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Volume 19: Issue 161
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lobal Gaming Expo 2023 is in the books and, by all accounts, was a roaring success. Approximately 25,000 souls descended upon the Venetian Expo Center for the best G2E since Covid-19. Optimism abounded. We won’t know for months how much merchandise was ultimately sold but feedback from the show was overwhelmingly favorable. “Pigskins want to dance with some Calamari,” ran one puckish headline, highlighting new, National Football League-themed slots, as well as rival Squid Games ones. “Supplier offerings,” wrote Truist Securities analyst Barry Jonas, “demonstrate innovative, tried and true mechanics.” Also tried and true, according to Caesars Entertainment execs, is the U.S. economy. They hailed low, 3.5 percent unemployment and a 4.2 percent Federal Reserve interest rate. “The Las Vegas market is sound,” added J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff. Attendees at G2E got front-row seats for the labor dispute between MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Caesars and the Culinary Union, which is angling for a piece of the new prosperity in the form of a record wage increase, among other issues. “Informational” picketing took place at myriad Strip resorts during G2E, adding to the normal hassles of visiting Sin City. Penn Entertainment bosses traveled to G2E to herald the debut of the hottest new thing in sports wagering: ESPN Bet. Debuting in a matter of weeks, ESPN Bet marries Penn’s vast casino empire with the highestvisibility network in U.S. sports, meaning that much is expected from it. Indeed, Barry Jonas came away from G2E sounding very bullish on online sports betting. You no longer need eyeglasses to see its profitability, he reported. Black ink for operators, he wrote, is “visible now.” “We … remain optimistic on tech’s continued resilience,” he added of game makers. International Game Technology’s offerings were somewhat upstaged by the pending breakup of the company, whilst Light & Wonder’s ascendance continued. “While shares have outperformed the group and aren’t cheap, we like management’s proactiveness in engineering value,”Jonas opined of the latter. Ainsworth Games’ products also generated positive word of mouth, while Inspired Entertainment’s games were deemed “a standout” of the show. Aristocrat Technologies drew vast attention with its NFL slots, of which a half-dozen will soon roll out. And IGT—or its eventual gamedivision buyer—looks to make hay with its Whitney Houston-themed slots. Finally, on a non-G2E note, we welcome a new writer, experienced Vegas correspondent Ryan Slattery. He covers the debut of what may be Las Vegas’ most expensive resort ever (though it claims otherwise), Fontainebleau, opening Dec. 13. We’re hoping it’s an auspicious 13th. David McKee
Editor's Note By David McKee
6 Guest Foreword By Korbi Carrison 8 Passionate Travelers Wanted Decades in the making, Fontainebleau Las Vegas is set to open by Ryan Slattery 16 History in the Remaking Jonathan Jossel came halfway around the world to shape the Plaza Hotel's Las Vegas destiny by David McKee
24 Swearing at the Dealer Dear reader, don't take this personally by Al O'Grady 28 Small is Beautiful Modulus Group grows from modest beginnings into a global force by David McKee 34 A Whole New Game Aristocrat at G2E 2023 by Victor H. Royer 36 Games from A to Zitro An interview with Sebastian Salat, president of ZItro International 40 The God that Failed Formula One is unwelcome in Las Vegas at any speed by David McKee 46 Update on Gaming Legislation in Indonesia, Malaysia & Turkemnistan 49 Navigating the Funding Landscape for New Ideas By Raymond Chan
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.
Save The Date EDUCATION OCTOBER 7–10, 2024 EXPO HALL OCTOBER 8–10, 2024 THE VENETIAN EXPO, LAS VEGAS
Guest Foreword: Korbi Carrison
G2E 2023: Bringing Together the Best of the Global Gaming Industry
By Korbi Carrison, event vice president, Global Gaming Expo
2E 2023 is officially in the books and once again showed that it’s the must-attend event to explore the future of gaming. Why? Because each year the show showcases the industry’s diversity of products, matches the industry’s growth and innovation, and provides the platform for launching the industry’s biggest and best new ideas. This October, the 23rd edition of G2E brought more than 25,000 gaming professionals to Las Vegas, including 368 exhibitors and participating companies spread across a post-pandemic record of 269,000-plus square feet of exhibition space. Putting the “global” in Global Gaming Expo, stakeholders from more than 125 countries, territories and regions with regulated gaming markets attended this year’s show. Immediately, attendees noticed G2E’s fresh look and feel with the refreshed brand, designed with a modern,
dynamic look to reflect the evolution and forwardlooking energy the industry—themes that were evident throughout the week. In the expo hall, the future of the casino floor took center stage, as suppliers debuted new, licensed properties, and twists to classic brands and concepts. Digital payments also featured prominently as payments modernization continues to be integrated into the landbased gaming experience. Major innovation is, of course, also happening in the online gaming space. This year’s show highlighted this new frontier by featuring a first-ever, dedicated iGaming Zone on the show floor, which proved a hit among both exhibitors and attendees. Meanwhile, our first-ever call for content and speakers resulted in more than 400 submissions from industry stakeholders, forging G2E’s most engaging education program yet. Across more than 100 sessions, experts addressed the most important topics in gaming, such as: 6
Korbi Carrison, event vice president, Global Gaming Expo
• How do we effectively combat illegal operators?
• What are the next steps to continuing to build a sustainable sports betting marketplace? • How will AI impact the customer experience across marketing, gameplay and responsible gaming? • How do we capitalize on opportunities like gaming’s expansion to new geographies and verticals, while guarding against emerging threats in areas like cybersecurity? Perhaps most importantly though, we heard from many exhibitors, operators and stakeholders of all kinds that this year felt like the busiest G2E yet. At its core, that’s G2E’s purpose: To drive the industry forward by serving as the catalyst for business throughout the year. As we await G2E 2024, I can’t wait to see how this year’s show will impact the industry in the months to come— from the casino floor to the boardroom. We look forward to welcoming you back in Las Vegas next year, October 7-10. www.casinolifemagazine.com
In a World of instant news Casino Life provides unrivalled insight into the land-based Casino Industry World-Wide.
Casino Life remains the most highly regarded casino media in the International land-based Casino industry. www.casinolifemagazine.com Also available on App
Passionate Travelers Wanted Decades in the making, Fontainebleau Las Vegas Las Vegas is set to open. By Ryan Slattery
Volume 19: Issue 161
yesore no more. The long-vacant, big, blue building on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip has an opening date. Fontainebleau Las Vegas is set to reveal itself in grand style with a massive VIP opening on December 13. The arrival of the long-anticipated, 67-story, luxury resort is exciting for many reasons. Not only will the Fontainebleau skyscraper be the tallest building in Nevada but it is also helping revitalize the north Strip (between Wynn Las Vegas and the Sahara)—an area where construction has been creeping into in recent years. Fontainebleau will be the first new-built megaresort on the Las Vegas Strip to open since Resorts World made its debut on June 24, 2021. Ironically, Resorts World is Fontainebleau’s neighbor across the street. Fontainebleau is simply massive. It sits on nearly 25 acres of land not far from the Las Vegas Convention Center (on the former site of both the El Rancho Hotel and Algiers Hotel for those who crave Las Vegas history or just want to win a trivia bet). The resort will have 3,644 rooms and suites, a six-acre pool complex, 36 restaurants and bars, a casino, convention halls, dozens of luxury shops, a giant fitness center and the 55,000-square-foot Lapis Spa to relax at after you take in all the property offers. Fontainebleau is the near-two-decade-long vision of Jeffrey Soffer, chairman and CEO of Fontainebleau Development. The resort, first announced in 2005, was supposed to open in 2008, but construction stopped when the building was just 70 percent complete and never re-started. With the blue bones left exposed, the project was sold to investor Carl Icahn who sat on it for seven years before selling the property for a rather hefty profit. One more sale (and 13 years) later, it was reacquired by Fontainebleau and back in Soffer’s hands. Now, the $3.7 billion luxury resort is on the brink of opening.
Creating a Vibe
Fontainebleau Las Vegas executives took the ‘if ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach, partnering with many of the same designers, restaurateurs and nightlife gurus that have made Fontainebleau Miami the talk of South Beach. The all-star design team consisted of exterior architectural designer Carlos Zapata, plus a stellar group of interior designers that included, the David Collins Studio, Rockwell Group and Lissoni & 10
Partners, headed by designer Piero Lissoni. “This dream could be realized only by partnering with designers that bring an unrivaled depth of knowledge and skill to the project, and a shared history of successful collaborations with Fontainebleau Development,” Fontainebleau Development President Brett Mufson explained in a press release. The resort, as a whole, will have a laid-back vibe and a similar look and signature style to Fontainebleau’s sister property on Miami Beach. The rooms and suites, a design collaboration between John Rawlins and the company’s in-house team, are a distinct appreciation for the beach. Bathed in blue and silver water tones with pops of coral-pink, the modern rooms have mercury-glass mirrors, custom brass finishes (like fun, bowtie-shaped drawer pulls), Art www.casinolifemagazine.com
Deco-patterned carpet and Arabescato marble. For Colleen Birch, Fontainebleau’s chief operating officer ,who was involved in project since the very beginning, it was important “to incorporate some of the signature touches from the original Miami Beach location. I had a brief tenure at Fontainebleau Las Vegas during its earliest stages of development, so to be a part of its global debut is a homecoming of sorts for me,” she says. Then explains how the resort’s goal is to attract a worldwide audience “who are passionate about quality travel and looking for something outside of the traditional.” Guests checking in will find that every room has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of either the Las Vegas Strip or the mountains that ring the Las Vegas Valley. Those looking for a little more space Volume 19: Issue 161
can opt for one of the resort’s three standard suites, all roughly measuring around 900 square feet, or a more luxe version that stretches to 1,651 square feet for a Panorama Suite and 2,022-square-foot for the Grand Panorama. The latter, as its name suggests, has wraparound views of the city skyline and the mountains, along with a six-seat dining table and bar area, plus a billiard table for entertaining. The resort’s ultra-luxe accommodations span the top five floors of the resort tower and include several opulent, two-bedroom spaces. The elevated Fleur de Lis collection was designed to have a “home-awayfrom-home feel,” according to Mufson. “Fleur de Lis is the new standard for design and bespoke experiences on the Strip,” he says matter of factly. “In conceiving Fleur de Lis, we were inspired 11
by the grandeur of our first hotel and assembled a
global team of designers to personally curate every touchpoint and amenity, so the experience is unlike anything else we have created.” The pampering begins the moment you step on property. After being whisked away in a private elevator for check-in, Fleur de Lis guests are given a tour of their room and receive an explanation of the many features. The over-the-top experience includes fresh floral arrangements, welcome chocolates created by Executive Pastry Chef Patrice Caillot, personal concierge service for arranging tickets and show reservations, evening butler service (they’ll even prepare a bubble bath) and access to a private fleet of Rolls-Royces to get about town. Even children are treated like little kings and queens, and given balloon bouquets, Fontainebleau hats and shirts, board games and, if they ask nicely, a PS5 gaming system, should they choose. “We’re focused on re-introducing humanized 12
hospitality back into luxury travel,” Birch says.
