Volume 15 Issue 129
The Winning Deal
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Editor’s Page Welcome to Casino Life...
Needing to be more than the mere sum of parts is a common theme for this issue: from the development of individual but complementary resort casinos to identifying the core businesses on which to concentrate; from being able to apply your experience with nerve at a dealer championship to identifying the profitable aspects of a casino. Obvious, but all true. In our first feature, Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith chats to David McKee about the company’s recent successful acquisitions and future growth. Following on, I talk to Graeme Stevens CEO of SkyCity casinos and find out more about his plans to sell off non-core assets and concentrate on being a world class casino operator. Then, to Europe and Tamas Adam, the 2019 European Dealer Champion, chats to Damien Connelly about what he believes makes a great dealer whilst some of his peers comment about their experiences of the event. Nobody likes being called an “industry veteran” so let’s call the next interviewee Sebastian Salat instead. I caught up with Sebastian and found out more about the amazing year Zitro have experienced and its emergence as a Global player. Someone with equal status in the industry is Andrew Cammegh who chatted to Peter White about the company celebrating their thirtieth anniversary but, more importantly, the impact that their RRS has had over the past few years. “Balls, brains and lack of greed” is a curious description but its one that professional poacher turned gamekeeper Richard Marcus uses to describe the professional cheat to Peter White. Masahiro Terada, of PwC Japan, meanwhile, chats with Damien Connelly about the imminent casino licences and Dr. Matthias Spitz and Jessica Maier, of Melchers Law Firm update us on casino legislation in Germany. We close with Robert Brassai taking a long hard look at Profit Based Management in Integrated Casino Resorts. The sum of the Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief parts....
Technology Correspondent: Rebecca Green
Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019
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Shining a light on Africa’s gaming ecosystem For more information and to register, visit www.iceafrica.za.com
Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith chats to David McKee 14 Reaching for the Sky CEO Graeme Stephens outlines his ambitions for SkyCity Casinos by Glyn Thomas 21 The Winning Deal
Peter White reports back from the EDC Finals
22 How to be a Great Croupier Tamas Adam from Swiss Casinos, the 2019 European Dealer Champion, chats with Damien Connelly 32 Sustainable growth through Innovation
Sebastian Salat CEO, Zitro chats to Glyn Thomas
37 High Visibility Andrew Cammegh, Sales Director, Cammegh Ltd chats to Peter White 42 Game Protection Richard Marcus Casino Table Game Protection Consultant and Trainer chats to Peter White 46 Dreaming of Japan Masahiro Terada, Integrated Resort Team Leader/ Senior Manager, PwC Japan, chats with Damien Connelly 49 The State of German Gambling Legislation Overview, Update and Outlook By Dr. Matthias Spitz and Jessica Maier, LL.M., MELCHERS Law Firm, Germany 54 Blockchain Now and the Future
By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot
55 Manage this
By: Robert Brassai
Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisherâ€™s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
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Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith chats to David McKee
hen Boyd Gaming acts, it moves swiftly and decisively. It was a beneficiary of Penn National Gaming’s acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment: Penn found itself with four casinos that it could not keep due to antitrust concerns. Enter Boyd to swoop up Ameristar Kansas City and Ameristar St. Charles, two casinos with a stellar track record between them, and Belterra Resort in Indiana
and Belterra Park racino in Ohio. Not resting there, Boyd snapped up independent Valley Forge Resort Casino near Philadelphia, where revenue numbers continue to improve since the change of ownership. In Illinois, where slot routes were sapping Par-A-Dice, Boyd bought route operator Laettner Entertainment, in a ‘If you can’t beat them, join them move,’ of which we may see more. While all this growth has accrued to the bottom line, Boyd is not resting on its laurels. Its pre-Pinnacle casinos
posted same-store revenue growth of $16 million in the first quarter of this year. Some of that is attributable to the new phenomenon of legalized sports betting, which Boyd has unleashed in Mississippi and Pennsylvania (where a FanDuel-branded book is a star attraction at Valley Forge), and will soon roll out in Indiana, Iowa and possibly other states. On its natal ground, in Las Vegas, Boyd continues to be bolstered by the loyalty of players from Hawaii as it braces itself for Derek Stevens’ new
Downtown competitor Circa. More than holding its own, Boyd has posted its highest Vegas-derived cash flow in 12 years. With so much to celebrate, CEO Keith Smith took a few moments to speak with Casino Life. How are your new Ameristar, Belterra and Valley Forge acquisitions performing? So far we’re extremely pleased with our most recent acquisitions. They’re all performing very much in line
How did the Ameristar/Belterra deal come about? Did you initiate it or did Penn National Gaming or Gaming & Leisure Properties approach you? Penn approached us early on in the process and asked us if we wanted to partner with them in this endeavor. I think they realized there were some assets that, for regulatory purposes, they would not be able to own. We’re always interested in growing our company and looking at new acquisitions, so we were very excited to partner with Penn and see what could happen. with what we anticipated when we bought them. They’re all very high-quality assets and allowed us to enter into markets that we otherwise weren’t in. Valley Forge is very exciting because we were able to expand the slot floor by 250 machines. So they’re all doing very well and performing in line with our expectations. The integration processes are going well and I’m happy where it’s all at six or seven months into the process.
Now you’re leasing four casinos [Ameristar St. Charles, Ameristar Kansas City, Belterra Resort, Belterra Park] instead of owning them outright. How does it feel to be a tenant? It really doesn’t look or feel any different in operation than if we owned them outright. We certainly value owning our own real estate. But, in this case, this was the structure
of the deal and so we pay them instead of paying the bank. It doesn’t really change the nature of the operation. How did the Valley Forge deal come to happen? It had gotten that license and opened that property. If memory serves, they maybe had been operating it for five years or so. The owner was looking to move on. He was looking to sell it and we had heard about it and conversations took place, and we were the winning bidder. It’s been performing even better since Boyd took over. How come? In cases like this where you have an individual operator who gets a license and opens a property, it’s hard for them to compete with somebody like Boyd, given our size and our scale, and our capability. We have large staffs of marketing experts. We get to consolidate a lot of
back-and-of-the-house functions and have them operate at a more efficient level that a single operator just can’t do. So we’re able to take a lot of cost out of the business one the one hand and on the other we’re able to bring a higher level of marketing expertise and operating expertise because we have 29 properties and been at this for 45 years, and we bring a lot of experience. It’s something that an individual operator has a difficult time doing.
Ameristar is a historically powerful brand. Will you have exclusive use of it going forward? It is a very powerful brand. We will not have exclusive use but we have the right to continue to use the Ameristar name in St. Charles and Kansas City on a perpetual basis. How are these five new casinos doing in terms of integration into your B Connected loyalty program? We’re very much on track. We’ve introduced it at a couple of the properties already and we’ll be introducing it at the others in the near future, so it is an important part of acquisitions like this to be able to expand your players’ club and expand the database to all your new customers, to allow them to visit Las Vegas and allow customers in other parts of the country to visit those properties. It’s on track. How are your slot routes in Illinois performing and might you purchase some in other states where they’re a factor? It was about a year ago that we purchased the slot-route operation in Illinois. The intent was to understand the business and use it as a platform as other states continue to look at this form of gaming. Indiana has talked about it. Pennsylvania just introduced a small version of it. Our
whole goal was to be able to expand that platform into other states. We haven’t executed on anything yet but it’s still our desire, our focus to expand that platform into other states. Boyd has mulled converting into a real estate investment trust in the recent past. What are the upsides and downsides of going the REIT route? I would say that we have studied it for a long time. After studying it, we have developed the viewpoint that owning your own real estate is strategically important to us. We have the ability to play the REIT process or how REITs participate in our industry in any number of ways, as we did with the Pinnacle acquisition, in partnering with GLPI. I don’t see us converting to a REIT. Once again, we believe in the value of owning our real estate. But I do see us continuing to use the REIT structure for acquisitions in the future, if and where it makes sense. Sports betting is a new feature in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, coming soon to Iowa and Indiana. What does it mean to Boyd either as an attraction or a contributor to the bottom line? The ability to expand sports betting across the U.S. is a great opportunity for our industry as a whole, to provide a new amenity to customers, to give them yet another reason to visit these facilities. We’ve been involved in
sports betting here in Nevada for more than 40 years, so we have great expertise. We launched in Mississippi at our two properties there [Sam’s Town Tunica and IP Biloxi]. We opened at Valley Forge a couple of months ago and what a great addition at those properties. It’s been profitable as a standalone function but, more than that, it has driven additional customers into the building to participate in the sports-betting operation, but just to come into the building and participate in the rest of the operation. So it’s been a key driver early on in bringing new people into the building, and I think that will continue as we roll it out in Indiana and Iowa, and hopefully other states in the future. How is Blue Chip holding up against the new, tribal competition in Indiana and will Boyd be pursuing the new casino license in Terre Haute?
The team at Blue Chip has done just a remarkable job defending its turf against the new tribal competition that opened a little more than a year ago. If you look at our numbers that we’ve posted since then and you go back to our quarterly earnings calls, we were significantly impacted in what I call the battlegrounds markets between Blue Chip and South Bend. But the team at Blue Chip was able to grow the business in other markets to offset what we lost there, so we’ve been able to somewhat neutralize the overall impact of that new, tribal competition. So the team’s done a great job with a tremendous asset there in Blue Chip: a wonderful hotel, a wonderful spa, quite a number of restaurants, a very high-end casino. So we’ve
It’s where our company started back in 1975, so not only do we know the market very well it’s very close to our heart because that’s where our company was founded. The business is performing very well. We’ll see and have seen some limited disruption from the construction of Circa because it’s right across the street from us and it’s a rather significant development. But we’re very positive at the end of the day about what that project will do for all of Downtown, in terms of bringing new customers down there, and the more customers that come to downtown Las Vegas, the better off all our properties will be, so we’re very excited to have that investment coming Downtown and to have it happening right across the
got a very attractive property and the team’s done a great job. With respect to Terre Haute, we’ll just leave it like this: We don’t talk about where we’re going to go and what we may be interested in, what acquisitions we may be pursuing. Whether or not we look at Terre Haute I can’t say at this point. We’ll monitor when that opportunity becomes available and what amount is attractive to us, but we generally don’t provide any specific comments on these things.
street from us.
