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Volume 13 Issue 106

EASTERN PROMISE

LUCKY DRAGON CASINO LAS VEGAS


THE NOVOMATIC 360° GAMING EXPERIENCE

• LAND-BASED GAMING & SyStEMS • SPORtS BEttING & LOttERIES • INtERACtIVE GAMING Explore the NOVOMATIC 360° Gaming Experience NOVOMATIC Gaming Industries GmbH Lawrence Levy, sales@novomatic.com

Phone: +43 2252 606 870 756 www.novomatic.com


Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +38 976 007 007 glyn@ace123.com Features Editor:

Damien Connelly

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

Associate Editor North America David Mckee

dmckee@ace123.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky

jackbulavsky@yahoo.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods

jjsilks@eircom.net Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green

rebecca@ace123.com

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde design@ace123.com

www.totaldesignworks.com Subscriptions: Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com

Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree sb@ace123.com

Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

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

Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...

... and our G2E Asia issue. Despite some thinking the show would suffer through the arrival of the rival MGS, in reality the competition seems to have spurred both events on. Also worth acknowledging is that the tone of each show differs and that if this continues then both could be established long-term for their own particulars. Nobody wants to see a rerun of the Vegas two replica exhibitions of the early 2000s. We start this edition with an interview by Peter White who recently visited the Lucky Dragon Casino in Las Vegas, opened 6 months and going great guns ahead of the Genting Resorts World China–themed offering when it arrives in 2019. Again, both should complement each other well – and there is definitely room in the market. I’m looking forward to visiting in October if only to delve into the delights of the tea sommelier. Next up, a double feature on the Soboba Casino ... and the contractors who are behind the new casino, due for opening next year. In a highly competitive environment it’s reassuring to see that a company such as CW Driver can also devote time effort and money to charitable causes that matter – not just to be seen to be philanthropic. The Hippodrome provides the venue for the European Dealer Championships in a few weeks time, as I write this, and there are expectations of a fiercely held main competition – and for the side events. Congratulations to the ECA, NCF and Hippodrome – and good luck to the competitors! I bumped into TGG at ICE and was fascinated by their story – of humble beginnings to deploying games across many casino floors. We meet one of the founders, Raymond Chan and talk to him about that success and what is planned for the future. Complementary to TGG’s feature is the following one by our Las Vegas correspondent David McKee who takes a closer look at Japan and what the jockeying casino operators are considering. Robert Ambrose out of Atlantic City meanwhile, delves into the growth of Esports to cater for the Millennial demographic. Victor H Royer, our other Vegas correspondent, takes a hard look at the bland architecture that Las Vegas has had to suffer and hopes that the mistakes Vegas has made will not be replicated by native Indian owned casinos that adopted the best aspects of Vegas in the first place. Time will tell on all three of these issues – which are interlinked and have an effect on each other in the long run... please fetch my crystal ball. Finally, we close with chatting to Clarions MD Kate Chambers about the growth of Juegos Miami, and a round up of some of the key manufacturers at G2E Asia. Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief

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Contents 3

Editors page

5 Guest Comment Kate Chambers Managing Director, Clarion Events 8 Eastern Promise Interview in Las Vegas by Peter White who chats to Dave Jacoby COO Lucky Dragon Resort Casino 14 From Dream to reality Glyn Thomas chats to Scott Sirois, General Manager at Soboba Casino 18 On the road to Success Glyn Thomas chats to Brent Hughes, project executive at C.W. Driver Companies 21 Forget Brexit…here comes Europe! Preview from the Hippodrome Casino of the 2017 European Dealer Championships 29 Move your imagination `Glyn Thomas chats to TGG Interactive Co-Founder Raymond Chan 32 Abe’s game Japan; the Land of the Rising Resort Casinos: By David McKee 38 Action and Adventure in a Virtual World Esports: Another Playing Card for the Casino Industry; as They Court the Millennial Demographic. Bob Ambrose 41 Good News – Bad News How Las Vegas became a boring, ordinary architectural wasteland, and other stories By: Victor H Royer 43 Destination Miami Rebecca Green chats to Kate Chambers, about the exciting plans for this year’s ‘Juegos Miami’ 46 Spotlight G2E Asia Preview 2017 By Rebecca Green Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.

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Guest Comment: Kate Chambers The ancient art of listening In today’s fast moving, dynamic world, in which we are bombarded with messages and instructions from a myriad of sources (many of which are marketing based), it’s not unusual for individuals to zone out, to the extent that everything simply blurs into a soundscape of white noise. The clever brands, the ones that really connect with their audience, are the ones that take a step back and swap the megaphone for the quieter and more mellifluous qualities of the human voice. The even smarter brands are the ones that don’t talk, but listen. With listening comes understanding and, if you understand the needs and the requirements of your customers, you are in a much better place than those who simply ‘turn up the volume.’ An increasing number of our exhibitors state, quite openly, that all they come to do is to listen. They listen to the specific needs of their customers and enhance their understanding of the industry they are a part of. As someone who isn’t shy of replicating best practice, that’s exactly what I asked my team to do when we began to map out the events which have become Juegos Miami and Brazil Gaming Congress, which both return for their second editions in 2017. In a process which was over 12 months in its execution, we asked the major stakeholders in the region what they wanted from a dedicated, bespoke event and we listened, and we listened and we listened. The results have been something quite different from the norm. Most launch events take some time to develop their own personality, but we have been really pleased at how quickly both exhibitions have created their own identifiable characteristics and personas. The decision to act on the requests of

Kate Chambers Managing Director, Clarion Events

our stakeholders has been vindicated and we have been really encouraged by the calibre of attendees, comprising so many of the most influential business people and regulators in the LatAm region. We look forward to the upcoming editions of Juegos Miami, taking place at The Biltmore, Miami, May 31 – 2 June, and the Brazilian Gaming Congress, returning on 26-27 June 2017 to the Tivoli Mofarrej São Paulo in Brazil, and, once again, getting down to some active listening! Kate Chambers Managing Director, Clarion Events

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Eastern

Promise Peter White chats to Dave Jacoby COO Lucky Dragon Resort Casino

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Lucky Dragon is an exciting new Las Vegas hotelcasino catering to Asian travellers, which has been opened for nearly 6 months. Could we commence the interview with a brief history of the Hotel Casino, from its first initial concepts to design and building? Lucky Dragon is Las Vegas’ first and only casino resort built from the ground up to accommodate the city’s important Asian customer base. Our resort was designed to accommodate the hospitality standards of today’s global Asian tourist through authentic F&B offerings, Asian style casino gaming, Asian language staff and signage, and countless additional design and service details. What would you say are some of the unique aspects about Lucky Dragon Casino that set it apart from their rivals in Las Vegas? Our restaurant roster features some of the most authentic Asian food found anywhere in Las Vegas.

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From dim sum, to grab and go bites, to exotic fine dining, to North America’s largest selection of Chinese teas, Lucky Dragon has the highest quality and most diverse selection of Asian restaurant offerings of any resort in the US. The Lucky Dragon restaurants, Pearl Ocean, Phoenix, Cha Garden and Bao Now. How come there are so many and what are the unique aspects of each? Pearl Ocean serves lunch and dinner daily, featuring a menu of exquisite delicacies, as well as all-day cart service that has become synonymous with the dim sum experience. A live seafood room joins the main dining room, where guests can select live exotic seafood flown in daily to be prepared in both traditional and modern culinary styles. Phoenix boasts a menu of cutting-edge culinary trends found throughout modern China. Kurobuta pork, deer tendon, abalone and countless other rare


and expertly prepared delicacies that punctuate the culinary adventure and world-class service for Las Vegas’ most discerning palates. Featuring 60 seats, a private balcony and a finely curated wine list, the restaurant is Las Vegas’ most exclusive Chinese fine dining destination. Lucky Dragon’s hotel lobby and pool area blend seamlessly into one indoor/outdoor tea garden and lounge area. Led by Las Vegas’ only tea sommelier, Cha Garden features an extensive list of tea sourced directly from generations-old tea farms throughout Asia. Punctuated by a delicate waterfall, mosaic sculptures, powerful oak trees and a shoreline swimming pond, guests enjoy the tranquility of a Feng Shui designed garden to enjoy a world-class tea experience unlike anything else available in Las Vegas. Located adjacent to the main gaming floor, the eatery features simple dim sum, soups, rice, noodles, congee, Boba tea, and other dishes meant

to be consumed on the go. It also features a diverse offering of teas and coffees, providing a fix for Lucky Dragon customers at any hour. While seating will be available, Bao Now’s offerings are also meant to travel with guests to all areas of the resort. With the Lucky Dragon’s location on West Sahara Avenue which is about a block from the Strip, what has been the response by patrons of the Casino to its location? We are only a few dozen yards from the strip and considered by guests to be a Strip property. Our entrance off Sahara Ave is actually closer to the strip than is the front entrance of Bellagio, Aria, Mandalay Bay, and other major strip resorts. What is involved in your role of Chief Operating Officer? Overseeing day to day operations and helping drive the property’s strategic vision.

