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April 2014

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Real Entertainment


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Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 Associate Editor North America David Mckee Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky N Europe - Damien Connelly UK - Alan Campbell Latin America & Asia Correspondent: Janice Chaka International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods Online Gaming Editor: Sam Miranda

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde Subscriptions: Helen Holmes Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree

Editor’s page


elcome to Casino Life and yet another busy edition as we reach the milestone of nine years continual publication. Publishing is fun – tiring at times but often the pressure is related to deadlines not of our making. Like the sun and the moon it’s the shows that tend to pull and push the industry whether we like it or not. Is it me or are we in a lull between ICE and G2E Asia? If so the timing of the three main continental events is now perfect with them equidistant and I may be able to squeeze in the AGE as well. Talking of which, just as the UK is thinking of putting the squeeze on FOBTs - as I reported last month - in Queensland Australia they are contemplating a relaxation on the numbers of slots. To put the slot machine numbers into context Australia stands at having the sixth most slots in the world by country but if you look “state-by-state” New South Wales comes second only to Nevada. The news also welcomed in the UK by many was the halving of the tax on Bingo – something which we saw reflected in the spike in interest in our sister publication – Bingo Llife. This month we switch to our “double issue” and incorporate our popular “Technology in Casinos” focus which has Saverio Scheri, President & CEO at WhiteSand Gaming Inc., as our guest editor. The key feature is undoubtedly our interview with Industry stalwart Desmond Whitcher, Director Alternate Gaming & Innovation Sun International, who provides a useful insight into the future of gaming ahead of the opening of the organisations latest Resort Casino. In the main magazine we continue to provide 100% original features: Peter White is talking to Matt Hurst, Executive Vice President Casino Operations & Marketing at the Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment Inc; Damien Connelly reports back on CASINO 2000 where he met with Guido Berghmans; Damien also took time out to discuss the Japan Gaming Congress with Rory Credland. Meanwhile, earlier in the month I caught up with Eric Pearson, Vice President of Gaming at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Spokane and found out more about how the Kalispel Tribe has provided the region with a world class venue. Finally we had a chance to sit down, caps down low and sunglasses gleaming, to take a few minutes chatting to Michael Caselli, Bluff Europe Editor-in-Chief and compere of this year’s British Poker Awards. Chris Sanson rounds off the issue by talking to Zackary Milardo President Preserved of San Diego based Preserved Interiors. We start busy – and we plan to be busier. Next month I’ll be at G2E Asia and I hope you can either drop by our booth or drop me a line to meet up.

Journal Manager: Chris Sanson Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714

Glyn Thomas


Contents 4

Manila Bay Resorts ‘Real-Life Wonderland’ Peter White talks to Executive Vice President Casino Operations & Marketing Matt Hurst Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment Inc

12 Investing for the Future Damien Connelly visited CASINO 2000 to meet with Guido Berghmans 16

Search and you will find… Glyn Thomas talks to Eric Pearson, Vice President of Gaming at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Spokane about how the Kalispel Tribe has provided the region with a world class Venue

22 PokerStars Peter White spoke to Bluff Europe Editor-in-Chief and compere of this year’s British Poker Awards, Michael Caselli 24

Quality Preserved Zackary Milardo President Preserved of San Diego based Preserved Interiors takes time out to chat with Chris Sanson

28 Japan Opens for Business Damien Connelly speaks to Rory Credland, Senior Producer, Japan Gaming Congress Technology in Casinos 1

Guest Editor Saverio Scheri President & CEO at WhiteSand Gaming Inc


Ocean View Glyn Thomas chats with Desmond Whitcher Director Alternate Gaming & Innovation Sun International, ahead of the opening of the organisation latest Resort Casino

7 Maximising Potential Peter White spoke to Simon Thomas Chairman of the Hippodrome during this year’s British Pokers Awards held at the iconic Entertainment destination 11 Top Performers Glyn Thomas chats with Tom O’Brien CEO of Interblock-USA 15 “Bitcoin, what is it and what purpose does it have for us in the casino industry?” By Andrew Flynn 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.


Manila Bay Resorts

‘Real-Life Wonderland’ Peter White chats with Executive Vice President – Casino Operations and Marketing Matt Hurst Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment Inc.


niversal Entertainment has managed steady growth over its 45 years, with its founder & Chairman of the Board Kazuo Okada, still at the forefront of the organisations expansion; one can see that the organisation has been founded on very strong ideology. Manila Bay Resorts is the first integrated resort project of Mr. Okada, and we aim to be the innovative global leader in gaming and entertainment resorts. Is there a date yet for the opening of the Manila Bay Resort. We are aiming at late 2015 for our opening. With the purchase of the exclusive high quality Hong Kong based restaurant that Universal Entertainment bought came a motto based on the Concept of ‘Japan Quality Japanese Hospitality, will

that be combined with the parent organisations slogan of ‘All in the name of fun’ into what will be one of Asia’s premier Entertainment & Leisure destinations Manila Bay Resorts? Providing high class entertainment Universal Entertainment Corp. Chairman Kazuo Okada has a vision of building a real-life wonderland, Manila Bay Resorts will be equipped with a variety of facilities designed to meet the ultimate entertainment offering – including a world class casino, luxurious hotels, one of the world’s majestic large-scale water fountain shows, indoor beach club, prestige night clubs, high end restaurants and shopping malls the likes of which the Philippines has never seen before Will this new Mega Resort incorporate exhibition and conference facilities to attract industry Shows ,Summits, and major corporations AGM,s to take


full advantage of its location in one of the regions fastest developing economies. We have a large area that will include several phases to include conference facilities and other attractions to capitalize on other market segments. Entertainment is a big factor in the success of


