LOTTERY EXPO 2015 - Hosted by Public Gaming Research Institute and the Florida Lottery September 9, 10 and 11, 2015   PLATINUM SPONSORS                     
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State regulators have been ordered by the court to allow slot machines at a Gadsden County racetrack.  The ruling, if it stands, could have implications on a $1 billion deal the state has with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Under the agreement, the tribe can stop its payments to the state if pari-mutuels outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties start operating slots.  Legislative leaders and the tribe failed to reach an agreement on a new deal before the regular legislative session ended in May, and the issue is not expected to be addressed during a special session on the budget that begins Monday.
GGR in Macau for the first five months of 2015 has plummeted 37.1% year over year.  The continuous downside reflects the nationwide crackdown on corruption in China. This has compelled Macau officials to impose restrictions on high rollers to stop billions of dollars from being siphoned off illegally from mainland China to Macau. A cooling Chinese economy, tighter visa policies, political unrest and a smoking ban on mass market gaming floors have compounded woes.  Macau’s gaming revenues have gone downhill since Jun 2014 due to the anti-corruption drive by the Chinese government.  Nevada gaming revenues for the month of April were $897.9 million, up 5.4% year over year. The April increase came after declines in the month of February and March.
Rose J. Hudson, the president of the Louisiana Lottery, said current law already directs plans for this money — it must be used for future scratch-off prizes or promotions. "Simply put, unclaimed prize funds belong to Lottery players," Hudson said in a written statement. "As you can imagine, our players love this." By funneling the unclaimed money back into prizes, she said the Louisiana Lottery has increased scratch-off sales more than 40 percent the last five years. "In a nutshell, more sales equals more money for the state," she said, noting that 35 percent of Lottery revenue is constitutionally dedicated to K-12 public education.
In the first quarter of the year the turnover was €1.99bn, an increase of 6.6 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2014 and a rise of 24.5 per cent over the same quarter of last year. The number of active players per month stood at 393,029, up 10.4 per cent.  The breakdown of gaming products played, shows that poker stood at 25.2 per cent, casino games 23.7 per cent, betting 50.2 per cent, bingo 0.9 per cent and other elements just 0.06 per cent.  The report concludes that all of the top six operators had enhanced their strategies and that the arrival of slots on the scene this year will boost revenues further. It forecasts a continued stagnation for poker and an upturn for bingo.
“IGT welcomes the opportunity to assist the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in building this new and exciting business endeavor in the Commonwealth,” said Michael Chambrello, IGT CEO, North America Lottery.  “We have leveraged more than 20 years of development expertise along with intelligence gathering and validation sessions with gaming central system clients throughout the world to produce a system that meets both their current and future needs: the INTELLIGEN system. We look forward to working closely with the Commission to deliver this flexible, secure, and robust system that will allow them to effectively manage their new business and help to generate additional revenue for the Commonwealth.”

By Paul Jason

Our goal is to make the process of staying informed be as easy and efficient as possible.  The Pulse of the Industry includes only those news items in which I add editorial commentary.  You can still click on these stories to read the source document.  News items not a part of the "Pulse" may include captions that summarize the point of the story.  But those captions are lifted directly from the story itself.  Of course, those news items are just as important as the ones I choose to comment on in the "Pulse"!

China Pouring billions into U.S. Start-ups

It’s all about Smart-Phones.  Actually, it’s about a strategy that envisions smart-phones as being the driver for all manner of consumer-facing businesses, including games.  Chinese Internet giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent have targeted U.S. technology start-ups as the engine that will drive smart-phone technology.  And smart-phone technology will be the competitive differentiator for all consumer-facing businesses (like Lottery) of the future.  For instance, Baidu’s late-round investment is what drove Uber’s theoretical market valuation to $41 billion valuation.  As an alternative taxi-service, Uber is not worth anything close to $41 billion.  And as an Internet services provider, Baidu doesn’t care about alternative taxi-services.  It’s Uber’s Mobile app and Mobile connection to a massive consumer base that Baidu covets.  Alibaba’s acquisition of 10% of game developer Kabam for $120 million drove the market valuation of Kabam to over $1 billion.  Internet portal and services provider Tencent is valued at over $200 billion and had $7.2 billion in revenue last year from online gaming alone.   These Internet service providors see the smart-phone and Mobile apps as the key to controlling the consumer relationship, and that as being key to controlling the business. Another example of how Mobile is becoming the tail that wags the dog:  Like its arch competitor Google, Apple announced that it too will be invading the automobile market in order to leverage its core competency of, wait for it, Mobile platforms and apps.  And land-based retailers like Target exploring partnerships with Uber to gain access to its Mobile app technology and customer-base.

