Volume 16: Issue 136
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Welcome... ...to Issue 136 of Casino Life. As we step boldly forward into a new decade, considerable industry changes continue to be implemented by Operators globally. The first 20 years of this millennium have seen dynamic and positive changes alter the very DNA and ‘beating heart’ of our industry. This decade we will continue to see exciting changes. In Germany and the UK we have progress towards national gambling market ‘views’ (as well as laws and protections). Ultimately the intention in Germany is to introduce a nationwide Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States. In November 2019 in the UK, various organisations joined forces to create a single industry body representing some 90% of that jurisdiction’s gambling market: the Betting and Gaming Council. In the U.S., the American Gaming Association has been on a similar journey for years. Ukraine remains a tantalising opportunity. Ukraine is a market close to our hearts at Casino Life as we’ve been involved with this jurisdiction for many years. Will it / won’t it legalise and re-open? If it does, what will be the opportunities? Let me say, “Considerable…as in tens of thousands of machines and terminals”. Thanks to Caesars Entertainment’s Eileen Moore-Johnson exclusively sharing her time with us, we gain insights into fascinating changes and opportunities being implemented right now by one of the best Operators in the world. The speed and variety of change in the first 20 years of this millennium have seen incredible changes implemented by Operators globally. At Casino Life, we seek to educate and inform our industry. We hope you see what we do — our industry’s future is bright and incredibly exciting. If we play our cards right, 10 years from now we’ll look back at this coming decade and also call it “the Peter White Editor Roaring Twenties”.
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5 Guest Comment Brigid Simmonds Chairman Betting and Gaming Council 6 Thinking outside the X Box Caesars Entertainment’s Eileen MooreJohnson caters to different, evolving audiences on the Las Vegas Strip by David McKee 17 The State of German Gambling Legislation 2020 By: Carsten Bringmann Senior Associate at the International law firm, Hogan Lovells in Dusseldorf 21 Ukrainian Gambling on the Tight Rope By: Robert Brassia founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” 25 A new decade for DRGT DR Gaming Technology talk ICE 2020, and what they believe the new decade holds in store 29 ICE London Preview Part 1 By: Rebecca Green 43 BlockChain In Gaming – Are We There Yet? By: Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting 46 Macau the Silicon Valley for gaming as part of China’s tech ambitions By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot 49 Are Customers More Than Data Points? By: Robert Brassai
Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
Brigid Simmonds BGC Chairman
he Betting and Gaming Council launched last November, and we’ve brought together betting shops, online operators and Casinos as one voice, representing 90% of the overall gambling sector. It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone, to raise standards across the industry, and highlight all the work we do together to make gambling an enjoyable and safe leisure activity as we can for all of our customers, wherever and however they choose to gamble. And we have a lot of customers that enjoy what we do – betting and gaming has played an important part in the social lives of people for many years. 46% of the population gamble at least once a month and the overwhelming majority do so safely. We also employ collectively over 100,000 people, with 14,000 people working in casinos alone. As an industry we contribute over £3billion a year to the treasury and make an important contribution to both our high streets and tourism industry. Casinos are playing a leading role in the Betting and Gaming Council and it is hugely beneficial for each sector to learn from casinos and to share good practice. Casino operators will also now play an active role in the Gambling Anti-Money Laundering Group, a body which has developed the best practice to tackle this issue. The guidance was developed by the online and retail bookmakers, but with the 5th Money Laundering Directive now in place, it is vital that we can all work together to stay at the forefront of combating this crime. It is clear that there will be a review and possible updates to the Gambling Act. But rather than wait to see what is proposed, we want to be on the front foot, speak to the Government, regulators and Members of Parliament about the major steps we’re taking now as a new trade body, to make gambling a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers. A review of the Act offers great opportunities to ensure it reflects what is going now, rather than Volume 16: Issue 136
Brigid Simmonds, Betting and Gaming Council Chairman
As an industry we contribute over £3billion a year to the Treasury and make an important contribution to both our high streets and tourism industry. being fixed on the issues as they were in 2005. A lot has changed across the industry since the Act was passed, and we are now in a good position to show – together – what actions we have taken and what we can do working together with the Government and the relevant department. Also sitting alongside this, we are all working together to deliver on the 22 Safer Gambling commitments we unveiled at our launch. 5
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
Thinking outside the X Box Caesars Entertainmentâ€™s Eileen Moore-Johnson caters to different, evolving audiences on the Las Vegas Strip by David McKee
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Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
ome casino executives are sprinters, zipping from property to property and company to company. Caesars Entertainment Regional Vice President Eileen Moore-Johnson is a marathon runner, having been with the casino giant since 1999. In her present capacity, her portfolio encompasses resorts, great (Flamingo Las Vegas and its 3,400-plus rooms), small (The Cromwell, 188 rooms big) and somewhere in between (The Linq). Moore-Johnson got her start in hospitality at the age of 15, at the Hotel Thayer at West Point Military Academy, in upstate New York. After graduating from Cornell University, MooreJohnson marched steadily through the hotel industry, arriving at Caesars two decades ago, when it was still Harrah’s Entertainment, to help roll out a new revenuemanagement system. The rest is history. “I was drawn to yielding and pricing early in my career,” she told Casino Life. “It’s such an amazing feeling to know you are driving the profitability of the entire property and get a scorecard every morning of how you performed.” Nowadays Moore-Johnson has many other challenges to face, whether they may be the retail mix on the Linq Promenade or the rollout of new guestservice technology. A founding member of Global Gaming Women, Moore-Johnson personifies its goals. It was the ability to achieve aforesaid goals at Caesars that drew her to the company – and which provided the jumping-off point for our interview. Twenty years is a long time to be an executive with one company in the gaming business. What has kept you at Caesars? The number-one reason is that the company is always run as a meritocracy. What that means is that great opportunities are given to people who put up results and it’s not based on politics or who you know or what you look like. So having the ability to change roles and jobs and departments every three to four years has kept me loyal. In any career, if you’ve got the opportunity to change things up and learn some new skill sets—I’ve moved with the company four times to different regions—that’s just a growth and experience you wouldn’t get in a lot of other places. What lessons have you carried over from your years at the Fairmont and Waldorf-Astoria? Working at large, iconic properties like the Waldorf and the Fairmont really taught me the importance of a 8
brand and creating an experience that customers have really been dreaming about. So our customers work hard all year long and save up their money to come and visit us. The Flamingo’s an example of another legendary brand. They have in their imagination how that trip’s going to go—that first-date trip, that anniversary trip, their bachelor party, their bachelorette party—and it’s our job to make their journey through
the resort live up to that ultimate dream. Having that core in hospitality, finding out what your brand is about and being able to execute it, that makes a really exciting experience for your guests. Once our team members see that bride who’s just been blown away and had her dream wedding out in the gardens at the Flamingo, or it’s New Year’s Eve, we’re getting ready to welcome over 200,000 people who come to revel with us and party on the Las Vegas Strip. It just is a really great experience for our team members to share in that with our guests. Are casino-hotels becoming more of a luxury destination and would The Cromwell be an example of this? The Cromwell’s definitely upscale but I wouldn’t say it’s luxury. It’s a boutique brand for us, with only 188 rooms. It has more of a curated experience. Guests that are coming to The Cromwell are going to see www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
The number-one reason is that the company is always run as a meritocracy. What that means is that great opportunities are given to people who put up results and it’s not based on politics or who you know or what you look like. the same employees right across their stay. They’re going to get to know them and learn a little about them. As an example, we don’t wear name tags at The Cromwell because the place is so small that you’re going to run into staff and our employees are trained to introduce themselves and really let their personality shine through. They don’t have a scripted line that they have to follow. An experience that is unique like that is what travelers are coming to expect, rather than just upscale luxury and the grandeur that we see in some of the higher-end properties. In Las Vegas, we have a lot of properties that are in that upper echelon and continue to be built on the Las Vegas Strip. But there’s an opportunity for properties like Harrah’s, The Linq and Flamingo to really grow because they’re really addressing that next tier of customers that want good value, something affordable but still have a fantastic vacation. How would you describe the respective niches targeted by the Flamingo Las Vegas, The Linq and The Cromwell? The Linq is definitely geared toward Millennials. We have a tagline that says, “We’re a Millennial playground.” You can find any thrill, entertainment or experience that you’re looking for, whether it’s riding our zipline that goes across the Promenade or taking Volume 16: Issue 136
