CASINO The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
Volume 16: Issue 137
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Editorial: Editor: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor: Damien Connelly email@example.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor North America: David Mckee email@example.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan firstname.lastname@example.org International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: Robert Ambrose email@example.com
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Welcome... ...to Issue 137 of Casino Life. Please allow me to extend a warm “Welcome to London” to those who will be visiting for ICE. It’s a great city with some great city centre casinos. I finished my last Note on the theme of “the Roaring Twenties”. I’m very confident ICE London 2020 will show how exciting the challenges facing our industry are. ICE London is an excellent showcase for Suppliers the world over to promote their solutions to Operators and Regulators. During ICE London, Casino Life will have discussions with interested parties regarding the opportunities in Ukraine given our involvement with that jurisdiction for over a decade. If you’d like to discuss Ukraine with us, drop me an email or drop by our ICE booth, ND6-C. Casino Life has been actively covering Responsible Gaming for many years now. In the beginning, many people thought us a bit crazy to do so. It’s good to see our industry is now also placing more and more focus on RG measures. Our discussion with RG Collaborative in the U.S. hopefully extends and deepens your RG awareness. Our editorial focus is primarily on Operators at Casino Life. This issue we have two intriguing and exclusive features with The Strat in Las Vegas and Pier Nine in Brighton (UK). Both are properties that have rebranded and relaunched in order to maintain their competitive positions. For those who missed it, I highly recommend you read our unique interview in our previous issue with Caesars Entertainment’s Eileen Moore-Johnson, who runs Flamingo, The Cromwell and The LINQ on the Las Vegas Strip. As our industry comes to London just as the UK officially leaves the EU, it’s always great to be reminded by Operators in differing jurisdictions Peter White around the world how to successfully evolve. Editor
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5 Guest Comment Simon Thomas, CEO, Hippodrome Casino
6 The STRAT Las Vegas Standing Above the Rest
Bill Healey chats to Brian Stanton VP of Table Games, The STRAT Hotel Casino & SkyPod 15 Pier Nine Brighton Amy Culora, Head of Marketing, Grosvenor Casinos chats to Peter White 21 Collaboration Cait DeBaun, Senior Director, Strategic Communications & Responsibility at the American Gaming Association about the Responsible Gambling Collaborative. Interview By: Peter White 29 Freedom to Explore BetConstruct team chats to Damien Connelly 33 ICE London Preview Part 2
By: Rebecca Green
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49 Think like Steve Jobs
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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.
ICE: Opportunity in Diversity
wo years ago, the subject of diversity dominated proceedings at ICE – and not in a way that cast the gambling industry in a particularly positive light. As host (at the Hippodrome Casino) of the Magic Mike Live Show, I accept that my views on what people should be permitted to wear (or not wear) may not be shared by all. However, issues of moral outrage aside, I have always considered diversity to be a key ingredient of the ICE show. Every year, London issues its cold, grey welcome to thousands of organisations and hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe. The expo floor is populated by a wide range of products for the remote and landbased sectors - from table games, slots and betting terminals to harm prevention tools, education programmes and treatment services. The ICE Vox agenda promises a fascinating series of discussions on harm prevention, regulation, integrated resorts, innovation, compliance, crime, cyber security, payments, food, drink, artificial intelligence, social media, marketing, tourism and a host of other topics. The line-up features speakers from around the world, including gambling operators, suppliers, regulators, former politicians, academic researchers, clinicians, counsellors, lawyers, investors, journalists and trade body representatives. In a world that appears to be moving in an increasingly dogmatic direction, ICE offers a wonderful opportunity to engage with and learn from people from around the world with a shared interest in how gambling is offered to consumers. ICE also presents – as we have seen in the past – an opportunity for some to malign the gambling industry. While this can make us feel uncomfortable, we should not be afraid of scrutiny. As a global industry, we are getting better at listening to those who are concerned about harms from excessive gambling. Welcoming our critics to ICE and using the show to address their concerns is in keeping with the expo’s spirit of diversity. Volume 16: Issue 137
Simon Thomas, CEO, Hippodrome Casino
The nature of gambling and gambling regulation is in perpetual motion. Across the world, markets are going through a process of reregulation – expansive in some, restrictive in others. In each of those markets, operators need to set out positive ambitions for their industry – a vision that can excite and reassure policy-makers, regulators and consumers alike. There is perhaps nowhere better than ICE – with its sheer breadth of scope and boundless energy – to recast a global aspiration for a global, sustainable industry. 5
Lead Feature: The STRAT
The STRAT Las Vegas Standing Above the Rest Bill Healey chats to Brian Stanton VP of Table Games, The STRAT Hotel Casino & SkyPod
Lead Feature: The STRAT
Volume 16: Issue 137
Lead Feature: The STRAT
tanding tall between the Las Vegas Strip and the city’s downtown casinos is The STRAT, an iconic gaming, shopping and dining resort formerly known as the Stratosphere. Casino Life Magazine recently toured the remodeled property with Brian Stanton, the casino’s VP of Table Games. What led you to get into casinos & gaming? Around the time I was about to take a semester off from school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee was opening. I had recently learned to deal cards from an Atlantic City dealer and was always drawn to the exciting casino environment. I loved the nuances of the business, the math behind it and the new situations coming up every day. I took the job as a dealer at Potawatomi. Where has your path taken you, and what led you to Las Vegas and subsequently to The STRAT? After working in Tribal gaming in Milwaukee at Potawatomi, I was promoted several times throughout
my first 4 years with the casino. I was Potawatomi’s casino pit manager when an opportunity presented itself to move to St. Petersburg, Florida to open the Ocean Jewel, a casino ship which ended up going out of business in 2005 due to the impact of hurricane season including the effect of Hurricane Katrina. At the time, I was married, and we had one child with one on the way, so I needed benefits and headed to Las Vegas. I was lucky enough to know someone that got me an interview at Wynn Las Vegas. I spent three years at Wynn followed by six years at Encore in various management roles when I was offered the opportunity to take a promotion and open SLS Las Vegas as a casino manager. I worked with SLS for five years during an exciting time to be at the property. During my time at SLS, I worked with Chris Fiumara who then became the general manager of The STRAT. Mr. Fiumara offered me my current position at The STRAT in March 2019. What is your position, and what responsibilities does it involve? I am the Vice President of Table Games at The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. My responsibilities include overseeing the table game department and operations, maximizing table games profitability, maintaining vendor relationships and ensuring the integrity and reputation of The STRAT. The STRAT has been an iconic fixture between The Strip and Downtown Vegas for many years. Is there a reason for the recent change in name? When Golden Entertainment, Inc. took over the property back in late 2017, they wanted to develop a new brand that speaks to the excitement of the grand transformation. Everything has or will be updated and we wanted the name to match the exciting change. What are some of the significant changes in the property since Golden Entertainment, Inc. took ownership in late 2017? In June 2018, The STRAT introduced a new Baccarat gaming pit with six tables, which was the start to new and innovative gaming at the property. As part of the renovation and rebrand, everything in table games, with the exception of our employees, is new. The additions include new tables, roulette wheels, chairs, chips, cards, dice and uniforms. We have since then seen the opening of a new William Hill Sports Book located on the casino floor,
Lead Feature: The STRAT
Brian Stanton VP of Table Games, The STRAT Hotel Casino & SkyPod Volume 16: Issue 137
Lead Feature: The STRAT
Link Slot Lounge and other new table games and table felts. Rooms have been updated and The STRAT has also unveiled the “Elevate” room series. On the food and beverage side of things, new restaurants have opened including STRAT Café, 108 Eats, 108 Drinks
750 machines and 44 tables, will be fully remodeled by the end of 2019.
