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Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...
And welcome from a misty, moisty Sofia which hosts the BEGE show. I think it’s my third time here, and it’s been a while – but I have been pleasantly surprised. It’s not known as one of the shining stars in the milky way of gambling exhibitions but it certainly twinkles brightly. Over two days, the show is a step back in time to an age when you had the opportunity to leisurely discuss issues; to look at equipment without a crush; to catch up with senior manufacturing execs and operators who were just dropping by – and that is a welcome change. At G2E and ICE most execs are buried in meetings with investors. Also nice to see all our magazines fly off the shelves. In just two small halls, Novomatic, EGT and IGT hold it all together with Casino Technology centrally placed providing acrobats and dancers to spice it all up every 40 minutes (hey, it’s Eastern Europe remember). Quite often these small shows are full of bowling balls and karaoke machines – but not here. It sticks to gambling with the odd diversion into barista competitions and a croupier beauty contest... but this is part of the fun. BEGE is a small honest show that is worth visiting. Back to this issue and we start with the gargantuan Marina Bay Sands where Victor Royer strays from his usual Las Vegas roots and, after waxing lyrical on all things Hemmingway, interviews Andrew MacDonald about how MBS is developing. Hot on Victor’s heels is Andrew Cammegh whose company has worked alongside all of the Sand Corporations major casino developments and has enjoyed significant successful orders over the past 12 months. At the other end of the spectrum (sorry) Rebecca Green attended the recent grand opening of the Rainbow casino in Cardiff and was on hand a few days later to catch up with Rainbows MD, Duncan Savage. FOBTs are up next with us providing a platform for the viewpoints of the various factions in the ongoing debate leading with Carolyn Harris, MP who chairs the All Party Group inquiry into FOBTs. I imagine many of our readers are anti-FOBTs if not for the social aspect but for pure commercial reasons as there appears to be a liberalism of the high street betting shop regulations when compared to the rigidity applied to casinos. Ultimately the current situation stems from effective lobbying of the various interests and may highlight a UK casino industry that has failed to present a united front. We will see where it ends up but don’t be surprised if only minor tweaks occur – the Government like that tax revenue too much to contemplate removing FOBTs entirely. Peter White caught up with Eduard Blonk Managing Director Sales Sportstradar during a busy G2E show. Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe talks to Rebecca Green about the currency handling sector whilst Stateside Robert Ambrose looks at the dichotomy of a casino closure occurring as new venue locations are being debated. As he says – you can’t make it up. OK – Day two of BEGE beckons...
Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief
6 Marina Bay Sands Interview with Andrew MacDonald, Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Casino Officer at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. By: Victor H Royer 15 Never stop improving Andrew Cammegh Sales Director of Cammegh, explains the company’s commitment to investment in product development and its relationship with one of the World’s most impressive Resort Casinos. 18 Building upon Success Duncan Savage Managing Director Rainbow Casino chats to Rebecca Green 25 Changing the Odds? With an all-party parliamentary committee looking into the effect of FOBTs, are we going to see change on the high street? We talk to the key groups on either side of the divide for their opinions. By: Glyn Thomas 31 Sports Trader Eduard Blonk, Managing Director Sales, Sportstradar chats during G2E Las Vegas to Peter White 35 Transaction Technology Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview with Rebecca Green, Technology Correspondent 40 Closing another AC Casino Another Casino Closure for Atlantic City while a vote to add more locations throughout New Jersey? You can’t make this stuff up… By: Robert Ambrose
Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
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Andrew MacDonald, Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Casino Officer at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands
Interview with Andrew MacDonald, Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Casino Officer at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
By: Victor H Royer
remember the first time I was in Singapore. It was 1969, and I was a sprightly young lad, still quite unsure of many things in life, and all too eager to experience it – all of it – and everything else in between. We arrived there in July, from Europe, via Iraq, Iran, and India. By the time we arrived at the famed Raffles Hotel, I considered myself a man of the world – although, as I said, I was still far from a man in the truest sense of the word – worldly, or not. My youth was perhaps telling on everyone around, except, of course, for me. I sauntered about like someone who was truly a world-traveller, which, in a sense, I actually was. The world had been my oyster from the time I was very young – so young that I was a baby when we first travelled the world. Later, in my early teens, I experienced the thrills of young love on the Orient Express, from Istanbul in Turkey to Berlin, and points beyond. But that’s a story for another time. My fondest memories of Singapore were from my stay at the Raffles Hotel, more specifically the Raffles Bar. Not only did I enjoy being there, and slinging the Singapore Slings – even though I was perhaps too young to have them, but I did anyway. The one moment that still sticks in my mind is sitting in the booth favoured by Ernest Hemmingway,
when he stayed at the Raffles Hotel, and spent time at the Raffles Bar. It seems I once accidentally sat in that booth, ordered a Singapore Sling, and was later told by the waiter that I had been sitting in Hemmingway’s seat. Whether this is indeed true, or not, I don’t know. I simply remember that I was told this when I sat in that booth. To this day I fondly remember that moment, and I certainly hope that the story told to me was true, and that – in some way – I share a sense of kinship with Hemmingway. Later we went on to Australia, and then, later still, to many other points in the world. But it was that stay in Singapore that I still remember so vividly, because of the connection with Hemmingway, whose works I have read, and later studied at the University as part of my degrees, one of which is in English Literature. When the Marina Bay Sands Resort was built in Singapore, that too brought back many of these memories. The awesome structure of this resort destination and casino is now world-famous, of course. When the opportunity arose for me to interview Andrew MacDonald, the Senior Casino Officer at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS), it once again brought back for me those remarkable memories I experienced, now so many years ago.
Here at Casino Life magazine we pride ourselves on showcasing the best gaming properties in the world, and conducting in-depth and meaningful interviews with the top leaders of the gaming industry worldwide. We therefore asked Andrew a series of questions which we hope will be not only interesting, but enlightening, especially in the current world climate. So, hereâ€™s my Interview with Andrew, presented in full, and unedited in content:
about yourself and your role at Marina Bay Sands. I am responsible for all facets of casino operations across all properties belonging to Las Vegas Sands Corp. Among other responsibilities, I evaluate the casino performance of each property and work with segment leaders and the global gaming operations team to analyze financial results and statistical data. I also provide strategic recommendations to executive management.
