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Volume 15 Issue 133

The rising star in the slot world.


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Publisher: Peter White

Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869

Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 pwhite@ace123.com

Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +44 (0) 7727 969 299 glyn@ace123.com Features Editor:

Damien Connelly

dconnelly@ace123.com Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey bill@ace123.com

Editor’s Page Welcome to Casino Life...

This will be Peter White’s 20th G2E/WGC in Las Vegas…how time flies in the world’s most entertaining of industries. A casino life is definitely not a dull life! Our Guest Comment is from Leanne Oxley of the UK Gambling Commission who highlights the Commission’s updated AML guidance for operators. Tiina Siltanen, GM of Casino Helsinki, provides some detail on her career to-date, following a visit earlier this year to Casino Helsinki by Peter White. We were very impressed by this casino when we visited it. Focusing on operators as we do, Ryan Eller describes some of the challenges his team are overcoming at Genting’s Resorts World Catskills in New York State. Mr. Eller is the President and CEO of this destination property that’s in a unique setting. Richard Noble, COO of Aspers Group, discusses the number one

Associate Editor North America

business priority for this omnichannel operator – responsible gambling.

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Hagan who is the chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible

Special Assignment

the U.S., created in 1998 by the AGA, Mr. Hagan provides some detail

David Mckee

Correspondent: Sophie Behan

sophielbehan@gmail.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent:

Remaining with the responsible gambling topic, we chat with John Gambling. Following the recent Responsible Gaming Education Week in on the UK’s Responsible Gambling Week that runs 7 to 13 November. #RGWeek19 is what to follow. We chat with Johnny Viveiro Ortiz about the latest developments from Zitro that will be on show at their G2E booth. We then catch up with Vigen Badalyan who is the CEO and founder of BetConstruct about the launches the company will focus on during G2E. The

Robert Ambrose

senior management at DRGT take us through some of their product

r.ambrose16@gmail.com

developments that’ll be viewable on their booth in Las Vegas.

Production:

casino gaming, which we follow with an overview of AI. Robert Brassai

Designer: Stewart Hyde

brief look at products being promoted at G2E

Shaun McCamley explains why he thinks it is time to get into social covers the real value of industry shows and conferences. We take a

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Las Vegas from some of our supplier friends,

Subscriptions: Helen Holmes

Vegas.

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and leave the last word to Damien Connelly. We look forward to meeting you in Las

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Web: Sudip Banjeree sb@ace123.com

IT: John Wilshire

jwiltshire123@gmail.com

Glyn Thomas Editor in Chief

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Contents 3

Editors page

5 Guest Comment By: Leanne Oxley Head of Enforcement and Intelligence Gambling Commission 6 Bricks and Mortar Tiina Siltanen, General Manager, Casino Helsinki chats to Peter White 13 High-stakes bet Ryan Eller rakes the chips for Genting Group’s lavish Resorts World Catskills. By: David McKee 21 Direct Interaction Glyn Thomas chats to Richard Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group 24 Responsible Gambling John Hagan, chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling chats to Sophie Behan 28 Winning Performance with Zitro Gaming Johnny Viveiro Ortiz Founder of Zitro chats to David McKee ahead of G2E Las Vegas 2019 31 Affordable Solutions Damien Connelly chats to Vigen Badalyan CEO & Founder BetConstruct 34 Systems Technology that Allows Operators to Measure, Manage and Reward their Players Better. DRGT™s Jurgen De Munck, Alfredo Moreno and Alex Stiglich look ahead to G2E Las Vegas 40 Social Casino Gaming – Get In Now By: Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd 42 Eyes on Artificial Intelligence (AI) By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot 44 Manage this by Robert Brassai The Real Value of Industry Shows and Conferences 47 G2E Las Vegas Preview Cammegh • SUZOHAPP 50 The Last Word By: Damien Connelly Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.

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Guest Comment, Leanne Oxley Gambling Commission

T

ackling money laundering across the gambling industry continues to be a top priority for the Gambling Commission. With a number of high-profile enforcement cases highlighting the Commission’s stance, Head of Enforcement and Intelligence Leanne Oxley talks through some best practice and what the Commission is doing to keep the industry fair, safe and crime free. As the industry’s regulator we are committed to ensuring gambling stays free from crime, and to do that effectively the entire industry must match our commitment. To support we have recently updated our Risk Assessment for Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the British gambling market — alongside our guidance for land-based and online casinos. This guidance is clear and we require all casino businesses to consider it and make adaptations where needed to ensure they are mitigating their risk. We have also worked closely with the National Crime Agency to produce five videos to help operators raise their understanding of the suspicious activity reporting process. These tools are there to help operators incorporate good practice processes and ensure the industry stays free of crime. I ask that everyone take heed of the advice and cannot stress enough the importance of collaboration and evaluation in relation to AML practices. All operators should be in a constant knowledge-sharing cycle which helps us update our guidance. There are some positives we are seeing from across the industry, including examples of closer integration of VIP management functions with AML and social responsibility management teams. Early indications are that this is working well and we continue to encourage other operators to embed this into their existing practices. Last year’s Enforcement Report also provides operators with an AML health check which is an excellent guide to utilise to ensure your working practices provide the required safeguards. While there are many pockets of good practice across

Leanne Oxley

the industry, our investigations have shown some operators have an over-reliance on operating systems with in-built trigger referral systems which fail to identify the true affordability of customers. In these cases, operators are failing to intervene and have inadvertently allowed criminal funds to be deposited, cycled through and withdrawn from accounts. All operators’ AML risk-based approach ought to be sufficiently specific to an individual business and all risk assessments, policies and controls need to be closely aligned so they work seamlessly in practice. I encourage all operators to regularly review our guidance, critically evaluate procedures and share learning across the industry to ensure we collectively keep crime out of gambling. Leanne Oxley Head of Enforcement and Intelligence Gambling Commission

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Bricks&Mortar Tiina Siltanen, General Manager, Casino Helsinki chats to Peter White

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C

asino Helsinki General Manager Tiina Siltanen hasn’t just encountered the glass ceiling, she’s busted through it. After a six-year sojourn in the Swedish casino industry, she returned to her native Finland just in time to participate a ramping up of Casino Helsinki, including the introduction of new entertainment and Sports Bar. By her own description, Siltanen continues to grow and develop as an executive. Casino Life was fortunate to get time out of her busy schedule for this chat. How did you start your career in Casinos and what attracted you to work in an industry that is almost a way of life? I actually started as a roulette dealer more than 20 years ago. I had an interest in games and customer service, so casino felt like a perfect place to work for me. It was originally meant to be a short-term summer job, but it didn’t take long to realize how much I enjoyed the gaming business and atmosphere at the casino. Since starting I’ve worked in many different positions, from Supervisor to Gaming Manager. The last 15 years have been in management positions. The biggest personal decision was to move to Sweden after 5 years in the industry. I had six great years in Casino Cosmopol working as a Pit Boss and Poker Manager right in the middle of the poker boom. They were hectic years, but very rewarding. Poker grew at a fast pace and we built together with the poker team the structure for poker operations in Sweden’s four casinos.

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European Dealer Champion 2018 Matti Kankainen and 4th place finisher Sami Winterhalter from Casino Helsinki

Everything from marketing, business case calculations and launching international poker weeks was on the agenda. Looking back, it was definitely a risk worth taking and enabled me to take on new challenges on my return to Finland. Helsinki Casino has evolved considerably since its opening in 1991, with technology being one of the main change drivers. Recent years have seen a big property upgrade with Slot Machines, ETGs, the addition of an impressive display screen, along with a new Sports Bar. What are the objectives of these changes? We want to keep up with the ongoing change of customer behavior and broaden our customer database. Changes


have opened doors for a new generation of casino guests who expect modern products and services. ETG’s, big brand games such as Game of Thrones and adding E-sports in our Sports Bar program are just a few things we have done to offer better services for the younger generation. Current Casino Helsinki is a mix of modern technology and history. Our show room Fennia Salon is a historical place with protected art and design from the late 19th century. It’s a location for Show & Dinner, concerts and even for our international poker tournaments. You could say we have two different worlds inside the casino. The premises allow us to organize many different types of events. Can you provide our readers detail on the parent company Veikkaus? Many will be more familiar with the previous organisation RAY. Sure, I’d be happy to. Veikkaus was established in 2017 when the previous three operators merged into a single gaming company owned by the Finnish State. We operate all the gambling games that are offered in Finland, online and land based. Veikkaus has 90 slot arcades and Feel Vegas clubs, online site and one international Casino with another coming in two years. The revenue is used for the benefit of Finnish society in its entirety. Veikkaus’ beneficiaries are active in the fields of culture, sports, science, youth work, social welfare and health, and the equine industry. The funds are distributed to the beneficiaries by the relevant ministries. How have you managed to fit in the Financial and Business Management education and the Executive Development Program Strategic Leadership at the University of Nevada? It requires some serious planning with the schedules and good support from the other half. I’ve also been fortunate enough to combine a large part of my studies with work which has made studying more interesting and profitable for our casino as well. What elements of these courses have benefited you the most in your role as GM at Casino Helsinki? The annual Executive Development Program by UNLV is an exceptional education in our industry; I can’t recommend it enough. I love how it brings together casino executives around the globe and shows all sides of our business. It is a unique opportunity to learn from world class speakers and strategize the future of gaming together with other attendees. I can assure you we were all exhausted after the 10 intensive days but were truly inspired and challenged by the EDP.

