CASINO Media for owners and management of international casinos
UKRAINE INTERNATIONAL EDITION
Masters of consistency and quality Storm International
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Editorial: Editor Lyudmyla Kyrychenko firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor Eastern Europe: Aydin Guney email@example.com Features Editor: Damien Connelly firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey email@example.com Associate Editor North America: David McKee firstname.lastname@example.org
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Welcome to Casino Life Ukraine! Fourth edition
Summer is rapidly approaching and the world seems a brighter place to live in! Most countries are actively vaccinating, and there is an opinion that we are already two steps away from defeating the very virus that caused incredible cataclysms around the world! We have been working hard through difficult times and are now looking forward to the holiday season. Various countries are slowly and confidently lifting restrictions on flights; and very soon the hotels will be busy with guests and will have the opportunity to test the latest gaming equipment from our partners. Meanwhile, two new, luxurious and long-awaited casinos have been opened in Ukrainian capital, Kyiv: Billionaire Club and Shangri La, and we wish them luck on their successful launch! Get the latest about the eagerly awaited gaming industry exhibition, being held on 9th to 11th June featured in this edition. Also in this issue, are interviews from gaming business professionals who share their wide experience and knowledge exclusively with you! Including: • an interview with the chief PR-strategist of brands in a marketing and consulting company; • a fascinating story of a talented Ukrainian woman and her dizzying 15-year career in casinos on cruise ships; • professional exchange of views, both from gaming business professionals and interviews from the leader of the public union Ukrainian Gambling Council; • recommendations for those planning a career in the casino industry; • about the difficulties and successes in your career; • about what lessons the pandemic teaches us; and much more! I hope you enjoy this packed edition as much as the contributors and if you feel you have a story to tell us, feel free to get in contact with me by email: email@example.com
Editor, Lyudmyla Kyrychenko
CASINO Media for owners and management of international casinos
UKRAINE INTERNATIONAL EDITION
3 Editor’s Note 5 Ukrainian Gaming By: Aydin Guney 6 Leading by Example Casino Life Ukraine exclusively interviews Darren Keane, CEO of Storm International 12 Gaming without borders Andriy Prudky, business development and casino operations manager at Delfino Entertainment Ltd. talks to Aydin Guney 19 Endless Discoveries Julia Kashpur chats to Casino Life Ukraine editor Lyudmyla Kyrychenko 25 Effective Solutions Anton Kuchukhidze Head of the Ukrainian Gambling Council: Interview by Peter White 30 IGT: Local People, Local Products for Ukraine Lasha Gogiberidze, IGT Sales Manager Ukraine chats to Casino Life 34 Return to Gaming for Eureka Casinos Andre Carrier, President & COO Eureka Casino Resort: Interview by Peter White 41 Interactive Progress Julia Carcamo, president and chief brand strategist, J Carcamo & Associates talks to Damien Connelly 47 The legendary Entertainment Industry Expo is coming back! Exhibition Preview interview by Lyudmyla Kyrychenko 50 AMATIC fires the turbo at the Gaming Industry Expo 51 Zitro Games Gaming Industry Expo Show Preview By Lyudmyla Kryrychenko
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.
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
By: Aydin Guney
inally, the long-awaited operations of gaming have started at 14th of May with openings of two casinos in the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv. Shangri La network brand casino, represented in Riga, Minsk, Tbilisi and Yerevan, opened in the most luxurious hotel in Kiev - Fairmont Grand Hotel with 20 live game tables and 80 slot machines from best manufacturers. Michael Boettcher, founder of Storm International and Chief Executive Officer Darren Keane solemnly cut the red ribbon at the entrance to Shangri La Kyiv casino to the applause of colleagues. As well Casino Billionaire at the five-star hotel Inter Continental Kyiv started to operate. A premiumlevel playroom located in a place that combines the historical and business part of the city of Kiev. In five cozy halls with luxury interior and total area 506,8 sq.m located 16 gaming tables and 50 slots,. Playhouse offers its guests a classic set of games: blackjack, Russian poker, Texas poker, ultimate poker, three-card poker, roulette, and the most modern slots from IGT, EGT and Novomatic. The size of the pool and jackpots will be quite interesting for the picky indoor guests.
In the best of the world’s highest-class traditions, Billionaire guests will have additional services available: hotel bookings, premium car transfer, exquisite cigar card and bar card with a large stock of Old World wines, vintage cognacs, whisky and classic cocktails. While Kyiv city took the lead for opening their doors to their guests, Odessa’s first and biggest operation started at 14th of May in luxurious five-star hotel “Hotel Gagarin”. First Casino is a brand operated under Nebula Games. With it`s 40 card games tables, 9 American Roulettes and 300 slot machines in 5000 m2 spacious area, First Casino holds the reputation of being the largest operation all over Ukraine at the moment. In the meantime, Nebula Games opened first legal casino in Lviv at 23rd of May too. The Grand Hotel Lviv houses the first official casino in Western Ukraine - First Casino. Casino offers its visitors 12 gaming tables and 55 modern slot machines from leading manufacturers. Issue 04
Beside all the openings, the head of the State Agency for Tourism Development Maryana Oleskiv announced that they have been working hard on categorizing hotels by their stars according to rules for last two months and managed to categorize 249 accommodation facilities, 48 of them are located in Kiev, 201 - in the regions and according to her, 44 hotels in Ukraine have the category “5 stars”, 88 - “4 stars”, 86 - “3 stars”, 15 - “2 stars”, 17 - “1 star” and
among them are those hotels that are planning or have already opened casinos or slot machine halls. On the 17th of May, the Ukrainian Gambling Council was established by Anton Kuchukhidze to monitor compliance with the general rules of the gaming legislation and ensure transparency in this field. Boris Baum has been appointed as Honorary Chairman of the gambling business, while Mykhailo Koval is Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council for Legal Affairs and Victoria Zakrevskaya takes role as Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council for Communication, aimed at uniting industry experts and operators of gambling business and ensuring adequate communication with media and state authorities. As Casino Life Magazine Ukraine, we wish all the operators which have already ‘taken the flag’ and started their operations the very best luck and we wish all the success to UGC (Ukrainian Gambling Council) for further development. 5
Feature: Shangri La
Leading by Example Casino Life Ukraine exclusively interviews Darren Keane, CEO of Storm International, on the opening of the company’s Shangri La Casino Kyiv
Feature: Shangri La
s the Ukraine gambling market re-opens to legal gambling options – including land-based casinos, sports betting, and iGaming – following its closure in 2009, we chat with a company that knows this market as good as any – Storm International. For readers who are planning to visit Kyiv over the coming months to attend exhibitions such as Gaming Industry and UGW, would it be possible to visit the casino? Of course. We shall be happy to see as many as possible. We at Storm International would like to extend our thanks to Casino Life Ukraine for allowing us to share our opinions with your readers, and warmly invite all who visit Ukraine and Kyiv to visit our Shangri La Casino Kyiv in Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv. Everyone at your organisation involved with the Shangri La Casino Kyiv must be very proud of what has been achieved as it is such an impressive casino, and the first licensed foreign casino in Ukraine to open? Yes, we have been waiting for Ukraine to open its doors to legal gaming for at least 8 years now, and after many trips and conferences there, it has finally happened. We are happy to be the first, and we believe we have both the best hotel and definitely the best space available. Michael Boettcher, the Founder of Storm International, cut the ribbon at the opening of Shangri La Casino Kyiv. That must have been a most satisfying moment for him especially as that would have marked the return after over a decade of the casino industry to Ukraine? Michael had casinos in Kyiv in the 1990’s, so “Yes,” he was very happy to be back in town opening such a beautiful casino. What have been your primary responsibilities and objectives in your role with regards to Storm International’s latest Shangri La Casino? As CEO, I negotiated with the hotel for the exact space we wanted, confirmed all investment and operational budgets, and then oversaw the project manager during the 6 months of the project.
Feature: Shangri La
What are some of the unique aspects of the casino? It is a beautiful casino due to the quality of the space itself, with grand high ceilings and very impressive chandeliers. Its very palatial. It also has its own purpose-built VIP areas and private rooms served
night. We had no exact idea when we could open due to the law on gaming equipment certification and licensing, and thus could not plan a real opening. Every day we are seeing new customers walk in and expect to reach a headcount of 400 a day, maybe even during the summer and certainly after.
Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv is an impressive hotel. You must be delighted to locate Shangri La Casino on the first floor of one of Kyiv’s landmark destinations? Yes, it is a wonderful hotel in a great location by the river. It makes sense to put our premier brand Shangri La casino in such a prestigious hotel, where it is clear that the two brands complement one another.
