Volume 14 Issue 119
THE HIPPODROME Where the magic happens
6 HIPPODROME Welcomes the World Simon Thomas, Owner of The Hippodrome Casino, chats to Glyn Thomas 10 Truly Mediterranean Christos Tsemperas, CEO Maestral Resort & Casino Feature Interview by Peter White 21 Finnish star dealer Matti Kankainen takes the title in Montenegro Peter White reports back from the superb Maestral Resort Casino Montenegro on this year European Dealer Championship Finals 25 Obituary Felix Rappaport By Stephen J. Karoul 26 Quality Innovation Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview. By: JJ Woods 30 The Player First Jurgen De Munck, the CEO of DR Gaming Technology™ talks to Damien Connelly 37 The Votes Are In Fifty percent of Americans polled, favor legalized sports betting according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll It’s Now Legal, However, the Work is Just Getting Started. By: Robert Ambrose 42 All Bets Are Off Peter White chats to Arnie Wexler, ICGC, Author and Problem Gambling Consultant. 44 What an Online Hater Really Wants from You By: Jay Baer, Keynote Speaker and Marketing Expert 48 DR Gaming Technology™ Gaining Momentum in Asia Glyn Thomas chats to Duncan Pollock, Head of Global Marketing at DR Gaming Technology™, during G2E Asia 2018 Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +44 (0) 7727 969299 firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor:
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Associate Editor North America David Mckee
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firstname.lastname@example.org International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods
email@example.com Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green
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Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...
Lets begin with some good news. Hats off to Clarion for their recent award as the event industry’s most influential company of the last 25 years. The highest accolade in the UK events and exhibitions sector was made at the 2018 AEO Excellence Awards, widely recognised as the industry’s Oscars, and is welldeserved as many of their company’s events provide platforms for innovation, leading to industry enhancements and developments, employment, enjoyment and entertainment globally. ICE is be seen as the jewel in the crown by many in our industry but other gems such as Juegos Miami and the recent ICE Africa also shine brightly. We lead this issue with The Hippodrome and Simon Thomas keeps on theme referring to their new show Magic Mike Live as “...a new diamond in an existing crown”, deftly placing the show as complementary to all that the casino has to offer. And so it should. Meanwhile Peter White interviews Christos Tsemperas, CEO Maestral Casino and Resort and we get a glorious insight on how the casino is just part of the attraction for guests with spas, restaurants and a beautiful backdrop. The venue also recently hosted the ECA Dealer championship in Montenegro and we were pleased to be invited by the ECA as guests – full details of the competition and this year’s winner Matti Kankainen on page 20. Having only recently interviewed him it was with great sadness that we heard of Felix Rappaports passing away. Steve Karoul has provided an obituary on page 25. Elsewhere in the magazine we blow out the candles on the GeWeTe cake as they celebrate 25 years of success and talk to Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe about Quality Innovation within the company. Jurgen De Munck, the CEO of DR Gaming Technology™ sat down with Damien Connelly to discuss their design Mantra “Player First” and we find out why it is so intrinsic to how they operate. Stateside, Robert Ambrose looks closer at Sports Betting and emphasises how it will evolve through different states with similar approaches to tax and regulation. That this is foreseen may be down in part to the role of the AGA who have taken a key role in advising how sports betting can be an integral part of the gaming industry and not just a cash cow for the authorities. Robert also looks at the other parties involved in the industry and identifies the other likely winners along the way. A quick flip to the dark side next and we see the impact of gambling addiction through the eyes of Arnie Wexler, ICGC, Author and Problem Gambling Consultant and then delve into the intriguing issues of online haters, flaming and anonymous joy with Jay Baer. I think the phrase “Customer Service is now a Spectator Sport” sums up the dilemma faced by many companies now and why so many just don’t get it. Someone who does is Duncan Pollock, Head of Global Marketing at DR Gaming Technology™, testing the waters during G2E Asia 2018 and keen to echo the Player First ethos by Jurgen de Munck earlier in the magazine. Long may Glyn Thomas that continue. Editor in Chief
HIPPODROME Welcomes the World
Simon Thomas, Owner of The Hippodrome Casino, chats to Glyn Thomas
he Hippodrome Casino has just announced it is working with Hollywood A-Lister Channing Tatum to bring his Vegas show Magic Mike Live to the London venue. We spoke to Hippodrome CEO Simon Thomas about his ambitions for the production which has taken £5m in advance ticket sales in its first week. What is Magic Mike Live? In one word: Amazing! Magic Mike Live was conceived and co-directed by the Hollywood actor Channing Tatum. The original production opened
to rave reviews in March 2017 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It is a large-scale, live production based on the hit films Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. At The Hippodrome, the audience will enter through a dedicated entrance on Cranbourn Street and go straight into a refurbished and newlythemed bar and lounge on the first floor. From there they will be invited to enter Magic Mike’s mythical Club ‘Domina’ where a group of predominantly male artists will perform a 360-degree dance and acrobatic spectacular including dance routines intertwined with one-of-a-kind acts.
When does Magic Mike Live come to The Hippodrome? The show was launched on the live grand final of Britain’s Got Talent on Sunday June 3. The dancers performed first and then Channing Tatum announced he was bringing Magic Mike Live to The Hippodrome Casino. We followed that with a photocall in Piccadilly Circus where the brilliant team at Landsec changed the iconic light display to read ‘London welcomes Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Live’. We couldn’t think of a more high profile way to mark the event. It was a publicity coup and a definite first for The Hippodrome. The show will preview at The Hippodrome from Saturday, November 10, 2018. There will be 10 performances a week (Tuesday to Sunday. Ticket prices range from £29 to £125, with optional add-ons of a VIP meet and greet (£40pp extra) and a ‘Little Black Box’ gift plus complimentary programme (£30pp extra). Meal and a show packages will also be available, with dinner at Heliot Steak House adjacent on the first floor of The Hippodrome. How are you accommodating the show? There will be a multi-million pound redesign and rebuild of the existing cabaret theatre starting at the end of June. This will give us a 325-seat theatre and entertainment space incorporating sophisticated lighting, sound, video and automation technology that will rival anything else in the capital. Importantly, we will also still be able to use the space for events, launches and corporate hire. The build will take approximately three months followed by a period of technical testing and show rehearsals and previews. Why are you doing this? It’s another terrific example of how The
Hippodrome goes from strength to strength. When one of Hollywood’s A-list actors gets in touch and asks whether he could discuss the possibility of bringing his show to your venue – one that’s been a smash hit in Las Vegas – you take the call. We quickly decided it was fantastic for both parties and expect it to be a great success. Remember, we’ve got an incredible theatrical heritage here, and Magic Mike Live is a perfect fit for us. Since 1900 The Hippodrome has been delighting, shocking and reinventing the way London and its visitors are entertained. This is simply a new stage in its evolution. It’s also an opportunity to add the word ‘best’ to what we offer in the theatre; we’ve already got the best steak house (currently holding three ‘best steak house in London’ trophies), two best casino awards (Global Gaming and British Casino 2018) and what I consider the best staff in the West End. Will there be T-Shirts and Memorabilia to purchase at the show? We recently opened a dedicated Hippodrome Store where you can already buy Hippodrome and PokerStars memorabilia and gifts. We will be adding a full complement of Channing Tatum and Magic Mike Live goodies. We suspect they will be very popular! Aren’t you in danger of becoming “The Magic Mike Casino”? The beauty of The Hippodrome is that it is huge and has a wide range of offerings. To some it is the best casino in London, to others the best steak house, the best poker place, the best bars or whatever they like about it. Some, quite possibly, will think of it as the Magic Mike Live place. And that all works for us, as the range of activities, and the people enjoying them, come together to create an extraordinary experience; The Hippodrome experience. It’s where the magic happens - but in all areas.
Putting it simply, Magic Mike Live is a new diamond in an existing crown and will sit wonderfully well alongside our world class gaming, multi-award winning restaurant, six bars, smoking terrace, poker and many other attractions available 24 hours. Magic Mike Live itself is very much geared towards women. Is this really your target audience? Our target market is ‘people having fun’. With Magic Mike I’ll have a theatre largely packed with women, though having seen the show myself, I expect men to go as well as it is awesome with great effects. And, once the show’s over….I’ll have three gaming floors, six bars and a restaurant packed with men and women. As Channing himself would probably say “do the math”. The beauty of The Hippodrome is the sheer breadth of opportunities to entertain our visitors. I don’t think anyone will deny that The Hippodrome
broke the mould for how a UK casino can attract new audiences. This is something else in that vein. Also, we’ve always been recognised as a safe environment for women, which is important. And plenty of women enjoy casinos already. How much is this all costing? It’s a multi-million pound investment. How long will the show run? As long as we pack them in. Which, if the success of the show in Las Vegas and the incredible pre-sale figures are anything to go on, will be for quite a long time. What next? Let us adjust to the new levels of testosterone in the theatre first. Then I’ll let you know, but watch out for news of a rooftop investment coming next year.
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Christos Tsemperas, CEO, Maestral Resort & Casino
Truly Mediterranean Christos Tsemperas, CEO, Maestral Resort & Casino Interview by Peter White
What is it about Montenegro and the Maestral Resort & Casino that swayed you to move here and take up the position of CEO? At the beginning there is always the first impression from a beautiful destination and a very professional offer. But I believe what finally convinces someone to accept such an offer and challenge at the same time, is the vision of the shareholders and their commitment in realizing it. What qualities do you bring to the role? I originally come from the hospitality industry and that allows me to better understand the complexities of a casino resort where the hospitality part has to support an upscale casino with demanding clientele. Our guests, except casino players, are at the same time hotel guests used to travelling to 5-star destinations and expect very high standards of service. What are amongst your main objectives for MRC? The first objective was to reconstruct an old facility and transform it into a modern resort and
casino in a very short time; and that was achieved in a record time of eight months. Now, we are realizing the vision of the shareholders, which is to present to international markets, the most complete resort in the Adriatic Sea area, where the highest standards of service are offered and where excitement and entertainment is combined with relaxation and leisure. At MRC we are privileged to have a unique location in one of the most beautiful places on the Montenegrin coast, Przno, where guests can enjoy a serene and relaxing stay only 15min drive away from the bustling city of Budva. At the same time the venue is located ideally from a multitude of other areas of interest and airports. In your opinion what are todays high rollers looking for and how are you catering to this clientele at MRC? Definitely what is important for a high roller and what would attract their attention at first place, is the prize structure of a tournament, the quality of the participantsâ€™ roster, the ease of
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access at a particular time. At the same time like every casino visitor and even more, they expect extreme professionalism and reliability. On the other hand, a high roller visiting a facility requires instant response to their needs on a 24 hour basis, whether that is related to a massage, a drink, a special meal, an outdoors activity or swift travel arrangements. A holistic offer of high service standards is what would make a high roller to visit again the property as a tournament or cash game player. And that is what we offer to them. We have our own limousine fleet, helicopter, motor yachts, plenty of dinning options, spa services, private beach, live entertainment programs. And of course state of the art casino equipment in a luxury environment and very well trained and experienced staff throughout the resort and casino.
