The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
Volume 16: Issue 140
Ukraine at the Brink of New Era in Gaming
BUILDERS OF ICONIC STRUCTURES USTR products are backed by extensive expertise in developing and manufacturing amusement attractions. With over 300+ rides installed and an exciting history of ride invention, USTR continues to reinvent thrills of the highest quality in the industry. Mike Gutknecht: (US) 801-879-1219 407.492.4444 usthrillrides.com email@example.com Copyright ÂŠ2020 by US Thrillrides, LLC. All rights reserved. US Patent # 7918 740 B2
Editor: Peter White
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...to Issue 140 of Casino Life. Everyone has been patiently waiting to reopen
Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor: Damien Connelly email@example.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey firstname.lastname@example.org
in the much-heralded “new normal.” But what is it? This issue of Casino Life
endeavours to answer that question. Hard Rock International’s Bennie Mancino forecasts the financial future of the casino industry (rocky, pardon the pun) and what it will have to do to reinvent itself for the post-Coronavirus era. “Very few
industries have experienced as extensive a disruption and revenue production as casino gaming,” he says. Robert Ambrose offers an American perspective,
explaining which regional and online gaming companies will come back faster than destination casinos, calling the present situation “an open wound that is slow to heal” but predicting a better casino experience in 2020 and beyond.
Casino jurisdictions are taking a rigorous approach
to reopening in mid-pandemic. For instance, Clifton Davies walks us through the United Kingdom’s
Associate Editor North America: David Mckee email@example.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan firstname.lastname@example.org International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: Robert Ambrose email@example.com
multi-pronged approach to gaming safely. It won’t be
such a hands-on business and Raymond Chan offers perspective on how the crisis can create opportunity
for digitally upgrading your organization, while Robert Brassai says it’s time to bring your casino floor up to date, too. Our European legal correspondent, Marko
Tomic, takes a look at legislative changes impending in the Ukraine and the Balkans. In a similar vein, Joji
Kokuryo highlights the recent withdrawal of Las Vegas Sands from Japan and what it means for Nippon’s stately progression toward integrated resorts.
We bid goodbye to two titans of the gaming industry.
It does somewhat of a disservice to Stanley Ho to refer to him as a casino mogul, as his vast reach extended into more industries and countries than one can
easily enumerate. However, he unquestionably laid
the groundwork for Macao to emerge as the leading
Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org
gambling destination in the world, although his gaming holding stretched halfway around the globe, as far as
Portugal. We also acknowledge the passing of Georges Tranchant, president of Tranchant Group, who died on June 5, at the age of 90. Born June 23, 1929
in Château-Porcien, in the Ardennes, he founded
Subscriptions: Helen Holmes
casinos in Amnéville and Dunkirk. Less famous (or
email@example.com Web: Sudip Banjeree firstname.lastname@example.org IT: John Wiltshire email@example.com Volume 16: Issue 140
Groupe Tranchant in 1988 and opened his first two controversial) than Ho, Tranchant was no less important. Finally, Damien Connelly offers some out-of-the-box
thinking for casinos getting back into the game. Now’s the time for it.
Peter White Editor
Stewart Hyde 3
5 COVID-19 in Casino Gaming Bennie Mancino chats to Bill Healey about the effects of COVID-19, and practices casinos can implement to emerge from the pandemic 11 All Things Hospitality – COVID-19 Crisis Mode… Adapting to Change. How quickly can the damaged hospitality industry respond to a new day? By: Robert Ambrose 14 The Value of Experience Peter White chats with Lisa Waterfield, LW Consulting 21 Coasting in the Casino Prolific inventor Bill Kitchen turns his proven talents toward gaming. By: David McKee 26 Gaming Legislation Report: South East Europe By: Marko Tomic, Partner, Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. 30 Japan IR Legislative Timeline Update By: Bay City Ventures Managing Director, Joji Kokuryo 32 UK Casinos Post- Coronavirus By: David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited 35 Dr Stanley Ho Obituary By: Niall Murray 38 Book Review: Casino Game Protection from Both Sides of the Table By: Robert Ambrose 39 The Power of Appreciation By Andy Cosgrove 42 Can A BlockChain Fuelled Social Casino Boost Deliverables? By Shaun McCamley 46 Post-COVID: the era for Digital Transformation By Raymond Chan 49 Time to Update Your Casino Gaming Floor By Robert Brassai 50 Last Word By: Damien Connelly Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
Lead Feature: Bennie Mancino
Bennie Mancino, Vice President of Table Games at Hard Rock International
COVID-19 in Casino Gaming Bennie Mancino chats to Bill Healey about the effects of COVID-19, and practices casinos can implement to emerge from the pandemic Volume 16: Issue 140
Lead Feature: Bennie Mancino
he casino gaming industry has been forever changed due to COVID-19. Casinos around the world have been closed anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. With June upon us, casinos in Las Vegas, and in most regions have begun to open on a limited basis. The industry will now begin to see how quickly guests return to the gaming floor. Guests will also have their first glimpse at the changes casinos will
have made to protect both the guest and staff. We catch-up with Bennie Mancino,Vice President of Table Games at Hard Rock International to discuss the current state-of-affairs with the casino industry, and what to expect in the coming months. COVID-19 has forever changed the gaming industry. What do you expect the overall industry impact will be? Is it possible to have a full recovery? Very few industries have experienced as extensive a disruption in business and revenue production as casino gaming. It’s becoming more apparent that some companies, like some people, live above their means with very little rainy-day savings. Doors that have never been closed have been shuttered for over two months in a lot of jurisdictions. This has been a devastating blow. Casino companies that are overextended and have minimal cash reserves, or no real property to leverage directly, may not survive.
We’ve already heard of several announced permanent
closures, and I’m afraid it’s just the beginning. The casino industry is very resilient; however, a speedy full recovery is doubtful. There will most likely be additional mergers and consolidation within the industry, as those companies with strong balance sheets find value-based acquisitions. It will take time for casinos to rebuild their customer base. Do you expect the rate of customer return to vary based on whether the casino’s customers are mainly locals or tourists? Regional markets will have an easier road to normalcy vs. destination gaming locations like Las Vegas. Most local markets have regional patrons and do not rely on air travel, convention business, significant events or shows to attract customers. In order to protect the gaming customers, nongaming customers and employees, what do you see as the key structural changes casinos will need to make to their gaming areas prior to re-opening? As with any and all businesses trying to operate during a crisis like a pandemic, casinos will need to provide a safe, sanitized environment. Patrons will look for reassurances that businesses are operating within established protocols for a safe entertainment experience. Those measures will include discreet access and automated health screening protocols for checkpoints. Responsible social distancing plans for kiosks, games, and protective measures such as masks and barriers where appropriate.
Lead Feature: Bennie Mancino
What type of behavioral changes will staff need to make in their routine? There will be a shift in procedures for employees, from the moment they enter the property until the time they
“clock-out”. Processes such as a table game buy-in will now be followed up with a splash of hand sanitizer. Employee dining rooms will not permit groups of dealers sitting closely together chatting about the day, becasue social distancing will be compulsory in all areas in the “back of the house”. Temperature checks have become as routine as clocking in, and pre-shift meetings will now be virtual. Casinos will need to be more proactive in sanitizing the facilities. How do you expect sanitizing efforts to be implemented? There has been an industry-wide sense of urgency to ensure the safety of the guests and employees, to implement all available technology available when it comes to sanitation and disinfecting. Added frequency protocols, such as on-demand and immediate cleaning after a player leaves a machine or table is one change. Deep cleaning of all surfaces will now be Volume 16: Issue 140
a daily, not monthly, event. Employees will be required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to restarting work. What will the
tests entail, and how often would you expect the tests to be performed? Testing protocols will differ from casino to casino based upon several factors, such as geographical location, and how prevalent the virus is. Destination markets are more likely to mandate pre-return testing to ease the apprehension of vacation travelers. The policies on whether to require testing up-front or symptom based-testing protocols, will vary by company. How do you see casinos implementing customer screening? Casinos that implement customer screening will attempt to make the screening as invisible and unobtrusive as possible to the guest. New thermal imaging technology is one way these check-points upon entry are as non-invasive and discreet as possible in a public location. 7
Lead Feature: Bennie Mancino Will casinos be expected to require customers to wear masks? What other behavioral changes will casinos expect of customers? My personal view is a hope that all casinos would require face covers because science tips in favor of that being an effective way to slow the spread of the virus overall in areas diligently implementing that protocol. Looking at other geographical locations that embrace masks as a way of protecting each other from sickness, the number of infections is drastically lower. That said, some companies may view this as an intrusion on the guest’s experience, and forgo the additional safety protocol over the inconvenience. I’m very proud to work for Hard Rock International, who has established our, “Safe and Sound” plan with a commitment towards the safety of our community, guests, and employees before inconvenience. As far as a change in guest behavior, we all have become more aware of our surroundings and the need to stay focused on personal and proactive hygiene in addition to largerscale measures. Do you see casinos becoming more restrictive in their smoking policies? The world seems to move closer to smokeless every year; however, smoking, drinking, and gambling have been close companions forever, and I don’t see that changing soon. Some jurisdictions like Ohio have always been smoke-free in the main buildings, with minimal adverse effect on revenue. Having been smoke-free inside the main building, most Ohio locations like Hard Rock Cincinnati have an open-air patio-style gaming area that permits smoking. In the smoking patio areas, the machines do well above average coin-in per unit. Moving a jurisdiction from smoking to non-smoking is likely to be met with economic resistance, and adds an additional competitive challenge. Overall, I believe we may see temporary measures to limit or restrict smoking as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold however, how many of these changes will remain as permanent, will depend on revenues. Casino Life would like to thank Bennie for his thoughtful response to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and how casinos can properly respond to protect staff and guests.
