to be


so uncomfortable.” Our training is designed to engage, not alienate players, and to empower employees to have constructive conversations. We equip employees with the right information – through the PlayersEdge platform – and demonstrate how to be helpful, empathic, and compassionate. A critical step in the training is telling employees that they should always “ask permission” before providing a

or how to read the Pay Table on Video Poker to actually identify the precise program to which the game plays, and so on. Will the PlayersEdge actually BE a “player’s edge” when you implement it at the Hard Rock?

player with information. If someone does not want help, we do not force it on them. Employees find this step helpful, and generally consistent with how they provide customer service to guests.

The problem is not the absence of information. Any casino gambler can find a range of technical information on odds, house edge, etcetera because it is already available. Slot manufacturers provide this type of detail, for those players who want it. The challenge we are trying address is framing information effectively, and then delivering a level of detail that is accurate, while not alienating anyone due to overly technical descriptions. We want to provide engaging information that piques curiosity and allows people to explore more if they so choose. For example, one of our program launch examples is “why should I split aces and 8s in blackjack”. On PlayersEdge.org we provide a direct explanation of basic strategy.

In another part of the message, Hard Rock states, in part, that: “Starting with game facts and casino etiquette, PlayersEdge also helps players understand their own behavior, identify risks of gambling, and develop positive play habits.” – Does this mean that you and your Staff will actually tell the players the exact odds of the games, how much of a house-edge there is on, for example, penny slots (usually 14%-18% on the average, with some much more), or on table games where, for example in Blackjack, a Natural 21 which pays 6:5 instead of 3:2 adds another 1.4% to the house edge on the game and therefore isn’t good for the player, or that Blackjack where Dealer Hits soft 17 is also not good for the player,


Paul: PlayersEdge provides education on game facts and how players can plan their trips by doing things like setting budgets and sticking to them.

Thank you, Paul, for your time, and for sharing this with us, and the readers of Casino Life magazine.

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Ukraine’s Path To Legalization Of Gambling Business By: Natalia Pakhomovska, Partner, head of IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper & Ivan Shatov, Associate, IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper


ore than 10 years in a row gambling in Ukraine is officially prohibited and any gamble except for national lotteries

is recognized illegal. This means that organizing of gamble of any type in Ukraine entails legal liability unless it is a state lottery which is organized by one of the licensed providers of state lotteries. The idea of prohibition of gambling in Ukraine has been floating around for several years before final prohibition which has been triggered by the tragic fire in one of casinos in Dnipropetrovsk city, where 9 people died. As a result, on 15 May 2009 Ukrainian parliament passed a Law of Ukraine “On Prohibition of Gambling in Ukraine” which is still in force.

Life after criminalization of gambling Though gambling is prohibited in Ukraine, local gambling providers kept their offline activity in a semi-legal way under the cover of state lotteries. More specifically, a “grey” scheme is the following: the entity which possesses Ukrainian lottery license (state lottery operator) registers

state lottery with the name identical to the brand of betting provider or slot machine games provider and then enters with such provider into the services agreement implying that the provider will organize such “lottery” for and on behalf of the entity holding a license as a contractor (state lottery provider). In fact, such entities provide their visitors with access to online casinos, slot machine games, online poker, betting services under the cover of state lotteries. Ukrainian government and police tolerate the above scheme and currently Ukrainian cities are full of offline points providing for slot machine games and betting points which imitate state lottery points. In addition, as of 2013 only 4 entities in Ukraine possessed state lottery licenses, which by the way have expired in 2014 and were not renewed due to the absence of applicable procedure that was meant to be established by a special regulation. Thus, currently such entities are acting as lottery operators on the basis of expired licenses and official letter as of 6 August 2014 issued by the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine allowing such entities to work on the basis of expired licenses until the procedure of their renewal will be adopted.


Ivan Shatov, Associate, IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper

As regards online gambling, it is also prohibited in Ukraine according to the respective law, however no procedure allowing for blocking of online gambling providers has been adopted. Therefore, online casinos, betting websites, online poker etc. currently are freely accessible by Ukrainian customers and are not being fought by Ukrainian law enforcement bodies whatsoever.