Leisure Resort Casinos. What are the facilities for staging concerts, and do you provide a varied line up of performers or will you plan to have regular resident bands and singers? Filipinos love entertainment we want to be recognised as a world class entertainment venue in order to diversify Philippines tourism offerings

beyond gaming. We envisage our property as a key destination to promote not only local entertainment but international headliners that will complement our property. A choice of high quality restaurants is also a significant factor in success of such an enterprise,

so with the acquisition in 2012 of the Hong Kong based K.O.Dining Group, will the cuisine and expertise from this company be incorporated into the restaurant mix at the Manila Bay Resorts? In Asia, food is critical, and with a Michelin star in its first year of operations at KO Dining, Mr. Okada has proven he knows how to deliver a world class


culinary experience. We are certainly working hand in glove with the team at KO Dining in order to parley their achievements into even greater success here in Manila. Golf is a globally popular sport with millions playing the game and tuning in to watch major championships. Will Manila Bay Resorts have a Golf course and if so can you provide details as we are all Golf fans at Casino Life? The Philippines is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. The natural, scenic landscapes are complemented by world class courses designed by some of the top designers. These great golf courses are all easily accessible and we will explore all options to promote visitors coming to the Philippines to not to only stay at our beautiful resort but offer golfing as one of the many options our customers can enjoy as it is a great way of combining a sport with seeing the sights that the country has to offer.


Will the Manila Bay Resorts have a Sports Books were major events are televised on large plasma screens? We plan to be a one stop entertainment shop, and sports is among the various offerings we are considering. Retail is also a substantial revenue generator. What is the mix going to be at the Manila Bay Resort regarding luxury retail brands? We will have 150 specialty shops strategically located around our water fountain enclosed in a glass dome, growing to over 7,500m2 in phases II and III. Are you in a position to comment on any details yet on the Slot and table gaming supplier mix of the Manila Bay Resort and have you a preferred choice of supplier for the Casino operating system? We will have a competitive slot and table gaming mix based on the current market segment, and we are working very closely with our parent company,

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Universal Entertainment, on some leading edge technologies that we think will give us a distinct competitive advantage in this market. What is the square footage of the gaming floor and number of slots and tables? 30,000 sqm 500 gaming tables and 3,000 EGM How many rooms will the hotel? 2,000 hotel rooms with expansion of more in other phases. Do you have plans for Manila Bay Resort to optimize its online potential and launch its own online Casino? We will explore all revenue possibilities with in our Licensee regulation’s with PAGCOR. Do you see any trends emerging in the Asian Casino industry? Premium Mass growth potential, increased ETG products and games linked to Tablets as the younger generation are all use to playing games on Tablet devices these days.


Technology – any new initiatives on the gaming floor with for example, cash counting & processing systems, and trials planned for new table games? We are working closely with our parent company, Universal Entertainment, and are currently exploring all options to include our own unique products offerings that will differentiate us from our competitors and give us an edge. Have you a favourite piece of business advice? Success of business today is all about the customer experience this is only achieved by having staffed trained to deliver that experience. Therefore, I believe training programs to be the core focus in order to accomplish success. And finally‌. What aspects of your role at Universal Entertainment do you find most rewarding and satisfying? Being involved in one of the most amazing properties currently being built in Asia not only the sheer size and the entertainment offerings. I believe Manila Bay Resorts will be a new paradigm in the history of casino resorts.

Investing for the Future

Damien Connelly visited CASINO 2000 to meet with Guido Berghmans


ith 330 machines (soon to be 340) and 6 live tables, CASINO 2000 may not be the most impressive building, but I think it is one of the best run casinos in Europe. The numbers prove this: while casino GGR (gross gaming revenue) is down 33% Europe-wide since 2007 (excluding the UK), CASINO 2000 has seen its GGR reduce only 2% since 2007. It has significantly outperformed the European market average. Even so, commented Mr. Berghmans, “we must stop the decline...We are hitting the (marketing) drum faster and faster; with activities targeting customers more frequently.” Of course, not everything can be controlled, as Mr. Berghmans noted: “Last year our revenues declined 4.9%, which was due mostly to the snow. We had 19 snow days during January, February and March 2013. On these days our revenues were 60% of their normal levels. So far this year, our revenues have not fully recovered, even though the weather has been much better and we have had no snow days to deal with.” Add to this a smoking ban covering the live tables area and a large section of the slot floor, and the pressure on GGR becomes even greater.


