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Volume 16: Issue 141
Reaching for the Sky
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Editorial: Editor: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor: Damien Connelly email@example.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor North America: David Mckee email@example.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Sophie Behan firstname.lastname@example.org International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: Robert Ambrose email@example.com
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Welcome... ...to Issue 141 of Casino Life. Like it or not, Covid-19 will be the gaming story of 2020. Betting & Gaming Council Chairwoman Brigid Simmonds walks us through that hard reality, as well as the governmental swings and roundabouts with which British casinos have had to cope this year. Our cover features the new terrace at The Hippodrome, whose chairman, Simon Thomas, sees a silver lining in this year’s voyage through the looking glass. Thomas and his team have taken advantage of the downtime to figure out how to make a better, smarter, more valuable Hippodrome. As Thomas says, this is not the time to look back in anger but to gaze ahead toward the ways it has changed the industry for the better. Las Vegas could desperately use some good news right now and casino entrepreneur Derek Stevens is about to give it an $850 million shot in the arm with his new Circa resort, which opens October 28. Stevens has converted a block of downtown urban blight that, when finished, will offer sports bettors the world’s largest book, one where they can watch games in cinematic splendor. He will also debut a six-pool, rooftop deck with swimming pools heated to a variety of balmy degrees. If you crave European-style horse racing there’s only one Peter White place you can get it in the U.S. and that’s Kentucky Downs, which is about to debut a major extension, The Mint. It will showcase Kentucky Downs’ year-round attraction (aside from simulcasting): ‘historical horse racing.’ It’s not quite slots but a parimutuel form of gaming. Internet-casino game manufacturer Endon Technologies has recently relocated to the Isle of Man and Editor Peter White was there to greet it. He chats with Endon’s Edwin Ford about the company’s new ambitions. Damien Connelly Peter also hobnobs with Scientific Games staff composer Willie Wilcox, a veteran musician whose remit goes far beyond penning catchy jingles for slot machines. One of the companies that has been the most proactive with regard to preventing the spread of Covid-19 has been Hard Rock International. We revisit Bennie Mancino to find out how Hard Rock is coping with this frustratingly persistent pandemic. As Mancino is quick to observe, what we’re facing now isn’t just an Bill Healey economic crisis such as the Great Recession of 2008 but an existential assault on our daily lives, which often involve a visit to the casino. Coronavirus meant that the American Gaming Association had to reluctantly pull the plug on Global Gaming Expo and, as we went to press, on G2E Asia as well. They’ll be back next year but it’s a blow to industry morale. AGA executives Meredith Pallante and Reed Exhibitions’ Korbi Carrison talk about the factors David McKee behind G2E’s suspension. And, finally, Niall Murray bids an extended goodbye to Sir Solomon Kerzner, who put gaming on the map in South Africa and the Bahamas, among other accomplishments.
Peter White Editor
Stewart Hyde 3
6 Guest Comment Brigid Simmonds, Chairman, Betting and Gaming Council 7
Guest Comment Simon Thomas, Chairman, Hippodrome
8 Just one of those things Circa owner Derek Stevens talks about the creation of his new resort. By: David McKee 17 Things to come Already unique, Kentucky Downs is moving up in the world. By: David McKee 23 Bright Solutions. Profitable Results Edwin Ford, Sales & Marketing at Endon Technologies Ltd chats to Peter White 27 Audio Branding Peter White chats to recording artist Willie Wilcox about the science behind audio branding in the slot machine world 32 Gaming Legislation Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. By: Marko Tomic, Partner, Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. Zagreb 36 The Show Must Go On Concerns over Coronavirus prompt the reinvention of Global Gaming Expo. By: David McKee 39 Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020 Preview Yulia Chopenko, the event coordinator of SmileExpo company, answers the questions 42 Sun King Sadly, Sir Solomon “Sol” Kerzner (1935-2020), “The Sun King”, passed away from cancer on March 21st 2020 at the age of 84, at his Leeukoppie Estate in Cape Town, South Africa. By: Niall Murray 48 Responding to a Global Pandemic Bennie Mancino chats to Bill Healey about the challenges facing the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic 51 Covid-19 Impact in Casinos Exclusive Survey By Arjan Korstjens 53 C an Online Casinos Offer Non-Negotiable (NN) Chip Rolling Programs By: Shaun McCamley 55 How to Catch a Casino Cheat By: John Connolly 57 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.
Guest Comment: Brigid Simmonds
Brigid Simmonds BGC Chairman
020 is a year which will be remembered forever. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives in ways which would have been unimaginable 12 months ago. In the same way, it has proven enormously challenging for the betting and gaming industry. Like the rest of the country, the UK’s casinos and betting shops closed their doors in March as part of the national effort to slow the spread of the virus. As spring turned into summer, and the news slowly began to improve on the coronavirus front, the Betting and Gaming Council stepped up its efforts to persuade the Government that our members were able to re-open their premises in a way that was safe both for their staff and customers. We were delighted when betting shops in England and Wales opened their doors again on 15 June, and when those in Scotland followed two weeks later. The battle to get the UK’s casinos back up and running was a longer one however, despite the lengths that those businesses went to in ensuring that they met all of the necessary health guidelines. Perspex screens, hand sanitisation stations, strict social distancing rules and sophisticated track and trace systems were all put in place to make sure that all venues were Covid-secure. For months, thousands of furloughed staff had to live with the uncertainty of not knowing when, or if, they would be going back to work. The economic cost to the country of the lockdown was also huge, with the cost of furlough and lost tax receipts hitting the Exchequer to the tune of £10m a week. After being given the all-clear by senior health officials, England’s casinos were told that they could finally re-open on 1 August. Then, at the last minute and to the disappointment of us all, the Government U-turned and reversed its decision. That led to another fortnight of anxiety as the 6
Brigid Simmonds, Chairman, Betting and Gaming Council
BGC redoubled its efforts to get casinos open again. Happily, they were finally given the go-ahead to resume their activities – and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery – from 15 August. We fought an identical battle in Scotland, where casinos opened their doors again on 24 August – almost five months to the day since they were forced to close. 2020 has been a seismic year, but it has also been one in which the BGC – still less than a year old – has certainly proved its worth. Brigid Simmonds Chairman Betting and Gaming Council www.casinolifemagazine.com
Guest Comment: Simon Thomas
Simon Thomas Chairman Hippodrome
he irony of closing the Hippodrome, very nearly re-opening and then finally welcoming customers through the door, is that it might have done us the power of good. In the longer term. Most certainly it’s going to be tough while people slowly re-remerge from their bunkers and visit places other than their local supermarket and the nearby pub. But lockdown has taught The Hippodrome a great deal. It’s given us the chance to look with forensic detail at how we run the business. What works, and what we allowed to run less well but for the holistic benefit of the casino. It’s toughened us up, and now every square metre is an opportunity. It’s also proved to me something I’ve been convinced of since we opened eight years ago; people - including us sometimes - have underestimated how important casinos can be to the local business community. I was at a meeting recently involving neighbouring companies, talking about what we need to do to get the
West End back on its feet. A café owner approached and told me he was thankful the Hippodrome was open again, because it would bring people back to the area, which meant he could open more regularly, employ more people, order more from his suppliers… It brought into perspective the business eco-system we inhabit, where partnership and neighbourly support is vital. And just how central to an area’s success a casino can be, which I think isn’t recognised quite as it should. It rankles of course that we were low down on the list for re-opening, instead of alongside pubs and restaurants when we lead the way on safety and hygiene protocols. But now is not the time for retrospective grumbling, but to look forward to rebuilding customer numbers and confidence in our properties. And maybe embracing more than ever before our place in the local community and forge stronger partnerships. Volume 16: Issue 141
Simon Thomas, Chairman, Hippodrome
It’s certainly something we will continue to do here at the Hippodrome and we’ll be inviting all our neighbours to our new £3m terrace which we were fortunate enough to complete during lockdown, on time and within budget; tripling the outdoor space for customers
more eager than ever to play, eat and drink in a unique ‘fresh air’ environment. Our new safety requirements have also shone a light on how we can better embrace the digital world if not restricted by regulation. There has always been customer demand, but never before has there been such a strong case, for more electronic gaming machines and contactless payment solutions. We will be working with our regulator and the government to effect change in our regulations to ensure they are fit for both the digital and Covid age. These are strange times. But here’s a thought. Let’s stop talking about how tough everything is and concentrate on leading the way, locally and on a national stage, to show how UK casinos can play a small, but essential part in leading the recovery. Simon Thomas Chairman, Hippodrome 7
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
Just one of those things Circa owner Derek Stevens talks about the creation of his new resort. By: David McKee
Volume 16: Issue 141
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
f Derek Stevens didn’t exist, Las Vegas would have to invent him. The Detroit native, along with his brother Greg, has been building up a casino empire in the Downtown area of Las Vegas for almost 15 years. Rather than come in and trying reinvent the casino business all at once, Stevens entered quietly and observed the area, first as owner of the Golden Gate (Las Vegas’ oldest extant casino), then swooping up when Fitzgerald’s went bankrupt, rebirthing it as the highly popular The D (an allusion to the Stevens’ home town). In late October, Stevens’ ascent into the top ranks of Vegas casino developers is consummated with the opening of Circa, his $850 million dream project and the first new casino to open in Las Vegas since Aria in 2008. (We’ll just pretend that the ill-conceived Lucky Dragon never happened). Located at the head of Fremont Street, Circa will be distinguished by a series of jaw-dropping amenities that Stevens has carefully rolled out, bit by bit, for maximum publicity oomph. For instance, much interest already centers around the sports book, advertised as the world’s largest, in a town that is mad for sports betting. The room inventory will be relatively modest, opening with 512 in December and bringing the other 265 on line later, as demand dictates. But in all other respects Stevens dreams big, including four signature bars and rooftop Stadium Swim … not to mention his pride and joy, Garage Mahal, already a cult attraction. (When’s the last time somebody got excited about a parking garage? Frigging never, that’s when). If Stevens weren’t enough of a Pied Piper, he garnered national headlines in early June by underwriting 1,000 free airfares to Sin City, to kickstart the newly reopened resort industry, badly battered by Covid-19. When those thousand plane rides were gobbled up in a heartbeat, Stevens subsidized a thousand more. It’s a gesture typical of a mogul who never thinks small. What was the inspiration behind Circa? It was one of those things. We had invested in Downtown Las Vegas and in doing so really came to fall in love with Downtown. We had an opportunity in 2006 with the Golden Gate and found out it was really great to be a part of what was happening in Downtown Las Vegas. As part of that, we had the 10
opportunity to expand our business into the purchase of Fitzgerald’s, which we renamed The D. Then over the course of the next few years, my brother Greg and I really had an affinity towards what was developing Downtown. It was really interesting to see, not just in Las Vegas but throughout the country, more and more younger people wanted to live in Downtown areas. You began to see this revitalization happening around the country, from Detroit to Los Angeles, and we kind of saw that in many ways in Downtown Vegas, so we were at the point where we saw a great opportunity and were able to buy the Las Vegas Club, Mermaids www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
and Glitter Gulch, and we thought this location was just going to be optimal for a new hotel-casino resort. Over the years various ideas were jotted down and we were able to put this project. We just thought it was the right location and the right project at the right time. When you began, development in Las Vegas was going strong. Has the pandemic affected your confidence? No, I can’t say that that’s the case. Obviously, in any development, there’s always curveballs thrown at you. This is not one we were expecting. This is having a Volume 16: Issue 141
major impact on the United States and the world, and I would say that with our project that it hasn’t changed the focus in any way. We’re just excited about being able to open up and open a little early. Nothing on this scale has been done Downtown in decades. Why make such a large investment in Downtown? Myself and my team, we’re very familiar with Fremont Street and we really like it. I like the area. I like the demographic and I like the project. So it was the right project at the right spot. 11
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens market partly in mind. When previously you might have seen Sports Center and they showed Michigan versus Ohio State, now they’ll show you that with a point spread, and as soon as you start seeing that people starting having opinions. So since sports betting’s become legal in these other states, sports wagering in Nevada has continued to grow – and grow considerably.
