Casino Life Issue 151 Volume 18

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The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos

Volume 18: Issue 151

BEST OF THE BEST Christoph Boo European Dealer Champion 2022


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Editor’s Note

CASINO The magazine for the owners and management of international casinos

Published by Outsource Digital Media Ltd

Editorial:

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

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde stewart@de5ign.co.uk www.de5ign.co.uk Accounts: Helen Holmes accounts@outsourcedigitalmedia.com IT Director: Pasha Kuzminskiy pasha@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 peter@outsourcedigitalmedia.com Volume 18: Issue 151

Welcome... When to regulate and not to regulate? That’s a vexing question which is getting a higher profile these days, thanks to casino scandals Down Under and to sports betting overkill on both sides of the Atlantic. While whistle-towhistle advertising bans and other advertising countermeasures are familiar to Europeans and Britons, the Belgian government wants to go a huge step further. Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborn has proposed to outlaw sportsbetting advertising altogether by 2025. By contrast, the youthful American sports-betting industry has hit the same wall in record time. As I write this, Massachusetts lawmakers are hashing out whether to impose whistle-to-whistle bans in the Bay State. And in New Jersey, the second-largest sports betting market in America, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is pushing for similar restrictions. We regret to say this but when the airwaves are choked with pitchmen screaming at you to “Make it Rain!” governmental pushback is inevitable. Caesars Entertainment is voluntarily retrenching and we shall see if others follow. Meanwhile, with scandal-plagued Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment representing 95 percent of Australia’s casino industry, some have wondered if they have become too big to regulate. At least partial rescue is coming from the U.S., whence squeaky-clean Blackstone Group will buy out Crown – but not before Crown was deemed “unsuitable” to run its Perth casino...yet was allowed to keep doing so under the eye of a government-appointed minder. On a healthier note, after a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, the European Casino Association’s European Dealer Champion was held last month, with 40 dealers from 23 nations vying to be deemed the best. Casino de Monte-Carlo was the venue for the final round, in which Casino Zurich’s Christoph Boo emerged triumphant. Also represented in the final were London’s Hippodrome (profiled in this issue) and Casino Györ. Our congratulations to Boo, Hippodrome’s Daniel Rhodes and to Zoltan Horvath for their outstanding performances. Attendance at the event was reported to be in record numbers, too. The dealers didn’t merely have to demonstrate their skill in Europeanfavored games but also ones popular in the United States, like blackjack. The overall finalists, however, did not clean up in any of the sub-competitions, which went to an international array of contestants. Marzen Zdanowske of Casinos Poland was deemed Best Mathematician. The finest chip-cutting was that of Casino de Monte-Carlo’s Noemie Serra, while top honors in card handling went to the same casino’s Christopher Conçeicao. When it came to pushing stacks, nobody could beat Casino Cosmopol’s Paul Gaitan, who also was named Best Chipper. We doff our hats to all the winners.

DMcKee David McKee Editor 3


Contents 3 Editor’s Note When to regulate and not to regulate? That’s a vexing question which is getting a higher profile these days, thanks to casino scandals Down Under and to sports betting overkill on both sides of the Atlantic 5 Editor EMEA Foreword Damien Connelly is looking forward to exciting developments at casino operations across Europe 6 10 Years a Legend London’s Hippodrome looks back on 10 years as a casino and forward to a brave new world for British gaming. By David McKee and Victor H. Royer

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19 Best of the Best Christoph Boo European Dealer Champion 2022 Winner, chats with Peter White 23 Legislation Update Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Albania, Denmark and Serbia 27 Teamwork is Everything Lyudmyla Kyrychenko chats with Austin Graham, General Manager of The Grosvenor Casino Victoria 32 Wanted: Gamblers Why is the lack of love for risk among Ukrainians not a verdict for the future of legal gambling in Ukraine? By Anton Kuchukhidze 34 Collecting Sports Trophies from All Over the World The best poker player of Ukraine goes to Las Vegas on a charity mission 36 Velvix Lunches Three New Games Velvix provides the details on three brand-new game titles in their standalone-progressive product suite 38 The Drive Towards Business Growth Peter White talks to Sebastian Salat, CEO of Zitro 42 Tribal Gaming Takes the Stage in Anaheim Indian Gaming Association Executive Director Jason Giles sits down with Casino Life 46 Tips on How to Destroy Customer Loyalty Customers are essential for your casino’s survival, but before you can turn them into loyal, raving fans, you first need to fully understand what will make them run for the hills at the mere thought of your casino brand’s name. By Andrew Cosgrove 49 Deconstructing 2022 It’s been a challenging first half of 2022. Nevertheless, by almost any measure, 2022 is in a better time for innovations now than at any time in the past, if we may learn from the previous crisis. By Raymond Chan

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


Guest Comment: Damien Connelly

Exciting developments across Europe!

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s guests of Monte-Carlo SBM, who expertly hosted the 2022 European Dealer Championship, Peter and I chatted with various operator CEOs. There are some fantastic projects underway across Europe, with more exciting projects in development that we cannot publicly discuss...yet! It was great to see the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. The hospitality offered by Monte-Carlo SBM is rightly legendary and we had great lunches on the terrace of Pavyllon Monte-Carlo, a restaurant by Yannick Alléno, located in the Hôtel Hermitage overlooking the harbour. What a setting! Merci Sylvie et Pascal. Hard Rock has announced some stunning

entertainment events as it builds its activities to support its planned 2026 opening. In the city centre of Athens, Regency Casino is building a new casino that looks to me to have a special, signature design. There are too many developments to list here! For a change, I’d say Europe has more exciting projects ongoing than America. It feels a bit like the Ryder Cup – on which point, we will be at The Open. This is the 150th Anniversary and this Open will be held at the home of golf – the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. A big “Thank you” to all of our friends who are approved members of our vetted LinkedIn Group. As the only closed LinkedIn Group in our industry, we now have over 7,000 members, and we receive and approve high-quality applications everyday. Please join our LinkedIn Group and engage with our high-quality, industry-relevant community. Volume 18: Issue 151

Damien Connelly, Editor EMEA 5


Feature: Hippodrome

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Feature: Hippodrome

10 Years a Legend London’s Hippodrome looks back on 10 years as a casino and forward to a brave new world for British gaming. By David McKee and Victor H. Royer

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Feature: Hippodrome

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asino Life Magazine and Outsource Digital Media recently had the opportunity to interview Simon Thomas, CEO of Hippodrome Casino London. The story of the Hippodrome Casino in London begins in 2006. By 2008 Simon and his group received their gaming license, and then began the work physically on-site in July of 2009. After about three years – and £50 million of investment to regenerate and restore the primary building, and the building next to it – and then connecting the two – there was finally a light at the end of the long tunnel and the project neared completion. The grand opening was in July 2012, and so by today Hippodrome Casino London is coming up to 10 years’ of operation. Simon, first I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Please tell our readers a bit more about yourself, and your role at the Hippodrome Casino in London. Thank you so much David and Victor for the invitation. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share what we are doing at the Hippodrome Casino in London. My family go back six or seven generations in gaming, so if you think of the bearded lady in the traveling fair in the late 19th century, that’s probably my great, great,

great granny. After my father settled down he started doing bingo, and broke away from the family business. So I’m steeped in gaming from many generations. But I too broke away from the mold, at least at first. I went to university, and then to the city. And while I was doing so, my father sold the family business. He kept a bingo hall for me, which I then built up into quite a sizable business. What had happened with bingo is that casinos and bingo were placed under the same law in 1968, and that meant that they were both highly restricted: no advertising, no promoting, no live entertainment and no alcohol on the gaming floor. You had to be a member for 24 hours before you could gamble. But then bingo was deregulated, just when I was coming into it. So the first bingo hall I had was a converted cinema with maybe 300 seats, with a largely elderly clientele gambling for small amounts of money. By 1995 I had opened a bingo hall in Cricklewood, in north London, which was by bingo standards quite enormous. It was 65,000 square feet, 2,700 seats, three bars, two restaurants, two cabaret stages, wedding license, cinema license, 265 slot machines, and 800 car-park spaces. It was more like an international casino than British casinos were allowed to be, albeit without roulette and blackjack. So that was quite a good grounding for what came next, with the 2005 Gambling Act.

