Casino Life Ukraine Issue 07 International Edition

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CASINO Media for owners and management of international casinos



Issue 07


City of Opportunities

Editor’s Note

Published by Outsource Digital Media Ltd

Editorial: Editor Lyudmyla Kyrychenko Associate Editor Eastern Europe: Aydin Guney International Editor: Victor Royer Associate Editor Asia: Bill Healey Associate Editor North America: David McKee

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde Subscriptions: Helen Holmes IT Director: Pasha Kuzminskiy Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 Випуск 07

Welcome to Casino Life Ukraine! What and eventful year 2021 has been, with the greatest progress in the life of casinos and gaming since 2009, in my opinion; with luxury casinos opening in Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa and

Lviv! With laws changing, allowing casinos to open from May and the Ukrainian government making significant difference in the “responsible game” plan. The effects and restrictions of Covid are still prevalent. People and practises continue to adapt, with the population slowly gaining double vaccinations, but for the leisure and gaming industry Covid seems more of an economic virus than anything else. The Ukrainian government could do a lot more to support the gaming businesses in Ukraine, by improving gaming tax laws, legal advertising and by supporting international trade. This would be mutually beneficial as the number of investors would increase and the profit from operations would generate welcome revenue for the economy. The big question is, will legislation changes be made so businesses can operate and make a mutually beneficial profit and allow a growing exponentially number of investors... or will investors curtail their business projects in Ukraine and invest their funds in other “more sympathetic” countries? We are all looking forward to the Gaming Industry exhibition on November 24th-26th, where the leading gambling brands will be represented, and the “GI: Connecting Dots” International Conference will be held: see the update in today’s issue. We, the Casino Life Ukraine team, will also be present at booth 411. Enjoy reading our latest exclusive interviews with gaming professionals and hope to see you soon! At Casino Life Ukraine, we love to tell your success stories. If you want to share your story with us, please contact me by email:


Editor, Lyudmyla Kyrychenko



Media for owners and management of international casinos


Contents 3 Editor’s Note 6 City of Opportunities Oleg Kononchuk, General Director, Slots City Interview By: Lyudmyla Kyrychenko 14 Ukrainian Gambling Market 2021 Anton Kuchukhidze Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council Interview By: Lyudmyla Kyrychenko

6 23

18 Gambling Legislation Report Ukraine, Belarus and Russia By: Marko Tomic 23 Gaming Industry Expo 25 IGT Spotlight Growth – Driving Games for the Ukraine at Gaming Industry Expo 33 Zitro Games showcases latest Games at Gaming Industry Expo


35 How to lose customers without saying a word.


By Andrew Cosgrove 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.


Feature: Slot City


Feature: Slot City

City of Opportunities Oleg Kononchuk, General Director, Slots City

Issue 07


Feature: Slot City


hat is Slots City and which services does the company offer to its clients? Slots City is a network of legal slot machine halls united under one gaming

brand. The concept of “slot” itself has developed historically. This word means a connector, in particular, - once this was the name for a bill acceptor place in a slot machine, therefore halls with such machines are also called slot halls. Nowadays the mechanism has changed: the balance of funds in the halls is now replenished to the player’s card, and from it to the slot machine. Nevertheless, the name of the slot halls still remains. In addition, under this brand we have a large project of legal online casino SlotsС In general, we provide the game on slot machines and slot programs, which is a way of entertainment and pastime, but definitely not a way of making money. How many slot halls of your brand are present in Ukraine and are there any plans to expand? 8

As of today, we have seven halls in four cities of Ukraine - Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhya. Three of them are located in the capital, two in Kharkiv and one each in Odesa and Zaporizhzhya. Soon there are going to be eight. At the end of November this year, we are planning to open a new slot hall, and next year at least one more hall will be launched. How do you choose slot machine manufacturers and how many slots do you have in total? In Kyiv, we currently have over 300 slot machines in different halls. All slot machines are developed by global manufacturers of gambling equipment, and they are completely new and licensed, which is very important. The choice of equipment suppliers was quite pragmatic. There are products that are familiar to users, on which they play the most and which they love. We mainly focused on such manufacturers. We have almost all of the world’s providers that supply us with their games. For Live games it is Evolution, for slot machines it is NetEnt, BetaSoft,