Given how good an operation it is, if CASINO 2000 is struggling to grow its revenues, then this shows something new needs to be tried. That something could be cashless gaming, which it is rolling out across its property.

Will Cashless Bring More Cash?

Harald Scheuer, Damien Connelly and Guido Berghmans (L to R)

CASINO 2000 has chosen the cashless solution from DRGT. Commented Mr. Berghmans: “We will eventually roll-out the DRGT cashless system to all 340 of our machines. This DRGT system is very robust as every slot machine has a computer inside it with a built-in memory that stores all the machine data for a certain period of time before downloading our machine data to our server. This DRGT system effectively gives us 340 individual backups.” “We had previously an IT problem with our (old) online system, when a data switch failed. This meant we couldn’t use a large part of our online system. With our new DRGT cashless and online system, if our online system were to break, our machines would continue to work normally.” “We used to operate the Atronic online system, but we switched to the DRGT system. If you take the cashless system from DRGT, you automatically have to take the online system from DRGT. It even has a Reception module, which we are introducing. That will be a big benefit for us as it will allow us to have one single database for all our customer records and transactions.” This single customer database should help with its marketing and sales activities as it seeks to ‘beat its drum faster and faster’ in order to grow its revenues by attracting more people. Another way it hopes to attract new customers is by offering a non-identified cashless card; what it calls its ‘blue’ card. Recently the casino introduced its ‘orange’ card that

requires registration; and an anonymous, lower-cashvalue card will probably be introduced very soon, as Mr. Berghmans stated: “In the future we will have next to the orange card a blue card, which is anonymous, with a €250 limit; the orange card is identified and has a €2,000 limit. The €250 limit is usually enough for the type of players who visit us during the weekend, who are normally small-to-mid-level players who change machines more frequently. At the moment we have been testing for three weeks to ensure the system works correctly. Once that is certain, we will launch the blue card which has no need for players to provide identification.” This move away from identification is also seen with a total change in the layout of the reception area. This is the final part of its major investment program.

Proactive Investment

In trying to attract more people, CASINO 2000 is nearing completion of the third phase of its extensive development and refurbishment programme that started back in March 2009. In total, the owners have invested well over €60 million since 1999. This investment has seen the casino add the Chapito event hall capable of hosting concerts for up to 2,100 people, a 4-star hotel with 31 rooms, and with the last major redesign being a complete layout change to the reception area and ground-floor (due to finish June/July 2014). With player identification required for the table games area only, the refurbished layout will see the main reception desk at the entrance to the building take on a general role for the likes of conferences, events, and the hotel, with the duties for player identification moved to an internal location; allowing for both a more efficient customer flow and improved player management/protection. Specialist casino staff will have more time to deal with identification queries than reception staff would have, supported by facial recognition technology to further ensure banned and/ or inebriated players do not enter the gaming area. Moving the identification process for the table games


offers a 7-course menu for only €69. For comparison, I had lunch in a local brasserie restaurant in Mondorf-lesBains, and for just one course it cost €31...which shows just how superb value the F&B options are at CASINO 2000. This value-quality combination explains why they do over 120,000 covers each year in the casino resort; helped significantly by an excellent F&B team that includes Thierry Corona, President of the Association of European Sommeliers; as knowledgeable about wine as anyone possibly could be. As great as the F&B is at CASINO 2000, most of the 540,000 annual visitors are visiting the casino. Its GGR split is 5% live tables and 95% machines. Of its total revenues, over 90% come from gambling activities.

Future Casino

inside the casino should also improve the customer experience of the non-gaming facilities. The variety of facilities available at CASINO 2000 arguably makes it the only casino resort complex in northern Europe.

Casino Resort

As Mr. Berghmans stated, “Our new event hall - Chapito - brings us a lot of people that are not necessarily dining. So we are now offering more concert and event tickets without the obligation to dine here. We leave the choice to people; they can buy tickets with dinner to take advantage of our package price, or of course they can come here for the concert and dine elsewhere.” “A lot of casinos, and even casino groups, are looking at closing their restaurants. They say they are concentrating on gaming now. Let’s go to the core business. And they close everything. And it’s not understandable. People who open restaurants have to make money from it. We don’t. We just have to run it in a way that our restaurants don’t lose money. A lot of other people can make money opening and operating restaurants, even now in the crisis. Why can’t a casino do the same? “The idea for restaurants in casinos is to bring people in. If people go out, they mainly do so to eat out. And many casinos that opened restaurants have targeted them at gamblers so they have something to eat. But that doesn’t work. We mainly use our restaurants to bring people in from the outside...Restaurants bring people to casinos.” The restaurants available in CASINO 2000 offer excellent food at great value: Le Manège restaurant offers a fantastic buffet including a variety of wines for only €21.50; the Purple Lounge menu starts at €15; and Les Roses gastronomique restaurant (Michelin Guide)