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The Grand Opening last December was an impressive occasion. We had tremendous media coverage and visitation for the event, which really helped establish us as the premier Asian resort destination in the US. What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying? There is always something new given the interdisciplinary nature of businesses such as casino resorts, which keeps the day to day very interesting. Genting Resorts World Las Vegas is due for completion 2019. What kind of impact do you expect when it opens on the Lucky Dragon? We look forward to welcoming Genting to the north end of the Strip as our neighbour. We think the North Strip will become the Asian epicenter of the Strip as Genting and further development shifts momentum North in the coming years. The Spa and Tea Garden make for a very relaxing environment, and from a personal standpoint the

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tea is superb! Thank you. Our spa partner Sothy’s has facilities all over the world in addition to an incredible line of retail products. I would put our tea program up against any resort’s program in the US. We have several rare teas that are usually reserved for dignitaries and heads of state that are exclusive to Lucky Dragon in the US. Their clearly has been a great attention to detail with the design and build of the Hotel Casino. Our team of designers and pre-opening staff spent countless hours drawing on inspiration from all over Asia to ensure attention was given to every detail of the resort. Does the location provide capacity to increase the amount of hotel rooms from the current 203? At this time 203 rooms is our capacity, however I can’t rule out the prospect of expansion someday. What are the main goals for Lucky Dragon Casino in 2017?


G2E Asia Visit us at Stand 531


Our goals are to continue providing world class service to our guests in all facets of our resort. Our first few months have already generated many regular customers and we will look to build upon this momentum to grow our loyal customer base through superior and authentic service throughout 2017 and beyond. What are the most popular Table Games at Lucky Dragon? Similar to trends seen in many casino markets throughout Asia, baccarat is our most popular game. You have a representative mix of slots at the Casino ranging from Aristocrat, Bally, Ainsworth Konami & IGT. Have those choices been market lead or part of deals with suppliers? We worked closely with all of the major slot manufacturers to ensure we had the best mix of games on our floor to suit our diverse customer base. We will continue to monitor our floor mix to ensure our floor evolves in lock step with the rest

of the resort. The Glass Dragon suspended above the circle shaped bar in the centre of the Casino floor looks superb! How did you and your team source such an eye catching and impressive showpiece glass sculpture? The piece was custom made in Croatia over the course of about 9 months. It is made up of over 740 hand blown individual pieces of glass and weighs over 1.25 tons. It is the centrepiece of our resort and one of the top “selfie� spots in town. Casino Life is introducing a restaurant review; would you be up for one of our journalists to visit? Of course! Do you travel out to Macau and China regularly and will you be attending G2E Asia this year? I have taken many trips to China and Macau over the last few years and hope to make it to G2E Asia again this year.

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From Dream to Reality Glyn Thomas chats to Scott Sirois, General Manager at Soboba Casino Can you give us a brief history of the Soboba casino? Soboba Casino is an economic enterprise of the Soboba Band of LuiseĂąo Indians and began operations in 1994 as a prefabricated, 28,000 square foot metal structure. Years later, two fabric structures were added to triple the size of casino operations and accommodate more guests. While the current casino features 2,000 of the newest slot machines, 20 table games and a large outdoor event area, Soboba has been waiting for the “next stepâ€? of opening a new, modern casino with all of the latest amenities for more than 17 years. We are thrilled that the plans for the replacement casino and hotel have been approved, and are looking forward to

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the next chapter and the economic opportunities it will bring for our tribe as well as the surrounding community. Why will the replacement casino and hotel be an improvement? The replacement casino and hotel will be a vast improvement, as the current facility was never meant to be permanent. In addition to the added benefits of having a resort and a variety of restaurants and entertainment options onsite, the new facility is designed to last and will be constructed to be sustainable. Additionally, the physical location is much more accessible for visitors. Everything about this project will offer


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significant improvements over current operations. Was getting approval for this project difficult? All large-scale projects acquire their own personality and have unique challenges, and garnering approval for this project is no exception. The inception of this project was initiated by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians in the mid-2000s, and the tribe and their governance have been diligently working to bring this dream to reality. Even waiting for the land to be accepted by the Department of Interior was an uphill battle. It was difficult waiting so many years for approval, but we did benefit from missing the Great Recession of the late-2000s. What percentage of your patrons are locals/tourists/business travelers? Our business is largely supported by locals, but we do have tourists and a limited number of business travelers come to our current casino as well. We anticipate that the addition of overnight accommodations with the construction of a resort will appeal to tourists, and the conference centre will make the casino a much more desirable destination for groups of business travelers. What elements of the new casino’s design and style are consistent with the existing casino? What’s new? The existing facility was built for temporary use and has survived beyond expectations. The replacement casino was designed with much input by Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians and will have an entirely new and different vibe in addition to being new with state-of-the-art casino games and amenities. What has your experience been like working with C.W. Driver Companies? We have had a wonderful experience working with C.W. Driver Companies thus far. The tribe has worked with the builder in the past, so going into the project there already was a certain comfort level and basis of trust. Based on C.W. Drivers Companies’ performance and communications to-date, this

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Scott Sirois, General Manager at Soboba Casino

project is in competent hands. We know they have worked on a wide variety of hospitality and gaming facilities in the past, and we are looking forward to seeing how they incorporate this expertise into the construction project for the new casino and resort. What impresses you most about the plans for the new casino and resort? We are most impressed with how accessible the new location will be for guests and how beautifully it will tie in with the tribe’s other economic enterprise, The Country Club at Soboba Springs. The tribe’s golf course will be a featured view from the hotel rooms and two dining facilities, tying all of our business endeavours together nicely and offering convenience for visitors who would like to enjoy all that the tribe has to offer. We are also thrilled with the plans C.W. Driver Companies has developed, and anticipate that the new casino and resort will be one of the hottest gaming destinations in California.


On the road to Success

Glyn Thomas chats to Brent Hughes, project executive at C.W. Driver Companies When was C.W. Driver Companies founded and what is the company’s history? Founded in 1919, we are a premier builder providing general contracting, construction management and design-build services to the Western United States. Gaming and hospitality is one of our specialties, but we also work in the education, commercial, office, technology, healthcare, mixed-use, senior living, entertainment, retail, industrial and civic industries. From new construction to minor renovations to specialized projects, we do a wide variety of builds. Can you tell us about the replacement casino and hotel project for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians? Our project for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indian Tribe in San Jacinto, California broke ground in late

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February this year, and will replace the current gaming facility just a few miles away. In addition to a completely revamped, state-of-the-art casino, the project will include a six-story hotel with more than 200 rooms and suites, a large lobby lounge and a fitness centre. Hotels have become very important for casino development projects in general, as they increase the number of available revenue streams and guests’ length of stay. How big is the gaming area and what is the total number of slots and table games? The gaming area itself is 83,500 square feet within a 140,000 square foot casino. There will be a total of 24 game tables, a high-limit room, 2,000 slot machines and 100,000 square feet of back-house space on 37.5 acres of land.


