Casino Life Issue 153 Volume

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Volume 18: Issue 153


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Editor’s Note

CASINO The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos

Published by Outsource Digital Media Ltd

Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 peter@outsourcedigitalmedia.com

Editorial:

Editor in Chief : David McKee david@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Editor EMEA: Damien Connelly damien@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey bill@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Victor H. Royer International Features Editor victor@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Associate Editor EMEA: Aydin Guney aydin.guney@outsourcedigital media.com International Correspondent: Lyudmyla Kyrychenko lyudmyla.kyrychenko@outsource digitalmedia.com

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde stewart@de5ign.co.uk www.de5ign.co.uk Accounts: Helen Holmes accounts@outsourcedigitalmedia.com IT Director: Pasha Kuzminskiy pasha@outsourcedigitalmedia.com

Volume 18: Issue 153

Welcome... Queen Elizabeth II is dead—and the British casino industry is looking a bit green about the gills. After the longest fan dance in history, the much-awaited, tantalizingly delayed governmental White Paper had finally been delivered. But then the scandal-encrusted Boris Johnson administration imploded. New Prime Minister Liz Truss had scarcely been asked by Queen Elizabeth to form a new government than Her Majesty herself departed for a better world. So where does that leave United Kingdom gaming policy? In disarray it would seem. The news hasn’t been bad for everyone. The online sector is enjoying a funerary delay from the marketing crimps and betting limits that the White Paper was expected to bring. But land-based casinos must continue to chafe under such annoyances as preposterous limits on slot machines and restrictions on the issuance of credit. What’s more, there’s even been talk that Truss will toss the White Paper into the nearest tipping bin and hit ‘restart.’ In the interim, it can be of no great comfort to the industry that the White Paper is currently residing upon the desks of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, whose boss, Michelle Donelan, is no friend of gaming. The Department of Digital, etc., is sloppy seconds for Donelan, who wanted the education portfolio and she may take it out on Internet gambling, long a sore point with her. This bears watching. At the other end of the world, Star Entertainment is seemingly seeking to outdo Crown Resorts as the Peck’s Bad Boy of gaming. It’s been accused of “lawless arrogance” and “astounding” high-handedness when it comes to not following the rules. Star hasn’t just turned a blind eye to player misconduct, it has eagerly facilitated it. Star was allowing high-rolling customers to write blank cheques for chips and, in the case of Chinese players, facilitating the movement of Union Pay monies—forbidden for use in gambling—to VIPs’ accounts. That’s money laundering, folks. Between the Star and Crown mega-scandals, Australian regulation (or the lack of it) was all the talk of Global Gaming Asia. Down Under was characterized as the outlaw frontier of gambling and overdue for reform, with lax government ‘oversight’—and one uses the term loosely— responsible for creating the mess about which official bodies are now in high dudgeon. Regulators were complicit in the creation of a Crown/Star duopoly which has proven too big to regulate. Once the beast slipped its chains, getting it back into the cage required the most extreme measures. In the case of both operators, they had to be threatened with denial of gaming licenses to merely get their attention. Instead of an ounce of prevention, Australia must resort to several tons of cure. Pity.

DMcKee David McKee Editor 3


Contents 3

Editor’s Note David McKee

5

EMEA Editor Foreword Damien Connelly

7 Guest Comment: Stuart Hunter, Managing Director Clarion Gaming 8 The Power of Trust California’s Wilton Rancheria teams with Boyd Gaming to create Sky River Casino by David McKee

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14 Welcome to Les Ambassadeurs’ Summer of Sharing Gaming and giving back is proving to be a winning formula for the iconic Mayfair casino 19 Casino Barrière Menton, Located In A True Wonderland By Damien Connelly 25 Peak Performance Interview with Petko Ivanov, Director of Sales EMEA, International Game Technology

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29 Responsible Gaming Education For All It’s about people when it comes to responsible gaming. By: Damien Connelly 31 Velvix Launches Three New Game Titles Plus A Revamp Of Their Rpg- Themed Game, Olympus Legacy for G2E Las Vegas 2022. 34 Japan Integrated Resorts Update: Nearing The End Of Round One By Joji Kokuryo 37 Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Argentina, Brazil and Peru By: Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. 40 Ukrainian gambling continues to recover Despite the hostilities in Ukraine, there is much happening in the gambling sector.. By Anton Kuchukhidze 43 G2E Las Vegas Preview Aristocrat Gaming 45 G2E Las Vegas Preview SUZOHAPP 47 G2E Las Vegas Preview Zitro 49 Designing the Metaverse By Raymond Chan

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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 Severn Print.


Foreword: Damien Connelly

Coming to Georgia. Coming to America

Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

I

’m not confused. Rather, I am reflecting the support and participation of Casino Life at two upcoming industry events – the Batumi Gaming Fest in Georgia in the Caucasus, and then Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, in America. Western Europe has the oldest land-based casino in the world and also has a very mature online gaming

market. While growth in online remains available in specific West European markets, land-based casino gaming expansion is more greenfield and exciting in the east … as well as across specific African markets and some pockets in the Middle East, as witnessed by the January 2022 announcement from Wynn Resorts regarding its first foray into the MENA region (Middle East North Africa). As select greenfield opportunities are more likely to arise in new jurisdictions, Casino Life is providing support to the Batumi Gaming Fest (BGF) in Georgia. For over 15 years, Casino Life has had an office in Ukraine, and we recently launched local media to encourage the professional development of legalised gambling products across Ukraine. As conditions have altered in recent times, we were honoured to be invited to work with the organisers of the BGF given our market knowledge/ expertise. My colleague, Peter White, will be presenting at the BGF conference. If Volume 18: Issue 153

you’ll be at the BGF, make sure to say “Hello.” As G2E approaches, European gaming companies’ focus Damien Connelly, Editor EMEA definitely switches beyond our western horizon to that rather famous desert city – which is no longer deserted and has seen a spectacular rebound since those horrendous lockdown days most of us have moved on from (you’ll get there one day, Macau, and then no doubt overtake us all again!). If you’ll be at G2E Las Vegas, please also make sure to say “Hello” so we catch up with as many people as we can in person. In-person events are essential to our industry, and it is great to see G2E roaring back into all of our calendars again. “Hasta Las Vegas?” Please join our LinkedIn Group and engage with our high-quality, industryrelevant community. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1813053/

Damien Connelly

Editor EMEA

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Guest Comment: Stuart Hunter

Stuart Hunter, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming

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he fact that Clarion Gaming is taking a significant entourage to G2E not for the journey but in order to meet key business objectives speaks volumes for the power, the influence and the benefits delivered by in-person events. Major expos such as G2E and ICE London deliver a long list of opportunities. We are excited to be able to connect with our customers again, meet up with industry friends, share the exciting plans that we have for ICE23 and beyond, take the temperature of a U.S. industry that’s making a robust recovery and simply to soak it all in. In fact, we hope to achieve precisely the same outcomes as the overwhelming majority of industry professionals who will also be in Vegas. As professional event organisers who are invested in the sector that we serve, we absolutely share in the excitement of the G2E team as they bring the U.S. gaming industry back together again after such a long time away. That excitement will be magnified for us next February when the ICE doors open and we welcome all sectors of the international industry back for a full scale edition of ICE London.

Why are live events so important? Very simply they allow businesses and individuals to meet, engage and spend valuable time with customers and suppliers – both existing and new. Getting to know your partners and customers is so important particularly in a people-centric industry such as international gaming. Relationships can be struck or cemented in endless ways when we meet in person, sometimes planned, sometimes by chance, but always meaningful. In my opinion, personal contact and human relationships are vital in order to keep the wheels of the commercial world turning and meeting at a world class event such as ICE presents the most economical way to do this – not only as it’s the best opportunity to be in the room with the right people but because the opportunities to engage face to face throughout the week are endless and memorable. We are utilising our time in Las Vegas to invest in the many relationships that we have built over the Volume 18: Issue 153

decades and to listen to our customers courtesy of the ICE symposium which we are hosting on Monday 10th October. The Symposium follows the same format as the event we held at Les Stewart Hunter, Managing Ambassadeurs Casino Director, Clarion Gaming in Mayfair, London in conjunction with the European Casino Association and the ECA members. An extension of our traditional Ampersand gathering, the Symposium utilises the Open Space format to create an agenda which reflects the issues that are really important to the participants and their businesses. Open Space is both dynamic and democratic – enabling us as event organisers to direct our energies into focusing on those issues that really matter to our stakeholders. We also have an exciting new booth this year at G2E (Number 5538) where we have partnered with The Mob Museum in Las Vegas to present a vintage slot machine which simply has to be seen … it’s a classic piece of gaming history that we can’t wait to show our guests as a contrast to all the tech that will be on display at G2E. A successful G2E will represent great news for the global industry and after Vegas all roads lead to ICE London, which is on course to be the most symbolic and exciting edition of ICE on record! ICE 2023 takes place across 7-9 February, ExCeL London. https://www.icelondon.uk.com 7


