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March 2014


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Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 glyn@ace123.com Associate Editor North America David Mckee dmckee@ace123.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky jackbulavsky@yahoo.com S Europe - Andrew Behan abehan@ace123.com UK - Alan Campbell alancampbellcasinolife@gmail.com Latin America & Asia Correspondent: Janice Chaka Janice@ace123.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods jjsilks@eircom.net Online Gaming Editor: Sam Miranda sam@ace123.com

Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde design@ace123.com www.totaldesignworks.com Subscriptions: Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree sb@ace123.com

Editor’s page Welcome to Casino Life. Here in Ukraine I am still wearing my tin hat but over the past few days matters have thankfully “de-escalated”. I still have Russian troops a day away from my house but hopefully common sense will prevail and those responsible for earlier events will be brought to justice. Back in the casino world the headlines these days also seem to be about responsibility and justice. Not a day goes by without news stories world-wide about gamblers who are suing casinos for them losing money (often stolen from their employers) whilst drunk and secondly the UK considering (finally) curbing the FOBTs in betting shops that are labeled the “crack cocaine of gambling”. The former has always baffled me – quite why a casino should be responsible for someone’s losses jars a bit – should they also be able to claw back money from winning streaks? The latter however, does get my vote. I have never liked FOBTs as they are a double standard - a wolf in sheep’s clothing may be a better description. They emerged in the UK at a time that casinos were being tramelled whilst the online and electronic forms of gambling seemed to be able to pass under the radar of the regulators. Whilst there are countless controls on slots and live gaming in a casino environment - from stake and payouts to measures to look out for and help problem gamblers, in a betting shop – just a single door from the street - the controls on bet limits, frequency and measures to tackle problem gambling are so much less. I hope that this is addressed together with the incessant online TV advertisements – restraint for advocating all forms of gambling at minors and the regulation of high risk and addiction is needed but the freedom of choice to play should be allowed. How often do we have to keep asking for “a level playing field” when discussing UK gambling laws and tax regulations? It’s a difficult balance – but achievable. Back to this issue and we lead with Kate Chambers of Clarion as our Guest Editor reflecting on the stunning success of ICE. We talk to Aspers COO Richard Noble about recent developments and future plans; Bruce Howard gives us clarity at the Valley View in San Diego; Sam Miranda considers whether Las Vegas has lost its Mojo (we hope not); Chris Moore poignantly reflects on his experiences in Eastern Europe; Finally, we round up some of the notable product launches at ICE. My favourite at the show? Well, I did like the mini gif animated slot buttons by Suzo Happ… very cute. But if pushed I would have to say for sheer ingenuity it had to be the fingerprint recognition system on the Novomatic stand – a dream come true perhaps for many casinos and players alike. Carrying your money on your thumb means never losing your wallet again – although if you are drunk, perhaps you can still claim for your losses!

Journal Manager: Chris Sanson csanson@ace123.com Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 pwhite@ace123.com

Glyn Thomas

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Contents 4

Total Entertainment Experience Glyn Thomas chats with Aspers Group COO Richard Noble

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The Extreme Casino Makeover Valley View Casino & Hotel GM Bruce Howard chats to Glyn Thomas about the resorts extensive refurbishment

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Mr. Halpenny had a very busy 2013 Casino Life’s Las Vegas based Special Assignment Correspondent catches up with Bally Technologies Senior VP of Australia and Europe Adrian Halpenny

21 Being New Doesn’t Mean Your Different Even the Best Strategy May Have to Wait it’s Turn…by Robert Ambrose 22 How to attract, date and love your casino customers on social media by Marc Campman 25

Europe: Progressing Towards Legal MultiChannel Gambling Casino Life’s Northern European Associate Editor Damien Connelly reports on the ICE Totally Gaming’s 2014 Conference

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Taking the ‘Sin’ Out of ‘Sin City’: Has Vegas Lost Its Gambling Mojo? by Sam Miranda Casino Life’s Online Gaming Editor

30 Recollection 1989 By Chris Moore, this time Eastern Europe 33

Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino & Resort Chris Sanson chats with Marcel Zangger, Director of Operations at Dallmeier USA, and Chris Batog, Surveillance Director of Mardi Gras Casino & Resort

37 Chris Sanson’s ICE Totally Gaming 2014 Show Review

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.


Guest Editor A SENSATIONAL celebration of gaming

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ate Chambers, Portfolio Director responsible for ICE Totally Gaming, looks beyond the records to detect a mood of optimism in London. For many people in the broadly based gaming industry – not least myself and the organising team at Clarion – the year is punctuated by the world’s biggest business to business event - ICE Totally Gaming. As the world meets at ICE it is probably an appropriate place to undergo a health check of the global business in all of its guises. From our perspective, 2014 got off to a particularly good start. Once again the industry showed its faith in ICE enabling us to post a record attendance and for those more interested in trends than snap shots – this represented our fifth consecutive year of growth. However, whilst we might like to think that the gaming community travels thousands and thousands of miles from over 100 countries because we put on a good, well organised shop window on the business (which I think we do!) the real reason they make such a commitment is down to the calibre of our exhibiting companies, 503 of whom were at the ExCeL Centre. So what were the take outs from ICE? In terms of technology trends, all of the commentators seemed to focus on the importance of mobile gaming with more and more of the big players in the traditional supply industry giving greater prominence to mobile application displays. Once upon a time ICE was just a land-based event, but now it is all about the widest possible spectrum of technology enabling gaming. Whilst trends in gaming are hugely important and generate pages and pages of reporting and analysis, my main take out comes from a different orbit. Although I work in the industry my specialism is events and as a consequence my radar is slightly different. The main aspect for me was the atmosphere of confidence and dare I say guarded optimism that was palpable across the 55,000 sqm of gaming enterprise and innovation. The industry not only supported ICE in record numbers (despite the tube strike!) but I also think they celebrated it and everything that the gaming industry has to offer. And if that snapshot of an observation does become a trend then gaming will have something very special to celebrate in the remainder of 2014! Kate Chambers Portfolio Director at Clarion Events

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Total Entertainment Experience Glyn Thomas chats with Richard Noble Chief Operating Officer at Aspers Group Limited 4


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last spoke to Richard Noble some two and a half years back as he was preparing the final countdown for Aspers Casino at Westfield Stratford City to open prior to the Olympics. You could sense the nerves jangling a bit – but also a calm resolution that it would all turn out OK. And so it did with 12,000 visitors crossing the threshold in the first day. Time has passed but still the visitors keep coming, not necessarily because of the location, but because like many of the Aspers venues, Westfield is a great entertainment package. This time I caught up with Richard Noble as he was about to enter a “retreat” – a management event with senior executives at a well-known UK horse racing venue of all things – to mull over progress and what lies ahead. Could we commence with a brief reminder to those less familiar with UK gaming the history of Aspers? Aspers Group is a straight 50/50 joint venture between Damian Aspinall, Aspers Chairman and CEO, and Crown Limited, one of Australia’s largest entertainment groups who own and operate Australia’s leading premium casinos resorts, including Crown Casino in Melbourne and Burswood in Perth. Aspers Group operate 4 casinos in the UK, 2 1968 licence casinos in Newcastle and Northampton, and the only 2 2005 Act licence casinos operating in Newham and Milton Keynes. Newcastle was Aspers first property to open in October 2005 and certainly raised the benchmark for the UK. Our strategy has been to operate high

volume properties catering for both the transactional and leisure patron in a modern environment. Patrons visit our properties for the overall experience, not just to gamble. The average UK casino has approximately 2,000 visitors a week, Newcastle has over 14,000 a week, and Stratford over 32,000! How was 2013 for Aspers? Overall very good. The highlight for the group was successfully opening our 2nd Large License casino in MK. We’re proud to have opened the only 2 properties under the 2005 Act, and both are trading well ahead of expectations. The light level of the ambient lighting in Aspers Casinos is very subtle yet creates very effective environment for those in groups or visiting on their own. Traditionally casinos were lit to a higher ambient level. Aspers approach to lighting is to create a comfortable environment that people feel relaxed in and want to stay, not just to bet but to socialise, eat and drink. The move forward in LED technology and utilising full lighting control systems allows us to change the mood and feel of the space at the touch of a button. This comes into its own on large sporting events and international poker tournaments. Has the mix of machines Slots and multiplayers, that involve Novomatic IGT R Franco Interblock and tables with wheels and displays from Cammegh been

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influenced by their success with the other Aspers Casinos? The aim is always to offer a wide selection of playing opportunities to our customers, by working very closely with keys suppliers like Novomatic, IGT, Franco, TCS, Interblock and Cammegh we’re able to fine tune the gaming offer and provide a great playing experience, this has been a key element to our success and is part of our strategy for all new casino openings.

It really makes no sense at all to only have 20 slots machines available for patrons to play, particularly when a property like Newcastle can have over 5,000 attendances on a busy weekend day. In Stratford and MK, where we have 150 and 108 slots respectively, we have been able to offer patrons a wide variety of games to suit all needs, which has been popularly received. In addition, the recent increase to stakes and prizes on slots has given more choice to players.

An impressive bar area, good quality food and high quality customer service – is the sum greater than the individual parts? Without a doubt. We deliberately site our properties in high footfall locations alongside other leisure activities, and then offer a full range of activities once patrons decide to visit Aspers. Over 30% of our patrons are female, and 35% don’t even gamble, instead choosing to enjoy our bars, restaurants and entertainment. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, and every member of the team strives to make a positive difference.

Over recent years Aspers has invested in many new casinos – has that brought jobs, training and development of staff? Yes, we opened Stratford with 400 jobs, and now employee over 650 just two years later. In MK we have created a further 200 jobs, and expect that to grow to over 300. We made a firm commitment in both communities to create local jobs for local people, with an emphasis on long-term unemployed, unskilled and young people. Over 43% of new starters in MK were claiming benefits before starting with us. We have also been working closely with MK College for over 5 years now, and have put together bespoke training packages for our new recruits. The impression one is met with upon entering the casino is of an operation is of an operation, who’s staff is relaxed and professional which combined with the environment, people find very appealing as the combination works in attracting patrons to the Casino whether it’s to meet friends for a social drink or watch live televised sport and put a few quid on the game as well as try-out their luck on the EGMs or tables.

Have there been any influences from Casinos in Las Vegas involved in layout and design of Aspers Casinos? Our Property Director, Gary Hosie, is passionate about delivering the best casino offer in the UK, the design and layout have come from visiting many Casinos throughout the Globe, and more importantly through listening to the operator’s needs and requirements. Our design is ever evolving, and we look forward to seeing our next reincarnation in the near future. Crown also has significant resource which we can draw upon to assist us in any aspect of the business, including design, layout and product, which we take advantage of from time to time. What elements on the gaming floor in your opinion present the biggest challenges & opportunities? The biggest challenge is still the number of slot machines we’re permitted in a 68 Act Licensed casino.