The Maestral Resort & Casino has just hosted a major high stakes VIP Poker Tournament that followed right after the European Dealer Championships. How was the Poker Tournament and will it be a regular event at the Resort? The Triton High Roller Poker tournament is definitely becoming a regular event in MRC. This year, for the first time in a live streamed event, we hosted some of the most famous poker players like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Jason Koon, Daniel Kates and the winner Mikita Badziakouski. During this tournament, a new game Short-Deck Ante Only was introduced, an exciting, high-variance game that features more coin flip situations than traditional No-Limit Holdâ€™em, creating challenging dynamics. From October through to March can you provide an insight into the kind of events the Resort hosts such as concerts and parties?
Maestral is well known for organizing concerts which became a tradition and its parties are famous as the centre of best entertainment in the area. On our stage, in the casino, we host live entertainment programmes throughout the year. Big music stars from the region appear regularly as well as international performers. Specially during New Year period, we stage parties that are the talk of the country. What Nationalities are amongst the highest in representation at the Casino? Maestral is a casino destination and in contrary to a city venue attracts a big part of its clientele from abroad. Predominant nationalities are Italians, Russians, neighbouring countriesâ€™ citizens as well as Chinese. Of course, depending on the season there is a broader variety of European citizens visiting us along with local clientele.
For those of our readership that research for new locations to host their companyâ€™s annual general meetings, conferences and conventions, what are the facilities at the Maestral Resort & Casino to host such events? Maestral is a well known destination for business and corporate events. It offers a flexible ballroom, fully equipped for meetings and conferences and well-trained staff to meet the needs of every organizer. But also, as a venue for corporate events, Maestral offers possibilities for a variety of side activities and facilities that make an event memorable to every participant. Indoors heated pool, wellness area, spa treatments, casino and live entertainment, many options for winning and dining. Who was the company the Casino chose for supply of the gaming tables and roulette wheels?
We chose gaming tables from ABBIATI casino equipment company, and TCS John Huxley for roulette wheels. How many bedrooms does the complex have in total and what are the room choices for Guests at Maestral Resort & Casino? Maestralâ€™s accommodation capacity includes 183 modern and comfortable rooms and 22 luxury suites. Rooms with direct view at the sea, warm colors, carefully selected details, make our guests always want to come back. Maestral Hotel has been awarded as the best hotel in Montenegro for year 2017. How does the Resort cater for those that need a break for long weekends to re-charge their batteries? In addition to the private beach, guests can use the wellness and spa centre, awarded as the best spa centre in Montenegro. The centre includes indoor and outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam bath, Finnish sauna, ice room, soothing showers, room for
relaxation and a massage centre. We offer traditional Thai massages which our guests highly recommend. Our restaurants offer authentic Mediterranean and Asian cuisine and international dishes as well as the best local and international wines. Guests may choose among several restaurants and bars such as, Terazza main restaurant, Maestral Club a la carte restaurant, Baccarat VIP restaurant, Jade traditional Chinese restaurant and Barka summer bar and restaurant.
MRC joined the European Casino Association in 2017. What were amongst the prime reasons for joining and what have you found to have been amongst the key benefits gained with membership? Casino Maestral is very proud to be part of the European Casino Association, whose ethical values and practices we share and which we strongly believe should prevail in the entire casino industry. Our participation in the ECA will help us to lead the
gaming industry in Montenegro and bring a fresh perspective to this important economic activityembracing best practices and implementing latest trends. Hosting the final of the European Dealer Championship was a major endeavour for any Resort Casino especially as the 2018 Finals had the highest number of entrants. You must be justifiably very pleased with all your employees involved
with their work and commitment in making this yearâ€™s Finals for all participants sponsors such an enjoyable and memorable experience. This great event once again brought together Europeâ€™s elite dealers, this time to Maestral, where they competed for the title of best dealer in Europe. My opinion is that this event, besides the competition factor, is a great opportunity for all casino professionals of Europe to come to know each other, exchange ideas, see how the trade is approached in various countries, view cultural differences and forge new friendships. That broadens the perspective of everyone, something that is necessary since we are working in a globalized and multicultural industry. We, all in Maestral did our best to offer warm hospitality and make sure our colleagues would have a memorable experience.
Finnish star dealer Matti Kankainen takes the title in Montenegro Peter White reports back from the superb Maestral Resort & Casino in Montenegro on this year’s European Dealer Championship
he European Dealer Championship organised by the European Casino Association is a celebration of the very best in the European land-based casino industry and Casino Life was a very proud participant at this prestigious event that was hosted at the superb Maestral Resort & Casino in Montenegro this year. Judges representing players at American Roulette and Blackjack were faced with the difficult task of determining Europe’s Croupier Champion 2018 from qualifiers who represented the best from casinos across Europe. With 37 entries to this year’s EDC, the competition was fierce and the skills on display were of a high standard. During the course of this year’s event I managed to find time to get a mix of quotes and interviews from all those involved, including the winner! I would like to thank Christos Tsemperas and
everyone from the fabulous Maestral Resort & Casino who were involved in making this year’s EDC so memorable for all those involved. I would also like to thank Per Jaldung, Tracy Damestani and Kate Chambers and of course this year’s winner Matti Kankainen for taking time out of their demanding schedules, during and post this year’s EDC to assist with our review. Interview with Per Jaldung (Chairman, European Casino Association) These events clearly involve a lot of planning and organisation? Yes, very much so and we have a very experienced ECA team in place that has organised the Championship for many years. It is led by Sandra Sturgess Persson from Casino Cosmopol in Sweden and Jaana Ruokamo from Veikkaus Casino Helsinki in Finland. We also want to thank the organising team
from Maestral Resort & Casino led by CEO Christos Tsemperas for their excellent work. They were on top of the on-site planning and provided everyone with a very warm welcome. It would also not be possible without the great support from our long-term supporters, which in 2018 were Clarion Gaming, Scientific Games, ICSE, CLS, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), GPI Gaming, Abbiati and CTC. Have you got any tips for entrants in next year’s competition? Make sure you practice! Hard! Competition is fierce. It was a very busy 2 days for the judges. How pleased have you been with their performance this year and will there be a requirement for more as the event continues to grow? The judges are the backbone of the Championship. With their experience and eye for every little detail they really put the dealers to the toughest test possible. I am very pleased with their performance. I hope we need more judges next year, as that means the Championship is growing even bigger. What were the highlights of this year in your opinion? The absolute highlight of the Championship is of course to crown the best dealer in Europe. This year it was Matti Kankainen from Veikkaus Casino Helsinki, Finland. He is a fantastic dealer. He has competed four times before and even came second twice, but never gave up and practiced even more and now he is the champion. He is a great character and always looking after his co-competitors, even sharing good advice with EDC newcomers. He became very popular among all other participants. Finally seeing him taking the first place was therefore certainly a highlight. What would you like to add in to the programme for the 2019 EDC? The 2019 European Dealer Championship will come to Olympic Casino Tallinn in Estonia. There we would like to add even more bells and whistles, the talent and skills that Europe’s best dealers put on display certainly deserve a real show. We have some great ideas already and we are looking to continue making it into a manifestation for the professionalism of the land-based casino industry.
