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July 2016

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NOVOMATIC Gaming Industries GmbH Jens Einhaus,

Phone: +43 2252 606 319

Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +38 976 007 007 Features Editor:

Damien Connelly Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey

Associate Editor North America David Mckee Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde Subscriptions: Helen Holmes

Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree

Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life... I know we touched on the launch of the OEG casino and Hilton Hotel in Tallinn last month but in this edition we have a chance to talk in more detail to Armin Karu. Chairman of the board, and Madis Jaager, CEO, about the development.  By co-incidence, Ron Goudsmit, who I bumped into in Tallinn at the launch, also features this month in an interview by Peter White. He informs us all about his initiatives since leaving Holland Casinos and his role as Honorary President of the European Casino Association.  “Bon viveur” is a title that could have been made up just for our casino restaurant reviewer Steve Donoughue who has the difficult task of now having to review subsequent casino restaurants after having dined at the 5 Star Barracuda Club. Good luck Steve (and the long-suffering La Contessa).  Our Vegas-based correspondent David McKee talks to Marcello Cascone, owner and Training Manager of Turin-based gaming school about his approach to training slots and table trainees. I’d like to cover more training schools in more detail in future issues as I think they are under-promoted and do a cracking job... so, let’s hear from you out there.  Down-under, AGE is in it’s 27th year and seeing a resurgence with 25% more space being sold for the 2016 event.  Too much travel this year or I would have loved to attend... so, note to self: Perhaps add it to the calendar for 2018.  Meanwhile Victor Royer is railing again – this time against the folly of building an NHL ice hockey rink in Las Vegas... but he grudgingly acknowledges that it’s arrival may well cause licensed sports betting to be back on the books... so it’s not all bad.  Bob Ambrose is also in fine fettle with a spur of the moment referal to management leading to a staff member getting a raise. Good for you Bob – it’s something we all should be doing when we get exceptional service.  Finally Mark Wayman urges us all to follow his example and “...not work a single day in a job we hate.” Well, we all have off days – so try and stick it out if you’re working for a bad employer... but get your CV polished.

Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714

Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief


Contents 3

Editor’s Page


Guest Comment: Kate Chambers


Our Journalists


Capture the Action

Glyn Thomas chats to Armin Karu, and Madis Jaager at the opening of their latest Casino 15 Exceeding Expectations Damien Connelly chats to Michael Broderick Director of Marketing, Soboba Casino California 23 Cool Calm and Connected Ron Goudsmit founder of easyplaytime & Honorary President European Casino Association chats to Peter White 28 Restaurant Review: Barracuda Club London

By Steve Donoughue

33 Gaming School Marcello Cascone, owner and Training Manager of Turin based gaming school. Interview by David McKee 38 Australian Gaming Show Preview 40 Ice In The Desert The ‘Foley’ of Ice Hockey in Las Vegas. By Victor H. Royer 43 Have You Publicly Acknowledged Great Customer Service?

By Robert Ambrose

44 Career Curve Ball

By Mark Wayman

Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.


Guest Comment: Kate Chambers Why the customer is always right Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Gaming Division, Clarion Events


he casino industry is renowned throughout the ultra competitive and diverse world of hospitality, for placing great emphasis on the customer and ensuring that his/her needs and requirements are not only met but exceeded, every single step of the way.   The customer experience is a journey defined by a multitude of touch points, including the warmth of the welcome, the speed of service, courtesy of staff and the quality of surroundings, all of which contribute to the overall proposition. The casino industry is such a fantastic, working example of how to deliver a positive customer experience that I have made a visit to Las Vegas casinos (supplemented by a day or two walking the aisles at G2E) part of the induction programme for all new staff joining the ICE team. Customers are customers, whether they have decided to spend their leisure dollars on the Strip

or they are business people seeking out the latest gaming innovations, attending a Conference or generally networking at the world’s largest gaming event in London. To ensure that visitors continue to return to ICE, we commission an independent research company which uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) a universal metric which measures the level of customer satisfaction.  The Exhibitor NPS for ICE 2016 was an industry best +53 and an extremely healthy +39 for visitors. Every year we commission this research, not for reasons of vanity, but to identify and remedy any part of the customer journey where we are under performing.  Because, like the casino industry, we know that the customer is always right! ICE Totally Gaming: 7 – 9 February 2017: ExCeL LONDON.


Our Journalists Casino Life Magazine is very proud of its position as one of the leading independent casino publications which crosses numerous platforms between gaming operations to gaming industry suppliers. We have a very diverse group of readers who appreciate and value our high quality and independence. Our readership continues to grow year over year because of this. We are very fortunate to have some very highly qualified independent authors, journalists and operators who help support our reporting efforts. Some of your independent journalists are:

Damien Connelly

David McKee

Damien Connelly has transformed the commercial success of both mature and new companies/brands throughout his 20+ years career. His achievements include delivering several world firsts for B2B and B2C clients in industries as diverse as casino, FMCG, high tech, media, mobile, and retail. He advises the European casino industry, as well as being the Associate Editor of Casino Life. He holds professional membership of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has two Masters degrees from highly respected British Universities.

David McKee has covered the casino industry for almost 20 years and his day-to-day thoughts can be found in “Stiffs & Georges” at LasVegasAdvisor. com. For Casino Life, he has written several profiles of suppliers and operators. Other publications in which his gaming-relating writes have been found include Las Vegas CityLife, Desert Companion, Las Vegas Weekly, Casino Executive Magazine and several others. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife Jennifer and their four cats.

JJ Woods

Atlantic Casino Consultants is a Company set up to deal with all issues regarding the Casino gaming Industry. JJ Woods, Director of Operations, founded and set up the Company in 2006. He was born in Ireland but left in the Seventies to live in London and for a career in Banking that lasted nearly four years after which he joined the Casino Industry in London where he trained and has, over the last 35 years, been involved in the setting up, design, management, and opening of Casinos around the world. He is an Author on Gaming and has written for several International Publications. He has taken part in Radio and TV debates and was selected as one of the Judging panel for the International Gaming Awards held at Savoy Hotel London in 2014. He is above all extremely passionate about the Casino Industry and its responsibility of Customer care and brings a high level of enthusiasm to any Project regardless of size and is an avid believer of theming Casinos. He is responsible for several Casino designs and their logo.


Robert Ambrose

Robert Ambrose is a Gaming & Hospitality Professor at the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel University, Philadelphia. His experience includes commercial casino development and gaming operations at the executive level. After a successful career in casino operations, Bob joined Drexel as a Gaming/Hospitality Instructor. Professor Ambrose continually collaborates with industry professionals and reports on the industry about his research through publications, lectures and consulting. Follow: @bobambrose

Stephen Karoul

Steve Karoul is recognized throughout the world today as one of the leading Casino Marketing professionals in the industry. Steve is a seasoned casino executive with over 37 years of hands-on experience working for the best casinos in the industry, and is viewed as an authority on every segment of casino marketing covering: Table Game Marketing, Slot Marketing, Promotions, CRM, Player Development, International Marketing, Junket Marketing, Asian Marketing, Ethnic Marketing, Special Events, Player Clubs, etc. He is also the originator and developer of “The Casino Marketing Tune Up.”

