Tom Hoskens AIA, LEED AP
Principal and Director of Strategic Development
Cuningham Group Architecture Inc.
We expect the positive trends from 2013 to continue. The past year saw much improved activity for architects and designers in the gaming industry, both in inquiries and billings. Albeit slowly, the U.S. economy has been rebuilding the past few years, and stable growth is projected for the coming year. With interest rates remaining low and the stock market at all-time highs, developers and investors have growing confidence when it comes to spending on capital projects. We are optimistic in all our entertainment-based markets from the U.S. to Asia. One particular indicator we’ve seen is a marked increase in new work inquiries alone—requests for professional services proposals have tripled over last year’s levels. In many instances, major operators have increased efforts to improve iconic properties by refreshing amenities and, in other cases, take on full rebranding efforts. The economy has impacted such decision making for owners/operators. Clients are also looking harder for unique niches to capture a piece of the action among growing competition, not only from other casinos, but also from the increase in online gaming.
As part of the search for niches to capitalize on, our firm has spent much time researching and philosophizing on “casinos of the future” and imagining how we can help casinos better position themselves for inevitable changes. Brick-and-mortar casinos, as they exist today, have to evolve in the face of shifting demographics, changing technology and varying desires of a new generation of players. A traditional gaming floor peppered with slot machines is not what younger generations seek. They covet gaming experiences that are personal, mobile and social. In addition, as the stigmas surrounding gaming continue to soften, communities are looking more to casino resorts as an important activity generator in an urban environment. Casino resorts are coming of age from the standpoint of respect as an anchor in an urban fabric, for a tax base and as a place maker. Offering a product that better appeals to younger generations will play big into the success of gaming as an urban-centered activity and destination.
A “casino of the future” concept provides an immediate niche market opportunity, specifically the Net Generation as a target market and technology as a transformative force on the games and the facilities that house them. The new design opportunities are boundless with the challenges being finding owners/operators who are ready to take the leap to something new and a resounding chorus of “more bang for the buck” being heard loud and clear in the A/E/C industry. Being more creative with fewer resources is a major issue we are facing as a design firm. Generous design budgets, while loved by architects, are rarer than ever. But, our conversations with clients are revealing more and more that the casino design business is not business as usual. There is an enlightening going on. Gaming clients understand that change is needed, and [it] has started to happen. They are listening with renewed interest to what we believe the future trends will be. Right now, it’s ideas—we believe a year from now we will be sharing exciting stories of bringing to fruition real and observable design changes that will help frame a sustainable and profitable future for casino gaming.
Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG)
2013 was a strong and productive year for HBG, and 2014 should see the trend continue. Steadily improving economic conditions have positively impacted growth and facility improvement plans for many HBG commercial and Indian gaming clients across the country. Indian gaming continues to be a very strong market sector for HBG and many current and past tribal clients are dramatically ramping up facility additions and improvements. The financial industry continues to eagerly seek good deals, and most projects have been financed. Some of our clients are even self-financing. The best testament to the quality of a consulting firm’s work is the repeat client. HBG is fortunate to have a number of nationally recognized tribal clients that we’ve been working with for many years on multiple projects. New commercial jurisdictions are opening windows for significant new ground-up investments. HBG is a proud team member on the PHL Local Gaming LLC, Philadelphia, Pa., license pursuit and was a team member on the Foxwoods, Milford, Mass., license pursuit.
On the trend side, gaming supply will obviously increase dramatically in the northeast with more states legalizing gaming. The need to differentiate and provide best-in-class, nongaming experiences for these new facilities, as well as the existing facilities already in the region, will be critical for competitive survival. Following the Vegas trend, many regional casino properties will continue to make sizeable new nongaming amenity investments in their properties. Re-inventing, re-configuring and re-branding are the kinds of things that make the industry fresh and profitable. Interestingly, the notion of luxury in a higher-end product and customer experience is driving many investment decisions.
The inclusion of nationally recognized brands into the total amenity mix of a resort will also continue to trend up. Brands just drive higher visitation. It’s all about the battle for the customer’s attention, and customers are never equally loyal. An existing brand or flag has its own signatures and is often already top-of-mind. A very important aspect of a national brand or flag is the ability, through proper positioning, to prevent targeting the wrong customer. In addition to restaurants, the idea of flagging hotels, nightclubs and even bars is trending up.
Many resort operators will continue to seek long-term operational benefits with any new investment. Greater returns can be measured in many sustainable ways beyond increased customer spending. Encouraging sustainable practices where feasible will continue. Efficiency of programs is another strong development trend. The resourceful use of space can translate into multiple uses throughout the day.
The creative and innovative application of emerging technologies will continue to evolve and impact the industry. Online off-site gaming may not ultimately have the dramatic impact to bricks and mortar that many expect, but it will present another entertainment alternative. Nobody expects the traditional cabinet to go away anytime soon, but mobile device on-site gaming and the mobile virtual wallet can dramatically impact the floor design of the future. Instant data collection, tracking, recognition and redemption via a mobile device will change how the customer interacts with the resort and vice versa. As nongaming activity continues to expand, the need to track this spend will be critical. Interactive gaming is a very interesting introduction of a true social gaming experience to the floor and can influence future design as well. To be truly sustainable, the industry needs to continue to explore innovative ways to drive younger clientele and provide entertainment options that appeal specifically to them. It’s all about creating a “craveable” product.
Scott P. Celella
Chief Project Officer
The concept of recovery has changed in recent years. For some, it means increased activity, which can serve as an economic indicator. However, the real challenge is to uncover what recovery truly looks like for our industry and what it means to our strategies and operations moving forward. Many analysts agree there is ample capital available for investment, but investments now face greater scrutiny than in past years. Secondly, investment decisions for the casino markets will continue to receive greater inspection due to the heightened competition in saturated casino markets. This competition for the same demographic of patrons requires many casinos to differentiate themselves in order to continue to grow.
As a result, large-scale, ground-up projects will increasingly occur only as a product of pent-up demand or deterioration of existing facilities, meaning there will be fewer projects than ever before. Therefore, owners’ overriding motivation for expansion will hinge on retaining market share. And to meet these goals, our designs must be more innovative—both in the products and systems we choose and the applications of those materials—to create an exciting, unexpected experience for patrons out of the mundane. Where there was once the opportunity for opulence, casinos must do more with less in the face of today’s growing competitive landscape.
This same concept will also extend to our business practices. We must find better and more efficient ways to deliver the level of quality and attentiveness expected of our services, despite decreased fee structures. Fewer projects will also certainly result in increased competition for design services in the foreseeable future. Those who are successful at “re-tooling,” or finding better ways to support our clients, will ultimately be most successful.