a thrilling ride on the High Roller, which is the world’s largest observation wheel, to playing some futuristic casino games. We have skill-based games. We have an interactive sports book called The Book and a lot of really great features at The Linq. We’ve been able to demonstrate a high propensity for Millennial travelers. While that’s been a demographic that’s been tough for some other brands to break into, we show a very
strong preference with that customer. Then we’ve got the Flamingo, which is much more all-encompassing. We’re the 15th-largest hotel in the world with over 3,400 rooms. We really need to service a lot of different demographics here. So we talk about the Flamingo having something for everyone with fun being the mainstay of that. Also, we have a huge, international guest visitation. They know the brand. We’re the oldest and longest-operating on the Strip. We just turned 73 years old on December 26 and of course we have our famous roots with Bugsy Siegel, our famous founder here at the Flamingo. That creates a huge amount of brand pull. We have guests around the globe that want to see a piece of authentic Vegas history. We’re really in Phase Two of an over $150 million renovation of the property, so it’s a resurgence of its global, iconic status and when these people come back to the Flamingo to see the property all redone it’s been really tremendous for them. 9
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Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
Right now we’re in the process of redoing a lot of our food and beverage, which will create a lot of energy and excitement right off the casino floor. The most exciting project that I have going on is a $10 million steakhouse that will open in early 2020, called Bugsy’s & Meyer’s Steakhouse, and you will actually enter
through a bakery façade and the hosts will bring you through the kitchen so you can see the sights, sounds and smells of everything happening there. It’s a throwback to our founder and his business partner, Meyer Lansky. It’s a resort-style steakhouse. Instead of an older, traditional, male-looking steakhouse, this is like a resort. It’s got a tropical feel to it and we’re superexcited to get that venue open. It also has a speakeasy in there called the Count Room. That definitely has a nod to our casino heritage and being the first casino built on the Las Vegas Strip, and everything else being built around us. Then at The Cromwell, like I said, it’s a more curated travel experience. We prioritize service. At The Cromwell we have some of the highest service scores across the Caesars family of brands and we really deliver a highly engaged experience for customers that don’t want to be in that massive, integrated resort. They want to have a boutique, lifestyle experience. Volume 16: Issue 136
In terms of entertainment at the Flamingo, is there life after Donny & Marie? Yes. Of course it was very sad to see them go. I was at their final show. They did 1,170 shows, which is just tremendous and an amazing, 11 year run. Even up to their final performances, we had sellouts every
single night. Tickets were being re-sold for thousands of dollars. So it’s the end of an era for the Flamingo. But I’m excited to say that our showroom is one of the hottest tickets in town. Starting in January we’re going with RuPaul’s Live Drag Show. It’s his first production here in Las Vegas, which you know is the entertainment capital of the world. The amount of fanfare that we’re receiving for the show is huge. I couldn’t believe it, from the media and Ru’s fans from all around the world. So that’s a tremendous amount of excitement that starts in a couple of weeks here. We’ve also had headliner Paula Abdul. She’s inhouse right now, telling her story through music and dance. She’s obviously a very famous choreographer with a ton of number-one Billboard hits. She goes through all of her hits plus her upbringing in Los Angeles and her start as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader, all the way up to choreographer to the stars, like Janet Jackson and then to becoming a 11
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
trip with you, while you’re watching your sport. Then order food directly to your fan cave right off of a laptop. It’s a kind of on-demand, futuristic service. There’s offerings that are geared to a really technology-savvy customer who wants to have fantastic service at an affordable price. What are the latest enhancements to the Linq Promenade? The Linq Promenade has a couple of exciting new tenants. We just opened up I Love Sugar, which is a massive candy store and it’s in that anchor spot, right
number-one-hit recording artist herself, an original pop artist. Then we’ve also got CeeLo Green, a Grammy-award-winning artist who will be coming to the Flamingo in the spring and a couple of other unannounced deals. So there’s a lot of exciting entertainment that will be coming to us starting right away in 2020. What makes The Linq so popular with Millennials? I would say that the fact that there’s something new around every corner. There are attractions. There’s the live entertainment that we’re offering. We’re one of the few interactive sports books where we have a fan cave that you can rent out and have up to 20 of your friends sitting around. In addition to watching four or five different screens of sports that you customize, we have X Boxes there. You can play e-sports and maybe play someone who’s back home that didn’t come on the 12
where you turn the street corner and look down [the Promenade], so it’s really lit up the entire street. We’ve also opened a brand-new attraction called the Ice Bar that has an amazing array of ice sculptures. You actually don your arctic gear and go into a bar to be entertained, and then walk through an arctic ice-sculpture village. That’s been very popular. We’ve got the zipline that’s getting 600 riders a day. We’ve got new restaurants as well. We’ve had Favorite Bistro, which is a French bistro, and Maxie’s Deli. Of course, we’ve got Yardhouse that’s been there and we’ve got In-N-Out Burger, which is one of the mostvisited In-N-Out Burgers in their entire portfolio. It’s the only In-N-Out Burger without a drive-through. Given the proliferation of retail on the Las Vegas Strip—including The Bazaar at Bally’s—how do you keep your area competitive? One of the neat things about our retail spaces is we’ve www.casinolifemagazine.com
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment got a lot of little shops, let’s call them 400-to-1,500 square feet that we can swap out. Right now flamingos are extremely popular. We have flamingo flippers and T-shirts and statues and stuffed animals and hats. There’s endless categories, so we’ve actually got a shop called Flocked where we were able to do this just as a quick pop-up shop and the sales coming out of that space are incredible, and it’s a small little store. It’s just one good example. During the Golden Knights [hockey] season—and now we have the Las Vegas Raiders coming to town—we’re able to pop up our shop that’s all sports-driven and in the past we would have thought, “Oh, people coming from out of town don’t want to buy a Golden Knights team shirt” but that is not the case with Las Vegas. People love our Golden Knights and even though they may have a home hockey team, all our gear has the logo and they want to pick up the merchandise while they’re here, again, to keep a good memory of their vacation to Las Vegas. Caesars Rewards is the most famous loyalty program in gaming. What makes it so and have there been any recent enhancements? As the company continues to grow that’s the biggest enhancement, because it offers our guests more places to earn and spend their points. That’s been a huge, satisfactory thing for them. We survey the guests and say, “Why do you like Caesars Rewards?” It’s that you’ve-been-with-us nature that they can play in their home markets and now can travel all over the country
You’ve spoken in the past about “entanglement” strategies. What are those? Those are just strategies for us to be able to explain to guests the positive aspects of joining Caesars
Could you explain for our readers how Caesars’ huband-spoke business model works? Simply put, it’s an opportunity for us to get to know our best guests in their home markets. Then when they’re looking to book a trip once or twice a year to a vacation destination, we have opportunities for them here in Las Vegas, in Lake Tahoe, in New Orleans and Atlantic City, at some of our mega-branded resorts. That’s a great thing to not only endear loyalty in your local community but a lot of them have other places to go when they’re on their vacation.
What is the most important technological advance in gaming right now? Something I’ve been very excited about is our use of
and earn even more points. That’s a huge advantage for us. The second is our Laurel Lounges. We do have VIP services that are available to our highest-tier Diamond and Seven Stars customers, and I don’t think they experience that level of service at our competitors. Having that Laurel Lounge, in addition to world-class offers and places to spend their points [is an attraction].
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Rewards. We’re one of the few programs where you can earn points for hospitality spend. Also within our Caesars Rewards credit card you can actually earn points for all of your purchases made on that credit card. We also offer complimentary upgrade to Platinum status, which in Las Vegas comes with free parking— which is very popular—and free valet parking. So for us that just means being able to suggest to patrons who are visiting us why there are all these great reasons to join Caesars Rewards. We always have a commitment to our guests that we’ll never sell their data or make their information available to other commercial entities. And I think that level of trust that we have with our guests—we have over 50 million members—for so many years is another strength of the program.
Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
something that they’re doing. We find guests really loving that opportunity to text back and forth. Of course some of the questions get more intricate, like “What’s the special tonight in the steakhouse?” Then it would roll over to a chat-bot scenario, going back and forth with a live agent in our call center who can answer those questions and is trained to be more fine-tuned. But
artificial intelligence across the property, through both the casino and the hotel. We have a virtual concierge who texts guests after they’ve checked in. Her name is Ivy and most guests believe that Ivy is a traditional concierge sitting on the other end of a phone but it’s actually an opportunity to use IBM’s Watson technology, and answer somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of a guest’s requests. As you can imagine, sometimes it’s just “What time does the buffet open for breakfast?” or “Could you have someone bring a towel to my room? I’m in Room 1024.” There are thousands of those calls that could happen every day that actually get answered immediately to the guest’s phone without them having to talk to someone else. And they can check the answer at their own convenience rather than having to take a phone call, which may interrupt 14
it is phenomenal how quickly we can get service to guests that want to interact right on their smart phone, not having to wait in any lines or go back to a room to pick up a phone to dial zero. These are some of the things of the past. It has freed up more time for our guest-facing employees to do things like make detailed recommendations to enhance people’s experiences while they’re visiting us. Are we seeing the gaming industry evolve into an amenity-driven one, at least in Las Vegas? I view it as more of a balancing. We absolutely see more revenues coming from entertainment, food and beverage, and hospitality that we have previously. But for us, particularly at Caesars, gaming is still a core component of our properties and our profitability, frankly. For us it’s still a tremendous, important part of our business. It may have been, back in Bugsy’s day, www.casinolifemagazine.com
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Lead Feature: Caesers Entertainment
A lot of people are afraid of the technology because they think it will take away the personalization. But our experience is that it just adds to it. most-visited sites on the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a free entertainment activity where we have hundreds of birds and fish, and of course our famous flock of flamingos that everyone wants to see. And it’s a beautiful garden habitat. So for us, making sure that the property is open and inviting, and we’ve got all of the in-language opportunities to take care of our guests. As we enter a new decade, what changes do you foresee for the casino-resort industry? that the casino ran everything and that is certainly not the case anymore. But it’s just more balanced. How do you cater to the international crowd at the Flamingo and your other properties? For us it’s making sure that we’ve got in-language opportunities for service, for all of our employees that have access to multi-language service, to greet customers, to handle any challenges that they have. It’s also making sure that our layouts are very open and understandable. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last four years, particularly at the Flamingo, opening up the casino so that the pathways make more sense. It’s easier to find our Habitat, which is still one of the 16
Continued proliferation of technology. A lot of people are afraid of the technology because they think it will take away the personalization. But our experience is that it just adds to it. My earlier example with Ivy, the virtual concierge, it’s not the case that we’re no longer offering a live concierge. They’re just able to do their jobs so much better, working personally to book a show or make a recommendation on a golf course that may suit a golfer’s particular needs, rather than us relying on them to send an iron to room 523. We have a lot of those latter transactions and it makes more sense to have artificial intelligence handle it for us. Like I said, it’s freed us up to give better services and suggestions to our customers. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: German Legislation
The State of German Gambling Legislation 2020 Overview, Update and Outlook by Carsten Bringmann Senior Associate at the International law firm, Hogan Lovells in Dusseldorf
ermany is one of the most attractive and expanding gambling markets worldwide: With a GGR of around 14 billion EUR in 2018, it is the third biggest gambling market in Europe after Italy and the UK. Although it offers profitable income opportunities for the gaming industry, gaming companies have to face a complicated and restrictive German gambling legislation. Though the regulation in the gambling sector is very dynamic and constantly adapting to the reality of the fast changing gambling market, gambling law in Germany is still dominated by one essential legal framework, the State Treaty on Gambling from 15 December 2011 [“State Treaty” – Glücksspielstaatsvertrag] that was concluded by the 16 federal states. Each federal state has implemented the State Treaty into its respective state law. As the key regulation on gambling in Germany, the State
Treaty contains the basic legal requirements for the organization of all types of gambling across the German federal states. It provides detailed provisions and guidelines for gambling, in particular for lotteries and betting services. According to the State Treaty, public gambling services can only be provided on the German gambling market if the respective operator holds a gambling license. But in practice the picture in the sports betting sector has been a different one until recently. The granting of licences for sports betting on basis of the State Treaty was firstly introduced in 2012. In 2014, 15 unsuccessful applicants for the sports betting licences obtained preliminary injunctions against the competent authority for granting licences to 20 selected applicants only. As a consequence of court rulings in favour of the dismissed competitors, the competent authority for issuing the licences had not been able to issue a single license for organizing Volume 16: Issue 136
sports betting in Germany. However, up to now, the German gambling supervising authorities tolerate the organization of sports betting services as long as they meet the further requirements set out by the State Treaty without a formal license. This legal situation changed fundamentally on 1 January 2020, when the Third Amendment to the State Treaty on Gambling [“Third Amendment”] came into force. Through this amendment, the German sports betting market has finally gained legal certainty. The Third Amendment introduces a new application procedure for sports betting licences and opens its sports betting market to international sports betting providers. For the first time, the sports betting market will be completely opened for international providers 17
Feature: German Legislation who will now finally be able to establish their sports betting business in Germany. Under the Third Amendment, operators of online sports betting services must apply for a licence in order to provide their services in Germany. The application procedure is conducted before the Regional Council in Darmstadt [Regierungspräsidium Darmstadt] from 2 January 2020 forward. International operators applying for a licence must not be based in Germany. It is sufficient to name an authorised person for the operator´s official correspondence within Germany and to present documentation and proof of registration by foreign authorities that are comparable to the German official documentation. Presumably, the sports betting licences shall be valid at least until 31 December 2022, resulting in a new application procedure from 1 January 2023.
Besides these much needed improvements and developments in the German gambling regulation, the Third Amendment still includes many restrictions such as a monthly stake limit or the limitations to the permissible betting product range. However, legal uncertainties for the German gambling market still exist. The Third Amendment serves only as a temporary, transitional solution until further amendments to the State Treaty have been politically agreed upon. For the moment, the Third Amendment will be valid until 30 June 2021. Hereafter, a new State Treaty is supposed to come into force. In practice, this requires a consensus between 16 politically different states in a rather ambitious and short period of time. Currently, negotiations for a new State Treaty are conducted by state chancelleries who represent the 18
various interests of their respective federal states. Once a draft State Treaty has been concluded, German bureaucracy takes its course: After the decisions are prepared at the working level, they are to be taken to the Conference of Prime Ministers and the Conference of Heads of State Chancelleries. Furthermore, the final decisions have to be approved by the 16 state parliaments. The framework for gambling regulation from mid 2021 forward on, is currently being discussed at those two state conferences and the members plan to find an agreement by February 2020 at the latest. The current draft of the new State Treaty includes a conditional extension of sport betting licences and a licensing regime for virtual slot machines and online poker games. Moreover, a monopoly solution for virtual table games like Roulette and Baccara has been found. Those games are to be converted into 16 state monopolies. The states intend to create a long-term framework with the validity of minimum 7 years. In addition to that, a new nationwide, “Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States” [Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder] shall be established. It is supposed to be the competent enforcement authority for issuing gambling licences and conducting the supervision of gambling activities for cross-border gambling services, i.e. online gambling services. Furthermore, it shall monitor developments on the gambling market and promote research on gambling activities. Though there has been consensus on these main aspects of the new gambling regulation, many details are still unclear. The final result depends on political decisions made by the 16 different states. Various scenarios are on the table. However, the most likely outcome is an agreement between all 16 states on the basis of the current proposal, with the possibility of excluding controversial points to a safeguard agreement. Another likely alternative is an agreement between more than 8 federal states, if a consensus among all states fails due to controversies. A complete failure of the negotiations is also still possible – either during the negotiations or through lack of ratification by state parliaments. A
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Feature: German Legislation
This legal situation changed fundamentally on 1 January 2020, when the Third Amendment to the State Treaty on Gambling [“Third Amendment”] came into force. Through this amendment, the German sports betting market has finally gained legal certainty. separate path of more progressive states like Hessen and Schleswig-Holstein has already hinted as this possibility. Especially the potential future introduction of online casino licensing opportunities is highly controversial among the federal states and regularly leads to intense discussions. On the one hand some states want to keep that prohibition at all costs and are not willing to make compromises in that question. On the other hand there is a slowly growing group of states considering alternatives to a total prohibition of online casinos. These states – like Schleswig-Holstein – are in favour of a fundamental change in Germany’s gambling regulation. They want to introduce a nation-wide online casino licensing and therefore urge that key decisions on the way forward are made as soon as possible. Schleswig-Holstein´s progressive attitude has its origin in its exceptional position within the gambling law structure in Germany and its own experience with regulating online sports betting as well as online casino gaming. Originally, only 15 of the 16 German states were part of the State Treaty.