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Opinion: Robert Ambrose
All Things Hospitality – COVID-19 Crisis Mode…
Adapting to Change. How quickly can the damaged hospitality industry respond to a new day? By: Robert Ambrose
he book has yet to be written on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the casino and the entire integrated hospitality industry. When it is put to “pen,” the first few chapters will be bleak and frightening because of all the unknowns, but in the later chapters, we will read about leadership, personal strength and new beginnings. And of course, we all salute the courageous first responders and care givers that rush in and treat the sick. A slow transition has begun as states begin to reopen their casinos and hospitality venues; to less than full capacity (required by law.) Initially, the public may choose to stay closer to their homes for a smaller local casino and dining experience, rather than to travel a distance to enter a huge resort, at least in the near future. With the proliferation of so many local casino options in the U.S., as well as with the opportunity to gamble on-line (in some jurisdictions,) options are available. While I am on the topic, on-line gambling (in the States where legal,) helped several casino properties pay some bills during the closures. I-gaming in March was up 119% here in New Jersey. Year-to-date in the Garden State internet gaming increased 78.5 percent to $251.9 million. No surprise! Out of the shutdown may come some converts to the virtual gambling experience. Destination hospitality environments such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas will take more effort to right size, however all local casino/entertainment locations whether small or large venues have their work ahead of them. Then there is the customer: Educating the guests about redesigned safety enhancements, through various forms of social media, as well as on site communication methods. Volume 16: Issue 140
Robert Ambrose Gaming Industry Veteran, Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Casino & Hospitality
And of course, offering a marketable incentive for guests to visit again, (without depleting the property budgets further,) will require, all “best-practice,” applications. Casino operators are now creating a guest and employee environment that will keep them safe and comfortable as part of the recovery strategies; while at the same time trying not to sacrifice service quality. Face masks, smaller casino gaming areas, with 11
Opinion: Robert Ambrose spacing of product, entertainment and dining experiences will just be different, at least for the short term; maybe in some cases permanent. We are seeing a strategic refocus on all public area touch points, creating a new standard on how they are approached by guest in a sanitized world. All segments of the hospitality/casino environment have been negatively impacted and the way back, to whatever the normal will be, must be a collective effort. That means State (regulators,) city officials, health care professionals and properties working together. Restoring the resort experience is a group effort. The rolling opening, in each State and gambling jurisdiction will be gradual. And you can expect additional changes to the experience to be on-going, as this is a work in progress. The pipeline of disposable income for travel, gambling and entertainment among the general population will not be flowing as it did in pre-virus days. We know that. The third quarter of 2020 will be transitional, reflecting minimal business levels on the accounting spread sheet. A positive fourth quarter will be something to aspire to; although I think it will still look like an open wound that is slow to heal. As I speak with casino executives who have planned and even started to reopen properties, they recognize that with limited operations, some as low as 30% guest capacity by law, and food take out options only, the financial bleed will continue. In their year-to-year review some executives may
just want to skip over 2020. “Capex” is frozen and new product purchases will be minimum to none. Many industry executives have stated we won’t see recovery norms for at least 12-18 months from initial start-up phases. However, even though the numbers do not define a normal year, they do represent a very historical point in time. It is worth noting on how the industry raised the bar on displaying a healthier footprint for guests and employees. With those improvements will come more reliance on technology and new ways to better serve the guests. Looking to 2021, and hopefully a virus vaccine is in place, we should begin to see some consistency in the industry numbers. There are a lot of variables in this prediction, including regional locations, continued sporadic virus out-breaks, natural events like weather, (as we are entering the hurricane season in the US,) and of course, how financially sound companies were 12
before the pandemic. And what about those employees? I worked on the casino floor in the days of coin operated slots. It was more hands on for both player and employees. Coin dust was everywhere and hands became very dirty. The rows of slots were long and tight; the air so thick with smoke it choked. Thankfully today the HVAC systems are better than in the 80’s and smoking is limited. Coin has been off the casino floor for some time and I am hearing from executives that maybe cash could be as well, at least in partial locations of the casino environment. The millennials long ago gave up the need for carrying cash. It is all a virtual world and debit card. Again, this is just another way to clean up the casino floor from germ laden paper cash, and just maybe a welcome amenity for the next group of customers who would prefer plastic to paper. In this pandemic driven world of mandated “shelterin-place,” companies have relied on the internet to get things done. Could we be looking at a new format for conventions too? Perhaps in addition to a physical presence of vendors in a large arena, the option to literally walk the convention floor and attend seminars virtually. It is already in use at ICE North America. Again, maybe short term or maybe a permanent option for those not wanting to travel or be part of a crowded environment. Yes, there is a loss to the revenue stream, of hotels and restaurants, when people attend a conference
or convention virtually; as well as a loss of in person networking opportunities. But at least in the short-term as companies try to recoup their decimated budgets, it is a great cost saving method, instead of employees attending in person. Separate virtual sign-up packages can still be offered by the convention host, with a seminar pricing structure on the menu. Personally, I think this should have been an option years ago. It has its value. Adapting to a crisis is built into the dynamics of the hospitality industry. Hospitality is about operating in a public space. A public environment is fluid, and “life” happens. Things don’t always go according to plan or projection. Thankfully, the integrated resort experience has grown in product and diversification in recent years. Within the model of today’s hospitality industry there is a variety of property amenities that are a collective part of the presentation. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Opinion: Robert Ambrose Separately, they each offer their brand experience and now present a unique set of their own operational challenges under the new post virus environment; whether it is dining, entertainment, retail, lodging or gambling. Collectively they come together as one brand for the customer as the total property experience. All must confirm to related safety measure protocols. Today, all segments of hospitality including casinos are issuing new guidelines on safety. Operations executives are collaborating with health care professionals and regulators to redesign the hospitality experience to make guests feel more comfortable and safer in “distancing,” and their interaction with all public common “touch-points” throughout the property. Many properties are posting their new guidelines on their websites here in the States. They preface it with their company’s commitment to safety, listing the guidelines they will be following so that customers know what to expect when they visit. Some properties are also listing abbreviated hours of operation, and other property amenities that are open or closed such as: hotel, table games or spa. In most cases it is all limited as we are looking at phased opening plans. I have seen some options for properties limiting to four guests to an elevator, restaurants with disposable paper or big screen menus, and hotel check-in by smart phone. We have already seen the changes in our supermarkets and convenience stores as dividers now separate the employee from the guest. And of course, the masks everyone wears these days places the friendly smile out of sight. The employees who are confronted daily to hours of guests moving through their property have learned an entire new meaning to the term “front-line” employee. These fortunate employees that will be returning to work as the first wave have been through a great deal. As property leaders, it is so important to speak with them, encourage them, and communicate in a transparent way. They too have to adapt to the new environment in the workplace. Hospitality is an industry built on people, with principals and guidelines for both customers and employees. It is housed in a business formula consisting of various regulatory requirements, a strategic operational balance, and fundamental business applications within a model of guest service. Volume 16: Issue 140
And it’s the employees that will provide that service. They are still the face of the property, even under that face mask. As the doors to the various hospitality venues are unlocked, the same old principles apply. Understand that every guest will visit a property once, but it’s the experience they have during the visit that will lay the ground work for their return, or not! At this moment in time the playing field for members of the hospitality industry has been leveled. Everyone is at the “starting-gate.” Initially, with all
that has happened, presenting a consistent excellent customer experience is not going to be easy as everyone becomes acquainted with a new operational paradigm. There will be some on-going modifications as well, in floor design, spacing mandates and overall public safety applications. But over time, through perseverance and in some cases trial and error, the resilience of the hospitality industry will show through and a truly great guest experience can be created again. The historical moments we are living will long be written about and discussed; we know many have paid a huge price. We will always remember where we were when the day the world took a pause. Bob Ambrose Gaming Industry Veteran, Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Casino & Hospitality 13
Feature: Lisa Waterfield
The Value of Experience
Peter White chats with Lisa Waterfield, LW Consulting
eteran gaming consultant Lisa Waterfield knows well the difficulties of piercing the gaming industry’s glass ceiling. Not only did she break in as a croupier in UK & South African casinos, it was almost 40 years ago, when South Africa was socially backward, a tough path for Waterfield, an English emigre. Perhaps that’s what has made her an outspoken voice on what has been done to improve diversity in gaming-and how much remains to be done. A former executive with companies like WMS Gaming & Aristocrat, she’s also got some strong ideas on how the casino industry should come back from COVID-19, showing that she’s not afraid to buck a trend. We spoke with her at her office in Las Vegas, her home for the past 23 years. We are grateful for your generosity to answer our questions. First, I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself and tell us when and why you started working in this industry? Having grown up in the UK, with grandparents that owned a sports betting shop, it was no surprise that I started work in the casino industry as a croupier. Casino gaming lured me to South Africa and then onto the cruise lines, where I travelled to many different countries. During my time in operations, I held various positions in table games, slots, keno & bingo. Having gained that experience, I was able to pivot my career into a sales role selling everything from slots, gaming systems, loyalty programs and signage. Moving to Las Vegas allowed me to expand my gaming career over the past 23-years. Las Vegas is home to many of the major gaming companies which creates the perfect foundation to start a gaming career. What are those experiences, key-values that you gained at your past workplaces and can use in a new role? Early on in my career, I learned that your reputation and credibility is all you have. Trust must be earned and going above and beyond is what made me standout from others. Working hard, being accountable for my actions and pushing myself to do better have been the fundamentals to which I am committed. 14
What have been amongst your tasks and responsibilities during your career to date? My legacy has been launching companies into new
gaming markets, building & leading effective sales teams and exceeding goals. In every position I’ve held, it starts with the development of a strategic plan, effective implementation and successful execution. Good planning gives you direction and motivation to get the job done. Without a plan, there is no plan. Do you think women feel intimidated in business? To a certain degree, most women do not view the gaming industry as having long-term career prospects. The industry portrays an image of sexism, which doesn’t translate well to women seeking career development. However, recent years have shown an increase in programs that help develop young women both personally and professionally, by providing the necessary skills for advancement. What are your views on what the industry needs to do to help attract and retain more women? www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Lisa Waterfield Gender equality in management is widely studied across many industries. The gaming industry must continue to champion young women by providing effective mentorship programs with strong examples of how career goals can be attained. Women must continue to evolve their behaviours by confidently speaking up, contributing and taking on additional responsibilities. As mentors, we must continue to provide encouragement and acknowledgement with meaningful celebrations of success. As more young women receive higher levels of education and as the value of female executives continues to be acknowledged, the future appears bright for those seeking corporate leadership roles. Do you feel that there are more options for women nowadays in terms of more companies hiring more women? There are certainly more opportunities for women today, compared to when I started my gaming career in the early 80’s. Although the industry is progressing, changing the culture is a process. A few major gaming companies set goals to have 50% of their executives be women by 2025. That’s all well and good, but who’s measuring progress? Unless we begin to measure and publish results, nothing really changes. As any executive will confirm, the path to the top takes time, hard work and strong professional relationships. This is crucial for women looking to advance, given the disparity between men and women in leadership positions, and the gaming industry is no exception.
What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in the gaming industry? The most amazing part of being a woman in the gaming industry is proven success in having built a 37-year long career. From small beginnings in a casino where promotion wasn’t possible because of my gender, to climbing the corporate ladder in sales management. I would encourage young women to be fearless and confident, Women in management are valuable contributors to the industry, we must continue to inspire women to believe in themselves. Remember, we don’t need permission to achieve greatness. How do you manage new product launches? What tactics, strategies and processes do you use? Creating a value proposition, every new product Volume 16: Issue 140
Women In Gaming Group @G2E 2018
Lisa Waterfield @ NIGA 2019 with Sally Bernard, Owner, Sales Logic and Adriana Zirpoli, Gaming Consultant
Lisa Waterfield with Niaz Najad, COO, AGLC and Seamus McGill, GAN BOD @ G2E 2019 15
Feature: Lisa Waterfield Do you call Las Vegas home? Las Vegas has been my home for the past 23 years, and the longest period I have ever remained in one place. During my career, I have visited many places within the U.S., and never discovered anywhere that compares to everything Las Vegas has to offer. Over the years, I have seen many changes in Las Vegas, as the town has prepared itself for continued growth through reinventing and reinvesting. As we move through our own journey, it’s important that we embrace change and plan for the future. Lisa Waterfield with Adriana Zirpoli, Gaming Consultant and Marilyn Spiegel, President, Wynn, Las Vegas
Lisa Waterfield with Rob Cinelli, GM, Sycuan Casino, Steve Santana and MJ Mariani, SGI
What in your opinion have been amongst the most notable areas of development of EGM’s over the last decade? The most innovative product during the past decade has been Electronic Table Games. Having been part of the original failed launch of ETG’s in Vegas in 2003, the product has since evolved and is a great compliment to the traditional table games offering. Today. ETG’s retain a large floor presence and enjoy continued growth. The next wave of slot innovation is Interactive games, that are skill influenced games of chance. Gamblit Gaming has been the leading provider of interactive games, building the 7th slot category next to ETG’s . With with more manufacturers coming online, popularity of interactive games will continue to grow floor share.
needs one. Sales & marketing efforts must be fully
The positives of working in the casino industry?
From where do you draw your inspiration? When trying to come up with an innovative idea or an approach to problem solving, I find that taking a moment for myself and allowing my mind to float, makes it a perfect place for triggering inspiration. In giving my mind freedom to roam, chances are I’m going to have an insight. It also helps make order of stress and chaos and prioritize what’s important.
