Volume 13 Issue 108
ROCKINâ€™ ALL OVER THE WORLD
G2E Las Vegas Visit us at Stand 3626
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Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life...
...and another busy issue. First let me snuff out any hopes of a return to proper legalised gambling in Ukraine. The President of the country and his friends have a firm grip of the lottery business and will not allow anything remotely legal, transparent and for the good of the country in terms of jobs and tourism for the foreseeable future. Lobbying continues however through the Ukraine Gaming Association, so watch this space. We start this issue with an interview by industry veteran Stephen Karoul with Jon Lucas, Chief Operating Officer, Hard Rock International. It’s a good insight into Jon’s work but also the brand itself - The Hard Rock brand is now in 226 locations in 75 countries around theWorld. Next up and I chat to my namesake (but un-related) Simon Thomas ahead of the Hippodrome’s 5th Anniversary. The interview speaks for itself but it’s worth acknowledging just what a leap of faith it was to remodel the whole building into what it is today. This was not a simple refurbishment and a lick of paint – and the end result hides many hours of planning, inspiration – and perspiration. Unfortunately, I can’t make the birthday party but will toast a glass in the Hippodromes direction that evening. Clink! Next we collect our boarding cards and jet off to Monaco where Igor Gamba CEO & Founder ‘World Gaming Expo’ discusses the exciting new Gaming industry exhibition taking placein Monaco later this year. When new exhibitions are announced it usually brings a sigh from the manufacturers who have to add a new date to their diary - but Igor reckons this is one not to miss. He certainly seems to have all the bases covered. Our Las Vegas based Special Assignment Correspondent Jack Bulavsky attended Aristocrat Technologies’ New Campus Ground Breaking Ceremony a few weeks ago and survived high temperatures to report back, whilst over in Macau our regular contributor Bruno Nunes, Attorney at BN Lawyers Macau, takes a closer look in this issue at the market and how it is coming of age. Judging by how the casino industry is gradually increasing takings it is certainly more robust than many originally thought. Meanwhile, David McKee – our man in Vegas looks closely at the new casino in Cyprus and delves into how Melco Entertainment came, saw and conquered. Data may be dull to many but Data Centres have a lot going for them as online gambling grows exponentially.... we chatted to Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data, who explained how rapid growth in online gambling may spur a revenue increase for data centre providers. Same theme but on a different tack, professor I Nelson Rose foresees the forthcoming crash of the eSports skins markets. Don’t know what that is? Well neither did I but it certainly brings a new perspective to the whole millennium betting debate. I’ve never bought an AK 47 – well not a virtual one anyway – so the possibility of the market price being fixed by the games operators has never been an issue – but I can now see how the unscrupulous could bend the market to suit their own ends. The laws of supply and demand apply all over. Apologies to anyone of a sensitive disposition but despite the catchy title “The Customer – A Moving Target in a Fluid Environment - Are They Part of Your Reporting Analytics?” Robert Ambrose is unashamedly telling you to get off your ass and look at your property afresh. I own a small music bar and am continually looking for how we can improve and make it better – for customers – but ultimately to increase the bottom line and initiate my franchise dream. I can’t do that from my desk – and neither can you. Finally we talk to Robin Hills, Director of Ei4Change who discusses the role of resilience in the casino industry and offers up some helpful advice, and Mark Wayman tells you in his inimitable style how you can make a good impression just by turning up. Glyn Thomas I wonder if Josh Altman ended up being Editor in Chief successful – or just famous for the wrong reason.
6 Rockin’ All Over The World Interview with Jon Lucas, Chief Operating Officer, Hard Rock International. By: Stephen Karoul 17 Congratulations Hippodrome Casino Glyn Thomas catches up with a very busy Simon Thomas ahead of the Hippodrome’s 5th Anniversary 25 Welcome to Monaco Igor Gamba CEO & Founder ‘World Gaming Expo’ discusses the exciting new Gaming industry exhibition taking place in Monaco later this year with Casino Life Magazine’s Rebecca Green 30 Aristocrat Breaks Ground In Las Vegas For New Campus Las Vegas based Special Assignment Correspondent Jack Bulavsky attended Aristocrat Technologies New Campus, Ground Breaking Ceremony 33 Macau: A young market is coming of age By: Bruno Nunes Attorney at BN Lawyers Macau 34 Well met at Cyprus Melco Entertainment came, saw and conquered By: David McKee 37 Data centres hit the jackpot with growth in online gambling Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data, explains how rapid growth in online gambling may spur revenue increase for data centre providers 40 The Coming Crash of the eSports Skins Markets By: I Nelson Rose 43 The Customer – A Moving Target in a Fluid Environment Are They Part of Your Reporting Analytics? By: Robert Ambrose 46 Coping with difficult situations Robin Hills, Director of Ei4Change, discusses the role of resilience in the casino industry 49 You can stay ahead of 90% of the people… just by showing up! By: Mark Wayman
Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Casino Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd.
Rockinâ€™ All Over The World Interview with Jon Lucas, Chief Operating Officer, Hard Rock International. By: Stephen Karoul
Jon Lucas, Chief Operating Officer, Hard Rock International
Jon Lucas is a seasoned executive with the proven unique ability to see operations from both the brand and operator’s point of view. We look forward to seeing our business continue to grow under his leadership.
Jon, thank you for taking time from your very busy schedule to be interviewed by Casino Life Magazine. Our readers really enjoy our executive interviews because they get to learn about both the individual as well as about their company. Your career is extremely interesting for people in the casino industry. Could you please tell us about yourself, how you started in the casino industry and some of your most interesting experiences. I started in the casino business in 1984 where I worked in Atlantic City for 11 ½ years. Before joining this industry, I was doing consulting and traveling all the time, so I answered a blind ad – which happened to be for a hotel and casino – so I kind of stumbled into the gaming industry. Within six weeks, however, I knew I had found my passion and knew that if I wanted to grow within this industry, I needed to learn the casino side. I was fortunate enough to work for a smaller gaming company that afforded me the opportunity to cross train on the casino side. Ultimately, I ended up in Iowa, where I led the design, development, construction, opening and operation of a riverboat casino, before moving to Las Vegas, followed by Mississippi. I joined Hard Rock in 2013 as president of the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park, where I managed everything from site design and construction to the hiring and onboarding of key executives. During my time at the Rocksino, I lead a team that grew the entertainment destination to become the dominant market share leader in
Ohio. In 2015, I moved into the role of executive VP of hotels & casinos for Hard Rock International, which led to my appointment as the brand’s chief operating officer this past April. Overall, I have a combined total of more than 30 years in the hospitality business, including 10 years in food & beverage and hotel management prior to beginning my career in the gaming space. I saw a quote during my research that said “Jon Lucas is a seasoned executive with the proven unique ability to see operations from both the brand and operators point of view. We look forward to seeing our business continue to grow under his leadership.” Jon, what have you done to help Hard Rock International to grow and expand both domestically and internationally? When I first joined Hard Rock International in 2013 as the president of Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park, the property was in the beginning stages of development. As mentioned, I managed everything from site design and construction to the hiring of key executives. Shortly after opening the doors, Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park became a dominant market share leader in Ohio. Within recent years, Hard Rock International has expanded tremendously. In September 2016, the brand acquired the hotel-casino rights in the western U.S., as well as in several key international markets from BREF HR, LLC. This purchase allowed us to integrate five casinos into Hard Rock’s corporate family, allowing us to aggressively expand
our portfolio throughout North America. Additionally, the brand acquired rights in other key international markets, spearheaded casino entry into Canada, and entered the hotel management sector. I have been honored to be a part of such remarkable growth and development and look forward to continuing expansion. People who know you personally describe you as a hard-working, hands-on, detail-oriented, great leader. Are they right or wrong and what can young casino executives learn from both the high standards and from the example that you set for yourself each day now with Hard Rock International as Chief Operating Officer? As an example I set for myself, there are a few things I try to instill in others everyday. The first is that change is good – it’s not bad. I recommend constantly looking at how a person can improve things for themselves without settling for where he or she is. The second pertains to collaboration and trust. Always surround yourself with good people and be sure to involve those around you because at the end of the day, everything you do at work is a team effort. Working together, hard work and paying attention to details are what makes a company successful.
