Volume 15 Issue 127
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ICE set attendance records again. Well done Clarion, Kate Chambers and team for organising another superb show. I enjoyed catching up with old and new friends. Our Casino Life booth was very popular as usual with lots of Operators dropping by to say “Hello” as they walked the exhibition floor to see all the new systems and equipment on display. In Asia, we meet Andrew Black. Andrew is the CEO of JWM Hotel & Casino in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Cambodia is one of Asia’s fastest growing markets, and Bill Healey visited the temporary casino to find out more about this exciting and exotic property. In Europe, we meet Craig Ballantyne. Craig is Property President for City of Dreams Mediterranean in Cyprus. Craig explains his T.R.E.E. concept for Integrated Resorts which is simply superb. We are very excited to bring you this unique and exclusive interview for what will be Europe’s first fully fledged IR when it opens late 2021. In America, we meet Bennie Mancino. Bennie is Corporate VP of Table Games for Jack Entertainment. Both Bennie and Jack Entertainment are intriguing and our article is a great read as we introduce you to some of the urban casino developments they’re doing. Staying with our Operator focus, Genting discusses their Genting Poker Series. Following which, Peter White was in Genting’s Resorts World Birmingham as a guest of the National Casino Forum for the UK Dealer Championships. Returning to Asia, we look at two upcoming shows — G2E Asia and Japan Gaming Congress. And returning to ICE, Damien Connelly attended the excellent Japan Roundtables during the VOX Conference. Damien was very impressed with the content quality of the ICE conference. On content quality, we hope you agree… Glyn Thomas this issue is full of Winning Content. Editor in Chief
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6 JWM Hotel & Casino Andrew Black CEO JWM Hotel and Casino chats to Bill Healey 14 Cyprus Dreams Craig Ballantyne, Property President, City of Dreams Mediterranean meets with Damien Connelly 18 Bennie Mancino Urban Development Bill Healey chats to Bennie Mancino Corporate Vice President of Table Games for Jack Entertainment 23 Let The Journey Begin Kevin Proctor Poker Operations Manager at Genting UK chats to Sophie Behan 25 The UK Dealer Championships Peter White Reports from this yearâ€™s UK Final 29 S cientific Games looks to the East for slotmachine inspiration Marco Herrera, Senior Vice President of Gaming EMEA speaks to David McKee & Glyn Thomas 31 P layer First, User-Friendly Technology Hits the Spot in London Communication and Management Tools, and a New Poker Jackpot Game excite at ICE. 36 Where Innovation Meets Ingenuity Ljubo Benko, Managing Director of G-Digital chats to Glyn Thomas 39 Multiple Solutions Matt Luckhurst, SUZOHAPP, Sales Director,UK & Ireland interview by David McKee 44 G2E Asia 2019 Josephine Lee Chief Operating Officer, Reed Exhibitions, Greater China Interview with Robert Ambrose 48 Galaxy of Opportunity Rory Credland Event Director Japan Gaming Congress Chats with Peter White 50 ICE VOX Conference A great learning and networking experience attended by Damien Connelly 52 Manage this by Robert Brassai In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king 54 The Last Word by Damien Connelly 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 publisherâ€™s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
JWM Hotel & Casino Andrew Black CEO JWM Hotel and Casino chats to Bill Healey
ringing a new dynamic to one of Asiaâ€™s quickest growing casino markets is the JWM Hotel & Casino, anchored 1 km off the southern coast of Cambodia. Driving through the city of Sihanoukville today, you would notice almost all of the development is related to inbound Chinese casino tourism. For the most part, all of the current casinos cater to Chinese tourists, while all new construction is also aimed at the same guest segment. There are regularly scheduled flights from China directly into the small Sihanoukville international airport bringing the players in. What makes JWM unique is that its on a former cruise ship anchored offshore, which creates a whole new set of
needs other casinos donâ€™t have. Though currently open on the cruise ship, JWM is building their larger land-based hotel & casino. I spent three days / three nights on the ship, getting a feel for their operations, nightlife and Sky Bar. I was fortunate to have time with Andrew Black, CEO of JWM to discuss the hotel & casino, their plans for the coming years, as well as chat about the career path that brought him here. What led you to get into casinos & gaming? After 5 years of working in a boring government office job in Australia I wanted to try something new and exciting. So in 1992 when Casino Canberra advertised for trainee
croupiers for their new property I applied and started in a training school. I wanted to build-up my confidence around people and considered it a personal challenge to improve myself. Oh and I also wanted to meet girls. Where has your path taken you, and what led you to JWM Hotel & Casino? After two years working in Casino Canberra I moved to Melbourne for the opening of Crown Casino. After five years there I moved to a Resort Casino in Myanmar called The Andaman Club, which was and still is the most beautiful Resort Casino on the border of Thailand. For the
last 20 years I have been managing casinos in Myanmar and Cambodia on the border of Thailand. More recently, I worked in a casino in Sri Lanka for four months before returning to the familiarity of Cambodia when I started working at JWM Hotel & Casino in Sihanoukville. I have family in Thailand so I like to stay close to home. What is your position, and what responsibilities does it involve? My current position is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JWM Hotel and Casino. My responsibilities involve overseeing the setup stage of the Hotel and Casino. We
recently had a soft opening in late February 2019. Because the ship is located 1km offshore from Independence Beach in Sihanoukville I have also been working on the logistics of getting guests and staff to and from the cruise ship. This has been a new challenge. JWM Hotel & Casino is on a former cruise ship anchored off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Tell us a bit about the unique features of this site? The Cruise ship is located at the heart of Sihanoukville but away from the hustle and bustle and noise of the construction of many casinos being built. It has the best
view of the city and gives guests the feeling of being on holiday aboard a cruise ship. The Sky Bar onboard is the best place in the city to sit, relax and enjoy a cocktail and take in the fantastic view. There are plans to expand with a land-based casino on the shores of Sihanoukville. How far along is that, and what is the size of the property expected to be? The land-based beachfront property on Independence Beach is starting construction now and will consist of two main buildings of 38 levels. The property will have a Hotel and Casino and shopping and entertainment facilities. The
Gaming floor will be more than 4,000 square metres.
games and slot operation in the coming months.
A significant portion of the JWMâ€™s customer base are Chinese. How does the property market to the Chinese community? There are now many flights direct from China and South East Asia into Sihanoukville. We will offer high quality entertainment and a different overall experience than the other resorts. We have strong Chinese Junkets and we have also invested a great deal in advertising in magazines and on social media.
Does JWM Casino hold gaming events / tournaments? At the moment we are focusing on the soft opening but in the near future we will hold baccarat and poker tournaments. With our strong junket connections we expect a lot of high-end traffic for these tournaments.
What is the size of the gaming areas at JWM Casino: number of table games, number of slots? The current Casino has 30 gaming tables and 56 slot machines. Niu Niu is the most popular table game in Sihanoukville and is starting to generate interest from players new to the game. I will be expanding the table
Is there a loyalty program with JWM? Yes there is. Along with our regular rolling commission programs we have a loyalty program on table games and slot machines. Guests can accumulate points which can be used to purchase goods and services in different outlets throughout the property. Weâ€™d like to thank Andrew Black for the time on this interview. Also a big thank you to Andrew and his staff for the three days aboard the JWM ship.