Does The STRAT face unique challenges based on its location, and how will they be addressed? The STRAT is located in a great spot on the north side of the strip. We like to think of ourselves as the gateway to the Arts District. With the opening on Resorts World and having SAHARA back, it couldn’t be a more exciting time for the location to become a destination. The amount of foot traffic generated by the iconic tower is a huge opportunity for table games. We have millions of people come into property and it gives us the opportunity to show them how much fun table games can be.
Are the guests predominantly locals or is there a sizable draw from outside the community? Most of our guests at The STRAT are tourists— however, with recent additions like our True Rewards gaming card, we are starting to see more locals come in. There has been a great, positive buzz surrounding The STRAT rebrand and it is drawing the locals.
and a new menu and refresh at the award-winning Top of the World restaurant.
What is the physical size of the casino, and what is the mix of table games and slot machines? The entire 80,000-square-foot casino, encompassing 10
Do the guests prefer certain table games? Most guests are loyal to a certain game. Blackjack and Baccarat are the most popular, followed by Craps and Roulette.
Are tournaments a draw at The STRAT, and what are some of the more popular tournaments? Historically, there were not many table game tournaments hosted at The STRAT. We are increasing those offerings significantly in 2020 and will be throwing multiple Baccarat and Blackjack tournaments throughout the year. There will even be a Craps tournament. www.casinolifemagazine.com
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Lead Feature: The STRAT
Historically, there were not many table game tournaments hosted at The STRAT. We are increasing those offerings significantly in 2020 and will be throwing multiple Baccarat and Blackjack tournaments throughout the year. There will even be a Craps tournament.
How is Aristocrat integrated into the casino? Link™ Slot Lounge was part of our first phase of the casino remodel and it includes 40 different games from Aristocrat’s popular Link series. We also have Aristocrat gaming located in our new REMIX Lounge with bar top games. Is The STRAT active in promoting responsible gaming? Responsible gaming is always a big focus for us at The STRAT. We have several programs in place to ensure responsible gaming, including mandatory annual training. 12
Are non-gaming activities a draw to the property? Yes! We are the tallest freestanding tower in the United States, that in itself draws customers to the property. Our thrill rides including SkyJump Powered by MTN DEW, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream are attractions that draws in huge crowds. SkyJump Powered by MTN DEW is an 855-feet open-air leap above the neon Strip, holding a Guinness World Record as the highest commercial decelerator descent facility. The Observation Deck, located on the 108th floor of the tower, is also a great attraction, which show cases 360-degree views of Las Vegas and offers elevated drinks and bites at 108 Eats and 108 Drinks. Another www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: The STRAT
Our thrill rides including SkyJump Powered by MTN DEW, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream are attractions that draws in huge crowds. SkyJump Powered by MTN DEW is an 855-feet open-air leap above the neon Strip, holding a Guinness World Record as the highest commercial decelerator descent facility. huge attraction to The STRAT is the award-winning Top of the World Restaurant. The restaurant revolves 360 degrees every 80 minutes and showcases panoramic views of the city. What role does The STRAT play in the community? We want to be a leader in the community. The STRAT loves to get involved in as many ways as possible throughout the year, including participating in a yearly can food drive and school supply drive for Sunrise Acres Elementary School. The Table Games department has really embraced these community efforts. Volume 16: Issue 137
Some say a director’s desk can convey a lot about their management style. For some, it’s organized chaos. What’s on your desk, and what will it say about your management? I make a conscious effort to have everything digital because I lean towards organized chaos. I have a great team that is really organized, making my desk relatively clutter free. Casino Life Magazine thanks Brian Stanton for the tour of the iconic property and for the conversation.
THE ACTION! ScientificGames.com The look and feel of the games and their individual components and displays are trade dress of Scientific Games Corp. and its Subsidiaries. TM and ÂŠ 2020 Scientific Games Corp. and its Subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
Pier Nine Brighton Amy Culora, Head of Marketing, Grosvenor Casinos chats to Peter White
rosvenor Casino Brighton has been reinvented by the Rank Organisation as a bigger, better Pier Nine Casino. Not many people would think of Doctor Who as a gambler but the old casino was “a bit of a Tardis,” in the words of Rank marketing chief Amy Culora. Part of that reworking of Casino Brighton was to rebrand it as Pier Nine Casino, cashing in on Brighton’s historical cachet as a seaside resort. Rank poured $6.8 million into the Volume 16: Issue 137
makeover, one that resulted in a two-casino facility with 24-hour bars, among other amenities, which include private cinemas and karaoke lounges. Not missing a step, Pier Nine remained open throughout the conversion process. In conversation with Publisher Peter White, Culora explained the rationale behind the name change, what customers want and how being started in the casino industry in Stoke was the best thing that could have happened to her. 15
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
Pier Nine Brighton is in a very good location in the Town a as its only 5 minutes from the centre? We have a fantastic location, as you say, 5 minutes from the lanes and we’re right on the seafront between the Palace Pier and the West Pier. What would you say are some of the most exciting new aspects of Pier Nine Brighton? Pier Nine is a 24/7 entertainment hub which includes several bars and food offers, a wide range of entertainment, competitive socialising, karaoke and of course all your favourite casino and electronic games. Would it be fair to say in addition to this being a major refurbishment that it’s also seen the Venue undertake a major rebranding that includes the name and along with the likes of a stylish Live Sports Bar. Our vision was to develop a venue which would give our existing customers more reasons to visit us and encourage trial for a variety of new audiences. With the changing leisure landscape and the change in consumer requirements for their leisure time over the past five years or so, we knew this had to be more than a refurbishment. 16
With that in mind, we undertook a thorough programme of customer insights to look at the product mix, venue design and of course branding. The challenge as always, is how do we create a better venue for our existing customers at the same time as attracting new audiences and that’s always a fine
balance. However, listening to the customer feedback we hope we’ve done just that. We didn’t call the venue Grosvenor Casino Brighton for many reasons. Firstly, research told us that for new audiences, the word casino can be a barrier to trial. Secondly, its Brighton and there is a preference for independent venues over big brands in the locale, and lastly, we have a repositioning job to do so that our customers see this as so much more than a casino. We’re proud of the Grosvenor brand and wanted to use this to emphasise the expertise around the gaming elements but the venue has many more reasons to visit than gaming alone. Restaurants are a proven winner with attracting patrons. What has been the approach with Pier Nine Brighton as regards the investment in its new restaurant? www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
Our vision was to develop a venue which would give our existing customers more reasons to visit us and encourage trial for a variety of new audiences. We’ve been reviewing our F&B strategy nationally and have found that some customers want to sit down to eat for an occasion, many of our casino customers just want ‘fuel for play’, and others want a far more casual dining experience. Therefore, we’ve created several options. You can enjoy a casual dining experience from a range of third party brands in the club house, sit down to one of the gorgeous sharing boards in the View Bar, whilst enjoying the sea view and a glass of your favourite wine, or order food to your table straight from our app anywhere in the venue. This venue is really about how the customer wants to interact with each of the individual elements. Infrastructure with these new refurbishments is extensive, what was your organisations choice of company to install all the displays lighting and sound systems and its interactivity with the venues management operating system? Volume 16: Issue 137
It absolutely is and we’ve worked hard to ensure we have the right systems in place to ensure we create the right atmosphere in each zone relevant to the customer needs during the day. This includes lighting and music. We have a wide range of suppliers who work with us on these projects to ensure the customer experience is what it should be. The design and the layout of the table gaming area is impressive, what has been the feed-back from patrons? Our gaming team seek feedback from customers every day on the set up of our product mix and layout on a national basis. These learnings are fed into all our venues, including the Grosvenor Casino at Pier Nine. The refurbishment has just been completed so it’s too early to get formal feedback, but we’ve been sure to take our customers on this journey with us and anecdotally the feedback has been positive so far. 17