A real prospect for legalization Discussions on the possibility to legalize gambling in Ukraine started almost right after adoption of the law in 2009. During the last 10 years when gambling was illegal, there were several attempts to legalize it. Namely, before Euro-2012 there was an initiative to legalize bookmaking business (Draft Law “On Bookmaking Activity” No. 10053 as of 15.02.2012); in 2014 casino and bookmaking activity was planned to be legalized (Draft Law “On Activity of Casinos in Ukraine” No. 1571 as of 22.12.2014 and Draft Law “On Bookmaking Activity in Ukraine” No. 1572 as of 22.12.2014); in 2015 several draft laws were presented (Draft Law “On State Regulation of Gambling in Ukraine” No. 1807 as of 21.01.2015, Draft Law “On Activity of Casinos in Ukraine” and Draft Law “On Unshadowing of Gambling Market of and Provision of Budget with Profits for the Purpose of Fulfillment of Social Obligations” No. 3632 as of 11.12.2015). Finally, in August 2019, the president of Ukraine Vladimir Zelenskyi announced an intent to legalize gambling in


Ukraine and stated that the newly developed law on legalization of gambling must be adopted by December 2019. The arguments for legalization as articulated by the president and other top-level officials are the possibility to increase country’s tax income and obtain control over the creation of offline gambling points which currently are everywhere on the streets of Ukrainian cities, especially of smaller and less economically developed ones. Active preparation of the first draft law has started in the end of August 2019 in the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine and the Committee of the Parliament for the Finance Matters, Tax and Customs Policy and the first draft law has been presented to general public on 17 October 2019 when submitted to the parliament (Draft Law “On State Regulation of Activity in the Sphere of Organization and Conducting of Gambling” No. 2285 as of 17.10.2019). In November 2019, in addition to the mentioned draft law, 6 new alternative laws aimed at legalization of gambling were registered in Ukrainian parliament and currently are being analyzed and discussed in the committees of the parliament and by general public. Namely, the alternative draft laws are: No. 2285-1 as of 05.11.2019, No. 2285-2 as of 06.11.2019, No. 2285-3 as of 06.11.2019, No. 2285-4 as of 06.11.2019, No. 2285-6 as of 07.11.2019, No. 2285-7 as of 07.11.2019. In light of big number of alternative laws, the process of adoption of new law has been delayed and the deadline set by the president has been already missed. At the same time, it appears that the legalization of gambling is very likely to happen in Ukraine in the following months and all the draft laws having a lot of common provisions already give us a certain understanding on how the forthcoming law may look like.

What to expect?

Requirements to the entity of gambling operator All draft laws currently registered in the parliament of Ukraine contain requirement that the legal entity, through which the gambling operator shall conduct its business activity in the sphere of gambling must be a Ukrainian legal entity, i.e. organized and carrying out its activities in the territory of Ukraine under the laws of Ukraine (provided that gambling organization and conduct is the key type of its business activity). The majority of draft laws also provide for a requirement to the minimal amount of charter capital of the gambling operators to be at the level of UAH 30,000,000 (GBP 962,735). Draft law 2285-4 also contains requirement to minimal charter capital of lottery organizers at the level of

UAH 150,000,000 (GBP 4,812,275), while draft laws 2285-2 and 2285-7 establish no minimal amount of the charter capital for gambling organizers whatsoever. Also, the majority of draft laws contain such common requirements: management and accounting manager must have no unexpunged or unserved sentence for profitmotivated crimes or crimes in the sphere of business or official activities; accounting manager of the gambling operator must have higher economic education and experience of work as accounting manager of at least 3 years; state and municipal bodies as well as self-government bodies cannot be participants of the gambling operator. The requirement for the gambling operators to have Ukrainian legal entities with minimal charter capital is aimed at better control over the industry from Ukrainian government standpoint. At the same time, such requirement is burdensome and may make Ukrainian market less attractive for some of the participants of gambling market, especially for those, who provide only online gambling and their business model does not imply legal presence in all jurisdictions where their platform is available for players. Gambling activities to be legalized and respective licenses Most of the draft laws (2285, 2285-1, 2285-3, 2285-6, 2285-7) provide for a legalization of the following gambling activities: • offline and online casino; • slot machine halls; • betting shops and online betting; • lotteries; • offline and online poker. It is also a trend that the number of licenses for each type of gambling activity will be limited by a fixed number. Currently the draft laws provide for absolutely different limits, varying from 20 to no limits for land based casinos; from 10 licenses to no limits for betting and online casino; from 80 to unlimited number of betting shops; from 160 to unlimited number of slot machine halls (or up to 40,000 slot machines without limitation of a number of slot machine halls as provided by draft law No. 2285-1); from 1 to 3 lotteries. Moreover, the producers of equipment for gambling activities as well as developers of software used by gambling operators shall note that 3 of 7 draft laws (2285-2, 2285-3 and 2285-6) provide for the licensing of the activity related to supply of equipment and/or software to the gambling operators.