For those who are looking to participate in EDC 2019 what advice can you provide them with? Enjoy the ride, have fun with colleagues from all around Europe and just being at the EDC is a treat for life. Another thing I have noticed is that whoever is the most relaxed, and can still stay completely focused, has a good chance to make it to the top and win the competition. Train your communication skills. We have seen that all participants are highly trained and very good in their technical skills, so the better somebody is able to smile, be friendly have a nice chat with the judges acting as players, while maintaining full control of the game, is for sure a favourite for the title. The standard of entrant increases each year which is impressive so the resulting winner’s achievement is even more significant. Yes, absolutely true. Tracy Damestani (CEO, UK National Casino Forum & Vice-Chair, European Casino Association) What do you think are amongst the key components of the event that have made it so popular? The coveted title of being the ‘best dealer’ in Europe, the networking opportunity and the drama of the event are key components. What was your opinion of this year’s venue the Maestral Resort Hotel Casino Montenegro? The casino team at Maestral Resort Hotel Casino Montenegro, under the diligent and intelligent directorship of Christos Tsemperas, took great care of everyone. The resort is beautiful, it is the Monaco of the Balkans. How was the standard of entrants this year? The standard is always very high, the crème de la crème of croupiers. I was very proud of the two UK dealers, Slawomir Workun, from The Sportsman, and Shaun Kelly, from Les Ambassadeurs, who were both great representatives of our industry. They may not have won but they did us proud. What were amongst the highpoints of this year’s Finals for you this year? Each stage is thrilling but the final round and then the announcement on the night as to who gets to take home the winner trophy and the money is the
best moment of all. The party that follows is always great fun too. Kate Chambers (Managing Director, Clarion Gaming) As Managing Director of Clarion Gaming, the premier exhibitions and event operator in the Gaming Sector who host the biggest global industry exhibition, ICE London, can you explain the primary reasons for your sponsorship of the European Dealer Championship? First of all, I would like to say how pleased we are to be working with our friends and colleagues at the European Casino Association and the National Casino Forum. Both organisations and their respective members have made, and continue to make, a really important contribution to our events, not least to ICE London where we hold the International Casino Conference in partnership with the ECA. Our sponsorship of the European Dealer Championship came about really as an extension of that relationship. It’s far too easy for event organisers to become slightly detached from the industries that they serve and when I joined the Clarion team I was determined such a scenario would not develop. This is not a case of us just lending our brand name to an event, I want my team to get really involved and to use our association as a method of understanding and appreciating the personality of the land-based casino industry. We have a number of initiatives under discussion that I want to implement throughout the year. In your opinion, what are the biggest positives
of the European Dealer Championship? I think it is a fantastic shop window for the casino industry. It demonstrates the skills and qualities required to work in a casino and to be at the very top of your profession. The ECA present the Championship in a very professional way and I am sure the event will encourage more people to consider a career working in casinos. It is a powerful way of attracting more talented people into the sector, which is to the benefit of the industry that we as event organisers serve. Positive representations of the gambling industry also help to chip away at the negative narrative that refuses to go away. I have just returned from Juegos Miami, the Latin American facing industry event that we run, and one of the key challenges facing the development of responsible gambling is the attitude of media and also other economic sectors, notably financial institutions. Events such as an equivalent of the EDC will not change deeply entrenched prejudicial views, but they will challenge popular misperceptions. It is a busy year ahead for Clarion Gaming with events such as Juegos Miami, GiGse and ICE Africa – what do you see on the horizon in terms of future development of Clarion Gaming, its events and its support for the European Dealer Championship in the years ahead? I just talked about Juegos Miami and your question references ICE Africa, which we are launching in October – both of these are examples of our strategy of working with the industry and the
sectors that we serve. One of the really exciting aspects of gambling is the speed at which change can happen. Take, for example, the issue of sports betting in the United States, which has implications for land-based casinos. My job is first to anticipate changes in legislation and then respond extremely quickly with a professional event, exhibition, conference – whatever the market wants in order to facilitate business. So, Sports Betting USA will take place in November and will carry all of the hallmarks of a Clarion Gaming organised event. The immovable rule is that we will only operate with the industry’s support, which means the creation of a global strategy for what is a global industry.
Championship and made some great friends for Montenegro. Personally, I am delighted to have had the opportunity to host the competition for the third time after hosting in Serbia.”
Christos Tsemperas (CEO, Maestral Resort & Casino) added “The competition brought together a very talented group of competitors that competed at their highest level. Maestral Resort & Casino is proud to have hosted the European Dealer
Special thanks go to the long-term supporters of the 2018 EDC: Clarion Gaming, Scientific Games, ICSE, CLS, Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), GPI Gaming, Abbiati and CTC.
Matti Kankainen (European Dealer Champion 2018) from Veikkaus Casino Helsinki in Finland After the competition, Kankainen said “After coming second and third in previous years, it feels great to finally get the gold medal. It was an amazing trip and competition. I encourage everybody to take part in the Championship in the future, it is a great way to learn from colleagues around Europe and experience new things.”
The 2018 EDC, held for the first time in Montenegro, at the stunning Maestral Resort & Casino brought together a record number of 37 participants from 20 European countries to compete for the title of best European dealer. Judges scored competitors on technical skill, game control and hospitality in Blackjack and American Roulette over the 2-day event. Besides the main competition, a number of side events tested the skill and finesse of dealers with the following winners: • Best chipper: Tamas Adam – Switzerland – Swiss Casinos Pfäffikon • Best mathematician: Dušan Jovanović – Serbia – Grand Casino Beograd • Best pushing stacks: Antone Grauss – Monaco – Casino Monte Carlo • Best cutting chips: Edgars Siņausks – Latvia – Olympic Voodoo Casino Riga • Best card handler: Carmen de Lange – The Netherlands – Holland Casino Rotterdam
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19/06/2018 4:48:35 PM
Foxwoods CEO Felix Rappaport Dies Unexpectedly
By: Stephen J. Karoul
elix Rappaport, who led Foxwoods Resort Casino as president and CEO during a period of intensifying competition in the casino industry, died unexpectedly from a heart attack in a suite where he lived while he was in Connecticut. He was 65. Rappaport was instrumental in helping Foxwoods to strategically expand and compete in the market by selectively adding new restaurants and non-gaming amenities and attractions to help attract a much broader market of both gaming and non-gaming visitors. One such addition was the Foxwoods Extreme Adventures, including the “High-Flyer” zipline, Thrill Tower and On Track Karting, which is expected to open soon. “With his passing, we have suffered a major loss,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, which operates Foxwoods. “Felix’s passion for modernizing and growing Foxwoods, as well as his friendship, mentorship and humor touched everyone who worked with him. We are confident that Felix’s legacy will live on as we continue to push forward on the vision he set.” Rappaport’s career spanned four decades in the casino industry. Before joining Foxwoods, Rappaport worked for some of the most prominent names
in the gaming industry including Station Casinos, Hershey Entertainment and Resort Co., Mirage and Treasure Island. He also previously served as president and chief operating officer of Mirage, NYNY, Luxor and Excalibur, while working for MGM Resorts International.
Jurgen De Munck CEO DR Gaming Technology
The Player First
Jurgen De Munck, the CEO of DR Gaming Technology™ talks to Damien Connelly DRGT™ achieves strong staff retention. What have been amongst the most appealing aspects of working for the company? At the outset, let me state that at DRGT™ we are truly blessed with a team of talented colleagues, not ‘’just’’ employees. Michiel (van Dam, co-founder and CTO), and I have been fortunate enough to find and secure some of the most committed and genuinely interested staff, who just also ‘happen to be’ really good at their jobs. As you know, DRGT™ literally started in a garage some 15 years ago, and I am really pleased that we have managed to maintain that ‘backyard/familytype’ sense of ownership across the business as we grew, initially at home in Belgium, then into the rest of Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and most recently, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia. I am a firm believer in employing attitude, and
whilst not 100% involved anymore in all recruitment, I personally ensure that all key positions are filled by people who strongly uphold two of the key values upon which the business was established: • passion (for what we do), and • reliability; and what I mean by reliability is obviously not just the robustness of our product, and the fact that operators can rely on us to be available when they need us, but in this context I guess it’s accountability, that as a team we can rely on one another to do what we’re supposed to do, when we’re supposed to do it. So, to ultimately answer your question; it’s the pride we all have in the business and everyone’s willingness to do whatever is required ‘to make things happen’ that appeals to me most about DRGT™.
How many airmiles do you think you have you flown so far this year, and do you see any signs of it reducing in the years ahead? Well, we’re only half way through 2018, so I’m loathed to have a guess. That said, I can honestly state that the growth of our business is inversely proportional to the amount of luggage I am now able to travel with, or rather without. Seriously though, in 2017, I spent just 42 days at home in Belgium and over the last 12 months, I’ve raked up just over half a million air miles. In saying that, I wonder if it’s even correct to refer to Belgium as home anymore? Let’s just call it Head Office, and leave it at that. In terms of it reducing; I don’t see that happening any time soon. I have a very strong team of executives who ensure that operations run smoothly, and Michiel and his team of developers and product managers ensure that we remain at the forefront of technology, in so doing affording operators the tools required to keep them serving their players to the best of their ability, and with solutions that literally ‘put the player first’. So, whilst I am a member of our development committee, and the team assigned with the responsibility of deciding what ideas actually make it to market or not, my core responsibility, I believe, is to keep opening up markets and assessing opportunities for us all to grow – and that means, I have to keep travelling. This year DR Gaming Technology™ celebrates a decade of successfully operating its gaming management and Wide Area Progressive System in Switzerland. You and your team must be very proud of the success? We are, very proud. Christian Eder, and his team in Austria, as well as Jean-Michel De Busscher and his team in Belgium have done a great job in securing, and then maintaining and growing our presence in Switzerland. DRGT™ has almost grown up with the Swiss market, and as a result we have a very healthy and mutually beneficial relationship with our customers across Switzerland. Over the decade since installing our first system in Grand Casino Bern in 2008, we have expanded that footprint to over 10 casinos, which is fantastic; as a result, we are now the leading gaming systems supplier in the country, by some margin. What is even more encouraging is that many of these installations, and others across the globe, follow referrals and endorsements from one operator to the next. You cannot put a price on that sort of marketing,
it is invaluable, and we treasure it immensely! Our challenge remains maintaining those product and service standards at all times as we scale up our business. Luckily, to date, we have managed to do that well – testament to the reliability and passion I referred to earlier. What is DRGT™s approach to Service and Support? Our design mantra has, and always will be, ‘The Player First’. To fully execute this, we need to not only provide operators with cutting edge technology that is robust and user-friendly, and player solutions that are reliable, but we also need to ensure that we are available to support those products. The end-user for us as the system solutions service provider, and for the operator, is always the player. As a result, we need to be there to complete the ‘loop’ and provide operators with any support that they may require in order to provide the best possible player experience. That means, fast, simple and smooth installations and an ‘always available’ team of support staff and product specialists. DR Gaming Technology™ has also been very successful in Belgium? Yes, we have. I suppose with our roots in the country it was almost a given that we should do our best to secure as much local support as possible, and we have managed to do that. In fact since our establishment almost 15 years ago, I can now proudly say that all 9 Belgian casinos: Casino de Namur, Casino Blankenberge, Casino Oostende, Casino de Dinant, Casino Knokke, Casino Middelkerke, Casino de Spa, Casino Brussels and Casino de Chaudfontaine manage their operations using our system. How was ICE Totally Gaming , and more recently G2E Asia 2018 for DRGT™? As discussed, after ICE in February, the ‘show’ has just gotten bigger and bigger year-on-year, as has our involvment in the event, for good reason. It sounds cliche’d, but 2018 was truly our best show ever. I firmly believe that we put forward a product range and image that continues to lead the pack in terms of casino management and jackpot systems. Our flexibility, reliability, and inherent commitment to putting the player first continues to drive our existing product range, and all ongoing developments, and this was extremely evident as we engaged with customers in London.