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Craig Ballantyne, Property President, City of Dreams Mediterranean meets with Damien Connelly
ity of Dreams Mediterranean will be the first fully fledged integrated casino resort in Europe when it opens in 2021. Melco won the tender to operate this property. This integrated casino resort is on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which is located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia. Cyprus is a member of the European Union (EU), has a stable government, a growing economy, and a very robust tourist infrastructure that includes international airports and cruise ports. Its 2018 inbound tourist numbers (almost 4 million) were over 3x the island’s population. In terms of European weather, Cyprus is as good as it gets with winter temperatures averaging
17C (63F), summer 32C (89F), and average sunshine exceeding 10 hours each day for six months of the year. Craig Ballantyne is the Property President for City of Dreams Mediterranean. To state that Craig knows casinos is an understatement. I met Craig recently in London to discuss developments at City of Dreams Mediterranean, how the Cyprus government is adapting, as well as the opportunities for economic and tourism development facing the island from such a large investment program. With an estimated investment of €555 million (US$630 million) for Phase One, City of Dreams Mediterranean is an excellent example of ‘green field’ Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Based on data from the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development, Cyprus’ 2017
FDI inflow was $6.3 billion. $630 million for Phase One alone emphasises how important City of Dreams Mediterranean is to Cyprus and its future. Importantly, this €555 million inward FDI from Melco to build City of Dreams Mediterranean Phase One will remain in Cyprus and benefit the Cypriot economy — this FDI from Melco will build physical infrastructure and assets. Melco’s investment is already employing local Cypriot people and paying them relatively high salaries that is having a beneficial cascading growth impact on the Cypriot economy. This type of ‘bigger picture’ thinking is what Craig introduced me to when he explained his ideas during our recent meeting. His concept for integrated casino resorts is T.R.E.E., meaning: • Tourism, • Regulatory Framework, • Employment, • Economic Development. Picture a tree with four large branches. Each of Tourism, Regulatory Framework, Employment, and
Economic Development being a large branch of our tree. An integrated casino resort can grow to be a very large and very healthy ‘tree’. To grow, our tree needs the correct conditions — exactly the same as in nature. As with an oak tree, all integrated casino resorts start as an acorn…as a seed. If we visualise the transformation of an acorn into a large oak tree, the temporary and satellite casinos Melco operates shows very intelligent thinking by the Cypriot government. The temporary and satellite casinos support the development of the integrated casino resort. Such preceding casino operations help educate local Cypriot stakeholders while also providing valuable insights to Melco so it can better understand what are the most effective levers to help it earn a reasonable rate of return on its investment. As Craig Ballantyne commented, “Investment is the trunk of our tree. It requires nourishment for the trunk of our tree to grow. As the trunk grows and fattens, the branches it can support also grow and fatten. By nourishing the trunk, we nourish our tree. “Our tree is deciduous, meaning the leaves fall. These falling leaves help to further nourish our tree and the ecosystem that grows around the tree. If we nourish the tree correctly, it will grow larger, faster. To see this concept in real life, look at Las Vegas and Macau as benchmarks. These emphasise economies where the investment driver is the casino industry that nourishes growth in other industries, directly and indirectly, related and non-related. “The ‘T’ is Tourism and enhancement thereof. We are aiming to add 300,000 inbound tourists to Cyprus annually during our Phase One investment cycle. To benefit the Cypriot economy, Melco has chosen to deliberately under-room our Phase One hotel. Our hotel will have only 500 rooms. Melco’s decision to deliberately under-room our hotel will help other Cypriot hotels and businesses benefit from the investment we make in City of Dreams Mediterranean. “City of Dreams Mediterranean will deliver optimal growth for Cyprus’ economy and society if there exists an intelligent and supportive Regulatory Framework. Cyprus has a stable government and is a member of the European Union. As the single operator in Cyprus, the challenge to achieve balance is to be regulated in a manner that allows growth while also ensuring operational standards are met — specifically Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer. “Employment is a major benefit to any economy
Damien Connelly, Craig Ballantyne, Peter White
with an integrated casino resort. For City of Dreams Mediterranean, we are already operating our temporary casino and our satellite casinos. We currently employ close to 1,000 people, of which 60% to 70% are local Cypriots. This is ahead of our expectations and we are very pleased with our focus on employing local citizens. This is great. We are providing new quality jobs, helping to further support and develop the local economy. “Additionally, Melco is bringing our high standards of hospitality training to Cyprus. We are already seeing this is having beneficial knock-on impacts to Cyprus’ tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries. Melco’s focus
businesses focused on delivering the same level of excellent customer service Melco focuses on. “The final branch of our T.R.E.E. is Economic Development. Employing local citizens is already adding direct and indirect benefits to the Cypriot economy. We recently signed our primary contractor, J&P Avax. Construction will start on our €555 million Phase One very soon. This will create even more benefits for the Cypriot economy through construction jobs during our Phase One investment cycle. Of course, there will be even more jobs created indirectly that will help further benefit and grow the Cypriot economy.”
on training local personnel is lifting the expectations of what is a great customer experience for visitors to Cyprus. This is improving the career prospects for our staff while simultaneously ‘raising the bar’ for all Cypriot
Regarding customer registration and access, City of Dreams Mediterranean is considering either the Las Vegas model of open access focused on a robust loyalty program, or having a more full-bodied reception service. These are the types of detail being considered now that the primary contractor has been signed, the pilings are finished, and building of the integrated casino resort can commence. As Craig commented, “We are working with all stakeholders to ensure the correct foundations are in place. We have finished the pilings and can now focus on physically building City of Dreams Mediterranean. We also need to ensure our ‘T.R.E.E.’ has the correct conditions to nourish our investment so we can make City of Dreams Mediterranean a successful property. “If we make this a successful integrated casino resort, the benefits to Cyprus are huge. With our investment and support, we can catapult Cyprus’ tourist product to make
Lawrence Ho CEO at Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Savvas Perdios Deputy Minister of Tourism
the island a must-visit destination. That will require more investment from Melco when we move beyond Phase One of City of Dreams Mediterranean.” In recognition of how important tourism has become to Cyprus, the government created the Deputy Ministry of Tourism in January 2019. Prior to 2019, tourism was controlled by the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism — now renamed the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry. The political importance of tourism has been transformed in Cyprus. Mr. Savvas Perdios was officially appointed as the Deputy Minister for Tourism in January 2019. Mr. Perdios is responsible for the National Strategy for Tourism up to 2030. One of the main business pillars of this new National Strategy for Tourism that Mr. Perdios will oversee is demand management to reduce seasonality. City of Dreams Mediterranean is a perfect asset for Cyprus to reduce tourism seasonality. As we noted earlier, any new integrated casino resort needs the correct support to grow from an acorn into a strong oak… to have the correct foundations in place to allow the investment to grow and fatten the trunk of our T.R.E.E.. As Craig Ballantyne commented during our discussion, “Mr. Perdios is an experienced businessman and
professional in the field of hotels, hospitality and tourism. His appointment once again makes clear that the government of Cyprus is both supportive and determined to succeed in its tourism objectives.” From Casino Life’s perspective, we hope Melco, City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus’ Deputy Ministry of Tourism achieve their objectives of enhancing and augmenting Cyprus’ tourism product to being a must-visit destination for all seasons. And that Craig’s T.R.E.E. grows to be a very large and healthy tree.
Bennie Mancino Urban Development It was during an engaging lunchtime presentation by Bennie Mancino at an event in Las Vegas that I knew he was someone I needed to have a chat with Bill Healey
(‘Rock’) where I was a fifth-year hire in May 2000, spending many years serving as a shift manager. I was instrumental as they doubled the table games department in 2010, from blueprint to ribbon cutting as part of a $750 million property expansion. I look back on my time at the Rock fondly. We changed table game operations forever with our freestyle way of dealing and unique brand of customer service. We initiated multi-color layouts, and high fives as an industry norm, not a taboo. I believe my time there created my outside the box way of looking at operations and a responsiveness to a dynamic, diverse, clientele and individualized customer service needs. During my career I’ve held positions as director of table games and director of casino operations at multiple properties before my current role as a corporate vice president. My recipe for success includes statistical level knowledge of all casino table games and operations, logical and commonsense techniques, methodical personnel training, cost-saving procedural implementation, innovation, bets, and game development. My unique techniques improve table game operations and optimizes revenue.
Bennie Mancino Corporate Vice President of Table Games for Jack Entertainment
ennie is currently corporate vice president of table games for Jack Entertainment. Previously, he has held key positions with Caesars Entertainment Corporation, MGM
Resorts International, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Penn National Gaming, Black Gaming LLC, Fifth Street Gaming, and DRock Gaming LLC. You have been in the casino & gaming industry for quite a while. Tell us a bit about your background and what led to your current position? I have been in the casino and gaming industry for more than a quarter century, starting as dealer in Las Vegas after leaving a career as a Standardbred owner, breeder, trainer and driver. I am highly experienced in table games, including Pai Gow tiles, which moved me quickly into table games supervision. From there, I continued adding to my knowledge base and soaked up everything I could from the old, “Las Vegas Rounders” I was exposed to. Soon my hard work and diligence paid off and I started moving up through the ranks in table games management. I spent the most time at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas
As Corporate VP of Table Games, what are the responsibilities of your position? As corporate vice president of table games, I oversee the table games operations at JACK Entertainment’s (“JACK”) multiple gaming properties. My focus is centered on team member development, games protection, departmental optimization, and the cohesive growth of our table games business pursuant to the brand philosophy. From a, “30,000-foot view”, I work symbiotically with each property’s director to analyze performance, make suggestions, and streamline implementation for each property. I also work closely with our vendors assuring our relationships provide productivity for the property’s operations. What is Jack Entertainment, and what areas does the group serve? JACK Entertainment is an urban gaming company focused on the development of gaming facilities that are designed to maximize connectivity and economic impact in the local areas where they reside. JACK Entertainment includes more than 13,000 gaming positions, 400,000-squarefeet of gaming space, 400 hotel rooms, and 35 bars and restaurants. JACK is proud to have nearly 7,000 team members serving guests at its properties.
With a focus on urban casinos, what type of unique challenges do they face, and how does Jack Entertainment help address the issues? An Urban casino has the unique challenge of competing with the other great entertainment offerings found in the downtown environment. However, with our properties we have embraced our locations and downtown neighbors by partnering with them to create additional amenities for our guests. What role do these casinos play in the community? Spurring economic growth within the city and partnering with local businesses is a top priority for the properties. Each property partners with restaurants and hotels in their area to offer fine dining rewards and overnight accommodations to guests. JACK is committed to serving the communities in which we do business and believes strongly in the philosophy of giving back. Our team members regularly participate in events such as food and toy drives, school supply drives, walkathons, and volunteer days. Our teamsâ€™ giving extends beyond cash donations as they also volunteer their time and energy.