Natalia Pakhomovska, Partner, head of IP&T practice at Kyiv office of DLA Piper

As regards the procedure of issuance of licenses, current draft laws contain 2 different approaches: (a) limited number of licenses are being granted on the basis of online auction and only starting price of the license is established by the law (e.g. 2285 – for all types of licenses; betting licenses in all draft laws except 2285-2); (b) licenses are being granted to the applicants who are compliant with the requirements of the law by respective authority on the basis of the documents provided by the applicant and the license fees are established by the law as a fixed amount (e.g. offline casino in most draft laws except 2285 and 2285-7; all licenses in 2285-2). Given the variability of the types of licenses, their quantity, price and procedure of issuance in different draft laws, it is hard to predict the final numbers, prices and procedure of issuance of such licenses to be included in the final law to be adopted by the parliament. The limitation of the number of licenses as well as the procedure of their issuance based on auction implies that the prices of such limited licenses will be increased due to the competition of different gambling providers. Moreover, as the procedure of such auction is not yet clear and is to be established after adoption of the respective procedure, it would be hard for international businesses to plan their entrance to the Ukrainian market as it requires significant preliminary work only to be eligible to participate in such auctions.


Requirements to equipment All draft laws provide for the requirement to the gambling equipment to be certified and connected to the national system of online monitoring to be allowed for the use in Ukraine for organizing gambling activities. According to all draft laws, certification of gambling equipment may be made by the certification organizations explicitly identified by the responsible authority. Draft laws No. 2285-3 and 2285-7 also provide for the requirements to the equipment used in slot machine halls and systems monitoring thereof to be produced only in Ukraine. Other draft laws do not contain any limitation to the origin of gambling equipment. This requirement is unlikely to be kept in the final document that will be adopted by the parliament.

Online gambling All current draft laws provide for the opportunity to organize online gambling through the websites and mobile applications to the customers on the territory of Ukraine as well as outside of the territory of Ukraine. Also, all draft laws are similar in their regulation of organization of gambling online. Namely, most draft laws contain requirement for the online gambling activities to be made only under the organizer’s single brand (the obligation to use only one brand per online gambling license is present in all draft laws except 2285-2 and 2285-4). Under all draft laws gambling equipment needs to be connected to the online monitoring system. Moreover, all draft laws require the use of the top-level domain in the .UA zone for organization of online gambling activities. Generally, draft laws do not regulate the location of servers, but only draft laws 2285-2 and 2285-4 explicitly


require such servers to be located on the territory of Ukraine. Requirement to act under the organizer’s single brand and use top level domain in .UA zone mean that potential providers of online gambling activities in Ukraine would need to register or obtain license respective trademark that will be used for their online gambling services as according to the domain rules of .UA zone only owners or licensees of respective trademarks may use the domains in .UA zone which are identical to such trademarks. At the same time, requirement to obtain the license and act through a separate website in .UA zone means that all other online gambling resources will become explicitly illegal on the territory of Ukraine and their providers would need to obtain licenses not to lose Ukrainian customers.

Controlling body and enforcement of rules According to most of the draft laws (all except 2285-4), it is planned to create a separate dedicated supervising authority called Commission on gambling development and regulation. Some of the draft laws (2285 and 2285-7) also stipulate that State Fiscal Service will be a controlling authority. While the new legislation provides for regulation of organization of gambling online, there are a lot of discussions around the issue of enforcement of such rules. Currently, though gambling is prohibited in Ukraine, Ukrainian players can freely access online casinos as well as betting platforms of local and foreign providers without any foreseeable consequences. It is expected that upon adoption of the new law, a newly created authority will be given the powers to take down such services in Ukraine by means of obliging Ukrainian hosting providers, telecommunications operators/providers and financial institutions that process payments to suspend their services to such online gambling providers. Generally, Ukrainian draft laws on legalization of gambling in Ukraine show positive shift towards regulated market with relatively transparent rules. At this stage there is no certainty as to the final requirements that will be adopted by the parliament, however the general trends are overall positive and will allow local and international players of gambling market to enter Ukrainian market and gain additional profits from such expansion.

David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy

The shape of things to come


by David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

he UK General Election is behind us and, despite all four major political parties choosing to highlight future gambling policy in their respective manifestos, the truth is that relatively few voting decisions will have been swayed one way or another on that front alone. The media headlines in relation to each of those policy

proposals particularly focused on controversial features within the online gambling sector, as too they had done in the period since FOBTs departed from betting shops to all intents and purposes in April 2019. Some UK land-based casino operators might have considered they had nothing to fear from the calls by parliamentarians of all hues to ban credit card use