What will the construction involve apart from the new casino and hotel? Will there be retail space, restaurants or entertainment facilities? Apart from the casino and hotel, we are building a large pool area to make the resort a true destination for locals and tourists alike. We are also including the development of six restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisines, a sports bar and a new parking structure. We have also incorporated 15,000 square feet of event space to accommodate everything from major conferences to weddings and other celebrations. These types of amenities allow casinos to become a destination for everyone from avid casino regulars to business travelers to a couple looking for a romantic night out. What makes this project unique? There are always unique challenges and circumstances that come with building on tribal land, but we have a long history of working with Native American tribes to navigate these intricacies. As is often the case, it took the Soboba Tribe more than a decade to secure approval to break ground on this project. We are thrilled that the replacement casino and resort will bring hundreds of jobs and millions in economic stimulus to the community. Why is this project such a good fit for C.W. Driver Companies? The project is a natural fit for C.W. Driver Companies because of our deep-rooted legacy working in the gaming and hospitality industry coupled with our existing relationship with the Soboba Tribe of Luiseño Indians. We are well versed in incorporating cultural preferences and priorities into casino projects. Soboba Tribal leadership wanted to ensure that the design and architecture of the casino and resort complemented the natural surroundings and blended in with the landscape, which we feel the Friedmutter Group accomplished with their design and we will put into place throughout construction. Does C.W Driver Companies have any involvement with charitable causes? Philanthropy is woven into the fabric of C.W. Driver Companies’ culture. Every company event includes a community service or philanthropic tie-in, whether it is a fundraising component, a volunteer opportunity or a donation drive.

Brent Hughes, project executive at C.W. Driver Companies

At our annual open house events and annual regional golf tournaments, we not only fundraise for the nonprofits in attendance, we give them a platform to speak, share their mission and rally others around the cause. We also take on hands-on projects that utilize our construction expertise for those in need. In recent years, we’ve renovated eight to nine houses per year to improve accessibility for families living with ALS. Through our golf tournament and events throughout the year in San Diego, we have raised close to $45,000 for Solutions for Change, a nonprofit that transforms lives and communities by permanently solving family homelessness. As a whole, we give tens of thousands of hours in volunteer work – the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Community involvement creates a sense of purpose and community within teams. It gets people out of the office and bands people together. Especially with our younger employees, people want to feel a sense of purpose at work. We focus on causes that are

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important to our employees, and most often work with smaller nonprofits that are truly in need of our help and need a voice. We’ve seen that when employees are involved in a cause, they get back ten times what they put in. How environmentally responsible is the company with this and other construction projects? C.W. Driver Companies incorporates elements of sustainability into every project we do. Being environmentally friendly is especially important in Native American casino construction because of the cultural focus on mitigating the impact on the environment. In past projects, we’ve included green roofs that improve energy efficiency, water reclamation facilities to reduce water usage and co-generation plants that allow casinos and their hotels to be nearly selfsufficient and reduce their reliance on the energy grid. We like to incorporate LED lighting not just into light fixtures, but into signage and slot machines as well, to conserve energy and reduce electricity costs as much as possible.

contracting, construction management and designbuild services to the Western United States since 1919. With more than 20 years of experience, his specialty is in the project management of Native American casino and other hospitality projects. He can be reached at bhughes@cwdriver.com or (619) 696-5100.

“Friedmutter Group is excited to be the architect and designers for this new casino property for the Soboba band of Luiseno Indians. Friedmutter Group visited with the Soboba Cultural Resource Department to learn about specific tribal heritage touchstones to make this project truly unique to Soboba. Using native flora as inspirations for patterns in carpets, decorative lighting, and color palettes, we are able to integrate the Tribe’s culture in a respectful and meaningful way, creating a singular design expression.

What is the anticipated completion date? Our anticipated grand opening is in the third quarter of 2018.

Design innovations include state-of the-art lighting and sound technology, convenient access and parking, gaming floor layout with multiple adjacent amenities for ease of customer circulation. Special attention has been paid to providing a variety of on-site amenities to provide interest and long term excitement for patrons.”

Brent Hughes is project executive at C.W. Driver Companies, a premier builder providing general

Suzanne Couture, Vice President, Interior Design at Friedmutter Group

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Forget Brexit…here comes Europe! As we languish in the hinterland of the Brexit negotiations, the Hippodrome Casino will achieve something Boris Johnson can only dream of: gathering representatives from most of Europe in the heart of London for a friendly fight • Everyone will talk to each other. • There’ll be no shouting or petulant silences. • And every single participant will come willingly to the table. Yes, for the first time in its 11-year history, the European Dealer Championship is coming to the UK

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he EDC is the annual competition between dealers from throughout Europe, who go head to head in the three key areas of Technical Skill, Game Control and Hospitality. It is organised by the European Casino Association in conjunction with the National Casino Forum, and will take place at The Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, London, on May 8-10. From small beginnings, the EDC has grown into one of the most prestigious events in the gaming industry’s calendar, and this year will bring together 33 participants from a record-breaking 21 European countries. Countries can enter up to two competitors each, and many of the Union’s biggest operators compete. Representing the UK will be Jamie Cummins of the Ritz Club and first runner up Stuart McCallum, from Les Ambassadeurs, who won the UK leg of the Championships in February this year. 2017 will see more than 30 judges from 21 countries oversee the knockout-style competition. Dealers will showcase their talent and skill on two of the most popular casino table games, American roulette and blackjack. Hippodrome CEO Simon Thomas said he was thrilled to be hosting the championships. “Dealers are the lifeblood of the casino industry. They’re

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UK hopes in their hands Leading the UK charge at the EDC will be Jamie Cummins (left) from the Ritz Club and first runner-up Stuart McCallum (above) from Les Ambassadeurs

at the coalface, and much of our success depends on their skill and acumen. So, encouraging and rewarding the job they do through the EDC is a fantastic opportunity.” Tracy Damestani, CEO of the National Casino Forum and Vice-Chair of the ECA, said: “The EDC brings the casino community together and competitors get a chance to see how dealers from different countries perform. It’s extremely competitive but friendly too. The title of EDC Champion has true kudos across the ECA membership countries.” Tracy explains why competitions like the EDC are important for the sector and why the NCF has opted to retain strong ties with Europe in the face of Brexit. “In the UK alone, casinos employ upwards of 16,000 people, with an additional 30,000 casual workforce. Strong customer service is key to its continued success, which is why it’s important to hold competitions like the EDC which celebrate excellence in its field. And it gives employees the chance to shine. “It also demonstrates what a close-knit community those who work in the casino business are. We share ideas, we innovate and also contribute massively to our individual economies. Shouting about what we do can only benefit the


positioning, ball spinning and table clearing. For blackjack, we are looking for smooth, neat dealing and handling bets on the boxes. Game Control – Good game security is an important aspect of being a top dealer. The croupier has to calculate payouts accurately, show clean hands, protect their winning areas; and they must have an accurate knowledge of the games they are dealing. In this area, we are judging whether the croupier is in control of all aspects of their game. We are looking for clear, loud commentary; good float management and focus on table activity.

Mattias Luchesisni, who won the EDC title for the UK in 2015

venues and the thousands who work within them.” The worldwide casino ‘community’ is why the Strategy Board of the National Casino Forum decided to commit ‘unequivocally’ to retaining strong ties to Europe and announced last year it will continue to work within the ECA ‘to promote the modernisation of the regulated casino industry at national and international levels’. Said Tracy: “I can think of few other sectors where so many of us have worked and developed strong ties and friendships across Europe and further afield. Retaining those links can only benefit the industry. “The NCF’s vision is to make the UK the most attractive destination in the world for casino gaming, not only for the customers but for those from abroad who want to experience working here.” There are three key areas that the competitors will be judged on. Murat Salih, gaming floor manager at The Hippodrome, explains what they are: Technical Skill – We are looking to see if the competitor can cut chips correctly, use both hands appropriately and use technical equipment properly. This includes pushing multiple stacks, chip

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Hospitality – A very important aspect of the job, customer service is a key skill for an excellent croupier. We are judging the competitors on professionalism, politeness, how they greet customers and interact with them. Body language is also important for good customer service; we will be looking at the croupier’s non-verbal communications as well as their verbal ones. The winner should be able to respond actively to meet customer needs, even exceeding customer expectations when dealing to them.

Five-a-side There will be five side events during the championships. Best Chipper Who is the fastest chipper (chip and stack) of 300 chips? Best Card Handler Who draws the fastest initial deal at Blackjack? Best Cutting Chips Who will be the best cutting stacks into fractions? Best Pushing Stacks Who can push two to eight stacks the fastest from one side of the table to the other? Best mathematician Who can calculate the fastest AR Manhattan bets? The outcome of the side events has no effect on the main championship.