Describe the gaming areas at the casinos, including the table games available. Has the mix in table games changed in recent years? JACK Cleveland Casino: JACK Cleveland Casino opened in May 2012 as Ohioâ€™s first full-service casino, located inside the historic Higbee Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Adding to the cityâ€™s impressive sports, entertainment and cultural attractions, JACK Cleveland welcomes millions of guests to the casino each year. The gaming destination boasts a 96,000-square-foot gaming floor across three levels which features more than 1,300 slot machines, nearly 100 table games and a 30-table poker room. JACK Cleveland Casino also recently added Synergy Table Games an arena style adventure that fuses electronic table games, high-energy dealer entertainment, live-DJs, pulsating lights, social interaction and giant video displays for a modernized approach to gaming. JACK Cincinnati Casino: JACK Cincinnati Casino is a $450 million development that opened in March 2013 in downtown Cincinnati; the urban casino welcomes millions of guests each year. JACK Cincinnati was designed to engage pedestrians and support downtown businesses, culture, nightlife and sports
attractions. The property features a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor and offers nearly 1,900 slot machines, 84 table games, and a 30-table poker room. JACK Cincinnati also recently added Synergy Table Games to its casino floor. Are tournaments a draw at these casinos, and what are some of the more popular tournaments? We run poker tournaments, slot tournaments, and table games tournaments. Both JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Cincinnati Casino host two major poker events each year. Based in large urban areas, are the guests predominantly locals, or is there a sizable draw from outside the community? While the majority of guests are locals, each property does see a large amount of guests from outside the community. Are non-gaming activities a draw at the casinos Jack Entertainment manage? JACK Cincinnati Casino hosts several concerts and events in its large banquet facility including Martina McBride, Ron White, The Isley Brothers, Sara Evans, The Temptations and the Four Tops. JACK Cincinnati also hosts the popular game show The Price is Right Live every year. Do you see exciting developments coming in the future of casinos and gaming? I see exciting developments in everything I do. Particularly in table games, which I believe will see new life as over-connected gamblers look for an escape from the individualized computer world and look for more personal and social interaction when seeking out entertainment options. Some say a directorâ€™s desk can convey a lot about their management style. For some, its organized chaos. Whatâ€™s on your desk, and what will it say about your management? You wonâ€™t find much on my desk, I am a completely digital and electronically based. I scan relevant docs into digital form files and live via server-client networking and technology. I prefer cutting edge, innovative, and seek out the latest hardware or software technology both personally and professionally, which enables me to maximize that advantage in productivity and ease of operation 24/7. Casino Life Magazine would like to thank Bennie Mancino for his time and valuable contribution.
Let The Journey Begin Kevin Proctor Poker Operations Manager at Genting UK chats to Sophie Behan For those who may be new to the poker series, could you explain how it all works? The Genting Poker Series is now in its eighth year and during that time there have been a huge number of changes to the format and structure of the tournament. In 2019 Genting UK will host 17 events over the course of the year in locations as far north as Edinburgh to as far south as Westcliff. This will include 13 Mini events and four Main events, which will be open to players of all abilities and no qualification is required. There is a guaranteed prize pool of £100,000 at each Main event. The Mini events, which will be returning to venues including Newcastle and Reading, will see players compete for a guaranteed prize pool of £35,000 and nine Genting Poker Series Main event seats. In 2019 Mini events will have an entrance fee of £225 and the main events will have an entrance fee of £500. Each event has multiple Day 1’s and if you survive the Day 1 with chips then you progress to Day 2, and in the case of the Main events there is the possibility of progressing to a Day 3. What were the biggest highlights of 2018? Some might say the biggest highlight was when a tournament smashed a guarantee. However, for me it was being able to give local players the opportunity to play an event that would normally be beyond their level of buyin. It gives players the chance to experience the thrill of playing alongside professional poker players. Is there anything you would have changed in 2018? Overall, we felt like the 2018 series went well, but as with any event there are always aspects that can be improved on and internally, we have a team who analyse the tournament and discuss potential changes for the year ahead. Before the start of the 2018 tournament, lengthy discussions were held about whether to increase the entry level for the Main events and if it was worth introducing a Button Ante format. We decided against both changes for 2018 but looking back these are changes that we could have brought in at an earlier date.
Zac Aynsley Won £11,000 at the Newcastle event
Is there anything that will be different in 2019 to last year’s poker series? Yes, in 2019 there will be major changes to the Genting Poker Series, and all these changes are designed to enhance the players poker experience. In response to player feedback, we have now introduced a Button Ante structure across all the Main and Mini events in 2019. When a Button Ante is used, the player on the button will pay the ante for the entire table which, as a result, speeds up the play for all involved. The Genting Poker Series is the only national UK poker tour to adopt the popular button ante format. All the Main events will now have an additional Day one
which will run on a 40-minute clock rather than the normal one-hour level. We will have four Day one’s at each Main event. We have brought in these changes to help make the Main events much more accessible to people who are working and have limited free time. As well as this, every player who enters a Main event will automatically be entered in to a fantastic free prize draw, with the chance to win a holiday worth £10,000 to Malaysia, Singapore, Manila, New York or Las Vegas, or the cash equivalent. How many events are there this year and where will these events be held? We have 17 events planned this year with four Main events and 13 Mini events. Venues for the Main events are at the old favourites of Edinburgh, Luton and Liverpool, with Resorts World in Birmingham hosting their second Main event this year. Mini events are returning to Westcliff-on-Sea, Reading, Sheffield, Newcastle, Stoke, Glasgow. On top of this, all the Main event clubs, except for Edinburgh, are also hosting events. In addition, this year Blackpool is returning to the Genting Poker Series fold and is hosting a Mini event. Can anyone enter these events, or do they have to have a certain amount of experience to enter? Yes, all the events on the Genting Poker Series are open to players of any ability and they are a great way of getting into the game and meeting new people at the casino. If you are relatively new to the poker circuit then my advice would be to start off with a Mini event, especially if it is your first major poker tournament. You can then work your way up to the Main events with a bigger buy in when you have more experience. Do you expect the number of players to increase for this year or stay like last year? In 2018 we had more than 4,500 entries into the series and people are again expected to travel from far and wide to try their luck at the poker table. We have already seen improved numbers for our first leg in Newcastle, which had its highest ever player numbers and I am really hopeful that player numbers will continue to increase in 2019. Are the players mainly from the UK or do you get people coming in from all around the world? We have had players travel from Europe to play these events, but the field is predominately made up of the UK
market, many of whom travel from all around the country. We do also see lots of people from the local area entering the events. What advice could you give new players? The best advice I can give to people is to hone your skills in your local cardroom prior to playing in a Genting Poker series event. It is also important not to feel intimidated by the events. A live poker tournament is a great place to play poker and offers so much more in terms of atmosphere than playing online. Players can also learn a lot more about their game from playing live games in casino. Do you get many players that come back each year? Yes, we do have regulars who return each year to these events and it’s always great to see these familiar faces at the events. Which event is the most popular? Why? I would say that the Mini events are more popular and that is because the slightly lower price point is more accessible to a larger player base. In terms of location, the Luton events are always very popular, and I think this is probably due to its proximity to London. We have also had some great successes in Liverpool and Edinburgh. That being said, all of the events have great turn out and a fantastic atmosphere. In your opinion, what makes a good poker player? That’s a tricky question to answer, but I would say a sign of a good poker player is getting maximum value for their hands and being able to lay down big hands even when convinced that they are behind. In one sentence, is there anything you would like to say to this year’s players? Come along and try the Genting Poker Series! We hope that you enjoy playing these events as much as we enjoy hosting them.
L-R: Greg Saint Event Director ICE Totally Gaming, Ian Bennett – Operations Director at Resorts World, Phil Burke Director Novomatic UK, Catalina Huzum Dealer-Inspector at Les Ambassadeurs London, Tracy Damestani CEO National Casino Forum and Murat Salih Championship Director
The UK Dealer Championships
racy Damestani, National Casino Forum says...This year saw the UK Dealer Championship hosted in Genting International Casino, Resorts World Birmingham, a wonderful venue that set the stage for what was to be an enthralling day of competition. 26 Competitors from land-based Casinos around the country
home the Second Runner-Up £500 Cash Prize, Sponsored by TCS Huxley. Side Events were also set up to test the Croupiers on Stack Pushing, Chip Cutting, Chipping, Card Handling, and Mathematic skills, which provided added entertainment for competitors, judges and spectators alike. The After Party, sponsored by Galaxy Gaming and
put their dexterity, hospitality and mental agility to the test to see who would take home the £2000 Cash Prize, sponsored by gaming technology company Novomatic. The winner will also represent the UK in the European Dealer Championship, 29th April – 1st May, in Tallinn, along with the First Runner-Up, who takes the £1000 Cash Prize, Sponsored by Clarion Events. It was great to see such high standards of competition that was only matched by the spirit and camaraderie shown throughout the day by all Competitors and Judges. The best Croupiers command the Casino floor, leave the customers smiling and show great professionalism and skill. When all this was taken into consideration Catalina Huzum of Les Ambassadeurs Club was a worthy winner and the first female winner. The competition was closely contested with Chris Hall, of Crockford’s Casino London, as the First RunnerUp, and Damon Ryan, of the Hippodrome Casino, taking
Passport Technology, allowed everyone involved to relax and provides a wonderful networking opportunity over drinks and dinner between competitors, judges and media outlets, which helps the Casino industry grow and stimulates innovation and creativity. The evening summed up what the UK Dealer Championship is about, fierce competition followed by operators working together to help better and further the Casino industry. This year the first World Dealer Championship in 2020 was announced by Tracy Damestani, Vice Chair of the European Casino Association (ECA) which will bring the best Croupiers from across the world to Deal it out for the chance to be crowned the World’s best Dealer. Everyone is very excited for this new chapter and to put the entertainment and skill of the Casino Industry on the world stage. Hopefully it will highlight the skill, hard-work, talent and Flare that goes into being a Croupier, opening up new career avenues to everyone.