One of your biggest draws will be the sports book. What will customers experience? They’re going to have a ‘wow’ experience. This is going to be the world’s largest sports book, sort of a sports theater, and I think it’s going to be a great
What are the components of the pool deck and how will you be able to operate it year-round? That’s going to be another great, signature feature of Circa. It’s a multi-tiered, outdoor aqua-theater. Stadium Swim is going to be a great place to enjoy fun in the sun during the day. It will be a great place to watch some sports and then in the evening it will be the same thing. It’s a huge TV screen that we have at Stadium Swim. We have an investment in the Las Vegas Downtown Event Center and we’ve done a lot of block parties there, so we’ve actually been practicing this for about five years. We think there’s a lot of incentive to get people to come together and watch sports together, so we think it’s going to be good during the day and great once the sun sets. With regard to the 365 days a year, if you think about it, there are resorts in northern Michigan or in Montana or in Colorado where there’s a lot of hotels that have swimming pools that are open in December and January. There’s a little bit of the same concept here. We’re going to be able to heat the pools, so it’s really
Nevada no longer has a monopoly on sports betting. How do you respond to all that external competition? That’s one way to look at it but we’re looking at this a little bit differently. I’ve been asked this question now since [the Bradley Act] was overturned a couple of years ago. We really don’t see this as cutting into Las Vegas sports wagering. We frankly think just the opposite and what I mean by that is because of other states where sports betting is now legal – whether it’s Pennsylvania or New Jersey or Michigan – what we’re seeing is far more coverage on television. On ESPN to Fox Sports to NBC Sports more and more programming is oriented with the sports betting
What do you consider your other signature amenities? The rooftop Legacy Club is going to be a great destination. It’s going to be a great lounge with great views of the mountains and the sunsets. And when the sun sets, you get the added pleasure of watching Las Vegas light up before your eyes. So it’s going to be a great view of the Las Vegas Strip and we think that’s going to be a great attraction at Circa. I’m very excited about Garage Mahal. This is the first ridesharing transportation hub that’s been designed and fully integrated into a hotel-casino resort. Ride-sharing
draw. Whether they stay with us or stay at another location, we think the sports book’s going to be one of the signature features of Circa and can bring a lot of people in the doors.
going to be made for an aprés-convention or aprésbusiness meeting kind of venue. Even if it’s chilly in December or January we think we’re going to have a great evening pool scene. We’ll have a lot of content for people who want to come out and watch some sports.
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Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
is such a new technology that there’s never been a casino in Las Vegas to have thought about it in the design process. We spent a whole lot of time thinking through it, so we think Garage Mahal’s going to be a great attraction for customers. It’s going to create a maximum level of ease and efficiency for Uber, for Lyft, for limos and cabs and things like that, so it’s going to
Control Board, and we all did it. So we think there’s some resiliency. If those regulations are in place when Circa opens, we’ll certainly make adjustments.
Are you going to be able to bring free parking back to Downtown? I don’t know. That decision hasn’t been made yet and 30 days after we open we’re probably going to have to make an adjustment. If we could, we’d like to but if there’s no parking spots available for customers we won’t be able to, so that’s going to be an operational decision that we’re going to make down the road.
How much of a damper has Covid-19 put on business? From a current-term-status situation, all of our bar-top machines are shut down and our bars are shut down. They’re two of the main components of our business, so it’s had a major impact. Things are changing as we speak. The governor’s coming out at five o’clock today and I would expect some adjustments to be announced just in a few hours.
be so much more than a parking garage. That’s why I wanted to have it named. Garage Mahal’s going to be a key part of what we’re developing.
With so many attractions, will you be able to maintain social distancing? Oh, we certainly will. We think casinos have done a great job with social distancing. Since June 4, when we reopened, all casinos had to develop a plan and come up with a plan that was approved with the 14
You’re getting a lot of practice right now with your other two casinos? Absolutely. Since we reopened June 4 rules and regulations for health and safety have changed a number of times. We’ve adapted accordingly each time.
What motivated your decision to open the first five floors of Circa early, on October 28? What it was we had an opportunity. During the pandemic our construction manager and general contractor came up with an idea where they could www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
accelerate the work on those first five floors. We heard them out and we thought their idea was terrific. In a year like 2020 there’s not a lot of rules that were in place, so we figured ‘Let’s open two months early.’ That was just a situation of opportunity. When the hotel rooms come on line the rates are
going to be comparable to the best hotels on the Strip. What customer are you trying to target? What we’re seeing at The D and the Golden Gate is that there is a tremendous demand for more suites and more higher-end product. We felt a crunch from not having enough high-end product for quite a while now. It’s just an extension of the product. We’re going to open with 512 rooms. A number of those are going to be suites. So it’s not a tremendous number of keys coming to the Vegas market. It’s certainly some product that we felt wasn’t available in our two hotels currently. Prior to this year, revenues in Downtown had been growing month over month. How much did that figure into your planning of the kind of resort Circa is going to be? They had a lot to do with it. We’ve been seeing for five, six years that the Downtown casino market has Volume 16: Issue 141
continued to grow. As that happens, you gain new customers, you meet the customers and you hear what they’re looking for. The growth of Downtown had a lot to do with how we designed and structured Circa. Going back to June, your offer of 2,000 free flights to Las Vegas was a roaring success. How did you
get that brainstorm? I’m lucky. I’ve got a lot of terrific people around me and we just came up with something. When we had a chance to open, when we had a date—this goes back to the end of March or early April—we thought, ‘Once the governor gives us a date to reopen let’s come out of the gates jumping.’ We wanted to come up with something that would obviously support our hotels but support Las Vegas in general. The real kicker in this deal was that we thought we’d help support the airlines because the airline industry has just been decimated with the pandemic, and Las Vegas is very competitive for the airline industry. Las Vegas needs to have a strong and robust airline industry, so we came up with this promotion. We thought, ‘This would be a cool commercial. It really helps Vegas as a whole and the airline industry.’ So that’s why it made a lot of sense to try and pull something like this off. One of the things we wanted to do was let everybody know ‘If 15
Lead Feature: Derek Stevens
you want to stay at one of our hotels that’d be perfect but if you don’t that’s fine too, because all Las Vegas needs your help.’ At The D we only have 629 rooms, so I knew people had to stay elsewhere. We just wanted to do something that benefited the whole hotel-casino industry. Finally, what kind of statement does Circa make about the future of Las Vegas Downtown and as a whole? There’s a lot of pent-up demand for our product. I’ve been coming to Vegas for a while. I remember what it was like when everybody was excited MGM Grand was going to open. I remember when Hard Rock opened, the Palms opened. I remember how excited everyone was when Bellagio opened. New casino openings are looked upon positively around the world. This is going to create some great desire to come to Las Vegas. I knew what it was like for me whenever there was a new hotel-casino opening. I’d come out, check it out, stay there, all that type of thing. I think it’s going to be the same thing here because there really hasn’t been much that’s opened since the Great Recession of 2008-2009. There’s going to be a lot of demand. A lot of people are excited to come to Vegas to see Allegiant Stadium, to see Resorts World and to see us. 16
Feature: Kentucky Downs
Things to come
KENTUCKY DOWNS | INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS | GAMING FLOOR
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Already unique, Kentucky Downs is moving up in the world. By: David McKee
f you want the sweetest racing purses in the U.S., take your thoroughbred to Kentucky Downs, in the southern tier of the Bluegrass State, near Nashville, Tennessee. During its select, six-day racing meet in September, the course awards $2 million in purses a day. It’s not money easily earned, as the course is a unique, kidney-shaped track, one of the longest in America at 1.15 miles. Much of that largesse is fueled by ‘historical horse racing’ machines, gaming terminals that—despite a resemblance to slots—are legitimate in casino-allergic Kentucky. They’ve not only underwritten a renaissance at Kentucky Downs, they’ll be the centerpiece of its new expansion, The Mint, which debuts next month. In addition to 600 more HHR devices (for a grand total of 1,100), The Mint will bring a branded loyalty program to Kentucky Downs. Some of the players Volume 16: Issue 141
behind the racino will be familiar, such as former Station Casinos CFO Marc Falcone. Casino Life scored some face time with Director of Marketing John Wholihan, who gave us a verbal tour of one of North America’s most distinctive race courses. Starting out with what makes Kentucky Downs unique in the United States, what is European-style horse racing? The first part to know is that we are only a turf or grass track. There is no dirt, like most tracks in America and actually around the world. We are strictly grass. The second part is that we are a little larger than the average track and a little bit wider. That width allows for a good number of horses to be able to run, spread out a little bit on the grass. The other part is we are not 100 percent flat and not 100 percent oval, like most tracks. So if you look at our track, if you’re standing 17
Feature: Kentucky Downs so some of the money that the machines make goes to the people that play the machines, of course, then there’s the cost of doing business—keep the lights on and all that. But a portion of that money does go to different funds within our property and also to the State of Kentucky, where they divvy up purse money. That does help racing. Some of our funds have found their way to other tracks in Kentucky, so it helps the overall circuit in general.
in the grandstand looking across, you would see that the actual track on the far side from you actually goes up. It elevates and then it comes back down. There’s a little slope in there like the European style and not like what you see at almost any other American track. There’s also, on the backstretch, a slight right-hand little jut that just kind of sticks out a little bit. Then it gets into what would be the end of the oval, to swing around into the home stretch. That’s rare in American racing.
Is that distinctiveness a significant draw? Do people like to come for that? It doesn’t hurt. We’re definitely a boutique meet. As far as the horsemen, they seem to be OK. They know what they’re getting into when they come here. Because we’re specialty and we only run about a half a dozen days in September it doesn’t seem to throw the horses off. Horses train sometimes going in different directions. So while American racing is counterclockwise, some trainers train their horses going the other way, in the early mornings, just so they’re used to some different activity. The big attraction is the size of the purses. They race for a lot of money here. And that’s because of the historical horse racing (HHR) machines? The machines absolutely help push up the purses, 18
What makes Kentucky Downs stand out as an HHR facility? Kentucky Downs was one of the pioneers in that and, in the state of Kentucky, they were absolutely the first one. There’s a few states that have the historical horse racing and there’s some international use of those type of games. We work with a company on the forefront of the parimutuel-game creation. What you see in Las Vegas and other places is Class III and there’s also Class II, and the historical horse-race games are just different in that you’re not exactly playing against the house. The house gets their commission but, much like a parimutuel horse race, once the house gets their cut, we don’t care who wins. We know all that money in the prize pool is going to get returned to the customers. It’s just a little bit of a different setup. We’ve gone from eight or nine years ago they started with a couple of hundred games, then it had grown to about 750 games, we’re operating more in the 500’s now because of trying to do that six-foot [social distancing] spacing with Covid and safety, and those type of things.
With Tennessee now having sports betting, does that change the arithmetic for you in any way? Not initially. They’re getting that off the ground, which will be interesting seeing as it’s all over the phone and they don’t have bricks-and-mortar casinos or type of gaming facility to back it up. We do expect some sports activity to happen in Kentucky in the near future but that’s based on what happens up in Frankfort. The sports player is sometimes a little bit different than the HHR-machine player. What your readers may have seen in other locations is that it’s sexy and new in a lot of states, it’s an amenity. It’s a small amount of the total action that gets taken in. Could you explain HHR for our readers? Sure. The games look somewhat like a traditional slot www.casinolifemagazine.com
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Feature: Kentucky Downs
KENTUCKY DOWNS | EXTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS
machine. We call them gaming terminals. With your ticket or money that you put in you spin and what it does is pops up three races in animated style, just a few seconds of three different tracks. Let’s say those tracks had eight to ten different horses running, and in the order that happened in real life. It could have been 10, 15 years ago—that allows for eight to 10 combinations and they relate to what could show up
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on your machine. So let’s say you’re playing Cherries or Sevens or Red, White & Blue type of game, to get a winning combination depends on what happened in those horse races. It’s just different than what people see in Tunica or Atlantic City or Las Vegas, where a computer chip controls the game. This is actually betting on the races. This is where some of these companies created this technology that made it based on the past races. So how that relates to where we got is these games are also set up to take a commission, much like when you make a horse bet. At the horse race they don’t care if a big long shot wins or if David wins or John wins. They get their little bit of cut to operate and the rest of it is the bettors’ money and it has to be returned. So we are able to create some large jackpots, which are kind of fun. We have had jackpots over $700,000, which is really exciting. And, unlike a Las Vegas casino, if that jackpot was paid by the house, that would sting. That would absolutely Volume 16: Issue 141
I5 sting. Here it doesn’t bother us at all because the nature of the games are set a little bit differently. So it fits in with the parimutuel nature of Kentucky because, as you know, Kentucky is very, very involved with horse racing, so it’s carried over to the electronic version. DESIGN BUILD
What is the key differentiation between these
terminals and slots? From looks it’s similar. When you’re playing, you hit the button across the top of the glass. Then, when you hit that button, the three little races very quickly appear up there. That’s a big differentiator. They spin as fast as a traditional slot machine. We get players that will come from the nearby towns, come and stay with us for a couple of hours, just like an average player. It’s a locals market. We’re not quite a full-on destination yet. Would you say they’re games of skill? I don’t get into the whole legality of skill versus luck. Because it’s parimutuel, they do allow you to handicap. So instead of just hitting the button where it automatically picks those horses and spins, there is a feature that you can manually pick the order of the numbers of the horses. But you have limited handicapping information on those horses though. It’s not like going to the racetrack. 21
Feature: Kentucky Downs What does Kentucky Downs offer besides gaming terminals and racing?
DOWNS | INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS | GAMING FLOOR
N RENDERINGS ONLY. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS, MATERIALS, COLORS, FINISHES, ETC., MAY VARY IN FINAL INSTALLATION.
We have live racing in September. Every day of the year there’s simulcast racing. We have a simulcast hall upstairs which shows the horse races from around the world, mostly the U.S. They get busy from the late morning, going on through the evening, catching up with the West Coast races. They do have the ability at nighttime to show some of the overseas races, such as Australia. We provide some space to the local charities for bingo, so we have bingo five evenings and one matinée, a total of six days a week of bingo, and that’s divided between three local charities that each take two days. Then there is the BUILDfood and beverage, of course. We’re not particularly large, so we have a diner. We have K.D. Café, in which we serve Starbucks. We do have a bar area with a lounge. The main focus in the new area will be a large stage, a larger bar, great TVs, great lighting. That’s going to be the place to be. So that’s part of the expansion. These are the things that are coming just in the next month. Do you have any aspirations to expand to other jurisdictions? We’re going to concentrate on our local area first, just around Franklin, Kentucky. With
DOWNS | INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS | GAMING FLOOR
N RENDERINGS ONLY. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS, MATERIALS, COLORS, FINISHES, ETC., MAY VARY IN FINAL INSTALLATION.