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What would you say are some of the unique aspects about Aspers Casinos? From the conception of Aspers 10 years ago, it was the clear vision of our chairman Damian to modernise the UK gaming industry. We want our casinos to be accessible for the public and were the first operator to remove membership in May 2008. Our business model


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is based on high volume and our average spend per visit ranges from £15-£30, no different to a night out at many leisure activities. We pride ourselves on high levels of customer service and challenge ourselves to find new and innovative ways to delight our customers. With the Poker popularity continuing to increase, how is Aspers developing its provisions to cater for this global phenomenon? Aspers have certainly done our bit to help grow Poker in the UK. We regularly host international tournaments and events in our properties, which bring players from all over the world to experience poker at its best. We have a clear strategy to develop new players by offering learn to play sessions, low stake tournaments and cash games. Of course we offer an array of larger games to suit all players, but we are very conscious of ensuring players are playing at a level that is comfortable for them. Aspers Stratford has welcomed some of the most recognised and famous poker players in the world for high profile televised events and with 400 seats available it has gained the reputation of being a key venue in Europe. Can you confirm that Aspers were the first UK operator to install the Organic EGM from the manufacturer Interblock at Aspers Westfield which have proven a very popular addition to your range of EGM Yes, that’s right. We opened with 12 terminals, and have since increased to 36. How popular is the cashless gaming option and is it operational on all gaming devices? We operate TITO across all our slots and electronic product, and have a number of HESS voucher redemption terminals in convenient locations to help with the cash out process. Environmental concerns are always an important factor in present day business life. How has Aspers contributed to lowering its carbon foot print in its

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operations? We made a heartfelt decision 6 years ago to reduce our energy consumption, and during this period we have seen a 27% reduction, even with our casinos now operating 24/7! We are very happy to have delivered our most recent Casino in Milton Keynes to a BREEAM rating of Excellent, this further demonstrates Aspers ongoing commitment in reducing carbon. Are there any plans for expansion at the present time with the Casino operation? We have a 1968 license in Bournemouth that we are considering and are also keeping an eye on the 2005 license process in Southampton. Unfortunately unless the Government consider harmonisation of licenses and increase the number of slot machines in a 1968 license, or tackle portability then the UK has limited opportunities. How is the online side of your business progressing? We have just received final tenders from 3 companies to launch our online site presence in 2014. Basically the brief is to develop a wide portfolio of games and ensure that online slot content will mirror that available in our casinos. Players will therefore be able to continue playing their favourite slots at home. Did you find time to visit ICE this year? Did anything catch your eye? Yes, and enjoyed it immensely. I have to say that all of the manufacturers were impressive although to be honest it’s their job to keep us continually briefed on developments – and they do that very well. So no, no real surprises although I did enjoy the Interblock hologram presentation. And finally what amongst all these impressive initiatives and developments at Aspers that excites you most for 2014? Continuing to oversee the growth of our existing properties and adding one or two more to the portfolio!


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The Extreme Casino Makeover Glyn Thomas chats to Bruce Howard, General Manager of San Diego’s premier gaming destination, Valley View Casino & Hotel

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If we look back to 2007, initial expansion started from the casino’s then 43,000 sq ft, expanding it to over 115,000 sq ft followed by a further development that added 7,000 sq ft to provide a full service nonsmoking casino for guests, plus in 2010 the 108-room 160,000 sq ft hotel was added. That all added up to over 300,000 sq ft of entertainment fun and excitement, but you haven’t stopped there – further development has been undertaken. Can you provide details on how the enterprise is operating in 2013/2014? Valley View Casino & Hotel, San Diego’s premier gaming destination, has redefined our award-winning casino experience with the unveiling of our Extreme Casino Makeover. The all-new Valley View Casino & Hotel has made casino history by undergoing a head-to-toe transformation that involved an estimated six months of remodeling work completed in just 11 days. Unlike most construction projects of this magnitude, Valley View Casino & Hotel’s Extreme Casino Makeover was completed on an hour-to-hour schedule, 24 hours a day, with every minute counting toward the overall success. Visitors to the all-new Valley View Casino & Hotel will enjoy new enhancements and amenities throughout our property with dozens of luxurious updates in place from floor to ceiling. Guests are welcomed into the allnew Valley View Casino & Hotel by a brand new, high tech video monument sign alongside the main road marking our casino entrance and highlighting all of the exciting promotions, events and giveaways happening inside. In our casino, all-new carpets have been installed, plush new seating has been added, the Players Clubs and VIP Lounge received a new look and more. Plus, all restrooms on our property have been updated

with the addition of beautiful marble and granite. At the award-winning Buffet, an expansion was completed that offers even more room with additional seating for guests to enjoy endless Maine lobster every night and all day on weekends. Each hotel room in Valley View’s 108-room boutique hotel has also been upgraded with an upscale redesign and luxurious new amenities. To top everything off, the hotel, parking garage and more have received stunning new paint jobs. All of these updates were made in addition to various behind-the-scenes improvements to help Valley View Casino & Hotel’s team members continue to provide unparalleled service to all of our guests. At Valley View Casino & Hotel, we pride ourselves on making every interaction great and are taking this dedication to service to the next level in 2014 with new team member initiatives designed to make each and every guest feel at home. Our goal has always been to provide service that shines beyond what’s expected to make each visitor to Valley View Casino & Hotel feel unique, comfortable and not only thrilled with San Diego’s only Certified Loose slots, but also with their experience here at San Diego’s Favorite casino. Do you host slot tournaments? Valley View Casino & Hotel hosts weekly slot tournaments during which qualified players compete for up to $10,000. Every week brings new thrills and more chances to win with exciting themed slot tournaments held on weekends. To learn how to qualify to participate, guests can visit our Valley View Casino & Hotel Players Club for the perks of membership and more. Signing up for San Diego’s most generous Players

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Club is always quick, easy and free, plus new members enjoy a complimentary endless Maine Lobster Buffet just for joining. Valley View Casino & Hotel is one of California’s most popular casino venues – what are the key factors in your opinion that contribute most to the operation’s success in these competitive times that involve a whole host of entertainment and leisure alternatives? Valley View Casino & Hotel is home to San Diego’s only Certified Loose slots including 2,000 machines in every denomination. When new guests sign up for our Valley View Casino Players Club, they receive a complimentary endless Maine Lobster Buffet as our gift to them, plus guests can always expect VIP treatment and service that cannot be matched. Our seven award-winning dining options at Valley View Casino & Hotel span the globe as well as the flavor spectrum for a culinary experience that is sure to amaze. Whether they are looking for over 200 options in the world-renowned Buffet, the finest steak and seafood at Black&Blue Steakhouse or a fresh take on casual dining at BLD’s, we have something to satisfy every appetite. In fact, Black&Blue Steakhouse is the only restaurant where guests can even win their surf & turf for free with Dining For Dollars – a unique card game played right at their table where the card they choose determines the price they pay for the gourmet surf & turf. Plus, at the all-new Valley View Casino & Hotel, there is so much to enjoy including all-new plush chairs and carpeting, exciting new promotions, the expanded famous Buffet, redesigned restrooms and so much more. To top it all off, Valley View Casino & Hotel is San Diego’s Friendliest casino with service and attention to detail that cannot be matched. From our valet to the hosts in any of our restaurants to our enthusiastic promotions team and all of our 1,000 team members that make Valley View Casino & Hotel the destination for fun and excitement in San Diego, every guest interaction is truly exceptional and it’s what keeps our loyal guests returning year after year. Could you provide an insight into the organisation’s approach to its rewards program?

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The Valley View Casino & Hotel Players Club is the key to taking one’s casino experience to the next level. Each week brings more giveaways and more chances to win. Not only do new Players Club members get a free endless Maine Lobster Buffet just for joining, but signing up is quick, easy and free. We have a 4-tiered program that rewards everyone, including first time gamers enjoying their free Maine Lobster Buffet and swiping their Red Card to receive invitations to participate in exclusive slot tournaments, events and daily promotions. Our loyal Silver Card and Gold Card gamers like to visit Valley View Casino & Hotel a few times a month, earning free dining, slot play and hotel stays every time they use their Players Club card. Black Card guests enjoy stopping by once a week or more for the thrill of everything from Certified Loose slot machines and table games to big name concerts such as Jay Z, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Bruno Mars and more. Plus, Black Card members can watch professional sports in style from our luxury suites at the Padres and Chargers games. We believe we have the most generous Players Club rewards program in all of California, which is why we have the highest percentage of players using their Players Club card in the state. Entertainment is also a big factor with casinos – what are the facilities for staging concerts and do you provide a busy schedule of different entertainment and entertainers or do you have a number of regular resident singers and bands? Live entertainment is featured nightly at our Main Stage Bar in the Main Casino. From DJs and live bands to radio broadcasts and action sports on our state-of-the-art LED video wall, there is something happening every night at Valley View Casino & Hotel. Plus, exclusive giveaways and drawings are held to award guests international trips, sold-out concert tickets, once-in-alifetime experiences, cash prizes and brand new luxury cars. In addition, Valley View Casino & Hotel has a longstanding partnership that includes naming rights for the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The Valley View Casino Center features major headliner concerts, exclusive events, family-friendly activities and more. Valley View Casino & Hotel Players Club members can


enjoy invitations and tickets for these show-stopping live events as a perk of membership and just one more thank you to loyal guests from San Diego’s Favorite casino. Has the casino operation ever considered franchise restaurants to complement and provide an additional mix of options to cater for your ever-widening variety of patrons? Valley View Casino & Hotel takes great pride in all seven award-winning dining options throughout our casino. Before joining Valley View Casino & Hotel, I served as a Food & Beverage executive at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, developing, growing and managing all of the dining operations throughout the casino. This experience has served me well and the extensive experience of our culinary team led by Howard Silver, Vice President of Food & Beverage, and Ashley Archer, Director of Food & Beverage, at Valley View Casino & Hotel both enables and motivates us to operate our own restaurants and food outlets to create incomparable options for our guests. From California’s only iconic endless Maine Lobster Buffet to San Diego’s A-list choice for best steakhouse – Black&Blue Steakhouse – there is no shortage of delicious cuisine for all of our loyal guests. Plus while staying with us in our beautiful hotel, guests can enjoy complimentary poolside breakfast served daily with a spread that includes homemade pastries, fresh-squeezed juice, a hot item, delicious fruit and more prepared by our culinary team. With options at all seven restaurants that incorporate the best local ingredients, freshest flavors, inspirations from the global stage and more, Valley View Casino & Hotel has transformed and redefined the casino dining experience for all. Unique dishes and menus have made San Diego’s Favorite casino a nexus of fine dining without relying on larger restaurant franchises to supply food that cannot compare to the variety produced in-house with fresh, locally grown ingredients.

