Casino Life Ukraine International Edition Issue 3 Volume 2

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CASINO Media for owners and management of international casinos

Issue 03



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Editor’s Note

Published by Outsource Digital Media Ltd

Editorial: Editor Lyudmyla Kyrychenko Associate Editor Eastern Europe: Aydin Guney Features Editor: Damien Connelly Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey Associate Editor North America: David McKee

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde Subscriptions: Helen Holmes Web: Pasha Kuzminskiy Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 Issue 03

Welcome to Casino Life Ukraine! In this Issue we are happy to introduce exclusive interviews with professional leaders, creators and inspirers of the Gaming Industry and are really excited about the forthcoming Ukrainian Gaming Week Exhibition, which takes place on the 23rd - 24th March 2021 and followed by the Entertainment Industry Exhibition 7th- 9th April 2021. You will get a real insight into how international leaders use their knowledge and skills to set up in places around the World, from Europe to Africa and Australia, and what components are needed to keep it successful. For example, you can get a step-by-step guide for building a casino from scratch, from the initial concept to the final construction and opening; or the story of how a talented and ambitious hostess became a General Manager in a leading New York casino, using her familiarity from the floor to improve and maintain an outstanding customer experience. With the frustration and restrictions imposed by lockdown the gambling industry has had time to reflect on the customer experience and there has been a huge increase in development and innovation in virtual gambling. Even though there are exciting and varied online experiences, the thrill of casinos reopening in Ukraine after all these years is hotly anticipated. Local people, foreign visitors and city guests will all have fantastic opportunities to roll, spin, twist and more. If you are professional in the Gaming Industry and want to share your story I am ready to bet you can tell your story with us! Simply contact us by email: lyudmyla.kyrychenko@ Best wishes and good luck from the Casino Life Ukraine team.


Editor, Lyudmyla Kyrychenko


CASINO Media for owners and management of international casinos


Contents 23 38


3 Welcome to Editor’s Note 5 Ukrainian Gaming Business Legalization Chronicles By: Aydin Guney 8 New gaming rules – New faces Casino Executive, Oleg Usenko chats to Peter White 14 Play Your Cards right John Kivinen, Interview, Casino Life Ukraine 21 IGT Ready for Ukraine Market Re-entry with Highly Entertaining, Market-Attuned Offering 23 Winning Solutions from APEX Gaming Kubilay Özer, Global Sales Director at APEX gaming chats to Lyudmyla Kyrychenko 25 Mega Jackpots Damien Connelly Chats to ZITRO Games CEO Sebastián Salat 29 Turning Vision Into Reality Lynn Segars General Manager at Yellow Brick Road Casino chats to Bill Healey 34 The legendary Gaming Industry Expo is coming back! 38 Ukrainian Gaming Week Exhibition Preview 41 I want to build a casino, so now what? By: Andrew Cosgrove 44 Reopening of the Ukraine Casino Market By: Shaun McCamley

Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life Ukraine 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.

29 4

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 Severn Print.

Comment: Aydin Guney

Ukrainian Gaming Business Legalization Chronicles By: Aydin Guney


n spite of many unsolved issues before the first casino can open its doors to its long and patiently waiting customers, there have been improvements in the Ukrainian Gaming Market during the past several weeks. As it is clear to all of us now, before gaming operators can receive a license to operate any gaming, hotels, where the gaming operator is planning to start operation, must receive permission. Before understanding which hotels are eligible to apply for permission to place gaming zone (live casino, slot arcade or sports betting) in their territories, they need to be categorized and certificated by European standards as Ukraine is approaching towards Europe under President Vladimir Zelensky’s ruling. Up until today, many hotels all over Ukraine have had to reconsider and replan their infrastructure and floor plan to be able to get in the right category and receive the correct certificate to be able to apply for permission to place a gaming zone. So far, 18 hotels from Kyiv, Kharkov, L’viv, Odessa, Rivne, Vinnitsa, and Bela Tserkva have applied to KRAIL for permits. 02.02.2021 – Ivan Rudy, the Head of UGLC, announced on his Facebook page that the first license was issued to online casino «СПЕЙСИКС» (SpaceX) better known with its brand name in the gaming market as «Космолот» (Cosmolot) who has been operating in Ukraine during the last several years under a lottery license. «СПЕЙСИКС» (SpaceX) paid 23,4 million Hryvnas to conduct gambling. Even though it costs 6500 minimum wages (~ 6000 Hryvnas) = 39 million Hryvnas to receive an online casino license and can be paid in 5 even yearly payments, since there is no online monitoring system established, operator had to pay 3 yearly payments in advance which made it 23,4 million Hryvnas. Issue 03

09.02.2021 – While Hotel Rus and Hotel Lybid of Kyiv have received their permission to replace gaming zone (slot arcade) in their hotels, Hotel Intercontinental was turned down because of missing documentation. 10.02.2021 – Two more operators, «ПАРИМАТЧ» (PARIMATCH) and «ГЕЙМДЕВ» (GAMEDEV) have received their license to conduct online casino this week. It was announced on the official web site of КРАИЛ (KRAIL). 5

Comment: Aydin Guney 10.02.2021 – Hotel Tourist of Kyiv has received permission to allow gaming operation (slot arcade) in their hotel premises. During legalization of gaming business, one of the most disputed subject was wining tax of 18% deduction from customers winning. As committee clears itself by explaining, this rule was created to prevent money laundering. Many operators understand that they will have to pay for their customer and that will cost double taxing of the operator and will tragically increase the operational costs. It was suggested to Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) to consider 18% winning tax from minimum 50.000 Hryvnas winning but unfortunately this was turned down by the parliament. Another long-argued rule of legalization has been obligating operators to save video recordings of the operation during one calendar year, while operators have been arguing it is very costly to operation to save such big amount of information for such a long period. 15.02.2021 – Hotel Opera of Kyiv has received permission to allow gaming operation (slot arcade) in their hotel premises. 15.02.2021 – Hotel Bratislava of Kyiv did not receive permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. 15.02.2021 – Hotel Intourist of Zaporizhia did not

receive permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. 17.02.2021 – City Park Hotel of Bela Tserkva received permission to allow gaming operation (slot arcade) in their hotel premises. Hotel Ukraine of Rivne received permission to allow gaming operation (slot arcade) in their hotel premises. Hotel France of Vinnitsa received permission to allow gaming operation (slot arcade) in their hotel premises. Hotel Lviv of L’viv City received permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. Grand Hotel Lviv of L’viv received permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. Hotel Gagarin of Odessa received permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. Hotel Kharkov of Kharkov City received permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises. 6

18.02.2021 – New operator «Фьорст Элемент» (First Element) has received license to operate online casino. 18.02.2021 – Hotel Druzhba of Kryvyi Rih did not receive permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises because of expired certificate of threestar hotel category. 19.02.2021 – Fairmont Grand Hotel of Kyiv received permission, at their second attempt, to allow gaming operation in their over 1500 m2 hotel premises. Successful international casino operator “Storm International” told to operate in Fairmont Grand Hotel. 19.02.2021 – Premier Hotel Abri of Dnipro City and Reikartz River Hotel of Mykolaiv did not receive permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises because of missing documents. 28.02.2021 – Hotel Intourist of Zaporizhia received permission to allow gaming operation in their hotel premises at their second attempt after completing all the documents needed. 28.02.2021 – Premiere Palace Hotel of Kharkov and The Teatralny hotel in Zaporizhia also did not receive permission for the premises due to incorrectly executed documents and an incomplete package of submitted documents. 02.03.2021 – «ПАРИМАТЧ» (PARIMATCH) has received their license to conduct sports betting this week. Earlier in February «ПАРИМАТЧ» (PARIMATCH) has received license for online casino as well. In spite of Marian Zablotskiy being strongly against, Committee of Finance approved the bill offered by Oleg Marusyak to lower the tax rates of gaming busines in return to attract more foreign investors to market but The Verkhovna Rada did not vote amended bill 2713-D to equalize GGR for all types of gambling to 10%. It is still discussed if the decision was made political or logical and Anton Kuchukhidze believes that 2713-D bill will be put to the vote again in the parliament. It looks like still so much to solve before gaming legalization could start up and running in Ukrainian market no matter how eager to start operations.