“Through our attention to detail, no stone is left unturned when it comes to providing the best guest experience.”
Fontainebleau features a (very large by hotel standards) 14,000-square-foot fitness center packed with cardio machines and strength-training equipment. It also offers group fitness classes run by certified trainers. In addition to the gym, Lapis Spa is taking wellness to a whole new level. “One of the most unique aspects of the Lapis Spa is how the atmosphere is designed to adapt to the guests’ natural circadian rhythm and biological clock in order for them to best achieve their individual goals,” Birch explains. “Throughout the day, the neutral space is transformed through allencompassing sensory elements from aromatherapy to lighting. It is really special.” www.casinolifemagazine.com
Colleen Birch, COO, Fontainebleau Las Vegas
Lapis features 44 treatment rooms, a nail salon, salt
mist chamber, chilly snow shower, herbal inhalation room and a large Aufguss Sauna—where spa-goers witness a theatrical spa performance. Aufguss is a multi-sensory experience where the sauna master works with water and oil to circulate heat with a towel twirled overhead. The special movements are choreographed to music and lights.
A Vision to Wine and Dine
When it came to selecting the food and beverage outlets, Fontainebleau executives first looked inward at what was working in Miami. They decided to bring new versions of proven restaurants to Las Vegas and then added some original concepts. The result is an impressive collection of 36 restaurants and bars. “The vision was clear—to create something new and different on property that would revolutionize the city’s culinary landscape,” Birch says. “In a city that is known for its foodie-centric offerings, we wanted to Volume 19: Issue 161
be sure we brought a collection that is new and fresh,
something Las Vegas has not seen before.” One familiar face, which straddles both the dining and nightlife world, is David Grutman of Groot Hospitality. The restaurant and nightclub entrepreneur, who worked with Soffer on the original Fontainebleau Las Vegas plans, some 16 years ago, is bringing several celebrity hotspots to Las Vegas. Grutman is opening two restaurants, Komodo and Papi Steak, along with LIV Nightclub and LIV Beach dayclub. Grutman leaned on designer David Rockwell to create a multilevel nightclub with banquette areas and private skyboxes offering table service. LIV Beach will debut in the spring at the six-acre pool complex. Komodo’s new Fontainebleau outpost in Las Vegas will be Grutman’s third location for the brand, a restaurant which specializes in Southeast Asian cuisine and has menu items such as his signature Peking duck. Meanwhile, Papi Steak will team Grutman with David “Papi” Einhorn. Here, it’s a high13
Fontainebleau Miami Beach, one of the country’s most renowned nightclubs,” Birch says. “Grutman and Groot will collaborate with Fontainebleau Las Vegas’ exceptional in-house team to create an experience that takes guests on an immersive journey through the resort’s approximately 50,000-square-foot nightlife venue and 35,000-square-foot dayclub. There will be nothing like it in Las Vegas.”
Dining: A Cut Above
energy, hedonistic night out with diners digging into kosher-style Tomahawk steaks, latkes, and wagyu pastrami. “This joint venture is a natural extension of Fontainebleau Development and Groot Hospitality’s Miami-based collaboration on the original LIV inside 14
What else does Fontainebleau offer? “Adventurous and unforgettable dining,” says Mufson. “This restaurant collection is akin to a symphony. Each concept plays a role in the daily concerts our guests experiences, with 1,440 minutes orchestrated with exceptional dining and libations. We want to ensure that every moment and theme—from elevated to exceptional, from high-octane to chill—harmonizes seamlessly with their desires and tastes.” Gabriela Cámara will deliver her signature Mexican fare at Cantina Contramar, a restaurant that will also house the nation’s first Tequila Casa Dragones tasting room. Evan Funke is bringing his popular Italian spot, Mother Wolf, across the desert from L.A, while Michelin-starred chefs Masa Ito and Kevin Kim will open a 12-seat omakase restaurant, simply called Ito, on the 63rd floor of the resort. Don’s Prime is a modern version of 1950s-style steakhouse. Expect classics with a twist, plus handwww.casinolifemagazine.com
selected Japanese and American wagyu, trolley carts and tableside service. Mediterranean flavors will flow out of the La Côte kitchen. Alan Yau’s whimsical Washing Potato tackles dim sum with a bit a theatre thrown in and Asianinspired restaurant KYU uses wood-fired grilling techniques to prepare many of its dishes in an open kitchen, in view of hungry guests. New versions of Fontainebleau concepts Bleau Bar, Chez Bon Bon and Vida will also be found on the
property, as well as an under-the-radar speakeasy. “One of my favorites is Nowhere—our ‘not-sowell-kept secret’ lounge,” Birch reveals. “It’s a nod to Morris Lapidus’ iconic Staircase to Nowhere inside Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Nowhere is a speakeasy of sorts that transforms throughout the evening. Think tarot card readings and impromptu entertainment.” Another aspect Birch is fond of is the resort’s art program. “One piece that I am most excited about is Swiss contemporary visual artist Urs Fischer’s 46-foot sculpture in the property’s south lobby,” she explains. “Titled Lovers #3, the massive sculpture greets guests entering the south lobby and is on par with Urs’ Big Clay series of artworks, which are made from aluminum and exhibited in major cultural hubs around the world including Florence, Moscow, and New York.” On the entertainment side, Fontainebleau has built a 3,800-seat theater that will serve as “the entertainment hub of the resort” to deliver unforgettable experiences, Volume 19: Issue 161
Birch says. “Top-tier entertainment is in the DNA of the Fontainebleau brand,” she adds. So far, Fontainebleau has only announced two New Year’s weekend shows with Post Malone to take place December 30-31. Concerts and potential headliners will be announced later. For Soffer, it’s been a long ride, but the marathon’s finish line is finally in sight. “The Fontainebleau brand has challenged boundaries and expectations. With Fontainebleau Las Vegas, we have transcended aspiration and set the stage for a new era of luxury hospitality defined by innovation, sophistication, and opulence with an inextricable link to our roots at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach,” Soffer says. “This building represents a remarkable new chapter in our storied legacy and will be a beacon for those seeking to indulge in the unforgettable.” 15
Feature: Plaza Hotel
History in the remaking
Jonathan Jossel came halfway around the world to shape the Plaza Hotel’s Las Vegas destiny. By David McKee
reedom’s just another word, Kris Kristofferson once wrote, for nothing left to lose. That was certainly the position of Las Vegas’ Plaza Hotel a decade ago. In 2004, Lichtenstein-based conglomerate Tamares Group took title to the property and with all the mixed blessings that came from years of benign neglect under Jackie Gaughan’s stewardship. Tamares, having little to lose from the dusty hotel-casino, and was free to do what it liked. Seemingly outmoded and a relic of Vegas’ past, the Plaza flailed about for a number of years under revolving-door management, struggling to find an identity. By the time Jonathan Jossel took the title of CEO, in 2014, it had tried amenities as familiar as a beauty salon and as esoteric as highbrow theatre 16
(starting with Waiting for Godot, an inadvertently apt metaphor for the Plaza’s predicament). Johannesburg-born Jossel took to downtown Las Vegas like a fish to water. Through commitment, diligence and a willingness to keep trying until the formula was right, he transformed the Plaza into one of downtown’s must-see attractions, along with newcomer Circa and the adjacent Fremont Street Experience, at whose head the Plaza stands. Latterly, he’s gained attention with several dramatic changes, including emblazoning the Plaza with giant murals by world-renowned street artists. It’s best to let Jossel tell the saga himself. The following interview, conducted from his Plaza office, has been edited for clarity and length.