We observed these trends first-hand in a recent project for Santa Ana Casino in New Mexico, which set a tight budget to target select improvements within the existing casino to enhance the guests’ experience and bring a bit of “Vegas Style” to the region. By updating only a select number of venues within the overall casino, the owner and operator team experienced a significant return on investment and now enjoys the benefits of a more satisfied and excited clientele. The new bar and performance venue, The Stage, has been particularly successful in attracting a younger, more energetic crowd to Santa Ana Casino. The targeted investment also created a significant amount of additional value to the casino without building an entirely new facility.
At Viejas Casino Resort [in southern California], the infusion of new food venues and gaming spaces inside the existing space alongside the addition of a 4-star hotel have made the property a sought after destination in a saturated entertainment market. Though patrons have numerous venue options, Viejas has become a standout choice by carefully targeting investments into projects that attract new guests and retain existing clientele.
Thalden – Boyd – Emery Architects
This has been an interesting two years. While the recession is long past, the effects still tend to haunt the industry. Casino owners are slowly starting to make long-needed improvements to their properties and plan for the future.
At Thalden – Boyd – Emery Architects, we are fortunate to have opened 12 casino projects. The largest of these is the Miami Valley Casino and Racetrack near Cincinnati, Ohio. This $120 million project was done for a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Delaware North Companies. The project includes 286,000 square feet, 2,400 slot machines, four food venues plus two additional bars, and a new 5/8th mile racetrack. The project opened Dec. 12, 2013, under budget and ahead of schedule.
Other projects [we completed] include Win-River Hotel and Casino Expansion in Redding, Calif.; Indigo Sky Casino and Resort in Oklahoma; Cypress Bayou Resort Hotel in Louisiana; Soaring Eagle Indoor Waterpark Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; Prairie Sun Casino in Oklahoma; and FIREKEEPERS Casino Resort expansion in Battle Creek, Mich. We also opened several renovations in Las Vegas: La Cave Restaurant in Paris, Gordon Ramsay Pub in Caesar’s Palace, High Stakes Gaming room in Planet Hollywood: and a new lobby and lounge at the Four Seasons.
Return on Investment is the criteria for any new expansion. In that regard, our firm’s Casino Performance Design© process has proven to substantially increase gaming revenues.
As casinos continue to proceed with needed improvements and new states add casinos, there will be substantial expansion of gaming in the United States. Already, there are a multitude of proposed projects in the works and we look forward to creating many of them.
In 2014 existing casinos will expand, renovate and grow. But what will be the priorities? Our prediction is more hotel rooms, renovations that add new “life” to the casino floor, a focus on expansions that will produce a high return-on-investmen, and iPad gaming opportunities. Most adults are comfortable with mobile devices, and there are 2 million kids turning 21 every year in the United States.
We look forward to a peaceful, fun and prosperous 2014 and wish everyone in the industry a rewarding year.
Tutor Perini Building Co.
Cautious optimism combined with business flexibility is our approach to 2014. All of the companies in Tutor Perini Building Group—Anderson Companies, James A. Cummings Inc., Keating Building Co., Rudolph and Sletten Inc. and Tutor Perini Building Co.—are actively involved in pursuing or building gaming projects throughout the nation. In spite of a fragile market, tight-fisted lending and a federal government cemented in gridlock, we are optimistic about 2014.
While it’s hard to foresee the future of any market, if our most recent gaming projects serve as a barometer, the horizon looks promising. Tutor Perini’s most recent project, Graton Resort and Casino in California, reached capacity within hours on opening day. In Arizona, we completed Vee Quiva Hotel and Casino over the summer. Despite a searing 109-degree day, there were throngs of people waiting to try their luck.
In addition to popular demand, another engine fueling gaming is revenue for cash-strapped states seeking creative ways to balance their budgets. The most striking example is Resorts World Casino New York, a Tutor Perini project, which continues to be the most successful casino in the country in terms of attendance and financial contributions to state coffers. On Resort World’s second anniversary, Genting Group announced that the casino has generated over $930 million for New York in revenue, with nearly $600 million going directly to the state’s education fund. This, plus millions in licensing fees the property has paid, brings the total contribution to New York to over a billion dollars as of October 2013. That said, the ability for state and local governments to raise money relatively effortlessly through gaming will continue to spur gaming expansion.
Looking across the country at potential projects, Tutor Perini and its sister companies feel a definite pulse within specific regions of the country for both commercial and Native American gaming. On the East Coast, we see opportunity in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. We are also looking into potential projects throughout the nation’s midsection and southern states, including Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Florida. Moving west, Arizona and California also look promising.
Las Vegas, where our company has been building resorts and casinos for 40 years, is still in slow motion. Currently Tutor Perini is building the only vertical hotel on the Las Vegas Strip since 2008, Marriott’s Grand Chateau. While Marriott isn’t a gaming property, it just may be an indicator that Las Vegas is turning the corner. Another beacon for the gaming capital of the world is Genting, [which] has made it public that it’s planning something in Las Vegas.
While the frenzy and excitement of years of project backlog and building mega hospitality projects has yet to resurface, we definitely foresee an uptick, albeit more paced and conservative.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association (AGA)
As the American Gaming Association (AGA) looks forward to 2014, we are planning an aggressive program of activities with three primary goals—facilitating growth, preventing harm, and informing and connecting the broader gaming industry.
Gaming is a relatively young industry, and while we have had tremendous success in the past telling our positive story of growth, innovation and economic development, the old criticisms still persist. It is the AGA’s responsibility to combat these threats that could hinder the industry’s continued growth. The AGA will use quantitative research and case studies to illustrate how gaming makes communities better and put a face on the industry by highlighting its most valuable assets—our employees and customers.
Our opening salvo in this effort to tell the positive story of the industry is a new video developed by the AGA and released in December showcasing the impact of the industry on one community—Kansas City, Mo. The video tells the story of how the industry has added tourism, created jobs for a diverse workforce, helped revitalize the community and partnered with local charitable organizations. To watch and, most importantly, share our new video, visit the AGA’s YouTube Channel at www.YouTube.com/americangamingassoc.
The AGA will also champion a pro-gaming advocacy agenda in 2014 that drives gaming expansion within a legal, regulated framework while shielding the industry from unfavorable attacks. Paramount to this effort is building a stable of diverse and vocal advocates who stand ready to support and defend the industry at the local, state and federal levels. Here in Washington, the congressional landscape is set to change considerably in the next decade, and the gaming industry needs to be prepared. Working with the Congressional Gaming Caucus, the AGA will embark on a campaign to develop a roster of congressional champions who represent all 39 commercial and tribal casino states—not just the few with the largest gaming markets. We’ll use earned media and on-the-ground events to communicate the value of gaming in communities, and we’ll leverage local allies to help tell the industry story.
Building on the AGA’s successful regulatory reform efforts is another key pillar of the AGA’s advocacy agenda. During the past three years, the AGA has articulated a common sense reform agenda. Moving forward, we will launch a multifaceted campaign to further build the case for a more unified and streamlined licensing and regulatory system at the state level. We will work with regulators to identify mutually beneficial reforms and pursue a modernized regulatory system that will maintain the integrity that is a hallmark of our business.