Andrew, first I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. As you know, Casino Life Magazine takes great pride in interviewing leading industry CEOs and Senior Level Management to better understand both the companies that they work for or own, as well as what are the key attributes for their success. Please tell our readers
What has been the approach employed by the MBS in the current gaming climate? Specifically, how is the slow-down in Macau, and China, affecting the MBS? Has there been a noticeable impact on the MBS? If yes, or no, please elaborate. In todayâ€™s gaming climate, I think itâ€™s best to be cautiously optimistic. We have had a phenomenal
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino Resort in Singapore, shown at sunset
especially in the light of the two most recently opened casinos in Macau: Wynn Palace, and the Sands’ own Parisian? The Parisian Macau is built on a thematic approach – similar to the Venetian Macao – and is designed to attract the Chinese mass market. Marina Bay Sands is a compelling attraction in its own right - it boosts a stunning architecture that has redefined Singapore’s skyline and transformed the city’s tourism appeal. In terms of its design, experiences and offerings, Marina Bay Sands is also more cosmopolitan, cutting-edge and modern. For that reason, our audience is really the savvy global traveller, whether it’s a MICE-focused delegate, a gamer, or a dining aficionado. Will there be a cross-purpose conflict with the MBS and the new Parisian? Aren’t they – in some way – after the same market? As above, the Parisian Macau is designed to attract the Chinese mass market. As mentioned earlier, for Marina Bay Sands, that’s just one of our top mass markets, and we have other strong mass markets. All our sister properties are uniquely themed and differentiated in their own right. We build a strong brand, and customers travel to our new properties to experience different product offerings under our same brand Las Vegas Sands.
success story over the last six years and are now the market leader in both VIP and Mass segments. China continues to undoubtedly be one of our top markets and we see growth in the mass segment, which is pretty on par with strong contributions from other regional markets like Indonesia and Malaysia. The softening in the China VIP segment is definitely more evident in Macau than in Singapore but in general, the austerity measures in China have affected everyone in the past few years. It is a good time to re-focus our efforts on optimization and cost-efficiencies, and do more with what we have. Creating an enjoyable fun and relaxed environment is an important factor in Leisure and Entertainment venues. How is the MBS positioned today -
What would you say makes the MBS unique as a choice in casino destinations in the region? The beauty of Marina Bay Sands lies in its integrated resort model, rather than the success of any single component. That’s what makes us attract repeat visitors over the last six years. How has the MBS evolved in recent years? We have been committed to reinvesting in the entire property over the years. You’d see new brands pop up in the retail mall, with luxury stores expanding into triplexes and duplexes and bringing entire collections in a way that hasn’t been seen before in other malls in Singapore. We’ve added new celebrity chef outlets to our family of award-winning restaurants over the year – we started with six in 2010, now we have ten. Next year, we will refurbish our hotel rooms in Tower 1 and 2, ahead of the industry cycle of seven years, due to our high occupancy. We’ll see how
Photo by: Timothy Hursley
Marina Bay Sands at night
delegates continue to be drawn to the awardwinning Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which has a track record of hosting new-to-Singapore and repeat shows. It’s also why we continue to refresh all around the property, whether it’s creating a new Light and Water show next year, or bringing in blockbuster entertainment and exhibitions all year round. It’s been a continuous evolution at Marina Bay Sands – simply because the business doesn’t stand still and never settles for second best. Is it possible for the MBS to have further expansion of the gaming floor? If yes, how, by how much, and when? If No, then why not? It’s not so much about physical expansion, as it is about doing more with what we currently have. The gaming area in Marina Bay Sands is 15,000sqm, which is less than 3% of the entire footprint of the IR. Right from the start, one of our commitments is to have the physical facilities of the casino be a small proportion relative to the Hotel, MICE, The Shoppes, F&B, Museum and entertainment footprints. So really, it is not so much about physical expansion, but doing more with what we already have. We have phenomenal gaming optimization and operations teams who work together to strategically introduce new products and diversify, optimize game mix, casino layout, and set optimal pricing strategies etc. We leverage
technology and automation where possible to innovate and drive operational efficiencies which translates to better processes and profitability. How has the MBS developed over the years in its ways of providing promotions and incentives to its customers in this digital world of Facebook and Twitter? Marina Bay Sands taps on social media in a way that most brands do – to connect with digitally-savvy consumers, especially the millennial travellers. In establishing their presence in the digital space, different business units may have varying strategies and tactics on social media, depending on which platform works best for their audience. For instance, MICE will tap on LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with delegates while they are on property. Retail will use style influencers to promote new experiences and offers, while F&B may find it effective to leverage on the heavy use of food photos and images, as well as working with food bloggers. On the gaming side, we find that nothing beats the traditional face-to-face interaction with our customers. In this sense, loyalty programmes are more effective, targeted and measurable than a broad social media strategy. What is the split between local, tourist and travelling business guests for which the Casino caters?
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An overhead view of the Main Casino floor at the Marina Bay Sands
We have a fairly good and balanced split between locals, and foreign tourists. Does the general tourist and business traveller bolster the casino revenue, or is the market more geared toward the real gamblers, such as the “whales” from China? Again, China is one of our top markets, but our market is somewhat different from Macau’s, where you would see the more serious gamblers from China head to. They are there for the gaming facilities mainly. Our foreign gaming market is strong, but the tourists we have are here also for the rest of the non-gaming amenities such as entertainment, dining and retail. How have the private gaming suites helped the MBS? It is necessary, just to stay on par with competition. There are private gaming suites across our properties in Macau and Las Vegas, and in competitor properties too. VIP players look for aspirational gaming spaces; they love the privacy and exclusivity
that private gaming suites offer. The VIP segment has generated a good revenue stream for us consistently, and a sizeable percentage of casino revenue comes from our VIP Paiza suites. Does the MBS offer complimentary suites and amenities to the High Rollers? As part of our marketing strategy to attract the VIP players, once they sign up on our Rolling Programs and reach a certain level of play, they will be extended complimentary suites and amenities. What about the general guest, such as the traditional tourist – what do they get? Or can get? And how would they get it? They can sign up for our Loyalty Club memberships. We have the Sands Rewards Lifestyle for the nongamers, the Sands Rewards Club for mass players,
and Paiza membership for VIP patrons. Once they do so, they can spend, and earn points and redeem for retail spend and gaming play. MBS has one of the most robust Baccarat operations in the Asian market. How was this accomplished? Through a good combination of game variety, product innovation and pricing strategy. We have several Baccarat variations priced differently and located at different locations with the right supply to strategically target different segments of patrons. We have the right service levels at the right locations for the different pricing levels. Our gaming optimization team helps figure out all this so that we know how to cater to different demands of the market. Our Marketing team then increases the awareness of the game and its variants through
campaigns and tournaments. Is there now some danger of Baccarat play attrition to the Parisian in Macau, or to Wynn Palace? If you are asking if there is a cannibalization effect, I would say no. We have different target customer segments, and if anything, I believe with every new property, we grow incrementally as a whole. What are the other popular card games offered at the MBS, and is there any variation in preferences that you are aware of between the MBS and Macau? Megalink Texas Holdâ€™Em is pretty popular at Marina Bay Sands. Itâ€™s a variation from traditional Texas Holdâ€™Em. As for the difference in game preferences, we have a much stronger ETG and Slot patron base compared to Macau, where patrons gravitate
The Ruby Room at the Marina Bay Sands
towards Baccarat and SicBo. Why is there no traditional Poker being played at the MBS? It’s all about utilizing gaming space most optimally and efficiently. We already have a good mix of games, and stronger game types that we channel our resources and efforts to. What is your policy of trialling new games and EGMs? We monitor the lifecycles of all our existing games and decisions to remove some of them, extend others or introduce new games are made from there. To be ahead of the game, we constantly innovate and offer Sands exclusive games as a differentiator to maintain our competitive advantage. After all, change is the only constant. Promotions and incentives are an important mix of patron loyalty. What are the provisions like at the MBS as far as prizes and rewards for patrons? We have a strong loyalty program. Patrons are rewarded with what we call Sands Dollars and these can be used in our Retail outlets in the mall, and they can be redeemed for more free play. We have games, lucky draws, earn and get programs, and tournaments. We are proud of the Global Grand Dragon Master Baccarat Championships, and have been growing participation three fold from when we
first started in 2012 to today. The tournaments that are conducted across our properties in Singapore, Vegas and Macau have a prize pool in excess of SGD$12M. Quality and affordability have been two key words associated with food and drink at Casinos, catering for many of their local regular patrons as well as visitors. What is the MBS’s approach to food and beverage? We constantly refresh our dining concepts at Marina Bay Sands, whether it’s tweaking existing menus, bringing in a new celebrity chef or retail outlet, or simply offering more cuisine diversity that caters to different palates and price points. Within the casino floor, we are also constantly reviewing what works and what doesn’t, in order to serve our patrons better. Thank you, Andrew, for your time, and for sharing this with us, and the readers of Casino Life magazine. Andrew and the Staff at the Marina Bay Sands are gracious hosts, and all have cooperated with my requests marvelously, and I wish to thank them all again for their kindness. And so, as the sun sets on Singapore, I too sadly sleep on my fond memories, think of my time there, and all the wondrous things that I saw and experienced, as a young man, and now. I wish you all a good time, and great joy!