DOWNS | INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS | GAMING FLOOR
N RENDERINGS ONLY. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS, MATERIALS, COLORS, FINISHES, ETC., MAY VARY IN FINAL INSTALLATION.
any partnership, there’s always opportunities presented and people looking at things. We’ve started to get a pretty good understanding BUILD of this HHR world and it is intriguing. On the otherhand, the ownership and some of us that work here come from Las Vegas, so we’re used to the traditional casino-resort kind of model, so sure there’s opportunities out there. But we want to concentrate on our expansion of The Mint gaming hall. We’re just really excited about that and getting that kicked off next month. A few months behind that are coming additional restaurants in the existing area, which will get a full renovation after the new area opens next month. That’s really the main focus before we start talking about any kind of extension of the brand or moving into any other jurisdictions, anything like that. So no, The Mint is really the thing. BUILD
Feature: Endon Technologies
Bright Solutions. Profitable Results Edwin Ford, Sales & Marketing at Endon Technologies Ltd chats to Peter White
Edwin Ford, Sales & Marketing at Endon Technologies Ltd Volume 16: Issue 141
Feature: Endon Technologies
ndon Technologies has come a long way—halfway around the globe, in fact. A company which was previously focused on the Pacific Rim, it is now headquartered on the Isle of Man and has its sights set on conquering new markets. It’s hardly a newcomer, though, having been in the business for over 20 years. A leading provider of casino games to the Internet, Endon’s suite of products is characterized by catchy titles evocative of martial-arts movies, like Eagle Shadow Fist and The Mariachi 5. Casino Life Publisher Peter White caught up with sales-andmarketing director Edwin Ford to discuss the present and future of Endon, for which no end is in sight. We are grateful for your generosity to answer our questions. First, I would like to ask you to introduce yourself and Endon Technologies. I am the Designated Offical of Endon and I am responsible for marketing and its delivery via our websites. Endon is an Isle of Man licensed casino games provider, which was set up to provide online operators access to the already renowned Real Time Gaming portfolio of slot and table games. Endon will in due course also deliver content from other well-known industry partners. Endon Technologies have Games that have been described as being ‘individual’ which is difficult to achieve given the amount of games on the market. However as a group you do have a background experience spanning over 20 years. That is correct. The ‘individuality’ stems from certain game features we have in our toolbox that are unique to our group. While it is easy to dismiss slot games as lacking originality, we have access to content with
licensed graphics, which are unique and already well received in the marketplace. Some of the games that have been released recently have also hooked into calendar events, such as Halloween Treasures and Lucky Rat for this year’s Chinese New Year. These titles immediately became favourites with players and it may be one of many strategies that we implement to gain further recognition in international markets. The quality of the graphics do look impressive. Are these new games driven by customer demand or does Endon Technologies try and set the trends? The Endon team is well aware of how the B2B casino games marketplace is maturing. Consequently, we wanted to ensure that our products rated highly when compared with our competitors. We therefore revamped our development teams and their methodologies, which delivered many benefits including significantly positive feedback from existing operators. We also embraced the ‘mobile first’ concept, to take advantage of improvements manufacturers are continuously making, particularly in the areas of screen resolution and download capabilities. Smartphone saturation and development will continue globally apace. Therefore, to remain at the top, our content needs to keep up and adapt to the boundaries these manufacturers keep pushing. So to answer your question, it is a combination of customer demand and an understanding of what is required to retain our market leading position.
Can you provide details on Endon Technologies latest releases? As mentioned previously, we have an extensive library of games and are revamping a large number of the
Feature: Endon Technologies
We also embraced the ‘mobile first’ concept, to take advantage of improvements manufacturers are continuously making, particularly in the areas of screen resolution and download capabilities.
most popular games for release in existing markets and new marketplaces we intend to target with the Isle of Man licenced operation.
been devised by our new creative team and which we hope will be released at some point next year – so watch this space!
What are your main markets for Endon Technologies games and what are your plans for entry in other jurisdictions in 2021? Real Time Gaming’s historic marketplace has been the Far East. By obtaining the Isle of Man license it provides us with a well respected, EU timezoned base
What dangers are involved in providing fresh innovation within licenced products? As a licensed content provider, we need to ensure that we get the balance right between commercial success and the provision of responsible gambling products. All gambling businesses need to be socially
to extend our offering further afield including serving those regulated operators who demand their chain to be licensed. Thereafter Endon will add local licenses in jurisdictions which provide the best commercial opportunities.
Can you provide us any insights into further new games and developments at Endon Technologies that are on the way? The next 3 games to be released are currently being promoted on our websites’ ‘Coming Soon’ page. These are the Mexican themed game ‘Diamond Fiesta’ 5x3 Reel – a 50 Pay Lines/Way. ‘Storm Lords’ a theme inspired by Ancient Chinese Warriors, which is a 5x3 Reels – 50 Pay Lines/Way. And finally we plan to take you away with the Fairies in the fantasy world of ‘Stardust’ a 5x3 reels – 243 Pay Lines/Way. As I am sure you can expect, we have a suite of fantastic games in development, all of which have Volume 16: Issue 141
responsible in their product build and daily operation, which is why we keep fully up to date with current best practice and update our policies and procedures to ensure compliance. We therefore mitigate as far as possible the ‘danger’ associated with innovation and instead follow a responsible path to ‘Success’.
What challenges are involved when developing a licenced game as opposed to an original title? One of the major challenges, is that you end up having different versions of the same game in different territories, hence you have multiple development branches from the same “tree”. If not managed correctly, this can be costly to maintain. Websites are an important shop window into an organisation’s products and services and I understand that you have also been involved with developing those for Endon and the group. 25
Feature: Endon Technologies
All gambling businesses need to be socially responsible in their product build and daily operation, which is why we keep fully up to date with current best practice and update our policies and procedures to ensure compliance.
Absolutely and this is why we feel it is important that the design, use and feel of our sites, are crucial in getting our message across, so a potential client easily understands what we have to offer. It is imperative that each site we operate has dynamic landing pages that reflect the power of the graphics within our game content and the game play. Therefore going forward, we will build each game page to encompass the game’s graphics and theme. From a marketing perspective, we will also leverage the web-based channels via social media, display advertising and of course industry trade magazines like yourselves. This will enable us to spread a global message about the company’s brand, its products and its services. Endon Technologies are part of the Real Time Gaming group. What is the relationship between both companies and is there much joint product 26
development between companies? Real Time Gaming is and always has been a brand, not a company. Endon as an entity has a license to provide RTG branded content to 3rd party B2B or B2C operators. What are amongst the main aims and ambitions for Endon Technologies over the next 6 to 18 months? Endon’s aims for the next 6 months are to complete the revamp of RTG’s most popular games and to expand our client base both in Asia and the European time zones. Is there anything else in your plans in the year ahead? Yes, we plan to deliver a number of new games and a wider suite of content such as table games and possibly live dealer solutions. We envisage exciting times ahead! www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Willie Wilcox
Audio Branding Peter White chats to recording artist Willie Wilcox about the science behind audio branding in the slot machine world
illie Wilcox principal member of the group “Utopia” with Todd Rundgren traveled the “long and winding road” to Scientific Games and the casino gaming industry. The veteran songwriter and artist worked with a veritable Who’s Who of musical greats, from Ringo Starr to Mick Jagger. Another skillset that comes invaluable these days is a stint at NBC composing theme music for shows on its cable-TV channels, covering everything from The Sci-Fi Channel to Wall Street.” He was the senior audio director at Bally Technologies when it was subsumed by Scientific Games, where he most recently crafted his melodies. In this interview with Peter White he provides an eye-opening entrée into the world of audio branding for slot games—a matrix of technology that we take for granted and plays into coin-in and time-on-device more than one might realize. Oh, and he explains why the Covid-19 shutdown wasn’t entirely a bad thing for the industry… Could you offer an overview of your career to date? I started my musical career performing with Daryl Hall
and John Oates. I had a great time touring the Abandon Luncheonette album with the hit “She’s Gone.” We were on tour with the Bee Gees, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and Dr. John. I also recorded the Hall and Oates record “War Babies” which we toured and “No Goodbyes” an
Daryl Hall, Willie Wilcox and John Oates back stage at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas for their tour Volume 16: Issue 141
Willie Wilcox at Sirius Satellite Radio offices in NYC on 2019 Utopia Tour
Atlantic Records studio release. I joined Bette Midler on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre for the production run of “Clams on The Half Shell” show featuring “Lionel Hampton.” At around the same time I was invited to join Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. So I had to stop performing with Bette’s show to transition into the Utopia rehearsals. I became a fulltime member of Utopia and we toured throughout the world and recorded about 20 records. During that time period I also recorded the “Bat Out of Hell” record with Meatloaf that sold 43 million copies. I played on some additional recording sessions and live events with Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Carlos Santana. I had music publishing deals during this time period as well writing songs for artists like Luther Vandross, Meatloaf, The Pointer Sisters, Stacy Q, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Cole. After touring for a number of years I decided to move into the Television industry. I 27
Feature: Willie Wilcox
Willie “Utopia” Tour 2019
built an audio production facility in Miami’s South Beach and worked with MTV and VH1 producing audio and recording many shows for each of the networks. After leaving Miami I went on to New York to work as senior audio composer for NBC television. While at NBC I wrote the theme music for the Sci-Fi Channel shows and a number of the show themes for CNBC like Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money,” and additional shows “On The Money” and “The Wall Street Journal Report” which are still on the air today. I then went on a brief sabbatical and spent 3 years living in Huatulco, Mexico on the southern coast of the Pacific learning Spanish and writing and recording the ring walk music for the lightweight boxing champion of the world “Manny Pacquiao” releasing the “Pack Man Punch” as a Verizon ringtone for Manny. Returning to the U.S. I started my position and gaming career as a composer and then audio director in Las Vegas at Bally Technologies. I quickly realized that there was an opportunity to grow that business by bringing an entertainment audio branded perspective to the gaming industry. As a senior director at Bally I designed and assisted in the build out of (4) audio recording studios specifically tailor made for the gaming industry. I also hired the audio staff and assembled what would become the audio department for Bally Technologies in Las Vegas and then on to become Scientific Games audio department when Bally was acquired. Tell us all about your role of Senior Audio Director and what does it involve At Bally Technologies I really designed what the role of an audio director would become since Bally didn’t have that position when I first started and I really ended up creating it. It was a great opportunity because I got 28
to utilize my knowledge and experience of the music entertainment industry and pro audio world and apply it to the gaming industry. That being said the support of the leadership at that time made that all possible. I hired and assembled the audio teams in Las Vegas. I then created the production workflow for the audio teams that also incorporated the use of proprietary audio system playback for accurate audio monitoring in the studio. I discovered early on in my gaming career that the gaming companies had not been exposed to the workflow disciplines of the pro audio and entertainment industries. At first it was a frustration for me. But I quickly understood this as a unique opportunity to share these concepts and proceeded to immerse myself in the workflow processes of all the gaming departments. I was fascinated by the way that the hardware, software, game development, marketing, and procurement teams functioned. In order for me to accomplish my goal to bring an entertainment branded experience to the players and a professional audio brand to these corporations I first had to understand how the teams worked and why they worked in the ways that did. Understanding this helped me tie the work flows together. This meant that the hardware teams and I had to have meaningful discussions about the audio setups for the cabinet designs. Audio had to become a consideration at the inception of the design process not as an after thought. I also concluded that a modular audio amplifier design would be the most cost effective solution for these cabinets and the most immersive and versatile solution for the player experiences. That process was conceived and designed by myself and the Bally and SG vendor partners Misco and Digital Audio Labs. That gave Bally and SG the flexibility to deploy systems from low profile to high end, stereo and surround sound playback all the way out to 7.1 surround and object oriented audio meaning the ability to have speakers in many locations. What three words would you use to describe your role? Innovate, create and deploy. Defining the Player Experience For me the player experience is defined as the marriage of the “game chase” with the immersion and excitement www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Willie Wilcox of the entertainment industry production experience. I would also go as far to say that It should also include the Online and Mobile space so that the player gaming experience has a unified cross platform game play production denominator that connects the brand direction seamlessly across all platforms. The entire production of a new game requires different departments whom all have their own individual skill sets. Can you explain that collaborative process and how they contribute to and affect the outcome of the final audio brand? Typically every department touches a game. That would consist of the software, hardware, game development, audio, and marketing departments and pretty much in that order of workflow contribution. Software departments provide the operating systems, player interfaces and computer system protocols that operate the games. They also provide another very important part of the software development and maybe the most important part, “the software tools for the game development teams.” These tools used by the artists, game developers and audio teams directly affect the speed in which games can be developed and also are directly related to the innovation and immersion of the player gaming experience. Having the right software tools for audio branding is paramount. The other thing worth mentioning is that the software teams really need to support the ideas and workflows that the game
development, artists and audio teams are creating. In essence these development teams are the clients of the software teams and as such should be treated as clients prioritizing their ideas and developing tools that support these teams workflows. The hardware department is responsible for the look, feel and aesthetic execution of each game cabinet deployed. As it relates to the audio brand the responsibility of the hardware department is to have a clear understanding of professional audio protocols. This involves incorporating pro audio best practices at the beginning of the hardware design process. Knowing where the speakers should be positioned to provide the best immersive player experience. Knowing what kind of speakers to use. Paying attention to the surfaces that surround speakers for the mitigation of sound reflection issues. Using the correct audio amplifiers and speakers and finally tuning these audio systems for optimal player experience performance. Volume 16: Issue 141
“Utopia” Knebworth show 1979
The audio teams responsibility is to establish a production workflow protocol. This consists of a creative branded audio consciousness and the in-studio technical workflows. The audio departments typically monitor their audio while composing and mixing with in-studio speaker monitors. The danger for this is historical. The mix and audio development always sounds great on these studio monitors however the slot players never listen to the game on studio monitors. They are listening to the speaker systems in the slot machines. I prefer and have developed a composing and mixing system that allows the audio teams to compose and 29
Feature: Willie Wilcox to realize has been rolled into a 1-year window. That means that the opportunities for innovation in the gaming entertainment space are tremendous and the companies who capitalize on this will emerge as the leaders of the gaming industry.
