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Volume 15 Issue 131

Multi Million Poker Triumph! Image by Joe Giron


CONNECTING INDUSTRY LEADERS AT THE HEART OF GAMING IT ALL STARTS HERE Set yourself up for success at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) – the largest gathering of global, commercial and tribal gaming professionals in North America. Take advantage of new educational content that is actionable and experience first-hand the new products and innovative technologies showcased in the Expo Hall. G2E has everything you need for your casino floor and across your entire operation – from traditional casino fare to sports betting, non-gaming amenities and digital products – G2E is where your business growth is accelerated.

2019

REGISTER TODAY AT: G2E2019.COM/CASINO-LIFE-BINGO-LIFE EDUCATION OCTOBER 14-17 EXPO HALL OCTOBER 15-17 SANDS EXPO, LAS VEGAS


Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

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

Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +44 (0) 7727 969 299 glyn@ace123.com Features Editor:

Damien Connelly

dconnelly@ace123.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey

Editor’s Page Welcome to Casino Life...

Our first visit is to Sihanoukville in Cambodia — specifically to Queenco Hotel & Casino where its Casino Director, Dominick Stenson, chats to Bill Healey about some of the opportunities this fastgrowing market presents. Peter White attended the inaugural Triton London Million Poker Tournament and reports back on a successful event whilst I caught up with TransAct Technologies’ Rashid Suliman and discussed some of TransAct’s cutting edge solutions, including its Epic Edge TITO printer, its Epicentral enterprise software solution and how its Epic 880 has quickly become the default printer in the Sports Betting market. I was at the inaugural ICE Africa event and as the second one

bill@ace123.com

is imminent, I spoke to Dan Tyler, Sen-ior Conference Producer at

Associate Editor North America

and the plans Clarion Gaming has for the future.

David Mckee

Clarion Gaming. Dan explains why the first ICE Africa was so successful David Clifton takes us through some upcoming changes in the

dmckee@ace123.com

UK’s regulatory regime and explains why these changes will result in

Special Assignment

operators having to use more resources to meet the standards ex-

Correspondent: Sophie Behan

sophielbehan@gmail.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent:

Robert Ambrose

pected of licensees by the UK’s Gambling Commission. We draw to a close with a look at the latest installation for Apex Gaming’s Clover Link in Georgia, follow this with how Alphaslot can help you with blockchain. Finally, we end with Damien Connelly who comments on both of these and provides a good round up of the issues we’ve covered in this issue.

r.ambrose16@gmail.com Technology Correspondent:

Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief

Rebecca Green

rebecca@ace123.com

Production:

Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019

Designer: Stewart Hyde

stewart@totaldesignworks.com www.totaldesignworks.com

Subscriptions: Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com

Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree sb@ace123.com

Shining a light on Africa’s gaming ecosystem For more information and to register, visit www.iceafrica.za.com

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Contents 3

Editors page

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Cambodia’s Seaside Casino

Bill Healey chats to Dominick Stenson, Casino Director at Queenco Hotel & Casino 13 Multi Million Poker Triumph! Peter White reports back from the inaugural Triton London Million: A Helping Hand for Charity 17 Quality Control Rashid Suliman, Vice President of Global Gaming in Asia Pacific at TransAct Technologies, Chats to Glyn Thomas 23 ICE Africa 2019

Glyn Thomas chats to Dan Tyler

30 Requiem for Methuselah

By: Victor H Royer

34 Major Customer Interaction Changes Afoot By David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited 39 Peace Casino in Batumi Installs Clover Link from Apex Gaming CLOVER LINK makes a real difference – our customers love it 40 Casino can actually innovate – and win fans

By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot

42 Last Word

By Damien Connelly

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

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Queenco Casino

Cambodia’s Seaside Casino An Interview with Dominick Stenson

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ecent growth in casino development in Cambodia has been phenomenal, particularly in the southern port city of Sihanoukville. In reviewing the latest trends in this formerly sleepy seaside town, we catch-up with Dominick Stenson, Casino Director at Queenco Hotel & Casino.

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Casino Life Magazine published an interview with you back in October 2017. What changes have Queenco experienced during that time? Too many to mention actually. But I will highlight the main changes that have occurred over this period. Firstly we have seen a transformation of the City, from the relatively modest development projects into a construction frenzy of hotels, casinos, apartment complexes, resorts and shopping centres. The landscape and skyline have dramatically changed in the 18 months since your last visit. Regarding the changes at Queenco, we have completed the Casino extension and now have 38 operational tables along with an elegant new VIP room. Besides this we are currently preparing with our Malaysian partner an Online studio within the Casino that will accommodate 16 tables,

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and are looking to be ready for operation within six weeks for the launch of Queenco Online. The new hotel construction adjoining the main building will finally be completed by November this year, 200 new rooms and suites,which will take us to a capacity of 399 as well as space for online offices. Nothing stands still here! I have never seen such a dynamic place. In recent years, the vast majority of government approved casino licenses in Cambodia have been for Sihanoukville. Cranes still dominate the city’s skyline. Has the Sihanoukville casino market been oversaturated? And how does Queenco grow within such a market?


Dominick Stenson, Casino Director at Queenco Hotel & Casino

Has it been over saturated? Quite simply, yes. What happened was the criteria for obtaining a Casino license appeared to be somewhat sketchy and relatively within reach, to say the least. This resulted in many prospective operators looking for a short term gain, knowing that regulation would stiffen and criteria regarding licence issuing would inevitably become more difficult. Many small Casinos opened, some still operating, some changed hands quickly, many failed. Now we are seeing more and more larger scale operations opening and under construction, that have a long term strategy and the financial structure as well as the marketing support to succeed. Queenco has always had a long term strategy and developing the property has been managed in stages as the business increased, no gimmicks, no excessive rebates, just a very good reliable product and good service to match. Emphasis on giving the clients a safe and secure environment with excellent supporting facilities, bars, restaurants, night club, beach club to name a few. What is the mix of nationalities coming into Queenco? Do many come on their own, or are they most often part of a junket? To quote my comments in 2017 ‘there are now several flights per week from China’. Well there are now