I like to say, we may not be smarter than the competition, but we will outwork them. Lastly, one of my favorite expressions is, “don’t tell me why we can’t do it, tell me how we can do it.” A can-do attitude can take you a long way. Jon, Jim Allen, CEO of Hard Rock International, was recently a keynote speaker at the East Coast Gaming Conference in Atlantic City, N.J., which is his old hometown and also where he started his casino career. His speech was very interesting and also enlightening where he talked about brands and what they really mean. The Hard Rock brand is now in 226 locations in 75 countries around the world. He also stated that the Hard Rock brand received 74 “billion,” not million, impressions online which is extraordinary. He then further explained that Atlantic City is also a well-known brand as well as a destination / location where over 30 million people live within a reasonable driving distance of the casinos. Those were the reasons why he thought it would make good business sense for Hard Rock International to purchase the Trump Taj Mahal Casino, rebrand it and get involved in the future development of Atlantic City. We initially read that the budget was $350 million but that it has subsequently been
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increased to $500 million. Jon, what can you tell our readers about the Taj Mahal project? As a whole, Atlantic City has so much to offer particularly stemming from its rich and dynamic history. This city has been home to our Hard Rock Cafe for more than 20 years and continues to rank as the second largest gaming market in the United States. Our goal is to work alongside other property presidents in the area, many of whom we know, to market the iconic gaming destination that Atlantic City is. The project is expected to create
more than 1,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 permanent jobs for the area, leaving a lasting impact on the local and regional economics, as well as the revitalization of Atlantic City. Following the opening, we hope the new hotel and casino will help boost tourism in the area by providing another entertainment option. Hard Rock International is growing and expanding at such a fast pace now that one almost needs a score card to keep track of all of the activity.
the reason behind getting involved with this new casino operation? As you may have seen, we are not moving forward with the project. Hard Rock International and Melco International have worked together on projects in other parts of the world. Melco is a quality operator, and we wish them much success in Cyprus.
Cyprus is a perfect example. On May 19, 2017 the government of Cyprus announced that the casino license was being awarded to the Melco, Hard Rock International and CNS consortium for the new casino to be built in Limassol for US $562 million. However, the government press release was still rather vague. Can you shed some additional light on this project and tell us who will actually run the casino, hotel, F&B, etc.? There is obviously a lot of competition on the Northern side of Cyprus with almost 30 casinos operating now. What was
The Hard Rock Cafe chain of themed restaurants started back in 1971 in London. The Seminole Tribe purchased Hard Rock International for $965 million in 2007. In 2008, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino started Las Vegas style gaming in Florida. That entire story is fascinating especially the part where your CEO, Jim Allen, worked with slot manufacturers to develop what is known today as VLT slot machines. Many of our international readers may not be too familiar with the term VLT so can you tell our readers what you know about when gaming first started in Florida with the Seminoles and the story behind VLTs? The Seminole Tribe has been involved in the gaming industry for a number of years now. Following a chairman election, the tribe opened the first major Indian gaming establishment in the United States and have been key players ever since. Jim Allen is a true leader and one of the fundamental pieces to the Seminole’s success in the Florida gaming industry. He has dedicated an endless amount of time since joining the Tribe in 2001 and eventually led the tribe to the 2006 purchase of the Hard Rock brand – helping lead Hard Rock International to becoming a global gaming and entertainment powerhouse. A VLT or Video Lottery Terminal, in simple terms, is a gaming machine that allows gamblers to bet on the outcomes of a video game. It is very similar to the ordinary slot machine in the sense that each terminal is a stand-alone device containing a random-number generator. Each generator is connected to a centralized computer system that allows the lottery jurisdiction to monitor game play and collect its share of revenue. VLTs come in a massive array of themes and games – chances are, you’ve played on one before. There is a lot going on now in Florida concerning casino gaming so can you please also tell our readers what is the current status of the Seminole’s
compact with the State them seem to share? Jim Allen, Chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International of Florida and whether There are several people I or not they expect to see truly recognize as leaders any changes in the near in the casino industry. The future? first would be Jim Allen, The Seminole Tribe of someone I’ve known for Florida and the State of many years. I greatly admire Florida are seven years what he’s done for the into a 30-year Gaming Seminole Tribe and for Compact agreement, Hard Rock International which provides for slot and am honored to work machine exclusivity for with him. Steve Wynn and the Seminole Tribe in Ed Tracy – who is now with exchange for revenue the brand – are two other sharing with the state. In incredible leaders and addition, the Seminole visionaries in this industry. Tribe offers blackjack, Garry Saunders was my baccarat and other table first mentor when I began games at several of its in this business and was an Florida casinos. The Tribe is expected to contribute extraordinary leader. He certainly helped mold me nearly $300 million to the State of Florida this year. into who I am today. Gary Bitner, Seminole Tribe of Florida Spokesperson. Traits I believe they all share are that they all pay incredible attention to detail. All of these men You are recognized as one of the leaders in the are extremely thoughtful and analytical in what modern casino industry. Who else in the casino they do. They all constantly challenge themselves industry would you recognize as some of the true and others to do things better and smarter, while industry leaders and why? What traits do most of understanding that at the end of the day, this
industry is centered on people. They take care of their employees, which in turn trickles down to the employees taking care of customers. Young people today who are just beginning their careers in the casino industry are like sponges eagerly trying to absorb as much information as possible to help their own casino careers to develop. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of published educational material available for them to read and learn from. If you were to become a hypothetical mentor to these young casino execs what advice would you give to them? I feel as though the traits mentioned in a previous question could be applied here. I would also advise those beginning in the industry to not limit themselves and not fear stepping outside of the box for work. This industry is a legitimate field that
anyone can make a great career out of if they have the right mindset. Additionally, I’d advise to live with honesty and integrity – both personally and professionally. I’ve always operated with these two traits and can ensure that when doing so, things will go in the right direction. In closing, we really appreciate your time today. Is there anything else new or exciting that you would like to share with our readers about Hard Rock International? Hard Rock International is an incredibly powerful brand that’s recognized worldwide. Our development pipeline is strong and we anticipate seeing some great growth on both the hotel and casino side, in particular, as the company grows. We are prepared for growth and greatly look forward to it.