Utopia /Encore Live at The Chicago Theatre DVD recording L-R Willie Wilcox, Kasim Sulton, Todd Rundgren, Glassys
mix directly on the game cabinets using the game audio speaker systems. This provides for the most immersive and consistent player experience. Another perspective worth mentioning is that these gaming systems are reproducing audio in casino environments with 85 dB. noise floors. The cardinal sin of most companies is to try to cut through this noise level by accentuating the mid and upper mid frequencies in both audio mixes and speaker system tunings to cut through the noise. People do this when theyâ€™re riding in their cars all the time. Turn up the treble so you can hear better through all the wind noise. All this does is cause listening fatigue for the player and cause them to walk away from the machines in half the time that they normally would. This destroys the profit margins for casinos and gaming manufactures, diminishes coin-in and time at device and provides a marginal and fatiguing entertainment experience for the players. The marketing teams jobs typically involve descriptions of the product lines, game release schedules, social media postings, live event planning and company brand messaging. The gaming industry is no longer the grandpa and grandmaâ€™s gaming industry that it once was. Itâ€™s becoming a big part of the world of entertainment. Traditional game themes, software tools, art, audio productions and marketing techniques are not going to work as well as they once did. Companies will need to innovate and adapt. The world is moving ahead at a very fast pace and I believe that the Covid outbreak has sped up that evolution. What would normally take 10 years 30
What do you think the secret of good company collaboration is? I would see this as the ability for companies to establish a clear and defined brand roadmap. Leadership would be concise and transparent. Culture would be a high priority. Supporting and rewarding talent for their contributions would be at the forefront. This produces a healthy environment for innovation to flourish. It creates an environment of trust, commitment and a sense of accomplishment for everyone. The innovation of unified workflows is where I believe the magic for any company lives and thrives! How does working in the Casino sector compare to working in mainstream industries? To date I have seen that it is very similar to the music entertainment industry. The gaming corporations function like record companies with content and distribution capabilities. They both have an end user fan base and live event participation. The listener and the player. The roads seem to separate in the way that the companies brand themselves. Record companies are utilizing the entertainment methodology. Attorneys, marketing, executive hires, fashion, social media and
client demographics all play a key role in shaping the music entertainment industry direction. Gaming companies seemed to be steeped in more traditional corporate way of working that I think limits their ability to innovate in the gaming space. I think there is tremendous potential for the gaming industries to embrace the entertainment marketing style and culture to define, design and execute on player experiences for the future. How did you get where you are today, and who/ what helped you along the way? In the music industry it has been the love of music, hard work and persistence. In my most recent gaming career I have had some great mentors, business guidance and support from veterans like Mike Mitchell at Bally Technologies, Gavin Isaacs and Richard Haddrill who have supported my ideas for this concept of branding audio entertainment and merging it with the gaming www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Willie Wilcox industry. Again it’s about the culture. The workflow. When people are in sync and working together great things can happen as witnessed by the first Bally released Michael Jackson game. Can you provide details on some of what you would consider are among your standout audio productions that you have been involved with during your time in the gaming industry? While I was with Bally Technologies I worked on the design and development of audio hardware design for the Wave cabinets. I also worked on the design and development of the surround sound chair. I had the pleasure of conceiving and collaborating on the designs of the (4) audio recording studios rooms in Las Vegas with audio room designer Les Claypool for Bally Technologies that are also used today for Scientific Games. Notable games that I produced in 5.1 surround sound utilizing the surround chair were the Michael Jackson games. The first game, “King of Pop” became the first audio production in the slot gaming industry that offered a true 5.1 surround experience for the players. It utilized all the original tracks from the Michael Jackson records. I remixed the audio tracks putting the lead vocals in the front cabinet and the background vocals in the rear speakers of the chair behind your head. The chair had a shaker in it that reproduced the vibrations of the drum and bass rhythms and provided a one of a kind immersive entertainment experience for the players. The goal was to not only provide the expected Michael Jackson experience but to provide players and fans with an audio entertainment experience with Michael that they never had before. For Bally I also produced the 5.1 surround game “Dragon Spin,” and ZZ Top “Live From Texas.” I also assisted in the acquisition of this license as I used to be on staff as a composer for Bill Ham who was the producer of all the ZZ Top records. We then were acquired by Scientific Games. I continued to develop audio hardware system solutions for the Wave XL, and all Twin Star series cabinets. I produced the game audio for SG games like Michael Jackson, Dragon Spin “Age Of Fire,” “Willy Wonka Dream Factory” and “Epic Fortunes” as well as other games not yet released. Would you say right now is one of the most difficult periods in your career so far and what do you Volume 16: Issue 141
Willie Wilcox and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top in front of the ZZ Top Live From Texas games
consider your greatest personal success so far? Well my career has touched on a number of markets. In the entertainment industry it’s always hard getting started. There is so much competition. And you really have to work hard to stay on top. In the gaming industry I would say that the biggest hurdle is bringing the awareness to companies and other gaming employees of the value that audio branding brings to the player experience and to the company’s brand. As far as entertainment experience success I would consider playing with Led Zeppelin with our band
Utopia at the Knebwoth festival in front of 250,000 fans and announcing to the crowd that same day that my son was born as a stand out experience. Having my wife Elizabeth sitting behind the drum kit on the latest Utopia tour in 2018 was also a great experience as she had never seen me perform! In gaming I would imagine that it would be the first release of the Bally Technologies game “King of Pop” for Michael Jackson. That was the game that demonstrated what happens when the “game chase” meets the “entertainment industry!” That’s audio branding! 31
Legislation Report: Marco Tomic
Gaming Legislation Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. By: Marko Tomic, Partner, Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. Zagreb
Current legal framework of games of chance in Russia has been created by the Federal Law № 244 “On state regulation of organization and management of gambling” dated 1 July 2009. By the respective act, gambling i.e. games of chance (casino and slot machines) in Russia has been restricted to 4 gambling zones and banned from the rest of Russian Federation. This is due to a general negative view of games of chance in Russia as immoral and often linked to organized crime and money laundering. Online casinos are banned in the territory which led
to booming of “underground” online casinos under constant scrutiny of the government. In 2018 more than 130,000 sites were blocked by the authorities and in 2019 Russian Duma approved blocking of instantwin online lotteries for being too similar to casino games. As a note, lotteries are not considered as gambling under the applicable law. The introduction of the interactive bet in 2014 changed the industry and created a legal basis for online bookmaking. The legal status of the interactive bet was confirmed in 2019 (stating that it constitutes an exception to the prohibition on remote gambling) and the system is currently fully operational. Any licensed operator may undertake interactive bets and no specific online license is needed. However, an operator must disclose the domain name through which it will operate online and the servers handling the transactions must be in Russia. Organisers of online betting games are obligated to use an online 32
“controlling” system (“TSUPIS”) for transfer of monies from and to the players (with the aim of making funds stay in the Russian jurisdiction). In general, there are two types of gambling licenses under Russian law: (i) license for casino, slot machines, and poker (“Casino license”); and (ii) license for betting shops and totalizators (“Sports betting license”) and both types of licenses are rendered for an indefinite period of time. As noted above, online casinos are prohibited, and online gambling is permitted only under a sports betting license (i.e. only sports betting and totalizators are available online). Advertising of gambling is only permitted when it is conducted by operators which hold a casino license or a sports betting license and under further conditions regulating the timing of advertisments and aimed audience.
Organization of games of chance In Lithuania is regulated by Gaming Law of the Republic of Lithuania from 2001 as amended. Lithuanian laws permits organisation of games of chance in land-based establishments whereby remote gambling was legalized in 2016. For an organiser to be allowed to organise online games of chance, a “bricks and mortar” presence in the country is required. With the approval of remote gambling, gaming authority was granted with the power to block ISP addresses as well as the payments to “illegal” operators in the market. As of 2004, players have the possibility to enter into self-exclusion scheme. Also, the applicable legislation www.casinolifemagazine.com
Legislation Report: Marco Tomic prescribes that only new slot machines may be installed in the territory. Multiple licenses may be issued to operators for an unlimited term. The same are divided into three groups (i) category A (machine halls); (ii) category B (casinos); and (iii) bingo halls. As noted above, only operators present in the country may organize online games of chance. Latest amendments to the gaming law, prescribing the obligation of organisers to include a warning on gambling-harm into each gambling advertisement, entered into force on 1 July 2020.
payment processors and players was introduced. The government strives to crackdown on illegal betting by implementing blacklisting, redirecting and blocking sites, as well as other measures which resulted in more than few large raids in the last 2 years. In line with the aforementioned, there are no indications that the status of gambling in Turkey will alter in the near future. The remaining small part of legal Turkish â€œgames of chanceâ€? (land-based and online) is very firmly regulated and consists of horse racing, lottery-style sports betting, and a national lottery, all three areas being a monopoly.
Gambling in Belarus is legal, whereby online part thereof is picking up only recently after changes of legislation which occurred in 2018/2019. Up until then the only legal online form of gambling was the (state owned) lottery. On a general note, Belarusian law allows three types of gambling: casino games, slot machines and bookmaking. There is a strict licensing regime for land-based establishments which operate in every larger city in the country, which includes monetary deposits, personal obligations of CEOs etc. As of 1 April 2019, gambling operators have the option to legally register an online casino in Belarus, if the appropriate license has been obtained. Playing on foreign sites is prohibited and enforced through blockage of ISP addresses and blacklisting. As a curiosity, despite the legalisation, there are no local online casinos in Belarus so far. Lastly, as of October 2019, the government permitted advertisement of gambling in sporting events.
Both land-based and online gambling is prohibited in the country since 2007 whereby enforcement of this prohibition was heavily increased as of 2013 when stricter fines and even imprisonment for organisers, Volume 16: Issue 141
The main legislative act that governs gaming in Greece is Law 4002/2011, as amended (latest change occurred in 2019). In addition to this, The National Gaming Commission issued several regulations defining in more detail certain aspects of gaming industry such as online gaming licensing, lotteries, or video gaming terminals. Respective law does not provide exact definitions of land-based or online gambling activities. All types of betting and gambling outside of casinos are strictly prohibited and criminalized by local legislation whereby a different regime applies to lottery and sports betting operations. Currently, the exclusive rights to organise and manage numerical lotteries and 33
Legislation Report: Marco Tomic sports betting games in Greece are held by OPAP (“Greek Organization of Football Prognostics”). In view of licensing, currently a license is only required for electronic skill games, games of chance and online gaming, while mechanical and electromechanical recreational games are conducted freely. The duration of casino licenses depends on the category in question. Simple type casino licenses (e.g. for an at least 3-star facility) are valid for 15 years, while wider range casino licenses (e.g. in 5-star facilities) are valid for 30 years. In respect of slot machines, it should be noted that land-based slot machines are statutorily restricted to 25,000, the licenses for which are granted to one official monopoly supplier. Online gambling services in the country can be provided by licensed legal entities only and such license is valid for 7 years. On 24 October 2019, the Greek Parliament adopted an omnibus bill amending the above-mentioned act which is still not published in the Official Gazette but will for sure regulate the gaming market in a more efficient and fair way. The envisaged draft legislation foresees an open licensing procedure for online gaming under the exclusive competence of the state, by abandoning the current law’s provision for an international tender. This means that the competent authority shall grant a license to every company that fulfils the set-out conditions. The omnibus bill defines two types of licenses with
a seven-year duration, granting of which will cost EUR 3 million for online betting games and EUR 2 million for all other types of online games. Any operator can apply for both licenses if it satisfies all legal requirements and pays the prescribed fee. Under this new solution, maximum number of licenses is not foreseen. One of the main prerequisites for obtaining a license is to have a permanent residence or an establishment in Greece or in any other Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area. Licenses are granted by the competent authority and the websites must be registered on a national domain. When it comes to players, one of the key responsible gaming requirements introduced by Law 4002/2011 is the use of an individual player’s card. The player’s card was introduced to confirm player’s age, maximum game time, and to guarantee that any additional restrictions imposed by the players themselves are observed. The individual player card 34
may be issued by license holders pursuant to the procedure and terms and conditions laid down in a competent authority’s decision, published in the Official Gazette. Gaming without an individual player card is strictly prohibited. Lastly, under applicable law as well as the pending one, any commercial communication (advertisement), direct or indirect, regarding entities providing credits to players in order for them to participate in games of chance is prohibited.