for online gambling or bring loot boxes within the definition of gambling. Indeed, such operators might possibly have (a) actively welcomed the Labour Party’s proposal to introduce lower staking limits online and (b) had considerably less concern than the online sector about the potential for greater restrictions on gambling advertising. However, cross-party support for some of the other manifesto proposals will be of considerable relevance to the land-based casino sector. In line with the Conservative Party’s electoral promises before the 12th December election, it is clear from the background briefing notes to the Queen’s Speech that a review of the Gambling Act 2005 will commence within the present Parliamentary session. As and when this occurs, the swinging of the regulatory pendulum points to introduction of considerably greater restrictions than were imposed by the supposedly liberalising reforms last time around. To put this into perspective, such a review will not of course take place overnight and, when it does, its initial prime focus is likely to be in relation to the online sector. That is evidenced by what was a rare agreement between the two main political parties that a need exists for “a new Gambling Act fit for the digital age” (according to the Labour Party) because the existing legislation is “an analogue law in a digital age” (according to the Conservative Party). Nevertheless, collateral fallout from such a review will no doubt mean that the land-based casino sector will not be immune from the fast-gathering political consensus that a mandatory levy – of at least 1% GGY, in place of

formulation and oversight from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to the Department of Health and Social Care. If that happens, all sectors of the industry could well find themselves in a very different licensing and regulatory landscape than that which they currently inhabit. So, with significant changes on the horizon, what will (or should) be the reaction of the industry now we all know the complexion of the new UK government and the fact that Nicky Morgan will continue in her role as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, albeit from the House of Lords once she has been made a peer? It is certainly to be hoped that intemperate language on both sides of the argument will be avoided. I have in mind a spat that erupted on publication of November’s Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group’s Interim Report arising from its Online Gambling Harm Inquiry. For its part, the APPG said: “We were …. appalled at the cowardly behaviour of Kenny Alexander, the Chief Executive of GVC holdings, who pulled out of appearing before the group, and failed to send a representative, shortly after receiving an email from a problem gambler which challenged the actions of GVC, copying in the GRH APPG. An industry which causes harm must be answerable for its actions”. In response, Alexander disputed that was the reason for his non-attendance and described as “ridiculous” the APPG’s recommendation of a £2 staking limit on online casino games. Given the lead in corporate social responsibility terms that GVC has taken since the launch in January 2019 of its responsible

GambleAware’s suggested minimum donation of 0.1% GGY – should replace the current voluntary donation system for problem gambling research, education and treatment. The sector will already be taking account of the fact that, with effect from January 2020, RET donations may only be made to bodies approved for such a purpose by the Gambling Commission, raising yet greater concern that research projects commissioned in future may continue to focus more on gambling related harm attributable to gambling sectors other than the land-based casino sector.

gambling campaign, it is a great shame that this spat ever started. That does not mean that the APPG’s report can, or should, escape any criticism at all. It surprised many that the APPG (membership of which contains three highprofile Conservatives in former party leader Iain DuncanSmith, the new Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley and outspoken critic of the gambling industry, Lord Chadlington) not only thought it appropriate to publish a report that appears misinformed in some critical respects, but also chose to do so before meeting with either the

One also cannot help but wonder if a review of the 2005 Act (whether or not incorporating a full public health inquiry into gambling related harm, an idea that has gathered a fair degree of cross-party support) will lead to introduction of an additional public health licensing objective and what length of time it might take the new government to move gambling policy

newly appointed Gambling Minister or any representative from the Gambling Commission – something that the APPG sought to excuse by saying that this was “due to the political context”. Indeed, the Commission itself admitted it was “disappointed” that the report was “released before we have been given the chance to give evidence to the APPG”.


However, things have quickly moved on in that the APPG’s principal recommendations were echoed by proposals within the various political parties’ manifestos and, if implemented, some of them will have direct bearing on the land-based industry, as I have mentioned above. For example, the APPG called for new legislation that will not only “focus on prevention of harm and retrospective concerns but also assess the kind of industry we would like to have in the future”, meaning a considerably more regulated industry overseen by a Gambling Commission with even greater enforcement powers than it has currently and a statutory “duty of care [imposed] on operators to not exploit those with addictions”. In addition, one can reasonably assume from views expressed by cross-party MPs within the APPG that parliamentarians may not wish to restrict to the online sector alone such proposed additional measures as: • compulsory “improved affordability checks”, • a requirement that “gambling operators act far more sympathetically and return money in cases where money was clearly gambled when it should not have been, for example when a person has been shown to have been vulnerable through an acquired brain injury”, • “far greater assessments …. by operators to assess a person’s suitability” for VIP status (in relation to which the APPG suggests the Gambling Commission should adopt even “more vigilance because fines to companies for offering inducements inappropriately have very little impact”; this, notwithstanding that in a “CEO Breakfast Briefing” speech at the beginning of October, the Commission’s Chief Executive called for operators to collaborate in development of a code of conduct relating to the treatment of VIPs and associated inducements to gamble, which it is now expected will be published in Spring 2020), and • an investigation into the extent to which “incentives given by gambling operators …. contribute to harmful gambling”, that would be facilitated by a new licensing condition requiring access to operators’ data “to ensure high quality, independent research …. to assess the scale of harm being caused by the industry”.