Never stop improving Andrew Cammegh, Sales Director of Cammegh, explains the companyâ€™s commitment to investment in product development and its relationship with one of the Worldâ€™s most impressive Resort Casinos. How would you assess the performance of the company over the past year? Cammegh has enjoyed our most successful year in our companyâ€™s history. Our customer base is more diversified than ever before, our sales turnover is higher than ever before, with a marked increase in sales in North America, and our product range has never been more relevant to the industry as a whole. Both our live gaming and on-line offers are uniquely adapted for these increasingly specialised sectors, and the growth we have experienced in the last 12 months reflects this. How important is maintaining the relationship between Cammegh and the Casino operations that you supply? It is important that we maintain as close a relationship with our customers as possible. But being a global industry this is always a challenge. But the relationships we hold are essential, as working closely with our customers we are better able to address the issues that arise day to
Andrew Cammegh, Sales Director, Cammegh
day on the gaming floor, helping us shape our existing products as well as those we have committed to R & D. We learn a lot from working with our customers, and having a sounding board for new ideas is essential. Having the confidence and trust of our customers is the part of my job I enjoy the most. Have you changed anything in the way the company conducts business with existing and new customers in recent years? Not really. Cammegh is a family business, not a large corporate and I think more than anything this manifests itself in our ability to provide specific tailored solutions for our customers, including the development of new features or games. Our passion for what we do is our driving force and this always comes across in our enthusiasm to meet our customerâ€™s specific needs. I think, however, in general terms as we grow as a business we are experiencing more and more exposure to the world of contracts, tenders and Master Supply Agreements. Our customers like to buy quality products and work with a supplier who is positive and responsive, but increasingly the way the business is done
is increasingly decorous. Marina Bay Sands is undoubtedly one of the Worldâ€™s most impressive Resort Casinos, how proud are you that they are a customer of Cammegh? Very. I make a point of visiting at least once a year. I consider it important to see the property at first hand and ensure we are positioned as best as possible to meet their on-going needs. We have worked closely with Sands Corporation at almost all of their properties and it is always a pleasure to meet the various challenges they have presented us over the years. MBS is no exception, it is one of the worldâ€™s most iconic casinos and to be associated with such a large and well-polished operation is indeed a matter of pride. What are amongst your primary ambitions for the company in the year ahead? We have some really exciting new products being worked on in R & D, that I would love to be ready for market during 2017. We have some major projects to complete and of course continue to work with our customers, providing quality roulette wheels and displays together with a great service.
Building upon Success Duncan Savage Managing Director Rainbow Casino chats to Rebecca Green 18
(L -R) Alexandra Patience and Rebecca Green (Correspondent Casino Life) with Sam Warburton
ainbow Casino Cardiff’s re-opening launch night was a true success! A superb night was had by all who attended to see the impressive new destination, which is taking leisure entertainment and traditional casino offerings to new heights. Prior to the commencement of festivities Duncan Savage, Managing Director Rainbow Casinos, sat down with Rebecca Green, Correspondent Casino Life, to discuss Cardiff’s impressive entertainment venue.
(L-R) Richard Phillips (Rainbow Casino Cardiff general manager), Sam Warburton, Duncan Savage (Rainbow Casino managing director)
Rainbow Casino Cardiff’s re-opening launch night was a major success! A superb night was had by all who attended to see the impressive new destination, which is taking leisure entertainment and traditional casino offerings to new heights. Although I am from Kent I must confess to being a fan of Cardiff. I have been to the city a lot over recent years and now have a new exciting destination for a great night out! Yes, indeed since we took over the Cardiff Casino I have been able to explore Cardiff and have found many great places to eat and have a drink.
I have always been given a very friendly welcome and I am pleased to be able to offer another fantastic venue in the city centre and enhance the night out experience. With investment on the scale of ÂŁ3 million, that must also have a positive effect on employment. How many new jobs have been created with this level of investment in the City of Cardiff? We have created an additional 40 jobs in both F & B and gaming, taking our total FTE numbers to 150 in our Cardiff casino. Ease of access is an important factor what are your expectations from the brand new entrance and a second entrance on Tredegar Street?
The old entrance was tucked away at the far end of Mary Ann Street with no reason to pass unless you were going to casino. Our new entrance in Mary Ann Street is more than double the size and will give us a much higher profile on the street. The Admiral building opposite employs some 3000 people and the Motor Point attracts huge amounts of people to the shows etc which are staged there. I am quite sure that a lot of them do not even know we exist. By creating a much more attractive entrance we are hopeful of attracting a new audience. The entrance on Tredegar Street was originally created as a temporary entrance; however, this is the main link between the two parts of the city centre and has a lot of footfall so it made sense to keep it.
Having ÂŁ20,000 jackpot slot machines provides an additional edge to the winning potential for those that like to try their luck on the slots! We have seen a significant growth in slots play and is an area of casino gaming that has huge potential in the future, however to see a continued growth we will have to see changes either in legislation or under a triennial review which would allow a levelling of the playing field at least between the small licences and the converted â€™68 licences. This would allow us to have up to 80 slot machines and give us the option to offer a far greater product mix to our customers. Although smoking is according to statistics on the decline what are the facilities for those that like to smoke. We have built a very comfortable new smoking terrace which will offer both electronic roulette and slot machines. With some very clever heating it will be just as warm outside as it is inside making the terrace functionable all year round.
Is the Casino open 24 hours and if so can one get a drink late at night and a bite to eat? The casino is open 24 hours The bar is open until 4am and food will be available at all times. Have you a main theme for this Casinoâ€™s refurbishment and if so what have been amongst the main influences on the choices with lighting, furnishings, carpets, and bar? The design is loosely based on a volcanic eruption! Lighting is designed to represent lava flow with lots of straight lines and angles. The end product has given rise to a modern yet contemporary feel and should stand the test of time. We have included welsh slate and copper in the finishes as a tribute to Welsh heritage and to give it a local feel. Does the design match those of the other Rainbow Casinos? The carpets are same throughout all our casinos but each casino is designed (or will be designed) individually with the local area in mind.
