Casino Life Issue 166 Volume 20

Page 1

The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos

Volume 20: Issue 166


The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos

Published by Outsource Digital Media Ltd

Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714


Editor in Chief : David McKee

Editor EMEA: Damien Connelly

Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey

Victor H. Royer

International Features Editor

Associate Editor EMEA: Andrew Behan

Las Vegas Correspondent: Ryan Slattery

International Correspondent: Lyudmyla Kyrychenko lyudmyla.kyrychenko@outsource


Designer: Stewart Hyde

Accounts: Helen Holmes

IT Director: Pasha Kuzminskiy


Out, damned spot! Out, they say.

“They” would be Las Vegas casino executives — and now tribal ones as well —witnessing the ever-widening blot of a high-profile money-laundering scandal. What initially seemed confined to a pair of MGM Resorts International casinos and largely resolved has now spread to Resorts World Las Vegas and to Pechanga Resort Casino in California.

In brief, interpreter Ippei Mizuhara embezzled $16 million from his employer, baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani. Covering his bets (as it were), Bowyer laid some of those stolen greenbacks at both Resorts World and Pechanga. Being no better a gambler than the inept Mizuhara was, Bowyer lost $7.9 million at Resorts World alone.

The mere optics are tremendously bad. Bowyer was a frequent guest of Resorts World, according to ESPN, in addition to being an illegal bookie back in California. If his hosts at Pechanga and Resorts World knew (or even suspected) the source of his lucre and chose to turn a blind eye, at least one of those casinos will assuredly be facing a fine.

If this saga comes with a hefty dose of déja vu, it should. The Bowyer matter is subsequent but very similar to that of Wayne Nix, wannabe professional baseball player turned bookie to the stars. MGM Grand then-president Scott Sibella knew how Nix made his millions but pretended otherwise, in order that the money could be gambled on MGM’s green felt. Then, washed and drip-dried, it went back out into the ecosystem. And guess where Sibella went after MGM? If you said, “Resorts World,” collect a prize.

A recent column by our friend I. Nelson Rose, the leading expert on gaming law in the world, opined that MGM and Resorts World (and Pechanga) were “dragged” into the Mizuhara/Bowyer scandal. I beg respectfully to differ. The evidence to date shows that the casinos in question were happy to jump in with both feet. It may provide to be a decision made in haste only to be repented at leisure — and some expense.

Fortunately, having slept through the Sibella scandal, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is now awake and showing signs of proactivity. It’s too soon to say what action, if any, they’ll take regarding Bowyer but they’ve moved to rescind Sibella’s gaming license. It’s a good start.

On a happier note, if you’ve got a little downtime, check out our YouTube channel ( casinolifesportsbettingope8253), replete with interviews with gaming’s newsmakers. In the latest edition, Publisher Peter White conducts a halfhour interview with Casinos Austria CEO Erwin van Lambaart, who we thank for his time. We’re sure you’ll find it (and others like it) fascinating to watch and hear. As they say in Italy, Buon ascolto.

Volume 20: Issue 166 3 Editor’s Note
14 6 39 36 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. Contents 3 Editor’s Note by David McKee 6 Aiming for the Elite A bigger, better Graton Resort & Casino relies upon new technological initiatives by David McKee 14 Close to the Action M Resort has its finger on the pulse of Sin City by Ryan Slattery 22 Hi-ho, Silverton! In Las Vegas, the Silverton Casino Lodge goes cowboy chic by Ryan Slattery 28 When Even Money is Not an Even Proposition The pros and cons of insurance bets by Al O’Grady 32 May You Live in Interesting Times Casino consultant Sami Siltanen on the challenges currently facing the European casino industry by Peter White 36 New Regulations in Georgia The challenges that that new tax reform puts before the whole industry 39 Hippodrome, Here We Come Richard Marcus’ Global Tame Games & Game Protection conference arrives in London by Peter White 45 The Future of Generative AI A future so bright we need sunglasses … and wisdom By Raymond Chan 32 22 4


B E C O M E O U R P A R T N E R T O O !
F 1 X B E T
Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino 6

Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino

Aiming for the elite

A bigger, better Graton Resort & Casino relies upon new technological initiatives. By David

7 Volume 20: Issue 166

California’s Graton Resort & Casino was two decades in the making. The tribal casino, near Rohnert Park in California’s wine country, opened on November 15, 2013. But the road to that debut was a long and winding one. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria originally aimed to build on Sears Point. However, environmental and traffic concerns caused them to fall back on the Rohnert Park area, where civic leaders backed the tribe’s play.

After one more site move, Graton had found its future home. Ministering angel Station Casinos plunked down $76 million for the requisite land. Getting it taken into trust took from May 2008 to October 2010. Negotiations with then-Gov. Jerry Brown required another year and a half. Construction finally began in June 2012, at a cost of $825 million, then a record for a tribal casino.

The rancheria worked hand in glove with Station

until 2021, whereupon Graton took over sole operation of the property. It has subsequently been under the helmsmanship of General Manager Brian Green, a Station veteran whose latest accomplishment was to switch the resort over to cashless operation — no small feat. He discussed that and other Graton-facing topics this month with Casino Life. Our conversation has been edited for clarity.

Congratulations on 10 years of operation, as of last November. What do you consider the signal accomplishments of that decade?

The continued growth of the casino, and being able to continue to give back to the community and the tribe. The casino looks like it did Day One. It continues to operate at high volumes. Giving the wine country people a place to enjoy themselves is what we love to do. 8
Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino

It took another 10 years just to get Graton Resort & Casino situated and built. Was the lengthy process worthwhile, in retrospect?

I’m sure if we talked to the tribe they would say absolutely, 1,000 percent worthwhile. We all wish it would have been approved immediately but you’ve got to go through everything that’s necessary to take the proper steps to get to where we are today.

How was your relationship with Station Casinos? Was the transition to tribal management seamless?

I actually came from Station Casinos. I worked with Station for over 20 years. The tribe asked me to stay on, so I would say the relationship was good and seamless.

What would you say are the greatest corporateculture similarities between what you’re doing

now and at Station, and what were the greatest adjustments you had to make?

That’s a tough question to answer. Similarities are Station built the infrastructure. They put in the policies and procedures. They helped develop the team here, so we’ve maintained that. The difference would be it’s easier to get things done because you’re going directly to the owner now instead of through a management company.

What are your primary feeder markets?

The Sonoma County area as well as the entire Bay Area. We have a large number of people coming from the East Bay, North Bay, San Francisco and South Bay.

What are your player demographics like? Do you draw from across the board?

We are kind of all all over the place. We’ve got a large Asian demographic. There’s a large Caucasian demographic but we all over the board.

Do you still have 3,000 slot machines and 144 table games?

We have over 130 table games. we’re currently sitting at around 3,300 slot machines.

Which games and machines are the most popular? It just depends on what the player’s favorite is. We have some of the great IGT games like Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks. We have Prosperity Link from IGT as well. Then you have the tried-and-true Dragon Links from Aristocrat. You name it, everybody has their favorites, so it’s just a matter of the players.

Which new products are trending particularly well on your new floor?

There’s always a new product out there. The newest IGT product that we have on the floor, in their newest cabinet, is performing well. Players vote by their dollar, right? If they continue to put money in, we’ll keep it on the floor. If they stop putting money in, then we have to look to change it out to get something that they want to play. I would say that we have quite a few games that are out there today that continue to evolve.