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approximately 20+ flights from China per day! Including 2-3 per day from Macao. Vietnam and Malaysia flights are still servicing Sihanoukville daily and Bangkok direct flights started one week ago with JC Airlines. Air Asia will also commence direct flights from Bangkok at the end of July. Junkets are a big slice of the numbers, but the opportunities available here are seeing many wealthy individuals and groups arriving here looking to invest. At present the predominant nationality coming to Sihanoukville are Chinese. This will not change. In fact the numbers will increase as construction is completed and the properties open, as most are Chinese owned. But saying that, Malaysians have a large presence here and more and more Indonesians and Vietnamese are discovering the many business opportunities up for offer, gaming related and other. A 1996 law forbids Cambodians from gambling. Is there an effort to relax laws? I haven’t heard that this law will be relaxed. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Vietnamese model introduced at some later stage.

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What are the predominant social marketing platforms used by Queenco? Database communication is overwhelmingly Wechat. This is the preferred method of contact and we also promote locally to our Asian customers via Wechat, particularly our slot draws and jackpots. Are cashless payment methods such as Alipay, WeChat Pay, or others accepted by the casino? What are the most common methods for Queenco guests to access more cash? We do not accept Alipay or Wechat Pay for gaming purposes although it is widely used in other areas of the hotel. For those who are fortunate to have a winning visit, are there issues for them in sending funds back out? How easy is the process to send funds from their wins in Cambodia back to their home country (if they wish to)? What are their options? How they get their winnings back to their home country is something we are not involved in and frankly they never request it. Many leave on deposit for future play while local investment opportunities perhaps find a home for their winnings in many cases. Have you faced challenges in Sihanoukville that you may not have faced in the other markets you’ve worked in? As I said earlier, it is such a dynamic place that the infrastructure in Sihanoukville is struggling to keep up with the pace of construction. This has resulted in many challenges that are only now starting to be addressed. On the gaming side, having to compete with unrealistic rolling commission rates that are head scratching, but designed to lure floating punters that soon find out it’s not quite what it seems. What do you see for Queenco for the foreseeable future? I mentioned in the earlier 2017 article about the planned project on the nine hectares of front line beach land in Otres Beach. This is still on schedule to break ground early 2020 with the resort having 2000+ rooms and suites, shopping centre, conference centre, condominiums and of course a Casino. This major project will be Queenco’s foreseeable future. Casino Life Magazine appreciates the insights Dominick Stenson provides on the rapidly expanding casino market in seaside Sihanoukville.

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Professional Poker Player, Aaron Zang

Multi Million Poker Triumph! Peter White reports back from the inaugural Triton London Million: A Helping Hand for Charity

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illions of pounds on the line and an iconic London location combined to make this a legendary event. It can only be the 2019 Triton London Million with the Super High Roller Series taking up residence for the first time in London at the Mayfair Hilton Hotel London. The event required a buy-in of £1.05 million, the most ever for a poker tournament, from which £50,000

per person went to charity. With 54 entrants, the total prize pool weighed in at £54 million, and was originally scheduled to pay its winner £19 million. However with two players left, Zang, 37, arranged a deal with his final opponent, Bryn Kenney, from Long Island, New York, to split the remaining prizes. At that point, Kenney had four times as many chips as Zang and so took the most money: £16,890,509 to Zang’s £13,779,491.

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Professional Poker Player, Jason Koon

But Zang, with shaking hands and a racing heart, was able to overcome the imbalance in chips and experience, and won two crucial hands to clinch the title and the trophy. “Miracles happen,” an emotional Zang said, as he became the first Chinese player to win on the Triton Series. “I didn’t think you were that good,” joked Triton cofounder Paul Phua as he handed the trophy to his old friend Zang. Kenney cannot be too disappointed. The 32-year-old’s payday was the biggest ever awarded to a poker player in tournament history, even if he is officially the runnerup. His near £17 million ($20.5 million) prize sent him to the top of poker’s all-time money list, leapfrogging his countryman Justin Bonomo. It took Kenney’s career winnings to more than $55 million, more than $30 million of which has come this year. Kenney’s spectacular

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run has included huge scores in Australia, South Korea, Montenegro and now London. “I wanted the trophy but it’s the biggest win that anybody’s ever had, number one on the all-time money list, what can I complain about?” Kenney said. “It’s incredible.” Eight players remained at the start of play on the final day, including three other players - Dan Smith, of the United States, Stephen Chidwick, of the UK, and Canadian Timothy Adams - who also could have become the leading money earner in world poker had they won. But Adams was knocked out in eighth, and Kenney then eliminated both the other two, with Chidwick falling in fourth and earning £4.41 million, and Smith knocked out in third, taking £7.2 million. The tournament was open only to a select group of recreational poker players extended an invitation by


Triton, who could then bring one guest—a professional poker player—with them to play. Both Chidwick and Smith were joined at the final by their businessman partners, although Alfred DeCarolis (Chidwick’s partner) was knocked out in seventh, for £1.72 million, and Bill Perkins (Smith’s partner) went out in sixth, for £2.2 million. The overnight chip leader Vivek Rajkumah perished in fifth. Zang played in the businessmen side of the draw, and admitted on several occasions that he was not as skilled as the players he outlasted in the tournament. “This shows that anyone can win,” Phua said, encouraging more recreational players to take up poker. Zang said he is more comfortable playing cash games than tournaments, but may change his mind after this result. “The tournament has been a great success, even more amazing than we could possibly have hoped,” said Triton co-founder Richard Yong. “Not only have we made headlines across the world, thanks to the record-breaking prize money, but we have also raised at least £2.7 million for some of the most deserving charities across the globe.” He added: “Inside and outside the poker community, everyone has been watching the tournament this week and we’ve shown just what’s possible for this game we all love. Aaron is a very worthy winner. He’s a great player, a great guy, and we are delighted that he has become the champion of the biggest tournament in poker history.” See Triton website for a full recap of the day’s action

Triton Poker was founded in 2015 by the Malaysian businessman, philanthropist and poker lover, Richard Yong, who felt there was a gap in the market for an exclusive tournament series for affluent businesspeople and high-end professional poker players set in some of the most luxurious locations in the world all in the name of charity. Funds from Triton Poker events have helped charitable organisations such as Project Pink and the Red Cross.