As a champion for the continued growth of legal gaming, the AGA will also move aggressively to block the progress of illegal or unregulated gambling activities. Whether it’s unregulated Internet sweepstakes cafés or offshore online gambling operators illegally facing U.S. customers, the AGA will bring resources to bear to stamp out these activities.
Finally, the AGA will launch a campaign in 2014 with the goal of educating, engaging and empowering industry executives like never before. In the past, the AGA addressed the needs of only the highest-level executives in our member companies. But the gaming industry is a diverse world of professionals working in a wide range of fields. During the coming year, the AGA will take time to learn what all gaming professionals need—marketers, compliance officers, human resources representatives and more—so we can provide them with the tools they need to perform better, smarter and with an eye to the future. These programs are aimed at one common goal—helping our industry thrive. I look forward to pursuing an aggressive, positive and unifying agenda in the year ahead and helping lead the industry into the future.
Arizona Indian Gaming Association
We close the year mindful that tribal gaming has been unprecedented in its ability to move tribes towards self-sufficiency. Without it, Arizona tribes would suffer even more from the impacts of sequestration coupled with a government shutdown. Two Arizona tribal governments, the Havasupai and Hualapai, who benefit from gaming transfer agreements, were able to keep their areas of the Grand Canyon open during the shutdown, protecting their economic investment. And yet the impact of sequestration swept across our state like a dust storm.
Federal issues aside, last year Arizona tribal gaming celebrated 10 years of sharing gaming revenues with all Arizonans. AIGA contracted with Taylor Policy Group to conduct an economic impact of tribal gaming, which confirmed that tribal gaming is a major economic player in Arizona. We directly employ more than 15,000 people, which, if tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranks us above mining and logging. Adding indirect jobs pushes the number above 22,000 jobs. A conservative estimate values these jobs at nearly $1 billion. Importantly, because most reservations in Arizona are located in rural areas, tribal casinos deliver jobs where they are needed most.
Armed with this new and solid information, we launched an outreach campaign to tell our story to Arizona opinion leaders and voters. Our targeted television, print, outdoor and social media campaign, “This Is Our Way,” delivers the message that shared revenues from tribal gaming have contributed nearly $1 billion to Arizona. Plans are to expand upon this effort in 2014.
Our plan of action will be to increase our momentum by further educating our members, voters and elected leaders with solid facts. In November, Kevin Allis of the Native American Contractors Association speaking at EXPO AIGA 2013 Gaming and Business Summit and Trade Show, noted that today’s elected congressional leaders and their staffs are some of the newest and youngest ever. “They don’t know your communities. They don’t understand sovereign nations or the government-to-government relationship. They were elected to create jobs, build a middle class, or cut taxes and make government more efficient. Tribes need to know why these people were elected and how their stories and messages can hit that ‘sweet spot.’”
Concurrently we continue to build and strengthen relationships with other business, civic and trade associations to raise the profile of AIGA and educate voters about tribal gaming. As Glenn Hamer, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who also spoke at our EXPO AIGA, explained, “building relationships is an ongoing process, and it is important to do it on a collective fashion under a trade association. Otherwise you have different messages and confusion. Political leaders look to an association for dialogue.”
We have launched an Associate Members program, which expands our outreach as an association and will dramatically leverage our members’ influence.
Looking ahead, AIGA will continue to zealously monitor political, social, regulatory and technology-based opportunities and challenges that can affect our industry. We await the decision of the Supreme Court on a case that may alter the state of tribal gaming. Additionally, we know that Internet gaming is poised for movement on the federal level. Will we actually see a bill? Will it get approved or stymied by one of gaming’s largest operators? While states continue to approve Internet gaming, tribes need to consider all the business aspects of online gaming.
With issues on the horizon, our members remain committed to expanding and diversifying their economic opportunities, knowing that tribal economic sovereignty is the best bet for the future.
Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM)
Let’s look back before we tackle what’s ahead.
For the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and our membership base around the world, I believe 2013 will be remembered as another year of growth and increased influence. For those not familiar with our organization, AGEM is a nonprofit international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of electronic gaming devices, systems, table games, key components, and support products and services for the gaming industry. AGEM works to further the interests of gaming equipment suppliers throughout the world. Through political action, regulatory influence, trade show partnerships, educational alliances, information dissemination and good corporate citizenship, the members of AGEM work together to create benefits for every company within the organization. Together, AGEM has assisted regulatory agencies and participated in the legislative process to solve problems and create a business environment where AGEM members can prosper while providing a strong level of support to education and responsible gaming initiatives.
While AGEM’s overall stature continued to grow in 2013, the tangible growth was particularly evident among the true gaming suppliers that make up the majority of AGEM’s membership base. Growth came in a variety of ways. While overall revenues experienced by the publicly traded suppliers inched upward, growth opportunities increased in nontraditional ways. Instead of a robust replacement cycle and casino opening or expansion opportunities, growth came from new technology and new players in the supplier space even as notable consolidation occurred as well.
Online gaming went live in three states during the past year, and AGEM members are in a position to supply operating systems, game content, money management services and geo-location technology for the burgeoning online market. Other companies, such as IGT, showed dramatic revenue increases from games accessed through social media platforms such as Facebook.
AGEM’s increased influence over the past year spanned the 19 countries where our members are headquartered, but the most progress was certainly made in North America. AGEM was particularly active in the states of Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and Florida, as each of those states addressed a variety of active and unique gaming issues during 2013. AGEM also continued its focus on charitable and problem gambling issues while approving funding for a variety of educational initiatives.
As for the year ahead, AGEM’s mission remains the same, but the members will be responsible for helping to drive the industry forward. I believe you’ll see a business climate that remains healthy, but only as healthy as the performance of the casino operators. I also think you’ll see more collaboration among operators and suppliers, as well as more cooperation among regulators and suppliers.
Online/internet/interactive/mobile—whatever terminology you want to use—will continue to be a hot topic, and AGEM will be part of the conversation as it works together with a variety of interests, including the Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association (AGA).
New year or not, the gaming industry is ever evolving, always exciting and highly motivating for those of us fortunate enough to be part of it.
Daniel J. Tucker
California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA)
California’s tribal governments will face many issues in 2014. From Internet gaming to tribal-state compacts, the year is sure to be full of many twists and turns.
The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) will start 2014 with the Western Indian Gaming Conference (WIGC) Feb. 11 to 13. Issues to be discussed include regulation, tribal-state gaming compacts, financing and Internet gaming to name a few. Leaders from throughout the nation are expected at what is sure to be the networking conference of the year. For additional information, please visit www.wigc2014.com.
For more than five years, CNIGA’s member tribes have been tracking legislation that attempts to legalize Internet gaming. We expect 2014 to be no different. With multiple bills being proposed in California, it is imperative for tribes to reach a consensus on bill language that is beneficial to California tribes, as well as the citizens of this state. We are confident that together this is possible.