Victor H. Royer

Jack Bulavsky

Jack Bulavsky is a 40-year Nevada resident who has been involved in advertising, public relations and hotel/casino marketing in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Over the years, he has written about gaming, food, and entertainment for Las Vegas Review-Journal, NEVADA Magazine, Los Angeles Confidential, Las Vegas Home & Design, America West Airlines Magazine, and M Lifestyle Magazine (MGMMirage).

Victor H. Royer, known as Vegas Vic, is the author of 48 books, and more than 4,000 articles on casino games and gaming. He is also the President of Gaming Services and Research, established in 1984. Publicly, he is mostly known for books, articles, and columns on casino games and gambling, such as Casino Secrets, Great Casino Slots, Great Gamblers: True Stories and Amazing Facts, but he is also the author of several titles of fiction, including the Western: Riders on the Wind, and the action romance: Another Day. In his capacity as a confidential research consultant, he has profiled most of the major casinos in the United States over the past 30 years, and has authored and researched hundreds of confidential industry reports for both casino operators and gaming equipment manufacturers. 



Capture the Action

Glyn Thomas attended the recent opening of the gorgeous Hilton Tallinn and Olympic Flagship Casino. Following the launch night where the sun barely set, he caught up with Armin Karu, Chairman of the Board of OEG, and Madis Jääger, CEO of OEG to discuss the development further 9

Casino Life was the only trade media who attended the opening--thank you for inviting us. We saw a varied mix of people at the opening party. What customers are being targeted? AK: It is certainly an absolutely new level in the Baltics’ hotel and casino scenery. The managers of Hilton Worldwide have already called this their most gorgeous hotel. Thus I believe that there will be a lot of business travellers among hotel customers, but also a great deal of tourists who expect high quality in all aspects of their travel. We are also expecting an increase in the number of casino tourists – especially from the Nordic countries and the region of St Petersburg.

shall not be short of experience as well because, within years, Tallinn has hosted both the European Poker Tour, Unibet Open as well as other major tournaments.

MJ: And then there’s also poker… our last vastly popular festival Kings of Tallinn did not fit into the old venue anymore – all the tournaments were sold out and, at times, queues for cash games were a few hours long. Now the problem has been solved and the new hotel and casino complex is prepared to host any major festival at European level. We

Hilton Tallinn Park is the first property Olympic Entertainment to have partnered with the organisation. Do you foresee other such opportunities in the future? MJ: Yes, of course. However – we have been cooperating with international hotel chains already for years. Our flagship casino in Warsaw is located


The casino is a major part of the overall entertainment and lifestyle mix offered by Hilton Tallinn Park. AK: Yes, certainly. For the first time in OEG’s history of over 20 years we have been able to plan the entire building from scratch in a way as we believe that the synergy between a casino and a hotel is best presented considering the Northern European context.








Belgium Austria




Ireland Luxembourg


Georgia Slovenia

Macedonia Gibraltar Switzerland Dom. Rep Curacau Saint Martin


Bulgaria Serbia Cambodia

Seychelles Singapore Ghana



Kenya Tanzania


Sri Lanka Malaysia

Peru South Africa

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AK: I’m convinced that tourism – both business as well as holiday travellers – and high-quality casino entertainment is a very natural and strong combination. This has been proven also by our experience from all other countries. If possible, we shall certainly continue the same way also in the future.

in the same building as the Hilton there and the flagships in Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia are located in the hotels of Radisson Blue chain in each country’s capital city. The most glamorous casino of Malta, the most recent country on the so-called Olympic map, was established in cooperation with the Eden Group, the top performer of the tourism business in the area, and it is located in the same complex as the Intercontinental hotel.


What elements of Hilton Tallinn Park Casino are consistent with other Olympic Entertainment properties? MJ: The main elements of Olympic Park Casino are all the same as those of our flagship casinos in other countries. We now have a larger stage than before, a spacious lounge-bar for live performances, gaming tables, more than a hundred of the most modern slot machines and a spacious area for poker, in addition also our largest and the most luxurious VIP area. How pleased have you been with the partnership

with the Hilton Tallinn Park as it is an impressive building. AK: It is certainly a great opportunity and I am sure that this partnership will benefit both Hilton as well as Olympic. We have been in the same complex with Hilton Worldwide chain in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, for years and it has been a very successful cooperation. Who were amongst the VIP guests? AK: The Opening Gala and the festive opening ceremony was honored by the presence of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of the Republic of Estonia and Patricia Page-Champion, Hilton Worldwide’s Senior Vice President & Commercial Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Altogether the opening festivities were attended by a thousand guests, our friends and cooperation partners from London to Vegas, tens of celebrities from neighbouring countries and of course the celebrities from Estonia – ministers,

MPs, entrepreneurs, and many others. In addition, approximately fifty journalists from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, the Nordic countries and from elsewhere joined us for the events. Can you outline some of the world-class features? How many and what type of rooms does the hotel have? MJ: The Baltic’s first Hilton, the 12-storey Hilton


also has a business lounge on its top floor. What manufacturers have been your first choice for Slot Machines and Electronic Roulettes with the new Casino MJ: Being clearly the market leader in our home territories we have the privilege of introducing and trying new products introduced to the market by industry leaders. Typically our portfolio consists of high-end producers, which also perform well in the region like IGT, WMS, Novomatic, Aristocrat, EGT and Bally. Tallinn Park, has 202 rooms including 27 suites. It includes a Presidential Suite and also a special suite named in the memory of beloved and widely known Estonian conductor Eri Klas. The hotel features a spa with a swimming pool, a fitness centre, a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a bar and a cafÊ. The hotel’s modern conference centre that has capacity to host 800 guests has 10 meeting rooms including one of the largest ballrooms of the city. The hotel


What impresses you personally most about this new impressive world class casino? AK: I think that this is something everyone must come and experience for themselves. I am even willing to bet that our all time best casino is worth a separate trip to Estonia as it definitely stands out from the rest with its unique design, high quality entertainment, smiling service, and a wide range of games for every taste.

Exceeding Expectations Damien Connelly chats to Michael J. Broderick, Director of Marketing/CMO Soboba Casino San Jacinto California 15

Please can we commence this interview with a brief history of the Soboba Casino? Exactly when the current casino opened is unclear. Legends at Soboba started calling bingo games Jan. 13, 1995. Pull-tab slots were in by late May, and casino officials suspect the grand opening was in June. Gaming was offered on the reservation as early as 1984, when the $2 million Soboba Bingo and Casino facility was built. In the years before tribal gaming was legalized in California, the bingo hall would open, the contracted outside operator or management would not deliver as promised and


the games would close. The hall opened and closed so frequently, even tribal leaders lost count of how many times it happened. But since the current casino opened in 1995, it has thrived and today boasts 2,000 gaming machines, 22 tables and nearly 700 employees. The original bingo hall became Legends at Soboba and the facility expanded by 25,000 square feet in February 1999 and 20,000 more in 2001. Soboba Casino in its current iteration just celebrated its 21st anniversary this past June, and features approximately 2,000 of the newest, hottest

slot machines, an expansive and modern nonsmoking room, 20 classic gaming tables featuring all your favourite card games, and a large outdoor event arena which easily accommodates over 10,000 people. For a bite to eat we have the cozy Soboba Cafe and the Coffee Kiicha, or experience AC’s Lounge with full cocktail bar and three giant HD flat screens including the “Sobobatron,” the Inland Empire’s biggest HD video wall. Can you briefly summaries your career to this point?