Let’s segue into cashless gambling. Was it difficult to incept Fast Funds? Fast Funds and our IGT Pay resort wallet were all

9 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino

brought in together as one, and introducing our Graton app as well. Difficult? I would say yes. It’s something new. If you’re doing to introduce something new and you’re going to be out there in front, you’ve got to work through all the legalities of it, all the intricacies and making sure your network is set up, as well as the machines being able to accept the connectivity. In that way it was difficult. In other ways it was easy. Jacob Tanning of IGT was with us every step of the way, helping guide us, helping us understand what coming and asked questions to get it to where we wanted to be, together as partners.

So you’re describing a three-pronged cashless initiative. Could you go into a little more detail about the products involved?

The traditional resort wallet is where everything lives. So if I just launched “resort wallet,” you’d be able to go to the cage, load money onto the wallet, go to the games and just upload it to the game play. If you won, download it to your wallet. We not only instituted that, we instituted IGT Pay, where you can fund your wallet via your credit card, your bank account, so you can fund it so you don’t have to get up and go to an ATM. You can push money back to your account as well. We also instituted cashless credit and carded credit — not traditional credit where you would have to go fill out a

credit application and wait eight hours to 24 hours to get approved. It’s instantaneous and you’re in action within five minutes.

How has player adoption been?

We continue to see player adoption grow. As with any new product, it’s going to take time, as we evolve and continue to push the product. What we’re seeing … would we want to see more? Absolutely. So we’ll continue to fine-tune and listen to our players to make it easier, and more functional for them to use.

Why did you take this step?

The world’s going cashless, right? I go to the grocery store and I forget my wallet, well, guess one thing that you never forget? Your phone, right? You never leave home without it. If you have your smart phone you can just use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay, whatever it is. Tap and you’re done. You’ve paid your bill and can go on. So how do you bring that to the casino industry? We’ve decided to partner with IGT, who’s been in the cashless business for a while and integrate with our system, which is IGT as well. We’re in the Bay Area, right? We’re tech-heavy in the Bay Area, so we thought adoption would be greater in the Bay Area than in other areas. 10 Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino

And has it?

I’m excited with what our adoption is. Like I said, it continues to grow. People really don’t share their numbers out there on what cashless is doing but I will tell you, I think we’re happy with the direction that we’re in.

How do the costs compare to cash management?

Moving cash is a pretty expensive deal. You have to pay an armored-truck company to deliver cash. You pay team members to count the cash, to put it out in ATMs. You’ve got all that labor there. You also have bill validators and count teams to drop the money, count it. So there’s a lot of money in moving cash. As well, when they’re cashing out they go to the cage or an ATM and it’s just a cycle there. When you go cashless you don’t have that. You don’t have the wear and tear on the games. You don’t have the wear and tear on the people doing it. So you can move those people into other areas where they can better service guests. It’s a greater convenience for both the player and the casino.

What other benefits does it have?

Security. Think about Grandma going to the casino. I just hit a jackpot for $3,000 and I’m walking out of the casino, right? There’s an opportunity for someone to do something negative. If it’s cashless there’s no way they’re getting it. They move it to their bank accounts instead. So security is a huge advantage.

What advice would you give to casinos that are currently considering this step?

Plan it out. It’s not going to happen overnight. Talk to your system provider. Talk to other operators that have gone cashless. Then just continue to focus on moving forward. Again, it takes time. It’s not a quick process. I think when Jacob and I first started talking about it, it was probably at least a year if not a year and a half out, and we thought the quickest we could get it implemented was four months. It took a lot longer than four months! There’s a lot of things to go through. You have to think through the regulations that you have to cross off, the training of the team members, the technology that has to go into place with lead times. There’s a lot that goes into it.

What other changes to Graton Resort are on tap?

We’re currently under construction. We’re nearing

completion of our new, 1,800-space parking garage. That is to enable us to expand the casino, so the casino will expand to over 625,000-ish square feet of space and we will have another 3,000 games out there on the floor. We have a new Starbucks going in, a new sports bar, a rooftop restaurant, a new high-limit room. And after that we’re going to expand our hotel and add another 225 rooms. Once that’s done we will add a showroom.

11 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino
Brian Green, General Manager, Graton Resort

Subscribe today via YouTube

Get Into Casino Life & Sports Betting Operator TV and gain insights from Presidents, CEO’s, Owners and Senior Management at the World’s Leading Resort Casino and Sports Book Operators along with latest developments from manufactures and Suppliers along with Gaming Equipment and Systems providers from Senior representatives at select number of leading organisations in the Global Gaming Industry.

out the latest YouTube TV Interview here

How robust is your entertainment program?

We’ve got a pretty solid entertainment program. Actually, this weekend we have Lea Salonga coming in for a concert. We’ve had Nikki Glaser recently. We’ve had Kevin Hart here. We had Don Felder two weeks ago. We continue to have great acts. Willie Nelson’s been here a couple of times. Jo Koy’s been here every year for the last three years. We continue to bring more and more entertainment to the area.

What is your resort infrastructure like?

We currently sit on 325,000 square feet. We have have a hotel with 200 rooms and we employ over 2,300 people. We have a high-limit slot space, highlimit table games, a 20-table poker room, four large restaurants, as well as a seven-pocket food court.

Do you charge resort fees and what is your philosophy on them?

We do charge resort fees. But with our resort fees you not only get Internet and everything else, you also get access to use our spa.

Where do you stand on smoking in the casino?

We are currently smoking. We do have a large, non-

smoking space where you can enter and exit without ever having to go into a smoking section. I’m all about player preference. I am not a smoker, nor will I ever become a smoker. Our expansion, we’re planning to go non-smoking. But the current casino will remain smoking and we have a large number of players that enjoy smoking.

What about sports betting? Which approach do you favor toward California legalization, if any? I’m all about the tribes offering and managing sports betting on-premise. Our tribe wants to get with the other tribes, and continue to focus to keep their tribal sovereignty and maintain gaming.

What are your goals for Graton’s future?

I want to continue to grow and help the property continue the business volumes that we see today, and enhance them. But I also want to give back to the team and the community, and help the team become the elite property of California and of the whole U.S. We want to be Number One. We want this to be the place where people want to come to work, to have fun and we want to offer great service at a great value to our guests.

13 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: The Graton Resort & Casino 14 Feature: M Resort

Close to the Action

M Resort may be the Las Vegas casino nearest to California but it’s got its finger on the pulse of Sin City By Ryan Slattery

Feature: M Resort 15 Volume 20: Issue 166

Located 10 miles south of the Las Vegas Strip, M Resort Spa Casino is the first property people see on the drive in from California. It opened March 1, 2009 but growth in the area with the addition of training facilities for the Las Vegas Raiders and Las Vegas Aces has led the property outgrowing its small footprint.

Last December, Penn Entertainment, which owns the property, announced it was embarking on a $206 million project. It will construct a new tower that will add 384 rooms, doubling M’s size and bringing its

total capacity to 774 rooms and suites. Casino Life spoke with Penn’s vice president and general manager of M Resort, Hussain Mahrous, to find out more about the project.

Demand has exceeding capacity for years. To what do you attribute the interest in the property?

M Resort has always been a fantastic destination for social and corporate groups to host their functions. And the best part about that is, when they come and experience our amenities, and our ability to provide 16
Feature: M Resort

a Las Vegas experience without the drawbacks of staying center-Strip, they want to keep coming back. As those companies grow, the necessity for augmenting capacity grows with it. Secondarily, there is no doubt that our Raiders partnership and relationship with the Foley Sports Group has also helped drive demand.

Why is it time to reinvest in the property?

