Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gaming in 2025

My G2E question for 2015 is "What will Gaming look like in 2025?"  In the words of the late Yogi Berra, "The future ain't what it use to be." I asked several top gaming executives and decided to weigh in myself. My vision is at the end of the post. Share your comments if you choose as you share this post with your friends.

                                                                  Ladies first.

“Gaming in 2025 will likely be an enhanced, high-tech hybrid of what we see today.  The bricks-and-mortar casinos will continue evolving to stay on trend with design and architecture, while the games themselves will seamlessly blend on-property experience with on-demand, online options.   The hybrid model will require even more strategic marketing and operational creativity yet another reason gaming is such a fast-paced and dynamic industry.  That’s why we love it.” 
                                        Wendy Hamilton - General Manager of SugarHouse Casino

“Ten years from now, regional casinos will be part of the entertainment infrastructure of every major metropolitan area. There will likely be robust online complements to nearly every casino brand and even more sophisticated technology driving the overall business forward.  That will create steady opportunities to reach new people and continue growing the industry.”
“We can be certain that gaming in 2025 will include online slots and table games as standard fare for all casinos. We also anticipate that sports betting will become a more common and integrated part of the overall gaming picture. Those changes will introduce a younger demographic to the industry overall, whose increasing importance will reshape all operations.”

“Ten years from now, regional casinos will be part of the entertainment infrastructure of every major metropolitan area. There will likely be robust online complements to nearly every casino brand and even more sophisticated technology driving the overall business forward.  That will create steady opportunities to reach new people and continue growing the industry.”
                          Craig Clark - General Manager of Rivers Casino Pittsburgh
"That’s an exciting opportunity! Ten years from now I think you’ll continue to see casinos and integrated casino resorts providing great entertainment to players. Casinos are not going away, and they are going to offer more entertainment than ever. The games and experiences will continue to evolve, bringing in interactivity, skill, social and new gesture technology. We have an advanced development team working on a lot of exciting concepts right now. I think you’ll see regulators working in closer partnership with operators and suppliers to bring new technology to market more quickly."
 "If I had a crystal ball, I would say that you’ll see online gaming integrated more closely with bricks-and-mortar casinos; mobile payments will be commonplace; multi-platform content and interstate casino progressives will be prevalent; and the effects of player and technology convergence will be quite evident. The year 2025 will be here before you know, and we have innovation teams across the globe already working on inventions for the next decade and beyond."
                       "And Greg Carlin is hailed as the new Steve Wynn!!!"
                                                  Gavin Issacs - CEO of Scientific Games

I think Gaming in 2025 is going to be a lot different then what I see now. The patrons will be much younger.They will come in groups and have night for socialization that will include dining, shows and gambling. In that order. Our floor will be reconfigured with more stadium style play.
Mobile device will be the method of choice for all players under 30. Our player then is between 15 and 20 now. They will be a section where you can play on your phone. In this area, players can also play games against each other.The casino floor will consist of the sophisticated and affluent player in secluded areas. That should constitute about 30% of our business. The rest will be the young millennial that wants nightlife in a safe environment. More emphasis on security and responsible gaming.

Gaming will have more transactions that are cashless. The amount of  Table games will increase along with skill base games.Games will have more interactive components than ever. They will be sports and fantasy betting kiosks. Television will have in game wagering for all players that have rooms reserved with a credit card. And when the players come in for nightlife, they'll dress like they are vying for the cover of GQ and Vogue on New Years Eve.        
                                                        Here's a glimpse!

Robert Mims aka The Gaming Guy

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

G2E Women in Global Gaming: Interview with Wendy Hamilton - General Manager of SugarHouse Casino

Any conversation about the top Women in Global Gaming has to include Wendy Hamilton.

Ms.Hamilton serves as the General Manager of SugarHouse HSP Gaming, L.P. (Alternate name, SugarHouse Casino). Prior to SugarHouse, Ms. Hamilton served as General Manager of Philadelphia Park Casino (now Parx Casino) in .Bensalem, PA where she was integral in planning the operational elements of the casino's grand opening and subsequent operations. She served with Harrah's Entertainment, starting as a Hotel Guest Service Representative and Assistant General Manager at Caesars Atlantic City. Outside of the casino, Hamilton serves on the board of the Police Athletic League and is an executive committee member for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
I was able to connect with Wendy as SugarHouse was celebrating it's fifth year anniversary. It's only fitting that 5 questions be appropriate  Here's Wendy!

