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Vanilla content will always be second best – argues Reflex CPO

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Ahead of ICE London 2019, Mat Ingram, CPO of independent developer, Reflex Gaming, explains why the commoditisation of content is a race to the bottom

Looking back on 2018 what have been the highlights and the key achievements in the online space for the Reflex brand?

2018 was a year characterised by strategic and steady expansion for Reflex in the online sector. We went live with five new top tier operators as well as numerous smaller operators courtesy of our existing distribution partnerships which continue to do well for us. We have adhered to our “quality over quantity” philosophy, resulting in six new game titles over the course of the year, all but one emanating from our market-leading portfolio of land-based content. We have forged new commercial relationships, worked with new development partners, and continued to learn a lot.  There’s no doubt that 2018 was an important and successful year.

How would you describe the main challenges for the online sector – is it facing a case of over supply?  Is there a danger of quantity subsuming quality when it comes to games content and what can be done about it?

For me, the sector is surprisingly slow-moving given its entirely-digital nature, but this is a symptom of the complex distribution routes that are now so prevalent, along with the hugely busy supply chain. Many planets have to align technically and strategically for a relatively simple event to occur, such as a game release. Compare this to our server-managed land-based machines, where I can develop a game in half the time and release it overnight to thousands of machines, but of course in this case I am in complete control of the tech stack and the content strategy, which helps enormously! The over-supply of what I would describe as vanilla, ‘global’ content has turned the previous art of game creation into a production line building commodity ‘widgets’ whose value to the supplier is measured in how low they can get their costs. This must, in turn, reduce quality, however this is not always immediately apparent. There are so many games being released that without any promotional activity (that the bigger suppliers can fund), one game performs much the same as another, thus perpetuating their commodity status. As such, I believe there is an increasing requirement for specialised, ‘hyper-local’ content – by which I refer to games that have been specifically created by suppliers with local expertise and experience for local players. As suppliers, we often have to modify our games anyway to suit local regulations and language, so there is already an existing idea that games must be localised, but I believe that it is also better for the user if the games with which they are presented are those that have been crafted for them rather than the one-size-fits-all approach that is often used. Reflex have some of the most successful games in the land-based markets in which we compete and we should leverage these with partners who have expertise in distributing hyper-local content.

Has your thinking on omni-channel gaming changed since ICE 2018 and if so where do you stand now?

No, my opinion hasn’t really changed on this. It may be sometimes difficult to quantify the benefits or produce empirical evidence of them, but intuitively I feel that it has to be better UX for a player to be able to move from one channel to another and play the content they know and enjoy on platforms that support a seamless transition from one place to another. Surely, if the player has a better experience whilst doing this, they are more likely to stay loyal to the retailer / operator and indeed the games? It just seems to make sense to me. This is why Reflex are talking to a number of operators who have both a land-based and an online presence about how we can work together to provide UK-specific, omni-channel games, and we are one of only a few suppliers who can do this.

How will Reflex be using ICE London 2019 and what does success look like?

We will be using ICE to showcase our diverse land-based and online product ranges. It’s one of the few opportunities we have to put everything together in the same space, and our omni-channel credibility becomes really apparent when you see it all together. The range includes UK and Dutch land-based machines of many styles and categories, through to purely online and mobile content, with the same design ethos running across all channels. The star of our land-base range is the GamePro cabinet which will this year include the new GamePro Max, a sit-down lounge-style machine. Our view is that whatever a player experiences in a land-based environment, they should be able to experience on their desktop or mobile within the confines of the devices. A successful exhibition for Reflex is mostly not about the number of contracts or deals we sign, as most of the hard work has been done on these prior to the show, but rather it is about how many new people we meet and new opportunities present themselves, and judging by the number of meeting requests we have already had, we should be in for a busy few days!

As an exhibitor do you get the opportunity to spend time walking the aisles at ExCeL and taking stock of the industry and the direction its travelling in – how important is it to do this?