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Feature: Slot City

Oleg Kononchuk, General Director, Slots City 10

Feature: Slot City

Spinomenal and others. We take a very responsible approach to both licensed equipment and copyright not only in groundbased halls, but also online. Thus, recently we signed an agreement for obtaining licensed software with Greentube / Novomatic Interactive - one of the international leaders in the development of gambling technologies. also agreed on software supply for online casinos with other world leading companies: EGT Interactive and Endorphina.

come to that. The market situation will become more predictable and the indicators will level off, first of all, when all illegal halls are closed in Ukraine. Business, guests, and the reputation of the industry as a whole suffer from them. We have very large investments, more than $ 25 million, and, obviously, they are aimed for a long period of work. It would be difficult to get this money

How are you developing your online services? We have a broad online product of the legal online casino SlotsС, and we provide quality services of licensed games on the net. We are presently developing a unified network for our slots and online casinos. In the future, it is going to be one product for the consumer who will have a unified balance, calculations, support, etc. Unlike most other operators, we exist both online and offline. This means that users can get the service wherever they want.

back quickly. The DNA of our brand is based on a new philosophy for the Ukrainian market, which was introduced by our foreign partners. We do not strive to earn everything now, as Ukrainian investors often do. Our philosophy is in a fair, responsible game, long-term relationships with stakeholders, and most importantly, in providing players with an opportunity to enjoy the game. That is why we are always ready to communicate with users, with the media and talk about the new principles of gambling culture - the principles of responsible gaming. They are new for Ukraine, but not new for other countries, with traditions of civilized markets and responsible business.

How does the launch of the business meet your expectations? The indicators are not bad. Of course, our expectations were a little higher, but I think we will

What is happening to the compliance with the legal requirement for responsible gaming? These requirements are still only at the stage of implementation. Responsible gaming is a social story

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Feature: Slot City

that is absolutely essential in this area of business. We always say that our services are intended exclusively for people who have the means to play and who can afford to spend money on this type of

leisure. Many people go to the cinema, restaurant, club. Some people prefer to visit slot halls or casinos. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is legal. The online casino was also the first on the gambling market to introduce authorization of its users using digital documents in the Diya application, since a legal operator must validate the player from the start of the game. The platform should make sure that those people who are not allowed to do so by law do not gamble. Diya allows to do this as quickly and comfortably as possible. What difficulties is Slots City experiencing now? Our main problem is the illegal halls that exist in the cities of the country. Many consumers go there and not to us. This problem is partly due to the fact that people do not understand, do not want to verify their 12

Feature: Slot City

data. Unlike illegal operators who lure people with various “goodies”, including bonuses, free alcohol, etc., a legal operator is strictly prohibited from doing

this. After all, we are responsible for the players. The license obliges the legal operator to protect the players and their safety, in our case, customer data is protected by law. What are your plans for the future? We want to expand and open new locations in new cities. On a larger scale, we are looking to eradicate stereotypes about the gambling business that have formed in Ukraine during the many years of the existence of underground establishments. One of our main tasks is to support social programs and initiatives, as well as creating a correct understanding of our product from the consumer’s side. A new gambling culture in Ukraine needs to be created from scratch, and we have already started doing this. Issue 07


Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze

Ukrainian gambling market 2021


Anton Kuchukhidze Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council Interview By: Lyudmyla Kyrychenko

hat a big year it’s been for you! For me personally, as for the head of Ukrainian Gambling Council, the largest profile public association in the sphere of gambling in Ukraine, it’s very pleasant to see that the gambling market is growing and developing and that the cooperation and dialogue between the state 14

and legal gambling operators is improving. Indeed, it was a great year both for the and for the UGC. We managed to legalize gambling in Ukraine and the state budget has already received over 30 billion UAH (over 1,1 billion USD) in revenues from the economic activity of this industry. The year was and still is pretty busy for UGC.

Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze In September we took part in SBC Summit in Barcelona and already in October acted as a coorganizer and strategic partner at the SBC Summit CIS, which was held in Kyiv and became the largest gambling event of the year in the Eastern Europe and CIS region. During both events, we managed to demonstrate opportunities offered by the Ukrainian gambling market to investors and partners, as well as present our country as the new potential leader of the gambling industry in Eastern Europe. I strongly believe that we have sufficient willpower of authorities, human and financial resources in Ukraine to achieve this. Also, around a month ago UGC launched a legal counseling program for people suffering from gambling addiction. It’s free of charge 24/7 legal assistance provided by lawyers to people who suffer from this addiction and to their family members. By contacting our lawyers, people can receive counseling on how to restrain themselves from gambling or how to limit their close relatives from gambling. A few weeks ago we also adopted the memorandum on gambling advertising, which UGC together with legal gambling operators has been developing starting from July 2021. 11 gambling operators - UGC members signed the document containing a set of rules and agreed to observe them in their online and offline advertising. The memorandum is based on responsible gambling

Issue 07

principles and helps legal gambling operators to execute a comprehensive, socially responsible approach to the advertisement of their gambling products and services. What is the current situation with the Gambling Commission Members as there have been a number of changes over recent months? A couple of months ago it was still unclear whether the new members of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL) will be elected since the legal collision with their appointment was still unsolved. The thing is that due to the COVID-19 restrictions, members of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries were elected just for 1 year under the so-called “COVID procedure” even though their tenure according to the profile law should last 4 years. Thus, the stable operation of the Commission was under threat, since CRGL couldn’t reach understanding with the Cabinet of Ministers which appoints the Commission members in accordance with a specific procedure. The Commission could have ceased its work already in November this year, but fortunately, CRGL and Cabinet of Ministers managed to find the resolution of the legal collision. Thus, we can be sure that the Commission will carry on its work, including the issuance of licenses, and the gambling market will continue its full-scale operation.


Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze

What do you think is the likely outcome of issue with Tax on Winnings and its effect on keeping many patrons going to illegal casinos? The tax on winnings will definitely remain in place, though it may be decreased following the adoption of the updated draft law 2713-д on the taxation of gambling business, which preliminary should take place already in November. According to this draft

law, the taxable base of winnings will be increased up to 10 minimal salaries (around 2’400 USD). It’s definitely a big step forward taking into account that currently winnings of any size are taxed. As for the illegal casinos, their operation is just a matter of time. The state is fighting against illegals both online and offline. Furthermore, players going to illegal gambling establishments aren’t protected. Illegals don’t have systems of players’ registration and identification they don’t observe any principles of responsible gambling and are only interested in shortterm profits. Thus, players face much more risks when going to such establishments. And now, when the taxable base of winnings will be substantially increased, the players will think twice when choosing between illegal gambling basements and freshly built gambling halls with high quality of services and social protection. The increase of the taxable amount is definitely a big advantage for the legal gambling 16

market and a considerable incentive for players to stop going to illegal casinos. Can you please provide details on the UGC memorandum on gambling advertising? On 18 October, members of the UGC – 11 licensed gambling operators, notably Parimatch Ukraine, Shangri La Kyiv, Slots City, First, PIN-UP.UA,

Cosmolot, Volna 4444, PokerMatch Ukraine, FavBet, GGPoker, and VBET signed memorandum on gambling advertising. We worked on this document since July together with lawyers and operators’ representatives. Finally, we managed to come up with and adopt a set of rules forming the basis for a joint approach of gambling operators to online and offline advertising of their products and services. It is based on responsible gambling principles and the idea of social responsibility of the gambling business to players. One of key advantages of this memorandum is that it was developed by the licensed offline and online gambling operators already working on the Ukrainian market. The document encompasses all major aspects of advertising and marketing of products both on screen and on the streets. Even though it’s an instrument of general regulation and self-regulation and does not establish new legal