Tiina Siltanen, General Manager, Casino Helsinki

What advice would you give Women in this industry looking to move into a Management role? Be brave and don’t hesitate to apply to a role out of your comfort zone. Make sure your executives know you are ready to take the next step and looking for a more demanding role in the company. Women have a habit of waiting longer than men before expressing their interest to move forward. We need to be a little bit more active in applying for new roles. The Casino sector remains very male dominated at Management and Senior Management levels. What do you think can be done to improve the situation? We need to raise awareness and keep reminding ourselves that diversity in all forms is an asset for the casino and more importantly to our whole industry. Just like our guests are diverse, so should the management be. I’m glad that many large companies have already acted by setting goals, but it is still a long way to go. To get results in the long term, we need commitment from everybody in the executive level. Evaluating the company’s demographics and culture is the first steps. Numbers help to recognize the current situation and are hard to ignore. Education programs, scholarships, marketing standards are all part of the big picture. European Casino

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Hockey player Ville Husso from St Louis Blues brought the famous Stanley Cup Thophy to the casino this summer

Association is showing a great example by lifting the subject in seminars and awarding a Gender Diversity Scholarship to EDP together with its partners. Overall, we need more men discussing the diversity in our industry not just women. What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying? GM is a complex role that enables the involvement in many layers of the gaming industry. I enjoy the challenge of strategizing for the future and developing the casino. At the same time meeting our guests and staff on the casino floor on day to day operations is rewarding as well. More importantly it keeps me up to date with their needs and preferences which are my top priorities. Like many others I’m following closely the developments in our industry. It is interesting to see the effects of changes in regulations and customer behavior. I look forward to facing those challenges and whatever the future brings to us. What are the key factors in your opinion that contribute most to Casino Helsinki’s continuing popularity in these competitive times? Casino Helsinki has received strong competition during the last years. Smaller Feel Vegas gaming clubs and online casino are attracting traditional casino guests. But we have been able to attract new customers by adding entertainment and Sports in our portfolio. This is important for the future and breaks some of the reservation casino is still facing in Finland. Casino is no longer just a place for gambling, it is

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about entertainment in all different forms and providing a full casino experience. For our regulars we make sure we offer the best possible gaming products that are not available elsewhere. Just two months ago we made a strategic decision and raised the RTP% in our slot machines. Not a move many casinos do in these days and it was well received by our guests. What would you say are amongst the many unique aspects that single out Casino Helsinki? There is only one right answer to this, our staff. Our dealers have had great success even at the European Dealer Championships. We are fortunate to have great professionals, who understand the needs of our customers. Casino business is hard work and it requires a lot of skill from the staff to be able to adjust the service according to the customer’s needs. Our casino is medium size in Europe with 300 slot machines and 23 table games. The first-time visitors and big players are often mixed in the casino premises and sometimes even at the same tables. Not an easy task for the dealer but they are doing a great job with it. What innovations at the Casino in recent years have most impressed you and why? The current development of omnichannel products is fascinating and showing how the gaming online and land base are strongly connected. I think casinos have just


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scratched the surface with this and we are going to see some amazing developments in the near future. There are updates to the AML and KYC regulations on an almost 6 monthly basis being introduced in the UK and Europe. What have been the effects for the land-based Casino Helsinki to all these new directives especially with regards to accommodating overseas visitors who like to gamble with large sums of money? The majority of customers are getting more familiar with AML regulations and questions about the source of funds since they face the same questions in the financial sector. But not all and on a regular basis we have customers who decline to give us information needed and therefore are not allowed entry to the casino. We are working on finding the best practices and procedures to meet the criteria with minimum damage on customer experience. The resources assigned for AML issues have increased significantly during the past years. Currently we have a responsible person on duty to handle the questions with AML and several people in the office involved with the subject. The policy for money transfers is very strict in Finland and currently limited to winnings only which of course affects the overseas visitors. Should the public be better educated about gambling as clearly for most it is an enjoyable pastime? Absolutely and not just the public, educating the players and the staff on responsible gaming policy is an investment for the future. We still face a lot of hesitation and even false accusations based on movies and old stories. We put a lot of effort on a daily basis to talk to our guests and offer them different ways to control their gaming. I hope technology will provide ever more tools for us in the near future. I believe in continuing to build a strong image for our industry. Casinos are places where people can play safely and enjoy the environment. Operators must make sure we live up to these expectations and take care of our guests. Finally, when you are not at work, how do you relax? Yoga is my personal favorite, it’s good for the body and mind. Since I live in cold Finland where summer is beautiful but short, I’m always looking for some sun. So, an occasional holiday somewhere warm, keeps the whole family happy and relaxed. Casino Life would like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for this interview.

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High-stakes bet Ryan Eller rakes the chips for Genting Group’s lavish Resorts World Catskills. By David McKee

Ryan Eller President Resorts World Catskills

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enting Group made a high-stakes, $1.2 billion bet on reviving the casino business in New York State’s mountainous Catskills region. Their gleaming destination-resort project opened in February 8, 2018 and there’s never been a dull moment since. The megaresort is a work in progress, with some amenities only just coming online now. It also finds itself in the jaws of a nutcracker, considering fierce competition from other upstate New York casinos, as well as ones in northern Pennsylvania—especially the former Sands Bethlehem (now Wind Creek Bethlehem) which was already deeply entrenched with New York City gamblers. Resorts World Catskills was one of a wave of four upstate casinos that Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped usher into being.

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Aside from offering Vegas-style-gaming, their one common denominator is that their revenue forecasts have proven over-optimistic, inspiring some tinkering with the product, a few calls for tax relief and one outright sale. As for Resorts World, Genting bought out parent company Empire Resorts last August, steering the Catskills property away from a date with Chapter 11 relief and hopefully into an era of hithertoevasive prosperity. Casino Life had a pleasant chat with Resorts World Catskills CEO Ryan Eller. Despite all the press coverage of Resorts World’s growing pains, Eller was relaxed and expansive, and eager to talk up his casino-resort, one which represents a sizable vote of confidence on casino gaming in bucolic New York.


Catskills casino

something we have spent a great deal of time developing in the construction and bringing this to life, but also growing the business so that it is something that can compete and win market share in the Northeast. This year we’ve seen enormous year-over-year growth and I’ve seen significant double-digit growth from this year over last year. I continue to see that trajectory as we move forward, so we’re very pleased with the track that we’re on. The product that we offer is outstanding. Frankly, in New York and the Northeast, which has a very entrenched gaming footprint, we are doing a very good job in establishing Resorts World Catskills’ identity within that overall framework. What are your core markets? The core markets are somewhat different, based on the

How is business? Business is good. You see a lot of proliferation of gaming up here but it’s a very unique property. It’s a destination property in a unique setting. The Catskills, for many years, have a rich history and decades ago was a destinationresort Mecca for the Northeast. Part of what New York has attempted to recapture in awarding a casino license in this specific location was to reinvigorate through some economic development, that destination-resort identity for the Catskills. Our resort and casino anchors that effort, one that involves a great deal of employment and economic development for the community and the area. It’s an attempt to revitalize some of that hospitality destination that once was and was subsequently lost. It’s

product. We’ve got access to the New York metro area, the suburbs and a highly diverse cultural market, insofar as you have a significant amount of Asian communities in New York, which we have in fact seen a great deal of business originate from. We see a great deal of destination travel from the New York metro area, Long Island, northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and counties in southern New York. We are an option that is something that is unique. It’s unique insofar as we’re in the Catskills, in this beautiful setting. We have an all-suite luxury hotel, we have a resort campus that encompasses hundreds and hundreds of acres, and on that campus we’ve got not only our main casino tower, over 10 restaurants and bars, an entertainment venue. We also have a second hotel tower, called The Alder, which is a little bit of a lowerpriced point, a more convenient option. And then also on this campus we have recently this year opened the Kartrite Indoor Waterpark, an indoor water park, which

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Asian gaming room

is something unique and in adjacency to our casino. Then we continue to construct and plan to open a Reese Jones golf course, starting next year. What we have is something here that appeals to everyone. It could be your core gamer, it could be someone who’s looking for a vacation

a significant competitor. They continue to be. They’re performing as you would expect when you look at all those factors. They do very good.

destination, it could be a business traveler looking for a place to hold their next meeting, all encapsulated in this one Catskills casino-resort destination. We are seeding our appeal across different channels. How much of a competitive factor has Wind Creek Bethlehem been? It is one of the very well-established competitors in our market. It is in an extraordinarily attractive location in Pennsylvania, with close adjacency to northern New Jersey. And they’ve done very well since their opening.

