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Volume 15 Issue 132

Hard Rockin’ in Sacramento


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Editor’s Page Welcome to Casino Life...

Bill Miller, the new President and CEO of the AGA, sets the scene for a vibrant G2E next month with our Guest Comment. Hot on his heels is Mark Birtha, President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain who takes time out to give a in-depth interview and tells us more about the development from breaking ground in 2016 to the planned opening night. Dominika Zangerle, Assistant Manager and responsible for quality management at Casino Admiral Ruggell Liechtenstein chats to Peter White and Damien Connelly about how her career has progressed and help shape her approach to casino management. David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited then aptly talks more about the changes ahead for UK casinos when the Gambling Commissions LCCP requirements come into play. Prior to it being made illegal it ws estimated that up to 15% of Macaus GGR was via Proxy betting. Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd takes a closer look at the genre. I caught up with a very busy newly promoted Sim Bielak, President of Global Gaming & Amusement Business, SUZOHAPP and explored further their casino offering and what sets the company apart from its rivals. Managing Director, Ljubo Benko, G-Digital chats to Peter White about the benefits of digital signs and how the company is positioning itself to deliver cost effectve solutions to their gaming clientele across the world. Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot, takes us through five emerging tecnologies that every casino operator needs to understand from AI to 5G. It’s here – and now – and you need to know. Robert Brassai asks the bold question: “Is Europe a Place for Integrated Casino Resorts?” whilst we close with a sneak preview of what G2E will offer and leave the last word, as ever, to Damien Connelly. We look forward to G2E and meeting some Glyn Thomas of you there. Editor in Chief Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019

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Contents 3

Editors page

5 Guest Comment By: Bill Miller, President & CEO, American Gaming Association 6 Hitting a High Note: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain Amplifies Northern California Peter White chats to Glenda Nelson Chairperson of Enterprise Rancheria Tribe and Mark Birtha President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain 20 A Springboard for success Dominika Zangerle, Assistant Manager and responsible for quality management at Casino Admiral Ruggell Liechtenstein chats to Peter White and Damien Connelly 28 Solution Providers Sim Bielak, President of Global Gaming & Amusement Business, SUZOHAPP chats to Glyn Thomas 34 Screen Time Managing Director, Ljubo Benko, G-Digital chats to Peter White 37 Customer Interactions – The Next Chapter by David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited 42 Will Proxy Betting Continue To Deliver By: Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd 45 5 Emerging Technologies you must understand By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot 48 Manage this by Robert Brassai Is Europe a Place for Integrated Casino Resorts 50 G2E Las Vegas Preview Part 1 Zitro • DR Gaming Technology • Novomatic 58 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, Bill Miller American Gaming Association I am thrilled to head to Las Vegas in a few weeks for my first Global Gaming Expo (G2E) as the new president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association (AGA). Having attended once before, I’ve been looking forward to returning to the world’s premier international gaming trade show for some time. G2E is truly a must-attend event. It will be an exciting few days exploring new products and gaming innovations on the expo floor, taking in the outstanding roster of speakers and educational content, and meeting business leaders to discuss today’s industry opportunities and the critical issues we’ll face in the future. What I’m most looking forward to is the opportunity to meet so many of you and share our vision for the future of the gaming industry. At AGA, we are dedicated to creating an environment where gaming can thrive and realize its full potential as an exciting entertainment option for millions of Americans and a source of economic growth in the communities that gaming calls home. Last year, commercial casino gaming marked its fourth consecutive year of growth, with more than $41.7 billion in economic impact. Tax revenue, reinvested into local communities, also grew to a record-breaking $9.7 billion. Tribal gaming produced yet another record-setting year with total gaming revenue topping $32 billion in 2017. The more than 40 states that now permit commercial or tribal casino gaming are evidence of the industry’s growing popularity across the country, particularly as the legalisation of sports betting has brought our offerings to new states that had previously never offered casino gaming. This season, a record thirty-eight million American adults – 15 percent of the U.S. adult population – are planning to place a bet on National Football League (NFL) games, according to a recent AGA survey. With roughly 20 states having legalized sports betting and sportsbooks accepting bets in more than a dozen states, it’s more important than ever that we get sports betting done right.

Bill Miller, President & CEO, American Gaming Association

G2E’s Sports Betting Symposium will explore regulatory and industry developments surrounding this new landscape and the massive opportunities ahead, giving attendees the tools to ensure this new market in the United States is rolled out in a thoughtful and responsible manner. G2E is an incredible platform to showcase all that the gaming industry offers. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you and help set the table for what will be an incredible few days in October. I look forward to meeting you. Bill Miller President & CEO American Gaming Association

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Hitting a High Note: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain Amplifies Northern California

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Peter White chats to Glenda Nelson Chairperson of Enterprise Rancheria Tribe and Mark Birtha President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain

t’s not often that one Native American tribe looks to another to manage its gaming operations. But when the Enterprise Rancheria Tribe wanted to build a new casino, they turned to Hard Rock International, a Seminole-owned company with arguably the most potent brand equity in the casino business. Now Hard

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Rock Sacramento at Fire Mountain is ready to open. Tribal Chairwoman Glenda Nelson and Casino President Mark Birtha give us a virtual tour of the Tribal Showpiece. What is your role and how long have you been working here?


MB: I have been with Hard Rock International for over five years. I was most recently the president of Hard

Organization, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, that owns Hard Rock International. I’ve been focused on building

Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Ohio and I had the opportunity to review the plans for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain back in January of 2018. I actually had the Tribal Council who represent the ownership within Enterprise Rancheria visit my property in Ohio to get a sense of what their property was going to look like as they were building it here in Sacramento. My relationship started pretty early with them. The MGM company bought the Rocksino property and it turned over earlier this year, so in November of 2018 I had the opportunity to join the Sacramento development as the president of that property. In my role here, I’ve had the responsibility to oversee the development and the operational side, and to put together a great team of people to help open and then operate this property. At the same time, I had the opportunity to manage the tribal relationship between the Enterprise Rancheria Tribe and the Seminole Gaming

that relationship and driving the overall investment for the collective partnership and it has been a great role thus far. What do you think Hard Rock International is particularly well known for? MB: Where do I even begin? First and foremost Hard Rock is an iconic brand. We’re coming up on 50 years and we’re in as many countries as Starbucks around the world so the brand is highly powerful, very visible, and definitely stands for a number of principles. Without question, the vision of our leadership (Jim Allen, Jon Lucas, and of course the Seminole Tribe of Florida) has been ensuring the quality of the experience. We don’t deliver just a commodity and we’re not necessarily interested in just doing transactions. We really believe in the power and the value of creating an experience – we call them “authentic experiences that rock”. In our

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Council Oak Bar and Lounge

industry, which is hospitality, we are very focused on creating an experience, and that has a number of critical pieces. The service that we provide is centered around the people that we hire. We’ve been named a Forbes Top Employer, a great workplace for women, and those awards all translate into what we recently received – an award from J.D. Power as a Leader in the Upper Upscale Hotel and Hospitality segment. So again, I think our first focus is on hiring the best people with the right attitudes and passion for what they do, and really focusing on taking care of people.

create an energy and an environment for people to really have fun and enjoy. We live in a world that has a lot of black and white guidelines which often turns our days gray for all of us. I believe that the music and vibe of Hard Rock brings the color back into our lives from the vibrancy of our spaces, people, products and amenities. This creates a very exciting, value driven, and rewarding experience for our guests each and every day around the world.

That translates then into our secondary focus which is absolutely our product quality. Given our origins as a Cafe company, we do millions of interactions with guests a year; as part of that experience, we like to focus on having the best products and service available. Even just looking at the burgers that we create every single day around the world – the highest quality ingredients and the best of product excellence – we do that in every facet of our business. So I think having a focus on ensuring that we deliver great products is paramount in that overall guest experience as well. You combine that with creating some of the most amazing buildings – we call them “monuments”. From the guitar hotel that we’re building in Southern Florida in Hollywood, to the vibe and the energy that we’ll be creating here in Sacramento, to all the different destinations around the world, we truly create buildings that represent the highest level of design and detail, and

personnel. How many of those are drawn from other Hard Rock International Operations? How are you going about finding those employees whom will convey to guests the unique excitement that has made the brand world famous? MB: We’ve had around 2,000 construction workers on site since day one, and at full employment here when we open our doors we’ll have approximately 1,300 employees. Interestingly enough, a good number of those people have come from our own internal cafe, hotel, and casino divisions. We’ve been fortunate enough to recruit people from many of our properties including Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa and Hollywood, our prior Hard Rock Rocksino in Ohio, our hotels in San Diego, and various other locations, as well as alumni – people who had actually left the company and waited for Hard Rock to reemerge again in this part of the country. Those alumni, the minute that they heard we were building a Hard Rock

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You will be recruiting and employing well over 1,000


Council Oak Dining Room

Hotel & Casino here, reached out to rejoin the team. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to secure a large number of people within the company, from the executive level all the way to our front-line employees and team members, so it’s been very rewarding. At the same time, we’ve had a commitment to hire locally and we’ve been fortunate – as this article comes out around the time that we open, we’ll have received over 25,000 applications for roughly 1,300 positions here on the property. It goes to show you the power of the brand! We’ve had the opportunity to select from the best of the

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in this role and how did you overcome them? MB: I think we look at the challenges as opportunities to learn, and in many cases raise the bar, for what was expected or what we wanted to deliver here. As with every development, there have been things that have opened our eyes and been an opportunity for us to reevaluate how we do our business and how we work in various markets. I think opening a hotel and casino in the California marketplace is different than many other jurisdictions, so we’ve been focused on working with our

best and really focus on hiring team members here for the property locally and that’s a commitment we made to the Yuba-Sutter county we reside in. I think the numbers that we’ll come out with in terms of percentage of local hiring will be clearly astounding, not only in the market, but without question in the entire industry. Our third element is our Tribal employment. We’re very focused on hiring members of Enterprise Rancheria – creating long term opportunities for employment and development and career growth – and that will allow us to further our investment locally and our commitment to our ownership. At the end of the day, the brand is truly a beacon. Northern California has a great quality of life and is a huge hospitality marketplace between Tahoe and Reno, all the way to Napa Valley and the Bay Area, and everywhere in between. To be well-situated right in the middle of all of that creates a real strong hiring environment to bring on a great team of people.