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What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying? Valley View Casino & Hotel is a business near and dear to my heart, as I have seen this casino grow from humble beginnings in early 2003 to a sought-after destination that attracts almost 3,000,000 visitors each year. Having experienced this expansion from day one, I feel very connected to Valley View Casino & Hotel and invested in the continued success of this property that has made a name for itself as San Diego’s Favorite casino. At Valley View Casino & Hotel I have not only experienced the physical growth of our casino, but also the strengthening of the team with over 1,000 team members that are the reason why our loyal guests return again and again. Valley View Casino & Hotel has been recognized as a Top Workplace, Compassionate Workplace Award recipient and one of the Best Places to Work, largely because of our unique Leadership Mentoring Program. The program offers mentoring every month to our entire leadership team of approximately 185 Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers and Supervisors as the most comprehensive Leadership Mentoring Program in the casino industry in the country. Ultimately, there is nothing more exciting than being able to bring joy and excitement to the lives of guests from across the country. When people visit Valley View Casino & Hotel, they expect San Diego’s only Certified Loose slots, table games designed to thrill, worldclass dining and a beautiful newly refinished hotel; however, they can also expect world-class service from the friendliest team members. We find satisfaction in knowing that each visitor to Valley View Casino & Hotel experiences the best of San Diego with memories that last long after they leave the property. On behalf of myself and the 1,000 team members at Valley View Casino & Hotel, thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed for inclusion in such a distinguished publication. We look forward to sharing this feature with our loyal Valley View Casino & Hotel guests.


Mr. Halpenny had a very busy 2013 In spite of a 19-hour time difference, Adrian Halpenny of Bally Technologies was able to have a long, pleasant conversation with Jack Bulavsky, Special Assignment Correspondent for Casino Life 16


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drian Halpenny became Bally Technologies’ Senior Vice President of Australia and Europe when Bally acquired SHFL entertainment in November 2013. Since October 2010, he had been serving as President of SHFL entertainment Australia. Prior to that position, he was Director of Operations and has been in the electronics manufacturing industry for a number of years. Prior to joining SHFL entertainment, Halpenny held the position of General Manager, Startronics for five years and has also held operational leadership roles with ACL Automotive Components. How are things going since the acquisition by Bally? It has certainly been an extremely busy time. We finished up a financial year for SHFL entertainment and then handled a transition to Bally Technologies in a period of weeks so even though I am laughing about it now, we all went through an amazing time. So far, it has been a seamless process because SHFL and Bally had similar cultures and are extremely familiar with the product lines they specialize in. Holistically, there has not being a lot of change with the familiar faces remaining within the organization, which is a good thing. Speaking on behalf of the Australian and European businesses, we were very excited to be starting 2014 as Bally and what that means to our company’s future. I certainly know our customers are excited because I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with some at ICE. It’s all good.

What are the challenges of being in charge of two regions - one in the Southern Hemisphere and the other in Northern Hemisphere? This question brings a smile to my face when I quickly realize how lucky I could be by having a year of endless summers if I structured six months of the year in Australia and six months of the year in Europe. In all seriousness if this was 20 years ago, it would be a significant issue but technology overcomes the tyranny of distance and I’m used to working in multiple time zones. That’s because I had responsibilities for Australia and Asia for the last three years while contributing to the U.S. businesses previously. How do you divide your time between Australia and Europe? And how many miles do you fly a year? Any tips on how to travel these many miles comfortably? I’m Australian-based but fortunate to have extremely professional management teams in both regions that are capable of continuing the operations when I’m not there. However, if I need to be in Europe I’m there and if I need to be in Australia I’m there. Our European customers already know Axel Grohs and Marco Herrera quite well. They have demonstrated they are able to successfully manage things and that will continue. What are the differences between the two markets - meaning how do customers game in Australia vs. Europe? Or is there any difference? Interestingly enough it is the similarities between

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the markets rather than the differences that come to the fore when analyzing both regions. While most people would understand that Australia is geographically expansive, what they may not realize is the broadness and fragmented nature of the gambling market within its shores. Australia is actually a collection of smaller markets, some, like Tasmania, very small indeed. All have their own regulatory framework, customer needs and most importantly, player expectations. These individual markets, while independent, do have a level of interaction with each other that can further influence how people play and entertain themselves. We feel that this is also an accurate portrayal of the European market and for that matter, many other parts of the world. The obvious exceptions are rule language modifications but those are simple to execute. In short, the fact that people gamble differently within both markets is what makes them the same. Is there a difference is the games they prefer to play or time of day they like to play? What slot or video products are most popular in each market? Different regions definitely have different styles of games. This is usually a result of the regulatory conditions that apply to the market. Generally our Licensed Premium products like Michael Jackson have global recognition so they perform very well. In Europe we’ve seen a number of titles with country specific success like Shadow Diamond and Golden Tower perform well along with our multi-

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games and Quick Hit Platinum and Playboy Platinum. What Bally or SHFL games are most popular in Australia? In Europe? We have had a lot of success in both markets and it’s exciting to be able to merge Bally and SHFL to provide even more world class content. In Australia, we have had a lot of success with our multi terminal games with our Vegas Star and Rapid products, our Reelways style games, and our multigames. In Australia there is a definite trend towards increasing the proportion of multigame machines on a floor. Reelways titles like 88 Fortunes™ and 5 Treasures™ on the Equinox cabinet have been phenomenally successful for us not just in Australia, but in Asia and North America too. We introduced our first multigame in August last year MultiDeluxe which featured 88 Fortunes, 5 Treasures and new game Diamond Eternity which added to our momentum. From a national perspective, we’ve been working to align our major product releases so that players have better access to titles and this has translated into some great performance. The same can be said in Europe. Europe has a sophisticated multi-terminal gaming market which is derived from the popularity of Roulette. Some of the branded products like Michael Jackson King of Pop and Michael Jackson Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ have resonated well with players. We hope to continue appealing to players with some additional exciting branded games in the coming year.


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Do you attend G2E Las Vegas or G2E Asia? What do you take away from these shows? I attended both of these shows because they are very relevant to what we do. At upcoming shows in 2014, we will showcase the full range of products that covers systems, games, tables, shufflers, chippers, media content management and non-cash player marketing tools. It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of a true end-to-end gaming technology innovator with the industry’s most diversified product suite. Each year, at any show, you learn from everything around you. Particularly, it’s a great chance to interact with partners from around the globe to hear what they need to continue to be successful. As the gaming market continues to grow, what are your thoughts on how to capture that market? What do the players whom you interact with want or request? Players are fascinating. We’ve had some interesting interactions with our players, particularly in Australia, about how attached they become to certain aspects of a game. If you make a minor adjustment to how the game plays out you can be substantially rewarded or rebuffed - so working closely with them is vital to success. Bally has won more than 80 awards for innovation in the past four years. I think that shows we continue to set the bar high for creating interesting gaming experiences that will appeal to players. We hope to meet that need in coming months with a multitude of new game

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titles, including world-class licensed branded games TITANIC™ and The Magic of David Copperfield™, along with an array of cuttingedge systems technologies and industry-leading table products. On the systems front, operators everywhere looking to bring loyalty programs and bonuses into their properties should definitely have a look at the iVIEW Display Manager. This is an amazing tool that brings greater transparency to gaming operations and enables non-cash marketing offers to be available directly on the player screen. It’s a trailblazing product that enables floor-wide events and has even helped set the World Record for Largest Slot Tournament. One area that I believe will be particularly exciting is our ability to deliver content across multiple devices. Bally will soon be offering a product called Take ‘n Play. It allows the same slot machine game to be played in more than one location by streaming the game content directly from the slot machine to a tablet. This product provides casinos with a convenient solution for players who get up and leave their machine to smoke, use the restroom, or have to leave when their friend or partner is ready to move on. It’s very clever and has been created from observing players and understanding what they want in gaming.


Being New Doesn’t Mean Your Different

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Even the Best Strategy May Have to Wait it’s Turn…

have been thinking about the “Blue Ocean” marketing strategy, general market place timing and Atlantic City. I was prompted by a recent article on Revel, Hotel Casino appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Harold Brubaker. He offered an excellent portrayal of events. “Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City offers a remarkable tale of government and industry collaboration on what has proven to be a magnificent failure that has obliterated at least $2 billion in investments. Despite a bankruptcy last year that wiped out $932 million in debt and cut yearly debt payments by 96 percent, losses grew, leading Revel’s hedge-fund owners to put the casino up for sale.” Was Revel initially part of a “Blue Ocean Strategy,” that failed? I don’t know if that strategy was part of the conceptual planning but timing is certainly part of the equation when launching something new. The book by the same name explores the concept of creating a new market within an existing market. We could describe it as not directly competing but just different enough to create it’s on niche. The story of Revel in some ways is the story of Atlantic City. When Revel opened, the casino market in Atlantic City was facing massive regional competition. The initial power brokers at Revel kept the casino segment in low profile, preferring to market it as a resort; hence my thoughts of the “Blue Ocean” model. “It’s different enough to create its own niche.” Those of us that were working in Atlantic City in the decade of the 80’ and 90’s remembered when “the build a casino and they will come philosophy” prevailed; and the guarantee was unabated financial growth.

