Canada's Premier Gaming Industry Magazine
Vol. 4 No. 2
We look forward to seeing you at the 2009 Summit April 28-30 â€“ Caesars Windsor www.canadiangamingsummit.com Register Today! Inside:
Traditional and Electronic Table Games See Enclosed Summit Brochure
Horseracing Q & A Weathering the Perfect Storm Casino Amenities are on the Rise
Volume 4 Number 2
firstname.lastname@example.org 416-512-8186 ext. 227
MESSAGE FROM CGA
GAMING INSDUSTRY Q & A
INDUSTRY CASE STUDY
Raising the profile
Answering the demand for legitimacy in online gambling
Topics will be addressed in more detail at the Canadian Gaming Summit in April.
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Darryl Kaplan offers his thoughts on the state of the horseracing industry David Bellerive talks about successful marketing strategies
Trends in electronic table games
President Kevin Brown
President & CEO Bill Rutsey
FINANCE & INVESTMENT
The impact of IFRS on the gaming industry
Vice President, Strategic Development Chuck Nervick
Vice President, Public Affairs Paul Burns
Is progress being made?
Canadian Gaming Business is published five times a year as a joint venture between MediaEdge Communications and The Canadian Gaming Association
For advertising information, Contact Chuck Nervick 416-512-8186 ext. 227 email@example.com
For editorial information, Contact Lucie Grys 416-512-8186 ext.301
Old games, new tweaks and shifting demographics
Solving food cost increases
Casino amenities are on the rise
Copyright 2009 Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Publications Mail Agreement No. 40063056 ISSN 1911-2378 Guest editorials or columns do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Canadian Gaming Business magazine's advisory board or staff. No part of this issue may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process without written permission by the publisher. Subscription rates: Canada $46.30 per year, $82.60 two years. All rates are payable in Canadian Funds only. Postmaster send address changes to: Canadian Gaming Business Magazine 5255 Yonge Street Suite 1000, Toronto, Ontario M2N 6P4
Canada's Premier Gaming Industry Magazine
Vol. 4 No. 2
We look forward to seeing you at the 2009 Summit April 28-30 – Caesars Windsor www.canadiangamingsummit.com Register Today!
Volume 4 No. 2 on the cover The Canadian Gaming Summit will be held at Caesars Windsor from April 28-30, 2009. Please visit www. canadiangamingsummit.com for details.
Traditional and Electronic Table Games
Official Publication of the Canadian Gaming Summit
See Enclosed Summit Brochure
Horseracing Q & A Weathering the Perfect Storm Casino Amenities are on the Rise
Canadian Gaming Business | 3
Editorial Advisory Board Howard Blank, Vice President Media & Entertainment / Marketing & Promotions Great Canadian Gaming Corporation Lynn Cassidy, Executive Director Ontario Charitable Gaming Association Robin Drummond, Vice President Spielo Paula Dyke, Director, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Atlantic Lottery Corporation Nick Eaves, President and Chief Operating Officer Woodbine Entertainment Group Art Frank, President Niagara Casinos Brian Fraser, Marketing Manager IGT Canada Jordan Gnat, President & Chief Executive Officer Boardwalk Gaming Muriel Grimble, Executive Director Gaming Products & Services Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission Lyle Hall, Managing Director HLT Advisory Inc. Zane Hansen, President & Chief Executive Officer Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority Ron Kelly, Executive Vice President Arrow Games Michael Lipton, Q.C., Past President, International Masters of Gaming Law and Partner, Dickinson Wright LLP Eric Luke Eric R. Luke and Associates Alan Lyman, Senior Regional Director Scientific Games Margaret McGee, Vice-President of Business Innovation Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation Richard Paris, Security Director, Niagara Casinos
I look forward to seeing you at the 2009 Summit! With only a few weeks to go until the 13th Annual Canadian Gaming Summit, the team at MediaEdge and the Canadian Gaming Association has been securing top speakers and experts in the gaming industry. The organizers have worked tirelessly on this year’s programming and look forward to providing you with the most relevant information out there and supporting you in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace. This year, the educational programs have been expanded to offer over 70 sessions covering an array of topics. Beyond the cutting edge sessions, this year’s Summit will also be hosting a number of gaming industry conferences. These conferences and tracks have been specifically developed for gaming professionals and will cover areas such as Legal/Regulatory, Charitable Gaming, Standardbred Racing, IGaming, Security, Marketing, Communications, Entertainment, Finance and Investment, Food and Beverage and more. In this issue, many of the articles you will read offer insights into some of the 70 sessions that will be held at the Gaming Summit. Bill Schwartz will be leading a session on how to cut costs and weather the storm in food and beverage departments. David Bellarive from Phoenix Group offers firsthand marketing advice and will also be moderating a panel about marketing and promotion at the Summit. John FitzGerald, CEO of the Interactive Gaming Council writes about progress on the I Gaming front that will spur discussions at the I Gaming sessions. Lynn
Cassidy’s article about charitable gaming discusses the value of the charitable gaming industry and invites people to learn more at the upcoming conference. Cookie Lazarus, who will be moderating a panel discussion, and Brian Hall touch on legal issues in their article, Answering the Demand for Legitimacy. Andrew Coppolino and Justin Woodard look at the fusion of traditional and electronic table games. The Canadian Association of Casino Security Directors will be holding sessions on security and surveillance at the Summit and Gerald Boose’s article talks about the multiple roles that security professionals must fulfill. KPMG’s contribution about the impact of IFRS on the gaming industry is also one of the many sessions planned in the Finance and Investment track at the Summit. Finally, Lisa Kopochinski talks about the growth of amenities at casinos and the direction of entertainment and revenue generation beyond the gaming floor in the special supplement. Let this issue entice everyone in the industry to register for the Gaming Summit. Not only will you be able to connect with industry peers, you’ll come away with inspiring and thought provoking ideas on how you can make a lasting impact and bring about change. As always, I invite your comments and ideas.