Isle of Man and the Netherlands to work together on creating shared information and common standards for consumer protection

Individual EU member states are entering into multi-jurisdictional agreements that promise to shape the regulatory environment in Europe.  The important thing about this is that the establishment of these standards can and should be done at the EU member state level as opposed to the EU Commission level. Just like the U.S. states do not need their federal government to establish a national framework that over-rides the rights of individual states to determine regulatory policy, European member-states do not need the EU Commission to over-ride their right to decide on the regulatory policies that best serve their citizens.

China rules out citizens gambling in Taiwan casinos

China is threatening to revoke not just tourist visas, but also shipping and trade links to outer Taiwanese islands.  I’m sure competition for casino gambling revenues is intense everywhere, but this would would seem to be a rather extreme, and destructive, form of economic retaliation.  Hopefully, nation-states won’t devolve into a 1929 version of erecting barriers to international commerce. 

B2C messaging on WhatsApp: A mobile marketer’s dream

Facebook is under tremendous pressure to leverage its incredible consumer connection to increase revenues to be more commensurate with its market cap.  To date, Facebook has not been very successful at monetizing its incredible consumer connection.  (WhatsApp is a messaging service that has been advertising free.)  Enabling their consumers to enjoy games-of-chance would seem to be the Holy Grail when it comes to revenue-generating potential. Who will be their partners?

Gambling And The Bank Secrecy Act

The article on The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) is both comprehensive and easy-to-understand.  It does not, however, get into the conundrum faced by gaming operators and casino operators in particular.  Casino players do not want do divulge more personal information and subject themselves to more financial reporting and auditing.   I think we might even leap to the supposition that the bigger the player and the more money they are wagering, the less receptive they will be to increased scrutiny.  Casino operators would quite rightly point out that just because they like to wager large sums does not mean that they are laundering money, have something to hide or are otherwise doing something wrong.   Casino operators might ask where the line should be drawn between a legitimate need to prevent illegality and an onerous invasion of privacy.  BSA requirements can have a direct impact on their GGR/profits.  This is a hotly debated issue because failure to comply with BSA requirements can have costly consequences.

Massachusetts State gaming officials release educational casino video, ask for public comment

What a great video!  It is comprehensive (in fact, a little TMI for most of us), and clearly explains the process of licensing casino operators, the role of referenda to engage the residents of the hosting community, the impacts on the host and surrounding communities, etc.  In this age when transparency on the part of government is so highly valued, Massachusetts has provided a very nice blueprint for how the general public can become more engaged in the process, or at least understand the steps taken in the process of legalizing and regulating a gambling establishment.

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“Helping lotteries improve retail performance is at the heart of our focus, and being able to quickly and flexibly use real time performance scorecards to rate retail locations across a wide range of criteria is an exciting new capability”, said Jean Lombard, CEO of Lapis Software Associates. “gemScore makes a lot of sense because lotteries can now use a flexible retail benchmarking toolset just like the major retail chains.”
“The whiteboard of creativity is blank at the moment,” said Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. “Once the rules and regulations are written, then the game designers will take over, and that’s who will really make this happen.”  Prater said the bill lets casinos create an experience that better reflects the variety of games people can play outside casinos.  The key to accomplishing that goal, he said, is through variable payback percentages. Under that concept, skilled players could boost a game’s 88 percent payback to 98 percent if they excel at a bonus round or in a competition against friends. Variable payback isn’t the only idea the industry is kicking around. The bill also mentions integrating social networking technology.
The rise of Facebook, Zynga Poker, Bingo Friendzy, etc. have leveraged the explosion in ‘social gaming’ to push into the real-money gambling sector.  But where does the social element stop and the gambling begin? And with the lines being blurred ever more, is the notion of gambling in the traditional sense changing too? Players on social apps like Candy Crush Saga (Facebook’s most popular social game of last year) can play for free.  But to get past the initial levels they must purchase more levels or scrounge extra lives from FB friends.  But the aims are the same: to spend as much time playing as possible and to ‘achieve’ as much as you can. And those achievements and missions can be shared with friends on social media. Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, observes “that there was very little difference between the behaviour and the psychology of people playing video games and those playing slot machines.  Slot machine people were playing for money and video games players were playing for points. In effect, slot machine gamblers were using money as a way of ‘keeping score’, even though the games involved money.  Every hardcore fruit machine player that I knew in my research in the late 1980s was saying, ‘we know that we’re going to lose every penny in the long run.  What we’re trying to do is maximise play on this machine”.  In effect, slots players’ philosophy was to stay on machines as long as possible for the least amount of outlay possible; an identical approach to video games players.  In that sense, social games already deliver paybacks that are similar to slots - more points and longer play-times.  Every firm with a popular social game, whether it’s Chumba World, Zynga Poker or Candy Crush Saga, has attempted to monetise their games. Chumba Casino is now available to over-18s play casino games for real money via Facebook. The social casino bases its games on sweepstakes in order to pay out real cash winnings.  The distinction between online gambling for money and social gambling that requires time and money to progress will continue to blur even more as web-literate youngsters come of age and gambling online becomes ever more acceptable.
Implications of the massive disruptive potential of big-data, digitization and “datafication”.   Will it yield advantage to start-up “disruptors” or to industry incumbents?
Commenting on the 1Q 2015 Results INTRALOT Group CEO, Mr. Antonios Kerastaris, noted: “Revenues in the quarter grew by 12% and EBITDA proved to be resilient despite the difficult comparison with 1Q 2014, due to the fall-off of the previous OPAP and Romanian contracts and strong headwinds from a higher than usual payout. A comparison of the business excluding these exceptional items shows a strong growth in Revenue across all of our geographical segments. On a like for like basis our EBITDA grew by c. 11% in this quarter as the majority of our subsidiaries reported strong results, in-line with our broader expectations.
"Since we began working with Pollard Banknote almost two decades ago, we have developed a strong partnership with the company and look forward to building on the success we have already achieved together," said Tony V. Bouie, executive director of the Arizona Lottery. "We have worked closely with the company to leverage its unique products to help grow our instant and pull-tab ticket sales and will continue to explore new innovations that will offer our players even more value and excitement."
"The OLG is in the final stages of the RFP (request for proposal from bidding operators) and we expect to announce a successful proponent for the east gaming bundle in mid-2015," OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said Wednesday.