The advertising of the Shangri La Casino Kyiv at Boryspil International Airports arrivals luggage conveyor belts makes a big impact! Yes, we would love to say we were the first to think of it, but its been done before in Tbilisi, Georgia, and quite possibly elsewhere. It’s a great idea and we thought it would work well in an airport which sees 14 million customers a year. I think it is also a bit of fun for players who fly in to see which number their bag lands in. Our Marketing Director did a great job in securing every belt available.
Although it’s early days, what have the numbers been like since opening? We were very pleasantly surprised upon opening to record a 200 person headcount with zero advertising, and without inviting any of our foreign players from our huge database. Word spread fast in Kyiv that
What is the dress code for the Shangri La Casino Kyiv, and are patrons required to provide valid ID? We insist on smart casual. Sports tracksuits, shorts and flip flops are not welcome. It is a beautiful casino and thus should deserve a little attention. A night out in a casino is seen as entertainment in Western
by a completely separate entrance. We have our top international management there who between them speak 9 major languages.
M A R C H
UKRAINIAN GAMING WEEK
Feature: Shangri La
Feature: Shangri La
Europe and the USA and as such most people dress nicely for such an evening.
Is the Shangri La Casino Kyiv similar to the others in that it has a VIP Club with private gaming rooms? Yes, all our Shangri La casinos – in Minsk, Tbilisi, Riga and Yerevan – have the same layout with private VIP areas and even more private separate gaming rooms, all serviced by a completely separate entrance.
Only that we are very excited about our new foray
into the Ukrainian gaming market with the Fairmont, our Slots City stand alone slots halls, and our Slots City online casino. We will, in time, and once all licensing and tax issues have been resolved, expand into many other parts of Ukraine, including Kharkov (which we will start to renovate and fit out in June), with further plans for Odessa, Dnipro, Lviv, and elsewhere.
What was your choice for new slots, and does the casino have multi-player roulette? If so, how many terminals? We have the usual IGT’s and EGT’s, but Novomatic’s are number one in this part of the world, so that has been our biggest investment in slots. Also we have a Gambee multi-player roulette which we would hope to expand to up to 20 terminals in time. Have you anything else you would like to add? Issue 04
Feature: Andriy Prudky
Andriy Prudky, business development and casino operations manager at Delfino Entertainment Ltd
Gaming without borders
Andriy Prudky, business development and casino operations manager at Delfino Entertainment Ltd. talks to Aydin Guney 12
Feature: Andriy Prudky
borderless world.” That is what Andriy Prudky has lived both as a gaming executive and a human being. From the depths of an African jail to the apex of an Azetc pyramid, he has seen it all. That includes witnessing three casino shutdowns, first in Kazakhstan, then in Russia and finally in Ukraine. The latter is just reentering the casino business and Andriy has some sage advice for would-be operators—and for government officials—as you shall see. At present, Mr.Prudky is a whole continent away from Ukraine and its birthing pains, overseeing the operations of Ghana’s foremost casino, Caesars Casino & Poker Club. In that capacity, he has been at the forefront of the gaming industry’s battle against Covid-19, which has set the business on its ear. The danger may be receding but Prudky is ever-vigilant and has some strong words for an industry emerging from the crisis... Please tell us about yourself and your background and experience in the casino industry? Almost 20 years ago, I started my career in gambling by attending the croupier courses in one of the first casinos in the city of Zaporizhzhya. That was a foreign company under English management, which gave me a certain level of professionalism along with an impulse for future achievements. A year later, I got an offer to join Eldorado Gaming International in one of their Kazakhstan branches. This was the place where I did my first dealer formations as well as got my first middlemanagement position. Lately I was unlucky enough to witness the industry ban in Kazakhstan, then another one while being employed in Eldorado International in Vladivostok and finally in 2009 in Ukraine. However, “every cloud has a silver lining” and I kept on gaining new skill abroad while taking a part in projecting and managing various gambling properties in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, in Morocco, on cruise ships and finally found myself in Ghana. After a long way through all available departments and positions in land-based casino projects, I have being identifying myself differently in different times and location. Recently I like to see myself as a “casino operations engineer” and an expert in casino projects’ strategic planning and management. How has the last year been for you? Issue 04
I guess gambling and entertainment businesses are the most affected during this strange time. Unfortunately, we were not an exception. I can only thank the government of Ghana in their efforts to keep the economy alive and protect the wellness of Ghanaian people. Only because of the timely action being made have we managed to pass the hardest part of the pandemic with the minimal losses. These times taught us to value our guests and employees more than we ever did; we also got some valuable lessons on cost-consumption engineering, staffing management in crisis times and urgentbusiness-process optimization. No matter what, we overcome all difficulties and look forward with great optimism. What can you tell us about Delfino Entertainment and your role with the company in Ghana? Delfino Entartainment is currently managing the first and best gambling property in Accra, Caesars Casino & Poker Club. we are well-recognized as the best casino destination in Ghana and I am happy to be associated with this project. Apart from my business development responsibilities, I am also involved in daily operational management, marketing and strategic planning. Can you explain a bit about the difficulties created by COVID-19 and what action you’ve taken to overcome them?
We are witnessing an extraordinary situation for the modern humanity, given the interdependence of the world’s economies and humankind’s stand in fighting the pandemic’s after effects. Here in Ghana we find ourselves well-involved in global processes and passing our exams in fighting COVID on a daily basis. We used the lockdown time to reinforce ourselves, renovate the casino floor and get ready for the challenging pandemic-times operations. Fortunately, the Ghanaian government did an extraordinary effort to minimize the damage from lockdown measures and we, as a part of B2C and entertainment business, responded responsibly to these tumultuous times. As I mentioned earlier, the health-protection measures we follow are exceptional and not limited to a social distancing, usage of the protective equipment and sanitizing. We have also developed and implemented completely new procedures in customer servicing, internal affairs, 13
Feature: Andriy Prudky
We are witnessing an extraordinary situation for the modern humanity, given the interdependence of the world’s economies and humankind’s stand in fighting the pandemic’s aftereffects. Here in Ghana we find ourselves well-involved in global processes and passing our exams in fighting COVID on a daily basis” employee communications and rotation. As a result, I am proud to say that we managed to not only survive but also grow our business, keep all our employees safe and protected, avoid implementation of staffseparation programs and make our players feel safe, protected and cared for.
What is on your wish list for the reopening gaming market in Ukraine over the next five years? I am carefully following the Ukrainian legalization process and feel cautious optimism about the recently established Gaming Commission and its performance. I have been to Kazakhstan before it proclaimed the gambling illegal, then caught the same processes in 2007 in Russia and, after coming back to Ukraine the same year, I realized that we were heading the same direction. In those days Ukrainian gambling was poorly controlled and regulated, the market was overinflated and badly managed. “Slot halls” were literally everywhere, new casinos opened monthly and the industry’s impact on the social life of the country became too conspicuous. 14
A lack of professional casino experts together with extraordinary market growth led to the decline of service quality, which, in turn, had an adverse
impact on public opinion. Interdiction efforts from the government became obvious and imminent. I can only hope that Ukraine would not follow the same frame again and will try to gather and implement the best practices in regulation of the gambling activities. I also hope that Ukrainian Parliament will heed industry experts on tax optimization as well as declining the idea of the winnings tax. Unfortunately, the current situation remains unpleasant for the existent operators and prospective investors as, on top of the expensive permissive license, all offline casinos would have to pay a separate tax for each table and slot machine they use, as well as obtaining the license for each of them. Then there is the corporate and military tax of 19.5 percent. What is now hopefully will be reviewed is the 19.5 percent tax on winning and 10 percent of gross gaming revenues. Such a tax policy, if implemented, would rather kill the industry at its root or push it back www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
Feature: Andriy Prudky
A lack of professional casino experts together with extraordinary market growth led to the decline of service quality, which, in turn, has had an adverse impact on public opinion. Interdiction efforts from the government became obvious and imminent.” to illegal operations. None of the respected international operators would ever make such an expensive investment into such a high-risk environment.
appropriate level so we will see more internationally recognized companies enter the market. Top companies would not only bring the investments to
What excites you most about the reopening of the Ukrainian market after so many years and what aspects of this new era make it better than pre2009? I guess that limiting the casinos to hotel properties and resorts was a great idea, and believe that it will give a new impulse to the tourism industry while keeping the gambling facilities’ geography reasonably strict. I hope that Ukrainian rulers will heed the business wishes and arrange the taxes and licensing policy to
What are amongst the company’s primary goals for the next 12 to 18 months? First of all are heading towards overcoming the Coronavirus crisis, and keeping all of our employees and guests healthy and safe, as well as maintaining the same level of proficiency and hospitality. Introducing some new gambling solutions to the Ghanaian market is also on the top of the list for us, as well as brand development with deeper influence on the social media and social projects. Finally we are
After paying tax and license fees, land-based operators would also have to manage operational costs and expensive rental payments that would finally make the gambling projects a wasteful investment. Nevertheless, I hope for governmental prudence at the end of the day and wish to the Gaming Commission all success in not only regulating but also lobbying the business interests.