CHARITABLE CAUSES Triton Poker supports the following charities: • Caring for Children Foundation • REG: Raising for Effective Giving • Healthy Hong Kong • Credit One World Charity Foundation • One Drop • Malaysia Red Crescent Society • Sarawak Cancer Society • Miri Dialysis Centre Our partners Les Ambassadeurs is one of the most prestigious private clubs and casinos in London, with a history dating from the early 19th century. Situated in the heart of London’s exclusive Mayfair district, it is formerly the favoured gambling destination of Victorian aristocracy and diplomats and is still one of the most elegant and stylish casino floors in the world. partypoker LIVE was created in January 2017 as a

FULL PAYOUT INFORMATION Triton Million for Charity Dates: August 1-3, 2019 Buy-in: £1.05 million Players: 54 Prize-pool: £54 million

global poker tour, with the aim of bringing large field, high guarantee tournaments to players all over the world. Within just 12 months the partypoker LIVE tour has grown into the world’s largest ever poker tour and is guaranteeing over $70,000,000 in the 2018/2019 season.

1 - Aaron Zang, China, £13,779,791* 2 - Bryn Kenney, United States, £16,890,509* 3 - Dan Smith, United States, £7.2 million 4 - Stephen Chidwick, UK, £4.41 million

All the action from the Triton Million for Charity is available to watch on the Triton website.

5 - Vivek Rajkumar, India, £3 million 6 - Bill Perkins, United States, £2.2 million 7 - Alfred DeCarolis, United States, £1.72 million 8 - Timothy Adams, Canada, £1.4 million 9 - Wai Leong Chan, China, £1.2 million 10 - Chin Wei Lim, China, £1.1 million 11 - Winfred Yu, Hong Kong, £1.1 million

English: Lex Veldhuis, Randy Lew, Nick Schulman, Ali Nejad and Jeff Gross. Chinese: Chen An Lin, Haoxiang Wang, and MuMu Russian: Mikhail Semin Danish: Rasmus Nielsen Norwegian: Kjetil Flåten and Erik Bjørdal Click for full broadcast details

COMMENTARY TEAM:

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TransAct’s team for the Asian region includes Rashid Suliman (right), who serves as the Vice President of Global Gaming for Asia-Pacific and Kit Leong, who works as the Technical Sales Manager in Macau

Quality Control Rashid Suliman, Vice President of Global Gaming in Asia Pacific at TransAct Technologies, Chats to Glyn Thomas

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How was G2E Asia for TransAct Technologies as this year you were displaying your premium line of gaming products, which include the Epic 950®, Epic Edge™, Epicentral® and Epic 880®? TransAct had a wonderful turnout at G2E Asia. We appreciate the opportunity to gather in Macau each year to visit our clients in the region and to regroup with our gaming team in this exciting city. We received a lot of positive feedback on our products, especially the Epic Edge TITO printer. The “Edge” is the most advanced casino printer on the market, and attendees were very impressed with its razor-sharp barcodes and its ability to replicate an unlimited array of characters of multiple languages. TRANSACT debuted this year the Epic Edge™ TITO printer. What are its primary features and how does it compare against the alternatives? We always strive to set the bar high, and the Epic Edge is no exception as it is the industry’s most advanced casino printer. Featuring an unmatched 300 DPI print resolution, the “Edge” delivers over twofold of improvement in image quality over current printers in the market. More efficient than ever, the firmware’s update port has been upgraded to USB and a micro SD card slot allows for quick and easy firmware updates. Additional unique features include a single rugged outer chassis with Serial and USB ports and a faster ServerPort™ connection. Environmentally conscious, the “Edge” is packed with an adjustable ticket bucket that accommodates standard tickets and smaller, paper-saving tickets. This feature is perfectly designed to reduce paper usage and save money in concert with the ecologic programs being implemented in casinos. What is TransAct Technologies’ strategy and market share in Asia Pacific? Due to the geographic size of the Asian Pacific region, our strategy here is a little different. We recently appointed regional sales partners who could focus on their

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local market and give customers the best possible sales and tech support. In addition to having our sales reps visiting customers to cultivate the TransAct experience, we have found that supplementing this with local partners who know their customers’ needs is much more efficient. As such, we recently signed agreements with Asia Pioneer Entertainment (APE) in Macau and The Bright Group (TBG) in Australia to serve as our partners. Products-wise, we have noticed an increased demand for loyalty products throughout Asia. As such, we plan to integrate the Epicentral software system with the region’s major systems providers to provide a seamless coupon and loyalty experience for the casino operators. Epicentral – through two distinct offerings – creates unmatched in-casino promotion and bonus offerings in concert with the Epic printers installed in the gaming devices and at tables throughout the casino. Our system is the gaming industry’s only enterpriselevel promotion and bonusing software suite that can target customers in real-time with unique, customdesigned coupons. Designed to deliver casino revenue


growth, Epicentral has successfully driven increased game play, time on device and player loyalty for more than six years and it is the natural choice for operators looking to implement printed ticket bonuses on their gaming floors. The next major exhibition for you is the Australian Gaming Expo. How is planning going for this year’s show and what are the products you have planned for the booth? We are very pleased to attend AGE once again and to demonstrate why TransAct remains a competitive force in

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the industry. Our main goal is to promote the Epic Edge, since in addition to being the most advanced casino printer, it is also flexible to work in other industries. The Pub and Club market in some states of Australia are still relatively new to TITO, so there are major growth opportunities for the Epic Edge as regulations are approved. We also plan to increase our visibility with Epicentral, the only field-proven enterprise software solution that allows the casino operator to get more out of their ticket printers than a cash out voucher across the entire casino floor.