Grand Casino Bern, Switzerland
Our recently released drPlayer Registration, which significantly reduces staffing requirements, and player registration time for draws and raffles, our drScreen Ultra (the widest player tracking interface in gaming today), along with our player friendly drScreen ‘on screen’ interface and our world leading slots and tables jackpot technology drew the most interest from a widely spread global range of operators, from literally all 7 continents. With the above in mind we headed to Macao in May with these products as our key showing. We were, however, extremely cognisant of the fact that with our limited exposure, to date, to the Asia-Pacific region we were literally going to be ‘testing the waters’. Notwithstanding our installations in The Phillipines, Laos and Vietnam, the response from visitors to our stand at G2E Asia was quite humbling; most of them knew who we were and what we do, again through word-of-mouth endorsements from other global operators. Our serverless systems solutions, and in particular the marketing information available to operators using these systems was a key interest point. The major ‘take home’ for us was the re-enforcement of the fact that more and more operators, much like their retail colleagues, are valuing the ability to engage with players armed with invaluable information about these players; and that the technology to reward
them in any number of ways, whether that be through additional time on device, free play, loyalty points, bonus games or vouchers is a resource they cannot do without. Technology and innovation in software and hardware are a major part of DRGT™’s success, how do you ensure the company retains its competitive edge? I referred to my business partner and co-founder Michiel van Dam earlier; he, along with our four vastly experienced Research and Development Directors and our Global Product team drive our product development and its associated time lines. Our product and sales team constantly engage with operators proposing and receiving any number of ideas or suggestions. They also spend quite a bit of time researching technology advancements in other sectors too; there is no reason why solutions to gaming problems or advances in gaming technology need only flow directly from the gaming sector. Customers (and players) are becoming more and more demanding of tailored solutions and ease of use, and less and less tolerant of extended time lines or service intervals. With this in mind, we need to develop quicker, install quicker and be able to provide operators with technology to engage quicker and more directly with their players. It’s the simple law of the Jungle: ‘…..
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if you are not better than the competition, you will get eaten up’. I specifically said ‘’better’, and not faster; the reason being that first is good, but if you cannot support your product or service properly and don’t have a significant edge in terms of relevance, experience or positioning, you’re wasting your time. Cases in point; • Google were not the first search engine service provider, in fact there were probably 10 before them, but they kept to their core offering, and to operating their core business, which lead to cloud computing, and now they undertake almost 2/3 of all global search engine activity. Where are ‘Ask Jeeves’ and ‘Yahoo’ now?; and • Starbucks, similarly, weren’t the first to sell coffee, but they made the experience fun and accessible, and employed passionate and reliable people that unfailingly deliver their customer promise, and as such have become the only place to stop between home and the office for millions of people across the planet every day. Is there a common dominating issue with a Casino’s existing operating System or are those that require upgrades simply in need of updating? I referred earlier to the value, at times, of not being the first to market when referring to the successes of Google particularly, and I think in our case the same rings true. Advances in technology allowed us to offer a truly serverless offering at the outset, which was a massive plus. It also afforded us the ability to provide more functionality (also at the outset), than the existing legacy systems, and furthermore ensured that once our system had been approved we were able to install our product extremely quickly. A case in point was our installation at Grand Casino Basel, where our installation team completed the entire change over in a single day during normal operating hours.
What advantages are gained by a Casino from employing the DRGT™ Operating System? I have already mentioned our serverless technology and our ability to operate our system without a central database, as well as how our success has developed off the back of operator endorsements; as such I’d like to quote Casino Locarno’s IT Manager, Davide Bogo as the final part of my answer to your question: ‘….high availability, independent of a central DB, fast modifications and relevant updates, as well as DRGT™s compatibility with many machines, even old ones,…’ have ensured a healthy and respected relationship over the last 7 years. “There was a big vision by developing the system and the SMIB, this small webserver with all its possibilities and features. The vision of this and having the right people makes it strong!’. Do you think the success of the DR Gaming Technology™ Business System at the Swiss Casino Group contributed to winning what was a hard-fought contest to upgrade the Spielbanken Sachsen casino group’s Operating System? Yes, without a doubt. Could you explain more about the deal with Spielbanken Sachsen casino group? The journey to secure the system business of Spielbanken Sachsen got underway in 2016. Notwithstanding our efforts dedicated to that tender specifically, I cannot emphasise enough (again) the impact our previous successes, particularly with Swiss Casinos - and their endorsement of our capabilities, had in literally clinching the deal. That day early last year when we were eventually awarded the contract remains one of my fondest memories, and an extremely proud moment for both me and our Operations Director, Christian Eder. The roll-out was planned over 2 phases, with the casino group initially installing our accounting, ticketing and jackpot solutions across their 300 slots. Phase 2, unfortunately remains pending, as the Group awaits finality on the proposed changes to Germany’s gaming
Jurgen De Munck at G2E Asia 2018
regulations. Once finalised, however, we will then install our drScreenMini player tracking interface and our player tracking and rewards systems product, which will then afford the Group the physical ability to engage directly with their players, and reward them with more time on device via the likes of, free play, bonusses and vouchers, and furthermore also offer live TV streaming to the slot machine itself. The solution will also then allow them as operators to better track their players’ activity, and create their own unique multi-tiered player rewards scheme. Notwithstanding the delay in our ability to roll-out phase 2 of our installation at Spielbanken Sachsen, I am, however, pleased to share our success in being awarded a further German tender earlier this year in respect of Spielbanken Saarland, an 800 EGM establishment who too have undertaken a 2 phase installation approach; with our full system including accounting, cashless and jackpots being installed in Phase 1 and our Tables Management solution and reception desk products forming part of Phase 2, due in 2019. Did you ever visit Casinos before you worked in this industry? Interesting story, albeit short; my first job, as a student, was as a doorman at Casino Knokke.
What aspects of your role give you the most satisfaction? As the co-founder of the business, and I would assume that this rings true for anybody who has had an idea, developed it, and eventually taken it to market; the most satisfying aspect of my job has been, and continues to be, the steady growth we have enjoyed since inception. Despite our initial idea and the fact that we were able to establish DRGT™ at a time when technology was at a point that we could leverage it to its full potential, I am also a firm believer in being at the right place at the right time, and then taking action. When an opportunity presents itself, you have to take that leap of faith – not blindly, but you have to take it, believe, and then execute. Once installations are completed how do you ensure Casinos maximise all the various features of their new Operating System? This is a good question, and I am sure one of the biggest challenges faced by all systems service providers, not only in our industry, but others too. The key to our success has been our Product Managers’ ongoing engagement with operators (customers). In doing so we garner invaluable information from them (and their players), and as a result can then direct them to the correct product
solution within our system, should we already offer it, propose new products and solutions to our development teams, or drive development ourselves by identifying opportunities and solutions that operators may not even know they need yet. Does the system provide for cashless gaming as an option on all gaming devices? Yes it does. We can operate our cashless functionality on any machine that uses a legal protocol, and what I’m referring to here are the likes of SAS, ASP, NSW, GRIPS, and even BACTA.
of everyday life. Online casinos and sportsbetting operators have had to operate in a cashless environment from ‘day one’, and we see no reason why that migration would not happen at a live table or slot machine too, as long as the service is as secure, as easy to use, and as reliable as that provided by our online colleagues, retailers and/or any other types of entertainment vendors or service providers. That said, note acceptance and payout devices within a casino, however, should remain for some time to come. Inherently players want to ultimately touch and feel their cash, what they don’t want is to have to carry that cash around with them on a casino floor from EGM to EGM, or from table to table, or both.
What elements on the gaming floor, in your opinion, present the biggest challenges and opportunities? Jackpots seem to be a real part of the industry’s Finally, for those Casinos that are contemplating future, for now, with many operators relying on upgrading or outright replacement of their Casino jackpots to not only rejuvenate their gaming operations operating system could you briefly floors, but to outline why drive added DRGT™ should interest in their be considered as entertainment the company to offering too, provide it? in fact some I think in operators have any industry, as much as 70% whether it be of their gaming product or floors operating service related, with a jackpot the ‘proof is in some form or always in the another. pudding’. Not I can talk withstanding about the Sun Carnival City, Johannesburg, South Africa our core casino features of management our system, it’s system and its associated peripheral products, the amazing reports, the robustness and reliability of extension of our product offering to include jackpots, our hardware and software, our limitless range of as you know, has been extremely successful. In fact, marketing tools and player tracking functionality, or at present our biggest single jackpot customer has world-leading 8.8” customer interface, and many our product installed on over 5,000 devices across other solutions that ‘make us great’, but all that would approximately 100 venues. To the above end we be words, nothing more. believe we are capitalising on this opportunity, as best My suggestion is a simple one, if operators are as possible. looking to replace their existing management system, In addition to jackpots, we remain of the view that upgrade part of their systems offering, or are in the in time all operations will be cashless; one only has to market for a system for a new casino development, look at the positive impact on player satisfaction and give me a call. their overall experience, but also on operational costs I promise DRGT™s full commitment to the and downtime the move to coinless had to see that installation of a smart, cost-effective and reliable a progression to cashless is not only inevitable, but technology solution that will arm any operator with logical. the required tools to put their player first. Hard currency is becoming less and less a part
Quality Innovation Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview. By Sophie Behan
Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary! What plans has the company this year to celebrate this impressive milestone? We are proud to look back on 25 successful years of GeWeTe. The beginnings were naturally humble – we introduced a change machine to change notes into coins. Today we offer the greatest range of solutions for change and redemption machines and are active in a variety of markets. We have the right solution for each application. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to thank our customers personally and we expect over 400 people from all over the world to our celebrations at a special location – Phantasialand (that is near to our headquarters). Can you provide readers some of the high points over the years that are most memorable from a business and product development stand point? Our company foundation was our first memorable occasion. The introduction of our change machines brought a new, dynamic way for operating for our customers. They no longer had to make use of valuable employee time to provide change to their customers. This time could be used elsewhere – in other types of service to improve the player experience and / or as a way of cost savings. Our first products were called the WGS 1000 and the WGT. We have enjoyed many
memorable occasions throughout the years for which we are thankful. The introduction of our WGS 1001 and WGS 2000 in 1996 are strong in my mind as these took change machines to a new dimension with new services such as a ‘staff control function’, staff accounts and enabling change through a debit (EC) card. The ‘staff control function’ and staff accounts give employees several key features that helped improve operator service, such as accessing change from the change machine in order to refill gaming machines. The success we enjoyed (and still enjoy) in our home country of Germany where we have more than 75% of all change machine needs for the amusement (street) market was our catalyst in 2002 to ‘go international’ and offer our solutions on a global basis. Another key point in the history of GeWeTe was the great technological step in introducing PC-based change and redemption machines in 2005/2006 – our Cash-Center and our best sellers, the Cash Recycler and the Maxi Cash Recycler. Indeed, ever since 1993 we have constantly increased year-on-year turnover and our staff number has grown significantly throughout the years. Today we are proud to have over 75% market share in the German street market and to be one of the largest and most important producers of change, redemption machines and cash handling systems for the global market.
Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview
have been very successful as well. Our order books are full. I am confident that the year will continue this way. What are the main benefits that gaming establishments gain when they install GeWeTe cash handling solutions? I’ve already explained how important it is that we have full control of our company processes and the benefits that gives to our customers. Let me emphasize here our After-Sales Service. We place great focus on supporting our customers, being there for them to answer their questions, ensuring they are making full use of their GeWeTe machines. Sometimes requirements change and our machines can be altered on-site, for example to introduce ticket reading and other payment applications.
Last but not least, up until 2015 our focus was on the street / AWP market. At the end of 2015 we were given the responsibility of being the change / redemption machine company for the international casino market within the Gauselmann Group. I am pleased to tell you that in this short period of time we have already installed our solutions in more than 150 casinos. How do you see the next 25 years? The future looks very bright and I am very positive that we will continue to play an increasingly important role in the global casino market. We have the advantage that we control the entire process by ourselves – we are responsible for it all – from R&D, through to manufacturing, distribution, sales and support. We are very close to the market and so can react to changing market conditions with the right solution. That places us in a very strong position. How has 2018 treated GeWeTe so far? It started excellently with the ICE – this was our best ICE ever. The local shows – such as the EAG in England, Expojoc in Spain and the ENADA in Italy
Every industry has its competitors, what are the stand out qualities of GeWeTe cash handling solutions in your opinion that provide gaming establishments that edge over alternatives? Globally there is no other company in our marketplace that can offer so many different solutions than us. We have the right solution for each application. Our focus is always on quality – that has brought us to the position we are today after 25 years in business. Cost is always a major factor. How does the price of a GeWeTe Cash Handling machine compare to alternatives? Thank you for this question! The general reaction in the market to our ‘made in Germany’ change machines is that they must be very expensive. I believe we are the most economical. Let me explain why: Our focus is on quality and security, on optimal machine uptime. The follow-on costs are kept to a minimum. Downtime leads to a machine being switched off – upsetting customers and costing money as someone has to go and fix this. Secondly, our machines are built to last. There are still GeWeTe machines up and running that we sold over 20 years ago. This is a unique combination in the market and quite simply explains the reason for our success. What exhibitions in the Gaming industry are your most important to First PC-controlled machine: Cash-Center
exhibit? The major shows for us are the ICE and G2E Las Vegas. Yet we place our focus as well on the regional shows, such as those in England, Italy, Spain, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The Sports Betting sector is a major international growth sector what are the bespoke solutions provided for this sector? We introduced our first products to the sports betting market ten years ago. Today we have our machines connected to over 40 different sports betting providers. Personnel no longer need to have contact with cash and the benefits of linking a customer card to our machines speak for themselves. Customers can top up their customer card or withdraw their winning directly at the GeWeTe machine.
a very financially strong owner in the Gauselmann Group that has over 13,000 employees worldwide. As stated before, we place great focus as well on our after-sales service. What is involved when it comes to updating GeWeTe Cash Handling Machines so they are able for example to process new coins and banknotes without considerable downtime due for example to having to organise for a qualified engineer? Our solutions are designed in a modular way. That means it is possible to upgrade them on-site should the jurisdiction / customer requirements change. Both software and hardware changes can be done on-site. As you now know, machines that have been in the field for over 20 years have seen currency updates – for example from the D-Mark to the euro and updates for the euro when new note have been introduced. WGS1001
What factors are in your opinion the primary features of the popular GeWeTe Ticket-in, TicketOut Redemption Machines that contribute to its reputation amongst many customers that they are the best on the market? The price-performance ratio is simply right. Our customers get a whole lot of product and service for their money. And don’t forget – we’ll be here the next 25 years for sure. We have the backing of
How popular with gaming establishments is the recently launched The Cash-CenterCompact-Casino that has the new automated payment system? The Cash-Center-Compact-Casino is ideal for casinos with its modular construction. It offers the ability for payment / change in coins, banknotes, cashless, magnetic cards to name a few. A ticket printer can be included or a card reader. It covers the full range of payment possibilities and can be easily updated in the field should the local requirements change. GeWeTe has built up a strong loyalty base over the years with its customers
which greatly assists with repeat business this must be very pleasing to you and your fellow employees at GeWeTe? This is very true. I believe that quality always wins through. To offer such quality means that we have to have the corresponding level of quality in our staff. I am very proud and thankful to have such a team. Our employees are very loyal. Labour turnover is minimal. Many of our staff have been working for us for a long time – that is a great deal of experience and professionalism we can make use of. GeWeTe has such an extensive range of cash handling solution machines that its hardly surprising the company is launching new versions are you able to provide readers on plans during 2018 or do you prefer to announce near the launch date? We showed our latest machine at this year’s ICE. I can assure you that you can look forward to next year’s ICE where for sure we’ll be presenting a further new innovation in the field of change and redemption machines. What is the research and development procedures at GeWeTe that are involved when it comes to finding the ideal solution for Gaming & Leisure venues for your Payment machines and Recyclers? The most important thing for us is to listen to our customers. 2015 Casino Solution To do this you have Cash-Center-Compact-Casino
to be close to your market. Dialogue with our customers is key for us – to ensure that our customers are getting the right GeWeTe solution – and if that does not yet exist, then we can develop this. That explains our extremely wide product range. We take our customers seriously and we respect it is our customers who define future requirements.
What exhibitions can readers next see your range of Cash Handling solutions over the next 6 to 8 months and what machines can visitors expect to see on show? We are continuing our global expansion in the casino market. You can see us at the G2E Las Vegas and local shows such as the EAE in Romania and the BEGE in Bulgaria. New for this year – our debut at the exhibition in Buenos Aires.
Have you anything else you would like to add? I wish to conclude this interview by thanking our customers for 25 years of faithfulness and loyalty. Without our customers we would not be in the position we are today. We will continue to ensure we offer the right solution for each and every application. You can be sure that with our highly motivated team we will remain a step ahead in the market for change and redemption machines!
Robert Ambrose, Gaming Consultant
The Votes Are In
Fifty percent of Americans polled, favor legalized sports betting according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll Itâ€™s Now Legal, However, the Work is Just Getting Started. By: Robert Ambrose
he dust is beginning to settle on the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down as unconstitutional, The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, (PASPA.) Bringing Sports Betting (SB) into a recognized, legal, transparent model means jobs and a tax
stream for states, as it provides another â€œmarketdriverâ€? in customer visitation for casino properties. And at the same time, also reducing, and hopefully making illegal betting less desirable, putting those operations out of business. There is a great deal that still needs to happen state by state to identify, discuss, define, negotiate,
and finally develop into law a responsible, regulatory environment, that can hold up to the challenges for the integrity of the games, and customer engagement. As far as regulations are concerned, expect to see similarities among states, as well as some differences. What all should agree on is sound regulations and reasonable tax rates. There are 4 states that have passed legislation to bring sports betting to their specific jurisdiction. They are, Mississippi, West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. To clarify further, states that were grandfathered in when PASPA became a reality in 1992 are Nevada, Montana, Delaware and Oregon. Aside from those states already mentioned, we are looking at an additional 14+ states that are in the production cycle. With more to follow and quickly, unless the U.S. Congress decides to inject their opinion into the process. Most feel this is unlikely. State Tax rates on SB should be approached with caution. It is not a “cure-all” for budget short-falls. New Jersey seems to be taking a more reasonable approach with the tax structure, compared to neighboring Pennsylvania. Still to be discussed and finalized during the early June legislative sessions, New Jersey expects to tax
SB at casinos and race tracks at 8%, with on-line wagers at 12%. PA’s current suggested tax rate of 36% and a $10-million dollar fee, has drawn wide criticism. Nevada, where it is already legal is at 6.65% GGR, (Gross Gaming Rev.) “Gambling expansion is understandably appealing to officials wishing to raise revenue without raising taxes, but the long-term revenue is uncertain, and potential economic and social costs require careful consideration…” “…States that find new forms of gambling to authorize, open new facilities, and impose higher taxes on gambling. The results are short-run yields and longer-run deterioration...” (The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, 2016, The Blinken Report.) New Jersey has been engaged in the legal battle to deregulate sports betting since 2011. I am confident that the regulators knowledge base is strong on this topic, and the model is being readied for some final tweaking, before it goes to the Governor for his signature in June. The NJ model has been predicted to create over 3,000 plus jobs and $173-million in tax revenue, according to a report published by Oxford Economics. For other states considering SB legislation, there are “best-practice,” working models operating in the four states that currently offer it. These are
great templates for any states SB model. Nevada always being the mothership for all things gaming, is engaged in all elements of the model. Fairleigh Dickinson University under the Direction of Krista Jenkins, Ph.D., and, Professor of Political Science conducted a poll on Sports Betting prior to the Supreme Court decision. Fairleigh Dickinson University has two New Jersey locations as well as locations in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Wroxton College in England, as well as its online learning platform. The FDU poll of 1,001 adults was conducted by phone from April 25 to May 1. A margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The results found that 50 percent of those Americans polled favor it, with 37 percent opposed. Dr. Jenkins stated that, “the survey was conducted using a nationwide sample of Americans aged 18 and older. As it was a probability sample, everyone had an equal chance of being selected.” She explained that the survey pointed out that the legalization of sports betting is about two things. “First, we know that millions of Americans bet on sports every day. They do so with family, friends and neighbors in office pools, family gatherings, and in any number of other settings where people gather and share their passion for their favorite teams.” “Second, the ability for Americans to wager legally and publicly will only serve to intensify the engagement of a nation of sports fans.” When the participants were asked whether they were either in favor or opposed to the legal expansion beyond the current states of Delaware, Oregon, Montana and Nevada, “it was discovered that Americans take a moral or practical approach to sports betting,” she said. Dr. Jenkins stated that, “those who oppose it are worried about its effects on society. Two thirds oppose expansion because of fears that gambling addictions will increase. Worries also extended to the spread of organized crime and the games becoming less fair. Supporters of expansion want the states to benefit from the money that is already flowing through illegal wagering and the simple fact that people are already betting illegally.” An interesting subplot to the survey was pointed out by Donald Hoover, Senior Lecturer at The International School of Hospitality and Tourism
Management, at FDU. Professor Hoover pointed out, “that 62 percent of Americans disapprove of sharing sports wagering revenues with sports leagues. The sports leagues have begun the dialogue about adding “integrity” fees to sports wagers prior to the Supreme Court decision. The debate between the sports leagues and operators over fees and revenues will continue over the next few years.” I agree with Professor Hoover in that the debate is just beginning on this fee. I have heard terms such as a “Sports Wagering Integrity Fund?” Basically, a cost to cover more diligence, and in part, to serve as a royalty type fee, for basically the individual leagues providing the game content that is being wagered on. With an estimated $150 Billion being wagered illegally now, the leagues do not see any of this. Interesting to note that in my research on surveys, I found a poll was conducted by FDU in April 2011. This was the same year that New Jersey began their battle to legalize sports betting. This poll found that 53% supported sports betting in the state, while 30% opposed. (A plus or minus of 4 percentage points.)