Simon Thomas Chairman Hippodrome 8

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Feature: Hippodrome

Please tell our readers more about the advantages your bingo experience brings to the Hippodrome. In 2005, when the new Gambling Act came out, for the first time it deregulated casinos, so casinos were allowed to advertise, to promote, to have live entertainment and serve alcohol on the gaming floor. Plus you no longer had to be a member. At that time, all the casino operators were stuck in legacy buildings and had a mindset which was very much casino-casino-casino. They had no experience of mass-market entertainment, of bars and restaurants other than to serve the gamblers. I’d come from the other end, where when I started bingo was the same – it was all about bingo. Over the years I learned how to get the different disciplines to work together: the bar, the restaurant, entertainment and gambling. So I was coming into casinos not knowing much about casinos, but I knew how to make the most of all the deregulation, and get all the other disciplines talking and working with each other. So I had a massive advantage over the incumbent operators, who had none of that experience.

How many slots do you have in the casino, in total? “A shockingly small number” would be what comes to mind. Especially when compared to American, and Volume 18: Issue 151

some European, casinos. You see, we are limited in the number of slot machines – by law – to 20 gaming machines. And that’s it. At least for the time being. But that’s something we’re hoping will change in near future, with the forthcoming Gambling Act Review. We understand there are three casinos in total at

the Hippodrome. One is for the slots, as you’ve just explained. What do the other two offer? It’s all quite big, because we compensate with a large number of electronic roulette terminals, like you would find in a typical American casino. So we have 120 electronic terminals that play blackjack, baccarat and roulette. We’ve got 35 gaming tables. We’ve got all the usual: roulette, blackjack, three-card poker, baccarat. And we’ve got England’s only full-sized craps table, which is actually on a balcony 55 feet up in the building, so it offers the best view of any craps table in the world. We also have 17 poker tables. We have an affiliation with PokerStars, and provide an incredible live-poker offer. How does your location work in your favor? The location is phenomenal. It’s on the busiest corner in Europe. On a normal weekend day we have about a quarter of a million people walking past our front 9


Feature: Hippodrome doors. The reason it’s so busy is it’s kind of the crossroads between the theatre district, to the east of us, and Soho and Chinatown to the north. To the west of us we’ve got the West End, Regent Street—all these great shopping areas, and to the south of us we have Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the museums. So the location is phenomenal and the history of the building, is, obviously, very relevant. It’s such a good location that every generation will come and turn this into whatever is the latest form of entertainment. The history is just amazing. What would someone used to American casinos find different about the Hippodrome? Ahhhh, lots. When we think of American casinos we think of very large, flat-floor barns of casinos and all created relatively recently. The Hippodrome is in a historic building. It’s 122 years old. We’re spread over seven floors. We have an amazing array of products within it. Some people call it “Aladdin’s Palace,” others say it’s a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because everywhere you go there’s something different happening. Just to walk into a 60-foot Victorian atrium and find gambling, but then walk into the basement and find something else going on and, as you walk around the building, find all sorts of different activities.

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What was it about the building, when you saw it, that said ‘potential casino’? Location, location, location to start with. Then the history. It opened in 1900 as an indoor circus with dwarves diving from the ceiling into a big water tank, elephants swimming, seals, sea lions, giants, pygmies, and Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini. It had the English premiere of Swan Lake in 1910, the first jazz ever played in the country in 1919. Twenties, Thirties, Forties it was a famous music hall. Fifties and Sixties it was turned into a venue called Talk of the Town, and that was a dinner-dance venue for 800 people who would watch Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Judy Garland, and on and on. In the early Eighties it was turned into England’s answer to Studio 54, Stringfellows Nightclub, and it was an extraordinary nightclub in the Eighties and the Nineties, but not very good in the Noughties. But there was such an incredible historical legacy in this building, and an emotional connection people had that screamed out to say: This building, deregulation, big location – it’s ready to become something special as a casino-based entertainment complex. Do any vestiges of its historic past remain? Lots. And we thoroughly enjoy it! The trick for me was not to rely on the history too much, but to build on it.

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Feature: Hippodrome

It’s the same with the building. It’s a great building, but it does present challenges. So the trick was to make you walk in and go, ‘Gosh, wow, this is fantastic! It’s so impressive!’ But it had not to feel austere. You had to feel at home, and we found a really nice balance between the comfort of a front lounge, and something which is an extraordinary building. We did quite a lot of restoration on the plasterwork, because I wanted people to walk in and experience the splendor, the grandeur, the drama of a Victorian atrium. But at the same time there’s a lot of contemporary design in here so there’s plenty of places where you can get cozy and have a great time.

Could you describe ‘The Gods’ and your new poker venue? “The Gods” is what you’d historically call the upper balcony in a theater. So, if you can imagine, you’ve got the stalls on the ground floor, then you’ve got a balcony level, then you’ve got what was a fairly steeply raked set of seats, and we built a platform over them, which we call The Gods Casino now, and we’ve got six or seven gaming tables up there, plus a bit of hospitality. You’re looking down over the edge into the main atrium of the building, and you are about the height the dwarves would have dived from, so you can empathize a little bit. It’s a stunning space. Also on that level we have an outdoor smoking level next door, with Volume 18: Issue 151

four more gaming tables and a bar. It’s a little casino in its own right. How popular is outdoor gambling at the Hippodrome? In the English winter it’s a little challenging. But there are seven tables: Three of them are on the third floor, in a well, and really well protected. They are busy all year ‘round. The ones on the fourth floor are slightly

less protected, but again, because of the popularity of being able to smoke and gamble at the same time, they are extremely popular and they’re really coming now into their own as the weather improves. I would say we’ve got more outdoor gaming than any other casino in the country, and we’ve got much better conditions for the players, so it is extraordinarily popular. What kind of dining would we find at the Hippodrome? We have the best steakhouse in London. I have to confess we use USDA prime steaks as our primary meat, because they are probably the best steaks in the world, three years old, grain-fed, 28-day hung, which is just extraordinary. The restaurant is on the balcony level of the theater, so you can eat overlooking the main gaming floor, which is quite entertaining. When the show’s on and the ladies are coming out 11



Feature: Hippodrome

of Magic Mike, you get quite a spectacle to say the least. The food is fantastic, and we’ve been voted the best steakhouse in London three times! Our chef is called Ioannis Grammenos. He’s from Greece and he describes himself as a ‘meatologist.’ He turns the whole production into a spectacle the same way that an expert mixologist will do with cocktails. Some of the dishes have dry ice bubbling through them. We’re the only restaurant in Europe that has a filet steak on

So we took them over. We’ve expanded our baccarat area into the top half of one of them. The bottom half of that side is going to be the Chinese restaurant. Then the other half of the front we’re turning into sort of a cool, café, crepes, cocktail, champagne, coffee concept and we’ll have outdoor café tables on the high street. Underneath it we’re going to have an über-cool secret bar which you can only get in if you know it’s there. Stuff like that. It’ll be quite a nice little

You’re making our mouths water! What other revisions to the property are coming? We never stand still. We’re 10 years old this year, as you know. I was recently looking at some photographs from early on, and it seems almost like a different business. Because we’re forever moving, chopping, changing. The current project is the frontage of the building. We only controlled half of it up to Covid. Then the other half, two large shop units, became available.

What was the genesis of Magic Mike Live? That was a fascinating journey. As part of our development we wanted to have live entertainment and we had a theater space that was actually the original stage footprint, albeit one floor up, big enough for 200 to 300 people. We tried to develop a cabaret club in there and it was very hard work because we had no

the bone. Then we go through to having some Irish tomahawk 1.2-kilogram steaks. The main restaurant is fantastic. We also have 24-hour dining in every one of the bars, so you can order a steak sandwich and a bottle of Bollinger at 4 a.m. if you want, or noodle dishes or quesadillas or all sorts of different dishes. We are currently expanding yet further and we are adding on a Chinese restaurant called Chop Chop, which will open in June, so it’s quite a nice mix of food.

Volume 18: Issue 151

hideaway. That also gives us the ability to unify the whole frontage so it’s one look. It was a little bit messy before. We’re quite excited about that. Then later this year we’re considering moving one of our main bars to expand the gaming area. I’ve still got a pipe dream about doing a dinner party in the cupola, which would be the sixth or seventh floor of the building. There’s an amazing brass structure over the front door with a statue of a charioteer on it and it’s just big enough to hold a dinner party. I can’t work out the health and safety routine at the moment, but I’ll find a way.