Lucie Grys Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mails to the Editor Policy Canadian Gaming Business welcomes e-mails to the editor. E-mails should include the name of the sender, business or professional affiliation, and city and province of the sender’s office or home. A phone number should be included for contact purposes; the phone number will not be published. We reserve the right to edit e-mails for purposes of brevity and clarity. Please email email@example.com
Canadian Gaming Business | 5
Hands off, Senator Lapointe By Bill Rutsey, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association
By now many of you may be aware of Senator Jean Lapointe and his six years (and counting) odyssey to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to narrow the exemption that allows provincial governments to lawfully conduct and manage lottery schemes involving video lottery terminals and slot machines, by limiting the locations at which such machines can be installed to casinos, race-courses and betting theatres (defined as a location containing a minimum of fifty gaming devices). His latest attempt, Bill S-226, received First reading in the Senate this month on February 11. The Senator has been at this continuously since 2003, with S-226 being his sixth introduction of such amending legislation. I had the privilege of appearing before the Senate as an expert witness in February 2005, being his third try. There is no doubt as to Senator Lapointe’s sincerity, misinformed as he is regarding gaming and problem gaming. The impetus of the Senator’s actions is his Jean Lapointe Foundation, which fights alcoholism and other addictions in Quebec. He, like many other gaming abolitionists, mistakenly believes that “addiction is in the bottle or device”, in this case slot machines and VLT’s, rather than as all leading addiction researchers state, in the individuals affected – hence his crusade. What is most disturbing about Senator 6 | March 2009
Lapointe’s various Bills is that they are a clear federal intrusion into gaming, which is an area of provincial jurisdiction. A short history lesson is in order. In 1969 the Canadian Criminal Code was amended to provide for lottery schemes to be to be conducted by federal and provincial/territorial governments and those licensed by provincial/territorial governments. In 1979 the Provinces and Federal Government signed an A g re e m e nt whereby C an ada ag reed to stop conducting lottery schemes in return for $24 million annually (adjusted for inflation) paid by the Provinces. In 1985 a second Agreement was signed whereby the federal government agreed to amend the Criminal Code to take away the federal government’s right to conduct lottery schemes (which was passed) while the provinces agreed to continue the annual payment and make a onetime $100 million payment to the federal government. The 1985 Agreement also provided that the Government of Canada undertook to refrain from re-entering the field of gaming and betting (except to the extent of its then present role under the Criminal Code with respect to horse races) and to ensure that the rights of the Provinces in that field (i.e. “gaming and betting”) are not reduced or restricted. Senator Lapointe is attempting to repudiate the 1985 Agreement. Clearly, Bill S-226 will reduce and restrict the
rights of every province in the field of gaming and betting. In addition, any such Bill is a serious attack on small business in many provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. VLT gaming in Canada is a $3 billion plus business that annually delivers $2.3 billion to governments and charities and pays out more than $635 million to small business owners. I t i s i n c u m b e n t u p o n Pr o v i n c i a l governments and agencies to let Senator Lapointe and his colleagues know their views on Bill S-226 – that it is a clear repudiation of a long standing agreement between the Federal government and the provinces and an unwelcome intrusion into an area of provincial jurisdiction, that the current and all previous incarnations of the Bill have not been requested by any provincial government, and that no provincial government has ever been consulted on the matter. It’s also time for all of us to contact our Senators and Members of Parliament and make our views known on the matter – hands off gaming, Senator Lapointe!
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Q&A: Standardbred Racing By Darryl Kaplan
A few thoughts and opinions in advance of the upcoming Standardbred Wagering Conference to be held in conjunction with the Gaming Summit. Q: How healthy is the horse racing industry in North America? A: It's actually quite tough to find consensus on the answer to that question. In several jurisdictions, the introduction of slot machines and VLTS into racing facilities has put more money into the pockets of horsepeople and racetracks. Tracks that otherwise faced closure, have been given a new lease on life. But the programs have also produced a reliance on alternative revenues that are now presenting themselves as a threat to the sport. Some racetracks are seeing their racing operation as an expense line while the slot or casino operation subsidizes the sport. Some of those for-profit entities have begun carving race dates and on-track funding from their future plans. For horse racing, the threat of becoming an undesirable appendage is a real one.
Q: What must racing do to survive longterm? A: Horse racing faces a huge challenge to become profitable on its own, irrespective of 8â€‚ |â€‚ March 2009
slots-at-racetrack programs. The industry must think big and act through aggressive and far-reaching moves. The only source of revenue directly tied to horse racing at many racetracks in the country is parimutuel wagering. At some of those tracks, even a 10-fold increase in betting handle would fail to fully fund horse racing. Part of the answer may lie in consolidation, but certainly a better use of resources is absolutely necessary in saving the sport. Like any industry, horse racing will live and die based on how many customers are willing to pay to consume the product, not on how many suppliers produce it. Slot and simulcast revenues are still flowing through the industry but purse money for participants won't grow the fan base. There is a need for organizations to look at funding models and reevaluate how money gets moved through to major development, innovation and marketing projects.
writing is on the wall for less racing, fewer dollars bet and reduced investment in the sport. If tracks are allowed to operate slot facilities without holding racing, the floodgates will quickly open. Bill Eadington, an internationally-known gaming authority from the University of Nevada Reno, spoke at a recent Harness Racing Congress held in Las Vegas. When asked about horse racing's ability to survive, he said, "I'm skeptical on the ability to do it. So many people have a stake in the status quo. If we were looking at this as a generic industry, it would have to contract. You need a major league and you don't have it. You need stars, you don't have it. And you need consolidation. Regrettably you are caught up with all the baggage of 100 years."
Q: Where will racing be in 20 years? A: While in all likelihood, the biggest players
person-to-person betting exchange model for North America, but I am supportive. The pari-mutuel format still has a complimentary role to play in the future of
in racing and the strong community driven racetracks will still be chugging along, the
Q: What type of wagering model should the industry pursue to facilitate the growth of horse racing? A: I have heard arguments for and against the
racing, but it will not drive the sport. The concept of pooling money together to create jackpots and large pools works well for slot machines, lotteries, and in horse racing for triactor, superfecta and other exotic bets. But horse racing has the potential to appeal to sophisticated players who should be classified as investors, not gamblers. Like in the United Kingdom, a skilled horse bettor should be able to wager millions annually and have a fighting chance at a positive return. In North America, horseplayers are increasingly less likely to pour money into pools that fluctuate unpredictably with takeout rates that reach, in many cases, well over 20 per cent. As for the integrity issue of people betting on horses to lose through exchanges, you have to take the prospect as seriously as the stock markets do, where impropriety results in jail time. It is time for horse racing to jump boldly a few steps ahead rather than continuing to languish behind. Darryl Kaplan is the editor of Trot Magazine, Canadaâ€™s leading horse racing magazine.
Join us for the 6th Annual
Canadian GamingEducation Forum In partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno June 8-11, 2009 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Advanced Project Management Courses for the Gaming Industry or
Advanced Financial Accounting, Auditing and Analysis for Gaming For more information & to register, please contact Dayna at:
The Canadian Gaming Centre of Excellence
(204) 957-2504 Ext. 8498 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gamingcentreofexcellence.ca Come see us at the Summit!