Feature: Oleg Usenko


Feature: Oleg Usenko

New gaming rules – New faces Casino Executive, Oleg Usenko chats to Peter White


ith extensive experience and gaming industry expertise, Oleg Usenko discusses the benefits he can bring to companies in Ukraine. Well-travelled, well-versed and multi-cultural, his skills and experience are ideal given the geographic location of Ukraine. Can you provide brief background on yourself? Of course. I have worked for many years in the gaming business in Europe (especially Ukraine) and in Africa. These markets have a lot of similarities. Take the African market; this is extremely complex — and at the same time extremely interesting. I was the CEO for Ritzio Ghana. What were your main responsibilities in the last

role of CEO Ritzio Ghana in their casino in Accra? I worked in Ghana for almost three years. The main responsibilities and tasks set for me were common to any business. Among them are to increase revenue, profit, capitalization, customer flow and prevent theft by staff. But the most interesting ones were those demanded directly by Ghana market and multicultural employees - from all over the world and local ones. Now it’s trend to call this challenge working conditions VUCA ;). I might aid, this is where the markets of Ukraine and Ghana have something in common. Therefore, having worked in Ukraine ((it`s from Oleg`s answer in Ukrainian)) at the managerial positions for more than 20 years and having gone through several crises, adaptation in Ghana was not very difficult for me in African conditions. It was more difficult for the local workers to adapt to my working rhythm 24/7 and to my requirements, especially for those who are accustomed to laziness or depict “stormy” activities)). Issue 03

Since during the day I usually worked at the office, and at night I went around the shops, which amount varied at different times from 15 to 25. What is on your wish list for the recovery of the gaming market in Ukraine over the next five years? First of all, we want to see transparent conditions for the functioning of the market and suitable state regulation. Secondly, I would like to wish the leaders of the gambling business in Ukraine to treat business not only from the fiscal point of view, as a source of filling the budget, but also from the point of view of business support. It is no secret that there is a kind of competition between countries in the struggle for investors. There is a myth that the gambling business makes huge profits. Therefore, when taxing the gambling industry, deputies usually proceed from this

rule, and not from the position of attracting investors, making a profit, and then taxing. It is usually easiest to criticize, but licensing in Ukraine is quite burdensome for the companies’ budgets and does not encourage companies to come out from the black market. I would like to wish the market operators not to forget that the gaming industry is first of all entertainment for people, instead of extortion. Therefore, it is very important to direct the company’s PR to maintain an entertaining image. What advice would you give to new entrants to the Ukrainian market? Not only participants of the Ukrainian market, but all operators wishing to be high-tech, socially responsible and creative. Expand consciousness and develop. Nowdays it`s no longer something extraordinary for the betting companies to have both online casino and betting on e-sports. Content for gamers, VR 9

Feature: Oleg Usenko

In Ghana, the local kings, who exists in every region, have a great influence. One of the most revered and oldest of them is King Ashanti, who lives in central Ghana with its center in the city of Kumasi.

technology or storytelling with a well-thought-out

storyline is not commonly found on classic online casino. It is difficult to surprise an experienced customer with only the traditional jackpots and congratulatory bonuses. How do you see the mix of skills and experience gained through this Ritzio role in Ghana that you can provide to organizations looking for partners with casino and gaming operators in Ukraine? As I mentioned above, the so-called “wild” markets are similar. First of all, they are similar to the underestimation of risks and the attitude of some

investors that obsolete equipment can be brought to such markets, deal with untested partners, ignore new technologies, bring specialists who are accustomed to working in stable markets. I strongly believe that the African markets the countries of the former Soviet Union and South America are among the most promising today for the gambling industry. But at the 10

same time such markets have higher requirements

for staff, as well as need for managers with crisis experience, fast and non-standard thinking and ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. These are markets where the same business rules apply as in the rest of the world, and sometimes they are even more stringent. That is why it is important to create effective team principles of work, a team focused on the result and ready to follow their leader. What are some of the unexpected challenges you faced when starting a role with Ritzio Ghana? Everyone who comes to Africa is faced with a huge difference in mentality, culture and traditions that also affect business and relationships. And often foreign employees do not pay due attention to these differences. In Ghana, the local kings, who exists in every region, have a great influence. One of the most revered and oldest of them is King Ashanti, who lives in central Ghana with its center in the city of Kumasi.

Feature: Oleg Usenko I came across one of the traditions when the king’s mother died and mourning was declared, just at the same time our company opened a new location in Kumasi. Thus, according to tradition, during mourning, ordinary people cannot leave their homes after sunset at the risk of being killed even by the king’s relatives who patrol the streets of towns and villages. As a result, we opened a new location with a delay of two weeks, as the local employees refused to go to work. Also, one of the weaknesses of the Ghanaians is the lack of to exact sciences such as mathematics. The simplest calculations in the head cause a problem in people even with higher education. When the hiring managers during the interview mathematical tests at the elementary school level is the norm. Therefore, recruitment, selection and training were an important part of my work and a huge challenge. I found an effective way to hire really strong professionals in the local labour market by myself. One such case occurred in one of the most criminal and poorest areas of Accra, Teshi, where was one of the company’s location. During the next inspection of that gaming shop, I came across a young employee who did not stand out with anything special, but who balanced money and calculated the proceeds per shift faster than me. The boy’s name is Emmanuel Dzre and he was a regular attendant at that time. The next day I appointed him to the supervisor of that shop, and as a result he opened new markets such as Kumasi and became the branch manager. He also turned out to

Oleg Usenko

be a crystal honest man, which is also a rarity among local employees. I think that the topic of theft by ordinary employees is always relevant in our industry.

Which are among your main goals when considering your next career move? The few basic criteria I would name are: the new challenges, the company’s ambitious goals to develop, entering to the new markets, constant development of the products and the teams. Responsible gambling is important if you don’t agree? I completely agree. As I mentioned, I see the gaming industry primarily as entertainment, an opportunity to relax and have fun with friends. Remember the movie Hangover in Vegas? Why Americans go to Las Vegas? Relax, have fun and spend money designated and planned solely for this, not to spend the last money. Issue 03

And, of course, there is a strict rule in any country to cross the threshold of a gambling establishment or visit an online casino website for children under 18. In the recovery of the gaming industry in Ukraine what worries you the most? If the operators and the state regulator build truly transparent rules, trust and are based on a win11

Feature: Oleg Usenko

win principle, then the industry will benefit not only business owners but also society and the state. Otherwise, the business will remain in the shadow where it has been for the last 10 years. From a purely business point of view, what lessons have you learned from your experience since this pandemic hit, and what impact will it have and will have in the future on plans to rebuild the gaming industry phisical or virtual? It’s no secret that the whole world has gone

online. Any crisis has both negative and positive consequences. Many traditional businesses have remained in the past, but many new businesses have been born, many transformations have taken place. Which in turn has led to increased demands on the quality of the Internet, IT infrastructure, etc. The computer games are an active way of learning and in separate cases show abilities better than any tests. Knowledge is acquired more deeply and immediately applied in practice, a person reveals its essence, which is impossible to hide from algorithms. Albert Einstein said a hundred years ago, “Game is the highest form of research.” E-sports, crypto currencies, cyber wars, virtual reality, artificial intelligence became a part of new reality. There has been a boom in online gaming not only at the entertainment level, but also at the scientific and educational level. Therefore, the consumer will make demands on the semantic load of content, digital 12

graphics, design, 3-D and VR image, the speed of the online payments and the ability to pay in crypto currencies, the ability to visit a land-based casino with a virtual tour, etc. It will be difficult to survive for offline business without digital transformation and the latest technologies. Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of? It is possible to list at length how much profit, income and benefits I have brought to this or that company,

but the most important achievements I consider are creating of effective and cohesive teams. I treat my team like a pilot of Formula 1. No matter how talented a pilot is, he will not be able to win the F-1 Cup alone. Only with a team of the designers, mechanics, analysts a victory is possible. For me everyone in the team is important, even the glass wiper on the pilot’s helmet and the one who pours fuel into the tank. Therefore, I am proud first of all of the teams I have worked with and created, inspired and motivated. Do you want to add anything else? I would like to wish all colleagues, including people working in your magazine, success and the most important, health in the new 2021. Mankind has experienced many pandemics and crises. Therefore, first of all it is necessary to learn the lessons, adapt to the new working and living conditions and see the positive sides in any critical situation.