feeder markets or underdeveloped ones? We obviously find ourselves in the New York market. It is an incredibly crowded media market. It is very hard to establish a brand rapidly in that market and you have fairly well-established gaming operations down there as well. So a couple of things that we have found is that we need to focus on certain markets and customers. One of the things that we have that distinguishes us from the VLTs, the slot facilities in Westchester County and Queens, very close to the New York metro area, our core market, is that it’s a full casino. There’s table games, right? So we need

We’re in a bit of a location that is somewhat removed, from a physical standpoint. From what we offer it’s a completely different experience. This is much more of a destination resort and [Wind Creek] is something that is a very large-volume gaming destination. They have a very strong player [base] originating from the surrounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties. They’re certainly

to ensure that there is an understanding that New York has a convenient resort destination that has full-on casino gaming. The persistence and the precision with which we establish the fact that we are a gaming destination option for those who are looking for a full casino resort, it requires time and investment, and that’s one of the

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What are you doing to incentivize play, either from your


reasons we’ve seen growth, year over year, is because that time and investment is beginning to bear its fruit and be effective. But you certainly can’t expect that that’s going to be easy nor cheap, nor quick in a market that is as well-served and as crowded as the New York metro market. Also, we try to appeal to the demographics

met its own revenue projections. What do you believe accounts for that? Quite frankly, the revenue projections that were the basis for those casinos on their applications as they were seeking a license were predicated on assumptions of a market that had not seen the level of competition that is

and the customer segments which are the ones we find most fluent to be seeking out options such as ours. We certainly focus on the Asian neighborhoods in New York. At our core in neighboring counties that ultimately have relatively convenient driving distances to us, they find once we get them here for the first visit they have an exceptional experience and probably find it a convenient option compared to what they’re used to doing. What they used to do quite often was visit Connecticut, Atlantic City or Pennsylvania casinos. But in an environment that is densely populated, with as much marketing and advertising that goes into it, establishing brand and identity, and driving it home in an environment such as this requires quite a bit of persistence, a great deal of capital and a fairly sophisticated, precise way of addressing those different segments and demographics.

the reality as we see it today. Certainly if you had injected those casinos into environments that were perhaps less competitive—shall we say less mature?—those revenues, ultimately, would be realized or much closer to reality. But that is not the environment in which we operate today. We’re in an environment where there’s more significant proliferation of gaming in the Northeast. As a consequence, some of those expectations were ones where the analysis that was the basis for them did not meet the realities of the market in which we operate.

None of the four new casinos in upstate New York has

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At the time that Empire Resorts was bought up by Genting, it was said synergies would be achieved between Resorts World Catskills and Resorts World New York (in Queens). To what extent is that characterization accurate? The expectation is that the merger will ultimately result in access to greater resources, greater breadth than in the


past. We’ll have the ability to address what is a very large market. To the extent that there is the ability to integrate those resources in the Northeast, in New York in particular, I expect there to be a great deal of value to be unlocked by virtue of this transaction. It’s good for Resorts World Catskills and I think it’s probably good for Resorts World New York and Genting. It’s one of those scenarios where there is a much greater whole to be made than the sum of its parts. You thinned out your slot floor, perhaps to add more table games. What thinking drove that decision? It was simply managing the slot floor so that it’s consistent with the demand and its efficiencies, as well as its attractiveness, which is something we continuously do. We reduced our slot count and what it did is it afforded us a few things. One, we were able to open a new poker room in a much better location that was on the main casino floor and adjacent to services that are valued. We activated parts of the floor that we did not otherwise have activated. We had the ability to create a much better merchandising scheme within the slot floor itself. Aisles, traffic, line of sight: Everything works better together through that reduction in unit count and, as a result, we were able to have a much more improved customer experience on the casino floor. And that customer experience is not just slots. I think the slot casino experience here is much better with the units we have now—it’s 1,600 rather than the 2,100 we had a year ago—and our customers would say the same thing. This was not about an industry trend but about our specific property and all properties go through

Cellaio Restaurant

this in the first year of operations, where they look at what the demands of the customer base are, what best meets their needs and then we make adjustments from that. Our floor changes were not only to find efficiencies but to improve every aspect of the casino experience on the main floor, from table games to slots. We’re very pleased. Are you going to lobby Governor Andrew Cuomo for mobile sports betting? We’ve made no qualms about the fact that we think, in particular in our partnership with Bet365, mobile sports wagering in the state of New York would be a very significant game-changer. It would be welcomed by the players in New York who are now driven to New Jersey and other places that offer convenient, mobile sports-wagering options, and [would be] a great tax-revenue generator for the state. So our expectation is that we’ll continue to advocate for that to anyone that’ll listen.

Empire Lounge

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Richard Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group Limited

Direct Interactions

Glyn Thomas chats to Richard Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group Tell us a little bit about Aspers Group. Aspers Group provides its guests with an exciting entertainment experience through innovation and a quality, integrated environment. We aim to exceed expectations while being fully compliant with UK legislation. We operate to the highest industry standards and have four casinos; Westfield Stratford City in the East of London, Newcastle, Northampton and Milton Keynes. Our casino in Stratford is one of the largest in the UK and is a premier gaming destination that attracts guests from a wide geographic area and social spectrum. Aspers Group also has an online casino, Aspers.com, which has a designated general manager and operates as part of a joint venture with Stride Gaming and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and Alderney Gambling Control Commission. At Aspers, we pride ourselves in doing the right thing, which is central to our vision and values. Our aim is to be

the respected leader in the field of corporate responsibility within the gambling industry, with safer gambling at the heart of our vision. Safer gambling is high on the agenda for all operators and the industry as a whole. Can you share any plans/actions that you are doing in this area? For responsible gambling measures to be effective, it is essential that they are integrated into Aspers’ culture and flow throughout the organisation. Safer gambling throughout Aspers is crucial for us and is our number one business priority. We want to ensure that we are the industry leader in this area; if we don’t protect our guests, then they will go where they will be protected. The key to protecting our guests is to know them, which is often referred to as KYC (Know Your Customer); this is important for both AML and social responsibility. By truly understanding our guests, we are able to provide the tools

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and support to ensure they don’t experience harm as a result of their gambling. Our first line of defence is entry controls. We need to ensure that vulnerable people, for example underage, intoxicated or visibly distressed, don’t gain access to our venues. We achieve this through the supervision and use of tools such as ID-scanning technology, membership and facial recognition. Once guests enter our venues, we have highly trained colleagues to supervise and identify guests who may display concerning behaviours and to regularly interact with them. We do not rely solely on physical observations and have invested significantly in player tracking technology and analytical tools. One such method is Focal Research’s ALeRT system. Focal Research have spent over 20 years developing algorithms to identify slot players with a higher probability of risk for having problems with their gambling

either now or in the future. We introduced Focal ALeRT in October 2018 for our slot players and within the next few months are expanding this to cover all electronic gaming. The system identifies ‘Gamblers of Interest’ (GOI’s), not problem gamblers; finding risky playing patterns that otherwise may be invisible to others, including the player, and helps to direct interactions where it is likely to do the most good in supporting safety. Guests can move in and out of risky play depending on many things and ALeRT lets our colleagues know when someone’s play is in the highrisk zone and when they can act or interact with a guest to encourage and support less risky playing behaviour. The model tracks the impact of such action in reducing or

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preventing harm. Many guests do not show any signs they are having problems and, as a result, will go undetected. However, using staff observation and a gambling risk assessment system such as Focal ALeRT means that the methods can complement each other. Another example of where technology is enabling us to provide tools to support our guests is limit setting. Following successful trials, we are now ready to launch limit setting across our electronic gaming estate, enabling our guests to set how much time and money they wish to spend, and if these limits are reached, force a stop in play and an interaction with one of our team members. We are also currently developing an app to enable guests to set these limits directly on their personal phones. Our strategy has been to develop a multi-layered programme of action. A key focus for us now is evaluation, enhancing our understanding and to gauge the effectiveness of these measures to combat harm. As we have introduced more and more measures to protect our guests, it was crucial that we had enough resource to both oversee and manage the activity. Although it is a key responsibility for every Aspers’ employee to promote and support our safer gambling agenda, it was clear early on that we needed dedicated resources in all our properties purely for safer gambling, so we created the new role of Safer Gambling Manager. It is critical that for those small numbers of individuals who do experience harm as a result of their gambling that we encourage help seeking. We work closely with several support treatment services to deliver management and staff training, and they have provided valuable input in helping us develop a scientific approach to our safer gambling communications, including positive play messaging. You mentioned appointing Safer Gambling Managers in all your properties. Can you explain what their role entails? That’s right, earlier this year we appointed Safer Gambling Managers for all our properties. Safer Gambling is a key priority for all our managers and colleagues, however we decided to have dedicated resources to coordinate our Safer Gambling plans and support the evaluation of their effectiveness. One of their key tasks is to ensure that all Aspers colleagues understand and adhere to our responsible gambling policies and procedures. Their responsibilities include:


Analysing information from a variety of sources to identify risky behaviour, discussing concerns with guests to ensure that they receive the appropriate support, taking charge of high-risk cases to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately, developing colleagues to improve their approach towards safer gambling. The role will be constantly developed in line with the regulatory environment and other company initiatives and will adapt accordingly to provide a safe gambling experience in a fun and responsible way. Do you see a differentiation in mainstream media in the years ahead between the different sectors within the gambling industry, so that for example the land-based casino operators are not automatically included with all the others. How do you see the political landscape in this area? To be honest, no. In fact, I see the complete reverse. Many land-based businesses now have remote offerings as well; I’ve already mentioned Aspers’ online casino, which we successfully launched in October 2017. As a gambling industry, regardless of which sector we represent, we need to work together to ensure that creating a safe gambling environment is the top priority for all operators. This has

already started with the formation of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as a new trade body representing casinos, betting shops, and remote gaming. A key priority for the BGC is to set high standards for tackling gambling related harm, and to build consumer and public trust in the gambling sector. This does not mean that all sectors should be treated exactly the same, and legislation should reflect the environment, product and supervision that is available. When we demonstrate as an industry that we have safer gambling as our number one priority, then we can start to address the political concerns of gambling expansion which is preventing the quite modest requests of the UK land-based casino industry to remain relevant for our consumers. What information do you provide to customers? Prevention and education are key to our guests enjoying their experience and staying in control. We encourage guests to think about their gambling, providing tips on safer gambling and appropriate management tools that can assist them to stay in control. Monitoring, observing and carrying out interactions to prompt guests to think about their gambling is essential and enables us the opportunity to offer information and/or support.

SPORTS BETTING OPERATOR

Sports Betting Operator provides new product and technology features and the latest Sports Betting News, keeping Online gambling companies up to date with the fastest growing Gambling Sector in the world. www.sportsbettingoperator.com

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John Hagan, chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling

Responsible Gambling Let’s get the whole industry talking about responsible gambling. Sophie Behan chats to John Hagan

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esponsible Gambling Week is a campaign led by the gambling industry that aims to stimulate a conversation with staff, customers and the wider public about safer gambling. We asked John Hagan, chairman of the Industry Group For Responsible Gambling, about preparations for the 2019 campaign and what he hopes to achieve in the third year of the campaign: How was Responsible Gambling Week 2018? We were delighted with the success of the 2018 campaign; it was the second year of the campaign and we saw a step-change in the level of support from the whole gambling industry, with every sector coming together to support Responsible Gambling Week. We also communicated to new audiences, thanks partly to support and engagement from football clubs, racecourses and other non-industry partners, and the #RGWeek18 hashtag generated nearly 20 million impressions. However, Responsible Gambling Week is not a one-off campaign that lasts for only a week, it is a public expression of the industry’s year-round commitment to promote safer gambling. I have witnessed a cultural change in operators’ approach to customer protection over the last few years, with real leadership at boardroom level, and that is the underlying message of Responsible Gambling Week. Operators need to empower their staff to engage with customers and lead the conversation about safer gambling. What progress are you seeing from this initiative in heightening the profile of education to the public about Gambling? We have commissioned research about the public’s attitude to education about safer gambling, which we will unveil on the eve of Responsible Gambling Week, which takes place from November 7th-November 13th. I hope that will help stimulate further debate about the type of information, advice and help the public want from the industry. It is easy for people to think that messages about

safer gambling don’t apply to them, but we know that everybody who is a problem gambler is somebody who once thought they didn’t have a problem. I think one way of measuring the success of this initiative is the extent on which we can focus on prevention rather than cure. How is planning going for 2019? Our plans are well advanced; the Industry Group For Responsible Gambling, which is comprised of trade associations representing every industry sector, has been working on the campaign for several months. It is important that we share our ideas with operators in the lead-up to Responsible Gambling Week so they can make their own plans for supporting the campaign and encourage their staff to engage as fully as possible with the campaign.

Are you happy with the level of cooperation from all sectors of the Gambling industry? Yes, we have seen strong support from throughout the industry. All operators have made minimum commitments to support Responsible Gambling Week, including staff involvement in the campaign and sharing content from social media channels. Some operators are planning special fundraising events, which is a very visible way for staff to interact with customers and to raise money for good causes at the same time. Others have pledged to donate advertising space, digital assets and other marketing collateral. We will have strong support from operators who sponsor football clubs, with responsible

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gambling messages emblazoned on team kits and advertising at football grounds and in match programmes. The campaign should be a conversation involving the whole industry and we would like to see everyone in the industry following our social channels and sharing our responsible gambling content. You can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RGWeek19 and on

be referring consumers to the website throughout the campaign. Gamcare will also be running training courses, targeted at professionals working with young people, during Responsible Gambling Week.

Twitter at @RGWeek19 and this year also on Instagram at @RGWeek19.

a broad-based campaign with two distinct elements. One element is ensuring that we communicate responsible gambling messages to the widest possible audiences, equipping customers with the tools they need to gamble safely, and reaching occasional gamblers, as well as regular customers. The second, equally important element, is for operators to ensure that their staff are trained to interact with customers and initiate appropriate conversations about safer gambling; the gambling industry needs to demonstrate that it is doing the right things and putting the right measures in place to help its customers gamble responsibly. The ‘Building a safer gambling industry’ summit, hosted by EGR in association with Responsible Gambling Week, on November 7th is an opportunity for the whole industry to come together as one to discuss strategies that are already working and to consider new ideas that would help the industry further improve customer protection.

What’s new for Responsible Gambling Week this year? We are delighted to have the support of Punch Pubs and Co, who will be offering promotional kits, including posters and beer mats to their entire network of 1,300 pubs across the UK so this year you will see responsible gambling messages outside of gambling venues. We also have support from machine manufacturers, Astra Games, Scientific Gaming, Reflex and Inspired Gaming, through their network of machines. We have launched a new website, www. responsiblegamblinguk.org which provides a wealth of information and resources about safer gambling for consumers. It is a year-round, one-stop information hub, and we have worked closely with Gamcare, who have provided the resources for the website. We will

Have you anything else you would like to add? We recognize that Responsible Gambling Week must be

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Johnny Viveiro Ortiz Founder of Zitro

Winning Performance with Zitro Gaming Johnny Viveiro Ortiz Founder of Zitro chats to David McKee ahead of G2E Las Vegas 2019

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itro Games has been leading the video bingo market for some time, and now, with its immensely succesfuly Bryke video lots product line that includes dynamic progressive slots such as Link King, Link Me and Link shock, and its branched out into Internetbased social gaming and real money igaming, it prepares itself to become a global leader in the gaming industry. What will Zitro be bringing to Global Gaming Expo? We sat down for a few minutes with founder Johnny Viveiro Ortiz to learn more Why is G2E Las Vegas such an important Exhibition for Zitro Games? G2E Las Vegas is one of the most important trade shows in the world where the global gaming industry comes together. It is a perfect place and moment to show to operators our best performing products as well as exciting new games and cabinets, which surely will contribute significantly to our expansion plans and improve our already privileged position. How was G2E Las Vegas 2018 for Zitro Games and what are your expectations for the 2019 show? Last year at G2E was phenomenal! We presented products that have marked the industry, placing us as number one performers in venues with smash hits such as ‘Link King’, ‘Link Me’ or ‘Link Shock’ from our ‘Bryke’ Video Slot product range. As our product offering continues to grow, our footprint in the casinos does as well, along with a much higher brand reputation based on excellent performance and first-class service. Last year at G2E we were impressed by the number of people visiting our booth. This year, we expect it to be even more and we are certain that they will be astonished by what they will be able to see and touch this time.