Today the hospitality market has morphed to include non- gaming segments in a mixed use model that includes a casino. It’s a collective integrated amenity presentation; -defined as a brand. This seems similar to what Revel was trying to establish initially with its focus on a resort model. It should be noted that Revel was officially renamed Revel Hotel Casino within about a year after opening. Revel’s issues aside, Atlantic City still needs more city-wide innovation, diversification of product, expanded transportation services to include air routes and convention business. The city needs an extended demographic reach while at the same time diversifying the market. This is a slow process as Atlantic City is still in the early stages of igaming, it continues to look for additional nongaming segments and the state is currently in a court battle to legalize sports bet. Collectively Atlantic City will continue to market the entire brand. Independently the hotel casinos will focus on their specific marketing and promotional initiatives. For good or bad Atlantic City has seen a market adjustment recently with the closing of the ACH Hotel Casino. So Revel is a lesson learned for some about market saturation, timing and collaboration. The story of what happens to Revel and the Atlantic City landscape will continue to be written. Bob Ambrose Instructor Gaming & Hospitality Center for Hospitality & Sport Management Drexel University Rja73@drexel.edu Twitter@bobambrose http://www.drexel.edu/hsm/

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How to attract, date and love your casino customers on social media Flirting with your customers, 8 steps to social media success

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ocial media is changing the way casinos communicate with their customers. On the one hand Social Media is a great opportunity to widen your reach in communicating with your customers. But on the other hand, it can be a threat when things go wrong and your customers start talking about it on social networks. MGM Grand received a tweet saying: “Terrible service at the front desk.... I would expect better from such an hotel....”. MGMs 80.000 Twitter followers could have seen this message. Within minutes MGM responded: “We apologize for delays due to difficulties with our hotel registration computer system.”. On the one hand Social Media is a great opportunity to widen your reach in communicating with your customers. But on the other hand, it can be a threat when things go wrong and your customers start talking about it on social networks. Casinos use social media as an engine for driving customer engagement, referrals and service response. For most casinos, social media is a new marketing channel to reach out to current casino customers, entice new ones and spread messages virally. But many of them do not understand that social media is more than a new marketing channel. It’s a fundamental shift in the way casinos can market themselves. So for many casinos in Europe there are exciting opportunities in using social media to connect with their customers. But how to get started? That’s a question I get asked many times. There are so many things to consider. Many casino managers simply don’t

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know what will give them the biggest result. Here are 8 tips on how to get immediate results of your social media: Tip 1: Get a social media strategy in place You need to think about why you want to use social media and how you want to measure the success. You can use social media to promote your casino’s brand, build your player community, increase traffic to your web site, improve your search engine ranking or improve customer service. Social Media thrives on sharing content like photos, posters, videos, news stories etc. What content do you already have and how are you going to create new content. Tip 2: Share good content to develop fan engament Take your existing content in the form of events, promotions and tournaments and seed it out to social networks like Facebook and Youtube and let your fans do the rest. Outside of email and direct mailers, how often have your customers complained that they didn’t receive notification of the latest games or announcement to join the Poker Club? With social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, you can quickly and easily send unlimited updates up until the hour of the event as reminders to drop by for a visit. And what’s ever better, if they like it, they will share it with their friends. A great way to build your fan base. Tip 3: Think about your events as campaigns For many casinos events are organised to bring in new


players to experience the casino. There are many social media tools (Facebook events, Foursquare, Meetup) to promote your casino events. A good example is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. To drive traffic to their ticket vendor’s page, they created a Facebook app that promotes all their events, provides a way for customers to RSVP or let others know they’re coming, and buy tickets directly through a simple submission form. If they have questions about the event, they can even call the casino for more information. Tip 4: Add promotions to your campaigns Social Networks are an ideal place to do contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, announcements etc. Promotions are a powerful way to grow and engage your audience on Facebook, Twitter and more. You can even promote user-generated content through photo or video sharing contests. Generate buzz, capture player information and monetise your casino fans with applications that can be shared across your website, landing pages and social networks. Tip 5: Use video and photos to drive engagement Video drives social media. 1 hour of video is being uploaded on Youtube every second. MGM Grand Las Vegas made their ‘traditional’ media social by producing a series of choose-your-own-adventure-style TV spots specifically for Youtube. Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Las Vegas used six Youtube influencers to create and leak the trend-tapping “Phamous” video. You no longer need expensive video productions to create a powerful viral video that will get millions of hits. As long as the video is funny, controversial, educational, inspirational or unique. Tip 6: Create regular new content through your Casino blog Think of all the wonderful things your casino provides outside of gaming, which can be crafted into Blogworthy content. In a blog you can write about the latest entertainment news, entertainment events and schedule of events for your casino. A good example is the “Pulse of Vegas” blog. The official blog of the Las Vegas casino-hotels operated by Caesars Entertainment. In this blog they talk about entertainment, celebrities, games, what’s going on in their casinos, hotels, restaurants, things to do and so on. Their blog is a great reference for existing and new customers

to find out more about their casinos. Not in “cold” corporate language but in a human tone. That’s what makes a blog unique and fun to read. Its written in a conversational style. Tip 7: Target your players through facebook and twitter advertising Today’s gamers prefer marketing that is non-invasive, non-interruptive and valuable to their gaming experience. Facebook or twitter ads are a great way to reach gamers using a quick and easy format that does not fill their inbox. You can promote your casino’s website, Facebook Page, new games or your upcoming casino events. Advertising on social media helps you to build awareness, drive new business and grow your fan base. Best of all, they offer highly selective targeting, and you can easily adjust copy, image and branding to find the most effective combinations. Tip 8: Think SOLOMO (Social, Local, Mobile) In a world that is continually getting more and more mobile, it is now important to add mobile landing pages, websites or mobile apps to your marketing channels. 40% of mobile data traffic in the UK is for Facebook. Caesars Entertainment was an early adopter of the geo-location platform Top Guest, in which patrons could earn points by “checking in” to various Caesars properties or by sharing photos with their social networks. In addition, Caesars tied the initiative into their player rewards programme encouraging members to check in to their favourite Caesars property, find secret codes on Facebook, and enter them into the mobile site to win prizes. Clearly, now is the time for casinos across Europe to jump on the social media train. There are many examples in the US of casinos successfully using social media to engage with their existing customers and get new customers into their casino. A lot can be learnt from this. So why wait, I’m sure that by following these 8 simple tips you too can win the social media jackpot for your casino. Marc Campman Social Media Playmaker

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Europe: Progressing Towards Legal MultiChannel Gambling Damien Connelly was at the 6th International Casino Conference in London, held during ICE 25


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t would be great to write that our industry has rebounded from the financial problems it has faced since economies started going wrong in 2007/08. Financially, it hasn’t. European gross gaming revenues for 2012 reduced 6.5% to €6.58 billion compared to 2011 GGR. On the positive side, the European Commission is looking to harmonise gambling laws across all member states. How long this will take, however, could well be critical for the future success of our industry. According to Ron Goudsmit, Chairman of the European Casino Association: “the vast majority of the European parliament, the member states, and the majority of the European political parties have clearly stated that they are not in favour of any opening up of the gambling market...and that gambling, being so sensitive, should remain in the hands of the member states.” The ‘Licence Plus’ System, favoured by the ECA, has only been introduced in Belgium thus far. As Mr. Goudsmit noted, “the Licence Plus system could be beneficial as it could take the sting out of the whole discussion about the difference in taxation between landbased and online operations.” The issue of landbased versus online crosses borders; and not just European borders. Noted by Harrie Temmink, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Internal Market and Services for the European Commission: “We just heard from the US that the

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industry - the whole sector - is not talking enough with each other. The same applies to Europe for the gatekeepers; the Regulators. We’ve created an expert group which meets every 2 or 3 months. Part of this expert group is to advise the Commission on its initiatives, but also to exchange best practices; for example, on national enforcement.” Changes will shortly be seen; mostly affecting the online gambling industry. The EC should be adopting two recommendations (likely Spring 2014) concerning consumer protection and responsible advertising. The further legal change of note is the proposed widening of money laundering to games of chance beyond the casino industry; which would likely most impact the arcades, sports betting and HORECA sectors where games of chance are sited. “The Commission fully respects the right of each member state to choose its own organisation of games of chance; whether you want to ban certain games of chance; whether you want to have a monopoly system; whether you want to have a licensing system. It’s up to you (each country). It’s not up to the Commission to decide how to do that… The policy of gambling should be coherent.” During 2014, in Europe we will see a new Commission and a new parliament. Will these be enough to trigger a coherent gambling policy across Europe to help our industry offset some of the challenges it faces? 12 months from now, it would be great to write that 2014 was the turning point when our industry started growing strongly again.


Taking the ‘Sin’ Out of ‘Sin City’: Has Vegas Lost Its Gambling Mojo? More people than ever are jetting out to Las Vegas, but citywide gambling revenue is falling. Sam Miranda investigates…

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t seems that gambling may no longer be the backbone of the Las Vegas economy. While current tourism figures are healthy, visitors are spending less overall and fewer punters are hitting the casinos. According to the Review Journal, Las Vegas hotel occupancy in July 2013 stood at 90.6 per cent – a new record. However, Nevada gambling revenue reported a $1.35 billion net loss in 2013, the fifth straight year of losses. These figures are even more striking when placed in context with Sin City’s historical peak. Gambling911 reports that the casino market accounted for 59% of Nevada state revenues during the boom years of the mideighties, compared to 45.1% last year. Evidently, Vegas the tourist destination is still drawing the crowds, while Vegas the gambling hot spot is floundering. Last week, LiveRoulette.co.uk conducted two surveys, in which they asked 1000 UK respondents and 500 Americans, “What would be your main reason for you to visit Las Vegas?” Our results indicated that ‘Gambling’ ranked below other activities overall in terms of priority. In our British survey, only 21.2% of respondents chose this category as their main reason to visit Las Vegas, second to ‘Family Holiday.’ For Americans, ‘Gambling’ came in third with 21.9%, behind ‘General Entertainment e.g. Shows and Concerts’ (29.2%) and ‘Family Holiday’ (22.1%). Experts on the Las Vegas leisure industry corroborate with these findings and propose some explanations for the current state of affairs. Stephen P. A. Brown (director of the Centre for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada) offers the following view: “Gaming went down more than total visitor spending (in 2012), by a greater percentage [because] the visitors

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who have come, come for clubs and shopping. They’re buying swimsuits to go to the day clubs and evening clothes to go to the nightclubs.” While clubbing did not represent the most popular category for our respondents overall, it topped the results tables for young people - both British and American respondents between the ages of 18 and 24. The relatively even distribution of age and gender groups in our voluntary sample suggests that the composition of the tourist population in Vegas might be diversifying. The ‘traditional’ core demographic for Vegas’ casinos (men between the ages of 25 and 44) continued to rank ‘Gambling’ highly in their priority list, but the number of people from this demographic who took part in our survey was proportionally smaller than expected. As the new fiscal year approaches, with gambling revenue on the slide and competing gambling destinations cropping up both domestically and internationally, we are witnessing an undeniable change in the way Vegas is perceived by the public. A Different Kind of Las Vegas Tourist The interests and spending habits of tourists in Sin City have altered substantially in recent years, as indicated by our survey results and research conducted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority. The body carried out a survey of visitors to the Vegas over the course of five years (2008 - 2012), asking what brought them to city. The number of tourists who identified ‘gambling’ as the primary motivation for their visit dropped from 13 per cent in 2008 to 8 per cent in 2012, while the vast majority (47 per cent) elected to visit Vegas for ‘vacation/pleasure.’