1). 5 years of being one of the top places to work in Philadelphia. This is based on a poll by the Philadelphia Business Journal. What do you attribute this success to?

“We’re honored that our Team Members have voted SugarHouse Casino  a ‘Best Places to Work’ award in Philly each year since opening in 2010.  Creating and maintaining a great workplace has always been a top priority for us.  We want our Team Members to know that they are appreciated each and every day, because they truly are.  We celebrate their success often and provide recognition and rewards to acknowledge their many contributions." 

"It all starts with hiring the best people.”

2). SugarHouse Casino is about to expand.  The first 5 years have featured a pattern of incremental growth.  What are the challenges in an expansion that will increase the amount of employees by 40%?
“The biggest challenge is that our market is increasingly saturated and highly competitive.  Our strategy is to expand our amenities and enhance guests’ experiences without generating excess gaming supply.  That’s why we’re introducing new restaurants like Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House, creating event space catered by the famous Gibsons Restaurant Group, adding a permanent poker room and building a seven-story parking garage.”

3). The association with the local professional sports teams, the Mummers Day Parade and Poker Night in America have provided  dividends to SugarHouse.   Do you see a transition from a regional casino to one with a national profile?

“It’s true that SugarHouse has earned national recognition, but our focus remains on Philadelphia and its surrounding geographic areas.  We are Philly’s casino, and we will continue concentrating on our hometown.”

4). Online Gaming is part of the conversation in Pennsylvania, New York and California.  Would it be on your wish list going forward?

“SugarHouse welcomes the additional opportunities that online gaming represents, and we hope that Pennsylvania will approve online gaming in the near future.”
Wendy at the opening of SugarHouse Casino

5). What are the 3 most rewarding things that you have experienced in the 1st five years of your tenure at SugarHouse?

“Job creation, community support and economic impact.  Providing more than one thousand high-quality jobs for people who ‘bring it’ every single day is both an honor and a privilege.  Supporting Fishtown and our surrounding neighborhoods and being able to give back to the community we call home is huge.  And contributing to the economic vitality of Philadelphia and the commonwealth is enormously gratifying for us.”
If you liked this interview, you may enjoy reading my post featuring Greg Carlin; CEO of Rush Street Gaming. Rush Street Gaming includes SugarHouse Casino, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

G2E Interview with Greg Carlin - CEO of Rush Street Gaming

Chicago native Greg Carlin graduated from The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1988. While attending Penn, he occasionally visited nearby Atlantic City, where he developed a lifelong interest in the casino industry.
As an investment banker, first at Lazard Freres and then at Bankers Trust Company, Mr. Carlin spent the early 1990s laying the foundation for a successful finance career. In 1995, he joined LAMB Partners, a diversified private investment firm led by Neil Bluhm.
In 1996, LAMB Partners teamed up with Hyatt Gaming, Inc. and formed Falls Management Company (FMC) to pursue an RFP to develop and operate a new integrated resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario. FMC was selected to develop and manage The Fallsview Casino Resort, which opened in 2004 and is currently the highest grossing casino in Canada. Mr. Carlin serves on both the board of directors and executive committee of FMC.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Carlin cofounded Rush Street Gaming, LLC, where he currently serves as CEO. Rush Street Gaming owns and operates two Rivers Casino properties in Des Plaines, Ill., and in Pittsburgh; plus SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. A fourth Rush Street property, Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg, Miss., was sold to Churchill Downs in December 2012.

I was able to catch Greg for a series of questions prior to his G2E2015 appearance on the C-Suite Perspectives; CEO roundtable panel.

1). What are the challenges for the gaming industry?


“The proliferation of regional casinos has made over-saturation in certain markets one of the industry’s biggest challenges. However, there are still jurisdictions that are underserved.  Therefore, as an industry, operators will need to be more thoughtful about their capital allocation decisions relating to increases in supply.”


2). Generation Y or Millennials are not fascinated by our current offering as their parents were.

How can the gaming industry generate interest from this group?