CHAMPIONSHIP TIMETABLE Monday May 8 9pm:  Welcome party for all participants, sponsors & ECA members

Tuesday May 9 2pm:

Polly’s In Charge Miss Polly Rae will MC the championships Murat Salih

Lunch

2.45pm:  Championship opened by Simon Thomas, CEO, Hippodrome Casino, and Per Jaldung, Chairman ECA 3.15pm: 

Introduction of participants

3.45pm:  Jury and participants instructions 4pm:  Warm up side events 5.15pm – 7.45pm: Round 1 Competition 8pm: 

Side event – Chip Contest

9pm:  Official dinner for participants, judges, ECA members and invitees

Wednesday 10 May 2017 11.50am:

Second day opens

12.10pm – 2.45pm: Round 1 continues 3.45pm:  Announcement of semifinalists 4pm:  Semi-finals (15 minutes per finalist per game) 5.45pm: 

Announcement of finalists

6pm: 

Final

9pm:

Presentation of trophies

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BELAIR: From No Diggity to Crazy in Love, BELAIR bring the hottest jams from the nineties and noughties back to glorious life with their soulful vocals, slick raps and soaring horns

That’s Entertainment! Outside the competition there will be entertainment on the Hippodrome’s cabaret stage and pop up performances throughout the venue by BELAIR and Shane Hampsheir alongside the Hippodrome’s very own Lola’s Showgirls.

Shane Hampsheir: As a professional singer, Shane has performed a number of highly acclaimed one-man shows in jazz clubs and theatres in the UK and Europe and is widely regarded as one of the country’s top swing singers.

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Lola’s Showgirls: The troop from the Hippodrome’s Lola’s Underground Casino will be flying the flag throughout the competition


Download the Casino Life App today! Compatible with Android iOS and Mobile

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Raymond Chan Co-Founder TGG Interactive

Move your imagination Glyn Thomas chats to TGG Interactive Co-Founder Raymond Chan

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When was TGG Interactive founded, and what has been the rate of growth from then to present day? TGG was founded in early 2014 by Ernie and myself, inside a tiny storage room (with windows) at a quiet corner of Ernie’s father’s company in downtown Hong Kong. I still remember it was the first day after the Chinese New Year holiday, and we picked that day because it was easy to remember in the future?! Anyway, that’s how we started…1 shared table with 2 chairs. We were building our gaming platform from that storage room for almost a year actually, until we couldn’t find any space to fit more folding chairs and laptop computers on the shared table for new colleagues. At that time, with the help of City University of Hong Kong, we got our own space at their new Research Building in Shenzhen, China. Our engineers have been working on our gaming platform since then in Shenzhen, the China Silicon Valley with a population equal to the whole Canada. This year we will open our first engineering office in Taipei and Tokyo as well, to better support our growing needs for the gaming platform enhancement and business expansion. The Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco is considered by many as the cutting-edge techno gaming event. Could you explain to readers what involvement TGG had with this year’s show? GDC San Francisco is THE event for game developers around the globe getting together with a passion on games and only about games, not just on casino gaming but all kinds of latest ideas and gadgets for electronic games that you can find on the planet. I have been coming to this event for many years and this was the very first time our company TGG has participated as an exhibitor, with a dream to attract new ideas and talented developers who can create innovative ideas on casino gaming products via our Open Gaming Platform built upon global casino gaming standards (GLI-11 and GLI-19). Do you think the Games Developers Conference is a show that should be on both landbased and iGaming operators’ must-attend events lists? Yes, I think so. GDC is a cradle of technology and creativity. Indie game developers and game studios are welcoming the millennium generation with their groundbreaking creativity. They demonstrated their best of the best in the show: perfect graphics,

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motions, story plots, not to mention the application of technologies like VR, AR and AI in the games. The creativity and innovative ideas are exactly what we are looking for in our industry, and we do hope to bring such creativity and innovation onto our open gaming platform for global casino operators and players, both land-based and online operations. In your opinion, what are the most important factors slot game manufacturers should consider when developing new products and business strategies? Creativity, innovation and time-to-market are very important factors to a business. This is why Ernie and I started TGG because we see an ageing product mix on the casino floor and we believe that it is time for something new to happen. Our goal is to create a platform that would allow new ideas to get in and be seen for players, and to maximize the fun of casino entertainment for the new generations to come. There must have been a lot of time and effort and investment in gaining GLI-11 and GLI- 19 Gaming Laboratories gaming standards, making the 3 + 1 Omni Gaming Platform TGG product ready for both landbased and iGaming operations Worldwide? We have spent 2 full years to build things from the ground up! Many sleepless nights in the engineering room with our engineers and many on-site casino trials and lab testing, our products have finally received the official GLI approval in the November of 2016 which we’re now deploying them to the market globally…from Asia to South America, and Europe to Africa. We did input a lot of time and investment yet I would say still have a long way to fight and win-win together with our global business partners and game developers. TGG has accumulated over 200+ titles targeted for gaming operations in the Land-based and iGaming jurisdictions worldwide which is a further demonstration of investment and commitment by the company in providing both the landbased and online markets high quality gaming? We’re grateful that our global gaming partners have showed their faith and belief in our gaming platform and the concept of gaming marketplace. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to achieve such a milestone within a short period of time.


What are the unique factors that distinguish TGG from its competitors? TGG is providing an alternative to the market; that’s what we are doing. We want to bring in innovations gaming concept via the marketplace, and provide more choices for players and better terms for operators. The whole concept is like what Android and Apple Phones has done to the smart phone industry, where you have a choice of millions of APPs built by global developers, within a touch of fingers. That’s why we are building and sharing open API on our platforms for global developers, so they can build new games on it, on the fly. We are working hard on the SDK kits these days as well, and once completed, it will further expand our game integration speed and capacity. Moreover, our land-based solutions are based on “Console-concept” technology which is exactly the same as what the global casinos are using now, meaning that there is absolutely no new investment required in their IT infrastructure…a real plug-andplay experience for operators! Probably it is the closest we can theoretically get for casino gaming. Operators do not need any new server or any new network setup for TGG machines to run, and they will enjoy all the benefit of having server-based machines without the hassle of having to set up a server-based environment. Do you have any personal highlights of the past 12 months? Meeting global partners and business development brought me Gold Status on both Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, and a Silver Status on KLM. I have accumulated 310k miles so far since starting TGG... that’s why I was never chosen to give up my seat on United Airlines I guess? Worry free about being selected to give seat up for a while. Nevertheless, good news to announce: I have a new family member since January, who is a handsome boy.

deployment. We are also actively lining up different partners in the land-based and iGaming segments, at the same time looking for talented individual game developers and game studios to join this open gaming platform, hoping to grow a healthy new ecosystem for the industry to provide an alternative for players and operators. Are there any geographical markets that you will be targeting in the next 12 months? Asia, South America, and Europe have always been our focus. Japan is another big potential that we don’t want to miss! It will be another 5 years before the first casinos are built in Japan, I assume. However, Japan is famous for its game creation and product innovation. Our goal is to bring the best of Japanese creations to the global gaming market, and we will do the same for all local markets wherever we go as well. This is our dream and commitment to our partners and the industry. G2E Asia is the Asian market’s premier gaming event of the year. As TGG are attending, how can visitors organise to meet you during the show? Since I will be attending Casual Connect in Singapore and will be one of the speakers for casino gaming, I will be attending G2E Asia on the first day only. Nevertheless the TGG team will be at the show and will be happy to meet visitors. To book a meeting with our team, feel free to email us at info@ tgginteractive.com and our colleagues will follow up at the earliest convenience. Can you provide readers your hopes and ambitions for the Japanese Casino industry in the years ahead? Japan is a market with strong cultural background. We not only hope to bring our international experience to the Japanese market, but also hope to bring forward the creativity of the Japanese to the global stage. This would be a win-win situation for both the industry and also the players.