Well I can definitely say it has been interesting and with its ups and downs! I like to think that I started at the bottom of the food chain and worked my way up the organizational chart, and I have the battle scars to prove it. Like most of my peers that I know in the industry, I really had no intention of getting into gaming and hospitality when I was younger, but through life’s twists and turns I fell into it, and I haven’t looked back. Believe it or not my first gaming gig was in Coquimbo, Chile, South America at the “Casino de Juegos de Coquimbo” as a customer service representative. The casino is now called “Enjoy”. I was just 19 at the time and I didn’t really know what was going on, other than it was exciting, glamorous and it looked like something out of a James Bond movie. Casinos back then in Chile were modelled off of the European style of gaming where the focus was on table games, specifically on roulette and baccarat, rather than the American style that is more slot focused. It was real old school. We had hours of operation, a dress code, doormen, the dealers were called “croupiers” and wielded long paddles to move the “checks” around the tables. And instead of the small round chips we use today they had rectangular plastic “checks” in lime green and purple to reflect higher denominations. After the casino was closed to the general public at 3am there was a special “chemin de fer” or high limit room for the whales. They would go in there and play a player banked game of baccarat. The players would bet against each other and the house would take a percentage of each game. A lot of money would change hands on those nights. On my return to the United States I joined the Marine Corps, and because of training I found myself stationed in 29 Palms, California which is just an hour outside of Palm Springs, Ca. My training was coming to an end and I was to be discharged into the reserves and back to civilian life, so I applied for a customer service position at the Spa Hotel and Casino. That was back in 1998, before Class III gaming became legal in California, but like most Native American casinos in California at that time, The Spa offered “grey” area Class II games. Since I had previous experience in South America they offered me the position of marketing coordinator, kind of a jack of all trades in the marketing department. Since that time it has been go-go-go! I was lucky to be there during the fundamental change in “legalized” California gaming with the compacts with the governor and state and the development of multi-million dollar properties. I have had the good fortune to have worked alongside some of the best casino professionals in the industry in both corporate and Native American


gaming enterprises from the East Coast to the West, from as far South as Florida with one of the biggest operators in the world (and owners of the Hard Rock brand) that is the Seminole Tribe of Florida, to the farthest (and coldest) reaches North for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians and their small casino-resort operation on the reservation in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin. There was even a time I worked for Donald Trump when he managed a casino here in SoCal! However the majority of my experience has been with Native American casinoresorts. Like most gaming professionals nowadays, and much to the chagrin of my wife and family, I have moved around a bit. But it has always been worth it. What are your key responsibilities? On a macro level, I am responsible for the overall strategic marketing direction, P&L, and oversight of the marketing, promotional and entertainment operations for Soboba Casino. However from day to day I am responsible for the successful oversight and planning of casino promotions, database and database segmentation, analysis, budgets, direct and digital mail marketing, digital and print media, social media, public relations, advertising, entertainment, media buys and coordination with our agency of record, Advanced Marketing Strategies in San Diego, Ca. But what I always tell my team is that we are to successfully develop promotional activities and budgetary efficiencies that drive incremental EBITDA for the revenue generating departments, and for us here at Soboba, that is primarily gaming.


Our job is to identify and appeal to qualified players and attract them to our property with the tools and resources we have available. If gaming operations as well as the other revenue generating departments look good, than I know we did our job and therefore we look good too. But what I really enjoy is having a creative outlet that is still very measurable in nature. We develop smart promotions, events and collateral, and tied in with it are some very sophisticated analytics and targeted strategies. Great thing is, you know right away if it worked or not just by the immediate reaction or change of behaviour of your customers. If it works, it really works, and if it doesn’t, well….you know that too. But behind ever success is probably a failure I learned from. It is amazing how much more you can learn in defeat than from victory. The takeaways seems to be much more insightful and profound, so everything we do is really an opportunity to learn something new. Earlier last year a new gaming area was opened called “The Nook”. How has the additional slot floor area performed? I have to say, our General Manager Scott Sirois and our Slot Director Joe Whitman have really kept things interesting here at Soboba! Not only did they open this new alcove in non-smoking area appropriately called “The Nook” but only a few weeks ago we introduced to our guests a new “high limit” slot area of our gaming floor featuring a number of new higher denom slot games as well as some of the classic hits. It has really allowed us to stay competitive in a very tight market. You should

Sean Sadeghi, Director of Finance, Michael J. Broderick, Director of Marketing, Scott Sirois, General Manager

see our floor. Scott and Joe have bought in so much new product and games in the past 12 months, and our guests have reacted very favourably. In addition to the new slot product on the gaming floor, we have also switched out all of our slot chairs. The newer chairs are easier on the eyes, lighter, and allow for our guests and Team Members to move them with ease. The Soboba Tribe has, and continues to make, significant improvements and capital investments into this property in order to improve the overall gaming experience for our guests. What customer trends are you seeing across your gaming areas? I would have to say the biggest and most common trends I see with our customers today is twofold: first, the need for immediate, active and personalized engagement and responses due to social media and tech, and second, the need for additional emphasis placed on understanding and embracing diversity within our different customer segments. We have to be able to communicate with them in the language and culture they understand and relate to, and their expectation is to get the answers they want now! Because of this, we have to maintain our competitive edge by leveraging new tech; be it automation, chat-bots, self-serviced and personalized kiosks, and interactive mobile applications. By doing this we will be able to deliver a better, more personalized service to our guests while at the same time be efficient with our labour costs. I wouldn’t be surprise if we saw in the very

near future integration of mobile technology in the slot machines on the gaming floor. Imagine playing at a slot and being able to upload or download credits, ask for a drink, or make dinner or room reservations, all from your mobile device that is tied into the machine. Then, that interaction on the mobile device is a warm, friendly conversation. However it is not with a human but rather an AI chat-bot that learns from your prior habits and purchasing behaviours and is able to make recommendations and give guidance in a “human like” manner. Then it could assist you in tailoring your request to your specific needs. I think that day is closer than we think it is. Over recent years which Games on the slot floor have proven amongst the most popular and do you host slot tournaments? Just from what I have seen recently I can say there has been a lot of interest in Asian themed slots like Scientific Games’ “Fu-Dao-Le” and slots with mystery bonusing. Players have really migrated to Aristocrat Technology’s C*Series “Extra Bonus Wilds” slot product with the “Lepre’Coins” and “Birds of Pay”. Players love to see when mystery bonusing or mystery wilds come up on the screen and give surprise payouts, without any specific winning combination and with any size wager. Also very popular is Aristocrat’s “Buffalo Gold,” “Buffalo Stampede” and “Buffalo Grand” slots. Our players can’t get enough of them. And of course the participation and licensed themed slots like “Game of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead” and “Sons