Canadian Gaming Businessâ€‚ |â€‚ 9
I N D U S T RY C A S E S T U DY: M A R K E T I N G
Taking it to the streets By David Bellerive
If you take as a given—and we do—that you must let people know you exist to get them in the door, then you are faced with a simple yet staggering challenge: How? Mass-media advertising has long been the cornerstone of marketing. But that norm is threatening to become obsolete. Even before the economy started to slide, which is affecting marketing budgets, fragmentation and rising costs were already inhibiting marketing through traditional mass media like television. And new communication channels— which, in some cases, allow viewers to bypass advertising as they watch TV or surf the Internet—are now abundant. The challenge is amplified when trying to reach that elusive younger demographic who seem to be on everyone’s wish list these days. Here’s a few ways that we’ve recently tackled
this problem and achieved success. The first challenge was to raise the awareness of gaming as an entertainment option. Our casino client found that nightclubs, dinning out, going to a movie, even staying at home and watching television ranked higher than going to the casino as an entertainment option. It’s certainly a valid concern, since you can’t expect people to come in the door if they don’t even consider you on their list of options. Mass media can deliver an entertainment message, but our analysis also showed that the people we wanted to reach were out enjoying themselves, at movies, nightclubs or restaurants. They weren’t engaged with mass media in mass numbers. So how could we reach them? A big part of the solution was answering that question. We knew where the audience was, but
could we reach them there? If our target audience was choosing the movies, could we advertise at the movies ? If they were going out to dinner, could we reach them at restaurants? And what about other entertainment choices? It took a bit of creativity and a lot of legwork to get in some places, but surprisingly (or not surprisingly) there’s always room for another ad. Theatres have cinema ads that run before the shows, either low budget slides or more sophisticated preview ads. Restaurants and nightclubs have washroom ads, but even more creative ways were explored including messaging on napkins and coasters. We even inserted a note with the bill at selected restaurants. You might think (and we did) that these venues would balk at placing our message but for the most part they viewed it as new and welcome revenue. Of course, we were very careful not to deliver a competitive message in these locations. It was a “the night is still young” approach. In short, getting in front of the right people is half the battle. We all tend to like the brands we know—even if we have never used them. So make sure the people you want to reach are seeing your name and message. To get even more targeted, take it right to the street. For casino and other clients, we have engaged street teams that can be extremely effective reaching the young adults - especially peer-to-peer teams. A well-trained street team can target your audience visually and engage personally. It’s important to have a well-trained street team because you are now having direct contact with a customer, and just as your staff are your image, these teams are your brand. Consider everything from where you ask them to go, how the team looks, what they say and what they hand out. Even consider what you are doing about any litter that your campaign might create. It can all leave a very strong impression of your brand: positive or negative. If you find that communication through traditional mass media is less effective, less efficient, and more costly, look for alternative channels to create awareness and develop your customer base. This just might be the way to succeed in the new media age. David Bellerive is the Vice President Creative Services and Media at Phoenix Group.
David Bellerive will be moderating a panel discussion called 'Promotion: Tips and Techniques for the Perfect Promotion from Development to Marketing' at the Canadian Gaming Summit. For more details on the '09 Summit please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com 10 | March 2009
Raising the Profile for Charitable Gaming By Lynn Cassidy Charitable gaming is often thought of as the poor cousin of commercial/government gaming. Although across the country, charitable gaming makes up a smaller slice of the gaming pie, its impact goes well beyond the dollars generated, touching and supporting vital services in local communities across Canada. For example, in Ontario, financially, the $1.3 billion gross contribution of charitable gaming to the economy with $213 million directly to charities is significant. Built and sustained largely on a very dedicated volunteer base, our industry is in fact one of a kind. What other multimillion-dollar business relies to a large extent on volunteer power? Our industry is no stranger to challenging times and as we face the future, training support and learning opportunities for our private sector partners and our volunteer base becomes even more important. Training and professional development are critical components of raising our profile as an industry. The charitable gaming business has changed over the years and consumers have increased expectations of us as they do of other service industries. Sharing ideas with each other, hearing research results, listening to experts, and learning from other industries are all important as we move forward. This spring, the Canadian Gaming Summit is being held at the Caesars Windsor Casino & Hotel in Windsor, Ontario. This national conference will provide an excellent opportunity for the charitable gaming industry to
come together. On Tuesday April 28th, the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association will host the “Forward” Charitable Gaming Conference as part of this major event. We have themed this year’s event “Forward” because although times are tough, we must face the realities and work with our regulators and our governments for change that move our industry “forward”. Sessions will focus on coping and improving the business on all levels. Comprehensive research on bingo players and non- players is underway in Ontario and results that will be of interest to all jurisdictions will be shared in a workshop. Sessions on Recruiting Employees and Retaining Volunteers should provide assistance with our resourcing challenges. Sessions on Managing Margins and Developing Effective Marketing Plans will be very timely topics. There are also interesting initiatives on both the bingo and break open ticket fronts. This year will feature a Networking Reception that will be held in one of the very nice bars at the Casino. This will be a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends from across the country. Registrants for the Charitable Gaming Conference also are eligible to attend the opening reception for the Gaming Summit that same evening and to attend the tradeshow. We would encourage you to participate in the whole Gaming Summit as there will be additional sessions of interest on April 29th and April 30th. Please check out the Canadian Gaming Summit website, www.canadiangamingsummit.com, for registration details. Spring will be here before you know it! Lynn Cassidy is the Executive Director of the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association.
Join the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association as it hosts its tenth annual Charitable Gaming Conference in conjunction with the Canadian Gaming Summit. For more details on the '09 Summit please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com 12 | March 2009
Answering The Demand For Legitimacy: Online Gambling By Cookie Lazarus and Brian Hall
There have been key developments in the online gambling industry stemming from two diametrically opposed regulatory perspectives on how best to deal with the industry and the social concerns that accompany it. One perspective favors regulation rather than an outright ban of online gambling. The United Kingdom has fully embraced this perspective. The UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that Antigua and Barbuda will be added to its Whitelist. The fact that a jurisdiction is whitelisted indicates that their regulatory measures have been evaluated and approved by the UK government. There are now four jurisdictions whitelisted by the UK: the Isle of Man, the Island of Alderney, Tasmania, and the jurisdiction of Antigua or Barbuda. In addition, any licensee of a European Economic Area (EEA) jurisdiction which regulates online gambling can lawfully market in UK; the most notable EEA jurisdictions are Gibraltar and Malta. While the UK continues to open its doors to legitimate and regulated remote online gambling operators around the world, the former Bush Administration recently completed a “Midnight Rule Making Session” which had the effect of finalizing the regulations that accompany the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). The regulations took effect the day before President Obama took office. The Poker Players Alliance condemned this action characterizing it as a finalization of a bad and unworkable public policy and continues to lobby for a reversal. Without addressing the politics and motivation behind these regulatory perspectives and speculating on future developments, observations about some of
the possible practical effects of the current regulatory framework and how they can translate into opportunity for investors may be useful. The reality of the Online Gambling Industry is that it is here to stay. In spite of US efforts to restrict it, permissive regulatory frameworks in the UK and the EEA have fostered the industry and it continues to grow. A competitive online gambling brand wants to inspire player confidence and the best way to do this is run their business in a legitimate and transparent manner. Players want to be certain that their funds are secure and that they face no systematic unfairness while playing and the existing regulatory framework contains provisions dealing with these concerns and player protection. Players are sophisticated enough to appreciate this protection and will flock to regulated brands creating high demand for regulated online gambling. How do these trends translate into opportunities for Canadian investors? Certain games, like online poker, are fairly saturated and highly competitive: online poker is currently dominated by a handful of major brands. It would take a substantial amount of startup capital to create a brand that could compete for market share. That being said, online poker continues to expand, and there always seems to be market share available for those with the necessary capital and an innovative approach. Online Bingo, however, has the potential for the kind of growth that online poker experienced, and hence, is much more open to new investment. Land-based bingo playing has always enjoyed widespread popularity and is more widely played on a world-scale basis than poker. The Internet provides a larger scale forum than any private bingo hall or television network.