What are the achievements you have gained during your career that you are most proud of and why? In 2008, WMS Gaming nominated me for “The Great Women of Gaming Rising Star Award”. The awards were designed to recognize top women who work in the gaming industry and excel at managing both career and personal life. These awards showcased women who conducted themselves with poise and
aligned, as both must drive qualified leads. Selling a new concept or product is always a challenge. Creating compelling talk tracs and training your team is key. Product launches will create publicity and build awareness, make sure your team is prepared for the influx and ready to jump on opportunities. As sales leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure the team is prepared and has the drive to sell a new product. Without key efforts and guidance, you run the risk of product failure to launch.
What sounds like more fun, working in an office 9-5 or being in the excitement of a casino? Being around people having fun in a casino makes work that much more enjoyable. Once you’ve worked in a casino, there will be plenty of opportunities for advancement, or to expand skills into other areas. Gaming skills learned are transferable to other casinos and other industries. Switching to the manufacturers side can also present other opportunities to get into sales, game development and management.
Feature: Lisa Waterfield purpose and went above and beyond every day to achieve great things. Gaming industry women who committed themselves to extreme professionalism with exceptional personal achievement, were eligible to be nominated. It was an honor to be recognized for my efforts and be in the circle with some of the greatest female contributors in gaming. How would you compare the land-based casino market of today to the one you first joined? Working in South African casinos in the early 80’s, presented challenges for women. During apartheid, women were suppressed, and advancement opportunities were non-existent. It’s hard to envision a casino world that promotes only those of male gender. While equality in the gaming industry has evolved over the years, there is still much room for improvement. One of the concerns for Casino Operators as a consequence of the lock down is that it has conditioned a lot of their patrons from the bricks and mortar to online. What do manufacturers and suppliers need to consider when designing the next generation of new games and ETGs for LandBased Casinos to assist with driving customers back into Casinos? With the recent industry shutdown, online gaming has gained increased popularity. Some of the most obvious initiatives to help bring back players to land-based casinos, is the elimination of parking fees
with reduced or suspended resort fees. While the reopening of casinos around the US has seen positive results, operators need to step up efforts to increase customer engagement. It’s a good time to look at new technology that can change guest behaviours. Postpandemic presents marketing opportunities to give back to the player, it will be an essential part in getting millions of people to return to Las Vegas at a time we most certainly need their patronage. Are their any other initiatives manufacturers should consider to assist casino operators over the next 12 to 18 months? The post-pandemic world is driving increased demand for cashless solutions. Many hands touch money, so who wants to handle cash in a casino. Manufacturers exist to solve operator issues, which will eventually lead to a cashless environment. Nevada GCB has already stated that it’s open to looking at new Volume 16: Issue 140
Lisa Waterfield at the EKG Awards 2020
technology and ways to attract new customers, which are more beneficial and safer for the industry. What in your opinion, are the next technological system trends poised for growth in land-based casinos? With the Supreme Court clearing the way for US states to legalize sports betting, growth opportunities exist for new companies to break into the US market. As new states start coming online, operators will need to find an experienced sports betting platform partner that can provide guidance with flexible trading services. Legacy systems lack technology. and operators will need to evaluate capabilities of their current platforms and how they can add new features, kiosks and mobile. As more sophisticated technology becomes available, operators who currently outsource their sportsbooks will have more options to bring their operations in-house. Finding the right sports betting partner and platform provider will be critical to the success of new operators and existing operations that want to upgrade. 17
Feature: Lisa Waterfield Where are your favourite vacation places and do you have plans to travel overseas in the years ahead? Having travelled most of the globe, vacation spots are a tough one. Typically, my ideal vacation spot is somewhere warm by the ocean. These days I tend to do more “staycations” in Las Vegas, as everything you could possibly want in a vacation exists right here in my own back yard.
Lisa Waterfield with Penny Parayo, GM, Seneca Casinos
Do you like to gamble? If so which is your favourite game or slot machine? Have you ever won big yet? Although not much of a gambler, I’ve played many slots games for market research and entertainment. My preference is games of strategy as I like to think about my next play, as opposed to hitting a button for a pre-determined outcome. For those like me who prefer more interaction, skill games are the next up and coming segment of slots. With more skill-based manufacturers coming online, expect interactive games to become the next slot category. Post pandemic, we need to find more ways to attract and adopt a younger demographic of slot players, as the risk is high that the baby boomers may not return. What inspiration can you provide others whom are reading this interview and also looking for new opportunities? The most important lessons learned from my
WMS Gaming Reunion 2019
Lisa Waterfield with the Gamblit Gaming Team @ G2E 2019 18
experiences has been the willingness to take risks, to raise my hand for the tough projects and opportunities that stretched me out of my comfort zone. In doing so, I gained confidence and recognition, which is so important for women with high ambition. As women, we are not always able to realize or clearly understand our full potential, until we are willing to be vulnerable and prepared to risk failure. Post pandemic finds me in the position to ask myself “what’s next?” Recent events have forced many companies to significantly reduce or eliminate their sales force. However, companies still need to sell their product and turn a profit. As one door closes another one opens, and opportunities to represent myself as an independent salesperson have started to open-up. This gave me the motivation to go it alone and start my own company, ‘LW Consulting’. As a freelance sales consultant, I work with brands in the US to lead sales efforts for a variety of products. My www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Lisa Waterfield
Women in Gaming Event Las Vegas
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ACE Publishing & Total Design Works Volume 16: Issue 140
PROUDLY ANNOUNCING... ...The launch of Casino Life Ukraine magazine and the re-design of the Russian language website www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
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CASINO Журнал для владельцев и менеджмента международных казино
Casino Life Kyiv Office Est 2009
Feature: US Thrill Rides
Coasting in the Casino B
Prolific inventor Bill Kitchen turns his proven talents toward gaming. By: David McKee
lame it on the Air Force. Or maybe it was skydiving. Somewhere along the line, the thrill bug bit William Kitchen, turning him into a prolific inventor. It all began 30 years ago in his living room, with a model for a thrillride prototype made out of broom handles and G.I. Joe parts. “At the time, my girlfriend looked at this ride …and told me I was absolutely crazy,” Kitchen recalls. “Nevertheless I built one and people lined up all day to get on it. I patented it and it became Skycoaster, the fastest-selling ride in the world. They’re in almost every Six Flags park, every Cedar Fair park and smaller seaside parks, everywhere from Sweden to New Zealand.” Volume 16: Issue 140
That was many thrill-ride inventions ago. Kitchen’s post-military career initially took him into radio but once the thrills caught hold broadcasting just didn’t have the same allure. His initial venture was into the bungee-jump business, “but the bungee business got a bad reputation, mainly because people were being very careless.” That’s when he started tinkering with broom handles and action figures. “I sold the Skycoaster company and all the franchising rights and decided to try something I thought was even more exciting and that was an indoor skydiving machine that would allow people to replicate the excitement of jumping out of an airplane.” That attraction became iFly, the indoor Skydiving attraction known worldwide. 21
Feature: US Thrill Rides What elements make for a good thrill ride? We have a philosophy. Number one, it has to be safe. We never want to hurt anybody and although probably around 50 million people have ridden the rides I’ve invented, there’s never been any machinecaused fatalities or even serious injuries. Secondly, it must be fun and provide an experience instead of the same old thing people have been riding for a hundred years. Even the rollercoaster’s gotten bigger, faster and higher. The UniCoaster is a completely new concept because it’s an interactive ride. What makes this so brilliant is that you’re sitting on a seat which is part of the axis of a large wheel. As the wheel spins, the riders themselves can control the action. There’s a handle between the two riders that both can grip, and they can choose whether to flip forwards or backwards and
how fast. The harder you press the handle, the faster it will Bill Kitchen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ThrillRides flip in either direction. In fact, it occurred during the early Again, success. Kitchen sold that second company testing when a guy and his girlfriend began to have a and formed US Thrill Rides, whose products include disagreement on how fast this thing would flip. They the PolerCoaster (one was just approved in Orlando, gripped the handles so hard and fought over it so Florida) where riders blast up to the top of a tower, much they actually broke the handle. So we had to go then careen ‘coaster-style’ wildly down the outside. A back and redesign the handle so it would be peoplesky shot and rollercoaster in one. A PolerCoaster was proof when they’re fighting over the control. That’s planned for the Tropicana Las Vegas but the casino part of the fun, by the way. One person says, ‘Let’s has changed hands several times (as it is wont to do), flip,’ and the other says, ‘No, no. No more.’ And the putting the project on hold. In the meantime, Kitchen other one says, ‘OK, let’s flip backwards.’ has found a way of combining the physical thrill of a rollercoaster with the mental one of roulette: the Is your typical rider more concerned with speed, UniCoaster Roulette-Style, currently being developed inversion or something new? for casinos. We caught up with him at his Florida Absolute speed is always part of it. People have made headquarters. rollercoasters now that exceed 80 miles an hour. But they have to be very large. They cost tens of millions 22
Feature: US Thrill Rides of dollars. What really creates the most fun is the changing of speed and direction and G-loads, and the UniCoaster provides all of that at a much slower speed. How long does it typically take to develop a new ride? It takes about three years from the time of the initial idea to where you prototype it, you determine that it’s safe and thrilling, and we always wind up building the first one ourselves and operating, because mallpark operators are always skeptical about being the first to buy something. The Unicoaster has been proven in several locations, but it is themed differently. One example is Nickelodeon’s “Brain Surge” at the Mall of America. How is the UniCoaster able to offer rollercoaster-style thrills at 20 percent of the price? Because it’s smaller. That’s an advantage because it will fit
The Unicoaster has already been proven as a hit ride around the US. Now the “Roulette Style” is the next evolution, adding the excitement of the gaming undustry into a compact, roller-coaster style thrillmachine suitable for any entertainment venue.