When does your planning for the show commence and logistically, how does the company deal with getting all the equipment, machines and displays to the Las Vegas venue? Planning a show of this kind starts well ahead of the actual event dates and involves a lot of specialized people in the company. We do the majority of tasks internally, including booth layout and design with our in-house architect, to guarantee an optimum presentation of our products. As we have been participating in shows all around the globe for many years now, the processes are established and work out very well. It is, however, still great to see a booth once finished, with all its details, and realize, that this is only possible thanks to the great team of people we have at Zitro working closely together. True teamwork. Are you in a position to let us know of what games cabinets and associated gaming equipment and systems visitors can expect to see on the Zitro Games 2019 Booth? I am especially excited about this year’s edition, as not only will we present amazing new games, but we will also

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be launching two fascinating brand new cabinets with games that are worldwide novelties. The first cabinet we will present is ‘ILLUSION’, a portrait type of cabinet with a massive 43” Ultra HD curved LCD and a 21.5” Full HD Topper. It also includes the benefits of our digital button panel ‘SmartDeck’. On ‘ILLUSION’ we will showcase the progressive link ‘Bashiba’, a multigame that combines for the first time ever proven multiway game mechanics with our extremely popular Link Bonus. ‘ALLURE’ is the second cabinet that will make its global debut at the show. This amazing cabinet includes three 27” Full HD Screens as well as our powerful ‘SmartDeck’, and stands out thanks to its ‘Syncroscreens’; a multimedia system integrated by the superior monitors that create an incredible immersive experience. At G2E we will show many great games on ‘ALLURE’ but three of them are also worldwide novelties with complete different math models. The first two games are from the latest product series called ‘88 Link’ launching with the titles ‘88 Link Wild Duels’ and ‘88 Link Lucky Charms’. The third one is ‘88 Link Shock’, the next game of our ‘Shock’ product series, after the incredible success of ‘Link Shock’. Our shock products have a common mystery jackpot that can be interconnected to create a local mystery progressive jackpot in specific areas of a casino we call ‘Shock Lounges’. Both cabinets, ‘Illusion’ and ‘Allure’, are cabinets that, just as our already renowned Fusion cabinet in both of its upright and slant versions, occupy less space on the floor and have more capacity inside the machine, than any other gaming machine on the market. What else have you planned for this year’s G2E Las Vegas? We will present many more new and exciting games, as well as enhanced versions of our best performers of both of our products lines, Video Slots and Video Bingo on operators and players favorite ‘Fusion Slant’ and ‘Fusion Upright’ cabinets. In addition, Zitro Interactive, our online gaming division, will present its huge game library for online operators, as well as our second social Casino ‘Let’s WinUp!’.

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For those attending, how best can they organize a tour of your latest games and cabinets during the show and how easy is the booth to locate on the show floor? We have improved our location this year and visitors can now find us easily on Paradise Road at booth #4447. In order to have the best experience on our booth and not miss any of our great games, one of our Sales Managers will show you around. If you don’t know yet who would be your direct contact, contact us through our web page www.zitrogames.com, and we will get you in touch with the right person. If you drop by our booth without an appointment, reach out to any of our staff members onsite, who will be delighted to attend you. Is there anything else you would like to add? I could not be more excited about all of our amazing new products we are presenting at the show, and especially thrilled with the launch of two stunning cabinets ‘Illusion’ and ‘Allure’ on which we have been working on very passionately and that are launching with the worldwide novelties ‘Bashiba’ and ’88 Link’, games that for the first time combine proven multiway game mechanics with our Link Bonus but with complete different models. Zitro is going to crush it at G2E this year! Come and visit us to see for yourself!


Affordable Solutions

Damien Connelly chats to Vigen Badalyan CEO & Founder BetConstruct

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hether you’re looking to build a walk-up sports book, a social gaming platform or virtual-reality gambling, BetConstruct is there with a softwaresupport solution. Indeed, it’s incredibly reductive to assign to BetConstruct just a handful of roles. In the following interview, BetConstruct CEO Vigen Badalyan discusses everything from the challenges of U.S. sports betting to what customers can expect to see at G2E Las Vegas

Vigen Badalyan CEO & Founder BetConstruct

Can you describe your process of collaborating with clients? From opening our front-end source codes to allowing a choice of third-party sportsbook solutions on its native platform, the guiding principle for the collaboration with our partner operators is giving them freedom of choice, flexibility and transparency. We provide the opportunities to succeed to all our partners - our products, services, tools and business models uphold to our founding principles. We make a considerable effort to get to know our partners better and after that we deliver our services fitting to their demands and scale of operation. That’s what made us successful and that’s why we want our partners to embrace these qualities as well. What is unique about BetConstruct? BetConstruct’s bold decisions and ground-breaking solutions speak volumes about our confidence and ultimate vision. Freedom and flexibility are simply the core drivers of BetConstruct approach. Creative thinking, close collaboration with our partners and peers and unflinching drive to perfection result in moves unconstrained by taboos and conventional thinking. This is how BetConstruct challenges the status quo and helps the industry to challenge itself. When it comes to products and operating models, BetConstruct is about giving freedom of choice to our partners and providing them with the tools necessary to profit from that freedom. That’s the most important thing that we do.

Having such a wide-ranging product portfolio and being able to offer flexible, transparent, easy to understand and affordable solutions drives our significant growth and geographical expansion. Have you worked on any projects? If so, which ones and did you find them exciting? BetConstruct is always in the middle of something. When the working day ends in the office on one continent, the team from another one picks it up. There is always something exciting going on at BetConstruct. As for now, AI and ML are the technologies which inspire us the most. This summer we launched a beta version for our virtual gaming and betting assistant Hoory. Just like any person can use voice recognition technology within their smartphone to check the traffic or see the weather forecast, our partner

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operators can offer the same assets to their players but in igaming. Using Hoory players can see the statistics for their favourite teams, upcoming matches and eventually place a bet. This technology is relatively new in the sphere of igaming and we will keep on seeking ways to make the most of it and help operators deliver outstanding player experience. What can visitors to the BetConstruct booth expect to see at this year’s G2E Las Vegas We have two new products to reveal, it’s Predictor, a game which allows players to predict the outcome of sporting events, and Sweepstake, a contest-type game tied to sports. It goes without saying that our award-winning Sportsbook will be demonstrated at G2E Vegas. We will also talk about our Fantasy Sports, Social Gaming, the above-mentioned gaming assistant Hoory and so much more. BetConstruct partners both future and existing are invited to our special presentation of products for the US market on October 15 taking place in the same venue as SBC’s Vegas Baby party just a few hours earlier. During our presentation we will have drinks and discussions on topics like launching online sportsbook from scratch, Fantasy Sports landscape in the USA, the hidden potential of Social Gaming and more. How is BetConstruct finding the US Sports Betting Sector? The US Market is the next big thing. It is a peculiar market and being active there means catering to 50 countries taking into account both the legal requirements and player preferences. We believe that this market which steadily adopts legislation, for many reasons, has a good potential of becoming the biggest one in the world. As for now, we have good grounds to strengthening our presence in the US. Every experience here holds a significant value, and with every new entry we learn which products and services to provide, we localize our existing products and of course, try to bring innovative solutions. How many live matches and pre-match events can the BetConstruct sportsbook software provide and how many types of sport do you provide along with languages? BetConstruct Sportsbook differentiates itself from other providers in that it caters for all types of operators. Our Sportsbook continually evolves while delivering 120+ sport types and on top of the addition of both UK & Ireland Horse and Greyhound racing, it now includes PMU racing. We have more than 50k pre-match events and more than 40k Live events offered in 20+ languages. Whilst Sportsbook is managed by our team of experienced traders and risk

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managers, the backoffice tools allow operators to be as involved as they want; choosing markets, setting margins, influencing odds, manual pricing and fixing limits are some of the tools that allow the more experienced operators to have an increased input into their offerings and allow for greater and focussed differentiation. To help operators stand out in the market and offer a unique interactive player experience, we launched a voice activated gaming assistant Hoory. What are the main features of the Sports Betting iGaming platform? We recognise the individuality of each operator and look to deliver a solution that can be easily tailored to meet their needs. Spring™ includes key components that are pre-integrated and can be used to extend the capabilities of the platform. Spring™ by BetConstruct is the advanced gaming platform that powers the extensive suite of BetConstruct products and provides all the necessary tools for an operator to manage their business. Our partner operators have full access to all BetConstruct products and services alongside 3rd party integrations whilst providing a full control and complete 360 degree view over the entire player lifecycle. Responsible Gaming is at the heart of Spring™ and the solution meets all of the requirements for the above territories as well as meeting the GLI 19 standard. In order to increase player engagement, BetConstruct has also implemented a number of its player retention tools across all the new slots to offer a premium gaming experience. How much freedom do operators have for example with options to choose from multiple offers for live and pre match along with setting odds? From a betting offering perspective, all our operators have access to our powerful backoffice management tool. This gives them the freedom to choose which sports, which competitions, which matches and which markets they want to offer to their players. They can have different choices for pre-match and in-play. Together with this they can also set rules for different margins and bet limits that they want to offer, with the ability to go as far as setting different amounts for a specific market within a specific match. Those operators that have a trading department and want to be more pro-active on certain competitions/matches can have the ability to directly set their own odds. Further to this they can control the margins for Cash Out as well as directly affect the players’ limits and bet delays. As a fully managed solution we provide our operators with all the tools that


they need to differentiate themselves. What innovations are you expecting to see in sports betting in the future? BetConstruct is known for its tendency to look for improvements and innovations. Sports betting data is the field where more creativity and innovation can be displayed. There is so much one can do with all the data collected during any match. Our data provider FeedConstruct has been aggressively innovating in this sector by putting forward a number of solutions meant to facilitate the ways of collecting and distributing sporting data. There is much focus on the niche of Esports as its audience grows daily. Aside from that, we expect a lot from the sector of landbased betting solutions. What is BetConstruct planning for the rest of the year? We have a few major exhibitions this fall and winter. As for now, we gear up for a huge showcase at G2E Vegas where we are going to reveal two new products, developed specifically for the US market. It’s Predictor and Sweepstake. We are working hard on Hoory voice assistant. Primarily, our virtual assistant was created to deliver a hands-free betting experience with a simple command enough to take a user

to sportsbook, show the forthcoming matches of a chosen team and their latest statistical data. Currently, Hoory understands 100+ commands and this number is growing and the more interaction a user makes, the smarter our gaming assistant becomes. For those of our readers attending G2E Las Vegas can you provide details on your booth location and advice for organising a visit to your booth? On October 15 - 17 BetConstruct will be exhibiting at Stand 4818. We have two new products to reveal, it’s Predictor, a game which allows players to predict the outcome of sporting events, and Sweepstake, a contest-type game tied to sports. It goes without saying that our award-winning Sportsbook will be demonstrated at G2E Vegas. We will also talk about our Fantasy Sports, Social Gaming, the abovementioned gaming assistant Hoory and so much more. BetConstruct partners both future and existing are invited to our special presentation of products for the US market on October 15 taking place in the same venue as SBC’s Vegas Baby party just a few hours earlier. During our presentation we will have drinks and discussions on topics like launching online sportsbook from scratch, Fantasy Sports landscape in the USA, the hidden potential of Social Gaming and more.