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton Is there a seasonal impact on the Casinos revenue or is it steady throughout the year? Before the refurbishment we didn’t see huge seasonal trends in the business, but we had a very core customer group who mainly lived in and around Brighton. However, the vision for this investment is to continue to look after the customers we know and love but also attract a range of new audiences which will include holiday makers and day-trippers - so we would anticipate some seasonality moving forwards. How have guests treated the venue? Is it as much a party, entertainment and dining venue or as a casino? Its very early days but this venue has many different experiences to offer different audiences. The premises itself is a bit of a Tardis - as we’ve taken over an adjacent building. The benefit of this means there are lots of different areas or zones which offer a different experience and atmosphere to meet the needs of each individual customer group. How does the entertainment and casino venue compare with the other alternative attractions in the town? Brighton is a vibrant cultural city with more experiences on offer than anywhere else I can think of. That’s almost a blessing and a curse when launching a new venue. It means people are open minded and ready to trial new experiences but obviously it’s highly competitive. However, it tends to have lots of smaller independent venues, but it doesn’t have anything like Pier Nine to date. In fact, I think Pier Nine is a UK first, not just a Brighton first. Is there an average age group or does the Casino attract patrons from 20s to 70s+? We hope it will appeal to everyone. It certainly has a broad enough range of experiences and as I have said, lots of different zones offering different atmosphere and product environments. How did you get where you are today, and who/ what helped you along the way? I’ve worked in the industry for 17 years now in a variety of different roles from PR to corporate comms to marketing. As you will know, as an industry we’ve seen more change than ever before and for anyone working in it, each change has brought 18
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
We’ve been reviewing our F&B strategy nationally and have found that some customers want to sit down to eat for an occasion, many of our casino customers just want ‘fuel for play’ and others want a far more casual dining experience. Therefore, we’ve created several options. new experiences and new hurdles to overcome or opportunities to maximise. From the lift of the 24 rule and advertising ban, 2005 casino act, introduction of new brand formats such as G Casino and now Pier Nine, lobbying against Bingo taxation and the development of new bingo formats – I’ve been lucky enough to work on all of those projects and that has given me a breadth of experience and also a deep understanding of our customer needs as well as how to successfully deliver schemes and projects both internally and to our consumers. What was your first big break in the industry? I have had some brilliant mentors to help and guide me and I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of my career in gaming so far. This industry is a strange one. Before Volume 16: Issue 137
you work in it you’re not really even aware that it exists – unless you are a gambler yourself. My background was in PR and marketing agencies. I guess my big break was on day one in this job where I was sent to Stoke to open the new casino there. I remember the night vividly as I had no idea what I was doing but I got to meet all of my trade press contacts who I’m still in touch with today and I got to see a casino in full swing on its busiest night – we literally had queues outside waiting for us to open the doors. The team were new and nervous, the venue was at capacity and the gaming tables were 10 people deep. There were a few challenges throughout the night, and I think I ended up clearing the glasses and emptying the bins but it was obviously a night to remember and I’ve never looked back. 19
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
Brighton is a vibrant cultural city with more experiences on offer than anywhere else I can think of. That’s almost a blessing and a curse when launching a new venue. Its means people are open minded and ready to trial new experiences but obviously it’s highly competitive. What is on your wish list for your next five years here? My immediate wish is for Pier Nine to be a success as I’ve been working on it for close to two years with a number of people at Rank and external agencies. Overall I feel like this is an important time for our industry and it will change a lot over the next few years. My wish would be for people to try casinos before they judge what they’re like inside. There are still so many misconceptions and stereotypes which is frustrating. Has been the approach in developing the appeal of the food and beverages been nationwide or has Grosvenor provided independent approach to its regional Casinos? Volume 16: Issue 137
Feature: Pier Nine Brighton
It’s been a mixture. We have a range of brands that we work with and our venues can choose the mix dependent on their local clientele. Its really a case of test and learn to see what our customers like. However, in Brighton we have partnered with a variety of local suppliers to celebrate and offer the fantastic products available on our doorstep. This includes coffee to gin! Entertainment is also a factor in broadening
Casinos appeal especially outside of major Cities, what has been your approach to involving cabaret along with singers? I think we see entertainment as being more around how we deliver each and every experience we offer to our customers, rather than having a singer on the stage. It also doesn’t have to be facilitated by us to make an experience entertaining. Of course, in some of our venues we do that, in others we offer a broad range of entertainment from comedy to bands to e-Sports events. But at Pier Nine we’re proud of every element and understand that for some customers their choice of entertainment is playing the roulette tables but for others it’s watching the match on the big screen or having a game of darts with their mates. 22
Feature: Responsible Gambling Collaborative
Collaboration Peter White Chats to Cait DeBaun, Senior Director, Strategic Communications & Responsibility at the American Gaming Association about the Responsible Gambling Collaborative
Cait DeBaun Volume 16: Issue 137
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Feature: Responsible Gambling Collaborative
n mid-April of 2018, the American Gaming Association announced the formation of the Responsible Gambling Collaborative. Its stated mission is to “identify the programs and policies that best address responsible gaming and the prevention of problem gambling and hold government accountable for supporting proven, effective solutions.” The RGC goal was to lobby for the proper allocation of governmental resources, preferably toward programs of proven efficacy. Participants range from Harvard University and the Yale School of Medicine, to the National Indian Gaming Association and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. Quite a prestigious line up. Keith Whyte, a recognized authority on disordered gambling and executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling lauded for “its diverse set of stakeholders,” calling the Collaborative “a unified approach to addressing problem gambling.” The ongoing work of the Collaborative includes reviewing current responsible gaming regulations, examining the underlying and evidentiary premises of those regulations. The first major fruits of the Collaborative’s work were born early in 2020, when the AGA laid out a set of responsible-gaming best practices, a move widely hailed in the gaming industry. As International Center of Responsible Gaming Executive Director Russell Sanna put it, “No one party or way of thinking is ever enough to create transformative change. That’s why this group is so essential.” What were the compelling reasons behind the formation of the Responsible Gambling Collaborative? The Responsible Gambling Collaborative, established in 2018, is working to chart a new course on the complex issues of responsible and problem gambling. The collaborative, bringing together academics, researchers, problem gambling advocacy groups, and gambling industry organisations, is the first group of its kind in the United States and the AGA is proud to be a founding member. What key areas of problem gambling prevention does the RGC support and why? At the start of the year, the RG Collaborative released new Effectiveness Principles that identify areas of exploration for regulators, policymakers, experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to find the best Volume 16: Issue 137
solutions to promote responsible gaming (RG) and prevent problem gambling (PG). Importantly, the principles call for funding of RG research and problem gambling treatment, robust responsible gaming resources for customers, and business practices that encourage responsible gambling. The principles ask the question, how can we collectively advance responsible gaming and problem gambling efforts? Education of the public about gambling is important as although for the vast majority it’s a fun pastime, it creates financial hardship, how is the RGC assisting with raising the profile of responsible gambling? It’s hard to discount the unique nature of this group. You could argue the very convening and work of the RG Collaborative elevates the conversation around RG in the U.S. I don’t know of a comparable body in the global gaming industry. Our work will continue to raise the profile of RG and PG while answering questions outlined in the principles. This past month, in direct support of the Effectiveness Principles, we researched whether funding allocated for RG and PG from states’ gaming tax proceeds are appropriately spent as they are designated. This is an important step toward holding states’ responsible gaming efforts to a higher standard. Does the RGC have much contact with the gaming operators land based and online? The Responsible Gambling Collaborative is made up of leading gaming industry organizations, academic professionals, and advocacy groups. Many gaming operators are part of these groups, including the American Gaming Association, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, and more.