sectors of the UK gambling industry will approach this opportunity for change not only on the front foot and in a constructive manner (rather than merely attempt to dismiss out of hand proposals such as those I have outlined above, instead arguing defensively for maintenance of the status quo) but also in a more united manner than has been the case in the past, including notably in the period prior to enactment of the Gambling Act 2005. The consolidation within the industry that has occurred in the intervening period since then must surely have considerable bearing in this respect, with battle lines between different sectors not so evident as they were previously, as is evidenced by the recent establishment of the Betting and Gaming Council under the chairmanship of Brigid Simmonds, someone with considerable and successful experience of dealing with parliamentarians during her previous long tenure as CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association. What should surely be key in assessing “the kind of industry we would like to have in the future” is a strong evidence base, something that is arguably lacking in both the APPG’s interim report recommendations and some of the gambling proposals within the General Election manifestos. It will be essential that not only the land-based casino sector but also the gambling industry as a whole works together in gathering evidence to underline the messages that (a) a corner has truly been turned such that safer gambling principles are now so deeply entrenched within good operators’ businesses that more restrictive regulation is no longer required and (b) a very considerable majority of UK gamblers enjoy the experience of gambling, regard it as a social leisure activity, can be trusted to gamble responsibly, are not vulnerable to harm or exploitation by gambling and do not need to be further protected. It has been a subject of recent debate who is best placed to step forward as a spokesperson, commanding the respect of the whole UK gambling industry, who can forcibly and effectively convey those messages to the powers that be with a view to shaping the things to come. Whoever that person may be, their time to emerge from the shadows must surely be now. dc@cliftondavies.com www.cliftondavies.com

Come what may, what must be hoped is that all


Totally Gaming Academy 2020

Interview with Andrew Spencer, Head of Training by Damien Connelly


o you want to excel in gaming? Are you looking for tutelage from casino professionals with proven expertise? Totally Gaming Academy may be what you seek. The training provider seminar prides itself on pairing highly motivated students with intelligent, operationally seasoned instructors. Totally Gaming Academy’s faculty runs the gamut from experience in i-gaming to diversity hiring to responsible gaming. If you’re a casino manager and can’t send your employees to the academy, the academy will come to you, offering in-house training. Totally Gaming


Academy will even hold fort at both ICE London and ICE Asia. We sat down to learn more about this innovative school. One of the more recent innovations, a brainchild of the Acting Commercial Director Adam Roebuck, is the creation of ‘Thought Leadership’ programme. What is involved in the thought leadership packages for these events? The packages provide an opportunity for our partners to raise their profile with a relevant audience over 1 or 2 days – this isn’t about sponsorship as such – it’s about the

partner being seen to be playing a role in advancing the skills and knowledge base of leaders in the sector.

If we were to ask your regular partners, eg Edict, Digitain, Pragmatic Play the same question, what reasons would

The partner will be seen as a responsible leader in this sector, advancing & supporting innovation and training for gaming professionals.

they give? The thought leadership packages aren’t like any other form of sponsorship the events industry offer. The key differences between sponsorship of an event and training are:

What are amongst the key benefits Thought Leaders gain? There are the obvious benefits – brand exposure to an audience, and dare I say it...an association with us! But also, an opportunity to listen to the (potential) customer - not just for half an hour as you would at a conference, but for a day two or three – real depth. These courses are really the last opportunity in a world of free content to be in a room with clients who are investing good money to solve a challenge they are facing right now. They also have the opportunity to offer subsidised training to their current, past customers and prospects. It gives the thought leader another topic to talk to their universe about other than just their product / service.

• The chance to offer the room a real quality solution to their challenges • No marketing effort needed on the side of the Thought leader • No stand build costs • A room full of industry leaders facing the same challenges • Plug and play collaboration What are the areas of the industry who tend to Partner Totally Gaming Academy events and are their areas of the industry that should sponsor but are yet to do so? We currently have support from platform providers in key


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Clarion Gaming’s Andrew Spencer, Head of Training

We do – either for multiple learners on one course date, or for access to a range of titles and dates for the same employer. A number of operators have an ‘account’ with us. These relationships enable us plan and to manage and develop the courses to match business need. Can you provide us the details for Totally Gaming Academy Events 2020? You can see the calendar on our website (www. totallygamingacademy.com). And all of the courses (and existing sponsors!) will be profiled at the Totally Gaming Academy Theatre at stand S8-360 at ICE London 2020 – come and take a look! You’ll notice calendars for 2020 for courses in North and South America, along with the European dates.

areas such as Sports book or Online Gaming. However, we have amazing opportunities opening up in the land based side such as Slots, Table games - this would be of interest to a range of providers - machines, furniture and insurance suppliers (maybe even back office system suppliers) Do you provide for operators that want to send several delegates to either one event or several, do you provide discounts?