gaming commission here, the State of California, and the NIGC, to put together the requirements that have been necessary to operate successfully in this marketplace. That created an opportunity for us to learn and tweak the way we do business. It’s been a very tight labor market. It’s been very competitive and there is low unemployment, and it really challenged us to find new ways to reach potential team members to get the word out there, and to create new resources, and even technology applications to reach a deeper pool of people. I think that’s resulted in the tremendous applicant pool we’ve had, so that’s been a learning lesson for us. Also, the construction market. There’s a lot of construction going on in this region of the country, and clearly that creates different opportunities for us to work much closer with our contractors. Our design groups focus on not only achieving the goals that we’ve set here, but more importantly,

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Luxury Hotel Room

having the right people to build this property and develop it correctly. We’ve worked very closely with our partners in those spaces to be thinking ten steps ahead in order to ensure that we have the best building and product we can bring to the market. Then, without question, we are in a marketplace with some very strong and very established competitors. We’ve been able to learn from them in many cases – about how to be successful, how to be innovative – and in many ways, they’ve challenged us by their status in the market to focus on raising the bar, to find new and differentiated ways to

MB: Our relationship has been fantastic. I had the opportunity to meet the Enterprise Rancheria Tribal Council back in the beginning of 2018, even before the construction began on this project. As they toured our property, I could sense by the initial meeting, not only that the Tribal Council had great vision and passion for what we were creating here, but they had a strong level of gaming experience and a focus that was truly rooted in hospitality. They bring to the table a very high level of stability and a very long focus on creating something special here as they’ve been working close to 20 years on bringing this development to life in their

deliver a product and a service and package of amenities that will stand out in the market and be attractive to our clientele that, in many cases, have enjoyed these experiences for years at nearby hotel casinos in the greater Sacramento region.

backyard. Working with them has been amazing because we’ve been able to learn the marketplace very quickly. We’ve been able to learn more about what works and doesn’t work in this environment and what the nuances are of the customer base in this part of the country. We’ve learned a tremendous amount and they’ve been a part of everything we’ve done from day one – from the design, to the financing, to every element including our hiring – and they’ve been a partner. I think you mirror that with the integrity, the honesty, and their values that they have, which are very similar to

How has the collaboration with one of the world’s most established and famous entertainment brands been for you and Enterprise Rancheria? GN: It’s made all the difference in the world. It’s a match made in heaven. It could not get any better than Tribes working with and supporting each other. We have had a wonderful relationship with the Seminole Tribal Council and with each and every Hard Rock employee, from Jim Allen, all the way down. What has the experience for Hard Rock International working with Enterprise Rancheria on this joint venture been like?

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the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock International, and it creates a very strong relationship that has proven to be a great resource for us to consistently turn to when we need additional support and guidance in the marketplace. They have a very similar history with the Seminole Tribe of Florida so I think both entities have been very excited about this East-West relationship and one of the first significant


Jon Lucas (COO Hard Rock International), Donna Rodriguez (Member at Large), Cindy Jones (Secretary), Crystal Gilbert (Member at Large), Glenda Nelson (Chairperson), Thomas Lozano (Treasurer), Art Angle (Member at Large) and Greg Borene (Vice Chairman) and Mark Birtha (President, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain)

partnerships of two tribal entities in the United States. I think this is only the beginning of a very long relationship and a lot of success to come in the future. Can you explain the various aspects of this new resort – from its luxurious hotel rooms to superb restaurants, bars, and spas, along with entertainment, and of course, casinos and sports book – along with an insight into the resort’s design and structural layout? MB: There are a lot of elements to this development and hopefully more to come in the future as it expands. But

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino guitar out front, it’s a photo op moment and it just really welcomes you in a positive manner. The minute you walk into the building there is this exploding guitar feature on the ceiling that just has an energy and a vibrancy that really opens your eyes and welcomes you into the property. I think that’s the sort of drama and entertainment that we create as part of our design here and the Hard Rock brand. Many components of the property are probably not unique (to Hard Rock) but they are definitely going to stand out here in our

for me personally – I’ve had the opportunity to work in Las Vegas, and Macau, and many regions around the country here in the U.S. and I’ve been a part of many iconic integrated resort destinations all around the world – what I feel like we’re creating here is another one of those destinations in this Northern California marketplace. First and foremost, it truly is an amazing design filled with so many “wow” experiences. I articulated earlier about the products and services and the amenities and offerings – all of those things combine to create something that’s truly dynamic in the package that we

marketplace. There are 169 hotel rooms, and almost 20 percent of those rooms are suites. Many of those suites are up on the higher level floors with the sweeping views of the mountains and the landscape here in Northern California – the foothills. It’s just really a very peaceful and beautiful landscape that surrounds our building. The rooms have an edgy design that is also sophisticated yet intimate in product delivery. There are some hidden brand “wow” moments in the room that I think our guests will be excited to uncover as they visit. We have pool terrace rooms that sit on the outdoor area that joins the pool

are establishing here as part of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. The first thing that guests will enjoy as they approach the property is an amazing marquee out front that has a beautiful digital display board and a very large Hard Rock guitar. That is the first expression of “wow” as you drive up to the property and see this amazing backdrop to the entrance. With the

that they can walk in and out of. The room component is something we really believe will stand out in the market from a design and features perspective. From there we have the pool, of course – the very well-landscaped, highly functional pool area with a big, beautiful Hard Rock design, a jacuzzi and day beds, and cabanas. It will be a wonderful outdoor leisure experience,

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Fresh Harvest Buffet

as well as a meetings and event space for us to host receptions, parties, and even small shows. It creates a really wonderful resort experience that accompanies and compliments our hotel. We’re going to have 1,587 slot machines on our gaming floor, and in many cases we’re going to be the first to market with our unique product offerings. This is a tribute to our executive team – really focusing on the tried-and-true gaming standards on our floor but working very closely with our partners and our vendors to bring different gaming products and experiences to the marketplace that we

great menu of steaks and seafood; but more importantly, sources local products and vendors to bring some truly unique food and beverage programming to the menu. And wine – we’re going to have an amazing wine list. We have a wine locker that will be able to house over 2,500 bottles of wine, some really unique, and some well-known brands from the Napa-Sonoma region. As we move into our Fresh Harvest buffet, we’ll have 288 seats indoors, as well as another 50 seats outdoors and a lounge, terrace patio area for dining. We’ll offer over 80 items on our buffet menu and we’ll have live-action

think our customer-base will find to be very enjoyable. Accompanying the slot machines, we’ll have 57 table games and we look to offer a very unique program of offerings in terms of different game types, denomination levels, and products and services to our table game players. We’ve got some amazingly beautiful felts, cards and chips – cheques as we call them – that I think will be very unique, will stand out here in the marketplace, and will allow us to create a very high level of quality service and experience in our table game program. That, of course, will also allow us to feature an Asian high limit chip

cooking stations all in a really wonderful, beautifully designed space. We also bring the natural outside environment around us in to the building with our iconic “trees”, that have these beautiful leaves – just amazing design features around the room and the periphery of the buffet. The interior design and the really sophisticated and comfortable spaces are mirrored with the freshcooked product for lunch and dinner daily. Our buffet will be a very sought after destination in the building. Constant Grind is our branded 24/7 grab-and-go venue. It offers fresh food in terms of sandwiches, soups

and high limit areas as well. So there will be some very unique product offerings and service offerings in those various spaces. As we move on to the food and beverage program, we have six restaurants and those include our unique Council Oak Steaks & Seafood brand. This venue is a high-quality specialty restaurant here on the property that features a

and salads, and coffee menus, and other signature items that will be available in that space 24 hours a day. Many of these offerings are baked fresh daily by our inhouse pastry chef. We have a number of Asian restaurants that we think will really resonate with the marketplace and offer an authentic experience in that space. We’ve been fortunate to hire an individual named Richard Chen

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Fresh Harvest Buffet

as our executive sous chef. He will oversee our Asian restaurants. He’s a Michelin star winner and has created some truly unique menus and destinations in Las Vegas, Vancouver, Macau and around the world that feature a very unique Asian program. Our Song restaurant, which is our Asian themed venue, will offer Chinese cuisine as well as other features including some Vietnamese, Filipino, and Korean dishes. And then we have YOUYU, which is our 15-seat noodle bar that will be a highly trafficked, quick, in-and-out noodle bar experience that we think will resonate really well.

full meetings program. We have an 8,600 square foot ballroom, another 2,000 square feet of pre-function area, and a hospitality suite which will allow us to entertain meetings, concerts, and other social and local programming that will be truly unique in this marketplace. And then of course, you round that out with over 100 pieces of memorabilia in the hotel and casino and the restaurants, featuring Johnny Cash who has spent some time up here in Folsom, and many other iconic artists. So when you put all of that together and you then also

Then, of course, we have our Hard Rock Cafe. If you’ve been to a Cafe around the world, it brings that energy and that great vibe as well as some amazing burgers and cafe fare that we know will be a new landmark destination here in this marketplace. We will feature live music on the weekends with local artists from the Greater Sacramento region. On top of that, on the food and beverage side, we’ve been focused very clearly on sourcing local foods – wine, nuts, fruits and vegetables. We sit in the epicenter of the agricultural world in Northern California that allows us to really offer some unique and innovative food

feature a partnership with Live Nation at the 18,000 seat Toyota Amphitheatre next door for our entertainment venue, and you wrap in a little bit of innovative technology, you have a recipe for fun. I could probably go on and on and on. This project will not only raise the bar in the marketplace in terms of design, focus, and layout, but more importantly, the products, services, and people, will be very successful in delivering those authentic experiences that rock in each and every venue in our building. So it’s pretty exciting!

and wine products that we are excited to offer as part of our food and beverage program. In addition to that, we have our Rock Shop which will offer our most iconic swag, as we like to call it – from hats and shirts, to the cult followed pins, and other Hard Rock sundries and merchandise that I think will be a destination here in this property. We’ll have a

What has been you and your colleagues’ experience of the various construction stages since the Ground Breaking Ceremony back in April 2016? GN: It has always been our goal to identify a strategic plan and work diligently to move forward and we worked handin-hand with all of the individuals involved. We’ve worked with the Architect’s, Project Managers, Construction crews