EL Congress 2015 in Oslo, Norway "Touch Tomorrow" Photo Collage


EL Congress 2015 - DAY 2 - PHOTOS in Oslo, Norway "Touch Tomorrow" Photo Collage


WORLD LOTTERY SUMMIT Photos Rome


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LOTTERY-EXPO 2015 Sept 9-11, 2015

 Co-Hosted by Public Gaming Research Institute and the Florida Lottery September 9, 10 and 11, 2015

CLICK to Register VENDOR Early Bird
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**Eden Roc Hotel Miami, Florida  special room rate  $209 click here to reserve now.**
 

Panel Discussion and Presentation topics at PGRI Lottery Expo Miami:

 

Breakthrough Marketing/Promotional Ideas for Lottery’s Corporate Accounts

We know what we want from our retail partners: more focus on the mission to sell Lottery products!   How do we engage big corporate accounts to embrace that mission like we want them to?  Lottery’s brand equity, connection to countless millions of shoppers, and ability to drive store traffic are under-utilized assets that can deliver value to our retail partners and in turn engage them in our mission.  It is starting to happen in a big way.  Panelists will discuss successful initiatives to collaborate with corporate account retail partners on cross-sell-promotions and new product design.  Panelists will also build on these successes to explore fresh new ideas for how Lottery can develop a stronger, more productive, relationship with its corporate accounts.   

 

Building out the multi-state platform for Big-Box Corporate Account Retailers

Logistical back-office hurdles have stymied Lottery’s ability to develop the full potential of multi-state retail operations.  Now, substantial progress is being made to meet the needs of these multi-state retailers.  What has been accomplished; how can we lock-in the progress that has been made; what are the current issues that are being addressed; what are the most do-able, actionable things that Team Lottery should do to blow open the doors to successful expansion of Lottery in the multi-state big-box retail channel? 

 

Bricks & Clicks:  The merging of Interactive and Land-Based Retail

Retail and Lottery both recognize that “Interactive” is about is much more about creating the optimal consumer experience than it is about selling products online.  How are progressive lotteries leading the charge into an “Internet of Things” future that integrates digital technologies into the fabric of all we do?  How are Retailers doing the same thing, and how can we join together to forge the most productive and mutually beneficial pathways to integrate Interactive and Land-Based initiatives? 

 

Behavioral Economics Applied to Lottery

There is much talk about “convergence” in the industry.  The easy access to all forms of gaming is contributing to experimentation by the consumers.  As consumers migrate from one game category to another, the need to identify and focus on the attributes that make Lottery most appealing to the consumer is greater than ever.  How can Lottery clarify its messaging, its brand, its products and promotions to differentiate itself in this competitive market-place, and carve out its own unique connection to the consumer?

 

Betting on Interactive

Everyone is online, connecting with merchants, with information resources, and with each other.  Lotteries’ huge brand awareness is already driving huge website traffic.   How are successful lotteries leveraging this online connection to drive consumer engagement, drive sales, and disseminate information?  How are lotteries integrating interactive strategies into every aspect of the business to position themselves for successful long-term sustainable growth?

 

Public Gaming /Paul Jason - pjason@publicgaming.com   / Susan Jason - sjason@publicgaming.com  /Office Phone - + 425-449-3000  
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