The state of Schleswig-Holstein initially had its own gambling regulation allowing the issuance of online gaming licences, including sports betting and online casinos - after all, a year later Schleswig-Holstein acceded to the then valid State Treaty. During the time the Gambling Act of Schleswig-Holstein was in force, 48 licences for the operation of sports betting and online casino gaming were issued by the state. Those licences were supposed to expire, but SchleswigHolstein wanted to maintain their regulated market and introduced a transitional arrangement for sport betting operations in Schleswig-Holstein. Moreover, the officials introduced a state law, which revalidated online casino licences granted by Schleswig-Holstein. The sport betting transitional arrangement and the revalidated online casino licences will stay valid until another licence is granted on the basis of German gambling regulation, but not longer than 30 June 2021. Therefore, Schleswig-Holstein insists on 20
going fast in the current negotiations to avoid legal gaps. It represents all of these states, who wish for a progressive regulation law. Due to this controversy among the states concerning online casinos, it is even possible that Germany splits into two different groups of states – those who introduce online casino licencing and those who still stick to the prohibition. Taking those agreed provisions into account, the current draft for a new State Treaty provides for a far-reaching liberalization of the casino gaming market. As a consequence, all gambling sectors – except large lottery organizations – would be liberalized in Germany. It is questionable how this will affect the coherence of the overall gambling regulation. According to critics, the liberalization of online casino gaming would lead to the incoherence of the regulation. It remains to be seen how the EU commission will position itself on this matter. A glance at the future shows that the new State Treaty is probably leading to a revolution in the German gambling market. For one thing, it will create new opportunities for cooperation and investment in the German gambling market. Then again the new State Treaty is likely leading to various court proceedings initiated by gambling service providers due to some major issues which are still being left unsolved. That especially concerns the coherence of the overall regulations. Nevertheless, the upcoming decision for a new State Treaty is just one crucial milestone. The transposition of the State Treaty into 16 state laws will further shape the regulatory framework. To sum it up, there will be a lot going on in the next two years for operators in the gambling sector, especially regarding the negotiations between the 16 states and the final adoption of a new State Treaty. It remains to be seen how successful the new regulation of the Third Amendment will be in practice and more importantly, how far all of the 16 states will go in liberalizing the market by concluding a new State Treaty.
Feature: Ukraine Report
Aerial top view of Kiev Pechersk Lavra churches on hills from above, Kyiv city, Ukraine
Ukrainian Gambling on the Tight Rope By: Robert Brassia founding principal of the gaming consulting firm â€œSense4gaming
veryone knows at least a bit about the rollercoaster drama that the Ukrainian gambling scene has been for the past 3
decades. Before the 2009 gaming ban, the country was a typical eastern European state as far as the gambling industry was concerned. Riddled with mafia presence and sometimes even violence. I very much remember receiving news of an old colleague of mine shot in the cash desk of a casino in Kiev. The government simply could not control it, so just like in Russia they decided to shut the whole industry down. A fire killing 9 people in the casino of the provincial Dnepropetrovsk city was used as an excuse for the move. Since then there has been a complete ban on all kinds of gambling in the country except to state licensed lotteries. On paper that is. All over the country under the guise of selling lottery tickets as a subsidiary for the state lottery agency thousands of points of sales were offering slot games, online sports betting and other gambling activities while the government turned a blind eye. For ten years it was perfectly all right to Volume 16: Issue 136
gamble in the Ukraine despite a law in effect banning all gambling. This obviously can only be done with the open cooperation of government agencies that are
supposed to uphold the law in effect. This is what you call state corruption. When last year president Zelenskyi keeping his election promise on liberalizing the economy reinvigorated the idea of bringing back a regulated gambling industry into existence in his country, lots of heads were turned. There have been attempts at regulating the industry during the period of the ban, but all these died a very fast death as the status quo of running huge gambling operations without practically paying any taxes would have hurt some strong interests. These very interests were still at force when parliament was unable to pass the gambling bill in December. As of now there are 6 different versions of the bill and this number is expected to increase in the near future as different lobby groups push for versions that favor their own interests. We have to give kudos to the president for taking a decisive move and shutting 21
Feature: Ukraine Report
The building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine
down the already illegal operations all over the country aiming at speeding up the law-making process. Despite this move showing a strong handed leader adamant on reforming his country, the fact that banned gambling activities were openly tolerated for a decade doesn’t shine too good a light on the country’s legal system, business environment and gives too much confidence to foreign investors to enter the market. One of the aims of the new legislation is openly creating a market with several different players including major international casino companies among them. As we stand now, the several different versions of the bill agree in a few areas: • Licensing encompassing most important gambling
activities (land based and online casinos, slot halls, poker and lottery) • Short licensing periods of not longer than five years • High yearly license fees coupled with hefty per product fees and or a percentage of the GGR as gaming taxation • Limited number of licenses in each category • Casinos allowed in 5 star hotels only The high licensing fee coupled with short granting periods will certainly act as a deterrent to foreign companies. If a business can’t possibly show ROI due to a short recouping period and high costs of running the business, thus thin bottom lines, investing becomes impossible. Local players on the other hand, who have the comfort of solid government connections, influence on law makers and a long list of other tricks to making business easier and more stable, will have more certainty in being able to renew their licenses 22
and prolong the ROI period. When you are confident that you have 15 or 20 years to recoup your money, investing seriously in infrastructure makes more sense all of a sudden. The government’s fear to grant long term licenses will actually be the downfall of the whole effort to revamp the industry in the Ukraine and keep major international players out, while also discouraging any major investment into the sector. The other major barrier might be the government’s track record and capacity to protect its investors. When a business pays heavily for an online license for example, but the authorities make no effort or are incapable of stopping illegal sites operating on the same market without the burden of paying taxes and playing by the rules, the competitive disadvantage is simply too big to survive. The same may go for the brick and mortar operators if they are not protected from illegal competition. There are many examples for legal businesses suffering from illegal competition all over the world. Chile comes to mind, where they created a solid casino gaming law in 2004 allowing legal land-based gambling in these 24 casinos only. At the same time and till recently they did nothing against illegal street market operators offering home-made slot machines in thousands of locations in mostly popular neighborhoods. It was estimated to have three times more illegal slots on the streets than the ones that were paying taxes and operating legally in the casinos. It took these licensed entities over a decade to close
legal loopholes and shut down these competing operations. With this setup the gambling landscape will look very much the same as before the ban of 2009. Small private operators, that will eventually merge into a few major local oligarchic operators. The country is at a crossroads and the kind of legislation they pass will determine not just what kind of a gambling culture will from now on flourish in the Ukraine but in the belief whether or not the country will be ever able to shake its shady reputation and attract foreign investment on a different scale, whether or not their attempt to establish closer ties with the European Union will be successful. Gambling is a funny animal. While gambling taxation represents relatively low volumes to most governments, its weight in judging a country’s standing and reputation is certainly overrepresented. It’s an issue a bit like the cleanliness of the bathrooms in a restaurant. www.casinolifemagazine.com
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Feature: DRGT Charl Geyser
A new decade:
Where the player experience will define success DR Gaming Technology™s CEO, Jurgen De Munck, MD: Africa, Charl Geyser and MD: DRGT™ Online, Jean-Michel De Busscher talk ICE 2020, and what they believe the new decade holds in store DRGT™ was established in 2005, and Jurgen the Company really is your and Michiel’s (van Dam, CTOs) baby. Jurgen: Yes, that’s right; we’ve been very fortunate; the Company has really grown from strength to strength over the last 15-odd years, thanks to Michiel and his team of developers, and the likes of Charl and JeanMichel across Africa and in Belgium, as well as Alfredo (Moreno) and Alex (Stiglich) our Mexico and LatAm MDs and their teams, along with Christian Eder and his extended European team based in Austria. Charl, towards the end of 2018 your baby, Simplicit-e Gaming Solutions, became DRGT™ Africa, what effect, if any, has this joint venture between DRGT™ and Grand Parade Investments Volume 16: Issue 136
(GPI) had on the Company’s African and Indian Ocean island business over the last year? Charl: Ahead of me answering your question let me just note that my relationship with DRGT™ dates back almost a decade, to when I took on the distribution of the then SiP product, subsequent to which I met Jurgen and Michiel when they purchased SiP in late 2011. To answer your question though, the value that DRGT™ as an internationally recognised developer and supplier, alongside GPI a well-respected South African gaming investor and former operator, have added significant gravitas to our African operations. The relationships and network that both of these businesses have given us access to over the last 12 months has been invaluable, part of what you will see on our booth at ICE will bear testament to that. 25
That’s a nice feather in the caps of both DRGT™ and GPI. Jurgen: It is indeed, but don’t let Charl be so modest. The relationships he has across Africa following not only his establishment of Simplicit-e Gaming in 2009, but also as a result of his 13 years with Aristocrat are of immense value to us too; DRGT™ Africa was without a doubt a win-win for all three parties. Let’s move from Africa to Europe; Jean-Michel, as
the head of DRGT™’s Belgian distributor business, ICE must surely be your key operator engagement opportunity? Jean-Michel: Without a doubt. Just as G2E remains an integral part of our Mexican and LatAm and Caribbean marketing efforts, ICE fulfils that role for our European and African endeavours. As you may know we are the management system market-leaders, by some significant margin, in our home country of Belgium, as well as in Switzerland, and as a result we remain under significant pressure from our competitors, and rightly so, to maintain that status. Jurgen mentioned Michiel and his R&D teams earlier; I believe that our market leadership is jointly driven by our system augmentations, new products, and product extensions, alongside our operations and service support efforts. Together they keep us that proverbial ‘step ahead of the pack’. 26
That’s an interesting point you make: that notwithstanding the fact that your success is driven by technology, it would never have reached the heights it has without the support from the operations staff who are at the coal face engaging and servicing your customers. Who though, or what, drives your on-going product development? It is integral to any businesses’ success. Charl: You are 100% correct, in fact in an interview I did last month I made it quite clear that in my view, in respect of not only 2020, but the new decade, that the player experience, is going to be what defines and drives operator success and sustainability in the foreseeable future. The above view mirrors what was, and remains, Jurgen and Michiel’s unwavering design mantra of ‘The Player First’.