Feature: Sky River Casino

The Power of Trust

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California’s Wilton Rancheria teams with Boyd Gaming to create Sky River Casino by David McKee asino openings are tricky. One must

avoid overpromising and underdelivering. And when was the last time a casino opened early and not in an unfinished state (the dreaded “soft opening”)? If you’re keeping score, it was Paris-Las Vegas, 23 years ago … until Sky River. California’s newest casino resort, and the one closest to the capital city of Sacramento, was finished an amazing two months sooner than planned. Opening-night ballyhoo was cleverly eschewed in favor of a dead-of-night rollout, announced only via social media – but set-ting off a stampede of players nevertheless. At present, Sky River is more casino than resort, as its creators would be the first to tell you, but there’s plenty of room (100 acres) and incentive to grow. How did it happen? We spent an afternoon with Wilton Rancheria tribal Chairman Jesus Tarango and casino President Chris Gibase to learn how the tribe selected Boyd Gaming, and how this business duo hit pay dirt. 8

When was the Sky River project originally

incepted? JT: When we first got terminated in 1959 and then our re-recognition came back in 2009, every tribal member knew that was the most viable thing for us to do: To have a casino. So, for a lot of the membership, that’s one of the first things we thought about and that’s one of the best things a tribe can do, especially here in California with our market. Then we had the different legal battles that we had to en-dure. But the inception came from that recognition in 2009. How long did the land-into-trust process take? JT: There were many struggles in our path. Obviously, after a long, long fight by our tribal elders, who took this upon themselves, we overcame those challenges. People wanted to block the project and kind of exploited our legal system but for us it really came together in 2017, when the former governor, Jerry Brown, signed our gaming compact and later our www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Sky River Casino land was placed into trust. From that you can see it’s a pretty lengthy process. If you use the formation of our government, it took us roughly five years to get it done. When did Boyd come into the picture? CG: We’ve been working with the tribe lockstep all the way through all the processes and legal battles, and all the different pieces of the puzzle that had to be put together in order to get this project off the ground. That was a pretty coordinated effort because not only did you have local issues you had to battle, you had issues in the state and also federally. So there is literally a multi-pronged approach to mak-ing sure our environmental studies were in place, making sure that everything that needed to be done for the state compact and ultimately for the federal government to approve the land and even the development-andmanagement agreements all took time. So it’s been better than 10 years and obviously a lot more in the last eight as we’ve started to get to the final stages of this. What criteria went into the site selection and why did Wilton Rancheria opt to convert a mall, as opposed to building from the ground up? JT: There were several sites that were considered. Then you look at our location where we’re at today, it’s located 15 miles south of downtown Sacramento and it’s our closest casino to Sacramento and our southeast Bay. But the fact that it was already permitted for commercial use, there was already a lot of infrastructure there for us. So we were able to utilize some of the things that were already there that obviously would cut down some of our costs. Ultimately it makes the most sense for us.

CG: It is a ground-up build. The mall was never completed. There were just roofs over several pads. So that was demolished and this building is built from the ground up but a brownfield development. All the environmental-impact studies were already there. So there was the infrastructure that went into a major outlet mall that we were able to utilize. But we didn’t take over an abandoned mall and build into it. We built this to be a major resort complex. How would you describe the interior design? CG: The interior was designed to be a market leader. Volume 18: Issue 153

Chris Gibase, President, Sky River Casino

It would be comparable to anything you would find anywhere. You could pick this property up and, with the other pieces we’re going to add, it could go in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip and be very competitive. So we had the advantage of looking at the competitors, evaluating what they had and then building something that was, in a lot of aesthetics, more pleasing, but also had the technology, because we are a new property. It gives us some market

advantages over top of the other folks that are there. The property also has a really unique design that each of the four exterior walls are collapsible. So there’s two sets of steel in every wall. When we go to expand, we literally attach the steel to the outside of the wall, do whatever we’re going to build, then drop the internal wall so we won’t have any downtime while we’re expanding the property. What motivated Wilton Rancheria to choose Boyd Gaming as its partner? JT: They were chosen before my involvement with the tribe. However, my mother, Mary Tarango, who was our first tribal chairwoman, was around during that selection and the elders looked at Boyd’s well-established track record. Boyd Gaming’s been around since 1975. They’re very successful. They obviously have core values that we share. It’s putting your people first, which is huge in Indian Country. It 9


Feature: Sky River Casino What is the decision-making process between the Rancheria and Boyd, as it pertains to developing Sky River? CG: It’s collaborative. Obviously Boyd Gaming has expertise in building, developing and operating properties everywhere. The tribe, on the other hand, this is their first venture into gaming. What went into it was a lot of building of trust between the groups and Boyd leads on the execution of building and developing the property, and now managing it, but the tribe’s involved every step of the way. Everything from the walls to the selection of the carpet to how we do standard operating procedures, the tribe’s been involved in lockstep. Like in any business, communication is the key. You keep the communication levels high and realistically, as the chairman said, there’s been things we agreed to disagree on and we moved past that and keep on going. Jesus Tarango, Chairman, Wilton Rancheria

just spoke volumes to us and I believe it’s why those elders chose Boyd. Since my coming along in 2016 as a tribal council member – that’s when I was introduced to Mr. Gibase – it’s really like a family. Being in this world for the last six years, business is business but it sure makes it a lot easier when you and your partner are seriously like family. We could agree to disagree and move on, there’s nothing personal, but for us it’s their track record of who they are, how they conduct themselves and how they run their businesses.

How much tribal gaming management experience does Boyd have? CG: The company was incorporated in 1975 although Bill and Sam Boyd were around a lot longer before that. Currently, Boyd operates 28 different gaming properties in 10 different states. We also developed and managed for the Choctaw down in Philadelphia, Mississip-pi. It was, again, the same type of environment that the chairman alluded to. With Boyd Gaming it’s all about integrity. It’s all about be-ing able to shake someone’s hand and say, “We’re going to do this”, and then follow through on it. Within Boyd Gaming there is an array of people like me that have had extensive experience throughout Native American gaming, so it’s a combination of Boyd’s own history but the people that make up Boyd have other experiences that come into play. 10

JT: The trust piece is a big factor for us. For me, Boyd Gaming’s the experts. Tribes who get into gaming for the first time, you really need to do your research on who you choose as a partner. Our elders did that 10 years ago and we’re seeing the fruits of their labor. They’ve definitely made that decision making process easier and, at the end of the day, because of that established trust, if you have any issues we’ve always been able to have those conversations. Like Chris said, there’s been maybe a couple. We all want the same end result, which is to build a successful resort.

CG: For the tribe – and the chairman could talk more about this – it’s all about how will the tribe reinvest this? The chairman will tell you it’s all about for the young folks and the eldercare. It’s also for six generations from now. What foundations they lay now they help the tribe through their upcoming years, for centuries to come. It appears from some of the information we have – and we don’t have a lot – it appears that we’re expanding the market. We’re not taking from competitors. The other competitors seem to be doing fine. It’s just that we’re closer to the southern part of Sacramento all the way down to San Jose. We’re the convenience play for them. How has the response from Sacramento been? CG: The property’s been performing above our www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Sky River Casino

expectations. We had three different projections and we’re well above all of them. In fact, we’ve exceeded them greatly. A lot of what went into this is how do we communicate with the city, being the only Sacramento County-based tribe? We had a lot that we reached out to, whether charitable or in the government or in the local community, to make sure that we’re not just another company, to make sure that we have a face and a name behind it, and we’re always there to help out and to be part of what’s going on in the community. People really are enjoying the property and you were to look at the number of people signing up for our loyalty program, which is about three times what we expected, it’s going over really well. There’s a lot of great acceptance because of the property, the way it looks, where it sits and also some of the advantages we get with our new technology. It’s a very food-facing property. You have a casino with 2,000 slot machines and 80 table games but you also have 17 bars and restaurants. Could you elaborate on that? CG: Sure. Right now we have a venue called 32 Brews Street. It is basically where all the action is. It has a full patio, so there’s an interi-or and exterior. There’s more TV screens than I could tell you and a video wall that’s the size of most tractor-trailers. SR Prime is a very high-quality steakhouse featuring allprime cuts of meat and that is just knocking people over. Then we have The Market at Sky River, which Volume 18: Issue 153

has 11 different venues, a couple that are really well known in Sacramento and San Francisco. We have Koi Palace. We have Fuku-ru by KRU, a really well-known name in Sacramento for sushi. Then we have Roli Roti, which is well-known in San Francisco. They own that market there. Then an array of other products, like Java, which serves Pete’s Coffee. We have a hot-chicken concept, a dessert concept, a taqueria, pizza – two massive, gold pizza ovens that are outside the casino floor. What’s the best – not the worst – the best problem you’ve had to deal with so far? CG: The best and worst is probably the same thing. It’s the number of people. When we opened the doors, obviously we did it on pur-pose but we opened up when people least expected it. Immediately after that, within two hours, the place was just jammed. Three o’clock in the morning, it was like Saturday night. The best that happened was the instant acceptance by the local and regional guests. The toughest part was when you have 7,000 people descend on the building all at the same time you have parking issues, food issues, lines, etc. We had this great plan for parking. We did not want to get stuck in the traps some of our competitors did, which was backing up the traffic for miles and miles, things of that nature. So we had a really great plan that was put together with the Elk Grove Police De-partment and California Highway Patrol, and that 11