Feature: Anton Kuchukhidze

framework, it still serves as a confirmation of the signatories’ intentions to adhere to the rules defined in it. The legal operators-members of UGC already started bringing their advertising and marketing strategies in compliance with the provisions of this memorandum. This year has seen a massive growth in Members of the Ukrainian Gaming Council. Whom are the standout members that have joined? All members of the UGC are equally prominent since they are the pioneers of the legal gambling market, every operator in his own sphere. The majority of our members started investing their money in online and offline infrastructure before the profile law was adopted. After the law was adopted, they paid millions of dollars to receive licenses even though the regulatory and taxation frameworks weren’t yet fully developed, let alone adopted and implemented. Thus, they took a lot of risks when entered the newly forming market without clear rules of the game and to these days continue to develop their business, pay taxes, create job places, invest in social responsible gambling projects, etc. Thus, I deeply believe that efforts of all our members should be highly valued and praised. Issue 07

How do you see 2022 for the Ukraine Gaming Market? We expect new licenses to be issued, more operators coming to the Ukrainian market, including foreign ones, more revenues for the State budget, as well as the positive effect of gambling legalization for society. Budget revenues from license payments alone are estimated to be around UAH 1,5-1,7 billion (USD 5565 million). Furthermore, next year we’ll already have clear taxation rules. This will facilitate the entrance of foreign companies and investors into our market. We also expect more efficiency in the fight against illegal gambling operators and an increase in the number and quality of social responsibility programs implemented by the gambling business. Thus, our expectations for 2022 are more than positive, and I think next year will bring us closer to the status of the gambling industry leader in Eastern Europe and the CIS region.


Feature: Marko Tomic Legislation

Gaming Legislation Update Report on Gaming Legislation in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus


Government efforts towards the lifting of an existing gambling ban that was established in 2009 and which basically “outlawed” any kind of gambling activity in the territory of Ukraine (both land based and online) were finally successful and the “Act on the state regulation of activities related to organization and conduct of gambling” was adopted in the country’s parliament on July, 14, 2020 (“Gambling Law”). Bearing in mind that the draft of the Gambling Law that was initially presented in the parliament had more than 1500 amendment proposals, the final result is somewhat different from the initial one whereby the intention to have special gaming zones in the country remained. As the most interesting change it can be pointed out that the Gambling Law does not limit the number of licenses that can be granted nor does it establish any type of tendering procedures. Therefore, any applicant that fulfils the set-out requirements and 18

pays the license fee can become a gambling operator. Gambling operator can conduct the gambling activity only under one brand whereby one operator may hold more licenses, as defined under Gambling Law. Requirements relate to the obligation of the applicant to be registered in Ukraine, to hold a minimum share capital of cca. 1 mio EUR and that a shareholder, owner, ultimate beneficial owner or an executive of a Ukrainian company applicant cannot be a Russian company or citizen and must not own, directly or indirectly, any company in Russia. Gambling license is issued by the Gambling Commission whereby the Gambling Law defines six key types of licenses: (i) land-based casinos; (ii) landbased slot machine halls; (iii) land-based hippodrome pool betting; (iv) land-based and online betting; (v) online casinos; and (vi) online poker. Rights granted under a single license cannot be sold or transferred to another entity. Regarding the land based i.e. brick & mortar

Feature: Marko Tomic Legislation

casinos, the Gambling Law envisages an “investment license” for (i) individual projects approved by the Ukrainian Government for the gambling industry or (ii) construction of a 5-star hotel (with at least 200 rooms in Kyiv or 150 rooms in other cities) in which the casino will be situated. Such investment license is issued for a 10-year period during which the investor/operator is exempt from paying the license fee.

In respect of online gambling or casinos, additional conditions are imposed such as the requirement that the IT equipment and systems are located in Ukraine, that the website is registered on the national domain, electronical AML/KYC requirements to be fulfilled. It is worth mentioning that licensed operators are allowed to received bets from both Ukrainian non-residents and residents. Non-licensed online gambling in the territory of Ukraine is prohibited.