Similar opportunities exist in the realm of networking with other established brands. Networking essentially involves developing a personal branded skin that acts as a gateway play on a larger network with players from other larger brands. These skins avoid costs associated with maintaining and developing a large network otherwise necessary for a larger online gambling brand allowing you to focus simply on marketing your brand. Essentially, for the cost of a smaller brand, you can still get many of the advantages of a larger one. In keeping with the growing demand and trend toward regulation and legitimization of the industry, technological advances that facilitate improved security are always sought after by the industry and its regulators. In final analysis, the move towards regulation has guaranteed the growth and longevity of the online gambling industry. While the regulatory framework can be difficult to navigate without experienced professional legal advice, opportunities persist for creative and innovative investors in jurisdictions where it is clearly legal. Cookie Lazarus and Brian Hall are gaming lawyers and members of the law firm of Lazarus Charbonneau located in Montreal, Quebec. Morden C. Lazarus is a former President of the International Association of Gaming Advisors and is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law.
The IMGL will be holding their annual North American Spring Conference at the Canadian Gaming Summit. For more details on the '09 Summit please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com Canadian Gaming Business | 13
Canadian Gaming Business recently sat down with Justin Woodard of GPI to talk about trends in electronic table games. GPI: I think that operators have always looked for ways to reduce costs where they can, however, there is a delicate balance between cutting costs and maintaining the gaming experience that live table game players demand. For example, there is the social and competitive interaction that takes place between the dealer and the other players seated at the table. There is also physical interaction that takes place through handling of the gaming chips and cards that cannot be replicated on an electronic table game. Additionally, we cannot overlook the psychological aspects as they relate to player ego. Most players find it extremely gratifying to have their chips stacked in front of them for everyone else to see, signifying their success at the table. I am fairly certain that a stack of TITO receipts will not illicit the same emotional feeling for tables game players as stacks of chips. Most importantly, I do not think experienced live table game players will ever fully trust electronic table games for a couple of reasons. Firstly, these games limit experienced players ability to employ skill or strategy to the electronic versions and secondly, these games too closely resemble slot machines. CGB: Aside from labour, one of the marketed advantages of electronic table games seems to be that they operate with slot like efficiency from an operational standpoint. Will traditional live tables ever be as efficient as slot machines when it comes to operations?
CGB: With the proliferation of electronic table games, do you think they could overtake traditional live table games and eventually become the standard? GPI: Electronic versions of popular casino table games have been available for a long time with limited market penetration, except in jurisdictions where live table games are not 14â€‚ |â€‚ March 2009
permitted. That being said, I really think if they were going to threaten the existence of live table games, this would be fairly evident by now. CGB: Do you think that the downturn in the global economy could force operators to look towards electronic games in an effort to reduce labour costs?
GPI: I would agree that electronic table games are as efficient as slot machines as far as calculating drop and hold percentages as well as player tracking and performance tracking (i.e. hands per hour etc.). However, with the proliferation of RFID technology, live tables can be managed as efficiently. At Gaming Partners International, we currently offer hardware and
software that enables operators to calculate their float at predetermined intervals in an effort to better manage credits and fills, all while accurately recording each transaction in real time. GPI also offers hardware and software for use at the cashier cage that allows our casino customers to validate and authenticate chips as well as customer transactions. Additionally, operators will be able to track the movement of their chips as they flow throughout the casino floor. We even offer chip bank readers that can manage the flow of chips between the cash desk and the vault and provide customized reports detailing each transaction as they occur. Lastly, customers that utilize RFID technology also have the ability to recognize each bet a player wagers for the purpose of player tracking. CGB: How does player tracking or bet recognition make the casinos more efficient? GPI: The answer to this question is twofold. First, most operators would agree that the three major costs in casino table game operations are labor, gaming taxes and player comps. Prior to customers utilizing RFID technology for player tracking at the tables, pit
bosses use to determine player comps based off of an estimated average bet. Now, with RFID technology, each individual bet can be captured over the course of live play, and a true average bet can be calculated resulting in players being comped accurately and accordingly. Secondly, operators get a return on their investment by not overcompensating players. Another key benefit that should not be overlooked is that with RFID enabled player tracking, all bets are read; therefore, there is inherent security built into this technology. For example, if a chip or chips do not read, the bet will not be recognized, therefore; the dealer will know that the chips on the table could be counterfeits, prior to introducing them to the float. CGB:It would appear that the foundation that supports live table games, as we know them, is fairly secure due to technological advancements. Do you think these recent advancements could eventually drive out electronic table games from the casino floor?
a decade now, and have had success marketing it to customers who rely on this technology for security, currency control (tracking the flow of chips as they move throughout the casino) and player tracking. Electronic games are not going anywhere anytime soon as some operators rely on them to bridge the gap that exists between slots and live table games in an effort to introduce or entice new table game players. A novice table game player might not be comfortable starting off on a live table game as they could be intimidated initially, therefore an electronic game might seem less imposing. The only real concern I have is that with the play of electronic games comes the loss of social interaction. Electronic game play usually translates into players being seated in front of electronic monitors void of any dealer/player interaction. It is this loss of social interaction and erosion of the overall gaming experience that could allow online gambling to flourish and eventually become a viable threat to casino operators.
GPI: RFID enabled hardware and software is not a new or recent advancement. We have been working with RFID technology for well over
Justin Woodard is the Sales and Marketing Manager, North America with Gaming Partners International, USA Inc.
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Canadian Gaming Business | 15
Impact of IFRS on the Lottery and Gaming Industry By Lesley Luk and Silvia Montefiore Currently the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) requires Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) as “government entities,” which provincial lottery and gaming corporations are likely to be, to apply the standards of the CICA Handbook for profit oriented enterprises. With the introduction of IFRS by the CICA in the fall of 2007, PSAB considered the different reporting frameworks for GBEs to follow and had concluded, at that time, that GBEs are considered publicly accountable enterprises and would therefore need to apply IFRS commencing in 2011. However, PSAB recently announced that they would revisit this decision as part of a broader Invitation to Comment on Financial Reporting for government entities. While their Invitation to Comment has not been issued as of January 2009, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that PSAB will likely continue to recommend the application of IFRS for GBEs because of the lack of other available accounting frameworks and their suitability of such other options to GBEs. For example, Private Sector Accounting Standards are not suited to government entities, particularly because they are premised on the fact that users of such statements have the ability to request and receive, from the entity, additional financial information not provided in the financial statements. Likewise, Public Sector Accounting Standards are not currently considered appropriate for GBEs and there is no obvious reason why a different conclusion would be reached on PSAB's redeliberations.
What does this mean for the Lottery and Gaming Industry? In order for lottery and gaming enterprises
to adopt IFRS in 2011, enterprises are also required to present their Canadian GAAP 2010 comparative figures as well as an IFRS opening balance sheet at the transition date (i.e., as of April 1, 2010, for a March 31 year end entity). Be sure not to lose sight of the task at hand. Enterprises will need to complete many activities well before the transition date if they are expected to reach the goal of “IFRS – business as usual” in 2011. Many may view the move to IFRS to be a financial reporting change; however, the move to IFRS can affect all areas of the business, including new systems and processes that will be required to manage the change. At a minimum, it is suggested for enterprises to: • Start early in assessing the impact of the key differences between IFRS and Canadian GAAP. From those differences, enterprises can develop a sense of the complexities involved and the time necessary to implement • Obtain support from senior management throughout the conversion process. The two high priority areas are making the initial assessment of the impact of IFRS and discussing the project milestones, timing, and resource requirements • Establish a dedicated project team and develop a formal project plan. Some lottery and gaming enterprises are making major strides in planning their transition, while others are lagging behind. Be sure to invest time and effort early, and build momentum, focusing on your end goal of reporting under IFRS by your transition date in 2011 (and do not forget the opening balance sheet and previous year comparatives).