Its slot floor has a range of machines from all the large manufacturers, namely Aristocrat, Aruze, Atronic (Spielo), Austrian Gaming Industries (Novomatic), Bally, IGT, Konami, and WMS. The ability and speed to place new machines on the floor is constrained by the authorities, as is the case in pretty much all legal gaming jurisdictions. “With our new government, we are waiting for authorisation to place the new machines on the floor. We have these machines already in stock... We will have lots of new machines this year. That is important; that could help increase our GGR...and our new cashless card and new gaming space. When we began with the expansion of our casino, we had 155 machines, and now it’s 330 in the same space. That makes our floor quite busy.” Will new machines bring new customers and higher revenues? Long term, I don’t think so. Neither does Mr. Berghmans: “The casino industry is slow in evolving and old-fashioned. The new generation is looking for something different from what slot machines offer. Even the online business hesitates to buy landbased casinos. They look at it and see the difficulties we are facing in landbased casinos and think: ‘If they can’t do it, then we probably can’t do it either’.” “Look what William Hill is doing with its online live tables. It’s a really friendly service. If you’re outside the UK, you can’t participate; they are one of the few operators who do restrict players who are not in the UK. But you can watch the tables and the bets being made. They have Blackjack tables with stakes that are incredible; each box played with £800 to £1,000. And you can see that they have a few of these tables, and that they are real players behind the bets.” “The casino industry needs a new product. Like the time in the cinema industry when you had rattling seats. We need something new, that you can’t do at home. Where you have to go to a casino for an experience. It’s not the operators who will invent this; it will be the manufacturers who develop this...or a startup company from outside the industry. In my opinion, there’s no product on the horizon at the moment that will help the industry grow significantly and help attract more customers.”

This ‘interesting product’ (or products) will hopefully be developed soon. Our European landbased industry has seen a 33% decline in revenues since 2007. We cannot afford to lose another 33% of our revenues. As one of Europe’s best casinos, CASINO 2000 is in the ideal position to lead from the front and show other casinos how to successfully compete for the hearts and minds of our ‘future customers’. Our ‘future customers’ will have their gambling and entertainment needs met by ‘future casinos’. What will these ‘future casinos’ look like? CASINO 2000 is as likely to find an answer to this as any casino in Europe. As we were saying our goodbyes, Mr. Berghmans made reference to the value business-to-business (B2B) magazines provide our industry both now and in the foreseeable future: “I seriously think that B2B magazines, whether printed or digital, are indispensable

for our industry. They are very efficient at disseminating news, information and opinions of industry leaders to the interested public at large. Especially in the difficult times we are all facing, knowing that we have to change our offers and our approach to the market, it is more than important to receive pre-selected high level and important information on a regular basis. Products from our suppliers, strategic reflections from other operators, concrete actions and results: this knowledge is essential to avoid errors and for being able to choose the right solutions for a successful renewal of our casinos.” On that note, with a big smile on my face, I left the building knowing Mr. Berghmans and his CASINO 2000 colleagues will find the right solutions to successfully renew their business, and keep their customers entertained.



Search and you will find… Glyn Thomas talks to Eric Pearson, Vice President of Gaming at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Spokane about how the Kalispel Tribe has provided the region with a world class venue

Eric, can you tell us about the Kalispel Tribe and the development of the resort and casino? Of course! The Kalispel Tribe of Indians has always endeavored to improve the lives of its members and the surrounding community through education, health and economic enrichment opportunities. The Kalispel reservation is essentially seven square miles of hillside and flood-plane that makes it nearly impossible to build any kind of substantial facility. Because of this, and its remote location, the Tribe was granted a rare offreservation exception and was able to place 40 acres of land into trust for the purposes of casino gambling in Airway Heights, Washington, which is just a few miles from Spokane. Northern Quest Resort & Casino opened in December of 2000 and was a relatively small operation featuring just 400 slot machines and a few table games. Since then, the property has undergone a series of major expansions that has transformed it into the worldclass resort you see here today. Our latest expansion culminated in the opening of our 250 room hotel and our beautiful spa, La Rive, with both venues currently holding the AAA Four Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Four Star awards. Also in 2010, our AAA Four Diamond award winning fine-dining restaurant Masselow’s opened to the public. All told, the property now boasts 1,650 slots, 40 table games, keno, poker and off-track betting. Our food and beverage outlets include 14 restaurants and lounges with two nightclubs; a food court featuring Fatburger and Villa Pizza; a buffet; our sports restaurant Epic; an Asian noodle house; two coffee and quick service outlets; a frozen yogurt shop; and the region’s only cigar bar, Legends of Fire. If you want to catch a show you can chose from two entertainment venues, a 4,000+ seat