Ukraine but also the managerial frames, hospitality and transparency in business relations that were missing so much in 2009. In addition, social responsibility should be on the top of the table for the industry leaders, so we would all together build up a positive image of legal gambling and its impact on our social life so that interdiction efforts would not be ever applied again
Feature: Andriy Prudky
Feature: Andriy Prudky
While studying at the university at 2001, I entered the casino at the very first time. The best friend of mine brought me there on Friday night and the very next day I got an offer to attend for the dealers’ training school. It appears that one of my classmates was already working there and saw me that night. making research to expand our presence in Ghana and strengthen our leading position. Are casinos becoming more electronic? The modern world becomes more electronic each year and modern casinos follow the tendencies.
If we look at Vegas casinos’ performance and development during the last decade then we will mention the constant growth of the slot operations that lately shows up to 70 percent of the total gambling revenue. Isn’t it well demonstrating modern tendencies? Online gambling platforms and resources become the trend generators for the offline business segments and are gaining influence on a daily basis. Betting offices and offline retail betting are fading while the online part of it is experiencing spectacular growth. Nevertheless, I have to admit that as an offline casino executive I am very happy to see such a course of gambling development. More and more players are engaging with a live game after trying it online, rather than the reverse. Offline poker was showing a constant growth before the pandemic despite online poker gaining its power and I can hear more and more players waiting eagerly for the offline events. In summing up, I recommend the on- and offline gambling retailers to find the synergy that would lead to a mutually beneficial cooperation, and bring the “closed loop” business model in to gambling sector. This would guarantee the maximum market outreach, diversify the risks and increase the profits. When you are not at work how do you relax? Five or six years ago I fell in love with running. That later turned into a long-distance triathlon. During the last few years I have successfully finished a couple of marathons and an Ironman 70.3 distance (one of the long-distance triathlon challenges) and I have discovered that Ironman preparation is very similar to a Issue 04
project management. Both of them demand excellence in planning for months or even years advance, compliance in daily tasks, strict discipline, willpower, self-control and sacrifice but end up with a remarkable experience when crossing the finish line or the project launch. Besides, there are many inspiring stories to witness on each Ironman event, the same as when communicating with different experts on a business project.
When and how did you first become interested in the casino industry? While studying at the university at 2001, I entered the casino at the very first time. The best friend of mine brought me there on Friday night and the very next day I got an offer to attend for the dealers’ training school. It appears that one of my classmates was already working there and saw me that night. Life circumstances those days pushed me to accept his offer and the following year I was combining university studies during the day and casino shifts at night. The following year I got my first international job offer, travelled to Kazakhstan and began my multi-year casino story Looking back over 20 years in the casino industry what are amongst your standout memories? I am grateful for each year I spent abroad because of the hundreds of beautiful people I met, the different cultures I delved into, the languages I learned, the industry professionals I’ve met, the friends on each continent I’ve earned, for the splendors of nature I saw, for the storms and earthquakes I lived through, and for the feeling of a borderless world I gained. I was kidnapped from my workplace by the National Security Agency while working in DR Congo and spent three unforgettable nights in an African prison. I have crossed the Atlantic Ocean by land and by sea, dove the Mexican coast in a submarine, saw the beauty of the Moroccan desert and Norwegian fjords’s calmness, 17
Feature: Andriy Prudky
To new entrants of the Ukrainian market I would suggest to make a budget for the market-demand examination before starting a bigger investment and to set up the highest possible business standards they will follow no matter what.
Aztec pyramids and ancient cathedrals of Europe, and more and more and more… All of the above made me see how beautiful, diverse and fragile the world is, and how attentive and careful we should be to everything and everyone surrounding us. What do you see as key for player engagement and retention during the year ahead? Safety and health protective measures have become the major challenge we face. The COVID pandemic is still demanding tremendous efforts on preventing the prospective risks and those who challenge it better will succeed. Personal relationships we built with our guests during these strange times enhanced our relationships and our brand recognition as well. Talking of the business-related issues, I would recommend that offline-gambling projects be as multifunctional as possible and not to ignore the onlinemarket opportunities; I would mention the proper targeting and marketing strategies in between the key areas for growing its prospective audience—and trusted-customer relationship build-up as the key for guest retention. 18
To the online gambling retailers and platforms, I would suggest they think globally and go global, as well as considering the offline presence as a brand consolidator, a natural way of development and customer rapprochement. What advice would you give to new entrants to the Ukraine market? To new entrants of the Ukrainian market I would suggest to make a budget for the market-demand examination before starting a bigger investment and to set up the highest possible business standards they will follow no matter what. Hope that the gambling industry, in all of its manifestations, comes to the right conclusion after 12 years of being banned and will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Wish that all of us that show obedience to law, business transparency, and equal respect to employees and guests as a default profile of the reborn industry. I would be happy to see that the respectful international companies will see the potential that Ukraine has to offer, and will finally get positive feedback and affirmative action from local lawmakers. Stay positive, work hard and you are bound to succeed. www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
Feature: Julia Kashpur
Julia Kashpur chats to Casino Life Ukraine editor Lyudmyla Kyrychenko
ead the amazing story about working in a casino on the ocean waves. How the pursuit of a dream, effective teamwork in a cruise liner, empathy for colleagues, grit and determination with the ability to exceed expectations daily for both customers and managers, enabled Casino Hostess Julia Kasphur to build a sensational career. She explores personal qualities that enable success in this industry, what lessons are to be learned from lockdown restrictions, and what can be the most desirable souvenir from long voyages. We are grateful for your generosity to answer our questions. When and how did you first become interested in the Casino industry? Oh, nothing at all, happy to do it. It’s my first time doing Issue 04
this, so I have to thank you for a great experience! I’ve actually never planned for it or been inside the casino in Ukraine, if you’ll believe me! I remember refusing the job in Freedom Casino here in Kyiv even as a waitress – didn’t like the vibe, it was very different for me during that time. I didn’t know anything about casino industry and what it was all about. I remember when they called for a fitting and showed me this long evening gown dress as a part of my uniform, it was all glittery and golden, really beautiful actually. But I had that strange feeling I didn’t belong there, so couldn’t do it. And then after couple of years, I joined Carnival Cruise Lines, in 2005, and learned about working in a Casino, my career started there and continued for the last 15 years. 19
Feature: Julia Kashpur Have you always enjoyed travel? Yes, the opportunity to travel and explore our world is one of the best things that happened to me in my life. I left my home at 17 years old when I moved in Kyiv, to enter the university, and even before that always I knew I would travel far away. I grew up in the small town on Dnieper river (Horishni Plavni/Poltava region) and couldn’t wait to graduate from the school to start this big journey of mine. And today when saying: “I’ve been to Antarctica 3 times” I can hardly believe myself! What is involved with your most recent role? Being Casino Hostess involves a lot of interaction and socializing with the patrons/ guests when on the casino floor. Also, this role includes planning, communicating, marketing of the events when operating on the daily basis. Casino experience for patrons onboard the cruise ship is quite different from the land-based casinos - I would say. Here onboard we focus a lot on entertaining and interacting with our guests – therefore we offer classes, tournaments, raffles, promotions, theme parties etc. Lots of times it’s coordinated with other departments or the whole ship itself. It’s really fun but takes a lot of my time to organize (smiling)! How do you see that mix of skill and experience gained from that role combined with your time at Carnival Cruise Lines that you can bring to an
organisation in the Gaming, Leisure Entertainment and related Sectors? Well, it’s a great opportunity and quite an experience to be a team member of any department onboard the cruise ship. Besides your own job (and you’ve got to be really good at it!), there is a chance to see and learn from others too. As it’s very close environment - all the crew works, live and socialize together. There is a huge chance your friends will be from various departments – from Dancers to the Bridge officers. And it’s hard to imagine how much knowledge and skills you are gaining when simply hanging out or having just lunch together. Being part of the Casino department I think the greatest experience I’ve learnt is that in our business we are there for our guests/patrons, to exceed their expectations and deliver them the best experience. There is no point to have the best slot machines or beautiful tables with games if we have no players. 20
Feature: Julia Kashpur
What are some of the unexpected challenges you encountered upon commencing the role of Casino Host? It’s funny, but I really had to think about the answer here. The thing is that if you would ask me this question
For those in Ukraine that read your interview and are considering a career in the Casino industry what advice would you give them? First thing I would suggest to visit few really nice casino properties. It might be quite difficult today,
air. The Cruise Director was very good friend of mine by the way, so we had so much laugh and fun when filming. And imagine, it goes on air totally raw as it was, no editing whatsoever. I think all the guests onboard came to casino that day, I was so embarrassed that time. Now I think it was the best challenge out of casino floor in my career!