LiveRoulette’s data confirms this trend has continued, with the majority of UK respondents electing ‘Family Holiday’ as their primary motivation for a visit to Las Vegas. Americans also ranked this category more highly than ‘Gambling,’ but their number one priority was Las Vegas’ theatrical attractions. Gambling statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority are also highly revealing. The number of tourists who gambled in Vegas in any capacity (from a nickel blown on a slot machine to a multi-grand table wagers) stood at 85 per cent in 2008 versus 72 per cent in 2012. More detailed data – the number of hours visitors spent gambling, the average number of casinos visited, the proportion of ‘trip budgets’ set aside for gambling etc – trumpeted the same message: tourists are gambling less in Las Vegas. A general downward trend in the gambling market has been measurable since the recession rocked the global economy in 2008. Tourists were left with less disposable income and uncertain job security and the Las Vegas economy (largely propped up by casino tourism) plummeted. Subsequently, the Vegas tourism industry has recovered somewhat, but casinos are still struggling. While other attractions – restaurants, clubs, theme parks etc. - are making a resurgence (up 5 per cent overall since 2011), the gambling market in Vegas is trailing. Evidently, tourists have returned to Vegas since the recession but they aren’t the same eager punters who flocked to the Strip before the bottom fell out of the economy. Rather, they are increasingly coming to regard the city as an all-round holiday destination. It is possible that Vegas has become a victim of selfsanitisation. Historically, the danger and sleaze of Sin City’s infamous underbelly has been an integral part of the city’s appeal. For decades following its ascendance to international casino dominance in the 1940s, Las Vegas served as a dark fantasy divested from the outwardly pristine suburban ideal of American life, as Dennis McBride of the Nevada State Museum observes: “The whole idea of sin as being kind of surreptitious and naughty and cute is how they promoted Las Vegas in those days. And it was true in that sense because you could do all those things here and you couldn’t really do them anywhere else without running up against some state blue laws or dry laws or nude laws.” However, in the 1980s, Vegas began to pursue a more legitimate image, presenting itself as a desirable getaway for holidaymakers rather than simply a carnival of vice. This has, perhaps, worked too well. Efforts to ‘cleanup’ the image of Sin City may well have obscured its once-lucrative casino market with palatial hotels, classy eateries and popular nightclubs. Today, with the casino market proving an increasingly frail bedrock on which to rest the economy of Las Vegas, city officials are

being forced to diversify and emphasise the appeal of the city’s non-gambling attractions. As yet, a fiscal gap remains that has yet to be entirely filled, despite the improved footfall. As an alternative solution, some casino managers have been resorting to increasingly sophisticated strategies for tempting in new punters and keeping players at the tables. Everything from artificiallyheightened oxygen levels and psychedelic carpets to that fact that leaving a Las Vegas hotel necessitates walking through at least one casino are carefully tailored gambits to inspire and sustain gambling. New Competition as Gambling Branches Out Furthermore, Las Vegas’ 80-year stranglehold on the worldwide casino tourism industry is finally beginning to slip as new gambling destinations emerge. The increasing respectability and public acceptance of gambling internationally has resulted in a number of locales getting in on the action. Ironically, the increased respectability afforded to the gambling industry by Las Vegas has resulted in the emergence of fresh competition from around the globe. A number of locations in East Asia are beginning to seriously compete for Vegas’ casino crown. Macau’s casino revenue leaped to $4.57 billion in October 2013, surpassing Las Vegas as the global gambling hotspot in that month. Meanwhile, Manila’s annual gaming figures are expected to double to $4 billion in a matter of years. The comparatively inexpensive Asia-Pacific gambling market is drawing players away from the Vegas strip, while serious card players from Europe and the States are making the long-haul to compete in high-stakes games unavailable in Las Vegas. Closer to home, Vegas might be facing increased domestic competition following the passing into law of a bill permitting licenced casinos in New York State. Michael Mulgrew of the pro-casino coalition argues that it is in the interest of New York to keep punters on local soil: “It is not a question of whether New Yorkers will go to casino resorts, they are already doing it…We want to keep it at home.” As the decade rolls on, it is likely that gambling will account for a more modest chunk of Nevada’s overall revenue (although gambling profits bounced back slightly last year.) Whether promoting Las Vegas as an all-round holiday destination will plug the gap left by the shrinking casino market remains to be seen. At present, it seems doubtful that Las Vegas will ever reclaim the dizzying fiscal heights of its glory years as the world’s casino heartland. By Sam Miranda. Sam is a gaming industry journalist and editor for RightCasino.com; his work has also been featured on CalvinAyre and iGamingBusiness. He’s particularly interested in gambling culture and ethics.

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RECOLLECTION 1989

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by Chris Moore

ew casino doors started swinging open all over Eastern Europe almost as soon as the wall came down in 1989. Being in the casino development business, I witnessed the start of an amazing new

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chapter in the industry’s history. The enormous, potential market began to emerge on the back of a fast spreading rumour that there were billions of US dollars sitting under mattresses all over the former communist landscape. The commercial


challenge was to quickly determine where the cash was stockpiled and whether it could be enticed back into circulation. It was a time when the large casino corporations stepped away from the potential market, having correctly deduced that the raw, regulatory controls were paper-thin. However, there was still an Aladdin’s cave of opportunities for the smaller, more venturesome companies, even though most of the potential markets seemed to be sitting on the razor’s edge. My first development trip was to Belarus, or White Russia, as they liked to be called. It took only a few days in Minsk to determine that there was no potential market at that time. The city was essentially bankrupt and the only revenues that could have been generated would have originated from corrupt officials and highly dubious local businessmen. I returned to London and wrote a very forthright evaluation report. I remember thinking that I had probably made my first and last venture into Eastern Europe, but I was wrong. During the next decade I travelled extensively across Eastern Europe, opening casinos in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Poland. As the market burst into life, it became essential that you dealt with everything and everyone on an improvised basis. The new gaming rules, when there were any, were ambiguous and in a state of constant flux. It seemed that the further east you ventured, the sharper the razor’s edge became. However, as a young and enthusiastic groundbreaker, I went where the opportunities beckoned, not where comfort levels pointed. My working life became focused on a region that had been under Communist rule for a generation and was emerging like a phoenix from its red ashes. As the previously hidden panorama emerged, amazing opportunities presented themselves, but for every successful project there were multiple failures. In most jurisdictions gaming laws changed continuously for all the wrong reasons. As more casino companies and individual investors entered the arena, the benchmark rules became ever more

bizarre and the entry costs grew exponentially. In a few of the wilder jurisdictions, the politicians were so intent on continuously attracting new investors and feathering their own nests that they had no qualms in cancelling the licenses that they had previously granted. In the depths of one harsh winter I opened a casino in Ganga, Azerbaijan’s second city. I should have guessed from the city’s name that the project had not been conceived properly. I had been handed the responsibility of opening the casino, but I had had nothing to do with the project’s research or development. The city was to the west of Baku and the journey to reach it took six hours in a Russian-made, bone-rattling car. The city was like nothing I had ever witnessed, it was falling apart. There were collapsed buildings with rubble spreading out into the streets and broken electrical cables strewn across the potholed roads. As the occasional battered car drove over the cables, huge sparks flashed across the snow-covered streets. There were power cuts almost every hour plunging the whole city into darkness. Rather than walk away, as I would have liked to, I halved the set up time by working day and night and opened the casino ahead of schedule. I had to acquire an ancient truck and convert its diesel engine into a back-up generator that was in use most of the day and all of the night. Fortunately, once the casino opened, my responsibility ended and I moved on to the next development project. I learned later that the casino had done well for six months, until the mattress money had run out, and then it faded back into the city’s crumbling backdrop. In those pioneering days many casino projects were ill-conceived and poorly located because there was no benchmark to build from. The early learning curve in the ex-Communist arena was almost vertical. Everything in the vast, virgin region seemed to have potential on some level, but there were also impending disasters waiting around every corner. A few years into the gold rush I recall visiting Yugoslavia and meeting up with a local slot arcade

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owner who is now an old friend. I was working for a Swiss company at the time, seeking slot machine venues in the heart of what was to become Croatia. As we made our way further south into what is now Bosnia Herzegovina, we could suddenly hear explosions and gunfire closing in all around us. My friend drove at speed through the lashing snow until we arrived at Sarajevo airport. As the deadly siege began, he managed to bribe our way on to one of the very last flights that left the city. We landed in Austria and went our separate ways, relieved to have escaped the danger. I saw him again ten years later at a gaming show in Milan. Incredibly he had continued to operate his slot arcades throughout the entire war and had become a very wealthy man. Sometimes fate follows very unpredictable paths. Opening a casino in Armenia was a more pleasant experience than I had expected when I first arrived in Yerevan. I was disturbed to see almost everyone dressed entirely in black, giving me the impression that all the locals were grim and dour. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had been wrong and that the Armenians had a sense of honour and humour and were actually quite sociable. Surprisingly the gaming regulations were relatively sensible and the process of opening a poker-based casino was reasonably straightforward. I setup the casino in the centre of the city. It was an instant success and became a very popular venue for all the local poker lovers. There were the inevitable challenges, but the investment proved to be a sound one. That was until a new law was passed banning all casinos from the city centre. There was no obvious rhyme or reason for the change, but it was something that I had somehow come to expect. Moving ten kilometres outside the city was an impractical transition and most of the regular players, as expected, would not make the long trek. The highly successful business wound down to closure. All the local staff lost their jobs and the local tax collectors

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lost the majority of their monthly revenues. I have to confess that working on casino developments in Eastern Europe was not the favourite part of my career path. Although the individuals I dealt with over the years were a fascinating group of characters, they seemed to be as unaware of how things were likely to turn out as I was. Most of them had a stoical attitude and a relaxed approach to opening casinos in places that had never expected to see one. One thing that was consistent were the customers themselves, they took to table games like ducks to water, although initially they showed a real reluctance to play the slot machines. It transpired that there was a long established and sensible ground rule never to trust or rely on machinery of any kind. Unsurprisingly the new customers presumed that slot machines were anything but random and were set up to fleece them of their mattress money. I could understand their trepidation, especially when all the machines in a new Polish casino had been wired incorrectly and delivered electric shocks to any player that touched them. Eastern Europe has evolved into an established and highly profitable casino environment. The mattress money is long gone, but many of the economies have expanded hugely and are still thriving. Some of the big corporations have now entered the market, but they maintain an understandably cautious approach. There are still unpredictable and unfathomable changes waiting around many corners and many of the jurisdictions have introduced numerous radical changes over the years. In some cases, rather than upgrading their gaming laws, the local politicians have banned previously sanctioned casinos altogether, destroying the original investments in their economies. Over two decades later the same discouraging rule seems to be hanging in the wind, the further east you go the sharper the razor’s edge. cmoore@telefonica.net


Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino & Resort Full-HD Video System by Dallmeier Chris Sanson chats with Marcel Zangger, Director of Operations at Dallmeier USA, and Chris Batog, Surveillance Director of Mardi Gras Casino & Resort