ks Feature: Sky River Casino lasted about six hours. We realized that we had to fix it again because it just wasn’t working. So we literally went out, stopped traffic and rerouted everybody and, since that point, we’ve been busy but the traffic is moving around a lot easier. We also took another 1,200 parking spaces on adjacent land and started utilizing that for this property as well. At this point we have 6,000 parking spaces so it’s a lot better now. How was Boyd able to finish Sky River early? CG: Our initial projection when we broke ground was October 22. We were able to open on August 15 at night. It was really good plan-ning and that became a reality, because you can plan a lot of things that don’t happen. So we started out with 100 percent of plans, which is unheard-of in construction. Usually you start with 50, 60 percent of your plans and you’re suffering a lot of change orders. In this case, we had 100 percent of plans approved and inspected, so when we first dug in we knew exactly what everybody was doing. We read the tea leaves better than some and saw that the supply chain issue was not something that was going to be a fleeting issue. We commited a lot of money to ordering the long-lead-time items: the electronics, the steel, the air-conditioning units, the kitchen equipment. Some of that we ordered two years out. Things that were supposed to have a 90-day delivery time took two years to get here. So we were lucky. We planned it out where we had all the long-lead items sitting out on the land. We just had to come up and erect them. Even today the docks are a nightmare. We chose to spend more money and air-freight things in, as opposed to having them delivered through the seas. We bought as many things as we could locally. Again, we had a good set of plans. We had no adverse effects with Covid, no adverse ef-fects with the normal things that happen: floods, famine, locusts, whatever. JT: Chris won’t toot the horn too much but, for us, it’s the years of experience that you have in a partner like Boyd. When you look at the company from the top down, CEO Keith Smith is an amazing man. When Boyd engages in any projects you get an amazing team with a lot of experience. It was pretty easy for us to be on the other side of the table. It was an effort together but a lot of that credit should go to Boyd and the construction team because their experience spoke for itself. 12

www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Sky River Casino How did Boyd and the Rancheria arrive at the decision to open at midnight and publicize it through social media? CG: It was not something that was haphazard. It was planned. We’ve opened up many other properties. When you announce an exact date and time when you’re opening you end up with traffic being backed up and people waiting for you to open the doors. When you open the doors, you get a flood of people that you can’t service. So the plan was always to open when we were ready, not based on the timeline provided to outside entities. In fact, in July and August we started feeling pretty good that we were going to be able to open up early. Still no decisions. So when we got to the first week of August we thought we would be able to open by the beginning of September, not in October. So we put out a press release saying we were going to open up in early September. By plan, that was the last time we put out anything other than “September.” At that point, the chairman and I sat around and said, “Are you ready?” “Yeah, we’re ready.” We double-checked everybody and literally that evening [August 15], we said, “OK, let’s open the doors.” We had already invited vari-ous media people prior to that, so they would have B-roll. Then we came up with the clever idea of the text which said, “Pssst! You awake? We’re open.” And that was it. At 11:30 at night the road just lit up. It was like wildfire. We had people running down the street trying to get in this building. It was a lot of fun. But if you

look at the whole process, it was all done intentionally to make sure that we didn’t have a lot of long lines If you announce you’re opening at one o’clock in the afternoon, they’re all standing there and if you couldn’t open until three o’clock, you have people sitting there in 110-degree heat. A lot of bad things could happen. This way, we weren’t worried about the initial recipe. We wanted to make sure we opened the right way. JT: It was a beautiful day. They were still working ’til 12:27 to get things done. CG: The chairman and I were the lucky ones. We were able to get up on the loudspeaker to everyone – we had full staff for three weeks; everyone was still training – so the people sitting on the table games training had no idea we were opening. So when we went on the loudspeaker and said, “Congratulations, Sky River, we’re now open,” the cheer inside the place Volume 18: Issue 153

was louder than the cheer outside. It was a really good night and it’s been a great ride ever since. Will viral marketing be an important part of your future? CG: Oh, absolutely. It’s another one of the channels that everybody has at their fingertips. We have a traditional market and also a big Asian clientele. If you

go from here all the way through San Jose, there’s towns in there that are 60 percent Asian descent. Not only do we have the normal marketing with an agency like everybody has, we have dedicated social-media teams. Viral marketing and social me-dia are definitely big parts of our plan and always have been. We’ve been using social media since Day One and the nice part is we also get a lot of people that do that job for us. There’s one young guy that lives across the street, he’s probably 18 now, he runs a drone over the top of the property every week and he’s just the greatest cheerleader of all time. It’s been fun to watch the community embrace this property. One of the better comments was that the folks in the area are calling the property “Sac Vegas.” The other thing that’s cool is that people that live across the street, even 100 yards away, are more positive about the property than negative – and that’s even when people try to park in their neighborhoods. 13


Feature: Les Ambassadeurs

Welcome to Les Ambassadeurs’ Summer of Sharing

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Gaming and giving back is proving to be a winning formula for the iconic Mayfair casino

ntil 2020 the world of the ultra-high-networth was predictable. UK summers were all about visitors packing London’s high end hotels, eating in the best restaurants, shopping in department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, and – for the privileged few – gaming in casinos such as Les Ambassadeurs Club in London’s Mayfair. Fast forward to 2022 and the post-Covid world looks very different. Overseas visitors are returning, but in a less predictable pattern overall. According to VisitBritain, UK visits overall for 2022 will rise to 26.7 million this year, pushing spending to £21.6 billion – but still down around 30 percent on 2019 levels. 14

The VisitBritain estimate for summer 2022 visitor was recovery to two-thirds of pre-Covid levels. Yet, when it comes to the ultra-high-net worth there are reasons to be optimistic. There are implications for the wider economy that they are leading the way back to something like pre-Covid normality. At Les Ambassadeurs there is an important barometer; a return to 24-hour opening is within touching distance. “It’s not at full-tilt – but we are close,” says Kevin McGowen, chief executive of Les Ambassadeurs. The iconic Mayfair casino is benefiting on two counts. The first is a general return of the key Middle Eastern and Far Eastern summer members. The second is that Les A, as it is affectionately known, used the pandemic www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Les Ambassadeurs years of 2020 and 2021 to quietly carve out a clear point of difference – one shaped around the idea that giving back and gaming are not mutually exclusive. It is a positioning that has enticed the Middle Eastern and Far Eastern members back to the casino in summer 2022. “We have always prided ourselves in having the highest possible standards in customer safety, value, product and service,” says McGowen. “But returning and new members will have noticed an emphasis on putting stakeholders and good causes at the front of all initiatives.” Members have seen this in tangible ways such as the Good Causes Jackpot Zone in the Club’s outdoorgarden gaming area, where members have been encouraged to donate a meaningful amount of their slot-jackpot winnings to good causes. The offerings have led to over 140 progressive-jackpot payouts, with over £800,000 in good-cause donations and a steady increase in overall member generosity. More broadly, Les A club is contributing one percent of its gross gaming yield to GambleAware in 2022. This means members know that a portion of their gaming automatically goes towards supporting safer gambling education, harm prevention and treatment. McGowen and his team are constantly looking for innovative ways to frame activities with the goodcause messaging. The casino’s Summer of Sharing was launched to support a variety of good causes, staff and members. The central idea is that members can contribute through direct generosity in the form of

donations and tips, and also earn points when spending in the club, including the restaurant at 6 Hamilton Place, the Members’ Gift Shop, and by booking travel and holidays through Essential Experiences. These points can be converted into prizes for members and more direct generosity. Points also mean the Ambassadeurs Group WorkFamily can earn a share by way of an achievement award and, crucially, more points mean more goes to the chosen good causes. A standalone brand has been created to promote the Summer of Sharing, using a cool logo and vibrant colours. Shirts, badges and sashes have been worn across the WorkFamily, and the casino staff have embraced the good cause messaging through the club so members and the WorkFamily alike can be inspired by the concept. “It’s a win-win-win for our members, our WorkFamily and society,” says McGowen. “We want to make sure that our members can share their good fortune with Volume 18: Issue 153

others in a pay-it-forward approach that is uplifting and inspires others to participate. At the same time, their activities are helping the levelling-up agenda by supporting some fantastic, good causes. Our WorkFamily are more engaged than ever before and are actively submitting their own ideas for future inclusive promotions like the Summer of Sharing.” Other high-end casinos such as Crockfords, Crown Aspinalls and Park Lane Club are also seeing the steady return of the overseas UHNW. It is an important moment. The ripple effect from the UHNW spending 15


Feature: Les Ambassadeurs

is a key indicator for the broader economy. Research undertaken by EY for the National Casino Forum examined the contribution of the UK high-end casino industry on the UK economy. Its findings remain relevant today. Spending trends by the UHNW are not just confined to the casinos they frequent; there is a wider impact. The EY report centred on the eight high-end London casinos that were operating at the time –

Clermont Leisure, Crockfords, Maxims Casino, Les Ambassadeurs, The Ritz, Crown Aspinalls London, Playboy and Park Lane Club – all serving international mobile high-net worth individuals (HNWIs). In 2016 these eight Mayfair casinos accounted for 28 percent of the overall casino market in the UK. The elite four, Les A, Crockfords, Crown Aspinall and Ritz generated £180m – some 65 percent of the total, with the rate of international visitors reaching 87 percent in some venues. Of the eight casinos the report centred on, only four still have their doors open for business. Covid was brutal for the land-based gaming sector, which either forced the permanent closure of venues or stalled re-opening. But another factor was already impacting the sector as lockdown came to an end – and this one is legislative. The international UHNW visiting the UK are forced to use cheques in order to be able to play. Processing those foreign cheques has become 16

increasingly difficult with banks withdrawing their services. There have long been calls to amend Section 81 of the Gambling Act 2005, to replace outdated cheque transactions with an advance facility, commonly used in other jurisdictions for high-net worth players from overseas. This would enable them to settle their bill with one transaction at the end of their trip. Amending the act would give a small but significant impact to the high-end casinos.