How are your downtown Las Vegas casinos performing, especially in light of the new construction at Circa disrupting traffic? Downtown has been on quite a growth trajectory over the last several years. You’ve seen more and more customers visit the Downtown area. You’ve seen more investment. So it’s been a great run Downtown. Our businesses continue to grow down there. We’ve got three properties.
What’s in the immediate future? Are you in a deleverage mode or are you still focused on growth? We talk a lot about a balanced approach to capital allocation and it speaks to focusing on de-leveraging, focusing on returning capital to our shareholders as well as investing or reinvesting in the business: reinvesting in existing assets or looking at acquisitions. We take a balanced approach to all that. We want to continue to delever. We’re in a very good place right now but we will continue to focus on our leverage number and continue to have it go lower. At the same time, we want to continue to return capital to our shareholders through a combination of dividends as well as share repurchases, and we’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. And we always keep our eye open for ways to grow the business. So it’s kind of a balanced approach where we focus on all three of them.
Reaching for the Sky CEO Graeme Stephens outlines his ambitions for SkyCity Casinos by Glyn Thomas
kyCity CEO Graeme Stephens once said, “When you qualify as a chartered accountant in South Africa, you can pretty much pick and chose what you do.” He chose the casino business and New Zealand specifically. A quartercentury before he took the lead of SkyCity, Stephens familiarized himself with Kiwi country by backpacking it. The Zimbabwe-born Stephens learned the casino business from Sun International and came to SkyCity in May 2017, and set about maximizing existing core assets To that end he sold remote SkyCity Darwin casino as well as a car park. The casino went to American operator, Delaware North, and Stephens turned his attention to investing $493 million into the International Convention Centre in Auckland and $211 million into SkyCity Adelaide. An enthusiastic traveler of the world’s wild places, Stephens is happiest when tracking wildlife and shooting them—with his camera. Casino Life caught up with him in the wake of the SkyCity Darwin sale, so naturally that provided the jumping-off point for our conversation. What motivated the sale of SkyCity Darwin? The board and management of SkyCity is pursuing a policy of disposal of non-core assets, where a fair price can be obtained, to allow investment into areas we see as having better potential of higher returns for shareholders. SkyCity Darwin was a long way from our other properties in New Zealand and in Adelaide and its performance, while generally acceptable, was not considered to be an adequate return on the capital we had invested. So we asked for expressions of interest from potential buyers and we were delighted that Delaware North, a quality North American casino, and food-andbeverage operator, was the successful bidder. I would characterize our current strategy as focusing the proceeds on the remaining core land based properties—Adelaide, Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown. These remaining properties are not fully developed as regards their true potential as well as the changing entertainment tastes of our customers. We are definitely investing into gaming (and predominantly into the higher end of the gaming industry) but this aspect of our portfolio has already been fairly well developed. A larger part of the current and future investment is into non-gaming such as hotels, food and beverage, and entertainment in order to create precincts that are destinational and will be able to compete for foot traffic against other entertainment offerings within the cities that we operate.
What manner of non-core assets will be sold in the future and what is the strategy behind this? We’ve recently announced the sale of the concession to operate some 3,500 car parks owned by SkyCity to Macquarie Principal Finance, part of the Australian-based Macquarie Group. Note we only sold the concession, not the land or buildings. We’ve sold these under the same strategy as the Darwin sale – divestment of noncore assets and using the capital from the sales to pay down debt. It’s also available for other, higher-returning investments closer to our core business we may seek to make in the future, should the opportunity arise. Last year, we sold another car park we owned on Federal Street for the same reason. We don’t have any plans right now for the sale of any other assets. What businesses conform to your long-term strategic objectives? SkyCity is an entertainment company, so we see ourselves as operating primarily in the gaming and hospitality space. This includes casinos (land-based and online), hotels, food and beverage, and a range of family friendly tourism and visitor operations, such as our Sky Tower, theatre, and convention centers. We’ve also partnered with several iconic New Zealand brands, including the All Blacks and
Weta Workshop, producers of the special effects in the Lord of the Rings films, to offer destinational attractions at our Auckland site. I’d like to see SkyCity as a major player in the tourism space in New Zealand and Adelaide. The Adelaide and NZICC projects are two major transformational projects that were essentially already in the pipeline when I arrived and my role is to steer them through the development phase and ensure successful opening and trading. They should both complete and open during calendar year 2020. In addition we have acquired more adjacent land in Auckland for future development of hotels and apartments, we have developed plans for an hotel in Hamilton (including increasing the electronicgaming machine product by 60 machines, which will improve the feasibility for our proposed investment) and we have acquired land for a high-end luxury hotel in Queenstown, which will also be able to host our high rollers. Outside of the investments to fully maximize our land based casino portfolio we have recently announced our entry into the online casino industry through a partnership with GiG (Gaming Innovation Group). We anticipate
the online industry will ultimately be regulated in New Zealand and should we be licensed it means we can provide a multi-channel gaming product to our customers - which we think is the future for the industry. For the next two years, SkyCity will continue to operate VIP gambling at the Darwin casino, an unusual arrangement. What was the thinking that led to this? Delaware North doesn’t have a VIP gaming offer, so the company wasn’t interested in the Darwin Casino’s VIP suites. We came to an agreement with Delaware to allow us to use them, subject to their availability, if and when we had customers who wanted to travel there. It’s not something I would envisage being used regularly, but it is there in the contract. How is the Adelaide expansion proceeding? Very well. The expansion is on-time and on-budget, and due for completion in September next year. I’m extremely pleased with the speed and quality of the project to date; our builder, Hansen Yuncken, is doing a great job, as is our in-house project team in Adelaide.
In what ways will the resort be different once renovation is complete? It’ll be totally different. The expansion will transform Adelaide Casino into an integrated entertainment destination, like our Auckland property. It adds a five-star, all-suite hotel, more fine-dining options, a wellness center, and a new casino podium as well as more VIP gaming facilities. We’re also taking the opportunity to refurbish the existing casino in Adelaide’s historic railway station. This is located in a beautiful building but is many decades old and in need of a lift. When it’s all complete, visitors will have the best of both old and new. The expansion is part of a wider development on Adelaide’s Torrens River, and is opposite Adelaide’s famous Adelaide Oval sports field, which is a magnet for visitors and locals alike. How is the VIP-gaming business being affected by the U.S./China trade war? We’re not seeing any significant impact. The VIP business is always volatile, and turnover and win-rate move up and
down regularly. But overall I’m very pleased by the performance of our VIP business and we’re hitting our turnover targets. What manner of strategic importance does SkyCity Adelaide’s table game monopoly have? License exclusivity is very important to SkyCity in all our jurisdictions. It’s one of our competitive advantages. We have exclusive licenses to operate table games at all our properties – Adelaide, Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown. Does the sale of SkyCity Darwin and other non-core assets signal a retrenchment or is any expansion envisioned for the future? Not at all. It’s more a rebalancing of our portfolio. SkyCity is actively looking to expand its presence in New Zealand, through the development of our Hamilton and Queenstown sites and further plans for our flagship Auckland property. We’ve also said publicly we’re keen on joint ventures in the hotel space if we can find the right partner.
SkyCity Queenstown is so small (12 tables, 86 slots). Could it be a sale prospect? We’re not looking to sell in Queenstown. We operate two small casinos in the town – SkyCity Queenstown and Wharf Casino. Neither are currently material to our financial results, however they represent an opportunity in what is New Zealand’s premier resort town. We own the only two casino licenses in Queenstown, and we see they have significant future value for us in an enhanced SkyCity Queenstown property. You’re trying to add 60 slots in Hamilton. Why is the City Council fighting you so hard? You’ll need to ask Hamilton City Council that! All we’ve done is ask the Gambling Commission for permission to adjust our product mix, which would entail removing three blackjack tables and replacing them with 60 more machine games to meet customer preference and demand. It’s a perfectly reasonable request that is within the Commission’s purview to rule on. The council has objected, and so the Commission will hold a hearing to rule on our application. I hope the outcome is favorable to us but obviously we’ll abide by whatever it decides.
Looking back on your tenure with SkyCity, what are the milestone accomplishments? It’s been two years in May. Looking back, it’s been a whirlwind with a lot of highs and not too many lows at all. I’m proud of the senior management team I’ve put together, I’m pleased I’ve been able to shepherd through the sale of SkyCity Darwin and our parking concessions, get the Adelaide expansion off to a great start and keep the pressure on to finish the International Convention Centre we’re building in Auckland, which should be completed next year. I’m also really proud of the steps we’ve taken in the CSR space – particularly in areas such as the environment and in gender and transgender community spaces. SkyCity New Zealand will go carbon-neutral later this year, which is a major milestone for the company, with SkyCity Adelaide following next year. We’re also proud recipients of both the Gender Tick and Rainbow Tick, for our work in equality and diversity. I’ve also signed SkyCity up to both the Climate Leaders’ Coalition and Global Women, where I’m a Change Champion. So there’s a lot to be proud of but also a lot more to do.
Tamas Adam from Swiss Casinos
Left to right: Greg Saint Event Director ICE London, Jon Lancaster Executive Director International Sales Scientific Games, Tamas Adams Swiss Casinos, Per Jaldung ECA Chairman
The Winning Deal
Introduction by Peter White
o be crowned European Dealer Champion… only one person can achieve this each year.