The process of investing $206 million into the property, as you can imagine, is one that requires a lot

of due diligence, analysis and commitment. This has been something that has been, since 2015, diligently researched. It is the duty of the property to foster good relationships with our partners and community to ensure we invest at the right time with the right growth of the market.

What does the project entail? When will the expansion be completed?

It is expected to be completed in early 2026. With the completion of the second tower, we’re looking at an additional 375 rooms, including 21 suites and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

Moving forward what can we expect from M Resort?

One key to our success has been our ability to host conventions and business meetings with great customer service. As we complete the second hotel tower, we have two main strategy objectives. The first

17 Volume 20: Issue 166
Feature: M Resort
Hussain Mahrous, General Manager, M Resort

is to offer new and interesting partnerships that further connect us with the diverse audiences and ultimately, our community. The second is making sure our onproperty amenities — such as entertainment, and food and beverage — are expanded, and ready for the higher volume that the new tower will bring.

As the city spreads outwards, what do you envision the future of this once-remote area south of the Strip?

I moved here in 2016 and, in the last eight years, the growth of West Henderson has been incredible. I foresee that this area will continue to grow and expand, and continue to prove that it is not only a fantastic destination for businesses to settle. It is also a growing and thriving community for families.

Sports fans want to be close to the action. How have your sports partnerships — specifically with the Raiders and the proximity to their practice facility – helped grow interest in the resort? The best part about our relationships with the Raiders and Silver Knights is that they are true partnerships. There are many partnerships that revolve solely around branding and advertisements, but our partnerships activate the sports experience on property. At any

given moment, you may run into players or coaches on property. The Raiders stay here the night before home games, they host events. We are proud to be the home of the only officially licensed Raiders restaurant in the world. Between the Raiders Tavern & Grill and the Knight Time Hockey Bar, patrons can have a more hands-on experience outside of the stadium at M Resort.

Tell us a little about the partnership with the Raiders. What types of events and activities do you have at the resort?

As mentioned before, it is through our relationship with the Raiders that we built Raiders Tavern & Grill. We have also had the opportunity to grow relationships with Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff and Charles Woodson, and current Raiders defensive end, Maxx Crosby. We carry Biletnikoff Wine, Woodson Whiskey, and Intercept Wines on the menus at several of our restaurants and we recently rolled out the Madd Maxx Burger at Raiders Tavern & Grill, as created by Maxx Crosby. Through these relationships we have also been able to host multiple meet-and-greet events with Biletnikoff, Woodson, and Crosby here on property. And it’s not just our partnership with the Raiders that affords us opportunities like these. We’ve 18
Feature: M Resort

also had the opportunity to leverage our relationship with the Knights, hosting meet-and-greets with Deryk Engelland and Shea Theodore, and receiving endorsements of the Knight Time Hockey Bar from each.

The Raiders Tavern & Grill is a popular spot. Tell us about it and explain what the atmosphere is like during the season?

When we built Raiders Tavern & Grill, we wanted to accomplish two main things: atmosphere with lots of game-day energy and a place without a bad seat in the house. The Tavern has more than 45 HDTVs, inside and outside of the restaurant, with patio seating and a good view of the game from every angle. We also have a Raiders gift shop inside the restaurant where patrons can shop after stopping in to enjoy a meal. During the season, the energy is high and the restaurant is packed with fans sporting their silver and black.

You are adding convention space as well. How do you plan to utilize it and what type of conventions are you looking to attract?

We’re fortunate, based on the service level of our property, that we attract groups all over the United States and Canada. We’ve done tech conventions,

Volume 20: Issue 166 19
Feature: M Resort

retail, automotive, health care, sales and the list goes on. Our door is wide open to any industry or sector out there. And regardless of the industry, we hope they will find a home here at M Resort.

You’ve added 24 Superchargers for the drive-in market, can you explain how that came about? As the prevalence of electric vehicles grows and Tesla continues to expand its footprint across the US, we had a wonderful opportunity to partner with them to bring, in our opinion, a much-needed supercharging station to the Southern Highlands/West Henderson area. From our perspective, it’s just another excellent amenity and reason for our guests to visit the property, with the added benefit of charging while here.

Do you have any new restaurant or entertainment plans?

Since 2016, M has really expanded its entertainment offering. Not only have we had some fabulous acts at the pool like Martina McBride, Nelly, Bush, and Kesha, but we’ve enhanced on-property entertainment with the addition of Dueling Pianos and comedians like Marlon Wayans, Jeff Ross, and Rob Schneider. And we’re very excited to continue that. We’ll be announcing our summer lineup shortly and we’re excited to confirm that it will include Ice Cube performing on stage at M Pool later this year. As far as restaurants go, we are diligently pursuing new ideas.

Last year we added Jayde 16, a rooftop Asian fusion restaurant with sushi and specialty cocktails, and more. We are very much looking forward to what the next 12 months will bring. 20
Feature: M Resort

Hi-ho, Silverton!

In Las Vegas, the Silverton Casino Lodge goes cowboy chic. By Ryan Slattery

Lodge life has come to Las Vegas. The Silverton Casino Lodge’s recent, $40 million renovation brings a Wild West vibe to the popular off-Strip property — a favorite gambling hall for locals and visitors who enjoy the outdoors.

The Silverton, located on Blue Diamond Road just six miles from the Strip, has had a solid following since its opening in 1994. A complete refresh of the 300room, boutique hotel in a cowboy glam-style is bringing some new excitement to the property. Executives say they saw an opportunity to get creative and reinvent the property in the spirit of rustic elegance.

The Silverton has a decent-size casino footprint of 90,000 square feet of gaming. It also has a 117,000-gallon, saltwater aquarium with hundreds of sharks, stingrays and tropical fish, plus daily mermaid swims and, is home to a flagship Bass Pro Shops

Outdoor World.

In addition to the renovated rooms, the Silverton refreshed the pool deck, completely overhauled the sports book, and extended the hours of the Sundance Café to a 24-hour-a-day format. To learn more about what’s happening at the Silverton, Casino Life spoke to Rob Kunkle, the president of the property. Here’s what he told us …

You just completed a major $40 million room renovation. What led to the refresh of the guest rooms?

Having just celebrated our 25th anniversary, our guest rooms were ready for a refresh. We took it one step further, however, and completely renovated the hotel. We closed the hotel temporarily and took the rooms back to the studs — it was like building a new hotel in many ways. It was definitely an ambitious project.


It’s a very unique design that’s been called cowboy glam. Can you explain?

Our guests have always embraced the ‘rustic luxe’ lodge theme of Silverton Casino. So it made sense to continue that into our renovated guest rooms. Overall, cowboy-glam design blends the rugged charm of the Wild West with the sophistication of upscale decor, creating a unique and visually striking style.

The Silverton room designs were inspired by the company’s award-winning sister property, Hotel Drover, in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. How did the Drover come into play when redesigning the rooms?

As we embarked on the planning stage, we had just opened Hotel Drover, the cornerstone of our Fort Worth Stockyards redevelopment. What we did there was really redefine the ‘look and feel’ of a modern cowboy theme with the hotel’s curated art, crafted fixtures, and custom furnishings. Hotel Drover opened to glowing reviews and was even named the best hotel in North Texas by Travel + Leisure magazine. With Silverton’s lodge theme, it seemed appropriate to take design inspiration from its Fort Worth sibling. Just like Hotel Drover, the Silverton designs include rich details with intentional and eye-catching touch points.

The décor has three distinct collections (cowboy kitsch, rustic modern and refined lodge). What are the unique eye-catching aspects of each?