Jean-Michel: I cannot agree more. As the saying goes people like doing business with people they like, and similarly players like playing at establishments they like, and generally those are establishments that genuinely appreciate their players and their custom. The core gaming products whether they be EGMs, Table Games and any iterations thereof are available to each and every operator on the planet, within reason. They are a commodity if you like, and remaining relevant in that space is a whole separate discussion; where I see us having set ourselves apart, and where www.casinolifemagazine.com
Feature: DRGT Jean-Michel De Busscher
I believe we provide the best option in assisting operators in setting themselves apart, is our ability to help operators measure, understand, manage and then engage and communicate with their players. So, if the player experience holds the defining key, how do casino operators go about delivering it? Jurgen: I believe the answer to that question is by hiring and training staff with the right attitude, then
arming them with knowledge, and finally empowering them to make player-centric decisions. We have all had poor customer service experiences, and in most cases it has been as a result of the way we were treated when addressing an issue, not as a result of the actual issue itself. The whole process has become extremely integrated; operators need to understand who are best suited to service their players, they then need to employ and train these like-minded individuals. We as systems service providers then need to provide these staff with the means to get to know and understand each and every player individually (the much talked about ‘player segment of one’), and finally these staff then need to go out and do what they do best, fully cognisant of their capabilities, and the fact that they are empowered and armed with the tools and knowledge to make the correct player-centric decisions. Volume 16: Issue 136
Can you give me an example of the player-centric tools you refer to, the technology solutions you believe set DRGT™ apart? Jean-Michel: Big Data has been a buzz word for some time, and in the gambling industry we have been managing huge amounts of data for longer than most. The challenge I believe operators have is determining what data is core to defining their success, then dissecting and mining that data, and ultimately using that intell to change, or at least sustain, player behaviour. What we try and do, on an ongoing basis, as technology advances and more and more data points, and physical player touch points, become available to operators, is to design reports and dashboards that provide relevant data in a simple and easy to understand manner. Charl: Furthermore, on the physical casino floor for example, where Slots have been at the forefront of management systems development for some time based simply on the technology they use; Table games remain quite manual and labour intensive. Whilst this ‘technology gap’ offers a brilliant platform to drive the player experience referred to earlier, it did inhibit the ability to accurately track game play, and as a result award Tables players loyalty points and rewards. In a really good example of how tech has enhanced the player experience, our Tables Management System now seamlessly integrates Tables game play data into our accounting, cage and reporting modules, in so doing bridging that former ‘technology gap’, and affording Tables Managers the ability to now offer their players the kind of functionality and rewards previously only available to Slots players. In addition thereto, we are also now able to offer operators the 27
Feature: DRGT ability to award double loyalty points to the players of our BlackJack11’s and Poker21’s side-bet jackpot games.
Jurgen De Munck
Jurgen: Coming back ultimately to your question around player-centricity, when I and the rest of our development committee assess any development proposals, we always ask one question: ‘how will this enhance the player experience?’. Examples of these include the provision of faster registration functionality through our drSelfRegistration, easier loyalty point reward redemption through our drPlayerKiosk software, easier access to cashiers and the cage through our drRoamingCashier. The ability to send (and receive) direct messaging to individual EGMs, and as a result individual players, via our drMediaManager and our drScreen player interfaces or the ability to now track, reward, and engage Tables players better as Charl alluded to earlier. The above said, what are the advantages of actually installing and operating the DRGT™ system, and realistically how long does an installation take? Jurgen: Advances in technology allowed us to provide a systems offering, at the outset through our patented SMIB, that operates without a permanent server connection. It also afforded us the ability to provide more functionality than existing legacy systems, and furthermore ensured that we were able to install our product extremely quickly. A case in point was our installation at Grand Casino Basel, where we completed the entire change over in a single day during normal operating hours, and more recently in South Africa, where 6 of our staff completed a cashless migration across 3 venues comprising 80, 140 and 220 EGMs, each roughly 200km apart, in just 4 just days including travel time The above said, let me quote Casino Locarno’s IT Manager, Davide Bogo; whilst I have shared this before, it remains relevant: ‘...high availability, independent of a central DB, fast modifications and relevant updates, as well as DRGT™s compatibility with many machines, even old ones,...’ have ensured a healthy and respected relationship over the last 10 years. “There was a big vision by developing the system and the SMIB, this small webserver with all its possibilities and features. The vision of this and having the right people makes it strong”. 28
In closing gentlemen, I’m sure your world-class Slots jackpots and Tables jackpot games will be on display in London too, correct? Jurgen: For sure! These products remain a key driver of casino revenues the world over and an integral part of our on-going global success. Their robustness, and world-leading range of configuration options help define the much-lauded player experience. Charl: Over the last year we have undertaken a number of further BlackJack11’s installations across Africa; our customers love the game, as do their players. It, along with Poker21’s and a couple of other Tables-related surprises await visitors to booth N2-240 in February. www.casinolifemagazine.com
Preview of ICE London 2020
ICE 2020 Preview: Cammegh
Cammegh presents its perfect vision for 20/20
ammegh, makers of the world’s finest roulette wheels, is looking forward to its most exciting ICE show ever. Visitors to the London expo can expect a thrilling showcase that opens with the unveiling of Cammegh’s brand new display range, Billboard 20/20. Representing Cammegh’s perfect vision for the gaming floor, Billboard 20/20 incorporates the latest Billboard controller, which runs Windows 10 in a micro form factor that can be mounted either beneath the gaming table, or discretely installed between the screens themselves. The single and double-sided displays range in size from 23.8ins, through to 27 30
and 32ins, with optional LED side strips aiding both table denomination and game type identification. The screens can be orientated in portrait and landscape modes, with a hinge-opener granting easy maintenance and cable management access for the retro-fitting of add-ons such as surveillance cameras. Updated with shatter-proof anti-reflective glass that’s equally at home in artificial and natural light. “Our replacement for the outgoing Billboard display system builds on the successful track record of a product relied upon by operators to deliver faultless performance on their gaming floors for the last four years,” commented Andrew Cammegh. “The new www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Preview: Cammegh
Billboard 20/20 maintains hardware design continuity, while adding the robust functionality of Windows 10, easy accessibility and connectivity, a beautiful crisp and clean finish from the anti-reflective glass, and the flexibility to mount the PC controller either under the gaming table or between the larger 27” and 32” screens. The Billboard 20/20 is clearly a showstopper for us at the ICE London and takes our display offer into the new decade!” In addition to our world debut for the new Billboard 20/20, Cammegh will further extend its line-up of side-bets with the unveiling of Twins and Crazy Twins, a dedicated blackjack side-bet. Cammegh will present the new side-bet alongside a baccarat display table featuring graphics to support additional side bets including Volume 16: Issue 136
Tiger Baccarat, Spread-Bet Baccarat, Super Six, EZ Baccarat, as well as of course the traditional baccarat layout, incorporating familiar customer options including, main road and traditional predictors for standard tables.