Tamas Adam from Swiss Casinos won this year’s European Dealer Championship. Tamas prevailed over 38 competitors in the 2019 European Dealer title, held in Tallinn, Estonia’s Olympic Park Casino. Dealers were ranked on their technical skills, control of the game in both Blackjack and American Roulette, and — not to be forgotten — their hospitality. Tamas, who calls Swiss Casinos Pfäffikon his home base, won 3,000 Euros from EDC sponsor Scientific Games and is Switzerland’s first EDC Champion. Clarion Gaming sponsored the winner’s trophy. Tamas Adam was so good that he will return as an EDC judge in 2020. Olympic Entertainment Group CEO Corey Plummer enthused, “It was a real pleasure to host Europe’s croupier elite for the 2019 European Dealer Championship at our flagship venue. The competition was at the highest level and we congratulate Tamas Adam for winning the title after a thrilling competition.” ECA Chairman Per Jaldung added,
“As an industry we owe a great deal to our employees that provide our guests with a great entertainment experience on a day-to-day basis. The European Dealer Championship celebrates their achievements, skills and demonstrates the importance of people for our business. It also shows the great diversity in our industry, with competitors coming from across Europe and even the globe to work in our sector. Congratulations to Tamas Adam for coming out on top among this outstanding field of competitors.” (Next year’s competition will be held in Monaco under the auspices of Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer.) Over two days, 38 competitors from 20 countries competed hard to win the overall EDC title. There were also side events for Best Chipper, Best Card Handler, Best Cutting Chips, Best Pushing Stacks and Best Mathematician. These side events are played on American Roulette and Blackjack. Tamas Adam won both the overall EDC title and the Best Cutting Chips side event. Casino Life thinks Tamas will be a great judge for 2020’s EDC in Monaco.
How to be a Great Croupier
Tamas Adam from Swiss Casinos, the 2019 European Dealer Champion, chats with Damien Connelly
o be consistently good means you’re better than good. How’s this for consistency? Champion 2017, second 2018. Tamas Adam achieved that in Switzerland’s national Dealer Championships. That allowed him to enter the European Dealer Championship. Second 2018 and Champion 2019. There’s a lot to learn from Tamas Adam about how to be a great croupier. A great croupier positively impacts handle. Operators know this. Customers will have a whale of a time (pardon my deliberate pun) at a table with a great croupier. What makes a great croupier? Who better to ask than the 2019 European Dealer Champion, Tamas Adam, who works with Swiss Casinos at Casino Pfäffikon. Thank you for sharing your time with Casino Life, Tamas. What made you decide to be a croupier? I enjoy meeting and interacting with people. 14 years ago, I saw an advert in a newspaper offering training courses to become a casino croupier. We started with 32 people and finished with 12. After one month working in casinos, some of the 12 people couldn’t do the job for various reasons (nerves and counting problems were the common stumbling blocks). Out of the original 32 applicants and the 12 who completed the course, three people made successful careers as casino croupiers. Of those three, I am the only one still working in the casino business — one now works in the IT industry, and one works in the hotel industry. Both, curiously, also work in Switzerland. Another major reason for my becoming a croupier was the international opportunities it gives you as a career. I grew up in Hungary and wanted to work in foreign countries. I had this impression of the casino industry and what it would be like to work in a casino from seeing casinos in movies and discussed in the media.
Tell us some detail about Tamas Adam. What makes you get out of bed in the morning (or maybe afternoon, given you work in the live tables department)? Every day is different. Customers can be totally new, they can be the same customers and they can be both. The group dynamics are different every day. That, for me, keeps this job refreshing. There’s also the excitement of being a croupier. This excitement comes from the games you work on, the colleagues you work with and our customers. Being a croupier, your job is to interact with and entertain people.
different languages. I think this helps stop burn-out. You can never know everything. There’s always more to learn. And it is a challenge learning and adapting to the different regulations in each country. Being a casino croupier has allowed me to work in five countries. For the last
Plus, I get an adrenalin rush from the money that crosses the table. I practiced a lot when I was younger, which makes the technical aspects of being a great croupier easier for me now. Winning the European Dealer Championship is a great feeling as it shows all of the hours I have spent, and continue to spend, practicing is recognised and rewarded. You have worked in casinos in five countries. What have you learned from working in those different countries? The most important element is learning the same game in
10 years, I have worked in Switzerland with Swiss Casinos, which has great casinos in superb locations that offer excellent food and beverage and live entertainment to our customers. I work specifically in Casino Pfäffikon, which is one of the four casinos directly operated by Swiss Casinos. Swiss Casinos, and Switzerland, provides a great place to work. I really like Switzerland with its outstanding nature, the intriguing and multicultural people who live here and the rich culture Switzerland offers. Working for many great operators in different countries, including Genting, Lucien Barrière, AIDA Cruises and Swiss Casinos, has allowed me to learn a lot about different people and become more comfortable using different languages. I’ve learned a lot about casino life in different countries while also meeting lots of fascinating colleagues and customers.
Congratulations Tamas Adam
What was the best advice you were given by a boss or a manager? It was an experienced manager who started many years ago in Aachen and who saw the golden age of casinos in Germany. He is very focused on the hospitality element of casinos. He could see my focus and desire to make myself a great croupier. He advised me to read about special things, such as whisky and cigars, that would help me discuss these topics with customers. I practiced a lot to improve my technical skills. Working in different countries and travelling for my personal vacations has allowed me to experience different cultures and languages. As he advised, it is important to make sure you have the correct work-life balance. If all you do is work, eat, sleep, repeat, then you canâ€™t provide the level of hospitality necessary to become a great croupier. I followed the advice from that manager and Iâ€™ve developed a range of hobbies over the years including playing golf and the guitar. These help me relax and forget about my casino career for a few hours each day. I also drive F3 cars now and again, which is another different experience that gives me something to talk with customers about. Plus, I like to paint. I go to museums and visit major cultural cities like Paris and London to see different art on show. What is the best advice you can give people who would like to be a future EDC Champion? For some people, being a croupier is just a job. I wanted to be the best and to be the fastest. I like to compete. It is a
You are the 2019 European Dealer Champion. Firstly, congratulations on a brilliant achievement. Is it harder to be the dealer champion for a continent? My first experience with the EDC was in 2009 when I represented France while working with Lucien Barrière. At that time, I focused on my technical skills. My hospitality skills were lacking. In truth, I didn’t enjoy that EDC. However, I returned after nine years having improved my hospitality skills. When I came second in 2018, I saw how good Matti Kankainen from Veikkaus’ Casino Helsinki was. He was deservedly the winner in 2018 as he was the better croupier. I learned from Matti and focused on improving my range of skills. Although you can be nervous when you’re in the EDC, if you go to the EDC a few times you can become more comfortable with the challenge of being tested by many judges from many countries who can be looking for slightly different elements in your croupier skills.
really good feeling to compete against other great croupiers. Every casino I have worked in has helped me to be in this position. The best advice I can give is to practice, prepare, calm down and to enjoy yourself as this may be the only time you’ll be in the European Dealer Championship. The EDC is great for meeting new people. Also, because I have lived and worked in many countries, I’ve learned multiple languages and learned simple phrases in other languages. I’ve learned a variety of simple phrases in over 10 languages, including Japanese! You were the Swiss national Dealer Champion in 2017. What does it take to be the dealer champion for a country? Great support and a great team and family behind you. Cvijan Stokic and Thomas Cavelti at Casino Pfäffikon have supported me a lot. Cvijan is a great Gaming Manager and Mr. Cavelti is a great Casino Director. My wife, Kinga Adam, has supported me immensely — they say ‘Behind every great man there is a great woman’ and Kinga has been great for me. I also was coached early in my career by Laszlo Meszaros, it was Achim Beiersdorf who gave me the chance to be the best and Gilles Boudias from Monte-Carlo Casino who gave me a lot of advice.
To be consistently so good is outstanding. What do you do in terms of training and practicing your skills to keep your level of expertise so high? I still practice every day, When I was younger, I focused on improving my technical skills and speed. Over the years, I have improved my hospitality skills. It is very important for a great croupier to have great hospitality skills, to read customers quickly and accurately and to be able to adapt to different cultural requirements. You may be on ‘your table’ in ‘your casino’, but the customers sitting at your table may prefer a different experience to what you usually deliver. If you can adapt to their requirements, you can make them feel more comfortable and more ‘at home’ during their time sitting at ‘your table’. That is the kind of attention to detail that comes from experience and practice. It cannot be trained easily. Do the EDC judges get up to any tricks to try and cause you to make a mistake? Yes they do. Mostly on maximum and on call bets. Everybody makes mistakes. You shouldn’t panic about making a mistake. It’s more important to show how you respond and manage the situation when you do make a mistake. Earlier, we chatted about the best advice you can give people who would like to be a future EDC Champion. Are you hoping to enter the EDC 2020? The EDC will be hosted in Monte-Carlo SBM in 2020. I am looking forward to being a judge in Monte-Carlo and to seeing the different croupiers from the other side of the table.
Dealers from Casino Cosmopol, Holland Casino and Olympic provide their insights into their experience of this year’s European Dealer Championships Raymond de Rozario, Holland Casino Rotterdam
Milan Kusovic Casino Cosmopol Gothenburg
How did you find the whole experience from winning through to the final then the Finals? I was very happy to reach the finals again, as a former European champion, I felt extra pressure to perform well and the competition was extra tough with very good competitors.
How did you find the whole experience from winning through to the final then the Finals? There were two very long days in the competition for me, but it was very interesting and exciting. The group play was a bit tough with many participants and judges and my main goal was to pass the group phase and qualify
How did you find the qualifying round at Holland Casino and Grand Final in Tallinn? First round felt good, my Blackjack went much better than during The Dutch finals at Holland Casino and that gave me a confidence boost. The semi’s were more difficult due to tough judges which were hard to impress with my hospitality skills. The Finals felt a bit disappointing, because I couldn’t do that extra thing to stand out for a win and I needed that to beat the guy from Switzerland, who was very impressive at the table. But in the end VERY HAPPY and content with 4th place. It was a difficult competition and I showed that I’m still a contender and that Holland Casino have exceptional dealers. Would you recommend this tournament for every dealer to just go for it or do you recommend some tips for
for a semifinal. I succeeded as 2nd in my group. I was already happy with that result, as it was the first time I competed in the EDC. How did you find the qualifying round at Casino Cosmopol and Grand Final in Tallinn? In the semifinals I was happy with my performances on both tables and came 1st in my group with really high scores. It encouraged me to do my best in the finals. It also went well on both tables. I had good communication with the judges and we had a lot of fun at the table. But in one spin I made two small mistakes on the roulette table and it may have cost me better results, but it is also part of our job. During the last round I was so excited and the only thing I had in mind was “I do not want to come last in the final”. When Per ( Per Jaldung CEO Cosmopol Casinos and ECA Chairman) said that I won 3rd place and that I am also
preparing for the pressure of performing in front of judges? Of course I would recommend this tournament to everyone. The experience is so much fun, meeting colleagues from all over Europe, making friends, seeing how they work. It is not always easy to face pressure, as performing in front of judges required a serious amount of concentration. Not only because you know they look at every move you make, but communicating with them is sometimes very difficult. Some of them donâ€™t speak English very well, making understanding what they want very hard. But even harder is making them understand what you are doing. In your payments, or your hospitality jokes. So I would suggest to prepare for that. Next year the tournament will be held in Monte Carlo, definitely a reason to go for the title one more time. Going to that historical casino place would be very nice, for every dealer, I think. Are you planning to make another attempt at winning the final? I will only go for it if I have the feeling i can still win. If not let the young generation go for it. I hope they will. It is a very a good experience.
the best card handler in this competition, I was so happy and proud of myself, because it is a very great success for a dealer who participates for the first time on EDC. I can say that I had a great time there during those two days. I met a lot of new people and colleagues and we had great fun there. We were supporting each other during the whole competition. I had a very good time on the tables with judges as my best strength is hospitality and I think that they enjoyed too, because we laughed all the time. So for me that was a great experience. Would you recommend this tournament for every dealer to just go for it or do you recommend some tips for preparing for the pressure of performing in front of judges? Yes, the main tip would be: go for it and try to be relaxed and positive with a smile on your face all the time. Try to be as natural as you usually are. Are you planning to make another attempt at winning the final? Oh yes, for sure. That is my next step. Hopefully I will qualify in the Swedish final as 1st or 2nd in order to participate in EDC. Now I have more experience and I think that I am able to make a better result!