In the early 2000s gambling in Russia was restricted to four gambling zones and banned from the rest of the territory, bearing in mind the reputation and the general (negative) view on games of chance by the whole community. Changes started with the introduction of an interactive bet in 2014 and created a legal basis for online betting (not casinos). The gambling act defines two types of licenses those Issue 07

being (i) casino license (casino, slot machines and poker) and (ii) sports betting license (betting shops and totalizators). In contrast to gambling, which is only permitted in special “gambling” zones in Russia (primarily located outside of major cities), sports betting is generally allowed subject to licensing and other requirement being met by the betting companies. In December 2020 a new law was adopted in

Russia enhancing the current regulations on gambling and sports betting. The key novelties refer to (i) the obligation of betting operators to make payments towards national sport federations (1.5% of their quarterly turnover and not less than EUR 350.000 per quarter); (ii) introduction of a new regulator (Unified Regulator for Gambling) overseeing the abovementioned obligation towards sport federations; and (iii) introduction of a centralized accounting for betting (hub for accounting and payouts). Future developments on the gambling market will most probably go in direction of setting up better legislative frame bearing in mind that the State Duma is considering introduction of another law in order to eliminate current loopholes in the legislation and to prevent gambling under the veil of lottery games. In respect of e-sports the same enjoys popularity and the online bookmakers receive bets on e-sports in the same way the do for any other sport. 19

Feature: Marko Tomic Legislation

Online casino games stay prohibited in Russia and are not likely to be allowed in the foreseeable future. Main tool of the authorities against non-licensed online casinos remains to be the ISPs blocking.


Gambling in Belarus is legal, whereby online part thereof is picking up after changes of legislation which occurred in 2018/2019. Belarusian law allows three

types of gambling: casino games, slot machines and bookmaking whereby there is a strict licensing regime for land-based establishments. Gambling act defines the following types of licenses (i) land-based betting; (ii) land-based slot-machine halls; (iii) land-based casinos; (iv) land-based totalizator; and (v) online gambling. All types of licenses are issued for an indefinite period of time. As of 1 April 2019, licensed brick & mortar gambling operators have the option to legally register an online casino in Belarus under the condition that they have operated in the Belarusian gambling market for at least two years prior to obtaining the online license. To this day only three operators applied for online license.

The online operators can operate under an international commercial domain (.com) provided that servers on which the information is exchanged is physically located in the Republic of Belarus. In 2020, Belarusian authorities established a single registry of all types of licenses that can be obtained within the territory of Belarus. Offshore gambling operators are facing difficulties as of 1 April 2021 when the Resolution on changing

the rules of organizing and conducting internet gambling on the territory of the Republic of Belarus has been published on the website of the Ministry of Finance and by which the grace period for these online operators expired and the same became illegal in the territory of Belarus. Non-licensed websites are being blocked without a prior warning. Also, in 2020 the Government started preparations regarding amendment of the current AML legislative framework, which is aimed at establishing more strict regulation of the AML activities of gambling operators. Further to this and the publicly available information, no significant developments are going to be introduced into gaming law and regulation in Belarus in the near future.

DISCLAIMER: Law Firm Anđelović, Siketić & Tomić d.o.o. wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this report is accurate, no liability is accepted for errors or omissions, however caused. 20

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Feature: GIE November Preview

Gaming Industry Preview


ow many Exhibitors are booked into the show and which companies have the biggest booths? More than 40 companies from 10 countries have already confirmed their participation in the exhibition. Of course, our plans and expectations were corrected by the outbreak of coronavirus in Ukraine, but we were ready for that too. The biggest booths as usual have NOVOMATIC and EGT companies. Also IGT and Merkur have very large stands. Ukrainian company B4G will present many foreign brands on his huge area. What is the range of equipment that visitors can expect to see on the booths at the exhibition? Issue 07