Sam and Lord Mayor cut ribbon
Which aspects of this refurb have been most challenging and which have turned out beyond expectation? As with all projects of this size, deadlines and budgets are often the most challenging but fortunately we have come in on target for both. A Leisure Entertainment theme is now a big factor in the success of Casinos. What are the facilities for live acts, and do you provide a varied line up of performers or will you plan to have regular resident bands and singers? We now have the facilities to provide all kinds of entertainment alongside the traditional casino offerings. It will be a case of suck it and see what works. Location, Location, Location. How easy is Rainbow Cardiff to get to by road, rail and air? Cardiff is very much on the map as a must visit city and is very easy to get to. There is plenty of parking and the rail network is very good. There are many attractions in the city including fantastic sporting venues which do bring many visitors to the area; and we will of course
be covering all the major sporting events in the casino on our big screen in the bar area. With Rainbow Casinos located around the UK will there be a link up with them to provide patrons the opportunity to visit other Casinos such as Birmingham? Yes there is link between all our casinos, if you are a member at one you are a member of all and we do have inter-casino events where regulars at one casino have organized trips to our other venues. We will of course be taking customers from our other casinos to Cardiff on opening night. A reputable restaurant is also a significant factor in attracting patrons. Can you provide any details about the refurbishment as regards the restaurant facilities? A new restaurant has been created with new menus for both dining, snacks and party packages which should appeal to a very wide audience. Whist, the new restaurant, is relatively small but we do have the facility to create a much bigger space for party bookings etc.
Does Double Diamond Gaming plan to open a Casino in Dundee? The jury is still out on this one. There is a huge development going on in Dundee along the waterfront and we will see how that pans out before making any commitments. What is the square footage of the gaming floor and number of slots and tables? We have doubled the size of the casino and will now offer 16 gaming tables, 32 electronic terminals, 20 slots and a poker area as well as much more leisure space which was seriously lacking in the old casino. In an interview over two years ago we asked the following question: If there was one single fundamental change you could make (theoretically) to the laws governing Gaming in the UK, what would it be? Does that remain the same or have you something you would like to add? My position largely remains the same. As I stated earlier, I believe a levelling of the playing field between converted â€™68 licenses and small licenses is essential.
It is very likely that in the years ahead sterling will remain on or around ÂŁ1.20 to ÂŁ1.30 to the USD and based on how often I have had to walk on the road as the pavements in London have been so packed with tourists this summer, do you think the industry should be doing more to promote itself to what is likely to be an ever increasing level in the number of tourists to the UK? It is estimated that as many as 20 million tourists will visit Cardiff in a year and some 80,000 people commute to Cardiff for work on a daily basis. With innovative marketing and awareness campaigns I am confident that the future for Cardiff and our new casino will be very bright. And finally have you a message for Cardiff and visitors to the young vibrant and historic City! We are absolutely delighted to be able present a new leisure facility in Cardiff City centre where everyone is welcome. This project has seen a significant investment by Double Diamond, which gives an indication of our belief that Cardiff is very much a City that can build on its success.
Changing the Odds?
With an all-party parliamentary committee looking into the effect of FOBTs, are we going to see change on the high street? We talk to the key groups on either side of the divide for their opinions. By: Glyn Thomas Why have you set up an All Party Group inquiry into FOBTs? The Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact of FOBTs in our communities. This Group, powered by the passion of the members in both houses of Parliament on this issue, is a coordinated effort among politicians of all political parties, to come together and discuss how best to address the issues that FOBTs are causing to our communities. To enable us to assess impacts of these highly controversial machines, the Group is undertaking an inquiry titled â€œAssessing the Impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminalsâ€?.
Carolyn Harris, Member of Parliament
Could you tell me about the strength of feeling in Parliament about this? There is widespread concern in Parliament about FOBTs. This is why the FOBT All Party Parliamentary Group has been set up and is
currently undertaking a wide ranging inquiry. Through calling evidence from a number experts, users and researchers to provide information on their assessment and experience of FOBTs, the group will publish a thorough report, setting out our findings from the inquiry and recommendations for the Government. Why did you first become interested in this issue? I first became concerned about the impact of FOBTs on our communities on becoming the MP for Swansea East. Vulnerable people who had lost money or been heavily impacted by these machines began coming to my surgery seeking support. I am not at all against gambling or for that matters bookmakers. It is of course, enjoyed by a great many people. I am however concerned by FOBTs which, the evidence suggests, are very addictive, are preying on the vulnerable and that have an excessively high stake which is way out of kilter with what can be gambled elsewhere on the high street. Who will the inquiry be hearing from and will you be making recommendations to the Government? This group is hearing evidence from a range of stakeholders including; the wider industry, gambling addiction experts, problem gamblers, community leaders and professionals in the gambling industry. The gambling Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, and Sarah Harrison, the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, will also be appearing before the Group. While you appreciate the inquiry is ongoing, what measures should the government be considering to tackle FOBTs? The group will be making recommendations in due course, based on the evidence collected during the inquiry, which is ongoing. So far, there seems to be a consensus that a reduction in the stakes which can be wagered on FOBTs would have a significant impact on reducing the harms caused. Do you think a triennial review would be helpful? The FOBT APPG is urging the Government to undertake either a standalone review of FOBTs or a triennial review of gaming machine stakes and prizes as soon as possible.
Protecting the Vulnerable Sir Robin Wales, The Mayor of Newham
RESPONSE: The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales The proliferation of on-street betting outlets in the borough is an issue of serious concern to local residents due to the impact on the vitality of Newham’s high streets and the increased anti-social behaviour and crime associated with clustering in one locality. Newham alone has 84 betting outlets, one of the highest number of any London borough, which is a 47% increase since the introduction of the Gambling Act (2005). B2 category gaming machines, known as FOBTs, can see up to £100 bet per 20 second spin, far exceeding the level of other gaming machines found in bingo halls and arcades. The profits from FOBTs are driving the clustering of betting shops and Newham believes that such high stake machines should not be accessible in the non-regulated high street environment. Our residents tell us that clustering has a negative impact and their town centres are dominated by betting shops. In a local consultation conducted by IPSOS MORI for Newham: • 99% of residents who responded thought there are too many betting shops in the borough. • 84% of residents who responded agreed that
the amount that can be bet on FOBTs should be reduced. (IPSOS MORI - for further info please see https:// goo.gl/koinwc. As well as the 31 London boroughs, there are 62 local authorities from across the country who have also signed up to Newham Council’s call, using the Sustainable Communities Act, to reduce the stakes on these machines from £100 to £2. This would bring them in line with other gaming machines and help limit the betting shop clustering brought about by bookies trying to maximise their profits through FOBTs. Not only is this unacceptable in an unregulated environment but it is proven that bookmakers target deprived areas. There are double the number of betting shops in the 55 most deprived boroughs in England than in the 115 most affluent. The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, is demanding that action is taken to reverse the decline of high streets into the hands of greedy bookmakers. He said: “We are fighting hard to ensure that the capital’s high streets are not dominated by betting shops who are solely concerned with making a quick buck on a computer roulette-wheel. “In Newham we have tried to curb this clustering of betting shops but our battle has been thwarted by the lack of tough planning and licensing regulations and the toothless court system.” Sir Robin continued: “We believe that simply reducing the stakes to £2, a step which can be taken by government immediately, could be the solution to the problem of betting shop clustering.” In the context of this campaign it is very important to stress that the London Borough of Newham IS NOT anti-gambling. As an authority we have an extremely productive relationship with Aspers Casino – who operate at the Westfield complex in Stratford. Staff are highly trained and maintain a well supervised environment in which to gamble – which couldn’t be more at odds with the single staffing policy operated by betting shops. During it’s time in the borough, Aspers has employed 680 of our residents and has worked closely with us on our innovative Workplace scheme, which works with employers to ensure our residents’ skills match their local business needs. Aspers also puts back into the community directly
through the Aspers Good Causes Fund which, since 2012, has handed £500,000 to community groups and charities working in the borough. As a deprived Borough with a young population we have a particular duty to ensure that gambling outlets do not target the most vulnerable residents. Newham’s long standing campaign is focused on protecting the most vulnerable from exploitation and ensuring that local authorities have the power to regulate their own high streets appropriately. Newham aims to remove irresponsible betting outlets, empower residents and ensure that the borough is a pro-business location where residents can live, work and succeed.