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of Anarchy” continue to keep the guests engaged by tying in popular culture delivered in the form of an interesting slot product. Soboba Casino is one of California’s most popular casino venues. What are the key factors in your opinion that contribute most to the operations success in these competitive times that involve a whole host of entertainment and leisure alternatives? Here at Soboba Casino we go out of our way to emphasize our strengths and really play off of them, and at the same time we try very hard to listen to and understand what our guests are telling us as to what they want and then we try to meet their expectations. Since currently we are not a property with multiple retail outlets or a hotel for that matter, we position ourselves as the “friendly, local, rewarding” place to play by giving the player a good gamble on some of the newest product available. By offering generous free play rewards for their patronage, great value in our slot club rewards, and exciting, engaging and experiential promotions and direct mail offers that are unique to Southern California if not the entire United States, we are able to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Just recently Soboba Casino was recognized at the annual 2016 Casino Marketing and Technology Conference held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Part of the conference are the “Romero Awards”, a competition that recognizes excellence in casino marketing. For the first time in Soboba’s history we were nominated five times and from those nominations we were awarded five Romero trophies, including first place for best

casino floor promotion in 2015 and first place for best online marketing with our “Soboba’s Slot in Space” viral video on YouTube.. That means we beat out over 126 nominations to win first place, and we were going head to head with some of the biggest casinos in the nation and in the world. For the first time for our casino to enter these awards and to win, it was unprecedented, and I couldn’t be prouder of the marketing team. The promotion that won first place (the Diamond Award) was the “Soboba’s World Record Gold Rush” promotion we held in October of 2015. Not only were our guests able to win some fantastic prizes, including real gold they panned for themselves, they also helped us establish a new Guinness Book of World Record for “the most people panning for gold”. It was truly a memorable day and our guests came away winners with real gold and a story they can tell the rest of their lives. So we strive to make our casino a real “experience” that will give our guests lasting memories, and we do it in a neighbourly way. How are plans for the new gaming facility progressing? There is a Chinese proverb that comes to mind: “May you live in interesting times”. And truly I tell you it is a very interesting time in Soboba’s history. While I am not permitted to give out too many details of the new project just yet, what I can say is our GM Scott and the Soboba Tribal Council have put together a crack team of professionals to create a vision for the future of gaming in Southern California, and it is exciting to see it come together and be given the privilege to be part of it. It’s going


to be really big, it has been a long time coming and I can’t wait! What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying? That is a hard question to pin down to just one answer as there are so many aspects of my role here at Soboba and as a well-known casino operator and marketer in the industry, but what first comes to mind is that I have been given an incredible opportunity and privilege to lead and mentor a group of highly competent individuals in my department, but at the same time I get to work alongside with some of the most interesting and dynamic leaders of our times. Smart people. Brilliant men and women that I can hardly hold a candle to, but I get to learn from them and they help me to be the best professional and person I can be every single day. I once took a course on positive psychology at Harvard University when I was enrolled there as an undergraduate candidate. At that time it was the most popular course in Harvard College’s history, until CS50 (computer science) came along. One of the biggest take-aways from that course which was taught by Professor Tal Ben-Shahar was that people who have and express gratitude - gratitude in work, in life, and in love are more apt to be happier individuals than people who do not. For that reason, I remind myself how lucky I am every day to be in a profession that I really enjoy and am good at, that I am able to provide for my family and help the stakeholders of the organization I work for, and I get to meet and work with some very exciting and interesting people, people who I never would have imagined


ever meeting when I was younger. So for that reason I have tremendous gratitude for the industry I am in and for the Tribes that have given me the opportunities they have throughout the years. Have you a favourite quote or phrase? I have a few, but the one quote that often comes to mind is from Maya Angelou: “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel.” Finally, when you are not at work – how do you relax? Well when I am not working and not thinking about work I really enjoy travelling with my family and learning about other people, cultures and their history. I find history and archaeology so fascinating. For some time I was an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jujitsu, but lately I have fallen off of the wagon and not trained as much as I would like because of my obligations to work. BJJ is really a discipline that takes time and serious dedication to properly learn it, and I hope to soon return to regularly scheduled sessions. Finally I am a doctoral candidate at Taft University online working, studying and slaving to earn my doctorate in business administration with focus on organizational leadership. I hope to research and write my dissertation on a quantifiable study of leadership in Native American enterprises, while not being Native. I think it is an interesting topic to be studied, however I am still far away from that point and have to finish my prerequisite coursework first!

Cool Calm and Connected Ron Goudsmit founder of easyplaytime & Honorary President European Casino Association chats to Peter White Could we commence this interview with you providing an insight into your career in the Casino Industry? My career in the casino industry started on 1st October 1976 when the first Holland Casino opened in the seaside resort of Zandvoort. I had just been trained as a dealer and started on Black Jack and French Roulette. With the opening of several more casinos I gained a lot of experience both on the floor and later on in various executive positions on a corporate level. In 1985 I was the first Dutchman, who had come up through the ranks, to become a Director of the new Holland Casino in Rotterdam. After Rotterdam I moved to the head office as Vice President Gaming for Holland Casino.

In 1997 I started Holland Casino International with the firm backing of the CEO at the time, who shared my belief in the success of Holland Casino outside the Netherlands. As Vice President I was responsible for all international business of Holland Casino with projects around the globe. In 2005 I became Vice President Business Development, responsible for all international business and overseeing the intended start of Holland Casino Digital. In 2008 I was appointed Secretary of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board of Holland Casino. I left the company end of 2013 as Senior Vice President International Development.


Summer ECA Meeting in Venice, Italy. Board of ECA left to right Timo Kiiskinen (Finland), Janny Wierda (the Netherlands), Vice Chairman Tracy Damestani (UK), Guido Berghmans (Luxembourg), Glenn Cezanne (Executive Director), Jean Francois Cot (France), Carlo Pagan (Italy), Lothar Dunkel (Germany) and Chairman Per Jaldung (Sweden)

Because of my long experience in the international casino industry I had built a large network, which was a big help when, together with a couple of fellow European casino operators, we decided that a better representation was needed in Brussels. This was at the end of 2004 and resulted in the start of the European Casino Association in 2005. After the first year as Vice Chairman I served as Chairman of the Board from 2006 to 2015. When I left in February 2015 I was appointed as ECA’s first Honorary President. Once I had stepped down as Chairman I could finally follow my long time dream of starting my own gaming company. That is why I founded Easyplaytime in May 2015. For many years the new online law and the privatization of Holland Casino have been on the backburner of the Government. Time and time again the process was postponed. But just recently, on July 7th, the situation has finally taken a positive turn and the new gaming


law was passed with a great majority in Parliament . Though the decision in Parliament deals most with the start of legalized online gaming in the Netherlands, this new bill is also crucial for the new casino regime. The European Casino Association has been a vital positive representative organisation for over a decade, which is an achievement that you and your fellow founders must be very proud to have achieved? Absolutely, the European Casino Association both serves as THE voice for lobbying the entire industry in Brussels, as well as a great network for leaders throughout the European casino industry. I am very proud of what the European Casino Association has achieved over the years with our work in Brussels and in bringing 25 European countries closer together and cooperating with each other. This sort of thing is only possible when you have a great team around you who share common goals.