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Gristin Rebane Olympic Casino Tallinn How did you find the experience at the EDC? The EDC is a wonderful event for dealers who want to gain experience. It is not just about competing for your own casino, it is also about communicating with others, sharing experience and learning how other dealers do their job. Did you have any memorable highlights from the EDC? I think that the highlight for me was winning one of the side events. It was a big surprise for both me and my co-workers from Estonia. It was a good surprise indeed. And of course, reaching the semi-finals After the first event, I was only 4th in my groupâ€™s ranking, but the next morning I really tried to give my very best and managed to get to top two and reach the semi-finals. Would you recommend this tournament for dealers to participate? Absolutely, it is an incredible Per Jaldung ECA Chairman and Gristin Rebane experience! Making new friends, Olympic Casino Tallinn challenging yourself to see how good you can be and of course everyday customers. If you will be as lucky as I was, you enjoying all the evening events. Moreover, next year will be able to find some participants to support you and the participants will have the chance to visit the lovely create a strategy on how to deal and win. Monaco. Are you planning another attempt to win the EDC? Should participants just go for it or do you have some Yes, definitely! This year it was me and my colleague tips? Aleksandr from Estonia, next year it will probably be Practice! My colleagues and I were practicing almost every someone else from Estonia as we have many great dealers free break before the competition. Also, try to stay calm who deserve a chance to win the EDC, but I definitely want at the tables and think of the judges as if they were your to come back.
Sebastian Salat, CEO, Zitro
Sustainable growth through Innovation
Sebastian Salat, CEO, Zitro chats to Glyn Thomas
ideo Bingo has been very good for Zitro. It has given the company footholds all over the world. However, this past year marks a dramatic change for Zitro, as it steps up into the highly competitive world of slot machines. Company founder, Johnny Ortiz, has taken a one-stop-shop
approach to this, having every aspect of each game created in house. While it may be too early to quantify the results of this dramatic shift , it is clear that Zitro intends to have some of the most ergonomic and immersive slots on the market. Casino Life spoke with ZitroÂ´s Sebastian Salat about his companyÂ´s dynamic recent past and its plans for the future.
Zitro Games recently launched Link King and Link Me and Link Shock that are part of the BRYKE Video Slot product range. Can you provide key details on each game package and why they are proving so popular with Casinos? Link King, Link Me and Link Shock are linked progressive banks that have shown extraordinary results all over the world. Each of these three banks have exclusive features, like the mystery shock prize on Link Shock, or the exciting strawberry-bite feature on Link Me, that make each one unique and a fantastic addition to any gaming layout.
converting Zitro and its complete product portfolio in a Sure Bet, and into a brand that now is on the top of the list of the operators when they plan their purchases. We are registering growth all over the world, in Europe, in the Americas, specifically South America and Mexico, but also in North America where we started with some placements in Miami, in Asia, in Oceania… In other words, 2019 has started great and continues to be.
In addition, they are all multigames, a particularity that all Bryke Video Slot games have in common, and that has caused a tremendous success within the player community. Thanks to its impeccable bank presentation including a panoramic sign with six LCD’s, this product category is a sure eye-catcher on any casino floor.
at shows so far this year such as ICE London, FIJMA and FADJA? The reaction has been fabulous. It still surprises us how fascinated customers are when they step on our booths. For us, that we live and breathe Zitro every day, it has become kind of normal how we have grown in the last few years and in consequence how this growth has changed us for better. For customers that only see us once in a while however, the change is impressive. If you compare our booth at ICE in 2018 with 2019… no more words are needed. We could not be more proud about what we have achieved so far, and are hugely excited about how the future is looking like.
How has 2019 been so for sales, to existing and new customers? In terms of sales and growth at Zitro we are living a sweet moment right now. It is not that long ago when we decided to turn around the company and convert it from the world leader in Video Bingo to a global gaming supplier that would compete with the fiercest competition in the industry. Today, we can proudly state that not only do we have a very vast and deep product portfolio of both Video Bingo and Video Slots, but we have also the back-up of proven and outstanding performance all over the globe,
What has been the reaction from visitors to your booth
How are you attracting new customers? We strongly believe in two things: Products and People. We invest heavily in R&D to be able to provide an excellent, performing and robust product that can
compete with any product of our competition. This is a must-have if you want to be part of the game and we sure have this covered, as it can be seen with our worldwide successes of our Video Bingo and Video Slot products. In addition, what differentiates us from other companies, especially the big corporations, is that we believe in personal relationships. This company is owned and led by one person, Johnny Viveiros Ortiz, and everybody knows that. Customers feel safe knowing that there is an actual person behind a company and that they could call him, and even get answered! This philosophy of being close to
tastes and behaviours. Learning that we use to nurture our database that we use to create new products.
the customer is what we both, as leaders of this company, transmit to our customers, but also to our employees. All of our employees, especially the ones that are in direct contact with customers, follow our lead and make sure to provide the best service in the industry.
expect to partner to online operators licensed in these countries so they can offer our popular games to their players.
What are the standout aspects of Zitro Interactive, Win Up and World of Bingo? Zitro Interactive is growing as Zitro is growing. In our B2B business as content provider for online casinos, we are continuing to expand our agreements to offer our games, now including also Brykeâ€™s Video Slot games, to as many online players as possible. On the other hand, we have expanded our B2C business launching the social gaming application Letâ€™s WinUp beginning of this year. This new social platform includes our best landbased games for the social market and can be played for free. This allows us to stay in direct touch with players and learn from their
Latin American Countries have been looking to regulate online gambling with Columbia and two jurisdictions in Argentina. Are these markets targeted by Zitro Interactive? Just as Zitro is a supplier of slot machines to land based casino operators, Zitro Interactive is a content supplier for online casino operators. The online gambling regulations in Columbia and Argentina are great news to us, and we
What are some of the main features of the new Fusion Slant cabinet? The Fusion Slant cabinet stands out as it occupies less space on the floor than any other comparable slant cabinet. In addition, it has been designed to be extremely comfortable for the player to guarantee a long play. The armrest and button panel area is extra-large and the leg room super ample. Fusion in its slant and upright versions, uses the ultra-powerful TRITON processor in combination with high definition floating monitors that, combined with the robust sound system, creates an impressive visual and audio spectacle that players love. How would you describe your product to someone who
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wanted something similar, only cheaper? Well that is a funny question. I would say that is impossible. Doing what we are doing is very, very cost intensive. Anybody who has visited our technological campus in Barcelona will immediately understand why. At Zitro we do everything ourselves. From the creation of an idea, to the math of the game, but also the graphics, animations and even the music and sounds. Not to talk about the hardware aspects and production processes, where we also have our own engineers and designers. Everything is done internally and if you want the best people to do it, of course it has a cost. But this is why our product is so outstanding! And, even though we invest so heavily for being able to ofer a super-high quality product we are able to offer it at a competitive price. I guess, the reason behind how we do this, is what we call the magic of Zitroâ€Ś Central and South America remains your biggest market for Video Bingo. How is that region is that region responding to your Video Slots? Outstanding. As you mention, we had already a dominant presence in the region. These relations have helped us to be able to penetrate the market with our Bryke Video Slot products fast, however, it is the product itself that is maintaining us there. Customers will give you a chance if you have good relationships, that is true, but unless the product performs, nobody will give you more than that. Our Bryke product however has and is performing so well, that customers are now already repeating purchases. Asia remains a massive sector for the industry, what are your plans for Asia this year? We have been present in Asia, particularly in the Philippines, for several years now, thanks to our Video Bingo product. This has helped us to get to know very well the key-players and the market itself. Now, with our Bryke video Slot products we are ready to open more market in the region. This is why we have expanded our team in
Asia and are now counting with Rodney Hall, an industry veteran, who will lead the efforts of the team locally and help us with our expansion plans. What shows can we expect to see Zitro Games this year? In June we will celebrate our next edition of the renown Zitro Experience in Mexico which will be once again, a super exiting exclusive Zitro customer event, offering the best entertainment, but, more importantly, packed with product launches that we have been preparing for a while now and which we are super-excited to share with our customers. In October we will of course be back In Las Vegas which together with ICE London are the most important trade shows on our calendars. In addition, we have several local participations that we will be announcing as they come closer. What are the main areas of the company that you are making most investment? I said earlier that the two most important things for us are People and Products. Our investments therefore go in the same line of R&D and HR. Also, to sustain our growth, we are putting in place new processes that allow us to respond to a product demand growing every day. We are also increasing our network of regional offices to service customers all over the world. What can we expect from Zitro Games in the years ahead? Even though we have done so much in the last few years, this is just the beginning of what is coming. We will continue to expand our product portfolio and consequently our market share world-wide. We are building a solid company with a long-term vision that has been created to stay. Casino Life would like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for this interview
High Visibility Andrew Cammegh Sales Director Cammegh Ltd chats to Peter White
an a advantaged roulette player beat the house? Yes, and game protection is one of the attractions of Cammegh’s random rotor speed (RRS) wheel, which the company is showing around the major gaming expos this year. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in business this year, Cammegh is increasing its focus on Asia and the United States, while consolidating its gains in Europe. On the home front, Cammegh is increasing its infrastructure at its Ashford headquarters, while weighing the ups and downs of opening an American branch. In other technological developments, it is marketing an HD screen for roulette that displays live video and has the potential of 99 discrete screen layouts. Cammegh’s also keeping its hand in with regard to games themselves, with both Spread Bet Roulette and Spread Bet Blackjack. Given this auspicious anniversary, Publisher Peter White sat down for a candid chat.