The remodeled hotel features 300 rustic-luxe guest rooms and suites, including three distinct ‘design stories,’ each with its own curated style, decor, and spirit that transports guests into a unique experience during every visit. The Cowboy Kitsch Collection features a quirky blend of rustic chic with tasteful modern accents. The Rustic Modern Collection features natural, age and weathered furnishings with the sense of natural warmth of the outdoors, and the Refined Lodge Collection features rooms inspired by the elegant Rockies glam design, and by the legendary cattle baron’s homes found in the West.

The Silverton is slightly off-Strip. Who is your ideal clientele?

We are a bit of a hybrid casino. We are certainly embraced by locals — especially those living in the growing Mountain’s Edge community. But because of our location off the highway, and our attractions like

the Aquarium and Bass Pro Shop, we attract a lot of visitors to Las Vegas as well. With the reopening of the hotel and its boutique-style experience, we expect to attract yet another type of traveler who is looking for such an experience in Las Vegas.

The pool — now called The Swimming Hole — got a refresh as well. The name is playful. Can you tell me about the remodel and the amenities, and also the events you’ll be hosting there —sports, movies, and other entertainment we can expect this summer? We took the same approach with the pool that we took with the hotel. We tore out what we had and started

23 Volume 20: Issue 166
Rob Kunkle, President, SIlverton Feature:
Silverton Casino Lodge

fresh. This turned into a $10 million project, creating a gem of a pool experience for our guests, complete with cabañas, a new pool bar and even fire pits, perfect for chilly desert evenings.

How has the Bass Pro Shops partnership figured into what you do on property?

More than one million people visit Bass Pro Las Vegas every year. Bass Pro is a unique brand and their stores attract dedicated outdoor-lifestyle enthusiasts. The lodge theme of Silverton complements the Bass Pro experience and vice versa.

You also cater heavily as a gambling hall to locals. What do you do to attract them?

We love our locals, especially those who call Silverton their home casino. You see that enthusiasm play out every year when the ‘Best of Las Vegas’ awards come out from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Last year, we won in 16 categories — a record for us.

You also introduced some new experiences. What is Wine Time?

Wine Time is our new wine-tasting program. Upon check-in, guests are invited to the Mermaid Lounge 24 Feature: Silverton Casino Lodge

that evening for a self-guided wine tasting. We feature three vintages every night, giving an opportunity to try something new.

And also Social Hour at Twin Creeks. What can guests expect there?

At Twin Creeks Steakhouse we chose to elevate the happy hour experience with a special menu and cocktails from 4 to 6 p.m.

Sundance Café is now 24 hours. What led to the change?

We had shortened the hours of Sundance Café after our Covid break and had yet to return to the 24-hour-aday format. With the reopening of the hotel it was time to bring 24-hour dining back into the mix.

The fish tank on property is iconic. I always see young kids and adults in awe of it. What makes it so special and how does the Mermaid Swim appearance play into that?

The Aquarium is a special part of the Silverton experience. Most people don’t realize it’s 117,000 gallons. That’s quite a big home to our thousands of fish. But it’s the resident mermaids that get most of the

attention. Their daily appearances add a quirky element to Silverton, for sure. And they say it is good luck to spot a mermaid … something very helpful in a casino!

The sports book has been remodeled as well. What was done there?

We teamed up with Derek Stevens and the Circa Sports team, to renovate the sports book. The 1,600-square-foot space is located right next to the parking garage for ease of access. We added a huge Daktronics screen that can be configured to show games from all major sports leagues and other streaming services. We have three betting windows

Volume 20: Issue 166 25 Feature: Silverton Casino Lodge
website: Nov 18-20 2024 Global Table Games and Game Protec tion Conference - - Europe - Richard MarcusGC/GGPC “A Brand New Casino Operations Learning Experience comes to Europe”

and three self-service betting kiosks. We surrounded that with lounge chairs and tables, offering the best seats in the house to watch sports.

You have a number of restaurants on property. Can we expect any new ones or changes to the existing dining options?

Our restaurants are a very important part of the Silverton experience. We continue to make adjustments based on feedback from our guests. For instance, this year we took a fresh look at all of our restaurant menus and revised each of them.

Shady Groove Lounge has become famous for its themed pop-ups. From Bad Elf to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, what makes these pop-ups fun to plan and bring to guests?

With the pop-up strategy, we have made the bar a destination. It also gives the casino a seasonal vibe — something new for our guests throughout the year. We also have the Cider Fest pop-up coming in September and October.

For more information, visit

Volume 20: Issue 166 27 Feature: Silverton Casino Lodge

When Even Money is Not an Even Proposition

ere is a scenario that will eventually present itself to all blackjack players over the course of time. You are dealt a blackjack but the dealer’s up card is also an ace. The dealer offers insurance to all players. What do you do? You can take the insurance but this is an even-money proposition. Let’s keep the math simple and assume you are betting $10. An insurance bet will cost you one half of your original wager and will get you 2:1. So in this example, the insurance bet would cost you $5. If the dealer has a blackjack, the $5 insurance bet would get you $10 and your original wager would “push.” Net result, you win $10.

HIf you take the $5 insurance bet and the dealer does not have blackjack, you lose the $5 insurance bet but your original wager is paid 3:2. So you would win $15 on your original bet but you lose the $5 insurance bet. So again, your net result is that you win $10. This is an even-money proposition, so to keep things simple and to make the game go a little faster and more efficiently, the casino will allow you to just ask the dealer for even money. The dealer pays your original wager even money and the game goes on.

But is the even-money bet truly an even money offer? There is another option. You can forego the even-money offer and hope the dealer does not have

Feature: Al O'Grady 28

blackjack. In that case, you would get 3:2 on your original wager. In this example you would win $15, but the downside is that if the dealer does have a Blackjack, you original wager is a “push” and you get nothing, but you also lose nothing as well. Which option is better? Should you take even money or go for the 3:2 option?

I am going to give you the stereotypical, political, wishy-washy answer. It depends. Before I give you my thoughts what the player should do, let’s look at it from the casino’s perspective.

The house edge

Let’s face it. A casino is a business. It not only exists to make a profit, it will also do everything it can to maximize profit. Anytime a casino offers a bet of any kind, at any game, at any table, the casino has an edge. Trust me, the casino has done the math on everything. If it did not have an edge, it would not offer it, end of story.

This is one reason some players do not take even money. They have a contrarian viewpoint of the offer. They feel if the casino offers it, by definition it is at the detriment of the player, so they do not take it. This rationale does have some merit. However, I digress. I will look at it from the player’s perspective shortly, but it is important to understand where the casino is coming from.

Look at the chart (right). Let’s assume for a moment that the deck is perfectly balanced, meaning there is an equal chance that the dealer could have any card to go with their ace. There is an equal chance that he could have ace-three vs. ace-seven vs. ace-queen. Let’s also assume for simplicity that the player is making a $10 bet. Finally for Chart 1, let’s assume that the player takes even money all of the time. The chart shows how much the player wins in all cases.

This is a theoretical scenario. How often will you have a perfectly balanced shoe where there is an equal chance for each card to appear? Does that really happen? Obviously there are times when the deck will have a higher concentration of 10s and vice versa.

However …

But the pendulum swings both ways and if you dealt an infinite number of hands, the law of large numbers would work itself out and you would have an equal one-in-13 chance of each possibility occurring. You can see in Chart 1 that, for every 13 scenarios, the

casino would pay out a total of $130 or $10 per hand. The $10-per-hand outcome is incredibly obvious but I state that as a baseline for comparison for Chart 2.