both indoors and outdoors. It’ll fit in a space that’s only 60 feet in diameter. What is your favorite element of this coaster and why? The interactivity, the fact that the riders themselves can choose the action of the ride. Every time you ride it, it’s different. What was the inspiration for turning it into a giant casino game? I had seen interesting and unusual themes that the buyers had already developed. I was looking for something even more exciting to do with the theming and I guess it was watching a roulette wheel at New York-New York in Las Vegas when I hit on the idea of theming it as a casino game. We started work on the idea and the theming, and then put one into production. Volume 16: Issue 140
Along the way, I realized that there was a great potential here to create the first gaming machine that you could actually ride, that would combine all the thrills that had been proven on the UniCoaster but themed just like a roulette wheel. We created the concept, worked out the computer programming so that where it stops—and who knows where?—is chosen by a random-number generator. The first one is well under construction now at our factory. We will hopefully be able to ship the first one in December. By what means does one ‘win’ when riding the coaster? The variables are similar to what occurs when the ball rolls on a roulette wheel, except we have two variables. Number one: The giant, rolling wheel stops on the track on a certain number. It can be Red 24. Then, the very top of the wheel is shaped like 23
Feature: US Thrill Rides
Big ideas are nothing new for Kitchen and US ThrillRides, the mastermind behind the upcoming tallest rollercoaster in the world
a roulette wheel as well and so, when it stops, the pointer at the top will point toward the number. So you have two variables. Where it stops each time the ride is ridden and where the pointer points, which makes it a game of chance. How often can you play this in an hour? Fifteen rides an hour. The ride duration is 120 seconds. So that’s two minutes but it takes two minutes to unload the ride, load the next one, so the whole cycle takes four minutes. Where do you intend to debut the game? That depends on the first buyer. Our hope is by the time this first one is ready to ship we have several buyers lined up because when we sell our rides, we 24
want the owners to have exclusivity in that particular market where they’re operating. We won’t sell a duplicate in that market unless the same owner buys it. Secondly, we use our patents to prevent anyone else from creating a ride like it. The actual motion and the shape of the ride are covered by worldwide utility patents. Then also there are design patents, depending on the theming of this ride. We’re able to control the distribution, like many other kinds of rides where one person buys one and it becomes successful, then someone else can’t buy one from a different manufacturer and give the UniCoaster much more competition. We think it’s better for the owner to have exclusivity in the marketplace. Getting back to where the first one will be, we’re pretty excited about the fact that we’ll have several www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: US Thrill Rides buyers before the first one is even shipped. Even if we didn’t, we’d just install one ourselves because it’s so profitable. Lease financing is already available. In a good location, the payback could be from 50 to 100 percent of the investment in the first year. What regulatory approvals has it received at this point? It’s not yet been approved as a casino game. That means that, particularly in Las Vegas, the approval is going to be expensive and it’s going to take a while. So we expect that, if it’s installed in Las Vegas, you won’t be able to bet on the outcome but the casino in a fun park-type location can offer a prize, like the world’s biggest teddy bear, without it having to be approved as a gaming device. How is it compatible with the new mandate for social distancing? That’s important. In fact, we have the spacing between the cars that are required by social distancing. We have also modified the ride with a shield in the back of each rider to reduce airborne-spread aerosols by a person screaming, and they do scream a lot on the UniCoaster! And, of course, to maintain social distancing you wouldn’t ride with a stranger. If you come with someone with whom you’re partnered or already married to or part of the same family, then you’re not concerned about sitting shoulder-toshoulder on an amusement ride. What is the status of your PolerCoaster projects in Las Vegas and Atlantic City? It’s been a lot slower than we hoped it would be and a lot of it is due to the regulatory process. It’s also due to the fact that it’s very expensive. The Orlando PolerCoaster will—without any theming or buildings or land or anything else—cost $150 million. The Las Vegas and Atlantic City ones will be smaller but are still tens of millions of dollars. The processes of finding a location and fundraising sometimes takes years. We have licensed already those three markets and expect them to come online in the next few years. Is there something about the Unicoaster RouletteStyle that makes it particularly well-suited to gaming destinations? Yes, they’re compact size and the fact that they look like a giant roulette wheel. That should add an Volume 16: Issue 140
The Unicoaster is the result of countelss hours of research and testing in order to take the most important aspects of a rollercoaster and compress them into a ride that is safe, economical, appealing and can be built everywhere excitement to the casino, whether it’s part of the gaming floor or hotel lobby, for example on Fremont Street, It would be an exciting draw to pull people in. You know how in Las Vegas for years they had all sorts of exciting things going on in the front of the hotels. There was the pirate-ship war at Treasure Island, for example. That attraction costs a fortune every year to run. So imagine a high-traffic location where the “roulette” UniCoaster provides excitement, and makes a profit! The patrons can enter from the front and exit right into the casino. It’d be fun to watch and be a big draw. 25
Legislation Report: Marko Tomic
Gaming Legislation Gaming Legislation Report: South East Europe. By: Marko Tomic, Partner, Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. Zagreb
In the course of 2019 Ukrainian government made concrete steps towards the lifting of an existing gambling ban that was established in 2009 and which basically “outlawed” any kind of gambling activity in the territory of Ukraine (both land based and online). Such ban opened door for illegal operators in one of the largest European markets (total population of approx. 43 million out of which 35 million aged over 18). On 16 January 2020, first reading of a draft Act on the Regulation of the Gambling Industry (“Act”) was
adopted by the Ukrainian parliament with the intention to adopt the final version of the Act in the course of first half on 2020. Bearing in mind the global pandemic of COVID-19 as well as the ongoing political changes in Ukraine, adoption of the Act was postponed and the second reading of the draft Act has been scheduled for 18 June 2020. In respect of the draft Act itself, the same regulates land based as well as online gambling activities from lotteries and casinos to poker and sports betting. Notwithstanding the above, it is to be expected that significant changes to the initially approved draft occurred, bearing in mind that more than 1500 amendments to the same were proposed. When talking about slot machine halls in Ukraine, the draft Act envisages that the same can be operated only in prescribed gaming zones in 3, 4 and 5 star hotels in Ukraine (no fewer than 50 rooms and at least 300sqm hall area in Kyiv and no fewer than 25 rooms and at least 150sqm hall area in other cities). Limitation of 26
a total number of slot machines in the whole country was set at 40,000 units (not including slot machines in casinos). Further to the above, licenses are distributed on the following territorial key: (i) Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv regions (for cities of Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv 60% of licenses and 40% of licenses for each of these three regions) and (ii) other regions of Ukraine (for regional centers 40% of licenses and 60% of licenses for each region). Total number of licenses is limited to 1,600 i.e. one license is issued for 25 slot machines whereby a single operator can obtain maximum of 35% of all licenses for slot machines in a certain administrative unit in Ukraine and no more than 35% of all licenses in Ukraine. The Act prescribes that it is forbidden to place slot machine halls: 1) directly in the premises where state authorities, other state bodies, local self-government bodies are located;
2) closer than 500 meters to preschool educational institutions, general secondary education institutions, out-of-school, specialized, professional (vocationaltechnical) and professional higher education; 3) directly in the premises of cultural institutions (including libraries, museums, theatres, exhibition galleries); 4) directly on the premises of medical institutions; 5) closer than 500 meters to the premises of specialized children’s entertainment centers; 6) directly in the premises of religious buildings and structures, as well as in premises belonging to religious organizations; 7) in premises belonging to the housing stock or residential buildings; 8) in objects of unfinished construction, kiosks, canopies and mobile small architectural forms. Slot machines located in the slot machine hall must not be visible from the outside of the building. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Legislation Report: Marko Tomic In respect of certification of the equipment the competent authority shall establish an exhaustive list of gaming equipment that is subject to mandatory certification and a list of subjects of certification of gaming equipment. It is prohibited to use noncertified gaming equipment. Certification of gaming equipment, which is subject to the inspection of the competent authority, is carried out in accordance with international standards by Ukrainian and / or foreign certification entities, the list of which is established by the competent authority. The use of gambling equipment that is not connected to the online monitoring system in accordance with the rules established by the competent authority is prohibited. The body of each slot machine must indicate the production number, year of manufacture, data on modification and repair (if any) and the name of the manufacturer. The use of slot machines in which the total percentage of winnings (theoretical return to the player) is set at less than 95 (ninety-five) percent is prohibited whereby the use of slot machines that are older than 2019 is not permitted.
revenues (approx. EUR 280 mio). In 2019 Government adopted an Ordinance on Implementation of General Tax Act which enabled the Ministry of Finance to sanction and prevent illegal gambling activities organized online (by means of IP address and payment blocking) in Croatia and 14 foreign organizers of online games of chance were banned from Croatian market in the course of 2019. Latest initiative of the opposition in the Croatian Parliament which was initiated in February 2020 had the aim to define that casinos and slot machine halls must be located at least 500m from kindergartens, elementary and high schools, student dorms as well as from religious objects while the 200m limitation was to apply to betting places. Further to this, minimal slot machine hall area of 100 sqm was proposed. Respective limitations were introduced in Croatia in April 2020 through an Ordinance on Spatial and Technical Conditions for Organization of Games of Chance with the exception that the above mentioned 500m limit does not apply to casinos located in 5-star hotels.
Games of chance in Croatia are regulated under Act on Games of Chance which was last amended in 2014. Respective act regulates organization of games of chance in the territory of Croatia and in line with the same lottery games may be organized solely by the state owned Croatian Lottery (“Hrvatska Lutrija”) while the market is liberalized for all other aspects of gambling and sports betting. One of the main features of the act is that the organization of online gambling (including casinos) is permitted only to organizers who have “brick and mortar” presence in Croatia. Estimate for 2017 is that “grey market” in this industry in Croatia has a market share of almost 40% and amounts to HRK 2bn in Volume 16: Issue 140
Current legislation in force in Montenegro dates back to 2004 while there was an initiative from the Ministry of Finance in 2018 and 2019 for the adoption of the new act which would be aligned with most recent trends in the gaming industry and best EU practices. Based on publicly available information, no progress occurred in respect to this matter to this date. It was recently announced by the authorities that the new act should define online supervision over organizers of lotteries and casinos which currently remain out of this type of surveillance. The new act should also define lottery games and organization of the same bearing in mind that the same are not organized in the territory for the last 3 years when 27
Legislation Report: Marko Tomic the license of the Montenegro Lottery expired. Also, abolishment of the fixed fee in the amount of EUR 2 mio for casinos is being contemplated to boost opening of new casinos. Further to this, status of betting terminals in hospitality objects such as bars remains unsolved bearing in mind that 3 years ago the Constitutional Court of Montenegro revoked the provisions regulating this matter and to this date no new licenses for betting terminals were issued. Needless to say, present act which was enacted 16 years ago does not provide a satisfactory treatment of online gambling of any kind.
decided to keep the limit on the number of casinos in the whole country to ten locations whereby the license for the same is rendered for a 10-year term and the operator must have a share capital of at least EUR 1 mio in domestic currency in order to, amongst other, be eligible for applying for a license.
Proposal of the new Act on Games of Chance has been placed in parliamentary procedure in February 2020. The aim of the new act in comparison to the existing one is to increase the social responsibility amongst players and organizers, increase surveillance and limit illegal operations in the industry as well as
general alignment with the EU anti money laundering and financing of terrorism rules. Main features of the new act refer to distancing of betting places from schools (minimum of 200m) and of other betting places (minimum of 100m), imposing stricter rules on marketing of games of chance (e.g. limited use of the word “casino” and its derivatives), increase of fees and bank deposits for organizers (fees for organization of online gambling will be doubled) and limitation of number of casinos in the country. In respect of distancing, it is to be noted that the new limitation applies only to newly opened betting places, not the existing ones. Text of the new draft contains provisions on introduction of electronic (online) surveillance and direct link to the competent authority as well as the provision that slot machines installed in slot machine halls cannot be older than 1 year on the day of installation therein. Further to this, the government 28
In the territory of the Republic of Slovenia, a maximum of two organizers in which the majority shareholders are the Republic of Slovenia, local municipalities or state owned companies, may organize games of chance (e.g. lottery and sport betting) on a permanent basis, while the government may grant a maximum of 15 concessions for organizing special games of chance in casinos and 45 concessions for organizing special games of chance in gaming halls. Further to this, online gambling licenses may only be granted to Slovenian registered companies already holding a license for casino gaming. Recent proposals for amendments to the current gaming act (last amended in 2014) occurred in 2018 and were aiming to relax quite rigid rules for organizers (amongst other, by allowing organizers from the EEA to apply for licenses) and regulating online gambling and advertising of games of chance in more detail. However, to this day all amendments remain parked in the parliament without clear indications when the same could be adopted.