It is just over a year since casinos were given the green light to reopen, on August 15, 2021. Casinos remain an important driver of growth and spending. Key findings from the EY report revealed £74 million of indirect and induced effects of the high-end casino industry. Through its supply chains, it supported value creation in a number of industries in London – these included £14 million in the rental and leasing services industry, and £3 million in food and beverage services. As the EY report points out, high-end casinos are highly labour intensive and support many jobs. They also contribute significant revenue to the UK Exchequer, through business taxes such as corporation tax, and gaming industry duties such as Machine Gaming Duty and Gaming Duty. Beyond this, there are licence fees that come with the food and drink consumed in casinos. It is the UHNWIs who play in the Mayfair casinos who have a particular – and significant – impact on London. www.casinolifemagazine.com


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Feature: Les Ambassadeurs

This is because they are far more likely to combine their trip with other tourism, sports and cultural activities, as well as business interests. They are also likely to travel with an entourage. At the time of the report the estimated contribution of tourism activity was between £120 million and £200 million a year. “The spending starts in Mayfair,” explains McGowen. “Visitors come to the UK to spend the summer here. They are not in the casino all the time – although they have access to the concierge-style service that comes with being a member of an elite club, and that is an important attraction.” He points out that they want to come to London because it is a great city. “They might have their children in school here or have business or property interests in the UK,” he explains. “They want to go shopping and eating – and they want to play. So, they stay in Mayfair to be close to their clubs. Of course, many of our members rarely travel alone.” Future-proofing a city is about more than putting in place key infrastructure such as digital connectivity and sustainable power supplies. “It is about ensuring people have great places to visit,” says McGowen. “For Les Ambassadeurs’ members this is about giving them a great membership experience, in a great location.” As summer 2022 comes to a close, the highend casinos are looking to the Qatar World Cup in November as the next staging post for a revival in their fortunes. The football event is expected to bring an influx of new overseas visitors to the clubs. “The habits of our members around sporting events are returning to pre-Covid patterns,” says McGowen. It is proof, perhaps, that the UHNWI are returning – and that they are helping economies build back. 18

www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Casino Barrière Menton

Casino Barrière Menton, Located In A True Wonderland

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Damien Connelly recently visited Casino Barrière Menton to meet the team of people making memories in this entertainment and recreation pavilion on the French Riviera

he ‘Côte d’Azur’ creates images of endless blue skies over an azure sea, a bright yellow sun over gently sloping beaches, all with a backdrop of lush, green rolling countryside and mountains. Colours abound in the images created by the Côte d’Azur – also known as the French Riviera. It is renowned for inspiring artists like Picasso, Matisse and Renoir, as well as having architectural gems such as Villa E-1027 by Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici. Menton is a town close to the city of Nice (AlpesMaritimes Département), located near Monaco and about three miles from the French-Italian border. With a population of just over 30,000, it was a part of Italy until 1860. The Treaty of Turin, an agreement between the Kingdom of Sardinia and Napoleon III’s France, Volume 18: Issue 153

added the County of Nice to France as a reward for French assistance in Italy’s war against Austria. Napoleon III paid four million francs in compensation to the prince of Monaco, who forever renounced Monaco’s rights in 1861. Opened in 1934, the casino is centrally located in the town. If you are on the beach, you cross a twolane road and you are at the casino. In fact, the beach opposite the casino is called Plage du Casino. If your ideal casino is a multi-leisure entertainment pavilion close to a beautiful sea, or you dream of working close to a beach, then Casino Barrière Menton is ideal for you. Culture is also regularly on display in and around Barrière Menton. Recently, there was a retrospective exhibition on municipal casinos in Menton, which 19


PHOTO: DAMIEN CONNELLY

Feature: Casino Barrière Menton

included a visit to the casino. There was also a conference to educate and inform people about the history and architecture of casinos in Menton between 1861 through 1948. Synonymous with games, shows, and other leisure activities to entertain a wealthy foreign clientele, the casinos are buildings that also reflect the evolution of society and its way of life. On the occasion of European Heritage Days, people are invited to discover the odyssey taken by Menton in equipping itself with a casino.

Created to Entertain The modern Barrière Menton is a rewarding property to visit, with a variety of entertainment and leisure offerings. This property with its ‘on the beach’ Cote d’Azur location is designed for rest and 20

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Feature: Casino Barrière Menton

recuperation to help recharge your batteries. Barrière Menton’s entertainment includes multiple festivals and concerts – some of which are performed by Les Solistes de Monte-Carlo in the property’s theater. Barrière Menton’s entertainment schedule changes throughout the year and is well worth looking at for those customers who like to travel and try new places or experiences. The ‘Summer Party’ season runs from July 1 to August 31. During this period, there are live DJs every day, plus tapas and pizzas. There are two grand festivals where the beachside road is closed to allow Volume 18: Issue 153

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PHOTOS: DAMIEN CONNELLY

Feature: Casino Barrière Menton

people to enjoy the casino’s beachfront location: Latin Addict was held in July 2022 and the Soirée Provok Party in August – that’s a party organised in collaboration with the municipality. 2022 saw a visitor record for the Provok Party, creating a welcome financial boost to the area’s economy.

Outside to Inside

One of the best terraces with a sea view at a European casino, with stunning views over the Baie du Soleil (Sun Bay) to the Mediterranean, Le Colombale restaurant is spread between an external terrace and an internal space. The decor is fresh and the food is even fresher. Le Colombale specialises in Italian/ Mediterranean cuisine. The menu changes with the season and it uses local products: Menton lemons, for example – the Côte d’Azur is known for its citrus fruits and the Menton lemon is probably the most famous of all of these as it is prized for its sweet taste compared to other lemons. There’s also Le Café des Sports, which is a café bar ideal for watching sports events. Serving food until 3 a.m., its big screen is a social magnet for sports fans to gather around … as is the circular bar. It’s in this area that one finds the Barrière Bet product promoted. 22

Innovation

Geoffrey D’Hier and his team at Barrière Menton are always on the lookout for innovative solutions to keep customers engaged and entertained. They recently added a progressive table product and, more intriguingly, an interactive and contactless terminal that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to allow customers to interact with the screen without touching it. The primary advantage of this innovative product www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Casino Barrière Menton is that it reduces customer wait times at peak periods thus reducing patron frustration. It allows guests to consult the restaurant menus, book a table, learn about games, discover playing tips and see the entertainment schedule for Barrière Menton.

The Gaming

European casinos are typically located in urban settings and Casino Barrière Menton is no exception. This creates an intriguing set of challenges for operators who seek to provide a variety of entertainment and leisure offerings within a limited amount of space: This is similar to how a cruise ship or a European leisure resort is operated and managed. A specific challenge for a casino operator is that they offer age-restricted gambling products in the same location as publicly accessible, non-age-restricted products such as food. As a perfect example, the public floor space in Barrière Menton is approximately 3,000 square metres. Within this, there are two F&B outlets with a large central bar, Barrière Bet, a theater, the reception/entrance space, as well as over 160 slots, six live tables and 49 electronic roulette terminals. There’s also Salon Barrière, an event space for weddings, seminars and private events/parties. Given the typical European casino is located in an urban setting, and mostly caters to local customers, European casino operators take their duty of care to their communities very seriously. This, in my opinion, helps explain why European casinos are so professionally managed – they need to be, due to the regulatory constraints of offering such a variety of age-restricted and non-age-restricted products within quite limited spaces. Also, you’ll notice in European casinos a great number of floor staff, which helps operators deliver a product that is compatible with the needs of their local customers and laws, and that is sustainable in the long-term. (Casinò is, after all, an Italian word and the oldest existing casino in the world is in Venice.)