Now let’s assume we have the same balanced shoe. The same $10 bet is made by the player, but the player passed on the even-money proposition and opted for the 3:2 payout.

As you can see, the casino would pay out $15 ($10 at 3:2) for each time the dealer has AA to A9 against the player’s blackjack, and would “push” every time the dealer would have a blackjack. As you approach infinity, each of the 13 possible dealer hands would happen equally. The net result is that the casino would pay out $135 for each 13 occurrences, or $10.38 per hand. When you compare the two charts, the house pays out less in the long run by offering even money. Since a casino always tries to maximize its profits, even money saves the casino $0.38 for each $10 bet that gets a blackjack.

Volume 20: Issue 166
CHART 1 Casino Pays Even Money Dealer’s Hand ....................... Player Wins AA........................................... 10 A2 10 A3 ............................................ 10 A4 ............................................ 10 A5 10 A6 ............................................ 10 A7 ............................................ 10 A8 ............................................ 10 A9 10 A10 .......................................... 10 AJ ............................................ 10 AQ 10 AK ........................................... 10 Total 130 Average win per hand ........ 130/13 = $10/hand

That may not sound like a lot but when you take into account that Vegas casinos offer blackjack 24/7, 365 days a year, that can add up substantially for the house.

For the math geeks, you do not even have to have a perfectly balanced shoe for these scenarios. You would only need a shoe having a 9:4 ratio of non-ten value cards (ace – nine) to 10 value cards (ten, jack, queen, king) for the same result to appear. Naturally, there will be times when the shoe will have a higher concentration of tens compared to non-tens, but the pendulum (again) swings both ways and the opposite will also be true. The law of large numbers will work itself out over time and casinos will see that 9:4 ratio and will realize a greater profit by offering even money.

Since the house can make a higher profit offering even money, it might seem obvious to do the opposite and play for the 3:2 win. Again, I get back to my stereotypical, political, wishy-washy answer. It depends. Remember, casinos operate 24-7, 365 days a year. Casinos encounter this situation constantly. How often do you play blackjack? Once a week? Once a month? Once every three months or less? The bottom line is this: The casino has the law of large numbers working in its favor, you do not. You simply do not play long enough to see this net result materialize.

On average, you will get a blackjack every 21 hands. If you are playing 80 hands per hour (this number fluctuates with the number of players at the table), you could be getting four blackjacks per hour. Assuming a balanced shoe, you will have a blackjack against a dealer’s ace four out of 13 times or a little less than one in three. That means you will have a blackjack against a dealer’s ace maybe once an hour. You simply do not have the law of large numbers working for you like the casino does.

Having said all of that, should I take even money? You have to ask yourself, what is your goal? Do you like a sure thing or do you like the action? Do you love the benefits of playing the long game and do you want the opportunity to squeeze every penny from the casino over your lifetime? It comes down to your goals and your risk preferences.

If you are a card counter and there is a low concentration of tens, you will opt for the 3:2. If you are more conservative, and you have a $500 goal and you are up $475 at a $25 table, take the even money. In the end, know yourself, know the risks and know CHART

the rewards and enjoy the ride – and don’t forget to tip the dealer.

Al O’Grady has been a blackjack dealer for over seven years. He is a freelance writer with an Economics degree and is currently pursuing a degree in Mathematics. 30 Feature: Al O'Grady
Player Opts for 3:2 payout Dealer’s Hand .................. Player Wins AA ...................................... 15 A2 15 A3 ........................................ 15 A4........................................ 15 A5 15 A6 ....................................... 15 A7 ........................................ 15 A8 ....................................... 15 A9 15 A10 ..................................... Push AJ ........................................ Push AQ Push AK....................................... Push Total
Casino payout 135 Average win per hand... 135/13 = 10.38 per hand

WORLD TOUR 2024-2025



May You Live in Interesting Times

Casino consultant Sami Siltanen holds forth on the challenges currently facing the European casino industry. By Peter White

arlier this month, Sweden’s government closed Casino Cosmopol, the culmination of a retrenchment away from brick-and-mortar gambling. Is there life for the conventional casino after Covid? Are esports truly the next big thing? And is regulation helping promote responsible gambling? For the answers to these and other questions, we turned to veteran consultant Sami Siltanen. A man with a quartercentury of experience in the industry, he’s now a gun for hire to casinos and companies looking for sage wisdom — some of which he shared with us.

ECan we commence with a brief summary of your career?

My career in the industry started in 1999, when I began as a dealer at a casino in Helsinki. Gambling was and is in my blood, and I turned to poker/betting professionally after four years. At the same time I did some affiliate work and founded an online casino in the early days, which was later sold.

I returned to Finland and the years 2011 to 2021 were spent working for the Finnish gambling monopoly RAY (later merged into Veikkaus). I was responsible for poker and table game products, both 32 Feature: Sami Siltanen

land-based and online. At that time, we had over 300 tables all over Finland, so it was quite hectic. Since 2021, I have been working on my first love, sports betting. First in Veikkaus in several different positions and for the last six months running the sports book at a very interesting crypto casino company, which gave me a lot of valuable experience in the modern world.

These 25 years have given me a lot and there hasn’t been a dull moment. I have seen the industry from many different perspectives and learned a lot on the way. This moment is actually the first for me in 25 years when there are no projects on my desk, and I can look at the world and possibilities with open eyes. If you need an experienced, versatile industry consultant, please get in touch.

Interaction in a leisure and entertainment environment remains a popular enticement for most patrons of land-based casinos. However, 2023 witnessed the closing of casinos in Sweden and Finland. Are there lessons to be learned from land-based casino closures that other operators should know about?

Rules and regulations for casino gambling have changed a lot in the modern world. Responsiblegambling policy is something that every land based or online casino needs to address. There are, however, differences in how countries and companies react to them. All these policies are quite strict in Sweden and Finland.

The state-owned companies Veikkaus and Svenska Spel have taken responsible gambling as their strength, and strive to be pioneers in responsible gambling. Strict rules and regulations with responsible-gambling policy have a significant impact on profitability. When you start counting business cases after this, you quickly start to understand why land-based casinos are being closed and gambling is moving more strongly online. Competitors in the online market do not make the situation any easier. They are certainly doing their part to move customers to the competitive online market away from brick-and-mortar monopoly casinos.

Lessons learned? There certainly are enough customers for land-based casinos in Finland and Sweden. But in the licensed market, where there are strict rules and regulations for marketing, betting limits, loss limits etc., and where responsibility plays a huge part, it is challenging to make a profitable

business. Marketing has been made practically impossible and people don't even know casinos exist. It is more profitable to move business and customers online.

How significant damage do you see unregulated bookmakers and online casinos cause to legitimate, tax-paying, land-based and online casinos in Europe as well as internationally? This is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, and its importance and impact is huge. How to organize a regulated gambling market where the business does not escape to the offshore market? How to take care of responsible gambling and regulate the market so that companies apply for licenses and customers are interested in playing on these rules and regulations? Currently, leakages to offshore occur in all licensing markets, and future markets look set to repeat the mistakes. If these mistakes are repeated, the leakage will not decrease, but on the contrary it will increase.

Feature: Sami Siltanen Volume 20: Issue 166 33

What are these mistakes? Regulation in its simplicity and its difficulty. If the starting point is to eliminate gambling problems and make gambling more responsible, the idea is beautiful and correct, but realistically it cannot be the only goal. Limiting playing with a heavy hand makes the statistics look good inside the regulated markets, but nothing is said about what happens in the offshore markets and how big the leakage is. The gap between the regulated and the unregulated market is huge in certain markets, in others it is just big. This, in its simplicity, is the reason why we are living now in the golden age of the unregulated market.