Peter Craske Public Relations Manager Association of British Bookmakers
Peter Craske Public Relations Manager Association of British Bookmakers Betting shops have been on the high street since before the Beatles but what many don’t realise is that there are now fewer betting shops than at any time since 2003, with 300 shops closing in the past two years. The future of the UK’s high street betting shops is
clearly at risk from any new regulations or higher taxes. All gambling companies will talk about their contribution to the economy and for betting shops this is no different; they employ more people than the UK casino, bingo and arcades industry put together and contribute each year in excess of £1bn in taxation and £76m in business rates. But unlike other gambling outlets betting shops support a range of sports, such as paying each year £250 million to horse racing and £35 million to greyhound racing through levy and media rights payments. The vast majority of the adult population gamble responsibly, but some campaigners and those with commercial reasons want the Government to use blunt tools such as banning or severely restricting access to products such as FOBTs rather than address the problems of the minority who are problem gamblers and invariably use a range of gambling products. That is why betting shops have taken a lead on voluntarily introducing a range of responsible gambling measures in the last two years that go far beyond what is required by law and have set out a substantial plan of further measures as agreed with the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board. Betting shops will be calling on the Government to introduce these new responsible gambling measures across all machine operators.
FOBT death – Russian Roulette?
Derek Webb Founder / Funder Stop the FOBTs / Campaign for Fairer Gambling
Bookmakers were not regulated until the 2005 Gambling Act and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) had been introduced illegally prior to that. Electronic gaming machines were already recognised as the most dangerous form of gambling. FOBT suppliers added roulette, the most dangerous casino table game, resulting in a product more associated with disordered gambling than any other gambling activity. FOBT roulette has a much faster spin cycle than the casino table game, resulting in faster losses. The visual spinning of the wheel and ball after the result has been determined by the random number generator, engages pathological and problem gamblers, as do inherent near-misses and associated audio and video content. Bookmakers have disproportionally targeted deprived, high unemployment and immigrant areas, clustering in more prominent high street locations. TV advertising of football betting has attracted new consumers into shops, particularly young males. Bookmakers have marketed FOBTs to this cash demographic, with devastating socio-economic consequences. Money-laundering is easy on FOBTs, so cash criminals are attracted to them. A not-fitfor-purpose Gambling Commission has allowed bookmakers to get away with not having to report all crimes on premises, despite the licensing objective of the Act stipulating that there must be no association between crime and gambling. The combination of non-reporting of crime, the most addictive form of gambling and the cash gambling demographic has proved disastrous. Around 20% of all FOBTs are damaged annually, with incidents and levels of violence also increasing. Assaults on betting shop staff are common and shops are lone staffed at unsocial hours for FOBT profits. It was also discovered that the recent perpetrators of a rape and a murder at Ladbrokes had just lost on FOBTs before attacking the staff.
All this as each of the big bookmakers slash their workers’ wages, but find a near half a billion to spend on TV advertising and millions more on public relations exercises on their “responsible gambling” messages. It makes no sense when Ireland banned FOBTs in 2013 and nowhere in Europe are there high street machines anywhere close to £100 per spin. Labour granted a gift to the DCMS minister to enact stake reduction if there was ensuing evidence of FOBT related harm. Newham Council with 92 other local authorities has proposed a £2 maximum stake under the Sustainable Communities Act and Government must try to reach agreement under the terms of this Act. The new All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs is now well underway. I personally spoke at the first hearing. This Group is expected to complete hearings in 2016 and have a final report very soon afterwards. With Tom Watson, a long time Campaign supporter, now Labour DCMS shadow, Labour has come out in favour of a £2 maximum stake. All opposition parties are now on record as wanting action on FOBTs with stake reduction being the most favoured option. If the stake was reduced to £2 this would not result in the bookies being one billion a year worse off as they now report circa 40% of FOBT revenue coming from games at £2 and under and with over 10% of profits going to the FOBT suppliers and 25% to the Treasury, the net impact is far lower. Many betting shop gamblers will continue to gamble in betting shops. Some will trade down to the lower stakes games, some will revert to overthe-counter gambling and some will convert to betting on Self Service Betting Terminals featuring remote betting site odds. Yes, there will be some shop closures. But if shops were required to have two staff, as is the case with Adult Gaming Centres (AGCs), then there would not be much change in employment numbers and shop staff would be safer. Furthermore, local economies would be more prosperous if some of the spend in betting shops was instead spent on other activities in the area. Pubs and AGCs are closing as a consequence of decreased machine revenues. These sectors have not been willing to speak out more strongly in their
commercial interest. Now that Gala Coral should no longer be a factor, bingo and casino sectors need to speak out more forcefully. Malcom George, the Association of British Bookmakers CEO, says that betting shops are the safest places to gamble on the high street. Everyone in all sectors knows this is false, but no sector is adequately rebutting this derogatory comment. Because stake reduction can be enacted without new primary legislation, it is the easiest method of dealing with FOBT issues. Other restrictions under powers that already exist with local authorities and the Gambling Commission could be helpful – no lone staffing being a good example. The other aspect of gambling that this government will review is TV advertising. Restrictions will be very popular with the general public and particularly with Conservative supporters, as Mrs May knows. If this government lasts until 2020, or is re-elected earlier, then it is certain there will be a future look at all gambling legislation. The danger is the “responsible” gambling agenda. It describes pathological gamblers as “problem” gamblers and problem gamblers as “at-risk” gamblers, meaning that the problem gambling percentage is lower than it should be. Put simply, this agenda cannot deliver everything that proponents claim, and the recent damning PWC report on the bookmakers’ “Player Awareness Systems” is testimony to this. If “responsible” gambling works, why has there not been a decline in gambling revenues and a decline in the overall percentage of pathological gamblers? Irresponsible corporate bookmakers, FOBT suppliers and their advocates face a new political reality where their deceptive lobbying will not help them. The sooner the FOBT maximum stake is reduced to £2, the better prospects are for all other sectors. I would encourage readers to write to their MPs expressing their FOBT concerns. DCMS has now announced a “Review of Gambling Machines and Social Responsibility Measures – Call to Evidence”. It will be difficult for the bookies to respond as they do not have any actual evidence to support the £100 stake! Derek Webb Founder / Funder Stop the FOBTs / Campaign for Fairer Gambling
John White, Chief Executive BACTA
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While you appreciate the inquiry is ongoing what measures should the government be considering to tackle FOBTs? We believe there should be a substantial reduction in the stake. There has been much discussion of the social impact of these machines, but much less appreciation of the commercial impact on other legitimate leisure businesses from pubs and clubs to bingo halls and principally Adult Gaming Centres (AGCs). The later have reduced in number on our High Streets by nearly 50% in the last decade, mainly due to FOBTs appearing in betting offices. Those businesses and jobs and tax revenues have now been lost but our sector can recover some lost ground if a palpable commercial unfairness is addressed. Do you think a triennial review would be helpful? A review will at least allow the evidence around the FOBT issue to be addressed by Government. We will contribute to that. We will also request a number of modest changes in the stakes and prizes of the amusement machines our members operate.