Top accounting issues Although Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (Canadian GAAP) are similar to IFRS in certain aspects, many differences exist. These differences can be significant and have enterprise-wide implications. The top accounting issues that are likely to arise when provincial lottery and gaming corporations adopt IFRS are in the following areas: • Loyalty and promotion programs • Impairment of assets • Provisions • Property, plant, and equipment Canadian companies are in the fortunate position of being in the “second wave” of the move to IFRS. As a result, we can learn from those countries in Europe and Australia who already made the move to IFRS in 2005. Generally, European companies found that the IFRS conversion was not simply a quick “technical exercise”; however, it did provide executives with opportunities to challenge their processes and how they were viewed and evaluated by key stakeholders. Those who looked at the project more broadly were able to get the most value out of the conversion process. The key is to start early so you give yourself enough time to properly analyze your options.
Silvia Montefiore is a Partner with KPMG LLP and leads KPMG’s Lottery and Gaming practice. Lesley Luk is a Senior Manager with KPMG LLP and is a member of KPMG's Lottery and Gaming Practice.
The Summit's Finance and Investment sessions will focus on important economic issues facing the gaming industry today. For more details on the '09 Summit please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com 16 | March 2009
Traditional and Electronic Gaming Trends: Old games, new tweaks and shifting demographics By Andrew Coppolino
Given their long history, traditional tables games remain popular in gaming venues because of players’ habits and idiosyncrasies. But thanks to electronic tweaks and hybrids and fusions of technology, many old games are new again. That same technology has also resulted in new electronic table games (ETGs) that fill niche demands at casinos, including those venues where gaming regulations prohibit live dealers. But any game—new or a new take on tradition—can be successful only if gaming operators can manage the volatility of the game, the house advantage, and the speed. That’s according to Cameron Uhren, Vice President Gaming Operations with Ontario Lottery and Gaming. “With new games, we need to evaluate curb appeal and ease of play because new, or non-skill, players who come into sites are playing these games. How attractive are the games and how easily can new players understand and play them?” Uhren sees the player base shifting toward the dynamic group activity of table games and away from slots. The key here? A younger clientele, he suggests, citing the example of the way Atlantic City’s Borgata has designed their gaming floor. “It’s a younger demographic looking for a challenge and a social aspect where they’re cheering at a table. It’s an area operators should be considering if we want to grow that market,” he noted. 18 | March 2009
Poker and blackjack still in the gaming constellation Technology and new games have not necessarily eclipsed traditional games, however. Caribbean Stud and three-card poker are very popular, but traditional poker—thanks in part to heavy media saturation—has showed continued growth. Doug Wilson, President of International Playing Card Company of Richmond Hill, Ontario which produces over 150 million decks of playing cards for all gaming sectors annually, says poker has yet to reach its gaming apogee. “We had an excellent , so poker still seems strong from our perspective, including for U.S. casinos.” From his vantage point in London, England, Luke Davis of TCSJOHNHUXLEY marvels at poker’s ubiquity. “You can’t turn on the television without seeing coverage of a poker tournament. The media has fuelled its popularity in casinos across the globe.”
As for blackjack, at U.S. tables the 6:5 game is picking up momentum over traditional 3:2 blackjack, according to Uhren. Yet Dan Pronovost, President of DeepNet Technologies in Kitchener, Ontario and editor of Blackjack Insider says Canadian blackjack is more static due to “tighter regulations and our more conservative approach to gaming.” Kirsten Clark, Shuffle Master Inc. Vice President of World Wide Marketing, says “where there has not been a lot of innovation in the past with traditional live table games has been with blackjack or baccarat, both games that command a lot of floor space.” But versatile new hybrid tables like their standard size blackjack table-top with embedded touch-screen player positions “can provide casinos with 30 percent more hands-per-hour, added security, and dispute resolution along with increased game speed,” says Clark.
gamingtrends Roulette’s enduring appeal As long as there has been Monte Carlo, roulette, given its longevity, has been the ne plus ultra of casino games because of its glamorous association with this Monaco quartier. Roulette is what Uhren calls the “lottery” of gaming: “there’s not a lot of skill required, and for new social players it might be the first game they are attracted to.” Luke Davis adds, “it’s easy to forget that roulette is a simple game and that’s a huge part of its appeal. The demand for roulette products has never been stronger.” New roulette systems integrate traditional tables and live dealers with electronic multiplayer betting surfaces that track betting activity. “It permits players to enjoy authentic roulette while delivering security, reducing costs, and increasing the number of games played per hour,” said Davis. Pairing speed and the ease of automated operation, Spielo/Atronic, part of GTECH’s Gaming Solutions Group, has tweaked roulette and filled a market niche with Alfastreet, an electronic version that meets lottery legislation. “Racino markets have great potential for electronic table games, especially where regulations don’t permit a live dealer,” said Robin Drummond, Spielo/ Atronic Vice-President of Sales. “Commercial markets are a bigger challenge where players enjoy the relationships they have with a live dealer. However, there are commercial casinos where electronic table games work well because they diversify the floor and increase the volume of play at lower operating costs than live-dealer table games,” Drummond continues. Advancements have taken place at ITG, according to Tim Richards. “We have developed a roulette game that can be played with either an automated wheel, a video/animated wheel, or off of a live roulette table as well as a virtual baccarat game that is fully automated. We are developing a version that can also be played from a live baccarat game.” For players, such developments mean lower limit games that casinos may not be able to afford otherwise, while gaming outlets benefit from these products in their efficiency, speed of play, and fewer security concerns. “The games can be played 24/7 and in
many markets are considered slot games thereby allowing them to be placed in slotonly properties such as racinos, community gaming centers, and some VLT markets,” adds Richards.
from losing a lot of money. The live dealer gives the concept a differentiating edge and reduces labour for casinos who can triple the number of players they address at the same cost or less,” he notes.
Baccarat from Macau to Vegas
Bridging a gap
Baccarat has maintained its popularity and continues growing rapidly. Hugely popular in the Macau Chinese special administrative region, the balance is so skewed in that gaming Mecca that officials are trying to entice dedicated players away from baccarat (where one dealer can only serve a dozen players at a time) to more profitable games, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that gaming revenues in Macau have recently overtaken those of the Las Vegas strip, 88 percent of which are generated at baccarat tables. The immensity of the game in Macau, according to Doug Wilson, “has translated into the North American market.” Uhren agrees that baccarat continues to be a popular base game for a defined player demographic. “It hasn’t lost its appeal but manages off a low house-advantage and chews away at the player’s bankroll,” he noted.