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Feature: John Kivinen

Play Your Cards right John Kivinen, Interview, Casino Life Ukraine


Feature: John Kivinen


n adventurer’s life. That’s what John Kivinen has led. The Finnish hotelier transitioned successfully into the gaming industry, and has opened casinos from Kiev to Cameroon and beyond. Now, with casino gambling freshly legalized in the Ukraine, Kivinen is looking forward to bringing a cosmopolitan product to an area that used to be characterized by “unheated kiosks at every corner with half a dozen slot machines each.” He took time out of his globe-trotting schedule to speak with us. How did you come to work in the gaming industry? I had a career of almost twenty years in the hotel industry. After finishing my first contract as General Manager of the Savoy in Moscow in 1996, it was taking me some time to find a suitable new job in the hospitality sector. I was then approached by an established gaming company who were opening a slot operation in Ukraine. They wanted to buy a hotel in the Crimea. While negotiating the hotel deal (which eventually fell through) I started opening slot casinos in Kyiv. I was promoted to run Eldorado Gaming International - over sixty units in eleven countries - in 2000. While I can never completely quit being a hotelier, I haven’t looked back since then.

All in all, I don’t think the size of the new market can ever quite reach the levels of pre-2009. It can be successful to everyone involved, though. Having a background in Hotel and Hospitality, how important is Customer care in not just acquiring but also retaining patrons? Customer care is the most challenging part of operating a land-based casino. Players arrive with expectations of not only good games and good service but also of winning money. As we don’t and cannot direct the flow of winnings, even more emphasis has to be put on that feeling of being cared about. Most patrons are intensely focused on the game itself, so the attention given to them often has to be particularly low-key and considerate. When I moved over from the hospitality industry, it took me quite a while come to terms with this balancing act. The hospitality industry aims at full satisfaction to each and every customer. This cannot be reached to the same extent in the gaming industry, because many players enter hoping to win big. Giving a fair and good quality game as well as the perfect amount of attention is the challenge we face.

What is on your wish list for the reopening of the gaming market in Ukraine over the next five years? Our company does not have a wish list. We plan to write our own story. We aim to be the leading slots-only

Responsible Gambling is promoted in established Gaming Jurisdictions worldwide. Is that an aspect that Ukraine should embrace also for the future health and stability of its citizens and the industry? Responsible Gaming has always been present in our

How will the Ukraine Land-based Gaming market 2021 compare in size to that of pre-2009? This new market will be better regulated than before. The law is clear and limits the scope and size of the market from pre-2009. We will not see unheated kiosks at every corner with half a dozen slot machines each. This is good for the city, the consumer as well as being clearer for the operator. The atmosphere in four- and five-star hotels adds to and improves the experience that we can give our guests. The challenge to profitability that the new licence fees cause will push all operators to work hard on all aspects of the business from customer service to marketing, technical service, systems management and cost control.

What excites you most about the reopening of the Ukraine market after so many years and what aspects of this new era make it better than pre2009? Moving gaming “inside”, off the streets, is the biggest driver of progress. The considerably higher licence fees increase the overhead and pushes us to work harder. Skipping over one decade also means new technology, new games, new cabinets. Still, the basics of gaming stay the same. We are here to offer exciting entertainment in a comfortable and safe environment.

operator in Ukraine. We will have six or seven licences by the end of 2022, in other words at least fifteen hundred machines on the floor.

Issue 03

work as gaming professionals, whether it is written into legislation or not. We have to be alert to signs of problem gambling and react. Having less operators due to the limitations set by the new licences will make it easier for the Gaming Commission to focus on this issue.


Feature: John Kivinen

Hotel Opera, Kyiv

What appealed to you about this new role for you at Volna 4444? Getting back into business. I have been away for a couple of years and I am itching to go again.

What are the key advantages Volna 4444 can provide the companies of whom you distribute Casino machines? We will be using the latest models and systems available in the market. Apart from being a good test market for new products, our casinos will act as showrooms for potential future operators. When was Volna 4444 founded in Ukraine? All operators in a newly formed market are by definition new. So are we. The company investors are Ukrainian. Volna 4444 is an operator and a distributor in Ukraine, so you will not only be operating Machines Licences but also supplying Slot machines – is that correct? 16

In fact, Volna 4444 is an operator only. We have a partner with whom we work closely who will be a distributor, but I can get back to you about that later. What are amongst the company’s primary goals for the next 12 to 18 months? First and foremost, we want to have a flying start to our operations. We will open two units in Kyiv, two in Kharkiv and one in Mariupol followed by another dozen or so within the first year and a half. We will operate in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odessa but also in many smaller towns with only one three or four-star hotel. This will give us the opportunity to develop our operations and customer service with less urgency. In 2014 you moved from operations to supply and from Europe to Africa. How did you find initially the transition? Actually as C.E.O. for Eldorado Gaming International I (and the whole company) had moved from Europe to Africa by 2010. We opened operations in Central African Republic, Cameroon, Namibia and Ghana.

Feature: John Kivinen

Hotel Bratislava, Kyiv

As Managing Director for Novomatic in Ghana I was practically operations-only. We had half a dozen slot and table casinos of our own as well as profit-sharing machine placement in Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. By the time I joined Novomatic (Novogaming Ghana), the company had decided to close the operations and concentrate on profit-sharing. Novogaming Ghana was then sold. What were the objectives required by Novomatic in your role of Managing Director Ghana and what

where your main achievements during your time in the role? Novomatic hired me to streamline and clean up an operation that had problems turning a profit. By the time I left, it was in the black for the first time. It was then sold to an operator close to Novomatic. Your role then moves on in Novomatic to Advisor. Were you still employed and what were your primary objectives? My title was changed as the company looked for a suitable task for me. I was sent to Namibia with the hope that I could take over the operations there as Managing Director. That wasn’t to happen as Namibia’s extremely strict immigration and work permit policy stopped me (and, as it turns out, my career at Novomatic) after less than two years. I never quite had the opportunity to give back to Novomatic. They were very patient with me, keeping 18

me on their payroll and showing me their world for months on end, while trying to find something to fit my skillset. Growing up what kind of future did you envision for yourself? I didn’t. I have never been ambitious in the sense that I would plan a future. I have done the jobs given to me the best I can and seen where that takes me. I have tried to enjoy the ride. Looking back over 40 years what are some of your standout memories from your time working in Hotels and Casinos? In the hotel business I particularly enjoyed conventions and other special events. The third hotel I worked at was adjacent to and operated the Government Guesthouse of Finland. It consequently hosted several top delegations, including simultaneous visits from the leaders of the United States and Germany and their teams in 1992. Also, we were the venue for the hyper-prestigious Bilderberg conference in 1994. Top C.E.O.’s, prime ministers, presidents and royalty… plus a healthy profit for the hotel. The boutique hotel atmosphere at Savoy Moscow was great. Guests were very close and even big stars had lots of time for long informal discussions as they were far from home in a different time zone. It was a true privilege to be building Eldorado

Feature: John Kivinen

John Kivinen

Gaming International into a small success story. It had some teething problems when I took over as C.E.O. Thanks to a great team of regional managers as well as the coolest owners you could imagine, we turned it into a very profitable business in the challenging market. What can you tell us about the projects you have worked on so far, and the difficulties and successes you have experienced?