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Youyu Noodle Bar

and managers to design and build this project on time and on budget. How has the collaboration in the look of the resort been a collaboration between both parties? For example, will guests be able to see paintings or carvings that depict the Enterprise Rancheria Tribe? MB: Our Tribal Council has been involved in every step of this development, from the vision with Hard Rock, to all the design elements, they’ve been a part of every single thing that we’ve done – including the financing and the road shows and really a vision and a focus on bringing this product to life. They have, without question, found a smart way to weave in the fabric of their cultural and social history into our building. They’ve done it in a very smart way that doesn’t come across as a solicitation or an advertisement but more of a wonderful interface and collaboration. You’ll see a lot of that represented in our meeting space area. The names of our meeting space area, and the names of our meeting rooms all have Enterprise Rancheria names and meanings. Inside that space we’ll have a wonderful wall of cultural elements including some of the baskets and agricultural goods that they’ve had, as well as the games that they’ve played – some visibility on many of the elders and the history of the Enterprise Rancheria and how they got to where we are today. So I think this is a very appropriate and tasteful way to infuse some of their history and some of their culture and vision into the Hard Rock building, which

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really just elevates the experience to another level that’s a totally different expression of those elements inside of our Hard Rock building. GN: Our Tribal culture is represented but we wanted it represented in a fashion that our tribal members would recognize, but the general public wouldn’t realize what it actually was. We’re mainly looking at this as a business and it is a casino, not a place for a lot of cultural artifacts. Although, we have shared our culture’s gaming activity. Tribes have been gambling for thousands of years. We’ve shared what we call the “Hemeni”, which is a grass game and an example of how we gamble and how we kept track of scores, along with the native terms for different words that were used while gambling. That is the aspect that we decided, as a Tribe, to share with the public. Vice Chairman, Greg Borene stated: There are definitely some subtle items that our members will recognize. There’s a small area that we’re going to have that has some of our history and artifacts, but a lot of our culture is sacred so a lot of the things that we want to share here had to be done in a tasteful way. How is this resort going to make a difference in the lives of the people in the district? GN: It has been a great struggle for our membership, but in California, gaming is one of the businesses that can generate enough revenue to actually help with housing, medical care, elder’s care, education, childcare, and


Song and High Limit Entry

all of the things that we, as a people, need. The major difference is going to be the increased opportunity for jobs, careers, and self-esteem it will give our members and the surrounding community. Tribal Council Treasurer, Thomas Lozano stated: It’s an opportunity to make us self-sufficient so we can help support ourselves to run these programs that will benefit all of our Tribal Members and the surrounding community greatly. Given the scale of this project and the demands it must bring, when was the last time you laughed so hard you

at the competition and what it means to compete effectively here, and some of the things that we’ve seen as successes, and potentially misses, allow us to learn from what we see every day in this market. It’s a different marketplace. Every region has different clientele, different expectations, different competition, different rules and regulations, and sometimes we work so hard that we put so much energy and effort into all that we do that – I don’t want to say it’s exhausting but you take a step back and you kind of laugh and smile. We’ve built a great team of people here that I think collectively push each other to bring out the best in what we do. As a

cried? MB: Ironically enough it almost seems to happen every day. It’s a great project and from my perspective, I really try to instill my passion for what we do here, and my creativity. So many of us have the opportunity to put our fingerprint on this development and build a legacy here. So we’ve been so focused and driven on raising the bar and creating these wow factors in the design, in the services and amenities that we’re going to bring to the table. Every day we’re challenging each other, and sometimes that comes with a little laughter, and that may lead to a tear here and there, but it’s all in a good way. At the end of the day, things have been eye opening. We’re learning the nuances of the market, particularly in the food and beverage space, and with our vendors, and the rules and regulations in California. We’ve been learning all of this and working closely with our gaming commission, and I think we’ve been focused on looking

deliverer of these experiences, we work so hard that sometimes you just take a step back and you laugh and it even makes it that much more special. Every day is something new here. Like everything in life, some things make you laugh, some things make you cry. We recently had our “Walk This Way”, our management orientation program, and there were moments where we were laughing as a team. There were probably about 80 or 90 of us in the room – managers and directors and VPs and above – and there were times we were laughing and there were times we were hearing stories from our ownership, and from others in the audience that brought us to tears. The level of conviction, passion, energy and enthusiasm brings you to that edge, and it’s a good thing. It keeps us human, it keeps us alive. That laughter and those tears sometimes really just embolden and empower all of us to bring out the best in what we do and it’s been a tremendous

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in this industry. I love operations and clearly that’s been a large portion of my career. I’ve worked in so many different disciplines within these operations that it’s given me a great fabric, and experience level, to work from. The other thing I’m very passionate about is development. I’ve had the fortune that over the past year now, I’ve been working on this from the time we were breaking ground to the topping off to literally where we are today. We’re moving furniture, fixtures, and equipment in, we’re hiring hundreds of team members, we’re bringing the story to life and clearly when we open this Fall, this will translate into more of an operational role and will bring all of the challenges and nuances of being competitive and delivering great guest experiences and catering to millions of guests on an annual basis. That has a whole different level of expectation and opportunity. For me, my role will continue to evolve both in development and operations. I think we’re clearly

Mark Birtha President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento

experience and we haven’t even opened our doors yet. GN: There have been a couple of times. One of them was when the federal government finalized putting our land in trust in Yuba County for gaming. The other time is when we finalized our Agreement with the Seminole Tribe to be in partnership with them to build this great facility. We are very fortunate to be one of the few tribes in America that has the privilege and honor to work with another tribe to accomplish great things for both tribes. What does your role in the Hard Rock Sacramento project involve and once complete, will you transition back to a more familiar role of running a resort? MB: I’ve been fortunate. This represents two of my loves

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focused on bringing this building to life and making it successful and then looking at additional phases of development in the future, as hopefully this property will look to expand over the years to come to be a very large destination resort in the Northern California marketplace. At the same time, it’s a very unique situation and I’ve had the responsibility of focusing on the fact that this is our first hotel and casino West of the Mississippi since we’ve acquired our rights back to the brand from Brookfield a couple of years ago. This really will become our flagship property on the West Coast which will allow us to focus on more development for hotels and casinos, managing the relationship between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Enterprise Rancheria and what that means from a business perspective, and expanding our philanthropy and goodwill opportunity as well.


And then we sit on what is called the “sports and entertainment zone” here in the greater Sacramento region. We sit in a city called Wheatland and there’s 900 acres here that have been positioned as a development zone. That allows us the opportunity to not only increase the scale and scope of what we’re creating here as an integrated destination resort, but also focus on that relationship that we have and the further investment in that sports and entertainment zone. Having a piece of the vision and the opportunity to work with all of our team on the development and operations is very exciting. Its the entrepreneurialism that allows us to continue to be partners in developing this master plan. I just think it’s a tremendous opportunity to do so many things all at the same time from development to operations, relationship building, local philanthropy, and hiring. All of these things come to life and will be an ongoing role and responsibility that I absolutely savor in my career. Where has the Enterprise Rancheria Tribe drawn their collective inspiration for this significant venture from? GN: For the Tribal Council, it is their destiny. It’s always been part of who each individual member of Tribal Council is. They are elected from the tribe’s General Membership. Every individual on Tribal Council was taught, since the time that they could walk, how important their Tribe, their family, and what they do, is. It’s just something that you’re born with. It’s within you and we’ve had the privilege of seeing it come to fruition.

put into this building, and our executive teams have created with the hiring and the storytelling that we’re going to be doing, but it will be the opportunity for us to first provide that great representation of food and beverage – from farm to fork, which is very popular here in the Sacramento, Northern California marketplace – to unique gaming experiences, and retail, and beautiful hotel rooms, and just the pinnacle of hospitality and entertainment as we begin to usher in this new destination as an iconic landmark in the Northern California market. It really is an opportunity for others to enjoy the Hard Rock brand here in this region of the U.S. and I think it will become a beacon for guests to not only come here from the local and the regional market, but literally from all around the United States and Canada and around the world. It will draw and grow the marketplace here and I think guests will be excited to see some of these iconic pieces I spoke about earlier in the design and in the product offerings that I think aren’t going to be mirrored anywhere else in our industry. GN: They can expect great hospitality and will be totally amazed with the facility that we have worked so hard to put together and the amenities within. Tribal Council Treasurer, Thomas Lozano stated: They’re also going to experience the Hard Rock experience. It’s not just about the gaming, as our Chairwoman, Glenda Nelson mentioned, it’s also about the hospitality and the experience of being in a Hard Rock venue. The customer service that they’re going to get is going to be top-notch.

The Opening Night Party will be a wonderful and memorable event for all of those involved, and will be the culmination of a lot of hard work by all involved. Can you provide details of what guests can expect? MB: They can expect to be blown away of course with an amazing opening weekend. Guests can expect to have that Hard Rock experience, that energy, that vibe, that groundbreaking raising- ofthe-bar. We do that right at the beginning with our guitar smash. All of our executives and ownership will be here to christen this property with a one-of-a-kind rock ‘n roll guitar smash grand opening ceremony. We are having our

Once the Hard Rock Sacramento is open, what will be involved in your role? GN: Our role will be to oversee and make sure that the policies and procedures that we have established as a tribe are being achieved. We will continue to do strategic plans. We will continue to grow and we will continue to succeed in everything that we try to accomplish. Vice Chairman, Greg Borene stated: In this process with Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe, Hard Rock has actually said to us that they can’t believe how involved we are at every level on this project. This project is

marquee entertainment act, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Def Leppard, play at the Toyota Amphitheatre next door to us. That’ll be on our grand opening weekend. There will be a big party with VIPs and celebrities and others here in the marketplace. This allows us that opportunity to not only have a lot of fun and celebrate all the hard work that our construction teams have

extremely important to the improvement of our tribal members lives, they have put their trust and confidence in Tribal Council to remain involved when we open. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We meet on a weekly basis, and often have telephone calls daily with the crews. We’ve been involved the entire time and will continue to do so in the future.

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Dominika Zangerle, Assistant Manager and responsible for quality management at Casino Admiral Ruggell Liechtenstein

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A Springboard for success

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Dominika Zangerle, Assistant Manager and responsible for quality management at Casino Admiral Ruggell Liechtenstein chats to Peter White and Damien Connelly

rom working in après ski and financing her own studies, through measuring bone density, to helping manage a casino expansion, Dominika Zangerle has learned a lot of practical skills. She should go on with that to develop her career and in the coming years step into a c-suite role with an operator. What follows is a fascinating insight, all too brief, into the choices she has taken that see her today in the role she holds with Casino Admiral Rugell. What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on? I am checking the whole QMS (Quality Management System) of our casino within the yearly audits, so it remains always up to date. Beginning next year, I will start the process audits. As Assistant to our CEO I administer all the contracts and important documents of our company and help them to prepare presentations for our administrative board, cross check facts and the regulations and I’m protocolling our weekly meetings with the different departments. In general, my position requires a lot of flexibility, because next to my assistant job and QMS responsibility I got jobs in different departments due to my work during the construction phase of the casino because I have got all the connections to the construction and Facility companies. So if something breaks, I am the person who organizes the repair work (same with electricity or ventilation problems).