What were the biggest challenges TGG faced in 2016? Do you expect to face the same challenges in 2017, or are there new issues on the horizon? We’re at the stage 2.0 of our gaming platform and marketplace, lots of R & D resources have been and will be involved. Speed and number of games integrations will be the key, plus adding locations for

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Abe’s game Japan; the Land of the Rising Resort Casinos: By David McKee

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fter many false promises and dashed hopes, casino gambling is finally “on” in Japan. In one session of the Diet after another, the fecklessness of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition partner, the Komeito Party, doomed hopes for casino legalization. One of the “arrows” in the quiver of the prime minister’s “Abenomics,” it was consistently blunted by the lack of enthusiasm from Komeito rank and file. In the autumn of 2015, Abe shook up his cabinet and gave ministerial portfolios to several avowed casino supporters. Last June, events took a decisive turn in Abe’s favour, with his Liberal Democratic Party racking up big victories at the polls, just one seat shy of a twothirds super-majority in the Diet. On a December morning, the Diet finally passed the long-contested enabling legislation, permitting casinos in Japan, the first half of a two-part legislative phase to bring

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about casinos in the Land of the Rising Sun. The victory was bittersweet because, had Komeito fallen in line earlier, casino resorts could have been open in time for the 2020 Olympics. Now we are looking at a 2023 timeline at best. To complete the process, the Liberal Democrats will have to craft a second bill, one that sets out the regulatory framework under which casinos will operate, as well as how problem gambling — already rife in Japan — will be remediated. “This is a landmark occasion and should be a shot in the arm as it relates to investor sentiment in all gaming names that could be players in Japan,” wrote Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen. However, it will have to compete for gaming dollars with existing Japanese passions for betting on horse and boat racing, to say nothing of the madness that grips punters when they sit down before a pachinko machine … gambling devices in


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everything but name. A plurality of Japanese were unenthusiastic about outright opposition to casinos, meaning that for “Abenomics 2.0” to work, national attitudes toward casinos have to change and, more importantly, the casinos have to function as overwhelming tourist draws, especially from China and South Korea. At present, everybody who would like to have a casino in Japan — and it’s a long list — is in a holding pattern. Regulations have to be drafted and then adopted by the Diet before requests for proposals can be taken. The earliest date for RFPs is expected to be late summer 2018. The complexion of the RFPs could also be greatly affected by whether the Diet mandates local co-ownership or even outright majority ownership by Japanese companies. (Sega Sammy and Konami Holdings are on the short list of firms chafing at the bit.) For example, Hard Rock International has already offered to pony up as much as 60 percent of its prospective casino to one or more Japanese partners. At the opposite end is Las Vegas Sands, which would likely rather walk than accept a subordinate role (Sheldon Adelson hates to be in the passenger seat). Besides, Adelson is a risky joint venture partner, as the Oakland Raiders just found out: When things don’t go Adelson’s way they are apt not to go at all. Still, the mogul’s Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is considered to be the template of the kind of integrated resorts Abe will demand and, like Singapore, an entry fee will probably be charged to Japanese citizens, to keep them from gambling too much. Besides Adelson, other companies that have been paying court to Japan are MGM Resorts International, considered one of the frontrunners, Melco Entertainment, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment. What these gambling giants are offering is either economically stimulating or crass, depending on your mood. Both Adelson and MGM CEO Jim Murren have promised $10 billion megaresorts, while Melco’s Lawrence Ho has said he’ll spend whatever it takes to be number one. Not every bidder is going to have such deep pockets, which is why Wall Street analysts have been skeptical of Steve Wynn. The latter offered a Dadaist response to casino legalization, calling it “thoroughly Japanese and thoroughly delicious,” as though

David McKee Associate Editor Casino Life

reviewing a new sushi restaurant. Analysts are divided about the economic potential of the Japanese market. Fitch Ratings’ Alex Bumazhny has been the most conservative, pegging it at $10 billion a year. Others are less continent, projecting $40 million annually. Still others cover their bases, saying the size of the market will be in direct relationship to the number of casinos built. While Osaka and Yokohama are considered frontrunners for one integrated resort apiece, there’s some sentiment to put smaller casinos in cities like Sasebo, thereby spreading the wealth. Global Market Advisors has advocated bunching the flagship casinos in one spot, creating an “Osaka Strip,” with the prospect of also sprinkling casinos over five other cities, including Tokyo. This, GMA opined, would bring in $24 billion by 2030. But, in the end, it’s Abe’s game. Guessing where he will put the lustily coveted casinos is going to keep gaming executives on the edge of their seats well into 2018 — and perhaps longer.

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Caesars Atlantic City hosted the Gears of War Pro Circuit Open the weekend of April1st. It is the first major Esports event in the resort. At one point during the finals there were 50 thousand plus viewers on – line. A crowd of spectator’s tickets enjoyed scenes like this in the Circus Maximus Theater paying $20. for the 3 day event

Action and Adventure in a Virtual World!

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Robert Ambrose looks at the impact of ESports and its appeal to Millennials

he massing of players and fans is nothing new to the Esports coalition; however the casino industry is presently on a learning curve hosting the Esports model. I was there to feel the heat and conduct some “professor-type” research into the model. Professional gamers, fans and general spectators converged on Caesars, Atlantic City, April 1st to participate in a 3 day event for the city’s first Esports competition with the Gears of War 4 Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open. In association with the Ultimate Gaming Championship (UGC,) this international team event offered $200k in prizes and a public engagement space for millennials. As both Esports and the casino industry discover how their relationship will complement each other going forward, these types of events offer

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the analytics needed to determine how a massive gathering of millennials will fit into the future casino/ hospitality model. I have said this time and time again to both casino and academic colleagues. You need to attend an Esports event. You are not required to understand the games. As an observer engaged in live research you must feel the passion of the players, smell the bitter air of defeat and taste the sweetness of victory which could be worth several thousands of $ in prize money. According to a 2016 report by Super Date Research, “by years end sponsorships of tournaments, players and Esports related sites will hit $661M.” And now the casino industry has recognized the linkage and through this mainstream acknowledgment the benefits will follow for both. What better forum than an event centre packed full


of potential customers and an additional number in the thousands of online spectators on an international scale. At the peak of the final rounds “online” viewership on “twitch” www.twitch.tv/ was in the range of 50 thousand plus. Is there commercial dollar value here? Absolutely! In the physical arena at Caesars the atmosphere is hard-driven-tension pulsing through the teams of fiveas they prepare for their game rounds; bringing with them a philosophy of “team” collective strategies. All the hours of practice time now behind them they take their position at the console wearing team jerseys proudly showing their “gamertag” and the logos of the companies that sponsor them. With headphones and game controllers they are ready for the challenge. A novice spectator might view the players and fans during a gaming round as an uncontrolled group of young enthusiasts displaying their unbridled energy as they shout and attempt to intimidate the opposition; however, it is actually a focused physiological mind game as they seek to debilitate the opposition both in the virtual world of the game and the real world. They now sit face to face with the opposing team. The Esporting environment may be “virtual” but the passion of the players is real. Watching this competition I felt the player’s pain of loss and the hifive enthusiasm of victory. The participants are young, many with professional titles and jobs- all coming together for a common cause to participate in a virtual competitive event under pseudo name identities and displaying all the mental and physical challenges that parallels a major league player in a professional sport. It’s a new age of competition where the game board is a virtual world of animated life forms with characters and weapons pulled together in team strategies to divide winners from losers. These are international competitions and executives of the gaming industry are taking notice. I asked Mark Giannantonio, President & CEO, Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City about their commitment to sponsor one of the teams playing in the Gears event, “Raw Talent.” He summed it up this way: “Resort’s has watched the evolution of Esports tournaments throughout the country and we are very intrigued by the scale and excitement that it brings to any venue. Resorts was very pleased to sponsor the team “Raw Talent.” Resorts will continue to pursue tournament host and sponsorship opportunities in the future.” On March 3 in Las Vegas a new arena opened within walking distance of downtown hotel-casinos. It has the capacity to host 200 people in stadium style seating surrounding a main stage as well as more spectators in a secondary area with screens. The Downtown Grand in LV recently hired a 24

Team Raw Talent is shown deep in a battle. Supporting their sponsorship, the logo of Resorts Casino Hotel can be seen on their team jersey. A focused strategy prevails as team Raw Talents’s “Immortal Spawn” is focused on the win!

year old to assist their efforts to make their location the place to be when it comes to Esports. Other properties are following the lead in designing floor areas dedicated specifically toward Esports and the Millennial interest. Caesars in Atlantic City took the bold step to host 60 teams and fans. I used my time on site to also observe and witness both teams and fans alike gamble on the near-by casino floor, eat at the restaurants and participate in other non-gaming spend to include retail and lodging. And what were the parents of the players attending these matches doing when their favourite team wasn’t engaged in competition? They were engaged in the same type of spend. When I first began watching the Esports tournaments it was through my son’s eyes as a player. The one thing that caught my attention was the sponsorship by main-stream advertisers. This partnership has contributed to a strong indirect growth of the Esports model. I saw companies such as Coke and Old Spice cologne take the plunge early. I remember a few years back observing an Esports event online and witnessing the “Old Spice” girls giving out product samples. “Old Spice,” I screamed! That was my grandfather’s cologne. I guess what is old is new again! The linkage with major advertisers and host properties such as Caesars and one of the Raw Talents team sponsors such as Resorts Hotel Casino in Atlantic City is a strong statement to the new environment. Big

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stable environment economically is diversification of the city model. Newer gaming trends focused on the next generation of players and additional non-gaming segments establish a presentation and draws cross marketing opportunities for a variety of demographics to a property. Appealing to mass and niche markets must be a blend of idea and reality. Esports brings one more segment to the equation.