“Attracting the next-generation gaming customer will hinge on technology, access and product.  They’re used to online, on-demand and entirely mobile solutions for most things, including, and especially, entertainment.  That means that the gaming industry needs to move our products online, on-demand and to mobile, as well as provide a more personalized experience at the casino.  There are also some interesting new casino gaming environments that are targeting millennials including Le Zone at Casino du Lac-Leamy in Quebec and Lavo Casino at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.


3). Rush Street Gaming has evolved in 7 years from a new player in the gaming industry to a leader in several major markets. What was the vision that led to this?


“Our vision then and now was to create destination-style casinos for regional markets with a strong emphasis on contemporary architectural design and elevated customer experiences. Rush Street Gaming also prides itself on being a great place to work, a proud community partner and a strong economic engine.”


4). Rush Street Gaming has recently announced that they will open a new property in Schenectady, New York. What sold you on this area?


“When we first considered Schenectady, we immediately saw the potential for success in this underserved gaming market.  We also like the location at Mohawk Harbor, since we’ve had great success in other markets developing waterfront venues.  But, truly, it was the people of Schenectady that sold us. They’re extremely welcoming, very hard-working and so dedicated to this project.  We just felt an immediate kinship and connection with the community.”


5). What are your thoughts about I Gaming?


“It’s the future of our industry.  And it’s here.”


6). Three beautiful properties in Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Share one

highlight or feature about each of them?



“It’s difficult to choose only one for each. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is the first casino in the world to earn LEED Gold Certification, and we are very proud of that.  I personally love the riverfront amphitheater at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, and the event center we’ve designed for SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia will be among the most sought-after venues in Philly when it’s completed later this year.”  

Greg is participating in the AGA roundtable at the G2E with Gavin Issacs and Mark Frissora on Wednesday, September 30, between 9:00 and 10:00 PDT.
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G2E Interview with Gavin Issacs - CEO of Scientific Games

Mr. Michael Gavin Isaacs has been Chief Executive Officer, President, Director of Scientific Games Corporation since June 2014. Mr. Isaacs served as the Chief Executive Officer at SHFL entertainment, Inc. (Alternate Name: Shuffle Master Inc.) from April 2011 to November 2013. Mr. Isaacs was a Partner of DLA Phillips Fox. He has more than 12 years of industry experience, including senior roles with worldwide gaming technology companies. He serves as the President of The Americas of Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. He served as an Executive Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer at Bally Technologies Inc. from September 1, 2006 to March 30, 2011. Mr. Isaacs served as President of Aristocrat Technologies, Inc., a Las Vegas-based subsidiary of Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited since March 2003. Mr. Isaacs joined Aristocrat Leisure Limited in 1998 as General Manager of Legal and Compliance, where he played an integral role in securing Aristocrat's Nevada license and also served as its Head of Global Marketing and Business Development. Since 1999, he served as General Manager of Marketing and Business Development, where he strongly contributed to Aristocrat's overall business strategies including leading the team responsible for the acquisition of Casino Data Systems. He served as the President of the International Association of Gaming Advisors. Since 2002, Mr. Isaacs served as Managing Director of Aristocrat's European business, where he led the strong growth of Aristocrat's profits and business in that region and the successful opening of significant new European markets. Mr. Isaacs was a Partner with the leading Australia law firm Phillips Fox, where he built their highly successful property services business unit. He has been a Director of SHFL entertainment, Inc. since April 1, 2011. Mr. Isaacs serves as a Trustee of the International Association of Gaming Attorneys. He serves as a Director of the American Gaming Association. He holds a Graduation in Commerce and Law from the University of New South Wales and holds a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney.

I was able to connect with Gavin prior to his participation  in the C-Suite Perspectives; CEO roundtable panel. The responses are visionary.

        1.      What are the challenges for the gaming industry?

"Maintaining momentum and growth are two of the biggest challenges for our industry. The casino gaming industry, like many other industries, is always impacted by the economic situation in the markets in which we do business. When the economy is struggling, as it is in some gaming markets around the world, consumers don’t have as much disposable income to spend on entertainment, including gaming."

"There is more competition for the entertainment dollar than ever before, so we have to ensure that we provide a deep breadth of gaming experiences that engage and entertain players of all ages and all preferences."

"Innovation and investment are also vital for the future – essential to keep gaming viable and fun."

2.      Generation Y or Millennials are not as fascinated by our current offering as their parents were. How can the gaming industry generate interest from this group?