What do you think are the characteristics of a good Croupier and Dealer? Casino Dealer/Croupier job includes two equally important sets of skill as for me. You really can’t be a good dealer without great technical skills, we work with hands and fingers a lot. So, if you are in training school now or planning, please, take it extremely seriously. It’s very hard at the beginning like playing a musical
in 2010 when I was first promoted to the full position of Casino Host I would probably take few pages to tell about these challenges. But facing them for quite some time you simply learn to deal with them and they are becoming part of the routine at some point. But I’ve just remembered one of them – and it’s funny! As I said before, role of Casino Host includes a lot of coordination and interaction with partners from other departments as well. So once a week I had to film the Morning Show with Cruise Director onboard for our guests. We were co-hosting the show and he has ensured that they would cut and edit it before going on
considering the pandemic situation in the world. But I wish I had more idea about casinos when starting the career. There are amazing properties, very beautiful and tasteful, with great culture and atmosphere! Also try to find some people who work in this business preferably in the same area or country to ask as many questions as you need. Overall, it’s a very interesting job, a bit glamorous even and usually well-paid especially when you are gaining skills and experience.
Feature: Julia Kashpur instrument for the first time, but later it will all pay off guaranteed. And of course, there are some soft skills required – especially interacting with players, tolerance, nice manners, sense of humour, flexibility, good hygiene and punctuality big time. If you can’t be on time when on duty you have no chance in this career. I still look at the watch when having lunch (30 minutes break) after 1 year out of the job at home. What are amongst your prime objectives in your consideration for your next career move? In my case, it depends a lot on the location. If speaking about the cruises and the ships, I am really happy where I am right now. I tend to enjoy the Groups/VIP charters side of my job right now. But the main reason I’ve just got many good friends amongst the loyal players and special Gambling groups/cruises are the bigger chance to see them all again in one place. But also looking at the last and this years’ developments, I would not mind to gain some more experience in the online gambling sector. I thought it would take longer for casino business to migrate online mostly but it is on our door step already. From a purely business perspective what lessons have you learnt from your experiences since this pandemic hit? You need to adapt very fast, be extremely flexible and visualising the future when making business strategy decisions.
What was your first big break in the industry? My first big break was in summer 2010 onboard of brand-new Nieuw Amsterdam (Holland America Cruises). I was just a trainee Host when my Fleet Casino Host and the Operations Manager came onboard to shoot some Advertising Material and I ended up on those photos. They became part of the digital signage for all the ships and some printed brochures for the mailers to the players. I also got fully promoted from Dealer to Casino Hostess that year! Looking back over your career what are some of your achievements that you are most proud of? I am most proud of my colleagues, professional and amazing hosts which I’ve discovered among the casino employees and trained for their next career step. It feels extremely rewarding to me to help someone to Issue 04
Feature: Julia Kashpur to wake up early in the morning to feel productive. Not about me, though. It doesn’t matter what time I finish work or wake up - just trying to make the best out of my active period of the day. And now when I am a mum of 3 years old boy, my day is suddenly much longer than ever! (laughing) Who and What inspires you and why? Great question! I am generally easy to be inspired by many people and things. I am mostly touched by people who despite huge success or achievement stay humble, humane and enjoy their life at the fullest. I dream to meet and talk to Oprah or Michelle Obama one day or have a coffee with Vera Bregneva (Ukrainian singer)!
grow and achieve greater results when there is an opportunity!
When not at work how do you relax? I love sports and recently discovered dancing again. Also, any beach on this planet is my little paradise to relax and just get closer to the nature. When not beach, hiking serves the same purpose. At our house my favourite chores are to organise the closet, cabinets or drawers. This is my sort of meditation.
What are those experiences, key-values that you gained at your past workplaces and can use in a new role? As a Casino Hostess I’ve learned a lot about business
What are your long term ambitions? Career wise, my ambition is to have Casino Training school one day. I am coming from the teachers’ family so guess it’s in my genes. It would be an amazing
How do you cope with the hours? Hours are long indeed, and late. I think you just get used to this lifestyle, that’s all. Some people really like
Have you anything else you would like to add? Finally! I thought you would never ask (smile and wink)! Additionally, to all those travelling and working experiences onboard the ships during last 15 years my job in the Casino gave me something more I feel the most blessed and grateful – my beautiful family! I met my husband who was Casino Manager onboard in 2013, don’t ask me how and why, it just happened we fell in love with each other. So, we have had the opportunity to work and travel together since then. And in 2017 upon arrival home from another contract on-board of Koningsdam we’ve discovered that we were expecting. Our baby boy Luca is 3,5 years now and is the greatest souvenir from all of the travels around the world!
operation and not only particularly casino, any kind like shops, spa, restaurant, bars. My greatest skill is learning how to exceed the expectations from both sides of it – Patrons/Players and the Management/ Owner. Your customers should be happy and your business should be profitable – and in the casino these two objectives are moving opposite directions. Also working onboard includes constant change of fellow staff members, management, guests and location itself. You need to adapt quickly and be ok with changes and movements all the time. It teaches you to be more tolerant, understanding, compassionate to other people. Add to this the culture and beliefs of 40+ nationalities onboard – respect and acceptance are must in here.
opportunity to share my knowledge with others and give them an easier start in this interesting and exciting business.
Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze
Anton Kuchukhidze Head of the Ukrainian Gambling Council: Interview by Peter White
asino Life Ukraine Magazine had an amazing opportunity to arrange an interview with Anton Kuchukhidze, Head of the Public Union “Ukrainian Gambling Council” (UGC). For those who are not familiar with UGC, can we start this interview by explaining its purpose and the services it will provide to its members? Issue 04
There are two main goals. The first is the unification and consolidation of all professionals and legal operators of the gambling market of Ukraine around improving the image of the gambling business as a whole for the general public. The topic has been used many times by politicians in a negative sense, purely for Political Technologies, to justify anti-state decisions like 2009, because some people filled their heads with fake information about what the gambling sphere is. 25
Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze
Victoria Zakrevskaya and Anton Kuchukhidze 26
Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze
We want to unite in one platform that will generate the right, effective solutions for areas that public authorities will trust and perceive at a professional level. Otherwise, even now many public organizations work separately with some companies, everyone is doing something, everyone is running somewhere.” Therefore, we want to unite the efforts of everyone in favour of the entire market and this is in the interests of all gambling operators – to change the attitude of the population in this area to a positive one, to give real information about what gambling is, and not fake information spread by the opposition, and accordingly once and for all to remove the topic of gambling from the agenda of political manipulation. The second task is to join forces to create a single center, a single voice for communication with state authorities. So that the state authorities have no doubt that someone is lobbying for narrow-profile, narrow-commercial interests of individual companies. We want to unite in one platform that will generate the right, effective solutions for areas that public authorities will trust and perceive at a professional level. Otherwise, even now many public organizations work separately with some companies, everyone is doing something, everyone is running somewhere. However, public authorities always have concerns about whether this is lobbying for an individual company, so we need to convey the position of the entire industry, which will be trusted. The main services are PR support, anti-crisis support and GR (dialogue with the authorities).