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he Mardi Gras Casino & Resort is located only minutes from picturesque Cross Lanes in Charleston and is one of the foremost casino and gaming destinations in West Virginia. The Dallmeier video surveillance system in use there represents cuttingedge technology. Chris, could you give us a brief overview of the casino? As the name says, the entire casino runs under the “carnival and Mardi Gras” theme. On 90,000 square feet of floor space, passionate gamblers will find everything their hearts desire: over 1,200 slot machines, 24 poker tables and 31 gaming tables with Blackjack, Roulette, craps and more. Those wishing to explore the culinary delights of Charleston can do so without even leaving the casino. From quick snacks between games to luxurious gourmet dinners, the various restaurants and bars have something to offer to suit every taste. Anyone looking for relaxation after a long, exciting night in the casino can get some rest in the elegant Mardi Gras West Virginia Hotel. 150 deluxe rooms and suites are available to guests. And that’s not all. The Casino-Resort has a very special highlight: a dog racetrack on which several live races

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with first-class greyhounds take place every week. In short, we have a huge facility that has to be reliably monitored to guarantee the guests’ safety at all times. Marcel, could you describe the video surveillance solution installed at Mardi Gras? The video system which has been installed in September 2011 is a modern IP system with highresolution HD cameras into which the existing analogue fixed and PTZ cameras were smoothly integrated. The cameras cover not only the different casino and hotel areas, but also the dog track. Fixed dome cameras and movable PTZ cameras from the Domera® series are installed in the casino. Domera® is a modular, high-speed PTZ camera system. The high-resolution network cameras with 10x optical zoom and autofocus supply full highdefinition video with 30 fps up to 1080p. The images taken by the surveillance cameras are recorded on several servers of the DMX 2400 Smatrix model, a video IP appliance with as many as 24 video channels and an integrated storage system with up to eight hard disks. The low power input of max. 125W makes substantial savings in energy costs possible for the casino. What’s more, the DMX 2400 allows for multicast


audio and video streaming through the SeMSy® III video management system. SeMSy® permits easy handling and management of different video and audio streams and their live presentation and recording at any point in a linked system. With graphic user interfaces into which the site maps of the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort have been integrated, employees can easily and intuitively operate the complete video system. An additional advantage of the SeMSy® system resides in its scalability. SeMSy® can be expanded as needed and is always flexible. For example, additional cameras or monitors can be easily integrated into the network at a later date. Chris, what were the main reasons for you for choosing Dallmeier? The unusually high image quality and attention to detail provided by the cameras even in the difficult lighting conditions of the casino area constituted one of our main reasons for selecting Dallmeier products. Not only was the support during the planning and installation phases exemplary; the after-sales care is fantastic, too. Our contact person is available to answer questions and provide updates at all times.

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Marcel, one last question: Could you tell us more about Dallmeier USA and the projects you have already realized in the U.S.? Dallmeier has more than 30 years of experience in the development and manufacture of high quality components and complete solutions for the CCTV/ IP sector. We have been active in North America for over 10 years and have offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. Our list of casino references in the USA is long, we have installed our video security solutions for example at the Barona Resort & Casino, California, at the casinos of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona (Vee Quiva, Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass), at Artichoke Joe’s Casino in California, at the Four Winds Casinos in Hartford, New Buffalo and Dowagiac in Michigan or at the Kiowa Casino in Oklahoma. Dallmeier has planned and realized the world’s largest video surveillance systems for casinos worldwide. The experience we have gained through those projects is continuously used in our product development. Therefore, also small casinos are able to benefit from innovative and proved solutions.


SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

Novomatic’s product innovations a big hit at ice NOVOMATIC set the standard at ICE Totally Gaming, the largest, most comprehensive and international B2B gaming exhibition in the world, with a huge array of innovative products and solutions including more than 50 new game themes plus new cabinets, new jackpots and major technical solutions. In so doing, the Austrian gaming giant recorded a hugely successful show presentation NOVOMATIC set the standard at ICE Totally Gaming, the largest, most comprehensive and international B2B gaming exhibition in the world, with a huge array of innovative products and solutions including more than 50 new game themes plus new cabinets, new jackpots and major technical solutions. In so doing, the Austrian gaming giant recorded a hugely successful show presentation. London’s ExCeL, for the second time, was the host venue for ICE, the event that is the focus of the entire global gaming industry. With a new floor layout this year (ICE this year used sections of both the South and North halls of ExCeL) NOVOMATIC, the show’s largest exhibitor with a massive 4,500 sqm of booth space, took the show’s most prominent position by occupying the central south hall from its visitor entry points and along the entire depth of the hall. That huge space was, of course, necessary, as NOVOMATIC brought a wide range of its subsidiary companies to London. The Astra Gaming Group (Astra Games, Bell-Fruit Games, Empire Games, Gamestec and Mazooma Interactive Games) welcomed visitors at the entrance, then Admiral Sportwetten, JVH exploitatie, Eurocoin gaming, Octavian and Novomatic Gaming Spain

stood shoulder to shoulder alongside a dedicated Online gaming area that featured Greentube, iGaming2Go and the latest member of the NOVOMATIC family, Betware with its online lottery solutions. The main booth section featured the full range of gaming innovations from Austrian Gaming Industries GmbH (AGI), including an extended Roulette area, new cabinet presentations as well as jackpot, game and casino management as well as cash handling system launches. One particularly exciting display was be the first ‘live’ showing of NBS, the NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems™. Admiral Sportwetten GmbH presented its broad product portfolio, including the ADMIRAL Absolute Vision™ system, a range of sportsbetting terminals and mobile betting solutions. Together with the AGI team, representatives from many of the NOVOMATIC Group’s subsidiary companies from around the world came together at ICE; covering Europe, Asia, Latin America, USA and Africa. Each of these teams were excited to meet their customers, make new contacts and revealing exciting new product innovations such as new cabinets, new systems and new games as well as games compendiums.

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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

New Cabinets To prove that it is possible to succeed beyond success came the NOVOSTAR® V.I.P. The latest evolution of the world-beating NOVOSTAR® slant top cabinet is now designed into the V.I.P. configuration to bring the biggest slot gaming attraction onto the gaming floor. Retaining the unique ‘flip screen’ feature of the original NOVOSTAR®, this V.I.P. cabinet is further upgraded by a giant 46” upper screen positioned at the perfect ergonomic distance for supreme game play. The featured Crown V.I.P. chair with integrated sound system completes the thrilling gaming experience of this unique cabinet innovation. On the basis of customer reactions at ICE, the NOVOSTAR® V.I.P. is now ready to take on the mantle of its predecessor and become a global ‘must have’ addition to any gaming operation. New Games, Game Compendiums & Jackpots With new additions to the NOVO LINE™ and Coolfire™ II game compendium ranges, the completely new Superia Games™ game mixes as well as a plethora of individual game titles, games were right at the forefront of the NOVOMATIC ICE presentation. More than 50 new games titles (a new record for NOVOMATIC) were presented at the London show either as single games or in sophisticated multi-game mixes. Among them are dedicated ‘Themed Slots’ that are an ideal fit to create themed jackpot banks with the Marilyn Jackpot, the Elvis-themed Real King Jackpot or brand new the Ancient Egypt-style KINGDOM OF RA™ Jackpot. Also the new hybrid jackpot JEWELS FACTORY™ celebrates its premiere in London – pioneering the first time ever combination of a Community Jackpot and Mystery Jackpot …all in one product. New: Panther Roulette™ The evolution of the original and hugely successful Pinball Roulette™ was staged at ICE with the Panther Roulette™ and Panther Roulette™ II. The Panther Roulette™ comes with a new Autostart button on the right hand side of the hand rest for increased player comfort. The Panther Roulette™ II additionally features a second 32” full HD screen in a vertical position on top of the machine with Flip Screen functionality. Both versions are available with a comprehensive multi-game offering of 23 HD video slot games and attracted a great deal of positive reaction during ICE. New: NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems™ - A Technology Breakthrough Pushing the boundaries of gaming technology is part

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of the DNA of the NOVOMATIC Group and the ICE show saw the live public debut of a long running development project, NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems™. Biometrics are the ultimate tool to progress the unique identification of an individual and NOVOMATIC has developed, in-house, NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems™ (NBS) to facilitate a modern approach to contemporary demands in and beyond the gaming industry. At ICE, the NOVOMATIC Biometric Systems™ consisted of a modified fingerprint scanner, a local server and, in order to link multiple sites, a central server. Significantly, all existing NOVOMATIC products are already ‘NBS ready’, meaning that they can be easily and quickly upgraded and networked. By guests having their gaming-specific identification and preferences quite literally ‘at their fingertip’ NOVOMATIC has once again advanced the methodology of Responsible Gaming practice. Clearly, what was science fiction just a few years ago was seen in action as ‘science now’ during ICE. New: NOVOMATIC Remote Play™ - Causing an Industry Stir First seen at last year’s G2E show in Las Vegas and then also at the recent inaugural Macao Gaming Show NOVOMATIC’s modern WLAN casino gaming solution NOVOMATIC Remote Play™ was featured at ICE 2014, now with a whole range of new product features. This secure portable tablet PC gaming solution provides new possibilities for casino operators to offer their guests comfort, service and mobility. Via the casino’s securely configured tablets guests can play their favourite NOVOMATIC NOVO LINE™ machines and games everywhere within the casino’s WLAN reach while they move around freely. The latest product development now provides guests with a thrilling range of new product features (such as the ability to play slots and electronic live games via the tablet PC as well as two slot machines simultaneously) that make NOVOMATIC Remote Play™ the ultimate comprehensive casino gaming and service solution. Visitors at ICE could see and try the newly enhanced version of NOVOMATIC Remote Play™ for themselves and were thrilled by the new possibilities that the system offers. It was clear that NOVOMATIC had once again provided the global gaming industry with a fascinating range of new products and solutions. Those novelties served to attract, interest and inspire the literally thousands of ICE visitors that descended on the NOVOMATIC booth during the whole three days of the world’s greatest gaming expo. Jens Halle, Managing Director AGI, underlined the importance of this year’s ICE Totally Gaming: “The show organisers deserve congratulations for an excellent event. The new floor layout was a great improvement and we greatly appreciated the new record attendance that the show set ... particularly in view of the transport difficulties that existed in London for two of the show days. Most importantly, ICE was the showcase for a huge variety of new product innovations from NOVOMATIC and the response that we received from visitors was both extremely positive and highly encouraging.”