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Feature: Hippodrome

The trick for me was not to rely on the history too much, but to build on it. It’s the same with the building. It’s a great building, but it does present challenges. So the trick was to make you walk in and go, ‘Gosh, wow, this is fantastic! It’s so impressive!’ But it had not to feel austere.”

reputation. People didn’t really understand that casinos could have live entertainment as well. Over the years we had some great successes. We had Dire Straits in there, we had Prince do his last gig in the U.K. in there. We had some fun shows with the Rat Pack and Elvis, but it was always challenging. We got to a point where we had sufficient momentum and then we tried a resident show. It was called Blanc de Blanc and it was fantastic. It really gave us a taste for a resident show. At the same time Magic Mike had opened at the Hard Rock in Vegas. It had been very successful there, and they were looking for a venue in the U.K., particularly in London. Apparently the markets that really enjoyed Magic Mike were the States, Germany, England and Australia. So their number-two target was the U.K., and some of their producers had been over from Vegas to see Blanc de Blanc. So they knew about our space. They liked the fact that they were used to operating in a casino, and for a show like Magic Mike the ladies have a few glasses of bubbly or whatever and come out, not into the street, but to come into

a protected area: The casino was actually quite an attraction for them. So one quiet Sunday morning I met Channing Tatum, and took him for a tour of the building. He had 10 minutes, but I think we spent about an hour going ‘round the building. He loved the heritage, and really understood the ethos and style of this operation. We set the designers to work and they worked out that they could actually get 325 seats in the theater space, and it has been a roaring success. The show was actually announced by Channing Tatum himself on the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2018, and it crashed Ticketmaster. Ticket sales were a million pounds in the first hour, regardless, and went on to be the sixthhighest presold show in London’s history. And that’s with a relatively small theater. We’re now into year four. We’ve had performance number 1,022. The reason that’s significant is that, in the Fifties, there was the longest-running show in the history of the Hippodrome, 14

Ivor Novello’s Perchance to Dream, and we’re about to set a new record for the Hippodrome. It has been amazing. It’s brought in a slightly different clientele. They’re not gamblers, the people that go to it, but they’ve certainly enjoyed the hospitality side, and they add another level of vibrancy and excitement into the building. We’re big enough to absorb it, quite happily and it’s a very good marriage of brands and styles. Has it changed your customer demographic? Yes, we have about 30,000 customers a week, and of those about 3,000 are predominantly women going to Magic Mike. So it’s increased the amount of ladies in the building, made it more glamorous and exciting, and you can feel the energy before the show starts, with everyone excitedly going in. And you can certainly feel the energy change in the building when 300 very excited, happy, giddy ladies come out into that atrium. It’s all on the first floor, so it doesn’t actually disturb the main gaming floor, but you can feel the energy change. Obviously, the bars and restaurants are busier as well. Do you have a percentage of the show? Yeah, it’s a joint-venture company with Channing Tatum and his organization. So it’s very good relationship. Everyone’s got skin in the game and we’re very well-incentivized to make it work, as they are. Are you operating under any health-related constraints at present? I’m delighted to say that the U.K. is sort of post-Covid. We have no legal restrictions whatsoever. Of course we are mindful that some people feel a little bit Covidshy, and we’re respectful. One of the things that we learned during the periods after lockdown, when we were under social distancing, is that actually we’re a better operation giving people a little bit more space. So we’ve changed our operation to go for slightly less people. We give people a bit more space, and that’s maybe a post-Covid reaction. It’s also more profitable. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Hippodrome

How did you handle your Covid-enforced downtime? The first period of lockdown was, quite frankly, sheer panic and terror. ‘We are going to go bust. We’ve got two or three million pounds of overhead every month and zero income. Oh my god!’ Then as soon as we got over that, we realized that the government couldn’t afford to let every business in the country go bust. They started coming in with support and we stabilized our cash flow. We then took a deep breath and said, ‘This is a unique opportunity. We’re closed. What can

employ people who smile because, under the pressure of an interview, they become a half-full person and they find solutions, not problems. Secondly, potential, because everyone who comes here, they’re good. We don’t employ people who aren’t already good, but we like people with potential to develop further. We’re fairly good with our team meetings, and our staff. We have a fairly flat management structure, and therefore lots of opportunities for people to advance.

we do that we wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to do?’ So we embarked on some quite major building projects, including adding the fifth-floor terrace. We future-proofed the building; put in some very large doors through very solid walls that give us much better connectivity. We did quite a lot of preventive work with our maintenance, plant and equipment. We’ve rebuilt the third and fourth floor, refurbished them, developing the new PokerStars poker room and Gods Casino. We renovated the whole bar area up there. Then operationally, it effectively gave us the opportunity to do a strategic review of the business, and that’s where we’re positioned. Sadly, we lost a few staff during this. But we’ve come out of it leaner, meaner, and much more efficient and more profitable. So it’s been quite an interesting journey.

Many casinos in the U.S. are now running at decimated staffing levels. What is your approach? We’re not. We started at 750 staff when we ran into Covid. We went down to 550 through some people going back to their home country, and a little bit of redundancy, but what we learned over that period was we actually needed slightly less staff running more efficiently, and we’re now at 650 staff … but will probably need another 20. We’ll pick them up selectively over the next few months, until we add more gaming tables, or more activities on the property. So we’re pretty much fully staffed and I’d like to think we’re doing well with staff because people enjoy working here. I know some of our competitors aren’t doing as well. I think we do look after people. We pay properly, and we’re quite a fun place to work, so we’re in a good position.

What do you look for in potential employees? Three things. Firstly, someone who smiles. We only

Finally, what do you want and expect from the Gambling Review?

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Feature: Hippodrome The Gambling Review’s largely going to be regressive on online gaming. They’re just introducing regulations into an area that’s fairly unregulated. But we are hoping at the same time that they will modernize our regulations because one of the stated objectives of the regulations was to rebalance on-and offline. So at the same time, to introduce more regulation online and to reduce some of the regulations offline, would be a sensible rebalancing. All we’ve asked for is not major, but it would be quite significant for the land-based business, and that would be to be allowed a proper number of slot machines. We’re asking initially for 80 slot machines, small by U.S. standards but large by U.K. standards, and it’s very much in response to demand from the customers. We have, at peak times here, 1,200 to 1,400 customers. With only 20 slot machines, there’s a queue. And people don’t want to leave their machine, which isn’t a very healthy position to be in. So that’s our primary ask, and then our secondary ask is to be allowed a relaxation on the electronic gaming, so to match customer demand we can offer more games on the electronic terminals. Why is there customer demand? Because we can offer them at a cheaper price. It’s better value for the money for the customers. And then thirdly, we’d like to be allowed more versions of electronic payment. At the moment we’re very much cash-based. We need to be able to modernize because people are not using cash anymore: They’re all using electronic forms of payment. Lastly, more towards the high-end casinos, as cheques get withdrawn they’re asking for some select,

limited-credit gaming for the high-end customers. So these are relatively modest requests. Obviously gaming can be quite a hot topic and we understand how policy works, so we’ve kept our asks modest. The beauty of them, if they are granted, is for me that I can cater to my customer’s demands, and it’ll be quite healthy for land-based casinos in the U.K. overall because it will give people a little bit more ammunition so they can develop more mini-Hippodromes, kind of entertainment-based leisure complexes, which are what customers want. So today we offer an amazing value-for money experience in a great building, in a very safe, protected environment, both physically safe and with the right levels of player protection and controls around the gaming. On behalf of Casino Life Magazine and Outsource Digital Media, we would like to thank you, Simon, for your time, and for sharing this with us and our many readers worldwide. 16

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Feature: European Dealer Championship

Christoph Boo, European Dealer Champion 2022 18

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Feature: European Dealer Championship

Best of the Best Christoph Boo European Dealer Champion 2022 winner chats with Peter White

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e catch-up with Christoph Boo Croupier from Swiss Casinos Zurich and winner of the European Dealer Championship 2022 to discuss his experience of participating in this year’s tournament and what is was like to be handed the winner’s trophy. How did you feel when your name was announced as European Dealer Champion 2022? Most of all: surprised! Swiss Casinos have amazing casinos, but what was it like being a participant in the championships at the SBM Monte Carlo Casino and win? It’s hard to describe this experience in a few words. “Overwhelming” may be covering most of the emotions.

From your experience how important is design and layout of a table gaming area in a casino from the perspective of a dealer? The design and layout of the whole table gaming

area has to fit to the theme of the casino. But this is not so important for the dealers. For us, the design and layout of the table’s themselves is way more important. Comfortable chairs, enough space for the legs and a spot to put a bag for the customers make them feel comfortable from the very first moment at our table. The tables layout should be clear and well proportioned. Boxes at blackjack shouldn’t cover a too wide range. There must be enough space to build up payouts at a roulette table or to place the shuffling machine and deal a full round at the blackjack table. Also the color of the layouts should make a nice contrast to the bets being placed. This all is needed to provide a fast, clean and secure game. What ambitions have your for your career development in the casino industry? Not that much actually. My success was and is to make my living with work I love. And that’s being a casino dealer. I couldn’t find a profession that combines my skills of sleight of hand and being entertaining in such a perfect way.