The ex-Soviet Union market was lucrative. Eldorado Gaming International originally operated in Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. We opened over sixty casinos of various sizes and shapes. Not every unit was profitable but in whole the company was a great success. Living and working in the region, especially in the gaming business, was worth a book or two. Colourful. I consider being an important part of that business for over ten years my biggest challenge and the biggest success I have been a part of. Also, we were lucky or cunning enough to sell our business in Kyiv two years before the industry was shut down. Africa was and still is very challenging. Eldorado failed in Central African Republic but had a very successful business in Cameroon for four years. It was closed down due to the landlord’s - who was also the licenсe holder - gambling (sic!) problems. Breaching contracts in Africa is not exceptional, Issue 03

and legal solutions aren’t really available, so we left without putting up a big fight. My team and I opened Caesars Casino, the now leading casino in Accra, Ghana. The building process was very African with delays due to disputes with the landlady and changes in the building company. However, in general Ghana is a good country to do business in. I cannot take credit for the great eventual success of Caesars’ operation as I left two weeks after the opening party to join Novomatic.

My input at Novomatic was limited by time and scope. In Ghana the task I was given was to clean up the company so it could be sold to a partner. It is never the job you prefer to take, but working for an industry behemoth under the most knowledgeable man in the business was rewarding. In Namibia (the best country in the world to live in) the challenge from day one was bureaucracy. Namibia is dead against allowing foreigners to enter the job market due to high local unemployment. Of all the casinos you have visited during your international career, which are amongst your favourite and why? I don’t gamble myself. My favourites have more to do with the atmosphere of the city and the hotels. I was surprised to like Café de Paris in Monaco, but maybe I would choose the Bellagio in Las Vegas as my favourite. 19

Feature: John Kivinen What impresses you most about working in the Casino Industry? The similarities worldwide. The excitement of gambling is very human and gambling is everywhere, whether you legalize it or not. Our industry harnesses this power and ensures a safe environment for the gambler. It also serves a societal purpose by directing big parts of gambling revenues to the governments.

Hotel European, Mariupol

Out of business hours how do you relax? I like to travel. I am 28 countries short of visiting every country in the world, a task that I will get back to when we get over the pandemic. I would still play football seven days a week if I had where and with whom to do it. I am terrible at it but it has never stopped me. In lieu of playing, I follow the English Premier League keenly.

Does the Machine Licence provide for food and beverages to be served to patrons and if so are you planning to look to develop that based on your experience in the hotel and hospitality sector? Complimentary food and beverage are forbidden under the new law. Furthermore, all casinos will be located in four- or five-star hotels. This allows us to concentrate on our core business. We will be buying services from the hotels.

Is there much difference between Casinos in Africa and Europe? The atmosphere in casinos in Africa is very different from the European one. In Africa for many patrons gambling is their main leisure activity. Players are

In your opinion, what are the most important factors slot game manufacturers should consider when developing new products and business strategies for Eastern European Gaming operators? I think game manufacturers are well aware of the requirements of different markets. Ukraine and other Eastern European markets are male-dominated, which is reflected in the most popular games on the market. There are a couple of leading manufacturers

Is a Casinos success like with a hotel simply a case of location location location. No. At least in the countries where I have been involved, gamblers are willing to travel for a better gaming experience, especially as it allows for less exposure – many gamblers enjoy privacy. I think this probably applies to most markets. After all, the two most famous gambling cities, Macau and Las Vegas, require travelling to. In the hotel industry, location is a means to an end. City hotels need good location because people stay in a hotel to sleep before and/or after doing business or visiting the city. Central location can alleviate your timetable considerably in today’s congested cities.

Have you anything else you would like to add? I think the whole gaming world will follow this new start in Ukraine. We will be starting in the midst of Covid-19 and it will bring its own challenges. We will have to pay even more attention to hygiene including but not limited to disinfecting the machines more often than before and requiring face covering from all, starting with our personnel. Social distancing is a completely new challenge that we will have to work with by building plexiglass separators between machines and other protective structures inside the casinos.

predominantly foreigners and, in many places, the Chinese community dominates the market. This affects marketing and the atmosphere of casinos, sometimes quite dramatically.


with their established game mixes that have a headstart. Their games were played pre-2009 and are still played widely online. However, every market develops – and so will this one. We will see new manufacturers and new games find their place on the floors of the casinos.

Feature: IGT

IGT Ready for Ukraine Market Re-entry with Highly Entertaining, Market-Attuned Offering


hen gaming was previously regulated in Ukraine, players ranked IGT game titles like Cleopatra™, Mystical Mermaid™,

and Wolf Run™ among their favorites. Now that the market is re-opening, the best is back with a more compelling content and hardware portfolio than ever before. “Overall, IGT’s offering will engage every type of Ukrainian player, and will help operators launch their businesses from a position of strength,” said Marcel Uhlmann, IGT Product Marketing Manager for EMEA. “We’re offering a diverse range of classic and new games, including highly popular fruit games, on our market-tailored multi-game bundles. And these multi-games are featured on our state-of-the-art cabinets, which add a more immersive experience to the game themes with their high-resolution multi-screen displays and player-tested ergonomics.” IGT’s USwitch™ multi-game bundles, including the Red, Green, and Yellow game packs, exemplify the Company’s content diversity for the Ukraine market. Issue 03


Feature: IGT Developed with a user-friendly chooser screen designed to help players easily select the most popular content, USwitch multigame packs are market-tailored, with themes in each bundle carefully selected to appeal to specific player preferences and styles of play. Each pack is available on the customers’ choice of IGT form factor, including the Cobalt™, CrystalSlant 27™, CrystalSlant 32™, and PeakSlant32™ cabinets. IGT’s 40-game USwitch™ Red multi-game pack for Ukraine offers performance-driving content with an emphasis on fruit games. Themes include Red Hot Joker™, a 5X3 reel game offering the chance of frequent large wins and payouts of more than 3,000 times the bet. The Red Hot Joker symbol is both a wild as well as a win multiplier that doubles any win passing through it, stoking players’ excitement. Red Hot Joker is based on a game mechanic proven in the Eastern European market and engages players with rich visuals and immersive sound. IGT’s Green 40-game USwitch multi-game bundle was developed exclusively for the Ukrainian market and offers Ukrainian players’ classic favorites all in one machine. Proven, longtime performers in the pack include Mystical Mermaid™, Coyote Moon™, 22

Cleopatra™, and Wolf Run™. Meanwhile, the market-attuned USwitch Yellow 40-game pack was developed to significantly expand a property’s fruit game offering. In terms of hardware, the expertly crafted Cobalt™ 27 gaming machine illustrates IGT’s commitment to playerdriven design that enhances the gaming experience. Clad with two high-definition 27-inch screens, a 24-inch video topper, integrated cabinet lighting, and extensive button panel flexibility, this cabinet is designed to fit operators’ unique needs, and forge new opportunities on their floors. Cobalt boasts superior serviceability and durability, freeing up staff resources and minimizing downtime for increased return on investment. In addition,

IGT’s PeakSlant32 features three seamlessly integrated, 32-inch, full-HD displays that deliver an immersive player experience. The cabinet includes IGT’s most advanced lighting and audio technology, offering dynamic attract and celebration sequences, as well as synchronization to the game experience, music, and sounds. It includes a standard inductive wireless charger and USB charging port for player convenience, in addition to ergonomic features. For more information on IGT’s deep, player-tested portfolio of solutions for the Ukrainian market, contact Sales Manager Borislav Prokopiev by phone at +33 7 88 12 51 66, by email at, or by visiting

Feature: APEX Gaming

Mr. Kubilay Özer, Global Sales Director at APEX gaming

Winning Solutions from APEX gaming


Kubilay Özer, Global Sales Director at APEX gaming chats to Lyudmyla Kyrychenko

asino Life Ukraine is following all the gaming industry developments as the Ukraine gambling market opens up to legal gaming, wagering and betting. APEX gaming is a leading supplier to the international gaming industry. With a new market, it is necessary to know what product solutions expert companies such as APEX have developed for, and can deliver across, Ukraine. How have the last 18 months been for APEX gaming? They have been extremely busy and in essence a very special time. At APEX we place great emphasis on innovation – our company motto is to take gaming to the next level. Issue 03

We are always listening and learning to understand this information, develop it, implement it and create new solutions that bring added value and greater excitement for players. The past 18 months have seen Clover Link continue to enjoy popularity worldwide; it is the most popular game where it has been installed. We had expected this latest version to do well but not to be as successful as it has been — even during the pandemic time we made a lot of installations from California to Batumi. The Clover Link Jackpot islands continue to enjoy popularity worldwide with the exquisite blend of player excitement which the games offer and the unique APEX design of these islands. Customers have an amazing choice: the BIG ISLAND, the ROUND 23

Feature: APEX Gaming Square footage is becoming less densely occupied and key player demographics are shifting dramatically. A transition is in progress and we as a wellestablished supplier have been investing in solutions for this new generation of players.