JP Symeonidis, Director of Sales and Marketing for Montreal-based Amaya Gaming Group, says, “by bridging the gap between Internet and traditional play, electronic table games allow venues to reach a broader market than traditional tables alone.” Amaya offers server and networkbased gaming, and electronic table games with multi-table tournament capabilities and portable gaming. Their electronic poker table was an industry first. “It’s a player-versus-player product with the house only involved in taking commission. The electronic game doesn’t allow inexperienced players to feel intimidated and make mistakes like at a live table because it walks them through each step. For more advanced players, the more hands they play per hour, the better chance they have to make money,” Symeonidis adds.
Producing future positive experiences Hybridization and computerization It seems, therefore, that the term hybrid best describes developments. Working with operators, TCSJOHNHUXLEY says it has fused technology and tradition to develop a range of touch-screen, multi-player table game products that retain the true essence of live gaming. “All these games feature hybrid electronic game platforms and live game content allowing customers to play against a live roulette wheel, dice shaker or card shoe but striking the perfect balance between the thrill of live gaming and the advantages of electronic betting,” said Davis. Royal Flush of Hagersville, Ontario and Paradise Gaming out of China have even collaborated to produce a table game and slots hybrid. “It takes a table game and a dealer, but a camera broadcasts to terminals out on the gaming floor,” said Royal Flush President Barry Brady. “Lower table limits prevent players not familiar with table games
TCSJOHNHUXLEY is reluctant to divulge what 2009 has in store, but Davis says “it’s safe to state that the next 12 to 18 months will guarantee new launches that will continue to deliver viable innovations in all areas of the market.” Yet, for his part, with new games being offered to him almost weekly, Uhren perhaps downplays such immediate viability saying that he hasn’t yet found a game that can assume the role of a new base game that has the legs of either a blackjack or a roulette. “The challenge is finding appealing new games that produce a positive experience for players. For me, when we look at what’s new for traditional games, it really centres on a younger demographic and our ability to grow that demographic by creating vibrant experiences on the floor,” he concludes. Andrew Coppolino is a freelance writer based in Kitchener, Ontario. He can be reached at andrew@ andrewcoppolino.com. Canadian Gaming Business | 19
I-Gaming: Is Progress being made? By John FitzGerald The Canadian public has embraced online gaming as a form of legitimate entertainment and have ushered in a new era of Internet gambling. This means it’s time for government to embrace this activity and listen to what consumers want. While it’s hard to present absolute figures about the growth of the industry, it’s no stretch to say that it has been explosive in the past decade. The number of digital gambling websites is well into the thousands. And industry insiders have pegged the current value of online gaming in Canada alone at over $1 billion a year. This form of entertainment is here to stay and we need to deal with it, because the fastest growing group of players is playing online and that means that traditional policies need to be reconsidered. To that end, what bears closer scrutiny is the regulation of the online gaming industry. The reality is that it will continue to expand to meet consumer demand and would greatly benefit from having provincial governments regulate it. To date, no Canadian province has moved to regulate and tax this lucrative sector. Some provincial governments are introducing their own online gaming product that has been viewed as an expansion of gaming by the public and the media. Regulating the sector would not be seen as an expansion of gaming but rather about providing consumer safeguards. The international community has already moved in this direction: the United Kingdom, Malta, Isle of Man, Gibraltar and Alderney, as well as other jurisdictions have already passed laws to regulate online gaming. Key lessons can be learned from observing their efforts: that the industry can be regulated, effective regulation protects consumers, and it can also
offer economic benefits in the manner of jobs and investments from global technology companies, taxes, licensing fees, and potential revenue sharing, all achieved through reasonable taxation. There is no doubt that governments have an important role to play in setting standards, as of paramount importance is the ability to provide consumer protection, promote responsible gaming and youth prevention, and from the company’s perspective, implement protocols and procedures to ensure integrity and accountability. The public needs to be assured of the legitimacy of the operators and governments are expected to provide the public with those protections. Provinces have systems of regulation in place for land-based operators so why not adopt the same policies for online operators? Online gaming companies have already demonstrated they’re willing to adopt strong models to protect their customers. Take youth prevention as an example: unlike landbased casinos were someone can just walk in and play, online players need to register their detailed information prior to playing for real
money and this information needs to be correct before any player can deposit or withdraw. A strong argument can be made for the need for government oversight. And there really are only three options, given the irrefutable evidence that the industry is not slowing down – or disappearing – any time soon: prohibition, status quo and regulation. The first two can be dealt with in short order. Prohibition simply does not work. Just look at the way in which the public dealt with the ban on alcohol. Prohibition only serves to drive the industry underground, which means that there is little or no ability to monitor, regulate or control it. The status quo is unsustainable because all interested parties – government, consumers and companies – need clarity about the industry so that they can operate effectively and with certainty. Given the growth of Canada’s online gaming industry, together with the lost economic opportunities not being realized, and in some cases, the lack of safeguards in place for the consumer, the question to regulate should be one of “when”, not “if”. The world has moved in the direction of regulation and Canada needs to follow. What needs to begin now, however, are discussions about how to achieve an open, regulated marketplace for Internet gaming in Canada. There will be no shortage of committed partners – the IGC included – to help bring about responsible and effective gaming policies in order to embrace a form of entertainment that the public clearly wants. John FitzGerald is the CEO of the Interactive Gaming Council.
The I-Gaming track at the Canadian Gaming Summit will address policy proposals, law enforcement actions and concerns about expanding outside of brick and mortar casinos. 20 | December 2008/January 2009
© 2009 KPMG LLP, a Canadian limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative. All rights reserved.
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Food Cost Increases: Weathering the Perfect Storm By Bill Schwartz, CHTP
Most casino operators are starting to notice the gradual decline in F&B profitability. Unlike any time in our history, a variety of factors are combining to create huge jumps in food and beverage prices. Bettina Luescher, the chief North American spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Program, says the factors contributing to the increasing food prices have created "a perfect storm." She cites a variety of factors including rising oil and energy prices, economic booms in India and China that increase demand, climate changes causing droughts and floods, and the shift by farmers from food crops to crops used for biofuels. If we are indeed facing the perfect storm, the best defense is to understand the situation at hand and develop strategies to minimize the damage.
Storm Clouds In 2007, food service operators in Canada witnessed only a .7 percent increase in commercial foodservice sales in Canada, according to the Canadian Restaurant &
Foodservice Association. Since 2000, world prices for food and beverage commodities have increased by an average of 5.9 percent each year, accelerating to an average annual of increase of 12.7 percent in 2006 and 2007. This increase is a sharp contrast to the average annual decline of world food prices of 1.8 percent recorded between 1992 and 1999. Price increases for the following commodities within the foodservice industry are as follows: Item Increase Wheat 100.6% Soybeans 81.7% Robusta Coffee 34.9% Maize 24.5% Barley 39.2% Cocoa Beans 34.9% Crude Oil 66.3% Source: International Monetary Fund as reported by the CRFA (Jan/Feb2007 – Jan/Feb 2008)
Reduce Costs by Reducing Quality or Portion Size Another popular approach to is to buy less
Bill Schwartz will be speaking at the Canadian Gaming Summit on Tuesday, April 28 at 1 p.m. For more details on the '09 Summit please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com 22 | March 2009
expensive ingredients, decrease portion sizes or both. These cost reduction techniques are much easier to implement than increased sales, but they do incur some risk. Reducing recipe portion sizes is one of the most effective ways of reducing food and beverage costs. For some time, various consumer and diet-oriented groups have complained that restaurant portions are too large in the first place. It may be quite possible, and in fact, even advantageous to reduce the portion sizes of some menu items gradually or to plate meals differently.