CNIGA is closely tracking Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community where the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Dec. 2, 2013. This case could have catastrophic implications on issues such as tribal sovereignty, tribal sovereign immunity, Indian land status and federal jurisdiction, and tribal government gaming. The outcome of this case will certainly be discussed by tribal governments for years to come.
I see 2014 being a year of growth, both for the industry and for the association. In 2010, California’s gaming tribes generated $7.5 billion in economic activity. We created more than 52,000 good paying jobs and $2.7 billion in income for Californians. For a second year, CNIGA has commissioned Beacon Economics to provide an economic impact report on the effects of tribal gaming on the California economy. We are eagerly awaiting the updated figures and hope to release the data sometime in February 2014.
CNIGA membership continues to grow. With the recent addition of the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC), tribal and associate memberships are strong. We are thrilled to welcome the UAIC and look forward to welcoming additional members as the year progresses.
Tribal government gaming is a powerful economic engine. California’s tribal governments are proud of the contributions we make and look forward to another year of building strong tribal governments, protecting our inherent sovereign rights and preserving our culture for generations to come.
President and CEO
Canadian Gaming Association
Last year at this time I predicted that the big noise in Canadian gaming in 2013 would be happening in Ontario, with the biggest bang potentially in Toronto. I turned out to be right for the wrong reasons.
Most of you probably now know more about Canada, and Toronto in particular, because of the exploits and antics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the fiasco surrounding the lost opportunity of a destination resort facility in downtown Toronto.
The significant stories for 2013 were supposed to be galvanized by progress, change and opportunity. Instead, this devolved into inertia and indecision, driven by fear and misunderstanding.
The biggest by far was to be the modernization of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), the provincial government agency charged with conducting and managing the sale of lottery products, casino gaming, slots at racetracks and eBingo, the crucial elements of which were transferring ownership and day-to-day operation of its gaming facilities and lottery to the private sector, allowing new gaming sites in convenient locations and the launch of a full online offering.
This potential huge opportunity for the private sector came to a crashing pause with the January 2013 selection by the governing Liberal Party of a new leader and Premier Kathleen Wynne, who fired OLG Chair Paul Godfrey and announced a re-think of policy regarding the support of horseracing. The government has since indicated on more than one occasion that a revised modernization that takes into account support for horseracing will recommence soon.
2013 was also supposed to be the year that brought clarity as to whether or not single event sports betting would be legalized in Canada, as a bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada was in the final stages of progress through the Canadian Parliament. Unfortunately, the bill has been held from final approval in the Senate by a small group of senators opposed to the change.
These two situations are most evocative of the endless time loop that Bill Murray found himself caught up in in the movie “Groundhog Day.” We can only hope that in 2014 we will all be as lucky as he was—that the loop will be broken.
For Ontario modernization, this will mean resumption of the Requests for Pre-Qualification (RFPQ) process from parties interested in developing and operating gaming businesses and then Requests for Proposals (RFP) from qualified developers and operators. Overhanging the process is a potential provincial election in 2014 should the existing minority government be defeated.
With sports betting, we expect that the bill will be dealt with in the Senate and pass. Should this happen, look for provincial lottery and gaming corporations to offer sports betting in a variety of forms, including in casino sports books, online and potentially on mobile devices.
Throughout Canada, growth will come for those most creative and able to develop and penetrate the new demand channels, such as British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s successful expansion of its online and mobile PlayNow.ca platforms with Manitoba Lotteries.
2014 will also see new rules and regulations to the federal Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act as it relates to casino-style gaming and online gaming.
The Canadian Gaming Association, in strategic partnership with Canada’s provincial lottery and gaming crown agencies is planning the biggest, most content-rich Canadian Gaming Summit to be held June 23 to 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The summit brings together more than 1,000 Canadian gaming executives for the country’s only industry conference and trade show. Mark the date and plan to join us.
President and CEO
Casino Association of Indiana
As 2013 draws to a close, Indiana’s casinos have had somewhat of a challenging year, as predicted. We’ve seen a decline in admissions, as well as the monthly total of winnings by patrons. The soft economy in the Midwest with an Indiana unemployment rate of 8 percent has had a negative effect on the casino industry. This results in less tax revenue available for our cities, towns and state government. Let’s not forget that tax revenues from Indiana’s casinos account for the third-largest source of state government revenue, with nearly $1 billion annually being contributed through taxes and local development agreements. All of these factors have required the industry to right size. We currently have a few thousand less employees than at our peak.
In addition to the generally weak economic conditions, increased competition from surrounding states has certainly had an impact. With the vast majority of Indiana’s casinos on the outskirts of our state, new and expanded gaming opportunities of our neighboring states have saturated most markets.
One of our challenges in dealing with the competition in Ohio is the taxation of promotional play. Ohio allows promotional play as a completely deductible expense. [In 2013], the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill that allowed us partial deductibility of free play credits. While this has certainly helped, full deductibility of all promotional play credits in Indiana would allow us to compete on a level playing field.
On the legislative front, in the 2014 session, an initiative to eliminate or at least reduce the business personal property tax would have our strong support. We also will work to ensure that our casinos are included in any legislative proposal to move toward a better business environment. However, as this is what we consider the short session, lasting only 10 weeks, it may be difficult to address any tax issues, and at this time I don’t expect any gaming specific language to move forward.
Proposals to allow our riverboats to move onto their footprint on land and for live dealer table games at our two racetrack casinos did not make it out of our 2013 Legislature but will resurface in the future.
In 2014, we also expect the stability of our regulatory environment to continue. The Indiana Gaming Commission has always been fair and done an admirable job working with the industry to help us remain as competitive as possible. Judge Ernie Yelton has now been the executive director for nearly nine years, and Deputy Director Jenny Reske has been at the commission for approximately 12 years. In addition, we are fortunate to have Joby Jerrells serving as the chief legal counsel. Joby had experience in the casino industry before joining the commission. We look forward to their continued leadership and working with their staff in the coming year to continue streamlining our regulatory processes.
While things look a little gloomy in my article, on the bright side, we have the best operators in the country ready to take on the ever-increasing challenges.
Lois A. Rice, CAE
Colorado Gaming Association
The November 2013 elections in Colorado were interesting this year, primarily due to two Democratic senators being recalled. Senate President John Morse (Colorado Springs) and Sen. Angie Giron (Pueblo) were recalled by voters over their stance on gun control issues. These recalls have resulted in new Senate President Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) and new Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath (D-Boulder). There was also the election of new legislators for the 2014 session, which commences on Jan. 8, 2014. It will be a challenging year for the Colorado Gaming Association (CGA) as we educate the new legislators concerning industry issues, as well as determine how leadership changes will affect political outcomes. The CGA has been active this fall in taking new legislators and those in leadership positions on tours to the three gaming towns, so they can learn about the challenges the industry faces in Colorado and also about the many contributions the industry provides to the state. For the past few years, in addition to its commitment to historic preservation and community college funding, the casino industry has also funded the entire tourism promotion budget for the state, this year totaling $15 million.