Last but not least, an array of dazzling manually operated roulette wheels, including the Crystal, Mercury 360 with Halo and the Mercury 360 Mini will be displayed at the show. “The Cammegh team is excited to extend the hospitality of our booth S8-120 to customers both new and existing at the ICE 2020 show in London,” stated Andrew Cammegh. “We’re very excited to present our range of new products and customer favourites at the biggest gaming show on the event calendar.” 31
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ICE 2020 Preview: SuzoHapp
SUZOHAPP To Showcase Product Innovations, Award-Winning Website at ICE 2020
leading technology company with over 50,000 gaming, amusement, sports betting, lottery and bingo products for operators and OEMs – will be exhibiting at ICE London, the premier gaming exhibition for industry professionals. This year’s event takes place at the ExCel Center in London from February 4-6. Visitors will find SUZOHAPP at booth #N3-130. At ICE, SUZOHAPP will be showcasing the most complete range of components on the market today, including monitors, locks, printers, scanners, bill and coin handling, push buttons, and more. A key player in the Gaming industry for decades, SUZOHAPP uses its deep expertise and strong engineering team to deliver technological innovations that add significant value to Volume 16: Issue 136
its customers. One such innovation is the new VisionPro™ line of LCD monitors which now includes edge-lit and 4K UHD models, narrow border touch and ThruGlass capabilities, allowing touchscreens to work through 9mm of tempered glass. Also on display will be the new drop-in replacement E-PRL electronic reprogrammable lock which enables remote authorization, traceability, and the benefit of never again needing to change locks when a key is lost or an employee dismissed. The Dynamic Panel Systems (DPS) feature the latest advancements in player interfaces, offering all the adaptability of touch screens while maintaining the satisfying feel of mechanical pushbuttons that keeps users engaged. 33
ICE 2020 Preview: SuzoHapp Further innovations to be shown at this year’s ICE include the Newland line of scanners, new printer models from Nanoptix and Custom, and POS solutions for lottery and sports betting. “The depth and breadth of our product line is unmatched – we can provide every component operators and OEMs need to run their businesses efficiently,” said Mike Sigona, SUZOHAPP’s Business Development and Global Gaming Product Manager. “Even more, we deliver the kind of value-added innovation that our customers can use to drive demand for their offerings.” Also at ICE, SUZOHAPP will display its new, award-winning Components website which offers comprehensive product information, organized in an intuitive and easy-to-navigate format. “Our goal at SUZOHAPP is to simplify the sourcing process for our customers,” said Sim Bielak, SUZOHAPP’s President of Global Gaming & Amusement. “This new website advances our goal by giving our customers easy access to the product information they need when they need it.” For a look at the new site, please visit suzohapp.com/oem.
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ICE 2020 Preview: Novomatic
NOVOMATIC starts 40th Anniversary Countdown at ICE Totally Gaming As NOVOMATIC embarks on its 40th anniversary year, the stand at ICE Totally Gaming will be a full display of modern gaming solutions, content and hardware for the various segments and markets of the international gaming industry
or NOVOMATIC, 2020 is the year to celebrate 40 years of success, to say thank you to all who have been part of the journey so far and to also look to the future. The exhibition stand at ICE Totally Gaming in London will reflect the jubilee and invite show visitors to discover gaming technology innovation from the past, present and future. The attentive explorer will encounter a special vintage corner where NOVOMATIC looks back on classic product highlights and company milestones from the past 40 years. NOVOMATIC CEO Harald Neumann: “ICE 2020 will be a very special trade show for NOVOMATIC, especially since we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. Accordingly, we will not only present our exceptional product portfolio but also review these 40 successful years with our customers 36
and partners.” Visitors to the NOVOMATIC stand are welcomed with the traditional Austrian hospitality as they embark on their tour across the exhibition stand to investigate what is new and exciting for their specific requirements. The Winning Technology portfolio on display for 2020 and beyond will serve every operator’s demands – from land-based casino and AWP products & systems, as well as biometric technologies for modern access solutions, to online gaming, sports betting and cash handling solutions.
Casino gaming In the land-based casino markets, Linked Progressives are a prevailing trend that European operators, too, have come to adopt. Based on their growing popularity, Links mark heavily in the casino www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Preview: Novomatic segment of the NOVOMATIC stand, with dedicated single games, suites of games as well as multi-game compendiums featuring a great variety of linked progressive jackpot highlights. Among these, Asian themes will make for a few surprises with two brand new Asian Links premiering in London as well as the eye-catching Samurai Beauty™ that is making her first appearance in Europe with the V.I.P. Lounge™ Curve 1.43 cabinet and impressive video wall signage featuring dedicated content. The MONEY PARTY™ Link with titles Fruity Fruity™ and Juicy Juicy™ will feature in the PANTHERA™ 2.27, as will the new CASH CONNECTION™ linked multi-game package with four titles. Also specifically targeting European operators are the BRILLIANT Link™ Collection 1 and SIZZLING Link™ multi-game offerings with a variety of colourful and thrilling titles presented in the V.I.P. Eagle™ III 3.27 and V.I.P. Lounge™ 2.27 cabinets. Standalone jackpot titles like Dancing Tiger™, Dancing Lantern™ and Dragon Hits™ as well as the PAYDAY™ Progressives are set to have operators spoilt for choice. “Curve” is one of the buzzwords at this year’s NOVOMATIC show display, and operators will surely cherish what hides behind the name “Concurve 5”.
Systems Specialists from Octavian present the latest modular functionalities of the myACP Casino Management System that support operators not only with casino floor management tools but also with comprehensive accounting and reporting, as well as modern CRM functionalities that fulfil the regulatory requirements for data provisioning (GDPR) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). Moving on, visitors will learn about the advantages of biometric technologies for secure casino entrance control systems, as experts from NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems (NBS) showcase the system’s smooth entrance process for guests as well as its benefits in terms of a fully automated and secure implementation of Responsible Gaming measures.
Ainsworth The Australian supplier Ainsworth will again feature prominently on a dedicated section of the booth to showcase a full range of new content, as well as
the latest multi-game mixes and some exciting new innovations, on display for European and international markets. Following the trending success of the Quick Spin series of games, Ainsworth will showcase a variety of new Quick Spin titles on both single-screen as well as dual-screen versions.
ETGs NOVOMATIC Electronic Table Games (ETGs) are on display in the international casino section of the booth. The show demo setup of five EXECUTIVE SL™ 1.24 terminals is connected to live and automated Roulette wheels as well as featuring a selection of virtual games comprising of Roulette, Black Jack, Baccarat, Caribbean Poker and Poker 3 as well as Sic Bo. Additionally, Impera’s LOTUS ROULETTE™ Pro table with six integrated player positions in an elegant black Roulette island unit will exhibit the seamless integration of slots with ETGs. Volume 16: Issue 136
AWP, Arcades & Pubs The European AWP markets will be catered for by a number of subsidiaries, each with an array of marketspecific and attractive offers for their respective arcade and pub segments. NOVOMATIC Spain will present three product novelties for the Spanish arcade sector: NOVO LINE™ Power Link Premium HD, a new concept with 9 base games, including a brand new title Magic Window and a progressive jackpot that unleashes a shower of coins and endless prizes. Also a preview of Charming Lady™ - Cash Connection will be presented: a bank of three single-game machines with the “Lock & Spin” feature for the Linked jackpot and a fresh style of sounds and graphics. Both concepts will be shown in the spectacular new FUNMASTER 2.27 cabinet, with two 27” monitors, surround sound and an innovative three monitor sign providing an incredible gaming experience. Last but not least, a new compact eight37
ICE 2020 Preview: Novomatic player version of the LOTUS ROULETTE™ will be shown, especially suited for smaller arcades and with a new jackpot system for additional prizes. Along with NOVOMATIC Gaming UK’s casino products, also being showcased at ICE is NOVOMATIC Gaming UK’s innovative arcade product ‘A new kind of Magic Games’. The FV551 cabinet will be home to the latest exhilarating Cat C Magic Games Premium HD game pack, which will feature an immense combination of 21 new and classic game titles with an exciting £100 jackpot! This new addition to the arcade sector is set to take customers on a journey through time and space with its adventurous line up of games.
Sports betting NOVOMATIC Sports Betting Solutions (NSBS) will highlight NovoPrime Sports, developed in partnership with Sportradar, as well as other solutions. The latest retail and online products of ADMIRAL Sportwetten and Millennium, including cash management solutions, will also be on show. For the burgeoning US sports betting market, NSBS will highlight the NOVOMATIC ActionBook™ selfservice kiosk that is rolling out in growing numbers with leading US operators.
Cash Management The latest NOVO Cash products from Germany’s LÖWEN ENTERTAINMENT present easy and userfriendly cash management equipment for international operations of all sizes. State-of-the-art technology and a flexible modular concept are two of the trademarks of the new NOVO Cash X6 money changer which is perfectly suited for any application – whether in the slot arcade, sports betting shop or casino. The new NOVO Cash Casino Master is a dedicated redemption terminal for the global casino markets with an attractive design, the highest security standards and the capacity to hold an incredible 15,000 banknotes.