In Cyprus, both land-based and online gambling is permitted, subject to the provision of the applicable legislation. State organises a national lottery whereby there are no state-owned betting companies. Gambling is regulated at a national level. However, due to current political situation and division of territory on the island itself, the effective territorial application of the applicable regulatory framework governing gambling activities is limited to the territory controlled by the Cypriot government. Curiously, under the bilateral agreement between Greece and Cyprus, Cypriot branch of the Greek Organization of Football Prognostics SA (OPAP SA), is entrusted with the organisation, operation and management of a series of games of chance. These relate to the prediction of random numbers resulting either from a mechanical or electronic draw and games related to the prediction of the outcome of sports events. Gambling activities and organisation of games of chance in the country are regulated by more individual laws (regulating betting, casino, lottery). The most current one being the Betting Law enacted in 2019 which replaced the previous one enacted in 2012 under which online and land-based betting was legalized and national authority for supervision of games of chance was formed. By this law from 2012,
Legislation Report: Marco Tomic betting exchanges and online casino operations were prohibited. Cypriot legislation provides a clear distinction between land-based and online gambling, clearly imposing on the interested operator the obligation to be granted a license with regards to the respective gaming activities it wishes to organise. Thus, two forms of betting licenses are being granted in the territory, and the company (operator) needs to have a physical presence in Cyprus or partner with a local company. Class A is a license for traditional, landbased betting but does not include horse racing betting. Class B is a license valid for electronic, online sports betting (horse racing is excluded). There is no quantitative restriction as to the number of licenses being granted. When it comes to casino games, Cyprus Casino Law enacted in 2015 set out framework for legalization of one land based integrated casino resort and four satellite casinos in different districts of the country and
establishment of a national gaming commission as the casino gaming regulator. The Final Anchor integrated casino resort is to be completed in 2021 and is expected to be the largest casino in Europe by table and machine count and the first full scale integrated casino resort. In line with the applicable provisions of the respective casino law, within 15 years of the date of the issuing of the initial and exclusive license for only one privately owned casino resort, the national gaming commission is precluded from issuing any other casino resort or other casino license within Cyprus i.e. casino legislation created a temporary monopoly in the territory. Advertising of gambling opportunities is duly permitted in Cyprus, under the condition that the nature and extent of such advertising is limited to the true and accurate representation of the services provided by licensed entities.
DISCLAIMER: 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.
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Volume 16: Issue 141
Feature: AGA Reed
The Show Must Go On W
Concerns over Coronavirus prompt the reinvention of Global Gaming Expo. By: David McKee
ell before the event, rumors were swirling as to whether 2020’s Global Gaming Expo, set for October 5, would be held. While trade shows in Las Vegas were expected to resume in the autumn, the persistence of Covid-19 threw that into question. Given that large gatherings of people in Las Vegas were prohibited in midsummer, there was no certainty as to when that ban would be lifted, further casting a pall on G2E. On July 8, the axe fell, with American Gaming Association President Bill Miller announcing that G2E would not be held as usual, but would be replaced with a series of virtual events. “In light of continued uncertainty around a viable marketplace at a physical G2E show, global travel restrictions, and currently unknown guidance on large public gatherings this fall,
we have come to the unfortunate conclusion that we simply cannot hold an in-person G2E this year,” he wrote, adding, “Health and safety have always been our top priority and the uncertainty created by the ongoing pandemic makes this the prudent decision ahead of critical deadlines for exhibitors planning to participate.” One uncertainty Miller could have mentioned is that Las Vegas is currently closed to international travel, potentially taking the “global” out of Global Gaming Expo. This was a bitter pill to swallow for the AGA, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and sundry other constituents. It was also a blow to the Las Vegas Strip and specifically to Sands Expo Center, which had been planning to host 30,000 attendees. Given its traditionally packed show floor aisles and seminars, G2E would have been an event-planning nightmare, particularly in terms of balancing social distancing with (hopefully) robust attendance. Even 36
Bill Miller, American Gaming Association President
if Nevada authorities had allowed the show to go on, half-empty exhibit halls and panel discussions, sprinkled with masked participants would have sent a pessimistic signal to the industry. G2E had survived adversity before, particularly when it convened on the day after the Mandalay Bay Massacre, but Coronavirus was simply too big of an imponderable to be finessed. So why was the plug pulled on G2E? What will replace it? And how does the future look? We spoke with American Gaming Association Senior Director of Events Meredith Pallante and G2E Event Director Korbi Carrison. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: AGA Reed Meredith Pallante, American Gaming Association Senior Director
We are committed to offering virtual G2E events throughout 2020 and into next year that facilitate economic, education, and networking opportunities to support gaming’s recovery and provide value to our G2E community.
When was the decision to cancel Global Gaming Expo made? How difficult was it? Meredith Pallante: At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, we created and implemented a very intentional process for determining the path forward for G2E. It was important that we not make premature decisions about something this essential to the industry, but we also wanted to announce the decision prior to upcoming, and costly, deadlines for key stakeholders. Ultimately, after engaging with key stakeholders – exhibitors, attendees, partners, and local, state and federal officials – it became clear the prudent decision was to cancel the in-person gathering. Volume 16: Issue 141
What, in order of priority, were the factors prompting that decision? MP: Three key factors led us to cancel: • Continued uncertainty around a viable marketplace at a physical G2E show. • Current, global travel bans, related restrictions, and possible quarantines limiting our ability to welcome a truly global audience that makes G2E what it is. • Unknowns around the permissibility of large public gatherings this fall. What is the prognosis for G2E Asia, given travel constraints in Macao? 37
Feature: AGA Reed How is the marketplace for new products and games, given the Covid-19 restraints under which casinos are operating? How will clients be able to assess these new offerings absent the G2E show floor?
KC: The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly taken a toll across the entire gaming industry. While operators assess their needs and strategy, gaming suppliers are innovating and creating new products to meet the needs of their customers. For G2E, transitioning to virtual offerings allows us to connect the industry for key business and networking opportunities, even without a traditional expo-hall floor. What is the impact of a canceled G2E going to be on manufacturers and small vendors? Whatâ€™s their best alternative for reaching potential customers? KC: Generally, exhibitors, manufacturers and the broader G2E community understand and support the decision to cancel an in-person event this year. Exhibiting at G2E is a significant cost for manufacturers every year, but is particularly difficult while navigating the current economic downturn. As we build out virtual components, a top goal is to provide exhibitors with a myriad of opportunities to connect with potential buyers virtually, providing value without the same resources required for a physical show. Is the shift to virtual trade shows inexorable or will Korbi Carrison, G2E Event Director
Korbi Carrison: We made the difficult decision to postpone G2E Asia as continued travel and restrictions present too much uncertainty for holding successful and safe events this year. We are excited to reconvene at the Venetian Macao from May 25-27, 2021. In the case of the G2E Las Vegas, how is the gap until the next show to be bridged? What sort of virtual trade-show events can we expect to see and, when? MP: We are committed to offering virtual G2E events throughout 2020 and into next year that facilitate economic, education, and networking opportunities to support gamingâ€™s recovery and provide value to our G2E community. Announcements on plans for virtual events will be shared in the coming weeks. 38
traditional expos make a comeback? MP: Weâ€™re in the hospitality and entertainment industry and know firsthand that people want to meet and engage with others in person. Organizations depend on face-to-face meetings to win new customers, close new deals and develop highperforming talent. The business outcome of a face-to-face meeting far exceeds any other. We look forward to the moment when we can convene together again with our colleagues from across the world and celebrate the resilience that our industry is known for. What is your level of optimism about G2E 2021? MP: We are spending this time reimagining our physical trade show to ensure G2E is reflective of the modern, 21st century it represents and are looking forward to reconvening together in 2021.
Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week
Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020 Preview Yulia Chopenko, the event coordinator of Smile-Expo company, answers the questions
hat are the details on the event dates and venue? Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020 will take place at Kyiv International Exhibition Centre on November 26-27. The exhibition and lecture session will be available in pavilion 4-Đ’. The conference of UGW 2020 will be held in pavilion 3-Đ? on November 26. Tickets to the event are already on sale. Has the anticipation of gambling business legalization had an impact on the amount of interest in Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020? Increased interest in the event was seen at all adoption stages of the law on gambling business legalization. Volume 16: Issue 141
Enactment of the new law drew even more attention to the exhibition. The exhibition floor area is 5,000 sq.m., and all stands have been taken by exhibitors as from today. Despite the fact that the conference program has been formed and closed, experts keep submitting applications for participation. Great interest in the event is shown by Ukrainian and foreign media. They are offering partnerships and file queries for accreditation. We expect UGW 2020 to be the first and largest (after the adoption of the law on gambling legalisation), specialized event that will bring together industry professionals and everyone interested in the revival and growth of the market. 39
Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week
Tell us more about UGW 2020 exhibition and opportunities that it provides? The two-day exhibition expects 100 participating companies and 3,000 attendees. Exhibitors will include software developers, manufacturers of gambling equipment, furniture and accessories, foreign gambling and betting operators, legal companies, service providers in the fields of advertising, SEO promotion, marketing and consulting, affiliate programs, financial organizations, and many others. Some of the participants are IGT, Slotegrator, Alfastreet, Winsystems, Gamebridge, LPB Bank, Dal Negro, Pascal Company, and others. International marketing agency Digital Chain will play the role of Badge Sponsor, and affiliate gambling program Alpha Affiliates â€“ Bracelet Sponsor. As for the opportunities, exhibitors will present timeproven solutions and new products of the gambling market to the wide audience. They will be able to meet potential business partners and find new customers. Attendees will personally evaluate the quality of gambling products, consult with representatives of leading companies in the industry and will have a chance to establish useful contacts. Who will speak at the conference held as part of UGW 2020 and what themes will be highlighted? The conference will take place on November 26. It will feature representatives of the government sector, members of industry associations, Ukrainian and
Speaker Charmaine Hogan
Speaker Sergio Suarez 40
foreign gambling experts. Speakers will talk about high-priority areas of the gambling market, and analyze case studies of building a positive image of the gambling business among population of different countries. At the event, experts will discuss the potential of Ukraine in the field of gambling tourism, as well as review international financial solutions for individuals and corporate market players. Separately, speakers will consider legislative restrictions in advertising common for Ukraine and other jurisdictions. The conference will also involve a panel discussion, where speakers will discuss subtleties of the Ukrainian gambling legislation and advantages brought by the unshadowing of the gambling market. Tell us more about UGW Awards. What is unique about the awards? How many nominations are expected? www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week UGW Awards is the first Ukrainian award granted to the best gambling industry representatives. Contest winners will be determined according to exhibition organizers. Winners will include companies that have achieved the greatest success and contributed to the development of the industry. Award holders will be chosen in 12 nominations. Applications can be submitted until September 18, 2020. Both Ukrainian and foreign companies can claim for the award. The UGW Awards ceremony will take place on November 26 at the party. What are the networking opportunities provided for participants and guests of UGW 2020? Our team will make sure to create all necessary conditions for networking and building further partnerships. We will arrange a VIP area on the territory of the exhibition. VIP ticket owners, sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers will have access to this location. In addition, they will be able to communicate in an informal atmosphere at the afterparty organized in a closed format. Besides, Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020 will have a big food-court, where participants and guests will also have an opportunity to get acquainted with each other and exchange contacts.