When playing is unreasonably restricted, the customer experience is weakened by removing essential features from games or making professional betting impossible. Customers move to play where the whole product is in good condition. Simply put, the law of supply and demand applies here. If you price your product out of the market, customers will move elsewhere. But in this case, it is not the company that does it, but the regulator.

I was at Sigma last year to listen to a panel discussion. In the panel, one of the big iGaming operators was asked, “Are you planning to acquire a license for a future unnamed market?” The answer was surprisingly direct. “Not under any circumstances with these restrictions. That would make no sense.”

We need to be able to build a balanced, regulated market that satisfies the regulator, the licensed companies and of course the customers. Currently, it has not been realistically implemented well anywhere. In today’s world, money-transfer bans, etc., are not a solution. The whole package must be in order. This requires a lot of discussion by experts in the industry, a lot of compromises, decisions by the correct people and cooperation between different license markets.

What is Finland’s approach to safer gambling in land-based and online gaming?

Finland plans introduce a new license system for online gambling in 2026. That's when the rules and regulations for safer gambling will be defined for everyone. In recent years, Veikkaus has taken great steps to improve responsible gambling in Finland with many different methods, such as bet and loss limits and guidelines as a pioneer in safer gambling. This sets the stage for discussion on the license market.

Both Finland and Sweden have been opening up over recent years legislation seeing major online casino and sports betting operators moving in, and being very successful. Do both these markets still represent opportunity for new entries?

Finland and Sweden have always been good market areas for gambling operations. I don’t see it going anywhere in the future. The key question is, how do they build and develop regulated markets? In Finland everyone is waiting for it, from the media to sports clubs, not to mention gambling operators.

Are their specific online sports betting and casino games that are more popular than others in Nordic countries?

It will come as a surprise to many how big ice hockey is in Finland. In betting, its popularity challenges even football. Compared to other markets, pool betting is popular in part because of its history in large monopoly markets. Trotting is especially popular in pool betting both in Finland and Sweden. Poker is a popular form of game in Finland in all forms, whether it is playing against others, as a table game or as a slot game.

Although Esports is a massive industry how come it’s so difficult for land-based esports gaming venues to make money?

Great question! In the past year, I have visited two large Counter-Strike 2 events in Denmark and Finland, and followed several events online. The atmosphere has been unbelievable and the stands are full. Spectators are mainly working young people over 18 who go to work and have money to spend on arena services or online. With the help of artificial intelligence, it is possible for sponsors to make their own ads visible, even inside the game, in addition to the visibility shown in the arena. The sport and the game enable exceptional marketing directly to the young target group at sporting events, and online.

I wonder myself, why sponsors can’t find these events. Could it still be partly ignorance and delusion about who is watching? Could it be the inexperience of the sales teams? Lack of references? Partly the reason is surely the marketing restrictions for gambling companies. Outside of gambling companies, the explanation might be the sponsors’ difficult financial situation.

Still, I would be highly interested as a sponsor at least to investigate what, where and when could be 34 Feature: Sami Siltanen

done here. I was asked recently if I knew anyone who would like to be a main sponsor of a CS2 major event later this year. If you are interested, contact me and I will tell you more.

How would you say the esports games industry has changed in the last five years?

I have not followed esports industry that closely but I did some consulting. A shrinking amount of free money available “just because it’s esports.” With the bubble bursting, all stakeholders are required to hone their business models towards more sustainable, longterm planning. Customers with the right target group exist and in the future you must work to find the right sponsors for them.

On the sports side, teams and organizations have become increasingly aware of best practices, and have taken several steps towards the professionalism seen in traditional sports. The understanding of team performance both on and off the server has grown as expected.

What is one thing that does not currently exist in gambling that you'd love to see?

Sports betting is strongly pushed towards casino gambling by many operators. Customers are deprived of the possibility of winning bets in the long run by

limiting and valueing customers differently. Sharp bettors are practically prevented from playing by setting ridiculously small bet and win limits, while at the same time large bets are accepted from recreational players.

Bring back the good old days, when the betting office straightforwardly accepts bets equally from everyone and enables fair betting. When the restrictions on betting are the same for all customers, it is the operator's task to decide how big the limits are. In this case, the professionalism of the betting operation comes into question. The greater the professionalism of the operator, the greater the limits equally for all customers.

From an employment standpoint, what key aspects of your experience and expertise would you like potential employees reading this interview to know?

I am one of those people who primarily hire motivated and passionate people. Once these basics are in order, the rest can be trained. Those who do their work with passion want to learn new things more easily, look for bigger challenges and are better motivated in their work. I hope that everyone finds their passion at work, because I guarantee it will be much more fun and lead to a successful career.

Feature: Sami Siltanen Volume 20: Issue 166 35

New Regulations in Georgia

The challenges that the new tax reform puts before the whole industry

eorgia was, and still is a regional leader when it comes to the regulation and significance of the gambling industry for the national economy. Such status is demonstrated not just by the formal organization and proactive approach of the industry’s stakeholders (e.g., the formation of the Georgian Gambling Association) in the territory but also by the formidable activity of the government in respect to the same. The government has implemented may good practices and solutions when it comes to AML procedures, protection of minors, etc.

The general view of the gambling sector was for a long time that it is a lucrative segment of the country’s rich tourist offering. The main operators in the country – such as Betsson Group, Storm International, Entain, and others – have found a reliable partner in the national government and the country’s leadership. The high status of the industry led to the development of admirable hotel-resorts employing thousands of people. It has also given a proper push to the rise of related industries, such as IT and financial (payment) services/solutions, in the country. Also, Georgia became an attractive gambling

Feature: Georgia Legislation 36

destination for many foreign nationals visiting the country and its sites.

This approach was somewhat revised in the past few years, since after the pandemic the government took a stricter line towards the industry and its rapid development. This became clear from the changes to the legislative framework which began in 2021. Through these A) the minimum age for gambling was increased for country’s nationals (to 25) while it was reduced for tourists (from 21 to 18); B) a gambling ban for certain groups of individuals was introduced (e.g. government officials, recipients of state aid etc.); C) taxes and fees for online gambling sector were increased for more than 70 percent; and D) TV advertising was almost banned entirely.

Even though the intention behind these changes was positive, and the government had the aim to further regulate the industry in order to provide a higher degree of security for all stakeholders, such changes set a different tone for the whole sector.

Namely, in 2023, Mr. Gharibashvili, Georgia’s prime minister, further announced that the rate imposed on gross gaming revenue (GGR) would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent. He also introduced a playerwinnings tax on withdrawals, escalating from two percent to five percent for gaming operators.

Furthermore, it was announced that changes in legislation will allow land-based casinos to operate

online casinos and allowed interested companies to obtain licenses specifically for online casinos. A brickand-mortar presence was no longer a prerequisite for the licensing of online operators. However, these changes come with a twist since the government is simultaneously imposing a new, 1.6 million EUR annual fee for each such license holder. In addition to this, municipal governments also decided to increase the tax pressure on the operators by increasing fees per gaming table or machine (the latest increase being done by the city of Batumi).

Needless to say, Georgia – as most of other countries in the world – is combating illegal operators and their influence, and has only recently put more resources into this fight. At the same time, its government is increasing the burden on licensed and regulated operators in parallel, making it even harder for them to do business in the territory, especially for those who have made significant investments into their physical presence in the country (hotels and resorts).