Atlantic City A Diversity in Gaming Products… With legalized sports betting we see another “niche” market added to the already diverse hospitality and gaming products in Atlantic City. The addition of SB will be another market driver encouraging longer visits to the city and increasing more customer secondary spending. So far, I haven’t read a headline linking legal sports betting to that worn-out phrase, (used too many times by the media,) defining any new product as “saving Atlantic City.” This seashore gambling town is already in recovery mode, with 2 new properties opening this year, the sale of Tropicana to a new stake holder and a general upgrade in process, at all properties. On-Line gambling has settled in nicely too, since it became legal in 2013; with figures in 2017 totaling at $245.6 million. Up 24.9% from 2016. This too was originally labeled as the product that will “save,” the AC market.” There is no doubt it’s contribution is noteworthy. My point is, and I have been saying this for years, that Atlantic City’s
comeback was never about “one-thing.” It has never been about one particular game, one new company opening a new property, on-line gaming, skill-based gaming, more amusements, more restaurants or even more hotel rooms. It has been about all of these, as a collective initiative applied one at a time. One change to the city’s landscape was never going to bring AC back from the abyss. However, each vision, each new stakeholder, each entrepreneurial endeavor, that followed another contributed to the business model, as long as it was backed by good business sense, and the financial framework to support itself. As we see each new model of gambling or a hospitality related-product establish itself, it collectively elevates and expands the city offerings. We are seeing what AC’s come-back has been about. The odds are now in Atlantic City’s favor, witnessing a more strategic casino footprint as the business model has expanded. With AC applauding a 2017 win of $2.6 billion. And back to back years of positive casino wins, and a renewed interest by investors beyond a gaming product, there is optimism and talk about a renaissance taking place in the city. With the added “drawing card” of legalized sports betting we see yet another hand dealt to the water’s edge of the city, bringing a new “niche” market of sports betting enthusiast to town. These SB consumers will be in “extended-stay mode,” eating in the restaurants, drinking in the bars and willing to engage in real-consumer “spend” to experience a property’s hospitality, gambling and entertainment products. This is a pivotal time for the gaming industry. Once the SB market is established nation-wide, let the peaks and valleys of the individual states model play-out. Be cautious about the “rush-tojudgement,” reports by those that would enjoy shooting holes in any states model of legalized gambling claiming that the roll out was not perfect. There needs to be a breaking in period before there is a consistent read of the revenue numbers. A later analysis of what role SB actually played in growing gaming- “product-linkage” to other gaming products will be available for a state by state comparison. Several states are looking to move quickly. Short of calling in a special session of the legislature; most state law makers will not reconvene their session
until 2019. I have read reports stating that those states that are just approaching the drawing board for SB, could be at least 12-24 months out or more from set-up to implementation. Congress still has the option for general oversight parameters; so, it is important that states get it right! My insiders tell me that it is all hands-on deck as casino properties begin to establish their in-house technical infrastructure and customer wagering areas. The staff meetings have already started. Primer: As the curtain rises on SB, in the U.S. the process will introduce us to stakeholder companies, legislative endeavors, regulatory drafts and numerous pieces of subject matter that will at times create information overload. Strategic partnerships will be developed between companies that want a stake in development in the SB process nationally. Knowledgeable companies will be sought as a uniform security standard must be in place. I have listed below just some of the topics, terms, and discussion points that will be part of the development process. I do place an emphasis on some! Some Information Tags as part of the Sports Betting Universe… • Commercial and Tribal Gaming Enterprises. • Credit Card Companies: They are positioned to make a great deal of money, especially in transaction fees. With payment models already approved and operating in places like Nevada, states need to add them to their research checklist. • Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Their current infrastructure and current compatibility. • Entity Wagering: Third party wagering. • Esports Relevance: SB will also establish another level of legitimacy for Esports. The Downtown Grand in Las Vegas, took bets on Esports last year as the result of a new bill that widen the scope for wagering in recognizing Esports as a sport. The bill made it clear that under “other events,”
Esports was an acceptable model to wager on. (Nevada Senate Bill 240.) Companies with a stake in Esports are exploring ways to incorporate their assets and be part of the Esports legalized betting opportunities in other states. Better to get in when the legislations and regulations are being laid out. Note: Sports Betting could be a catalyst to bring more of those much sought out Millennials to spend time at a casino property.
enhancing further State revenues. • State Virtual Boundaries: Controls. (The invisible fence) • Technology Companies: The system infrastructure.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has been and will continue to be at the forefront of the • Federal wire act 1961: Prohibits the transmission information chain with all industry stakeholders. of electronic sports wagers across state lines. In the April issue, Casino Life published my According to a Feb 2018 release by Gambling interview with the American Gaming Association Compliance, information transmitted through the President & CEO, Geoff Freeman. I asked him based internet could touch servers in a prohibited state on the assumption then, that SB became a reality, during transmission. How will this impact SB? how can AGA further assist the states at the policy and regulatory level? • Gaming Enforcement: His response was: We want to Regulatory follow through. be an expert resource for state policymakers and regulators. • Gaming Equipment No one has generated as much Manufacturers: Hardware and original sports betting research as software product solutions. the AGA has. We have examined the economic potential of sports • Integrity Fee. Will sports betting, the difference tax rates leagues and gambling can make on sports betting’s companies come to terms benefits for states, various sports on the “Integrity Fee?” Who betting regulatory models around should pay the cost to monitor the world, and more. We also suspicious activity? have an unmatched network of sports betting experts and law Krista Jenkins, Ph.D., • League real time data: At what enforcement authorities, eager Professor of Political Science price? to advise states on what tools are Fairleigh Dickinson University needed to ensure consumers are • Social media broadcast companies: Rights and protected and law enforcement has the oversight Controls. it needs to stop illegal betting and protect game integrity. We are ready to lend our help to • Sports Franchises and Player Unions: A general policymakers and regulators. (April Issue CL 2018) consensus on fees. President Freeman also highlighted the work AGA has engaged in for the past 3 years pursuing • State Legislatures: Establishing the legal their “two-track strategy to legalize sports betting parameters. Important collaboration with in, working both through the Courts and Congress.” Stakeholders. A great deal has taken place to bring the gaming industry to this point. This will be an exciting year • State Lotteries: How will they be impacted by ahead for all stakeholders. Sport Bet spending? Robert Ambrose Gaming Consultant, • State Tax Rate: Variables by state. An acceptable Adjunct Professor, Casino Management tax rate will encourage industry growth, Fairleigh Dickinson University
All Bets Are Off
Peter White chats to Arnie Wexler, ICGC, Author and Problem Gambling Consultant
n April 10, 1968 Arnie Wexler placed his last bet. A recovering addict for over 50 years now, he helped start the National Council Compulsive Gambling (now the National Council for Problem Gambling). From 1986 to 1994 he headed the New Jersey Council for Compulsive Gaming. Then, in 1994, he and his wife Sheila struck out independently in the field of treating compulsive gamblers, Arnie & Sheila Wexler Associates. In that capacity, the Wexlers have trained over 40,000 casino executives and employees and written the first responsiblegambling program for the gaming industry. Can you define the conduct and actions that, in your opinion, distinguish an addicted gambler from someone who likes to gamble? When the gambling controls you that’s gambling addiction. The addicted gamblers can’t stop or walk away. Compulsive gambling is a progressive disease, much like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. In many cases, the gambling addiction is hidden until the gambler becomes unable to function without gambling, and he or she begins to exclude all other activities from their lives. Inability to stop gambling often results in financial devastation, broken homes, employment problems, criminal acts and suicide attempts. The gambler is eventually able to remove themselves from reality to the point of being totally obsessed with gambling. Eventually, they will do anything to get the money with which to stay in “action”. They will spend all their time and energy developing schemes in order to get the money to continue gambling. Lying becomes a way of life for the gambler. They will try to convince others and themselves that their lies are actually truths and they will believe their own lies. After they hit a real bottom they will
have to do something if they want to try to recover. Most gamblers at that point will want to stop but can’t. They won’t be able. Most even at that point will keep gambling. Some will end up in jail. Some will attempt suicide. Some will die from their addiction, as they will not take care of their health or the stress will kill them. And a small group of addicted gamblers will seek and find real help but the real trick is to get in to real recovery. Not just abstinence. By the time the gambler comes for help they have broken brains — their brains don’t work like they used to prior to their addiction. To get real recovery the gambler needs to work on themselves one day at a time and get someone who has been in recovery some time to do their thinking for them — a sponsor. After some time in recovery their brains will start to work again. They will become productive on their job and become a good father and husband. Recovery is a process and does not happen without a lot of work on yourself, and making a moral and financial inventory. But people can recover and do. Given you have extensive experience of gambling addiction can you therefore provide those that enjoy gambling advice on how to continue and remain in control? If you are an addicted gambler you will never get control. What, in your opinion, is the difference between a Wall Street broker dealing on the stock exchange and them betting on the outcome of a horse race or football match? The stock market is the biggest roulette wheel. I started gambling in the stock market at age 15. I also did illegal things in the market until I stopped gambling at age 30. A good thing there were not computers back then or I would have gone to jail.