My adventure in the casino industry began 14 years ago by luck. Having finished high school I was searching for a summer job, an advert in a Romanian newspaper had captured my attention and shortly after I joined a dealing training school. One month later I got a full time job as a croupier…. “Place your bets”. I remember getting passionate about this job from day 1, I really enjoyed the environment, I liked the night shifts and every day at work was a new challenge filled with fun. Fourteen years later I am proud to be part of this incredible industry and I will keep investing on my development to make the most of it. How would you describe the experience of the competition? Participating for the first time to UK Dealer Championship was a great experience for me; the team behind the competition did an incredible job organising every single detail. They made us feel special and in exchange we did our best to compete at the highest level while having a lot of fun.
Murat Salih, Championship Director
Casino Life spoke to Catalina Huzum 2019 UK Dealer Championship winner & Murat Salih Championship Director of this years Event.
Catalina Huzum, Dealer-Inspector, Les Ambassadeurs London How does it feel to Win the UK Dealer Championship 2019? It feels amazing!!! To know I am now officially the UK’s best dealer is just an unbelievable feeling, one that will stay with me for a very long time. When I found out I would be representing Les Ambassadeurs Club at the UK Dealer Championship 2019 I thought it would be an incredible opportunity… I was curious and excited at the same time; I had a look at the previous years winners and realised that male Dealers had dominated this field, I was massively inspired by that and gave my best shot to succeed in what I love doing! I have always thought that women are strong and that there is no reason why they cannot succeed in this job. My target was to be the first ever female to win this competition, it was the right day, the right time and I loved every minute of it. How did you wind up working in the Casino Industry?
Are you excited about the Grand Final next month in Tallinn? I am very excited!!! I can’t wait… I will compete with the best croupiers from all over Europe, I feel blessed and I will give 100% for myself, my club and all dealers which shared this incredible day with me. I will meet new people from different countries and I am sure it will be a great challenge for me. Representing the UK and Les Ambassadeurs Club will be an honour and I hope my passion and motivation will help me achieve a great result in Tallinn. How has the news of your triumph been received by your colleagues at Les Ambassadeurs? Les Ambassadeurs Club is the best casino I have ever worked in my career. The Les A experience is an incredible journey for anyone who is lucky enough to be part of it. As a member of staff I feel part of an incredible family who continuously strives for excellence. We are rewarded and looked after on a regular basis with an incredible amount of opportunities. We had 4 croupiers participating at the UK Dealer Championship this year; the company supported and helped us during the training stages approaching the competition. The management team and our colleagues joined our training sessions and helped us prepare for the competition in the best possible way. We felt encouraged, valued and ready to go and show what Les A is made of.
Catalina Huzum Winner UK Dealer Championships 2019
We had a lot of supporters during the competition time, some of them travelled from London just to be with us. On our return to the club we were welcomed back like superstars, I was incredibly proud to have been the ambassador of such an incredible team and even more so to have repaid their trust with the Trophy. See you in Tallinn.
Murat Salih, Casino Manager, The Hippodrome Casino It was a very fun and enjoyable Championship, and the venue was superb. Thanks. This is the first time the championships have been held outside London and I think it benefitted by doing so. There was a much higher entry level from the regional casinos, which can only be a good thing. And we lifted the entry cap of two participants from each company to allow more entries, which worked well. Organising such a big tournament must require a lot of planning by you and your team? It’s a huge job because we’re looking for every casino in the country to hopefully be involved. Hearteningly, there was a higher number of female entrants this year and more from outside of London.
The Standard was high at this year’s event and all the contestants clearly found the experience a great opportunity to show their skills. The standard this year was exceptional, and made me and the judging team fiercely proud. Working in a casino can be like living in your own bubble, and it’s important to meet your peers and compare your skills. Also, to share experiences. It’s a very social event and heart warming to see the camaraderie. Organising all the judges must have required a lot of work? If anything, this was the easiest part of the job. Everyone I asked to take part in the judging was an immediate ‘yes’ and, like the competitors, it was good to see old faces I hadn’t caught up with in years. Importantly, they were honoured to be part of the event. What we’ve got to remember is this competition is important. It demonstrates the immense skill within the industry in the UK, and its commitment to world class training and career development. It also allows the winners to show their expertise, firstly in Europe and then, hopefully, on a global platform at the inaugural World Dealer Championships in 2020.
Tim Cullimore European Head of Sales TCS Huxley TCS John Huxley have been a supporter of the UK Dealer Championships for many years, which is something I am sure you and your colleagues at TCS John Huxley are very proud of given how much pride and enjoyment is gained from all those whom enter the competition each year. What are you thoughts on this event from a sponsorship standpoint? “We are honoured to be involved with supporting this fantastic event. A good dealer is an extremely valuable asset to a casino, not only providing skill and knowledge but also being customer focused and ensuring players are entertained and enjoy their experience. In many cases, dealers are the
face of a casino, so it’s great for us to sponsor an event which provides a spotlight for the contestants and celebrate their great achievements.” Can we expect to see you at the Finals at the end of next month? “We will be continuing our support as sponsors of the European Dealer Championships and I look forward to being there to cheer on all the finalist in their bid for the big prize.”
Greg Saint, Event Director, ICE London Events in this industry that assist with promoting the skills and abilities of those employed is vitally important for this sector so the support of Clarion and the other sponsors is very gratefully appreciated by all involved.
Tim Cullimore Head of Sales TCS Huxley awarding the prize for the Second Runner Up to Damon Ryan of the Hippodrome Casino
Those are kind words, but it’s really us who appreciate the chance to be involved in something as important as this, a platform for just as you describe: pushing skills, recognising abilities of those who have such a pivotal role in the customer experience within casinos.
rewarding journeys – and the Dealer Championships do exactly that. The fact that they give back to the industry, that they offer the chance for those on the ground, in the customer-facing roles, to get recognition for their incredible work and skills is something we feel passionate about.
The support by Clarion with both the UK Dealer Championships and the European Final must be for you and your colleagues very satisfying to know that the contribution the organisation makes is so valued by all those that compete. Absolutely. As Clarion Gaming, organisers of ICE London, we’ve been partners for some years now and there’s a very good reason for that: it reflects our core values. We believe firmly in helping to create positive experiences and
This year’s final will be held at the Olympic Entertainment Casino Tallinn which is yet another impressive Destination Casino. I think that’s an important point. It not only gives the finalists an incredible experience, but it shows just how seriously the ECA and NCF, long-time partners of ours, consider the Dealer Championships. It’s a fitting nod to the high standards and skills across the industry and we wish all entrants the very best of luck!
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Scientific Games looks to the East for slot-machine inspiration
Marco Herrera, Senior Vice President of Gaming EMEA speaks to David McKee & Glyn Thomas
pectacular.” That’s how Scientific Games describes the success of one of its newest games, Jin Ji Bao Xi™, sequel to popular Duo Fu Duo Cai series. The allure of the new game is that players get to choose their own bonus rounds. So confident is Scientific of the game’s popularity
that it has Jin Ji Bao Xi - Endless Treasure ready to go next month. The games are showcased in Scientific Games’ Dualos™ and premium TwinStar® Wave XL cabinets. It wouldn’t be a Scientific Games booth without a JAMES BOND™ area. A wide range of new titles and cabinets are now available for Europe. Special mention goes to JAMES
BOND - DIE ANOTHER DAY™ theme, which has a true wow factor, as the cabinet features an illusion that creates an exciting show for players. Speaking of smaller footprints, Scientific Games also
more for our existing customers, making sure we provide them the resources they require to succeed.” One example would be TableVIEW, a table games management solution that will offer operators a fast and
makes its mark in table games with the compact Fusion Auto Roulette, featuring faster play and improved sight lines. The game was redesigned specifically for the European market. “Here, we present the prototype of the compact version of this roulette, which will be ready to go on the market in a few months. We are very happy with the result,” Herrera remarked. The company is also moving nimbly to get in on the burgeoning sports-betting market in the U.S., a fastmoving target compared to the stable European market. It’s providing an end-to-end solution, made possible by its acquisition of Don Best Sports. The latter supplies real-time data and pricing, dovetailing with Scientific Games’ trading, marketing, and product management services. As Herrera said, “It’s all about product for us and SG has the best portfolio of product in the industry, from a slots perspective, a tables perspective and from a systems perspective. It allows us to capture more players and do
easy solution for entering player ratings, issuing comps and more activities in the pit. The information and transactions recorded at the tables are seamlessly integrated into existing systems and provide casino personnel with secure and instant access to player ratings and data. All of these products and systems integrate on the gaming floor to create the connected and immersive experience for players, while creating efficiencies and value for operators. “We couldn’t be more excited about our new game content, our leading sports betting solution and cuttingedge technology that we are sharing with our partners at ICE. In every market, across all channels, player expectations are driving critical paths of innovation.” He added, “We continue to be committed to providing the best games and the most dynamic player experiences in the industry,” concluded Mr. Herrera. Few would deny that.