Industry wide…

Robert Ambrose, Gaming & Hospitality Professor Hospitality & Sport Management, Drexel University

companies are doing big things to get their message out there to this up-and-coming generation.

The slicing and dicing millennials

According to the US Chamber of Commerce the “Millennials’” are 80 million strong. This is the first generation that has grown up from diaper to “cap and gown” centered in a planet sized evolution of technology. It is easy for those in marketing to become immersed in the generalities of the age group as the industry further tries to define a path leading them to the casino and all things hospitality. Looking for the common denominators for market identification can be challenging. Remember, once you establish the generalities of a target demographic, there are more layers that require specific analysis based on region, competition and general socio/ economics. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, whether you agree or disagree, Esports is a workable strategy for the gaming industry to pursue; these events draw a huge fan base, a great deal of money in sponsorships and prizes as well as a sporting group of players that are no different from NBA players in their passion for the game. There is a great deal of team financial support through companies and private investment. Some teams have the support of team housing and training centre areas just like any pro-sport.

Atlantic City is still in recovery mode

Atlantic City is still in recovery mode from several years of negativity and related press coverage. The gaming/hospitality model and its perception is a work in progress. It is events such as an Esports tournament that is helping to rewrite the narrative for this east coast resort city. The solution for Atlantic City to become a more

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If the casino resort industry wants to broaden their demographic base, they need to continue to be innovative. The industry needs marketable options. If a property is multifaceted in what it can offer, it not only attracts the millennials but several demographics. Keep the casino floor fresh, the property experience unique and the goal of multi-generational satisfaction a priority. Probing with respect to the millennials is constant research into the personality of the business model; whether it is the gaming environment or the game product itself. It may be a try and re-try model. I think it’s generally agreed that the new casino floor culture should not alienate those that enjoy the traditional experience. I have written before that there is a need to cross market and blend generational differences into a seamless connectivity of traditional and non-traditional. In my observations during the three day tournament I saw a cross section of demographics. Let us say it was a multi-generational gathering. Not worlds colliding! And I witnessed a great deal of consumer gaming and “non-gaming spend.” The passive play of gambling’s past is not of interest to this “M” demographic. The interactive game play and challenge of strategic thinking is. Esports and skill based product provides that mental challenge desired by the next potential casino customer. I observed team members of legal age playing the new skill based product that Caesars recently placed on their floor. Make a note of that! I also saw some activity by them at the BJ tables. We will continue to see a great deal of experimentation as the industry looks for that right niche(s) that defines the next generational interest. As the industry begins its entry into the skill based gaming product it is important to know that it’s ok to be different. Stakeholders, game designers and regulators must collaborate going forward to better understand and educate themselves on these products. Senate Bill 240 is now being considered by the Nevada Legislature. In its present form, it would allow pari-mutual Esports wagering on a regular basis. We are at the beginning stages of the Esports/casino partnership. If there is a sure “bet” in this industry it is on the future of these two industries.


The future is about learning, establishing the regulations and offering a transparent product to the public in definition and content. It is clear we have to move beyond the limitations of established parameters when it comes to expanding the footprint of the casino experience. In recent years we have seen a great deal of this expanded model of hospitality offerings taking place. With regards to the Millennials: Probing is constant research into the personality of their consumer habits. Whether it is in the gaming environment or the game product itself. Change is a constant in the casino environment. Caesars and others have taken the initiative to move beyond the parameters set and take today’s casino model into areas that show creative thinking and addressing the needs of the market. Thanks to these initiatives the industry is taking steps into the future of casino gaming and at the same time applying new sectors to the hospitality model. As I tell my university students in hospitality and gaming; “insight should not be defined in hindsight.”

Gears of War 4 has an older demographic in terms of players as well as spectators, making it an enticing Esport to work on within the casino industry. From an Esports standpoint, working with a brand like Caesars Entertainment is ideal, because they have a host of fantastic properties around North America and worldwide that are known for their premium venues, accommodations and fun atmosphere. We are very happy with the partnership and will be working with them on future events.

What does the next couple of years look like in terms of events? Jack: Esports has become an important part of the Gears of War franchise, and we look to continue the Gears Pro Circuit to provide a long-term stable environment for the players. We will continue to work with great partners like Caesars Entertainment to create great experiences together, and continue to grow and expand the Gears Pro Circuit in terms of number of events, locations, teams, and prizing. The casino, entertainment and food/ beverage industry is one we are very interested in I sat down after the event because of our unique and had a conversation Esports demographics, with Jack Felling - Lead and we will continue Esports Producer. to be open to amazing partners in these Serious game drama as opposing teams face off on a feature station, where fans can watch all the action unfold. How would you sum up industries. Our next North the Atlantic City Open American event takes Caesars? places in Las Vegas, Nevada and we will be working Jack: The Gears Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open was with Caesars Entertainment on that as well to provide a fantastic stop on this year’s tour. Not only did we a memorable Gears Pro Circuit stop to all our players break viewership records for Gears Esports events, and fans. but we also had a huge turnout of teams competing – 64 teams of five competitors plus a waiting list of over Can you comment on how the advertisers continue 20 teams. to help the franchise? Jack: Esports is very attractive to advertisers, bringing Can you share your thoughts on how the host in a large and engaged millennial audience to the partnership in general has progressed in recent years table. With Gears of War 4 and the Gears Pro Circuit, with the casino industry? we love working with advertisers that are relevant Jack: This event was our first event with our new to our audience such as Caesars Entertainment and partner, Caesars Entertainment. Gears of War as Duracell. We can create integrated experiences that a franchise and Gears Esports as a whole are both greatly benefit both the advertisers as well as the uniquely positioned in the industry being a matureplayers and spectators. Sponsorships and partnerships rated series. Over 90% of our event participants help us expand and grow Esports specifically for our (players) are over 21, which in terms of partnership player base, which can include benefits like bigger with Caesars Entertainment makes sense from a prize pools, better venues, ability to accommodate shared audience perspective. Our event with Caesars more teams, and wider distribution. At the end of the Atlantic City Hotel and Casino helped to drive day, it’s all about the players and providing a great customers to the property as well as create revenue experience for them so they can continue to do what across accommodations, food, beverage and gaming. they love to do – play our game!

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may 31 - june 2, 2017 @ The Biltmore, miami

JUEGOS MIAMI Where the Latin American business community meets

juegosmiami.com

Japan Gaming Congress Grand Hyatt, Tokyo | 10 – 11 May 2017

#JgCongress

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www.japangamingcongress.com


Good News – Bad News

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How Las Vegas became a boring, ordinary architectural wasteland, and other stories By: Victor H Royer

ust this past week, there was a fire at the Bellagio. It was a small fire, as fires in Las Vegas go, and it was quickly contained. Confined only to the roof and façade of one of the outer buildings, facing the Strip, it was quickly brought under control by the LVFD, who did a fantastic job, as usual. There was little damage to that portion of the Bellagio, and no guests had to be evacuated, and no casino action had to be halted. As the fire was put out, in the light of day the charred remains of that building greeted the bleary-eyed casino players just going to bed, and the dreary-eyed early morning tourists who just can’t seem to adjust to a Las Vegas all-night only lifestyle. As we gazed upon the charcoal remnants of the plaster and foam façade of that building, it almost looked like an improvement. As one recent columnist – whose name escapes me at the moment – recently put it: Las Vegas has become a boring, ordinary city, which now looks like any other city, with sidewalks, cafes, parks, strolling lanes, and a bunch of sadlooking office buildings towering over what once was a unique destination on a global scale. Now all that remains of Las Vegas’ past glory are the remnants of a few of the older casinos still standing, the memories of those who knew how it was, and the photos and movies of old.