Feature: Plaza Hotel
How has downtown Las Vegas changed in your 16 years there and how has the Plaza Hotel changed with it? That’s a loaded question. Downtown was always interesting to people, in terms of the history, the neon, the culture of it. Then what happened in the last 16 years, with Oscar and Carolyn Goodman as
mayors promoting it, you’ve really seen a shift in the investment going into the neighborhoods and the hotel-casinos. That’s resulted in people not just being interested in downtown and giving it a courtesy play or visit but people are actually choosing it over everywhere else and making it something that is taking business from the Strip. People are spending more time here now because they’re realizing there’s great entertainment, hotels, restaurants people are choosing it over other places. That’s been the biggest shift from a business perspective. Obviously, that investment in downtown projects and properties has led to making downtown much more relevant. People are more interested in downtown and the Plaza has been able to piggyback off that by constantly reinvesting in itself. One of the things everyone told me when I got licensed in 2014 was, “You should really knock the Plaza down and start again.” We took a totally totally different Volume 19: Issue 161
approach, which was: Let’s work with what we’ve got, which is a great, iconic building and continue to reinvest in it, continue to improve every single day in some way, and see the returns on that. Which is what we’ve done. You joined Tamares Group in 2007 but were not
named CEO of the Plaza until 2014. What did you do in the intervening years? That was the key to me being able to become the CEO. I spent those six, seven years here in Las Vegas, learning the business. I had some great mentors, particularly Tony Santo, who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago. Someone like him gave me the opportunity to learn the business. I came out here to do real estate and ended up learning the gaming business, spending endless nights in the casino, watching the flow of traffic, talking to team members who had been here for 30 or 40 years. Some of them had been here longer than I’d been alive at the time. So the opportunity to meet those people and learn the business was what gave me the foundation to get the license and become the CEO. I was here on the real-estate side but there was a bad recession in ’07-’09 and to learn the gaming business in those toughest years was what set the foundation for me. 17
Feature: Plaza Hotel something we’re very proud of and continue to build on, and the demographic for bingo continues to evolve, from young to old. It’s something we continue to build on. We’ve also been successful with pickleball. We were the early pioneers of pickleball. I tell people I invented the sport—which isn’t true—but we did put it on the map in many ways with one of the first facilities here in Las Vegas. It’s something we’ve been big believers in. I’d say rodeo was another big hit for us. With our outdoor equestrian center, the CORE Arena, we have taken a big stake in the rodeo and NFR at the end of the year as something we are continuing to build. Our showroom has been a struggle for us. We haven’t found a show that’s worked and we’re continuing to look at ways to program the showroom. That’s probably been our biggest opportunity and struggle—to make that showroom a success.
Jonathan Jossel, CEO, Plaza Hotel
How is your relationship with Tamares and with founder Poju Zabludowicz? My relationship with Poju Zabludowicz has been excellent. He’s the one who gave me the opportunity to come out here in 2007. And he’s the one that I called in 2014 when I wanted to get the gaming license. He backed me to do that, to become the youngest licensee in the state. He had the courage to support me and, to this day, he continues to support the Plaza and reinvest in it, and he is a big part of our success here. Over the years, the Plaza has tried everything to bring people in, from serious theatre to downtown’s only bingo room. What were some of your biggest successes and what didn’t work? Bingo was the biggest hit, by far. Bingo is wonderful. We’re the only game in downtown Las Vegas. Bingo’s 18
How do you position the Plaza in such a competitive market? I often tell people that every week our customers are changing. Last weekend we had the Life is Beautiful Festival, where we had 21-to-30-year-olds here for a dance party. And next weekend we have a Super Bingo tournament for 850 customers. Next month we’ll have the Las Vegas Day Rodeo. We have so many different clientele that we have to appeal to that it’s hard to say you target any one audience. But the thing that underlines all of it is people want
to have a good time. People wanted to be taken care of. People want to have a good gamble and people want value. The most important thing that all of those come under is, how do you take care of people? How does your team take care of people? If you can give people a good experience through customer service and caring about their experience they’re going to come back. Whether it’s a bingo player who’s 75 years old or the festival-goer who’s 22-plus, everyone wants to be taken care of and feel special. That’s the key to the business and success. One of your biggest innovations was the BC Slots room. How did your relationship with Brian Christopher develop? Approximately three or four years ago, I became aware of people filming their slot play on YouTube. I talked with our marketing team at the time about how “Maybe we should be the first hotel-casino www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Plaza Hotel
to embrace people filming, playing and this whole influencer market.” Other casinos thought it was a total waste of time and weren’t interested. Through our review process we became aware of all the people that were doing it and who were the most prolific influences. That’s how we met Brian. Our marketing team really embraced the social media trend and we were the first ones to get on the bandwagon. Now it seems everyone’s trying—not everyone—but a lot of places are embracing it and taking an interest. We believe Brian was the premier You Tuber and influencer of that genre. We started partnering with him more and more. That led us opening downtown’s first and only smoke-free casino area with him. We really felt that we could build and own that market.
What has the customer response been like? People love it. Others said to me, “This is crazy. Why are you investing so much in the YouTube market? It’s just young kids.” It really isn’t. It’s a wide demographic watching him. They seem to love the partnership and they’re obviously big fans of his. He’s got a wider audience that comes and visits him, so it’s been great to see his growth and it’s something we’ve been able to benefit from. Volume 19: Issue 161
Feature: Plaza Hotel
It’s one of the very few non-smoking havens in Las Vegas. What’s your view of the future of smoking in casinos? The jury is still out. We will see. We’re specific in saying we’re not a smoke-free casino. That is a smoke-free section. The rest of our casino, smoking is welcome and permitted. Look, if MGM went and did it, and thought it was going to be the wave of the future they would have gone [wider], after having one smoke-free casino in Park MGM. At the same time, I do believe there’s a market for it. They want that. It might just be that the crossover between the gamer and smoker is so strong that it might not happen everywhere. But there’s certainly proof that it works in other markets. It’s something that we wanted to test. We think it’s going to be successful for us and we are going to potentially expand that smoke-free area.
Another important relationship has been with former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. What has he brought to the Plaza? Firstly, he’s a good friend and a mentor, someone I look up to, someone who’s done unbelievable things for this city and helped pave the way for people like me. His wife, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, has continued that legacy. Between the Goodmans, they’ve been 20
mayors for nearly 25 years and downtown wouldn’t be where it is today without them. In terms of the restaurant, Oscar’s, he’s been a great partner. People love him, love the history. People love the Mob. You think about Las Vegas and what’s interesting, the greatest movie of all time is Casino, I don’t care what anyone says. It’s because it tells that story and he’s
been part of every element, from the Mob to modernday Las Vegas. The restaurant’s growing double digits every single year for us, so we’re very proud. Besides Oscar’s, what are your key dining amenities? We have Hash House a Go-Go, which is our staple breakfast, lunch and dinner place. Hash House is our main option. We also have Pop Up Pizza, which is the best pizza in downtown Las Vegas. We have a Mexican grill, which is great, and we have a Hawaiian restaurant, which we just opened. Those are our staples and we are looking at adding two new concepts which … stay tuned for more information. What has been the importance of bringing rodeo events back downtown and were they difficult to get? They weren’t difficult to get. The arena was difficult to www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Plaza Hotel conceive, especially when I didn’t know much about the sport. Being from England, we don’t know much about rodeo, so it was certainly a gamble but one that was very, very beneficial to us. It’s something we really want to double down on. We love the community. It’s been a great success for us. People thought we were a little nuts but if you think about the history of Las Vegas and Benny Binion’s contribution to the history of downtown, it actually made a lot of sense and it’s something we’re going to continue to build. What sort of live entertainment do you currently offer and what is its importance to the overall positioning of the Plaza? We have the Sand Dollar Downtown, which is our main venue. That has live music most nights of the week and it ranges quite heavily, depending on what’s in house and events happening in the city. We also have the new Carousel Bar, which is like an entertainment venue because you’re sitting outside, people watching with great music and great cocktails. The people walking up and down Fremont Street are like a show in and of itself. We are also working on a new show for the showroom but we’re not ready to declare that yet. Could you describe some of the most recent upgrades? The four new venues that we completed this summer are: One, a new, rooftop patio for Oscar’s. The restaurant’s growing significantly in popularity but we
also wanted to give people a first-of-its-kind ambience where you can sit outside and have outdoor fine dining overlooking downtown Las Vegas. There’s really nothing like it. It’s pretty cool. Below that, we have the smoke-free slots. It’s about 75 slot machines, all the best, new product. It was an empty parking lot, so it’s a great use for that space. Then to the south of that, we have Pinkbox Doughnuts, which has 70 flavors of doughnuts. It’s a huge draw. Best doughnuts you can get. They’ve been great partners for us. Some people thought it was too ambitious to put a giant, pink doughnut at the entrance but it’s been nothing but a great amenity for us. And in the middle, anchoring the whole thing, is the Carousel Bar, which is really an over-the-topthemed bar with carousel horses, dice, cherries and the famous lights of Las Vegas glittering above you. But you do have the first-of-its-kind outdoor casino as well: outdoor slot machines. So we have eight video Volume 19: Issue 161
Feature: Plaza Hotel
poker games out there. You’re sitting under the lights with great cocktails, great music, playing video poker. It’s pretty cool. Downtown Las Vegas has revived considerably under the Goodmans. How much do you interact with other movers and shakers in that space, or does the Plaza function as a one-stop shop? No, not at all. We’re very close to all the other developers and entrepreneurs and operators downtown. I’ve taken great pride in building those relationships. The most important thing for people to know is that downtown is different: We don’t see
engagement for it. What kept it going was every day or couple of days I meet four or five people who listen to this podcast and are coming downtown for the first time because they’re intrigued by what we’re talking about, by what’s happening downtown and it’s not Plaza-centric. We could be talking about anything, but people are interested and if you have thousands of people listening to you every week it’s something to keep going because it gives people insight, it gives people education. I hope one day we’ll look back at it and say, “This body of work told the story of Las Vegas during this century—what was going on, who were the people involved, what was the history." Who
You also have a downtown-focused (but not casino-centric) podcast, “On the Corner of Main Street.” What motivated you to start it and what is its purpose? What started it was the pandemic. We were looking for ways to stay in touch with our customers and, truthfully, didn’t have much to do during those three months that we were shut down. So doing a podcast gave us something to talk about and share information with people. We realized there was a desire and
Under your tenure, the Plaza’s exterior has become a bold, pop-art statement. What is the importance of the arts to contemporary Las Vegas and why did you decide to emblazon the Plaza with these murals? If you look at any successful downtown in America, a lot of them were influenced by art. Whether it’s street art or museums, art has played a big role in gentrification of any downtown in America. We saw that happening with Life is Beautiful, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Street art gives people a reason to visit areas but also, when you’re walking around, gives people intrigue and it helps clean up the area. We saw that happening and partnered with them on our building. We got three of the most prominent street artists in the world to give us a proposal: Shephard
each other as competitors. Circa is the best thing that ever happened to us. The new apartments to the west in Symphony Park are the second-best thing. Fremont Street being successful is important to us. So everyone coming downtown is being beneficial to every property and is what Vegas is all about. There’s a great sense that if downtown does better, we all do better.
knows? It might even be part of a UNLV class one day.