The design and layout of the whole table gaming area has to fit to the theme of the casino. But this is not so important for the dealers. For us, the design and layout of the tables themselves is way more important. Comfortable chairs, enough space for the legs and a spot to put a bag for the customers make them feel comfortable from the very first moment at our table.”

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Feature: European Dealer Championship

Prince Albert of Monaco with the European Dealer Champion 2022 Finalists

My success was and is to make my living with work I love. And that’s being a casino dealer. I couldn’t find a profession that combines my skills of sleight of hand and being entertaining in such a perfect way.” What was the best advice you were given by a boss or a manager? The competition is not about doing no mistakes. It’s about how do you pass by them. What advice would you given anyone considering becoming a dealer? This job is not everyone’s cup of tea. Come in and find out. Have you any tips and advice on how to become a future EDC Champion? Experience helps a lot. I collected mine at the Swiss dealer championships (they are quite similar, but smaller) and at the EDC 2018. All the EDC champions I met so far competed multiple times before they won the competition. 20

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Feature: European Dealer Championship

Experience helps a lot. I collected mine at the Swiss dealer championships (they are quite similar, but smaller) and at the EDC 2018. All the EDC champions I met so far competed multiple times before they won the competition.” How do you cope with all the tricks the judges create for dealers during the EDC Tournament? I believe they are necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. Wrong betting amounts or inappropriate behaviour from customers is our everyday life. Strong dealers can handle such situations an still keep a good mood at the table. Unnecessary are cheating actions. In such situations the affected customer would be taken away from the table very quickly. What are the best aspects of being a dealer do you enjoy most? Every day I go to a huge gambling hall, provide entertaining and professional executed games to passionate players, and I get paid for this. 22

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Feature: Lesgislation Report

Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Albania, Denmark, and Serbia Albania

The economic and social damage from gambling reached the ceiling in Albania as the government took a radical approach in 2019 and as of 1 January of the same year, banned all games of chance in the country, including online casinos. Organizers of games of chance in the territory tried to persuade the government to abandon the total ban approach

by undertaking to self-regulate and to cut the number of betting places by 50 percent, but without success. Initially, after the 2019 gambling ban, only casinos located in five-star hotels, located outside of towns and cities could operate in the country. However, the ban has been softened, and now slot halls and casinos can operate in tourist areas, and in the casino zone of Tirana as well. The latest changes occurred in September 2020 when the government issued a decision that the category “Casino,” solely and strictly in the city of Tirana (the capital), will be allowed. This decision defines the exact part of the city where the casinos can be established. Licenses are issued for a 10-year period. Based on available government data, licensed organizers of games of chance in Albania in 2017 had a turnover of cca. 124 million Euros coming from Volume 18: Issue 151

electronic casinos and on sports betting, whereby the total market size estimate went all the way to cca. 700 million Euros, suggesting a grey zone of roughly 80 percent. Nonetheless, it seems that the main goal of the prohibition was to protect the youth in the country from betting experiences, as playing in foreign online casinos is not prosecuted. Online gambling, despite the ban, is still popular in Albania, and because of the lack of local options most players turned to unlicensed foreign gambling platforms. The latest activities of competent authorities and of the appointed task force is the organization of blacklisting and blocking of foreign online casinos, which seems not that successful since all foreign websites are still reachable from the territory. 23


Feature: Lesgislation Report

Denmark

The primary legislation regulating gambling activities in Denmark is the Danish Act on Gambling which dates back to 2012, as amended with numerous executive orders regulating specific areas of the industry. The act specifically regulates betting, casinos, gaming machines and lotteries, and it regulates not only landbased but online gambling as well. Danish gambling legislation does not distinguish between online poker and other online casino games. Poker is considered a casino game and is not subject to specific regulations. Danish Gambling Authority (“DGA”) is the competent authority in charge of enforcing, overseeing and licensing of gambling organizers, land-based or online, within the country and its two territories (the Faroe Islands, Greenland). In respect to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, the local governments have full jurisdiction and autonomous authority regarding regulated gambling. Currently, Greenland allows gambling under the same conditions as defined in the Act on Gambling and the Faroe Islands have continued with a complete ban. With respect to licensing, lotteries, lottery type games, keno and bingo are not part of the licensing system since the national lottery of Denmark has a monopoly on the same. In general, gambling licenses can be divided into two main categories: (i) online gambling licenses (betting and casino) and (ii) land-based gambling licenses (casino and gaming 24

machines). The Act on Gambling does not restrict the number of licenses that can be granted in any way. In 2020, Denmark had eight active licenses for land-based casinos, including two on board ferries, while an additional permit was issued for a brickand-mortar casino in Copenhagen which opened in 2020. Approval for license considerations made by the DGA will be decided upon whether the casino will be operated in a fully professional and financially sound

manner. Those operating illegal gambling sites or establishments within Denmark may be fined and imprisoned. Players who place bets on illegal, unlicensed websites by mistake are not fined or imprisoned. Only the operators are targeted. Unlicensed online-gambling websites might be blacklisted and blocked, and financial transactions to unlicensed gambling companies might be blocked as well. As a curiosity, advertising of games of chance is permitted in Denmark, as opposed to the majority of EU countries. Bearing in mind that the legislature in Denmark is quite active and up to date – which can be seen through a number of executive orders amending the original Act on Gambling, the latest one being enacted in 2019 – it is to be expected that the gambling system in Denmark will be further improved while maintaining the main features as introduced 10 years ago. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Lesgislation Report

Serbia

Gambling and organization of games of chance was legalized and liberalized in 2006 in Serbia, while online gambling was encompassed under new rules in 2011. A new act that was intended to align more with best practices in the EU was enacted in 2013 and the latest changes to the same were made in 2020. The act recognizes three types of games of chance that can be organized in the territory: 1. Classic games (lottery, instant-lottery, sports forecast, keno, tombola, bingo, SMS lottery and similar games of chance); 2. Special games (games of chance organized in gaming venues, on slot machines and betting games) and 3. Games of chance with goods and services as rewards (i.e. prize games). The governmental authority in charge of controlling the legality of operations is the department for exchange and foreign currency transactions, and games of chance fall within the Tax Administration Office at the Ministry of Finance (“Department of Games of Chance”). The most recent changes to the existing legislation, which entered into force on 1 March 2020 introduced higher capital requirements as well as higher fees and taxes for organizers. It also implemented new rules on advertising and AML procedures and aligned them with the existing EU

legislation even though Serbia is not a Member State at the moment. The licensing regime remained unchanged as arranged under the 2013 act, which means that licenses are issued to Serbian or EEA companies applying for a gambling license that have a minimum share capital of €250,000, a bank deposit or guarantee of €300,000, and a daily risk cash deposit of €10,000. The land-based casino license fee is €500,000 per year, while the online casino license costs €2,500 per month. Apart from the financial requirements, the organizer of the games in gaming venues shall ensure appropriate conditions in terms of space, which shall be in a facility constructed for the purpose or within a three-or-higher-star hotel with 24-hour video surveillance.

The license is valid for 10 years and can be renewed. While the number of online casino licenses is not limited, licenses for land-based casinos are capped at 10 and are only awarded after a public tender. Organization of e-games of chance (through the Internet, telephone and other means of electronic communication) is subject to certification of a stateowned IT laboratory. The organizer is to safeguard the hardware and software through which the players participate in the games and must also ensure the automatic exchange of data with the server of the Department of Games of Chance. Participation in games of chance organized abroad is not allowed, and no payment in Serbia for participation in such foreign games of chance is permitted. Even though the government does not actively pursue players who engage in foreign games of chance online, it does maintain a blacklist of prohibited sites. Organization of the games of chance in custom-free zones, organizing the games of chance with pyramidal character, or the games of chance that do not guarantee equal conditions for all players are all prohibited. The words “kazino” or “casino” cannot be used in the name of a legal entity or entrepreneur, nor can they be placed on facilities, except in the case of a casino and/or a gaming venue. Bearing in mind that the latest changes to gaming regulations occurred in 2020, currently there are no initiatives in the territory for additional amendments.