outdoor venue that we fill with headliner entertainment during our Summer Concert Series, and a 1,200 seat indoor venue that features popular music, dance and comedy acts. All of this is in addition to ample conference and convention space so you can get some work done while you’re here. What do you think makes this casino so special? We have an amazing physical property in the casino and resort, but the thing that really sets Northern Quest apart is our people. A lot of managers tout the great service their staff provides (whether it’s true or not), but it’s the real deal here. I was with a big corporate casino company out of Las Vegas before I came to work for Northern Quest and one of the main things that attracted me to this opportunity was the experience I had while being a guest. From being picked up at the airport, through my entire two-day stay, to being dropped back off at the airport, I had a truly remarkable guest service experience that made me want to be a part of this team. We enjoy guest service levels we would have killed for in Las Vegas and it comes seemingly naturally to the team members at Northern Quest. Of course, we put a lot of work into getting and keeping our service standards so high. It really all comes back to our Core Values, Core Purpose and the commitment we have to living them every day, in every facet of what we do here. We have a simple mantra around here we follow religiously, and that is “we make people feel special”. It’s not enough to just provide good service, anyone can do that, we strive to make every touch point we have with our guests become truly memorable. We talk a lot about working to “create


memories and stories” whenever we can with our guests. We feel this, more than just being the right thing to do in the hospitality business, is our competitive advantage in our market. What is the general breakdown of equipment in the casino? Do locals prefer table or slot action? We have 1,650 video slot machines in denominations ranging from $.01 to $20. We have just under 40 table games featuring Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Three Card Poker, Pai Gow, and Spanish 21. We feature a nonsmoking poker room with 9 tables; and we round out our casino offerings with a Keno lounge and an Off-Track Betting parlor in case you want to wager on the ponies. We do a pretty good table games business, but our most popular games are definitely our wide range of video slots. We have the largest selection of slots in the Inland Northwest region. And of those slots, the penny games are definitely king. Which slot games are hot at the moment? Currently, our $5 Mega Meltdown slots by Multimedia Games are our top performers. These games recreate a similar experience to the traditional high volatility, three reel, one line, high denomination progressive slots that a lot of players still really love. Many of our other top performers are some tried and true titles that our players keep coming back for, like, Wolf Run, Sun and Moon and Lotus Flower. We have a fairly healthy replacement and


conversion cycle on the floor that keeps our floor fresh with new titles and cabinet types, but some of our top games are these legacy themes. Loyalty is a keystone to your resort – how do you keep your visitors coming back for more? Our newest program to drive loyalty and repeat visitation is our Q Cash program. We were one of the first casinos in the United States to install Transact Technologies’ Epicentral ticket couponing system, which went live on our floor in April of 2013. We use Epicentral under our Q Cash brand, to give real time rewards to our players right at their slot machines. Currently, the program is running as a random rewards engine that rewards slot players for using their players’ club cards while playing slots. Every few minutes a slot player wins a random amount between $5 and $500 which they can redeem at the cage for cash. We are issuing more than 800 winning tickets every day. Q Cash has proven to be one of the best promotions we’ve ever attempted at Northern Quest. The positive responses from our guests have been overwhelming, and we can definitely see major changes in the length and frequency of our guests’ trips to our casino floor. We are also launching a new loyalty program near the end of this year that will allow our guests to earn and redeem points and comps for their spend throughout the entire resort, not just in the casino. There has been a tremendous amount of requests from our guests

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to expand our players club program to our other nongaming venues, and we are working hard to launch a program that we feel will be recognized in the industry for its effectiveness and ease of use. I guess you’ll have to come back next year so we can talk about our success there! Is there crossover between gambling and other entertainment? Between our two concert venues we put on about 32 shows a year, which is a tremendous commitment to entertainment. We take a lot of pride in being able to bring acts to the region that may not normally be offered, and it gives us a great way to introduce new guests to the resort and casino that wouldn’t normally come and visit us. I think entertainment has always been a little bit of a challenge for regional casinos in the United States, but we have a very rigorous evaluation and selection methodology that maximizes our abilities to recover on the cost of the acts and drive traffic to our other non-gaming venues and casino. It is still surprising how different acts will draw crowds with very different spend behavior. We’ve had great success with classic rock and country acts, but every once in a while we will get a big surprise out of a ventriloquist or comedian act that will really knock it out of the park with our guests. Tell us more about how you advertise your venue. We do a bit of a “full court press” when it comes to our advertising efforts. We are very active in our outdoor billboard, radio, television, print and web advertising. Personally I think our TV advertising is some of the best

that I’ve ever seen, especially from a locals’ casino. We’ve created two characters that we call “the couple” that are frequently featured in our TV spots that have generated somewhat of a serious following around the region. People often call and write in to ask us about them, and they also serve as great ambassadors of the property. We’ve been recognized within the industry for our web, digital and television work with our focus being both to entertain as well as inform. When you are not at the resort how do you relax? Well, as you can imagine, I’m here quite a bit. In my current role I am responsible for our gaming operations, casino marketing, player development and security operations so there is always something going on that needs attention. Which is great because I have a job that never gets old! But when I can get away, I really enjoy cooking dinners for my family and taking family vacations. We love to travel and try to take trips to new places as much as possible. Also, I’m a pretty big movie buff, and I can often be found catching the last showing of the night at several of the local movie theaters in Spokane. And, much to my wife’s dismay, I love riding motorcycles and am really looking forward to the beautiful summers we enjoy here to hit the open road. Northern Quest is renowned for its entertaining TV advertisements. To take a glimpse at how the casino attracts clientele please go to http://www.