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Simon Thomas Chairman Hippodrome Casino
Congratulations Hippodrome Casino Glyn Thomas catches up with a very busy Simon Thomas ahead of the Hippodromeâ€™s 5th Anniversary
ack in 2012, following ICE, Peter White and I where given a guided tour of the Hippodrome site which then was a mass of scaffolding with steel girders sailing over our heads. Bedecked in site helmets and dayglo vests I, along with Peter and members of the ECA, trod carefully through the site as Simon Thomas pointed enthusiastically. “This is the pit that used to be full of water... elephants used to swim in it... acrobats would dive from the ceiling into the pool below”... “Here is where we’ll have our smoking terrace...” It was hard not to catch Simon’s enthusiasm, to envisage the heritage of the building and think forward to how it would be transformed. But, would the casino project be completed on time and in budget? And would it be successful? I’ve been back many times, of course, but ahead of the 5th Anniversary of its opening I catch up with Simon again to find out more about the UK’s largest casino. It must have been a major task to get such a big project completed on time? It was one of the largest building transformations the West End has seen in a generation, and possibly one of the most important. In the end we renovated not only a distinguished theatre which had been home to one of the most celebrated entertainment
milestones in London’s history – The Talk Of The Town – but another Grade 2 listed building next door, Cranbourn Mansions, which we incorporated into the plan. Both were integrated to become a casino and entertainment venue destined to be the most popular venue of its type in UK history. No mean feat. It was singularly the most stressful time of my life, and I recall occasionally walking out of the building site thinking ‘what the f*** am I doing, and then seeing the mass of people walking past and thinking, ‘yes, this should work’. And beyond that I knew what a privilege it would be to bring the Hippodrome back to life. So I just knuckled down and got on with things. You’ve put the heart back into an historic building that had so much fun and entertainment in its DNA but prior to your purchase had become dark and cold. Only its status as a Grade 2 listed building prevented it from being demolished by a property developer. Was it just a straight commercial decision? This wasn’t simply a business opportunity. True, it started as such, but the more I learned about the history of the building and its place within the entertainment firmament of London, the project took on another, more personal aspect. I began
to realise what a privilege it was to revivify a very much down-on-its-luck entertainment palace that, through its various incarnations, had a place in the hearts of so many who had visited down the years. The Hippodrome has 60% recognition for Londoners who have either witnessed some of its landmark performances when a theatre, or strutted their stuff in more recent years when Peter Stringfellow transformed it into the country’s first ‘superclub’. It’s a meeting point. And the majority of people who talk to me have a memory here. It’s my job to create more memories and, following tradition, offer yet another unique ‘Hippodrome experience’. You deliver a vast array of interactive light, sound and images with the incorporation of plasma screens and the hundreds of lights and speakers that all can be adjusted via an app on your iPhone. So one can conclude that technology is an area of development that we can expect to continually evolve and be incorporated into the Hippodrome in the years ahead? We’ve always described the Hippodrome - in its new incarnation as a casino - as ‘a theatrical legend with a new, state-of-the-art digital core’. New technology will always drive innovation and ways of engaging different audiences. And our online offers will of
course develop into new areas, alongside brand new ways of engaging customers. But at the end of the day there’s nothing quite like great customer service. And a smile at the door. How important has your location proven? Our location is the why and the wherefore. But never underestimate the investment, the transformation, the vision and the delivery of the Hippodrome interior. But as the building is where it is - in the heart of the West End, abutting the largest Chinese community outside mainland China and on the busiest pedestrian thoroughfare in London then I can say, hand on heart, it’s the best location of any casino in Europe. Fact. What do you see as the future growth drivers for the Hippodrome? The decision on the triennial review will of course have great impact on all UK casinos, but to what degree is still undecided. At worst it will correct the incredible mess the UK has got itself into with FOBTs, and realistically it will allow UK casinos to have an appropriate number of slot machines. The Hippodrome’s future will also benefit in stronger international partnerships and innovation, as well as a more developed casino sector in the UK, with
Jimmy Thomas President Hippodrome Casino
a stronger reputation, which the NCF is working hard to achieve, able to deliver positive economic benefits to UK PLC. What impact will the UK leaving the European Union have on recruitment in the future? That’s a good question. But too early to answer. It is clear that the powers that be recognise the issue and have already guaranteed current workers suitable rights. Let’s see what comes out of the Brexit negotiations to confirm the future. At the same time Brexit has moved London from the 3rd most expensive city on the planet to the 15th which has been great for attracting more international business. Is ultimately the rate of development (or it could also be termed evolution) on the gaming floor dependent on regulation (e.g. virtual is proving very popular with Millennials)? Regulation is a big part, but Millennials are overemphasised. Regulation is generally sensible, though recently some sectors have been hiding behind ‘need for evidence’ knowing there is no possibility of conclusive evidence and so hope to delay sensible regulation. The biggest concern on the future , which is often confused with Millennials, whose age group have actually never been big casino players, is payment methods. Cash will reduce and we need to ensure players
can continue to play without feeling big brother is watching everything through electronic payments. Virtual reality is another issue completely. It is beautiful and seductive technology, as was 3D TV and curved TV screens. No one has been able to commercialise it yet, and I cannot see that changing, particularly in venues which already give exceptional experiences that the player enjoys Do you see any way land-based Casinos in the UK can better work with the UK Government and Gambling Commission so that UK Casinos can compete better in the years ahead with their European rivals, especially when it comes to slot machines in variety of choice, pay-out amounts, and game play technology-based interaction? Yes. The important thing is addressing the view of regulators that the gaming industry is there to do harm, and their job is to minimise it. The reality is it is an incredible business, entertaining millions, employing huge numbers of people, delivering substantial tax revenues, particularly from international customers, and providing world class entertainment to the customer. As regulators see this, they will be more comfortable, allowing the UK Land based casino to evolve Referred to by management as a “palace of varieties,” how have you managed to balance modern technology, health and safety regulations and the latest in leisure entertainment systems and equipment whilst retaining the character of the building? Sensitively. The Grand Casino floor within the main auditorium incorporated a magnificent spread of Chrysanthemum-style clusters which contain lighting and security features, some earthbound while others float upwards. These are a landmark feature which complement a vast space but don’t detract from the historical features we reintroduced to the architect Frank Matcham’s original designs. We have also brought in a wealth of high definition screens that both entertain and inform, again bringing light to important areas that could get lost in the space. Everything we do is designed to show off the building in its best light and giving the visitor the theatrical experience the Hippodrome was designed for.
Is it possible for the building, going forward, to have reconfigurations to expand either the gaming or the entertainment floor space? Absolutely. With 75,000 sqft of space we have huge flexibility and we are forever tweaking the layout to reflect customer demand. Additionally, we recently purchased the Crystal rooms AGC on our front and have already incorporated half of it into the casino with more to follow depending on the deregulation How has the entertainment events aspect of the Leisure entertainment complex developed over the last 5 years and do you see further growth in this for the Hippodrome? It’s one of the most important strings to our bow. The 180-seat cabaret theatre has been hailed as one of the most important additions to London’s entertainment scene in many years. It draws in visitors who would never ordinarily visit a casino, while providing an important focus for those customers who visit more regularly. The secret is an eclectic mix of entertainment, everything from Broadway and West End stars to the likes of Dire Straits and Prince, who gave his last UK performance here. Some say a director’s desk can convey a lot about their management style. For some, it’s organised chaos. What’s on your desk, and what will it say about your management style? It’s a case of wherever I lay my hat…I don’t have a desk. And I never wanted one. I can’t see what’s working, and what needs to work better, if I’m stuck in an office away from the heart of the business. I work wherever there’s a spare space and live out of my bag, and weight considerations mean I have to be organised. I can’t imagine not being able to talk to staff, customers and partners without watching what’s going on. And it’s that easy access to the boss that helps me, in part, shape what we do here. How would you feel if one of your children, when they are older, wanted to work in the family business? I didn’t immediately join my family firm myself. I could have gone straight to work with my father Jimmy, with or without a university degree. But I wanted to study and also learn how to work so I could bring something of value to the business – I
went to Bristol - and my first job was at a merchant bank. I knew nothing of running a company, or being a boss. So I needed that new perspective and training, both for my own development, but also to show I was better than others going for the same job in the business. And if any of my kids want to work alongside their dadâ€Śwell I can certainly guarantee them an interview. Does the Hippodrome have a ghost? The Hippodrome has a thousand and more memories, and people often say that if the West End had a soul, it would go straight through the Hippodrome. Echoes of amazing entertainers, musicians, dancers and impresarios are part of its history. It stands proudly alongside the other major top theatrical icons in this amazing city. But there are no ghosts. Maybe a few strong spirits behind the bar.
Do you have a favourite Football Team? English - it has to be Leicester. It was my local team when I was growing up and recently had that David and Goliath moment which confounded all the experts. American - We are now the most popular venue for watching the NFL in season on Sunday evenings. I follow The Chicago Bears. I was first introduced to NFL in Chicago in 1986 and it was a great experience in a fantastic sport. Favourite Top 3 Movies? Leon Diners des cons The Longest Day If you were not in this Industry what would you like to do if you could do anything? Fortunately, should the Hippodrome not be there tomorrow, being CEO of the UKâ€™s biggest casino
– and a father of a three - has prepared me for a variety of jobs including: Interior designer (we’ve redesigned many key areas to make them work better); food taster (you don’t get to own London’s official top steak house without a love of food. It was one of our best decisions to serve USDA prime steak); referee (I’ve got one of the most talented management teams in the business and they’re not afraid to fight their ground when they want to achieve something); theatre producer (the evolution of the theatre into one of the most talked about cabaret rooms in London is a phenomenal achievement); cleaner (I’ve got an eye for detail, and when it means picking up a dirty glasses, or rubbish on the floor, then so be it); comedian (it’s not my natural metier but after a thousand or more appearances on our own cabaret stage welcoming a packed theatre of policemen, bankers, NFL fans, Chinese restaurant owners, French cabaret fans or taxi drivers among others many…I now know where the laughs lie); full time husband (that’s the role I enjoy most of all, and I would love to give Fiona, my amazing wife, more of my time).