Will the organisation look to partner with other similar organisations in other countries? Consistent with our goal to promote the most effective responsible gambling practices, the Collaborative is very interested in studying proven models for addressing problem gambling, whether across the United States or in other countries. The American Gaming Association has a lot of research on responsible gaming initiatives, will the RGC look to collaborate with the AGA on research and education campaigns? 25
Feature: Responsible Gambling Collaborative Absolutely. The AGA is committed to fostering responsible gaming and addressing problem gambling head on. Also to ensure that patrons play responsibly and those who may need help have the resources they need. We are proud to be a part of the Responsible Gambling Collaborative to advance these important efforts. Representation at conferences and exhibitions is an important way for organisations such as the RGC to raise its profile. What events, either an exhibition booth or speaking roles, are you planning to attend in 2020? I’m glad to see the heightened focus on responsible gaming at industry conferences. In fact, the RG Collaborative released the principles and state funding research at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States Winter Meeting. We will continue to seek these opportunities, and, at the same time, encourage all stakeholders to see RG as central to any discussion of gaming today.
financially invest more in organisations such as the RGC than they are currently? Ensuring that research and evaluation, as well as problem gambling treatment, are adequately funded are the first and second Effectiveness Principles. As the one of the main beneficiaries of gaming revenue, the Collaborative’s recent research shows that we need to ensure that states are utilizing designated responsible gaming funding for its intended purpose. What else would you like readers to know about the RGC? What the RG Collaborative is doing for responsible gaming is truly remarkable. By bringing diverse voices together, we are able to advance these efforts in ways that it has never been before. The AGA looks forward to working alongside this Collaborative to build upon the principles and chart a unified approach to responsible gaming for the future.
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BetConstruct team chats to Damien Connelly
hen online casinos are looking for game inventory, BetConstruct is where they turn. The company supplies 6,500 Internet-casino games and 5,000 for mobile devices alone, complete with state-of-theart graphics like 3-D visualization. Gaming providers can even customize BetConstruct products to fit their needs. BetConstruct’s sports-betting software
supports a high volume of sporting events, and it even offers a repertory of skill games like Chinese Poker and Belote for players who like to be in control of their gaming experience. Currently licensed from the United Kingdom to Curaçao, BetConstruct appears likely to just keep on growing. Damien Connelly sat down with BetConstruct execs for the following conversation. Tell us about your sportsbook software. What are the key features and how many platforms have already integrated the technologies? BetConstruct Sportsbook is a single multi-tenancy betting platform. That means that 100s of Operators are powered by our technology. Amongst these there are over 50 online Casino platforms that take our fully managed API iFrame sportsbook. With over 40,000 live events a month and a full portfolio of pre-match events to choose from, alongside a Full/Partial cashout and bonus engine, it is Volume 16: Issue 137
proving to be the go-to Sportsbook for Operators that want a highly competitive Sportsbook but without the operational overheads. Advanced CMS technology and fully configurable limits and margins allow for a unique customised sportsbook. Looking ahead, how is the market for platform
providers changing – and can you tell anything about BetConstruct’s plans for innovation in the coming months? The main changes concern Sportsbook. Once there were two main types of Operators: those wanting their own platform to be fully managed by their staff, and others looking for a fully managed solution. In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in Operators looking for a part managed solution, that allows them to take some control of trading functions for certain sports/leagues. Unlike some other providers with legacy systems, BetConstruct’s 2nd generation platform has been built to allow such flexibility. The benefit of having a wide range of Operators allowed us to see the trend early and plan for it. Our approach has always been two-fold; get the basics right whilst allowing innovation the freedom to explore. This will continue during 2020 and 29
expect to see further advances in our award winning SpringBuilder CMS as well as new releases of Hoory, the personal assistance. What percentage of bets are BetConstruct customers now taking through mobile devices? More than 60% of all bets that are placed by the players of our Operators are now placed through mobile. Where in the world will you be focusing your attention in 2020? Our concept for 2020 is called ‘East & West’, and this will be very evident at ICE. The thinking behind it is clear and simple. Not only do BetConstruct’s operations encompass the globe, but we are also ready to assist in launching iGaming businesses anywhere in the world, from east to west. We expect our business to continue to grow in Europe, Africa and Latin America and will continue with our push into the US. The Nordics are definitely of interest, given both the legislative developments in Sweden and the existing Danish market, although we are monitoring the tax rate hike in Denmark. Mobile compatibility is one of the major areas of investment and development for the latest versions of your sportsbook solution; can you 30
provide any new mobile-first features, either already launched or are planned for release in 2020? We have and will continue to focus on mobile. However this is very much an area of getting the basics right rather than trying to be too clever. The advent and evolvement of products such as Cash Out and Bet Builder and additions to the bonusing capabilities mean that the player journey needs to be constantly evaluated. It is very easy to lose a player
due to a bad experience. Navigation, registration and bonus interaction were all areas that came out of our UX lab showing a need for improvement. We have also added a QuickBet function to speed up the bet process. All this has been done on our web mobile version as well as our iOS and Android applications. This is not to say that we can’t support mobile-first operators. BetBull has a unique mobile only solution that is powered by BetConstruct Sportsbook. In which markets does the company operate and how does it adapt to the industry regulation in different regions? BetConstruct partners operate in multiple jurisdictions and under a range of different licences. UK, Malta, France, Italy, South Africa, and Romania are such examples and our Jurisdictional Compliance department is one of the fastest growing. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: BetConstruct Due to our network of global offices, we are able to maintain close relationships with the relevant licensing bodies as well as being able to understand requirements in the native languages. From a platform perspective, Spring is designed not only to support multiple partners, but also multiple jurisdictions. We are very experienced in not only gaining supplier licences, but also working with our partners to help them achieve their operator licences. How many exhibitions and conferences do you on average attend during a year and what ones do you consider best? It’s hard to single out a single convention as the best. The number of conferences we attend annually is close to 90 whilst we exhibit at more than 10 global expos. Having 15 worldwide offices gives us an opportunity to closely follow the events in key markets and attend region-specific conferences which are equally important to us. Judging by scale and coverage, the most prominent event of the year is ICE London, where all the exhibitors have a chance to kick-start the new year with creative resolutions and impressive stands.