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Jurgen De Munck

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Systems Technology that Allows Operators to Measure, Manage and Reward their Players Better DRGT™s Jurgen De Munck, Alfredo Moreno and Alex Stiglich look ahead to G2E Las Vegas DRGT™ will again be exhibiting at G2E in October; can you share with us the events’ significance to your business? Jurgen: Our company was established well over a decade ago in Belgium, with us opening our Lima office in 2012, followed by offices in Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay over the last 18 – 24 months. I mention our Mexican and LatAm offices in particular, as they are the very reason we are at G2E. Alex: Las Vegas, as an attraction, aside from its physical location, and G2E itself, provides me with an ideal opportunity to engage and entertain existing and prospective customers, and meet new ones. We do some really good business out of the show, and attending is a simple non-negotiable. Alfredo: The value in attending G2E is the same for me. It is even closer for my customers; and in my view, as one of the top 2 gaming exhibitions in the world, it is without a doubt an event we have to attend. Aside from your Mexican and LatAm businesses Jurgen, what sort of global spread does DRGT™ enjoy? Jurgen: In addition to Alfredo and Alex’s businesses in Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, we also operate directly across Europe and Africa through offices in South Africa, Belgium, Austria and Malta, and indrectly across Asia through our long-standing customer and partner RGB International.

At present we operate across over 50 countries and on over 60,000 devices globally. What are the main products driving this growth? Jurgen: We are a systems company, it remains the core off of what the bulk of our development and product scope is built around. We are continually researching new technologies and adding features and products to our system in order to better enable casino operators to measure, manage and reward their players better. Whilst ease-of-use and functionality (and flexibility) are integral to our systems success, so is robustness. Aside from our management system itself, our BlackJack11’s tables jackpot game continues to generate significant player interest, and as a result operator revenues, which in turn has driven demand.

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Jurgen De Munck

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Finally I would say, based on the general technological advances in customer relationship and retention management across all business sectors, that our

Our Tables Management System now seamlessly integrates Tables game play data into our accounting, cage and reporting modules, as a result affording operators

integrated player loyalty customer engagement tools like our drScreen player interface units and our media manager software are becoming more and more sought after.

the ability to recoup that much needed time for staff to actually engage with players. We’re now also able to offer double loyalty points to players of our side-bet jackpot games; ultimately getting ever closer to the kind of functionaity and rewards available to Slots players and Slots Managers.   Alfredo, Jurgen referred to BlackJack11’s’ popularity, have you seen this trend locally in Mexico too? Alfredo: We have; the response has been fantastic! As an ex-operator, I can really see why the game is doing so well. It really is just so easy and fast to learn and play. We currently have 7 tables installed across some of the Miravalle Group’s casinos, a number which we expect to increase significantly across the rest of the Group soon, adding to what already is a list of in excess of 50 new BlackJack11’s tables requests across a number of Mexican operators’ casinos.

Referring specifically to your management system, I believe it has had some major developments done to better cater for the tables market? Alex: Slots have always been at the forefront of management systems development based simply on the technology they use. Table games on the other hand remain very manual and labour intensive, which has it’s positives and negatives; • It creates great customer engagement opportunities, but • as technology progressed, that personal touch was lost as Tables staff spent more and more time having to manually capture game play data.

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Alfredo Moreno

Our Tables Management System that Alex referred to earlier has also now started to gain traction in Mexico. Aside from your BlackJack11’s tables jackpot game, your slots jackpot technology is always well received – there have been two really big wins this year, correct? Jurgen: Yes there have been; in early June just over 2 Million Swiss Francs was won at Grand Casino Basel, that equates to just over USD2 Million, and then in May, Sun International’s Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth paid the biggest jackpot in South Africa in 25 years on our SunStriker Wide-Area Progressive (WAP) of just over ZAR3.3 Million (+- USD215,000). As an aside: • The SunStriker WAP was installed across the Sun International Group in 2014, and to date has not endured a single second of down-time; add to that the fact that • Our biggest WAP client operates our jackpot technology across 5,000 EGMs and over 100 locations,

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Alex Stiglich

and we really do have a compelling (and robust) jackpot story to tell. Now that you mention South Africa Jurgen; it was one of the initial global jurisdictions to implement cashless gaming as far back as the late 1990s. You’ll be part of a discussion in this regard on Thursday 17 October at G2E, right? Jurgen: Yes that is quite correct. I’ll be joining an international panel on Thursday 17 October at 12:30 under the topic: ‘ Implementing Cashless and Cardless Systems’. Our integrated RFID and NFC card loyalty and management system technology remains one of our success stories. I hope to be able to share some valuable insights in to what to look out for, and how to implement cashless and cardless technology effectively and efficiently. The fact that I’ll be joined by operators who are already reaping these technology benefits will without a doubt provide for some ubiased, insightful and valuable learnings for attendees.


Sun City Tables Manager, Zarko Leovac with his latest BlackJack11’s installation

In closing gentlemen, any final comments ahead of October’s show? Jurgen: One last product I’d like to mention is our integrated loyalty and player registration access gate. The drGate was an extremely popular show piece at ICE in London, and it will be on display again in Las Vegas. Outside of it’s primary access control function, it provides operators with a further engagement opportunity; another means to ‘suprise and delight’ their players - either as they enter, or as they exit the casino, with individually tailored, or group-based, special offers, advertising, bonus games or rewards. Alex: Travel safely and we’ll see you in Vegas from 15 - 17 October Alfredo: Indeed! Viaja con cuidado, nos vemos pronto en Las Vegas.

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Social Casino Gaming – Get In Now

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By: Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd

K, so I want to get into the online gaming space, do I head down the online casino road, or do I opt for social casino games, for me having been an online casino owner operator since 2001, it’s a no brainer, I’ll take social games every time and this is why. Social Casino Gaming is booming, in 2018 the global social gaming industry generated a whopping $110 Billion in revenues, with the social casino gaming segment generating $5.5 billion in revenues. Not surprisingly China, Japan and Korea generate 90% of the games revenue in the Asia Pacific region. After North America, Asia is the second largest social casino market with revenues of around $900 Million, and that number is growing with an eye popping 250% YoY growth. JP Morgan estimates in the coming year we will see 8% - 10% revenue growth in the Asia pacific region alone. Over the last couple of years, eager to build out and promote their brands, savvy land based casino companies are spending huge amounts to get into social as they recognise the easy branding opportunities with excellent cross over promotions and the opportunity to build out their data bases. Given the huge costs and licensing restrictions associated with operating an online casino site, working with a good social casino platform makes a lot of sense. The most popular games are slots, bingo and poker which are easily played on mobile devices. Over the past couple of years there has been a definite and pronounced shift to mobile platforms, this reflects a move away from PC based platforms where social media giant Facebook, which in 2012 and 2013 was estimated to have 59% market share, today has an estimated 23% market share. The mobile technology today means fantastic graphics with great sound quality which make the games all the more addictive, which at the end of the day is what the publishers are looking for. Sticky games with addictive qualities is what it’s all about, and publishers don’t have to reinvent new games to meet these goals. In terms of game development over the past 5 years there really hasn’t been any new game innovations or

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Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd

additional game upgrades, after all the core basics of a slot, bingo or poker game are already there. Slotomania although being the oldest social slot game on the market is today still the most popular offering with more than 20 million likes on FB. In terms of publishers, Playtika remains the largest social casino publisher and the most popular of the social casino portals with around 29% market share, closely followed by Double Down and Scientific Games at 8%, with Zynga and Madfish coming in with around 7% market share each. In terms of regulation, there isn’t any as social casino gaming with no prize or payout schedule is not considered to be gambling also very few people understand the difference between gambling and social games. Interestingly only recently we have seen China move to ban all forms of social Texas Hold’em Poker, in the U.S. however gambling requires the presence of three elements: consideration, chance and some sort of prize.