I have been very fortunate to work with many great people from our industry at the European Casino Association. What is involved with your role as Honorary President of the ECA? See below under “What do you consider are amongst the most satisfying and rewarding aspects of your role as Honorary President of the ECA?� The remote Gaming bill is before the lower house in the Dutch Government. What opportunities does this bill provide operators? As I mentioned above the new bill passed in Parliament on July 7th. Later this year the Senate will take a vote on this and then the Gaming Authority can start preparing for the licensing process. The bill finally opens the doors for qualified candidates to obtain a license to offer an online operation in the Netherlands. The Dutch gaming market is a very attractive market, however it is essential that the Gaming Authority act their part in combatting illegal operators.

What are amongst your primary skill sets that your consultancy company can bring to Casino operations? What are the Services you can provide? Obviously lobbying for our industry on all levels has been a great part of my work both at Holland Casino and as Chairman of the European Casino Association. Our consulting services are geared towards national and local authorities, gambling regulators and gaming boards, casino operators and private entrepreneurs. The past year has shown that each client requires special tailored services for their needs. Most of the work was concentrated on landbased operations. What kind of successes have you had with assisting Casino operators? It is company policy not to discuss clients but let me just say that this first year has exceeded my expectations, with all but one client coming from outside the Netherlands. With the introduction of the new gaming bill we


hope to be successful in the market here in the Netherlands both online and landbased, most likely with international partners. Do you get involved in applications for Casino licences? Yes, though the time has not come yet to give any details I can say we are involved with different parties intending to bid for online as well as land based licenses. Are there opportunities for major land based operators in The Netherlands...yet? There will be good opportunities in the future, though I cannot see the very large casino operators going for a license in the Netherlands. There is no market for a Las Vegas or Macau size of resort, especially not with the current gaming tax of 29%. That being said, I firmly believe in opportunities for the tier of operators below these major players. Of course potential operators need to know a lot more details about the future conditions and it will be the Government’s task to provide more clarity rather sooner than later. Can we expect any updates on the future of Holland Casinos by this time next year? Definitely, in my view. All signs are on the wall that this Government is going to see the privatization through and that the Ministries (Finance and Security & Justice) are working full force to make this happen. For those of our readers wishing to learn more about your organisation how best can they contact you? The best way is to either call me directly or get in touch by email or whatsapp. All contact details are on our website What do you consider are amongst the most satisfying and rewarding aspects of your role as Honorary President of the ECA? It is good to be still involved in the development of the European Casino Industry albeit more in the background. As Honorary President I am in a position to advise and assist the Board, mostly through the Chairman, solicited or unsolicited. Per Jaldung is doing a great job as Chairman and is


ECA Chairman Per Jaldung and Vice Chairman Tracy Damestani

Kate Chambers Managing Director at Clarion Events (ECA partner)

supported by Tracy Damestani from the UK as Vice Chairman. Of course I try and promote the European Casino Association and our industry where and when ever I can. What was the course of your career progression that led you into the Leisure Entertainment industry? How did you get to be in the Casino industry: was it choice or was it simply how opportunities prevailed? Purely by coincidence. I was in advertising and our studio made the very first personnel add for Holland Casino. That’s how I learned about the dealer training they were starting. I took the evening course and joined the company, but I kept working the studio simultaneously for three years, which was possible because of the shift work in the casino. By then my career was taking shape and I gave up the studio.

Left to right Per Jaldung (Chairman ECA), Ron Goudsmit (Honorary President ECA) and Tracy Damestani (Vice Chairman ECA)

Ron Goudsmit named First Honorary President of ECA

What have been some of your most memorable experiences and achievements during your time at Holland Casinos? I would say that from all the great experiences during my time at Holland Casino setting up and successfully running Holland Casino International was the most memorable and rewarding. Dealing around the world with national and local authorities, all types of organizations, private entrepreneurs and learning from many different cultures - also as Chairman of the European Casino Association - has been a great experience both in my business and personal life. When not at work have you’re a favourite pastime or hobby? First and foremost is spending time with my family, especially travelling together. We love being on the water and like playing golf and go skiing. Art is another one of my interests. The acknowledgement by the Casino industry of the award presented to you for Service to the Landbased Industry at the ICE Totally Gaming Awards 2012 must have been a very satisfying and rewarding experience for you? It certainly was and came as a pleasant surprise. I

felt very honoured to receive such a distinguished award from my peers. G2E Las Vegas and ICE Totally Gaming London are two of the major Internationals shows that you have had involvement with for many years? Clarion has been a long time partner of the European Casino Association and it is good to see ICE grow from strength to strength. A few years ago the move to Excel was much debated but proved to be a great success. Since many years Clarion and the European Casino Association organize the International Casino Conference the day before ICE and this has become one of the leading gaming conferences. G2E is also a successful show but is more geared towards the US market. Nevertheless I have been coming to Las Vegas for more than 30 years, learning something new or different every time. Have you anything you would like to add? Clearly I am very much looking forward to the opening of the Dutch gaming market. Further I plan to contribute to the development of the leisure and (interactive) entertainment industry where content, convenience and service levels will be some of the key drivers towards success.


Left to right: Restaurant waiters Hassan Marmari, Domenico Olmeo and Placido Forjan


Barracuda Club


Restaurant Review by Steve Donoughue

’m slightly annoyed with Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore of Casino Life magazine for sending me and La Contessa (my oppressive other) on the start of this series of casino restaurant reviews to the Barracuda Club on the corner of London’s Baker Street and Portman Square. Why? Because I fear the bar is being set rather high for what I know, as someone who visits casinos around the world professionally, is something we don’t do


particularly well in Britain. This is certainly not the case at the Barracuda, it was the most excellent experience from the moment we walked through the door. For those who have never had the pleasure of a visit to the Barracuda Club it is physically the casino version of a Cotswold cottage: small, beautifully formed and utterly endearing. What’s more, the welcome you get is like that of entering a long

lost cousin’s family house, each member of staff welcoming you as if they had been waiting weeks to see you and possibly, just maybe, taken extra holiday just to make sure they were there when you arrived. The bar is the first thing you see from descending the stairs from reception and the lovely lady who promptly booked us in. Ali, Anna and Laurent immediately knew what we wanted and made us feel in seconds like we had been coming there for years and had pewter beer jugs hanging from the ceiling engraved with our names. Very rarely around the world do you get such genuinely nice characters who, if it wasn’t for being there for the food, we could easily have stayed chatting to and drinking with until the new day dawned and reality would cast its grimy veil over our enchantment. Our restaurant experience, in the words of La Contessa (so named because she is Italian and has the airs and graces way above her station), was top notch and akin to only the places I take her when its either a major birthday or I have committed some awful crime. She went a la carte and I went Chinese.