For further information please visit www.ast-law.hr
Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this report is accurate, no liability is accepted for errors or omissions, however caused. www.casinolifemagazine.com
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Legislation Report: Japan IR
Japan IR Legislative Timeline Update
By: Bay City Ventures Managing Director, Joji Kokuryo
wenty-three months since the passing of the Integrated Resort (IR) Implementation Act, Japanâ€™s procedure continues to gradually move forward. However, there are still many major steps that must be accomplished for the gaming industry to lay its roots in this East Asian country. In order to understand the current timeline, it is vital to take note of the key components of the law. The central government issues a Basic Policy, or Fundamental Policy as some call it, that provides guidelines for the local governments and their IR operators to follow. The local governments, if they wish to apply for IR development approval, will also need to come up with their own Implementation Policy, which applies on top of the national Basic Policy. The IR operators will need to comply with both of these policies when making their bids to local governments. The central governmentâ€™s Basic Policy had a draft version released last September and the final version was originally slated for an early 2020 release. Since
then, the release has been pushed back once to March, and after bribery scandals and COVID-19, the Basic Policy still remains in a draft state as of today. By government order, the Basic Policy must be finalized by July 26th, 2020, or two years within promulgation of the IR Implementation Act, unless a government order is made to change the date. The draft versions of the Implementation Policy for all the four current candidate sites, Osaka, Wakayama, Nagasaki and Yokohama, have been released, but they will remain drafts until the final version of the national Basic Policy is released. The local governments and IR operators have been working all this time with the assumption that there will not be major changes from the Basic Policy draft, and that fact has been a point of uncertainty that the operators and their investors have been dealing with since they first set their sights on Japan. The Basic Policy itself is just a set of guidelines and will not 30
provide all the taxing and casino regulation variables required to make an adequate ROI calculation, but without a final version, operators and investors are left making guesses, and that is for sure not what the gaming business is about. This delay in confirming the basic set of rules for the Japan IR is even more concerning, considering that the submission period for local governments and their IR partner to make applications for IR development approval runs from January 4th, 2021 to July 31st, 2021. This deadline
at the end of July is the most important date during the current phase of the Japan IR procedure. In order to meet this submission deadline, local governments will need to finalize their own Implementation Policy, complete an RFP procedure, select their IR partner and then finally create a business plan together for their submission to the central government. Local governments are assuming that six months is the bare minimum for planning and creating a submission package with their IR operator, and Wakayama prefecture recently pushing back their IR partner selection to next January is a perfect example of this assumption. As we stand today, despite the impact of COVID-19, the central government has no plans to change the national timeline, meaning we should see a final version of the Basic Policy by July 26, and the submission deadline for applications to the central government remains July 31st, 2021. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Legislation Report: Japan IR This timeline situation aside, the IR operators have all had very unique experiences in Japan. None more so than Las Vegas Sands. Starting with Osaka, then on to Yokohama and a brush in with Tokyo, the gaming giant was always considered a favorite in any major Japanese site. Marina Bay Sands in Singapore was what many Japanese lawmakers and stakeholders envisioned when they talked about IRs. It is a new local landmark that completely reinvigorates the local economy and provides abundant tax revenue. Sands themselves were very alert to the local and political situations in Japan, as their public comments when leaving behind Osaka would show. They were the only operator to state their new focus as â€œYokohama or Tokyoâ€?, which differed from what other operators like Melco, Genting or Galaxy had proposed when they went all-in on Yokohama after their short-lived Osaka love affairs. That is why when Sheldon Adelson and Sands decided to leave Japan, many deemed it an end to the current IR initiative. It is quite clear that Sands did not succeed in making guesses and investing during times of unclarity, and there appears to be better ROI opportunities outside of Japan. However, the minute an adequate return on their investment can be forecasted in Japan, they for sure will not have any qualms about coming back and coming back strong. There were concerns that other major operators would follow suit and leave Japan as well, but that has yet to be the case. IR operators are enormous companies with their own formulas, their own ambitions and levels of optimism and their own unique financial situations. None of them are going to leave Japan just because Sands did, it would always be because of their own volition. That certainly does not mean no one will leave, but in any public offering project, this is a common occurrence. Tokyo and Aichi remain as possible candidates, but with time running out, it would be a leap of faith for them to officially put their hands up in the current phase of IRs. Going forward, it will be interesting to track the actions of Yokohama and Nagasaki. While Osaka and Wakayama have for better or for worse already started their RFP procedure to mixed results, Yokohama and Nagasaki still have the flexibility to adjust their schedules and communicate more with potential RFP participants. Nagasaki, the rare candidate with clear local support as the majority, postponed their RFP from spring to late summer or autumn of this year, and they have used this additional time to Volume 16: Issue 140
gather regional support of the 9 nearby governors and multiple regional economic leaders. For Yokohama, there is a strange situation in which the vocal public are clearly against the IR initiative, but the fact remains that the city and prefectural council members are in favor. Their major concerns are the potential recall of Mayor Fumiko Hayashi due to her handling of the IR initiative and the likelihood of an anti-IR mayor winning the next election that conveniently takes place next Autumn, right after the July 2021 national submission deadline. Tokyo, while always the most interesting site, is heavily restricted by their upcoming gubernatorial election, uncertainty with the Olympics and the aforementioned July 2021 submission deadline. As long as the central government does not change their timeline, all the local governments can not afford to waste time, regardless of where they stand in the procedure. We are at a stalemate now where no local government wants to be the one to ask for a delay in the national timeline, while the central government will not budge without a request from local governments. Perhaps that could all change if there is no final version of the Basic Policy by July 26th, but that may also not make a difference. The entire procedure up to now has been done on assumptions that policy drafts will not be significantly altered, and if wholesale changes or clarity on taxes and regulation are not going to be in the final Basic Policy anyways, it could be that the process just rolls forward. Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura recently stated that it is likely that the deadline for their sole IR partner candidate, MGM and Orix Corporation, to submit their proposal will be pushed back up to 6 months, meaning the timeline in Osaka is also at the limits if the national submission schedule does not change. Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui also stated that he sees the Osaka IR opening in 2027 or 2028, already 3 years later than the simultaneous opening with the World Expo 2025 that had still been the target as recently as last year. Considering the current state of the world, the state of their only operator candidate in MGM, the massive infrastructural development needs for their Yumeshima Island site and the clear need to develop and invest in phases, these statements have a very sound logic. In a time of global unpredictability and local uncertainty surrounding IRs, that is all one can really ask for. For further information on Bay City Ventures please visit http://bcv-ltd.com 31
UK Legislation: David Clifton
UK Casinos PostCoronavirus By: David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited
s I write this article, hopes that casinos in England would be able to re-open for business on 4 July 2020 have just been dashed by their wholly unexpected exclusion from the category of leisure and hospitality businesses that will be permitted to re-open on that date. The Betting and Gaming Council (“BGC”) immediately lodged a very strong protest, demanding that the UK government should urgently work with casino operators to ensure a “speedy and safe” re-opening this summer, its CEO Michael Dugher describing the decision to keep them closed as “inconsistent and nonsensical”. This has provided another illustration that nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, amidst warnings that it may yet spread again in parts of the UK due to recent relaxations to lockdown restrictions. Those relaxations have included introduction of the ‘one-metre plus’ physical distancing rule, meaning that people should remain one metre apart whilst also
taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus (such as wearing face masks). The BGC had previously given assurances as long ago as 3 June 2020 that English casinos were “ready, willing and able to open safely” and promises that “every possible measure will be in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone who enters the premises” – customers and staff alike. That was followed up with the BGC’s “Non-Remote Casinos – Compliance with Covid-19 Secure Guidelines”, including the following measures: 1. entry to a casino to be limited to one person at a time, with social distancing rules enforced in any queues outside, 2. queue markers, signage, a capacity limit and, where required, one-way systems to maintain and promote social distancing requirements throughout 32
the premises (including in specific zones such as smoking areas, lifts, toilets), 3. availability of face coverings for customers, who must use hand sanitisers (a) before entering a casino and (b) when joining or leaving a gaming table (with sanitisation solutions being provided throughout all parts of the casino), 4. reviews of gaming floor layouts and gaming machine positions (with tables/machines closed, plexiglass screens or sneeze guards installed when required) to ensure social distancing requirements are adhered to, 5. enforcement of table capacity limits to a maximum of three players per standard roulette, blackjack and three-card poker tables (with casino chips being regularly cleaned and sanitised), 6. customers to be encouraged to avoid touching cards (with the dealer handling cards and www.casinolifemagazine.com
UK Legislation: David Clifton dealing them face up where possible to minimise touching), 7. contact during payments and exchange of documentation to be minimised and contactless/ electronic payment methods to be used where possible and allowed by law, 8. regular sanitisation of objects and surfaces, including table areas, gaming machines, cards and chips (including, in the case of machines, after each play session), 9. voucher redemption terminals and ATMs to be sanitised at least once an hour, 10. utilisation of table service in restaurant and bar areas (that will be reconfigured to allow for social distancing), 11. enhanced customer interactions to promote safer gambling for returning customers, 12. specific staff training (and risk-assessments of staff roles) in relation to hygiene and social distancing guidance, 13. where possible, reconfiguration of seating and circulation in staffrooms and canteen areas, with shift pattern changes to reduce, wherever possible, the number of colleagues that come into contact with each other, and
14. specific risk assessments for events that are likely to draw a large crowd. It was evident from the above list that British casino operators had been studying measures adopted by their U.S. and European counterparts with a view to identifying proven good practice, which in some locations has also included: •
thermal screening of customers on entry,
• compulsory wearing of face masks by both customers and staff, • health screening of employees at the beginning of each shift, Volume 16: Issue 140
an increased frequency of card deck changes, and
prohibition of cash use (including for tipping).
Notwithstanding replacement of the “two metre” distancing rule with the “one-metre plus” rule, enforcing compliance with all such measures will be challenging for British casino operators. Early indications from the U.S. were that casino customers were not fully obeying social distancing requests and that some operators had not connected all safety features across the board, with the consequence that they might not have sufficiently mitigated the risk of infection throughout their casinos. The belated introduction of a mandatory face mask requirement for all customers was one of the consequences. The smaller size of English casinos, coupled with the fact that a good number still operate within premises that were not designed from the outset for casino use, will not make enforcement of each of the above measures any easier to address on this side of the pond. English casino operators will also need to bear in mind any relevant licensing and other regulatory requirements when planning revised layout changes. Their surveillance teams will need to overcome security-related concerns about customers’ faces being obscured by masks, particularly where a casino re-opens with reduced numbers of staff on duty. In addition, a combination of (a) masked casino staff protected behind plexiglass screens and (b) masked
customers on the other side of those screens, will present a risk of communication problems resulting in more frequent customer disputes. That’s not all. I listened recently to representatives of Las Vegas casinos applauding the Nevada Gaming Control Board for working constructively with operators to accelerate the introduction of innovative solutions where needed within their casinos in order to address coronavirus related concerns. However, English casino operators would be optimistic to expect similarly prompt practical assistance of this type from its regulator here in the UK. This particular card was marked on 12 June 2020, when the Gambling Commission published guidance for the re-opening of land-based gambling premises. The overriding message of that guidance was that there will be no leeway allowed whatsoever in relation to the Commission’s regulatory compliance expectations, with emphasis placed on the ongoing 33
UK Legislation: David Clifton
Their surveillance teams will need to overcome securityrelated concerns about customers’ faces being obscured by masks, particularly where a casino re-opens with reduced numbers of staff on duty
responsibility of operators to supervise their premises, ensure compliance with age restrictions and AML controls, monitor customers’ behaviour for signs of gambling-related harm and undertake “meaningful and effective” customer interactions. To be fair, even if it had the will to do so, in some respects it would be impossible for the British gambling regulator to replicate the speed at which some of its American counterparts have been prepared to adapt regulatory restrictions for casino gaming postlockdown. For example, in the case of British casinos it would require legislative change to increase the maximum permitted number of (a) gaming machines and (b) player positions for wholly automated gaming tables. We all know how long that could take, if it ever stands any chance of happening at all. In this and other respects, casino operators await to see whether the forthcoming UK government review of the Gambling Act 2005 will allow their sector to belatedly enter the 21st century with more modern technological and frictionless processes than are presently permitted. That too might be optimistic, given that the main focus of that forthcoming review is more likely to be focused on greater consumer protections than on greater casino freedoms. The land-based sector will not be immune from the same demands that have recently been made of the online casino sector by the Gambling Commission, requiring them to place a greater emphasis on (a) affordability checks, (b) thresholds and triggers used for tracking customers vulnerable to gambling-related harm and (c) continual monitoring of even previously long-established players whose financial and other circumstances may have changed considerably for the worse by reason of socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown. Whilst wishing the sector all success in the coming weeks, I fear that the reality is that the re-opening of British casinos is likely to be a much more modest and low-key affair than elsewhere in the world. 34
Undoubtedly, there will be some casinos that will never re-open at all, London’s Ritz Club Casino currently providing the most prominent example. Furthermore, as the BGC has acknowledged, it may yet be some considerable time before London’s other high-end casinos can seriously contemplate re-opening. Given that the majority of their customers come to London from overseas, it will need both easing of travel restrictions and a restoration of international airline travel patterns before there is any prospect of their doors re-opening. So – to conclude – is there a positive message on which to end this piece? As Jon Duffy, SVP for Corporate Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Genting Casinos UK perceptively commented during a recent webinar, this may all mean that, in future, Great Britain has a smaller but stronger and more sustainable casino industry. email@example.com www.cliftondavies.com
David Clifton co-founded Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited in 2013 after 30 years as a partner at London law firm Joelson Wilson. A renowned specialist in gambling law and regulation for nearly 40 years, he has been a contributing editor to leading textbooks in this area of law and, to this day, remains much in demand as a speaker at gambling conferences worldwide. Independently described as “a genuine expert in the field, fantastically dedicated and client-oriented”, he has represented many of the UK’s casino operators as well as their trade associations since the early 1980s. He has also advised leading international casino companies and online gambling operators and suppliers on licensing and regulatory issues, with an increasing emphasis in recent years on AML controls and safer gambling measures. In addition to his ongoing licensing and gambling consultancy work and commentaries on the sector in numerous industry publications, David also now provides expert witness services. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Obituary: Stanley Ho
Rocha Vieira and Stanley Ho placing the first bets of the Chinese New Year on Tuesday, February 16th 1999. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Dr Stanley Ho Obituary by Niall Murray Dr Stanley Ho (1921-2020), the Legendary Emperor of Gaming, passed away on Tuesday 26th of May 2020 at the age of 98.