Player First, User-Friendly Technology Hits the Spot in London
Communication and Management Tools, and a New Poker Jackpot Game excite at ICE.
R Gaming Technology™s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Jurgen De Munck discusses his Company’s showing at ICE London 2019 in early February.
When we spoke ahead of ICE London 2019, you noted that your core product jackpot and systems offering would obviously be on show, adding that it would be driven by your Tables Management System, BlackJack11’s and your world-leading drScreenFull and 8.8” drScreenUltra player tracking display, was that the case? Jurgen: Yes it was, and as a result it’s extremely pleasing to see that through our dedicated product and R&D teams we seem to continue to be assessing the market and its drivers well, in so doing providing technology solutions that
operators and player alike not only want, but need. So what were the product highlights at the show? Jurgen: Well as you know system solutions are an everevolving technology, driven not only by player and operator needs, but by advancements in broader technology too. Our Tables Management system has been a key focus for us for some time. We have previously spoken about bridging the gap between what has been a very slots biased management tool from all service providers, based simply on the electronic nature of slots. Our ability to now seamlessly integrate Tables game play data into our accounting, cage and reporting modules generated a lot of interest. The technology now does away with what was until
recently very much a ‘pen and paper’ system, and affords operators the ability to reward players better, and more accurately, and probably most importantly, affords more time for staff to actually engage with players as opposed to them literally being ‘tied down’ with administrative tasks.
Jurgen De Munck CEO, DR Gaming Technology
While we’re talking Tables, BlackJack11’s continues to perform very well across the globe, but I noticed a new Tables Jackpot game at your booth, can you tell me more? Jurgen: Yes you’re quite right, BlackJack11’s is doing very well, and I believe it’s the simplicity and speed of the game that continues to intrigue players and operators alike. As a result we felt that we needed to expand our Tables Jackpot offering to a new game, but with the same design fundamentals of it needing to be fast, easy to learn and easy to play, and we ended up with exactly that. Poker21’s is a 3-card poker tables side-bet game, and just like BlackJack11’s where when drawing 11 with their first two cards, a player wins, similarly drawing 21 with his 3 poker cards he also wins, it’s as basic as that. Add to this the ability, like BlackJack11’s, to operate the game as a standalone, across mutliple tables or a wide-area, as well as a number of RTP and reward and jackpot options, and we believe we have another really compelling player first solution that will drive operator revenues. Were your expectations in terms of both the volume and quality of visitors to ExCel over the three days met? Jurgen: Yes I think they were. I beleive we were all expecting to see the negative effect of the general global
economic downturn, but we didn’t. Actual numbers may have been down, I’m not sure, but we secured some really good footfall, particularly on the Wednesday. Tuesday was relatively quiet, but we secured a number of key meetings ahead of the show, so whilst our booth itself was not as busy as the Wednesday there was a constant flow of customers in an out of our meeting rooms all day, and ultimately that is where the deals are done. So yes I was very happy with the volume and quality of visitors to ICE London 2019.
It was again great to see your drScreen display and player interface technology in action. That ‘B I G W I N’ spread across those 6 machines really was impressive? Jurgen: Thanks. Our ability to display jackpots on the top EGM screen while jackpot hits are viewed on the bottom EGM screen is great, and visitors really enjoyed that visual power. As an interactive tool our drScreenMicro and drScreenUltra provide an unparalleled player interface experience with our drMediaManager making the submission and management of content to those devices
those operators who are required to monitor player access to their casino, or those who want to monitor player access. Intergrated into a casino’s loyalty or player registration programme the gate provides automated access control and tracking of all players, and affords operators a great opportunity to ‘suprise and delight’ their players as they enter or exit the casino, or a specific playing area. Individual, or group bonus games and special offers can be linked specifically to the gate, and afford operators a further opportunity to communicate with their players and reward them for their custom.
really simple. As a final question, you had an automated access control gate on your booth, what is that for? Jurgen: The gate is a simple, and ‘player-centric’ solution for
Where Innovation Meets Ingenuity Ljubo Benko, Managing Director of G-Digital chats to Glyn Thomas When did you commence your career in the Casino industry and what were your reasons for choosing this sector? I started to work in the Casino Industry in 1991 after having spent five years as a development engineer in electronics. I was young and curious; it was a challenge for me. As I am from Slovenia you might have guessed that I also worked for the HIT Group where I worked myself up to director level with a range of responsibilities.
Why and when did you create G-Digital? I established my own company G-Digital in 2003. We started with the development of G-Digital in 2008. During that time we co-operated with a few important companies in the gaming industry as a distributor, development partner or we provided services for them. After the crisis started in 2008 business prospects fell and revenues from co-operations dropped. It was the time to look forward and look for new opportunities. I have a very good team in the company and so I decided to invest in development of the new product â€“ G-Digital.
Can you explain the features of G-Digital Display operating system? It’s a general Digital Signage software. Using G-Digital you can manage and control a network of displays placed anywhere, inside or outside of your premises, as well as on public places to share information or offer advertising. The use of G-Digital is simply limitless. For example: we recently installed our system in a factory with 300 employees at two locations. They decided to run a paperless factory, so all their communication runs through 30 displays. They developed their own software to control production, quality control, get feedback when certain phases in the production are finished. They use G-Digital as the platform to show their applications on displays all around the factory. They decided to use G-Digital after 6 months of intensive testing. For us it’s proof that G-Digital is a robust and bulletproof solution that can be also used in the industrial environment. It’s very similar with our solutions for the Gaming industry. We have developed different setups, such as Wining Numbers Displays and Jackpot Displays. We can show on displays information important for casino operations like winning numbers, jackpot values. It’s important to focus on the fact that there is always a possibility to use part of the display to show advertising or share information. All advertising or informational contents can be controlled and changed from the office anytime with a few clicks. Do you provide training during the installation of your Displays? Naturally training is part of the installation.
How easy is the G-Digital Display operating system for staff to learn? One of our main objectives is to keep things simple and user-friendly. G-Digital’s User interface is simple and intuitive. Based on our experience users can manage basics after 2-3 hours of training and they become experts after 2-3 days of training. I would like to point out that users don’t need to be IT experts. Mostly we train users who daily use Word, Excel or Outlook. If there are some more complicated setups then our engineers can support and be of help. How was ICE London for G-Digital this year and what was the reaction from visitors to your booth to the G-Digital Displays and Systems? ICE was very successful for us this year. Customers running land-based casinos were very excited seeing a possibility to share information or advertise on winning numbers displays. The game statistics are very important to many players. Therefore, they like to see this information on a screen. Many operators offer further services for their customers – restaurants, bars and events to name just a few. Yet the player attention is on the screen during game time. This information can be portrayed on part of the screen using our software – it is a win-win for both player and operator. The player keeps his or her concentration on the screen and receives further interesting information. The operator has then been successful in communicating this information without the fear that the player loses concentration on the game. Players do not wish to miss out on such information. Alongside the game result information, this is naturally important for them. Customers were also impressed with the fact that they
can use the same software to manage all other displays around their premises. This year we found out on the ICE a new segment for potential customers: Companies running online casinos and land-based casinos, slot rooms or betting shops wish to inform their customers in land-based operations about their online offer. In the land-based operations they want to show their online promotions, jackpot values in real time amongst others. With G-Digital we can simply pull data from the online casino or sports betting site and show them in landbased operations on the displays. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who came to see us. Last year we were busy introducing ourselves, inviting people to our stand. The fact that many people made their way to our stand shows us that the name G-Digital has made its mark in the global gaming market. G-Digital is an effective marketing tool, enabling gaming operators to make much more of their digital signage. Can Gaming establishments tailor the displays so they can notify guests of special offers? Yes, the configuration of displays and contents on them can be carried out completely. What we showed on the ICE is just one example of many: Each customer can configure displays according to their needs and requirements, using their own graphics, logos, style. There is practically no limit how to configure the display and contents on it.
Security of any operating system is of upmost priority what is G-Digitals approach with your Display Signage system? Security options are integrated in the G-Digital system by default. If a customer has their own IT and security policy, we then do our best to ensure we can match their requirements. How easy is the Signage software suite to incorporate with the Casinos other operating systems? It is very easy indeed. We can pull data from many sources, like database, XML , HTML, txt, rss files ... and show them in proper way and time on the display(s). Usually our engineers work closely with the customer or suppliers of other operating systems in order to ensure smooth integration of G-Digital. How can readers find out more about your company and its products? They can find much information on our web site www.gdigital.eu, but they are also welcome to contact us on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and get more specific information. What are the next exhibitions and events this year where readers can meet up with you? We’ll be present at BEGE Expo in Sofia, Bulgaria, in November 2019 and of course on the next ICE show in London in February 2020. Customers are also welcome to visit us in our show room in Kobarid, Slovenia, at any time.
Do you provide Gaming establishments free trials of your Display signage systems? Yes, we do. Our product is a software package and it’s very simple to organize and set up a trial. In most cases we can do this remotely with a little support from the potential customer. Most Casinos have bars and restaurants incorporated into their establishments. Can your display system also be incorporated into these locations but in different display screens, providing different information and services? Yes, very much so. This is exactly the reason to choose G-Digital. As we know, it’s a general Digital Signage software. Each display on the network can be configured differently and show different content as scheduled. Options how to use and configure displays and contents on them are limitless. This is done all from one point from the office.