Congratulations and Happy 5th Anniversary Hippodrome!
Igor Gamba CEO & Founder ‘World Gaming Expo’
Welcome to Monaco Igor Gamba CEO & Founder ‘World Gaming Expo’ discusses the exciting new Gaming industry exhibition taking place in Monaco later this year with Casino Life Magazine’s Rebecca Green
There are a number of conferences and exhibitions across Europe during the course of the year – what do you think are the key aspects of World Gaming Expo (6th to 8th December) that set it apart from the other events? World Gaming Expo (WGE) gives casino suppliers and manufacturers, professional security systems companies, sports betting professionals and providers of payment solutions, iGaming lotteries and many others the occasion to meet and develop new business opportunities with like-minded people in the historic heart of the gaming industry: Monaco. The Casino de Monte Carlo was built in 1863, and from that early beginning, numerous prestigious resorts have sprung into existence, but Monaco continues to offer gaming its most elegant setting. Business opportunities abound in Monaco. In a recent press release, the SBM expressed a wish to renew their casinos, while in France the iGaming market is still restricted. The WGE will enable local
authorities to assess potential revenues and set these against the risks for the population with a view to the possibility of opening up this market. From a global perspective, Monaco is ideally located in the centre of Europe, easily reachable within two-hours from most major European Capitals. The Principality of Monaco hosts around seven hundred diverse, high-quality events every year, contributing to the Principality’s strong international reputation. Of course, that now includes the WGE, and the Monegasque government will be acting as a promoter, helping wherever possible to develop the event and make it a great success. What are the main features of the Grimaldi Forum venue that impress you most, and how does the venue stack-up as a place for networking? Every year, prominent medical, pharmaceutical, automotive and other sector organisations come to Monaco to run their events. For me, as
a Monegasque, the decision to organise World Gaming Expo at the Grimaldi Forum was a natural move. The competencies and professionalism of the 136-strong team at the Grimaldi Forum are recognised internationally, while the venue itself offers 12,000 sq m of exhibition and catering space, plus meeting areas and conference facilities. World Gaming Expo organisers have allocated a large lounge for exhibitors and sponsors in the Ravel main exhibition area, offering a great venue for networking. Participants can also network in the Indigo restaurant, which offers a wonderful sea view from the first floor of the Grimaldi. Sports Betting and Social Gaming are amongst the
current ‘hot’ markets in Gaming. How are they represented at World Gaming Expo? During the three days of World Gaming Expo, various conferences are planned, focusing on the latest industry developments and trends, with speakers drawn from the major industry players. The conferences will address new challenges faced by the gaming industry, including those rapidly developing ‘hot’ markets in Europe and South America as the World Cup 2018 gathers pace and starts to generate sports betting revenues. Indeed, Sports betting and Social Gaming will be well represented at WGE, with a diverse group of exhibiting companies joining us from the iGaming world.
for example, will be organising a session covering the Italian market. The programme is not finalised as yet, and we are still receiving requests to present research papers. Abstract submission is still open and we are more than happy to receive research abstracts for presentation during the event. All submissions will be considered, particularly those that offer exciting new insights into the the key issues and challenges that the industry faces. Are delegates provided a choice of hotels that are conveniently located close to the venue at a discounted rate? Yes, indeed. The Principality offers 2,500 hotel rooms, 1,500 of which are located less than ten minutes’ walk from the Grimaldi Forum. World Gaming Expo, in collaboration with the Principality of Monaco, is offering WGE participants special and exclusive concessions for hotel bookings. Monaco hotels rated 3, 4 and 5 stars offer unforgettable experiences, all at an exclusive special rate, with prices starting at €145-220 for a deluxe room, including breakfast. These special rates are only offered to World Gaming Expo attendees who register via dedicated links on our website. The number of rooms available is limited and blocked so we strongly recommend attendees to book early!
What will be the key topics under discussion at World Gaming Expo Conference? Conference topics will include the evolution of iGaming, financial trading, the new payment methods, the new gaming markets, customers’ demands and expectations, and all the latest customer attraction techniques. Workshops organised by companies presenting new products and services will also form part of the programme. The objective is to make these sessions fully interactive, so traditional presentations can be followed by panel sessions and audience discussion. Some conference sessions will take a look at specific countries and regions, and their different approaches to this industry; Gioconews,
What are amongst the main aims and ambitions for the event this year? My objective, when I started this new project two years ago, was to create a big platform here in Monaco, where all gaming professionals and experts in the field are able to come together to meet and exchange ideas. We are not trying to compete with any other event; instead, we are gathering together professionals from the casino industry and iGaming who face similar issues and strive to complement one another, ensuring that players’ needs are not only met, but their expectations exceeded. WGE is also the place for Casino groups to discover innovative solutions that will bring new clientele into their casinos. This is a very exciting and fast-moving industry; our goal is to create a new ‘rendezvous’ for all professionals operating within it - and at a time of the year when many companies tend to start making business decisions for the coming year. Will the visitors and exhibitors be provided an event party during the World Gaming Expo in Monaco? As I said before, I am keen to maximise the networking opportunities at World Gaming Expo.
We want to create a comfortable and fun-filled environment where fruitful discussions can take place, and part of this will take the form of a grand Opening Ceremony. This welcoming cocktail party will be held on 7th of December 2017 in the Grimaldi Forum Monaco, to which all key players in the field plus accompanying persons, exhibitors and sponsors will be invited. Also, during the event we are planning some great entertainments - but you will need to come to Monaco to find out more about these! What is the weather like in Monaco in December? Winter in Monte Carlo is anything but cold. The principality enjoys a particularly mild climate, with average December temperatures being between 9.0°C and 15.0°C. Early December is a great time to be in Monaco, with all the Christmas lights ablaze - and it’s a great time to get together with clients and customers and prepare the ground for business in the coming year. For those organisations interested in exhibiting, is there any space remaining on the exhibition floor? The exhibition zones are filling day-by-day and space is getting scarce. Nevertheless, we urge
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companies to get in touch with us and let us know their needs for stands space and Sponsorship, and we will do our best to answer them and make it happen! We are looking to host a great variety of exhibiting companies – particularly those that have something different and stimulating to present to the market, so feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org How can those interested in attending the World Gaming Expo 6th to 8th December in Monaco find out more about registering for this year’s exhibition and conference? Registration and all relevant information is available directly via our website. The entrance to the trade show is open to professionals only, but it’s free of charge and all visitors will have the opportunity to meet some of the industry’s key players. Participants can also register online for the conferences, which will provide other opportunities for meeting and exchanging ideas with the experts. Companies wishing to register a group of their people as visitors or as conferences attendees need only send us the list of attendees and we will look after the registration. Again, simply email your request to email@example.com
G2E Las Vegas 3rd to 5th October STAND #2440
NV Governor Brian Sandoval and Aristocrat Americas Managing Director Matt Wilson are joined by Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager and Kevin T. Orrock, President, Summerlin, The Howard Hughes Corporation and dozens of Aristocrat employees to break ground on Aristocratâ€™s new two-building campus in Summerlin in west Las Vegas.