Victoria Zakrevskaya was recently appointed Chairman of the Gambling Association of Ukraine. Can you tell us about her and what she will bring to the role? Regarding Victoria Zakrevskaya, she is a well-known media specialist, this is one direction of her activity. The second focus is her professionalism. She is related to gambling at the analytical level, she is a candidate for a PhD thesis in the field of gambling, compares the experience of Britain and Belarus, and studies the best practices of these states with the adaptation of these practices for Ukraine at the professional level. This is the trump card that Victoria Issue 04
has. Most experts do not have the same analytical level of knowledge in the gambling business as Victoria. Victoria’s Zakrevskaya became the first member of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, and recently appointed deputy chairman for communications at UGC. The Gambling Association of Ukraine (GAU) will handle all our communication with the mass media and has a team built up over several years who have expertise in social media and associated communication and IT technologies. Can UGC help organizations that want to enter the online gaming market in Ukraine? UGC can definitely help foreign partners enter the Ukrainian market. We have the appropriate legal department. We have the opportunity for legal advice, we have relevant specialists, we have experts who have already gone through the entire licensing bureaucratic history with companies. They can share this with other UGC members, so we can provide all possible support and, most importantly, we can advise not only as an expert, but also give a real picture of how it all happens. Because there are a lot of fakes around the certification procedure, or the licensing procedure of a gambling operator. Accordingly, if you apply to UGC, you get responsible partners who know everything about how to do it, have passed this path themselves, and, secondly, we say and recommend responsible partners in Ukraine who are really professionally engaged in this issue at many levels. Therefore, the most important thing is expertise and, secondly, the search for responsible partners for foreign investors from a wide range of issueslegal issues, certification advice, any other issues, absolutely UGC can share within the framework of membership in our structure, experience, contacts, expertise and responsible partners. Therefore, by
Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze
As for the future, my dream is to see the Ukrainian gambling industry among the leaders in Central and Eastern Europe.”
contacting us, a foreign investor gets a shoulder of support and we really strive to attract foreign investments into Ukraine. UGC is not closed to foreign companies, UGC members who have joined us, they are absolutely open to this and they are rooting for foreign investment to finally enter the Ukrainian market. The more foreign investment there is, the greater and stronger the competition in the market in Ukraine will be and accordingly, the more money the state budget will receive, and the more responsible this area will become given that a foreign investor will bring the already established practice of responsible play, the correct policy regarding ludomaniacs, will bring such a signal to other investors that it is possible to work in the Ukrainian market. This is an absolutely civilized market, not as it was during the last 12 years, when the market was in the shadows, or until 2009, when the market was actually chaotic. For the first time in the entire history of Ukraine’s independence, a civilized gambling law has been
adopted, which actually forms and develops the market, so it is really in the interests of the state and in the interests of such public large and associations as ours to promote foreign operators and partners to enter Ukraine. What is your vision for the future of the gambling and betting industry in Ukraine? As for the future, my dream is to see the Ukrainian gambling industry among the leaders in Central and Eastern Europe. I am convinced that the Ukrainian market has all the prerequisites for this, starting from adequate legislation and ending with human resources, a large level of IT knowledge, extensive experience of lawyers, a convenient location of our state, the real Europeanness of Ukraine and many other factors from the point of view of the high level of the service sector that our state has. Therefore, my dream is that Ukraine will become the centre of the gambling industry in Central and Eastern Europe.
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The Best isn’t Just It’s
Better… Захоплюючі ігри, високі ставки, великі виграші — це те, за що вaаші клієнти люблять і пам’ятають IGT. На честь відродження ігрової індустрії в Україні IGT пропонує нові продукти — кращі за все, що було досі: • Нові ігрові автомати з імерсивною HD-графікою PeakSlant32™ • Гнучкі пакети USwitch™ Multi-Game • Мережеві прогресивні джекпоти Blazin’ Flames™
З нетерпінням чекаємо на вас Відскануйте QR-код або зверніться за додатковою інформацією: Lasha.Gogiberidze@IGT.com +38 (050) 446-65-82 ©2021 IGT The trademarks and/or service marks used herein are either trademarks or registered trademarks of IGT, its affiliates or its licensors. Artwork, descriptions, game play, photographs, videos, and other product details depicted are subject to change.
The Best is Back
Lasha Gogiberidze, IGT Sales Manager Ukraine
IGT: Local People, Local Products for Ukraine 30
hen global gaming leader IGT touts its mantra for the Ukraine, “The best is back” that does not just apply to its products and services, but also its people. The multi-national Company is firmly committed to driving growth for its customers throughout the Ukraine and realizes that effort requires experienced professionals who can help drive its customers’ success. This requires a team that is intimately familiar with the local market, its opportunities and its challenges.
PeakSlant32™ cabinets with Blazin’ Flames™ Progressives Jackpot Issue 04
Like others within the industry, IGT has been patiently awaiting the opening of the Ukrainian market. Although the timeline is not what most had envisioned, the Company has been working to ensure that it is well-positioned for success when the market opens. Most notably, IGT established a Kiev-based office equipped with a dazzling showroom full of market-attuned IGT solutions and staffed with knowledgeable and experienced team members. One such individual is IGT’s regional sales manager, Lasha Gogiberidze, who brings with him more than 20 years of business experience with top-tier brands and a passion for driving results and accelerating growth. Gogiberidze joined IGT earlier this year and quickly started making an impact. “I am extremely proud to be a member of the IGT team and to support its promise of delivering unrivaled gaming experiences that engage players and drive growth,” commented Gogiberidze. “The Ukrainian market holds tremendous opportunity for IGT, its customers and their players. When the market opens, IGT will be ready.” Gogiberidze’s confidence in IGT’s position is fortified by the tremendous groundwork that he and the IGT team have invested over the last year. “The entire IGT value chain is invested in and excited for the Ukrainian market. Our studio teams
have been hard at work perfecting our solutions to meet the unique business requirements and player preferences of the region, while the sales team continues to meet with operators to deepen its insights into their short, mid and longterm goals,” noted Gogiberidze. IGT’s Kiev Showroom opened in May, and displays a range of IGT’s standout products for Ukraine, including PeakSlant32 and Cobalt 27 cabinets and content. These form factors are among IGT’s most modern cabinets, and underwent tremendous internal and external performance testing to ensure they deliver comfortable and compelling player experiences. Each 31
Feature: IGT According to global gaming leader IGT, when it comes to the Ukrainian market, “The best isn’t just back, it’s better.” The long-time category leader is ready for Ukraine market re-entry with a highly entertaining, market-attuned portfolio that is fortified with many of the top-performing games that were offered in the Ukraine when it was previously regulated. Among IGT’s most-anticipated solutions for the market are its USwitch multi-game bundles, including the Red, Green, and Yellow game packs, each of which is available on the IGT Cobalt™ 27 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™ 10L, 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. 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™, Cleopatra™, and Wolf Run™. Another offering, 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. Cobalt offers superior serviceability and durability, thus freeing up staff resources and minimizing downtime for increased return on investment. In addition, IGT’s PeakSlant32 cabinet features three seamlessly integrated, 32-inch, full-HD displays that deliver an immersive player experience. It 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, and additional ergonomic features. For more information on IGT’s player-tested portfolio of solutions for the Ukrainian market, contact Sales Manager Lasha Gogiberidze by phone at +380 50 446 6582, by email at Lasha.Gogiberidze@igt.com. For general information, visit www.igt.com.
PeakSlant32™ cabinet with USwitch™ Green 40-game pack
piece of hardware in IGT’s Kiev showroom features localized content, including the Company’s highly anticipated USwitch multi-game packs for the region, featuring a mix of classic and innovative IGT games. “I’d like to invite all our customers to IGT’s game showroom in Kiev to experience first-hand the quality and excitement of the solutions portfolio that we’ve created for the Ukraine. We have plenty of digital resources available to familiarize our customers with www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
our games and cabinets, but nothing can replace the opportunity to play these games. I know that our customers will be impressed,” shared Gogiberidze. Gogiberidze’s more than two decades of business experience spans the gaming, private and government sectors. For more information on IGT’s extensive, playertested portfolio of solutions for the Ukrainian
market, contact Sales Manager Lasha Gogiberidze by phone at +380 50 446 6582, or by email at Lasha.Gogiberidze@igt.com. For general information visit igt.com.