What are your future plans for this region? With all of our products we are developing a road map, whether it’s roulette wheels or displays. We will be, during the course of this year, launching new products that are consistent with our core business and the space in which we operate. We will be focusing more on this region in terms of our offer. Certainly, Asia is going to become an increasingly important part of our focus. Many people are saying Japan will rival the gross gaming revenue of Macao. That must be a very exciting market opportunity for Cammegh, although it’s five years out. We all know about Japan as an emerging market. There are still a lot of unknowns and it’s just a matter of watching the space, and making sure that we’re ready to enter the market when we’re clear as to what’s going on.
Happy thirtieth anniversary. Are there any plans for commemorating this milestone? Thank you. There are. The actual anniversary’s in November. We were incorporated in November 1989, so that will be the time. Certainly we will be having a bit of a song and a dance around about that time. [Laughs]
invested heavily in R&D over the last 12 months. All I can say is, yes, there are very exciting new products on the way. We will be leaning heavily on our core business: roulette wheels and the display market…making what we do better, broader, with wider appeal.
You must be delighted with the Random Rotor Speed
What has been the reaction of your customers to the RRS wheel?
incorporated into the Mercury 360, which one must conclude has been developed from your investment in a purpose-built R&D office in 2017. Are there more, exciting new technologies in the pipeline? The RRS, in actual fact, was a concept that we started developing in 2006. Two false starts, two iterations of the product that didn’t work and then in 2017 we launched the latest iteration of RRS as a concept in the manual roulette wheel. This version has answered all of the issues of the previous model and it is absolutely superb. It’s unprecedented. It is an incredibly important product in the live, manual roulette space, with all the wearable technology, the cerebral wheel clocking and these kind of issues. It is a major product for us, so yes, to say that we’re delighted with the success of it is an understatement. It’s a phenomenal product. And it has taken a long time to get to this point. New products in the future? Yes, there are. We’ve
For many operators now, knowing what the risk is to a live, manual wheel, Mercury 360 Random Rotor Speed roulette wheels are no longer a choice. It’s a must-have feature. And that’s the reaction from our customers. I wish I could share the reaction: We have a non-disclosure [agreement] with all of our customers. In terms of our market share and the wheels that we represent, RRS is now about 40 percent. Of those that aren’t RRS, the remaining 60 percent of the wheels that we sell, almost 100 percent of those are RRS-ready, whereby they can have the random-rotor-speed upgrade during the life of the wheel. The conversation has changed. When it comes to supplying roulette wheels, they want to be future-proofed in this space and, with all of the wheels we’re able to produce, we can offer that upgrade path during the lifetime of the wheel. So it’s a very important product to carry, as it is evidently to our customers.
Over the last of couple of years there’s been expansion at Cammegh’s Ashford headquarters. What has the latest round of new buildings provided the company? We’ve increased our capacity in mechanical engineering, so our machine shop has increased in space. We are about to invest in more machines and equipment to further increase our capacity. We’ve built a new sales and administration suite, which is where all of our technical support, telephone hotlines, our research and development team, and sales are all housed in a brandnew facility, which really helps in terms of communication between teams. It’s a really nice, airy place to work. It’s had a very positive impact on staff and on the general working conditions. It’s helping us become a lot more fluid in terms of internal communication, product development, support—it’s been fantastic. Over the last five to seven years, Cammegh has had a strong, steady, continuous growth in North America. Do you foresee the company setting up an office in the U.S.? Yes, I do. As an ambition it’s very real. We would like to have an office in North America, serving our growing number of customers there. There are some barriers, some licensing issues, some associated costs. So we just have to understand what the chances are in terms of delivering on a U.S. office. We have been looking at it but perhaps we’re not quite ready yet for that step. Do you have any personal highlights of the last 12 to 24 months? It’s not a moment but I’d say if I was to look back at the last two years, the most dramatic change in terms of what we offer is the RRS: the way operators’ perception of this technology is completely different to what it was when we launched the third wheel. There was much questioning and concern, and some anxiety about the player perception. This is dissipating month after month and it is so evident in what we’re producing. I wouldn’t say it’s a personal highlight: it’s the company, the team that we have here that’s put this product together. It’s a triumph for everybody. It’s a very significant change in the security of live roulette. What are amongst your prime objectives for the year ahead?
We talked a bit about product development and our roadmap for new products, and over the next 12 months we’ve got some exciting new projects coming. To see those new products delivered would be a primary objective for those working here. Obviously, continuing our growth in market share is never going to go away as a principal objective and to help us get there, to help us achieve those goals, we’re going to do it by this continued investment in brilliant new products. Do you spend time on your business travels visiting casinos, and viewing gaming attractions and EGMs? Yeah, I do. It’s really important that we understand the market that we’re building our products for. In the properties where our products have been installed, it’s always good to see the presence that they have in different casinos. Obviously, we need to keep an eye on what other products are doing well, new innovation that’s out there. So yeah, it’s an essential part of the job. Can you explain to our readers the latest Cammegh billboard displays and controllers? The billboard is a highly versatile product. It’s almost too much to explain in the context of an interview. But it can stream live video. It can store up to 99 different screen layouts. You can customise the graphics. We’ve got a whole host of features that help with security— monitoring the rotor speed, the ball speed, there are indicators on the screen to aid the operator. Obviously the graphics are pinsharp. We use very high-end panels. The department that is dedicated to the customisation of graphics is always looking for new and exciting ways to present statistics, game results and other features. Compatibility with third-party systems is essential and we work with Angel Eye, with BTech, with Scientific Games in terms of the integration of the baccarat displays. It’s a really complex product that excels in delivering game results to players. The launch of the Spread Bet Big Wheel at ICE in London was a big hit. Can you explain to our readers, who might not be familiar with this impressive feat of engineering, how it allows customers
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to play a condensed version of roulette by betting on the spreads? It’s more like you’ve got a custom car at a car show. We have a customer for it. We also have Spread Bet Roulette. That has been very successfully adopted by U.K. operators. We’re now supplying roulette wheels and displays to Grosvenor’s. With every wheel and display we put in we’re going to be putting Spread Bet Roulette on their
The investment that we’ve made in R&D, the recruitment that we’ve put into our team—support, the sales team, R&D—the investment on manufacturing techniques and the use of materials. There’s such a commitment and drive to maintain steps ahead of our competitors. It is really thrilling to see what is happening in the speed of new development with absolute emphasis on quality, quality, quality. It’s a very exciting time to be here.
live tables. We’ve got it on every table in Aspinalls. Les Ambassadeurs in Mayfair have got it on every live table now. There are other operators in Mayfair who are about to go live with it. Spread Bet Roulette has become a really important part of our product range with the unique way it smashes through the 35-to-1 glass ceiling on the traditional game.
Where we’ve taken the roulette wheel in the last 30 years is incredible. The changes even into what is essentially a well-known and described product, we’ve taken into completely new areas of precision engineering, accuracy, scalability, the materials that we use, the various features in terms of data export, the reliability of both the electromechanical components in the product, the innovation with RRS. It is a different product to what it was 30 years ago and it is serving a different market compared to 30 years ago. In terms of security, the awareness amongst those who are looking to gain an advantage in terms of wearable technology, various clocking devices, as well as the cerebral wheel clockers, to protect operators with innovation such as the various mechanical features like RRS, we have taken into a new area which is going to uphold this brilliant game for years to come.
Are there any other products that you have that are not always in booths at shows? We show all of our products on our exhibition booths. We’ve gone live with Spread Bet Blackjack here in the U.K. We’ve also got a trial for that in Australia which is going very well. There are a few other products that we sell, that we support our customers with, that we are less well-known for. In the 30 years that we’ve been operating there’s never been a better time to be working at Cammegh.
Richard Marcus Casino Table Game Protection Consultant
Richard Marcus, Casino Table Game Protection Consultant and Trainer, chats to Peter White
et a thief to catch a thief,â€? runs the old adage and casinos looking to protect the integrity of their table games turn to former casino cheat Richard Marcus, now a thoroughly respectable game-security specialist. Marcus got his start as a dealer, performing false baccarat shuffles in Las Vegas over 40 years ago, back when game protection was far removed from its current sophistication, although he is skeptical of some of the purported technical improvements, such as biometric recognition.