DISCLAIMER: Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this report is accurate, no liability is accepted for errors or omissions, however caused. Volume 18: Issue 151

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Feature: Grosvenor Casino

Teamwork is Everything Lyudmyla Kyrychenko chats with Austin Graham, General Manager of The Grosvenor Casino Victoria

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nown to its fans as “The Vic,” London’s Grosvenor Casino Victoria is but one outpost of the 55-casino Grosvenor empire, which extends from the UK into Belgium. But it’s the flagship of the armada, a casino that never sleeps in the heart of London. Membership is required by The Vic, which moving with the times, allows you to apply online. Our Lydmyla Kyrychenko paid a visit to see how else the The Vic is staying fresh. Volume 18: Issue 151

Tell us about The Grosvenor Casino Victoria? The Grosvenor Casino Victoria is a large-scale casino by Marble Arch in West London, which has the perfect blend of sophistication and excitement. The casino offers world class table gaming, including Blackjack, American Roulette, Slots, Electronic Roulette and of course poker. It actually hosts some of the biggest and best poker competitions in the UK. Guests can also spend time in one of The Victoria’s three bars and its restaurant, in addition to Grosvenor 27


Feature: Grosvenor Casino

Austin Graham, General Manager of The Grosvenor Casino Victoria with Lyudmyla Kyrychenko

Casinos’ first ever rooftop gaming space in the heart of London, The Loft, which offers live gaming, shisha, giant screen for sports as well as electronic gaming. What, in your opinion, makes it unique? The Victoria is a unique casino venue but its heritage as one of the longest established casinos in London sets it apart. We are also the home of Poker in the UK, as well as the home of the GUKPT, the largest poker tournaments in Europe which strongly adds to our unique selling point.

Since restrictions were eased, how has the reopening of The Victoria been? Since reopening, there has been a lot of change to

manage at The Grosvenor Casino Victoria. Helping the team readjust to shift work after an extended period in lockdown was a challenge that we met head on, by delivering a welcome back session for all of our employees and training up several people as mental health first aiders, to ensure we could support our team get back to work. Our team has been very adaptable and has shown great flexibility since reopening. Our customers have

The Victoria is a unique casino venue but its heritage as one of the longest established casinos in London sets it apart. We are also the home of poker in the UK, as well as the home of the GUKPT, the largest poker tournament in Europe, which strongly adds to our unique selling point.” 28

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Feature: Grosvenor Casino

also been fantastic in supporting the business and adhering to any new rules that have been applied. We have run some very successful poker competitions and have seen the return of our overseas customers, as and when travel restrictions have been eased.

What is new at The Victoria in 2022? Our newest addition to the casino is The Loft, our rooftop gaming space and shisha area. The Loft sweeps across two levels, an upper and lower terrace with alfresco seating allowing customers to game, eat and drink, surrounded by the London skyline. It is Grosvenor Casinos first ever rooftop gaming space in the heart of London.

How do you manage to keep your gaming experiences up to date? Working within the industry means we have access

to a library of information from within our own organisation particularly in relation to compliance and our regulators expectations. At The Victoria, we are fortunate to have the ICE in London, which is always a great opportunity to network and see the latest gaming innovations, competitor visits and trade magazine subscriptions. My own network also helps staying up to date with the gaming industry and experiences available. On top of this, we listen to our customers and seek their feedback on our brand, our products and the experiences we offer them.

Our newest addition to the casino is The Loft, our rooftop gaming space and shisha area. The Loft sweeps across two levels, an upper and lower terrace with al fresco seating allowing customers to game, eat and drink, surrounded by the London skyline.”

Volume 18: Issue 151

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Feature: Grosvenor Casino The Victoria is situated in an amazing building, isn’t it? It really is an amazing building in an amazing location. We have five floors in total, four of them used by our guests. The casino’s main entrance does not indicate the scale of the venue behind its main entrance, so we highly encourage guests to come to take a look for themselves. How many tables and slot machines does the Casino have in total? The Victoria offers a great range of games and counts with 37 tables, 40 slot machines and 69 electronic roulette tables. Lockdown time showed everybody the necessity of running business online. How do you transfer live gaming experience to “at home” experience? Our guest memberships include access to a variety of great benefits and exclusive promotions both in casino and online. We do our utmost to extend the casino experience from The Victoria to the online gaming world, allowing our guests to have a premium experience “at home”. For example, we offer guests access to the Live Victoria Roulette as well as a variety of games online at thevic.com. What are amongst the most popular cocktails ordered by guests? We have a great number of non-drinking customers coming to The Victoria, therefore our most famous drink is “Virgin Piña Colada”. Can you provide details on the menu; which dish is the most popular? The Grilled Kings Prawns for sure. Out guests just can’t get enough of them!. Where do you see The Victoria in 5 years? We are aiming to extend The Victoria by updating it and making it better than ever before for both our team members and our guests. We currently have further development plans for some of our key features, particularly our Poker floor, our restaurant and finally our reception. We are excited to bring the best our casino and London has to offer here at The Victoria.

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We stand with Ukraine

Pray for peace and love


Feature: Anton UGC

Wanted: Gamblers A

Why is the lack of love for risk among Ukrainians not a verdict for the future of legal gambling in Ukraine? By Anton Kuchukhidze

recent, independent public-opinion survey supported by the Ukrainian Gambling Council confirmed that Ukrainians are not a gambling nation. The survey findings show that 92.8 percent of Ukrainians have not gambled for money over the past year. At the same time, only 8.2 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to gamble in the future. Statistically speaking, we see that the number of Ukrainians willing to spend money on gambling is less than 10 percent of the total adult population. It is a positive trend since it refutes the opponents’ favourite canard that almost half of the country suffers from 32

gambling addiction because of gambling legalization. At the same time, combined with a relatively low level of participation in gambling among the population, Ukraine is becoming a more powerful player in Central and Eastern Europe due to its significant success in the war unleashed by Russia against the country. Though at a great price, Ukraine is becoming very well-respected among Western partners, proving it can be part of the democratic Western world. Of course, when the war is over and the full restoration of our state begins, military and political successes will gradually transform into economic preferences. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Anton UGC

Anton Kuchukhidze Chairman Ukrainian Gambling Council

Given that all these processes are taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s total decline and daily increase in toxicity, Ukraine will soon become both a prestigious and attractive jurisdiction for business and a major investment hub in southeastern Europe. I am sure that this trend will extend to the gambling market which today, despite the difficult times, continues to operate and help the country fight our enemy. Investors willing to invest in the development of land-based and online gambling in Ukraine, in addition to the country’s prestige itself, will also need a favourable regulatory and tax environment. After all, these two crucial factors ensure sustainable business development and profitability. The process of creating such an environment, which started with the adoption of the law on gambling legalization, may be completed by the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the specialized draft law on gambling taxation 2713-d. This draft law will regulate the tax legislation in the Volume 18: Issue 151

gambling industry, making the rules of the game in the market more transparent and understandable for both domestic and Western investors. It will facilitate decision making on entering the Ukrainian market for investors and businesses. The adoption of 2713-d may catalyse the fast recovery of the gambling industry and result in higher government revenues greatly needed to rebuild our state after the war. Subject to the timely adoption of the draft law, the gambling industry may become one of the most attractive sectors of the Ukrainian economy for investment. The more investment we receive, the faster we will be able to restore jobs, develop related business sectors and restart the Ukrainian economy at full capacity. 33


Feature: WSOP Ukraine Entry Poker Match

PokerMatch Ambassador Eugene Katchalov

Collecting Sports Trophies from All Over the World The best poker player of Ukraine goes to Las Vegas on a charity mission

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okerMatch Ambassador Eugene Katchalov will play at the main world series with a charitable mission for Ukraine From May 31 to July 16, Las Vegas is hosting the 53rd World Series of Poker. Traditionally, the world’s best players will gather at the WSOP tables to compete for prestigious champion bracelets and amazing prize money. 34

Ukrainian poker players don’t achieve success at the WSOP very often but this year the situation might improve. Eugene Katchalov, the most successful player in the history of Ukraine, will visit the world’s premier poker series. The PokerMatch ambassador has set himself a main humanitarian goal – to tell the poker world about the war in Ukraine and help our country with his prize money. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: WSOP Ukraine Entry Poker Match

“It is very important for me to tell poker players from all over the world about the war in Ukraine and shed light on the terrible suffering of civilians, and to do everything in my power to make as many eminent members of the poker community as possible oppose the war,”

Katchalov plans to focus on high-limit games. “It is very important for me to tell poker players from all over the world about the war in Ukraine and shed light on the terrible suffering of civilians, and to do everything in my power to make as many eminent members of the poker community as possible oppose the war,” says Katchalov. “I believe that I will be able to show a good game at the WSOP and help Ukraine!” Part of Kachalov’s buy-ins (contributions) will be paid by the largest Ukrainian poker room PokerMatch. In addition, the company will transfer all of its share of Eugene’s winnings to charity. And the player himself will transfer part of the profit to charity for humanitarian needs.