The British Poker Awards

Peter White spoke to Bluff Europe Editor-in-Chief and compere of this year’s British Poker Awards, Michael Caselli Hosting such a big ceremony as this requires a lot of organisation, so I guess you have a list of people to thank for their assistance and contributions to making this year’s Awards such an outstanding success… Our media partners are key. We want everyone that’s influential in British poker on board because we want this to be an event for the whole industry. That’s why we label it as produced by Bluff Europe rather that positioning as a Bluff Europe event. The difference is subtle, but I think it better represents how important all our media partners are to the event. Beyond that it’s the players I have to thank.


Almost everyone that got nominated turned up, and the ones that didn’t sent either someone to represent them or sent a video in to accept their award. It made the whole event very slick. The reality is that we are celebrating the best if British poker, so the stars of the game are the big draw just like the Hollywood stars make the Oscars the biggest thing in movies. Sponsors play both a vital and important role in the success of these events. How impressed have you been with with their support with the year’s British Poker Awards?

PokerStars has been very hands-on with the awards. Working with Angela and Miho has been great and their commitment pre-event was only matched by their enthusiasm on the night. You may think big companies might miss out on details, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, and you can just tell by working with them that poker is in the DNA of this business and in everyone that works there. This isn’t the first time we’ve done an event with PokerStars as the sponsor, in fact they sponsored the main stage at our poker in the park event, so we knew we had a good sponsor as soon as we penned the deal. This year’s British Poker Awards was for the first time at London’s premier gaming & entertainment venue, The Hippodrome - how pleased have you been with the event’s new home? The venue actually helped take the awards to a new level. Their theatre is purpose built, so it has all the lighting, sound, staging and everything else you need to do a really slick production. Their wait staff is great and they are just so used to doing events that their team ran like clockwork. In fact the dressing rooms were even stocked with drinks and snacks. It was very, very professional and it’s what put the final gloss on the event. With poker’s increasing popularity continuing to grow globally do you think it’s doing enough to promote its image as its viewing figures & winning pay-outs at the major events dwarf many of those of the more mainstream sports? Probably not, and a lot of that is down to the piecemeal legislation of online and terrestrial poker across the globe. Sports normally don’t need to contend with the levels of regulation that poker does. The regulation is absolutely necessary mind you, but it does slow development of poker as a sport. From a UK standpoint it is worth highlighting your comments during the awards when handing Barny Boatman his Lifetime Achievement award. How important has the contribution of the Hendon Mob been over the years in gaining poker more recognition and coverage mainstream UK media? They were really the first stars of the game. When

they launched they released a video, did loads of photos and press briefings, and it made the world see that you could take a guy like Barny and make him the David Beckham of poker. After that the floodgates opened and every site out their started to promote their pros. The knock-on effect of creating stars of the game were that you could develop main stream attention from people that just saw poker in TV and thought that they could emulate those guys on the telly - so poker boomed, and Barny and the mob were at the forefront. Is poker your game of choice personally? If not, is there another casino game you prefer? I like poker. We have a Bluff Europe card room at the Cromwell Mint Casino in South Kensington London that we were involved with from design up. Poker is a game that I can get excited about because there is a whole lifestyle that goes with it. Lots of my friends are poker players and it’s a great community to be involved in. So I think there are a number of reasons that poker is my first choice game, not least being that the game itself is one that allows you to get better and better the more you practice. What is your favourite piece of business advice? Do what you are passionate about and never give up. Tenacity has been important in taking several ideas into reality. If we just did what we did to earn a few pennies and then went home at 5:30pm we would never have gotten anywhere. And finally, can you provide our readers with details on voting for next year’s awards and can we expect more of the same as regards your stunning on stage assistants with next year’s event? Voting will be at www.thebritishpokerawards. com from September 2014 until midnight New Year’s Eve, and we hope we can get as many poker enthusiasts involved in the voting as possible. As far as next year, well we’ve managed to get better and better with each year’s experience, so I am fairly confident that we will continue to learn how to make the awards better and better and as long as the players, the public and the industry support us, I can imagine that the 2014 British Poker Awards will continue to break records.