tanley Ho Hung Sun was born on 25th of November 1921 in Hong Kong. His father left when he was a young man, leaving him to struggle to take care of his mother and siblings. He worked hard and was awarded a scholarship to Hong Kong University. He moved to Macau in 1942 during the Japanese occupation and quickly made a solid reputation for himself as a very clever, tough, street smart businessman. His warm and charismatic personality made him a popular favourite among Macau’s Portuguese and local community leaders. Dr. Stanley Ho and his partners Teddy Yip, Yip Hon and Henry Fok founded STDM in 1962. STDM was Volume 16: Issue 140
granted Macau’s casino monopoly, which it held for 40 years. During this time Dr. Ho played a fundamental role in the development of Macau and made himself a multi-billionaire along the way. Dr. Ho’s other business interests were vast and wide ranging. He founded and ran dozens of highly successful enterprises including Shun Tak holdings, Seng Heng Bank, SJM and was involved in the gaming, entertainment, tourism, shipping, construction, real estate, banking and air transport industries. Dr. Ho also held many other varied investments in Macau, Hong Kong, China, Portugal, North Korea, Vietnam, Mozambique, Indonesia, East Timor and the Philippines. 35
Obituary: Stanley Ho
Dr. Ho’s extraordinary philanthropy was renowned. Dr. Ho often bid anonymously in international auctions on items looted from Mainland China, and returned them as gifts to the country. One such item was a Qing Dynasty Sculpture, the Bronze Horse head statue, one of the 12 original signs of the Chinese zodiac statues, that were part of an elaborate water clock fountain, originally taken from the Old Summer
Palace in Beijing, for which he paid US$8.84 million and donated to the motherland. “With this move, I hope to encourage more people to take part in preserving Chinese artefacts and to promote patriotism and nationalism,” Ho said at the time. China was so appreciative of Dr. Ho’s nationalism and patriotism that they asked him to hold onto it, for safekeeping, as a trusted friend of China. Dr. Ho had years earlier bought the Boar Head sculpture and donated it to Beijing’s Poly Museum. The bronze horse head statue is displayed next to a bronze bust of Dr.Ho and among many other recovered treasures, in the lobby of the Grand Lisboa in Macau. Dr. Ho’s unparalleled understanding of the top level international and national political landscapes, his philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility has led to countless titles, awards and recognition from around the world. Dr. Ho was a Standing member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s 36
Political Consultative Conference, was awarded an O.B.E. for his services to the community of Hong Kong, the Great Cross of the Order of Prince Henrique from Portugal, the Gold Bauhinia Star and Grand Bauhinia Medal from Hong Kong, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Macau and has streets named after him in Macau and Portugal. In addition, Dr. Ho generously served the community
as a member of the board of numerous Universities, Associations and Foundations. Following Portugal’s return of Macau to China in 1999, the local government decided to liberalise the gaming monopoly held by STDM for decades, in 2002, to open up the industry to foreign investment and to stimulate the economy. However, after liberalisation, and the process that unfolded, 3 concessions and 3 sub-concessions were awarded, and Stanley Ho (STDM’s Gaming Subsidiary SJM), Pansy Ho (MGM) and Laurence Ho (Melco) masterfully managed to gain a firm hold on the reins at 3 of the 6 gaming concessions awarded in Macau (the other 3 being Galaxy, Sands and Wynn). Dr. Ho no longer held all the cards, but, effectively his family controlled half of the gaming licenses in the post-liberalised - New Macau. I was a Senior Director at Sands Casino, the first foreign operator to open in Macau in May 2004. On opening day, I witnessed a stampede of over 40,000 www.casinolifemagazine.com
Obituary: Stanley Ho visitors, bursting through the doors, causing the elevators to roll backwards and dropping so much cash on the table games, that it took us 3 days to complete the count and calculate the total first days takings. The success of the Sands Casino was unprecedented. Dr. Ho and his entourage accepted our invitation to the opening. He created a media frenzy, upon arrival, as virtually all of the hundreds of media, ran to interview him, much to the dismay of the Sands Executives, who stood abandoned and alone. The Emperor had arrived. At the time Dr. Ho congratulated the new arrivals and wished them good luck. However, he felt confident that he understood the market and his customers extremely well and that the new arrivals would form little threat to his SJM Empire. However, after the opening of Sands Casino, Dr. Ho witnessed the “Sands Effect,” and as new market players entered and opened for business, SJM’s monopoly market share began to dwindle, significantly. Dr. Ho decided to reinvent, restructure, reinvigorate and redevelop substantial parts of his SJM empire. I had the honour of becoming a key member of SJM’s newly formed Joint Ventures and New Business Division under Dr. Stanley Ho’s leadership from 2006 to 2012. Our brief was to develop, open and optimise operations at the Grand Lisboa, Ponte 16, Oceanus, L’Arc and Grand Lisboa Palace, as well as focus on the companywide implementation of international best practices,
innovations and process improvements. The SJM empire strikes back… Although highly competitive, proud and pioneering, Dr. Ho was also quite a sentimental romantic character. A number of years ago a major redevelopment plan was envisaged for the Lisboa Casino, which was originally opened in August 1970. The plan involved an international architectural design competition and called for the total demolition of the original building. The proposed integrated resort redevelopment of the Lisboa and the district was state of the art, ambitious and would have transformed downtown Macau. The ultimate “go,” “no go” decision rested with Dr. Ho. When the senior executive team presented the ultimate redevelopment proposal, Dr. Ho thanked them for their efforts, showed his appreciation for all their hard work, but, told them that Lisboa was where it all began, it was still his baby, close to his heart, and that he could not bear to see it Volume 16: Issue 140
knocked down while he was alive. Over the past decade, Dr. Ho began to step back from day to day issues, due to a fall in which he sustained a serious head injury, yet, his presence was still clearly felt, with his firm grip on the organisation, and with his strong and decisive leadership touching every part of the organisation. Dr. Ho had the remarkable ability to keep all key stakeholders within his vast business empire insync, moving forward and growing steadily. And his unwavering and genuine paternal care for his immediate and extended family, team members and the communities of people he touched, was heartwarming to witness.
Dr. Stanley Ho’s personal life was as colourful and complex. He had four wives, Clementine Leitao, Lucinda Azul Jean Ying, Ina Chan and Angela Leong, with whom he fathered a total of 17 children. Over the past few years, Dr. Ho has carefully crafted a number of complex agreements to ensure that all of the members of his immediate and extended family are well taken care of, and that his empire would be in safe and competent hands, after he passes away. The passing of Dr. Stanley Ho is a tremendous loss to his wonderful family and to the world. Dr. Stanley Ho touched so many peoples lives because he was a legendary leader, a pioneer, who treated everyone with respect and dignity, but, was also tough, and took strong decisive action when necessary. Dr. Stanley Ho will be sadly missed, but his legacy will live on through his life-long contributions, his family, and the memories of so many people whose lives he helped to shape. 37
Book Review: Richard Marcus
Casino Game Protection from Both Sides of the Table
Former Master Casino Cheat Richard Marcus Takes you right Inside his Game Protection Training Class in his New Book!
uthor Richard Marcus, considered by many to be the greatest casino cheat of all-time, has been a game protection consultant and trainer to casinos for fifteen years now. As such, he brings a great “deal-tothe-table” for the casino industry in his book Casino Game Protection From Both Sides of the Table. It is a must read for casino table games and surveillance staffs interested in keeping professional cheats and advantage players out of their casinos, as well as dishonest employees going into business for themselves. Marcus stresses how “game protection must work from the floor to the sky,” not the opposite, which he points out is the case in almost all casinos. In the book, he shares the basics and the advanced cheat scams used by sophisticated professionals. But he doesn’t just write them. He shows them, and not in a way you would think is done in a book. He actually takes us to his game protection training class, and not only that—you actually participate in the class while reading! This technique of his is what really keeps you
interested in the book. Marcus shows us how cheating in a casino game is not just about using a device or a trick. There is a human equation to it. There is psychology, which highlevel cheats use to control both floor and surveillance staffs. Marcus goes into depth explaining the strategic importance of the cheater’s image, posing as a lowprofile customer some of the time and a loud even pompous high roller at the right times. He takes us up to the tables where we see the cheats engage the dealers and supervisors in conversation, getting them on their side, and, believe it or not, how they actually get casino surveillance to help them cheat their own casinos! Unwittingly of course! Learning from the people who lived-the-life is the best educational source. It’s kind of like learning to fly. With Marcus at the helm you’re sitting next to the captain of a jumbo jet, not in an automated simulator. He really shows you how it’s done in his class. Marcus 36
likes to say that the best thing he can do for table games and surveillance people is put them in his shoes for a day. Knowing the intricacies of how top
cheats function gives you the key knowledge you need to catch them. Marcus stresses that although casinos’ surveillance departments have the state-of-the-art technology, at times it works against them. Why? “Because,” he says, “the staffs, especially on the floor, depend on that and feel secure knowing it’s there.” But then when Marcus asks the class, pointing upward at an imaginary camera, “How many times has a camera unscrewed itself out of its casing, spiraled downward to the floor and tapped you on the shoulder to tell you Richard Marcus just pastposted a $5,000 bet?”, you start to understand what he means. I will simply say, “read this book!” That is if you want to be better at your job spotting cheats, and at the same time save your casino employer some big losses at the gaming tables. Robert Ambrose, Correspondent www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Andy Cosgrove
The Power of Appreciation Making your staff feel appreciated is one of the most important ingredients for operational success, so why do so many operators still fail in this area and what can you do to meet and exceed your employee’s expectations?
s another week of lockdown begins, I’m feeling immensely proud of the NHS and of all key workers here in the UK, and around the globe, for the tremendous work they’re doing to keep us all safe, healthy and supplied with our essential needs. The now “weekly clap for key workers” sends out a massive message of appreciation as does the contribution made by other amazing human beings such as the 100-yearold veteran who raised over thirty million pounds for the NHS, and the truck driver who sent flowers to Volume 16: Issue 140
a complete stranger just because they showed him gratitude for a job well done. The human spirit is truly amazing and in tough times something as small as a simple “thank you” can, and will, go a long way towards steering us in the direction of a brighter future. In the Casino business I’ve been on the receiving end of both extremes of the appreciation scale and sometime not even on it at all, so with such a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, some might say that those showing appreciation on the low end of the 39
Feature: Andy Cosgrove scale should seriously reconsider their approach towards motivation. Before we can make a valid effort to provide employees with the appreciation that they instinctively search for, let’s first look at what your operation might look like if all you had was employees with zero motivation:
motivated then how are they going to make sure their guests feel the same way? Appreciation and respect are an important part of staff retention and great companies retain their best staff by implementing and integrating some, or all of the following best practices into their daily modus operandi.