The Team

Barrière Menton employs 75 people from multiple countries (including Italy, given how close that country is). Geoffrey D’Hier is the general manager (Directeur Général), with Laurence Botcazou the marketing director, Frédéric Caserio a member of the executive committee and Patrick Bigot a security officer. Volume 18: Issue 153

D’Hier’s philosophy is as follows: “It’s a privilege to manage this property and work with the team of people we have here. Every day I have the opportunity to work in a wonderful location, with an amazing group of people, providing a range of entertainment and leisure products to our guests. As Steve Jobs said, ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ I love what I do and I am grateful for the team of people who do it with me.” As the local tourist organisation proclaims in its promotional material, ‘Le Vrai Pays des Merveilles est bien réel.’ 23


Feature: IGT

Peak Performance Interview with Petko Ivanov, Director of Sales EMEA, International Game Technology

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s gaming operators throughout Eastern and Western Europe remain dedicated to strengthening operations and implementing innovation, International Game Technology continues to expand its portfolio and produce first-class hardware and market-attuned content to generate player excitement. Over the past several years, the company has focused considerable support on customers in commercial gaming markets throughout the region and has never wavered in its commitment or standards. Casino Life had the exclusive opportunity to chat with Petko Ivanov, IGT’s EMEA director of sales, EMEA, to discuss the company’s outlook for the region. How has 2022 been so far? As operators have emerged from the wave of uncertainty created during the pandemic, IGT has been extremely focused on our ability to support our European customers’ growth and replacement cycles by leveraging our portfolio to deliver innovative solutions. IGT has received great interest from operators seeking performance-driving products from a content and cabinet perspective. To date, IGT’s products are showing solid results in the region, and we credit our success to a pipeline of entertaining game designs, captivating art packages, and playerattuned math and bet structures complete with first-rate hardware. IGT is committed to continuing to install new products, reach more locations and bring excitement to casino floors throughout Europe.

What has IGT’s approach been to the growing market in Eastern Europe? Our approach is straightforward — we work closely with our operators throughout the region and endeavor to constantly provide extended value for our customers. Our top priority is their success, and through consistent communication, we devise plans to help our customers achieve their long- and short-term goals. Strategically, we have established ourselves as 24

Petko Ivanov, Director of Sales EMEA, International Game Technology

a leading supplier committed to providing a marketattuned product portfolio that maximizes player engagement and produces results in the region. How was the IGT European Showcase Event 2022? The EMEA showcase was held in June at Chantilly in France and was IGT’s first in-person event for Europe this year. It was an opportunity to reunite with our valued customers after a lengthy period of Covid-19 restrictions. The event provided a platform for us to demonstrate compelling, future-forward solutions that will engage players and meet the needs of the www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: IGT

evolving gaming industry. At the event, we did in-depth presentations on our robust new library of games for Western and Eastern Europe on the next-generation PeakSlant32 and PeakSlant49 cabinets. It was great to reinforce relationships and receive feedback on our latest developments. It also laid out the foundation for the future in a personalized setting, which proved incredibly beneficial. Can you describe IGT’s commitment to the Eastern and Western European regions? Our global headquarters are in the U.K., providing us great access to our European customers, and our commitment to them is very strong for the long term. IGT remains highly optimistic about the direction of gaming throughout Europe. As a global supplier with customers in more than 100 countries, the company is driving performance and growth through continued innovation that has reach on a broad scale, and a commitment to supplying topquality content and hardware. We are uniquely capable of providing a marketattuned portfolio that meets the various demands of our customers. Building on our commitment to the European market, IGT continues to grow its Volume 18: Issue 153

team throughout the region. The team has introduced the latest USwitch multi-game packs and hardware, and our innovative systems technologies continue to ensure that operators optimize their operating efficiencies. For example, with IGT Floor Manager, this content-delivery system can maximize performance by allowing operators to remotely change the casino floor game mix based on market conditions and demographics. What are amongst the main comments and observations you have received from operators on the “Peak” cabinet range since its launch? Customer expectations begin with hardware, and the “Peak Family” of cabinets, specifically the PeakSlant32 and PeakSlant49, have received extremely

positive feedback from operators across the region with both core games and multilevel progressives (MLPs). The hardware has an immediately recognizable look to players that stands out on casino floors and houses some of the most in-demand content that delivers on performance. As the installations continue to roll out, we have yet to achieve the full potential of these cabinets but remain confident that we will produce positive results through the rest of this year and into 2023.

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Feature: IGT

What are the key features of the “Peak” family of cabinets that have made it so popular?

pack was something that the operators applauded for its player-centric themes. It truly offers a compelling

What has been the response from operators since the release of the 40-game multi-packs on the PeakSlant32 cabinet? IGT’s recently released Clover Edition Purple 40-game

IGT can be found at Europe’s leading events in addition to the ones in U.S. Can you provide an overview of what attendees can expect to see at EAE (Romania) September 6-8, Batumi Gaming Fest (Georgia) September 30-October 1, G2E (Las Vegas) October 10-13, and BEGE (Bulgaria) November 2224? We look forward to building on existing relationships and creating new ones with European operators through our presence at these key trade shows and

Building premium cabinets has been an IGT specialty for decades. Through extensive market research matched with industry-leading design, each cabinet is distinctive with specific unique features, and the Peak family retains a consistent modern look and feel that is immediately recognizable to players. For instance, the PeakSlant32 features three integrated, 32-inch, full-HD displays with next-generation audio and lighting for an immersive experience. Likewise, the sleek PeakSlant49 has a progressive, 49-inch, ultra-high-definition, single, curved screen for an optimal viewing angle and clarity. This acute attention to detail and striking merchandising makes each Peak-style cabinet a standout to players when it finds its way to the casino floor.

26 24

presentation on the attention-grabbing PeakSlant32 cabinet — from game variety on an updated player interface to the new bolt-on Coins o’ Luck progressive jackpot. The content bundle has become a musthave for operators due to its customized mix of highly entertaining fruit, bonus and number games with engaging mechanics for a first-rate player experience that drives game play.

www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: IGT

personalized events. Industry events are the perfect platform to demonstrate what IGT offers, including new games, cabinets, and MLP options that are marketattuned to opportunities of the region. We’re here to listen and help drive the overall success of our solutions on their floors. Highlights at these shows include the Clover Edition multi-game presentation with 40 themes, including fruit, bonus and number games. Titles include the new 40 Hyper Hot, with entertaining scatter symbols, multipliers and high-frequency wilds with the ability to win up to 2,000 times the bet. Also, roulette has remained dominant in European casinos and IGT is excited to introduce Glorious Roulette Deluxe, which can save up to five bet patterns with the convenient display of detailed game statistics directly on the screen. Both games will be available on our impressive PeakSlant32 cabinet. Further diversifying our portfolio on display will Volume 18: Issue 153

be the debut of the new, Irish-themed Coins o’ Luck mystery bolt-on progressive with up to four operatorconfigurable jackpot levels. The game is compatible with our PeakSlant32 cabinet and is elevated by the option to connect the machine to a casino’s sound system, enabling it to play the animated theme music heard during a jackpot win simultaneously throughout the venue. We’re also introducing IGT’s 20-title Sevens Edition Red multi-game bundle, which is available on the PeakSlant49 cabinet. The pack features an assortment of classic and contemporary titles with engaging mechanics and includes IGT’s latest global hits like Prosperity Pearl, Wet’ n’ Wild and Samurai 888 Katsumi. Do you have anything else you would like to add? We stand in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Ukraine, and hope they remain safe in the current situation in the country. 27



Feature: Responsible Gaming

Responsible Gaming Education For All

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It’s about people when it comes to responsible gaming. By: Damien Connelly

one (mostly) are the ‘grind joints’ from our industry. There are always competing interests for what budgets operators have. A lot of an operator’s available budget is dependent on intelligent laws, regulations and, most importantly, tax rates. If governments, politicians and public agencies themselves regulate the gaming products in their jurisdictions today on the same ‘squeeze until you’re dry’ principle that the grind joints of old ran on, then it’s a thankless task for operators to earn enough to properly invest in RG best practices. September 2022 saw the American Gaming Association run its first Responsible Gaming Education Month – although the preceding Responsible Gaming Education Week started back in 1998. The AGA’s involvement in, and support of, RG has been extended in parallel with the expansion Volume 18: Issue 153

of legal gaming products and jurisdictions across the U.S. As the AGA noted in its supporting literature, RG is about empowering customers to play responsibly. In doing that, and getting customers to enjoy gaming/ gambling as a form of entertainment, we’ll all do a better job of maintaining a sustainable gaming industry. 29


Feature: Responsible Gaming

Trust In People And People Will Entrust You

In our service industry, it’s people that count. Gaming products and hotel rooms, eateries and bars, retail outlets and spas, even to a certain extent live entertainment shows – these are either identical or pretty darned similar in every gambling property around the world. But the people in each property, be they employees or patrons? The people are always unique. It’s the people who are always the single big differentiator. Empowered employees serve as the front line for responsible gaming and it is vitally important that employees are engaged and trained in proper RG techniques. If employees are engaged and trained, they will be better able to deliver the levels

of RG service every day that they’re on the job. Alongside that, and at leat as important, is excellent communications. Educating and engaging the public and all important stakeholders about responsible gaming and what RG support is available across your organisation is something we all need to be focused on – from floor staff to c-suite. For our casino gaming industry, it is a daily commitment to elevate and ensure customers enjoy a responsibly entertaining experience when visiting our properties and when legally engaging with our licensed products online. Responsibility is at the core of our business.