Professional golfers, football players, schoolteachers, doctors — is there any profession or lifestyle that is fool proof against gambling addiction or can it hit anyone no matter what profession they are in? I have gotten many calls from all of them over the years and treated some of them. The problem is always they don’t want people to know, so they hide and won’t go to Gamblers Anonymous meetings where the help is and don’t want people to know. We have also treated pro players in every sport and people in high public office — lots of gamblers have sales jobs, so they have free time to gamble. At what point in your life did you think that you wanted to make a career out of helping problem gamblers? Very early on in my recovery. I know today it kept me in my recovery. I see the people who do stay in recovery, and the people who don’t and go back to gambling. Helping others seems to be one of the keys to recovery. Can you explain to readers an outline of what is involved in your training programs that you host for casino employees? We tell our story of my gambling and Sheila tells about how it was to live with me the seven years before I got into recovery. We share about casino workers and gamblers that have come to us for help about things that the casinos can do: what they see and how to do the right things when they see gambling addiction. And there are always lots of questions from the workers. There are lots of casino workers who are compulsive gamblers-might be a bigger problem behind the table than in front of the table How do you manage time to also operate a tollfree helpline, and have you found that those that make the call are in a similar pattern of behaviour? Yes, we get calls and e-mails every day from gamblers and family members looking for help. You and your wife are also consultants at a private residential treatment facility for adults with drugand-alcohol dependency and problem gambling. We have worked for a lot of treatment centers and help them to set up gambling-treatment programs. Are there any signs people can tell whether a
friend, work colleague or relative is getting into gambling too heavily and is there anything they can say or do that can make a difference? Most gamblers will not think they have a gambling problem. They think and dream the next bet is going to turn into a winning streak. You can’t see it like drinking and drugs: no track marks, no smell or dilated pupils, Gamblers don’t fall down or pass out. Some family member would have no idea they even have a gambler in the family until they hit a real bottom. Over the years have you any idea of how many people you have treated in that time? Nope. I would guess my wife and i have spoken to more family members and gamblers over the years than anyone else, as I started the first help line that was in all casinos in New Jersey and we now have 888-LAST BET and get calls and e-mails from all over the world. Do you think society in general should be better informed of the potential hazards of gambling as they are with smoking and drinking? For sure. It’s even a problem when a gambler wants to go for treatment. They are busted out and have no money left. The family has been bailing out the gambler for years and won’t pay for treatment, and the insurance people in most cases won’t pay for gambling treatment. For the vast majority of adults that gamble it is a fun enjoyable pastime, wouldn’t you agree? Yes, that is true, but if you have the gene of gambling addiction you will destroy yourself and everyone in the family. We don’t know the true percentage of gambling addiction How can those interested to find out more about your books and counselling consultancy services get in contact with you? See our book All Bets Are Off or call 888-LAST BET or surf the Internet to www.aswexler.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
What an Online Hater Really Wants from You
Age has a significant impact on how and where people complain
More than 90 percent of American complainers in nearly every age category have complained offstage via phone or email in their lives. With regard to onstage haters, young people are far more likely to have complained via social media, discussion boards, forums, and online review sites than have older consumers. More than 80 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds have complained publicly, compared to 58 percent of survey respondents age 65 or older.
The “look at me” ethos
Facebook is a favorite haven for onstage haters. But when examining the relationship between channels and complaints, I begin to wonder whether Facebook‘s pervasiveness, ease-of-use, and “look at me” ethos is disproportionately fueling onstage
Offstage and Onstage complaints by age 100% 91
Younger People More Likely To Complain Publicly
Older People More Likely To Complain Offstage
he near-universal adoption of smartphones and social media has fundamentally altered the science of complaints. Critics (“haters”) can now express their displeasure faster and more publicly than ever. Based on my research with Edison, we found two main hater types, “Onstage” haters, who publicly launch complaints via social media and online review sites, and “Offstage” haters, who conduct their complaints via more private channels such as email and phone. There are no meaningful differences in educational level or annual income between hater types. There are also no gender differences of note between onstage and offstage haters. However, men complain more often across all channels combined. In our research, we found that 22 percent of men have complained to a business seven times or more in the past year, compared to 16 percent of women.
Haters are not your problem…ignoring them is By: Jay Baer, Author of the book Hug Your Haters
Edison Research and Jay Baer, 2015
haters. After all, you have to create status updates about something, and ‘I‘ve been wronged by this company’ is a good way to solicit interactions from friends and digital acquaintances. Ninety-four percent of frequent complainers have a Facebook account, and among research participants that claim to use Facebook several times per day, nearly one-quarter of them have complained seven or more times in the past year. That group of hard-core Facebook fans is 300 percent more likely to be frequent complainers than are people who do not use Facebook at all. Although the total number of users is smaller, this dynamic is even more pronounced with Twitter. While 70 percent of heavy complainers have a Twitter account, nearly one-third of the respondents who use Twitter several times per day are frequent complainers. Across every social media platform including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, WhatsApp, and WeChat the heavier the usage, the more likely the consumer is to complain about businesses. Given the proliferation of social media and social networks, this isn‘t going to change any time soon, if ever.
Facebook usage among frequent complainers 35% 30%
of Frequent Complainers Use Facebook Daily
24 20% 19 15% 12
8 Do not use
Once a week or less
Once per day
Several times per day
Edison Research and Jay Baer, 2015
Do they want an answer or an audience?
Social media is facilitating complaints and breeding onstage haters. But the issues that are communicated in social media, review websites, discussion boards, and online forums are sometimes more frivolous than those in telephone or email interactions. Especially in social media, consumers often post quick missive without much depth. Mason Nelder, Director of Central Insights and Social Business at Verizon, sees this difference every day: Facebook and Twitter usage among frequent complainers 35% 30%
of Frequent Complainers Use Twitter Daily
32 29 24
15% 10% 5%
8 Do not use
Once a week or less
Once per day
Several times per day
Edison Research and Jay Baer, 2015
“Typically, the people who send email have, I think, much more meaning behind what they‘re writing, because it‘s long-form. In social media, because it‘s short-form, it‘s much more emotional. It‘s almost like, if they took time to think about it and actually write about it appropriately, it might not be as emotionally charged.”
What we categorize as a “complaint” in social media (in particular) isn‘t a “complaint” in the same sense that a well-crafted email or a telephone call is a “complaint.” Instead, these short, social missives are often simply expressions of the current situation. And among heavy social media users, any customer experience falling short of perfect is legitimate grounds to instantly admonish the business. In the same way that bumper stickers are the most shallow form of political expression, social media grousing is the thinnest form of customer complaints. Offstage haters want an answer. In many cases, onstage haters want an audience. Our research found that when people complain in private they almost always expect a response from the business or company. Yet, when complaining in public, onstage haters expect a response roughly half the time or less. This ratio varies by channel. Richard Binhammer agrees, recalling his time at Dell. “Often, even when customers are being difficult in public, they‘re just calling you out to get your attention. And once they‘ve got your attention they actually turn around and can become good customers.”
Only half of onstage haters actually want help
This distinction is also evident in other countries. A survey of 2,000 online complaints in the Netherlands in 2013 by TNS found thirty percent were venting negative feelings, and 23 percent were seeking vengeance. Only 48 percent wanted help. My friend from high school and college Alan Moir is disproportionately concerned about beverage temperature. He is fond of saying—without irony, that ― ”there‘s no such thing as too much ice.” This is perhaps an unexpected thing to obsess over for a Canadian, since the “drinks must be as cold as possible” notion is a uniquely American construct. Yet, a person like Alan can quite easily use social media to proclaim, “Hey, Le Pain Quotidien! How about some more ice in the lemonade” while still drinking that same lukewarm beverage. He can express his displeasure in an instant, at no personal cost. He may even be able to interact with the brand (which can be a bit of a thrill) or at the very least, put it out there for his friends in social media to react to alongside him. Guy Winch explains why we do this in his book The Squeaky Wheel:
“When we complain, we hope to purge the frustration, anger, or irritation that is generated by our dissatisfaction. Indeed, the expression getting it off our chest refers to the palpable lightness, the cathartic easing of internal tension, we hope to experience by speaking up about a troubling complaint. But what creates the catharsis is not the voicing of our complaints aloud, but rather voicing them to another person.” It‘s much easier to get it off our chest online that it is offline. Would Alan take the time to telephone about that issue? Would he sit down at a computer and write out an entire email? No. The platform used to voice the complaint usually fits the nature of the crime against the consumer. The bigger the issue, the more likely it is that contact will be through private, offstage channels. This is true of the first complaint only. If an issue requires more than one contact to satisfactorily solve, a much different scenario can occur. Even though the tragedy of a beverage-specific ice shortage isn‘t cause for a move to DEFCON 4, the business in question still has to deal with it, because it‘s now in the public domain. And if you don‘t answer that complaint, it not only reduces the customer advocacy of the complainer, anyone looking on might be frustrated and disappointed in your lack of attention as well.