What are your plans for your booth at ICE London 2020? BetConstruct’s main business development direction for 2020 will be showcased at ICE, conceptualized as ‘East & West’. The idea suggests that not only the company encompasses the whole world, reaching out from east to west, with its operations, but is also committed to assisting entrepreneurs with building their igaming brand anywhere in the world. We are well known for our innovation and we don’t disappoint when it comes to our stands. I guess you all need to come to stand S1-350 to see us this year! For those who want to find out more can you provide details of your booth and how best to contact to organise a tour of the booth during ICE London 2020? We will be in our usual position again this year at stand S1-350. You can follow the banners all the way from the DLR transport. Alternatively follow the buzz...this year we have prepared a special showcase, featuring ‘East & West’. We hope our visitors will find it both entertaining and educational.
Discover a selection of our upcoming landbased gaming courses: For more information, visit our website: www.TotallyGamingAcademy.com
26 - 27 MAY Haarlem
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26 - 28 MAY Leiden
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CONTACT MARTIN DILLEIGH TO BOOK YOUR PLACE AND FOR MORE INFORMATION: Volume 16: Issue 137
Preview of ICE London 2020
ICE 2020 Spotlight: DRGT Charl Geyser
The Consumer Experience Is The Key To Success In The New Decade Some thoughts on the future, ahead of ICE 2020, by DRGT™ Africa MD, Charl Geyser
n 2008/9 the planet as a whole experienced a significant recession; notwithstanding the fact that we are now more than 10 years hence, the effects thereof continue to linger, and as a result effect consumer confidence and subsequently general economic growth. The above said, what does the future bode for businesses in general, and particularly our portion of the entertainment sector: gambling? I am of the view that based on the above, there will be an everincreasing shift in the way casinos market themselves particularly in Europe, and to an extent Africa, in an effort to remain relevant and grow their businesses; 34
that shift has to be towards the player, our consumer. Whilst business growth will in likelihood be driven by changes in market share, as opposed to actual increases in spending in Europe, in Africa I see both market share changes and actual consumer spending driving growth; one thing though is certain, whether one is operating across Europe or Africa: the consumer experience is paramount, and will have to be exceptional, and that is where I believe DR Gaming Technology™ (DRGT™) has a key role to play; by providing operators with the tools and technology required to deliver that exceptional consumer experience. www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Spotlight: DRGT In a study by PwC on customer experiences, the 5 most important things that people valued in respect of their consumer experience was, in order of preference: 1. Efficiency; 2. Convenience; 3. Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff; 4. Easy Payment; and 5. Up-to-date Technology With the above list as a starting point, and notwithstanding the ever-evolving physical products placed on a casino floor, which all operators have access to, operators need to now more than ever be able to easily measure and manage that product offering, then allocate that intelligence to specific players, use that intelligence to tailor their offerings to those players, and then tell those players and their casino staff about it. Once done, the entire process starts again, it has to; in order to remain relevant, it can never stop. Where I believe we stand-out in the marketplace, is the fact that we are able to provide operators with the tools to tackle 2020 head-on and meet those ever-increasing needs of casino players. At ICE 2020 in February, visitors to our booth will be presented with a vast array of management and reporting tools all aimed solely at empowering slots, tables and marketing personnel with easy-to-use technology that will help them understand, measure, service, and engage with their players better, in so doing creating
the best possible consumer experience. From our management system and reporting tools that now offer Tables Managers the same functionality and insights, in the past were the exclusive domain of Slots Managers, to slots jackpot options that allow operators the functionality to reward any array of individual types of players or player segments on a single EGM, across a casino floor or across an operator’s estate. To our world-class Poker21’s and top-rated BlackJack11’s Tables jackpot games, our easy-to-configure and personlise drBonusReel bonus games, our world-leading player interface and loyalty technology, and our customer communications software, I really do believe DRGT™ provides casino operators with a formidable array of tools that will allow them to enter the new decade confident of the fact that they will be able to deliver the best possible consumer experience; marketed ideally to a player segment of one. Volume 16: Issue 137
Dive into the future Tickets: icelondon.uk.com
35,000+ Attendees â€˘ 150+ Nations â€˘ 600+ Exhibitors
ICE 2020 Spotlight: Zitro
Zitro Anticipates a Shockingly Cool ICE 2020 In London
ider Choice, Bigger Success! Under this claim Zitro will once again showcase its vast and steadily growing product library of successful Video Slot and Video Bingo games and solutions at the Ice Totally Gaming Show in London. Centre stage will be taken by the various distinctive
cabinet models that have been specifically designed to maximize the potential of Zitro’s gaming content and provide extraordinary gaming experiences as well as to create a diversified and attractive landscape on the casino floor. The portrait-type cabinet ILLUSION incorporates an impressive 43-inch Ultra HD curved monitor and a 21.5-inch digital topper. ALLURE on the other hand comes with three 27-inch Full HD Screens as well as the ‘Synchroscreens’, a powerful multimedia system integrated by the superior monitors that create an incredible immersive experience. Both cabinets were presented for the first time at the G2E 2019 trade show in Las Vegas and have since been installed in multiple Casinos all over the world, showing amazing results. Zitro’s popular Fusion cabinet, in both its upright and slant version, will also be showcased with more and even better content. All three cabinet types, ILLUSION, ALLURE and FUSION are compatible with Zitro’s powerful digital button panel ‘SmartDeck’. Volume 16: Issue 137
In terms of content at ICE, the incredible multigame Link “Double Link” on the ILLUSION cabinet will have its worldwide debut. This fascinating new game will blow players’ mind as it offers new functionalities never seen before on a Link game! Get ready for double the fun with Double link! Visitors will feel the impact when they arrive at the
stunning ‘Shock Lounge’ at Zitro’s booth. Inaugurated for the first time at the end of 2019 in a Casino in Mexico, this shockingly cool area contains a broad and proven game library such as Link Shock, 88 Shock, Link Me Shock, Link Shock II and 88 Link Shock; a game library which is growing exponentially. All of these games are interconnected to the same mystery progressive jackpot. The biggest advantage of this area is that players can select their favourite game, but with the possibility to win the mystery shock prize that is triggered with an amazingly high frequency, providing more entertainment and rewards. In addition, Zitro will present the winning combination of its multiway multigames with extra charged Link Bonuses like Bashiba on Illusion, or 88 Link Wild Duels and 88 Link Lucky Charms on Allure. And if that isn’t enough, the floor will also shine with Zitro’s classic Link multigames with a panoramic sign: Link King, Link Me and Link Shock, now with even 37
ICE 2020 Spotlight: Zitro
Visitors will feel the impact when they arrive at the stunning ‘Shock Lounge’ at Zitro’s booth. Inaugurated for the first time at the end of 2019 in a Casino in Mexico, this shockingly cool area contains a broad and proven game library such as Link Shock, 88 Shock, Link Me Shock, Link Shock II and 88 Link Shock; a game library which is growing exponentially.
more games, together with the popular LAP’s Blazing Pearls and Guns & Gold as well as its standalone game Hot Deal, now with 20 games. Being the world leader in Video Bingo, visitors will also be able to enjoy Zitro’s newest Video Bingo game releases as well as new online content of both Video Bingo and Video Slots presented in its Zitro Interactive area for both B2B as well as B2C customers through its social Casino Let’s WinUp!. Johnny Viveiros Ortiz, Founder and passionate leader of Zitro commented that: “It was only three years ago when we showcased our first Video Slot Machines at ICE Totally Gaming 2017. Now we do not
only have a vast and steadily growing game library and hardware selection, but we also have the recognition of all major casino operators throughout the world, as they have experienced first-hand the success of our Video Slots and/or Video Bingo products, positioning us, as we strove to become, a global leader in the gaming industry. This unprecedented success story is only possible thanks to the absolute best team, of which I am fortunate to lead.” Zitro can be found at booth number N6-160 at Ice Totally Gaming at the Excel Centre in London, from February 4th to 6th.