This experience enables Marcus to put his casino clients inside the mind of a cheater. Unlike many casinos, Marcus makes clear-cut distinctions between cheats, card counters and edge sorters. His views make interesting reading and, indeed, he has put them into a book: American Roulette. Marcus may be reformed but he is unrepentant, even saying that the adrenalin rush from going up against the mighty casinos in a David vs Goliath-like fashion, and winning, was the highest thrill of his life, but he adds that that period of his cheating casinos is just one chapter in his
life, and he would never be tempted to rewrite it. Marcus started as a suburban New Jersey kid who fought the boredom of long car trips by making bets with his parents what color of car they would pass next. After losing his entire baseball card collection in amateur gambling with his pals, Marcus moved on to playing craps during downtime in school. Gambling was more of a draw than schoolwork, so he dropped out and started playing the ponies. He took a $3,000 score and parlayed into relocation to Las Vegas—and life was never the same after that. Could we commence this interview with a brief history of you and how your journey has taken you to becoming a highly regarded International Casino Table Game Protection Consultant and Trainer? Being a game protection trainer was an even bigger surprise to me than becoming a professional casino cheat! It started with the publication of my book “American Roulette” (“The Great Casino Heist” in the UK), which chronicled my 25-year career cheating casinos all over the world. Then I was asked by Willy Allison to be the lead speaker at the 2007 World Game Protection Conference, which I did. It was the first time a large game protection oriented audience was addressed by a real professional casino cheat, and while I was there, casino executives were keen to chat with me as they had never heard about cheating first-hand and wanted to know more. One of them asked if I would come to his property and train his table games and surveillance staffs, and soon others followed. So that very first speaking engagement led to a career teaching casino staffs all about cheating and how to defend
themselves while engaged in their cheating operation. Most importantly, I can show the tells of high-level professional casino cheats that if known by the floor staffs and surveillance departments, would afford a much higher chance of catching on to these sophisticated cheats before it’s too late. Virtually all professional scams are discovered after the fact, after the money has been lost to the cheats. The other training consultants do not have this knowledge and experience because they’ve never done it. They generally learned what they know about serious casino-cheat moves by reading and seeing surveillance video. It’s not the same as doing it. When you have done thousands of casino-cheating moves, you see and hear how the floor staffs react. You see what they do wrong and often it’s everything. I like to say that when you learn game protection from the others, it’s the equivalent of learning how to fly a plane in a simulator. When you learn it from me, it’s learning from the Captain of a 747! Is card counting cheating if it’s done with just the players intellectual ability? Absolutely it’s not cheating. By definition, cheating is when the player alters the deal or the outcome of a game or a bet. Card-counting is just using intellectual skill to gain a legitimate advantage. On the other hand, what Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun did to win tens of millions in London and US casinos, which is called edge-sorting, is indeed cheating. Not because practicing edge-sorting by itself is cheating, but rather Ivey and Sun conned the casinos into altering the deal of the game for them to be able to do the edgesorting. That is what makes it cheating in my opinion.
against it. What makes you, as an ex-professional casino cheat, different from other game protection training consultants? The biggest difference is just that: my having been a highly skilled international casino cheat. I am the only current trainer in the world who actually was a professional cheat. I was also once a casino dealer, so I know the game protection procedures and how to thwart them. As a dealer in Las Vegas back in 1977, I actually performed the infamous baccarat false-shuffle scam which made international headlines thirty years later when the Tran Organization pulled off a mega-version of the same scam. I have an extensive knowledge base that other consultants do not. I can teach the nuances of it all. I can teach the psychology of cheating, how and why it works. I can teach how casino cheats communicate amongst
How come you have chosen this life of a trainer and speaker as opposed to safe regular pay checks from employment at a major Resort Casino where your skills can be employed in surveillance? LOL! Are you kidding me! There’s not a casino in the world that would hire me as a full-time employee with constant access to sensitive areas such as the surveillance rooms. Despite my long service as a trainer and consultant as well as the educational books I have written for casino staffs, casinos still would fear letting me into a key position. And I do understand that. Besides, I love what I’m doing anyway. Alternatively, you could also still put your skills and knowledge into action in a casino, or has facial recognition and player tracking made it too difficult to maintain any kind of income with the obvious very real repercussions of jail time?
logic because the best casino-cheat moves I’ve ever done completely defied logic and at times appeared stupid. That’s why they worked! And equally important as having the balls and the brains is not having the greed. You gotta know when to stop! So many illicit operations, casino-cheating or not, that have been so carefully planned and carried out to perfection only come apart because the perpetrators get greedy and don’t know when to stop.
Actually, I do not believe facial recognition is that effective for identifying known casino cheats entering or moving about inside casinos, especially if these cheats take measures to avoid detection. There are just too many people inside crowded casinos, moving in all different directions. But this has nothing to do with why I no longer cheat casinos. Doing just that, I have to admit, was the greatest part of my life. The sheer fun and adrenalin rushes of getting it over on the casinos was incredible, and I have no regrets about it. However, that was just a part of my life, and once I decided enough was enough, I quit doing it. And as great as it was, I do not miss it for a second. That’s because I’m very happy teaching casino personnel my knowledge on the subject. What are the qualities of a professional cheat? This is a question I am frequently asked, and the answer is straightforward, although finding a person with all the qualities is very difficult. There are three: balls; brains; lack of greed. (If you can’t print “balls”, maybe “lack of fear” instead). Many people have two of the three but not all three. Of course there was immense pressure in doing what I did all those years, not only having to worry about getting caught and the consequences of that but as well making sure of the precision of the operation and that each member of the cheat-team was performing his or her role perfectly. Then comes the requisite of being able to plan and design moves and be able to carry them out. You have to be imaginative and you have to be able to think outside of
The term is ‘cheat’ for those that have a system, is that fair? Just look at traders in the financial markets that involve multimilliondollar highspeed predictive systems to provide them an edge. Cheating, whether it be in casinos or on Wall Street, is better described as those who have a system or method that is against the rules or illegal. So within that classification it is fair. But those who have a system or method such as card counting in casinos or high analytical skills and systems for predicting profitable investments on Wall Street are not cheating in any circumstance. June sees your Game Protection Training Seminar in London. Can you tell us what you have planned for your event at Grosvenor Victoria Casino 27th June? I will present all the top cheating and advantage-play methods currently in vogue in UK casinos. The most cheated games in the UK are roulette (by far) and punto banco, so I will concentrate highly on them. I will also speak in depth of the psychology used by top professional cheats to get cheat moves IMPOSSIBLE to get paid GET paid. Casinos all over the world are generally ignorant to that and have little idea how it works. People protecting the games often don’t realize that it’s not just about the cheating move and how it’s done. It’s more about how it’s sold. Just like packaging consumer products with designs appealing to the eye, professional casino cheats know how to make their moves look much better than they actually are. Equally important to the UK casinos is the advent of visual ballistics cheating that targets electronic table games (ETGs). I will do a segment on that as well as another on high-tech card-marking and card-marking
detection, featuring a video demonstration by Terry Roses, the world’s go-to-guy when it comes to detecting marked cards. What are the key benefits they will gain from attending? My goal is to make attendees think like a cheat for a day. Not like a surveillance person. I do this by having the attendees participate actively in the seminar. There’s no sitting and watching videos of cheat moves, no PowerPoint presentations. Everything is hands-on at the tables where we actually form cheat teams and do all the moves together, with all the set-ups and psychology used in the process. This technique really makes the attendees understand how it all works and they leave with much more insight than they had before, which will increase their chances of catching on to casino scams BEFORE the cheats get out the door with the cash. And, to boot, the active audience participation can be a lot of fun as well and keeps the attendees interested, which is conducive to retaining what is taught. And of course to lighten things up a bit, I will tell a funny story or two about my experiences in London’s casinos. Justification is always a challenge for any employee with their bosses. What advice would you provide to those that want to attend but need to persuade their boss? Get those bosses to go online, read my game protection page at http://richardmarcusbooks.com/protection.php, then have a look at the recommendations on my Linkedin page, and most important, read the articles I have posted on Linkedin. If the bosses do this and still don’t think the price of my training seminar is worth it, I give my tongue to the cat. That is a French expression for giving up.
This is not your first interview hence the reason we are sure that some of these questions you will not have been asked before in print, but more likely face to face. We would appreciate your advice for those of our wider readership that enjoy travel and the facilities of Resort Casinos and who like to try their luck on the tables and at the slots as the best mind set to have when in the chair? Well, the best mind set to have sitting at the tables or machines depends on what your goals are. For those who are not visiting casinos as any kind of profit-making enterprise such as advantage play or cheating, I would simply say the best state of mind is to be relaxed and have fun, and make sure the casino you are visiting has the amenities that can help put you in that state of mind. Please can you provide readers how they can Register for your events and also find out more about you and your Training Events? People can both register and see the training program at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/program-registrationlondon-open-casino-game-seminar-june-marcus/ If they are interested in reading about me or in following my training events, both my website and Linked page have lots of information. And of course, there are the three books I have written on gambling and cheating in casinos: “The Great Casino Heist” (“American Roulette” in the US), which is the story of my 25-year professional casinocheating career; “The World’s Greatest Gambling Scams,” which was the inspiration for the 2006 UK Challenge TV series of the same name; and “Dirty Poker,” all about cheating in both brick and mortar and online casinos.
Dreaming of Japan
Masahiro Terada, Integrated Resort Team Leader/Senior Manager, PwC Japan, chats with Damien Connelly
apan will soon announce the winners of the three Integrated Resort (IR) licenses. Japan is on everyone’s radar because of its large gambling market (it has an estimated 60% of the world’s gaming machines), plus the fact there are no IRs or casinos in a country that is the world’s third largest economy by GDP. The three IR licenses mirror nicely the ‘three arrows’ of the macroeconomic stimulus actions put in place by Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. Called ‘Abenomics’ these Keynesian policies have addressed certain issues facing the Japanese economy. Abenomics has been mostly successful. The push by Japan for greater tourism inflows will benefit the Japanese economy. Such tourism Yen will help drive employment among certain segments of the population, attract more foreigners both as tourists and as migrant workers, increase per capita GDP in the areas surrounding each IR, positively impact private consumption and, in a small way, help increase Japan’s inflation rate. If Japan gets its IR fiscal regulations correct, continuous reinvestment in the IRs and the ongoing benefits to each prefecture will further boost local economies; Tunica in the U.S. is a perfect example of a long-term, sustainable uplift in a local economy brought about by licensing IRs. The likely winners of the three licenses (see Casino Life issue 127) have significant populations and can have a disproportionately positive impact on both their prefecture and national economies. The issues surrounding the three Japanese IRs are considerable, as are the rewards for the license winners. Casino Life met with Masahiro Terada at G2E Asia in Macau to discuss the progress of IR development in Osaka and in Japan. Following our meeting in London, it is great to chat with you again Masahiro. Could you explain your role at PwC? Since March 2018, I am responsible for the pitch by Osaka Prefecture to win one of the three Integrated Resorts licensed in Japan. Osaka Prefecture is one of the strongest candidates bidding to win an IR license. Right now, I am managing all the preparation for the RFCs and RFPs.