What were amongst the primary reasons for making your career choice with NOVOMATIC? The career chances that NOVOMATIC offers young managers are some of the primary reasons why I chose to work for NOVOMATIC. Prior to NOVOMATIC I worked as a study assistant for a long-term pulmonary research study called LEAD (LEAD stands for Lung, HEart, SociAl and BoDy). I was responsible for the DXA Scan (bone density measurement via dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), the medical psychological questionnaire and for the quality assurance of the data (we tested over 11,000 people). Professionally I reached a point where my development was completed, so I needed a new challenge. While I was looking for a new challenge I found the casino and arcade management traineeship of NOVOMATIC, which is forming young leaders for their operational fields. Since I worked during my studies (biology BSc. and theater, film and media Mag.phil.) in the hospitality sector (I financed my studies myself without the financial help of the government or family) I could see myself in this role. I am happy that I decided to work for such a global player. What were amongst the key aspects of the training course provided by NOVOMATIC that impressed you most? The willingness of the people within the company to share their knowledge and to give young competent people like me the chance to strive is something that impressed me

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a lot. Also the whole training, the way it was structured and the knowledge I was able to gain is impressive. I was chosen with another 8 people out of nearly 400 applicants to conduct that traineeship. Within 1.5 years I was able to work in the slot production of NOVOMATIC, get to know all the processes there, then they sent me for 6 months to do my training on the job in the Arcades in Germany and after that I was stationed for 6 months in Casino of Mendrisio.

construction site. The technical know how that I got taught during my traineeship in the casino helped me to get a great understanding for the necessities on the construction site. So when the construction manager came to me in October 2018 to tell me that he was going on holiday for two weeks and that I needed to do his job during this time (he gave me a telephone list with the numbers of the different construction workers), it helped me a lot to

I held regular feedback sessions with my mentors. I had a coach on my side with whom I worked on expanding different competence fields and on my personality. We had courses in responsible gaming, sports betting, slot game mathematics, negotiation techniques, nonverbal and intercultural communication, conflict management, change management, HR, controlling, leadership skills and many more. To gain such a profound knowledge in both operational sectors (Casino and Arcades) paired with the theoretical knowledge that I could use during my training on the job is quite impressive and aspiring.

organize the construction workers and the works to be done just right. The leadership trainings and the input I got from my mentors during my traineeship helped me to handle the different kind of people on the construction site, manage complicated situations (litigations between workers or difficult personalities) and I was able to gain their respect so they followed my instructions (it is not easy for a woman to be accepted on the construction site — especially since the communication is quite rough and it is a male dominated work field). My leadership qualities gained during my training helped me to overcome many obstacles.

Can you give an example of where an aspect involved in that training course assisted you with handling a situation in your current role? During the construction time of our casino expansion in Ruggell I was responsible for the permission process with the local authorities and afterwards I was every day on the

My early background in my career involved being a Resort Manager for a leading lakes and mountains and ski operator based in Austria, so I understand the demands of working in the tourist industry. How have you found your experience in tourism has assisted you in your career?

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It was mandatory to have a background in the tourism industry or gastronomy to enter the traineeship. My background is the hardcore version of the tourism and gastronomy industry: après ski (where people come after skiing to get heavily drunk and party). When you work for nine seasons / years in such a field you get quite tough and have a high resilience to stress. That gives you the ability to keep cool and polite even in the worst

customer contact has such an important role. To enhance the mentality, that to be able to serve somebody is an honourable job — to give the customer something they need — is important. Because once you do not have customers, you have no job.

situation and keep focused even in a seemingly chaotic environment. The most important skill though that I learned from the tourist industry is the focus on the demands on the clients. It is an honourable job to serve someone and being able to make people happy with little things. I think this mentality is also very important to have as a leader: you serve your employees, make sure they can do their job joyfully and yet lead them in the right direction. In a positive environment everything strives.

Yes, it is indeed, even though my Spanish skills are basic. But I see the big advantage in speaking Italian, since NOVOMATIC has also Casinos in Tessin, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Also, during the construction time of the casino my Italian knowledge helped me a lot to communicate with some of the construction workers, since they were Italian. To know how to speak the language of the people you work with shows them respect and you can build rapport, so it facilitates the collaboration and it builds trust.

Customer satisfaction is a major priority in the tourist industry. Do you think there are aspects from that industry that the casino sector can learn from? Definitely! Of course, you will never be able to make everybody happy, but you should have the goal to give your customers a great feeling, even if it’s not their lucky day. That’s why the casino hosts and everyone who has

How has the increasing level of technology on the gaming floor impacted your role? It did not impact my role much, since I am working in the administrative field. But I see that many technologies help the staff on the floor to conduct their work easier. Especially the whole administrative documentation is more easily available, and the communication is faster.

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Having four languages must be a big advantage being based in Liechtenstein?


I think for Controlling, the Cashiers, the technicians and the Duty Manager the technology on the gaming floor has helped to facilitate their jobs.

music (I play various instruments, sing and write songs — nowadays for myself but in the past, I was also booked for concerts) and love to read and do sports (Yoga).

What inspires you most and what keeps you awake at night? Inspired people, who have true passion for what they do, that have a positive and open mindset and want to

From where do you draw your inspiration? I have a strong intrinsic motivation to get better in everything I do. To stay humble yet to know what I can do and specially to know what I am not yet able to do

share their knowledge inspire me. To be able to work in an environment where people support each other and are happy to see each other strive inspire me. I am grateful that I was able to get to know many such people through my traineeship. To gain new perspectives and never stop to learn inspires me the most.

inspires me a lot and gives me the necessary inspiration.

Only flies or mosquitos keep me awake at night. I learned quite well how to control my mind and thoughts, that’s why I can switch off and relax. How do you achieve work-life balance? I do not separate work and life since my time spent at work is part of my lifetime as well. So, I try to do whatever I do joyfully — otherwise it would be a waste of my lifetime. I am a very humorous person and I like to joke and laugh, even during stressful times. On my days off I meet with people I enjoy spending my time with, make

Why are there not more women in the casino Industry? There are many women in the casino industry but not so many in leading roles in my opinion. There are many studies that explain why it might be difficult for women to land a leading job and the same applies for the casino industry in my opinion. Is a career in the casino industry one for all women? If not, what qualities do you think serve a career in this sector best? The casino industry has many different working fields: there are the jobs on the floor for example. A Host, at the table (Croupier, Inspector, Pit Boss), a Duty Manager, technician, IT or Security or Surveillance staff. Then there are the administrative jobs — like mine or the accountant, controlling, HR or Compliance. For every sector you need

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a different skillset. But what all need to bring to the table is a certain awareness and consciousness for the job they are conducting. Then there is the leading role in the Casino: the CEO. I believe that as a CEO of a casino you need to be a generalist, have social skills, need to be able to

experiences and knowledge. In general I am happy for everybody — man or woman — who shines through his or her competences and can climb the career ladder. I believe strongly that if you are focused on expanding your competences (business knowledge but also social skills) and are willing to work

switch quickly between different topics and be able to understand details without losing focus for the whole — the big picture. But most of all you need to have a special awareness, be able to ask the right questions and be able to identify existing and future problems.

hard it will pay off in one way or another.

I believe strongly that all the different jobs mentioned have nothing to do with the sex of a person but with the qualities, consciousness, work ethics and skillset a person has. What do you think is the biggest barrier for women in the industry today? How do you think this barrier can be overcome? This is a very difficult question. There are many studies, that analyse those barriers and propose different answers. I decided to encourage women to go for a career in the business and try to help them through sharing my

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Management to Board Room level is still dominated by men. Do you think the industry should be doing more to promote careers to women in the casino industry? Yes, I believe that if there were more women in such roles many others would follow. I also believe that a modern company understands the value women bring to the table. What are amongst your main ambitions over the next five years? To see a business and the people who work for that business flourish and be able to be a part of it is one of my main ambitions. But to be more specific: I want to gain a lot of experience within the business, expand my competences and become CEO of one or more casinos within the next five years.


Sim Bielak, President of Global Gaming & Amusement Business, SUZOHAPP

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New Leadership, New Products, New Vision

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Sim Bielak, President of Global Gaming & Amusement Business, SUZOHAPP chats to Glyn Thomas

UZOHAPP, a leading supplier of components and solutions to the casino industry, just promoted Sim Bielak from Chief Marketing Officer to President of Global Gaming & Amusement business. Bielak has been with SUZOHAPP for six years and was tapped for his experience in this gaming sector. “Sim knows this business well and will bring the knowledge and energy needed to serve our customers well and deliver strong results for our company,” says Managing Director Ken Brotman. SUZOHAPP looks to maintain its status as a one-stop shop for the casino industry, for everything from LCDs to TITO ticket dispensers—hardware that will surely be on display at the impending trade shows. Congratulations on your recent promotion. What are amongst your main goals in the years ahead? Thank you. I am deeply honoured to be leading the Gaming and Amusement division at SUZOHAPP. Make no doubt about it – gaming is our core business. Our roots are in gaming and we are extremely focused on supporting and growing our global business here. How important is customer satisfaction for SUZOHAPP? Customer satisfaction is a core element for us. We are always striving to improve our customer satisfaction. Which brands are your best sellers in the Gaming Sectors? We have a combination of our own brands that we

develop and manufacture ourselves and leading brands that we exclusively distribute in the global gaming market. VisionPRO™ is our monitor range. Our new VisionPRO™ 4K 43” LED-Framed monitor has a frame of colour surrounding the display and is available both in EdgeLit and Front designs. It features a 4K UHD panel with a brightness of 500 cd/m² and a contrast ratio of 4000:1. The Edge-Lit design is meant for external use where the