Feature: Plaza Hotel
Fairey, D*Face and Faile are the three. I was nervous to do it. It’s a historic building and to put those three murals up was certainly a little risky. But when we started seeing them on social media, the engagement
… we had people staying here just because they wanted to be in the building where Shephard Fairey painted that mural. That amount of awareness and impressions you can’t buy. It’s put us on the map. People driving by see it, love it. You just want to keep the Plaza relevant. You want to keep it growing. That’s why we have fireworks. We had U2 performing here last weekend. If we can get more and more things to put the Plaza on the map, why not do it? Do you have any ambitions beyond the Plaza or are you a happy CEO? I’m very happy. I love the Plaza. I tell people if it wasn’t for the Plaza I don’t even know if I’d be in Las Vegas. I have no desire to leave the Plaza. It has another 10 acres of undeveloped land. What more can we do. To continue to develop the Plaza is all that I’m focused on. Every day I try to do something else to improve the Plaza and make it stand out. Volume 19: Issue 161
Feature: Swearing at the Dealer Al O’Grady
Feature: Swearing at the Dealer
Swearing at the dealer
Dear reader, don’t take this personally. By Al O’Grady
ith sincere apologies to the writers of the Austin Powers movies, I would like to take a very simple quote from the movie and send it to a select few at the blackjack table. It is simply this, “Oh behave.” Some people need a basic reminder of the big picture. Gambling is not a sure thing. Losses are inevitable at the tables. People will get dejected when they lose. Dealers understand that. People will get angry when they lose a lot. Dealers understand that too. Some people will even swear. A majority of the dealers will understand, so long as the player is swearing at the situation and it is not personally directed at the dealer. Once it becomes personal, it is Game Over. The line has been crossed. I do not know if it is a reflection on society; a lack of respect for our fellow man or if the ignorance factor is on the rise, but apparently some frustrated players need a basic lesson in conducting themselves at the tables. Let’s start with the Golden Rule. Simply put, treat others the way you want to be treated. It is truly
amazing how this is forgotten in daily discourse. Would you want to be verbally abused for something you have no control over? If not, why would you ever do that to a dealer? This comes to the second point. Some players actually blame the dealer for the cards. They blame the dealer when they do not get a 10 on their double down or if the dealer does not bust on his 16 but rather pulls a five, making 21. And you blame the dealer? Let’s have a reality check. The dealer has no control whatsoever which cards come out of the shoe. As a dealer, if I had this majestic power to control the cards, I would quit my job yesterday, play blackjack seven days a week and become independently wealthy in no time at all. Dealers simply do not have this uncanny ability. Call it what you want. Whether it is fate, karma, luck, the planets in alignment or statistical probability, none of these things have anything to do with the dealer. Volume 19: Issue 161
Personally, I use the word random, which I also cannot control. Some people have actually used the free-speech argument justifying their profane actions. I find this comical because whatever right you are demanding, you have an inherent responsibility that goes with that right. People want the rights, but not the responsibilities. In America, you have the right to bear arms. Does that give you the right to shoot someone? You can if your life is in imminent danger but, generally speaking, you cannot. There are obvious limits. The same goes with free speech. There are libel and slander laws. There are restrictions defaming someone’s character orally. In another example, you cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie house. Simply put, there are restrictions on free speech as well. Do you need a specific guideline for dos and don’ts? Again, I refer you to The Golden Rule. I do not want to give you the impression that I am a saint and that I would not say you know what if I had a mouthful of it. I can and have regularly dropped the F-bomb with the best and worst of them. I can get along just fine with drunken sailors. But it all comes to time and place. My vocabulary is different if I am in a church, in a business meeting, at home with my kids, or in a locker room. I can also say that if I do swear, it is at the situation, and not at the individual. If I feel someone has done me wrong, it is handled in a mature manner. Profanity directed at the individual does not solve anything and only stirs up negative emotions. I think that’s enough social commentary. Let’s bring this back to the table. Why do some players lower themselves to this behavior? I will attempt to play armchair psychologist and offer some suggestions. Some people have an intense feeling of entitlement. They feel the world owes them. The phrase going on tilt is normally used for poker players. It means that someone’s emotions have taken over their rational thinking. Blackjack players go on tilt, too. Emotional reactions get the better of them, clouding their
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Feature: Swearing at the Dealer judgment and eventually their reaction. Just because you have an 11 and you double down does not mean you are entitled to a 10. Just because the dealer has a 4,5 or a 6 does not mean he will always bust either. You can do everything right and still lose. (You can also do everything wrong and still win). If you are an intelligent, logical and rational player, and are a 75 percent favorite to win the hand, you will not win 100 percent of the time. People equate being a strong favorite to a 100 percent outcome. But if you accept the premise that you are a 75 percent favorite then you also have to accept that you will lose 25 percent of the time. If you cannot accept that then you are not an intelligent, logical and rational player. Some players also think that just because they tip the dealer they are entitled to swear at the dealer. Just because you tip someone, does not give you the right to be a jerk after the fact. Do you swear at the cab driver after paying his fare with a tip and you let him know with four-letter words what you think of the radio station he is listening to? You might roll your eyes after the fact but you would not swear at him. It is simply a not a class act. I have also heard people trying to justify their ignorance by saying that the dealer is trying to take their money. Time for another reality check. First of all, no one is forcing you to play. You are making a choice of your own free will to partake in a gaming activity where there is a slight edge against you. You have the free will to get up and leave at any point. If you are losing and you continue to play, and you continue to lose, whose fault is that? People always want to blame someone else for their own actions. Finally, the dealer is not trying to take your money, the casino is. If you lost, do those chips go in the dealer’s pocket or do they go in the casino tray? You know the answer to that. The argument is nonsensical. I mentioned earlier that dealers have no control over the cards coming out of the shoe. There are plenty of other examples in society that I am sure you do not swear at the employee. I am sure you do not swear at the mailman when he brings your Visa or Mastercard bill. You are not swearing at the gas station attendant for the world price of oil and you are also not swearing at the meteorologist for a rainy day tomorrow. Quite the contrary in times of hurricanes or blizzards. You are thanking them for the advanced warning so you can take cover. Volume 19: Issue 161
So why do some still swear at the dealer? Is it their upbringing, ignorance or lack of maturity? Is it a lack of character, class or morals? Before you blame someone, look at yourself in the mirror. Are you perfect? Are you playing perfect strategy? Are you making a strategic mistake and then swearing at the dealer for your blunder? If so, that is the quintessential unprofessional act. If you are acting unprofessionally, then you are an amateur. You are an amateur player, gambler and human being. Why don’t you be a man about it? Show some class. Walk out of the casino with your held high, knowing that today was not your day and Lady Luck may shine on you some other time. Be grateful for the things you do have. Your health, your family, your job, your friends, your country … shall I go on? There are many people in this world that do not have the basic necessities of life but you feel you are entitled to swear at another human being because a card did not help you. You need an attitude adjustment. Let’s face it, bad things happen to good people. If the walls come crashing in on you at the table, we feel for you. If you are swearing at the situation, we get it. But if you are swearing at the dealer, go f@#k yourself. Good luck at the tables and don’t forget to tip the dealer.
Feature: Modulus Group
Small is Beautiful
Modulus Group grows from modest beginnings to a global force. By David McKee
t took a lifetime’s work to bring Fivos Polymniou to Modulus Group, the gaming-solutions company he founded in Monaco. His beginnings in casinos can be traced back almost 40 years, to the United Kingdom. Polymniou got his first gaming job with Bass Leisure, working on sports betting and bingo. Following a flyer into an Internet IPO, he landed at Bally Gaming, which was looking to expand substantially in the UK, thanks to revisions of the 1968 Gaming Act. Polymniou rose with Bally, as its business expanded, to become the head of its UK office. From there, he moved to Atronic as head of international systems. At that time, Atronic was owned by Gauselmann and then after that Lotomatica, which was the GTECH lottery provider. This led, logically, to lottery provider International Game Technology. Polymniou left IGT in 2017. He then set up his own 28
business in the UK. Then, in 2020, he bought a casinomanagement system back from IGT and created Modulus. Although it’s a new company, it boast a staff that averages 15-20 years in the gaming industry. We caught up with Polymniou last month and started from the beginning. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. What compelled you to create Modulus and what are the primary services that it provides to casino operators? We thought long and hard about how to project a smaller business but with a reliable, experienced-inits-company feel. The four senior managers, of which I’m one, have all worked for very large companies like IGT, Gauselmann, Bally’s. But we are a much smaller business. So Modulus was potentially about offering a different type of approach to the industry. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Modulus Group Our core business is casino-management systems. These are directly related to casinos on a worldwide level and we have customers in many, many countries. We also offer some slot products on a limited, European scale. But the core business is the management system. Modulus, if you look at the meaning behind the name, it means “absolute value.” When you’re asking how to brand a business, you go through a number of different ways of thinking about “What impression do I want to give?” Modulus is not a usual name but it does mean absolute value and that’s what we aim to offer our customers. What have been the key milestones achieved so far? We took over the business on the 18th of December 2020. So obviously, Covid gave us time to invest in a new business. But we were very sure about what we were doing. We were very confident about the reliability and quality of the product. What we focused on in the first 30 months was to make sure that our existing clients were well-serviced and satisfied. Some of them, because of the uncertainty around the product, had started to look at alternative systems. The first thing we had to do was secure that foundation, reassure all those new/old customers that staying with Modulus adds value to the system that you had and adds a future to it, more importantly. That was one of the most important things to do, to secure those customers. Some of those customers we’d
known for 15 years. So that was something we put a great big effort on. The original product, named Galaxis, has been renamed. It’s now called System. But we needed to make sure that Galaxis was being presented on a more up-to-date platform, going toward a cloud-based opportunity as well as an on-premise installation. So we did some work on the product in that time. How many offices does the organization have around the world and can it coordinate with their counterparts in other regions, when dealing with a casino operator that has casinos in other countries? Our main office is based in Monaco. That’s its historical location as well. That’s essentially where the offices are, the R&D, some of the sales and admin functions. We have another office in Nice and then we’ve got remote offices in the UK, in Uruguay and Volume 19: Issue 161
Fivos Polymniou 29
Feature: Modulus Group
Chile, also in South Africa, and then we work very closely with an Asian partner to give us that global reach.The support is 24/7. At this moment, half our business is in Europe and half outside, so it works very well.