By the way, Eugene won his only championship bracelet so far in 2011 when he became the best in the seven-card stud tournament. In total, during his career in live tournaments, Katchalov earned more than $9 million. The Ukrainian athlete is very active on his Twitter page where he publishes evidence of military events and raises funds to help the victims. We are looking forward to seeing a new champion bracelet in Ukraine! We play for a good cause, we play for Ukraine, we believe in our victory!

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Advertising Feature: Velvix

Boooom Up, Havin’ it All and Battle Mania are the latest titles by Velvix

Real Estate, Retro Gaming Part of Velvix’s Latest Games

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elvix has announced the launch of three brand-new game titles in their standaloneprogressive product suite. Each of the titles includes new and unique features, characters and graphics, as well as themes not yet seen in the company’s existing game lineup. Showcased at NIGA 2022 in Anaheim, California, the game titles include: • Boooom Up • Havin’ it All • Battle Mania Created in-house at the Velvix game-design studio in Sydney, Australia, these new games are expected to launch in the third quarter of 2022. Each of them represents a unique style and theme, with bonus features not yet showcased in any of the group’s current offerings. 36

BOOOOM UP Featuring a real estate theme, Boooom Up places the player in the seller’s seat. Five houses are displayed for sale at all times, with the value of each house increasing each time the player lands on a bidding sign symbol. Players can collect the accumulated prizes on houses by triggering the sold symbol on each corresponding wheel. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Advertising Feature: Velvix HAVIN’ IT ALL This money vault bank-themed title includes two unique standalone progressive jackpot options which can be won through the bonus game. In addition, a frequently hit bonus option is also available. Players can enjoy huge potential to multiply any line wins by collecting the gold bar symbols. Havin’ it All is one of the group’s more volatile games and features fun animations including various Easter eggs throughout gameplay. BATTLE MANIA One of the mostanticipated new games in the Velvix library, Battle Mania is an epic fightingtheme game that is reminiscent of classic, nostalgic beat-em-

ups of the Eighties and Nineties. Players will take control of the Bull and will play to trigger the Unfinished Business Feature. In this portion of the game, the player will collect “KO” gloves which will be used to do damage to the onscreen opponent and increase their chance of landing big wins! ALL-NEW SLOT GAME SUITE Velvix is a newly launched slot game and cabinet manufacturer based in Los Angeles, California. The group focuses on the development of both standalone and linked progressive games with a wide range of themes, game types and bonus features. The group includes a game-design studio based in Sydney, Volume 18: Issue 151

Velvix LLC is located in El Segundo, California

Australia, that employs experts in the field of game design and gaming math. Poised to launch in the California and Oklahoma markets in July of 2022, the group plans further expansion in the United States with an initial focus on tribal gaming jurisdictions. The group recently showcased their latest games at NIGA 2022 in Anaheim, and plans to exhibit new and exciting content at G2E 2022 in Las Vegas.

SAMPLE OUR LATEST GAMES! Velvix invites you to come and trial our latest game titles! The Velvix showroom is located conveniently in El Segundo, California, a short 10-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport. The showroom includes all of our latest game titles for trialing as well as all cabinet models currently available. Contact Velvix directly to schedule a visit to the showroom and to inquire about game trials for your property.

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Feature: Zitro

FIJMA Madrid

The Drive towards Business Growth Peter White talks to Sebastian Salat, CEO of Zitro

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atin and South America tend to get short shrift in gaming coverage—but not at Zitro. CEO Sebastian Salat keeps a keen eye out for emergent markets (Brazil, for one) and has an industry-leading portfolio of products tailored to these nascent territories. He met with Casino Life Publisher Peter White to discuss what is latest and greatest from A to Zitro. How would you describe your work and your position within ZITRO? I put my experience and relationships forged after 38 years in the industry at Zitro’s disposal to help the 38

company achieve its goal of being among the global leaders in the gaming industry. The recent launch of the Glare Cabinet line must rank amongst Zitro’s most exciting projects? The new GLARE cabinet line allows Zitro to have for the first time a diversity of form factors so that casino operators around the world can have distinct gaming experiences, differentiated not only by their theme and game mechanics, but also by their physical presentation. In other words, with GLARE, Zitro finally has a product range comparable to that of any of its competitors. www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Zitro

On a personal level, Zitro Experience was a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with clients and friends that the pandemic prevented me from seeing over the years. On the professional side, Zitro Experience was a magnificent opportunity to showcase the new GLARE cabinet line to Argentinean and Latin American customers.”

Do you think after all these years of expectation that Brazil is now finally going to open up its gaming regulations? We are certainly close to the opening of the gaming market in Brazil, or at least we are closer than we were in recent years. Certainly, if Brazil opens up, it will be a magnificent opportunity not only for operators and manufacturers such as Zitro, but above all for the Brazilian people who will finally see this activity legalized, which is an economic engine, a technological driver, and a source of employment generation, as well as a resource for the public coffers.

America as a priority market. That is why we have increased our technical and human resources in the country, as well as we have incorporated Derik at the head of our organization, as he has the talent, experience and recognition from North American customers that helps us to endorse the seriousness of Zitro’s project in the United States. The NIGA tradeshow, has been a fantastic opportunity to present our GLARE cabinet line and for North American customers to meet the Zitro USA team.

News has been recently of new orders in Argentina and Colombia. We can affirm that Zitro is today the undisputed leading supplier in Argentina, which was clearly demonstrated in March at our Zitro Experience and Zitro University events in the city of Buenos Aires.

What has been the post lockdown reaction to Link King & Link Me multi-game package? Both Link King and Link Me have become classic games, necessary in any casino. And with the classics it happens that they are permanently contemporary, so they do not get old. This is the phenomenon that has happened with Link King and Link Me, which continue to perform in casinos at the same level

The company recently appointed Derik Mooberry as CEO of ZITRO USA, that is a major signing as they say in the sports sector. Does that signal a major push by the organization in North America? Undoubtedly, to achieve our goal of becoming a world leader, we cannot fail to have the United States of

Tell us about the Zitro University and Zitro Experience Argentina events? On a personal level, Zitro Experience was a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with clients and friends that the pandemic prevented me from seeing over the years. On the professional side, Zitro Experience was a magnificent opportunity to showcase the new GLARE cabinet line to Argentinean and Latin American customers. The response we received was overwhelming, with over 200 guests attending our events at La Escondida - Los Olivos and joining us throughout the evening discovering the GLARE

Indeed, the reception of our new GLARE cabinet line has translated into overwhelming product orders, surpassing any historical figure recorded before the pandemic. In addition to Argentina, Zitro has continued to grow in other markets such as Panama, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, and Peru. In Colombia we had the opportunity to present our 88 Link games, which caused great impact in the market, and in Peru we are planning the launch of the GLARE cabinet line in June to respond to the enormous interest that our products are awakening in that market as well.

Volume 18: Issue 151

as they did before the pandemic. At Zitro we try to design products that have a long commercial life as is happening with Link King and Link Me, so that the operator does not have to invest in game refreshment after a short time to maintain the performance of the machines.

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Feature: Zitro

GAT Expo, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

product range and celebrating together the longawaited reunion. Zitro University, which we held the morning before the opening of SAGSE registered a record attendance with 180 people attending the training session given by the University of Palermo and the panel made up of important online and land-based operators from Argentina. Throughout the hours we dedicated to Zitro

Zitro Experience Argentina

Zitro University, Argentina 40

University, we reflected on the changes in consumer trends after the pandemic and how our industry was going to have to adapt to those changes and maintain the levels of success it has always had. Zitro Experience was a commercial and social event and Zitro University was an event dedicated to reflection. Both events were complementary to a unique offering combining product and storytelling that only Zitro can present.