Due to Colorado’s limited gaming environment and the location of our casinos in remote former mining towns, gaming expansion continues to be an issue, particularly as the state continues to face budget challenges from the recession, primarily affecting education and Medicaid funding. Last year, a state representative made yet another attempt to introduce slot-type devices at a racetrack on the Western Slope, and it is anticipated that another expansion effort will be made in 2014. We opposed that bill, as did the community college system and other current recipients of gaming tax revenue, which would be threatened by the cannibalization of existing gaming markets. The Colorado Constitution currently provides that any expansion of gambling beyond those three locales must be approved by a statewide and local vote. However, we are hopeful that Colorado legislators are learning from other states that funding important state programs, such as education, with gaming revenues does not always guarantee increased revenue streams, as consumers remain uneasy about economic issues and more conservative with their entertainment spending habits.
During 2013, we have also seen the growth of the Internet café outlets in Colorado, with facilities that we know of in Grand Junction, Pueblo, Denver and Fort Collins. We are awaiting an opinion by the attorney general’s office as to whether they violate existing gaming or sweepstake and raffle laws. Our annual industry polling continues to illustrate that 70 percent of Coloradans still oppose expansion of gaming activities to the Front Range, either through Native American ventures, lottery expansion, racinos, card rooms and other means.
On the federal front, we are monitoring developments with proposed Internet gaming legislation with the hopes that our existing brick-and-mortar casinos may at some point offer their products electronically. Passage of Internet gaming legislation not only protects the consumer from a currently unregulated industry, but it also provides additional tax revenue to Colorado, money that now goes overseas to foreign gambling interests. Since New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have begun offering Internet wagering, we believe it is just a matter of time before other states follow suit, and the federal government will have to put an infrastructure in place to maximize tax revenues.
During 2008, voters approved a ballot measure to raise the casino maximum bet limit from $5 to $100, add the games of craps and roulette and allow our casinos to stay open for 24 hours. Although the generated revenues have since fallen short of the state’s budget office original projections, we are pleased that we can help support Colorado’s community colleges with additional revenue that they would not have received without these changes to existing gaming regulations.
Our industry, like other states, has suffered the effects of the economic recession, but we hope that as the economy recovers over the next few years that we will enjoy growth in our markets. Recent ownership changes in the Black Hawk market will result in remodeling of existing structures and the addition of new hotel rooms and other amenities which will attract more customers to the market. Our gaming towns have seen an increase in meeting and hospitality bookings, and those will only increase as more hotel rooms come into the market. Our three gaming communities continue to look for ways to attract nongaming businesses to increase the variety of activities and amenities available to our guests and their families.
Gaming Standards Association (GSA)
Last year at this time, GSA outlined a five-year strategic plan to move the organization, and the industry, forward in a deliberate, strategic manner. We are pleased to announce that as 2013 closes and 2014 opens, we achieved our critical objectives for 2013, and we begin the new year with a new set of objectives that will continue to help the industry progress, particularly as i-gaming maintains its steady proliferation across the Atlantic and into the United States.
In 2014, GSA will continue to act as the industry’s catalyst for change, while at the same time maintaining the safe havens of committees where suppliers, operators and regulators can openly discuss the path ahead. It is important that we support the industry through global collaboration, and we have had a very successful track record in the brick-and-mortar side.
GSA has been successful in bringing standardization to brick-and-mortar operations through partnerships with the industry domain and the policy domain. Specifically, the gaming floor has migrated to an open standard protocol with a high-speed enabled floor. We have decreased risk, costs and time to market by increasing interoperability with products built on and certified to GSA standards. We have the ability to download and configure EGMs from a single central system, collect detailed business intelligence and player data, and have industry standards for security. Looking forward, we are developing standards for a PUI and have laid the groundwork for convergence.
It is that convergence—both in-casino, where the game is the system and the system is the game, and [among] casino, online and social—where GSA will focus additional attention in 2014.
The successful creation of our Online Gaming Committee in 2013 added a focus on the proliferation of i-gaming and its associated industry challenges. Given that i-gaming is expanding beyond Europe into North America, and given that there is now more focus on the connection between brick-and-mortar and online technologies, the collaborative environment that GSA affords has become increasingly important.
Critical to the success of the Online Gaming Committee and, by extension, the success of online gaming in North America, will be several vital cross-points in the converging ecosystem of gaming, namely, regulatory information, operator transparency to data and stability of those connections through standardization.
In 2014, GSA will actively facilitate collaboration and participation between key operators and regulators of what the standards need to do and provide. Through that collaboration, both the industry and the policy domains will benefit from the work GSA can do.
On the policy side, we have created a trusted environment for regulators to enable them to collaborate on the definition of required messages supporting them with the tasks to protect consumers. We will help this group move forward with supporting the creation of a regulatory reporting and monitoring messaging standards, including the exploration of standards for services provided by third parties such as geo-location and financial transactions.
GSA has a proven track record of tackling the difficult world of standardization, and in 2014 we will continue to build bridges to further industrywide collaboration around the world.
J. Kelly Duncan
International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL)
2014 will see continued growth in gaming as governments around the world strive to address, in the least painful way, budget shortfalls. With this growth, issues that are common to gaming jurisdictions worldwide will need to be addressed, including gaming regulatory reform in both land-based and online gaming, concerns about adequate poker liquidity, the data protection and security challenges of mobile gaming, whether or not social gaming should be regulated and, if so, why and how. Because of this, the role of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) as the leader in educating the world of gaming will continue to be of particular importance.
The IMGL is a nonprofit association of prominent gaming attorneys, regulators, educators, executives and consultants from around the world who are dedicated to education and the exchange of professional information concerning all aspects of gaming law. The organization’s membership is by invitation only and only after a strict vetting process to those who have truly distinguished themselves in the gaming industry. As gaming has expanded worldwide, so has the membership of IMGL with more than a 15-percent growth in membership since September 2012 with a total now of 321 members from 40 countries, including 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Each year, the IMGL produces two of the preeminent gaming conferences in the world—one in North America and one outside of North America. These conferences offer unprecedented insights and stimulating exchange of ideas on issues facing the gaming industry worldwide. Additionally, the IMGL is creating a substantive body of gaming law work with its four magazines—Casino Lawyer, Canadian Gaming Lawyer, European Gaming Lawyer and La Ley del Juego—its casino law and loose-leaf service and its sponsorship of the UNLV Gaming Law Journal and the Gaming Law Review and Economic publications.
IMGL, at the invitation of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR), co-located its 2013 Autumn Conference with the IAGR Annual Conference in Oslo, Norway. A panel of leading and former regulators discussed areas of reform including, among other things, standardization in the collection of information by regulators, a common multijurisdictional business form and an in-depth review of the necessity, if any, of regulations pertaining to notification of shipment of gaming devices. As a result of this discourse, there is the expectation that in 2014 real reform can be accomplished.