Quality Preserved Zackary Milardo President Preserved of San Diego based Preserved Interiors takes time out to chat with Chris Sanson

I would like to commence this interview by congratulating you on your latest deal, you must be delighted with your contract win with the superb Solaire Resort Casino Manila? Yes, we are very happy indeed to have been chosen as the preferred vendor for the prestigious Solaire 5 star Casino Hotel Resort. We have a team of very talented people currently working on the design and production of 28 preserved Washingtonia palms ranging from 8 to 13 meters. Our installation crew will be going on site to Manila, Philippines at the Solaire Casino & Resort in mid August. I also will be there in August to meet with the executive team of Solaire Resort to discuss further business developments and projects with Preserved Interiors.

our innovative quality products and design to over 14 countries. We have worked on projects ranging from private mansion residences to major Hotels & Casinos, restaurants, major airports shopping malls, medical buildings, production movie sets and more. My inspiration was primarily derived from the beauty of the actual palm trees and the fact that we create beauty from real parts of the tree which are preserved. This to me was very interesting and at the same time eco friendly since basically we create beauty from re-cycled parts from a real palm tree.

 Quality, reliability and

value for money, have been the guiding principles when considering any expenditure especially in recent years for many Casino operations, when matched with alternative suppliers, how does Preserved Interiors compare based on those three key factors? Quality: We have a very strict quality control team to ensure that our preserved palms are built and designed to meet the most demanding casino & hotel customers.

Company Profile for Preserved Interiors

When was the company founded & what was your inspiration behind setting up the company? Preserved Interiors was first established in San Diego, CA in 1995. Since then we have provided


ved Interiors was first established in San Diego, CA in 1995. Since then we have

rate offices are based in beautiful downtown San Diego, CA at the prestigious West waterfront One America Building. (Shown in photo below) Our corporate offices are based in beautiful downtown San Diego, CA at the prestigious 600 Broadway West waterfront One America Building.

Reliability: Our preserved palms are truly built to last to ensure many years of lasting beauty and dĂŠcor. Our palm trunks are guaranteed for 15 years and 4 years on the palm fronds Value for Money: Without question, we offer outstanding value for the money. When clients compare our prices with other similar companies they see a substantial savings with Preserved Interiors. What is the average period of time between the order being placed and it arriving at its destination within the US as well as International destinations? It really depends on the scope of the project. It can vary from several weeks to several months. On

average we always meet our estimated production deadline dates to ensure timely delivery to our clients. Quality control in the manufacturing process is vital in order to maintain a high standard for the organisations products, what do you have in place to insure you uphold the continuity that distinguishes your organisation from alternatives? We have established long term relationships with California & Florida palm tree growers who ensure the utmost pristine quality for our palm bark and palm fronds. Providing a visual impact is essential for any destination resort Casino, would you like to comment


Exterior Replica  Dactilyfira  Palm  Trees.    20  ft  overall  height    

Preserved Spiral in Roman Villa VRN

Preserved Date Palms shown in popular Watermark Grill restaurant in Naples FL USA

Exterior Replica Phoenix Date Palm 15 ft overall height

Preserved Date  Palms  shown  in  popular  Watermark  Grill  restaurant  in                                           Exterior  Replica  Phoenix  Date  Palm  15  ft  overall   height   26 Naples  FL  USA  

he Preserved  Interiors  Palms  in  a  Restaurant’s  &  Entertainment  setting        

Newly Designed Reception area of Preserved Interiors Offices on as toDwhy Preserved Interiors provide area of  Preserved   you like to add Iasnteriors   to why Preserved Interiors   Newly   esigned   Reception   Offices that added environmental atmosphere should be Casino operators’ first choice supplier? which works so effectively. 1) We offer onsite installations worldwide by  

We work very closely with the our team of installation specialist experts project interior designers who will meticulously handle every and landscape architects to detail of your project from beginning to create the most realistic and end to ensure the ultimate finished botanically correct finished look as per your designer’s product. I addition, our custom specifications. design construction allows for lso havemuch sales New York City as well as in Montreal 2) Canada. greateroffices aesthetics,invisual Great ValueOur for theproduction ry is located Richwood, NJ. ofInsize addition we offer onsite installations worldwide appeal,inand true to life uniformity Money: Our prices are veryby our and shape. In the endwho most people cannot competitive will save from of installation experts will meticulously handle every detail of yourandproject tell theto difference between a live palm orfinished look as peryou considerably when compared to the ning to end ensure the ultimate your designer's specifications. a preserved palm which makes our Casino competition. operators and owners very happy. 3) Excellent Service and Communication. We updated information Can your displays provide other functions such as strive to constantly provide   light and sound? on Othe status of our production related to your Double  Phal/Dendrobium  Replica   rchid   Arrangement   Yes In addition our This  silk  replica  orchid  arrangement  is  an  exciting  mixture  of  two  classic  phalaenopsis  orchid  stems   palms can also function as a project. WE are always on schedule and work very that   intertwine   with   two   dendrobium   stems.   You'll   also   notice   shoots   of   bamboo   and   gorgeous   lighting fixture, speaker tower or security camera. The hard to keep the Casino Operator happy. green  leaves  that  help  to  complete  the  warm  tropical  feel  of  this  unbelievable  piece.  Standing  29  in   trunks of preservedtall  and  set  in  a  timeless  ceramic  pot  this  silk  orchid  arrangement  is  sure  to  charm  the  masses.   palms are hollow allowing the wiring of any devise   to be hidden from view For further details you are welcome to visit or call toll free   And finally what key # 800-920-4711   aspects of your company would