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Advertising Feature: Velvix

Velvix plans to launch two brand new game titles at G2E 2022

Velvix Launches Three New Game Titles Plus A Revamp Of Their RpgThemed Game, Olympus Legacy

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n preparation for G2E Las Vegas, Velvix has announced the launch of two brand new game titles just in time for debut at the trade show, Forgotten Treasures and Show Me The Piggy. The company is also showcasing a revamp of their RPG-themed link progressive game, Olympus Legacy. The company will be featuring these new games for the first time at G2E Las Vegas from October 10 to 13 at The Venetian Expo. Show Me The Piggy is a standalone game that offers players chances to win across 576 ways. The game features three piggy banks, each filled with money that continues to increase during the base game. Each time the player’s spin includes a blue dice, they become one step closer to smashing the piggy banks open and collecting the money inside. By Volume 18: Issue 153

Show Me The Piggy and Forgotten Treasures are the latest titles by Velvix 31


Advertising Feature: Velvix

triggering a special set of pink dice, players may either

trigger one of two bonus features or upgrade the piggy bank prizes. The game offers two bonus features, including a Free Game Feature as well as a Jackpot Wheel Feature where players are able to win up to 80x their credit bet or trigger the Grand Jackpot. Forgotten Treasures is a pirate-themed game and offers a unique feature that puts the player in control of their own destiny. The game offers a single and unconventional feature for players to chase. Prior to the start of the Free Games Feature, various multipliers are collected and then displayed to the player, who decides the order of these multipliers to be placed across a treasure map. Upon entering the Free Games Features, the multipliers are triggered in the order selected by the player. What’s more, only those spins that include line wins count as a free game. This means that every single multiplier collected will be used. The Forgotten Treasures title is unique for several reason, including: 1. It puts players in control of the order they multiply their free game spins 2. It only counts winning spins towards the free games count, meaning the player is guaranteed to utilize all of their collected multipliers in the feature. Last but absolutely not least, Velvix will relaunch its link progressive product Olympus Legacy. The game includes four unique titles, each based on a different character from Greek mythology. Don’t let the 32

theme fool you – this game set is very unique to others on the market. This game focuses on an RPG-style battle feature, including boss battles, leaderboards and the ability for players to come together across the linked machines to help defeat some of Greek mythology’s most feared monsters! The updated game includes a unique leaderboard feature that helps players clearly understand their position in the fight, plus updates to various game graphics and the boss battles themselves. When asked about the update, Managing Director of Velvix Chris Wieners stated: “I think Olympus Legacy is going to be a huge hit! It is a totally unique game and reminiscent of RPG style games. It brings a sense of nostalgia, but a very real battle feature that will bring players together and create engagement

amongst those on the link. I believe the leaderboard, coupled with the boss battles and simplified game play are going to be very well received, especially by those who are familiar with the world of RPG and hitpoint style battles.” Velvix most recently opened their office in Los Angeles, with product launches in both Oklahoma and California. The company plans to develop further presence throughout the United States with an initial focus on tribal gaming. For more information about Velvix, visit their website at www.velvix.com.

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Feature: Japan Legislation

Japan Integrated Resorts Update: Nearing The End Of Round One By Joji Kokuryo Managing Director, Bay City Ventures

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n 2018, the government of Japan passed the Integrated Resort Development Law, which would allow for up to three IRs to be built in the country. Over 20 international gaming operators and more than 30 local city and prefectural governments began to look into the Japan IR initiative. The international gaming community and the finance world reacted to this news with much fanfare. As we stand today, all the buzz and excitement from those times seem like a long-lost memory. The April 2022 deadline for actual IR development approvals came and passed with only two submissions made by Osaka and Nagasaki. Already assured that only two of the maximum three slots have a chance at being filled, there is also no assurance that these two submissions will receive the green light to kick off the Japanese gaming industry.

Osaka

Joji Kokuryo, Managing Director, Bay City Ventures 34

Osaka has always led the Japan IR push. Despite a rough patch when major operators dropped out of their RFP due to overbearing national and local requirements, the Osaka IR always had the political and economic gusto to push through to the submission phase. The robust development plan submitted to the national government has a clear structure centered around local business giant Orix and MGM Resorts. The prefecture and city’s majority political party, the Osaka Restoration Party, has a strong foothold on the region and their members in the prefectural and city council were voted in with pro-IR stances. The quality of the IR development plan submission should be up to the minimum standard expected by the national government. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Japan Legislation While the situation looks smooth on the outside, there are concerning land pollution and sink issues with the proposed Yumeshima landfill site, along with no assurances that the city’s US$580 million budget and four to six years of time is enough to solve them. This has been the basis of a recent audit request by a citizens group that mostly went under the international media radar. The result of the audit was split with even the city’s own audit committee unable to agree on whether public spending for the land had a clear ceiling. This was an unprecedented result, especially considering that the city government selects its audit committee members. In short, the audit committee could not agree that this budget for the landfill restoration would be sufficient in the long-term. The next step for this citizens group will likely be a case action against the city. It is mind-boggling that such issues with the proposed site have come up this late in the procedure. Until this issue is cleared up, it could be interpreted that the site itself is currently not slated to be ready for development within the required timeline.

Nagasaki

The Nagasaki IR story checks a lot of boxes for

the national government’s intent to use the IRs to revitalize smaller markets. A regional port city called Sasebo first came up with the goal to develop an IR. They next gained prefectural support, then regional Kyushu support. The pro-IR majority party withstood multiple elections at the city and prefectural levels. Nagasaki is the regional IR story that Japan wants. Casinos Austria International was chosen as their eventual IR development partner, but recent developments seem to hint at a savvier and more experienced team offering their support. In September, Nagasaki revealed Cantor Fitzgerald and Credit Suisse have joined in on the project investment, alleviating some concerns that existed with the financing of the project. While Nagasaki’s IR development plan lacks in world-class brands and mind-blowing design, the extent of the regional support is unmatched. All the prefectures of Kyushu, their governors and the Kyushu Volume 18: Issue 153

Economic Federation have all shown their full support. It would be very difficult for a regional IR in Japan to function without this regional support structure. Reinforcements in the financing side of the project has certainly helped the Nagasaki IR outlook, but this does not necessarily mean that the general quality of the development plan, which was submitted under a weaker lead team in April, has improved much. It is also important to note that securing financing is a requirement and not some sort of merit achievement. The scale of an IR in a regional market will also be a challenge and perhaps new operator leadership is the first step to take on this hurdle. Their application is certainly stretching the limits of Japan’s consortium structure by adding and revealing more information about their stakeholders during the submission process.

Looking Forward

We are all waiting for the results of the first two IR Development Plan applications from both Osaka and Nagasaki. It is continuously being reported that this autumn will be the timing for IR Development Plan approvals, but this has not been confirmed by the national government. Most of the work is being 35


Feature: Japan Legislation

done behind the scenes, but there are some public steps the Osaka and Nagasaki submissions must go through that should give some hint on progress. One such step is the evaluation of the submissions by the headquarters of IR promotion, namely their so-called “experts committee.” This step was always going to happen after the upper house elections this July and after any cabinet reshuffling. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet on August 10th. The key roles are now set and while the evaluation is only a recommendation, it is still a required step to

take in the IR development-plan-approval procedure. Working our way forward, under the condition that this evaluation is completed before the end of September, decisions on the first two applications could still be out “this autumn,” which technically lasts until mid-to-late December. Therefore the status quo points to a mid-November or early December announcement. We are assured that not all three IR slots will be filled this turn and it is almost a given that there will be a re-opening of the applications for both new applicants or “resubmissions” if either Osaka or Nagasaki or both are not initially approved. The “when” and “how” for this procedure is still under debate, but one given will be that garnering international IR operator interest will be an uphill battle. There is also the issue of local governments being wary of their political standing at a time where IRs are still unpopular in most communities. What was once the next big thing in gaming has now become one hot mess, and we can only wait to see if either Osaka or Nagasaki will be given the opportunity to prove doubters wrong by kickstarting the gaming industry in Japan.