Is there anything else you would like to add? We have extensive knowledge to support casino operators in their drive to increase player experience and bolster revenues. Both these are possible when using G-Digital. Our software is intuitive, simple to use and extremely effective as you can see from the examples I have given in this interview. We will gladly answer any questions readers may have. Please get in touch.
Matt Luckhurst, SUZOHAPP, Sales Director, UK & Ireland interview by David McKee
uzoHapp is one of the most established suppliers in the gaming world, having been a supplier to casinos since 1955. This year’s SuzoHapp exhibition at the ICE show in London coincided with increased interest in sports betting, as the North American market becomes available to global operators. The company had an array of hardware and software solutions on offer. SuzoHapp’s history in America is shorter, if no less significant. The company’s first foothold was founded in 1986, in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Its Las Vegas office opened in 1998. From products like the ELO Touch monitor to product support, SuzoHapp provides end-to-end solutions that have clearly found favor with the casino industry. Matt Luckhurst, SuzoHapp’s sales director from the United Kingdom and Ireland, sat down with us to discuss the company’s recent successes as well as challenges looming in the near future. What advantages does the Gaming & Amusement sectors gain from SUZOHAPP as opposed to simply sticking to their tried and tested list of OEM’s for supplies? Our customers recognise us as much more than a supplier. We are a partner for them. We support our customers. We listen and understand their needs and make suggestions which products and services best fit to them. We have over sixty years as a company of experience – we know the industry inside out. Furthermore, we have a very dedicated team who care about what they are doing. Together we speak many different languages and can often support our customers in their own language. Our
Matt Luckhurst, Sales Director, UK & Ireland
motto to the industry is that working with us at SUZOHAPP has the additional key benefit: Simplify your Sourcing. This means that our customers have only one contact for multiple requirements – this saves time and money. Naturally when we can source multiple solutions for our customers this has a cost saving for them through the economies of scale.
How do you measure customer satisfaction? This is a question that can be better answered by our customers. Customer satisfaction is the one and only way of measuring this. Then when the business of our customers grows, we can also grow our business. Can you envisage competition from the likes of AMAZON? Today we donâ€™t really see AMAZON as a true competitor, however, with their capability that could very easily change, albeit, unlikely due to the commodity nature of that channel. We are focused on solutions and customer partnerships, however, with that said we are aware that our customers may want to engage via multiple channels and we need to keep pace with that demand. The www.suzohapp.com website is clearly a winner with the editorial team at Casino Life, as time is such an important factor for companies when requiring new and
replacement parts. So locating and ordering is a factor and the SUZOHAPP website is clearly very well designed. We are constantly looking how we can update and improve our website given the many thousands of products and solutions we sell into many markets. Continue to keep your eye on our website â€“ you will see it evolve along with other channels to ensure we can meet our customers demands and business objectives. If a customer requires a specific product for their gaming establishment that you do not stock can you get if for them anyway? Absolutely. With over 50,000 products currently in our portfolio we are ideally placed to meet the majority of requirements as standard, however, as we work with a wide range of suppliers, and we have our own manufacturing operations, we can meet any requirement be it for standard product or a bespoke solution.
of exhibitors seemed to be busy which is a great sign for the industry as a whole. ICE London is always a popular show for launching new and updated products. What was on show for a first time at this year’s exhibition? We had a major focus on sports betting. It was our intention to show visitors to our stand how strong we are in this market. We invited a number of our customers who produce sports betting machines to place their machines on our stand. Here visitors could see just how many components we have supplied – we can provide every individual component. Other new solutions include some exciting new button technology that was really well accepted, further developments in our screen offering, new electronic locks that deliver such a simple and effective solution for multiple use cases, and our various software solutions covering sports betting, access control and complete enterprise wide cash management. What was the feedback from visitors to your sports betting sector at this year’s ICE London to the SUZOHAPP Sports Betting Components and Solutions and what additional details would you like this expanding sector to know about the advantages this Global organisation can provide? The feedback from this area was really well received and created some really interesting discussions, as we have the ability to not only offer a bespoke physical solution design service, but also the software technology to land any web based solution on a on site platform, both brand focused Amongst your over 25,000 customers how do you avoid many of them simply putting in regular orders for the products they require whom may not be aware that you can provide additional products and services, given the never-ending evolution of the company and its range of software and hardware for cash handling automation and self-service solutions? We avoid this by knowing our customers and understanding their needs. For me the ‘solutions’ word is key, and one that we will further develop and build the awareness, which is always ongoing challenge for any organisation. How was ICE London 2019 for SUZOHAPP? ICE was great for us this year with a record number of existing customers attending the stand, but also a record number of new organisations registering interest, and from walking the show I would suggest that the majority
and also a white label approach. This is undoubtedly a growth area and one that we can deliver well for the sector. Both ELO Touch and VisionPro™ Edge-Lit LED Touch and Non Monitors and Displays have proven very successful products for SUZOHAPP with the Gaming Sector. What do you think are amongst the primary reason for these products popularity? Product quality, our support, quick delivery times and a favourable price – these are all the factors. ELO is undoubtedly the optimal high-end solution for touchscreens. Our VisionPro™ Edge-Lit LED monitors / touchscreens are in great demand as such solutions make gaming machines really stand out and more and more gaming machine manufacturers are offering their cabinets with these products – their customers simply have more fun playing the slots when they look better.
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What are the key advantages for SUZOHAPP recently appointing Sue Sposton as Operations Director, UK & Ireland of SUZOHAPP whom has not previously been involved with this sector? Sue is a great asset to the team and although she isn’t directly from the industry, she does have a background in vending so understands the components nature of the business, however, it also means that she comes with a fresh approach, new ideas and best practice. I’m a firm believer in thinking differently, and therefore, its good to challenge and be challenged, that way we will continuingly strive to improve what we do and how we operate across the business. What is SUZOHAPP approach to the situation with the UK and EU and potential future trade limitations? We are taking as many sensible precautions as we can, but until things become clearer, we are like everyone else, we can only deal with what we know. We are doing our level best to plan stock levels to maintain a seamless supply to our customers. Does SUZOHAPP maintain a high quantity of stock as stock is money on shelves, or are you able to access the organisations you have contracts with your OEM’s to
send direct from their warehouses? We maintain and optimise our stock levels based on a number of factors and where necessary we are able to work with our partners to meet the logistic requirements of our customers.
G2E Asia 2019 Josephine Lee Chief Operating Officer, Reed Exhibitions, Greater China Interview with Robert Ambrose
G2E Asia is now in its 13th year how has the exhibition and conference programme evolved over those years? G2E Asia’s now- reputation and influence is the result of over a decade of hard work and dedication of its (show) teams, together with our media partners and strong industry-wide support. We are proud to say that G2E Asia is now the largest event of its kind in Asia. With each passing edition, it has
& Business Solutions, Game Development Zone and the Asia Lottery Expo and Forum, while welcoming our newest additions, ESports Connect Asia and Financial Technology Asia.