Japan Opens for Business Damien Connelly speaks to Rory Credland, Senior Producer, Japan Gaming Congress

With projections being provided on the scale of valuation of the Japanese Casino Gaming business at around $10 Billion USD, is probably a significant contributing reason why the Government is keen to move on legislation that will enable the development to being, so the timing of your event and its importance are impressive enough to justify the expense of attending wouldn’t you agree given the extent of momentum behind this development? Yes, ever since the Integrated Resorts Enabling Bill was submitted in December 2013 and backed by a 208 member-strong cross party group we have wanted to position the Japan Gaming Congress as an educational event for both delegates and policy advisers keen to understand how to successfully implement an effective regulatory framework. Compared to its Asian rivals Japan lags behind in terms of inbound tourism and one of the most important insights arising from the Congress is going to be how integrated resorts can accelerate economic activity in the Meeting Incentive Convention and Exhibition sector as well as the impact on tourism as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics. We are keeping our fingers crossed in the hope that all stays on schedule over the next couple of months. When does it take place? Japan Gaming Congress takes place across May 14-16th 2014. Further information can be accessed at www. We have negotiated a preferential rate with the Conrad Hotel for JgC attendees. Please contact for more details. Who are the headline speakers at this inaugural event? We have succeeded in attracting over 40 really significant speakers to share their insight with delegates attending the first Japan gaming Congress all of whom are experts in their respective fields, so I would argue that they are all headliners in their own way. However, and if you pushed me, I would highlight the following as the five who are receiving the most media and delegate attention: Todd Nisbet, Director, Melco Crown Entertainment; Michael Mecca, President & Chief Operating Officer, Galaxy Entertainment Group; Masaru Sugiyama, Gaming Analyst, Associate, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd; Toru Mihara, Professor and Director, The Institute of Amusement Industry Studies, Osaka University of Commerce and Satoshi Okabe, Senior Manager, Integrated Resort & Tourism Business Department, Social Innovation & Solutions Division, Dentsu Inc.The line-up of speakers is the most influential gathering of experts ever assembled


to discuss the development of gaming in Japan. They are all experts in their respective fields and qualified to deliver unique perspectives across all of the issues and from every angle. What will be the key topics? We made a commitment to deliver a content rich programme for delegates and I think this is reflected in the programme. Sessions to be discussed include: (1) Market Potential – tipped to overtake Singapore in revenue, is Japan on the roadmap to deliver the high expectations? (2) Investing in Japan – Insight into the evolution of IRs and the Asian gaming consumer (3) Envisioning the IR model in Japan Part I What regulatory approach is likely to deliver expected results? (4) ‘Abenomics’ and regional development – the role of Integrated Resorts (5) Understanding how large scale development projects, such as Integrated Resorts, can succeed in Japan (6) Understanding the approval/licensing procedures for all gaming manufacturers doing business in Japan. Based on our experience gained delivering world class gaming events such as ICE, GiGse, EiG and the Brasilian Gaming Congress, which we launched in 2013, we are extremely confident and excited at how the first Japan Gaming Congress has been received by the market. Are there plans for an evening event over the course of the 3 days, where delegates & sponsors will have an opportunity to relax and enjoy a drink or two and network? Networking is an incredibly important part of the experience and something which all of our delegates across the entire gaming portfolio of brands want. On the 14th we have a drinks reception in the TwentyEight Bar and Lounge at The Conrad Hotel from 6pm – 8pm followed on the 15th by networking drinks at the end of the day, followed by a casino site tour of Odaiba – a potential site for Tokyo’s IR. Spaces are limited so I would suggest that delegates wanting to participate contact Danielle.mclean@ for more information. How can organisations whom are interested in sponsoring this event find out more details of what packages you still have available and what they involve? We have attracted some real blue chip sponsors including organisations the calibre of JCM, IGT and Konami, which represents a clear endorsement of the event. There are additional sponsorship opportunities and interested companies should contact Ben.Challenor@clarionevents. com

Japan Gaming Congress 14-16 May 2014 – Tokyo Do not miss out on the opportunity to engage with key influencers shaping the Japanese casino market. Join members of the Government, key industry leaders and distinguished local and international market representatives as they discuss the latest developments for what analysts agree to be a potential $10bn market. Speakers confirmed to date include: • Toru Mihara, Visiting Professor, Osaka University of Commerce • Michael Leven, President and Chief Operating Officer, Las Vegas Sands • Masaru Sugiyama, Associate, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd • Takayoshi Koike, Director, Capital & Innovation Inc • Kazuaki Sasaki, Assistant Professor, Nihon University College of Economics • Michael Mecca, President & Chief Operating Officer, Galaxy Entertainment Group

For more information and to register your interest, please visit:

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