As on exhibition in June visitors can find a wide range of offline equipment. This November additionally to land-based (offline) operators representatives of online business will be exhibiting. The exhibition “GAMING INDUSTRY” will be held in an expanded format, with online operators, and other related businesses that may be interesting for gambling. How easy is it for visitors to get to the Exhibition and conference venue and what our the hours of the show and the conference? The easiest way to get to the exhibition is by subway. The International exhibition canter is situated near the metro station Levoberezhnaya. 23

Feature: GIE November Preview

EXHIBITION TIMETABLE November, 24: 11:00 – 18:00 (entrance for visitors 11:00 – 17:30) November, 25: 10:00 – 18:00 (entrance for visitors 10:00 – 17:30) November, 26: 10:00 – 15:00 (entrance for visitors 10:00 – 14:30) Are the speakers at the conference speaking only in Ukrainian and if so is there any translation? Within the framework of the exhibition the International conference GI:Connecting Dots will take 24

place. There will be international speakers and of course there will be a translater on the conference. Conference provides an opportunity to reveal all aspects of the gambling business and find answers to the most pressing questions. All speakers of the Conference are recognized experts and opinion leaders in their fields, who were at the origins of the emergence and reset of the gambling business in Ukraine. Do visitors and exhibitors still require to leave extra time to get the Exhibition venue due to heavy traffic on the roads as a result of building work on a number of bridges of the Dnieper River? It is very hard to predict the traffic. The situation on the bridges changes rapidly).

Feature: IGT

IGT Spotlights Growth-Driving Games for the Ukraine at the Gaming Industry Expo

Issue 07


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Feature: IGT


ith the Gaming Industry Expo just weeks away, gaming leader IGT is prepared with a portfolio that is geared toward boosting continued player engagement throughout Ukraine. The multi-national company continues to demonstrate its commitment to the region and its leadership in delivering a strong pipeline of market-attuned content. Below are some of the “must-see” innovations within IGT’s Gaming Industry Expo showcase: Rising Spins: Rising Spins is a high-energy fruit game that includes an innovative “buy-a-bonus” feature that gives players the option to pay to trigger the game’s namesake Rising Spins free games event which is full of excitement. For example, when in the bonus, each time a line win occurs, the number of free spins remaining resets to three, and the current symbol on the reels is upgraded to the next higher symbol. This continues until the player reaches the most valuable symbol on the price table, the Red Seven symbol. After a win is achieved with the Red Seven symbol, the player moves up to the next level, but this time starting from a higher value symbol than the previous level. USwitch Orange Pack: Appealing to the demands of the local market, IGT will highlight its new Orange multi-game pack for the Ukraine. Comprised of 40 must-play IGT games, standout titles include IGT’s Rising Spins, Stack Attack and the internationally

embraced Regal Riches games.

Appealing to the demands of the local market, IGT will highlight its new Orange multi-game pack for the Ukraine. Comprised of 40 must-play IGT games, standout titles include IGT’s Rising Spins, Stack Attack and the internationally embraced Regal Riches games.” Issue 07

USwitch Light Blue Pack: Making its GIE expo debut will be IGT’s new Light Blue content bundle for the portrait-screen CrystalCurve cabinet. The solution features 16 games including in-demand fruit games such as Red Hot Joker 20L Hong Fu Jackpots: This bolt-on progressive jackpot can add a boost of excitement to any IGT core game in the Ukraine. With attention-grabbing jackpot 27

Feature: IGT

meters and gripping graphics, the game is designed to elevate jackpot excitement on the casino floor. Olympus Link: This playerselectable multi-denom, multilevel progressive is anchored

by the proven Hold and Spin mechanic, features stacked wilds and gives players the opportunity to enjoy multiple themes: King of Olympus and Queen of Olympus. Players seek out fire ball symbols and can watch them accrue in the top box. When a player accumulates 15 fire ball symbols the game’s top progressive jackpot is awarded. Five scatter symbols launch players into the game’s exciting free games bonus where players have the chance to win the game’s mini, minor and major jackpots, as well as the opportunity for additional free games.