I couldn’t agree more. Ever since the bankers took over, and turned Las Vegas into the corporate drudgery that is all that they know, this once great and iconic City has been turned into a sad clone of New York’s Manhattan district, with buildings that look more like Banks than casinos, and streets that look more like something from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago than a desert-town neon jungle that Las Vegas once was, and should have always remained. Las Vegas has become an architectural wasteland, with buildings that are either sloppy copies of Italian Villas, or Parisian streets, or just dumb buildings with no pizzazz whatsoever. And little, or no, neon. Hum-drum, to say the least. American Indian casinos have done much better. Celebrating 30+ years of Indian Gaming has brought into focus what a lot of misguided – read: too young to know any better – marketers, who now mouth the college-learned mantra of “a maturing market” and “maturing industry” and “maturing marketing models,” and crap like that. Up to now, Indian casinos have been raking in billions of dollars, and have been so hugely successful because they learned the casino-centric model from what had made Las Vegas so great, and so famous, and so profitable. But now they’re about

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to throw it all away. Why? Because, as they say: “We have learned from Las Vegas, and so we are learning again.” But what are they learning? Well, they are learning to throw away the casino, and instead start building parks, convention halls, strolling paths, fountains, shopping malls, sports arenas, and so on – all of this so-called “nongaming” BS, which does nothing but suck money from the profitable casino, and funnels it to these idiotic “non-gaming” stupidities where that money is entirely wasted on facilities which haemorrhage money at staggering rates, while – at best – eek out a mere 1% or so in profits on a good day. And that’s why such casinos now have to charge ever-greater “resort fees,” as well as needing to charge you huge money just to park your car. That’s the Las Vegas as it is today. It’s the WRONG lesson! I’m not against hotels, restaurants, a pool, a golf course, and some shopping. But when the entire enterprise turns its operational model to just that, and starts to totally ignore the casino – while at the same time sucking all it’s profits to prop-up this failing and unprofitable non-gaming stuff – that’s when the hair on the back on my neck stands up and wants me to shout out loud for all to hear: Oh, you idiots! Fortunately for Indian gaming in the United States, this attrition of the profitable operational model is not yet as devastating as it has become for Las Vegas. Here, in Las Vegas, all the emphasis is now on everything OTHER THAN the casino, and that’s what is already leading to the inevitable death of these operations, and these companies. Leveraged to the hilt with countless debts, both public and private, these companies and their East Coast Banker Bosses are literally sucking the life-blood out of this great City, and it’s historic money-making potential. The future holds nothing but a continuing saga of corporate bankruptcies, and “restructuring”, and so forth, and all the while at the direct expense of the customer, customer service, customer facilities, customer appreciation, and – more prominently – the chronically-obvious disinterest in all things casino, and, in particular, the casino players. Already this has had the chilling effect on staggeringly low Baccarat numbers, as the Whales now go to Macao, and other Gambling Centres around the world, instead of to Las Vegas, where they are increasingly less and less welcome. And while some segments of gambling revenue are rising, like Roulette, for example, that alone isn’t enough. As long as resort operators continue to ignore the casino, and won’t invest anything in making their

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Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services & Research. He is a 34 year veteran of Las Vegas gaming, a 27 year consultant to the gaming industry, author of 51 books, and more than 4,000 articles on casino games and gaming. In addition he has researched and authored over 300 industry reports on the subject of player preferences, marketing, player development and customer relations. He can be reached at: DrVHR@aol.com

properties look like casinos, and take proactive steps to look after their casino players, this will inevitably become a vicious circle. Less and less revenue from the casinos will equal less and less focus on their success by the corporate bosses, which equals less and less overall revenue, which equals the attrition of “shareholder value”, which in turn equals the end of Las Vegas as we know it. Instead, we’ll have Orlando, Florida. Or Cleveland. Or any other nondescript city with parks, cafes, kiddie-rides and trees. A real shame. OK – so, where’s the Good News? Well, that’s in Online Gaming. Recent numbers in New Jersey show a 40% increase in revenue from online gaming. Even better is the recent petition by the Governor’s Association to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to totally reverse the government’s attitude and approach to online gaming. While Sessions himself is unlikely to listen, perhaps the swelling of tax-starved States and their governors will have the prevailing and persuasive power to finally move the aged US Congress into the 21st century. The other good news is the greater acceptance of skill-based games, as well as Esports. Both of these are attracting those pesky Millennials, and that’s a good thing. And with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, perhaps the availability of Sports Wagering nationwide, and on the Internet, will also finally be permitted for US based players. And so all of that is good news as well. I hope Las Vegas will survive long enough, as a gambling centre, to actually enjoy it.


Destination Miami Rebecca Green chats to Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Events Florida is a beautiful part of the World and Miami a great location for a conference, but also perfect for flights from South America and North America – are these contributing reasons for the choice of City to host Juegos Miami? Having Miami as the host venue was at the heart of the concept that developed into Juegos Miami. With its fantastic entertainment options and great weather, Miami is possibly one of the best cities to host an event for the Latin American market. It provides event attendees many opportunities to combine business and pleasure in an easy going environment. Furthermore, Miami has the largest Spanish speaking population in the United States and is considered the number one destination for the Latin American community. Our stakeholders believe it to be the perfect location. What are amongst the main aims and ambitions

for the event this year? It’s very important that we build upon the success of the first edition of Juegos Miami, which was held last year. New events normally take some time to establish themselves, but we have been very pleased at the speed with which Juegos Miami has developed its own unique personality. We received a very straightforward brief from our stakeholders and that was to create a branded event which is the ‘Who’s Who’ of Pan-Latin American and Caribbean gaming. Prior to launch, we spent over a year listening to the market and our goals remain to provide the industry with an event which facilitates networking and delivers a refreshing mix of product, learning and training, all within a professional and dedicated environment. We continue to work extremely hard to fulfil the ambitions of the market and to establish the unique style of event that it wants.

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Responsible Gambling is of major importance to both online and landbased gaming organisations – is that amongst the conference topics at this year’s summit? Improving the public image of gaming and the use of tax revenues to fund social programmes will be two of the key topics debated on day two of the Juegos Miami Learning Programme. We have attracted a raft of industry experts and thought leaders, including Mariela Huenchumilla, Corporate Head of Responsible Gaming, Sun Dreams, who will contribute to the stream entitled Responsible Gambling and Gaming’s Public Image with a session on The Responsible Gaming Venn Diagram. There’s no doubt that responsible gaming is a huge issue in any market, but particularly so in Latin America where the public perception is based on a stereotypical narrative. It is important for regulators and operators to establish who is in charge of implementing responsible gaming policies and what kind of initiatives should be included. During our research, the Canadian approach to player protection was brought up and we will be including a Canadian case study dealing with issues such as: how to recognise negative gambling behaviour; understanding the boundaries of intervention, and the possibility of incorporating