ICE London was held a few weeks ago, but Zitro did not attend, does the organization have an opinion on the location of ICE 2023? Although the ICE London fair has been very successful for many, many years, at Zitro we believe that the inconveniences derived from the Brexit impose the transfer of this event to another destination within the European community. This destination must be impeccably communicated from a logistical point of www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Zitro

As for upcoming events, this year we recently participated at NIGA, at a time of exponential growth in the U.S. tribal markets and presented our brand-new GLARE cabinet line.” view, have a hotel capacity of undisputed category, be in a city attractive to visitors, and ideally in a country where the game is thoroughly regulated. At Zitro we believe that the city of Madrid meets all these requirements and would be the ideal venue for the next editions of ICE. Do you think with the spiraling costs of transport along with all the work involved in designing and building large booths, an era could be coming to an end with big manufacturers having more normal size booths? I don’t have a unique answer to this question, we believe that large booths in international fairs like G2E and ICE are justified, that in other regional events, like GAT Colombia, they can be smaller as it only makes sense to show the product you are currently offering in the region, and some countries justify product presentations as Zitro does with our events Zitro Experience Mexico and Zitro Experience Argentina.

After Fijma Interazar what are amongst the big shows readers can expect to see Zitro Games? After our successful FIJMA in Madrid and GAT Expo in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, we recently held our Zitro Experience and Zitro University events in Argentina, where we presented an impressive product range for the Latin American market and offered operators a space for reflection on the future of the gaming industry. As for upcoming events, this year we recently participated at NIGA, at a time of exponential growth in the U.S. tribal markets and presented our brandnew GLARE cabinet line. In June we are looking forward to our big Zitro Experience event in Mexico, which is already considered one of the most relevant events in the Latin American gaming industry. We Volume 18: Issue 151

Sebastian Salat, CEO of Zitro

are also planning a private product presentation of our new GLARE cabinet line in Peru, to respond to the increasing demand in that market. In September Zitro’s digital division - Zitro Digital - will attend SBC Summit Barcelona and we will close the year with the G2E show in Las Vegas, as well as SiGMA in Malta and BEGE Expo in Bulgaria. And finally, can readers expect more announcements this year on new product and services if so, are there any you can tell our readers? Indeed, in Zitro we continue to invest in our products, and these new products are traditionally unveiled in our Zitro Experience Mexico in June and then continue with their presentation in Las Vegas and other events. Stay tuned! 41


Feature: Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention Review

Tribal Gaming Takes the Stage in Anaheim Indian Gaming Association Executive Director Jason Giles sits down with Casino Life

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ould you give us some background on the history of the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention? As the largest gathering of tribal leaders and casino executives in the country, the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention is both the meeting place where the community gathers to learn, network and exchange industry-specific ideas, and a cultural celebration of success, strength and self-reliance. The Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention has established itself as the premier event for the Indian Gaming industry but as the figurative heartbeat of Native American success. The event has been running for 35-plus years and 42

is owned by the Indian Gaming Association. The mission of Indian Gaming Association is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country. To fulfil its mission, IGA works with the federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices, and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. In addition, IGA seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian Country. What are some of the most memorable moments of this year’s show? We were excited to have a full schedule of www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention Review

On the show floor we had exciting presentations in the Chairman’s Lounge and Tribal Leaders Lounge. It was a highlight to have the creators, producers, writers and actors of Peacock’s original TV series Rutherford Falls, including Sierra Teller Ornelas, Ed Helms and Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire join us to talk about Native American representation in the media.”

networking, education and product discovery at the 2022 Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention that took place April 19-22 in Anaheim California. The event featured 70-plus hours of education sessions on topics most important to the gaming community and Indian Country, as well as a show floor featuring 350-plus leading manufacturers and service providers. Highlighted special events included the Chairman and Vice Chairman’s Golf Tournaments, Chairman’s Leadership Awards Luncheon, Cultural Event and Chairman’s Welcome Reception. During several of these events we had the opportunity to honor leaders in Indian Country. At the Chairman’s Leadership Luncheon, Chief Oren Lyons, Volume 18: Issue 151

a faith keeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation in New York, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. At the cultural event, we presented the Rick Hill - Tim Wapato Sovereign Warrior Award to former Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Chairman Anthony Pico for his passion and commitment to tribal sovereignty. On the show floor we had exciting presentations in the Chairman’s Lounge and Tribal Leaders Lounge. It was a highlight to have the creators, producers, writers and actors of Peacock’s original TV series Rutherford Falls, including Sierra Teller Ornelas, Ed Helms and Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire join us to talk about Native American representation in the media. 43


Feature: Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention Review

Jason Giles Executive Director Indian Gaming Association

Attendees and exhibitors represented all 50 states of the U.S. and 19 additional countries. The top states represented included California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin.”

Were there any interesting geographic changes to representatives attending from particular U.S. states and also from other countries? Attendees and exhibitors represented all 50 states of the U.S. and 19 additional countries. The top states represented included California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. How well supported were the conferences and what where the standouts from those whom spoke? We had a comprehensive schedule of education sessions during our Tuesday and Wednesday conference days as well as through Indian Gaming Association’s Commissioner Certification Training. The education sessions also continued on the show floor in our two lounges. 44

Session tracks included: Emerging Gaming, Enterprise Development, Gaming Operations, Hot Topics, Politics & Policy, Resort Operations, Sovereignty, and Sports Betting. Some featured speakers included: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, DraftKings, Esports Entertainment Group, FanDuel, FireKeepers Casino Hotel, Graton Resort & Casino, IGT, Kambi, Mashantucket Pequot Interactive, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, Muckleshoot Casino Resort, National Indian Gaming Commission, Native American Rights Fund, Nisqually Red Wind Casino, Oneida, Pechanga Development Corporation, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Seneca Gaming Corporation, Swinomish Casino & Lodge, Victor Strategies, Yaamava Resort & Casino and more! Some featured sessions included: The Business of Interactive Wagering, The Many Faces of Sports Betting In Indian Country, LGBTQ2S Rights in the www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention Review

We are looking forward to the 2023 Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention taking place March 27-30, 2023 in San Diego, California. The event is a great opportunity to gain the most up-to-date information on the opportunities, trends and issues affecting the tribal and commercial gaming markets.”

Workspace, The Esports Gambling Revolution, The Value of Affiliates in the Online Gaming Ecosystem, The Synergy of Online Verticals: Sports Betting and Online Gaming, and The Cashless Revolution: The Value of Going Digital. Did the 2022 Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention have many first-time exhibitors and have you got feedback from them as to how the show was for their organisations? We were excited to have 45-plus exhibitors new to the show this year. Many are looking to exhibit again as we return to San Diego for the 2023 event. Overall the show floor had companies ranging from sports and esports betting, slots, cashless payments, security and surveillance, table games, hospitality and Volume 18: Issue 151

facilities services, IT, entertainment, and more! What is your message to those that are considering attending or exhibiting the 2023 Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention? We are looking forward to the 2023 Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention taking place March 27-30, 2023 in San Diego, California. The event is a great opportunity to gain the most up-to-date information on the opportunities, trends and issues affecting the tribal and commercial gaming markets. There are multiple new-product releases on the show floor, where all the major gaming manufacturers are represented. Most importantly, this is a time to celebrate the long history, tradition and success of tribal gaming and Indian Country. 45


Feature: Andrew Cosgrove

Andrew Cosgrove

Tips on How to Destroy Customer Loyalty Customers are essential for your casino’s survival, but before you can turn them into loyal, raving fans, you first need to fully understand what will make them run for the hills at the mere thought of your casino brand’s name

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oyalty killers are common and can creep up on you in stealth mode until suddenly, ‘ZAP!’ Before you know it, your customers have abandoned you for a competitor that gives them what they want, when they want it and in their own personalized hamper basket, with a cherry on top! There are literally 46

hundreds of articles written about the positive side of player loyalty and how the industry has advanced since the invention of the ‘all you can eat $5 buffet,’ and that’s just great. With so much useful advice available out there, it’s easy to understand why operators push to promote the fact that the more you meet and exceed customer expectations, the more www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Andrew Cosgrove raving fans you will gain, the stronger your brand’s reputation will become and the higher your profits will be. And who knows, success may even make your boss happy! Good operators also clearly understand that, in order to improve performance, you first have to discover what is stopping your operation from moving forward and get to the root cause of your problems in order to eliminate or minimize their effects, before the dark side takes over and the loyalty killers reign supreme. Not listening to your customers – Any casino operator still doing business knows the importance of customer loyalty, so if you want to banish your loyal customers from the building, you might consider creating queues, queues and more queues, and making sure your slot machines don’t work properly by neglecting preventive maintenance – so much that touch screens don’t work and your slots are constantly rejecting bills. You could also consider not cleaning the rest rooms, serving cold food in your overpriced restaurant and training your staff to run away when a customer asks for help. You may also ponder allowing thieves, bandits, card counters and all kind of other unsavory types access to your property to further scare your guests and help hammer a few more nails into your loyalty coffin. And it doesn’t stop there! You could take an hour to serve a customer a drink on a slow weekday afternoon, you could charge the price of an expensive, rare nineteenth century Cognac for a glass of tap water. You could get even more creative and make signing up for a slots tournament more complicated than qualifying to become a brain surgeon and make it your casino’s vision to constantly disappoint! You could even choose to ignore the cockroaches in the slot bases, choose not to reply to customer complaints and fail to realize that quality is more than just a word. The really brave strive to go even further like tripling the ADT that players are required to gamble to qualify for comps! Not listening to your staff – Your staff should be proud brand ambassadors that describe their work as play as they make all your customers’ dreams come true and deliver excellence at the kind of award-winning level that only the very best and most dedicated teams know how to deliver, so if you think that loyalty should only apply to customers and Volume 18: Issue 151