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ICE 2020 Spotlight: SG Games
Scientific Games Showcases Its New Games, Systems And Technology At ICE London 2020
cientific Games Corporation (NASDAQ: SGMS) (“Scientific Games” or the “Company”) will Reimagine Play™ as a global leader in gaming and entertainment with an impressive showing of the industry’s broadest portfolio at ICE London from February 4 to 6 in booth N1-560 at the ExCeL London. “Our gaming, iGaming and sports betting experiences will be on full display at ICE London, highlighting our best-in-class content and our
history of introducing great games that take proven, player-favorite game mechanics to the next level of excitement. This includes the introduction of exciting links such as Hot Hot Jackpots®, Penny Pier® and Ultra Hot Mega Link™. Each of these games is complemented by cutting-edge hardware, which is designed to immerse players in the game, creating a richer experience. The Company will also display the full range of Equinox® UK hardware showcasing great new titles including Heidi’s Bier Haus®, 7s To Burn™
Great Games, Content and Products
• Continuing its tradition of bringing intrigue to the casino floor, the Company will bring the latest titles from the JAMES BOND™ series of games including GOLDFINGER™, TOMORROW NEVER DIES™ and LIVE AND LET DIE™.
innovative and reimagined portfolio,” said Barry Cottle, President and CEO of Scientific Games. “The passion from our team members around the globe has resulted in amazing games and solutions that our players and partners will love.” Scientific Games will offer an unrivalled experience at ICE London by bringing together player-favourite games and the industry’s leading iGaming and sports betting platforms. All of the Company’s great games, products and platforms are powered by the cuttingedge technology and innovations that are reimagining the player experience and improving partner operations.
When it comes to land-based gaming, Scientific Games creates dynamic player experiences supported by advanced systems and seamless technology. At ICE London, Scientific Games will build on its long Volume 16: Issue 137
Free Spins Community and 5 Treasures®. At ICE London, Scientific Games is bringing the classic 5 Reel Mechanic (5RM) to the innovative TwinStar® platform with the TwinStar 5RM. The Company is launching its first new 5RM games in seven years with top performing titles like Dancing Drums® and Lock it Link®, bringing innovation to a beloved category of games. Scientific Games continues to bring some of the most beloved branded themes to players across the globe. At ICE London, the Company will showcase new versions of popular licensed themes across the entertainment ecosystem including:
ICE 2020 Spotlight: SG Games • As the classic game celebrates its 85th anniversary, Scientific Games is bringing new MONOPOLY game themes across its ecosystem including MONOPOLY Hotel Tycoon™ and MONOPOLY Hot Shot®. • Scientific Games is also bringing to life the 1980’s classic film BEETLEJUICE™ across slots and iGaming experiences. This game will delight players who are nostalgic for the hit film in a £500 Jackpot game for Arcade, Bingo, LBO and Casino sectors. BEETLEJUICE will also be available for iGaming partners. Importantly, Scientific Games will also debut the latest innovations in table games, shufflers and systems products including: • Quartz®, a dramatically redesigned ETG cabinet with an immersive play experience will offer players a dynamic stadium gaming experience. • GM Atlas™, a next-level progressive operating system with new bonus and jackpot
options. • MDX™, a new multi-deck shuffler with the capacity to shuffle and sort up to ten decks of cards. • A relaunch of the MCC™ system further optimizes operations and improves productivity thanks to its intuitive design and a new user interface. The Company will also launch the next phase of CUBE, its all-encompassing UK customer portal. Designed to provide UK partners readily accessible support and resources, this new phase of CUBE includes a brand-new user interface, intuitive navigation and added functionality. The CUBE automated systems offer additional support for business intelligence, products, marketing and promotions and is just one of the ways the Company is strengthening its services for its partners. 40
Best-in-Class iGaming Experiences
Scientific Games develops cutting-edge content and experiences for iGaming, offering thousands of immersive casino games and dynamic player experience features in one integration. Through OpenGaming™, player management experience and world-class content aggregation come together in one platform. In-house and third-party development studios are creating great games with new rich features such as: www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Spotlight: SG Games
When it comes to land-based gaming, Scientific Games creates dynamic player experiences supported by advanced systems and seamless technology. At ICE London, Scientific Games will build on its long history of introducing great games that take proven, player-favorite game mechanics to the next level of excitement. • The Mega Drop™ Jackpot System, a must-drop and multi-level jackpot system offering three-tiers accessible to all players at any stake level. • Mega Drop Quest, a syndicated community jackpot which allows players to join together to win a percentage of a larger jackpot. • Jackpot Wars™, a completely new concept for iGaming, allows players to compete for a share of a jackpot. This new way of marketing and selling casino jackpots keeps players engaged with the game.
The Industry’s Most Trusted Sportsbook
Scientific Games’ OpenSports™ is the most reliable, modular and fast-to-market sports platform delivering all the services a player wants and a partner needs. Reimagined from the ground up in 2019, the OpenSports fully modularized solutions will showcase new features, including: • OpenMarket™, the industry’s first sports betting marketplace services partners through a single point of integration. The two-sided network aggregates data, pricing and value added content services. • OpenTrade™, Scientific Games manages the entire trading and pricing aspect of a sportsbook, including customer profiling, full risk and liability management services. • Builder, provides the operators the ability to create their own betting combinations for a single sporting event. In sports betting hardware the Company is evolving its offer with the customizable SB-2 cabinet with dual 24” screens that deliver a modern, flexible and futureproof solution for global markets. Volume 16: Issue 137
Enhancing Play with Cutting-Edge Technology
Scientific Games is reimagining the player experience by complementing gaming experiences with cuttingedge solutions, systems and technology across its entire entertainment ecosystem. The Company’s innovative use of groundbreaking technology evolves the player experience, enhances partners’ operations and provides responsible gaming technology to ensure player safety. • SG Game Service allows players to enjoy proven slots, keno, poker, electronic table games and sports wagering on a single device like a bar top, upright cabinet or tablet. • New ways for enabling sports wagering across an entire casino floor is provided through SG Unified Wagering. Cashless solutions utilizing SG Unified
Wallet power not only the SG Game Service suite of new devices, but also the rest of the entertainment ecosystem ranging from electronic game machines to tables.