Eduard Blonk, Managing Director Sales, Sportstradar
On the Radar Eduard Blonk, Managing Director Sales, Sportradar chats during G2E Las Vegas to Peter White
Sportradar’s story is one of significant growth, especially in recent years. Can you give us an insight into how you have got to where you are today and what has been the philosophy behind it? Really the secret for Sportradar, much as it is for many other leading tech companies, is to spot future opportunities and to have the ambition and insight to address those opportunities. When the company’s journey started back in 2001, we saw an opportunity to provide fast and reliable solutions into the betting market that would allow our clients to streamline their resources and provide engaging and dependable products for operators to pass on to their customers. To this day we continue to embrace challenges and deliver on promises. In the last few years, we have taken our peerless positions around betting services and integrity expertise: where we have worked to decipher and develop the insights in data and turned our minds and resources to providing equally useful insights that can be used by broadcasters, digital publishers, fantasy sport providers and many others. This was the motive behind our acquisition of SportsData LLC in 2013 and the proposition we developed for the likes of NASCAR, NFL, NHL and NBA. We are more than happy as a company to do the heavy lifting i.e. sifting through data points etc. to ensure that those who work with us get really fast data as standard, but they also get that data processed and presented in a format that is intuitive, simple but full of value. Sports data and digital content is becoming more important day by day, whether in the US and beyond. We are focused on being the go-to business for those looking to provide the greatest insight and the deepest engagement in sport worldwide. Where do you see this growth trend taking the company in 2017 and beyond? There is no denying that the Digital Sport verticals that we are growing are going to be the ones to watch. As we continue investing in the people and technologies that will allow us to bring data and content to life, we anticipate more sports partnering with us, and more B2C businesses calling on us to provide products and tools that translate all that information into insight. Having said that, we are not complacent and we realise that our established strongholds in the betting space and in the
sports federation space need to be protected and reinforced. We have got to where we have got to by being nimble, responsive and in touch with trends, and though the company now qualifies as a large and significant organisation, we continue to breed an entrepreneurial, even start-up, ethos. We have competitors in every vertical, in every part of the business. But our growth is a prudent one that not only reaches for new opportunities but also ensures that existing clients can continue to rely on us to keep them at the crest of their waves. That is how we stay on the crest of ours. Does Sportradar have a focus on any particular geographies or products going forward? Today Sportradar is a truly global business. We have over 1,650 staff spread across over 30 different offices worldwide. As a result, the simple answer is that geographically, we are focused everywhere. That said, the US is currently front of mind. We have invested in office and staff and we have invested in significant partnerships. We will be looking to ensure that we deliver on all the promises we have made and that we take all the lessons we learn in this crucible of innovation and ambition and apply them to our whole roster of existing clients worldwide, as well as those yet to join! In terms of products, each of our verticals are being driven by ambitious leaders with exciting staff and technicians. So bottom line: there are a number of areas where new products are being rolled out. A few examples: in esports, our partnership with industry experts DOJOMadness will ensure that our live betting products will be unmatched in terms of speed and reliability; in risk management, our Managed Trading Services continue to open up new internal efficiency possibilities that betting operators can use to realign resources and save costs; our acquisition of the sportsman media group has supersized our capabilities in the audiovisual market and by combining our portfolios and experience, the next year or so is sure to offer some exciting prospects for our clients. And that is all only in the betting space! As a company, we tend not to stagger things, as you can see, so new products and services will continue to be rolled out. That is just the Sportradar way! Growth usually comes at the cost of attention in
terms of customer care. Have you found that to be an issue for Sportradar? For sure it can be an issue for companies that don’t pay heed to the strain that growth can generate. As I mentioned earlier, delivering on our promises is a key value in our DNA and we live and die by the satisfaction of our clients. All our growth and success and big developments will mean nothing to them if we neglect them or aren’t responsive to their needs. And these needs change and evolve as they grow and as the industry innovates. Maybe that is a blessing because the constant fluctuation in the wants and needs of our clients means we cannot stop paying attention. I think the other thing to mention is that as much as we have staffed up around product development, sport betting experts and technology, we invest equally in customer service and quality assurance. Every company today must prolong its entrepreneurial spirit in certain key parts of the business and we at Sportradar think that nowhere is that more important than in looking after our clients and partners. Growth can sometimes compromise clarity of proposition. With Sportradar expanding, how do you keep a clarity of offering for your growing potential customer base? This is a good question, particularly when you look at Sportradar’s growth into audiovisual content and non-betting data services. Our Management Board are always looking for opportunities for growth and development but there is an acute sense of using existing expertise to develop and leverage new specialisations. So there is a common thread that goes through all our offerings: data and content fuel our products and services and our 15 years focus on sport remains unabated. We apply what is relevant from one area into another but we refuse to assume that our expertise in a certain industry will seamlessly translate into immediate value elsewhere. We work very hard through recruitment, through partnerships and through notified test phases to make sure that not only are we sharpening our insights, but making sure that no client or customer suffers as a result. I think it is also important to mention that we have undertaken a recent brand architecture
exercise that looked at making sure that there are clear red threads such as values and visions that bind and focus our activities. Finally, consistency and clarity externally is only possible if the same is looked after internally and we have been pushing our relevant departments to make sure that our growing staff numbers are engaged, informed and enthused. I think that is now translating to their work and their relationships with our clients and partners. A key pillar of Sportradar’s offering is around integrity and matchfixing. How big a problem is this? Sadly matchfixing continues to be an issue across sports worldwide. Certain elements in society continue to see the exciting growth of the betting industry as something to game and defraud. But reassuringly, we are seeing growing awareness of the issue across stakeholders such as the federations, betting operators, national governmental institutions, law enforcement agencies and international organisations such as the UN, EU and Interpol. We are fortunate to be invited around most roundtables discussing the nature of the problem and the solutions required and possible, which enables us to remain optimistic and committed to the fight to protect sporting integrity. While the number of matches that we have concerns about is growing year on year, we know that this is not necessarily proportional to any growth in global matchfixing. But seeing over 600 matches a year with highly suspicious betting patterns that cannot be explained should be worrying enough. Can you tell us a bit more about the Fraud Detection System, how it works and how it protects leagues and competitions? Since 2005, we have developed what is still today the world’s leading monitoring system. The Fraud Detection System sifts through billions of data sets every day and uses a range of tailored algorithms to identify anomalous betting patterns from across 550 betting operators worldwide. These patterns, or alerts, are then forwarded on to our team of 40 expert analysts who go through a range of further
contextualisation exercises in order to see whether the alerts can be legitimately explained, or whether they should be classified as suspicious. This FDS is now employed to monitor over 300 sporting competitions across 12 different sports that include football, rugby union, ice hockey, basketball and esports. We are fortunate to be trusted by the likes of UEFA, AFC, World Rugby, NHL, NBA and ESL as well as a whole range of other rights holders. And working hand to hand with them, we have managed to initiate or support over 130 successful sporting sanctions since 2009. Most notably, a CAS decision formally recognised Sportradar FDS Reports as legitimate evidence capable of securing matchfixing related sanctions. We have come a long way since 2005 but we of course remain committed to helping any sports or competitions that want to safeguard their matches and fixtures going forward. Â You also work with police and law enforcement, How does that fit into the integrity offering?