What are your plans and expectations for APEX gaming in Ukraine? Beside Clover Link and

Tell us about iDROPs? Players can move much more easily between slots and live gaming tables and exchange their ticket directly at the table. Casinos that offer promotional tickets benefit even more as these can be exchanged directly at the table as well – long queues at the cage are now a thing of the past. The iDROP family of products has revolutionised the way cash handling is managed at live gaming tables, bringing measured value to operators, croupiers and players alike. Our iDROPs can manage 250 bills (and tickets) at one time at a validation rate of up to 6 per second, making it ideal when players sit at a table with a large number of bills. It also provides the casino the option to use the iDROPs to exchange a large number of bills for one Tito ticket, meaning the game is not

Is APEX focused on the next generation of players? We understand how casino floors are rapidly evolving because we supply casinos worldwide.

Is there anything you would like to add? The feedback over the years that we have received from our customers is very positive, stating that the APEX gaming machines are extremely reliable. We have been receiving this feedback for many years now – which shows we are doing the right thing. As a company, we place much emphasis on flexibility and creativity to create local solutions. Coupled with our excellent time to market, this often gives us an edge over the competition. “CLOVER LINK is the jackpot link game with a difference with fantastic entertainment value – regardless whether the player is a gambler or time-on-device person,” concluded Mr. Kubilay Özer, Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing at APEX gaming.

EDITION, the WALL EDITION and now the SLIM EDITION with four-sided display. We will continue to listen to our customers – we never rest on our laurels. Continual development is our key to success. Our task is to develop products for the new generation of players as we know that interests are changing and we are adapting and evolving to ensure our games continue to be successful.

Clover Link-xTREME Games, we have for the Ukraine market our APEX Player Station (APS) that provides players the option to switch between roulette and slot games. For those players who like to play more than one roulette game APS can be linked to up to four different roulette wheels – both live and/ or automated. To be successful in Ukraine you need much experience and know-how. We have the advantage of our flexibility in creating solutions specific for local markets – something that I am confident will help us in Ukraine in the long run.


stopped for large buy-ins, and hands per hour increases.

Feature: Zitro Gaming

Mega Jackpots Damien Connelly Chats to ZITRO Games CEO Sebastián Salat


very time I communicate with Zitro, it is a pleasure. Zitro (Ortiz written backwards) is full of people who are nice to do business with. More importantly, they develop quality products that deliver great performance. Please tell us more about Zitro? Zitro was founded in 2007 and with its creation, came the start of a new chapter in the global gaming industry. Johnny Viveiros Ortiz, Zitro’s founder, started his career in Brazil by creating the most prestigious Bingos in the country. After a period dedicated to the operations of machines, he focused his efforts on the creation and development of in-house software and related systems, setting the basis of his leadership as creator of video bingo games as well as video slot Issue 03

games in both the land-based and online markets. Thanks to the incredible performance of it’s extremely popular games, Zitro today is the fastest growing company in the gaming industry, conquering new markets and seducing players around the world. Zitro offers its products for outright purchase, lease or participation. In fact, Zitro operates more than 30,000 machines worldwide. Can you provide details on your most popular cabinets and games? The game library of Zitro is quickly growing and the success of the games is astonishing. At the show in 25

Feature: Zitro Gaming Ukraine, we will showcase Link King and 88 Link, two of our most popular video slot games that, we are convinced, will cause sensations on the casino floors in the country, just as they do in other parts of the world; positioning themselves between the top three of the best performing games in casinos. The record-breaking multi-game progressive ‘Link King’ is an absolute triumph everywhere it has been installed. Link King comes with a multi-level progressive jackpot that can be won in its fascinating Link King Bonus. Players absolutely love the exciting symbol driven bonus mechanics of this highly volatile game that guarantees fun and excitement. Its unique and differentiated four game titles are packed with extra features such as Fixed Wilds, expanded symbols and giant symbols that increase winning chances and maximise excitement. Link King comes on the ultra-slim Fusion slant cabinet. Thanks to its impressive panoramic signage, it creates a stunning bank presentation that is a guaranteed eye-catcher. 88 Link on the other hand comes with two different sets of games: ‘88 Link Wild Duels’ inspired in traditional Chinese legends, and ‘88 Link Lucky

Charms’, based on ancient Japanese talisman. Both games come with four exclusive game titles providing a variety of appealing gaming experiences. In addition, 88 Link combines the extremely popular ‘243 ways’ multi-way game mechanics with the hugely successful ‘Link King Style’ bonus and adds a super exciting energy ball to it, that gets loaded while playing, advancing the player how close he is to get to the bonus round. With the ‘Link-up’ feature, players can choose the betting amount and opt for the various jackpot levels. Players love the thrilling bonus which is triggered with only one wild symbol once the energy ball is charged with enough energy. Wild symbols will retrigger free games and adrenaline is taken to exceptional levels when the screen gets filled up with Wild symbols bringing the Mega Jackpot as close as ever to the player in each bonus round. 88 Link is presented on the fantastic Allure cabinet including three 27-inch Full HD screens. The graphics 26

on the upper screens of each of the machines in a bank configuration work together, thanks to the

‘SynchroScreens’ functionality, creating a harmonious visual spectacle. Allure also includes the digital button panel ‘SmartDeck’ providing more comfort to players and higher efficiency to operators. Does Zitro provide any other products or services that can assist companies with building their Casinos and Slot Halls? As we have over 30,000 machines in operation, we understand very well operators mentality. None of our games hit any casino floor until we have meticulously tested them in our own machines. We have deep experience in a vast number of differentiated markets that count on local as well as touristic customers and which allows us to adapt our products to the needs of the demographics of the market we go to. For those that wish to learn more about Zitro can you provide contact details of the company? We would like to invite operators to visit us at our booth on the Show in Kiev on April 7th to 9th. For those that can’t attend in person, we would be delighted to receive their inquiries via email to












Feature: Yellow Brick Road Casino

Turning Vision Into Reality Lynn Segars General Manager at Yellow Brick Road Casino chats to Bill Healey


ased in Central New York State, Yellow Brick Road Casino has invested significantly in their property in recent years. YBR boasts the largest sportsbook in New York and provides top-notch customer service. Casino Life Magazine is fortunate to connect with Lynn Segars, General Manager of YBR Casino & Sports Book. Issue 03

YBR has recently been through a renovation. What were the changes to the casino? What non-gaming features draw customers to YBR? Over the last few years, there have been significant investments made into expanding the experience at YBR Casino, which include the addition of The Lounge with Caesars Sports, the largest sportsbook in New York, new restaurants, a new exterior and adding a 29

Feature: Yellow Brick Road Casino

The entertainment expansion features The Lanes, a six-lane state-of-the-art bowling center, two Topgolf Swing Suite bays, pool tables, shuffleboard and an additional sports betting desk

19,400 square foot entertainment wing to the property. The entertainment expansion features The Lanes, a six-lane state-of-the-art bowling center, two Topgolf Swing Suite bays, pool tables, shuffleboard and an additional sports betting desk. Located in Central New York State, would it be correct to say that most of the customers are local? Is there much of a draw from outside of the state? With all of our new amenities and reputation for excellent guest service, we attract guests from around the region who include gamers, sports fans and guests who are looking for a fun and safe night out with friends. 30

About The Lounge with Caesars Sports at YBR.