• SG Vision™ technology brings together object recognition, computer vision and biometrics technology to simplify operations and enhance player experience. Available across the entire ecosystem, SG Vision technology has the power to revolutionize operations and player loyalty programs through patron identification, accurate real-time table ratings and chip tracking. • A new telemetry solution available across the ecosystem SG Connect™, provides insights into machine health and player preferences to allow better content to be created while reducing operating costs for casino operators. 41
ICE 2020 Preview: Transact
Rob Denham, TRANSACT’s Vice President of Sales and Product Management in Europe
Transact to Show Its Premium Gaming Products At ICE London
ith ICE London just around the corner, TRANSACT is gearing up to showcase their “Epic” line of gaming products, which include the unmatched Epic Edge™ casino printer and Epicentral 4.0®, the latest evolution of their enterprise promotional system that delivers real-time offers to players directly at the machines. The Company also looks forward to reconnecting with clients and developing new business relationships with operators looking for the latest and greatest products to improve their customer experience. “TRANSACT is committed to providing the industry with the best technology,” says Rob Denham, TRANSACT’s Vice President of Sales and Product Management in Europe. “ICE is a must on the gaming calendar, as it grants us the opportunity to meet 42
with our customers, to understand their needs and requirements for the year to come and to continue to deliver the product they need, such as the Epic Edge and Epicentral.” The next-generation Epic Edge is the latest and best choice in ticket in/ ticket out (TITO) printers, offering the highest print quality in the market thanks to its industry leading print resolution and cuttingedge features. Packed with technology to simplify operations and improve slot floor performance, the Epic Edge retains designs from the ever reliable and industry award-winning Epic 950®. TRANSACT’s Epic Edge is the most advanced TITO printer on the market, as it’s the only one that features an unmatched 300 DPI, a high-speed firmware uploading solution and a single interface board for all games. The “Edge” also features the TicketBurst™ jam-free www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Preview: Transact technology, which prints and bursts each gaming ticket before presenting the ticket, eliminating all possible player interference leading to a perfect ticket every time with no jams, ensuring maximum machine up time. In addition, the Epic Edge comes with a Quick Disconnect Technology, allowing it to be easily removed and installed in the slot machines without powering down the game or fumbling around the back of the cabinet to find cables. The recently launched Epicentral 4.0 is the only Enterprise promotional software suite in the industry that can target customers in real-time with unique, custom-designed coupons. Epicentral helps operators to communicate directly with the player at machines to reward plays, advertise events and promotions, and to generate increased customer loyalty. It can also be used to reach out to vulnerable players to help them take a break. “In support of the UK’s Gambling Commission’s focus on responsible gaming and harm minimization, Epicentral can also be a powerful tool for casinos to send customized responsible gaming reminders to the players at the slot machines during play,” said Denham. Epicentral 4.0 offers a variety of new and improved features that are strategically designed for casino operators to increase their revenue while using the most effective and user-friendly software. The new functionality includes a sleek user interface that is easily operable and creates an optimized user experience with its clean aesthetic. The latest version of Epicentral is also web-based, which makes it easier to install, update and keep secure. Attendees will also have a chance to see TRANSACT’s Epic 880, which is the preferred roll printer that is incorporated into all the leading sports betting terminals. Known for its reliability and flexibility, the Epic 880 is used extensively across gaming sectors where the most dependable, robust product is required. TRANSACT have not rested on its laurels with this product but continue to improve the product to keep it ahead of the competition, the imitators and copies. Volume 16: Issue 137
In support of the UK’s Gambling Commission’s focus on responsible gaming and harm minimization, Epicentral can also be a powerful tool for casinos to send customized responsible gaming reminders to the players at the slot machines during play. “They say imitation is the highest form of flattery,” says Denham. “If that is the case, we should be very proud of the Epic 880. However, like with everything we do at TRANSACT, we set the bar high and will continue to enhance our products to deliver the best to the industry.” The TRANSACT team will be excited, ready and eager to demonstrate all the latest products at Stand N2-300. For more information, please visit casinoandgamingsolutions.com 43
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Sports Betting Operator provides new product and technology features and the latest Sports Betting News, keeping Online gambling companies up to date with the fastest growing Gambling Sector in the world. www.sportsbettingoperator.com 44
ICE 2020 Spotlight: Merkur Gaming
Merkur’s latest launches bring the heat to ICE London Whether sipping on sunshine from a tropical island or feeling the hot breath of a dragon, Merkur Gaming’s latest three games are set to catch fire at ICE London as the company prepares for a “big” show and an even bigger year ahead…
aximum performance and maximum
entertainment,” is how Merkur Gaming has described its focus at the start of 2020 as the company prepares to enhance its online portfolio even further following a hugely successful year launching eye-catching and popular new titles. The launch of its three latest titles, Dragon’s Maid, Mojito Beach and Tri Piki, is testament to the Gauselmann subsidiary’s ongoing reel game line-up expansion with 2020 set to be a shining year for new releases according to Maja Cvetkovic, Business Development Manager – Online at Merkur Gaming. Commenting on the company’s latest, sizzling reels, Cvetkovic said: “Our newest releases all deliver on our usual strong passion for details of classic casino games with an online twist and will for sure match players’ expectations as they combine unique mathematics and in-game features in fun and exciting ways.” Volume 16: Issue 137
Dragon’s Maid is a 5-reel with 10, 20 or 40 win
lines, which beckons players into a story of a special hero family of the titular maid and her dragons. “We developed a game which centred around the unbreakable bond between the Dragon’s Maid and these majestic blue Dragons. Have you ever seen lively creatures being there for each other, going through one adventure after the other and always holding their backs? This game will bring this unique story to life as players learn from their deep relationship.” This medieval game features wilds and sticky wilds centred around the adventure whilst also bringing its fantasy creatures into a new free game feature. “The Maid and the Dragons help each other and use their strengths also for the other one’s benefit,” Cvetkovic explained. “Players can also make their way into the free game feature. The number of free games which are set off is based on a secret magical formula only the Dragons know: Depending on how many 45
ICE 2020 Spotlight: Merkur Gaming
Dragon’s Maid is a 5-reel with 10, 20 or 40 win lines, which beckons players into a story of a special hero family of the titular maid and her dragons. “We developed a game which centred around the unbreakable bond between the Dragon’s Maid and these majestic blue Dragons.
of his Dragon mates the blue Dragon summons, the number of free games is decided. This means that
the Dragon’s Maid belongs to a big Dragon family and in a good family everyone does his best for the other family members!” Merkur Gaming’s other latest releases bring players in contact with a different kind of heat, the hot summer sun of the tropics filled with surfing, swimming and sipping on cocktails. Mojito Beach delivers a party in a glass with a 5-reel-10-win-linesgame which makes the famous rum-based beverage the star of the show. “For this impressive slot we wanted to offer the feel of the bright sun, big waves on the shore and the famous Mojito Beach Party as well as big payouts and some winning wild features,” Cvetkovic said. “Players will meet a highly motivated barkeeper and his female co-worker who created her own Mojito recipe! She creates and serves them with all her talent as she is wild and expanding but her speciality is also to turn all the glasses of Mojito appearing on 46
the reels into wild symbols as well. This is a game filled with good times from the music, stunning graphics and gameplay, bring out the ice and let’s get this party started!” Finally, Merkur’s Tri Piki game brings the myths of a tropical island, which is a highly popular game theme in the reel game sector, into a winning formula of wilds and scatters for players of any type. The story unfolds of a dancing woman who uses spiritual magic to keep the sunset sparkling through the night which all combines with state-of-the-art game mathematics and a calming, meditative gameplay. “Tri Piki is a 5 reels and 10 or 20 win line game in which the dancing woman is wild and scatter and sets off 10 free games when her symbol appears 3 times on the reels. Through her ritual dance she chooses 3 special symbols and hides all of the symbols under shells which then have to be picked by the player or her upon which she reveals the special symbols.” Cvetkovic concluded: “Tri Piki is not a typical vacation destination and as a game it stands out for the variety of hidden in-game features tied into the idyllic setting. In daylight when the dancing woman sleeps, you can sip on mango sunshine cocktails and bathe in the sun, doing a trip with the boat or swim with the dolphins in the sea. So this small island bears more hidden treasures than those which can be seen at first sight. The beautiful nature of Tri Piki is outstanding and definitely provides everything a player needs to forget the hectic life outside.”