Furthermore, because of its significant international membership, IMGL continues to be on the forefront of issues pertaining to Internet gaming. Several panels at the 2013 IMGL Autumn Conference discussed cross-border online gaming regulatory reform, online gaming in developing markets, and national and international compacts as a means by which to address the concerns of poker liquidity. The 2013 Autumn Conference also brought together very knowledgeable speakers to discuss mobile gaming and social gaming. Clearly, these are burgeoning areas of gaming that will continue to demand our attention in 2014.
The open networking and collective experience of IMGL members makes the IMGL an integral and effective tool for the dissemination of gaming law and developments worldwide. Because of this, IMGL members will be a significant resource for helping to shape the development of online and land-based gaming and the convergence of same, mobile gaming and social gaming in 2014.
Wes Ehrecke, CAE
President and CEO
Iowa Gaming Association
Iowa now has 18 state-regulated commercial casino licenses. One requirement for a new casino license to be considered by the regulating body known as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) is citizens must pass a county referendum vote. Two counties successfully did that during 2013 by margins over 60 percent and 75 percent. Another county is also eligible from a previous referendum vote passing.
Interested groups in these counties are submitting their plans and will go through an extensive vetting process with IRGC in early 2014 to determine any cannibalization of market share revenue from existing properties, assuring appropriate levels of financing and other criteria. The IRGC has approved two companies to provide independent research on what impact any new casinos would have to the existing market, with results expected by March. The IRGC will make their decisions on approving any new gaming licenses by early summer of 2014.
The IRGC has also chosen a company from those submitting an RFP bid to do a comprehensive socio-economic impact study that is required by the Iowa Legislature every eight years. This report will also be due in early 2014 and is requested to do comparisons to noncasino counties on bankruptcy rates, crime and other socio-economic factors. It will indicate what, if any, adverse impact a casino has on a community, as well as research the economic impact of the casino’s presence in a community with several benchmark categories.
At the close of 2013, the revenues of Iowa’s commercial casinos continue to remain fairly flat compared with the prior year, reflecting that the economy and consumers’ confidence continues to be uncertain. However, various indicators show signs to be optimistic in 2014. A few more casinos have plans to move from their riverboat gaming floor areas to a land-based footprint with enhanced amenities. (Currently there are six of the 18 locations on riverboats.) Several acquisitions of gaming companies were finalized in 2013 or are planned in 2014, which will bring new ideas to upgrade their facilities to be premier entertainment destinations. Some examples include a comprehensive casino/retail development, building a golf course, converting meeting space into a new gaming floor, and remodeling hotel rooms and restaurants.
Looking ahead to the 2014 legislative session, the IGA anticipates little happening as the legislative leaders are compressing a 100-day session to be done two weeks earlier than scheduled. This will likely mean no changes to the tax structure, nor removing the current smoking ban exemption on the gaming floor.
A short session also equates to limited time for any meaningful debate. Therefore, no discussion in the 2014 legislative session will take place to allow authorization of online intrastate poker to be played via casino portals. (This issue has been debated in previous years.) Rather, the industry will closely watch the introduction of i-gaming in New Jersey and Delaware, plus Internet poker in Nevada. This will be an opportunity to learn what is working or not, including their regulations, compacts with other states, etc., and decide on suggested language for a bill to consider in 2015.
Ernie Stevens Jr.
National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA)
Despite low expectations, 2013 proved to be a banner year for Indian gaming. Tribal gaming continued to put the Great Recession in our rearview mirror, improving lives in Indian country and helping our neighbors make it through tough economic times along the way. The president and the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) set and met an ambitious consultation agenda with Indian Country in 2013. We also witnessed major developments at the Department of Interior in 2013, and our membership continued to discuss the potential impacts of Internet gaming and the changing tribal gaming landscape. For 2014, we expect a lively election cycle while the Congress and the president continue to tackle the budget, the deficit, and work to continue to pave a path to a stable economic recovery.
In 2013, Indian gaming reported our third consecutive increase in gross gaming revenue since the start of the Recession. 2012 revenues came in at $27.2 billion, a near 3-percent increase over the previous year.
In 2012, Indian gaming was responsible for more than 300,000 direct jobs, and when indirect employment is factored in, Indian gaming created over 650,000 American jobs nationwide. While the federal, state and local governments have implemented significant cuts in the public sector, Indian gaming dollars were donated by tribal governments to protect local jobs for policemen, teachers, firefighters, nurses and others.
However, reservation unemployment remains critically high, so Indian country hopes the president and 113th Congress will work together to push hard for jobs and economic recovery legislation in 2014 while at the same time meeting the solemn treaty and trust obligations to provide for the basic health care, education and general welfare services promised to our Nations.
While the issue of Internet gaming was generally quiet on the federal front in 2013, three state governments—Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey—and a handful of tribal governments moved to legalize Internet gaming based on the December 2011 Department of Justice (DOJ) opinion. These developments led to a December 2013 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Manufacturing Subcommittee. In the coming year, NIGA will continue our focus on Internet gaming legislation. NIGA and our member tribes will continue to actively weigh in on the various legislative proposals to legalize Internet gambling and ensure that NIGA’s principles of respect for tribal sovereignty and self-government will be included in any Internet gaming legislation that moves through Congress. Indian Country constitutes 44 percent of the gaming market, and tribal governments must be able to compete on an equal footing—as governments, not commercial entities.
In Oklahoma and a few other markets, Indian gaming continues to grow to outperform other gaming markets. The final two quarters of 2013 appear to be periods of strong economic growth, which is key to solving the remaining fiscal uncertainty and will be a major factor influencing consumer spending. Accordingly, Indian tribes and industry leaders are focused on targeted marketing, improved efficiency and cost containment, and finding innovative ways to attract customers.
While we hope 2014 brings more economic good news, NIGA will continue to focus on urging tribes to use gaming revenues to help diversify their economies.
We have work ahead of us, whether it is in maintaining the strength of our existing operations or working with tribes that are still working to find economic sustainability. In 2014, NIGA will continue to work with its sister organizations in Indian country and tribal leaders to advance the lives of Indian people economically, socially and politically.
Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA)
In my 2013 forecast, I encouraged readers to bet on growth in Oklahoma, and we did not disappoint. Through continued growth in the number of machines statewide, growth in the number gaming properties and the continued infrastructure expansion at many properties throughout the state, Oklahoma’s tribal gaming industry continues to mature as a market.
In Oklahoma, we currently have an ample amount of gaming opportunities at all price points for customers—whether they are looking for an extended stay at a resort or just passing time at a small roadside facility. Keeping with the market maturation trend in 2013, I expect that 2014 will also see a further diversification of the service offerings and amenities at Oklahoma’s tribal gaming properties. As I write this, many of Oklahoma’s casinos are building new hotel towers, expanding their resort amenities or, more often than not, doing both.