• The message of your brand will be become like a one-thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle that only the most die-hard customers will take time to try and understand • Your guest experience will become anemic • Your visitor rates will slow • Nobody will be talking about you, or buying your products • Sales targets will be missed • Morale and culture will disintegrate • Your management and staff will jump ship at the throw of your over-used dice.
Clarify the message of your brand – The message of your brand should always be aimed toward attracting, retaining and maximizing the value that your operation generates for your customers. The message has to be something that the staff can relate to on the same level as your customers and once your staff understand and buy into why your customer plays inside your casino, then they will be better prepared to deliver above and beyond expectations.
Why do people leave? They leave when your company fails to offer them anything of value. They leave because your customer service is lethargic and no longer meets their expectations. They leave because your competition helped them solve their problems by delivering a simple, focused and personalized message that your operation appears to have made extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs. Our primal needs are all the same and include the needs to survive, feel secure and belong to a group of people that we can relate to whether it be a casino player’s club, a rock n’ roll band or a group of weekend motor car enthusiasts. We also share greater psychological, physiological and spiritual needs that give us a higher sense of meaning. If what your company is offering doesn’t supply your customers and your staff with the minimal motivation they require to satisfy these basic needs, then you might consider a change in strategy and start by saying a simple “good morning” to your staff and use that as a benchmark for improvement. Great companies know the importance of staff appreciation and invest large sums of money and time towards ensuring that their most valuable assets (the staff!) are appreciated, motivated, engaged and empowered to meet and exceed expectations on a consistent basis. Another simple way that successful companies look at the value of staff appreciation is that if they don’t make the staff feel appreciated and 40
The importance of trust – What you do has a far greater impact than what you say, and trust has a huge impact on your staff and how they perceive the place where they “choose” to work. A great leader knows the importance of trust and will apply the behaviors of trust on a daily basis. These behaviors include showing respect, creating transparency, clarifying expectations, practicing accountability, delivering results and keeping commitments. Without trust, your staff won’t perform to your company or customer expectations. Without trust there can be no appreciation and without trust your best staff and customers won’t be part of your brand for much longer.
Communication – Is a great motivator and an even better opportunity for showing your staff appreciation. When I refer to communication, I’m not talking about a monthly email sent out by senior management that is limited to details about financial performance and puts the readers to sleep after the first sentence. I’m talking about the type of daily two-way communication that is used to proactively improve operations and empower your staff by engaging them and using their feedback to change the way you revamp productivity, raise staff satisfaction levels and increase customer acquisition and retention rates. The most successful companies use daily briefings, quality circle meetings, regular staff evaluations and one-on-one sessions to make communications more effective and as a frequent way of showing appreciation to their most valuable assets.
Feature: Andy Cosgrove Recognition and Mentoring – A simple “good morning” in the corridor or a well deserved “thank you” during your daily briefing will go a long way to keeping your staff happy, motivated and appreciated. Recognition increases employee morale and also encourages repeat behaviors, so it’s easy to see why it’s a win, win situation. A lot of companies successfully use extrinsic forms of recognition such as employee of the month, quarter and year as a form of appreciation and frequently combine them with regular evaluations and one-on-one sessions to gain insight into what motivates each employee as an individual. Other extrinsic forms of recognition range from pay rises and free bus passes to free childcare and onsite gyms. A more intrinsic approach to recognition might be empowering your employees to use their skills and experience to meet company goals with minimal supervision, which will give employees a higher sense of purpose and accomplishment. Mentoring is also a very rewarding form of appreciation as leaders get a chance to share their knowledge and experience to help others improve, grow and succeed. Mentoring works both ways and a great leader will take full advantage to learn from those they are teaching. This
learning and development relationship is an excellent form of team building and can create stronger bonds and increase staff retention levels. Mentoring also provides employers with an opportunity to promote from within and create a culture of leadership which will attract the best talent and the best customers. Philanthropy – Giving back to society and helping those in need makes the job bigger than just a paycheck and it’s a great form of appreciation that brings management and employees together on the same level for the same purpose. It’s one of the highest forms of appreciation and one that will bring out the best in us all. Conclusion - It’s never too late to show appreciation and it’s never too late to change the way you do business and make appreciation an integral part of your business improvement strategy. Great leaders and successful businesses know the power of a united and motivated team and to forget its message will result in great humiliation as working without purpose is like living life without joy and how long do you expect your business to survive without that?
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Volume 16: Issue 140
Comment: Shaun McCamley
Can A BlockChain Fuelled Social Casino Boost Deliverables?
ocial Casino platforms continue to boom, attracting even more players as a direct result of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Even when casino operators are in a position to begin ramping up, players will be reluctant to travel for some time to come. BlockChain has been touted as the next big thing in gaming circles, so just what are the benefits, if any, that this innovative technology can deliver? Surprisingly for an industry in boom mode, over the past 8 years there really hasn’t been any new innovations or additional game upgrades. In some respects that’s not surprising as the core basics of a slot, bingo, poker and standard casino game are already there. So are there advantages of integrating BlockChain technology into a social gaming platform? To best answer this question, we need to take a step back
and look at the basic modelling that social games platforms currently deliver as well as understand the psyche of players who love social; and by the way, millions of them are playing every day. The average social gamer regardless of what game they play, will generally prefer a freemium game implementation over a fully licensed game, unless the game comes from a well-known publisher. The freemium model has three basic approaches to monetize the platform, namely: 1. In-App purchase of the games “token” (this could be additional credits, gold coins or some other “token” representation of in-app value)
2. The provision of revenue generating ads that the player can either watch to “earn” some of the inapp tokens or credits, or forced in front of the player before they can progress in some way or another. 42
Comment: Shaun McCamley
Tokens are also often used as a reward for returning back to the game on a regular basis (loyalty program) introducing new players to the game (referral) or for buying in-game tools that make progression to the next level easier. 3. Through a level of socializing the game by implementing “competitions” between multiple players for “token” prizes or the status of being a game “champion or expert” Tokens are also often used as a reward for returning back to the game on a regular basis (loyalty program) introducing new players to the game (referral) or for buying in-game tools that make progression to the next level easier. Simply put, all freemium style games have a common purpose of trying to monetize the product through some form of digital token that represents a given value. When it comes to excitement levels players have differing needs they wish a game to provide. They want the ability to be entertained for a given period of time, at a cost commensurate with the level of gratification they are trying to achieve. Most freemium models fail at this, often with players feeling they are being bombarded with adverts, unfairly charged for the cost of buying in-app tokens, or the value of the digital assets not being proportionate with
the cost of the token. In addition, some players are able to easily conquer certain game levels, and easily “earn” tokens in one game, but then feel deflated when trying other gaming systems. Currently there is no easy way to accumulate “in-app tokens” or points in one game and transfer them to another game, or even gaming profile within the same game or platform – this is one aspect where BlockChain technology delivers. A players journey in most social gaming platforms is initial excitement, then the gaming “algorithm” tries to push the player to purchase “tokens” as part of its monetization process. This is usually done through certain triggers like urging to join a competition, giving some free tokens, yet not enough to succeed to the next level. Experienced players are well aware of this, and usually prefer freemium games that are less “in your face” about it, or are perceived to provide enough “stimuli benefit” for the costs involved. Most players are Volume 16: Issue 140
aware that their excitement levels start falling away when the cost to value ratio is no longer sustainable. So armed with this information, what are the benefits of developing and integrating BlockChain technology into a social casino games platform? GameWorkz, a social casino games platform developer who are building a disruptive tokenised games platform, understand that the real benefits coming from this technology is when providers look more at their ecosystem than individual products. The end result being that companies like GameWorkz will be able to acquire more players at a higher ROI. The way forward is building tokenised games linked to a loyalty rewards program all fuelled by BlockChain technology. When using a GameWorkz BlockChain driven platform, a player signs up for a token enabled game (same as a normal freemium game) and downloads it. The player is informed that the game is tokenized, and may have items tracked through the BlockChain. It is made clear to the player that by using their BlockChain enhanced player login they will see increased player value. Not everyone is BlockChain savvy so the smart move is to make this optional, and the player can continue as per normal using a standard login. As a part of the education process, the player is able to use a standard login based on their game wallet, or offered to download a token app (an enhanced game wallet for game tokens), if they haven’t got a game token wallet as yet. After ensuring they have a token wallet (or logged in with their “tokenized game login”), the player gains “ingame” tokens through progressing through the game, which are shown as the games regular tokens. The tokens they accumulate appear as the standard game tokens (coins, gems, treasure items etc.) GameWorkz players are given the option of viewing ads and the type of ads they want to view. Using BlockChain technology the game properties can be set either through the game, or through the token wallet app that a player downloads. This allows the data to be
Comment: Shaun McCamley
To ensure that ad monetization mechanism is not being abused, a player verification system is engaged by creating social proof and a form of KYC to ensure basic AML regulations are abided by
visible in one central place for all token games, or for the individual game in the game itself. It is important to ensure that the quantity of tokens accumulated, the ad settings, and the ability to trade will always be available from the wallet app. This means a player can open the wallet app, move the current value of the tokens they have to another game (trade the tokens for others), or they could buy more tokens. A player must be able to see the amount of tokens they have, what loyalty rewards they have accumulated for each game, the amount of ad time they have provided, the amount they have been paid for viewing those ads. As an added bonus players can see which games provide the best token value / add revenue / game fairness etc. The wallet is a central place where all data for all tokenized games is held, it will be considered the same as a normal token wallet, with each game token representing a certain value for that particular player. A BlockChain powered reward program like any other is incentive driven and is built directly into the wallet. This in turn means that game providers on an aggregate model can provide rewards in tokens back to the players. These token rewards are based on total ad time watched, the amount of times they return, and the amount of money (fiat) spent on tokens, the amount of people introduced. To ensure that ad monetization mechanism is not being abused, a player verification system is engaged by creating social proof and a form of KYC to ensure basic AML regulations are abided by. So for players signing onto a tokenised BlockChain fuelled social casino platform they have their game installed, and are given the option to also install a universal game wallet that contains all tokenized game data that the platform supports. Within that wallet, they would be able to set basic configuration data for the game such as ad repeats, monetization, game equipment, and the amount of tokens etc. The wallet acts as both a game library for the supported tokenized games, a token wallet and a basic social platform, online store to swap / sell and trade game related goods like 44
tokens, equipment and even game progress. Disruptive and smart, BlockChain compliant social platforms offering token enabled games delivering all the benefits the new technology delivers will ring in a new era to an already hungry and impatient market. Smart land based casino companies are already looking to get into social as they recognise easy cost effective branding opportunities with excellent cross over promotions, the opportunity to build out their database whilst at the same time generating significant revenues. If you are considering a move into either social or online casino gaming, would like to learn more about either platform, BlockChain deliverables and how this technology can work for you, talk to us today about first steps and preparing a market feasibility study. Contact us today for a detailed proposal at email@example.com
Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd has over 39 years’ experience in the land based and digital gaming industries. Recognized by Global Gaming Business Weekly as one of the top 25 industry people to watch. Holder of Key Management Gaming Licenses issued by the USA and Australia. In 1999, as a pioneer and early operator in online gaming, he founded BingoWorkz which developed and operated the internet’s first networked gaming solution using Flash technology. Since 2001 building Euro-PacificAsia Management Consulting into a leading firm that provides advice, casino management services and turn-key solutions to the land based and digital gaming industries. A former President, CEO, and SVP of international gaming resort destinations. Commissioned to establish international casino resort developments in Australia (Perth) the Philippines (Subic Bay) Vietnam (Ho Tram) Tinian and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Shaun is regularly invited to serve as chairman, keynote speaker and panelist at major gaming conferences around the world. As the Managing Partner for Euro Pacific Asia Consulting, Shaun continues to consult to the industries’ major land based and digital gaming operators.