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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

Aristocrat lights up ICE with dazzling display Aristocrat Technologies staked a firm claim to steal the show at this year’s ICE exhibition in London, putting on a floor to ceiling multimedia extravaganza housing a show-stopping array of new gaming solutions that left operators awestruck

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e were simply overwhelmed by the superlative feedback from customers, competitors, organisers and industry aficionados alike,” began Pedro De Matos, General Manager - EMEA. “Perceived as the most vibrant, energetic and innovative showcase amongst the two halls, Aristocrat’s explosive line-up of new games proved a sensational hit with record-breaking sales opportunities building up from the very start to the final 15 minutes on day three. “The depth and breadth of the 2014 EMEA portfolio supports an ever-increasing range of customer requirements and operators were taken aback by just how much we had to show.” Aristocrat’s key ICE highlights included: • The introduction of new, entertainment-packed, universally recognised game licences, presented in unique centre piece attraction formats. Linked games

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including Wonder Wheels titles Batman™ Classic TV Series and Superman™ The Movie, Tarzan of the Apes™ MVP and Sherlock Holmes™ Hybrid Stepper; standalone games including The Rolling Stones™ and Flashdance™; • The launch of an exciting new entertainment games segment (E*Series™) with a strong and increasingly engaging product roadmap spanning six families and 14 games this year. Prereleased games in pilot venues are delighting players with record performances of up to 6.5x floor average; • The introduction of widescreen Multigame; two variations of Player’s Choice™ with strong, proven games throughout each compendium, multi-denom, continuous play and a built-in progressive in Diamond Edition; • The enrichment of the potent Wonder 4™ Multi-Play series with two more titles added – Stars and Gold.


SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014 • The enlargement of Aristocrat’s core SAPs range: three new games under the Jackpot Reel Power™ theme; two new games under Gold Coin Jackpots™; two forthcoming games under Jackpot Streak™; Choy Sun Jackpots™ and Where’s The Diamonds™; • An increasing variety and richness of games for Viridian Hybrid™ Stepper; 3 new categories – Cashman Live! ™, Power Hits™ and Star Shot™ – each with 2 games; • EMEA’s largest ever range of new linked jackpot games (Cash Express™ Gold Class, Dragons on the Lake™, Tarzan of the Apes™, Batman™ Classic TV Series, Superman™ The Movie, Sherlock Holmes™); • More new categories than ever (More Power™, Fire Boost™, Jackpot Reel Power™, Gold Coin Jackpots™, Jackpot Streak™, Cashman Live! ™, Power Hits™, Star Shot™); • The on-going development of popular core game segments: Reel Power™, Multi-Play™, Multigame, Legends; • A renaissance of popular, proven characters and themes across Links, Multigame, Multi-Play, Legends and Downloadable in Class III, route markets through EGMs and VLTs, Online, Mobile and Social channels; • A demonstration of Aristocrat’s server-based expertise targeting new opportunities in the Spanish VLT market and elsewhere; • More Online development momentum portraying more games, more sites and more channels to reach end users, as well as previewing Aristocrat’s forthcoming Remote Gaming System due later this year;

• The expansion of Aristocrat On Demand™ with an increased games library, greater functionality and flexibility – a downloadable solution with class-leading simplicity; • A pioneering Social Media breakthrough with the simultaneous launch of online/ offline games in the E*Series™based Jackpot Dreams™ Casino. “The concept of ‘explosive gaming’ is by no means a notional line we followed for a one-off trade show,” said Donal Maguire, Sales & Marketing Director – Europe. “The high levels of global R&D investment made by Aristocrat over the last 18 months are breaking through every single product line we now put out. We’re energised, our customers are emphatic and players are about to be blown away by a new breed of gaming – which is a great result for everyone.” Mike Alexander, Sales & Marketing Director – RSA added, “The launch of E*Series™ has been a pivotal moment for the Southern African region. A plethora of exciting new Gaming Operations options and the momentum gained from our enhanced core games portfolio to energise the current install base all point towards an extremely exciting year ahead – for operators and, most importantly, the players.”

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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014 Another successful ICE for Alfastreet This year is very special for Alfastreet as we are celebrating 20 years anniversary. For this occasion we prepared ourselves with exciting new products, events for our friends, partners and customers, and we also made sure the gaming world shares the excitement about our years of progress, innovations and success. ICE was the first really important gaming event for Alfastreet in 2014. As we always do, we presented our best and latest products. Starting with the latest edition of our evergreen R8 automated roulette passing through the most popular SL single terminal we have revealed, for the first time, our brand new single terminal, the Wiky, with which we have once again moved the boundaries with something special. Futuristic design and the perfect ergonomics aside, this terminal uses massive screen for the players and therefore offers unseen comfort and ease of play. All of our terminals were connected to our automated and live games like roulette, sic bo, baccarat and WOF. And since we mentioned WOF: this great wheel already found its way in several casinos all around the world and it already earned a reputation for its attraction and fun when being played. But there was plenty more: we presented our new R4 automated roulette, which is perfect for smaller venues. Four players sit around the roulette wheel and are able to feel the game as much as possible. The proximity of the wheel offers this additional excitement and promises that serious players will not skip the previously unseen feeling of being “in” the game. Last but definitely not least, there is our largely anticipated Royal Derby. The machine really doesn’t

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need any additional presentation, the orders have already been made, so the production is filled all the way to the end of summer. Every year we use ICE as a perfect opportunity to meet up with our numerous friends and customers from around the world. We make sure we take a bit of time with each one of them and we make sure they feel comfortable and welcome at our stand. Our team of Slovenian hostesses made sure they all were served perfectly, especially since we provided, among other things, our famous prosciutto, Italian coffee and of course a big smile. Our dinner parties have already become the tradition. Even more so this year, since we started officially the 20th anniversary celebrations with a very special evening, packed with entertainment, good food, great music and 200 very happy guests. Overall, we feel this year’s ICE was a huge success for us. We presented several new products which will upgrade our portfolio of games and bring us another set of customers. We greeted many visitors during the show and we received lots of positive feedback and compliments on our presentation. Lastly, but very important: we enjoyed ourselves and started this year by celebrating our special anniversary. We are already focusing our thoughts to many other exhibitions and events we are going to attend all over the world. We are increasing our presence on global gaming market and we are satisfied with all the extra work we have due to the increasing popularity of our machines. Our plans for the future remain very ambitious, yet realistic, and we will make sure we maintain our position as one of the leading manufacturers of the electronic table games.


SPOTLIGHT – New products

DRGT

celebrates sensational ICE drScreen with added multimedia capabilities a real hit

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he ICE proved to be the busiest show ever for the DRGT team. This independent systems company offers serverless technology and can connect all slots. This has greatly simplified and reduced the barriers to entry for gaming operators around the world. Furthermore, the day-to-day running costs are much lower as no IT staff are required to manage the system. The fear of complete machine downtime when a server goes down is a thing of the past thanks to this serverless technology from DRGT. This young and innovative company has been taking the gaming industry by storm. Already over 200 casinos are making use of DRGT technology in thirty different countries with over 23,000 slots connected.

The clear message at ICE was that with DRGT you can supersize your display and so supersize your revenue. The supersize display above the stand made the DRGT exhibition space appear much bigger. This comparison leads exactly to the way operators can portray systems information to their

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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

customers. Never before has it been so easy and pleasant for operators to offer so much information to players in such a simple, customer-friendly way. The ICE was the ideal platform for DRGT to bring even more systems innovations to the market. The drScreen technology enables players to view and manage their accounts directly on the slot machine. The video monitor becomes the information screen whilst the other monitor can be used for continual game play. Not only that – operators can make use of drScreen to communicate with, inform, entertain and educate their customers. Now drScreen has even more exciting possibilities. The World Cup is only a few months away and operators will be able to show the football matches directly on the video slot. Just imagine – a player in two minds – watching the football and wanting to enjoy slots gaming. Today both are possible thanks to drScreen! Furthermore, operators can integrate a live camera feed on to the slots screens – a great way to show that raffle draw to all players at the same time, for example. And if that was not enough, then operators can even make use of the sound and graphics their slot machines have to turn them into a juke box – a real music machine – at the same time. It is clear to see why DRGT is changing the way operators view systems for good. DRGT systems are secure, simple to use and extremely modular and flexible. Operators can choose just what they need, for example drAccounting, drCashless, drJackpots, drPlayerTracking and drScreen. The ‘doctor’ of the systems industry has the right cure for all requirements and will pep up your business when used regularly! Particularly drJackpots has

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seen great demand recently with Sun International in South Africa incorporating this for the new Duma jackpot system that has exceeded all expectations. drJackpots is indeed being celebrated as the ‘best performing product ever’ here. Further references abound for drJackpots such as MaxBet in Romania, MGA in Ghana and Newport Gaming in Peru. The display video at ICE informed visitors of the complete possibilities they have with wide-area jackpots when using DRGT. Mr. Jurgen De Munck, founder and CEO, comments, “Let me extend a warm thanks to all the people who came to see us at the ICE. They made sure that the ICE was truly sensational for us and gave us even more motivation to take our systems another step further. The multimedia add-ons to drScreen were a real hit and we will be giving you news in the coming months of our further successes based on our meetings at the ICE”.


SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

VNE

First choice for International change machines VNE looks back at a great ICE

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he market for change machines is changing. It is no longer the norm for operators to look to local companies. Standards haven been risen in quality, design and security. Global service plays a key role as well. Here Italy’s VNE is in the driving seat, being a step ahead in the market. Italy is the largest and most challenging market for change machines in the world. VNE is the clear market leader. More and more operators are looking to make use of these advantages for their own specific needs. First and foremost – VNE change machines are very secure, implementing multiple locking systems and a door with dual steel layers. Only the finest components can be found inside. The ‘Viking’ change machine even includes a biometric reader for further protection. Then add the Italian style. VNE change machines demand to stand proud within any operations – not tucked up in a corner like change machines used to be. The multi-media screen gives operators further options – to use the VNE change machine in addition to inform or entertain their customers. Naturally it can be used for advertising (creating a new revenue stream for operators) and even a juke box. The VNE team secured an excellent stand position with direct access to entrance S3. A number of advertising footprints informed visitors all around the show of VNE. A major focus was placed on the online support for VNE changers. This opens the door

to further international expansion. Operators have complete access to all their VNE change machines with several layers of information, including all accounting information (how much money of what denominations are in each VNE change machine). Furthermore, users can set different access levels so that each employee can only access that what he or she should (technical, service, etc) amongst many more features. The VNE team once again introduced a new change machine to a major show – this time the Bill Breaker. Bill Breakers change large value denomination notes to smaller ones. The market has focused on big, costly machines. Now operators have a smaller, secure, economic solution. The Bill Breaker can store 2,500 banknotes (with five Fujitsu note dispensers, each with an individual capacity of 500 notes). VNE has many years of experience in serving all market segments in amusement and gaming – from amusement, AWP, VLT to casino. Mr. Lorenzo Verona, Commercial Director at VNE, looked back at a great ICE show, stating, “To be the international choice, one has to be one step ahead. That is what we are recognized for – a step ahead in security, design, support and technology and that all at a very fair price. We look forward to hearing from international companies to see how we can support them for their change machine requirements”.