I think this is hugely important, although being honest, I don’t get as much time to do it as I would like, as I am generally busy on the stand. However, I have a great team who come to the show and who act as my eyes and ears on market trends and important product innovations.  I wouldn’t say it’s a military style operation but we have regular catch-ups whilst the exhibition is in progress and they take me to see the things and meet the people that have caught their eye. I am a firm believer that Reflex should stand independently with respect to innovation and not succumb to parodying the ideas of others, but that said, it is important to know and understand what other market sector participants are doing and why.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Vanilla content will always be second best – argues Reflex CPO

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UNITE HERE Warns About Potential Gaming Tax Revenue Declines, Job Cuts, and Other Problems of Proposed Merger of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment

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UNITE HERE Warns About Potential Gaming Tax Revenue Declines, Job Cuts, and Other Problems of Proposed Merger of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars EntertainmentReading Time: 2 minutes

 

Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment jointly announced a proposed transaction to combine the two corporations, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals. The deal is to be based on $7.2 billion of new debt financing and $500 million of cuts and other “synergies.” UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers union, represents approximately 25,000 workers at Caesars and Eldorado properties.

UNITE HERE-represented union casinos accounted for approximately 68% of the pro forma $30 billion combined Caesars-Eldorado EBITDAR in 2018. These 22 UNITE HERE union casinos altogether include over 50% of the combined company’s total hotel rooms, over 30% of its total slots, and nearly 40% of its total table games. UNITE HERE locals are currently in contract negotiations with Eldorado at Circus Circus Reno and Isle Pompano Beach. Contracts at six additional UNITE HERE union casinos in the combined Caesars and Eldorado portfolio will expire in 2020, including four properties in Atlantic City.

UNITE HERE issued the following statement from President D. Taylor:

“UNITE HERE has had a positive relationship with Caesars Entertainment over the years, and 25,000 union members have been excited to help the company reinvest and rebuild as it recovers from the disastrous leveraged buyout led by Apollo and TPG. It is in this context that we approach the proposed sale of the company with great concern.

Yesterday, Eldorado announced cost-savings of $500 million in the first year of the combined company. Where are they going to cut? We will not stand by idly if the proposed Caesars-Eldorado transaction will lead to significant job losses, worse wages and benefits for our members, and lower state gaming tax receipts in the many communities where members we represent work and live. Casinos operating under privileged licenses are meant to create significant benefits for host communities, including family-sustaining jobs and local government funding based on gaming taxes.

We will support changes at Caesars that preserve the company’s long-term financial health and provide a sustainable path to good jobs in vibrant gaming markets across the country.”

2018, 7,700 UNITE HERE members went on a multi-city strike at Marriott hotels across the United States and won historic settlements in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego, and Hawaii.

UNITE HERE represents over 300,000 hospitality workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America and provides analysis from the perspective of those who work in these industries.

 

Source: UNITE HERE

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: UNITE HERE Warns About Potential Gaming Tax Revenue Declines, Job Cuts, and Other Problems of Proposed Merger of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment

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UK NHS to Open Gambling Clinic for Children

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UK NHS to Open Gambling Clinic for ChildrenReading Time: 1 minute

 

The UK’s NHS is going to open its first gambling clinic for children.

According to the Gambling Commission, there are 55,000 children classed as having a gambling problem in Britain. The Commission also found that a total of 450,000 are gambling regularly.

“This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people. The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed,” Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive said.

The move was welcomed by Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP for Swansea East, who said attitudes around problem gambling was at last shifting. “For too long the industry has dismissed problem gambling but now is the time for polluters to pay,” she said.

“The clinic will open as part of a new network of services for addicts being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. Specialist face-to-face NHS treatment for gambling addiction has only been available in London but is being made available across the country as part of the new strategy,” NHS England said.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: UK NHS to Open Gambling Clinic for Children

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Mobile Betting Bill Fails to Progress Through New York Assembly

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Senator Joseph Addabbo’s mobile betting bill has failed to progress through the New York Assembly. The legislative session saw S17 fail to progress beyond the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes.

Addabbo tweeted that he saw no clear reason why the state could not implement mobile sports betting in 2019. Failure to do so would see the state miss out on around $75m in revenue, funding for education, and both job creation and retention.

“NY will be stuck like a disabled car on the shoulder, while we allow an illegal sports betting business in our state thrive and idly watch other neighboring states pass us up with enormous revenue gains from mobile sports betting,” Addabbo said.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Mobile Betting Bill Fails to Progress Through New York Assembly

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