What new courses are added for 2020? We’ve added a range of titles 2020 which would appeal to the land based Casino. In particular, we’ve added courses to appeal to those who might have been on a course already, The Slot Academy for example, and want a refresher and to take things further. For the ‘Slot Academy Alumni’ we’ve added specialist modules on Marketing and Quality Management (TQM). We’ve also added our Compliance suite, with a course aimed at specialist Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLROs). Who are amongst your team of trainers for Totally Gaming Academy 2020?


We have range of trainers, but what links them all is their industry knowledge and experience, not just their ability to train in such a way as to inspire – a few spring to mind, who may well be familiar! • Robert Brassai (Table Games) • Arjan Korstjens (Casino Marketing) • Arno Nagelschmied (Responsible Gaming) • Christina Thakor-Rankin (Compliance Academy – AML and MLRO) • Lucien Wijsman (the suite of courses which form the Slot Academy)


For those Casino operators that may have not sent employees to attend for 3 or more years, what do you say as to why 2020 is they year they should send delegates back to the Totally Gaming Academy Courses? In a sector that doesn’t stand still, the importance of keeping up to date is well understood – even if a course title hasn’t changed because it ‘does what it says on the tin’, the content will have been updated – I would challenge anyone to remember the details from a course they attended 3 years ago! It may also be that new and different trainers are involved, offering a new perspective to the learner Can you supply details for Casino operators and organisations that want to find out more information about delegate packages and sponsorship options for involvement with the Totally Gaming Academy 2020? If you’re interested in the thought leadership packages, contact adam.roebuck@clariongaming.com

Andrew Cosgrove

Maximizing slot machine performance


Management strategies that will take your slots performance from good to great by Andrew Cosgrove

nce upon a not so long-ago slot machines were considered an after though for the ‘real’ gamblers who would never dare risk their reputation by even being seen paused at a slot machine while in polite conversation. Accidentally touching one of these metal boxes with reels could spell total disaster to a gambler’s credibility, respectability, honor and integrity. Slot

machines were considered tourist traps for the meandering and non-gambling tourist who sometimes would stumble inside the gambling establishment by accident or sometimes just to escape the hot desert sun. At the end of the day, everybody was happy, and the casino was making enough money to buy, replace and repair these sometimes very heavy amenities called slot machines in order to keep the ‘gamblers’ happy and playing on the tables. The slots


that will hopefully help you along the rocky road from good to great slots management:

staff were often frowned upon like some alien life form and were quite often spotted walking the floor with dirt under their fingernails (much to the horror of the table games staff). The slots manager most likely would have worked himself up the ladder from a slot tech or slot attendant with no real academic background but armed with a wealth of experience learned from colleagues, mentors and many nights walking the floor. However, times have changed. Slot machines have evolved, life changing jackpot are now a common occurrence, bonus rounds and free games are rampant, competition is stronger, and the invention of social media has driven customer service expectations to levels that no slot manager had ever previously thought possible. Loyalty is anemic, and customers will leave for the competition for the promise of more free play or the wrong drink being delivered by a waitress on a busy Friday night. Corporations demand more revenues; employees demand flexible schedules and there is now more information available to be managed than ever before. So, what does it take to manage the slots operation of today and to keep afloat in an ocean of change? It’s a big question with many opinions and schools of thought available, but let me take a gamble and make a few simple suggestions


LEADERSHIP - A slots manager may be able to build a casino by themselves, but the word manage implies delegating part or all the responsibilities to other people. Leaders need to manage their team effectively, trust them to do their job and hold them accountable for results. Employees respond well to exceptional leaders and become more productive when they are shown respect, recognized for a job well done and given both the tools and the opportunities to grow. A great leader inspires others toward greatness so if you want a happy customer make sure your employees are even happier. KNOWLEDGE OF GAMING OPERATIONS - Knowledge of the latest and greatest slot machine, systems and analytical technology is an essential part of successful slots management as is being able to work within a regulatory framework. Every Casino is different so it’s essential that management adapt to their circumstances and provide their unique customer base with the appropriate marketing strategy, gaming products, layout and payback percentages that they demand. Competition is tough in all jurisdictions so having in in depth knowledge of operations is an essential part of success. COMMUNICATIONS - Being able to communicate at all levels is essential and that’s not just about sending reports or emailing out a list of conversions for approval. Effective communications require being able to spread the message of the brand to your staff and customers in order to increase product buy-in and make everyone involved feel like part of something greater than just another, sometimes clueless, player’s club. It’s about