Cobalt™ 27 cabinet with USwitch™ Red 40-game pack Issue 04
Feature: Eureka Casino
Return to Gaming for Eureka Casinos
Andre Carrier, President & COO Eureka Casino Resort: Interview by Peter White
ould we commence this interview with an insight into the background of the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite and The Brook in Seabrook? Eureka Casinos is a 100% employee-owned casino resort company headquartered in Mesquite, Nevada, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The Company’s signature property, The Eureka Casino Resort, is a premier destination for golfers and vacationers from across the globe. Visitors come to challenge themselves on some of the finest desert golf courses in the world or take in scenic views of Mesquite’s redtopped mesas. The magic of Eureka is the beauty of its small-town charm mixed with its big time fun, facilities, and service that rivals any five-star resort. Renowned 34
not only for the work they do to serve their guests but also their community, The Eureka is a central pillar in essential charity and service programs throughout the region. Widely known for its quality service, products, and innovative community service, Eureka was most recently recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Medium Workplaces in America – 2018. In January 2019, Eureka Casinos acquired an iconic property located in Seabrook, New Hampshire, just over the border from Massachusetts and began a year-long, multimillion-dollar project to completely remodel and rebrand the 90,000 square foot facility as The Brook. The transformation included an ultramodern Race & Sportsbook, the largest of its kind within 300 miles, at the only pari-mutuel facility in New www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
Feature: Eureka Casino
Andre Carrier, President & COO Eureka Casino Resort
Hampshire. The new space offers stadium seating on couches and movie theater-style chairs with three cinema-size screens and hundreds of TVs, making it a premier destination on the Seacoast for watch parties and date nights, as well as group and corporate events. Recently, New Hampshire’s first DraftKings Sportsbook retail location opened at The Brook adding to the overall sports experience. Eureka Casinos is the only employee-owned gaming company in the United States. The opportunity to do things both differently better was the impetus behind the idea of becoming employee-owned. The Eureka views employees as family and have always wanted their employees to develop an “owner’s mindset” and feel that the Eureka is their company. In 2016, an Issue 04
ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) was formed. Unlike a 401k that employees contribute to through their career, an ESOP grants shares over the course of a person’s career at no cost to the employee. The objective of the company is thus to provide positive returns to its employee shareholder and make a positive impact on the communities the business operates in while retaining its positioning as a great place to work. How have the last 12 months been for Eureka Casinos? The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster ride for everyone in the industry. For example, just over a year ago we closed for the first time ever and we weren’t 35
Feature: Eureka Casino
even sure how to lock the doors. Uncertainty of reopening and what that would look like was a unique challenge. For employees – was it going to be safe for them to return to working full shifts? And for guests – would they return? Without any real blueprint, the company made the strategic decision to prioritize time and resources on the items with in their control. Our employee owners were our top priority. During
our closure, we paid our employees for as long as possible before any need for unemployment. The company funded 100% of their health care cost for the entire shut down. We also hosted a weekly drive through food pantry. We provided items for full meals including eggs, milk and Easter hams. The company made early investments in testing kits so we would have the capacity to provide the testing services that we believed would be essential. We made strategic partnerships with the medical and test lab industry which allowed us to have convenient and frequent in-house testing. We developed a division for contact tracing and embraced a Bluetooth driven technology to help us bet track and monitor the presence of the virus at our properties. We also communicated constantly with video and print messages with comprehensive briefings happening one to three times per week. When it came to preparing for reopening, we 36
Feature: Eureka Casino charged forward identifying best practices and innovating solutions to make our casino safe for both guest and employees. We created a comprehensive safety protocol and trained our employee owners on the practices and standards. We designed and built an array of one of a kind safety equipment to address the most specific safety concerns. At the same time, we were looking to help globally. Our founders, through the Ted & Doris Lee Family Foundation invested one million dollars to speed entrepreneurs in the development of innovations necessary to address the problems facing the hospitality, entertainment, or travel industries resulting from Covid-19. By partnering with The Lee Business School at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, these technologies and solutions ultimately made the industry safer for both guests and employees of the hospitality or travel sectors, which boasts roughly 330M jobs and an economic impact of $8.9 trillion dollars worldwide. Closer to home, it became clear that resources were limited to get our community vaccinated. Since Mesquite is a rural part of Clark County (where Las Vegas is located), the challenge was getting our town vaccinated in a timely manner without having to drive the 90 miles to Las Vegas and compete for vaccination time slots with the millions of people who live in the Las Vegas metro area. We knew there had to be an efficient and effective way to accomplish this, so Eureka partnered with the city of Mesquite and
Mesa View Hospital to accomplish the task. Eureka donated a venue, staff, money, and online resources to vaccinate thousands of people a week. What have been amongst the biggest alterations to the Casino Gaming Areas to cope with the challenges presented by Covid-19? In addition to the required regulations, we created a new department named the Clean Team. This roving group of sanitation experts’ focus is to keep public areas clean 24 hours a day, including sanitizing machines between each player and upon request, and doing deep overnight cleans. We also fabricated all of our Plexiglas dividers, used at table games, slot machines, food outlets and hotel front desk, in-house. Not only did we save time and money, we were able to keep our engineers employed during the closure and have Plexiglas tailored perfectly to every application. Issue 04
Feature: Eureka Casino Are there any new games and displays at the Casinos that have been installed during periods of lockdown? We took the time during our closure to evaluate how our gaming floor functions and what guests wanted in their casino experience. We were able to switch out some underutilized machines for new exciting games. We also added a non-smoking section to our Mesquite property. What is the position on Cashless at the Casinos? Going cashless in our casinos is a possibility in the future. We have discussed how this would look but there are still obstacles to overcome when going completely cashless. We have taken steps, including installing “do-it-all” kiosks in an effort to minimize cash transactions. At The Brook, we installed electronic table games that allow for cashless, chip less, card less game play. We are able to sanitize the machines between each player. How important is the locations of both Casinos? We believe that both pre and post pandemic, our casinos being in rural areas provide peaceful, less congested settings. During the pandemic, positivity rates were never as high as the nearest metro areas – Las Vegas and Boston. What percentage of your patrons in more normal times are local vs tourist/traveling business
people? We have guests visit our properties from all over the globe but the majority of our business comes from regional, drive-in markets. Because of this, we weren’t as affected by the travel restrictions that were put in place. We also saw an increase in that drive-in business because people were staying close to home when they did travel. Eureka Casino Resort has a lot going on, with Golf, UTV Expeditions etc? Mesquite, Nevada, is the perfect gateway to some of the best adventures and things to do in the American West, including: • Zion National Park • Bryce Canyon • The North Rim of the Grand Canyon • Brian Head Mountain • Valley of Fire State Park 38
Feature: Eureka Casino Blessed by more than 330 days of sunshine each year, Mesquite’s scenic desert setting offers boundless opportunities for UTV tours, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and boating. Plus, Eureka is also located within 7 minutes of 7 world class golf courses. What does the future look like for Eureka Casinos? Everything is trending for 2021 to be a positive year. We constantly strive to be better and 2021 will certainly be a year where we accelerate our continual improvement in both our service standards and physical assets. Feeling the energy and buzz of people back in the casino, hearing guests cheering and yell when they win, is what we have been waiting twelve months for and we couldn’t be more thankful. Eureka Casino Resort also provides for Meetings and Events. Is that now looking more favourable in the months ahead, and what key aspects of the Resort make it a destination for company’s AGMs and Events? People’s interest in holding in-person meetings is increasing once again. As restriction ease, we are welcoming more and more groups back to the property. The Eureka provides a perfect place for meetings because we have traditional and nontraditional meeting space coupled with a destination that provides entertainment and relaxation. For those of our readership who like to travel and
enjoy the facilities of a Resort Casino, what would you like to say to them as to why they should choose your Eureka Casinos? Our casinos provide a different casino experience than your large corporate properties. Being an employeeowned family business shines through in our approach with our guests. We live by our core values: serving our guests, community and one another with care, compassion, and dedication. We promise a great time in a safe casino environment with resort town hospitality.
WHERE THE GLOBAL GAMING INDUSTRY COMES TOGETHER Reunite with the global gaming industry at Global Gaming Expo (G2E). Set in Las Vegas, the heart of gaming, G2E is the premier event for commercial and tribal gaming professionals to reconnect, discover cutting-edge technology, and experience innovative content. Whether in-person or virtually, October 4-7, 2021 (Education: October 4-7 | Expo Hall: October 5-7) will be when G2E unites the community that is shaping the future of gaming.