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Think like Steve Jobs By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot
he best executives are made, not born.” – said Drew Faust, President of Harvard University. They absorb information, study their own experiences, learn from their mistakes, and evolve. Steve Jobs is one of them with no argument. He had the mercurial ability to know what people wanted before they knew it themselves, and he knew how to design and sell that idea…something the gaming industry have been long awaited for. Steve was an early proponent of what is now called “Design Thinking”, a methodology being taught at Stanford University to make Apple’s products feel just right for their customers. Design thinking is a set of principles and processes that mimic how a designer works. As Jobs said, its about creating solutions that work. It empowers creativity with principles include: • • • •
Empathy for the end-user Curiosity An openness to failure Rapid prototyping
• Cross-functional collaboration Design thinking can start from: asking questions. Most importantly, asking the right question (s). We need to go through a series of processes to achieve that. Step 1: Empathize • Put yourself in the user’s situation, and help people to explore the hidden needs that are not even perceived by themselves. This step is usually achieved through interviews, observation or other ways.
Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot 48
Step 2: Define the problem • Based on the information created and collected, analyze and synthesize your observations to define the core issues that you and your team have built. Remember to pay attention to the key points. www.casinolifemagazine.com
“The best executives are made, not born.” – said Drew Faust, President of Harvard University. They absorb information, study their own experiences, learn from their mistakes, and evolve. Steve Jobs is one of them with no argument. Step 3: Ideas making • At this stage, the designer is ready to start generating ideas. With the foreshadowing of the first two steps, you and your team members can start to “think outside the box”, brainstorm and think freely, find new solutions for the problems you create, communicate your thinking results with users, and redefine problems and solutions based on their feedback. Step 4: Prototype development • Quickly build a model. This model doesn’t have to be perfect, and there’s nothing wrong with simple rough points. It’s important to be able to iterate quickly and find problems as early as possible. Step 5: Test, and repeat the test • Designers or evaluators, using the best solutions identified in the prototype design phase, rigorously test the entire product. Measure operation status, collect all kinds of information, establish original samples, take photos, record and make historical
Following the design thinking roadmap can take you from a blank slate to a new, innovative idea. Design thinking can also transform your organization to better meeting the needs and wants of both your employees and customers. It drives innovation and removes the barriers that prevent companies from thinking differently. Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “I know that I know nothing and the Awareness of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.” Indeed, the most terrible thing is not ignorance, but ignoring your ignorance. Gaming Innovation have been long ignored and awaited for. We are hoping the introduction of Design Thinking can present new ideas for the industry to compete with upstarts and bringing new business opportunities to innovate and win new fans again.
files. It should be noted that after the test, you may need to go through several rounds of the process of idea prototype test until the user is satisfied.
Step 6: Evaluate the benefit • Confirm whether the solution has achieved the expected effect. Carry out objective analysis for the purpose of determining whether the expected demand is achieved, so as to facilitate the subsequent improvement and improvement. Step 7: Implementation: continuous execution • Implement and support the developed products and services, and obtain more user opinions, suggestions and demands by analyzing market data and consumer feedback. In this link, we should pay attention to ensuring that all technologies and tools are in normal working condition. Volume 16: Issue 137
About Raymond Chan Raymond Chan is a technology veteran and business leader with international awards over the years including the Best Startup Scholar from the German Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Science and Technology in China. He is currently serving as the CEO of Alphaslot, an organization to facilitate innovations for the global gaming industry through the expertise in emerging technologies and venture capital. 49
Last Word: Damien Connelly
esponsible gaming continues to be an important theme for Casino Life. It’s a theme I’m fully supportive of given my background with Holland Casino, one of the world’s leading Operators when it comes to responsible gaming. I recently had a chat with someone who works in RG. They said to me that they considered the UK to be the best jurisdiction in the world for RG measures – funnily enough, they’re British! I smiled at them as I said, “I think you’ll find other jurisdictions with better RG practices than the UK”. To quote from our interview in this issue with RG Collaborative, I know of other jurisdictions that take a more “unified approach to responsible gaming” than the UK does. In thinking of this, it reminded me of a chat I had with the CEO of an Operator that has some amazing Systems – supplied, as it so happens, by a Systems company who advertises in every issue of Casino Life. The Operator was inspected by a government department responsible for anti-money laundering. The government inspectors had a preconception that the Operator would not perform as good as a bank and that the Operator would have to be educated about best practices using that country’s best bank as the benchmark.
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The exact opposite happened. The inspectors went through everything and found the Operator was significantly better than the best bank in their country. They had to change their ideas about casinos. The government benchmarked the checks and balances the casino Operator had developed and implemented and then took them to other businesses in other industries saying, “You need to copy what this casino does”. You can imagine how surprised business leaders in that country were when they were told by their government to do what a casino does to ensure sound business practices. That Operator 50
turned negative preconceptions and prejudices about casinos into positive realities that casinos can be the benchmark for good business practices.
More Women Please
In my Last Word for issue 123, I noted how important women are as a key audience to grow your business – women prefer to visit environments where there are lots of other women, men prefer to visit environments where there are lots of women. If you’ve ever walked into a bar full of men that are in an obviously competitive/aggressive mood, you can easily picture why most men prefer places where there are a good proportion of women and why most women would avoid such a male-dominated bar. On a recent trip to visit a casino Operator, I met the group’s CEO in their flagship property. Immediately on walking onto the main floor, I could see a major problem – front and centre they had located most of their live tables. While there were female dealers, there were fewer than 20 women customers at the tables. And those women were mostly clustered in their own small groups. I could see individual men casually strolling from table to table. But I saw no individual woman behave the same way – all the women clustered and remained in their (protective) groups. This live tables ‘zone’, which was prominently positioned and unmissable, set the ambience for the entire property – testosterone filled aggression. As I toured the rest of the property, I noted time and again how few women customers there were. My first piece of advice to the CEO was to change the organisation’s recruitment policies – the only place women outnumbered men was in the number of female waiting staff. If that Operator wants to attract more female customers, it must first change its internal culture.
CONNECTING PEOPLE AND INNOVATIONS IN THE ASIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
娛樂業界與創新科技 Market Trends. Quality Products. Networking. 市场趋势、优质产品、建立联系 G2E Asia: Informs smart business decisions. 亞洲國際娛樂展：助您作出明智的商业决策
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MAY 19-21, 2020 | 2020年5月19-21日 THE VENETIAN MACAO | 澳門威尼斯人
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