In 2014, I expect to see a continued emphasis by some facilities on developing entertainment value for an ever-growing range of customers. The construction of high-end dining, luxurious spas, state-of-the-art concert venues and other similar services to round out the casino experience for entertainment customers of all types. The focus on growing [the number of] casino players will always be a priority, but some Oklahoma gaming centers have learned that diversifying and expanding amenities will keep a wider set of customers coming back more often.
Aside from the good news of market growth and diversification in Oklahoma, there is one issue that we will continue to watch very closely—Internet gaming. In 2014, we will likely see a number of issues related to Internet gaming continue to be discussed in Oklahoma, as well as other states.
It is my hope that tribes will continue the discussion rather than slipping back into the default position of fearing technology. Over the next year, some tribes will likely continue viewing Internet gaming as a competitor, and others will see it as an opportunity.
The reality in Oklahoma is that we know the majority of our customers play for the social and entertainment value as much as for the thrill of the win. One could easily argue that the improvements at Oklahoma’s gaming centers that include expanded offerings and amenities allow our members to offer a real-time, real-place experience that is separate from those seeking an online experience. As with any market, those who are prepared to give their customers more of what they want in new, exciting ways will be those who are able to best adapt to change—whether it is Internet gaming or some other issue on the horizon.
Attorneys and Law Firms
José Luis Benavides
Benavides & Associates S.C.
I make it no secret that my political party is the same as Mexico’s current President Peña Nieto. However, observing the President’s initial year in office has been interesting. His efforts to bring what is needed to make the necessary changes in the country have been met with resistance.
Urgency is required via nonpartisan action by both political parties for important changes to be implemented. This way they can have immediate day-to-day impact toward improving Mexico’s economy. Key indicators say Mexico is turning the corner and things appear brighter going forward into 2014. My gaming predictions about Mexico are:
President Peña Nieto will continue to support the gaming industry, according to his recent Casino Reform Decree dated Oct. 23, 2013. Other important legal and regulatory changes could be possible. He mentioned he and his cabinet have decided in the decree to make it clear Mexico is going to do what is required to make the country appealing to international investors in the gaming and tourist industry.
A new gaming bill is undergoing debate within the Congress, which could be on the table for a vote in the near future. However, it will pass only if this proposal can go deep and resonate with a majority of the people’s representatives in Congress. This debate is required to make any change in the society, and politics is the name of the game with the current administration.
There has been fair warning that the General Attorney (PGR) intends, and has started, to clean house. He will prosecute illegal casino operators and gaming operations. If proven guilty, these people will spend time as guests of the government in not-so-pleasant gray-bar hotels they run for bad hombres, no matter who they are. This will put a stop to open criminal activity of this nature.
The Ministry of Interior and IRS are exchanging information about all the gaming companies operating in Mexico, land-based facilities and online. This cooperating action could create serious headaches for many third-party operators or anyone cooking the books.
Online and mobile gaming is ready to go viral. Mexico is attractive for this kind of gaming activity with a large, young, affluent population with 100 million mobile devices in operation.
José Antonio Martinez Sampedro (chairman of the board and CEO of CODERE) is in the forefront as the major gaming operator in Mexico. In a recent press conference announcement [he] made it known they are going all in when it comes to Mexico. It will be the arrowhead of their international gaming activities starting off with a major expansion of their Mexico City horse racing and casino facility by adding a world-class, five-star hotel, luxury shopping and restaurant amenities with the end result a unique CODERE signature showplace.
The forward-looking plan is to upgrade at least 50 of their gaming locations throughout the country. Their long-standing gaming business experience and professional way they go about providing first class entertainment and hospitality makes them a clear-cut leader. Others that have not been as forthright with the government will soon find that they are no longer in business.
Of course I don’t have a crystal ball that allows me to predict the future; however, this is more than just a wild guess on my part at what lies ahead for Mexico’s gaming business.
The coming year will be marked by three basic trends: continued, albeit slow growth, and expansion of gaming markets in the United States; acquisitions/mergers within the gaming industry and related software developers and other gaming-related industries; and more Internet gaming conferences with little substantive change at the federal level, as distinguished from the state level, in the United States, but plenty of back-room relationship building. The odds of Congress doing anything substantive regarding the legalization of interstate Internet poker and/or traditional casino games are slim at best. In the face of this non-action, more states will jump on the Internet bandwagon on an Intrastate basis, as well as explore structures for partnering with other states (think Powerball and Megamillions), and this activity will ultimately get Congress into the game—but in all likelihood not until after the mid-term elections in the fall of 2014.
By no means am I being negative on the Internet market. Quite the contrary—the major players are actively putting together coalitions that have the potential of dominating the Internet market when it opens up. This is the time for action, not for a wait-and-see approach. Several Canadian provinces have jumped on the Internet bandwagon—more will follow. In addition, South American jurisdictions are in the throes of developing Internet gaming structures designed to get their fair share of the ballooning internet market. The critical issue facing the regulators is getting up to speed on the ability of Internet software to track player conduct, player location, player ages, money laundering scams and compulsive gaming—this is an important challenge that absolutely must be effectively addressed by the Internet gaming industry and their legal representatives in direct discussions with regulatory authorities.
In the land-based industry, there will be slow growth in emerging commercial jurisdictions, as well as very slow growth in Indian country. Las Vegas will continue its slow but steady rebound fueled in part by the entry of new players in the marketplace led by Genting. Other foreign mega casino operations will follow in the footsteps of Genting, either on their own or in partnership with current Las Vegas operators. Over the next few years, the United States market will see more foreign companies (operators and manufacturers) entering the marketplace directly or through the merger/acquisition route as the size of the United States market is just too attractive to ignore. In this regard, look for more Asian-based companies to move into the American marketplace, both as operators and manufacturers. Most of the United States and Canadian regulatory authorities have gained much experience dealing with foreign investors in the gaming marketplace, and this has broken down the barriers that have discouraged investment, particularly in North America.
Gaming has been a provincial, state-by-state business. While basic regulatory activity remains state-focused for a variety of practical reasons, land-based and Internet gaming operators, gaming-related manufacturers and their software partners are increasingly focused on one-stop shopping to minimize regulatory and legal costs. This trend will continue to grow in the coming year and thereafter.
The bottom line for late 2013 and beyond is gradual growth, continued merger/acquisition activity, new entrants into the American gaming market, and plenty of challenges and opportunities for the industries servicing the gaming market.
Lionel Sawyer & Collins
I think the industry is nearing a critical point where U.S. domestic growth opportunities are becoming more rare. Since the 1970s, gaming has undergone an explosive period of growth. Fifty years ago Nevada was the only state with broad-based casino gaming, and New Hampshire had the only state lottery. Today, between casino gaming, racinos, tribal gaming, riverboat gaming, state lotteries and other forms of gaming, gaming is permitted and regulated in 48 states. The expansion of casino gaming in the eastern states has led to renewed investment in the industry in this area of the country. Many analysts believe that the domestic market is nearing the point of saturation or diminishing returns. This will create new challenges not only for the market participants in the form of increased competition, but also for the jurisdictions that are dependent on gaming revenue as a significant contributor to funding state or tribal government.