Aristocrat Breaks Ground In Las Vegas For New Campus Las Vegas based Special Assignment Correspondent Jack Bulavsky attended Aristocrat Technologiesâ€™ New Campus, Ground Breaking Ceremony
world-class 180,000-square-foot campus in the Summerlin area of northwest Las Vegas will soon be the new home for Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. Among those attending the groundbreaking ceremony were Matt Wilson, Managing Director, Americas, Aristocrat Technologies, Inc.; Mark Dunn, Aristocrat Executive Vice President & General
Counsel; a host of Aristocrat employees; and local and state dignitaries including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. “This is a seminal moment for Aristocrat,” said Wilson. “Our relocation is in line with a growing corporate trend to locate workplaces closer to communities like Summerlin. Employees will have access to parks, golf courses, walking trails, entertainment and other amenities. It’s a boost in
L-R: Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager, Aristocrat Americas Managing Director Matt Wilson, Howard Hughes Corporation Summerlin President Kevin Orrock and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
quality of life.” Aristocrat’s new campus allows the company to consolidate several of its Las Vegas facilities into one location. Upon completion in late 2018, it will eventually house more than 600 employees who are currently housed in multiple buildings at its current location. The campus will include two, three-story tilt-up concrete structures of approximately 90,000 square feet each. “Las Vegas has been special to us since the 1960s and this new office shows our commitment to the city,” said Wilson. “We’re in 90 countries around the world and Las Vegas has become one of our major offices. Everything will be here including game design talent, financial services, technicians, sales and just about everything else. What we do here will better serve the Americas market from Canada to Argentina. The industry is strong, our casino partners are strong, and business has been very healthy over the past decade. Our destiny is tied to casino customers and making sure they stay healthy.
As innovators and thought leaders for the gaming equipment industry, we continue to be creative for them.” Wilson stated that Aristocrat is an ideas company at heart and that means innovation is embedded into every aspect of the business. “We believe in our game design talent to create products that entertain players around the world,” he continued. “Our development centers build hardware and systems that support and enhance our market-leading game portfolio. We feel an obligation to the industry to move the industry forward to make sure casino gaming is relevant.” According to Dunn, Aristocrat finalized a 15year, build-to-suit lease with The Howard Hughes Corporation after “evaluating a significant number of options for relocation across the Las Vegas Valley. We are pleased they share our vision for building a best-in-class facility that enables us to provide our employees and our customers with a world-class building.”
Macau: A young market is coming of age
By: Bruno Nunes, Attorney at BN Lawyers, Macau
he Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau’s (DICJ’s) most recent released numbers showed that Macau’s gaming revenue in June hit the MOP 20 billion (US $2.49 billion) mark, a 25.9% improvement over the same month last year, setting it as the highest monthly gain since February 2014. Macau’s gaming industry has been recovering for 11 consecutive months. As for the first half of 2017, total gaming revenue was MOP 126.4 billion (USD$15.7 billion), an increase of 17.2% when comparing to the first half of 2016. This occurs despite the fact that Macau authorities have imposed restrictions on financial transactions, namely the installation of facial recognition software for mainland tourists using Macau’s ATM, the more intense supervision of casinos and junkets on the implementation of phone use on gaming tables to prevent side betting through the livestreaming of VIP table game activity via the WeChat social media platform. The much talked about smoking ban is soon to be changed as the revised draft is soon to be tabled for discussion at the Legislative Assembly to take effect on 1 of January 2018, provided it is approved at the plenary meeting of the Macau legislature prior to its summer recess. Smoking at the casino table is only permitted in areas designated “VIP”. Smokers of the mass marketed will need to either visit one of the smoking lounges or step outside of the property. The proposed amendment aims to allow the set-up of smoking lounges in the VIP areas and that they adhere to enhanced technical standards until 2019. Brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) estimated in March that the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the amendment will have an impact equal to approximately 5 percent of GGR in 2019. New properties like MGM Cotai, SJM’s Palazzo and the 13 are all lining up for completion and it seems that the road and transportation infrastructure may still be able to handle it. Currently Macau boasts 36,000 hotel rooms and has a occupancy rate of 95 percent or higher driving the prices higher and limiting the capacity to attract more tourists. The increase in supply will drive the prices down and allow more offer and it is estimated that, between 2016 and 2018, the number of rooms will
increase to 6,500. The main focus of the authorities to transition into mass market is to drive an increase of the non-gaming offerings so it is expected that new projects will have to bet mainly in that area. What seems to be missed in the analysis that we keep seeing is that what really matters in Macau is the number of Individual Visit Scheme visas that are issued for Mainland Chinese to visit Macau or other regions. As we have seen several times in the past as soon as the visa issuance is loosened and the number of visitors grows so do the gaming revenues. That is why despite new jurisdictions lining up with their casinos it will all remain a matter of visas that are issued or not. In 2016 Macau had approximately 20.5 million mainland Chinese visitors, and 44 percent of them came from Guangdong province and 10 million of those visited Macau more than once. It is certain that we will never see again the same numbers for the VIP market but what is also noted is that it seems that market is more healthy now as it provides a more “normal” city to live in, catering to the middle class and its families. It is still estimated that annual growth will range between 10% and 13%, which is not a bad number. Bruno Nunes, Attorney at BN Lawyers, has a degree in Law from Universidade Católica Portuguesa Law School and has been developing his practice mainly in the areas of Commercial and Corporate, Intellectual Property and Gaming for over 11 years now after working for the Macau Government between 2001 and 2006. Bruno has been ranked as a leading lawyer in Gaming Law for several years now. Bruno Nunes is a registered Lawyer at the Macau Lawyers Association and the Portuguese Bar Association and has written several publications on gaming law includng the “Carrots and Sticks” article on Macau’s efforts to regulate its long standing tradition of gambling credit, Inside Asian Gaming, September 2010 and “Mentor the Dragon” an article on Macau’s Junket Regulations, Inside Asian Gaming, July 2010 www.bnlawmacau.com
Well met at Cyprus Melco Entertainment came, saw and conquered. By David McKee
itting in the Mediterranean where Europe and the Ottoman Empire once came together, Cyprus has become inured to conquest over the centuries, whether by Alexander the Great or Ptolomey. In 1974, a Turkish incursion created a bifurcated Cyprus: the northern third a Turkish protectorate and the Greekleaning southern two-thirds an independent nation, with a U.N. buffer zone keeping the peace. This schizoid situation is reflected in Cyprus’ casino industry: the Turkish state is thickly dotted with 24 gambling houses, while the Republic of Cyprus has only recently opened itself to casinos, a development that caused would-be developers to become the latest wave of conquerors. Considering that Greek Cypriots like to patronize the casinos in the Turkish zone, a move to keep that Grecian lucre closer to home was understandable. The opportunity to cultivate fertile casino terrain drew interest from several major casino companies, many from the Third World. At stake was a 30-year license, the first 15 years of which bring exclusivity. But when the dust settled, only one international contender remained: Melco International, which had been pursuing a bid in tandem with Hard Rock International. Both are great companies but timing is always important with development projects. Hard Rock International has a lot going on with several new projects and Melco International was very interested in obtaining more equity in the project which has resulted in Hard Rock International selling
The agreement was signed by the President of the National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission Christos Mavrellis, and a representative of the Integrated Casino Resorts Cyprus Limited consortium consisting of Melco International Development Ltd, Seminole HR Holdings LLC (Hard Rock) and CNS Group (Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) Limited).
their share to Melco International. Consequently Melco International now has a 70 percent stake in the Cyprus project. (Cyprus Phasouri Ltd. holds the remaining shares.) The casino-hotel would still be a $558 million project. In addition to this flagship property — potentially the largest casino in Europe —Melco International also has the rights to build four satellite casinos. It’s the culmination of a two-year process, the Republic having legalized casino gambling in 2015. The government kept the names of the bidders under wraps but, in addition to the Melco bid venture, Caesars Entertainment, Genting Group, NagaCorp, Sun International and Bloomberry were all bruited about as interested parties. However, one by one,
they all fell by the wayside until only Melco and Hard Rock were left. Other than that duo, only Bloomberry and NagaCorp managed to emerge as serious contenders, and both bridled at the final hurdle. Melco has several brands it could deploy for the as-yet-unnamed casino, including City of Dreams and Tigre de Cristal (the name of its Vladivostok casino). “We understand that gaming is something that you entrust to an operator that has world-class systems in place to ensure that you get the type of economic development that you’re looking for,” said Melco divisional president Andy Choy, taking an understandable victory lap. Melco will start with a temporary casino this autumn in Limassol, to be followed by a full-scale resort in 2020. The accompanying slot parlors will be sited in Nicosia, Paphos, Larnaca and Famagusta. These are anticipated to be open by the time you read this. When completed the Limassol casino will boast 500 hotel rooms, 1,200 slots and 136 table games. In the meantime, Melco is expected to lease space in the Monte Caputo entertainment center to conduct gambling. Cyprus is already one of Europe’s most affordable vacation spots, and a casino is expected to go over well with the British and Russian
families who like to patronize the island. “Limassol has all the required infrastructure and attractions needed to sustain a casino. It has a large local population, it draws in big business and rich businessmen and it is a destination and place of residence for many Russians who love casinos,” its mayor told Cyprus Mail. Furthermore, a new marina draws luxury boaters and two British military bases are close at hand. Those companies that lost out on Cyprus or decided it was too rich for their blood have other projects to keep them busy. For instance, Caesars Entertainment is shopping for a new joint-venture partner to finish a South Korea casino, Lippo Group having withdrawn, and has been tipped as the frontrunner for a ASF Consortium mega resort project on Australia’s Gold Coast. Bloomberry is planning a new, $417 million casino in the Philippines. Genting is putting the finishing touches on a resort in upstate New York and hopes by the end of the year to have answered the question, “When are you going to start building Resorts World Las Vegas?” Nor is Melco going to rest on its Cypriot laurels, having promised to outbid any other suitor for a casino in Japan. Meanwhile, its conquest of Cyprus demonstrates that there is still virgin territory in the gaming world.