grown into a hub for local and global gaming-entertainment industry professionals. It is a trusted source for the most cutting-edge products and technologies in the field, and the must-attend event for conducting business and networking, while staying up-to-date on the latest trends, policies, and market intelligence. G2E Asia 2018, our most successful edition on record, boasted a 220+ exhibitor showcase, 33,000-sqm interactive show floor and 16,358 highly-satisfied visitors. This year’s 13th edition is expected to shatter more records in size, and attendance with our new bi-level exhibition space and a projected 18,000 visitors. G2E Asia’s continually upward path reflects the vigorous expansion of gaming-entertainment throughout the region and abroad, including its ever-expanding segment offerings that evolve alongside market needs. 2019 will see the return of industry segments Digital Content & Technology, Parts & Components Pavilion, Integrated Resorts Technology
presents an exciting agenda of the most comprehensive and pressing themes in Asian gaming-entertainment. This year will be no exception, featuring three full days of content-rich and informative conferences and forums led by a line-up of highly influential leaders, influencers and experts in the field. Additional offerings will expand on highly-relevant industry themes including: Regional Roundup of Asia Markets and Financial Outlook, Emerging Markets Roundtable; Spotlight on Japan: Japan Gaming Outlook Economic Impacts to Other Asia Market; In Focus: Meeting Chinese Tourists’ Expectations, China Tourism Economic Outlook, Government Strategy and Direction for Macau Tourism Development; Making the Integrated Resort Smart, Elevating Total Customer Experience; Macau’s Renewal of License; IR Content Design Based On Lifestyle Marketing Trend, Next Generation Game Design; Digital Content & Technology; Innovation and Disruptive Technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Its Application and Case Studies;
What else is new for the conference programme for 2019? Each year, G2E Asia’s concurrently-held conference program
Financial Crime and Risk Prevention and Detection Trends: A Roundtable Discussion; Cyber Security and Data Privacy: Using New Tools to Prevent Data Breaches and Cyber Attacks; 2020 and beyond: the future of Macau’s gaming concessions. Can you provide details on the Awards night and networking events during this year’s G2E Asia? This year’s G2E Asia Awards will be held on the evening of Tuesday, May 21, where the who’s who in Asia’s gaming and entertainment industry will gather to celebrate success and outstanding contributions in gaming and non-gaming sectors. This year’s 12 categories include: Best IR NonGaming Attraction; Best B2B Digital Product Solution; Best Electronic Gaming Solution; Best Table Game Solution; Best Industry Innovation; Best Gaming Floor; Best Industry Rising Stars; Best Corporate Social Responsibility Contribution; Best VIP Gaming Promoter; Best Industry Supplier; Best Regional Asian IR; and Best Integrated Resort. G2E Asia’s ever-expanding and targeted networking offerings on and off the show floor include the Gaming Regulator Networking Luncheon, providing regulators the opportunity to exchange views, share updates and explore cooperation prospects; the Presidents’ Reception, an exclusive, invitation-only cocktail that offers senior executive networking opportunities and brand exposure at the highest level; the Operators Cotai Connect, encompassing customized and guided tours to several casinos along Macau’s famed Cotai Strip, providing an insider look at some of Macau’s most successful integrated resorts, and will additionally benefit from C-level networking opportunities; and the G2E Asia After Party, open to all attendees at Macau’s popular “Club Cubic”, providing industry suppliers with on-the-spot branding exposure and extended networking opportunities beyond show hours. In addition, Segmented Industry Networking Events, a series of
small, casual and interactive networking cocktails, caters to attendees of all interests, levels and backgrounds. This year’s offerings will focus on Table Games, Slots, Lottery and Future Leaders. Can you explain to our readership the details of the recent announcement of the Launch Fintech Segment to its Expo “Financial Technology Asia,” at this years G2E Asia? This year, we’re excited to be partnering with Blockchain Labs (Co., Limited) to organize our newest show segment and high-level forum, Financial Technology Asia. Its exclusive platform, sure to catch the eye of internationals in AsiaPacific’s skyrocketing FinTech industry, will provide a unique opportunity for financial technology and solution providers to showcase the latest solutions and services, including cloud financial solutions, block chain technology, cybersecurity, FinTech, and payment solutions. Attendees will be able to explore collaboration prospects with financial professionals ranging from casino and gaming platform operators to banking and financial institutes, funding and venture capitalists, and FinTech system integrators. It will additionally serve as a gathering point for influential members and solution providers in Asia’s FinTech community. We’ll be announcing more details on our newest segment in March via our official g2easia.com, EDM and our social media event sites including Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. Given the rapid growth in size of the Hotel Resort Casino sector in South East Asia do Reed and the AGA envisage launching smaller events in neighbouring regions in the coming years? We are definitely exploring that option. G2E Asia currently boasts a 74-percent international visitor representation. And with each new edition, we’re seeing growing numbers of visitors from Southeast Asia.
There are always companies that leave it for one reason or another to the last minute to exhibit at exhibitions for those considering exhibiting is there still time to organise a booth? Absolutely. Though, I wouldn’t wait too long as space is going rather fast! Have you an app or easy access to the website for visitors so they can navigate around the exhibition show floor and insure they are on time to attend the conference? The G2E Asia Mobile App maximizes user digital experience with “fingertip access” to event-wide information, including exhibitor profiles, conference program and speaker details, new product previews and special event updates. Additional capabilities include anytime-access to personalized company and product profiles, internal messaging, personal itinerary and meeting requests, all of which further provide time-saving access to the information they need to smoothly navigate the event. Akin to its namesake, G2E Asia’s mobile app is always improving for the better. Together with this year’s Lead Generation Scanner (Lead Gen) enhanced feature functions, new planning functions allow exhibitors to scan visitor badges to capture an immediate basic profile.
Conversely, visitors have an option to add notes on exhibitors while exploring the show floor to keep those crucial details in-check. Visitors can also tag “favourite” products/exhibitors to save and for image-sharing. All app users can get additional assistance onsite at the Match Me Booth and via multiple 3D exhibitor floorplans, which can be viewed at various kiosk locations across the show floor. Their innovative search-and-navigation function delivers full access to all exhibiting company profiles and details. Floor plans are also uploaded to the official G2E Asia App and website. The wildly popular New Product Hot Hits further encourages interaction and meetings onsite by presenting a public real-time ranking of the most popular products and services showcased by G2E Asia exhibitors. Taking direct inspiration from the G2E Asia Mobile App and its Lead Gen feature, visitors keen to take part can scan the QR code of exhibitors or new products of interest, with an added option to express their “Likes” or “Favorites”. Hot Hit boards, installed in high-traffic areas around the show floor, then provide a live ranking of the top-tenmost-scanned and liked-by-visitor new products, while a “Heat Index” provides a live monitoring of event-wide app performance.
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THE MARKETPLACE FOR THE ASIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Market Trends. Quality Products. Networking. 市場趨勢、優質產品、建立聯繫
G2E Asia: Informs smart business decisions. 亞洲國際娛樂展：助您作出明智的商業决策
2019年5月21-23日 THE VENETIAN MACAO | 澳門威尼斯人 G2E系列展會 A G2E EVENT
Galaxy of Opportunity
Rory Credland Event Director Japan Gaming Congress Chats with Peter White Japan’s Government is constantly announcing new legislation, will attendees have the advantage at JGC to gain the most accurate interpretation and explanations of these guidelines and laws? For the past 4 years JGC has developed a very loyal network of advisors and experts who are on the pulse of progression on a daily basis. One of the key objectives of the 2019 version is to really explore the reality of the law & guidelines, and their impact on the whole IR economy. Some of this year’s speakers including GMA, Goldman Sachs, Marina Bay Sands, MGM Japan, Galaxy Entertainment and Toru Mihara are on hand to help with this. Japan is set to be one of the Worlds biggest Integrated Resort Casino destinations with a potential gross gaming revenue at 1.75 trillion yen assuming the three regions of the metropolitan Tokyo Osaka and Hokkaido are chosen as sites. So the role of JGC is significant. Will there be representatives from the Japanese Government at this year’s Congress? As always with JGC, we welcome a healthy attendance of Diet members, local government, and prefectures. Gaining their support over the years has been key in getting JGC the profile which it now has in the local market. We expect even more this year. What are the plans for this event in the future, could we see it evolving into an ICE Tokyo? There is always an opportunity to expand the ICE brand beyond London, similar to what we have done in North America and Africa in recent years. We will of course be keeping a close eye on the market in Japan and further afield to work out the best time to bring the ICE experience to this region. How easy is it for those whom have not previously attended JGC to get from the airport to the venue?
The Conrad is a luxurious venue and conveniently based in the Shimbashi Business District, the journey in from both Haneda and Narita airports are pretty straightforward by train and car. Especially with efficiency of local transport! Can you provide readers an insight into who will be speaking at this year’s Congress? The agenda provides a great balance between international and local speakers. All of the key operator bosses are on the line up including George Tanasijevich, Ed Bowers and Chris Gordon. We will also hear insights from brands such as Shochiku, Wolfgang Puck and the Carter Group paired with our Japan IR experts Ayako Nakayama, Akira Kurita and Toru Mihara. Stay tuned for our Government speaker line up which is being announced soon. Have you details on the conference topics? This is the first year that JGC has taken place post implementation of the bill. So there is a big responsibility for the agenda to move exactly in line with the developments in the market. Our production team conducted extensive research to create some clear themes. Regulation & Policy, Finance & Investment, Integrated Resorts, Economic & Social Impact, Brand Japan and Next Gen & Gaming. Can you provide details on the networking opportunities? There are many networking opportunities at JGC, the structure and programme lends itself well to that. Highlevel events such as the Chairman’s Dinner, and the Official Reception could well be the inception of many new partnerships. Who attends JGC? The dynamics of the JGC audience are one of its biggest selling points with the balance of attendees from the whole Integrated Resort economy. You can meet the CEO one of the largest IR orgs in the world, through to Fine dining pioneers,
Japanese transport companies and Diet Members. It really is the place for any industry looking to be part of that market. For those that may want to factor in a little sightseeing how easy is that to do? Tokyo is an amazing city full of incredible experiences, sightseeing is rich and in every district â€“ a must when in town! Specifically, it boasts the most Michelin star restaurants in the world, and I would personally recommend a visit to the Meiji Shrine. Have you learnt any Japanese language and have you any particular favourite Japanese food? My Japanese is work in progress! I have never had a bad meal in Japan on the many visits I have now made there, it is a different culinary experience to anywhere else in the world and has certainly spoilt Londonâ€™s sushi offering for me. How excited are you about Japan and these new Integrated Resorts and what are you looking forward to seeing once they commence opening up for business? Very excited. I feel that all of the cultural and technological aspects that Japan can add to an Integrated Resort, they really will be some of the finest examples in the world.