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monitor is floating outside the cabinet with VESA mount (the LEDs are visible from the sides and front), and the Front version is designed for flush integration within the cabinet. All the VisionPRO™ LED-Framed models from 21.5” to 43” are available in touch or nontouch, with either addressable or RGB LEDs. There are now more than 50 models in this product portfolio. ELO is the leading supplier of touchscreens and monitors. We have been exclusively distributing ELO products for many years. Other major distribution partners include NEWLAND (scanners) and NANOPTIX (printers). In total we offer over 50,000 different products. Many are SUZOHAPP products, such as bill readers and recyclers, coin hoppers, slot machine toppers, pushbuttons, controllers and power supplies. ‘Simplify your Sourcing with SUZOHAPP’ – does that sum up the company? It sure does. We take away the complexity of the purchasing decision. We have amassed a great amount of knowledge and combine this with the industry’s largest component range. We provide exact advice that corresponds to our customers’ needs. This brings true value to our customers. They can rest assured that they can find the right solutions. Not only that – we naturally offer economies of scale. Our customers save money when channelling their requirements through us. Another important saving is time. Our customers do not need to speak with multiple vendors. They have one contact at SUZOHAPP who covers all their requirements. Furthermore, our sales team is multi-lingual so more often than not our customer can deal with us in their own language. We take pride in our business relations and invest in visiting our customers. This helps us to understand even more their needs to create a true winwin business relationship. 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 our wide range of components and technologies for gaming machines and sports betting terminals, we deliver 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. What are the key features of SUZOHAPP that set it apart from its rivals? Current developments within the industry indicate solid

growth in the Casino sector and exciting potential in the emerging Sports Betting market. At the same time, the industry is consolidating and the players are becoming more global. Customers want the simplicity and efficiency that comes from working with global suppliers, rather than having to manage many local or regional suppliers. Our global operation is able to deliver that efficiency, while maintaining a local approach to customer relationship development and service. What Cash Handling Products do SUZOHAPP Provide for a casino cashier? We have a very strong set of solutions with our CashComplete™ range. In particular our RCS – Recycling Cash Solutions – are ideal for gaming. The RCS-500 and RCS -700 are the solutions best fit to this market. These heavy duty cash recyclers offer a host of benefits, being ultra secure, fast and efficient as well as giving real-time information on the cash stored. The RCS-500 can store up to 12,500 bills and the RCS-700 can store up to 16,400 bills – so are ideal for casino requirements.

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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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How does the company cope with working in so many countries? We are a truly global team and we know each other well. We communicate and share information. Adding to that, we have simplified our organisation, bringing the individual subsidiaries closer together. This can be well seen, for example, at international exhibitions where the team from around the world comes together. SUZOHAPP is also a big supplier to the OEMs sector. What are amongst the key reasons why the company has been so successful over the years with leading manufacturers in the Gaming and Amusement sectors? We provide practically every component that an OEM needs. Our ‘Simplify your Sourcing’ credo makes purchasing such requirements very easy. We have a great team with many years of experience. We understand that manufacturers and operators value innovation to drive growth, but also need simplicity and efficiency to keep operating costs low – these are the benefits of Simplifying your Sourcing. Lastly, we have very keen lead times – often the products are in our warehouse – meaning that we can get the products to our customers quickly and efficiently. Today more than ever our customers appreciate this as their customers often do not give forewarning of their requirements. Exhibitions are clearly important for SUZOHAPP, but with so many what criteria do you have for your choices with

which ones to exhibit such as G2E Las Vegas BEGE Sofia and ICE London? It is a critical factor for us to be present at major gaming exhibitions to demonstrate our latest innovations and for our team to answer all the questions of our visitors. We often exhibit at local shows and when this is not possible you can bet that we will be walking the show floor to reach out and speak with our customers. Please make sure you pop by and see us at the show(s) you’ll be attending. What can visitors to the SUZOHAPP booth at this year’s G2E Show expect to see? New leadership, new products and a new vision. This will be the first G2E for me in my position of globally leading gaming and amusement at SUZOHAPP. I am pleased to welcome Todd Sims, our new Vice President of Gaming & Amusement for North and South America. 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. Have you anything else you would like to add? I’d like to state how passionate I am about the gaming business. I am really excited to be leading such a talented and dedicated global team. I look forward to greeting our customers at the G2E and would welcome any new faces to come and see us as well.

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Screen Time

Managing Director, Ljubo Benko, G-Digital chats to Peter White

G

o to any gaming trade show of consequence and G-Digital will be there. This Balkans-based company is a rising star of the industry, having put boots on the ground in Russia and now expanding into Africa. In this chat with Casino Life, Managing Director Ljubo Benko explains the virtues of digital signage and what makes his company’s products so appealing. Now that over 6 months have passed since ICE London how has the level of business from this year’s show

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compared to 2018 and how have you found 2019 for G-Digital so far? 2019 will be a year to remember as we have experienced significant growth compared to 2018. For us it’s important there is not only growth of number G-Digital’s SW modules sold, but we have some important and innovative installations in different industries besides gaming industry like retail, and production plants. I’ll tell you more about this later on. What other markets are you looking to expand into and


will that be with a partner organisation based in those regions? We are always willing to cooperate with customers regardless of their business model. G-Digital is our product, developed in-house, so we can be very flexible to adapt it to our business partner’s or final user’s needs, requirements and business models. Just few examples: • We are in the final phase to shake hands with our new distributor for Africa. They will not only cover the Gaming industry, but also retail, advertising, etc. • We already cooperate with some big names in the gaming industry as well as with system integrators in different industries. This is not always seen under the G-Digital brand. For example, last year we closed a deal with a system integrator from telecommunications and the public transport industry, which integrated G-Digital in their huge SW package. Now, through them, we are present in Russia and many ex-Soviet republics. Digital Signage has become abundant in business retail and entertainment environments and with that many providing an off the shelf operating systems free with the purchase. So why the expense of G-Digital? There are many free of charge solutions of digital signage you can download from the internet. In some cases, like small shops, one or two bars, small hotels, etc, it might work well. If the user has very basic needs and requirements it’s ok. Problems arise when the customer

reliable is your G-Digital Signage software and when a customer, for example, has a major power cut how quick has G-Digital’s response been in those situations where downtime is money? Reliability is one of our main objectives since we started to develop G-Digital back in 2008. Events like a power cut usually don’t have an effect on G-Digital. After power is back all modules start up again and continue to run like nothing happened. In the worst case, if there is really some issue our support team connects remotely and fixes it. We have a good example of how G-Digital reliable is: Early this year we installed G-Digital as a platform to show on displays custom applications in a company in Croatia with two production plants on two separate locations. Some time ago they declared themselves as a paperless company. They developed their own applications to support partial processes of the production, but they were looking for a platform to show them on displays the right time and the right way all-around their production plants. They use touch displays, so communication is in both directions. Employees get the information they need on the display and insert confirmation on touch display after each production phase is finished. This way production management has a complete overview of the situation, bottlenecks, etc. Now back to reliability: they decided to use G-Digital as a platform after an intensive 4-months testing. It has been running stable and without any issues for more than 6 months. In two production plants with 300 employees and 36 Mio EUR of yearly revenue. Production would stop

needs to connect more players on different locations on the same network, manage and show more complex contents than a few photos, integrate with other systems, pull and show data from different sources, etc. Usually the breakpoint is when customer needs some help and support. By the rule they can’t get quality support from the producer of free-of-charge solutions. In that situation customers start to think about a professional and payable solution. In that point of time they come to us. We believe we are comparable with prices, functionalities and what is most important, with excellent support. We also see the different approach in the gaming industry compared to other industries. It’s obvious the gaming industry is being run by professionals and there are not many cases they use free-of-charge solutions. Most of them use professional solutions from day one.

if G-Digital stops.

Reliability and Support are two important factors. How

You have clearly achieved a lot. What is your secret?

Displays can vary in size and shape and location at gaming venues where there are also varying levels of image definition and colour resolution. How does your G-Digital Signage software cope with all these variables? The scenario which, when, where and which way any content will be displayed we call ScreenView. Through G-Digital Manager you can configure the resolution, positions and sizes of regions on the display as well as which contents you are going to show in each region. At the end, you just define which G-Digital Player you send the ScreenView. You can choose one, more or all G-Digital Players on the network. In short: G-Digital can adapt to any resolution or technical characteristics of displays.

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There is no secret. From the very beginning of our development we just follow a few objectives: • Keep simple, intuitive and user-friendly User Interface • Support the best way functionalities customers really need and not try to be fancy and trendy • Support customers the best possible way and always listen to their suggestions and ideas

customers to buy displays locally, this way they get local warranty, support, they avoid transport costs. What are the key features of G-Digital that has resulted in the high level of customer loyalty to your company over the years? Our customers say: simple and intuitive User Interface, the stability of the product and last, but not least: exceptional support!

Does it seem like you are specialized for the Gaming industry? It seems so, but it’s not completely true. As you can see from examples I mentioned before we work in many other industries. But, it’s also true we did few setups and solutions for the Gaming industry which we believe are unique and offer added value to customers. There are Winning Numbers displays for Roulette, Baccarat (Punto Banco) and Black Jack, custom-designed progressives, Poker Progressive Jackpot, solutions for the betting industry, etc. All solutions mentioned above are completely flexible, the customer is free to configure the appearance of different information on displays according to their requirements, brand policies and designs. It’s also important that all gaming solutions include some space on displays for advertising and sharing information to players. The second truth is that in G-Digital team are few guys knowing gaming business very well, including me with almost 30 years in gaming in very different positions.

Will visitors to BEGE Sofia this November get to see G-Digital with your very latest range of products on show at the 2019 show? Yes, besides our standard solutions they will see and spin for the first time our new setup of Wheel of Fortune, which is our hit this year in some casinos and retail.

Listening carefully to customers’ requirements and ideas, combined with our knowledge and, of course, the flexibility of G-Digital we can produce attractive solutions.

We will keep following the needs and requirements of the Gaming industry due to our know-how and gaming background. Our objective for next 5-10 years is to become an important global producer of Digital Signage and a leading producer of Digital Signage and solutions based on it for the Gaming industry.

Outside of the Gaming Sector what organisations have you gained as customers that are amongst those you are most proud of winning? I’ve already mentioned above the customer running two production plants on the G-Digital platform, there are few system integrators which integrated G-Digital into their SW packages. We also have had a few nice installations in retail, advertising and tourist resorts. Which displays tend to be amongst your best sellers in the Gaming Sectors? We are SW producer and we don’t prefer any type or producer of displays till they fulfill basic technical requirements. On the contrary, we encourage our

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Can visitors expect to locate you at the same location at ICE London 2020 and are you planning to launch any new products at next year’s show? Yes, at BEGE 2019 in Sofia as well as at ICE London 2020 you can find us on the same location as the year before. The future – where do you see G-Digital in the next 5 to 10 years? Digital Signage is one of the fastest-growing industries with double figures growth many years in the row. We are happy we can ride on this wave. Our plan for the future is to constantly develop and improve our products, following technological development and customers requirements.