TransAct’s Epic 880 will definitely be a highlight at AGE, as it is the preferred roll printer that is incorporated into all the leading sports betting kiosks. Additional displays include the Epic 430, which is used in kiosk applications and the Epic 3000, the chosen printer in countless lottery jurisdictions around the world. Most importantly, we also look forward to reconnecting with our colleagues and business contacts which include casinos, manufacturers and systems companies. We always welcome feedback and use it to keep us ahead of the curve as we create and improve our products. Epic 950 is internationally highly regarded as the benchmark in TITO printing. How is the take up in Australia and New Zealand for this product? TransAct is globally known in the casino sector for the industry leading Epic 950 TITO printer, and it is no exception in Australia and New Zealand. The Epic 950 is the industry standard in TITO printing and currently installed in over 750,000 slots throughout hundreds of casinos and gaming operations worldwide. This industry award-winner is casino-tested, and casino-preferred and has proven itself time and time again as it continues to win a growing following of fans with its robustness and reliability. How is the growth of TransAct Technologies products in regions such as The Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia? TransAct is making steady strides in Asia, most notably

to our portfolio of customers in the region. G2E Las Vegas also comes around really quickly after AGE so can we expect to see the Epic 880 that has proven so popular and has rapidly become the default printer used in the Sports betting market? We will absolutely display the Epic 880 at G2E Las Vegas, and we’re eager to show why it’s the most reliable and industry-leading printer in established sports betting markets world-wide. The printer is conveniently compact, yet loaded with big-time features and functionality, like a hefty 8MB of RAM. Additionally, the easy-open Epic 880 can be configured to any available space, thanks to its clever modular design. The printer is used extensively across gaming sectors where the most dependable, robust product is required, including a recent launch in a DraftKings Sportsbook center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. TransAct looks forward to continuing to lead the path in this exciting gaming sector as the number of jurisdictions approving sports betting expands in the United States. Is there anything else you would like to add? Our gaming team will be at AGE’s stand 365 and would love to talk through TransAct’s range of products to anyone who wants to stop by. For more information, visit transact-tech.com.

with Macau driving a strong demand as the majority of the operators in the region continue to update their floors with the newest games, including their choice of the Epic 950 TITO printer. One of our most recent installations in the market includes the Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc Vietnam, which opened its doors with the Epic 950 printers exclusively in all their slots and ETGs. Additionally, the casino chose the table top version of the Epic 950 printers throughout their cage and back of house areas. The Philippines remains a rising market for TransAct as we break into new accounts and grow our market share in the country in both casino and non-casino markets. Upcoming new casino openings throughout Asia offer us the opportunity to add new business

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ICE Africa 2019

Glyn Thomas chats to Clarion Gaming Senior Conference Producer Dan Tyler What are your thoughts on ICE Africa 2018 and the postshow feedback? ICE Africa 2018 exceeded expectations not only as a launch event, but as the first branching out of the ICE brand and becoming the benchmark leader for African gaming. With a target of 1200 for the inaugural first show, we saw 1500 + through the door on day one. The conference was packed out with attendees keen to learn more about pan-African gaming and how to harness the potential of such a new and fast-paced market. It was incredible to see such positive feedback from visitors, exhibitors and speakers who are all looking forward to the second edition, ICE Africa 2019. What is the audience make-up expected to be at ICE Africa 2019 for exhibitors looking to meet and network with visitors at the event?

I think exhibitors can expect to see more visitors through the door with a land-based presence. We aim to grow the event by bringing a broader range of attendees that focus on a wider variety of gaming verticals as well as attracting delegates from more nations throughout Africa and the rest of the world. With 70% of attendees at last year’s event coming from parts of Africa, exhibitors can expect an increase in pan-African presence. What’s new from a content perspective in this year’s conference programme? For every event Clarion runs we aim to refresh the content bringing new topics, debates and speakers to the fore and ICE Africa 2019 will be no different. This year’s event will feature a range of sessions across a number of different gaming verticals that tackle new and critical issues surrounding the regulation, operation and

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perception of the gambling industry. We’ve also listened to our attendees who have stressed to us the importance of networking at our events. This year we will be incorporating networking opportunities

opportunity for business to get in front of investors and get noticed.

into the agenda through a series of round-table discussions available for each gaming territory in Africa. This will give our attendees the opportunity to get closer to key stakeholders in the African gaming industry, to ask questions, be heard and get answers. In addition, in line with our aims to make the event PanAfrican, we’re introducing francophone sessions dedicated to French-speaking regions in the continent. These sessions will focus specifically on francophone territories and will be supported by translators and dedicated networking opportunities for attendees interested in learning from and meeting with key stakeholders in those regions. Lastly, I’m very excited to announce that, following its success in London and North America, PitchICE will make its debut at this year’s event. With innovative start-ups across Africa looking for their path to entry into the gaming industry, PitchICE will provide an invaluable

regards to mobile and sports betting? Mobile and sports betting are seeing considerable growth across a number of jurisdictions in Africa and are key drivers supporting the development of the African gaming industry, as well as a number of other markets. With this in mind, although retail still dominates revenue in many jurisdictions, it is an exciting time for mobile and sports betting and this growth is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond. Broadly speaking, a large proportion of the African population had their first experience of the internet via their mobile without going through the desktop stage. This, tied in with a sports obsessed youthful population that is growing increasingly tech savvy, has proved to be an ideal fit for the sports betting industry with innovative products having great reach to customers across the fastest growing mobile market. Having said that, for all the promise of mobile and

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What are the latest growth predictions in Africa with


sports betting, the recent regulation changes in Kenya, the continent’s leading mobile market, has cast a shadow of doubt about whether the rapid growth seen by mobile markets in recent years is socially and economically sustainable. With advertising bans followed by the recent refusal to renew operations licenses for 13 casinos, six lotteries and eight betting firms while long-term regulation measures are being considered, it is clear that over-exposure to gaming has caught up with the Kenyan market. For mobile and sports betting to continue flourishing in Kenya and other jurisdictions in Africa, the industry

must learn from the tough lessons that more mature markets in Europe and the rest of the world have already experienced. It is important that regulation is modernised in line with the latest technologies and that responsible advertising is taken seriously to protect players and to prevent severe clamp downs from regulators. This will be a big part of the discussion at ICE Africa and hopefully the event will help to progress the sustainability of local markets on the continent. For those whom are considering exhibiting at ICE Africa, what are the key facts about this show and what are the