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Ali Islam - Barman Anna Luzna - Barman Laurent Colin - Head Barman

They also do Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and the prices are so good you’d think every dish would have half a kilo more of grease and 30 minutes longer in the oven. Instead Chef Adam Bell had cooked everything to sublime perfection. Truly food you would only get in a top class restaurant. It gave me that kind of internal humming you do when you are savouring the moment because food rarely tastes that good. I started with soft shell crab and then had beef in black bean sauce with Singapore fried noodles on the side. Madame had crab salad followed by the halibut. My choices made on the basis of try what you know and see how they match up. And match


up they did, each ingredient like a well pronounced lyric in a beautiful song, distinct yet fully part of the piece. La Contessa couldn’t believe how fresh the fish was, a constant bugbear of hers since I rescued her from pirates and moved her to the big city a generation ago. As if fabulous food wasn’t enough, our dining experience was made truly Michelin star class by the immaculate attention of our waiting staff, Domenico, Placido and Hassan. Sounding like the strikers from an Italian football team they also moved seamlessly together, delivering service with grace and style and always there when you needed them. Nothing was too much trouble and every action timed and performed to perfection. Trude Yau, customer services manager and Phill Nunn, the General Manager, ring masters of this most scintillating of circuses kept every table happy, loved and feeling just a little bit special. My only question of the evening was why I had I waited all these years before being introduced to this place. A little slice of heaven just a stone’s throw from the hell that is Oxford Street. I will be returning. Five stars.

La Contessa & Head Chef Adam Bell


FOR SPEAKING OPPORTUNITIES PLEASE CONTACT: Sadie Walters, Senior Events Producer Clarion Events Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8198 Email: FOR SPONSORSHIP & EXHIBITING OPPORTUNITIES PLEASE CONTACT: Pras Sri, Sponsorship Sales Manager Clarion Events Tel: 44 (0)20 7384 8108 Email:


7-8 September 2016

Gaming School

Marcello Cascone, owner and Training Manager of Turinbased gaming school. Interview by David McKee 33


enerally, training is not an easy task. It requires a mix of knowledge, passion and sacrifice. And training staff for the casino industry is not an easy task at all. You have always to keep in mind one basic thing: your customer during the training is not actually your student but the casino in which your trainee will start his/her career, with the added possibility that he or she could be in a managerial position inside the company in the near future. The possible bottom line of a future casino could easily depend on the strategy and the decisions of that particular trainee – and what you have taught them. So to take this into account, apart from the usual technical aspects, I have to change the trainees’ mindset. They have to fully grasp the concept that, more than the bottom-line results, they also need to focus on customer service. If they devote themselves to quality and base their professional


career on this value, the result they produce will be a subsequent, natural increase in company revenues. Besides quality and customer service, there are other skills I have to develop, depending on whether I have trainee casino dealers or slot attendants in front of me. Where casino dealers are concerned, I focus on speed and accuracy, in terms of quickness of thought. For instance, in certain European countries, roulette games -- like dice in U.S. -- are really fast and furious. The dealer should always be a step ahead in order to manage the situation properly, especially if the dealer in question is a trainee. He needs to be up and running fast, and what really speeds up all the operations at the tables is the ability to calculate and present the payments in front of the supervisor in a fraction of a second. In addition, trainee dealers need, from my point


of view, to understand the math and the odds behind the games. That’s because, as a casino manager, I don’t want in my pit trainee-dealerssupervisors fearing or mentally bothered either by players winning because of “luck” or by pitbosses or shift managers possibly shouting at them because “they are paying too much.” Operating inside a gaming floor is very stressful, so front-line employers like dealers need to be highly aware about all of their hidden aspects just to manage the various table games and different guests in almost a “Zen way” -- that is to say in the here and now. If, I have in front of me a class of future slot attendants, the path is primarily focused on understanding how the machine works; comprehending slot games and math; and finally grasping customer service: player profiles, guest relations management and the staff code of conduct. In brief, this is a small explanation of the educational path inside my training school, which is in reality more articulate and different from the usual casino-training classes. Apart from the classical skills needed to perform the job, a superior casino training path should offer to the student a sort of curiosity concerning the world he is entering. Sometimes working behind a table or running a slot floor is very boring. The casino industry is the only multi-billion dollar industry not investing proportionally in staff training for development purposes, yet that is the key to success. If people are not motivated in what they do, they will underperfom. So we need to make sure they go beyond the concept of spinning a ball or drawing cards or paying a jackpot. This is the right way: to involve them inside the future gaming floor with deeper knowledge of its different critical aspects. All my students receive a diploma at the end of the training path, in which is listed their primary perfomance areas. Yet in any case, as they need to be absolutely ready in order to start working, if they are weak in certain fields, before they leave to join the company they will have to spend a certain amount of time to improve themselves. But … they leave prepared. Prepared to work and to add to the casino’s bottom line – but also prepared to learn more and potentially be the senior management of the future.


Hotel Leisure Resort Casino Development Latvia Timberland Hills Resort represents an unparalleled opportunity for a developer to create and construct a world class Golf, Real Estate, Tourist and Sports Resort with an 18 hole US ‘PGA style’ Golf Course, 596 residential houses, a 5star Hotel and Spa complex, a separate 150 unit apartment block together with all year around sports facilities which has the potential to be the most prestigious residential Resort in Eastern Europe. Having obtained rezoning approval for development SIA IncomNetwork Riga (INR), is now seeking to sell this land in its entirety to a developer or Investment Group who can maximise the potential and value of the Resort. SIA IncomNetwork Riga (INR), a Latvian Registered Company, owns 294.2ha (726 acres) of land 86km south west of Riga. The land was purchased over a two-year period between 2005 and 2007 and consists of 7 interconnecting parcels making up the whole and is known as the Timberland Hills Golf Resort. The overall concept is to capitalise on the integration of real estate, golf and sports, and tourism to create and develop a sustainable International high profile tourist, residential and sports product in Latvia. Hotel and Spa - providing accommodation for a wide range of people the Hotel and Spa facilities will extend the Resort’s appeal to business and leisure travellers who are looking for health facilities, sports activities (swimming, tennis, cycling, nature trails and cross-country skiing), retail, hospitality and event management enclosed in a superb natural environment which will attract both individuals and families. • A 300 room hotel of 5star standard with full leisure, Spa and conference facilities to be built using the latest best practice construction and energy saving methods, to produce the best of health, sport and leisure facilities • Planning for separate block of Hotel apartments – the final number will depend on the design and layout. This may be extended to mixed usage (retail/commercial) subject to additional planning consent. • There is potential for a full gaming licence for a Casino • A swimming pool, tennis courts, cross-country winter skiing, health and exercise trails, nature walks and cycling

For further information, contact Cowen Frank International Peter White +44 (0) 1892 740 869


It just keeps getting better, bigger and better With 25% more exhibitors lined up for 2016, the Australasian Gaming Expo just keeps getting bigger and better!