What health and safety measures will be provided to delegates, speakers, and exhibitors during their
attendance at the event? We maintain a serious attitude to safety measures at Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020. It is important for us that people present at the event will not be exposed to the risk of catching Covid-19 and will stay healthy. As a result, to protect guests, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, media representatives, and personnel against infection, we will take a number of preventive measures. In particular, temperature will be checked for everyone at the entrance of the IEC. Admission to the exhibition will be allowed only if you wear a face mask. The venue will be equipped with automatic sanitizers for hands. All people will have to keep a social distance of 1.5 m or three steps. What interesting developments in the gambling field do you anticipate for the years ahead for Ukraine? Volume 16: Issue 141
Speaker Victoria Ivakhno
In the next years after the legalization of gambling in Ukraine, we expect a great number of events that will directly influence industry growth. For example, the entrance to the Ukrainian market of one of the global casino networks or organization of international poker tournaments in the country. However, the main event of the gambling industry in the near future will be Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020. Specifically this event will gather the main foreign market leaders and Ukrainian entrepreneurs that plan to become the elite of the gambling industry in the country. At the exhibition, they will build new useful contacts and agree upon further collaboration. Do not miss Ukrainian Gaming Week 2020, come and join the event! 41
Obituary: Sol Kerzner
Sun King S
Sadly, Sir Solomon “Sol” Kerzner (1935-2020), “The Sun King”, passed away from cancer on March 21st 2020 at the age of 84, at his Leeukoppie Estate in Cape Town, South Africa. By: Niall Murray
ol Kerzner was born on 23rd of August 1935 in Doornfontein, a modest suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. Born to immigrant Jewish parents Morris and Bertha Kerzner from Lithuania, Sol was the youngest of four children, and the only son. He had many varied interests growing up. At 12 years of age Sol played in the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra and had a great love and appreciation of music. Being of slight build, he was bullied as a young man. So, Sol took up boxing to defend himself. He became quite an accomplished boxer, and later a Welterweight Champion at Witwatersrand University. At first, Sol wanted to be a motor mechanic, but as his grades 42
improved at Damelin College, after completing his service in the South African Army, and with encouragement from his father, he decided to do a “CA at Wits.” Sol Kerzner graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Degree in Accounting from the University of Witwatersrand and as a qualified Chartered Accountant. Upon graduation Sol worked at one of Durban’s largest accounting firms, where he was named junior partner at the age of 25. His parents worked hard selling fruit and vegetables, and in time saved enough money to purchase a 15room Kosher Guesthouse, the “Monorah” in Durban. Sol began working at the guesthouse, and soon after took over his family’s small hotel business. He jumped www.casinolifemagazine.com
Obituary: Sol Kerzner in with both feet, and was never afraid to get his hands dirty. He often did whatever was necessary to ensure that the operation ran smoothly and regularly played the role of barman and bouncer to rowdy locals like Nick the Greek and Harry the Horse, when his parents later bought the licensed Palace Hotel. Sol’s interest in the hotel business began at his parents’ hotels, and it is there where he gained exposure, accumulated knowledge, skills and experience and made up his mind to pursue a career in the hotel industry. Sol purchased his first hotel, the Astra in Durban in 1962, turned the business around and made it a great success. As a result, Sol decided to build another hotel. So, in December 1964, at the age of 29, he opened the Beverly Hills Hotel, South Africa’s first 5 Star Hotel at Umhlanga Rocks, in sugarcane fields next to the small fishing village, North of Durban. Sol’s vision was based on his belief in the future of South African Tourism, his instincts, experience and reviewing international hotel publications. Prior to opening, Sol visited the USA and toured the top Hotels in New York and Florida. Following this whirlwind tour, Sol returned to the Beverly Hills, convinced that his vision was correct, decided not to change anything and proceeded to open the hotel as originally planned. Many critics said that Sol’s Beverly Hills Hotel was too elaborate, too expensive, too extravagant and would not be supported by South Africans. To the contrary, it was a huge success and some of the first visitors that flocked to the hotel included international jet-setters and movie stars. The Beverly Hills became the initial foundation and template upon which to build Sol Kerzner’s hotel empire. Following the Beverly Hills, Sol partnered with South African Breweries (SAB) to establish the Southern Sun Hotel Chain. Together they built the 450 room Elangeni Hotel (now Southern Sun Elangani & Maharani) on Durban’s beachfront in 1969. Over the coming years Sol became known as the “Sun King” as he actualised his hotel industry vision, with passion and soul, and with a succession of Southern Sun Hotels. Due to strict apartheid gaming laws in South Africa, Southern Sun began to seek development opportunities in other African countries and overseas. In 1972, they built the Five-Star Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana. In 1975, Southern Sun opened its first overseas Hotel Le Saint Geran, on the Island of Mauritius, which proved highly successful. By 1983 the Southern Sun Hotel Chain operated 30 luxury hotels, with over 7,000 rooms. Volume 16: Issue 141
One of Sol’s biggest accomplishments began in 1978 when he took a helicopter trip over the Pilanesberg, in South Africa and saw the dormant
volcanic land and envisioned what would become Sun City. In 1979, once a gaming licence was negotiated and approved by the tribal council of Bophuthatswana, Southern Sun’s, “pleasure paradise in the Pilanesberg” and most ambitious resort in Africa, Sun City commenced. Every element of Sun City was built with exacting attention to detail. On the opening weekend 15,000 people swarmed the extraordinary resort that encapsulated a hedonistic spirit of glamour, escapism and decadence and which injected real imagination into South Africa’s hospitality industry for the first time. Sun City pushed the boundaries and strove to constantly exceed over-indulged guests wildest expectations. Over the next 10 years, Sun City grew to four hotels, two Gary Player 18-hole championship golf courses, two man-made lakes for watersports, Africa’s first mono-rail (the Skytrain), an entertainment centre, and a 6,000 seat indoor multi-purpose arena. Despite boycotts, Sol brought many superstars to this arena to 43
Obituary: Sol Kerzner
play in Africa for the first time. He hosted stars such as Queen, Elton John, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Eric Clapton, Sting, Liberace, Lisa Minnelli, Rod Stewart, the Beach Boys, Shirley Bassey, Linda Ronstadt and in 1985, the Artists Against Apartheid, plus, a number of Boxing World Title fights. Sun City grew to be the entertainment epicentre of South Africa and to be one of the most popular destinations in the world. It became the new and improved template that Sol used to develop his iconic hotels and resort destinations throughout the globe. Sol suffered a near fatal heart attack in 1980, rumoured to have been triggered by his explosive temper and partying. But Sol returned to work within two weeks to plan new projects.
In 1983, Sol Kerzner left Southern Sun Hotels to form Sun International. Sun City was one of a number of assets Sol took with him in the deal. Sun International went public on the Johannesburg stock exchange in 1984 to raise capital. He then went on to build the Five-Star Cascades Hotel at Sun City. That year, Sun International opened Lesotho Sun in Basotho Kingdom. As gaming licences opened up around Africa, expansion continued with the opening of Morula Sun, Fish River Sun and Naledi Sun in 1989. Kalahari Sands opened in Namibia in 1990, followed by Carousel Casino in 1991. Sol next turned his attention to creating a “lost paradise in the Pilanesberg”, the Palace of the Lost City, a 338 room luxury hotel, set in 23 hectares of exotic jungle, designed to inspire the mystery of a lost civilisation. The hotel was an architectural wonder, with a palatial interior, full of beautiful African art, furniture, and hand painted ceilings. The Lost City landscaping 44
alone took 28 months to complete, with over 3,000 plant species from around the world, surrounded by lush walking trails and dotted with hide-aways for guests to explore and enjoy. The Palace of the Lost City opened for business in December 1992 to great success. In 1994, Sol acquired the 1,500 room Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, for US$125 million, which was in bankruptcy. Sol’s major re-development and expansion transformed the property into a luxury, 2,300 room property, with one of the worlds largest man-made themed water parks (60 hectares) and the Caribbean’s largest casino. After re-development, the property became the largest employer in the Bahamas, increasing its staff from 3,000 to 6,000 upon completion. Paradise Island was renamed “Atlantis” in 1998, and a new brand was born. Sol’s attention to detail was legendary, not only in relation to the hard architectural and physical design features, but, also to the soft elements, human interactions and impeccable service. Sol’s customer service motto was: “Blow away the customer, with every experience and every stay.” Over the decades, service standards were continuously improved and staff were expected to support Sol’s vision, to always keep the guest “guessing”. Sol believed that: “The challenge is to get people to commit to the idea of blowing the customer away by giving them an experience ahead of what they expect.” In 1995, following the first multi-racial elections, Sol was honoured to be asked by incoming President Nelson Mandela to plan the Presidential Inauguration at Sun City, attended by close to a thousand world leaders, heads of state and VIPs from around the world. The event was tremendously successful and became a world-class showcase for South Africa. Sol Kerzner formed Trading Cove Associates (TCA) in partnership with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut. In 1996, TCA opened the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, adding 1,200 rooms, numerous amenities and upgrades in subsequent phases. Mohegan Sun Casino is one of the largest and most successful Integrated Resorts in the world. Although TCA relinquished management in 2002, Sol continued to receive 5% of gross revenues up until 2014. In 2002 Sol, launched his second Luxury collection the One&Only Group of Resorts. The brand was developed with his son “Butch” and is a collection
Obituary: Sol Kerzner of small scale, ultra-luxury resort properties in idyllic locations around the world. The One&Only Group is comprised of one-of-a-kind luxury resorts including: the One&Only Cape Town - South Africa, Palmira, Los Cabos - Mexico, Wolgan Valley – Australia, Royal Mirage & The Palm - Dubai, Le Saint Geran Maurutius, Nyungwe House - Rwanda, and the Reethi Rah in the Maldives. Three additional One&Only Resorts are currently in development. Sol Kerzner’s touch is evident as the collection has won international recognition for outstanding design, superb service and unique locations. In 2005, Kerzner International fell into serious financial difficulty. Sol decided to delist from the New York Stock exchange at a cost of $3.6 billion, sell two One&Only Resorts and the Atlantis in the Bahamas to the Brookfield Group. This, along with the 5% of Gross Revenue from Mohegan Sun up to the end of 2014, helped them weather the storm and gave the company a footing from which to bounce back over the coming years. Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas was expanded in 2007 with the addition of The Cove and The Reef (1,100 rooms), and numerous restaurants by celebrity chefs such as Jean-George and Nobu, plus 21 retail outlets. Sol extended the Atlantis brand in September 2008, with a $1.5 billion joint-venture with Dubai based Istithmar World, by opening the spectacular, 1,539 room, seven-hectare water park, water-themed
resort development, the Atlantis The Palm, on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Sol spent $20 million on the opening event, which included performances by Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole and a fireworks display by the creators of the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony. Sol opened the $128 million, Six Star One&Only Capetown, V&A Waterfront in 2009, six months ahead of schedule, to accommodate Soccer World Cup arrivals. Sol also opened the luxurious Mazagan Beach Resort in El Jadida, Morocco in September 2009. The Atlantis Sanya is considered to be Sol Kerzner’s final major contribution to the hotel and casino resort industry before he retired in 2014. Kerzner International in partnership with the largest privately owned resort company in China, Fosun International developed the Atlantis Sanya, on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea. The property opened in April, 2018 and features 1,314 rooms and 54 suites rooms, 7 of which are Volume 16: Issue 141
under water, a 200,000 sqm Aquaventure water park which covers 62 hectares, has 21 restaurants, bars and cafes, a 5,000 sqm MICE facility and is reputed to have cost approximately US$1.63 billion. Sol Kerzner experienced his fair share of controversy in his life. In the 80’s Sol allegedly made arrangements with the Minister of Finance to obtain preferential tax breaks that helped ensure that Sun International paid virtually no taxes and received part of the taxes paid by visiting entertainers. In 1990, Sol was accused of paying bribes in return for gaming licences, in a case which was eventually dropped. In 1997 Sol successfully banned the publication of his Unauthorised Biography which contained sections that he wanted cut out. Sol Kerzner received countless awards and accolades from around the world during his long life and career. In 2010, Sol was invested with the insignia of Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) for his outstanding and exemplary contribution in the area of business and community in the Bahamas by her Majesty Queen Elizebeth II. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in 2019, ILTM UltraTravel Lifetime Achievement Award for his life-long service and dedication to international travel, Variety Club Lifetime Achievement Award, Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award and the HSMAI Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to advertising and marketing in the Hospitality Industry. Sol was also lauded for his humanitarian achievements with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Variety Club Children’s Charity in London, for raising 200
Obituary: Sol Kerzner
million pounds for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children. Forbes Africa nicknamed him “The Five-Star Millionaire.” In 2010, Sol said: “I am truly honoured by these recent accolades. I would not be here today without the hard work and dedication of our people around the world. While I feel proud of all we have accomplished, there is still much more work to be done and we look forward to reinventing the hospitality experience yet again in the next decade.” Sol Kerzner’s personal life was as interesting and varied as his business life. He had four wives, Maureen Adler, Shirley Bestbier (1970-78), Angeline Kriel (1980-1985 former Miss South Africa and Miss World) and Heather Murphy (2000-2011). Sol had three children with Maureen; Howard “Butch” Kerzner, Andrea Kerzner and Beverly Kerzner Mace. Sol had two additional children with Shirley; Brandon Kerzner and Chantal Kerzner Sweeney. Shirley sadly took her own life shortly after the birth of Chantal in 1978. It is said that Sol never got over her death. Sol’s marriage to Angeline Kriel, Miss South Africa 1974 and Miss World (after winning Miss World she stepped down suddenly), ended in divorce after 5 years. In the 90’s, Sol got engaged to the model Christina Estrada but they never married. Sol called off his engagement to Christina, and instead decided to marry her best friend Heather Murphy, a model, in 2000, but they too called it quits in 2011. When asked if there was anything that he felt that he failed at in life, Sol responded: “Yes, marriage.” As one of his wives once explained, he put his business before his marriage. Sol was known for his opulent millionaire, jet-setting lifestyle, owning extravagant estates, luxury cars, and holding the most outrageously expensive, lavish and 46