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As mentioned earlier, iGaming and sports betting are certainly seeing their time in the sun and, with online and mobile betting key drivers in the African region at the moment, it is understandable that that is reflected

gaming event that brings together over 24 African nations under one roof to share and compare ideas and strategies, essentially accelerating our industry’s growth and delivering a platform of opportunity for the African gaming

in the exhibitors that are currently participating at ICE Africa. However, all ICE events, Africa included, aim to be all encompassing for the whole of the gaming industry and the land-based sector makes up a significant portion of this. With a number of sessions featured within the conference at this year’s event focusing on the land-based sector – looking at the future of the casino floor, the role of IR in Africa as well as introducing a hospitality element to explore how technology is improving the customer experience at brick and mortar sites – there are plenty of reasons for manufacturers and suppliers in the land-based sector to get involved at ICE Africa 2019!

economy.

Are there any additional reasons why ICE Africa should be on everyone’s must visit list for 2019? ICE Africa should be on all African gaming professionals’ ‘must visit’ list because we brought the event to Sandton, with African businesses in mind. There is no other African

We’ll constantly be updating both with new content, speaker, sponsor and exhibitor announcements and maybe one or two surprise additions at this year’s event. The website is also where interested attendees can register for this year’s conference and exhibition, for FREE!

Can you provide details for those interested in finding out more about ICE Africa 2019? The best way of keeping up with developments on ICE Africa 2019 and finding out more about this year’s event is to keep an eye on our website at https://www.iceafrica. za.com and our social media accounts. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICEAfricaGaming/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/iceafricaza Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/iceafrica/

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primary reasons you believe prospective exhibitors should take the plunge and get a booth at this year’s show? ICE Africa launched last year with resounding success, representing 24 African nations and 89 worldwide. The event has proven itself as the leading exhibition where the industry can meet, network, share best practices, and explore the very latest gaming innovations. Last year, 70% of attendees were from Africa and 82% of attendees had direct power or influence over the buying process demonstrating that the event is able to attract a targeted audience of gaming influencers. With this in mind, exhibiting at ICE Africa provides the perfect forum for companies looking to either develop their existing business in the region or for those

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looking to bring their brands into a continent full of exciting and growing markets. As well as the networking opportunities available throughout the exhibition, the conference content delivered at ICE Africa, free of charge, will give attendees a head start in the region by offering insight into the regulatory environment as well as exploring the opportunities available to those looking to grow their business. So far most of the exhibitors are involved in the iGaming Sector. Do you foresee greater representation in the years ahead from manufacturers and suppliers to the land-based sector at ICE Africa?


Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019

Shining a light on Africa’s gaming ecosystem

For more information and to register, visit www.iceafrica.za.com


Victor H. Royer

T

Requiem for Methuselah By: Victor H Royer

his year’s G2E will be my 36th year in gaming. A lot of chips across the table, and coins in the slot over these past many years … It’s usually around this time in one’s life when the concept of “the Good Old days” starts to mean something. Perhaps reminiscences, or perhaps nostalgia, or perhaps just the memory of a much younger me being involved in all the things that a much younger me was mostly always up to, back then. Some of the “good old days” were, indeed, good … and others, well, perhaps not so good. And some, as life is most apt to do, were pretty awful, to tell the truth. But the good thing about getting older is the pleasure of forgetting many of those terrible things, and sometimes – like now –

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remembering the better ones. Those truly “good old days.” Perhaps I can add: “of yore,” although the casino may not be the most appropriate place for Shakespeare. As we approach this year’s G2E, there’s always anticipation of what we’re likely to see, in gaming innovations, casino operations, marketing, the business of gaming, and everything in between. Undoubtedly, as is always the case, there will be a smattering of each, and then some. I’m pretty sure most of us kind of “know” what to expect, especially those among us who have been down this rabbit hole before, and experienced the gaming equivalent of Alice in Wonderland. But one thing I know that won’t be there – are comfortable machines and games.


Over the past two-plus decades or so, manufacturers seem to be hell-bent on creating cabinets which are so horrendously uncomfortable to sit in and play that it’s directly related to attrition in time on device (TOD), as well as the lackluster performance of many gaming titles. These so-called “designs” may look pretty on the graphic-design screen, and even look pretty in the test labs, and in the showrooms, but are entirely draconian when used by real players in the actual casino! I’m not going to single out any one specific OEM, but all of them are guilty of at least some of their portfolio falling into this horrible category. So, what’s wrong with them? Plenty. Most of all is the actual design. These cabinets have protruding “lips” – kind of like slant-tops – which force players to sit there very uncomfortably, their legs wedged underneath where it’s hot, and gets hotter the longer the player sits there. Furthermore the buttons on this “lip” are usually way too big, which makes them unresponsive, and they break down so often that it’s a nightmare trying to play these games. And the casinos don’t fix anything anymore, and so the players are stuck in a terribly uncomfortable position, often forced to lean forward putting added stress on their lumbar region, and then forced to use these horrible buttons to try and get the game to work, and all the time having their legs and feet stuck under this hell-hole of a hot place where the machine’s electronics simply cook the player’s legs like an oven! To combat this the casinos are usually so freezing cold that no normal human being can stand being there for any length of time, and this is forcing players to bring heavy