This is true. In 2013, as part of the biggest matchfixing investigation in Australian sport, we worked alongside the Victoria Police as well as the Football Federation of Australia. After sporting and criminal sanctions were secured, we found that police and law enforcement started taking our findings far more seriously. We started working on criminal investigations here and there on a case by case basis, securing more prosecutions and we now find ourselves finalising MoUs with law enforcement agencies such as Europol, the Australian Federal Police and various German police forces. Sitting at a hub of information has also allowed us to investigate and corroborate further concerns beyond the reach of our Fraud Detection System, and this has only served to strengthen our relationship with police. So since that Australian case, we have supported over 24 criminal convictions and by the looks of things, our relationships with police and law enforcement will only grow and deepen.
Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe
Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview with Rebecca Green, Technology Correspondent 35
How do you see the currency handling sector changing in the next five years given the increase in mobile transactions? New technologies are often a catalyst for change. The first effects that mobile technology is having on our industry have made a strong impact. Mobile gaming plays a major role in our industry. Now the question for us at GeWeTe is how mobile payments will play a role for money changing/management. Our duty is to supply all necessary payment and change possibilities. The reason why we play such a leading role in our segment is that we lead from the front – also in the integration and development of new technologies. Today we cover the entire range – that means we have already integrated these into our change and payment machines. For example, for sports betting we have a solution so that players can get their winnings directly from our machine – the barcode on the betting slip is read and evaluated automatically. In the future it could be a QRcode on a mobile device ( i.e. smartphone), which we have to handle. We understand that an investment in change and payment machines is made for a span of several years. Our products are built to last. And they are flexible. That means that our customers well know that their investment remains future-proof. We place strong emphasis during our development stages to ensure that our solutions are equipped for future technologies. The way we design our products means that they can be retrofitted in the field – thus our existing customers are rest assured that their GeWeTe machines can be updated should a new technology need to be integrated.
having produced and sold over 60,000 machines throughout the years. Gaming is naturally the focal market for us. That is where we have gained most experience. Nevertheless, we are active in many markets outside of gaming. Our change machines / payment machines can be found at entry controls (such as in communal swimming baths), for prepayment requirements and carwash to name just a few. Regardless of the market we are active in, we offer highly secure change / payment machines composed of all the latest technology. Our machines are built to last and we have decades of experience – these factors stand out for our customers in all the markets we supply to.
In addition to the gaming market what other sectors are you seeing growth for your repertoire of machines? GeWeTe has twenty four years of experience,
Speed of transaction along with reliability and price are often amongst the primary reasons for a business to purchase these machines. How does the range from GeTeWe compare on all three
Can you provide us an insight into what it is like to work at GeWeTe? You are asking just the right person! I have been working for the Gauselmann Group for 18 years; 15 of which at GeWeTe. At GeWeTe we are active in a variety of markets. The markets range from banking to gaming. Thus we are dealing with different personalities in different markets – and that on an international basis. Our team spirit is very strong and our workforce loyalty is very high. People who come to work for GeWeTe stay at GeWeTe – I am a very good example of this. At GeWeTe we control the entire product vertical integration cycle – that means everything that is required is done in-house at GeWeTe. Whether development, production, marketing, sales, customer and aftersales support – all are linked hand-in-hand here at GeWeTe. That gives us greater control over our products and highly motivates us to bring even more innovations to our customers
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counts to its competitors? Our philosophy has always been to listen to our customers all around the world. We want to understand the individual needs and create the products around these. That is why our motto is for every application, the right solution. Our core market grew in the German AWP market where we have a 75% market share for change machines. Cash handling lies at the heart of cash handling for any gaming location. It simply has to work. That is why product quality in cash handling always is the winner. And state-of-the-art quality is our bread and butter – that is what we live and breath. We offer excellent quality at a price that is right – and that holds for our customers around the world. We control the entire production process – from market development, R&D, production, sales and after-sales support. This gives us the flexibility to focus on creating the right solutions for the right applications. Security is another important factor in a decision process, can you explain what security measures GeTeWe has? Indeed security plays a key role in our business, and is one of the most important. We focus on quality in a number of ways. Security is not only about the choice and strength of the cabinet design – something we place great focus on. The choice of the components plays a great role in security to minimise any attempts on manipulation. That is why we place only the best and most secure components in our machines – for example coin validators, banknote validators and recyclers, banknote dispensing units and coin hoppers. Therefore, we control the hardware we use to the best. The same goes for software. At GeWeTe we control the entire development and production process – no sensitive information can get to a third party company. This is the way we purposely chose and this has proven to be right.
The company is part of Gauselmann Group. Is it completely autonomous or is it incorporated into the main organisation? We are a subsidiary of the Gauselmann Group and belong 100% to the group. Yet we act autonomously within the group. Our focus is not on gaming machines – we offer change, redemption and payment machines. Thus, we have our own hardware and software development and production. For myself, I began in the sales department at Gauselmann and then moved to GeWeTe and have been the managing director here for over ten years now. This flexibility to move within the group is a true motivator for the staff as there are so many opportunities. This has a great effect on motivation and efficiency. What are the benefits to the company the benefits to the company and customers of having such a significant parent company such as Gauselmann? Our customers can source all their requirements from one group of companies. Gauselmann has almost sixty years of experience and we at GeTeWe are approaching twenty five years of experience. We are very strong in operating in the group and our new developments are tested to a great extent in our own casinos and arcades before they are released to the market. Our customers know and trust our quality. How did the company get to have what is a unique name GeWeTe? The name stems from a German word – GeldWechsel-Technik. This means money change technology, as our first development was a Change Machine (notes to coins). We abbreviated the ‘Ge’ from ‘Geld’ (money), ‘We’ from ‘Wechsel’ (change) and ‘Te’ from Technik (technology) – to create GeWeTe.