015 was a sell out year so we’ve increased capacity for 2016 to keep up with exhibitor demand”, said Ross Ferrar, CEO of the Gaming Technologies Association, “Our long term exhibitors wanted to showcase more products which required more floorspace, but it has also allowed for more new exhibitors. Over 20% of exhibitors at the 2016 Australasian Gaming Expo are new exhibitors, with new products and services to offer the industry”. The Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) is now in its 27th consecutive year. In the early years a lot


of paper moved around, from application forms to show maps and brochures. Now visitors can access all the information they need via the event app. The app features an interactive event floor-plan and uses beacon technology to advise of entertainment, events and more throughout the venue. The mobile app has provided more information than ever before, in real time, in the palm of your hand. Download the app from the Apple store or Google Play. For more information visit the AGE website. The event is again being held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. This unusual

venue was repurposed from the 2012 London Olympics. After arriving in Australia it was reconstructed on a concrete slab the size of five football fields and enjoys views of both the Harbour Bridge and the Anzac Bridge. This year the AGE will use all four halls of the venue, a whopping 20,000 square metres, 4400 square metres more than the previous years. Visitors to the event can arrive by complementary ferry from Darling Harbour, complementary bus from Central Station and Pyrmont, or taxi or private car. More information about getting to the venue can be found on the event app or the event website. Visitor registrations are open. Visitors can register to attend via the event website. Visitors attending the show will again have the opportunity to win a trip for two to the world’s largest Gaming Expo, G2E, held in Las Vegas in September. One trip for two will be drawn on each of the operational days of the AGE. More information is available from the event app and the event website. The Australasian Gaming Expo is the must attend event for the Gaming and hospitality industry. In previous years 97% of visitors said they came to see new products and technology. With new equipment being showcased at the AGE, and so many new

Casino Life 170x119.indd 1

exhibitors both domestic and international, visitors won’t be disappointed with the 2016 Australasian Gaming Expo. This year’s Australasian Gaming Expo will be held from Tuesday 9 until Thursday 11 August at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. Register at the AGE web site or call the Gaming Expo Help Line on 02 9211 7430. Note: The Australasian Gaming Expo is a trade exhibition hosted by the Gaming Technologies Association, for management representatives of Gaming Industry Organisations only including government, regulatory, research and support bodies, clubs, hotels, casinos, resorts and similar Hospitality Industry venues. Trade suppliers are not eligible to attend the event unless exhibiting. The Gaming Technologies Association’s primary members are Ainsworth Game Technology, Aristocrat Technologies, Aruze Gaming Australia, Bally Australia, Ebet Limited, IGT (Australia) and Konami Australia. For further information contact: Ross Ferrar CEO, Gaming Technologies Association (+61 2) 8216 0931 or


1/07/2016 10:06:28 AM

Ice In The Desert


The ‘Foley’ of Ice Hockey in Las Vegas. By Victor H. Royer

n the third week of June, we broke several heat records here in Las Vegas. In some neighbourhoods – like mine – the temperature exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And don’t ask me what that is in Celsius! All Americans think that the decimal system should be discontinued entirely, because it is so confusing. But – not to be outdone or upstaged – in yet another brilliant move, the billionaires and their corporate cronies and various money fund gurus from Wall Street, decided to put an Ice Hockey team into Las Vegas! I can just see the founding fathers of Las Vegas turning over in their graves! Who would have thought it? Ever? But this was not an off-the-cuff moment. The new NHL franchise owner, Bill Foley – hence the pun in the sub-title to this article – had been working on this deal since he consorted with MGM Resort’s Jim Murren in 2014, when the Sports Arena was still being planned, and not yet built.


Now known as the T-Mobil Arena – which makes me want to give up my T-Mobil phone in disgust – is that ill-conceived stupidity with no parking which was perpetrated upon Las Vegas by the very same cabal of East Coast cronies whose only apparent desire is to break up all the resorts under their control, such as putting the actual real estate into REIT’s, and then leverage, pillage, and leverage again until they bleed it all dry, and then let it wallow in bankruptcy for years, if not decades … just like they have done in Atlantic City, and with Caesars. In the meantime, of course, there’s a lot of hoopla around all of these shenanigans. But who benefits? Well, first and foremost the 30 current owners of NHL hockey teams – all billionaires – who now get to split the $500 million Franchise Fee that they imposed on Bill Foley to give him the expansion team. Cha-Ching!

And, of course, all of the Hedge Funds that now have a bigger public forum in which to tout their “accomplishments”, while at the same time all jointly salivate over the billions of dollars they will now be able to extract, and leverage, from floating shares in newly-formed derivative ventures related thereto, which they will then split into sub-divided corporations and LLC’s, and further leverage them again and again, literally sucking tens of billions of dollars from this venture, and its associated and resultant offshoots. And all of this under the guise of seemingly “doing something really great for hockey, and for Las Vegas.” But in reality, none of this has anything to do with helping Las Vegas at all. Instead, it has everything to do with these few at the top of the 1% helping themselves to more and more of the pie, while also sucking up public dollars, and at the same time charging more and more for services for which their customers have already paid – like those insidiously odious parking fees now being perpetrated upon hapless gamblers at MGM Resorts casinos and hotels. The up-side is 90% in THEIR favour, and only barely doing something for Las Vegas, or the guests and visitors who come here – and very little for the residents who live here. The result of this is yet more congestion, more traffic, more crime, more cramming of useless nongaming stuff, more costly hotel rooms, more costly restaurants, more costly buffets, more costly shows, more costly everything – and the only thing that gets entirely ignored in this mad frenzy of nonsense are the casinos, and their patrons and players. OK – so to be fair – there is ONE thing that MIGHT benefit from this: The Sports Books. Yes, with the placement of the NHL franchise in Las Vegas, where Sports Betting is legal and a serious part of the gambling business, this situation COULD show a SLIGHT benefit. More people to bet on hockey games. Maybe. And – yes – the legitimization of Sports Betting as a “skill”. Now THAT would truly be good! Right now the NHL is still