"First, I’m not so sure that younger people aren’t as interesting in gaming as their parents – they may just not have the disposable income to spend on gaming right now as many of them are just starting to gain momentum in their careers, growing their families, buying homes, taking care of aging parents, and paying off student loans."

"Millennials on the older end of the spectrum are approaching the age of 35, which means they are starting to make more money and may have a bit more free time to spend on casino gaming entertainment. That is good news for casino operators and suppliers like Scientific Games."

"We’ve studied Millenials extensively through our market research programs and we’ve found out a few things: they like on-demand experiences; flexibility; speed, in fact almost instantaneous; and multi-format brand engagement. They are more engaged than ever, culturally connected, global, experience seeking, and for Millennials and many of the rest of us,  it is all about being mobile and the mobile experience."

"The key for operators and suppliers in attracting this generation is to make sure that we offer diversity in the experiences we provide. For example, Millennials appreciate greater social interaction, which is a perfect fit for traditional and electronic table games. And elements of skill, sociality, and interaction are also important to many Millennials, so we have to provide products and experiences that deliver that – through a number of channels including mobile, social, and on the live casino floor itself."

"Finally, I have always said that casino players of every age are getting more youthful and embracing our digital culture that includes internet, social media, and mobile – this is an opportunity for us to engage with the player much more frequently on and off the casino floor and cross-promote to drive incremental play."

3.      Social games with a skill-based component are receiving consideration in Nevada and New Jersey. Do you think this will spur growth?

"We have been actively involved in working directly with the regulators on the skill-based gaming initiative, and we’re quite excited about it. In fact, we were a little bit ahead of our time at Bally when we experimented with slot games with elements of skill or perceived skill, such as Pong, Breakout, SKEE-BALL, Total Blast, Fishin’ for Loot, and All That Jazz."

"We think skill-based games could add excitement to the casino floor and attract new players, while giving loyal slot players a new and exciting experience. At G2E we’ll have some skill-based experiences in our private innovation area and one that everyone can see on the show floor – Space Invaders Evolution based on the Atari classic arcade game."

4.      Overseeing the merger of Scientific Games, Bally, and WMS was a major undertaking. What were the strengths of the organizations?

"Overseeing the integration of these great legacy companies has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Each company was a leader in the industry and each company was driven by the same thing – an unwavering focus on innovation and customer partnership. Importantly each company’s success was due to its great team of devoted and intelligent people."

"When we were doing the integration, the fact that the companies had similar cultures and were driven by a similar mission and core values made it easier to come together as one."

"Bally was a leader in spinning-reel games, WAPs, and inventive hardware design; WMS was known for its terrific portfolio of licensed brands and its WAP performance; and Scientific Games was and still remains a global leader in the lottery business as a trusted partner to more than 150 lotteries in 50 countries on six continents.  Add in Shuffle Master with its table and shuffler dominance and Barcrest with its European flair. Now, we’ve combined our strengths and we continue to lead the industry in innovation and product breadth; it has been challenging but also very exciting to see everything come together so quickly just 10 months after our acquisition of Bally."

5.      What are your thoughts about iGaming?

"We prefer to stay out of the politics of iGaming and focus on the solutions we can provide to legal iGaming jurisdictions. Through our Scientific Games Interactive division, we are a leading provider of Social Slots and have a strong presence in all key platforms. We also distribute our slot content to third-party online gaming providers for desktop and mobile play, with a library of nearly 100 games."

Gavin is participating in the AGA roundtable at the G2E with Greg Carlin and Mark Frissora on Wednesday, September 30, between 9:00 and 10:00 PDT.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Gaming and Technology: Q&A with Bob Ambrose - Drexel University


         G2E 2015 has more emphasis on technology and education than any of it's predecessors.
         Drexel University has a gaming curriculum that combines research and real world application.
         Robert Ambrose is a prominent part of that combination.

         Robert Ambrose is a Casino & Hospitality Instructor at the Center for Hospitality
         and Sport Management. He also directs the Dennis Gomes Memorial Casino Training Lab.
         His summary experience includes an MS in Hospitality Management. 
         After a  successful  30 career in Casino and Hospitality Management,
         he joined Drexel as a Gaming and Hospitality Instructor. Instructor Ambrose
         continually collaborates with industry professionals and reports on the industry about 
         his research through class lectures, the publication of his articles and consulting.