glamorous events. Sol believed in enjoying every day and believed that you get out of life just as much as you put into it. Despite his extravagant lifestyle and celebrity status, Sol was a surprisingly private person. He was a proud, doting father and grandfather to 10 grandchildren who always made time for family. Sol’s family said: “Sol always remained an intensely familyoriented person.” His daughter Andrea said: “Dad taught us family values – no matter how busy he was, he always made time for us, his family. He would take a call from anyone of us in the middle of an important meeting or fly half-way across the world to get to a grandchild’s birthday party. For Dad, his family were everything, his joy.” His son and presumptive heir, Howard “Butch” Kerzner, who took over as Chief Executive of Kerzner International in 2003, tragically died at 42, in a helicopter accident near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on October 11th, 2006. Butch was surveying potential sites for resort development. Butch, a Stanford MBA, made significant contributions to the expansion of Kerzner International, by developing the One&Only Brand, leading the $1 billion expansion of Atlantis in the Bahamas, and the initial development planning for the Atlantis Dubai. Butch was survived by his wife Vanessa, and their two children Tai and Kailin. Butch’s death was a devastating blow and left a huge void in Sol’s life. Sol involved his children in the business world from a young age. His remaining children have continued
their father’s legacy and have become very successful in their own professions and personal pursuits. Sol’s daughter Andrea runs the charity Lalela, which brings the arts to at-risk children in South Africa. Sol Kerzner has been described as a visionary, trail blazer, impresario, icon, rain-maker, game changer and maverick. He had uncompromising vision, incredible drive, confidence, determination and amazing courage. Sol was known as an intuitive entrepreneur, with sharp business acumen, who never chased the money and had a “go big or go home” attitude. Sol was known for his brash outbursts, he had a fierce temper, a tenacious fighting spirit and grit, but, those who knew him well attest that at least you always knew where you stood with him. According to Sol’s close family and friends, he also had a great sense of humour, was a good friend, who would share his astute knowledge and impeccable advice, but, few people ever knew that he had a softer side. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Obituary: Sol Kerzner Sol surrounded himself with excellence and creativity. It is said that his currency was dedication, enthusiasm and commitment, coupled with an incisive mind, constantly scanning the horizon for new, audacious, innovative ideas and opportunities, and ever at the ready with fast judgement and decision. Sol’s recipe for success was: “You take a chance, calculate the odds, research the international market properly, establish the Southern Africans’ (customers) taste, style, appetite and enjoyment, aim at giving them a good time at the best quality that they can afford – then go for it!” And when times were tough and difficult situations arose, Sol loved to say: “Box on.” Sol Kerzner had a life filled with triumph and tragedy and he built a legacy from humble beginnings. He left an indelible mark on the global hospitality and gaming industry. Over six decades Sol Kerzner founded and built three of the most successful hotel and casino companies in the world; Southern Sun Hotels, Sun International and Kerzner International. Sol built a global empire and opened over 80 hotels, casinos and resorts in 12 countries, in idyllic locations and reinvented luxury travel. He built a dynasty of hotels that were unapologetically ahead of their time and reflected his taste for opulence, style and glamour. He developed the iconic Atlantis and One&Only luxury brands. During his career Sol Kerzner held the positions of Chairman - World
Leisure Group (1989-94); Founder, Chairman (199396) and CEO (1996-2003) – Kerzner International Holdings Limited; Owner Paradise island, Bahamas; Owner The Palace Hotel; Founder Southern Sun Hotels; Owner Le Saint Geran, Mauritius; Founder Sun International, SA, Developer Sun City, SA. Sol Kerzner played a fundamental role in the development of the tourism industry in Africa, Bahamas, Dubai, Mauritius, China and in many other iconic locations around the world. Sol never chased the money, but, along the way he accumulated an estimated net worth of US$600 million. Sol Kerzner, you will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on. Sol Kerzner has left a path and an intricately detailed template for the next generation of hospitality and gaming visionaries to emulate and to build upon. His contributions will be extremely difficult to match, but, he will, no doubt, be cheering future pioneers on from above, with his favourite words of encouragement; “Box On.” Volume 16: Issue 141
Niall Murray is the Chairman of Murray International, a Strategic Development company serving the tourism, hospitality and gaming industries, specialising in integrated resorts, hotels and casinos, with a focus on strategic and operations development, the pre-opening/ opening process and performance optimisation. Niall is actively working on a number of projects including the development of the Integrated Resort (IR) Industry in Japan. Niall presented recommendations to the National Diet and provided advisory services to both public and private entities in the prefectures of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Wakayama and Sasebo on best practices in the development Japan’s IR and MICE industries. Niall has over 30 years of international experience in developing and leading the implementation of the pre-opening/opening process, operations development, guest service standards, operating procedures, HR processes, training & development programs, exceptional work environments and post-opening performance optimisation processes for several of the world’s most successful Integrated Resorts. Niall has held Strategic Development Consulting and Senior Executive roles with: MGM Cotai & MGM Macau; SJM’s Grand Lisboa, Ponte 16, Oceanus, L’Arc, & Grand Lisboa Palace in Macau; The Venetian, Four Seasons, Sands Cotai Central & Sands in Macau; Shun Tak Hong Kong; The Venetian & Caesars Palace in Las Vegas; Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton & Omni Hotels in New York; Sheraton Hotels in Canada; and the Disneyland Resort in Paris. Niall graduated from from Trinity College Dublin with a B.Sc. in Management, holds Higher qualifications in Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Management and has completed studies for an MBA in International Management from the University of London & Hong Kong University. He is a member of the the Institute of Management Consultants, the Project Management Institute, American Society of Training and Development and is a Senior Professional in HRM with the Society of Human Resource Management. Niall is an experienced strategic consultant, writer, executive coach, trainer and public speaker. Niall has been a keynote speaker and panel contributor at the Integrated Resort Conference, Top Hotel Projects, Global Gaming Expo (G2E), Gaming Executive Forum, the Japan Gaming Congress and has appeared on RTÉ and TDM TV. Niall has contributed to Casino Life, Inside Asia Gaming, Global Gaming Review, Irish Times, Macau Daily and Macau Business Magazine. If you are interested in designing, developing, opening or optimising an Integrated Resort please contact Murray International. Niall Sean Murray - Chairman MURRAY INTERNATIONAL (Macau) Co. Ltd. E-mail: Niall@MurrayInternationalGroup.com Mobile: +853 6613 8133 47
Feature: Bennie Mancino
Responding to a Global Pandemic Bennie Mancino chats to Bill Healey about the challenges facing the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic
e’re pleased to have Bennie Mancino join us for a chat about Covid-19 and how it has impacted the Hard Rock Cincinnati, and the industry overall. Having been at the Hard Rock Las Vegas during the downturn of 2007-2009 we also ask if there are any parallels between the Great Recession and the current pandemic. You were working as a Casino Shift Manager at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas between 2000 and 2012. In the Great Recession which started in 2008 Las Vegas was hit quite hard. What impact did you see on the gaming industry at that time? The impact was significantly different. The last Recession resulted after subprime lending caused a
Bennie Mancino 48
catastrophic real estate market collapse. Although the economic trickle-down effect from that hit everyone, there were no restrictions on everyday life. In the current pandemic crisis, travel has been intermittently restricted in several ways, from outright prohibitions to less frequently scheduled flights, trains, or other modes of transportation. Individuals are traveling within those restrictions to their personal comfort levels. The off-Strip Hard Rock Las Vegas experienced minimal impact in ‘07-‘09, because our customers trended towards a younger and more affluent demographic. That demographic appeared impervious to the financial impact and oblivious to world events. The Strip casinos did experience a financial hit, but there were no shutdowns. The gaming companies had expansive layoffs, however, in my view that occurred to “right size” labor to volume. As has always been the case, Las Vegas came back from that significant downtrend. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Bennie Mancino Can any parallels be drawn between the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 and Covid-19? Covid-19 resulted in a complete shutdown of some operations within 24 hours, a unique occurrence unmatched in the last century. Little else has disrupted operations so suddenly and abruptly outside of gradual economic impacts during 2008, terrorist, or wartime activities. The pandemic also resulted in a call to action to rapidly implement preventative health and safety precautionary measures never seen before in many industries. We quickly had to evaluate, interpret, and implement expert opinion on hygiene and sanitation, then apply that to the business and operation of gaming. The only similarity in the pandemic to the 2008 Recession, if any, is the substantial financial impact. Unlike the 2008 Recession, the economic and social impact of Covid-19 will take quite a while to erase for travel, tourism, conferences, and casino resort destinations. Casinos have opened in June and July 2020, but it appears we may be facing more closures in the coming months. Have casinos prepared properly for the first opening? And are there lessons we have learned? Casino Operators clearly had the intent to prepare, in some cases the follow-through wasn’t there. This pattern is represented in some recently filed Nevada Gaming Enforcement Board Complaints. Operators did not consistently follow or adhere to
safety protocols. A difficult lesson, we have learned, is the fact that health and safety protocols in mass gathering establishments must be strictly maintained. Things we took for granted, like allowing a high limit player to bring in food, could cause a mass impact event. Heightened health and safety awareness in the casino industry will be around long after a Covid-19 vaccine is found. Has there been a significant shift by players from casino gaming to online gaming? I don’t think the everyday casino player easily shifts to online gaming; the personal interaction they seek is not there, and there aren’t enough jurisdictions that offer a legal and safe environment. Maybe statistics will prove me wrong, time will tell. How is this impacting those who have spent a career in the industry? Perhaps a change in career Volume 16: Issue 141
focus or early retirement? In my peer circle, I have observed a lot of early retirements and those giving serious thought to a career change. A surprisingly large number of them have only spent a few years in the casino industry.
Many are trepidatious about being in the workforce or have health concerns that make it difficult to continue in a touchpoint profession. On some level it is hard for anyone to deal with a day-to-day existence in a pandemic world. I can’t imagine the struggles some may be coping with, like the fear of bringing the virus home to an at-risk family member and still having to come to work. The Hard Rock’s Safe and Sound initiative alleviates most concerns for our employees as we put employee and guests’ safety ahead of profits. There have been varied opinions on how the casino industry will recover. It could be forever changed. How do you see the coming few years? I think regional operators will have an easier time with recovery. Some regional operators may see growth in spend by their guests due to a reduction in other entertainment options and limits on travel. 49
Feature: Bennie Mancino Those guests are looking for something to do within a reasonable geographical locale. Destination markets and resorts will struggle, a more expedient recovery for them appears to depend on the availability of a vaccine. As for your current location at the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati, how have the employees been affected? Has it been possible to retain staff during the times of closure? We have made a strong start towards recovery here in Cincinnati. All Covid-19 related training occurred just before reopening, which had our Team well prepared to welcome our guests to a safe and sound environment. This helped us achieve a strong start due to the swift and comprehensive corporate response, geared towards minimizing the financial impact on employees. We await regulatory approval to restart our Poker operations, which still has that team furloughed. However, the property continued benefits, distributed food cards, and partially supplemented income through innovative programs to support employees.
Has the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati been proactive in screening employees and/or the general public for Covid-19? The Casino has been extremely aggressive with all proactive measures. We use thermal image screening devices at both employee and guest entrances. All employees are required to screen daily and submit the results to a health questionnaire before entry. Has the Hard Rock been innovative to bring customers back into the casino? And if so, how? In Cincinnati, we were cautiously optimistic and wanted to observe the organic volume that returned before embarking on an extended marketing effort. This plan turned out to be a strategy that benefited us in fact-gathering for the future. We were able to obtain data and used specific demographics within our database to evaluate, including those who quickly returned. That will help with future innovative initiatives for patron return. Casino Life would like to thank Bennie for his responses and continued support of Casino Life Magazine.
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Exclusive Survey: Arjan Korstjens
Covid-19 Impact in Casinos
Exclusive Survey By Arjan Korstjens
or some of us it was February, for most March, for some even later. From one day to another we had to close our doors, in some cases even chasing out our guests on the day of notice itself. The long waiting started and nobody knew how long it would take. Gradually, from May we started opening again. And not to my surprise we can see similar patterns. A lot of operators see their result in the first month of re-opening boom. For them that month is better than the same month the year before. Seems like a lot of people have been sitting on top of a gaming
budget, spending it in the first moment they could. Then, again, the same happens: month two is worse, sometimes even 50% lower than last year. Month three things settle out again, back to normal. Letâ€™s hope we can have some good months towards the end of the year. So what did we have to do to make this come true, to comply to local Covid regulations? In a survey 40 operators gave us some answers. Participating operators came from Africa (sub-sahara), Latam and Europe (from UK to Bosnia, Sweden to Spain). Here are some of the answers:
1. Effect on Slots
Only about 1/3 had to switch of some Slot Machines. 62,5% can operate without switching off machines. Cleaning has been intensified with
everybody, some â€˜randomâ€™ based, some with a system. Suppliers of glass/plastic barriers did good business.
2. Effect on Tables
Again a lower number than expected: only one out of four had to close (some) tables. Most of us, 75%, had to reduce the number of guests per table. Some Volume 16: Issue 141
even had to reduce the number to 2 or 3 per table to comply with regulations. And 5 casinos had placed barriers on/around the tables. 51
Exclusive Survey: Arjan Korstjens 3. F&B impact
In F&B the impact was the most severe. Although not our core business it is an important component of our service. Two operators stopped all F&B offering, four closed the restaurant and six closed the bar. That means that one in every four is seriously affected.
In the comments I read a lot that all self-service has stopped. From ordering at the bar to buffets: everything must go through a member of staff. One operator was happy with this change: they could stop giving out free food & drinks.