When Governments bring out new bank notes how easy is it to update your machines. For example, recently there has been the new €20 euro and £5 bank notes? We naturally have many years of experience here. We work on a global basis and know what to do. New currency (notes and coins) is mainly activated in our GeWeTe machines by a software update – that is done simply on-site. Quite often our customers can do this themselves. At times a retrofit may be required (for older machines in use). Our customers are rest assured that this is easy to do as well – as we build our machines on a modular basis. The count down to ICE 2017 is truly underway now. Can you provide readers any insight into where you are located and what they can expect to see on the GeWeTe booth? The ICE 2017 promises to be the best yet. We at GeWeTe have been active in the casino industry for only 18 months (as previously a different company was responsible for this gaming segment within the Gauselmann group). Our technology has proven itself so strongly in the AWP market and our focus on quality and security makes GeWeTe the ideal solution for the casino market as well. Our machines are already fitted in numerous casinos and are running very well. A further big plus for our customers is that we make use of economies of scale. As we sell large numbers of change and redemption machines in the AWP sector, we can manufacture our machines at economical prices. We will be showing something completely new at ICE – I can tell you now that I am very excited about what we will be showing for the first time. We all at GeWeTe send out a big welcome to our stand. Can you provide any details on new machines for 2017 and will any be on display from your booth at
ICE Totally Gaming 2017? We are placing great emphasis on the ICE. Our new solutions are sure to create a lot of interest. Now is not the time to divulge more –come and see us at ICE then all will be revealed. How many countries do you supply around the world? We are already active in over 30 countries and that number is set to grow. India and Africa are big markets for cash. Are those targets for further development of the company in the years ahead? We have been selling into Africa for several years now and see further growth opportunities in this continent. To date we have not been active in India but we are confident that any people living in India who are reading this will see this as an opportunity to bring the ‘made in Germany’ GeWeTe quality to India. Our door is open to any such requests. For those organisations reading this interview with change machines that are now of an age when they could do with being replaced how would you persuade them that their next choice should be with GeTeWe? GeWeTe is here to last. Choosing a new change/ redemption/payment machine is a long-term investment and operators want to have the right feeling when choosing their supplier. We have been on the market for almost twenty-four years and with the Gauselmann Group as owners we have an extremely healthy parent company. Quality is key. Our after-sales support is something we take extremely seriously. We are always there for our customers – which is very much appreciated – and we will continue to be so in the coming decades. A choice for GeWeTe is a choice for quality, security, modularity, excellent price-performance ratio and longevity.
Another Casino Closure for Atlantic City while a vote to add more locations throughout New Jersey? You can’t make this stuff up…
f the history of Atlantic City (AC) gaming has taught us one thing, the “build it and they will come” philosophy is over. Ironically, decades later, we saw a similar sales pitch on the November ballot for adding additional casinos in the northern part of the state while AC closes one more. The casino “sell” in New Jersey was much harder this time. The market dynamics have changed and seeing what has transpired in AC may not be the best argument for channelling the idea of adding additional casino operations throughout the state. With the proliferation of so many regional gaming locations within a two hour ride from AC, this competitive market is not the same as it was in 1976 when the initial referendum passed. In ‘76, a lot of promises were made with the second attempt to legalize casinos focusing only in AC. Some were delivered and some were lost like playing cards in a dealers shuffle! The idea of casino gaming outside Nevada was unique back in the 1970s. A far cry from the regional “casino-ization” market we see across the US today. A box
with slots and a hotel was the norm in ‘76 but today’s customers have embraced a more sophisticated presentation that includes more than just a casino. And the voters in NJ where AC has had the exclusive, were not that eager to vote “yes” under the guise of another economic “cure-all” for their city or state. The polls leading up to the vote in November to add North Jersey casinos showed similar numbers to the original defeated 1974 referendum. That vote failed 60% to 40% then and with the final numbers still out it looks to be even a greater defeat. Some supporters of the recent measure (“Our Turn NJ” campaign) had pulled media advertising funding in recent weeks. Critics referenced studies that claimed the passage would contribute to the closure of at least three or four more casino properties in AC and the loss of thousands of jobs. With the referendum’s defeat, and even with the state’s temporary takeover of the city, Atlantic City is an investor’s market right now, and those with vision and funding should be looking to buy. This
defeat has been a win for AC and those thinking seriously about playing the game of “Monopoly” for real should move forward.
Closing another AC Casino The recent closure of the Taj on October 10th did not lend confidence to vote “yes” for more casinos. The Taj Mahall casino hotel (formerly the Trump Taj Mahall) will now enter the category of a former casino hotel when people discuss Atlantic City’s history. The Taj was a monument built on the ideology of the “day,” reflecting the excesses of the 80s and 90s. In some respects it is a model to a lack of Atlantic City vision among many of the corporate power brokers and government entities that influenced decisions during that period. Those decisions included over-building; allowing single ownership of multiple casino properties which stifled a competitive environmentbreeding complacency and a lack of adapting to the changing market. Some of those decisions and the complicated, “way to do business” in New Jersey contributed to Steve Wynn’s speedy exit out of the state. It may also explain why in part AC is bleeding out today. From a marketing stand point the reality of another casino property in AC going dark only perpetuates the already negative perception about the city that is under a state operational take-over. It should be noted that a bill is being floated in the state house to keep a property with a casino that closes from reopening with a casino by the same owner for at least five years. The reason behind this has been theorized as a way to prevent “union busting” and massive salary reductions by re-hiring staff from a “zero” based salary. The bill’s passage will be retroactive to January 2016.
The market is changing as markets do. Going forward we will see an evolving AC experience. Change and thinking beyond the silo is something I wrote about in the October issue of CL. There is no doubt that moving forward we will continue to see a reduced casino footprint. Some properties that closed have already opened as non-gaming venues. They reflect a model of integrating many hospitality segments while at the same time focusing on a niche market. Already re-branded, the Claridge (formerly a casino/hotel) is now a hotel, modest convention venue and art gallery. The recently re-opened Showboat (former casino/hotel) on the boardwalk, now a hotel with a promise of other amenities to come. They both are developing their brand (without a casino) and doing well within their unique approach. The former Revel Casino Hotel closed for the past two years has been re-branded “TEN” with a target opening in January. We still do not know the full scope of the TEN project. But even if TEN opens on a modest scale initially, with or without gaming, it will still generate interest to a now-secluded area of the Boardwalk. Hopefully, going forward, it will create some new niche markets within a diverse selection of nongaming amenities. And from what I have seen and read, I think that will happen. So the page has been turned from the chapter on the “Taj” to the new chapter called “TEN.” Maybe the Taj will reopen someday as “ELEVEN”? Redirecting and achieving future marketing objectives will be slow in AC but it is occurring. Remember it took forty years to get to this point! Robert Ambrose, Instructor Gaming & Hospitality Drexel University
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