In terms of our product, it’s very robust. The foundation is very strong. We’re very confident about the reliability of the hardware. Because now we’re a smaller, private company we’re much more agile when it comes to software development,
What are the key benefits operators gain from Modulus Gaming Systems? The important thing here is that you’ve got a smaller, more personal approach. We’re not heavily layered, unlike some companies. You’re very quickly talking to senior managers. One is a lawyer and a financial guy, Bruno Ozenda is very much technical. Someone like myself is very commercial and sales oriented, and then Marc Attal is the COO. We work at all levels directly with our customers. In some of the larger entities, you’re not having that close contact with decision makers on a frequent basis. You have to go through layers. The management team has—dare I say it?—90 years-plus experience. Our single shareholder, Willy de Bruyn, is very familiar with the gaming industry, having been been IGT’s exclusive distributor in France for 35 years. So it’s a business that is very much related to the gaming sector.
What are some of the biggest challenges casino operators face with their organization’s operating systems? If I may, the problem with systems and operations is that the system isn’t seen as a financial driver. It’s the slots. They’re the ones that generate the cash on the floor. So a lot of systems are underutilized by the operators. One thing that we’re really conscious of is trying to optimize what the system does. Working on
responding to customer’s needs. Because we’ve got a knowledgable, experienced team, with Modulus the support was already very much in place. Some of the other business I’ve worked at in the past, there’s always a need to create everything yourself. We believe in Best of Breed. We have excellent business partners who do things as their core business, rather than pretend to create that ourselves. Those are strengths.
Feature: Modulus Group
a consulting basis, we’re optimizing revenue because the system will allow you to identify actions that you can take. Or potentially, as well as optimizing revenue, you can actually save costs and run the business more efficiently. Because the day-to-day operation
that we’ve always got regulations to meet, so we’re constantly assessing development and functionality in the context of the regulations. It’s a very necessary part of the industry. But we make sure that we maintain a close watch.
What is the company’s approach to compliance and ensuring that clients’ systems and operations continue to be fully up to date with the host country’s legislation? The one thing you can say about the gaming industry worldwide is it is predominantly very well-regulated. We’re very experienced on the compliance side. Each country may have its own regulations, so we’re familiar with all those. Our CFO has a compliance responsibility as well. And we have within our technical team people who work directly with some of the gaming test houses, like GLI and BMM and SIQ. We’re very conscious in our development program
Can casinos trial-run the Modulus Gaming System recommendations, so they can judge its performance benefits? We have done that, yes. We’re very flexible in working with clients to help them in understanding the benefits. We’re also very open for any of our new or existing customers to talk to each other. We hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. We talk to anyone of our customers about how it works. For example, we’re talking to one customer who hasn’t even broken even ground yet and also talking to another customer who needs us to go live in the
is dealing with the customers, of course, a lot of operators don’t fully utilize the system. So our job is to use our customer-success advantages to help bridge that gap and make sure they get the most out of their system.
Volume 19: Issue 160
Many of our systems have to report directly back to each country’s ministry of finance, so it’s important that we keep that link up as well, because that’s an obligation for the operator. It’s a daily thing but it’s something that we very much see as an important part of the business.
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Feature: Modulus Group next six weeks. There’s varying degrees of activity. When you’ve got the number of clients we have, it’s probably quite clear that we have a proven and credible system. Does the organization provide staff training with new installations and upgrades? We do. We have quite a comprehensive program of remote and on-site support. Training especially is very important, so we’ll invite people to our place where we might run sort of classroom sessions, with three to five people. We also have a couple of specialists that will go to sites and conduct training, before, during or after the go-live. That’s something we do on a longterm basis. How was Modulus’ first ICE London 2023, and what was the reaction of visitors to your booth and to this new company? We’d been there every year before in different guises and different businesses. So ICE 2023 was very interesting and exciting for us because we’d invested heavily in our stand, heavily in the branding, wanted to create an atmosphere where people could come, and relax and talk to us. We were very pleased with the reaction. ICE is too short even at three days and the traditional last day is supposedly quiet. It wasn’t. We were going right up until five past four or whenever the show closed. People were very happy to see us there because when you invest in a show like ICE, you’re showing your existing customer base that you’re investing in the business. It’s important that they can find a place where they can come and talk to you in a relaxed way. What was also very good was we were able to see so many of our customers in a short period of time and either meet technical people right up to directors of the businesses. They came to see us on the stand. We are going to revamp the stand a little bit for 2024, make it even more inviting. We’re likely to have a couple of events on the stand in 2024, as well. What will be new for visitors to your booth during ICE London 2024? Without giving too much away to the competition, we’ve taken the e-wallet mobile phone application to another level. We’ve demonstrated it before at other shows. We’ve significantly improved the user application. We’re very much focusing on bonusing. Volume 19: Issue 160
We’ll see much more entertaining second-screen and bonus features on our new hardware. One of the things we did in the early part of the business was to completely redo our hardware. We needed to get more industry-standard components. We’ve increased the size of the screen. By increasing the size of the screen we can add increased bonusing levels. We’ll also be showing customers the latest version of our Incredible Technologies Slots. That’s one of the brands that we represent in Europe on behalf of the U.S. manufacturer. There’s a lot of interesting stuff for the customers. What plans and aspirations do you have for Modulus Group? We very much want to continue our international expansion outside Europe. Europe is a very wellformed market, mature in many aspects. We’ve got territories in Europe that we’re shortly going to be looking at from a business-development point of view. We’re actually hiring a new sales manager at the moment. We’re focused on building the business in South America, in Asia. We see those two, very different markets as really interesting growth, of a different level than Europe. There are new licenses in some of the South American countries. There are new territories in Asia. A lot of people have talked about the Philippines becoming the new Macao. We’re focused on those two regions. We’ve got a very good partner within Asia and we’re looking for a similar
partner within South America. That will really help us to expand on a more local level. The continued growth of the company in terms of markets is important. So is getting to our Holy Grail of a cloud-based system, which will provide an easier user experience for our existing and new clients. And one of the other aspirations that we have is to make the whole process of upgrading the system absolutely painless. When you talk to a customer about new software and upgrading, you’ll often hear him groan. So the territory, the increasing functionality and the gate to the upgrades are the keys.
Feature: Aristocrat G2E Review
A Whole New Game Aristocrat at G2E 2023. By Victor H. Royer
t the recent Global Gaming responsible gaming resources to fans during Expo in Las Vegas, the 2023 NFL season and beyond.” Aristocrat presented a Named the most anticipated premium suite of new games, of brand per the 1Q23 Eilers Operator which their latest was the NFL suite of Survey, the NFL slots provide a gameslots. For those of you who aren’t familiar changing experience for the casino with American Football, NFL stands industry and NFL fans alike. These games for National Football League, which is offer entertaining and innovative mechanics comprised of the AFC – the American across all six titles, including team marks, Football Conference – and the NFC – the exciting bonus features, and customizable National Football Conference. gameplay with the ability to pick your team American “football” isn’t actually and play as any of the 32 NFL teams. a “foot” and “ball” – at least not “The NFL-licensed slot machines in the same sense as the British offer a unique opportunity for fans Premier League or European across the country to be engaged in Championships or the FIFA a new way,” said Terese Whitehead, World Cup. These are all known vice president of consumer as “soccer” in America, which is products and strategy of the NFL somewhat of a misnomer, Players Association. “The since “socks” aren’t actually The new NFL Super Bowl Jackpots™ Games from Aristocrat NFLPA is pleased with the used in the game – at least resulting games and looks not directly. But the NFL is hugely popular forward to seeing the excitement in action.” in the U.S. and the game is also played in Additionally – and intended primarily Canada, as the Canadian Football League, for the European market – Aristocrat with some minor rule alterations. “Today, we are thrilled to debut the first look of the new NFL-licensed slot machines, which will provide an innovative entertainment experience for millions of NFL fans who enjoy the fun of casino gaming,” said Hector Fernandez, CEO of Aristocrat Gaming. “We are changing the game with this first-of-its-kind slot machine, offering fans the ability to customize the experience by selecting their favorite team in any casino they choose to play.” “The unveiling of the first NFL-themed slot machines represents an opportunity to bring the League closer to our fans in a new area,” said Joe Ruggiero, senior vice president of consumer products at the NFL. “We have valued collaborating with Aristocrat to bring their vision and 34
offered For Sale Links games, which offer customers ownership of Aristocrat content with optional centerpiece packaging. Among the games offered are:
• Jin Cai Hao Yun™: A For Sale Link that meshes the popular Choy™ character with 5 Dragons™ in two distinct settings: Red and Yellow editions, each offering Lucky Zone free game bonuses with expanding and sliding wilds. The popular Hold ‘n Spin feature progressively unlocks more room for Cash-on-Reels tokens, as well as boasting a repeat win mechanic, with a Super Feature unlocking all rows from the start.