To learn more about IGT’s innovations for the Ukraine visit, check out videos at or contact region sales manager Lasha Gogiberidze by phone at +380 50 446 6582, by email at

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Feature: Zitro

Zitro Confirms Its Commitment To The Ukrainian Market


itro will once again participate in the Gaming Industry Exhibition to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, from November 24 to 26, in partnership with its distributor B4G as a confirmation of its commitment to the Ukrainian market. Its successful Progressive Multigames Link Me and 88 Link Wild Duels, translated into Ukrainian, and installed on the latest generation of Fusion and Allure cabinets will have a

prominent presence at the Kiev show. Sebastian Salat, CEO of Zitro confirmed: “Since the opening of the Ukrainian market, we at Zitro we have made our excellent products available to the country’s operators and committed ourselves to being a guarantee of profitability for them, as well as a guarantee of fun for their players”. Nadège Teyssedre, Regional Director EMEA, said: “We are confident of both games and the impressive cabinets in which they are presented will be very attractive for operators. This winter, Zitro is ready to shine in the best Ukrainian Gaming Halls in the same way that our products have triumphed in the major casinos across the European continent”. Issue 07

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Feature: Andrew Cosgrove

Andy Cosgrove

How to lose customers without saying a word


Lesson to learn before you neglect preventive maintenance, ignore innovation and brush off the early signs mass exodus.

ny slots manager worthy of the title will know, and gladly explain, how much they don’t like having slot machines powered down, constantly rejecting bills, or having the same fault time and time again. Any Casino GM will know, and gladly explain, how a machine that’s turned off impacts the casino financially, looks horrible, is bad for customer service and can damage the brands image. Any slots floor supervisor will tell you how frustrated they get when the technicians don’t fix the machines properly, don’t perform preventive maintenance, ignore service calls, and ruin the customer service experience that they work so hard at. The customer, however, could choose to say nothing and move on, they could complain verbally to a member of staff or via social media, they may decide Issue 07

to stay less time in your establishment, or they could choose to not come back, and then what do you do? When something is designed by a human, it will inevitably fail, be it in a week, a month or possibly even longer. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know this, and most of us already do. Some would rather not think about having a slot machine turned off, while others bury their head in the sand in complete denial when the inevitable happens and your top earning slot machine advertises the famous ‘OUT OF ORDER’ message. Let’s do some basic math: your top slot machines net win is $5000 per day, multiplied by 5 days off equals $25,000 in lost earnings. The spare CPU that your boss didn’t want to order because it’s expensive costs $2500. The question is what is costing you more, a machine that 35


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Feature: Andrew Cosgrove is losing $5000 a day or the boss who thinks they are being financially responsible? I know the answer, do you? The following are a few tips to help maintain your slots, working, your customers playing and your boss boasting about is leadership skills Preventive maintenance (PM) – As the theory goes, if you perform regular and routine maintenance of equipment and assets you keep them running and prevent any costly unplanned downtime from unexpected equipment failure. This is an easy enough concept to grasp but so many operators, profit minded GM’s, lazy slot managers and poorly supervised staff still fail to fully appreciate this cost effective way of keeping your customers happy without saying a word. Critical to the success of a preventive maintenance programme, are: • Support from the senior management team to enable the supervisors to get the job done • Buy in from the supervisors and those responsible for ensuring the quality of the PM work • Clear, concise instructions, roles and responsibilities that leave no space for the blame game • Training for all levels, and periodic performance evaluations as part of the ongoing staff development initiative. • The PM schedule including when, where, by who and what is to be done • Reporting of work done, work in progress and of any performance/ compliance issues. • The tools to do the job including spare part’s and specialized equipment • Processes and procedures (including the disciplinary kind) in place to deal with issues, risks, compliance and rouge staff