How have registrations been so far this year for JGC 2019 in comparison to previous years? The demand is higher than ever, but to be expected given the pivotal moment we are in and of course great following the event has built over the years. Could you explain to our readers why they should attend this year and not wait a few more years? I think this year the gauge has changed, and our market intelligence is telling us that this is now an investment piece. Partnerships, consortiums, supplier relationships will be forged at this yearâ€™s JGC. It quite simply has never been more important to have a presence in those conversations. For those considering attending what is your advice about what they can expect to see? A great line up of the most important figures shaping the future of the IR market in Japan. Full stop. How can readers find out more about JGC 2019 and register to attend? Our website will provide all the additional information they require www.japangamingcongress.com
2019, 16-17 May, Conrad Tokyo, Japan
JgC implementing IRs for the local and international gaming industry
Brand Japan. Register via QR code or our website www.japangamingcongress.com
ICE VOX Conference
A great learning and networking experience attended by Damien Connelly
he ICE conference always has great speakers. The Japan Roundtables that started Monday’s International Casino Conference were worth the conference fee for the information they shared. Mr. Ed Bowers, CEO Japan, MGM Resorts International, discussed the possibility that operators will need to frequently renew their Area Development Plan (ADP) for each Integrated Resort (IR) in Japan. This renewal possibility would increase each IR’s political risks, making it harder to obtain project financing. Ms. Ayako Nakayama, Representative Director, Japan IR Association, also commented on the ADP renewal issue. Additionally, Ms. Nakayama clarified that the lack of understanding among politicians and consumers is slowing the development of IR’s in Japan. As Ms. Nakayama stated, “Japan already has other forms of gambling such as pachinko and government controlled
gambling including horse racing and motorbike racing. Confusion exists in Japan about what the term Integrated Resort means. Many people — politicians and consumers — think IR is only a casino…a ‘ghost casino’.” Ms. Nakayama stressed the focus of the Japanese government is on developing IR’s focused on non-gaming amenities that will support Japan’s push to open its tourism market. She compared this push to open its tourism market using IR’s as its flagship tourism products to being similar to how Japan culturally and economically opened itself to the outside world in previous centuries. Mr. Bowers estimated the investment for Japanese IR’s could go as high as US$12 billion. Mr. Jonathan Strock, CEO, Groupe Barrière Japan, acknowledged this $12 billion relates to an IR in a metropolitan area such as Osaka, which is a complex site to develop. Mr. Strock and Ms. Nakayama noted an IR in a smaller Japanese city would likely require a $4-5 billion investment.
If you are being asked to finance multi-billion dollar investments, you want to know your investment is secure. Mr. Akira Kurita, IR Specialist, Hakuhodo Capital, stated that the Japanese central government is in two minds at present. They are considering: 1. Select all three IR locations in metropolitan areas, namely Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama. Or 2. Select a combination of metropolitan areas and local cities, with one or two of the IR’s in metropolitan areas, and the remaining one or two in local cities. Local cities being considered include Sasebo and Tomakomai. Mr. Kurita of Hakuhodo Capital confirmed that central and local governments will decide on the split between metropolitan and local cities in Autumn 2019. This date was originally going to be in Spring 2021, but central government has brought it forward. As Mr. Bowers from MGM stated, “2019 is going to be a very interesting year for the development of IR’s in Japan.” It is possible that the Japanese government will allow a two tranche development process. This would enable a location to develop and open more quickly its IR. With Osaka to host the 2025 World Expo, such a two tranche approach would allow Osaka to begin building its IR early. During the Japan Roundtable discussions, I chatted in more detail with other influential people, including Mr. Masahiro Terada. Mr. Terada is a consultant to the Osaka local government and works as Business Development Leader for PwC Consulting. Mr. Terada stressed that it is a very important decision to select the best partner (operator) to work with the Osaka Prefecture. This is understandable as the investment required to build the Osaka IR is huge. Also, once completed, it is forecast the Osaka IR would be the largest IR in the world. Based on my calculations, I estimate Osaka’s IR annual revenue would be almost US$9 billion once all its amenities are operational. In my own opinion, having discussed and researched options with various people, Osaka will definitely receive one of the IR licenses. I think it is also probable that Yokohama will receive one license, leaving the other one undecided. Again, and I stress this is my own opinion, I think a southern location such as Sasebo will get the third license. The Japan Gaming Congress runs 16-17 May in the Conrad Tokyo, and is organised by Clarion Gaming. For a market with the potential of Japan, it’s worth adding the JgC to your global must-visit conferences. Go to Japan!
Damien Connelly and Akira Kurita
Manage this by Robert Brassai
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
his column was born in South Africa, in the middle of nowhere between Jo’Burg and Sun City in a Dacia revving at 5,000 and barely making it up a hill. I would call it a difficult birth, but I am certain it will have a bright future. Glyn and I agreed that a structured series of articles on the most important issues of casino management would do the industry and the magazine good, so here we go. In this first article I would like to reflect on the “raison d’etre” and the usefulness of this column to most readers of Casino Life. The industry we call ours and we love and hate at the same time produces its leaders through experience gathering. While most walks of life require a mix of some kind of formal study and time spent applying the skills learnt in the classroom, in land-based casinos a short training course can start you on your way to industry stardom. In real life, more often than not this means, that people get promoted based on their personality, dexterity, customer relation skills, or quite simply because an empty position needs to be filled and management believes that promoting from within the company strengthens employee morale. Most casino companies put very little emphasis on management education and the actual professional options for training their best and brightest are few and far
Robert Brassai Principal Consultant Sense 4 Gaming
between. This is especially true for the EMEA region, most of Asia and Latin America. The industry in the US has a different approach, which could be the subject of another article. So, what are your options if you want to be a forward thinking, knowledgeable casino manager these days? Mostly, you need to be self-motivated. Plenty of good
articles, white papers and studies are freely available on the internet for those who bother to look. It’s not always easy to connect the dots though and put these resources into a manageable and easy to understand order. Relevance is another issue, as technology changes methodology and principles faster than I can type these words. Secondly, it helps to work for a company with an education program or the willingness to spend serious dollars on training and courses, like the EDP or the TGA. Who your direct managers are is probably what makes the biggest difference in how your career will shape up and what kind of a leader and industry professional you will become. Find your mentor or let your mentor find you. There are a lot of brilliant minds out there.
Let’s take the issue of millennials for example. Based on very sketchy and mostly irrelevant information on this much spoken about generation, casino managers are heavily investing in product offered by manufacturers that will take up serious amounts of floor space and be used a few hours every weekend by visitors who will never turn into regular casino patrons. Obviously, there is a lot of trial and error in every business, but many of these could be avoided if the people calling the shots would have the knowledge to take sound decisions based on facts, mathematics, logic and common sense. It is the purpose of this column to discuss ideas and issues that make a difference in how you run your businesses and help our industry towards an era of knowledge-based casinos.
Biography Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
Intensively researched, unbiased, and vetted training courses for gaming professionals. Our course selection includes: Table Games Masterclass Slot Academy Affiliate Management Academy Online Gaming Masterclass
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The Last Word by Damien Connelly
Angels and Demons Welcome to The Last Word.
ICE London had great networking and knowledge sharing moments. One of the most intriguing for me was a panel discussion during Monday’s conference titled: “The gambling industry has run out of ideas for two reasons: 1. It is not diverse enough 2. Regulation stifles creativity.”
Are Operators Demonised?
In London I chatted with many Operators. Whenever we touched on the topic of regulation, the responses were always similar: No casino operator ever started a recession. No casino operator was ever involved in the sums being uncovered in the banking situation in Estonia. Operators welcome appropriate regulatory frameworks. Casinos are very tightly regulated compared to industries such as banking. If a casino operator makes a big enough mistake, it gets severely punished. Casino properties are closed. Companies lose their operating license. Property management can lose their license to manage casinos. I have seen all of these things occur across the world. What happens to banks and bankers when they make a big enough mistake? To answer my own question, “Yes, I think casino operators are demonised.” ‘Casino’ is often used to mean something negative by the mainstream media. Many times I see mainstream media use the phrase, “This bank / stockmarket is being run like a casino.” Actually, if that bank or stock-market was being run like a casino, there would be no major issues — we wouldn’t have bank-induced recessions and financial crashes, economic bubbles would not form, and inflation would be easy to manage as all major economies would have a second set of chips in storage (chips = cash = M1 money supply in economic language). While no industry is perfect, casinos don’t cause the kind of shocks and crises that some other industries do. More businesses should operate like casinos.
Regulators Stifle Creativity?
I heard many voices in London say Regulators are slow to adapt to change. I have been hearing this for years. While it is true, that is the case in all industries — I have yet to hear of a single industry where Regulators are ahead of the curve. Regulators are always going to be ‘late to the party’. In terms of stifling creativity, I think it is too easy
to blame Regulators. There are lots of positive activities Regulators have enacted that benefit our industry. A recent American Gaming Association study highlights examples where Regulators have embraced change and improved conditions as “the transformation of regulatory reform (moves) from a periodic exercise to a continuous process.” As Craig Ballantyne from City of Dreams Mediterranean commented during our meeting about his T.R.E.E. concept for IRs, it is necessary to have a supportive Regulatory Framework to allow casinos to grow. And as the AGA states in its white paper: “Regulators have to embrace constant review…to ensure a gaming industry that operates in the public interest while delivering economic success to its communities.” Supportive regulations underpin successful operations. In applauding our industry’s progress on diversity, let us also recognise progress towards balanced regulation that enables casinos to deliver economic development. Look to the example of Tunica in the USA. Very few industries can deliver in so short a timeframe the economic and societal benefits our casino industry delivered to Tunica’s local economy and community. With appropriately supportive regulations, Cyprus will also grow. Casinos and their operators are not demons. Especially not when compared to the likes of the financial industry. Casinos are angels. Damien Connelly innovates and achieves growth for both people and companies. His experience spans Cloud, food and drink, gaming, retail, and TMT. One client recently sold for over US$5 billion. He specialises in Content, Marketing and Sales. You can contact Damien on +31 6 5206-7402 and at firstname.lastname@example.org
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