the seemingly total lack of understanding of their players’ needs. First is the noise – and I don’t mean the noise from the machines themselves, which is also a problem, especially on those that don’t have player-control volume adjustors and always seem to be set to max-volume by the installers! What I mean about “casino noise” is the overhead music which all casinos now play at volumes that are higher than the sound of a jet engine, and – when exposed to a decibel reader – are significantly higher than the Federal Maximum Standards for permanent hearing loss. Not only are these casino operators endangering their employees with this barrage of overhead speaker noise – but perhaps more importantly to their bottom line – these casinos are literally blasting their casino players away from their machines and table games, and out of their casino! This is a chronic problem in the casinos of today, and one that needs to be curtailed. And quickly. This kind of noise-pollution is equally as bad as smoking, and causes equally as many problems, not the least of which is the loss of huge amounts of money to the casino because people who actually have the money to spend on slots and table games will NOT play there, or, at the very least, will not play there for very long! Some of the worst offenders in recent times are several of the so-called “newly-remodeled” casinos in Las Vegas, including some Downtown, on the Strip, and among the off-the-strip properties, often referred to as “local’s” casinos (although many of them now seem to want to cater more to the tourists than the locals, and as a result are making their properties into nightmares of noise instead of comfortable

coats into the casino even when it’s 110 degrees outside! This kind of design directly costs the manufacturers and operators a decline of some 80% in TOD for these kinds of games. A player who would gladly sit there and play for – say – an hour, now can stand it for barely 10 minutes before being forced to leave just to retain some semblance of comfort. Most players like to lean back in their chair, put their feet up on the cabinets either side of the machine, and then comfortably reach for the buttons on the small lip of the cabinet to operate the controls. But this requires a smaller machine that sits on a cabinet which is the right height, and

casinos in which actual casino players want to play!) I was in one of these casinos just a few days ago, to handle some things that I needed to address, and it was a horrible nightmare! I stood not more than 6” away from the employee with whom I was speaking, and we both had to shout at the top of our voices, and still couldn’t hear each other over the blasting noise from the overhead speakers! And this was on the casino floor!! As you might imagine most of the casino was empty, and very few people were playing the slots and table games. And I don’t blame them one bit. I couldn’t wait to get out of there! It was SO noisy and SO uncomfortable that it is – to

chairs which are at least 3” higher than those now used with uprights, and, generally, an understanding from OEM’s and operators how players actually use these devices in the real casino, instead of relying only on tests and data-dumps. Which brings me to some gripes about the way casino operators are now treating their casino customers – and

my mind – an absolute disgrace! I understand why this seemed like a good idea to the corporation that did this to that casino, and to others as well. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars on – supposedly – improvements, but what they managed to do instead is to turn a nice place to play into a noisy dump. At

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least from the casino-player’s perspective. I am aware that these corporations think this is a great idea – in order to appeal to the “younger crowd” – those who like to have their brain-cells blasted into oblivion with endlessly-thumping Crap Music garbage (I know it’s called “Rap” but I prefer to spell it with a “C”). But these are NOT the people who spend money in the casino! These are people who come to the raves, to the nightclub, to the pool, and then leave. They will NOT spend enough money to warrant this kind of corporate monetary waste. These 21-29 year-olds are not your casino’s “bread and

than that, complaints from casino players who actually have the money to spend, and whom OEM’s and casino operators are now driving out of the casino because of these insidious and downright idiotic practices! And so, as I sit here 36 years into my casino lifestyle, I fondly remember times when casino operators and game manufacturers actually understood the casino players, and made an environment where the PLAYER was King, and all comfort was provided for them. Today, however, or so it seems to me, the exact opposite is the case. Neither OEM’s nor operators appear interested in the casino, or the casino player, and, as such, and directly because of this, casino and machine revenue is dropping.

butter.” They will go to your place to “party” and wreck your rooms, your casinos, your bars and your clientele, drive away your casino players, and leave you with – at best – a 1% profit margin (on a good day). And even the 30-45 year-olds aren’t much of a bargain for you either. They are too busy with jobs, wives, husbands, student debts, mortgages, kids, and so on. They might come a few times just to “get away from it all” but they certainly don’t want to play in a casino where they are not only frozen like some slabs of meat in a meat-locker, but also being bashed on the head with a sledgehammer from the pounding overhead music! Whose play-lists are usually equally as bad as this concept in the first place! Your casino’s “bread and butter” are the 50+ year olds. They are the ones with the money, and they all HATE these kinds of conditions. Uncomfortable machines. Freezing cold casinos. Noisy casinos with terrible music being blasted way too loud. And so on. Many more. Dozens, and even more

And so – to make it up – the House-hold on these games is being squeezed ever tighter. So much so that most of today’s machines hold 16% or 18% or even more for the House, making them all but unplayable. It’s all a vicious cycle, and if you – the OEM’s and casino operators – don’t wise up soon, you will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs: The Casino Players. And what will you have left? Shopping Malls, Parks, Sports Arenas, ugly buildings that look like New York Banks instead of casinos, and well – that’s it. Now you’ll have to support your $20 billion in debt with a non-gaming operation that makes less than 1% profit on a good day, because you killed the 40% profit center which the casino always generated. And all because you – the OEM’s and operators – appear to be just too dense, or too far removed from the real-world of casino players, to actually understand the business in which you are, and how to do it right.

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David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

Major Customer Interaction Changes Afoot By: David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

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hen I started acting for the UK casino industry in the early 1980s, a very

different gambling regulatory regime was in force than that applicable today. In the late 1970s, the Royal Commission on Gambling had summarised its general beliefs “about the aims and proper limits of legal control over gambling in a society such as ours” as being “to interfere as little as possible with individual liberty to take part in the various forms of gambling but to recommend the imposition or continuance of such restrictions as are desirable and practicable to discourage socially damaging excesses and to prevent the incursion of crime into gambling”. Life for casino operators was more straightforward then. The prime restriction at that time was the so-called “demand test”, designed to uphold the unstimulated demand principle that served to limit the number of casinos and betting shops. Customer interactions were, by and large, represented by

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welcome greetings delivered by casino staff to customers on arrival, the provision of such hospitality as was then allowed during customers’ visits and, in some cases, dialogue (including within the courtroom) when customers’ cheques were not met on presentation. I think it fair to say that concern about problem gambling issues did not feature high on the agenda back in those days and, at a time before Money Laundering Regulations arrived on the scene, discussion between senior casino management and their customers was more focused on “is he good for the money?” than “is his money good?”. In no way do I intend those remarks to be a criticism of those who operated casinos in those days or to imply that no duty of care whatsoever was extended to customers who were clearly over-indulging in gambling activity. It was just how things were then, in the absence of specific social responsibility requirements of the type we know all too well now. In 2001, the authors of the Gambling Review Body Report (otherwise known as the Budd Report) stated:


“Our proposals generally move in the direction of allowing greater freedom for the individual to gamble in ways, at times and in places than is permitted under current legislation. This move to greater freedom is balanced by rather tighter controls on the freedom of young people to gamble and by some tighter controls over those who provide gambling services”. Thus it was that the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (“LCCP”) came into being when the Gambling Act 2005 came into force in 2007. In terms of “tighter controls”, the LCCP introduced the social responsibility code provisions with which all UK casino operators are now very familiar. The first edition of the LCCP in 2007 required licence holders to “implement policies and procedures for customer interaction where they have concerns that a customer’s behaviour may indicate problem gambling”. It went on to identify what should be included in those policies in terms of such matters as identification of the appropriate level of management who may initiate customer interaction and the circumstances in which consideration should be given to refusing service to customers and/or barring them from the operator’s gambling premises. Seven years later, the Commission published proposals to update the customer interaction requirement to make clear that operators’ policies and procedures “must make specific provision for identifying customers potentially experiencing harm but who are not displaying overt physical behaviours”. It also proposed specific provision in relation to customers designated by operators as ‘high value’, ‘VIP’ or the equivalent.

considerably less prescriptive and much more outcomesfocused than the current version. It states as follows:

Those proposals were duly implemented and resulted in LCCP Social Responsibility Code provision 3.4.1 and Ordinary Code provision 3.4.2 as we know them today. However, those customer interaction provisions are going to fundamentally change on 31 October 2019. When launching a fresh customer interaction consultation in February this year, the Gambling Commission flagged up concern regarding what it perceived to be (a) failures by operators to identify activity which could indicate that a customer is experiencing harms associated with gambling, (b) failures to interact promptly or effectively when a customer exhibits indicators of harm and (c) little or no attempt by operators to monitor activity when an interaction has taken place, understand the impact of the interactions or evaluate the effectiveness of their policies and procedures. In order to address those concerns, the replacement SR Code provision 3.4.1, coming into force on 31 October, is

can demonstrate how and why implementing alternative solutions equally meet those three key outcomes. The 14-page guidance is essential reading material for all UK casino operators. They should not wait until the end of October before they read it. They really must absorb it now and I very strongly recommend that they also start planning immediately to ensure that they will have fully implemented the recommendations within the Commission’s guidance in their policies, procedures and practices before the 31 October deadline. This will take time because, for example, the guidance makes clear that reliance should not be placed on financial indicators, trigger points and thresholds alone, because – amongst other things – they do not adequately address the issue of customer affordability. Operators will need to establish what open source data can help them assess affordability for their own customer base and thereby improve their risk assessment for customer interactions.

1. Licensees must interact with customers in a way which minimises the risk of customers experiencing harms associated with gambling. This must include: a. identifying customers who may be at risk of or experiencing harms associated with gambling b. interacting with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing harms associated with gambling c. understanding the impact of the interaction on the customer, and the effectiveness of the Licensee’s actions and approach. 2. Licensees must take into account the Commission’s guidance on customer interaction. The existing ordinary code provision 3.4.2 will disappear. Two versions of the Commission’s customer interaction guidance have just been published on its website. One is for remote operators but, for the purposes of this article, I will focus on the version that has been produced “for premisesbased operators”, although common to both are the three key outcomes that the Commission expects operators to meet, namely to “identify”, “interact” and “evaluate” along the lines set out at (a), (b) and (c) in the new SR code provision set out above. The Commission’s guidance explains how this can be achieved, although it makes the point that it is open to operators to take a different approach as long as they

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They will also need to adopt a range of indicators that are appropriate for their own particular business in order to better identify customers who may be experiencing harms. The guidance will help them in that respect. In addition, the need to prepare and provide staff training on how to comply with the new requirements must not be forgotten. Inevitably, another major consequence of the forthcoming LCCP change is that even more resources (both human and technological) will need to be applied if the three key outcomes are going to be achieved to the standard that the Commission expects. It all sounds very daunting, but operators should note that the guidance (a) lists a series of questions that they should pose to themselves and (b) itemises what the Commission expects its licensees to do in order to achieve compliance. Other useful resources are the “Safer gambling healthcheck” and “Affordability and customer protection” sections included within the Commission’s “Raising Standards for Consumers Enforcement Report”, published in June and also available on the Commission’s website. On the subject of enforcement, successive public statements dating back to 2013, published by the Gambling Commission following enforcement action against licensed

operators, have emphasised that effective customer interactions constitute an essential aspect of ensuring that commercial imperatives do not “crowd out” management of regulatory risk. The ever-mounting fines imposed on, and financial penalties incurred by, those found to have committed anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings should provide a sufficient warning of what will happen if operators do not sufficiently take into account the Commission’s customer interaction guidance with effect from 31 October. My final comment picks up on the Gambling Commission’s constant call for greater collaboration. In my view, this is a prime example of a situation where all UK casino operators should share examples of best practice and effective conduct of customer interactions. That collaboration should not only be with each other but also with other sectors within the gambling industry. If I can bring anything to the party in this respect too, you know where to find me!

dc@cliftondavies.com www.cliftondavies.com

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Casino can actually innovate – and win fans

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By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot

e believe casino gaming, and more broadly the casino entertainment value, should be appreciated like all other entertainment modes on the internet age today — interactively, securely, globally, and responsibly. However, there is a disconnection between the casino operators and game makers. Casinos are not having the ability to make games on their own desire, thus limiting the interaction with players directly on the casino floor. At the same time, casino operators invested in expensive buildings to attract customers and created loyalty programs which is costly to maintain, but ultimately customers require good games to play, to stay, and to return again. The numbers are telling. Thanks for the expensive investment on marketing and the building of new attractions by the casinos, 42.9 million customers visit Las Vegas and 32 million more coming to Macau creating 129 billion revenue for over 2,000 casinos worldwide, but the spending on the casino floors have dropped from 70% in 1990 to less than 35% in recent years.