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Feature: Lesgislation Report

Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Argentina, Brazil and Peru

Argentina

Argentina as a federal state with 24 autonomous units has a diverse approach to many legal topics, one being gambling, which is regulated under legislation of each individual federal province and the City of Buenos Aires. Thus, there is no unified legal framework for gambling in the whole country of Argentina and each province has its own regulatory authority. All 24 state lotteries are members of the Association of Argentine State Lotteries (ALEA). The

latter acts as an industry association and has no regulatory or enforcement competence in connection with gambling. In line with the applicable provisions of the national Criminal Code, gambling and gaming are prohibited in Argentina, unless expressly permitted. Nonetheless, Volume 18: Issue 153

games of chance are widely accepted and available to the public in a form of land-based casinos, betting places, horse tracks, etc. In general, the legal framework has been designed for bricks-and-mortar gambling, being later expanded in some jurisdictions to online gambling. Online gambling is not that widespread nor regulated, and this market is rather fragmented and focused on smaller areas of the country. This is also due to the fact that the City of Buenos Aires has regarded as offshore operators both companies overseas, and companies and individuals holding licenses granted by other Argentine jurisdictions. Furthermore, the licensing system is also fragmented and depends on each individual jurisdiction, and can vary from a simple licensing 37


Feature: Lesgislation Report regime for the operator only to a more diligent licensing approach including certification laboratories. In Buenos Aires, the online-gambling regulations expressly exclude land-based permit holders from the possibility of applying for an online-gambling agency permit. When it comes to offshore gambling, it is, in principle, prohibited in Argentina. All jurisdictions that have moved forward in the regulation of online gambling have required operators to establish a local entity and apply for licenses, authorizations or permits through said local entities. The City of Buenos Aires has adopted active measures against offshore

gambling operators, seeking to block their activity within that jurisdiction. These measures included administrative and, later on, criminal prosecution, as well as the request of website-blocking orders. Bearing in mind that IP blocking is in principle not available in the whole territory of Argentina, restrictions related to accepted payment methods have been adopted and have worked so far as a solution to territorial issues related to online gaming. It remains to be seen what future developments in the field will be, while it is expected that the whole gambling market in Argentina will grow, which will unquestionably lead to a more organized approach.

Brazil

chance are used to cover up illegal activities such as money laundering. The regulatory authority for the whole country is SECAP, which is in charge of regulating lottery activities in Brazil, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Food Supply is responsible for the regulation of horse racing. Changes in the view of the government towards games of chance in general started to shift in the last 10 years, the latest move being legalization of sports betting in 2018. Even more recently, a change occurred when it comes to the organization of lottery games, which was until 2020 entirely in the hands of the state.

Brazil, the as the largest country in the Latin America, represents an attractive market for each industry. This is why it is quite interesting that basically all gambling activities have been prohibited in Brazil for over 70 years (as of the general ban in the 1940s). In line with the applied ban, the only legal gambling activities are the lotteries under the state monopoly and horse-race wagering. As in many other countries, poker in Brazil is defined as a game of skill and is therefore legal. Still, there are numerous places in Brazil where people can participate in games of chance, which also led to formation of public opinion that games of 36

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Feature: Lesgislation Report Even though the legalization as such occurred for certain games of chance, the same was not followed by the set of express rules to be obeyed when doing so. Thus, there is no licensing regime in Brazil at the moment except with regard to horse betting, which is reserved for non-profit entities legally incorporated in Brazil which are in possession of a racetrack, and which also need to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of the weekly racing schedule and the floor plan of the race field. Such a license is rendered for an unlimited period. With respect to online gambling and offshore operators, the Brazilian Internet Legal Framework — a law passed in 2014 — technically allows authorities to block and fine operators that collect data or communicate through internet service providers in

Brazil, although such operators are currently allowed to provide services to residents of Brazil, subject to the provisions of the Brazilian criminal code. It is expected that 2022 will be interesting for games of chance in Brazil, since it is anticipated that the competent bodies shall render rules for permitted games of chance (e.g. sports betting). Also, in February 2022, a new draft of the law was presented pursuant to which lawful gambling modalities are not considered a public service like lotteries (sports betting included) but rather a typical economic activity and include casino, bingo, videobingo, ‘jogo do bicho,’ horse-race betting and online gaming. Other betting modalities such as pari-mutuel or direct bets (P2P) remain out of the scope of the bill and thus undefined.

Peru

Games of chance have been legal in Peru since 1979. The respective act encompassed most forms of landbased gambling (including brick-andmortar gambling establishments), casino games, bingo, lotto, betting, slot machines, etc. With respect to online gambling, certain steps were made in the beginning of the 2000s, but this area remained in grey zone

until 2022 when the new act was passed, regulating online gambling (and also setting up betting rooms with betting terminals) and taxation of the same (the tax rate has been set at 12 percent of the total tax base and maintenance tax will consist of two percent of an operator’s monthly income). The new law appoints the Ministry of Foreign Trade & Tourism of Peru (Mincetur) as the country’s official gambling regulator. Mincetur will have the power to monitor all gambling activities in the country, which includes ordering the blocking of URL and IP addresses that infringe upon the law, and ensuring that all technological software and hardware used

to provide online gambling is in working order. The first steps of the Mincetur, as emphasized by the legislature, shall be making sure that all current licensed operators will be properly licensed and fully compliant with the legislation. The new act also prescribes sanctions for noncompliant operators in the form of freezing of the assets or a license disqualification, for up to 10 years or permanently.

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.

Volume 18: Issue 153

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Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze

Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman Ukrainian Gambling Council

Ukrainian gambling continues to recover

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Despite the hostilities in Ukraine, there is much happening in the gambling sector.. By Anton Kuchukhidze

y position on cancelling the 1xBet license is simple: The only public authority able to verify the data submitted to CRGL is the Commission itself, which can send requests to other public authorities, particularly law enforcement bodies, and establish the truth. That is why I operate with the information presented exclusively by CRGL, which discovered that the relevant Ukrainian company using the 1xBet brand in Ukraine provided false information. The Commission found this company’s actions to be a violation of the law, and, accordingly, the licenses were cancelled. It is indeed a great example for future gambling operators trying to hide information about their activities or country of origin. No matter what islands they sit on or whatever Cyprus they are registered in, the truth will prevail. It is a truly difficult but positive case. Now we all know that the Commission will find 40

information on any company. The case has been coordinated with law enforcement agencies, and the results are visible, there is no denying that. I would like to recommend all adequate companies willing to enter the Ukrainian market in the future take care of their documents and the data submitted to the Commission. As for land-based gambling, it is gradually resuming its operations and taking off. Today, numerous establishments operate in Western Ukraine. In the frontline regions, most gambling operators have suspended work due to hostilities and danger. However, there are isolated examples of operational gambling halls. For instance, a Ukrainian Gambling Council member opened one of its gambling halls in Kharkiv. It is located in a more or less safe part of the city, enabling the operator to resume business without the issues faced by other frontline cities, districts, regions, etc. www.casinolifemagazine.com


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Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze

In Kyiv, almost all legal casinos and slot machine halls have resumed their operations. Of course, there are more gamblers in Western Ukraine, given the population influx from dangerous and occupied territories. In general, business is more active there compared to Central, Eastern or Southern Ukraine. However, people are gradually returning to Kyiv and starting to work. When life is more stable then,

eventually, people have a natural need to relax and spend their leisure time, and some will likely choose gambling in land-based establishments. We have to give credit to all UGC members who, in such challenging times, pay license fees and taxes, and at the same time help the state implement programs to support the AFU, as well as social and humanitarian programs to help internally displaced people and refugees. Extraordinary work is done by each of our members, who have our utmost respect. I wish them further success in resuming their operations, as well as returning to peaceful life as soon as possible. As for the development models of domestic gambling, it is first of all crucial to restore a full-fledged market where possible. Indeed, it is complicated to do anything in the regions with active hostilities until Ukraine defeats the enemy. However, in most territories, the resumption of work is absolutely possible. In this context, gambling operators are still 42

waiting for the adoption of the tax draft law, 2713-d. Second, we and the rest of the industry look forward to the adoption of the CRGL legislative initiative to suspend licenses during martial law. At the public level, the Association submitted its proposals to this draft law on the possibility of a legal solution to the issue of license suspension aimed at preserving and avoiding the closure of various businesses. We fully support this initiative and hope that the Commission will agree on the text of the document at the regulatory level, and that the parliament will adopt this draft law. For its part, the Association is doing its best to publicly support this legislative initiative. We hope that the draft law will be adopted to help save jobs in the industry, and make other provisions of the legislation on the business operation during martial law clearer in the technical and legal sense. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: G2E Las Vegas 2022 Preview

A Helping Hand

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Aristocrat Gaming™ Helps Operators Take Their Gaming Floors to the Next Level at the 2022 Global Gaming Expo

ndependent research shows Aristocrat Gaming™ is the most valued and trusted supplier partner in the gaming industry. Now at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2022, Aristocrat will help operators take their gaming floors to the next level with a groundbreaking mix of innovative games, cabinets, customer experience solutions and real-moneygaming (RMG) offerings. For Class III operators, Aristocrat offers leading lease and sale titles. Headlining Aristocrat’s lease options are all-new games including Tarzan Link™, Lightning Buffalo Link™ and Cash Express Mega Line™, each of which makes their world premiere at G2E. Tarzan Link is a premium, two-game Tarzan® experience on Aristocrat’s Neptune Single™ and combines Aristocrat’s Hold & Spin mechanic with Volume 18: Issue 153

the legendary Tarzan wheel for exciting game play. Lightning Buffalo Link combines two of the industry’s biggest-ever titles to create an entirely new game with a rapid-hitting, $50,000 MSP Super Grand Jackpot, and an all-new twist on the player-favorite Super Grand Jackpot mechanic. In Cash Express Mega Line, players can play four Cash Express Luxury Line™ games at the same time. Players can choose which four games they want to play as they vie for the MEGA LINE train. Aristocrat’s for-sale area will be a spectacle, filled with 100 percent all-new content, with industryleading portfolio depth and breadth. Titles include Buffalo Strike™, Wonder 4™ Collection for Neptune Single, Cashman Double Bingo™ and Lucky’s Wild Inferno™. Appearing on the advanced MarsX Flex™ cabinet is Buffalo Strike. The MarsX Flex is the next 43