New Jersey, which is a traditional casino gaming jurisdiction, has been at the forefront of facing significant competition from neighboring jurisdictions, and it has felt the impact of encroachment on its traditional market. Recently it has taken measures to innovate and revive its gaming industry. New Jersey recognized that it needed to be a more attractive jurisdiction for gaming investment, and while the regulatory system that served the state well for 30 years worked at addressing the issues of primary concern of the 1970s and 1980s, a restructuring was needed to address more modern priorities without sacrificing the integrity of the regulatory process. In 2011 sweeping regulatory changes occurred in New Jersey to streamline the regulatory process, revamp the regulatory organizational structure and focus on bolstering the state’s gaming industry’s sagging fortunes while maintaining the traditional integrity of the industry and its regulation. New Jersey has also enacted legislation to permit online gaming conducted by its casino operators and is fighting in the courts to offer state regulated sports wagering. New Jersey, as a regulatory jurisdiction, has felt the need to be competitive and has made efforts to be more competitive with other jurisdictions.
I expect that as market saturation places increasing demands on market participants, it will also place stress on governments to try to preserve gaming industry investment in their jurisdictions. As New Jersey has innovated by altering its regulatory system, without damaging its integrity, to address its competitiveness, I believe other traditional jurisdictions that seek to preserve industry investment will begin to re-evaluate their regulatory models to innovate and attract investment without sacrificing the integrity of their regulatory models or the industry.
While this may sound like near blasphemy regarding systems that were set up decades ago to keep bad people out, I believe it shows a maturing and mainstream acceptance and legitimacy of the industry as a whole. Gaming, like other industries, will have limited capital to invest domestically. As a legitimate industry with broad-based acceptance nationally, it will compare states and state regulatory systems when investment decisions are made. It is a natural maturation of the industry and its regulation that jurisdictions will innovate to attract investment to preserve their roles and promote a healthy industry. So in 2014, I believe that other states will begin to feel the need to start evaluating their regulatory systems as New Jersey has done and adjust or innovate to retain their positions or to make their jurisdictions more attractive.
I. Nelson Rose
Professor of Law
Whittier Law School
For legal gaming the future is here. Remote wagering—not just on the Internet, but cell phones and whatever comes next—is about to explode across the United States. Nevada has shown that online poker can be reliable and safe. The Silver State’s Legislature required that operators prove they can bar children and protect compulsive gamblers from themselves. And they had to safeguard their own safety: The sites have to be hack-proof.
New Jersey and Delaware were in a race to be the first state with full online casinos. They both won. Ten years from now, nobody will care which was first. Except Iowa. Iowa likes to be the first in the nation from presidential primaries to the first riverboat casinos. The Iowa Legislature authorized a study of the profitability of Internet poker, and the State Senate passed a bill allowing casinos and racetracks to offer poker online. But the study concluded that Internet poker would generate less than $13 million in tax revenue for the state, and the Senate bill died in the House. Still, Iowa would be the first state in the Midwest to have online gaming. I think that is exactly what we will see in the next three years. Unless Illinois beats them to the punch.
Since the Republicans in Congress have decided that they will block all attempts by Democrats or Obama to enact any new laws, developments will be on the state level. A dozen states will legalize Internet poker and casinos in the next few years. The American Virgin Islands has already passed legislation. The California Legislature will approve online poker as soon as they can work out the political fight among the state’s gaming tribes, card clubs and lawmakers. We will have Internet gambling before the state legislatures get around to changing their laws. We already have remote wagering by phone and computer on horseraces in more than half the states. Half a dozen states have been selling state lottery subscriptions online for years. Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has made it clear that the states are free to do whatever they want with Internet gambling so long as they stay away from sports betting.
It is the state lotteries that will lead the way with new games. Many can just change their own regulations. The most progressive lottery directors know that people who play games on their cell phones do not want to merely pick numbers and wait three days to see if they have won.
Class II gaming devices show that bingo winners can be displayed on machines that look like slot machines. Fixed odds betting has shown the same can be true of horseraces. The minor unknown is whether Bitcoins and other virtual currencies will play a significant role in the coming explosion of online gaming. The major unknown is how and when cross-border betting will begin.
State governors will be entering into compacts to pool online poker players within the next few years. Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware could already be taking bets from the 53 million residents of England, if they only fixed up their local laws. Two years ago I wrote that developments on the Internet are like dog years. It might have taken five decades to go from complete prohibition to today, when every state except Utah and Hawaii has commercial gambling. It won’t take nearly as long for every state to have Internet poker and casinos.
Michael J. Dominelli
NRT Technology Co.
Here is the focus and something to look out for in 2014: making new advancements and executing “big picture” concepts with respect to cash management. NRT Technology has spent the last 12 months educating and demonstrating newer technologies addressing inefficiencies that exist today.
Positioned with the most innovative and complete end-to-end cash access and cash management solutions in the industry, NRT has experienced healthy growth, with large operators adopting our leading-edge cash access, payment processing and ticket-redemption technology. Experiencing such positive feedback on the implementation of these products and services has us motivated and encouraged as we look forward.
In addition to the growth of our payment-processing solution for brick-and-mortar casinos, NRT is building a compelling portfolio of solutions that bridge the gap between casinos and online gaming. Built on NRT’s existing payment processing infrastructure, broad gaming license portfolio and relationships with ecommerce and wireless partners, we will offer an increased portfolio of new and innovative services. We really see the boundaries between online and casino gaming will almost certainly disappear, offering casinos new sources of revenue and players more ways to play.
We will be releasing our Self Serve Employee Bank System. Based on the enterprise management system CHS®, capability includes the automation of issuing and settling employee banks (float, purse and pouch) with cash-recycling technology. This will drastically reduce the manual/traditional processes operators’ experience today, adding value to their bottom line through major time savings and strong accountability.
NRT now is looking into the future with Casino Cash Cycle Management™ (CCCM). Just as shipping containers revolutionized the logistics industry, NRT is revolutionizing the cash handling and management in the casino industry. CCCM is the answer to reduce cash-handling costs, improve security and provide real-time cash positioning information for casino operators. Each intelligent CCCM cash cassette is equipped with a cash management chip; it stores a unique cassette ID, cash denomination and count. CCCM cassettes are interchangeable between CCCM-ready kiosks and devices alike, allowing the recycling kiosks to perform count and fill function without a human interaction to physically open the cassette and manually load and physically count cash again. Ultimately, the end goal is for casino staff to no longer access the cash cassette, thereby reducing human errors and increasing security.
Through innovation, reliability and customer service, we hold ourselves to a very high standard and will continue to stay positioned as a market leader that meets its valued customer’s expectations. For 2014, you will see more innovation delivered.