David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

Customer Interactions – The Next Chapter

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By: David Clifton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

n the last edition of Casino Life entitled “Major Customer Interaction Changes Afoot”, I explained the consequences for UK land-based casinos of forthcoming new customer interaction requirements that will be implemented on 31 October 2019, when changes to the UK Gambling Commission’s LCCP customer

interaction provisions come into force. I referred specifically to the Commission’s new formal guidance on customer interactions, describing it as “essential reading material for all UK casino operators”. That is ever more so now that the countdown to the end of October is ticking away.

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Like so many other previous examples, at the time of writing this article the most recent enforcement action against a UK casino for customer interaction failings also involved inadequate steps to ensure that adequate customer due diligence, source of funds (SoF) and source of wealth (SoW) checks were carried out from an antimoney laundering (AML) perspective. The casino operator in question was fortunate in being able to conclude a regulatory settlement with the Gambling Commission, thereby avoiding the necessity for a contested hearing before a panel of Commissioners. However, the terms of that settlement nevertheless involved a range of sanctions, namely (a) divestment of monies received from higher-risk customers found not to have been the subject of the above-mentioned checks, (b) a significant payment in lieu of the financial penalty that would otherwise have been imposed by the Commission, (c) a payment towards the Commission’s investigative costs and (d) the imposition of additional licence conditions. Those additional conditions required (1) considerably improved training for both senior management and staff, (2) maintenance of enhanced due diligence (EDD) on the operator’s top 250 customers (i.e. the top 125 customers by drop and the top 125 by loss), and (3) maintenance of an independent chairperson to its Compliance Committee. In addition, an independent external audit of the EDD, SoF and SoW of its top 100 customers is to be conducted within six months. In terms of specific lessons to be learned from this case, the Commission has suggested that all casino operators should pose themselves the following questions: 1. Do you have policies and procedures in place to identify customers who may be experiencing or at risk of developing problems with their gambling? 2. Do you have systems in place to identify potential problem gamblers? Do these include appropriate trigger points for when the usual pattern of gambling becomes unusual (these should not be just financial)? 3. How do you protect new customers (where a pattern of play cannot yet be established)? 4. Are your staff sufficiently trained to spot problem gamblers and know how to report concerns? Are there clear procedures once a concern has been raised? 5. Do you know your customer? Are you gaining a holistic picture of the customer’s source of funds, particularly in relation to VIP customers? 6. Are you critically assessing assurances you receive as to source of funds?

7. Have you ensured you have clear, up-to-date, and fit for purpose AML policies and procedures available to all who require guidance? 8. Have you ensured your policies and procedures have been informed by the Commission’s guidance on AML? Have you taken into account the Commission’s Money Laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment? My business partner Suzanne Davies and I have spent a large part of the last five years or so advising not only land-based casinos but also a variety of operators in other gambling sectors (both non-remote and remote) on precisely the same issues that resulted in the enforcement action to which I have referred above. This has included not only advice on dealing with the Gambling Commission once it commences an investigation into AML and social responsibility (SR) failings but also how to avoid facing such investigations in the first place. Key to this is ensuring that an operator has in place an effective corporate governance framework, setting out all required responsibilities and procedures that have been specifically designed to guarantee that it properly assesses and manages both (a) AML risk and reporting and (b) SR systems and controls. This enables the operator to: • define its risk appetite, • monitor changes in its risk profile performance against stated tolerances, • require senior management to own the risk and become fully engaged in the decision-making process, • ensure that the MLRO is supported with adequate resources reflecting the size, complexity and geographical spread of the operator’s customers and business, • put in place a documented process for the internal escalation of suspicions and concerns, • establish an independent audit function to effectively examine, evaluate and make recommendations about the adequacy of its policies, controls and procedures (and monitor compliance with them), and • create a “culture of compliance” throughout the entire business to which all employees subscribe. In the absence of any detailed guidance from the Gambling Commission on the independent audit function point when the current Money Laundering Regulations came into force in the UK in 2017, I asked what it believes that phrase means. The Commission told me:

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“the independent audit function could be an internal or external audit function (or even both), so long as it carries out its work freely and objectively, without influence from management and those responsible for implementing the controls. It’s an assurance and advice function, which is set out in the final bullet point of the [Commission’s AML] guidance. How this function is constituted will be determined by the size and nature of the operator’s business. This need not necessarily involve an independent third party”. Given the regulator’s ever-increasing expectation that casino operators must considerably improve their SR controls (including the assessment of customer affordability when developing their customer interaction policies), implementation of an effective independent audit function in that respect also becomes ever more important to ensure that operators meet the three key outcomes identified in the Commission’s new customer interaction guidance, i.e. identify – interact – evaluate. When identifying customers who may be at risk of or experiencing harms associated with gambling, with effect from 31 October 2019, the Gambling Commission will expect casino operators to: 1. use a range of indicators relevant to their business that they can observe and monitor; 2. not rely on financial indicators alone; where trigger points or thresholds are used, they should be realistic – not every customer who is experiencing or at risk of harm will trigger every indicator; 3. monitor customer activity and behaviour so that they are able to interact early and quickly; 4. invest in appropriate systems and staff to manage their customer interaction process effectively; 5. make sure their process keeps pace with any increase in demand, e.g. through general growth or seasonal, promotional or other variations which might mean they are busier than usual; 6. train their staff to know their roles and responsibilities and ensure they are supported and given the tools and skills they need to be able to act promptly when they spot or are alerted to indicators of harm, including those among VIP and monitored customers; 7. ensure that their customers are not put at any greater risk of harm as a result of casino premises being busier or quieter than usual; customers must be protected regardless of these factors; 8. think about the protection of new customers – operators know less about them, so may not know

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what their regular gambling pattern looks like, so this means that alternative measures must be applied; 9. take safer gambling seriously for all customers including VIPs and not let commercial considerations override customer protection; 10. make meaningful records of all interactions with customers, make these records available to staff and use them to aid decision-making – this should also take place in circumstances where an interaction has been ruled out e.g. because the customer is displaying signs of agitation; 11. understand the prevalence of gambling harms for the type of gambling products they offer and implement appropriate processes even if they think their sector is “lower risk” (because all forms of gambling present risks); and 12. actively promote tools such as voluntary machine alerts and ensure that all customers have access to information about safer gambling and the support available. In terms of interaction, the Commission will expect operators to: 1. be curious, and if they spot behaviour that could indicate harm, to act on it; 2. ensure their staff have access to the information and support they need, such as customer interaction records, so that they are able to make decisions about how to interact and can do so discreetly; 3. interact in a way that is appropriate to the severity of the potential harm – trial and evaluate different approaches to achieve this (importantly, this may include refusing service or ending the business relationship); and 4. think about what information they should give the customer to help them understand why they are interacting with him or her, such as describing the type of behaviour they display or practical help or support where appropriate. In terms of evaluation, the Commission will expect operators to: 1. understand the impact of individual interactions on a consumer’s behaviour and whether/ what further action is needed; 2. evaluate the effectiveness of their approach by trialling and measuring impact; and 3. embed lessons learned and best practice across the business and collaborate to share across the industry.


From an AML perspective, UK casino operators are familiar with the “3 question rule”, i.e. (1) Does what I know about this customer justify their level of spend and play? (2) Can I justify what I know, or have been told, about this customer is actually true? (3) Based on what I know, and the evidence I have to support it, can I justify maintaining a relationship with this customer? I would suggest that, to take account of the forthcoming customer interaction requirements, a fourth question should be added to that list, i.e. (4) Based on what I know, my assessment of the evidence I have to support it and what I observe, should I be conducting a customer interaction?

Update: Since this article was written, more recent enforcement action against another UK casino operator for AML and SR failings has taken place. This time it involved an operating licence review, resulting in imposition of a £1.8 million fine and additional conditions on the operator’s licence. In this case, although interactions had taken place with customers, the Gambling Commission found there to have been “insufficient recorded detail or rationale setting out why the interaction had taken place

or consideration of whether the customer was suffering gambling related harm”. In terms of lessons to be learned from this latest case, the Commission has recommended that casino operators should consider the following questions: 1. Are your policies and procedures for identifying high risk customers for AML and SR effective? 2. Have you adequately resourced your AML and SR departments, so your staff are able to put your policies and processes in place for all customers at all times? 3. Are you recording all customer interactions, including decisions not to interact with customers, and are these records available for colleagues to refer to when making decisions? 4. Are your customers providing documentation to support their level of spend and loss, and not simply giving verbal or email assurances, for example? dc@cliftondavies.com www.cliftondavies.com

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P

Will Proxy Betting Continue To Deliver

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

roxy betting has been booming throughout SE Asia’s grey markets, with this quirk of live streaming of table games thought to be pulling in large chunks from Macau’s missing VIP billions. However often confused with online gaming, this live streaming platform has recently come under the scrutiny of the Chinese anti-corruption authorities. Looking back to early 2016, industry analysts estimated that proxy betting’s contribution before it was banned to overall Macau VIP betting volume had grown about 15 percent delivering as much as 10% of the enclaves GGR. Proxy betting, in its simplest form, allows a person to wager real time on a table game from a remote location, using a proxy to place his/her bets at a live table game in a casino, streamed to the players device whilst communicating via telephone. Some experts are suggesting that a sizeable portion of Macau’s lost turnover has found its way into the grey markets of Indochina and Southeast Asia – specifically Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines ¬ as customers in remote locations seek the anonymity and relative ease of utilizing so-called proxy players. So why is proxy betting so popular, and why do players

betting, it is the proxy who is making the wager with the transaction taking place in the country where the casino is located – not where the spectator resides.

enjoy this style of play, particularly when they are not physically present to enjoy the thrill of the game? The number one reason is player anonymity. China’s continued high profile anti-corruption drive has meant that players are still reluctant to travel or be seen playing at casinos. Also, players for whom, for one reason or another, cannot leave their home country, either through inconvenience or visa restrictions, proxy betting allows them to overcome enjoy casino gambling in real time. Not to be confused with online wagering, a key difference between proxy betting and RNG/Online and Live Dealer/Online is that the latter two versions may be a violation of a particular country’s laws. A person making a bet using an RNG/Online or Live Dealer/Online may be residing in a country that prohibits gambling. While gambling may be legal where the casino is located, a person placing a wager via a registered account may be violating his nation’s restrictions on gambling. In proxy

Another important element that defines both RNG/ Online and Live Dealer/Online is that both of these options require a player to have a registered account through which to fund and place wagers through a table game graphic interface, proxy betting doesn’t. Proxy betting is a form of wagering where a person designates a trusted individual as his/her proxy, or even the casino operator can supply the proxy. One of the leading first world proxy platform providers is a company called GameTrac and following their simple process, the player is first given login credentials by the casino. After logging in the player will land in the lobby where a number of tables that are set up for proxy betting show current score cards. After deciding which tables trend looks the best the player communicates to the proxy via a mobile phone which table they want to play and following further instructions, the proxy places bets at that table in the casino.