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Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data
Data centres hit the jackpot with growth in online gambling Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data, explains how rapid growth in online gambling may spur revenue increase for data centre providers
ife is moving online. Almost everything can now be done from a computer or smartphone, whether thatâ€™s watching a film, doing some shopping or even finding love. It should be no surprise therefore that the popularity of online gambling is soaring. Online gambling accounts for 33 per cent of all gambling in Britain and with a Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) of ÂŁ4.5 billion it has become the largest gambling sector in the country, leading the National Lottery, high street bookmakers and traditional casinos. With the significant growth in the popularity of online gambling, the importance of the data centre is set to increase rapidly alongside it. Every online organisation needs a strong, resilient data centre, but for the gambling industry this is increasingly critical. Online gambling businesses require maximum uptime and low latency to accommodate the fast-moving nature of online betting activities, which have the capacity to react to events in real-time, all while delivering a seamless experience for users. It is therefore crucial for these businesses to partner with a data centre that offers exceptional connectivity to key data exchanges. Online gambling businesses often go through major fluctuations of usage that can prove testing to data centre providers. For example, traffic and activity on betting websites can increase significantly immediately before a major football match or horse race, and the data centre provider must have the capacity to handle this change in demand. If a data centre fails to handle these high stress moments then it can lead to a very costly slowdown, with the loss in revenue for some online gambling sites estimated to be approximately ÂŁ30,000 per minute. There are a number of challenges that data centres face when handling sudden increases in demand, including continuing
to cool the servers and racks to ensure efficient operation, having sufficient power headroom to accommodate the increase in demand and implementing robust technology that can withstand sudden changes in activity. Online gambling businesses must ensure that their data centre providers utilise the latest technology to offer reliable, cost effective, efficient performance and cope with significant fluctuations in demand. High Performance Compute (HPC) is one of the key data centre technologies to have emerged in recent years. HPC compliant facilities offer the power and cooling capacity to enable data centre providers to configure High Density Racks, utilising all available rack space. This ensures that online gambling businesses can have the server capacity they need to manage sudden bursts in user activity, without a significant increase in costs. Full rack utilisation can reduce expenditure for customers, cutting operational costs by up to 55 per cent. A robust cooling system is essential for a data centre to offer HPC, as the increase in the number of servers requires greater cooling capacity. Direct Fresh Air Cooling (DFAC), is one of the most efficient methods for cooling a data centre, where air from outside is drawn into the system, filtered and dynamically mixed to ensure the appropriate temperature levels. This efficient, effective cooling system ensures that customers can house their racks contiguously without the requirement to segregate high density platforms, maximising their footprint without increasing operating or cooling costs, subsequently helping to lower their total cost of ownership. DFAC also ensures that the environmental impact of a data centre is minimised, reducing energy consumption and adhering to the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centre Efficiency. The utilisation of this advanced data centre technology is crucial for online gambling businesses.
Online gambling businesses must be able to function at peak capacity at all times if they are to avoid huge losses in revenue and damaging their relationships with their customers. To achieve this it requires a resilient, high performance data centre that can cope with significant fluctuations in demand. However, online gambling businesses must also ensure that their data centre providers give them room for growth. Operating in such a high-growth market, online gambling start-ups have the potential to grow very rapidly and may require additional data centre capacity. They must ensure that their data centre partner provides a scalable platform and sufficient power headroom to allow their business to grow, offering a flexible solution so that online gambling businesses only occupy the space they need.
Data centres serve as the backbone for online gambling organisations. It is crucial that online gambling businesses select a data centre provider that has the technology in place, for both hardware and cooling systems, to manage the significant fluctuations in demand and provide a resilient service with maximum uptime and low latency to provide the very best service to its users. Online gambling companies must also ensure that their data centre can provide a platform that can scale with their business, enabling them to grow cost effectively and organically. To benefit from the rise of the online gambling industry, data centres must continue to innovate, implementing the latest technology and offering high levels of connectivity to provide their customers the very best service.
The Coming Crash of the eSports Skins Markets By: I Nelson Rose Professor I Nelson Rose
t its most exciting, eSports is an arena bursting with screaming fans, watching, and betting, as teams compete in video war games projected on giant screens. Fans place their bets with their cell phones. Some bet various forms of eCash. But most wagers are skins. Many devoted eSports fans play the same games they bet on. In fact, eSports began with players competing only on the internet. Sites ran tournaments for strangers and people who knew each other in the real world could agreed to meet online at a certain time to play League of Legends® or similar games. The most popular games are first-person shooters, where a team of four try to kill the members of the opposing team. The game operators award virtual prizes to winners. Valve Corporation’s Counterstrike: Global Offensive® (“CS:GO”) took it one step further: It awarded virtual prizes in-game. Players accumulated prizes through play and promotions. Actually, Valve took the idea of players winning prizes two steps further. Besides making awards ingame, Valve created Steam. Steam
allows players to trade their prizes. “Trading” is a polite way of saying buying and selling. Steam even allows entrepreneurs to set up their own markets to buy and sell these virtual prizes, which, after all, only exist in Valve’s computers. CS:GO’s virtual prizes were often the weapons players needed during their cyber-battles. But Valve decided not to award more powerful weapons. Instead, prizes are supposed to be merely alterations to a weapon’s appearance. Since the changes to the weapons were only electronically skin deep, they acquired the name skins. Sometimes, to make the competition more interesting, players would bet skins against each other. The games allowed the transfer of skins, so, naturally, secondary markets developed. Successful players could sell their skins to other players who wanted the status of wearing a difficult-to-win skin. Today, many, if not most, fans don’t play the games regularly, any more than most National Football League fans play American football. But skins are still, by far, the major currency of wagers. They are bought and sold on secondary markets, for real money. Die-hard fans believe that skins really are worth the market price. Of course they are, at that moment. “Fair market price,” by definition, is the price a willing buyer and a willing seller agree upon in an arm’s length transaction. And skins will continue to be worth what the buyers paid for them, until the market crashes, as it inevitably must – because neither the items nor their apparent scarcity are real. Take one of the most popular games at the moment, “CS:GO”. A quick search found a CS:GO AK-47 for sale for $296.51. Here’s the description: “Name Tag: ‘Mastah blasta;’ Exterior: Minimal Wear. Powerful and reliable, the AK-47 is one of the most popular assault rifles in the world. It is most deadly in short, controlled bursts of fire. This memento from Ruins has been painted with a fire serpent motif. If you want to survive in the streets, learn to spit fire. The Bravo Collection. This item was granted during Operation Bravo to celebrate the Operation’s community maps.” This is all very impressive, if you are into that sort of thing. But it is not even an actual toy gun, just some lines of code. Is it worth $296.51? Only so long as there is a willing buyer and a willing seller. And everyone
pretends that this fantasy market is real. The game developers and operators have complete control over this market. What will happen if they decide to sell Mastah blastas in even better condition to anyone for 99 cents? Then the market price will instantly drop from $296.51 to 99 cents. Because there will be no willing buyers, despite the presence of many desperately willing sellers. There are no legal restrictions on what game operators can do, other than the laws against fraud. So, they might, and probably will, create a thousand more interesting, and cheaper, similar weapons. And this does not even take into account the question of how long this particular game will remain a fad, before it is replaced by the next big thing. As for the question of fraud – it is by no means clear that it would be fraud for insiders at CS:GO to create, at no cost, Mastah blastas and give them for free to their favored employees or customers. It has allegedly happened before, with baseball trading cards. Insiders were supposedly given rare collectable trading cards as incentives, gifts and just plain greed. Upper Deck was even accused of counterfeiting its own cards. We’ve seen other fads like this before. People nearly broke down the doors of toy stores, when a truck with a new batch of Beanie Babies® arrived. But there were no more restrictions on understuffed toy animals than there were on “premium” baseball trading cards. If there are enough buyers, anyone can create an artificial market with artificial shortages. But the laws of economics always catch up – simple supply and demand. You know it is a typical speculative bubble when buyers, and sometimes even sellers, say, “This time, it’s different.” Only, it never is. © Copyright 2017. Professor I Nelson Rose is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on gambling law and is a consultant and expert witness for governments and industry. His latest books, Gaming Law in a Nutshell, Internet Gaming Law and Gaming Law: Cases and Materials, are available through his website, www. GamblingAndTheLaw.com.