Flamin’ Fortune 50 Lions
• Scorchin’ Fortune™: Aristocrat’s first multigame For Sale Link introduced in www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Aristocrat G2E Review Europe, it features three, flaming hot, 25/50-line base games: Prosperity of the Nile™, Tiki Blast™ and Sky Temple, as well as a Hold ‘n Spin feature. Player-selectable low and mid-denom ranges are available, complementing a selection of operatorconfigurable, grand progressive start-up values. Flamin’ Fortune Queen of The Nile
Jin Cai Hao Yun
“Our focus on the For Sale Link segment is driven by our customers' feedback and their desire to own some of the top Aristocrat games to expand their offering to players,” said Marcel Heutmekers, vice president of sales and operations in EMEA for Aristocrat Gaming. “With this, we are on a continued mission to expand our portfolio and deliver on the promise to invest in the EMEA region.” Earlier this year, Aristocrat Gaming launched For Sale Link titles – Flamin’ Fortune™ and Mo’ Mummy™ in Europe. Flamin’ Fortune 50 Lions™ and Queen of The Nile™ appear on the MarsX Portrait™ cabinet and
Scorchin’ Fortune Sky Temple Volume 19: Issue 160
Scorchin’ Fortune Tiki Blast
MoMummy Mighty Pyramid
MoMummy Valley Of Riches
entertain players with traditional, free-game bonus features and a new Hold ‘n Spin feature with repeat wins. Mo’ Mummy™: Housed on the MarsX™ dual screen cabinet, this offers players a choice of two base game themes — Mighty Pyramid™, inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt — and the Inca-inspired game, Valley of Riches™. Mo' Mummy combines a triple metamorphic and an innovative take on Hold 'n Spin mechanics through its cash-collection feature. In this feature, players can grow ‘zone of pays’ by landing Cash-on-Reels tokens, or metamorphically trigger free games or a jackpot pick ‘em feature. Aristocrat Technologies Inc. is a subsidiary of Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), and is a global entertainment and contentcreation company, with over 7,500 employees working in more than 20 locations around the globe. Aristocrat Gaming is the leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of Class III games, as well as Class II Innovations for Native American casinos and emerging markets.
Scorchin’ Fortune Prosperity of the Nile
Feature: Zitro G2E Interview
Games from A to Zitro An interview with Sebastián Salat, International president of Zitro. By Victor H Royer
asino Life Magazine and Outsource Digital Media recently had the opportunity to interview Sebastián
Salat, President – International of Zitro. Zitro is a global supplier of electronic gaming machines operating in over 65 jurisdictions around the world, including market-leading positions in many countries. Sebastián is from Barcelona, Spain, with over 40 years of experience in the gaming industry. Among many other international awards, Sebastián received the prestigious AGEM’s Jens Halle Memorial Award in 2021, honoring excellence in commercial gaming professionalism. He successfully held senior leadership positions for leading slot suppliers such as UNIDESA and WMS, until he joined Zitro in 36
2016 as CEO, being promoted later to the position of President-International. He is harnessing his experience with the aim of accelerating the company’s growth worldwide in the land-based and digital gaming markets.
Sebastián, first I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Please tell our readers more about your role at Zitro. Thank you, Victor. It was a pleasure to meet you at G2E. At Zitro I have been instrumental in helping to achieve global leadership in record time, accomplishments which mirror my successes earlier in my career. In addition, for some 20 years I have been a member of the board of Grup Peralada, one of the most prestigious European casino groups, operating casinos in Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Zitro G2E Interview I’ve had the privilege of treasuring a remarkably vast experience in the industry, which includes not only experience as a leading supplier but also as a recognized global casino operator. Zitro recently opened offices in Las Vegas. Tell us about this new venture. The growing demand for our products in the United States over the past year led us to establish a headquarters to better serve our customers in this market. Given the nature of our business, it was paramount that our main office and warehouse be in the world’s gaming capital, Las Vegas. We are proud to have the proper facilities in place to support and deliver our services at the highest level of quality that operators deserve. While our workforce operates nationwide, Las Vegas will be our home base. This important step reaffirms Zitro’s commitment to the U.S. gaming market, and our optimism for future growth and expansion, further solidifying our position as a key industry player. At the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, and soon moving onto ICE, Zitro presented several new games for the GLARE cabinet line. Please tell us about these games and their newest features. During G2E we presented the most extensive and diverse product lineup ever for our GLARE cabinet line. Among our wide range of games, Fu Frog and Fu Pots stand out. They embody Zitro’s unique style and
incorporate market trends like persistent gameplay elements. Fu Frog and Fu Pots have already proven to be a hit among operators and players who have experienced them in various jurisdictions around the world. In addition, we have Lún Pán Dú on the Altius Glare cabinet, featuring an American-style wheel and a super dynamic bonus round. It offers great entertainment not only through its gameplay mechanics but also with its fun and inviting characters throughout the different sequences. To mention one more game, there’s Billy the Pig, which combines innovative math models with a fast-paced gameplay and outstanding graphics. Which are the other games and products Zitro Digital showcased at G2E 2023? At G2E, Zitro Digital presented the online version of Zitro’s classic land-based slots. Among the novelties Volume 19: Issue 160
Sebastián Salat, International President of Zitro
was Ramses Mighty Hammer, the first title from our eagerly awaited Mighty Hammer gaming family. We also highlighted our popular series, including Link King, Link Me, 88 Link and Bashiba Link. These games shared the spotlight alongside our extensive collection of video bingo. Additionally, we unveiled seasonal games designed for specific times of the year, starting with the Halloween-themed slot Apocalypse Reels. The games are built upon well-established mathematical and gameplay mechanics that have been successfully tested in land-based casinos 37
Feature: Zitro G2E Interview worldwide, making them highly valuable for our clients’ promotional strategies. Besides presenting our new gaming content for the online market, we introduced a comprehensive range of gamification tools: Tournaments & Achievements. These tools are designed to complement our games, enabling operators to enhance the experience of our successful gaming products with additional features. Which Zitro titles are available for lease, sales or participation? Listing all the games that Zitro offers in each one of our commercial models would be excessively tedious as they may vary from one to another jurisdiction. This is because our distinction lies in providing the commercial formula that best suits the specific needs of our customers in each market. Some products are purchased by customers in certain markets, but, in other
markets, customers prefer to take the very same product on revenue share. At Zitro we like the revenue share model, when it is possible from a regulatory standpoint and when it makes economic sense, of course. Our preference for this business model has allowed us to build a significant footprint of 30,000 machines, that are in operation mainly in Latin American and European markets but growing in other geographies including the U.S. Has Zitro introduced any stepper (reel) games? If not, are there any plans to do so? Zitro’s current focus revolves around two product lines: video slots and video bingo. Video bingos remain popular products for the Mexican market, as well as in certain Latin American and European 38
markets. Video slots, on the other hand, are global products and serve as the primary product for markets like the United States. Stepper games are currently not in the forefront, but this may change in the future as our product strategy evolves. In the gaming industry, manufacturers often refer to a segment of their products as “premium.” Which are those that Zitro is showcasing? Among our GLARE cabinet line, Altius Glare stands tall, a true spectacle that immediately captures the attention of players with its huge real estate for stunning graphics. This premium cabinet houses a wide library of games, featuring the latest additions we presented at G2E, such as Lún Pán Dú, the Asian-inspired title 88 Link Shiro and Mighty Hammer Ultimate. We are also using this cabinet as the one to support our wide-areaprogressive games. We are about to announce the launch of our first WAP in Latin America, featuring Mighty Hammer Ultimate on our impressive Altius Glare cabinet.
What are the Tournaments & Achievements dynamic engagement tools? In the world of online gaming, operators have a vast array of gaming products on their websites. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important for game providers to enhance their games so that they stand out among the operators’ offerings. To complement our games on operators' websites, promotional tools like tournaments and achievements are essential. They give players an additional reason to choose our games over those of competitors. Tournaments, in particular, amplify the social aspect of gaming by allowing players to compete against each other to win the tournament. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Zitro G2E Interview In general, how would you sum up the current market and future for Zitro in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world? Throughout this year we’ve strengthened our leadership position in Mexico and across the majority of Latin American countries. In Europe, we hold a leading position in Spain and have made significant progress in every European and Asian country where we operate. In less than a year we’ve expanded our presence to 13 states in the highly competitive U.S. market, and more than doubled Zitro Digital’s business, positioning our company as a key provider for digital casinos worldwide. Furthermore, from an organizational standpoint, we’ve expanded our teams and our presence on every continent where we operate. We’ve also inaugurated our new technology campus in Bangalore, India, to accelerate the launch of new products. All these efforts are aimed at supporting the spectacular growth that Zitro is committed to achieving, with a determination to become one of the industry’s global leaders. Johnny Viveiros Ortiz, founder of
Zitro, has been quoted as saying that “Winning is not about luck!” Would you characterize this as a motivational statement for Zitro? While luck does play a significant role in all aspects of life, a company like Zitro cannot solely rely on luck. Zitro’s success is built on three pillars: experience, talent, and investment. First, it’s the decades of experience of the people leading the company, including our founder Johnny Ortiz, our CEO in the U.S., Derik Mooberry, myself and other management team members, who bring three or more decades of experience in the gaming industry. This experience and network, built over the years, are vital in expanding the Zitro brand globally. Second, it’s the talent of our team. We couldn’t do what we do without Volume 19: Issue 160
a talented, dedicated and passionate team that has created groundbreaking products in many countries. Lastly, it’s the crucial factor of investment. Nothing can be achieved without financial resources and this is another fundamental pillar of Zitro. Our founder is committed to investing, as seen in the significant capital required for obtaining licenses in North America, or in the serious investment in product development we are making. The latest evidence of this commitment is the opening of our technology campus in India, complementing the one in Barcelona, aiming to accelerate and increase the development and launch of new games to the market. Finally, in your career in gaming and with Zitro, what would you consider to be the highlights? Throughout my career in the gaming industry there have been several standout moments and achievements that I hold in high regard. These highlights not only represent personal milestones but
also reflect the growth and success of the companies I’ve been fortunate to work with. First and foremost, leading the international expansion of renowned companies, including the Spanish giant CIRSA, WMS Gaming, Grup Peralada, and Zitro, has been both a privilege and an outstanding achievement. These experiences have allowed me to travel globally where I’ve established connections with industry professionals from various backgrounds, who have not only been colleagues or customers, but have also become close friends of mine in five continents. I am certainly proud of what I have achieved from both a professional and personal standpoint. 39
Feature: Formula 1
©️ 2021 Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team. All rights reserved.