4. Impact on promotions
One out of four stopped all promotions, that is a lot. Stopping (undirected) large audience promotions and moving to target groups and player tracking segments is a positive effect of these Covid regulations. Also some of the operators continued the active promotion from before the lock down, not to disappoint guests. Concluding it seems that we had to do a lot, but as we are very flexible in our operations we did well. The real heavy impact measures like switching off machines and shutting tables seem to be limited to a part of the operators. Reducing F&B services is a thing we will survive and when regulations become less strict they will gradually come back. What I do not understand is operators stopping all promotions. If there is a time when you need promotions to grow again it is now. Switching to segmented promotions with an offer that fits the target group should already be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Which groups did you lose, which ones came back and what did they do? Analyse! Where are your opportunities to find new guests/players, as I think we know one thing for sure: some of our old regular guests will not come back. This is the time for a new Marketing strategy. 52
In September I will repeat the Survey, going in to more detail on loss of revenue, guests groups and an inventory of ideas on how to get out of this. The full results and learnings are only available for those operators who participate. If you want to participate (and get a copy of the full report) drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio: Arjan Korstjens â€“ Consultant, Speaker & Trainer
Arjan Korstjens is a consultant, speaker and trainer in the international Casino industry. Working from his own company, Explayner, he helps casinos improving the result and effect of their Marketing in both the online and landbased world. He has worked for, amongst others, Holland Casino, SBM Casinos Monaco, Sun Monticello Chile, Partouche Casino Oostende, Casinos Austria Viage Brussels, Casinos del Sol Paraguay and Olympic Entertainment Group. Arjan specialises in promotional strategies, Responsible Gaming on the casino floor and database marketing/loyalty programs. He is a course director for the Totally Gaming Academy and speaks and chairs at various conferences around the world. https://nl.linkedin.com/in/arjankorstjens www.casinolifemagazine.com
Comment: Shaun McCamley
Can Online Casinos Offer Non-Negotiable (NN) Chip Rolling Programs
s land based revenues plummet and with no end game in sight due to Covid, can casino operators look to bolster flat gaming income? Can non-negotiable rolling programs, which are essential to the profitability of SE Asia casinos, be replicated and implemented through an online casino platform? Before that question can be answered, it is absolutely critical for operators looking to translate the complex world of Asian based incentive programs to an online platform. Firstly they need to make every effort to understand the cultural differences and economics of how rolling programs work and function throughout Asia. Not doing so will result in huge losses for the casino. Non-Negotiable (NN) rolling programs are unique to SE Asia and have been around since the early days of Macau back in the late 1970’s when SJM was the only game in town. How and why the non-negotiable chip concept was needed and developed is another story, but as an introduction to non-negotiable chip rolling and how commissions are earned these are the fundamentals. Basically rolling commission is received (earned) whenever a player wagers non-negotiable chips and winning bets are paid with cash chips. On average, a player’s chip rolling or number of turns is approximately 7 - 8 times that of his/her principle buy-in amount. For example, a player that purchases $500,000 in non-negotiable chips will often roll a total of $3.5 million. If the commission rate is 1.25%, the rolling commission on this is $43,750. The more non-negotiable chips a player purchases, the more commission collected. The definition of a “negotiable” chip (cash chip) means that it can be redeemed at the casino cage for cash. NO rolling commission is paid or accrued for players that wager with cash chips, regardless of whether the players win or lose. Volume 16: Issue 141
Shaun McCamley 53
Comment: Shaun McCamley
Rolling programs using non-negotiable chips are designed specifically for VIP groups and approved junket agents.
The definition of a “non-negotiable” chip (dead chip) means that it cannot be exchanged at the cage for cash. The chips have an expressed monetary value but they must be played across the baccarat table. Rolling commission is when the group or player purchases non-negotiable chips with cash chips from the cage, the process is called chip rolling. This is where rolling commission is produced. The chip rolling amount is equal to the total non-negotiable chips that the player or group purchases with cash chips. For example, if the player or group purchases $20k in non-negotiable chips, this equates to chip rolling of $20k. Once the player or group have finished playing and are ready to go home, the rolling commission total will be calculated AFTER the player or group returns all of the remaining non-negotiable chips in hand to the cage. Example: Total chip rolling is $100k and the player holds $20k in non-negotiable chips. $100k $20k = $80k net chip rolling. Rolling programs using non-negotiable chips are designed specifically for VIP groups and approved junket agents. So can a rolling program be offered through an online casino, well the short answer is yes. A key point to note is that the primary role of a NN chip is to track and record player turnover. This is needed to deliver an undisputed calculation of the commissions VIP groups earn as a whole (not necessarily individuals) during a visit. As the chips do all the work this negates the need to have a person recording every single bet of every player which would be costly and also result in inaccurate reporting leading to disputes. As we know data harvesting and drill down points in today’s online casino platforms are all-encompassing and as such accurately record player turnover levels. Because of this there is no need to use NN chips as applying a commission rate would therefore not be difficult. So if it’s that easy why not just jump in and get the junkets and their players signed up and rolling; as always, the devil is in the details. First step, make sure your commission rates are correct and in line with game’s theoretical data and turnover expectations, as they relate to an online casino environment. Next, it’s imperative to work out 54
the many loop holes, ways and means that junket agents and players work toward increasing turnover levels to their advantage. 90% of players in SE Asia prefer to play and earn commissions on baccarat where margins are particularly thin, so adding in cash incentives through rolling can bankrupt the casino if not done correctly. As an example and to my surprise and amazement, I recently heard a senior casino executive express the view that NN chips could be cashed in. Let’s be very clear, to allow players to cash in their NN chips would be a total disaster for the casino. There is a very good reason why these chips are called Non-Negotiable. The key takeaway here is that yes online casinos can offer rolling commission programs, but before doing so operators must seek advice from industry experts experienced in both land based and online casino operations as well as having development and oversight experience in non-negotiable chip rolling programs, to ignore this advice just sets up your casino to fail.
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. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: John Connolly
How to Catch a Casino Cheat
By: John Connolly
his belongs to my simple philosophy of “know who they are, over, know what they do”. Keep them out of the house rather than spending your attention watching until you catch a cheat move. I understand there’s nothing more exhilarating than catching someone in the act, I know as in my all my years in casino management/ surveillance, I have caught many. Know what they do? Yes it’s important to know what they do but they are professionals and they do what they do for a living and even when you spot a cheat move, find out who did it and when you do invariably the money has already gone out of the door. It was an education moving from England to Central Europe in 1992 where a new get rich quick attitude existed. We are hunter gatherers and it’s in our DNA to want to catch something, most animals catch in order to eat, humans used to and some still do, even the domestic cat likes to catch a bird or a mouse. However, in the casino our overriding aim must be to win and save the house and make the best bottom line profits. As a General Manager I always wanted to show the best percentage hold possible. When I left the U.K in 1992 the casino at which I had been General Manager for five years from inception had 23.56% hold with no tips in those days and no stud poker. A casino here near Budapest which I managed for a short period of 16 months before the license expired, finished with a gaming win of 19% hold and 6% tips, in total 25% of the drop. Prior to my arrival the casino was on its last legs, we had closed down early other casinos in the group around the country that were operating at a loss. This casino had 12% tips and about 9% gaming win. CHEATING, most of the staff including the G.M. who we couldn’t fire until he went sick and we didn’t see him again. 12% tips? The dealers were turbo tipping the tip boxes, the dealers were colluding with players or just plain stealing and I caught a floor manager with a packet of cards in his pocket when we were conducting the playing card inventory. Volume 16: Issue 141
I created a proper pit and took most of the tables away from the walls. When a dealer stands with their backs against a wall they have the advantage that noone is behind them and they can see every movement in front of them, they know where everyone in the room is and this gives them an opportunity to cheat. So create a pit whenever possible. I should mention that in this period my team and I doubled the drop and increased the revenue by 150% Why keep cheats out of the house? If you know who they are then you can keep them from your gaming tables, something I have done successfully most of my career. This way we save on resources, we don’t have to provide staff and tables for them, we can concentrate on genuine players, exercise good public relations, we can wear a smile on our faces, instead of a frown looking for cheats, we save money because invariably, as I have said previously, even when we catch the cheats money still leaves the house. We save on time and energy, we save staff from falling under suspicion, we save on comps in some cases, we save jobs and we save the good name and reputation of the casino. When cheating happens there is a paranoia which
exists and sometimes innocent players can fall under suspicion, the Italian team of professional cheats do this, they friend other people around them to disguise their actions. Or they visit a local Italian restaurant and bring along others staff or customers with them, let’s not forget that they are also con-men. Keeping true to my philosophy I started my database in 1992 when I used to take home names written on a piece of paper which collected around our home and on the bedroom dresser when I emptied my pockets before bed. Soon after our surveillance director started on a database for me which was enhanced by a tech savvy Cctv operator, digital images started to circulate on the Internet and in security groups, I became the main contributor to one particular security association because Budapest was on the front line in those days and with nine casinos a magnet for international casino cheats and advantage players. 55
Feature: John Connolly
This image is just to demonstrate that we can carry multiple images and video
My database is now 28 years old and I have decided to call it FINGER because that’s what it does, it fingers international serial cheats from Macau to Las Vegas from Vladivostok through Europe to Saipan. Register for FINGER today and save on all of the above listed saves, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”. FINGER is the largest and best quality images database of worldwide casino cheats and contains today more than 20,880 named subjects and 15,000 quality facial images and rapidly growing. He has more pages with alias’ and associates to view. This is a forged identity because he is really Peruvian, there are more than 60 of the Colombian/ Peruvian slot machine cheats and robbers in FINGER
and I must mention Russian slot machine hackers. For those of you who wish to lease this online database and qualify as an early-bird potential user with 10% discount, please register your interest before the end of September 2020. Potential because all end users will be verified. This is just a marketing site because we are trying to keep the actual FINGER database safe on another website. Subscribe to Silver Finger and you will receive an even bigger discount when you upgrade to GoldFinger, with Facial Recognition. This is only a pre-subscription registration of intent. No obligation to buy or lease. Pre-register at, copy and paste into your browser fingeronline.net We are extending the pre-registration period because of Covid-19 register today and your discount code will stay valid until
This forged passport image is of the Chinese head of the Colombian/Peruvian stacker stealers, note the Spanish way of spelling the word Singapore, his associates have the best facial images which cannot be found anywhere else and video of their work is also attached to their profiles in FINGER.
the end of 2021. However it is important to register your interest in order to qualify for the early bird discount. Larger discounts will be available for casino groups of 2-5 casinos and even larger discounts for groups of 6-10 casinos + or more. Anyone needing more clarity or information write to me at email@example.com only after you have pre-registered your intent. Any casino subscribing to FINGER will be given a monthly refund or subscription extension should they need to close down due to this present virus or any future pandemic. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Last Word: Damien Connelly The Rooftop at The Hippodrome Casino in London
Think Outside The Box t’s time for Regulators and Governments to step up to the plate and show they are adaptable and flexible. That they
actively support our industry. They’ll happily tax our industry. They’ll happily earn salaries and pensions paid for by the revenues our industry generates. Coronavirus is a business killer. I hear people saying all will be well and back to normal just as soon as we’ve a vaccine. No it won’t. We’ve had measles around since forever—and a very effective measles vaccine—and we still live with that virus. Health experts (of which I’m not one) say you need 95% of a population to be immunised for a vaccine to be effective. We can’t even get 95% of people to wear a simple face mask! We do know that in outdoor settings, Coronavirus does not spread as easily as indoors. Many casinos— especially resorts – that I’ve visited, have the space to establish outdoor gaming areas; many already have outdoor terraces and smoking areas that could be easily repurposed. As examples, look at some Volume 16: Issue 141
of the facilities built into the new Circa Resort & Casino. As a retrofit example that’s perfectly timed, The
Rooftop at The Hippodrome Casino in London is another great example of taking casino product ‘outside the box’. Moving indoors to outdoors will require Government and Regulatory adaptations in many jurisdictions. We’ve seen many cities already adapt streetscapes to extend restaurant and bar space to help those elements of the hospitality industry. Time for similarly appropriate measures to support the casino and gambling elements of the hospitality industry. I don’t know about you, but to me, many of the current solutions being adopted are more Hospital than Hospitality. I’ve yet to see a plexiglass screen around a slot or table game that makes me think, “That looks inviting.” 57
Last Word: Damien Connelly
Las Vegas Sands Ahead Again
Discussing inviting, if you can’t travel to a desired location, why not do what integrated resorts have done since...oh, I think Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I believe it was the first themed casino property. Bring the location to your customers AND bring your customers unforgettable experiences. Our article in this issue highlights the truly amazing and inspirational achievements accomplished by Sol Kerzner, creating consistent exceptional experiences for decades. When it was first announced, I will admit I wasn’t sure The Londoner® Macao was a good idea. Now? I think The Londoner will set new trends, create exceptional experiences, and maintain Las Vegas Sands as a premier operator of integrated entertainment resorts worldwide. As noted in a press release from Las Vegas Sands
Corporation, “Bringing together the very best of this iconic city, from spectacular recreations of worldfamous landmarks to uniquely London-inspired public spaces, accommodation, restaurants, retail and entertainment, The Londoner Macao is a celebration of timeless British design.” As with Circa Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas, I am anticipating my first visit to The Londoner Macao; and indeed to The Rooftop at The Hippodrome in the real London. I expect my jaw will drop below my mask many, many times as I tour all of these facilities.
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, including 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.
The creative experience that will bring your visions to life
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PROUDLY ANNOUNCING... ...The launch of the Casino Life Ukraine magazine and the redesign of the Ukrainian & Russia language website www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
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