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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

SUZO-HAPP The Ice Review

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Suzo-Happ unveiled a multitude of new products at ICE

he sheer number of new products on the SuzoHapp stand was simply unbelievable. It was no wonder that the stand was full from start to finish. Whether home-grown products or distributor products – there has never been so many innovations introduced at one time ever by Suzo-Happ before. Cash handling is a major focus for the industry’s largest supplier of components and spare parts. The Bill-to-Bill banknote recycler is now a Suzo-Happ product having been purchased from Crane in December last year. With already 6,000 such units in daily use worldwide, the Billto-Bill banknote recyclers have long-term proven success. Suzo-Happ acts as master distributor for both Innovative Technology and MEI. The SMART Ticket from Innovative Technology was a real highlight as it combines banknote validation and ticket printing all in one product. The SC Cashflow banknote readers are the preferred banknote acceptors for many casinos around the world and were on proud display on the Suzo-Happ stand. For coin acceptors, SuzoHapp offers the proven RM5 HD from Comestero. Suzo-Happ is itself the master of hoppers and had its wide range of coin payout hoppers on display, including the Cube, Evolution and Flow. The Flow is also available for the new high security requirements for the Italian AWP market (AES protocol). In addition to all this, Suzo-Happ was proud to present the Transact Ithaca printers on their stand for the first time at ICE – now being the global distributor for Ithaca printers. Customers can thus source their complete cash handling solutions from Suzo-Happ. Coin acceptance, coin payout, banknote validation, banknote recycling – all imaginable requirements are covered by Suzo-Happ. The same is true in the field of toppers. Suzo-Happ has the widest range in the industry and this was joined by another new topper – the ‘Celebration Event’. This topper links directly into the SAS line, detecting a hand-pay signal from the slot machine and turning this into a celebration event on the topper. Suzo-Happ deals strongly with both manufacturers and operators. It was operator feedback that led to the idea of the Celebration Event topper. Such strong relations enable

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Suzo-Happ to create new products and bring these faster to market than any other company in its field. Existing problems with push buttons now belong to the past with the new Suzo-Happ LED push buttons. These are driven individually. They are an economical alternative to OLED buttons. Printed legends also belong to the past as the LCD is integrated into the button and can even display animations. The new ‘PRO’ brand is the own-label brand of SuzoHapp. Now customers have a wider choice for many applications, for example, ‘Vision Pro’ = Suzo-Happ ownbrand monitors, ‘Printer Pro’ = Suzo-Happ own-brand printers, ‘Billiard Pro’ = Suzo-Happ own brand billiards. Another new ‘PRO’ innovation is the Interactive Pro Table. This interactive table was another strong focus point on the Suzo-Happ stand with people standing in lines to learn more. This 42” screen works as multi-touch and the screen itself can be split into four sections – making it an ideal four-player interactive product. Now developers can make new games to add more entertainment value for their customers. The scope for use is wide – to play games on, to watch live TV, to receive information, even to use as an internet terminal – or a combination of any of these! The Interactive Pro Table is designed to withstand harsh environments. Component access is simple. It can be used in a host of applications, including hospitality, retail, gaming, pubs and clubs alongside leisure centres. Touchscreens are an area of excellence for Suzo-Happ. As master distributor for ELO, the team was proud that ELO once again integrated its stand within the Suzo-Happ stand. ELO presented a whole world of touchscreen innovations, including the new 24” and 27” open frame touch monitors, the new 2” desktop touch monitor and the ELO tablet. Mr. Marcel Oelen, managing director of Suzo-Happ EMEA, enthused, “What a sensational ICE this was for us. There was a real buzz on the stand. We have grown our own products and team dramatically since the past year. Furthermore, our partners have been very active in creating new solutions. Never before have we had so many innovations at one time on our stand. I wish to thank the whole Suzo-Happ team for their great contribution and naturally all our visitors”.


SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

AMATIC NOW!

heralded a great success at ICE Great recognition at ICE – including ‘best looking gaming machine’

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new stand, a new look – that was the first impression visitors had when they came on the AMATIC stand. The array of beautifully designed gaming machines in all formats – terminals, slant tops and uprights – all exquisite in their own rights. It was no wonder that many visitors to the stand stated that the three-screened slant top Performer Grand Arc was the best looking gaming machine at the whole of the ICE. The Performer series has set new standards in design in the gaming industry. The curved design has additional player benefits – such as enabling a better view of the uppermost screen. The Performer Casino C22 terminals are the perfect addition to the family. These terminals offer both the AMATIC slots games and roulette games. Four separate roulette games can be played on at the same time – including live roulette, automatic roulette and the card-based roulette from INAG. As experts in the field of automatic roulette – operators can make use of the Roulette Grand Jeu series to connect electronic multiplayers. In particular, the doublewheeled Roulette Grand Jeu Double draws in players from far and wide with a design that is second to none. The integrated four screens give all the details any player could require. So what is AMATIC NOW!? AMATIC NOW! embodies the philosophy at AMATIC Industries: to offer an optimal gaming experience over all platforms – slots, multiplayers, online, mobile, etc. Here are some examples: The slot

games can even be played on the roulettes and visa versa. Players can choose which roulette to play on when playing on the terminal – or on a number of roulette games at the same time. AMATIC NOW! is all about choice – the more choice a player is given, the greater the chance of gaining this player as a long-standing customer. Thus, players can continue their gaming fun online or mobile – this is all about AMATIC NOW! With an ever-increasing number of games, this player choice can only get better. New games such as ‘Casinova’, ‘Lady Joker’, ‘Magic Owl’ and ‘Fortunas Fruits’ adorn the AMATIC NOW! product and service range. Operators have the added benefit of sourcing all their gaming needs from one company at AMATIC. Even the casino management system can be attained from AMATIC. AMATIC has considerable experience in the SBG and VLT sectors, so an investment in AMATIC is an investment in the future. Even the evergreen X3000 gaming cabinet has been updated to wider screens in the X4000. AMATIC’S founder and CEO, Mr. Reinhold Bauer, summed up the mood at ICE for the company, “Continual investment, creating and implementing new ideas and strategies, making future-oriented gaming products as complete solutions – that is what we do and our new brand AMATIC NOW! symbolizes this. This was surely one of the best ever shows for us. We wish to thank all the visitors to our stand and their great support and interest in working together with us to build the best gaming solutions players can enjoy”.

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SPOTLIGHT – ICE 2014

APEX

gaming dramatically expands product offer at ICE

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Land-based, online and mobile slots, electronic multiplayers and much, much more

PEX gaming is renown for its games selection integrated within stylish slot machines. The continual investment in games was honoured by the premier European gaming magazine ‘EUROPEAN CASINOS-The Elite’ at the show with APEX receiving the ‘Golden Dice’ award. The latest games selection – Multi Magic 6 – was the subject of great interest on the APEX stand. Visitors came to see the games and the great Pinnacle cabinets and stayed to learn about the widely expanded solutions – on show for the first time. APEX gaming entered the sector of live and automatic table gaming with its Quikker game several years ago. This game is unique to APEX with players betting on the outcome of two cards, a combination of black jack and roulette, so-to-speak. Operators often stated how much they like Quikker but need to offer roulette as well. APEX at this year’s ICE has gone not one, but two steps further. Not only can customers obtain complete table solutions from APEX with Quikker and roulette integrated – they can offer their players Baccarat and Sic-Bo as well. Not only that, this new APEX PLAYER STATION can accommodate as many terminals as required – so it can grow with customer demand. This future-proof innovation offers even more: the ability to link up to four roulette wheels to it – both live and automatic. Players can choose any combination of these roulette wheels at one time to play on. These roulette games can even be linked with the APEX Pinnacle gaming machines – giving players further choice and operators more possible revenue streams. Under the motto, ‘Wherever you go’, APEX gaming proudly introduced the APEX MOBILE SLOTS at ICE. Now players can decide themselves where to play. Tablet gaming in casinos has now become reality. Casino operators can now offer their guests the possibility to play APEX games

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for money anywhere within their premises, such as in the hotel room, in the bar, the spa or even on the resort beach! Benefit from the advantages of pure server-based gaming: real-time results, absolute control and resistance against any possible manipulation. The RFID technology allows players to simply enter credit on the tablet or ask the gaming staff to pay out winnings as well. Already the top fifteen APEX games are available here with many more to come soon. The brand new adaption of the iDROP acts as a redemption terminal, allowing players to transfer their credit to be paid out in the form of a barcode ticket – ready to play on the land-based slots in the casino. Similarly, players can add credit to their tablet by using this iDROP redemption terminal. The original iDROP itself was on proud display. This product allows dealers to securely store banknotes. Up to thirty notes at one time can be entered into the iDrop for them to be validated and stored. The iDROP can be linked with all SAS variants – the casino management now has the ability to receive immediate information on the banknotes stored at each individual live table. The other main table game periphery – the Shuffle King II – continues to gain ground in electronic card shuffling, especially since it is so quick as shuffling a full deck of cards (just over thirty seconds). The shuffle time can even be reduced to zero when working with two separate decks of cards. Johannes Weissengruber, founder and CEO of APEX gaming, looks forward to a new era at APEX gaming: “Our Pinnacle cabinets and games have been the cornerstone of our success. Receiving the ‘Golden Dice’ is truly a recognition of this. Now with the APEX MOBILE SLOTS and APEX PLAYER STATION, we cover all segments of gaming. This was recognized by our visitors to whom I send my thanks for coming to see us”.


Japan Gaming Congress 14-16 May 2014 – Tokyo Do not miss out on the opportunity to engage with key influencers shaping the Japanese casino market. Join members of the Government, key industry leaders and distinguished local and international market representatives as they discuss the latest developments for what analysts agree to be a potential $10bn market. Speakers confirmed to date include: • Toru Mihara, Visiting Professor, Osaka University of Commerce • Michael Leven, President and Chief Operating Officer, Las Vegas Sands • Masaru Sugiyama, Associate, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd • Takayoshi Koike, Director, Capital & Innovation Inc • Kazuaki Sasaki, Assistant Professor, Nihon University College of Economics • Michael Mecca, President & Chief Operating Officer, Galaxy Entertainment Group

For more information and to register your interest, please visit:

www.japangamingcongress.com

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