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Shaun McCamley the Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting Ltd


GameTrac advise that in a typical proxy betting install, the casino provides live video feeds from a number of table games and have provided the install diagram here:

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.

Each game’s outcome is observed on the spectator’s video display, and winnings are paid to the proxy player. From a regulatory viewpoint, the wagering activity, the actual exchange of money and each game’s outcome takes place in the casino, and not in the country where the spectator is located. The spectator is simply observing the game, providing wagering instructions to his/her proxy via telephone, and watching each game’s outcome. In today’s competitive market, astute junket agents and casino operators know they need to look at all options that will give them an edge over their competition. The Live Dealer/Online option is expensive and very difficult to manage, so having a simple and effective service that allows players to bet via a proxy and view the game outcome on their computer, flat screen or mobile device makes a lot of sense. Offering phone betting opens up a casino operator’s latent revenue creation capabilities, and at the same time, keeps normal associated player incremental costs low. A proxy betting solution means the casino operator can always be in touch with the property’s player database, allowing the player, through a proxy, to wager in real time without having to leave the comfort of home, office or country. This is particularly appealing for players residing in countries where gambling is prohibited. If you operating in this part of the world, get on board and offer phone betting to your players. With this increased scrutiny from China perhaps the time has come for the casino operators who permit proxy betting in their VIP rooms offered through 3rd party providers from China where KYC and AML controls are nonexistent, to bring proxy in house and in so doing exercise greater control and probity of the platform offering. For more detailed information associated with installing and implementing a proxy betting solution at your property contact the author of this article at smc@europacificasia.com

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5 Emerging Technologies you must understand

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By: Raymond Chan, CEO Alphaslot

echnology is going to continue to change our way of doing business. Whoever takes advantage before others do will be the winner. Here are the 5 emerging technologies that I believe will have the most impact to the gaming world in the future (a very near future, to be exact).

Distributed Ledger (a.k.a. Blockchain) When someone mentions “blockchain”, the first association that comes to mind is usually “bitcoin”, but the thing is, the concept of the technology is far more than just bitcoin. More importantly, “blockchain” is only a method of realizing the concept behind the technology which is more accurately descripted as Distributed Ledger. The primary purpose of Distributed Ledger is to offer a trustful method to record ownership of “things” and to exchange “things”. Each ledger contains just a fraction of the data so even if someone gains unauthorized access, they will not be able to make sense of that. Utilizing the technology to create crypto currency is one of the many ways it can benefit the gaming industry, however, it bears a lot of legal challenges and trust to build with regulators worldwide. The most foreseeable legal use case of the technology is to build a trustful network to bring gaming operators and game developers together, creating something new to customers, as well as to increase the transparency of data to gaming regulators.

Artificial Intelligence (a.k.a. AI) AI is about automation and machine learning. It allows machines to observe and to learn from human behavior. 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 behavior. AI also can play a crucial role in scheduling, predictive maintenance,

Raymond Chan CEO Alphaslot

thru maximizing efficiency and reducing jobs(?!). At the same time, it will create new job opportunities for what human can do better including customer engagement and services which sounds like a job well-suited for humans more, plus many new jobs in developers and programmers for development and optimization of the system. You can easily name many more potential use cases in the gaming industry after understanding what AI is about. The challenge of the AI technology is the interoperability between systems and making the technology more publicly affordable.

Big Data The definition of Big Data is … an extremely large set of data. Yes, big data means a lot of data but of course it doesn’t stop there. The most important part of Big Data is about the ability to analyze the data computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to behavior and interactions. Big Data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves … and also for better Artificial Intelligence (AI) building. Combining with AI technology, companies can detect fraudulent behavior before it affects your organization and determining root cause of failures in near-real time.

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IoT devices are things that normally would not have internet connectivity and once connected, IoT-enabled objects can communicate with each other. This ability allows for new, more effective ways for operations.

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Internet of Things (a.k.a. IoT) This technology will help connecting your rice cooker to your car (why?) and your phone. If you are experiencing a heavy traffic jam on your way home, your rice cooker will delay the cooking time of your dinner and your phone will notify your children’s teachers about the delay of picking them up at school.

Last but not least, the latest innovations in mobile are all eyes on this year in 2019. The new generation of mobile communications promises increased speed and low latency. Currently the average speed of internet is 10MB/s, and so 5G can potentially offer a connection that is 100 times faster… yes, one hundred times faster with lower latency. What exactly would that mean...the new 5G shall bring more connecting IoT, thus more Big Data to have better AI, and offering a competitive edge to who can make the best use of all these technologies combined. Are you ready?

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Let’s talk about safer gambling... To find out more and get involved visit: www.responsiblegamblinguk.org

ResponsibleGamblingWeek.org @RGWeek19 #RGWeek19


Manage this by Robert Brassai

Is Europe a Place for Integrated Casino Resorts?

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ecently I was involved in a study looking at the role of ICRs in different parts of the world. The way different continents, cultures gamble can be very different and what form of gambling is prevalent apart from the cultural factor is mostly influenced by the kind of operators and their business models present in these markets. I already wrote about the backward trends in Europe when it comes to using new technologies and more importantly data for improving operations. During analyzing data for the above-mentioned project, it became evident the us Europeans are lagging behind the Americas and Asia when it comes to offering more than hard core gambling to our customers. The old continent took its time to embrace concepts like hyper markets, big shopping malls, entertainment parks and similar integrated businesses. The idea of the grocery on the corner and the butcher two streets away who knows the exact cut we like for our Sunday lunch are still prevalent in Europe and it is very well so. Europeans are generally against big business having a hold on their lives and keep the small shopkeeper in business. When it comes to all forms of adult entertainment the same segregated model is not necessarily in the best interest of the consumer though. The typical European city casino offers not more than gambling in the form of slots and tables and maybe a bar or small restaurant with the aim of servicing the gamblers already present in the casino. When they add a theater, the target is still the valuable player and the goal is generating an extra visit, instead of using the theater as a profit center, like it would happen in an ICR. Strictly speaking the casino management is doing their job in ensuring ongoing visits and increased profitability from their existing player base. How does all this work out for the player and the average casino visitor? Not very well. Problem gambling is an issue and goes mostly undetected by operators who have no interest in limiting their players. Just like the neighborhood butcher, these casinos offer one product and one product

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Robert Brassai

only. The aim of their business is hardly entertaining the average Joe, rather targeting the established high value gambler. Since real estate in city centers is rather expensive, this approach is a simple deduction of business common sense. On the other end of the spectrum are the big ICRs with their huge offering of all kinds of entertainment. There are none in Europe. Not one. What might be the reason? Is it our mentality towards entertainment? Disneyland Paris proves otherwise. Maybe the lack of resources of the major players in the industry? Several companies have a healthy balance sheet and could easily get the funding required for such an investment. The checklist could go on and on, but I suspect what stops ICRs appearing in Europe apart from taxation, workers’ rights, and similar financial barriers is mainly a lack of vision and balls. Our major players prefer sticking to what they do best and don’t have the leaders and know-how for such adventures, and being European, they wouldn’t entertain the idea of importing the necessary knowledge.


What ICRs would mean for Europe could they eventually get a foothold would be, • Wider acceptance of gambling among the population, with casinos becoming a social form of adult entertainment • A different political climate could evolve where gambling wouldn’t be the bête noire anymore • Businesses standing on more than one foot, having revenue streams from hotels, F&B and other entertainment offerings • Less issues of problem gambling, as players would have to take a trip, make an effort to go to a casino, instead of just

popping into the casino around the corner • International quality entertainment options for local populations. Projects like Melco’s Cyprus resort are one step in the right direction but are still the exception rather than the norm and probably will be for a long time. Back in the day when London Clubs had their fingers burnt with their investment in Las Vegas, it created a stigma in the industry against “the American model”. I certainly hope that some companies will grow the balls and elect leaders with a vision that could shape the future of our industry in Europe, to make it more human, sustainable and ultimately much much more profitable.

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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Preview of G2E 2019 Zitro • DR Gaming Technology • Novomatic


Johnny Viveiros Ortiz, Founder, Zitro

Wider choice, bigger success! Zitro crushes it at G2E Las Vegas 2019 Zitro will present a world premiere multitude of games at G2E Las Vegas 2019, as well as two new cabinets from its Bryke Video Slots product line ALLURE will be the first cabinet to make its debut in Las Vegas. This amazing cabinet includes three 27-inch Full HD screens, as well as the state-of-the-art SmartDeck digital button panel. In addition, Allure has ‘SynchroScreens’, a powerful multimedia system integrated by the superior monitors that create an incredible immersive experience. Allure is launched with three sensational new games. Within the ‘88 Link’ family, two different games are released: ‘88 Link Lucky Charms’ and ‘88 Link Wild Duels’. Both games combine, for the first time in history, the proven ‘243 ways’ game mechanic with the fantastic ‘Link Bonus’ by Bryke. Zitro will also present ‘88 Link Shock‘, which brings together the successful ‘88 Link’ game and the exciting mystery prize ‘Link Shock’, which has

revolutionized all the casinos in which it has been installed. ILLUSION is the second cabinet that Zitro will present for its Bryke Video Slots. This portrait-type cabinet incorporates an impressive 43-inch Ultra HD curved monitor, a 21.5-inch digital topper, as well as the ‘SmartDeck’ digital button panel. Illusion is launched on the market with the world novelty ‘Bashiba Link’, an extraordinary multi-game that combines a fascinating Link Bonus, inspired by the mechanics of the worldwide success Link King, with a ‘243 ways’ math model. Bashiba Link has been designed with an attractive Chinese theme that, thanks to its graphics and sounds of unbeatable quality, creates an unprecedented experience on Illusion.