Improve Inventory Control It would probably be better to think of improved inventory control as mandatory, not optional. Every dollar not lost to theft, waste, spoilage or over-portioning is a dollar of profit. Some simple steps can be taken to improve inventory control. The use of purchase orders and rigorous receiving
practices can help to eliminate purveyor related theft and invoicing errors. More frequent inventories will result in the ability to maintain lower inventory levels, reduce theft and spoilage. The use of cutting charts for all butchery will result in less waste associated with the butchery function, which in most cases involves the most expensive food purchased. Waste sheets, which are used to identify anything thrown away or poured out, can help to reduce costs as well, since they actually show where the money is being lost. Ultimate inventory control requires an automated system capable of tracking actual and ideal use for multi-profit centre environments. While these systems tend to require significant investment, they provide the ability to identify inventory control problems, and reduce the labour costs associated with manual control. They represent the best long-term solution for
food and beverage profit maximization, regardless of the outside effects such as increasing food and beverage costs.
Weathering the Storm There's no question that the storm is already here. And this one is going to get worse before it gets better. Maintaining the status quo in the face of this storm is too much of a gamble. Implementing the changes discussed, along with a strong inventory control system now is the closest thing casinos can get to a sure bet for food and beverage survival.
Bill Schwartz is CEO of System Concepts, Inc. (SCI). Based in Scottsdale Arizona, SCI specializes in helping clients control food and beverage costs. He is the developer of the FOODTRAK System.
A Winning Philosophy.
The fundamental goal of the Canadian Gaming Association is to create balance in the public dialogue about gaming in Canada. Our members are the largest and most established gaming operators, suppliers and gaming equipment manufacturers in Canada, including provincial lottery corporations, casino and race track operators, and makers of slot machines and other related equipment. Our mandate is to create a better understanding of the gaming industry through education and advocacy. Visit our web site at www.canadiangaming.ca and find out more about who we are and what a CGA membership can do for you.
Canadian Gaming Businessâ€‚ |â€‚ 23
Security Officer Wanted: Must be flexible and adaptable By Gerald N. Boose
The security officer has one of the most challenging and least appreciated roles on the gaming floor. Security officers are expected to be open and welcoming to guests at the front entrance and yet firm and authoritative in keeping out minors, drunks and other persons not permitted in the casinos. On the floor, they are expected to be knowledgeable and helpful, but ready to intervene at a moments notice to deal with the occasional unruly and sometimes violent patron. They are usually the first responders in medical emergencies where they must deal with both the physical and the emotional side of the event. They
Designed in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Casino Security Directors, the security and surveillance sessions at the Canadian Gaming Summit will highlight the most current issues and latest technologies. 24â€‚ |â€‚ March 2009
need to contribute to a sense of safety and security and yet not so much that it diminishes the sense of fun and excitement the casinos work so hard to create. While these different roles do not necessarily conflict, finding the right balance is certainly no small matter and the emotions and attitudes that lie behind one role sometimes blur into another. Finding the right people to fill these positions can be a considerable challenge. It is not as if they are paid a handsome sum and few will actually aspire to make this their life’s work. A number of the younger applicants will see this as a bridge to a career in law enforcement, which may well be the case, but a law enforcement orientation is not what you are looking for on the casino floor. In the end, you are really looking for common sense, the right attitude and the flexibility and adaptability to seamlessly switch from one role to another. These abilities are very difficult to assess through a recruitment process. For this reason, many security departments bring in new persons on a casual basis in order to test them in a live environment before committing to a permanent hire. Even if you do hire the right person, that person will be doomed to failure if not brought into the right environment. Some older and well-established security departments struggle to reorient their function around customer service and a new and promising hire can quickly find they are adapting to the established norm. This is particularly the case when hiring small numbers as critical mass becomes difficult to achieve. In these situations, the challenge for security directors is to move the entire department towards that customer service focus and not all persons will be easily moved. For those persons not easily moved, the security director must put the framework in place to bring the slow adapters along and ensure they are not undermining the spirit and effort of the new hires. While it may seem self evident, standards need to be in place which treat customer service as a priority. A standard as simple as acknowledging the arrival of a customer by the security officer can have significant impact. The training program must of course be consistent with the standards and unless it has been reviewed in the last several years, it may well be heavily skewed towards law enforcement and the technical aspects of casino security. Once the appropriate training program is established, the performance evaluation process can be employed to help bring along the more intransigent workers and to recognize and reward those who are meeting the new expectations. With time and persistence, the individual security officer and the department as a whole can be seen as key components in ensuring the delivery of good customer service, while at the same time ensuring the gaming environment is both safe and secure. The ability to contribute in so many ways to the success of the property is a source of job enrichment for the individual and a more effective use of this valuable resource, but to make it all work, the officer needs to be flexible, adaptable and ready to play a wide variety of roles on a moments notice. Gerald Boose is a contributing writer in the field of security, surveillance and regulatory compliance. He has held senior executive positions in the spheres of public policing and gaming and is the Past President of the Canadian Association of Casino Security Directors.
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1.800.387.9794 • www.ca-gi-de.com Canadian Gaming Business | 25
Casino Amenities are on the Rise By Lisa Kopochinski
Casinos are competing stronger than ever for business and offering so much more than gaming. There’s everything from nightclubs, high-end entertainment, restaurants and retail stores to spas, golf courses, extensive meeting facilities and even hockey arenas - all in an effort to create the perfect short-term getaway. For example, those near Southern Ontario can save on the cost of airfare to Nevada and get the Las Vegas experience at the new Caesars Windsor. “The Caesars brand is attracting people who are familiar with this legendary 40-year-old brand that means total indulgence,” explains Holly Ward, Director of Communications and Community Affairs for Caesars Windsor, which opened last June. “We have headline entertainment, which is really driving our business,” she says. “We had Jay Leno on New Year’s Eve and that night alone we had 30,000 people through the building. That’s twice as many as the previous year.” While it’s difficult to determine if people are coming more for the gaming or the 26 | March 2009
entertainment, Ward believes the crowds are coming for the whole experience. And the Caesars name is certainly a big part of that. “This is the only Caesars property in Canada. When they come, they know they will get great service and world-class amenities. We have also been very successful with convention business,” she adds. In fact, the resort has conventions booked out as far at 2020. And because the resort has multi-functional space in its 5,000-seat Coliseum, the chairs can be removed to create 40,000 square feet of convention space. Nearly 500 kilometers northeast of Windsor in Rama, Ontario is Casino Rama, which is also attracting clientele with big-
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name entertainment. The province’s only First Nation’s commercial casino has featured an impressive line up of top-notch acts that include musicians Stevie Nicks, Santana, Carrie Underwood and Blondie and comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams and Chris Rock. “As a Canadian casino, we believe in the importance of presenting Canadian talent,” explains Shawn Wilson, Director of Entertainment and Special Events. “We feature many of Canada’s top artists, which have included the Barenaked Ladies, Amanda Marshall, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings and Tom Cochrane, among many others,” he notes. The dining experience is also a big draw at Casino Rama. The resort boasts 10 restaurants, including the new Cedar. “This 220-seat restaurant gives the 5,000-plus event goers on a sold-out concert night yet another dining option to compliment their experience,” says Wilson. “Cedar provides casual food with a First Nations influence in a trendy and hip atmosphere for a unique dining experience.” Dining is also a big deal for Woodbine Entertainment Group. WEG’s Turf Lounge in downtown Toronto combines great dining with horse racing. “Turf is the place to entertain business associates for lunch or dinner or just to meet for a drink after work,” says Jane Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for WEG. “Horse racing is an integral part of the Turf Lounge. New customers are introduced to the sport with the numerous TV screens throughout the facility.” At the other end of the spectrum is WEGZ Stadium bar, located just north of the city in Vaughan. “This 23,000-square-foot state-of-the-art stadium-size sports bar and premier event facility is targeted at the younger sports enthusiast although it has become a popular choice for corporate team building events,” Holmes explains. “There are over
100 televisions throughout the facility including a movie-theatre-size screen. The ticker tape running around the perimeter of the facility provides the most current scores and updates on all sporting events.” She adds that WEG continues to attract its traditional horse racing customers, but with new facilities like Turf and WEGZ and a focus on providing attractive modern facilities and excellent customer service, it has seen a growth in its group sales and corporate meeting clientele.