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Feature: Julia Carcamo
Julia Carcamo, president and chief brand strategist, J Carcamo & Associates
Interactive Progress E
Julia Carcamo, president and chief brand strategist, J Carcamo & Associates talks to Peter White
engaging and personable, Julia Carcamo is one of the friendliest faces of the casino industry. Her career has been illustrious, too. She was involved with the launch of the Caesars Entertainment (then Harrah’s) Total Rewards loyalty program, which has grown to be the biggest in gaming. She was also a team member Issue 04
in the launch of Wynn Las Vegas, then moved to Isle of Capri, where she was placed in charge of reinvigorating its Lady Luck brand. Branching out on her own in 2013, she incepted J Carcamo & Associates, a marketing consultancy specializing in the gaming industry. She also invented the Casino Marketing Boot Camp, which provides the stepping-off point for our discussion with 41
Feature: Julia Carcamo the talented Ms. Carcamo. As she tells Publisher Peter White (in the words of Stephen Sondheim), good times and bum times, she’s seen them all and she’s still here. How did you come to work in the gaming industry? I love to tell this story because it just goes to further my feeling that opportunities happen when you’re open to them. I was working in the nonprofit world for a number of years. Among my various committees was a host from one of the new casinos on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. She was always encouraging me to consider joining a casino team, but at the time, I had no interest in going to dealer school or driving from New Orleans every day. Then gaming came to New Orleans and I was offered a job. Although I had no experience for the job, it was very exciting. I was part of the opening team. Nine weeks later, the operators declared bankruptcy. I remember walking through the silence thinking, “I belong here.” Luckily, I found a job at another local operator, and through the benefit of working with great mentors I’ve been able to create a great career for myself. How would you best describe “Casino Marketing Boot Camp”? Casino Marketing Boot Camp has become so much more than what I originally envisioned. The 2022 event will definitely be in-person, but we recognize that some people will not be able to travel. We’ve realized we can make the virtual attendee as active as the in-person. So, we’re exploring the possibility of providing both avenues for attendance. The pandemic really shone a light on the desire casino marketers have to grow and the limited resources they have access to. We’ve since added webinars and virtual trainings that are topic-specific and highly interactive. We keep all of our events on the small side because we want to have interaction with attendees, and we’ve found they will ask questions and contribute to the conversation in these settings. What’s the story behind the creation of Casino Marketing Boot Camp? Casino Marketing Boot Camp was born out of the notion that marketers attend these conferences and walk away with 101 ideas. I know that was me when I was in operations, but the reality of day-to-day life of a marketer often leaves them with a notebook of ideas and little opportunity to implement those ideas. 42
Boot Camp was designed to be very hands-on so that marketers can formulate their plans during the event and hit the ground running upon their return to their properties. Can you explain some of the other solutions and services your organisation provides casinos? Originally, I was just focused on providing marketing services. That’s the core business for J Carcamo & Associates. We work with properties on brand and marketing strategy and execution. When I founded the company, teaching was a core value. I benefitted greatly from working with mentors and learning from them. I wanted to ensure that was—and is—part of how we work on any project. Casino Marketing Boot Camp is that core value come to reality. Under that umbrella we have in-person and online training programs. We’ve also had the opportunity to create on-site Boot Camp events for operators which allow us to work with them to create the agenda that best suits their needs. Where did the idea for the business come from? When I left Isle of Capri Casinos in 2013, I knew that whatever my next step was, it was still going to involve casino marketing. I started the business on the B2B side assisting a couple of vendors approach their marketing to casinos with some insights. We grew from there, working in and out of the casino industry. The idea for Casino Marketing Boot Camp came during a conversation about a conference I had just attended. It was one of those conversations that just seems to be serendipitous because it was such a natural next step for me. Do you feel that there are more options for women nowadays in terms of more companies hiring more women? I think that companies are more aware of diversity issues and needs. As such they are making an effort to move the needle. I think however that there are probably many women in the industry who could benefit from growth opportunities. That’s why I love working with the Global Gaming Women whenever I have the chance. Have you ever experienced any negative comments when working? LOL! Yes. I have had opportunities where I am hired www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
Feature: Julia Carcamo
to be the fresh view but fresh views aren’t the easiest to accept at times. Understanding the underlying motivations of decision makers and influencers is such an important part of creating lasting relationships. How would you describe your role of President and Chief Brand Strategist? It’s a lot like wearing two hats. As president my role is
to understand what type of business is right for us and ensuring the business will be around for some time! That’s the business part. The passion is with brands. As chief brand strategist I aid our customers in their vision for their brands. In your opinion, what is one of the most definitive and long-lasting trends that will continue to shape the future of casinos? Engagement. We hear ‘customer service’ a lot. We hear ‘loyalty’ and ‘database’ even more. I can’t even count how many times we hear about analytics. All of what we do has to be in service of engaging with our customers and team members in a way that bonds them to our brands, and they evolve into advocates who will tell our stories for us. How would you compare the land-based casino market of today to the one you first joined? Issue 04
Wow! I don’t even know that I can say it’s a fair comparison. When I started in the industry the regional markets were truly just becoming reality. I’ve been part of opening teams in markets that had no casinos nearby and people flew to Las Vegas maybe once a year. Now, casinos are an easy drive for almost anyone in the U.S. You used to see commercials that said “Las Vegas experience” with almost every new opening. Today’s casino customer is a lot savvier and more mature. We have to constantly be stepping up to their expectations.
What do you look for in an employee? Honestly, the best hires I’ve made have been really smart self-starters who could establish a process and system for themselves and love what they were doing. I’ve always said I could teach you the industry, brand and marketing, but I can’t teach you the passion. I can’t teach you how to stay on top of our clients’ needs if you’re not an organized person. We have tools to help you but they’re only tools. How has the last year been for you? Shocking and enlightening all in one year. The year started off so well for us. We had a handful of dependable clients on the J Carcamo & Associates side that we were providing marketing services for. We 43
Feature: Julia Carcamo be stars down the road because of the availability of knowledge and training. I’ve gotten exposure to more casino operators. We even had our first international attendee for Boot Camp! Have you got any targets for the next 12 months? Absolutely. We took a look at the five-year plan and made some adjustments because of the impact of 2020, but we’re being mindful of the work we seek. We absolutely saw that we probably had too many eggs in a few baskets. So, we would love to expand our client base. What has been the role of luck in your success? Hmmm … Luck? Yes, I think I was lucky to have had that volunteer on my committee that introduced me to this industry. I was lucky that some people took chances on me, but I think eventually that luck became more about what I did to put myself in the position to be called upon for great opportunity.
were working on a very inspirational project for one of them. Boot Camp was in March. Not only did we hit our goal for attendance, it was a fabulous gathering in New Orleans. We had no idea the world was going to
Lets talk a little bit about your latest project. Well, Casino Marketing Boot Camp is an ever-present project but we have done a few things on the J Carcamo & Associates side that have been energizing. We helped a solopreneur launch an e-commerce business. She just told me how much her revenue has been for her first 60 days, and I couldn’t believe it. We always take the approach of helping our clients fend for themselves, because as a former client myself I
Do you have any personal highlights of the past 12 months? I love the program growth we’ve had with Casino Marketing Boot Camp. I honestly believe we have some great marketers in the field that are going to
Can you describe your process of collaborating with clients? It varies. Some clients are really aware of what they want. So, quick calls are always productive. Others need a little more brainstorming or help finding their way. We use communications and project tools to make sure clients are aware of where things are. I think status calls are still great tools, but I like to treat them a bit like “stand-up” meeting even if they are virtual. It’s about being constructive with their time and ours.
change at the end of that same week. We had clients stop work. They obviously didn’t need those particular projects at the time. After a few weeks, we had to regroup and consider what we could be offering that would help. Our private casino marketers on Facebook grew quickly (after sort of languishing for months). We helped a few properties prepare for reopening by leveraging the Casino Marketing Monitor. I took a look at the feedback we’d gotten from both of the Boot Camp events we had produced, and found ways to create these great experiences in our webinars and online training. We’ve since started working on projects on the marketing services side too.
know how frustrating it can feel to be tied to someone. She still needs us but I’m very proud of how far she’s come. We’re also reimagining the brand for a Midwest gaming company with multiple locations. They are one of my favorite clients. We work on a project basis with them, but they really look to us for strategy. We’re also working on an identity project for an enterprise that is looking to expand.
Feature: Julia Carcamo
What is your style of management? You might laugh but honestly I will tell you the same thing I have told anyone on my team. “I have two rules. Don’t make me crazy. Don’t make me hunt you down.” I want you to have the freedom to do what you have to do to get your job done and balance it with your life. I am not going to hover but I’m here if you need me. This is why I love Slack so much, because I can be available easily. If something is taking more time than you expected, I expect to know that with enough time to make the appropriate adjustments.