Players bet on the outcome of an uncertain event to win a larger amount. Social games are not gambling, if they eliminate one of the three elements. Because the games are not regulated, operators are free to set the odds at any level they want. In fact, these games are almost never truly random. Game developers don’t want players to get bored, so the game becomes easier if a player is stuck at one level, or on the other hand harder if the player is winning too quickly. This Dynamic Game Balancing (“DGB”) is done automatically, because game designers want players to be hooked and these games are addictive as a result. So if it’s not gambling how do social casino game providers generate the large revenues we see today? There are basically three revenue models: 1. FREE, WITH IN-APP-PURCHASES (IAPs) – The most common and lucrative model. Distributing a free, entirely open-access game attracts players to download. Once captivated, IAPs offer additional credits, discounts and incentive chances to skip ahead or enhance the playing experience. 2. FREEMIUM Apps – Freemium apps involve some form of ‘upgrade’, perhaps to unlock exclusive levels. Non-game apps, particularly media providers, often use this model in the form of a ‘paywall’ protecting premium content. 3. PAID / PREMIUM – Pay your money and get your game. The old fashioned way. Parents, many of whom have decried IAPs as honey-traps, rate this model. Minecraft, for example, is a global smash hit, and can be purchased once and played almost infinitely. Savvy and successful operators optimise trigger activities and focus on micro data detail for example, what prompts a player to purchase an IAP? Trigger activities like getting stuck on a level, or having to wait 30 minutes for some seeds drive IAPs. Understanding how these trigger activities work, and analysing individual or macro-level data is critical for showing the right paid products to the right players at the right time. For operators today the main challenges are the rise of the user acquisition and ongoing development costs. Compared to running an online casino site these costs are still much lower, but never the less as any operator will tell you having good marketing strategies to fish

where the fish are makes all the difference between success and failure. Not only do social casino developers have to compete with their direct competitors, but also with successful online operators, land-based casinos and other social or mobile game developers that are looking to enter the social casino markets. The key is to focus on new markets and opportunities such as Asia. In addition, developing new distribution channels beyond Facebook, iOS and Google Play as well as continually working on product innovation is a must. So long story short, social casino gaming is a rapidly expanding market segment with new and emerging markets like Asia as the best bet to get in and be successful. Evidence of this fact can be seen from the recent sale of Playtika. Under performing and picked up for $90 million by Caesars Entertainment, after only 3 years it was sold off to a Chinese consortium for a massive $4.5 Billion. As they say a rising tide lifts all boats, and that something we are definitely seeing through the Asia Pacific region.

Shaun McCamley Biography Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd has over 39 years’ experience in the land based and digital gaming industries. Recognized by Global Gaming Business Weekly as one of the top 25 industry people to watch. Holder of Key Management Gaming Licenses issued by the USA and Australia. In 1999, as a pioneer and early operator in online gaming, he founded BingoWorkz which developed and operated the internet’s first networked gaming solution using Flash technology. Since 2001 building Euro-Pacific-Asia Management Consulting into a leading firm that provides advice, casino management services and turn-key solutions to the land based and digital gaming industries. A former President, CEO, and SVP of international gaming resort destinations. Commissioned to establish international casino resort developments in Australia (Perth) the Philippines (Subic Bay) Vietnam (Ho Tram) Tinian and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Shaun is regularly invited to serve as chairman, keynote speaker and panelist at major gaming conferences around the world. As the Managing Partner for Euro Pacific Asia Consulting, Shaun continues to consult to the industries’ major land based and digital gaming operators.

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Eyes on Artificial Intelligence (AI) By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a collection of raw data using technology to make sense out of them, and have the tasks performed by an automated program or a machine that using the intelligence to accomplish the task. The technology can discover patterns that were hard to find and help us in planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, manipulation, social intelligence and creativity.

How does Artificial Intelligence (AI) work The key to “create” Artificial Intelligence are the networks of interconnected layers of algorithms feeding data with each other, and trained to carry out specific tasks by modifying the importance attributed to input data as it passes between the layers. For example, the systems are fed with a huge amounts of data, which has been annotated to highlight the features of interest. These might be photos labelled to indicate whether they contain a dog and once trained, the system can then apply these labels can to new data, for example to a dog in a photo that’s just been uploaded. Algorithms are also to identify patterns in data, looking for similarities that can be used to categorise that data. Google uses AI to group stories on similar topics each day, and in similar thoughts, gaming operators can group their interest data for better decision making. An alternative theory in AI that worth mentioning for gaming is “reinforcement learning”. Simply say, it is an algorithm to “reward a pet with a treat when it performs a trick”. The algorithm attempts to maximize a reward by going through a process of trial and error until it arrives at the best possible outcome. Google DeepMind’s Deep Q-network is an example of this algorithm and beating human in a variety of classic video games.

Where to start for Gaming AI can detect patterns in hacker attacks and provide predictive analysis for breaches before they occur. AI can also improve customer retention, engagement and support by predicting customer behaviour. AI also can

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play a crucial role in scheduling, predictive maintenance, thru maximizing efficiency. AI can tell immediately who comes into your properties and warn you for risks with very minimal equipment needed. Nowadays with the advance in internet technology, probably the easiest way for the industry to experiment with AI-related services is via the cloud. Most of the major tech firms offer various AI services should have web services that allow you to access AI-powered tools to minimize your investment on internal infrastructure. The possibility is unlimited and it will be up to the innovation and compliance department of the gaming operator to discover.

To protect and advance together, or to kill jobs? Tesla CEO Elon Musk and esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking had warned that AI is a fundamental risk the existence of human civilization. I am not as “experience” as Mr. Musk or Mr. Hawking in any way, however, the possibility of AI to replace must of the modern manual labour is perhaps an irresistible truth for the near future. The only question is how rapidly and how profoundly the AI will alter the workplace and our industry (or I should say, “ANY” industry). I started my coding career at the age of 12 in the 80s and witnessed as with every technological shift, new jobs will be created to replace those lost. What’s uncertain is whether the people are adopting the new skills fast enough to face challenge of changes to fill these emerging roles. Also worth taking note is that the Chinese firms including Alibaba, Baidu, and Lenovo are investing heavily in AI in fields ranging from ecommerce to autonomous driving. With the favourable policies in technology-focused city like Shenzhen and Beijing, it is in progress to turn AI into a core industry for the country, one that will be worth 150 billion yuan ($22bn) by 2020. Macau as the world’s largest gaming city in China will definitely be benefit from the technology, potentially leading the innovation advance in the global trend for the industry.


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Manage this by Robert Brassai

The Real Value of Industry Shows and Conferences

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hows and conferences in any industry serve various purposes. These purposes can be very different when we look at them from the different perspectives of the three major players; suppliers, operators and the event organizers. Operators use these gatherings for being up to date on new technologies and products, hearing from industry experts about the latest trends, problems and solutions, meeting long lost buddies, getting out of the office for a couple of days and “networking” on the booze provided by the suppliers. Suppliers are there to showcase their products, entertain their existing and potential customers, shortly; sell. This will cost them quite a bit of money, but it’s built into the price of their product, so when they give you “free” tickets to that Cirque de Soleil show in Vegas, you as an operator actually pay for it indirectly. The organizers create a place and date for the above parties to meet and if they do their jobs well, their events go onto the yearly agenda of operators and suppliers for years, ensuring a nice and steady flow of profit for companies like Clarion and Reed Expo just to mention two of the biggest ones in our industry. The number of events has multiplied compared to what we had a decade ago and now almost every major market has its own gaming show. This comes from the realisation that people will almost certainly attend an event in their own country or hometown, while not everyone has the time or budget to cross an ocean for the sake of some education or a meeting with a supplier who is going to visit them in their casinos anyway. Shows big and small usually have a conference stream and some education thrown in for good measure. The more complete the offer, the bigger the audience. Most attendees will have to be able to justify to their bosses, employers why their presence is needed at a particular event, so organizers give them as many reasons to attend as they possibly can.

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Robert Brassai

As you can see, shows and conferences are a profitable business; nobody would do them otherwise. What sets different industry events apart is the professionalism and dedication of the organizers. While most of these companies are in it for the money only, there are a few events every year that are worth attending for the actual content. Content in the case of most shows, as I mentioned above, is just an additional revenue generator, part of the recipe of a successful event. When the organizers are actual industry veterans, people who understand and appreciate what the operators and suppliers want to hear about, how to offer them content


that actually makes a difference for the businesses they run, suddenly attending makes sense. Spending 2-3 days in a foreign city, going into all the trouble of travel and being away from home, won’t be in vain. Meeting like minded people, being able to discuss real problems, pick the brains of your industry peers, see what solutions they have for the problems that you face back at home as well, is simply priceless. I attended a few of these boutique events and always came away richer, with useful contacts, new ideas and proven methods to implement at home. The Ampersend series of events organized by Clarion promises to become a useful gathering, which I think will have a bright future, especially if the company puts some more effort behind it and lets industry specialists get involved in the organization of these gatherings.