Feature: G2E Las Vegas 2022 Preview generation of Aristocrat’s large top-box cabinet with gorgeous graphics and an eye-catching cabinet profile. Buffalo Strike was created specifically for the MarsX Flex, and marks the first use of the community-timed frenzy feature, combined with the classic Buffalo™ gameplay to create player excitement and anticipation with credit prizes, jackpot prizes, and enhanced features. The Neptune Single cabinet offers mind-blowing game play and now a new collection of Aristocrat’s Wonder 4 titles has been reimagined exclusively for the cabinet, including Buffalo Gold Collection™, Fire Light™, Pompeii™ and Wild Panther™. A new Super Free Games Feature offers players a chance to win more than 250 times their original bet. Cashman Double Bingo on the MarsX Upright™ has two bingo cards that

double players’ cashon-reels chase. Plus, a win on one bingo card does not reset the other, giving players something additional to look forward to, even after a big win. Lucky Wild Inferno is the premiere of a fun new devil character to the Aristocrat cast of loveable characters portfolio. He keeps gameplay exciting by randomly triggering feature wins. Class II operators will thrill to two new games on a $100,000 MSP Super Hits Frenzy™ link: an all-new Hunt for Neptune’s Gold™ game specifically created for the RELM XL™ 5-reel cabinet and Silver Dollar Shoot Out Diamond™ on the Arc Double™ cabinet. Also showing is Cash Express Luxury Line Class 2, with proven Class III math reworked for Class II. 44

Aristocrat’s Class II for-sale games combine on-trend mechanics with core VGT math in all-new games including Hunt For Aztec Riches™, Red Spin Run™, Lucky Bunch™, and Gold Gold and More Gold™. Aristocrat will also show new content for historical horse racing, New York Lottery, ATLS and VLT markets. Aristocrat’s Customer Experience Solutions (CXS) is focused on enabling operators of all sizes – standalone and enterprise – to maximize their guests’ entertainment experience, both in the casino and online. CXS will showcase guest and mobile experiences product offerings with Loyalty 2.0, a flexible and highly extensible guest engagement platform, PlayerMax™ a mobile hub and Oasis™ Digital Wallet. Aristocrat’s new, real-moneygaming division will debut at G2E. The group was created to be the go-to destination for RMG for casino operators and for players, and offers play with tailored entertainment that is smart, fun and playful. The company will launch its

offering with eight player-favorite Aristocrat titles including the Wild Wild™ series, Miss Kitty™, Sun & Moon™, and Timber Wolf™. Using the platform, Aristocrat customers will be able to offer their players the opportunity to play Aristocrat slots on their mobile devices via customers’ online casino apps. Discover the next level of gaming in Aristocrat’s Booth #1133 at G2E.

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Feature: G2E Las Vegas 2022 Preview

SUZOHAPP & G2E Las Vegas 2022 Booth 4233 SUZOHAPP will be launching three new additions to its sports-betting ecosystem

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t this year’s G2E, SUZOHAPP will be launching three new additions to our sports-betting ecosystem. SUZOHAPP

has designed this ecosystem with its idea in mind that sports are inherently social. People like to watch sports with other people, which is why they congregate in bars. SUZOHAPP aims to encourage that social experience of a bar by creating a betting atmosphere reflective of the location that customers want to be in. In the European sports betting market, almost 70 percent of sports betting revenue is from in-play betting. In the U.S., in-play betting is the industry’s greatest opportunity. SUZOHAPP has solutions to allow customers to place those in-play bets in retail settings without removing themselves from the social event by betting on their phone and instead engaging in the atmosphere. Last year, SUZOHAPP launched the SBT-500, a cashless, tabletop sports-betting terminal designed to fit in video poker bar slots, allowing customers to place bets while actively watching a game. This year, we are releasing an updated model Volume 18: Issue 153

that includes cash acceptance with a bill validator and cash box matching the dimensions of existing video poker machines for an easy swap, allowing customers

to continue that in-play betting anonymously with cash. Additionally, SUZOHAPP is launching the SBT-750, a fully immersive and inclusive betting experience that is ADA accessible, designed to create a sports stadium-like feeling for everyone. Lastly, SUZOHAPP is launching a handheld betting device for operators, designed by retail and restaurant industry veteran Elo Touch Solutions, which allows customers to remain anonymous but is perfectly primed to be wherever the customer is. This handheld device with a mobile printer allows bets to be placed in cash with an employee and prints a bet slip on site— perfect for stadiums or bars. All units are built with the same foundational hardware allowing updates and training to be made across the ecosystem and are supported by SUZOHAPP’s traditional kiosk, as well as the the SBT-1000, as well as the cashier point-of-sale, the SBT-OTC, and the payout cash-redemption terminal, the CountR Silver CashIO. We look forward to seeing you at Booth 4233! 45


Feature: G2E Las Vegas 2022 Preview

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Feature: G2E Las Vegas 2022 Preview

Zitro Is Set To Exhibit Its Latest Innovations At G2E Las Vegas 2022

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Zitro will exhibit its new product lineup at the upcoming G2E Las Vegas, to be held October 11-13 at the Venetian Expo.

t Booth #4449, the company will showcase its latest innovations designed to drive revenue growth and player engagement. With a philosophy of providing high quality products, and the most reliable service and technology, Zitro will unveil a diverse portfolio of gaming products that are the result of the hard work and commitment of its team and leadership. Zitro’s reliability, first-class support and constant drive for innovation have been the key to the company’s success, because winning is not about luck! “The company is proud to be part of the world’s biggest gaming industry event during a period of exciting growth in the tribal gaming market, thanks to the efforts of our team and the trust operators have Volume 18: Issue 153

placed in our products,” said Derik Mooberry, CEO of Zitro USA. “We are looking forward to meeting with customers and friends at G2E, as well as sharing our latest innovations”. Zitro promises a series of exciting surprises and products that will see the light of day for the first time in Las Vegas. These latest innovations demonstrate how operators can benefit from brilliant ideas and increase profitability though state-of-the-art gaming products. Among the novelties, Zitro will showcase a diverse lineup of games featured on the four different GLARE form-factors.

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Column: Raymond Chan

Raymond Chan

Designing Metaverse

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By Raymond Chan

t’s been a year of Metaverse. Roblox, the creator of the term Metaverse, is now hosting 52 million daily users aged nine years and older. Most importantly, the Roblox Metaverse can be accessed on any device, such as PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon devices, Xbox, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Volume 18: Issue 153

• Walmart just announced that the retail giant is now partnering with Roblox to build the Walmart Land and Universe of Play in the Roblox Metaverse, aiming to channel through the virtual worlds to reach the next generation of shoppers for Walmart. The younger customers are expected to collect new virtual merchandise, play games, earn toys, attend 49


Column: Raymond Chan live concerts, win fashion competitions and more. • Nikeland by NIKE, American Eagle Outfitters and Ralph Lauren are also among the big names in retail business experimenting with new ways to reach their Generation Alpha and Gen Z customers. • Spotify Island, designed and operated by the Swedish audio streaming company, with 188 million paying subscribers, is also adding a young hip-hop artist, Doechii, on Planet Hip-Hop as their new Roblox experience. As the metaverse ecosystem is flourishing with these newly available technologies and exciting new content, the efficiencies to reach new customers in the metaverse also shall improve exponentially too if the game plan is designed correctly to win new fans for gaming together too. To start the metaverse initiatives for gaming, we can learn from Google, which invented the Design Sprint methodology. The concept was developed in 2010 by a multi-disciplinary team working out of Google Ventures to solve big problems and test new ideas in a short time. The approach can be summarized with five key ingredients or phases. 1. Understand the scope of the design challenge, discover the business opportunity, the audience,

the competition, the value proposition and define metrics of success.

2. Diverge and ideate possible solutions, explore, develop and iterate creative ways of solving the problem, regardless of feasibility. 3. Converge and decide on the most viable solution, identify ideas that fit the next product cycle and explore them in further detail through storyboarding. 4. Create a workable prototype that can be tested with people. 5. Test and conduct usability testing with five to six people from the product’s primary target audience and, most importantly, ask good questions. Following the design roadmap can take you 50

ABOUT RAYMOND CHAN Raymond is a software engineer, product designer, and digital technology veteran. He cofounded two technology startups - TGG Interactive and Global Gaming Group, served as CEO to lead the in-depth customer intelligence and electronic gaming business from 2007-2018. Earlier in his career, Raymond was a founding member of the data science team at E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley and played a key role in the design of the TiVo customer intelligence system for the internet unicorn in Silicon Valley.

from a blank slate to a new, innovative idea and transformational organization like Google, to better meet the needs and wants of new customers. It drives innovation and removes the barriers that prevent companies from thinking differently. Gaming innovataion has been long ignored and awaited. We are hoping the Design Sprint concept on Metaverse can present new ideas for the industry to compete with upstarts, access new customer segments and bring new business opportunities to win new fans again. www.casinolifemagazine.com



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