Whatâ€™s your idea of Paradice?
The Customer – A Moving Target in a Fluid Environment
Are They Part of Your Reporting Analytics?
know you are aware of the customer habits, their spend and those buckets of demographics they reside in. The information is in all those daily reports on your desk. Whether here in the US or across the international time zones we are all in a constant study of customers and the trending environment they live in. The casino/hospitality industry is experiencing a revolution of innovation and each time something is introduced it should be used as a marker to reevaluate customer perceptions and its impact on their experience. Use the markers to review and re-focus your customer service strategies. Remember the fluidity of the customer environment is a constant and, as great as reporting technologies are, there may be some unintended filters such as keeping you in the office.
Go take a walk! Are you consistently taking the property walk-and-talk and looking Robert Ambrose, Casino and Hospitality Consultant at your operation the way a mystery shopper would? A visit to your property in the off hours is a great Visit another location. opportunity to gain a different perspective. It Taking the walking tour at another property allows is a watch and listen tour that allows you to you to get into that property’s footprint. You can speak directly to your customers and listen to learn from the experience, spotting trends and their opinions. Focused meetings are good but understanding the property’s layout. You will also random conversation with customers and visual have the anonymous advantage that allows you to observations can speak volumes. listen to customers’ comments and observe. Taking
notes along the way is a great practice. A recorder is the best method, — most people will think you are on a cell phone, as opposed to you looking crazy. As you go beyond the gaming floor, you can also gain knowledge from the surrounding public areas; the restaurants, lounges and various entertainment venues. As more and more non-gaming areas are being offered to customers, you may pick up some ideas to take back to your property. With a different slant of course! There is always room to improve the customer’s experience. Let’s take a hypothetical walk through a casino floor. This exercise is based on notes from some of my own walk-throughs. And if you try this be sure to write a complete report for yourself on return while the visit is still fresh. “… The property had some very positive elements in its casino-floor layout, although it lacked a ‘Wow!’ (Note any positives) The main entrance barely had a pulse. The area was a confusing mix of games seemingly placed there for lack of a better destination. I found pockets of life in specific slot areas. (Why? Note titles and player demographics) An area near one of the lounges had a nice mix of current titles, all under $1. It was brighter than other areas on the floor and was bathed in music from the nearby lounge. It was a contrast from other quieter areas of the floor. (Why?) I saw gaming products scattered around the floor, but there seemed to be no internal marketing plan. I had trouble finding a marketing kiosk. I walked the outside of the slot floor several times, and then wove myself in between the maze of slot aisles and table pits, eventually locating several. There were four redemption and loyalty kiosks and one was out of order…” This type of exercise helps to compartmentalize areas as you view them. Also, as you do not have a vested interest in the property, there is less of a chance that your personal bias will influence what you see.
Observations about your own property can be clearly communicated from people that you see every day. Speaking to your regular staff should be a matter of fact. I’m referring to the employees, independent contractors or entertainers that your property may employ at various times to entertain and provide atmosphere and interest. They work on the front lines and can provide insight for you simply by engaging them in conversation. As a leader you should be open to personal reviews and by all means speak to everyone. You may agree or not with the opinions, but feedback from employees and customers is important. Finding the perfect method for critiquing your own property and that of others is important. The industry is constantly evolving and growing, and what works today will not necessarily work tomorrow or may work better in another part of the property footprint. Ground zero personal communication and observation is a must. Look beyond the sterility of the daily reports that show the analytics. They set the parameters and allow you to extend their conclusions by applying direct communication methods bringing color and life to the report numbers. Now you have the complete picture. Robert Ambrose is a casino/hospitality consultant, a former casino industry executive and university instructor. His experience includes an MS in Hospitality, positions in gaming operations management, commercial casino development and university instruction in hospitality and gaming. He continually collaborates with industry professionals and reports about his research through consulting, academic lectures and the publication of his articles. Bob Ambrose Consultant, Gaming & Hospitality @bobambrose
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Coping with difficult situations Robin Hills, Director of Ei4Change, discusses the role of resilience in the casino industry
orking within the casino industry presents some unique challenges that require tenacity, robustness, and resilience. Negative perceptions around the industry continue to abound not helped by associations with betting, alcohol and smoking, alleged links to crime, and the way the industry is portrayed in the media. Aside from the stigma associated with being a part of the casino industry, each role has its own challenges. A lot of the work is shift work, meaning that you are working late into the night when most people are relaxing and enjoying themselves. With this, comes the need to keep a reasonable balance between your own life outside of work and your work. Legislation is heavy â€“ far more than in the banking industry â€“ but is necessary to protect both the customer and those working within the industry. Unfortunately, at times, this contributes to misconceptions and adds to levels of stress for those ensuring compliance and that high standards are maintained. Complicating all these matters is modern technology, which continually bombards you and those you are working with. The vast amount of data and information clamours for your attention adding to your stress as you decide what is relevant, important and makes you more effective, and what to ignore. Whatever your role and whatever your
Robin Hills Director Ei4 Change
experience, you are working with greater uncertainty, ambiguity and change than ever before and have to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life. Challenges and changes are constant. Some of these may be crises or emergencies that demand your immediate attention.
Whether you are a Casino Slots Director, Table Gaming Director, General Manager, Dealer, or work in Surveillance, you have to concentrate at all times to work efficiently to deal with the general public. You need to maintain a pleasant disposition no matter what the situation is and how you are feeling. You may be picked upon by the customer if they are not doing too well and are looking to apportion blame, things could get very unpleasant very quickly. The circumstances that you find yourself managing may be fuelled by comraderies and alcohol which alter the dynamics of the interaction. Disputes need to be handled professionally and well especially when they turn nasty. Difficult situations may be familiar or unfamiliar to you depending upon whether you have experienced them before. You will have developed coping mechanisms and these will help you in dealing with familiar adverse situations and many unfamiliar ones.