As expected, the announced changes sparked a large debate and concern in market, and have caused the main operators to review their business case, since the tax burden is increased both for them and their players. This could create a shift in country’s attractiveness as a “cool” vacation and gambling destination.

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.

37 Feature: Georgia Legislation Volume 20: Issue 166 38 5 design services under one roof We create high quality design to satisfy your print and digital marketing needs We organise both the print and delivery of all products designed to remove any hassle on your part T 0330 223 0550 E W BrandDesign BrochureDesign DigitalDesign EventDesign MagazineDesign de 5 ign Subscribe... By registering your email at by clicking the Subscribe tab NORTHERN STAR YARED GABRETENSAYE, GENERAL MANAGER OF CASINO COSMOPOL, MALMO Volume 19: Issue 157 The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos Volume 19: Issue 160 The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos CASINO 2000 AT THE CROSSROADS OF EUROPE GAMING AROUND THE GLOBE From New York City to Singapore, we've got it covered Volume 19: Issue 158 The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos EUROPEAN DEALER CHAMPIONSHIP 2023 Volume 19: Issue 159 The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos 7,435 MEMBERS Join people that count. Join the Casino Life Group 4,330 MEMBERS The magazine for operators of International casinos and gaming equipment manufacturers

Hippodrome, Here We Come

Richard Marcus’ Global Table Games & Game Protection conference arrives in London again. By Peter White

So another successful Global Table Games & Game Protection conference in Las Vegas has been completed. What’s next?

Well, that decision was bouncing around my head for a while. Since my conference has the word “Global” in its official name, it is time to truly make it global. All three GTGC/GGPC events took place in Las Vegas, so my next offering was going to be in Asia or Europe, and it was a difficult decision. I had to base it on the strength of my contacts, as well as my consulting work and conference history in those two regions. I have done a handful of seminars in Europe, including two in London, but just one multi-casino seminar in Manila. I have also done consulting work for one major UK casino company and a handful of casinos on the

continent, but never for an individual casino company in Asia. As well, I have many more valuable contacts in Europe than I do in Asia, and that includes you, Peter White.

Why the Hippodrome?

Three words: “Hip” and “Simon Thomas.” By that, I mean the Hippodrome is by far the hippest casino in Europe and Simon Thomas is the best gaming industry CEO I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I love telling the story of how I met him. I was giving a UK multi-casino seminar at the Victoria Casino in London, another great venue, and we were getting ready to break for lunch. So I began mucking chips off the roulette table and stacking them into chip racks, as we had finished with roulette.

39 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: Richard Marcus

Well, a dapper-looking gentleman came over and began helping me clean off the table. We chatted a bit about the seminar. Then we finished and I thanked him for his help, and he walked off. At that moment, another attendee whom I’d known from a previous event came up to me and asked, “Do you know who that guy is?”, pointing to the man who had just helped me clean up. I said no, and he said it was Simon Thomas. I said awkwardly, “Who’s Simon Thomas?” He looked at me just as awkwardly and said, “You’re doing a casino seminar in London and you don't know who Simon Thomas is?” I shrugged and he said, “Google him.” I did and my first thought after reading about Simon was, “I can’t believe he was actually helping me clean off a roulette layout.” Simon Thomas is a multi-industry mogul but he relates just like a regular guy.

Then I had the audacity to e-mail him six months later to ask if I could do my second London gig at his Hippodrome casino. He said, “Bring it on” and I did. Both London gigs went off great but that Hippodrome one was something special. A multi-themed casino with several levels, including one that contains a replica of a 1920s New York barbershop, the Hippodrome is as cool as it gets. I can say that I felt a unique vibe running through the entire place and I’ve

been in perhaps a thousand casinos in my lifetime. So once I settled on Europe for my next event destination, choosing the Hippodrome was a no-brainer.

Will this event have a similar schedule to the Las Vegas conference?

It will but it will not be a carbon copy. Again, the European edition of the GTGC/GGPC will cater to the table games and game/asset-protection sectors, but the program will include sessions on compliance, IT, marketing and customer service. During the next few months, I will be researching the particulars of the UK and European gaming industries and reaching out to my contacts for suggestions on how to balance out the presenter roster, and program to be the most effective for the European and UK markets. I will not disappoint. My Vegas conference has always received nothing but high praise for the quality of my presenters and program.

What were the most memorable takeaway experiences for this year’s Global Table Games & Game Protection conference?

Probably the realization that a lot of new and important stuff hits the fan each year, which makes this and other conferences stay interesting. A few 40 Feature: Richard Marcus

years back, it was the invasion of stadium gaming and then electronic table games during the pandemic. The last two years, it has definitely been the talk of cyber attacks on major casino companies in the U.S., some of which were propelled through the social engineering of employees who work where the money is. Even if there have not been such similar attacks on European casinos, the industry on this side of the pond needs to be aware and on the defensive.

After the inaugural GTGC/GGPC in 2022 I found myself thinking, “How am I gonna put together another program as new, diverse and interesting as I just did?” Then, “How am I gonna put together a presenter roster that can live up to or maybe even rise above the one from that first year?” I managed to do just that. It wasn’t easy. It takes hard work and dedication, and then of course persistence. The key is to keep abreast of all the happenings in the casino world and sort out not only the most important developments in it but primarily those that are the most relevant to the sectors of the industry you want to draw to your event.

You spend a lot of your time talking with casino management. How does that insight and understanding of both the optimism of new challenges and at times potential concerns feed through to your conference programs?

Much of what the final program contains comes from pieces supplied by casino directors from various

departments. Through that very channel, I learned how important it was to not only include marketing and player development in the program but to demonstrate how these departments directly relate to both table games and surveillance operations. Player development fuels the casino action by getting the right players at your tables while surveillance can play a key role in determining which of those right players may ultimately be the wrong players, evinced by highrolling individuals or groups who are playing with an advantage or even within an organized cheating ring. That danger is very high at baccarat tables.

From casino-management executives, you also get a wide scope of takes on high-tech gaming analytics and protection technologies, including machine learning, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence. We have been covering these technologies since the inception of the conference, and there are new and important updates each year as the technologies expand exponentially. In some sessions, upper management’s concerns are often assuaged when they get better views, and explanations from very informed and engaging presenters. I have seen this transformation with casino directors and managers coming to the conference very worried about the dangers of FR and AI but then leaving it with boosted confidence in their value, and less feeling of uncertainty about their security features, and threats to their human workforce.

41 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: Richard Marcus


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.

What are the options and opportunities that you are providing for sponsors and exhibitors?

As always, I look for sponsors and exhibitors who can bring the most to the conference in terms of their products and their names. As my conference is unique, perhaps the only one in the world with a direct focus on both the table games and surveillance/compliance sectors, I provide exhibitors the opportunity to display their products, which range from standard new table games to the most sophisticated electronic, digital gaming, and slot machines. At the Las Vegas event each year, I hold a competition amongst new game developers called “The Best New Table Games Contest,” where the attendees vote for the best new game, and the winners receive automatic installs and field trials from casinos sponsoring the competition. The main sponsor for the 2023 and 2024 events was Interblock Gaming, the leading producer of luxury electronic games in the worldwide industry. Also on board as sponsors were the surveillance and video technology companies Genetec, and ConnectionsIT, and Bulletproof, a GLI company that provides industry solutions in the areas of IT, security and compliance.

What would you like to say to casino managers in Europe as to why the Hippodrome London Table Games & Protection Conference is a must-attend event?