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FUSION in its slant and upright version, is the well-known cabinet with which the global number one games, ‘Link King’, ‘Link Me’ and ‘Link Shock’, are triumphing all over the world. In G2E, visitors will be able to see these world stars of the Bryke brand now with more games available, as well as the huge library of individual multigames and LAP products that includes brands such as ‘Pick & Win 24’, ‘Smart Spins’, ‘Hot Deal’, ‘Hit Me Up!’, ‘Link Shock’, ‘Blazing Pearls’, ‘Guns & Gold’, and ‘88 Shock’. All Zitro cabinets occupy less space on the casino floor and still provide more room inside the machines, than any other cabinet in the market. As the world leader in Video Bingo, Zitro continues to innovate and launch great novelties that highlights its products in all Casinos. Zitro will present Energy King, a bank that combines four games with 3x4 cartons and three games with 3x5 cards with an exciting Bonus Link, as well as new games such as Fireworks, Wonderful Lamp, Power Bingo Story, and Funny Lucky Children. Another highlight will be the new range of multi-card video bingo games such as Royal Jade and Royal Pearl. And, complementing its wide and renewed offer of video bingo games, Zitro will bring to Las Vegas its latest promotional systems ‘Zitro Horse Race’ and ‘Dino Ding Pot’, which are already causing a stir in casinos around the world. Zitro Interactive will have a special place at the Zitro stand for its B2B and B2C products. For the operators of online Casinos, Zitro will make available its best Video Bingo games as well as Video Slot that are establishing it as a global leader. And all G2E visitors, in general, will be able to discover Zitro’s latest mobile application, the

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social casino ‘Let’s WinUp!’, which brings together many of the best Video Bingo and Video Slot games of the company for all players, even those who do not seek gambling, but only fun and entertainment. “The Zitro stand at G2E Las Vegas is the place that nobody can miss this year,” says Johnny Ortiz Viveiros, founder and passionate leader of the fastest growing company in the global gaming industry. “Our growing market share around the world requires that we not only offer more games, but also make a wider variety of cabinets available to operators, so that our products can bring the desired diversity to the casino landscape. In G2E Las Vegas we will present new cabinets and multiple new games, making our offer the best of all, for any operator. Our vision was and still is to be a global leader in this very competitive market. All our efforts are made to achieve this goal and I could not be more excited and proud of what we have already achieved, getting closer every day to our goal. I want to thank the amazing group of people at Zitro who join me on this road, and who make all of this possible. I am very happy that a young company like ours has, at this moment in time, the 3 most popular games in the world! Come to our stand to see for yourself how we are crushing it!” Zitro can be found at booth number 4447 at G2E Las Vegas, which will be held from October 15 to 17, 2019 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.


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Understanding and Engaging Players

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Robust technology that meets players’ demands continues to drive DRGT™s global expansion

R Gaming Technology™s (DRGT™) design mantra is simple: ‘Put the Player First!’, and it’s their unwavering commitment to this mantra that has seen the Company remain the world’s fastest growing independent gaming systems and jackpot supplier. With an ever-expanding global footprint that now extends to over 50 countries and in excess of 60,000 gaming devices, the Company is eyeing G2E Las Vegas as yet another opportunity to showcase its technology solutions to particularly its Latin American, Caribbean and Mexican customer base. Since opening its office in Lima 7 years ago, its penetration in the region now extends to Colombia, Paraguay, The Dominican Republic and Uruguay, amongst others. During this time, they have managed to roll-out their systems and jackpot technology to in excess of 15,000 (fifteen thousand) devices. This number excludes their Mexico-based business, that opened just under 2 years ago; that too is making significant local inroads. Visitors to G2E 2019 can again look forward to being presented with arguably the world’s largest selection of jackpot configuration options, as well as the Company’s core casino management system. This now extends to a recently updated Tables-specific management solution that affords Tables Managers the same functionality that

until recently was the exclusive domain of Slots Managers: real-time reporting and player tracking, and the seamless integration of Tables game play data into their accounting, cage and reporting modules. They’re also now able to offer double player loyalty points to players of their BlackJack11’s and Poker21’s side-bet jackpot games, both of which will also be on display at G2E. Reports ultimately are the definitive output of any system, and it is with these easy to extract and digest DRGT™ reports that gaming operators are able to tailor rewards and special offers, and then utilize the Company’s much publicized and on show drScreen customer engagement and interface technology to share them. DR Gaming Technology™ will again be exhibiting from booth 4405 at G2E 2019.

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NOVOMATIC Americas reveals the latest gaming entertainment at G2E 2019 NOVOMATIC Americas will present its latest gaming innovations at the Sands Exposition Center in Las Vegas from October 15-17th, booth #1259. NOVOMATIC Americas will once again offer an impressive exhibition of Winning Technology as well as their latest in games and equipment

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n extensive product portfolio that showcases brand new games and game mixes, progressive jackpots, sports betting kiosks, system solutions and ETGs for the U.S. and surrounding markets will be on full display at G2E 2019. Commercial, Tribal, and VGT operators will be able to experience the wide-ranging product suite available and understand how NOVOMATIC Americas’ award-winning technology can boost their operations. “We are focused on progressives and launching several new progressive product lines: Pay Day™ Progressives with the new Pay Day™ Plus, the Money Party™ Link including Fruity Fruity™ and Juicy Juicy™ and our Thunder Cash™ Link are all designed for a complete progressive entertainment experience,” says Rick Meitzler, President and CEO of NOVOMATIC Americas. “In terms of progressives, we will also showcase the new Samurai Beauty™, and customers shouldn’t miss this high-visibility presentation using the giant video wall and choreographed content. This package was a highlight at ICE in London, and we are bringing the U.S. version here to present this product in a unique style.” Spearheaded by the fantastic success of Thunder Cash™ Link progressives, available on the PANTHERA™

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Curve 1.43 and the V.I.P. Lounge™ Curve 1.43 which both feature the curved 43” 4K displays, various cabinet sizes for all-sized venues will showcase a selection of new games. Featuring among them are Dragon Hits™ as well as Prize of the Nile™ and Prized Panda™ – both part of the Pay Day™ Progressives family – from the NOVOMATIC


Americas Mount Prospect games studio. The Thunder Cash™ Link jackpot will show progressive prowess with popular and diverse themes like Emperor’s China™, The Great Conqueror™ and Empress of the Pyramids™. The Money Party™ Link will premiere Juicy Juicy™ and Fruity Fruity™ on the PANTHERA™ Curve 1.43, and Samurai Beauty™ with its beautiful presentation will command attention on the NOVOMATIC stand. The PANTHERA™ Curve 1.43, V.I.P. Lounge™ Curve 1.43, and V.I.P. Lounge™ 2.32 cabinets continue to bring top performance to North American gaming floors. These and other popular NOVOMATIC cabinets, like the PANTHERA™ 2.27 will be also presented with a variety of multi-game editions for the international and Latin American markets. The established NOVO LINE Novo Unity™ II platform will demonstrate the multiple variations of the popular ETG system showcasing the latest in side-betting features. New mixes for the Illinois and Pennsylvania VGT markets will have a dedicated booth-within-a-booth location, and exciting products premiering in Puerto Rico will not disappoint. The scalable and modular myACP casino management system will be featured with new player recognition programs for the Illinois and Pennsylvania VGT markets including a new NOVO Rewards™ player recognition kiosk. Capitalizing on the incredible success of the NOVOMATIC ActionBook™ self-service sports betting kiosk, the prominent placement in the NOVOMATIC sports lounge will allow customers to experience the latest in customer sports betting capabilities. Executives of Greentube will also be available to discuss new online games and capabilities. “This year has been one of tremendous growth for us,” stated Meitzler. “With the success of our Thunder Cash™ Link, our NOVOMATIC ActionBook™ kiosk and so much more, 2019 has been a good year and this G2E is a celebration of that!”

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The Last Word by Damien Connelly

Profitable MicroMarketing

Welcome to The Last Word.

Turning a Profit From Newbies

Our Last Word in issue 131 discussed micromarketing. I’ve been asked by a few Operators to expand on this concept. My interest is not the casino floor; rather, my interests are the resort assets Operators have that can really add the “Wow” to

In gaming lingo, ‘newbies’ are players new to a game. Typical marketing thinking is, “It costs money to attract new customers.” Not necessarily.

customers’ experiences. As I noted in #131 the principle behind micromarketing is simple — bet on as many ‘horses’ as you can relevantly do* while you wait to see how the future unfolds. By using micromarketing effectively and intelligently, you are not ‘all in’ on only a handful of options. I worked recently with an Operator group that wished to attract new customers to their properties. Being an outsider — a freelance agency resource — it is easier for me to think ‘outside the box’ than it is for the Operator’s marketing/ commercial employees. Also, as I work in different industries, it’s easier for me to transfer an idea that works in other industries to the casino industry. The Operator was spending a lot of money to attract new customers and not converting many to long-term repeaters. I have seen this quite often in the casino industry because competition is not as cutthroat as it is say, in grocery retailing or in bake-off. In many jurisdictions around the world, Operators can be quite lazy and, frankly, not very good and still survive, and even thrive. In those ‘weak competition’ markets one Operator behaviour repeats: they are only really interested in one customer cohort — gamblers.

I had an idea I took to an Operator group. Table 1 is my simple model showing how attracting new customers can be flipped from red to black – not in the classic casino thinking of those colours, rather in financial terms where red is a negative number (a loss) and black is a positive number (a profit).

Putting Lipstick on Your Pig I see many Operators (even in the U.S. and AsiaPac) pay lip service to the resort assets surrounding their casino. As I note above, I’m not a casino person; my interests are the non-gambling amenities. More often than not, these are not integrated into an efficient operating model focused on winning the hearts and minds of customer cohorts…and especially so when it comes to attracting and keeping new customers. Issue 129 saw Robert Brassai touch on this in “Profit Based Management in Integrated Casino Resorts”. A very important KPI for marketing departments in most industries is attracting and keeping new customers. In almost all industries, the activities surrounding this are a cost. Casino (and Integrated Resorts) are different because they have attributes that mean this cost can be flipped to being a profit centre.

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Table 1: Performance per Property

The above ‘Best case’ sees the addition of only 9,660 new customers over three years. It is conservative because I built the model to be highly achievable for the Operator’s sales people. They should earn commission easily because they should hit, or beat, the ‘Best case’ scenario…motivating them to further over-achieve. The above figures are based around a single set of events for a single property. Integrate and layer-in other activities, which is what actually happens in the real-world, and the red numbers in both the Expected and Worst cases mostly turn black…to being profitable. If you’d like to learn if I can help your operations profit from my expertise, feel free to reach out to me. * Each ‘horse’ you bet on must be on-message and reinforce your brand positioning. It is essential for effective branding that you maintain consistency. Go off-message and you damage your brand.

Biography

Damien Connelly helps companies innovate and grow. His experience spans Cloud, food and drink, gaming, retail, and TMT. One client recently sold for over US$5 billion. He has worked with some of the world’s biggest and best-known companies and brands during his 25+ years commercial career.


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Casino Life Issue 132 Volume 15  

www.casinolifemagazine.com

Casino Life Issue 132 Volume 15  

www.casinolifemagazine.com