Customer service is now a spectator sport
When delivered online and in public, a lot of what we call complaints would be classified as a comment if delivered offline, if delivered at all. Annoyances that formerly would have qualified for an inner monologue of “oh, that sucks” now spur a “oh, that sucks and I should share it with the world.” But to garner the attention from companies, their friends, and the public at-large, onstage haters often have to up their rhetorical game, to stand out amidst the same messaging clutter that companies have to face when trying to market their wares. “The complainers? They have to break through the noise as well,” Mason Nelder concurs. This is why many onstage haters‘ complaints are delivered in an outlandish and overwrought fashion, way out of proportion to the seriousness of the issue. On first contact, we right-size our channel (smaller problems are registered with onstage complaints) but we do not right-size how we describe our angst. I implore you to spend 45 glorious minutes watching the Youtube channel of a production
company called Gotta Kid to Feed. The channel is titled “Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews,” and it‘s a hilarious collection of 23 (and counting) short videos. They illustrate precisely what I mean about onstage haters employing amazing rhetorical flourishes to get noticed.
British Airways: what not to do
To stand out and make sure they are heard, onstage haters sometimes go beyond inflammatory language and ensure they have an audience (from the company and beyond) by buying it. In 2013, Hasan Syed‘s father flew British Airways to Paris, and his luggage was lost. Syed went to the British Airways Twitter account to complain, but found that the account was not monitored during the evenings. Frustrated, Syed spent more than $1,000 to buy advertising on Twitter, delivering a tirade of antiBritish Airways tweets to hundreds of thousands of users. He specifically targeted followers of the British Airways Twitter account with “Thanks for ruining my EU business trip #britishairways. I shouldn‘t have flown @BritishAirways. Never flying with you again.” Despite the scope and scale of this rancor, British Airways replied with: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our Twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT. Please DM your baggage ref and we‘ll look into this.” Remember, haters aren‘t the problem. Ignoring them is. British Airways has flights around the clock. Yet their customer service is open 10 hours per day, at least on Twitter. Without this gap, would Syed have purchased ads? Of course not. British Airways could have answered his initial tweet in 15 minutes, even at night. But that‘s not how their customer service program works. KLM would have answered Syed because their program is set up to do so. In situations like these, hugging your haters can be a major competitive differentiator.
Drawn from Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, about which Guy Kawasaki says: “This is a landmark book in the history of customer service.” Written by Jay Baer, Keynote Speaker and Marketing Expert, Hug Your Haters is the first customer service and customer experience book written for the modern, mobile era and is based on proprietary research and more than 70 exclusive interviews. For more information, visit www.JayBaer.com.
DR Gaming Technology™ Gaining Momentum in Asia Glyn Thomas chats to Duncan Pollock, Head of Global Marketing at DR Gaming Technology™, during G2E Asia 2018
What did DR Gaming Technology™ hope to gain from attending G2E Asia? Our attendance at G2E Asia was driven by the fact that as a rapidly growing global supplier, who has enjoyed significant success over particularly the last 5 years in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the next logical step to our expansion was to literally ‘test the waters’ in the East, and what better place to do it than at the Asia-Pacific region’s premier gaming event. As discussed ahead of this year’s event, 2018 was only our second showing at G2E Asia following our initial attendance in 2017, and what we were hoping for was to further some existing relationships and obviously garner a few more, but most importantly we hoped to leverage the opportunity and the awareness around the show to raise our own profile and share our systems and jackpot success story with as many operators in the region as possible. Considering your ‘test the waters’ objective for G2E Asia 2018, what was the general response to DRGT™, and your range of systems solutions and slots and tables jackpot technology?
The response we received from event attendees who visited us was extremely encouraging, in fact I am very pleased to share that DRGT™ was a lot more familiar to a lot more operators than expected, and as a result the response to our offering was far wider spread than expected, and the number of prospects and opportunities that developed during the show exceeded our expectations too. Now whilst I understand that the above sentiments all seem very rosy, they really are. What was most encoraging though, was that most visitors to the DRGT™ booth were interesetd in our core product: systems, and particularly the marketing side of things. The information and reports we are able to easily provide, offer operators a simple way to manage, track, classify and cluster players in any number of different ways in order to automatically then allocate them points bonuses, vouchers, free play, raffle tickets, show tickets, hotel discounts and any other rewards they see fit, in so doing assisting them (through technology) to provide their players with the best possible experience – whether that be additional ‘time on device’, a simple ‘happy birthday’ message, or vouchers or draw tickets
they can redeem at the device, should they operate our drScreen touchscreen technology, or at a service desk in the casino, should they not. In addition thereto, and suprisingly so, considering the Asia-Pacific regions considerable bias towards Bacarrat, was the interest in our BlackJack11s Tables Jackpot side-bet game. The simple, fast, and easy to learn game, for both players and dealers, was a significant draw card, and due to that ‘action’ on the stand, many operators were interested in the mechanics and flexibility offered by the product. My view is that what attracted the most interest in the product was the added excitement it created to a normal BlackJack game – there really was a great vibe to our booth when visitors were playing. The fact that players could understand the game within a minute or two, and that the game did not detract from the speed of the primary BlackJack game was a huge positive for operators and players alike. Furthermore, the ability to manage the Return to Player on the game, depending on what parameters operators wished to implement, was also a big plus. Notwithstanding the interest in your management system and BlackJack11s Tables Jackpot game, DRGT™ also showcased its selection of mystery and progessive jackpots and it’s new drSelfRegistration player registration and raffle ticket redemption technology. Could you tell us more about these? Well, whilst our focus ahead of G2E Asia was indeed on our world-leading array of Mystery, Standalone and Progressive Jackpots, and our new drSelfRegistration; our flexibility and ability to leverage technology to the benefit of operators and their players shone through. I mentioned earlier the interest in our core systems products, and particularly the marketing benefits to operators through our player tracking and reporting modules. To this end, drSelfRegistration did not go by unnoticed, with many operators interested in the automated ability of drSelfRegistration to not only easily register players and provide them with a selfservice facility to redeem rewards as well as raffle and draw tickets, but also the products ability to assist them in segmenting and targeting core groups of players based on the preferences and interests they selected or detailed when undertaking their self-registration. drSelfRegistration not only provides players with a simple and easy to use interface, but once completed immediately provides operators with valuable insights into these players, in so doing affording them the opportunity to engage, communicate and reward their
players with offers that interest them personally. We have spoken many times of how the general entertainment sector is getting bigger and bigger, and wider and wider, and the fact that gaming operators, and other entertainment service providers, all now compete for a share of a players/customer’s time. As a result, if operators are not able to place the best offer possible in front of a player at a time that he can practically utilise that offer, it is of no value, and simply becomes a frustrating irritant, in so doing having the complete opposite effect of what was intended. We believe our technology assists operators in managing their offers to players better, and as a result assisting them in gaining what we hope will be more than their fair share of a player’s time. Our driving mantra is to always design products using the latest technology, in so doing affording operators the easiest and fastest ways possible to service and reward their players better. We never lose sight of the player; he has to be the primary beneficiary of any new features we add, or products we develop. Our worldleading 8.8” drScreen Ultra player tracking interface and associated ‘tap and play’ technology is a case in point, as are our Jackpots you noted in your question, and our range of player promotions and bonusing offers. Can you expand on the bonusing you refer to, how it works, and of course how it is managed? As I said earlier, and on many previous occasions, we design products that put the player first. What our bonussing does is afford operators the ability to reward all players, or any segment of players at any time, and for any period of time with cash, loyalty points, freeplay or any other form of reward. Our new Charge Bonus is a good example of this. The feature now comes standard, with any number of parameters that allows operators to reward players with free-play as they see fit. The simple and easy to use interface affords operators the ability to decide who gets rewarded with free-play, as well as how individual bonusses are issued, and then also provides the ability to select the way in which the free-play is redeemed, for example: only once the initial buy-in has been played, or perhaps only once the free-play has been played through 5 or 10 times, the options are literally limitless. What is key though is that the operator is afforded the opportunity to easily reward players, and as a result enhance their playing experience. Then with regards to the management of
promotions, we now offer a single Promotions Overview report that provides operators with a single-view of all promotions, split across all reward options: cash, points, vouchers or free-play. In many instances most reporting and promotion tools only allow operators the ability to assess the performance and history of individual promotions, whereas our Promotions Overview report now affords operators the ability to see all, some, or individual promotion performance data segmented across specific players, groups of players, banks of machines, an entire casino floor or an entire casino estate. The value in this is immense, and the ‘dashboard’ report provided by Promotions Overview really does give operators at a local, regional or Head Office level a simple quick and easy snapshot of what is presently being offered to players in terms of rewards, and the ability then to assess the value thereof to both themselves and their players. Looking ahead, and to an extent the past, what would you say has and will define DR Gaming Technology™s ability to gain the sort of traction it currently enjoys in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Carribean, in the Asia-Pacific region too? As I said ahead of G2E Asia 2018, and earlier in this interview, our attendance at this years show at The Venetian, Macao really was to ‘test the waters’. We
enjoyed significant interest in our range of jackpot and systems products, as well as our drSelfRegistration at ICE Totally Gaming in London in February this year, as well as at G2E Las Vegas in October last year, and G2E Asia was the obvious entry point to gauge whether similar interest prevailed in the Asia-Pacific Region. Our interactions with operators at G2E Asia has now assited us in honing our product focus for the region, which encouragingly appears to be following the same trend as our entry into the markets referred to in your question; systems that are flexible, use the latest technology, and firmly place the player first. Our dedicated, and experienced teams of developers in Malta, Belgium, Austria and South Africa design at all times with our ‘Player First’ mantra front of mind, it’s a non-negotiable. Testament to that was the response to our presence at G2E Asia, and the fact that despite our limited exposure to the region to date, (we have undertaken a few installations in Laos, The Phillipines and Vietnam), we were recognised and approached by local operators at the Expo was extremely encouraging, and I believe testament to the legacy we have started to create in the industry globally. We now look forward to growing our presence in the region; however doing so in a manner that ensures we are able to properly support and adequately provide the service and attention operators, and their players, require.
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