The YBR Sports Book is the largest in New York State. What are its offerings and what makes it unique? As YBR already has the largest sportsbook in New York, this must put the casino in a good position within the region. How has it been received by customers? Our nearly 9,000 square foot sports book is designed to accommodate more than 250 sports fans, during normal times when we’re not limiting occupancy. We have a custom-built 32-foot LED screen and more than 35 additional large-screen TVs throughout the sports book and guests can also enjoy games at the full-service bar with cocktails and menu items

Feature: Yellow Brick Road Casino

Our nearly 9,000 square foot sports book is designed to accommodate more than 250 sports fans, during normal times when we’re not limiting occupancy

developed by our award-winning culinary team. We also offer six exclusive “Fan Caves,” which offer private lounge-style viewing areas with luxurious leather couches and chairs, guest controlled screens, and personal food and beverage service. We play the sound for the game on our large screen, but guests can listen to any game being shown in the sports book by simply downloading the free “Listen Everywhere” app. It’s a nice feature that our guests really appreciate.

YBR has partnered with Caesars Entertainment. What does the partnership bring to YBR’s offerings?

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Caesars is a global gaming leader, and when it comes to sports betting, they are in a class of their own. Through our relationship, our players are able to exchange and redeem their TS Rewards loyalty points and also have their player tier levels matched, for Total Rewards Points at all Caesars properties. What are the more popular sports available within the sports book? Would it be correct to assume the Super Bowl was a very busy day at the YBR Sports Book? Similar to all sports books, football is king at The Lounge with Caesars Sports at YBR Casino. We just celebrated our second Super Bowl in our sports


Feature: Yellow Brick Road Casino

Believe it or not, my first job at a casino wasn’t actually in gaming – I was a hostess at a casino in Atlantic City and was intrigued about a dealer school that was being offered. I enrolled and the rest is history

book and it was a very exciting day with football fans enjoying the experience and watching the Big Game together, while others stopped in to make their wagers. Basketball is another popular sport our guests like to wager on, especially with the college basketball tournaments coming up. Are there restrictions on sports betting in New York, for instance is it allowed to bet on college sports within the state? There are some restrictions in place for all sports books in New York, which includes prohibiting wagers on any college game taking place in the state. At the moment, sports betting in New York must operate from brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Would legalization of online sports betting impact YBR? If New York moves forward with online/mobile sports betting, we’re prepared to provide the best offerings in the state.

About Lynn

How did you get your start in gaming, and what led you to Yellow Brick Road? Believe it or not, my first job at a casino wasn’t actually in gaming – I was a hostess at a casino in Atlantic City and was intrigued about a dealer school that was being offered. I enrolled and the rest is history. Throughout my career, I’ve held positions spanning all aspects of a casino – food & beverage, table games, slots, evs – which all gave me the experience 32

Feature: Yellow Brick Road Casino

We’re always looking for different ways to expand our guest offerings and continue to provide the best and most innovative experience

that would lead me to join Oneida Nation Enterprises as the General Manager of YBR Casino. I have to say, I really wish I knew about Oneida Nation Enterprises 25 years ago when Turning Stone first opened. The growth here is amazing and Oneida Nation Enterprises is known for creating unique guest experiences. We’re always planning for what’s next, which is exciting to be a part of that constant innovation. What can we expect from Yellow Brick Road Casino in the future? We’re always looking for different ways to expand our guest offerings and continue to provide the best and most innovative experience. Casino Life Magazine wishes to thank Lynn Segars for her introduction to New York’s Yellow Brick Road Casino & Sports Book. Issue 03


Feature: Gaming Industry

The legendary Gaming Industry Expo is coming back!


hen is the show this year and what is the venue? The exhibition “Gaming Industry” (formerly “Entertainment Industry”) will be held on April, 7-9, 2021 in Kyiv. Venue: 15 What is planned for this year’s Gaming Industry Show? The exhibition “GAMING INDUSTRY” has a very long history. It was launched in 1994 under the name “Entertainment Industry” and very soon was placed in the rank of the top seven world events of this subject. In 2009, the exhibition was canceled, as the gambling business was banned in Ukraine And only this year after the adoption of the gambling law the LEGENDARY EXHIBITION IS COMING BACK! 34

It will be held as “GAMING INDYSTRY” exhibition on April, 7-9, 2021 in Kyiv. The exhibition will feature equipment, accessories and services in the field of gambling and entertainment business. The event will include presentations, round tables and seminars on urgent issues of implementing and running the gaming and entertainment enterprises with representatives of government and regulatory authorities. How do those wishing to attend or exhibit at this year’s show contact you? The exhibitors and visitors can find all necessary information on the official web-site: https://www.

Feature: Gaming Industry

E-mail: Phone: +38 067 620 70 14 For those traveling to Kyiv for the first time to attend have you hotels you can recommend and can delegates gain any discount as part of the attendance. The closest hotel to the show are: Bratislava (https:// ) and Tourist (http://hotel-tourist. ). If you interesting in hotel in the center of Kyiv – we can advise hotel “Ukraine” (https:// and hotel “Dnipro” (https:// ) which are situated on the Khreshchatyk street.

Exciting times ahead in Ukraine with this new Gaming Legislation. How will visitors whom want to learn more about opportunities in this reopening market benefit from attending Gaming Industry 2021? We are planning a wide program during the exhibition. The event will include presentations, round tables and seminars on urgent issues of implementing and running the gaming and entertainment enterprises with representatives of government and regulatory authorities. What are amongst the key topics planned for conference agenda and will they cover Land Based along with Online and the Lottery markets? Issue 03



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Feature: Gaming Industry Within the framework of the “GAMING INDUSTRY” exhibition will be held presentations, round tables and seminars Among the topical issues will be considered the following: • Analysis of tax and labor legislation in the field of gambling and lotteries. • Cooperation with relevant international organizations and implementation of foreign countries regulations in the field of gambling and lotteries. • Analysis of the state, problems and trends of the gambling and lottery industry, forecasting and planning processes in this area. • Analysis of world trends in gambling and lotteries. A detailed list of all topics and speakers will be constantly updated on the official website of the exhibition. What can you tell us about the Health and Safety measures that will be provided to delegates speakers and exhibitors during their attendance at your event? Strict COVID19 safety rules will apply at exhibitions approved by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine:

• Measuring the body temperature at the entrance of the exhibition pavilion (if the temperature is above 37.2 – entry to the exhibition is prohibited) • Entrance and stay at the exhibition only in PROTECTIVE MASK • The number of attendees is restricted in accordance with the rules of holding mass events approved by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. • Keeping a distance of 1.5 meters Can you provide contact details and the events website for those wishing to find out more about exhibiting and attending? The exhibitors and visitors can find all necessary information on the official web-site: Issue 03


Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week

Conference visitors

Ukrainian Gaming Week Exhibition Preview


as there a decision to reschedule Ukrainian Gaming Week exhibition to March 2021? The decision to reschedule the exhibition from February to March was made due to the quarantine restrictions in different countries of the world, which could prevent our foreign exhibitors and guests from coming to Ukraine. In particular, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lockdown is in effect in some jurisdictions, stricter requirements have been established, including for crossing the border. For this reason, overseas exhibitors and visitors may find it difficult to travel internationally. They simply will not be able to come to Ukraine on the dates previously announced for the exhibition. Taking into account the current circumstances, in order to provide the access to the industry event, we decided to postpone Ukrainian Gaming Week until March 23-24, 2021. 38

These are tough times for the event sphere. How difficult was it for the team of Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 organizers to postpone the exhibition to a later date? We are really interested in holding a gambling exhibition in Ukraine as soon as possible, where representatives of the Ukrainian gambling community could meet the leaders of the world gambling market. Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 was rescheduled to spring due to reasons beyond our control. As a team of organizers, we want all exhibitors, sponsors, guests and media partners of the event to be able to reach the event venue without limitations. Therefore, under the current conditions, the decision to postpone the exhibition to March turned out to be the best option and in our opinion – although difficult, it was correct. Are there changes in the venue and location of the exhibition and conference?

Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week The location where we originally planned to hold Ukrainian Gaming Week is the only exhibition zone within the city limits of Kyiv with modern conditions for organizing events of such format. Therefore, it is constantly loaded. Thus, unfortunately, we could not book the pavilion for those dates that would be optimal for the event. As a result, a new venue was chosen to organize the exhibition: KyivExpoPlaza. Thanks to the change of location, the exhibition area was increased to 6,000 sq.m., which will allow even more companies to join the event. The location of UGW conference has also changed. Event will take place at Premier Palace Hotel. What will be featured in the program of Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 exhibition? At Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021, guests will enjoy a two-day exhibition, an open lecture zone, a party and UGW Awards. Event will be attended by Ukrainian and international companies of various sizes. Among them are BetConstruct, GAMBEE, Talengrator, IGT, Endorphina, Digitain, Slot City and many others. Companies will present the most popular solutions and the latest innovations on the gambling market. Guests of the event will be able to attend the stands of the participants, ask them questions and agree on further cooperation. Also, an HR zone will be arranged at the entrance to the exhibition. There will be an HR board where attendees and participants will post CVs or job offerings. Job seekers and employers could fill out the questionnaire and indicate the necessary information about work experience, vacant positions in the company, etc.

Are you going to hold a conference at Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021? Exhibition will feature an open lecture zone where gambling industry experts and business representatives will make presentations. They will analyze practical cases and discuss issues relevant to the industry. We will announce the open lecture zone program after the UGW conference. Will the rescheduling of Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 exhibition affect the party program? On the first day of Ukrainian Gaming Week, on March Issue 03

Yulia Chopenko, the event coordinator of Smile-Expo company

23, a grand party will take place as planned. The afterparty will create the most comfortable conditions for networking and establishing business contacts in an informal setting. The party will host UGW Awards and a poker tournament, with a performance of a cover band. Also, snacks and various drinks will be prepared for visitors. Will most of Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 participants feature Ukrainian or foreign companies? Representatives from what countries could be found among the guests of the event? One of the main goals of the exhibition is to unite the

Ukrainian gambling community and representatives of foreign companies to exchange experience and establish mutually beneficial cooperation. Therefore, most of the participants of Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 will come to the event from abroad. Having extensive experience on the gambling market, they will be ready to pass on their knowledge to colleagues from Ukraine. As for the guests of the event, the overwhelming majority of them are Ukrainian specialists from various fields: entrepreneurs, gambling operators, investors, lawyers, marketers, software developers, etc. Now the local public is very interested in attending the exhibition, where it will be possible to meet the advanced solutions for the gambling industry and get useful connections. It should be noted that gambling business has long been legalized in various European countries. In Ukraine, the gambling market is just beginning to emerge after more than 10 years of ban. And now 39

Feature: Ukrainian Gaming Week

Panel discussion

our task is to organize an exhibition where everyone interested in the successful development of the industry can benefit. What measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be taken at Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021? It is important for us that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibitors and guests of the exhibition do not expose themselves to the risk of coronavirus and could maintain good health. Therefore, at the event venue, our team will take all the necessary measures to prevent the spread of virus diseases.

Casino Life Magazines 40

In particular, a mask-wearing mode will be required at the venue. Temperature screening will be performed at the entrance. Visitors with high body temperature will not be admitted to the event. Antiseptics will be available around the perimeter of the venue. During the coffee break, guests will be provided with individual dinnerware. Exhibition area will be 6,000 sq.m. Thus, all the rules of social distancing will be observed.

How will the participants and attendees benefit from Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021? During the event, attendees will discover the best products and services for the gambling industry. They will be able to communicate with representatives of leading companies and agree on cooperation or implementation of joint projects. Exhibitors will have the opportunity to present their companies to the general public. Also, participants will be able to find new customers and partners. We invite industry professionals to attend Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 exhibition that will become the largest industry event after the legalization of the gambling business. Our team will make every possible effort to ensure that exhibitors and guests get the maximum benefit from participation and attending of event.

Feature: Andrew Cosgrove

I want to build a casino, so now what?


our aim is to build the best casino on the planet. You have the capital, you’re motivated and can’t wait to taste success, so what next? Anyone who has set up a casino from scratch knows that it’s takes a vast amount of discipline, organization, teamwork and planning. They will also know that there are a million and one things that can go wrong so it’s essential to get it right and keep doing it right from the moment you seize the opportunity to long after the casino has opened. The question that many fail to seriously ask is, “how do we go from a simple concept to the successful opening of a fully functional casino that has met the targets for scope, time and budget, that has triumphantly navigated through the sea of its inevitable challenges and has been masterfully marketed as a new brand that your customers are already talking about and your competitors will admire you for? What business idea do you want to create? I’m sure we can all agree this is quite an important question and most ‘best casino on the planet’ ideas start with a project mandate that evolves into a business case which is defined as the justification for the project against which the continuing viability is tested. Although formats may differ, the main features of the business case are as follows and help maintain focus throughout the lifetime of the project: • Executive summary – highlights the key points of the business case including benefits and return on investment.

• Expected benefits – the measurable outcomes (benefits) of the outputs of the project • Expected dis-benefits – the perceived negative impact of the project outcomes • Quality Criteria – a summary of the ‘must have features’ of the project • Timescale – the period over which the project will run • Costs - A summary of the project costs

• Reasons for the project – how the project aligns with company objectives

• Investment appraisal – compares the aggregated benefits and dis-benefits with the costs

• Business options – the analysis of ‘doing nothing’, ‘doing the minimum’ and ‘doing something.’

• Major risks – summary of the risks and their possible impact.

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Feature: Andrew Cosgrove

What do you need to create in order to bring your idea to life? Now you have a viable business idea, but before you can start the physical work on your ‘best casino on the planet’ concept, you need to establish solid foundations for the project which will enable all stakeholders involved to understand the work that needs to be done to deliver the finished product before any major financial commitment. The business case is an essential part of these foundations as is

having an experience project manager who can either be hired externally on a temporary basis or, for larger companies, can be trained and certified from within the company ranks. Following is what your essential foundations should look like: • Business case • Experienced project management team. • Defined roles and responsibilities. • Management approaches for risk, change, quality and communications.

• Project product breakdown structure. • Product descriptions. How do you get the work done on time and on budget? When you have solid foundations in place the odds of your project succeeding increase dramatically before you even touch a sledgehammer a screwdriver or even a forklift truck. However, the critical work that needs to be done to bring your ‘best casino on the planet’ idea to life also needs to be effectively managed on a dayto-day basis which can be achieved by: • Maintaining focus through continued business justification. • Establishing clear project roles and responsibilities. • Learning from past experiences • Managing by exception. • Managing the project by stages.

• Progress reporting mechanisms.

• Focusing on product

• Project Plan.

• Dealing efficiently with ongoing project issues and risks.


Feature: Andrew Cosgrove • Managing the execution and delivery of work packages. Why do you need project management methodology to deliver my business idea? Many organizations have their own planning and implementation processes, yet consistently fail to meet two of the main organizational challenges which are maintaining business as usual, while aiming to transform their operations in order to survive and remain relevant in the future. Ignoring these two issues is not a good option and can often have catastrophic consequences. Project management will help you maintain day-to-day operations and help transform your ideas into a new successful reality by: • Efficiently planning, delegating, monitoring and controlling all aspects of your project. • Delivering the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, quality, benefits and risk. • Using best practices for introducing change. • Being tailored to meet your unique business requirements. What’s the price of doing nothing should I choose to ignore all this good advice?

Building a casino, running the network cables, buying a casino management system, configuring slots and setting up the cash desk are not a part of project management, but do you really want to install the slots machines before the roof is put on the building, before the electrical installation has been completed and before the bases have been placed on the floor? The purpose of project management is to keep control over the specialized work required to create all the products that will make your casino a success. Project management controls six aspects of project performance that need to be managed which are cost, timescales, quality, scope, risks and benefits. If you’re still not convinced here are just a few scary examples of what can happen if you fail to consider the benefits of project managements: • Slots locks were ordered as keyed alike resulting in the same key opening all the locks. This caused a four week delay in opening Issue 03

• Slots installation team arrived before the slots and ended up with a free weeks paid vacation in a 5 star hotel in the Caribbean (they hated it…. not!) • Somebody forgot to mention that the cage area plans had been changed, and only realized after it was almost finished resulting in a 1 week delay. • Someone neglected to order the player tracking brackets resulting in another 4 week delay. • Lack of adequate pre-opening training resulted in poor customer service and poor job performance levels • Lack of sufficient marketing planning resulted in initial negative campaign results Conclusion: Success can remain an illusion without effective project management and if you choose to ignore this or dismiss it as some sort of unnecessary expense, your budget could go through the roof, key milestones could be missed, essential equipment may not arrive and your ‘best casino on the planet’ idea could end up as a bus station and possibly as your favorite reoccurring nightmare. A strong casino opening is a measure of your future success and not something you want to gamble with. The project managers job is simply to plan, delegate, monitor and control your project towards success so what are you waiting for? Your competitors are betting on your failure and effective project management is a chance to turn the odds in your favor, so act now, start right and transform the way you bring your projects to life.