Interactive In the NOVOMATIC Interactive segment of the booth, romance takes centre stage as Greentube unveils a heart-stopping new slot. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, lovers of Greentube’s Home of Games are in for a real treat as the company’s latest offer is set to 38
provide a thrilling player experience with more twists and turns than a Shakespearian tragedy. Visitors to the NOVOMATIC Interactive section of the booth will be able to also try out online versions of classic
NOVOMATIC land-based slots, adapted by Greentube for digital and mobile, as well as 2019’s smash hit release Diamond Link™: Mighty Elephant and the latest additions to the immensely popular Book of Ra™ series. Thomas Graf, CEO of Greentube said: “Our quality portfolio has grown to over 400 slots, table games and bingo titles last year, thanks to a stellar roadmap of releases from our in-house and partner studios, providing a catalyst for commercial success over the past 12 months. Greentube’s rate of global expansion has been unprecedented, extending our geographical reach in new markets from Switzerland to Colombia, and we have entered the new year with a big appetite and capacity for further growth in emerging regions.” www.casinolifemagazine.com
ICE 2020 Preview: Aristocrat
Aristocrat to show new next gen concepts at ICE ICE 2020 Core Games Product Preview
ristocrat Technologies will display one of its broadest and most comprehensive ranges of core casino concepts at London’s ICE Show on 4th - 6th February, spanning a mixture of proven, enhanced and brand new game mechanics across a wider than ever range of hardware platforms. The 2020 collection on stand S5-150 in ExCeL’s South Hall provides a unique insight into ‘what’s next’ for EMEA casino floors over the coming 12 months. Ian Adams, Product & Marketing Director – EMEA, explained, “The diversity of markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa presents a tremendous challenge in that the range of content and delivery platforms can often be highly heterogenous. Aristocrat’s global design & development allocation remains amongst the highest in the industry and we are fortunate to be in a position of selecting the very best games from the global portfolio and tailoring offerings to individual market needs.” “Our D&D teams have built on previous successes with a balance of proven and brand-new maths models and, taking advantage of new hardware technologies, delivering more advanced audio-visual packages to satiate players’ evolving demands for engaging gaming entertainment.” Already introduced to a selection of pioneering gaming floors across Europe, the new MarsX™ upright cabinet makes its first appearance at ICE, its innovative design and new Gen9 technology paving the way for the next generation of dual screen casino games.
Alongside launch titles of Buffalo Gold Revolution™ and the Fu Dai Lian Lian™ and Mighty Cash Ultra™ game families, new MarsX-dedicated game families on display will include: • Ka-Ching Ca$h™, with a new twist of the universally popular hold & spin mechanic where jackpots are assigned to individual reels; Volume 16: Issue 136
Player’s ChoiceT Opal Edition multigame
• 5 Coin Frenzy Jackpots™, sporting an innovative ‘Frenzy’ persistence meter, expanding reels, pick bonus and jackpots, and; • Wonder 4™ Boost Gold, an extension of the high performing multi reel set game Wonder 4 Boost, incorporating another four proven games in Buffalo™ Gold, Pompeii™ Gold, 5 Dragons™ Gold and TimberWolf™ Gold – featuring free games, boost feature, super free games and extreme free games. 39
ICE 2020 Preview: Aristocrat Continuing support for portrait form factors, including the Helix XT™ and Arc™ Single cabinets, new game families heading EMEA’s way comprise: • Cashman Bingo™, a game family incorporating a completely original bingo board matrix that transfers cash values and jackpots from base game reels, building intense levels of anticipation; • Grand Fu Wheel™, Asian-themed entertainment centring on a big metamorphic wheel that awards credit prizes, boost multipliers, free games and jackpots; • Rising Jackpots™, three Aristocrat Classics, 5 Dragons™, Pompeii™ and Whales of Cash™ turbo charged with metamorphic triggers, player-selectable reel heights and wild multipliers, upgraded symbols at higher bet levels and a pick ‘em jackpot feature; • Reel Climb™, another new concept adding persistent growing reels up to seven rows high, free games and expanding wilds; • Firecano™ Glory™, bringing a new metamorphic experience of ‘Eruption’ free games with changing wilds and reels, and; • Fa Fa Fa™ Fortune Cash™, new hold & spin with reel growth (up to 3 reel sets) with cash-on-symbols, stacked reels that transfer across reel sets and free games.
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Existing Helix(+)™ cabinets also benefit from a number of new game titles, some of which are being released across multiple form and screen factors,
with a host of proven Aristocrat classic titles being added to the portfolio – Brazil™, TimberWolf™, Wild Panda™ and Golden Pyramids™ amongst them, along with the eagerly anticipated multigame, Player’s Choice™ Opal Edition, with a compendium of 10 game titles blending a mixture of classics including Queen of the Nile™, 5 Dragons™, Big Red™ with more recent player favourites, Buffalo™ Gold Collection, Wild Fiesta’Coins™, Cash Bull™, Fortune’s Way™, Miss Kitty™ Gold, Big Red™ Gold and 5 Dragons™ Gold.
Erik-Jan van den Berg, Vice-President of Sales & Business Development – EMEA, concluded, “No matter which cabinet, Aristocrat has a wealth of exciting new content to help invigorate EMEA gaming floors and we look forward to welcoming visitors at ICE to share our next generation vision for the new decade.” 40
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Article: Shaun McCamely
BlockChain In Gaming – Are We There Yet? By: Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting
t the core of any successful gaming business is the need to innovate across all areas of product and game development. Incorporating new technologies and platform advancements delivered to an audience continually hungry for innovation, whilst making the delivery and processes easier and more transparent are keys to success. The latest innovation to grab the interest of forward thinking gaming executives is something called the BlockChain. An undeniably ingenious invention that has actually been around for a number of years, BlockChain is the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Before looking at what applications BlockChain can bring to your gaming enterprise, lets first answer the question that everyone is asking, what is BlockChain and how does it work? As a basic explanation, picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times
across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet by thousands of different computers. Information held on a BlockChain exists as a shared and continually reconciled database. This way of using the network has obvious benefits. The BlockChain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet, so for an online gaming business these attributes are particularly helpful providing an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions which are transparent and that can be programmed to record not only financial transactions but virtually everything of value. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, BlockChain technology has created the Volume 16: Issue 136
Shaun McCamley, Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd
backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for digital currency, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology. And the good news is that like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the BlockChain works to use it. Given all the hype and buzz around BlockChain, for gaming operators at least, what does this technology offer? Well despite the buzz and hype, at the moment not really that much other than being able to accept 43
Article: Shaun McCamely and make payments using digital currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. A big plus though is that digital currencies are very secure, transparent and virtually instant taking banks and credit card providers out of the mix, which translates to lower costs and importantly for online operators no chargebacks. The popularization of digital games has had an enormous effect within the gaming industry. The shrinking gap between producers and players is presenting the industry not only with a new set of challenges, but also exciting new opportunities. For land based casinos that means new branding possibilities outside of the norm. Today’s players have come to expect more sophisticated gameplay even from relatively simple games. We are seeing a trend in technology which is pushing games to new platforms and distribution methods, slowly rendering the days of boxed games obsolete. As a result, new models for monetization and engagement are becoming necessary. Gaming companies are quickly coming to this realization, with many looking to understand the technology and many more shifting, or planning to shift, their business models to adapt looking for potential cross over points where land based and digital through technologies like BlockChain can work. The elephant in the room for new branding and monetization strategies is the free-to-play (or F2P) model. F2P games are games which are available at no cost to players. Micro transactions within the game are then used to monetize the game, or in the case of
some large properties, loyalty points accrued can be redeemed at the branded property. Players can play for free, but are often encouraged to pay for certain ingame items (like powerful bonuses, levels, costumes, etc.) and maintained through frequent updates and patches over long periods of time. In other words, in the F2P era, games are becoming less like a product and more like a service. Innovative operators are now looking at the bigger picture by not only accepting digital currencies, but through developing and integrating BlockChain fuelled platforms enabling bidirectional exchange of private and base tokens. One such gaming group who have built a business model that incorporates BlockChain technology is a social gaming company called RubieCon. Seeing a massive gap in the social casino market particularly in SE Asia, RubieCon plans to offer F2P tokenised social casino games targeting new generations of Asian players. As a part of their development plan, 44
RubieCon is also creating an independent foundation managed platform which will be open and free to all game publishers, advertisers, marketers and players. Disruptive and smart, using BlockChain as a core component will ring in a new era of social gaming to an already hungry and impatient market. With the Introduction of a tokenized economy through the use of open platforms, BlockChain will allow for new incentives with transparent verification. Another concept being developed is the build and launch of a base token that will connect the online and land-based offline gaming environments. It’s innovations like these that will start to push BlockChain boundaries, whilst at the same time expanding revenues lines to more than just gaming operations. With limited crypto payment options through dedicated smart contract wallets and few, if any, BlockChain compliant casino platforms offering token enabled games coupled with the absence of token fuelled loyalty programs, the time is ripe for operators to jump in and get to know how this new technology can expand and create new business opportunities in their world.