Masahiro Terada, Integrated Resort Team Leader/ Senior Manager, PwC Japan
In the first tranche, there will be three licenses for IRs in Japan. Your role advising the Osaka government means Osaka is hoping to win a license? Of course. In November 2018, it was decided at the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions that the World Expo 2025 will take place in Osaka, Kansai, Japan. The Kansai region had ¥1.3 trillion (US$11.6 billion) tourism spend in 2017. Osaka is the largest city within the Kansai region and in 2017 attracted 40% of all foreign visitors to Japan. Additionally, our IR development is one of the strong strategies to develop a new business district in Osaka. Are you experienced working with IRs? Yes. From 2011 to 2014, I was President of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. in the Philippines. ‘Tiger Resort’ is the company that operates Okada Manila. I was responsible for managing many of the major elements of that project including selecting local architects and the general construction contractors, as well as negotiating contracts. I was also involved in negotiations with potential hotel operators and managed negotiations with high-end retailers, such as
Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Armani. My team and I established the on-site operational development plans for the casino, food and beverage, as well as the wellness and spa elements. During my time as President of Tiger Resort I developed local relationships with key stakeholders, including investors, politicians and the regulator. I worked closely with PAGCOR on the master plan for Entertainment City Manila. Plus I helped setup ECEMI (Entertainment City Estate Management, Inc.), which includes property representatives from each IR operator. I served as Vice Chairman of ECEMI, which was created to resolve common issues among the operators within Entertainment City Manila. All of this was very valuable experience for helping me lead the Osaka Prefecture pitch for an IR license. Japan has no IRs or casinos, so key Japanese stakeholders have no experience to launch an IR venue from scratch. The experience I gained with Tiger Resort is assisting our Osaka pitch so we (hopefully) win and open a world-class IR. What brought you into the role of President of Tiger Resort? At first, I wanted to gain experience of the IR and gaming industry. It is a really fun and exciting industry. Also, the population of Japan is slowly declining. This will slow Japan’s economic value and volume drivers in the future. In the meantime the Chinese economy is growing. If we look at partnership opportunities, IRs are among the best value and volume economic drivers that can benefit all parties. Japan can use world-leading IRs to attract and entertain more foreign tourists while also leveraging these IRs to grow our tourism economy. What do you think Japanese IRs will be like? The key word is ‘localisation’. International companies have entered Japan and learned they need to adapt their operations to meet the Japanese culture, traditions, demands and expectations. McDonald’s and Disneyland are good examples. These companies brought great products and services to Japan and also learned many things from operating in Japan. In Japan, McDonald’s even changed the colour of its trademark from that used in the U.S. So international IR operators will come to Japan, and they will create new character for the Japanese market while also benefiting and learning by operating in Japan. Casino Life has spoken with different people who express concerns the Japanese government will place restrictions on international IR operators especially given Japan has no direct experience of IRs. Are such concerns realistic in your opinion?
I think central government has difficulty imagining the first stage of the development and operation of these IRs, which is understandable as we have no IRs or even casinos in Japan currently. The early stages will require education of Japanese stakeholders to ensure everyone understands more clearly the support required to make our IRs the best in the world. This phase will require using international and experienced IR management and staff. Of course, the IR operators must hire local people. Also, there is the issue of personal reputation risk. At this moment, it is not honourable in Japan to say you work in a pachinko parlour. I was pleasantly surprised during my time in the Philippines that people actively want to work in IRs there; it is considered an honourable job and place of work. But back in Japan, my wife could not say to our Japanese friends that I worked for an IR operator, even though I was President and Tiger Resort’s parent is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. So there are issues that require careful management in advance in order to minimise them, such as educating people that IRs are an honourable place to work to ensure the first Japanese IRs can recruit high quality Japanese people at all levels. Do many Japanese people visit IRs in places like Macau and Las Vegas, or that is not so common a vacation option for Japanese people? Recently Las Vegas has benefited a little from more coverage of IRs and casinos in mainstream Japanese media. We have also seen one of the most popular manga series, Detective Conan, use Singapore as its first location outside of Japan in its latest release. This animated cartoon used the very iconic building Marina Bay Sands as a backdrop. Japanese people see this kind of media coverage and a small percentage decide to visit an IR to experience the wide-ranging amenities and entertainment offered. However, IRs are still mostly unknown in Japan. You mentioned Marina Bay Sands and how iconic a building that is. Are you excited at the prospects for the building designs for the Japanese IRs given your experience with both Okada Manila and helping to master plan Entertainment City Manila? Very much so. Japan has challenges given we have earthquakes, heavy rainfall and typhoons. Design-wise we are expecting iconic buildings. We certainly have the expertise to build structurally strong buildings that have survived for hundreds of years. We look forward to having iconic buildings for our Japanese IRs and to establishing an industry that provides great entertainment and fun for patrons and that will prosper for hundreds of years.
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The State of German Gambling Legislation Overview, Update and Outlook By Dr. Matthias Spitz and Jessica Maier, LL.M., MELCHERS Law Firm, Germany
ermany has been an attractive gambling market for a long time. This does not come as a surprise considering its population of roughly 83 Million and economic strength. However, the legendary German efficiency, which is sometimes attributed to Germany, seems to be lacking considerably when it comes to (online) gambling regulation. The gaming industry will primarily have come across Germany as a complicated jurisdiction in which EU law and constant monitoring of regulatory developments play very important roles.
The following is intended to shed some light on how gambling is regulated in Germany as well as on the trends and ongoing political reform discussions. The article will briefly touch on licences available in the land-based sector, but will focus on the regulation and reforms affecting online operations, specifically online sports betting and online casino.
Overview In Germany, gambling regulation has been made subject to state law. In theory, each of the sixteen German states therefore can make its own decisions on how to regulate
Author information and contact details: Dr. Matthias Spitz, Senior Partner of MELCHERS
Dr. Matthias Spitz is a Senior Partner of MELCHERS Law Firm and specialises in the area of gaming law with a focus on European law and administrative matters. He is an expert in AML, advertising regulation and the implementation of new gambling products on the German market. Experienced in communication with regulators and administrative procedures, Matthias not only offers traditional legal services such as litigation but also lobbying advice and support. Since 2013, he has been a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL). Matthias frequently publishes articles on regulatory developments in leading industry journals. Matthias can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org His LinkedIn profile is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-matthias-spitz025b8935/
Jessica Maier, LL.M., Partner with MELCHERS
Jessica Maier, LL.M. is a Partner with MELCHERS Law Firm and advises on all aspects of gambling law with a focus on regulation, licensing and compliance. She has been involved in regulatory due diligence reviews in the context of corporate acquisitions and also supports clients in competition and antitrust related issues as well as in administrative court proceedings or out-ofcourt negotiations and interactions. She has provided guidance to clients in various licensing proceedings and advises clients on the regulatory developments in Germany which impact on their business. Like all members of the MELCHERS Gaming & Betting Law Practice Group Jessica regularly contributes to gambling law and industry publications. She is a member of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) and Global Gaming Women (GGW). Jessica can be contacted at: email@example.com Her LinkedIn profile is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-maier-5263b6a8/
gambling for its respective territory. At the moment, the German states regulate gambling by means of a so-called Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which each German state has implemented into its respective state law. The intention of this Interstate Treaty, which was enacted in 2012, was to create uniformity between the states with regard to the cornerstones of gambling regulation. It provides for a state-monopoly on the operation of (online) lotteries (private companies may only apply for licences allowing them to act as brokers for the state-lottery companies), sets certain standards how the states should regulate their bricks-and-mortar casinos (which, depending on the state, will be state-run or can be privately-run) and gaming halls and prohibits online games of chance with the exception of horse race betting and sports betting. In a sports betting context, the Interstate Treaty of 2012 introduced a licensing opportunity for the first time after the German states had been forced to do so following a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which had held the previous state-monopoly to contravene EU law (Carmen Mediacase). Theoretically this licensing process should have led to the issuance of 20 sports betting licences, which would have been valid in all German states, covering online and land-based operations. The licensing process, however, failed and was rightly criticised from the start – as was ultimately confirmed by the CJEU in the Incecase in February 2016. The CJEU held that the sports betting licensing process had been designed in a non-
Treaty objectives) and inconsistent (e.g. because there is no scientific evidence to support that land-based slot machines are less dangerous than online slots, and yet, gaming halls can be licensed whereas online casinos currently cannot). Nevertheless, Germany’s highest administrative court, the Federal Administrative Court, handed down a judgment on 26 October 2017 stating that the prohibition of online gambling and advertising, as it is currently set out in the current Interstate Treaty, neither violates national constitutional law nor EU law. This has to be taken seriously by online operators, despite the judgment arguably applying an incorrect interpretation of CJEU jurisprudence and a constitutional complaint having been filed against the judgment.
transparent and discriminatory manner and criticised the German states for not having introduced a licensing system fit to overcome the unlawful state-monopoly. It confirmed that EU based sports betting operators could not be blamed for operating without a German licence in such an unlawful legal environment and thereby made perfectly clear that reforms of the current regulation were needed.