MY MINI BLOG Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and continues to help clients succeed and exceed customer expectations. Andrew can be reached at or see 43

Feature: Shaun McCamley

Shaun McCamley

Reopening of the Ukraine Casino Market


fter a ten year hiatus, the Ukrainian government are looking to re-open casino gaming to local and international visitors. From what I hear it’s actually long overdue, and to some an opportunity not to be underestimated. 44

In 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose presidential campaign had included a promise to turn gambling into a legal form of entertainment, put forward an initiative to legalize the gambling industry. The Verkhovna Rada formulated Bill No. 2285-D, which was published in October 2019. It

Feature: Shaun McCamley took parliamentarians nearly a year to finally pass the bill, but in August 2020, once President Zelensky put his signature to the document, the law governing the gambling sector was officially signed and sealed. Implementation of the law will be regulated by the Gambling and Lottery Commission, which is set to be created by a special team which was assembled by the government of Ukraine on September 23. The Commission will be responsible for determining licensing conditions and fees, as well as the issuance of licenses and designation of special gambling areas. To open a land-based casino in Ukraine, there are a number of requirements that operators must satisfy. First, according to the law, only a legal entity registered or incorporated in Ukraine with authorized capital of at least €970,000 can apply for a license. Another prerequisite is a security deposit or a bank guarantee in the amount of €1.1 million. Home to 42 million people and ranked as one of the poorest European countries, an outsider looking in would have to ask, is there really a good business opportunity here for casinos to operate and flourish, well as with most things, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. In an effort to get a grass roots understanding of what the potential for land based casinos are in today’s Ukraine, I reached out to my old friend and associate of many years Dennis Andreaci. For the past 12 months or more, Dennis has been living and providing consulting services in Kyiv to eager hotel owners wanting to get a much sought after casino license. Andreaci outlines that Ukraine as a destination would be a better destination than Northern Cyprus where as we know there are a large number of well-presented casino properties already operating. Unlike Cyprus, Ukraine offers a diversified array of tourism destinations in every season of the year and importantly, prior to Covid, Ukraine had a massive in bound international tourism and business travel. Kyiv is also a large European capital city similar in scale to a city such as Berlin. The country has a lot to offer visitors with a vibrant summer beach scene on the Black Sea, great skiing in the winter in the Carpathian Mountains, historical cities like Lviv and of course Kyiv with many world heritage sites. Prior to Covid the country was ranked 4th as the most popular places to visit in Europe. Kyiv, with over 3 million residents is filled with Issue 03

historical and cultural attractions, it is a vibrant European capital city with excellent dining, hotels, high end retail, fantastic nightlife, which importantly are all reasonably priced. Ukraine’s location is perfect with short flights from European regions like the Balkans, the Baltics, and countries like Turkey, Israel, Dubai, Qatar, and Egypt. Prior to Covid more than 60 international destinations flew daily direct flights into Kyiv. (The major airport is Boryspil International Airport). Many of the world’s major airlines such a Qatar, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air France, and of course Ukraine Airlines all flew in bringing considerable numbers of tourists with them. Boryspil and other airports are under rapid expansion and development and no wonder when you see the visitor growth of inbound numbers over the last five years. Prior to Covid growth in arrivals at Boryspil alone was impressive, 7 million in 2015, 8.5 million in 2016, 10.5 million in 2017, 12.5 in 2018 and 15 million in 2019. Kyiv Zhuliany is Kyiv second airport which serves many regional airlines from many of Europe’s small markets. There are regional airports in all of Ukraine’s main cities and most have daily direct inbound flights both domestic and regionally. So how will casino gaming in the Ukraine look? The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine will designate up to 5 special gambling zones, wherein the casino area must be no less than 10,000 m². Casinos in the appointed special gambling zones must contain a minimum of 20 gaming tables (including 4 roulette tables) and 250 slot machines. In Kyiv, table games will only be allowed in 5-star hotels with at least 150 rooms; in other cities, in 5-star hotels with at least 100 rooms. In addition, in any region, the casino should have an area of no less than 500 m² with a minimum of 50 employees. Countryside recreation zones must have an area of 10,000 m². Andreaci believes that the Government is looking at offering differing levels of gaming to five star, four star and three star hotels. It looks as though the five star hotels can have tables and slots, sports betting, four star hotels may have a smaller offering and perhaps three stars will only have slots. In a positive move and in an effort to help push the process along, the authorities are currently in the


Feature: Shaun McCamley process of setting standards for hotel ratings. One thing is certain right now, five star hotels will offer full service casinos. Kyiv has several excellent five star hotels that could get started quickly once they secure a gaming license. Offering well-presented hotels in each of the tourist regions, with multi lingual highly skilled staff will see a positive environment for international gaming. Ukrainians are known for being friendly and welcoming of visitors an important requirement if you are thinking to set up a casino operation. It doesn’t matter how nice the hotel might be, if you don’t have good staff with those attributes, well we all know what happens. I cast my mind back to the very early days of Macau casinos, legendary for bad service and ignorant gaming staff. From a market perspective not only will the casino industry increase tourist arrivals, it will also through good marketing programs bring in more high net worth visitors. As with a lot of so called third world countries, the local market is totally underestimated. Kyiv is a large city of around three million residents with a large number of high net worth business people. This market segment own and operate large and medium size business resulting in a much larger than anticipated local VIP market. As a vibrant capital city, many leading multinational companies are based there including most of the countries embassies from around the world. This means a large number of resident expat professionals with a high disposable income eager to play and socialise in a friendly and well-presented casino environment. An interesting observation is that as a result of having prosperous middle and upper class locals combined with a large expat community and healthy international visitor numbers, Kyiv has a unusually high number of fine dining establishments – all positive indicators for a successful move into the world of casino gaming. Each of the major cities has enough high net worth residents and business visitors to justify VIP gaming tables in the five star hotels. Each metropolitan area has enough of a market for Premium player’s level guests. For mass market, Andreaci says this should be only in bound visitors, not local citizens. It would be interesting for an international brand to commission a feasibility and market analysis study 46

to determine the viability and revenue potential an Integrated Resort development would bring. Perhaps a property offering up to 100 tables with 300-500 slots able to attract and service a VIP market similar to Sochi as well as catering to a large premium mass market. It’s fair to say that even with high net worth residents and a large expat community the key to any successful casino operation is offering international standards with excellent customer service levels. Understanding that developing the inbound tourist markets along with the regions international players will be another key to running a successful casino business. If the Government wants to maximize revenue potential then they must make every effort to grow the tourism markets with hassle free visa policies and help to the casino operators through tax incentives with VIP players. If all goes well then I see a positive outcome for casino gaming in the Ukraine, as they say a rising tide lifts all boats so let’s hope that with the right support and regulatory oversight, this emerging business segment will achieve the goals and dreams that the country deserves. 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 EuroPacific-Asia Management Consulting into a leading firm that provides advice, casino management services and turn-key solutions to the land based and digital gaming industries. A former President, CEO, and SVP of international gaming resort destinations. Commissioned to establish international casino resort developments in Australia (Perth) the Philippines (Subic Bay) Vietnam (Ho Tram) Tinian and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Shaun is regularly invited to serve as chairman, keynote speaker and panelist at major gaming conferences around the world. As the Managing Partner for Euro Pacific Asia Consulting, Shaun continues to consult to the industries’ major land based and digital gaming operators.

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