Saying a “must-attend” event is kind of clichéd, so I won’t say it. But what I will say is that my event is the absolute best in the world catering to the table games, surveillance and compliance sectors. As well, it is becoming a force in customer service and marketing. Feedback has been terrific all three years. I have never seen one single negative comment published about the GTGC/GGPC and I expect the same for the debut European event.

You have been hosting training seminars and conferences for many years all around the world. They take a lot of organizing and planning. What is your prime motivation that has led to your popularity and success with these events? That is simply to bring the best product to the table and be as original as possible. Nowadays there are just SO many conferences throughout the gaming industry. To be successful with all the competition — as many conferences are similar in nature and overlap one another, —you have to deliver something different. For starters, I am quite the “different” person who’s thrown his hat into the gaming conference ring, given my history. Having been arguably the world’s most effective professional casino cheat for a quarter century, I have really turned the tables … not on the casino industry but for the casino industry. I bring a new perspective to table games protection and surveillance.

43 Volume 20: Issue 166 Feature: Richard Marcus

Many game-protection experts credit me as having driven the biggest change in the evolution of surveillance during the last half century, that being the mass transition to 24-hour video coverage of entire casino floors, including all table games and slot machines. As well, I have changed the way casinos train their staff in game protection. I am proud of having done that, and I am motivated to teach casino professionals how to improve their table games and surveillance operations by bringing in the best experts in all the industry fields that are part of my event.

This year saw another edition of the Best New Tables Game Contest at the Global Table Games & Game Protection Conference. What was the standard like of entrants and what were the key aspects of the winning ‘Knockout 52’ that made it a so?

We have had high standards for entry to the Best New Table Games Contest since its inception in 2022. The games must be original and show some definite new facet, be it in the form of rules changes to an existing game or a completely new game, the likes of which have never been seen before. The addition of creative side bets to an existing game also qualifies for the contest as long as they stimulate added interest to the existing game. It should be noted that most entries to the contest are a series of side bets, sometimes in conjunction with minor rule changes to the existing game. We also require that the table games entered are true table games, and not mechanical functions to aid and abet an existing table game.

The key aspect of the winning game Knockout 52 was simply that it made history. It was the first time in table game history that a non-variant new casino game has won the Best New Table Games Contest. Since the inception of the contest at the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference in 2016, continued by the GTGC/GGPC in 2022, no game not based on poker, blackjack, craps, roulette or baccarat has ever won this competition. This is exciting news, and I think this new concept will spread through casinos like wildfire and help grow the entire casino table games industry. It is also an easy game to play and deal that affords a lot of excitement as players will be sure to cheer, and root as they follow the game in action. On the casino side, the game will give tables up to 60 rounds an hour, which of course means more money coming into the casino coffers at a quicker pace.

What was your opinion, and your attendees’ opinions, of your 2024 conference venue, the Sahara Las Vegas Resort & Casino?

The main sessions of the program were held in the Sahara’s main entertainment theater, which gave the conference a beautiful ambiance bathed in blue and violet lighting. All attendees and exhibitors alike were quite impressed by that. I could not have been happier by how the stage and big screen looked. Another plus for most people is the location of the Sahara, as it sits on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, a distance away from the hustle and bustle, and huge traffic jams found at the center and south end of the Strip.

And finally, what would you like to say to casino operators in mainland Europe as to why this November 18-20, the Hippdrome Casino in London is the place to be?

Just this: My GTGC/GGPC event is the best combination table games/game protection/ compliance event in the world, proven by three successive and successful years in Las Vegas, and the best is yet to come this November at the London Hippodrome. 44 Feature: Richard Marcus

GThe Future of Generative AI

It’s so bright we need sunglasses … and wisdom. By Raymond Chan

enerative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool in recent years, capable of generating new and original content based on patterns identified in large datasets. It holds immense potential in transforming various industries, from art and design to healthcare and manufacturing. However, despite its remarkable capabilities, Generative AI is far from perfect.

At its core, Generative AI relies on neural networks and complex algorithms to simulate human-like imagination. By training on extensive datasets, these systems learn to recognize patterns and generate new data or content. Yet the generated outputs are not always grounded in truth, as they are based on assumptions and extrapolations made by the algorithms. While Generative AI can produce impressive and creative results, it is crucial to acknowledge its limitations and the potential for inaccuracies in its outputs.

Furthermore, the true extent of Generative AI's applications and possibilities remains largely unexplored. Similar to the early days of the Internet when its potential was underestimated, the full range of applications for Generative AI has yet to be discovered. Just as we initially perceived the Internet as a tool for browsing websites, we now realize its transformative impact on communication, commerce and knowledge sharing. Similarly, Generative AI's true potential is still unfolding and its future trajectory is ripe for exploration.

The Limitations of Synthetic Data

Generative AI relies heavily on synthetic data, which is artificially generated or simulated data used for training AI models. However, synthetic data lacks the complexity and nuances of the real world, resulting in outputs that may lack authenticity and fail to accurately represent real-world scenarios.

45 Feature:
Raymond Chan
Volume 20: Issue 166
Raymond Chan

To overcome the limitations of synthetic data, researchers are exploring ways to integrate real physical data into Generative AI models. By incorporating real-world data, such as images or sensor readings, Generative AI can establish stronger connections with reality, leading to more accurate and realistic outputs.

Researchers have also been busy training on large datasets of real physical theories to generate new knowledge for the AI that closely resemble the real world. This integration of “real data” further expands the possibilities for applications like virtual reality, gaming and product design in real use.

Advancements in Generative AI realism are making their first baby steps. By incorporating real physical data and leveraging advanced techniques, Generative AI is making strides in producing outputs that are creative and grounded in actuality. This integration with the real world opens up applications across industries, enabling realistic simulations, virtual environments and interactive experiences.

In the next section, we will explore how Generative AI can preserve human knowledge, ensuring that our collective wisdom endures for future generations.

Preserving Human Knowledge with Generative AI

Human knowledge is at risk of being lost over time due to deterioration, loss and limited accessibility. Traditional methods of preservation, like books, have their limitations. Valuable insights and cultural heritage can fade away, depriving future generations of our wisdom.

Generative AI offers a solution to preserve human knowledge. By understanding patterns and generating content, it can capture and preserve diverse forms of knowledge. The unique nature language input modeling exemplifies how Generative AI can preserves knowledge for the human. Models can create digital libraries, interactive resources and conversational agents providing insights based on preserved knowledge.

The nature-language input model also preserves expertise by making training easy. Expertise can train the models and in the future the model can simulate expert decision-making, guide in complex domains, and serve as a virtual mentor.

By embracing Generative AI for knowledge preservation, we pass on wisdom to future


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.

generations. Responsible implementation ensures our knowledge endures, shaping the world beyond our time.

In conclusion, the integration of real physical data into Generative AI models establishes stronger connections with the real world, leading to more realistic and grounded outputs. By incorporating real-world data, Generative AI can overcome the limitations of synthetic data and generate outputs that closely resemble actuality. This advancement opens up possibilities for applications in various industries and enhances the potential for immersive experiences.

Moreover, Generative AI serves as a powerful tool for preserving and passing on human knowledge, ensuring that our collective wisdom endures for future generations. However, ethical considerations must be prioritized to ensure responsible implementation and the accuracy of the preserved knowledge. With responsible use, Generative AI has the transformative potential to shape our future in remarkable ways. 46 Feature: Raymond Chan
In a World of instant news Casino Life remains the most highly regarded casino media in the International land-based Casino industry. Casino Life provides unrivalled insight into the land-based Casino Industry World-Wide. Also available on App
Contact or call +44 (0) 1892 740869 Outsource Digital Media Powering connections
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.