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listening, understanding and having the ability to respond to both customer and operational needs in an effective and efficient way. ORGANISATION - No casino or casino project can be successful without a plan. Organization enables the plan to be executed effectively on time, within budget, scope and specified quality. In project management roles and responsibilities are made clear before a project is fully commissioned and authority is delegated through the management by exception principle within specific predetermined tolerances. When lines of authority are clear, and roles and responsibilities are well defined then the odds of the forklift truck you need to offload your new slots arriving on time and with a driver will significantly increase. CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPECTATIONS - In the age of social media and increased competition it’s of the upmost importance that staff are properly trained and consistent in their delivery of personalized customer service experiences. Part of achieving consistency requires that service levels are monitored and tested via different channels such as mystery shoppers, trip advisor, market matrix, surveys and the use of inhouse evaluation

techniques. Customers arrive with a perceived value of their experience and if you don’t meet and exceed it then your once ‘good’ slots operation could spiral into a vicious cycle of mistrust, accusations and your good staff abandoning ship. The perfect slots operation doesn’t exist due to the nature of the beast and maintaining consistency is an ongoing challenge that great managers see an opportunity to make continuous improvement part of the organizational structure where idea factories are incentivized, learning and development are encouraged and where the good to great leaders of tomorrow are forged. MY MINI-BLOG - Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and continues to help clients succeed and exceed customer expectations. Andrew can be reached at andy.cosgrove@ hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com or see http://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com


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Future of Fintech in Macau


By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot

his month is marking the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to China and the China government has praised the city for upholding the “one country, two systems” framework that governs both

Hong Kong and Macau. China also announces a raft of new policies aimed at diversifying the city’s casinodependent economy into a financial center, including the establishment of a yuan-denominated stock exchange and the acceleration of a renminbi settlement center already


Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot

in the works. The signal is very clear: Macau future focus will be on finance, and let’s take this chance to review the fintech development in the city and the neighboring mainland China. When we talk about fintech, blockchain for sure is the hottest topic in the recent days. Blockchain is a distributed database technology where every participant shares and synchronises information. Back in October at a group study session for members of the senior government officials, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more research and investment into blockchain technology. The news have created a lot of excitement in the financial world. Some NASDAQ-listed China blockchain development companies shares up from 16% to 108% and Bitcoin also rose sharply. However, the fever soon died down and most stock prices falling below their previous levels. Xi’s push for the technology did not come as much of a surprise actually. The world’s two major financial transaction providers SWIFT and the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS) are American global hegemony. It is reasonable to believe that there is a certain risk associated with a high degree of reliance on them for other countries. Building a new blockchain network can be a solution to solve that risk. Technically, blockchain can facilitate cross-border payments and it might also have an impact on promoting China renminbi internationalisation in overseas markets as well. As the ongoing Sino-US trade war, it make sense for Beijing to rethink the dependency on the current international


monetary framework. China actually has a technology gap in blockchain with the US as more than 90 per cent of domestic Chinese blockchain systems are based on foreign codes or their variants, according to a 2018 report by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. However, the Chinese companies are very forward-thinking in the use of blockchain technologies. China’s tech giants Baidu did blockchain-based financing back in 2016, while Tencent supplied the Shenzhen invoice system. Alibaba has also used blockchain in some of their business operations. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has once warned US Congress about China would overtake the US in innovation. He said: “We cannot sit here and assume that because America is today the leader that it will always get to be the leader if we don’t innovate.” In my opinion, blockchain is a perfect use case as a regulatory technology because it will be able to know the entire transaction process without the need to approach each commercial bank for verification. This can also apply to gaming industry as it is also a highly regulated businesses worldwide and it is important to make the data transparent to those who needs that most, i.e. regulators and operators. But it does not mean that blockchain is the only solution for all problems. It is costly to implement and can be replaced by other technologies in most industry applications. We are still in the early stage to apply blockchain in Gaming. We can just stay tune to see how this new Fintech will be used in the future.

About Raymond Chan Raymond Chan is a 20-year data science and business innovations veteran. He is the founder of Alphamirai, a research and investment company focusing on developing extraordinary new products through emerging technologies and venture capital.