Resilience and Coping Resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. It is an internal drive often characterised as an inner strength, fortitude or hardiness that relates to how you calmly engage with your environment. Resilience incorporates your physical health, as well as your emotional and mental health, and your well-being. Coping, however, is adapting your thinking and behaviour to manage demands that exceed the resources available to you or demands that you find taxing. You can’t control what happens around you or other people. The self-talk (your inner voice) that you use will drive your thinking and your feelings, leading to the decisions that you make and your subsequent actions and behaviours. So being resilient is more than just coping and putting up with stuff. It is about learning through the experience to grow personally and become stronger to deal with difficulties better. Your resilience will help you to improve your effectiveness and sustain your efforts. Resilience is about rationality and calmness, dealing effectively with – and making the most of – what you experience in everyday life. Resilience is about finding meaning in your work environment and
using your core values to interpret and shape events. Some action strategies to develop your resilience:
Feel in control • Be realistic about what you can and can’t do • Learn how to say ‘No’ so that you don’t commit to too much • Tell yourself you can do it and prove yourself to be right • Communicate your intentions clearly to others, delegate and encourage their support
Create a personal vision • Set yourself clear goals and objectives focusing on what you want to achieve • Establish a plan of small, achievable steps that will accomplish your goals • Remain committed, even if events take you away from your plan for a short while • Remind yourself of what you want to achieve and why
Be flexible and adaptable • Accept and anticipate that situations are going to change so that you can be prepared • Positively move forward rather than dwelling on how unreasonable or unfair the changes may seem • Remain focused on your goals and adapt how you work to accommodate the change
Get organised • Create systems and processes that make you efficient • Be realistic about managing your time • Avoid putting off anything that eventually needs to be done • Tackle big projects by breaking them down into smaller chunks and start to work on them one chunk at a time • Be aware of, and avoid, anything distracting
Develop a mindset for problem-solving • Gather as much information about the issue as possible • Define the problem precisely and accurately, evaluating it objectively and from different
perspectives • Generate different options, critically review and decide what will work • Be decisive and take action
Get connected • Reach out to others • Look for new opportunities to engage with different people and build your network • Communicate with empathy • Listen • Look at ways you can get involved and help others with their problems
Be socially competent • Evaluate your existing network to ensure that you can draw upon a variety of backgrounds, skills and experience • Keep an open mind to broaden your horizons • Be willing to get support but be selective about the support you need • Ask people for help on both a practical and an emotional level
Be proactive • Use your foresight, experience, and knowledge to plan ahead and prioritise tasks to be completed
Robin Hills has over 35 years’ business and commercial experience helping executives and leaders develop business performance through increased self-awareness and understanding of others. He is Director of Ei4Change – Emotional Intelligence 4 Change – a company specialising in training, coaching and personal development focused on emotional intelligence, positive psychology and neuroscience. Robin focuses on supporting personality and behaviour in business. His clients include small start-up companies through to large multinational corporates, the public sector (including the NHS) and charities. His style, as a facilitative, consultative leader, is to encourage people to take responsibility and to get involved in a range of practical, business-focused, yet fun, training activities that aid and encourage learning on a one-to-one or group basis. He is registered and accredited with the British
• Act decisively • Identify and develop the skills you will need in the future • Don’t waste time on truly unnecessary tasks • Take the lead and become a role model for others Developing your resilience won’t stop bad or stressful things from happening, but can reduce the level of disruption that stress can have and the time it takes you to recover. The casino industry has moved on from the smoky gambling dens of early last century, with more positive associations with tourism. It now offers you the chance to grow and develop yourself in a valid career that provides entertainment and joy to many. A lot of the roles are highly skilled and cannot be done without extensive training and support. The opportunities are many. They pay well, are open to successful people, and include the chance to work anywhere in the world in luxury holiday resorts in exotic locations. If you consider your resilience to be a focus on an optimistic view of reality driven by meaningful goals and the creativity to persevere when things get tough, then there is a great career ahead of you building upon your capabilities and experience within the casino industry.
Psychology Society as a Test User: Occupational Ability and Personality (Levels A and B) and uses a range of internationally recognised profiling tools to assess type, trait, behaviour and emotional intelligence. He is a Member (Business) of the Association of Business Psychologists and sits on the North West Committee. Through his work in emotional intelligence, Robin has researched emotional resilience within the work environment. He has focused on techniques that support coaching interventions. Robin has spoken and delivered keynote speeches and workshops on resilience at international emotional intelligence conferences. These have been held in South Africa, India, the United States (Harvard University) and the United Kingdom (the University of Manchester and the University of London). Email – firstname.lastname@example.org Website – www.ei4change.com
You can stay ahead of 90% of the people… just by showing up! By Mark Wayman
Mark Wayman, Godfather of Las Vegas
Background – My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. This year I placed six executives north of a million dollars. My last article was titled “What Josh Altman (Million Dollar LA Listing) Taught Me About Networking.” I’ll give you the conclusion to the Josh Altman experience at the end of the article. Today’s focus is on one of my primary business principles for success – SHOWING UP. The Godfather Sit Downs – Many years ago I started hosting mixers in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. Invite-only for my friends, clients and business
partners. Guest list is “C” level corporate executives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, entertainers. Exactly one purpose – for my friends, clients and business partners to meet each other. Exactly one rule – absolutely no selling, marketing, promoting of soliciting. Just an OPPORTUNITY to meet 70 high quality people at an attractive venue with no pressure or agenda. The No Shows – The most interesting part of my private events is how many people DON’T show up! Yeah, yeah, yeah, we are all busy, but you miss out on 100% of the shots you don’t take. Someone once said that “good luck” is mostly hard work
and showing up. By ducking out, you accomplish three things. First, you miss out on meeting new people and creating new relationships. Second, you miss out on any opportunities that might present themselves. Third, you may not get invited back! No Shows for Charity Events – Especially disappointing are folks that don’t show up for charity events. On several occasions I had people drop out after I paid $1,000 for their seats. Mediocre people are “no show, no call”. Good people will give you plenty of notice and offer to donate to the charity. Let me tell you what “no call no show” translates to, “Our relationship is not important to me. You are not important to me.” And that, my friends, is a bad deal. The host gets offended and certainly does not strengthen the relationship. Ten years ago my mixers had a 20% “no show” rate. Today, 3% because the “no show no calls” don’t get invited back. My Favorite No Show Story – One of my favorite stories is about a CIO event I hosted at Hollywood Park. Of the 30 CIOs on the guest list, only 15 showed up. The day after the event, two of the “no show, no calls” sent me resumes and asked for jobs. Seriously? I have never met you, you don’t show up for an hour to meet in person and shake hands, but you want me to place you in a $400,000 job? I love that strategy! Acceptable Reasons – Obviously there are emergencies and valid reasons for not having to cancel. Here are a few good ones: • Sick or Medical Emergency – Completely understandable. Things happen, and family always come first. But being “tired” does not count. We are all tired; we are all busy. I once hosted an Oscar Party for the Arthritis Foundation with a 104 degree fever. Five hundred people were counting on me, so I dragged myself out of bed and honored the commitment. My wife once attended a dinner party when she was REALLY under the weather. She made the best of it and had hot toddies all night. • Client Related – For my entrepreneur friends, if you don’t sell…you don’t eat. This one I am
intimately familiar with. If you own the business and need to focus on a client situation, that is perfectly acceptable. • Work Related – For my celebrity friends, if they get a paid gig…they are out. For my CEO friends, sometimes critical issues come up and as the #1 in the company, they need to give it their full attention. Not so Acceptable Excuses – There are too many excuses to mention. I have seen and heard them all. Here are a few common ones: • I’m Too Important – Yeah, I don’t know about that. The folks at my event are high profile, highly successful, and in many cases, high net worth. If you don’t show up though, you will never know. • Too Busy – We are all busy. I get 50 phone calls and 400 emails a day, however if I make a commitment to attend, I keep it. For my personal event, the value proposition of meeting 70 executives is HUGE. Where are you going to meet 70 high quality people, all in one place, and all in one night? • Bigger Name on the other Line – This is a hot button for me. You made the commitment, and now you have a “cooler” offer. Personally, I don’t do that. If I say I’ll be there, I’ll be there. OK, maybe if Jesus calls, I will need to duck out, but not for anyone else. • Sounded like a good idea at the time – This is probably the most frequent excuse. And when I look at my guest lists, I can almost always pick out the ones that won’t show. They are the people that drive you crazy trying to get ON the list…then don’t show up. All I can say is you are going to miss out on many, many opportunities. So Josh Altman and I were supposed to meet prior to my last Los Angeles event. He emailed me just prior and said he had another commitment. Don’t really know him, and I’m sure he had a great reason. That stated, he missed out on an opportunity to meet an executive with 5,000+ executives in his rolodex. Next! Originally Published by Mark in 2014.
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