The God That Failed
Formula One is unwelcome in Las Vegas at any speed. By David McKee hoever wins the Las Vegas Grand Prix, to be held in mid-November, the loser is already obvious: the average
citizen of Las Vegas. Even if the promised economic benefits materialize—which looks doubtful—Formula One racing is so far behind the eight ball with Las Vegans it will never come out ahead. Instead, it is careening full speed toward the biggest public relations debacle since New Year’s Eve of 1999. For those with short memories, short-term greed and Y2K technology fears made that New Year’s weekend a signal failure. Except for a spray of confetti from Paris-Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower, there was nothing even faintly resembling fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip … unless you count the utility-pole climber who electrocuted himself. Instead, guests were herded inside casinos, as the latter tried to desperately make as much money as possible, should the world’s microchips shut down as midnight rolled over into the year 2000. Hotel rates, which had been jacked up astronomically, had to 40
be ratcheted way back down when demand failed to match supply. The whole affair left Las Vegas with a bad aftertaste and has never been remotely emulated—until now.
“F1 has done a disastrous job of managing the optics for this event,” says Vital Vegas author Scott Roeben, who has been keeping a close eye on the Grand Prix. “It's pretty clear nobody understood the impact the race would have. Basically they sold the Strip to be used as a backdrop without much consideration for the unintended consequences.” The ostensible host city finds itself very much on the outside, looking in. Most recently, workers were seen glazing and erecting canopies over Strip pedestrian bridges, to prevent lookie-lous from seeing moments of the race for free. Initially, locals were only to be offered standing-room places, at hundreds of dollars a pop. That has changed, incrementally, one of a number of anecdotal signs that the much-ballyhooed event isn’t drawing as well as anticipated. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Formula 1 A 70 percent plunge in room rates for the Grand Prix at Harrah’s Las Vegas, discovered by Roeben, was initially dismissed as an outlying economic indicator by race boosters. However, one of those cheering sections, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, recently admitted it was seeing precipitous room-rate declines at other area resorts on race weekend. Wynn Resorts was reported by Las Vegas Advisor to be offering free room nights for race weekend—along with $4,000 race seats. This panicky repricing hardly befits an event that Wall Street boffins predicted would outdraw Super Bowl 2024, to be held at Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium. Clark County leaders were sold on Formula One (including eight-figure infrastructure outlays) by promises of $1.3 billion in economic impact. That doesn’t seem to be materializing.
©️ Peter Wilkinson-White.
©️ 2021 Haas F1 Team. All rights reserved.
Even the $1.3 billion figure is suspect on its face. In Austin, Texas, Formula One’s impact it measured at $434 million a year. In Miami, the figure is more like $350 million. The billion-dollar difference between the impact on the two sun-and-fun cities has gone unexplained. When Las Vegas Advisor queried Applied Analysis, originator of the $1.3 billion projection, it kicked the can to F1 headquarters. No elucidation was received from F1, nor from the similarly tight-lipped Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For all intents and
purposes, the $1.3 billion number was arrived at out of a clear blue sky. Interestingly, Applied Analysis guru Jeremy Aguero was a veritable Chatty Cathy when Las Vegas’ News 3-TV came calling. “You’re talking about 150,000 people of some of the most affluent travelers anywhere in the world descending on Las Vegas for what I think will be the single largest event on Planet Earth in 2023,” he said. By comparison, the most recent Super Bowl, in Glendale, Arizona, was attended by 72,200. Wall Street analysts have gloated in print that, even if projections don’t pencil out, the supply-demand dynamics look very good for Las Vegas hotels. Or do they? MGM Resorts International, which was supposedly sitting in the catbird seat, released an October 17 offer of two race tickets, three hotel room nights, free food and drink, and (only) $40 of free play—with prime seating in one of the grandstands. Volume 19: Issue 160
But it was also trying to shop Bellagio grandstand tickets for $11,247 a seat. Resorts World Las Vegas (which isn’t along the race course) is nonetheless touting The 888 Experience. Your $888,000 buys you “first-class flights, a threenight stay in an exclusive palace suite, four additional deluxe rooms, a private butler, custom tailoring service and an invite to a VIP afterparty at Zouk Nightclub,” plus a $20,000 casino credit. (Take note, MGM) There’a $1 million deal at Wynn Las Vegas, while Caesars Entertainment recently rolled out a $5 million Emperor Package “and will place guests in the Nobu Sky Villa at Caesars Palace for five nights, with a 24-hour butler, a driver service, a spa service for six guests, a private dining experience for 12 … and an invite for the package holder and plus one to also attend Weekends with Adele at the Caesars Palace Colosseum,” according to GamingAmerica.com.
Feature: Formula 1
Bigger than the Super Bowl?
In a rare breakout of the Applied Analysis figures, F1 CEO Renée Wilm posited visitor spending at $966 million, plus infrastructural outlays of $316 million. She also tempered the attendance figures to closer to 100,000. By contrast, Super Bowl 2024 is expected to bring a mere $600 million into Las Vegas. Whatever inconveniences accompany the Super Bowl, residents of Sin City find comfort from the fact that it is a one-time event. No such luck with the Grand Prix, which returns in 2025 and at least through 2032. For months politicians and media members have heard complaints, bordering on anguish, about the disruption occasioned by the race. Traffic across the Strip has been interdicted and, on a good day, delayed as cars are rerouted around areas being retooled into a course. “The repaving was slow and poorly executed,” laments Roeben, “and caused headaches for months,” dating back to last March. Las Vegans find themselves having to budget hours for commutes that used to take minutes and sacrificing family time to sit in traffic. Not counting tipped employees on the Strip, who may profit from visitor largesse, no John Q. Public appears to stand to benefit directly from the Grand Prix. If there is a trickle-down element to its economic impact, it has not been articulated. Indeed, the overweening aroma of noblesse oblige surrounding the event has made it persona non grata with locals. Even those who stood to benefit from the race were displaying reservations. Reports filtered out that Caesars Entertainment was holding prize drawings for employees who worked Formula One Weekend, lest they stay home. “The actual race is going to be an absolute shitshow,” says Roeben. “Typical visitors have been pushed out for some imagined flood of wealthy visitors. Room rates have tanked due to lack of interest--all the hotels overestimated demand … The Strip will be a private event, and getting to work is going to be an absolute nightmare for Strip employees. They're expecting to put 10,000 people on buses. Insanity.” Especially to those familiar with Las Vegas’ strained public-transit infrastructure. A viral rumor had the Las Vegas Grand Prix becoming a one-and-done casualty of its own maladroitness. Roeben says “there have definitely Volume 19: Issue 160
©️ 2021 Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team. All rights reserved.
©️ 2019 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, Friday - Wolfgang Wilhelm. All rights reserved.
been heated discussions” between F1 and local government about the problematic race. “My thought is it's been communicated this year's debacle can't happen again, but they'll wait until after the event to show any lack of agreement that this is the best thing that's ever happened in Las Vegas,” Roeben remarks, adding that a Clark County Commissioner even said as much on Plaza Hotel CEO Jonathan Jossel’s podcast. “With F1's investment in the Pit Building … it's hard to imagine they'll pull the plug completely, but there's a chance the course would be dramatically altered to avoid the months-long nightmare on the Strip,” the Vital Vegas reporter muses. Given that the 2023 race goes through the heart of the Strip and will have occasioned at least seven months of disruption, a reconfiguration of the course seems a likely, face-saving compromise to stave off civic mutiny. 43
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Feature: Formula 1
What price scenery?
It’s not just the Average Joe who is suffering indignities. A stand of 25-year-old trees planted by Steve Wynn in front of Bellagio was razed to facilitate the erection of Grand Prix grandstands. MGM tried to tap-dance around that PR fiasco, first by dissembling and saying the arbors would return in the near future. When local bloggers showed that the trees had been sawed off at ground level, MGM admitted they’d been ground into mulch. And, given the recurring commitment to F1, no new ones could practicably be planted until 2033. Luckily for MGM, a September 10 cyberattack pushed the arboricide gaffe off newspaper pages. Similarly, The Mirage (now owned by Hard Rock International) had its frontage shorn of trees for an F1 erection. Ditto a gazebo that had stood for a quartercentury in front of The Venetian. For local residents long inured to Las Vegas’ callous amnesia towards its past, this was finally too much—and a symptom of what they saw as the citizenry being sacrificed on the altar of Formula One. For them it’s been not so much F1 and as F-U. “The trees being chopped down in front of Bellagio were a symbolic fail, a huge PR disaster,” says Roeben, whose tweet of the news received 1.5 million views. “Blocking off the Bellagio fountains and Mirage volcano were other terrible decisions. Extorting money from restaurants along the route,” in return for less-than-impeded views, “was also awful and papering the glass on pedestrian walkways is another gaffe, seemingly specifically pointed at visitors and locals (if you don't pay, you don't get to enjoy our magnificence).”