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Manage this by Robert Brassai

Un Certain Regard


Why have your operation audited by independent experts?

n operational audit is an examination of the manner in which an organization conducts business, with the objective of pointing out improvements that will increase its efficiency and effectiveness.” And there are various manners in which business can be conducted. They can all be equally effective and reach the same results with the same effort. But mostly they are not. In casinos a good example would be procedures. Those of you who had the chance to work in multiple jurisdictions and for various companies, know how a simple procedure of paying out 105 chips on roulette can differ from one place to another. Is there a perfect way to do it? Is any one of these various procedures more effective than all the others? Probably yes. Does it matter? Probably not. Many times, the difference is not measurable and then we are just wasting our time really trying to invent the wheel. At other times there might be a significant difference and a case for change which could mean improvement in revenues, reduction of costs or both, resulting in increased profits for the operation and eventually thicker bonus envelopes for management. Operational optimization is a phrase repeated that many repeat but a very few practice. The nudge mostly comes from ownership and hardly ever from management. And when it does, it usually means an operational audit for starters by an outside company or consultant to point out possible areas of improvement that management hasn’t seen for various reasons. Not because they are incompetent or don’t care, but simply because running an operation can be rather overwhelming and there are so many facets of the business that need constant attention, that sometimes the big picture just gets blurred and priorities get distorted. I remember the first time I had to face an outside auditor as property manager. I felt insulted and betrayed by the very company I did so much for. I ran the place as if it was my own, with care and lots of extra hours. My


Robert Brassai

casino was doing extremely well, initial investment paid back in record time, all was rosy, so what is this guy doing here? I got lucky, cause the person doing the audit was seasoned enough to see my anguish and walked me through the whole process and the reasons for which corporate management called him in. Then the whole thing started making sense. We were doing great, but there is always place for improvement. And did we

improve on a bunch of KPIs after that audit? Very much so. The auditor was long gone when I was still the shining star of the company for being able to further improve on already brilliant results. I learnt an invaluable lesson which I kept for the remainder of my management carrier. An outsider will see your operation with completely different eyes. He will see details, you don’t. Things that are natural to you and are used to happening a certain way, take on a new meaning and are seen in a new light through someone else’s perspective. It helps put more options on the table than what you would come up with on your own, so your choices increase exponentially. From then on, I regularly invited outsiders I trusted to take a look at my operations and give their opinions. I always benefitted; the operation

always benefitted. On a very recent operational audit assignment, while going through different aspects of the operation, I saw the same sad disappointment in the casino manager’s eyes in the beginning. So I tried my best to follow the example of my first auditor and assure him that all this will work out for his benefit. I am convinced it will. It must by default. The information collected and analyzed by me and my fellow auditor together with our suggestions for improvement should help the property in question revamp the operation and achieve significantly better results. More than that, it will probably open the eyes of its longtime management to the need for constant revisions and keeping up with changing times to be at the top of their games.

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


SUZOHAPP To Showcase Product Innovations, Award-Winning Website at ICE 2020


UZOHAPP will be exhibiting at ICE London, the premier gaming technology exhibition for industry professionals. This year’s event takes place at the ExCel Center in London from February 4-6. Visitors will find SUZOHAPP at booth #N3-130. At ICE, SUZOHAPP will be showcasing the most complete range of components on the market today, including monitors, locks, printers, scanners, bill and coin handling, cabinet parts, and more. A key player in the Gaming industry for decades, SUZOHAPP uses its deep expertise and strong engineering team to deliver technological innovations that add significant value to its customers. One such innovation is the new VisionPro™ line of LCD monitors which now includes edge-lit and 4K UHD models, narrow border touch and ThruGlass capabilities, allowing touchscreens to work through 9mm of tempered glass. Also on display will be the new dropin replacement E-PRL electronic reprogrammable lock which enables remote authorization, traceability, and the benefit of never again needing to change locks when a key is lost or an employee dismissed. The Dynamic Panel Systems (DPS) feature the latest innovations in player interfaces, offering all the adaptability of touch screens while maintaining the satisfying feel of mechanical pushbuttons that keeps users engaged. These are only a few of the many new products to be displayed at ICE. ”The depth and breadth of our product line is unmatched – we can provide every component operators


and gaming OEMs need to run their businesses efficiently,” said Mike Sigona, SUZOHAPP’s Business Development and Global Gaming Product Manager. ”Even more, we deliver the kind of value-added innovation that our customers can use to drive demand for their offerings.” Also at ICE, SUZOHAPP will display its new, award-winning Components website which offers comprehensive product information, organized in an intuitive and easy-to-navigate format. “Our goal at SUZOHAPP is to simplify the sourcing process for our customers,” said Sim Bielak, SUZOHAPP’s President of Global Gaming & Amusement. “This new website advances our goal by giving our customers easy access to the product information they need when they need it.” For a look at the new site, please visit suzohapp.com/oem.



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Profile for Casino Life Magazine

Casino Life Issue 135 Vol 15  


Casino Life Issue 135 Vol 15