What skills would you recommend other women develop to help them advance in their careers? Bravery. You can’t get your ideas across if you’re not going to share them. Sometimes opportunities come to those who ask for them. Presentation. The ability to get your ideas across in a well-thought way is crucial. Networking. We have to be present and active when there is an opportunity. What do you think are the characteristics of a good CEO or business leader? Vision and the ability to distill that vision to everyone in a way that everyone can understand and execute. They should also be ready to praise as quickly as criticize. They need to be approachable to everyone. I’ve seen GMs walk the floor and not know or acknowledge their employees. I once worked with a regional vice Issue 04
president when I was a coordinator at a property. Years later he was the CEO of a major operator and he remembered me by name. Are your clients all U.S.-based or do you also work with overseas operators? For J Carcamo and Associates, all of our clients have been in the U.S, but I think 2021 will be the year I expand my presence. Casino Marketing Boot Camp has had a little international attention. We’re developing some programs that will be uniquely appealing to the international segment.
What are the unique factors that distinguish your organisation from other brand marketing companies? Rather than being a one-size fits all agency, we’ve tried to stick to what we do best and partner with other likeminded suppliers that we use in our business whenever a client wants us to provide more expertise. We like to specialize in project work where many agencies prefer the agency-of-record model. I truly understand why, but after being a client myself I understand how that can start to feel like a burden. I will tell you that I had the same agency for seven years and would’ve kept using them, but I know that is the exception. I would rather build a lasting relationship with a client and have them utilize us where we can bring the best value for them … and us. 45
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Gaming Industry Preview: Exhibitors
The legendary Gaming Industry exhibition is coming back!
On June 9-11, 2021 Kyiv will host an international specialized exhibition of the equipment and services for gambling and entertainment business “GAMING INDUSTRY” (formerly “Entertainment Industry”). Venue: IEC, 15 Brovarsky Ave. Tickets: https://www.eiexpo.com.ua/en/visiting_en/#tickets
an you provide details on the event? “GAMING INDUSTRY” is well-known all over Europe as an exhibition that features equipment, accessories and services in the field of gambling and entertainment businesses. The return of the exhibition “GAMING INDUSTRY” has stirred up a response in the Ukrainian gambling business. The exhibition has been supported by leading native companies and associations as well as state bodies of Ukraine. Issue 04
General Sponsor of the exhibition – company NOVOMATIC (Austria) - one of the largest gaming technology companies in the world The sponsors of the exhibition are IGT (Great Britain) – the global leader in gaming. The exhibition will feature participants from 11 European countries. Among the exhibitors are such market leaders as: Euro Games Technology (Bulgaria), Gambee (Slovenia), CT Gaming (Bulgaria), Apex Gaming (Czechia), Fazi (Serbia), CTC Holdings (Latvia), Nebula (Ukraine), Royal (Ukraine), 47
Gaming Industry Preview: Exhibitors
• C ooperation with relevant international organizations and implementation of foreign countries regulations in the field of gambling and lotteries. • A nalysis 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. For the actual list of topics and speakers please refer to the official website of the exhibition.
GameBridge (Ukraine), GameMaster (Ukraine) and many others. Can you provide details on the Conference Speakers? In addition to the vast and extensive exposition the event will include a large-scale INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “Gaming and entertainment business in Ukraine: RELOADING”. Among the topical issues there will be discussed the following: • Analysis of tax and labor legislation in the field of gambling and lotteries. 48
Is the exhibition floor full or is there still time for companies to organise a booth at Gaming Industry? The floorplan is almost full. More than 50 main gambling operators will present their products during the exhibition. It is an incredible result for the Ukrainian market after such break and during pandemic. But we still have new applications. So we think the number of exhibitors will be greater. Can you provide details on the venue that will host Gaming Industry 2021 that include details on restaurants and bars? The exhibition “GAMING INDUSTRY” will be held on June 9 –11, 2021 in Kyiv. Its picturesque and interesting exposition will be arranged in the first www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
Gaming Industry Preview: Exhibitors pavilliion of the International Exhibition Centre (15, Brovarskyi Av.) found a short distance from the metro station “Livoberezhna”. These area and the city of Kyiv is full of restaurants and bars for every taste. What are the key areas of the gaming industry that will be represented to visitors at Gaming Industry 2021? The exhibition “GAMING INDUSTRY” will mainly feature equipment and CMS for casinos: from furniture to modern and technically equipped slot machines, roulettes and gambling panels. Are there any networking events being hosted during the 3 days of the exhibition? We are planning to arrange networking between visitors and participants. That is why pre-registration is desirable. You can buy tickets here: https://www. eiexpo.com.ua/en/visiting_en/#tickets How easy is the Venue of Gaming Industry for visitors to get to?
The International Exhibition Center is the largest exhibition facility in Ukraine. Permanent venue for international business and exhibition events, forums, concerts, congresses, presentations and cultural and art shows. It was the location of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. It is situated within a short distance from the metro station “Livoberezhna”. And only 15 minutes from the center of Kyiv by metro.
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Gaming Industry Preview: Amatic
AMATIC fires the turbo at the Gaming Industry Expo The Multi Game specialist and pure gaming champion AMATIC Industries presents its cabinet Performer Grand Arc!
The Austrian integrated supplier of premium gaming products
AMATIC Industries has been operating successfully in the international Casino and gambling market for more than 28 years. The main goal of AMATIC is to combine high quality manufacturing with state of the art technology and to set international standards with its products. Also in the online gaming market AMATIC has become a distinguished player. Its products are known for consistent high-quality and reliability, also available in the Ukraine. AMATIC adapts its products for the requirements of each different country and customer. This flexibility, along with constant monitoring of regional demands, gives a unique competitive edge in the casino and gaming industry.
An outstanding gaming experience with the Performer Grand Arc
The PGA is equipped with 3 wide-screen monitors and stand out in the gaming location with its superb curved design and high-quality manufacturing. The latest updates of the slant-top have been fitted with ticket-in, ticket-out, note reader as well as with player tracking. Equipped with the AMATIC Multi Game configuration it is truly a real winning combination for both, players and operators. “We are providing our guests with a wide range of choices and serve all needs possible“, stresses the management at AMATIC Industries. “We believe that the offer will be well received by the Ukrainian players as we already have in-depth experience with our Performer Grand Arc”. For more information please contact Sales AMATIC Industries firstname.lastname@example.org 50
Gaming Industry Preview: Zitro Games
Zitro Games Show Preview Gaming Industry Expo Ukraine 2021
hat have you planned for your booth at Gaming Industry 2021? At the show we will be showcasing two of our most popular multigame progressive links: Link King and 88 Link Wild Duels. Link King comes on the ultra-slim Fusion cabinet. This game includes four differentiated game titles and is an all-time classic from Zitro that has become extremely popular all over the world, and without a doubt, will smash it also in Ukraine. Players love the exciting Link Bonus which grants the four-level progressive jackpot, Issue 04
as well as fun features such as extending wilds and big symbols. 88 Link Wild Duels on the other hand is presented on the beautiful Allure Cabinet which not only counts with 3x 27” Lcd’s, but also features the outstanding Synchro Screens which allows to combine the graphics on the upper screens on a bank configuration, creating an incredible visual spectacle. 88 Link Wild Duels also counts with four unique game titles, featuring 243 ways game mechanics in combination with players favourite Link Bonus from 51
Gaming Industry Preview: Zitro Games
Zitro. Two proven performers that will finally make their way to Ukraine. Exciting times lie ahead! Can you provide operators in Ukraine details of Zitro’s commitment to them in the years ahead? Apart from the games we will be showcasing at the event, Zitro counts on a deep and quickly growing library of games that we will be offering to both landbased and online Ukrainian operators as well. We have a large number of units in operation worldwide, so we understand the operators’ need to have access regularly to fresh, great performing content, because we experience that need for our own operations as well. We can guarantee great games to Ukrainian operators today and in the years ahead. In addition, we support our software with extraordinary and differentiated hardware that allows us to offer appealing commercial solutions to every type of customer and casino. For those wishing to visit your booth during Gaming Industry and meet your team, how can they best contact you. 52
Our Booth is #20, very easy to locate at the show and I’d like to take the opportunity to invite everybody to come and see us. We will be more than happy to show
our games or just have a quick chat and catch up after the last long year of not being able to meet anybody in person. We are also always reachable through our web page www.zitrogames.com or via email at sales.emea@ zitrogames.com for land-based operators and Sales. digital@Zitrogames.com for online operators. How can readers learn more about Zitro Games’ slot products and games? The absolute best way to learn more about us and our products is to come visit us at our booth! There is nothing like a face-to-face conversation to understand what the operator is looking for and offer a personalized solution. We look forward to seeing you at the show! For more information please contact Karina Vecums at email@example.com Tel.: +34 937 456 900/ +34 91 7997366 www.casinolifemagazine.com.ua
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