Digital LIVE WEBINAR SERIES
The Road Back REFOCUS. REOPEN. RECOVER.
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Post-COVID: the era for Digital Transformation
igital transformation is a change in how an organization delivers value to its customers. As said by George Westerman, MIT principal research scientist, “Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance.” The world is starting to show signs of recovery from its own coronavirus lockdown period, and digital transformations have sprung up on a wide variety of business. The coronavirus lockdown was effective at getting some of the business’ that weren’t willing to go outside of the box before to do so now, and “Going Digital” is one sure thing we know for the post-COVID era while the rest of the future are still uncertain. However, transformations are hard, and digital ones are harder even we know it will derive new value to its customers and help us winning new and recurring businesses in the post-COVID time. What are the means through which we can achieve this? How to accelerate our digital transformation?
Focus on Customer Interest A deep understanding of the customer needs is the most important starting point in understanding how to lead digital transformations. We should put customers at the center of our endeavors but not to focus on creating operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Our goal is to create a competitive experience to differentiated gaming experience with all other entertainments values that is competing to attracts new customers and keeps them coming back. Finding the customer interest can be challenging, and I learn from my experience that follow the “Design Thinking” steps can make things easier: • Empathise with your users • Define – your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights 46
Raymond Chan, Managing Partner, Alphaslot
• Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions • Prototype – to start creating solutions • Test – solutions www.casinolifemagazine.com
Having the right, digital-and-business savvy leaders in place In fact, digital transformation is business transformation. No one person can really lead digital transformation fully, because digital cuts across marketing, technology, operations and finance. Among the most important person in operationalizing the road map should be the one who understand your customer most, follow by the technology expert in different area. My experience is telling me that this
usually involve the team of “Marketing”, “IT”, and “Product”. Furthermore, transformation is about things that never done before and for this reason, there is often no playbook to follow. One way to achieve a successful team work is to empower the people to try new things and learn along the way by setting up a common goal(s) for the key leader from the 3 sectors. Everyone understands not only what their responsibilities are but also how their work will be resulted. I personally love to use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to drive this effort. Invented by the Intel co-founder Andy Grove, OKRs is a collaborative goal-setting tool used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. The key benefits are focus, alignment and engagement. The idea is simple: Set the objective, have the measure in place to declare the objectives are met, and plan the actions to achieve the measures. We will find another chance to discuss OKRs in
practice may lead you to pivot from one to another in earliest possible stage to avoid unnecessary failure in the quest for a great new product.
The Bottom Line for Post-COVID After any crisis, there is a strong desire for rebirth and renewal. For example, after a war, there is a post-war boom. After the .com bubble busted, we have the internet era. After the financial crisis, we have seen Uber and Airbnb arise. We the citizens at crisis after the big lost and destruction will appreciate more with the peace comes with tremendous creative energy and new economy-building. History has been telling us that there will be new demand for products and services; companies are eager to get back and survive and innovate itself will take part of the new world.
details, however, you should be able to find tons of YouTube videos to started without me.
Start Small and Experimental Digital transformation is like starting a new business, and my startups experience have discovered that deploying a minimal viable product (MVP) in the shortest possible time is extremely important to find our mistake fast (and fix it fast too!) in the process. We shall release the MVP to a select group of test customers to determine what improvements need to be made. While the MVP is often extremely
minimalistic, the feedback from the initial group of test customers helps us learn what’s working, understand what isn’t, and figure out what direction our “transformation” should go at the lowest cost in the least time frame. “Build-Measure-Learn” repeatedly, with the goal of turning that the MVP into a sustainable business model. You will be surprised the Volume 16: Issue 139
About Raymond Chan Raymond Chan has 25 years of experience building award-winning teams and products with global technology companies. He joined Alphamirai and cofounded Alphaslot in 2018, played a key role in business innovations with Fortune 500’s senior leaders in Japan and China over his career. He also co-founded TGG Interactive in 2014 and was instrumental in the founding of Global Gaming Group in 2007. Earlier in his career he spent 10 years R&D in Silicon Valley and was part of the founding team that established the E*TRADE and TiVo Business Intelligence Data Center in North America. Mr. Chan holds an engineering and management science degree from the University of Waterloo and earned his Sir Isaac Newton physic scholar in Canada.
Manage This: Robert Brassai
Time to Update Your Casino Gaming Floor
hile casinos in more and more countries are eagerly opening their doors for business again, there is a new normal. Our old ways of welcoming guests to our casinos are either temporarily suspended or as a worstcase scenario will never return. Nobody really knows at this stage, if the happenings of the past six months will change the way we live our lives forever or we eventually get over the fear that these COVID times imprinted onto our brains. I certainly hope for the sake of our industry and in general for our wellbeing that common sense will eventually gain the upper hand and our washed brains will once again regain some degree of freedom and selfcontrol to pass logical judgement on issues like comfort, survival, social fabric and joie de vivre. Since businesses can’t really wait for the final outcome of the above-mentioned issues, to survive and eventually to turn a profit casinos will observe government imposed rules and in some cases selfregulation on social distancing and public health. What these rules really mean could be at first look a bit scary. What makes casinos fun and socially entertaining is their exact downfall in a pandemic or similar situation.
Where does the danger of contamination come from? • Crowds, big number of people close to each other on slots, tables, restaurants, different queues • Number of devices a customer and staff touch regularly while playing • Customers coming from different parts of a country or the world can contract and spread the disease.
Robert Brassia 48
So, it is pretty easy to see how casinos and resorts can be high risk areas during pandemics. At the same time taking countermeasures to reduce these risks can and will take a serious bite from the fun factor people go to casinos for in the first place. So, how do we balance providing our customers with a memorable gambling www.casinolifemagazine.com
Manage This: Robert Brassai
“People feel glamorous in a glamorous space and rich in a rich space. And who doesn’t want to feel rich?” One of the most visible and obvious attributes to feeling rich and privileged is having more personal space. experience and at the same time make sure that they are safe, and we also make them feel safe and welcome to win their patronage? The measures most casinos take are rather simple and hasty and are simply aimed at opening those doors and start making up for lost time. These include but aren’t limited to: • Employee and customer screening • Protective devices • Distancing playing positions • Regular disinfection of play material and other elements • Masks, gloves, and shields • Disinfectant available throughout the premises. Most of the actions are actually aimed at distancing people from each other, giving them more privacy and
space. Apart from making sure the virus doesn’t pass from punter to punter, what these measures could achieve if done properly would be a more custom made and luxurious play experience. That is, if casinos designed and presented it in such a way. Putting plexiglass between your slot machines will surely not give anyone a feeling of exclusivity or make them feel special. Turning every second slot machine off will only make your floor look ugly and desolate. There is a different way to achieve compliance with social distancing rules and make your customers feel like the VIPs they think they are. Some forward-thinking casino executives have been applying the “playground” design principles to their casino floors for some time now. No, not because they knew social distancing would be the norm one day soon due to hysteria about some virus, but due to a different realization. As Roger Thomas put it; “People feel glamorous in a glamorous space and rich in a rich space. And who doesn’t want Volume 16: Issue 139
to feel rich?” One of the most visible and obvious attributes to feeling rich and privileged is having more personal space. Think of economy vs business class seats, the size of your house or car as well as the privacy you can afford to have while gambling. While having people breath down your neck and cheer you on at a BJ table can be fun for some, having a whole table to yourself or sharing it with one or two other people all of a sudden takes gambling into a different dimension. The punter will feel special, will consider themselves a VIP and will most probably spend more than they normally would on a 5 dollar minimum table shared with another 5 players. If you spent the time in lockdown on redesigning your casino floor, you did the right thing. The playground design will serve the purposes of social distancing, but really it should be sold and communicated as a conscious effort from your casino to pamper your punters instead of COVID measures. It really only depends on the presentation and communication. The underlying mathematics are also solid and serve the best interest of the casino. If you are not familiar with best practices for yield management on your casino
floor, feel free to get in touch with me and I together with my partners would be happy to help out and shed some light on how to make delicious lemonade from those lemons life just threw at you.
Biography Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
Last Word: Damien Connelly
he State of Louisiana in America is proposing an intriguing support measure for casinos — Senate Bill 5. It proposes to give each casino operator in the State a tax break on US$5 million of free ‘promotional play wagers’. At a time when government revenues are stressed due to lower tax receipts, this is quite daring thinking by a government, in my opinion. It supports operators attract patrons, with the ultimate objective of course for patrons to spend money in casinos and thus, via gaming taxes, provide the State of Louisiana with much-needed tax revenues. Successful operators’ promotional marketing programs also help overcome the psychological de-conditioning that’s happened over the last few months of orders for the public to stay home (see my Last Word in issue #138). There are similarities between this proposed tax break and the promotion run by Derek Stevens — owner of the D, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, and the soon-to-open Circa Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas — when in the Keep America Flying promotion Mr. Stevens first offered 1,000 free one-way flights to Las Vegas from 20 cities across America. With all flights snapped up in less than two hours of the promotion launch, Mr. Stevens added another 1,000 free flights to Las Vegas…these too were scooped up within hours by enthusiastic patrons. These are exactly the steps required to overcome the effects of psychological de-conditioning of stay-at-home orders.
Governments the world-over have provided fiscal stimulus measures for economies that are unparalleled in previous shocks. I initially advised my clients the Coronavirus pandemic would be 3x as costly to the global economy as the 2008/09 financial crash. I now think it will be more like 5x as costly. As much as governments are providing support to economies across the world, they also need support. Their tax revenues have taken a huge hit. As much as Modern Monetary Theory may provide some solutions, the basic principles are still blatantly obvious — to paydown the debts they’re currently taking on to support private enterprise, governments will need support for many years following this health-induced crisis. Net effect? Your business operations should plan for increased taxes. If industry associations and our industry play this correctly, this can be a turning point in how politicians perceive our casino industry. If we proactively support governments and actively lobby for the fair increase in taxes on our commercial
operations, we can positively move the dial of how politicians perceive our industry. Yes, I’m advising our industry asks government to increase the taxes casinos pay. It’s going to happen anyway, so why not be proactive about it and control the agenda by taking the moral high-ground?
Biography Damien Connelly has worked with some of the world’s largest corporates on business and strategic planning, on creating innovation, and on introducing growth programs, such as with Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever and Vodafone. He’s worked in the casino industry for almost 15 years. His first MA was from Glasgow University in Economics and Management, and his second MA (with Distinction) was from Kingston University in Marketing. He is a professional member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
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