New technology – the driving force for innovations Thanks for newly available technology, there are opportunities for casinos to turn things around. Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain are two topics which are

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Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot

causing a great deal of hype and excitement, not just in the technology circle but in the wider business world, too. The idea that putting them together could result in theory, a trustful and secure new layer of data processed by “smart” machines in the IoT. We do have a lot of potential “smart” machines on our casino floors that generates millions of data (and revenue) every second. We are just missing a trustful layer between operators and game makers. Digital assets (in-app avatars and accessories purchase) is now the leading revenue generator from new gamers in eSport and casual games, it is not happening on the casino floors yet because of the disconnection between the game makers and the casino operators as explained earlier. A blockchain powered general ledger can help the situation by recording the ownership of the digital assets and connecting them to the “smart” gaming machines on the casino floor. The new system will directly bridge casinos and customers for increasing incentive to play on the casino floors, and for a longer time as they do in eSport and modern casual games these days. In principle, it makes a lot of sense and there are several clear advantages to the idea. Firstly, casino can offer unique digital accessories on blockchain to players that aren’t available for direct sales. The “smart contract” facilities provided by some blockchain networks, such as Ethereum, allow the creation of agreements which will be executed when conditions are met. This is likely to be highly useful when it comes to, for example, authorizing


one game to make a reaction to the digital avatars, creating compulsion and additional in-game boosts to enhance the gaming experience for new generation customers.

Secondly, players will be better equipped with more control while playing, allowing in-game strategy and potentially position themselves with higher chances of winning (in selected jurisdictions). These features will engage players for longer time-on-device and drive up revenue from the casino floors. Thirdly, as the blockchain and IoT infrastructure becomes mature and widely used, the system offers the potential of greatly improving the overall security of the

environment. The new layer will also create access for the regulators to promo responsible gambling and AML, for game designer to tap into new sources of information of their players, for casino operators to expand reach on their customers via CRM, for technology companies to innovate in presently unimaginable ways, and for gaming values to grow exponentially. Every new ecosystem starts with a chicken-and-theegg problem: the supply won’t join the system unless there’s a demand. And, demand is challenging to prove without real supply. As the gamers data are encrypted and anonymous on the blockchain, casinos are more willing to open the customer gateway with game makers for product improvement. Both casino operators and game makers are now able to offer digital assets for gamers to acquire, making them to stay longer on their games and increase revenue for both game makers and casino operators. These unique characteristics present new business opportunities for the industry to compete with upstarts. As this ecosystem flourished with newly available technology, efficiencies increased, greater returns achieved, and experiences improved exponentially. It is bringing new business opportunities to innovate and win new fans again together.

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The Last Word by Damien Connelly

Reduce Future Risk. Use MicroMarketing

Welcome to The Last Word.

In the future, will slot machines be obsolete? Will virtual reality replace live table games? Will guests from LA use Uber Air taxis to more easily travel to/from California’s Native American casinos (impacting revenues in Las Vegas)? Will onground casinos decline the same way department stores such as Sears have? Nobody can answer these questions with certainty. Which is why I advise your organisation ‘bets on as many horses’ as it can relevantly do while you wait to see how the future unfolds. How? Micromarketing. I have been creating micromarketing concepts for decades; helping my clients test and try out ‘new things’ as they wait to see if it: will become mainstream; is a fad that will fade and return to obscurity; is a slow-burner with a niche following that might, at some point in the future, become mainstream. In simple language, you identify as early as possible consumer trends you can leverage to increase your organisation’s engagement with niche guest cohorts. If you get micromarketing correct, you create positioning backstories your future guest cohorts will believe. Believability is very important in our modern marketing-aware world. If guests see your organisation ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ they will not trust your organisation as much as those who have been in that niche space for years. By using micromarketing effectively and intelligently, you are not ‘all in’ on a few options — reducing your future risk by ensuring you have both the backstory (believability) and the experience of operating in the spaces that, in the future, become your growth drivers. Today, you don’t know with certainty what your future growth drivers will be. Micromarketing allows you to be in the right place at the right time when a trend that is niche today becomes mainstream tomorrow.

Niche Today, Mass Market Tomorrow In our Last Word in Issue 130 we discussed some benefits of focusing on niche guest cohorts. Events are what you should focus on for effective micromarketing activities. Casinos (destination resorts and urban) already have the basic assets, so using this technique should not be a costly or risky exercise.

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Your organisation will fail, probably more than you succeed. You will also create successful events that engage more with your target cohorts. The objective of using micromarketing techniques is to develop closer relationships with your guests so you can grow your engagement with them — in my experience, if you grow guest engagement, you will also grow your revenues (although it is not a causal relationship).

Example of MicroMarketing To help you, here’s a simple example you could use to benefit your operations. A trend that is receiving a lot of mass media coverage currently is for humans to switch to eating more plant-based foods from our meat- and dairy-heavy diets. In America, 8% of people are either vegetarian or vegan, with 31% identifying as being ‘flexitarians’. In the UK, 12% are vegetarian or vegan and 21% flexitarian. Flexitarian is a consumer behavioural trend that I think should be of growing interest to your operations. This creates the perfect opportunity for you to create events promoting and educating people where to buy and how to cook food that would allow them to be more flexitarian. If customers are sufficiently interested, they (and you) can go further as you create ongoing events promoting and educating people how to be healthy flexitarians. Your organisation can gain a deeper relationship with consumers who get involved in such micromarketing activities if you’ve curated them correctly. Another benefit — the people who get involved may be more activist in nature than the average person, so by getting involved today in such a space you reduce the risk that your organisation becomes a future target for activist groups. As a recent study published by the United Nations highlights, by helping your guests be more flexitarian, you might benefit their desires to address climate change by reducing their individual/personal carbon footprint.


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Casino Life Issue 131 Volume 15  

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