Is it worth it?
Some advise Las Vegans to grin and bear it. Said Aguero to a TV reporter, “The only real piece of our visitor business that has not rebounded as much as we would like is the international visitation. I think we are entirely underestimating the important side of that
from our economic standpoint.” Whether Formula One represents a lasting or even quick fix to that problem remains to be seen. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase your destination to a wide international audience,” argues Wesley Lucas, communications director for Visit Austin. “It’s a commercial for Vegas. We take a lot of pride in showing off our city and welcoming visitors Volume 19: Issue 160
©️ 2022 Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool. All rights reserved.
©️ 2021 Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team. All rights reserved.
from all over the world to [Austin] and showcasing our businesses, and our live music venues. Everyone in the community benefits from this race.” Scratch a Las Vegas resident and you’re likely to get a heated argument about that. At this point, Wall Street is saying the Las Vegas Grand Prix will generate at least double the revenue of an average midNovember weekend—admittedly one of the slowest periods of the year. A great deal of money will be made, make no mistake. But when compared to the arguably inflated expectations of event promoters, it’s coming down to a question of the glass half-full or half empty. Doing as well as a Super Bowl won’t be nearly enough. If the actual economic impact is simply comparable to that in Miami or Austin, the Grand Prix will be viewed as a flop or at best a sucess d'estime. Either way, if you live in Sin City, the glass’ flavor is a bitter one. 43
Feature: Legislation Report
Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkmenistan
The attitude towards gambling and games of chance in general is quite diverse in Malaysia, bearing in mind the
ethical and religious diversity of the country, in which Muslims are the dominant religious group. Gambling is quite popular in the territory. Even certain forms of games of chance such as lotteries, horse racing and casino games are legal, while any kind of sports betting or online gambling is prohibited. Games of chance in the territory are governed by four main laws, the Betting Act from 1953, the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953, the Racing Act from 1961 and Sharia law (applicable only to the Muslim population). Currently in the country there are six (private) lottery operators, three horse racing tracks and only one land-based casino/resort. All of these are off limits for the Muslim population and persons under the age of 21. Operators may organize the games of chance in the territory only if a license or permit has been granted by the authorities: the Unit Kawalan Perjudian (Betting Control Unit) of the Ministry of Finance. Notwithstanding the fact that legislation is outdated 46
and that online gambling is illegal in the territory, this market is quite developed since the population is
mostly young and highly skilled in new technologies. All major, online gambling sites operate and accept wagers from the players in Malaysia. At the same time, the government is using all available tools to thwart access to these web sites by IP and payment blockage—or even arrests, which occurred in the beginning of 2023. The Malaysian government announced in 2021 that it will begin working on a new legislative framework, one which would address the status and development of the industry. However it remains to be seen what the future approach towards games of chance in general, and even more specifically, online gambling will be. Bear in mind that there will be the kind of political changes such as those which occurred after the elections in late 2022. At that time, conservative political options won the majority vote as well as the country’s dual-system of law – the Sharia-governed Syariah Courts for the nation’s Muslims (over half of the total population) and the secular courts. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: Legislation Report
Bearing in mind that the majority
of its huge population (over 200 million people) is Muslim, all forms of gambling in Indonesia are illegal as prescribed under the Sharia law. Therefore there are no operators nor any establishments of games of chance in the territory. Given the accessibility of online games of chance (which are illegal in the territory but very popular amongst the population), the country’s police and other law enforcement agencies put in considerable effort to prevent them. These attempts go beyond the usual blockage of websites and can even expand to searches of private mobile phones by the authorities. Most recently, the government announced that it will work with telecommunications providers to identify and block promotion of games of chance. It
aims to block gambling-related web sites and social media posts within 24 hours of their being discovered. At this point in time there are no indications that the approach of the authorities will change. Thus it is to be expected that technological development will be used for prevention of gambling in the territory.
In comparison to other central Asian countries with Muslim populations, Turkmenistan has a somewhat liberal view of games of chance in the territory. Casinos are legal in
Turkmenistan since 1999, according to the Law on Licensing of Some Types of Activity (as amended), which is the main piece of gambling legislation. Nonetheless, due to economic reasons, the gambling sector in the country is not that developed. All forms of Internet gambling are officially illegal in Turkmenistan since 2016 under the provisions of the Law on Advertising. However, all global online operators provide their services in the territory since the enforcement of IP blockage is not that efficient, and is currently focused on other forms of online activities and publications. Also, based on
publicly available information from 2022, less than 50 percent of the population had Internet access, which in a way simplifies the work for the authorities. Notwithstanding this, players are currently not prosecuted for playing on international (unlicensed) gambling websites.
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 19: Issue 161
SPORTS BETTING OPERATOR Sports Betting Operator provides technology features, news and new product information, keeping online gambling companies up to date with the fastest growing gambling sector in the world
A highly regarded team of Internationally experienced journalists, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge in online and land-based gaming involving, legislation, e-commerce, responsible gambling along with the latest online operating systems and solutions. www.sportsbettingoperator.com
Feature: Raymond Chan
Navigating the Funding Landscape for New Ideas By Raymond Chan
n the vibrant world of startups and entrepreneurship, one of the most critical yet complex aspects is securing funding. The journey from ideation to realization involves a multitude of steps, but the common denominator that often determines the feasibility and speed of this journey is financing. Understanding the various sources of capital, how to approach them, their expectations and how to negotiate effectively are fundamental to a startup's success.
Understanding Funding Sources
Whether you are just starting or are ready to scale your business, there are multiple funding sources available. Each comes with its own set of advantages, expectations and potential drawbacks. 1. Bootstrapping: This involves funding your startup using your personal savings or revenue from the business. It requires a lean operation, and careful budgeting but offers the advantage of retaining total control and ownership of your business.
2. Angel Investors: These are individuals who provide capital in exchange for equity or convertible debt. They often bring industry expertise and valuable networks. However, they expect a return on their investment and may want to have a say in business decisions. 3. Venture Capitalists (VCs): These are firms that invest in startups and small businesses with high growth potential. They provide substantial funding, but in exchange they usually require equity and a seat on the board, influencing the company's strategic direction. 4. Crowdfunding: This is a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers and individual investors. This approach Volume 19: Issue 161
taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals—primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms—and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure. 5. Government Grants and Loans: Many governments offer programs that provide startups with grants and loans. These are typically tied to specific industries or business goals and usually do not require giving up equity. 49
Feature: Raymond Chan
Approaching potential investors needs more than just
a solid business plan. It requires a compelling narrative that demonstrates your passion, showcases the potential of your idea,and highlights your team's ability to execute. However, many startup founders are doing it in an ineffective way. Assembling the wisdom of Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple evangelist and venture capitalist who worked for Steve Jobs for over 20 years, we can learn from him to avoid some common pitfalls in the process: 1. Big Numbers and Small Percentages: Avoid projecting your business' success on the assumption that it's easy to capture one percent of a massive market. Instead, calculate from the bottom up, figuring out how many people you can realistically attract and convert. 2. Overemphasis on the Pitch: Don’t focus excessively on your pitch and raising money. Instead, create a compelling prototype of your product or service. This is more valuable than a thousand PowerPoint presentations. 3. Excessive Use of Slides: When presenting your idea, adhere to the 10-20-30 rule — 10 points in 20 minutes, using 30-point fonts. This approach keeps your presentation concise and engaging. 4. Proceeding Serially: Don't plan your business operations in a serial manner: First raise money, then hire a team, then get sales, then go public. Life and business are parallel — raising money, hiring, selling and supporting should all happen simultaneously. 5. Obsession with Control: Avoid focusing on retaining complete control of your company. It's better to own a smaller percentage of a successful company rather than a majority of a failing one. 6. Relying on Patents for Defensibility: While patents may impress some investors, they won't win a lawsuit against major tech companies. Instead, use success for defensibility — scale makes you defensible. 7. Hiring Like-Minded People: Diversity is critical in a startup. Hire to complement your skills and perspectives, not to mirror them. 50
ABOUT RAYMOND CHAN Raymond is a software engineer by profession with a track record in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. He co-founded two prosperous startups, TGG Interactive and Global Gaming Group in Asia, where he served as director and CEO to lead the customer intelligence and electronic gaming businesses from 2007 to 2018. Earlier in his career, Raymond was a founding member of the business intelligence team at E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley and played a pivotal role in designing the TiVo customer intelligence system in Silicon Valley. 8. Befriending Investors: While maintaining a cordial relationship with investors is beneficial, remember the primary goal is business. The key to maintaining a good relationship is to consistently exceed expectations.
By understanding these potential pitfalls identified by entrepreneur experts, you can significantly bolster your chances of successfully securing funding.
Navigating the funding landscape can be challenging but, with a comprehensive understanding of the available funding sources, a clear strategy for approaching investors and strong negotiation skills for terms (a topic we will delve into in the future), you can successfully raise the capital you need. Remember, the goal is not just to secure funding but also to build lasting relationships with investors who can provide valuable guidance, resources and networks to help your startup thrive. www.casinolifemagazine.com
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The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos
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