A Room with a View Many people want breathtaking scenery as part of their stay. Few resorts can complete with Fallsview, which has Niagara Falls as its backdrop. Guests at the four-year-old, 374-room hotel can take in the expansive view from the resort’s three-tiered R5 lounge with its floor-to-ceiling windows and wraparound outdoor terrace, “all designed to maximize its panoramic views of the Falls,” says Richard Taylor, Vice President of Operations, Niagara Casinos. Taylor adds that 2008 was tough but “thanks to our commitment to customer service, strategic marketing, resort development and prudent management of costs, we were reasonably pleased with our results. This is particularly true considering the enormous challenges we faced with record-high gasoline costs, an unfavorable currency exchange rate, strong competition, ongoing confusion concerning appropriate documentation for crossing the international border and an overall softening of the tourism market in Niagara.” He expects challenges to remain through 2009 and says this will not be a year for record growth. “However, we did not shrink from our plans to make capital improvements to our properties even as the economy faltered. These improvements will serve us well during the economic downturn and during the inevitable
specialsupplement upswing that will follow.” Fallsview will continue to strive to improve in all areas, search for new and exciting entertainment opportunities, and focus on excellence in customer service. While its customer base has changed over the past few years, Casino Rama has been able to roll with the punches. “For instance, in June 2006, we, along with the province of Ontario, went non-smoking,” explains Wilson. “This change affected our customer base and we had to compete with the U.S. market where smoking is still acceptable in some casinos. Even with this change, however, we have adapted and remained successful. While actual customers may have changed, we have seen growth among younger demographics driven by contemporary acts such as Staind, Mary J. Blige, Collective Soul and Jewel,” he remarks. Caesars Windsor will also be looking to expand its customer base this year. “We have the passport issue coming up June 1 so that is going to be our focus with an education and motivation campaign for our customers to
ensure they are aware of what they need to cross the border and making it attractive for them to do so,” explains Ward. “There is still confusion about what is needed.” Most of Caesar’s clientele is American. “Many will go see the Pistons and Lions in Detroit and then come here for the total experience, especially using our rewards program.”
Casinos offer Twin Rinks and a History Lesson Two unique resorts in the West offer much more than gaming as well. For instance, how about not one, but two full-size ice rinks. “Twin Rinks is a key element to our overall focus of being a complete destination resort,” explains Scott Zerr, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Cree River Resort in Enoch, Alberta, just outside of Edmonton. Zerr says the Adult Safe Hockey League runs out of the Twin Rinks and is very popular in the local community. “The arena is becoming a favored one for larger tournaments, ranging from kids events to adults. The rinks are
extremely busy, which is a testament to the quality of the facility: the ice is generally regarded as the best in the Edmonton area and the surrounding amenities. Twin Rinks has also hosted the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche teams for practices and recently hosted a fantasy camp game for Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson.” Considered a destination location that many liken to a Las Vegas resort, Zerr says, “Our business strategy for attracting clientele is a combination of offering more of everything. The options that are available with gaming, nightlife, dining and entertainment allow us to hit a number of demographics with this focus.” For the St. Eugene Mission Resort near Cranbrook, British Columbia, history is the name of the game along with poker and blackjack. Framed by the Rocky Mountains and the St. Mary’s River, this 4 ½-star resort is the province’s only aboriginal-owned casino. Guests can learn more about the area and the history of the original Mission School at the
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specialsupplement resort’s interpretive centre that is operated by Ktunaxa Nation Council. The resort also attracts guests who come for the great golf and downhill skiing and numerous other outdoor activities. “We are a destination resort offering 125 hotel rooms, championship golf and four restaurants, and a full-service casino,” says Wendy Van Puymbroeck, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We get a mix of leisure and business travelers—about 60 percent leisure and 40 percent business.” It’s little wonder why. In addition to gaming, the list of activities at the resort is abundant— in both summer and winter. Guests can take helicopter tours or partake in fly fishing, lake fishing, river rafting, snowmobiling tours, snowshoeing, mountain biking and hiking. Downhill skiing is only 20 minutes away at nearby Kimberley and one hour from Fernie. Golf is probably the most popular activity. Referred to as “a masterpiece in an incredible setting,” the resort’s 18-hole golf course, named one of the top three best new Canadian golf courses named by Golf Digest magazine
in 2001, winds its way through open-link lands, rolling woodlands, overlooking spectacular views of the St. Mary’s River. In the east, there’s Fisher Peak, while in the opposite direction, one can feast their eyes on the Purcell Mountains. While business was reasonable in 2008, Van Puymbroeck says the resort did well, but like others, felt the weakening economy. “We are focusing on closer markets. We believe folks will still want to travel but due to budgets may stay closer to home. Calgary is close at four hours away. We also enjoy support from the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginalowned property and that business continues to increase.” Also on the horizon may be a $40-million expansion that has been presented to the board of directors and owners. While a decision has not yet been made, the project would include 100 additional guest rooms, a larger casino, a banquet hall for 700 and an indoor swimming pool.
Caesars Windsor is also looking at a possible expansion. “There is room to create more amenities,” says Ward. “At the 27-floor Augustus Tower, the highest tower in Windsor, the entire top floor is empty and we are looking at options. Maybe a restaurant or retail space. We are not at capacity with our real estate.” “WEG is always looking for business opportunities. This includes offering a firstclass entertainment and culinary experience to all our customers and building the awareness of horse racing. Currently, we are focusing on transforming Woodbine Racetrack into a world-class destination through the $1 billion development of Woodbine Live! and establishing a Resort Development at Mohawk Racetrack,” adds Holmes. Casinos will continue to expand and improve their amenities to draw new visitors – rounding out a complete entertainment experience for all who visit. Lisa Kopochinski is a freelance writer based in Sacramento, CA and can be reached at lisakop@ sbcglobal.net.
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