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alerts, deposit limits and pauses into game development. The benefits of gaming giving back to the nation state will be explored using the example of Colombia, where gaming taxes are used to pay for social welfare. The stream will examine how the model works, discuss the value of creating a positive association between gaming and social causes and debate whether such a model should, or could, be extended throughout the LatAm region. What are the other areas the conference will be covering? Learning and knowledge exchange is at the heart of the Juegos Miami proposition. It will feature keynote speakers and include sessions covering lottery, bingo, casino, sports betting and regulation. The main topics for 2017 include a case study analysis of some of Latin America’s biggest markets, an assessment of the advances in legislation that the market is likely to see in the coming years, the importance of combatting the negative narrative which punctuates the gaming debate, the fight against illegal gambling and organised crime, sports betting and integrity, player protection and AML best practices, attracting millennials and arguing the case for uniform regulation in the region. New, emerging markets are hungry for knowledge and


the opportunity to learn and gain insight from the experience of operators, regulators and thought leaders in more mature markets. The first edition of Juegos Miami satisfied those requirements and I am delighted that we will be continuing and enhancing the learning and networking opportunities in year two. Who is exhibiting at Juegos Miami? I am delighted to say that Juegos Miami continues to grow both in reputation and size, with a rising number of providers supporting the event, giving attendees access to the latest gaming products from the industry’s most accomplished innovators. The second edition of Juegos Miami will play host to a significantly larger number of gaming innovators than when we launched. The key exhibitors from last year have returned and are looking to increase their promotional activity for 2017. They are joined by some new key companies that will be making their first appearance at Juegos Miami. The provider list includes: Abbiati/Patir; Ainsworth; Aristocrat; Aruze Gaming/PDS Gaming; BetConstruct; Bit8, BMM Testlabs; DLV; Ed Roberts; eMoore; Everi Games; Genius Sports; GLI; Merkur; Novomatic; Nsoft; Online IPS; PG Software; Play’n Go; Push Technology; Quixant; Scientific Games; Vivo Gaming, and Win Systems. Who else is supporting the event? Juegos Miami has attracted the influential support of some of the leading trade associations on the continent. The supporting associations include: CIBELAE (Corporación Iberoamericana de Loterías y Apuestas del Estado); FECOLJUEGOS (Colombian federation of casinos and bingos); CONAJZAR (Commission nacional de juegos de azar); ABLE (Brazilian State lotteries Association); Magocom/ BNL, and FECEAZAR (Federación Colombiana de Empresarios de Juegos de Azar). From the outset, our objective has been to place Juegos Miami at the heart of the development of a responsible and sustainable industry in what is one of gaming’s

most exciting and dynamic continents. The support we have received from non-commercial and commercial gaming organisations shows this is taking place. There are a number of conferences and exhibitions across Central and South America during the course of the year – what do you think are the key aspects of Juegos Miami that set it apart from the other events? Organised jointly by Clarion Events and Urban Expositions, Juegos Miami is a totally new concept in gaming and whose foundation stones are relationship building and C-Level networking, set against a strong commercial backdrop. An invitation-only event, Juegos Miami attracts industry leaders including top decision makers, the senior management teams of casino operators, legislators, major buyers and business owners. As well as featuring the latest product innovations, Juegos Miami includes a multi-stream conference programme, social and networking events, as well as a training programme delivered by the Totally Gaming Academy. Essentially, we started with a blank sheet, an open mind and a commitment to deliver exactly what the market asked us to. For more information on participating in the invitation-only Juegos Miami, visit: www.juegosmiami.com

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Preview of G2E Asia 2017 Zitro • Novomatic • Cammegh

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SPOTLIGHT - G2E ASIA 2017

Zitro introduces Bryke video slots into the Asian market

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itro will participate in G2E Asia, which will take place from 16 to 18 May in the city of Macao, where it will show its wide catalogue of products specifically targeted at the Asian market. This way, Zitro reiterates its commitment to this continent, bringing the latest innovations in Video Bingo and introducing Big Time to the Asian Market. This new product comes with new games for Casinos and Bingos specifically adapted for the Philippine market - where Zitro has a significant share - and Big Time promotional systems that allow the operator to program promotions in a dynamic and flexible way. As a novelty for the Asian market, Zitro will present its new video slot brand Bryke, with its first multi-games of the Pick & Win series, which is backed by surprising results in Latin America, where it has been tested with unprecedented success. Sebastián Salat, CEO of Zitro, says that “we are convinced that Big Time will receive in Asia

L to R: Johnny Ortiz, President alongside Sebastian Salat, CEO

the same enthusiastic acceptance it has had in other continents, and we believe that our Bryke video slots can bring a differentiated product to operators in the region, particularly operators in the Philippines, a market that Zitro sees as a priority in this part of the world on our way to our goal of becoming a global leader in the gaming industry. “ Zitro will be exhibiting in booth #1315, sharing space with its distributor, RGB, a company of recognized prestige in the region.

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SPOTLIGHT - G2E ASIA 2017

NOVOMATIC to display products on Ainsworth stand at G2E Asia

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haring a stand with Ainsworth Game Technology (AGT) for the first time at G2E Asia, a range of NOVOMATIC product innovations will be on prominent display at the Venetian Macao on May 16-18. The latest slot and bingo machines with market-attuned content will be featured on Stand #1305, alongside key system solutions, and demonstrating the ongoing expansion of NOVOMATIC in the AsiaPacific region. NOVOMATIC, supported by its official distributor in the region Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies, will showcase a range of products on the stand of AGT at the eleventh edition of G2E Asia in Macao. A bank of sleek GAMINATOR® Scorpion cabinets will stand at the front of the stand, featuring a wide range of content including the NOVO LINE™ Interactive Macao 1 game mix. From the V.I.P. cabinet line will be the space-optimized V.I.P. Lounge™ with brand new content as well as a special version of Globe Roulette™ that has recently been approved in Macao. On show for the first time at G2E Asia will be cutting-edge video bingo machines by

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Otium, which became part of the NOVOMATIC Group last year. A spotlight will be on the OT-100 cabinet, which is already proving a major success in the Philippines, updated with new features such as LED animations, a USB charger and optional modular separators. The machines will feature leading bingo titles such as Bingosaurus and Multi Dragon, as well as standalone and linked jackpots. With an increasing number of installations throughout Asia, the Octavian ACP – Accounting Control and Progressives – casino management system will be returning to G2E Asia. The systems specialist of NOVOMATIC will be on hand to present new modules, including intelligence, reporting, player loyalty and marketing. In addition, as part of the ACP system will be diverse progressive and mystery jackpot solutions.


SPOTLIGHT - G2E ASIA 2017

All that glitters is gold for Cammegh at G2E Asia

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head of Macao’s G2E Asia show in May, Cammegh, makers of the world’s finest roulette wheels, have been busy servicing regional casinos with recent orders and deliveries of wheels and displays to Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Continuing its strong relationship with the Star Group in Australia, at the recently rebranded Jupiter’s Casino, now the Star Gold Coast, Cammegh is installing new Mercury 360 wheels with customised graphics, each with new

Billboard displays and integrated security camera housings and a further 16 mini-baccarat displays. Heading due north to Brisbane, Cammegh is also working with Star’s Treasury Casino supplying Mercury 360 wheels and displays, with an additional 21 mini-baccarat displays and five blackjack displays completing a sensational order. Skipping across the South China Sea, Manila Resorts World is replacing its roulette displays, with Cammegh having started installing Billboard displays for roulette and is thrilled that the casino

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SPOTLIGHT - G2E ASIA 2017

is also trialling its phenomenally successful Spread Bet Roulette side bet. Commenting on the installations with Star Group, Andrew Cammegh says: “It’s wonderful to be involved in these exciting projects in Australia, which sees us continuing our long-standing relationship with Star. Star Group is undertaking significant reinvestment in its locations, which includes major redevelopments and the procurement of new gaming equipment wheels and displays, and we’re very proud to be a part of their expansion plans. Our installation of 24 Mercury wheels and 21 Billboard displays to Sky City Adelaide at the beginning of the year further increases our footprint in the Australasian market.” Cammegh is eager to discuss its expanding portfolio of gaming products with visitors to the Macao gaming show. This year the company is exhibiting its baccarat display system; its

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incomparable range of wheels, including the stunning Mercury Halo wheel; the automatic Slingshot 2 and a wide range of state-of-the-art displays with custom graphics and high definition screens. In addition, Cammegh will be showcasing its growing series of roulette-based side games, with Spread Bet Roulette headlining at G2E Asia, having recently gone live in Manila with its first trial in the region. “Spread Bet Roulette has gained impressive traction in the live sector, which has now been incorporated into the Novomatic Unity 2 gaming terminals. Also, we are now at advanced talks with an on-line operator wishing to add Spread Bet to its on-line offer,” explains Andrew. “Going live in Manila builds on our success in Europe, Africa and most recently the US and we are looking forward to discussing Spread Bet Roulette’s operator benefits at the Macao show. We look forward to seeing you on the Cammegh booth at the Venetian in Macao.”


EUROPEAN

DEALER CHAMPIONSHIP 8-10 MAY • 2017 LONDON, UK

WWW.EUROPEANCASINOASSOCIATION.ORG


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Casino LifeVolume 13 Issue 106  

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