this time one that will not be limited to 20 licences. The authorities in charge even intend to publish details of the application requirements ahead of the law entering into force. This is highly unusual and it still remains to be seen whether this new licensing process can resolve the problems German sports betting regulation has been facing, not least since the conditions of the future licences must currently be expected to be unviable. Some of these restrictions include: limitations to the permissible betting product range (severely impacting on popular forms of in-play betting), a 1,000 EUR monthly stake limit and a prohibition of parallel online casino operations. Such restrictions would not only lead to significant disadvantages of licensed operators but also mean that certain licence restrictions will (need to) be challenged for not being sufficiently based on empiric evidence. It further is unclear how long licences, once granted, will actually be valid as the Third Amendment
Relevance of EU law The Carmen Media and Ince cases referenced above already show the impact EU law has had (and still has) on German sports betting regulation. But also in the online casino sector, operators have relied on the freedom to provide services (Art. 56 TFEU) under EU law to justify their operations on the German market, arguing that the prohibition impacting on online games of chance is disproportionate (as it is unfit to achieve the Interstate
Update: The Third Amendment Treaty Over the past years, Germany’s gambling politics have been characterised by a back-and-forth and an ongoing dispute between the German states regarding the extent to which reforms should be agreed. In March 2019, the Prime Ministers of the German then signed an amendment to the current Interstate Treaty, which is supposed to result in the so-called Third Amendment Treaty following notification to the European Commission and ratification in each of the sixteen state parliaments. If the Third Amendment Treaty can be ratified before 31 December 2019, it is to enter into force on 1 January 2020. The novelty of the Third Amendment Treaty is that it will introduce a new sports betting licensing process –
Treaty has been referred to as only a temporary, transitional solution by a number of politicians including the host of the last Prime Ministers’ conference who mentioned this in a press conference when announcing that the German states had agreed on the Third Amendment Treaty. The possible transitional nature of the Third Amendment Treaty is also relevant in the discussion regarding the potential future introduction of online casino licensing opportunities. At the moment, the Third Amendment Treaty is supposed to be valid until 30 June 2021 (but extendable until 30 June 2024) and maintains the prohibition impacting on online casino. A number of German states, most prominently the state of Hesse (who will be in charge of conducting the new sports betting licensing process under the Third Amendment Treaty) and the state of Schleswig-Holstein, however, are pushing for decisions on what the future online casino regulation will look like after 30 June 2021 to be made sooner rather than later. The reason for this is that these states would like to see a fundamental change in Germany’s gambling regulation. They would like to introduce online casino licensing. That said, the state of Schleswig-Holstein actually is experienced in regulating online sports betting as well as online casino already: Back in 2012, when the current Interstate Treaty was enacted, only 15 of the 16 German states originally formed part of the Interstate Treaty. The state of Schleswig-Holstein initially pursued its own gambling regulation allowing for online gaming licences (sports betting and online casino) to be issued. Due to a change
longest until 30 June 2021. Although the group of states considering alternatives to a total prohibition of online casinos is slowly growing, some “hard-liner” states have not moved an inch in the discussions and could remain opposed to the idea. Still, it will be interesting to see if the revalidation of Schleswig-Holstein online casino licences might impact on the further discussions e.g. if the other German states can consider the regulation to be a success and provide for a possible blueprint for future online casino regulation.
in the Schleswig-Holstein state government, SchleswigHolstein then acceded to the Interstate Treaty already in 2013. However, a total of 48 licences for the operation of sports betting and/or online casino gaming were issued during the time the Gambling Act of Schleswig-Holstein was in force. All of these licences have meanwhile expired but in an attempt to maintain their regulated market, Schleswig-Holstein has introduced a transitional arrangement for sports betting operations in SchleswigHolstein. With the blessing of the other 15 German states (received ahead of the last Prime Ministers’ conference in March 2019), it also introduced a state law, which revalidates formerly granted SchleswigHolstein online casino licences. Both the sports betting transitional arrangement and the revalidated online casino licences shall remain valid until another licence is granted on the basis of German law which is applicable to Schleswig-Holstein. They are supposed to be valid
introducing a state monopoly or an open online casino licensing system. It even seems possible that Germany could split into states, who introduce online casino licensing, and states, who do not introduce online casino licensing. From an industry’s perspective, it is positive in this context that the group of states in favour of an introduction of online casino licensing opportunities (or at least alternatives to the total prohibition) is slowly growing and consists of states which cover rather interesting parts of Germany in terms of population and wealth. The upcoming Prime Ministers conferences should bring more clarity. The next Prime Ministers’ conference is scheduled for 6 June 2019.
Outlook Despite the many remaining question marks on the new sports betting licensing process and conditions as well as a return to a state-monopoly not having been completely ruled out (however unlikely it may be politically) by the Germany states, it is clear that there is a lot less controversy between the states on how they intend to regulate sports betting than on how a future online casino regulation should look like. For the time being, the German states expect that the Third Amendment Treaty will enter into force as planned, so that a change of the law impacting on online casino could only take effect as of 1 July 2021. As indicated earlier, the available potential regulatory options are, however, already being discussed now and the advocates for an introduction of online casino licensing are pushing for key decisions on the way forward being made as soon as possible. The options, which are currently being discussed between the states, range from suggestions of simply sticking to the prohibition of online casino to
*The authors would like to acknowledge Lisa Ruess’s contribution to this article. Her input has been invaluable.
Blockchain Now and the Future
By: Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot
rust between parties is expensive when it comes to the ownership of things that have intrinsic value (e.g. house, money, contract), and that is why we pay money to create ledgers by professionals, i.e. accountants, lawyers. When we want to find the ownership of things or when we need to make a change to that ownership, we go to speak with the professionals and have them modify the records for us. This can be an expensive and timeconsuming process. In the internet era, there is a simpler way to record ownership in a trusted and immutable way. This method is called “blockchain”. The concept is very simple: the ownership is recorded on the internet or intranet in blocks of data (hence “block”) bound to each other (hence “chain”) using cryptographic principles and so it is immutable. To further ensure the data is agreed by everyone, the same blocks are recorded by everyone in that network at the same time. Unless the bad guys simultaneously hack all computers on that network at once, the data is safe from being altered by unauthorized persons.
new era. “CryptoKitties” is a digital pet living on the internet and the ownership can be traded between owners. This is the first time that the blockchain is used to record more than just a “bit” … but a full digital image that has more than a “bit” (I know some tech-savvy readers will challenge me on my wordings). Six months ago, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Global Education also announced the development of a similar concept to authenticating, sharing, and rights management of data for their digital content. We can foresee a lot more digital content, i.e. gaming avatars, digital music, digital content etc., will be “living” on the blockchain
Bitcoin is the most well-known product powered by blockchain technology. You can think of Bitcoin simply as a digital “bit” on the internet. All of them are identically the same and each “bit” is assigned to an owner periodically on a “first come, first served” basis according to the rules written into the codes. Those owners are better known as “miners” – people who spend their time solving the mathematical equations that allow these bits to be verified. The “bit” owner can decide when and where to transfer the “bit” that he or she owns, just like how they transfer money in or out of their bank account. Most of the so-called crypto-currencies nowadays work pretty much the same way except that the ledgers are managed by different groups of networked computers. This is the first generation of blockchain technology. In December 2017, Axiom Zen, a Canadian technology company successfully launched a product called “CryptoKitties” and brings the blockchain technology into a
in the near future once the technology become matured. Blockchain’s core value is the automation of trust between parties. It can significantly reduce the operational friction required to validate ownership, identity and contractual terms by allowing participants to interact directly with one another without someone in the middle providing verification. Most importantly, this technology creates a new asset class on the internet and these assets are well-adapted for fast and free transfer. Bitcoin is the most well-known product powered by blockchain. As the technology advances, the product can be way more than Bitcoin (a simple currency) but also a piece of music, a book, a work of digital art, or even a full-size HD video. These newly available assets will impact how business is done today on the internet - from finance, merchandise distribution management to the internet sharing economy.
Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot
Manage this by Robert Brassai
Profit Based Management in Integrated Casino Resorts
asinos, as a physical space offering games of chance from the very beginning included certain amenities to look after the most basic needs of their customers. Players while spending their time and money on the tables or slots, needed a drink and sometimes food to keep going. They had to use the bathroom or eventually depending on the casino’s location and the length of their gambling session, needed a place to sleep. The high profitability of casino games meant that the house was happy to take care of these needs of most of their deserving patrons for free. Thus they built bars and restaurants near their gaming floors and eventually hotels next to the casino as well. These amenities in the beginning served the active gambling population only. But given the uneven flow of customers and the even availability of these services, casinos started looking for ways of using their unoccupied restaurant seats and hotel rooms to generate income from a non-gambling clientele as well. In many places filling these rooms was almost impossible given the lack of touristic appeal of the places
Vegas, apart from Robert Brassai the gambling appeal, is one of the most recognized leisure destinations in the world. People make their way to Vegas and other similar centers of entertainment to celebrate a birthday, see a theatre show they couldn’t catch elsewhere, get married, or simply get away from the everyday treadmill. Thus, ICRs became a business model and a very successful one at that. During the past 30 years a lot has changed in the world. People value different things in life than their parents, technological advances are changing the very fabric
where casinos were allowed to operate. When you don’t have a market, the easiest way to success is creating one. And just like that, integrated casino resorts were born. These resorts were still selling gambling as their principle activity, but in the need of optimization they were marketed to a wide segment of customers, from families to weekend party goers alike. What we know today as Las
of society. The way ICRs do business has also changed to cater to new demographics. The below chart shows the relative importance of the main income generating elements of resorts over the years. These trends are present all over the world but in differing proportions. While the importance of the gambling element is decreasing seemingly, the actual gambling income has grown exponentially over the years, only the income generated by the ICR’s hotel, F&B and other components grew much faster. With the exception of a few companies, in most resorts these profit centers tend to be run separately and with very little regard to the interest of the other departments or the business as a whole. The KPIs used to measure the efficiency of the different elements vary widely. While the hotel manager will mostly look at RevPAR, on the casino floor GGR will be king and the guys in the restaurants will worry about their food cost and table
occupancy rates. This is all well on a normal day at the resort, but what happens on a busy weekend? Who gets to stay in the rooms? Who has priority for getting a table at the signature restaurant? The interests of the different departments will collide, and conflict will be born. Ultimately, it’s the customer who will pay the price for the lack of interdepartmental alignment. Enter profit-based management. The easiest way to solve these conflicts of interest is a collective will to base measurements on profit generated at the different points of sales and by different customer profiles/segments. While the above graph shows the relative earning potential of the departments, it doesn’t tell us how much is left from these incomes after paying salaries and other costs related to their operations. The profitability of the
different segments to the operation as a whole will differ widely. While a slot department can easily retain over 70% of their GGR as departmental profit, the flow through in a typical F&B operation will be around 30%. The profitability figures are readily available and are part of the P&L of each department. It is the interest of the resort as a whole to adopt a profit-based approach. This approach in most cases will have to be implemented by the higher management of the resort as it works against the basic instincts and interests of the different department heads. A serious education effort from management all the way to line staff is needed to convince people that the interest of the whole resort as a business comes before the interest of the departments, that the whole is actually more than the sum of its parts.
Biography Robert Brassai, consultant, strategist and gaming expert. Robert is the founding principal of the gaming consulting firm “Sense4gaming.” The firm takes on projects from casino concept and management to marketing and operations. Robert brings to the casino industry a wide range of experience and expertise. Robert, a leading casino executive has used his wealth of experience to establish and transform many casino businesses. In the past 25 years he has opened and managed properties for some of the industry’s leading companies like Sun International, Queenco and Kerzner International.
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