fighting a two-year long legal battle with the State of New Jersey, trying to prevent them from legalizing Sports Betting. Naturally, now that they are seemingly turning a blind eye to this issue with this expansion to Las Vegas, the national hopes are that this stance by the NHL will lead to wider, and general, acceptance among legislators everywhere – State as well as Federal – to finally extricate themselves from the flawed belief that banning Sports Betting somehow makes it “go away”, and that Sports Betting is still somehow “bad.” The days of past-posting horse races, and “running numbers”, and the other so-called “illicit enterprises” of the early decades of the past century – still associated with organized crime and the “fixing” of sports events, like the 1919 Baseball World Series (the Black Sox scandal if you don’t know – look it up in my book: “Great Gamblers: True Stories and Amazing Facts”) – all of these “dastardly” remnants of decades past are still infecting the legislators in most US States, as well as the Federal Government. Sadly, most of these legislators are a bunch of old farts who still think the world is like it was in the 1920s. At least they behave like it, and legislate accordingly. So, if there’s going to be any benefit to the NHL coming to Las Vegas, that is most likely the one it will bring. Legitimizing Sports Betting is long overdue. Tens of billions of dollars are flowing to offshore sports books not just from the United States, but from all other countries that still don’t allow it. But, mostly, from the USA. So, if Sports Betting is legitimized, and allowed to flower on the Internet, US State governments, and the Federal Government, will suddenly have millions of dollars in new tax revenue, which they sorely need but don’t have now, because all that money is flowing out of the country and into offshore betting, and only a fraction of which stays in the USA, primarily in Nevada. Licensing Online Sports Books through the Nevada Sports books, and making access to them available nationwide, would truly be a benefit.


Sadly, that is most unlikely. Yes, there will be some form of easing the “don’t gamble on sports” grip among the legislators of the various US States, and perhaps even Federally, but not as much as would perhaps be warranted, given the costs to Las Vegas, and the burdens that this mad-dash to all things non-gaming places on a small city in the desert, with finite water resources, a decade-long drought, and little room in which to grow successfully without the kind of congestion that makes places like Los Angeles and New York a nightmare for anyone who lives there. Las Vegas was once a beautiful jewel in the desert. The Neon Jungle, whose business was Gambling and Entertainment. THAT was what made Las Vegas world-famous, and what made it, and its business, so profitable. Now we are getting farther and farther away from that formula, and instead turning the city into a clone of New York, and drowning it by such pressures as a result. A friend of mine once told me – about 20 years ago – something I never forgot. We were standing up on the hill, on the West Side of Las Vegas, looking down at the glowing bright lights of the

city, and lamenting how that wonderful place is being destroyed as one casino after another was imploded. He turned to me and said: “One day, this will be a nicest ghost town in the world.” And he’s right. Already there are signs. The corporations and their cabal of east coast billionaire cronies are already bleeding us dry, and when they’re done, they’ll go back to their New York penthouses, and palatial Mansions in New England, the Bahamas, or Florida, while Las Vegas withers in the desert, abandoned, bankrupt, and left to decay. And that is – and will be – the sad legacy of what is happening now. The Foley of Hockey in Las Vegas is just another nail in that now inevitable coffin. Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services & Research. He is a 33 year veteran of Las Vegas gaming, a 26 year consultant to the gaming industry, author of 48 books, and more than 4,000 articles on casino games and gaming. In addition he has researched and authored over 300 industry reports on the subject of player preferences, marketing, player development and customer relations. He can be reached at:

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Have You Publicly Acknowledged Great Customer Service?


Being a “spur of the moment” mentor can have unintended consequences. By Robert Ambrose

feel it is important to acknowledge exceptional customer service. Sometimes the result of my actions can be quite interesting. Recently, I attended a wedding reception and was so impressed by a server who was totally on her “game” with service delivery; that I had to sing her praises out loud! I spoke with this young lady who attends a university in the city, (not mine) and is considering a career in hospitality. She currently is a human resources major. I complimented her on an outstanding service presentation with her guests that was beyond “text-book.” I told her I planned to send an email to the owner of the facility noting her “above and beyond” elements of service that included personalized guest greetings, a consistent table presence and an on-going follow-through for all guest needs. I soon received an email from the CEO of the company who told me how honoured he was to have his employee singled out with such praise, especially by someone from an academic hospitality institution. He planned employee recognition and was going to promote her to full time server with a raise. (This is leadership in action) “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker I did not write this commentary to brag about what I did for the young server. I am writing this commentary in a “pass it on” moment. What can you do at your property? • Take a step back from your very busy day of work related activities. Walk around your own property and get to know your employees and let them

know you. • Look into how mentorship programs can impact your companies own customer service footprint. And when you are the customer… • Be an observer in other arenas when you are the customer. • Take time to acknowledge people who are exceptional in their skill sets. You could change their life and it may help you view your own work environment differently. And if you really want to take a leap... The May 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review published an article “Mentoring Millennials” by Meister & Willyerd, highlighting a reverse mentoring model. A Millennial is teamed with a senior member of management. The goal is to learn from the Millennials. It is two-fold; the senior member learns social media skills and works one-on-one with the next generation of employee. In return that employee gains insight into the world of executive leadership. This is a great dual mentorship experience! Take some time to review your company’s approach to mentorship. These company sponsored programs make a difference. By the way, I have agreed to be a mentor to this student as she continues her academic pursuits. Bob Ambrose, Instructor Gaming & Hospitality Center for Hospitality & Sport Management Drexel University


Career Curve Ball: I only got fired once, but thank God I did! By Mark Wayman


rior to starting an Executive Talent agency, I worked in corporate America for 30 years as a technology executive. In all those years, I was only terminated one time, and it taught me a great lesson – never work at a company or job you don’t like. I would say “hate”, but my Mom taught me to never use that word. I was a Director of Technology at LA Gear. You remember them, right? Great marketing/ branding…but the shoes fell apart. After several years in a Director level role for a financial services company, LA Gear enticed me away with a larger compensation package. Anyone ever tell you if something looks too good to be true, it probably is? My boss was the CIO. She came from a big consulting company, and it was her first CIO gig. Without going into details, let’s just say we did not agree on a few things. Specifically, the way she talked to people; the way she treated people. After six months, I was miserable. One day we were having a discussion and she said, “You’re fired.” I carpooled that day, so I had to take my box of stuff from my office and go sit on the curb to wait for a ride. Made a decision right then


and there – I would never work a single day at a job I did not like (hated). And I never have. Now I own the company, so I can’t really quit. My point is this – life is too short to stay in a company you don’t enjoy. The Right Way to Leave a Job – First, don’t quit until you find another job. This is a very tough economy with very few senior level jobs. Second, shake hands and part friends. I see candidates every day that burned their bridges on the way out. It may make your ego feel better, but down the road it may come back to haunt you. Leave in a professional manner. Third, let go and let God. I regularly see candidates that are bitter and unhappy, mostly because they are dwelling on being terminated or laid off. Companies want to hire happy smiley people. Let it go! Mark Wayman is the Founder of The Foundation, LLC, a boutique executive placement firm focused on gaming and high tech. His “Candidate Career Guide” service includes polishing your resume, the eBook “The Godfather’s Career Guide: What To Do If You Get Whacked”, and one dedicated hour of time to discuss your career strategy. It’s $500 by phone or $1,000 in person. The best candidate rarely gets the job – the best prepared candidate does. God bless!

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Casino Life July 2016