Lucien Wijsman started his slot academy and slot summit well over a decade ago and with knowledge and dedication turned these into must attend events in Europe and beyond. After having sold his company, he couldn’t sit on his laurels, so he came up with the idea of a similar event, this time involving not just the slot side of things but offering something for most casino professionals. His new event is called the Casino Operations Summit and the first instance will take place in Riga on the 21 to 23 April 2020. This first get together will be the start of one of the most interesting and rewarding series of casino events of our days. The lineup of speakers and the list of attendees will guarantee three days of quality conferences, that will seriously enrich all who participate. Another must attend event you need to put on your calendars.

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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CONNECTING INDUSTRY LEADERS AT THE HEART OF GAMING IT ALL STARTS HERE Set yourself up for success at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) – the largest gathering of global, commercial and tribal gaming professionals in North America. Take advantage of new educational content that is actionable and experience first-hand the new products and innovative technologies showcased in the Expo Hall. G2E has everything you need for your casino floor and across your entire operation – from traditional casino fare to sports betting, non-gaming amenities and digital products – G2E is where your business growth is accelerated.

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G2E Preview 2019

Cammegh strive to increase global success

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nown for producing The World’s Finest Roulette Wheel, Cammegh will be putting on a show at G2E Vegas. The UK company has boasted continued success in North America, across Nevada, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and

Washington State, to name a few. G2E Attendees are cordially invited to visit Booth 2026 to observe a beautifully hand-painted Mercury 360 wheel, adorned with the Stars and Stripes synonymous with the USA flag. This is aptly referred to by the Cammegh team as ‘The Patriot Wheel’. Cammegh will also be presenting the Mini Wheel, Slingshot 2 Automatic Wheel, the patented RRS wheel with Halo, and the Nevada favourite, the Triple Zero Wheel. Cammegh’s market-leading roulette wheels will be accompanied by the stunning Billboard Display Systems. Pin-sharp results with a host of customisable features put the excitement back into winning number displays. Our in-house graphics team works with customers to produce eye-catching and unique ways of displaying game results. Additional features allow customers to capitalise on the Billboard Display Systems high performance by adding productivity timers, rotor direction indicators and rotor

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speed warnings that are virtually undetectable to the players, while allowing surveillance to monitor the game with ease. The full array of Cammegh’s Spread-Bet catalogue will also be available for play, including Spread-Bet Roulette, Spread-Bet Baccarat and an update to the Nevadaapproved Spread-Bet Blackjack. Spread-Bet Blackjack will be alongside a combination of various side-bet games aimed at giving players and spectators a chance to ‘Beat the house’ with back-betting enabled layouts and games that are easy to learn and complement one another without compromising house edge. “Our team have been extremely busy with a series of US installations in recent months with 7 installations taking place the week of the show,” says Andrew Cammegh. “North America continues to be fruitful for Cammegh; the growing success of the Triple Zero wheel in tourist hotspots has generated a healthy workload for the production team. The Cammegh brand is growing in visibility across regulated US markets, with customers appreciating the values of the business and trusting in the service and quality of product being delivered. We are excited to bring our mature and reliable range to G2E Vegas alongside our latest innovations and upgrades to seasoned favourites. We welcome everyone to visit Cammegh at Booth 2026 to partake first-hand in the complete Cammegh experience.

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G2E Preview 2019

SUZOHAPP to Return to G2E with New Leadership, New Products, New Vision

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UZOHAPP – a leading technology company with over 50,000 gaming, amusement, sports betting, lottery and bingo products for casino operators and gaming OEMs – will once again be exhibiting at The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) from October 15-17 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. G2E is the largest gathering of global, commercial and tribal gaming professionals in North America and showcases the latest developments in gaming products and technology. A consistent presence at G2E for over 20 years, SUZOHAPP will be bringing two new members of its Gaming & Amusement team this year - Sim Bielak, the recently named President of Global Gaming & Amusement, as well as Todd Sims, SUZOHAPP’s new Vice President of Gaming & Amusement for North and South America. Both Bielak and Sims bring with them significant industry experience and understand the needs of OEMs and operators well. “Gaming has been at the core of the SUZOHAPP business for decades,” said Bielak. “We understand that manufacturers and operators value innovation to drive growth, but also need simplicity and efficiency to keep operating costs low.” SUZOHAPP’s new global approach to the Gaming & Sports Betting business provides all that and more. Leveraging the feedback of its international customer base, along with its world-class engineering team, SUZOHAPP continues to bring customer-driven innovation to the market. New products to be introduced at this year’s G2E include the Newland line of scanners, new

printer models from Nanoptix, the high-tech lock system e-LockPro, custom lottery and sports betting AiOs, and an expanded VisionPro monitor line. As the industry consolidates, working with a global supplier with a local presence like SUZOHAPP simplifies operations while maintaining local connections for support and service. With its wide range of components and technologies for gaming machines and sports betting terminals, SUZOHAPP delivers the most complete offering in the business. Gaming machine and sports betting kiosk manufacturers find in SUZOHAPP a one-stop-shop for all their product needs which significantly simplifies sourcing. “Todd and I are looking forward to reconnecting with current partners and introducing ourselves to prospective customers,” continued Bielak. “There is solid opportunity in this industry and we are committed to growing SUZOHAPP’s product offerings and influence in the market.”

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The Last Word by Damien Connelly

Your Organisation’s Purpose Welcome to The Last Word. This issue of Casino Life has as its core editorial focus responsible gambling, which is a topic Casino Life has focused on and covered for many years. Responsible Gambling is the tactical outcome of something bigger — Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Going back in time to the Industrial Revolution, some industrialists (some, not many) recognised the importance of caring for their employees and giving more back to their local communities than they took out. New Lanark in Scotland, a village close to where I grew up, is a perfect example of this; New Lanark is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourist destination. Today in boardrooms across the world, business leaders are facing challenges that are quite new to many; a redefining of what is the purpose of a corporation from maximising shareholder value to one more akin to the New Lanark model.

Stakeholder Value The Business Roundtable is the largest business group in America whose members’ annual revenues total more than $7 trillion and who have over 15 million employees. The Business Roundtable recently replaced its view that the primary goal for business was maximising shareholder value with a widerreaching view that encompasses other stakeholders. The objective of this change by the Business Roundtable is to create a more inclusive and sustainable form of capitalism; something akin to that created in New Lanark hundreds of years ago. This more encompassing view of capitalism still focuses on turning a profit, so don’t think a focus on CSR will see your business turn into a hippie commune with meetings on hilltops and group singalongs to the New Seekers’ “I’d like to teach the world to sing” — which, by the way, remains one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time.

Telos and Aristotle It’s not often (if ever?) that an article in a casino media references Aristotle. It is relevant here because Aristotle believed everything has a ‘telos’…everything has an inherent purpose. What is your corporate purpose, your corporate telos? How would you answer the questions, “Why does your organisation exist? What is the inherent purpose of your organisation?”

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As we’re in the casino / gambling industry, it’s crucial I think to have at the core of your organisation’s telos responsible gambling; otherwise, you risk alienating customer cohorts and maybe even all of your customers eventually. The days of casinos ‘grinding’ their customers are thankfully in the past for all but the shadiest of operators in the wildest of jurisdictions. Each business has their own telos, so there is no generic answer to the two questions above. It’s for you to individually discover what is your organisation’s telos, be you operator, regulator, supplier, media, etc. To reference a recent Harvard Business Review article, “a description of corporate purpose turns an organization inside-out. Purpose looks at the organization from the outside to consider the difference that a business makes in people’s lives.” Purpose, therefore, is an outside-in view. This is different to other directional statements, such as mission, vision and values, which focus on the organisation; those take an inside-out view.

Mindful of Purpose Coca Cola’s 1971 hilltop TV commercial is actually a great benchmark given the changes we’re seeing; changes that are being driven by Gen Z and then picked up and carried by older generations (i.e. your target customers today and tomorrow). The altruistic and encompassing hopes and ambitions of those hilltop times have recycled into the social conscience of today. Purpose guides decision-making. An example of this recently saw a large Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) business switch to using non-genetically modified organisms (GMO) ingredients in some of its main product categories. Due largely to this decision and the position and messaging it allowed the organisation to take, this CPG company has seen its U.S. market share in a key product category increase 10% even though it had to increase its product pricing to offset higher raw material costs. Being mindful of purpose should not come at the expense of growth or profits. Another global CPG company plans to double the size of its business through refocusing its strategy on its corporate purpose. What is your organisation’s purpose? Why does your organisation exist?


Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future... JOHN F. KENNEDY


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Casino Life Issue 133 Volume 15  

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Casino Life Issue 133 Volume 15  

www.casinolifemagazine.com