not your staff, you might want to reconsider your ‘the staff are only robots’ strategy. It’s really easy to lose your staff’s trust, loyalty and support if you don’t listen to them, never allow them to speak to you directly, and make it a policy not to answer their phone calls, emails and text messages. You could also not train them, deny their transfer requests, don’t provide career advancement opportunities and just bark orders instead of including them in every key decision that affects performance. You could also effectively not communicate important events such as the promotions schedule for the next quarter, new processes and procedures and you could also take away the necessary tools to do their job. Even better still you can blame them for the decline in revenues, the dirty bathrooms and the slots that constantly reject bills. Not listening to your competitors – The whole concept of competition is based around an operator’s ability to outsmart and outmaneuver, you guessed it, their competitors. By offering customers a better return on investment you immediately create the potential for gaining their loyalty and transforming them from first-time customers to long lasting and loyal, raving fans. Your operation may have been king of the hill at one point in time and you may even have a trophy cabinet in your office to remind you of the glory days and all that you once accomplished. However, time waits for no one, your past success is

today’s failure and your customers don’t care about the past because they want their value right now, they want their memorable experiences right now, and if they don’t get what they want from you right now they will go elsewhere, because change is a constant and the rate of change is constantly accelerating, so you better make change a part of your Modus Operandi. Alternatively, why not ignore the competition and do things the same way you’ve been doing them for the past 30 years. Your competitors will only thank you! Micromanagement and the great procrastinator – At one time or another we’ve all had the displeasure of having a micro-managing boss. You know, the kind that likes to tell you, with great enthusiasm, that their way is only one way to write, to type, to walk, dress, sleep, eat, think and work. The kind of boss that takes pleasure in controlling your every thought because only they know how to perform, and 47


Feature: Andrew Cosgrove

only they know the best way to do everything from boiling water to managing your inbox! In other words, micromanagement is another guaranteed way to let the loyalty killers creep in to destroy morale, squash creativity and leave a bitter taste that inevitably filters down through every level of your entire organisation. It will ultimately hurt your customer experience and have your customers asking where the exit is. The great procrastinator is also a tested and proven way to make your customers take their loyalty across the street. By delaying the inevitable, not dealing with key issues and over thinking the new colour scheme for the breakroom, you give your competitors the opportunity to take your customers’ loyalty and make it their own. Planning and common sense – So many times I’ve witnessed great ideas turn into dust and lose money like it was raining $100 bills due to lack of planning. Generally speaking, if you plan ahead, you can expect better results which is not a complicated concept to grasp. So, if your intention is still to lose customers by the bus load, just forget planning! You could try intelligent strategies like advertising your $1 million giveaway give away only on the day before the event and expect a healthy return on investment. You could change a promotion from one day to the next and not tell the staff or the customers. You could even give away $50 in free play credit to all your new customers with no strings attached in the hope that the customer will eventually play their own money! Not using common sense is also a great way to confuse, alienate and anger both your customers and staff. You don’t like common sense? Then implement 48

procedures such as the top-shelf liquor policy where only the casino GM can authorize it, even when they are physically asleep in bed. You could take away 80 percent of your staff’s tips just to speed up the customer-service response times by 30 seconds for one or two of your top tier customers, and the list goes on... Conclusion – In an ever-changing competitive landscape, customers know that they have an everincreasing number of choices and will walk away at the drop of a hat unless they are completely satisfied. How you, as an operator, deal with the competition, finding new and innovative ways to add extra value to your customer experience can be the difference between success and failure. Your ability to have an open and honest conversation about your key operational pain points and discover their root cause is a huge step towards creating the kind of loyalty that will gain you the raving fans that you’ve always dreamed of, and that your competitors will stand back and admire.

MY MINI-BLOG Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands-on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots, and is available to help you succeed and exceed customer expectations via contracted consultancy services. Andrew can be reached at andy.cosgrove@henimgwaycasinoconsulting.com or see https://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com/ www.casinolifemagazine.com


Feature: Alphaslot

Raymond Chan

Deconstructing 2022

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It’s been a challenging first half of 2022. Nevertheless, by almost any measure, 2022 is in a better time for innovations now than at any time in the past, if we may learn from the previous crisis

he $31 billion Airbnb started by inviting strangers to sleep in one another’s homes to earn a bit of extra money to make rent. That year was 2007, right about the time for the biggest financial burst to Volume 18: Issue 151

happen and when roommates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky couldn’t afford their San Francisco rent. Gebbia and Chesky soon realized how big their idea could be. They got together with their old roommate, Nathan Blecharczyk, to build Airbnb into a business. 49


Feature: Alphaslot

Back in 2011, Harvard Business Review had an article about how entrepreneurs find opportunity. Entrepreneurial leaders like Brian Chesky from Airbnb created opportunities using self and social awareness.”

Uber’s explosive growth and constant controversy make it one of the most fascinating companies to emerge over the past decade. The global ride-sharing application was founded in 2009, right around the same financial meltdown happened in which Airbnb was born, and it disrupted modern transportation. Ten years after its founding, Uber went public on May 9, 2019, with a net income of $1.1 billion, $3.9 billion in revenue and 1.5 billion trips on its platform for the second quarter of 2021 alone. Bitcoin was also born from crisis in 2008, as the same banking meltdown was in full swing. In August 2008, someone registered bitcoin dot-org as a domain and on Halloween that year, a paper went up describing a decentralized system for electronic transactions that rely on a new technology called blockchain. “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution,” said the original Satoshi Nakamoto white paper. So, if the time is better positioned for new

innovations today than it was at the beginning of the good years (which have already passed us), where and how do we find opportunities in business? Back in 2011, Harvard Business Review had an article about how entrepreneurs find opportunity. Entrepreneurial leaders like Brian Chesky from Airbnb created opportunities using self- and social awareness. Brian and his team shaped opportunities within the context of who they were, what problem they had been facing and what they knew of the latest trend in technologies. The team began with a problem they experienced directly in their real situation – they couldn’t afford their San Francisco rent! Their founding team connected their knowledge in internet technology and most importantly, taking continued actions to test their ideas, even with only incompatible methods of thought, which finally generated a business model that did not exist before (and success). Harvard business school professor Dr. Clayton 50

Christensen is also best known for his theory of how established companies are in the danger of becoming too good at what they do best (and leaving opportunities for newcomers). He also demonstrated how big corporations like Nokia and Kodak could do everything right and still lost their market leadership as new disruptive technologies rose and took over. As successful as those companies we mentioned are, they tend to ignore small but emerging markets with less sophisticated customers who may eventually build the future business from ground up like Airbnb and Uber. “An upstart can therefore introduce a simpler product that is cheaper and thus becomes more widely adopted (a ‘disruptive innovation’). Through incremental innovation, that product is refined and moves upmarket, completing the disruption of the original company,” as he wrote in his famous theory of disruptive innovation. Borrowing the words of the famous wartime leader Winston Churchill, who led Britain to victory in the Second World War: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 2022 is the best time to have our heads down, working to build, regardless of the various independent market forces which may be affecting us in the short run.

ABOUT RAYMOND CHAN Raymond is a partner at Alphamirai Ventures and serves an advisory role for the CFO office of Watami Co., a Japanese conglomerate in global expansion. He is also doing sessional work in venture researches at the local universities. Previously, Raymond cofounded two technology companies - TGG Interactive and Global Gaming Group in Asia. Under his leadership, the companies posted uninterrupted revenue growth by close partnerships with industry leaders which led to acquisition by private equity in 2018. Earlier in his career, Raymond was a founding member of the data science team at E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley, and played a key role in the design of the TiVo customer intelligence system for the internet unicorn in Silicon Valley. www.casinolifemagazine.com


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