About Shaun McCamley Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd has over 39 years’ experience in the land based and digital gaming industries. Recognized by Global Gaming Business Weekly as one of the top 25 industry people to watch. Holder of Key Management Gaming Licenses issued by the USA and Australia. In 1999, as a pioneer and early operator in online gaming, he founded BingoWorkz which developed and operated the internet’s first networked gaming solution using Flash technology. Since 2001 building Euro-PacificAsia Management Consulting into a leading firm that provides advice, casino management services and turn-key solutions to the land based and digital gaming industries. A former President, CEO, and SVP of international gaming resort destinations. Commissioned to establish international casino resort developments in Australia (Perth) the Philippines (Subic Bay) Vietnam (Ho Tram) Tinian and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Shaun is regularly invited to serve as chairman, keynote speaker and panelist at major gaming conferences around the world. As the Managing Partner for Euro Pacific Asia Consulting, Shaun continues to consult to the industries’ major land based and digital gaming operators.
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Macau the Silicon Valley for gaming as part of China’s tech ambitions By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot
acau is best known for its games of chance, and behind all the neon there is work being done that could provide a game-changing push aimed at diversifying the city’s casino-dependent economy into a technology center, in Beijing’s bid to challenge the US in technological superiority. Macau is a core part of the China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area” project that has exhorted cadres in Guangdong province to abandon obsolete ideas and take bold and innovative steps to build the China Silicon Valley. China Vice-premier Han Zheng, who is in charge of the region’s development as well as Hong Kong and Macau affairs, also stressed the importance of the project. The scheme aims to link up Hong Kong and Macau with nine major cities in the region to make it a world-class bay area, a region roughly the size of Germany, with a US$1.3 trillion economy. The region is already home to Chinese technology giants Tencent and Huawei. The former Portuguese enclave is ready to take on the challenge to provide a game-changing push in areas ranging from gaming innovations to regulations advance. GameSource is a classic Macau success story to show the world the Macau engineers’ ability and their technology excellence. As a fundamentally local-talent fueled company with almost a hundred engineers based in the city of Macau, the company flagship product has successfully gone live in December as the first mobile solution for Macau land-based gaming operations. The idea is simple: customers can win games with real money at any time in any place with any device on any traditional casino floor in Macau, starting with MGM with the approval of DICJ. Needless to say, an innovation like that has 46
Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot
been long waited for in the industry as the operators have suffered enough from finding new and exciting entertainment values for their 35.8 million players and visitors every year. GameSource platform is opening up thousands of new gaming ideas and trigger new waves of innovations. Talents shortage is always a challenge when the population is merely 600k in Macau, but it doesn’t stop the passion of innovations for the city. Paradise www.casinolifemagazine.com
The company is taking the advantage of talents in the Greater Bay Area which are now connected with the world largest high-speed railway network traveling over 300km/hour with a total population of 70 million people (= 2x Canada countrywide). Entertainment, a technology pioneer in Macau for almost two decades, is utilizing the nearby Hengquin area to build their R&D centers around the region. The company is taking the advantage of talents in the Greater Bay Area which are now connected
with the world largest high-speed railway network traveling over 300km/hour with a total population of 70 million people (= 2x Canada countrywide). Their award-winning Live-Multi Game (“LMG”) terminals and the AI-enabled Gaming Robot are just a few good examples of the company innovative product line. Another advantage for Macau is the long history of being connected with Hong Kong, giving Macau the necessary funds from both international and China investors. In 2019, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has once again ranked first globally in terms of IPO (Initial Public Offering) proceeds, at a time of global uncertainties, cementing its position as the world’s leading IPO hub according to KPMG’s IPO markets review report, raising a total of USD 40 billions for companies like Alibaba and Budweiser Brewing. Asia Pioneer Entertainment (APE) are among those
most celebrated IPO from Macau. APE raised HK$70 millions (US$8.9million) in an initial public offering which reveal a new chapter for Macau local business and enabling the Macau company to expand beyond Macau. Since IPO, APE growth has been unstoppable and they are now the fifth largest electronic gaming equipment supplier and the largest electronic table games supplier in Macau, the largest entertainment city on Earth. The Macau technology investment doesn’t seem to stop there. According to the World Bank, Macau’s expenditure on R&D accounted for only 0.13 per cent of the city’s GDP in 2015. In the same year, Hong Kong spent 0.76 per cent of its GDP on R&D, and the city’s leader has promised R&D spending would increase to 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2022. For sure Macau will follow that right path and increase its technology R&D investment and becoming the Silicon Valley for gaming. Volume 16: Issue 136
Last year, the Macau government’s total revenue was US$14.6 billion, and 85 per cent came from taxes from gaming. However, Macau gaming revenue has slipped for the third straight month, marking the worst annual decline since 2015 as the world’s largest gambling hub struggled to lure high rollers amid geopolitical tensions and an economic slowdown. Therefore, having a Plan B for Macau never hurts. It helps the city in its best use of gaming revenue for the long-term growth, also to fulfil Beijing’s wish to diversify Macau economy and China bid to be one of the world’s technological superiority. The city is well equipped for the challenges of the next 20 years to come.
About Raymond Chan Raymond Chan is the founder of Alphaslot, an organization to facilitate the development of new technology for the global gaming industry. He is a 20-year technology veteran and his products have won multiple international awards over the years from the German Chamber of Commerce and the Best Startup Scholar from the Ministry of Science and Technology in China. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
Manage This: Robert Brassai
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Manage This: Robert Brassai
Are Customers More Than Data Points? n a recent article I was arguing that many
casinos in the region (and worldwide I would say) do not make the best of the data at their disposal. In this one, I am taking a look at how some companies might rely too much on the data and forget the customer as a human being in the process. Let’s take a look at two life like scenarios: 1. You’re in London for ICE and one of the parties you’re invited to happens to be in a chic club you would probably not go to, but this time of course the booze is for free, so you attend. The club draws a bottle of good scotch for people who leave their business cards at the door upon entering. You give them your contact details and even though you didn’t win that fabulous bottle of Glenlivet, until you unsubscribe you keep getting mailers from the club about their events, specials, etc. You don’t live in London, but next time you are back there, you might actually take the missus there for a night out, as you had a good time the first time around and with their
mails they created top of mind. Thus, they achieved a repeat visit from you with very little effort and cost, relying on their product as a draw and data collection to enable communications and pass their message which positions, entices, and imprints in your brain. Marketing mission accomplished in a mass market setting.
2. Your local pub, where you are a regular with your friends and even your daddy used to visit with his mates back in the day, was recently sold to a well-known international pub chain. The old owner, who used to run the place as a hands-on manager, looking after all the clients, knowing them by name, knowing their kids’ birthdays and their wives’ whims all of a sudden is gone. The new owners lowered the price of some items, created promos to attract more customers and put in charge some young lad who spends most of his time in his office looking at sales Volume 16: Issue 136
stats and never shows his face to the customers.
Yes, you keep going back to the place for a while and even get one more pint than before for the same budget. But somehow everything changed, and that old familiar magic is gone now. There is no one to talk to at the bar while you’re waiting for your mates to arrive, nobody to reserve your usual table for you, you don’t get your regular pint just by saying hello to the barman. You became just another customer in a bar that somehow seems familiar but lost all its appeal. Customers lost, mission failed. I believe we all know stories like these. We have all seen casinos taken over by international corporations, given new management with completely new goals and ways of working, or complete teams replaced because they weren’t efficient enough. Some of these moves work out some don’t. It mostly depends on the profile of the casino. If they look after passing visitors, the numbers approach would be the right one. On the 49
Manage This: Robert Brassai other hand if the customer composition is mainly local regular, the business would have to employ a mix of number based and human contact based models to be successful. Big data is all the buzz these days and any business not harnessing the power of information in their data bases is doomed for sure. But any local businesses not cherishing the human relationship created during years between their patrons and their long time employees, is also going to lose out. Many of these old fashioned pit bosses and inspectors, who weren’t ambitious enough to go up the corporate ladder and whom the new bosses might deem untrainable and a dead weight for the business, are actually the best ambassadors of the casino and the best sources of information
on your customers. You will have to win them over, teach them your new ways of running the business to create continuity and most importantly continued good service to your bread and butter ToD players. Human behavior is highly predictable. This fact is used by all companies nowadays to ore efficiently sell their goods and services through advertisement, promotions, through tingling your brain into doing something you wouldn’t do otherwise. But all that tingling, powerful as it might be is just a weak impulse compared to recognition. And for proper recognition you need one human to recognize the needs and yearnings of another. You need your people on the casino floor to deliver this most important of services. Nobody else can.
Biography Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
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