Some slot managers even add incentives to motivate staff, but I have found that these kind of stimulants can backfire and turn into a ‘give a dog a bone’ scenario where no work gets done without an additional reward to complement the salary that they already get paid for doing their job! PM is like a hidden gem that you can’t see on the surface but, in itself, is priceless. It adds indirect value to your customer experience and one less worry for your slots manager Spare Parts – Spare part’s can cost a lot of money so if you’re on a tight budget the cost of having a huge stock of spare parts is, in many cases, prohibitive. Issue 07

However, you will need some essentials, just in case. Yes, I’ll say it again, you will need some essentials, just in case. These include replacement power supplies, monitors, bill validators, switches, and the list goes on. To help reduce costs, some parts can be purchased second hand and refurbished. To reduce long term cost even further, you can purchase individual components for monitors, bill validators and a whole range of other performance critical parts. To take savings further still, some jurisdictions allow operators to strip down outgoing machines to the bone, which is another valid option. Apart from spare parts, you will also need a reliable Lean Kanban and inventory system in place to ensure waste is kept to a minimum and that parts are ordered ‘just in time’ as opposed to being unnecessarily stock piled or even worse, not ordered at all.

Organisation – The Lean Six Sigma methodology teaches how to minimize waste and is based on the premise that anywhere work is being done, waste is being generated. Lean focuses on what is known as the ‘Value Stream’ which is the sequence of activities and work required to produce a product or to provide a service. It is similar to a standard linear process flow diagram, but it contains its own unique symbols and data. The Lean method is based on understanding how the Value Stream is organized, how work is performed, which work adds value to a process vs. non-value added tasks and what happens to products, services and information as they flow through the 37

Feature: Andrew Cosgrove Success only comes through constant innovation and successful implementation takes effort, agile planning and teamwork so it’s important to avoid the following that includes some of the main reasons for why Firms fail: • Allowing complacency • failing to create a powerful leadership coalition • underestimating the power of vision • not fully communicating the vision • permitting obstacles from blocking your vision

Value Stream. Lean identifies and eliminates the barriers to efficient flow through simple, effective tools. The main elements of waste are: • Overproduction • Correction • Inventory • Motion • Overprocessing • Conveyance • Waiting Other forms of waste include the under use of talent and Lack of safety. For successful operators exceeding customer expectations is something they do with apparent ease. But that so called ‘apparent ease’ comes with a lot of planning, effort, practice, an

agile mindset, focus, waste elimination and the itching desire to please your customer without saying a word. The continuous improvement mindset – It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day governance of casino operations and get used to a certain way of working that makes you feel comfortable, produces results and keeps the board of directors from hitting the panic button. You may be tempted to think that this is an ideal utopian situation to be in, but what happens to you operation if you continue to do the same thing for the next thirty years? To give you a reason to reconsider staying inside your comfort zone, let’s consider for a moment some of the top inventions from the 90’s such as Text messaging (SMS), the world wide web, DVD’s, the MP3 player, modern E-commerce and NFC technology. What was considered cutting edge technology in the 90’s has now either gone mainstream or is already obsolete. 38

Without saying a word to your customers, the only plausible conclusion here is that if you continue to implement strategies that work well today without planning for tomorrow and creating a culture of continuous innovation, then no matter how good your intentions, your casino will ultimately fail. Technology – From automated alerts to project planning software and team collaboration tools, it’s easier than ever to please your customer without saying a word. I’m a firm believer in working smarter not harder, so it’s essential to be engaged and up to date with industry trends and technological innovations. It’s also a good idea to encourage your team to adopt the same mindset as lasting success is a team effort. Conclusion – The cost of losing customers can be far greater than the cost of a single slot machines CPU,

so it pays to have an effective preventive maintenance programme, the right tools for the job, an organized workplace, an innovation culture, and a mindset that embraces new technology as if it were their new best friend. We all have the same choices that include doing nothing, doing a minimum or doing whatever it takes to avoid losing customers without saying a word. Which option do you choose?

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 is available to help you succeed and exceed customer expectations via contracted consultancy services. Andrew can be reached at or see

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