1). Tell the readers about the concept for the Lab?

"In most universitiy casino class programs the students learn theory, application through text, experience various media documentation about gaming and maybe have an opportunity to visit a casino with the class to observe.'

"The learning goal of the Dennis Gomes Memorial Casino Resort Classroom at Drexel is for students to be engaged in active learning.  They will become active participants in the roles of front-line employees, managers and customers within a live casino operation environment. With hands on participation applied to the instruction, the students will become participants in the learning process."
"Bally got the ball rolling for us. Now we have Konami products and under the new Scientific Gaming Brand WMS Games as well. We also are looking at Table Games."


2). Can you cite any challenges from a regulatory standpoint (PGCB) in developing the Lab?

"The PA Gaming Board has been outstanding in assisting us in the process.  I petitioned the state and met before the board October 2013 to respond to the proposal.  The machines do not accept currency and are subject to all regulations that apply to casinos, including 24-hour surveillance and are locked down when not in use. We had to make a considerable investment to meet the state regulatory requirements but it’s all been good." 

3). What makes the lab unique compared to other gaming curriculums?

"Drexel has offered a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management with a concentration in gaming and casino operations since 2009. Hospitality and Sport Management is a collaborative school founded by my Director Jonathan Deutsch PhD. It is because of his vision and openness along with the Drexel administrative community that have brought us to the point of the Gomes Casino Training Lab."

Home of the Gomes Casino Training Lab

"Drexel has always been a university specializing in experiential learning through co-operative education experiences. When our students graduate they have a working resume and on-the-job experience that will place them directly into positions. Many graduate the program with jobs having already entered the working environment through the co-op program. We develop relationships with industry. As in the case of the casino and hospitality industry we are on the ground networking on behalf of the students. Many members of our instructional staff have industry experience. Whether it’s gaming, hotel ops or culinary, we bring that network to the school in the forms of property visits, guest lectures, job fairs and internships."

4). The gaming industry is transforming from one of baby boomers to Generation Y. This includes the patrons and the employees.  Do you think gaming classes prepares both of these groups for that transition?

"The “Y” generation (“millennials”) are now moving into the market place both as employees and consumers some 80 million strong; according to the US Chamber of Commerce. This is the first generation that has grown up from diaper to “cap and gown” centered in a planet sized evolution of technology.  Goldman Sachs refers to them as “digital natives, with an affinity for technology.” They have and will continue to change the marketplace." 

 Just as the gaming industry is providing more elements of interactive gaming, the Y Gen customers desire a “multi-integrated” set of adventures and experiences through a multi-tasked presentation. The model is more reflective of the video games and social media that these new consumers grew up with. Employees of casino operations have had to adapt as well and adjust their methods when it comes to the customer service values of Y-Gen’s vs. the Baby Boomers. It is about accurately facilitating the casino customer experience to a diversified demographic base. Gaming and hospitality products have cross generational interest. The process of marketing and providing service to all calls for creative applications. Today under a signal umbrella of hospitality, the new presentation of the casino experience is intermixed more with other property choices. The customer perspective is about not only the experience of the casino but it's relationship to the entire property brand.
5). The Lab is named after the late Dennis Gomes. Gomes was an extraordinary leader in the casino industry. What would he like about this Lab and curriculum?

Dennis Gomes
   "He would be very proud that we are doing this.  Dennis Gomes was a very hands-on executive and spirited gaming industry visionary. He had a strong commitment to education and was a mentor to many people who are now industry executives. It was a great experience having known him and to have worked for him. Once I received approval from the Gomes family to dedicate the lab in his name; we haven’t looked back. We have been overwhelmed by the support of the industry that sees Drexel students as both their future customers and workforce. If he were here today, he would be very pleased and be very involved in the school."

6.).What additions do you have planned for the lab in 2016?
"We are looking at expanding out our present area to include table games. We also have a major  scholarship fund raiser planned in Atlantic City at the Tropicana in October. It is a ticketed event and invitations have already gone out. It is being hosted by Barbara Gomes. Our MC is Celebrity Chef Carla Hall. The Tropicana was the right place to hold this first of many events since Dennis was responsible for the building of the Quarter and so much else at that property. I continue to work on partnership for our student co-ops as well. I also teach the hotel side of our program so I plan to stay busy."

                         Reach out to Bob during or after #G2E2015.


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