News and Notes from the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming Trade Show

News and Notes from the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming Trade Show

Billed as the largest gaming technology trade show in the world, the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming expo in London concluded February 8 after three days of demos and displays.

Official attendance numbers for this year’s edition haven’t been tabulated as of yet, but the exhibition was widely expected to top last year’s record mark of 30,000 guests.

ICE Totally Gaming is the modern incarnation of the International Casinos Exhibition, which parent company Clarion Gaming updated to include the iGaming space. Among the sectors covered in this year’s show were Casino, Lottery, Sports Betting, Online, Social, and Payments.

Over 500 exhibitors were on hand, including leading iGaming product developers like NetEnt, Scientific Games, Real Time Gaming (RTG), Microgaming, Playtech, Novomatic, Konami Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and Habanero.

In a press release issued ahead of the expo, Clarion Gaming’s managing director Kate Chambers offered a glimpse into the event’s consistent growth over the years:

“We have been very careful to grow ICE at a manageable pace and avoid the boom bust scenario you might associate with an overheating economy.

The expansion of ICE has been driven by demand and reflects the dynamics of the international market, which views London as the once-in-the-year opportunity to engage with a really significant and influential community of buyers and influencers.

This is great news for gaming organisations who we know want a flagship event that showcases the world’s leading innovators from every gaming vertical. Gaming is a global industry and ICE is its global event.”

One cornerstone of ICE Totally Gaming is the annual Gaming Intelligence Awards, where Las Vegas-based Scientific Games bagged two of the industry’s highest honors. The company – which consists of major subsidiaries like Bally Technologies and WMS Industries – took home “Lottery Supplier of the Year” for the fourth time in as many years, while adding “Social Casino Supplier of the Year” to their haul.

Kevin Sheehan, who serves as president and chief executive officer of Scientific Games, issued a statement celebrating the company’s achivements:

“It’s a great honor to win so many awards from such distinguished industry award programs.

We are extremely proud that our hard work and industry-leading innovation continues to be recognized throughout the international gaming, lottery and digital industries.

We are building momentum as an industry leader, offering our customers the broadest gaming portfolio, engaging content, innovative technology platforms and excellent service.”

ICE Totally Gaming also provides a venue for iGaming operators to showcase their latest product launches, and U.K.-based upstart Blue Print Gaming didn’t disappoint.

Speaking from a display booth with industry outlet Calvin Ayre, Blue Print Gaming’s chief executive officer Matt Cole hyped the company’s plan to fuse live dealer gaming with online slots:

“We’ve got a game called ‘Flames of the Phoenix’ live multi-play.

It’s all about multiple players getting the same result, it’s bringing live play to slot environment, so if you imagine mixing live dealer with slots, that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Swedish payment processing titan Trustly was also on hand to demonstrate Pay ‘N Play, a new product designed to streamline deposits and withdrawals made to iGaming sites.

Trustly’s chief product officer Josef Darmark commented on Pay ‘N Play’s potential impact on the iGaming industry in an interview with Calvin Ayre:

“The Pay ‘N Play product is our latest innovation and it’s extremely interesting to launch it because it changes the way companies and people experience payments, removing the payment part away from the cashier on to the first thing that happens on the site.

And we also remove the fact that you have to register to start playing on a betting site.”

Trustly is utilized by online casinos such as Mr. Green, Betsson, and SlotsMillion.

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Mega Millions Lottery Tickets Double From $1 to $2 While Odds Get Worse

Mega Millions Lottery Tickets Double From $1 to $2 While Odds Get Worse

Following a unanimous vote by a five-member quorum of the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), which convened on April 24, the Empire State has approved major changes to the national Mega Millions lottery.

Beginning on October 31 of this year, the price of a Mega Millions ticket will double from $ 1 to $ 2. Additionally, a series of adjustments to the gameplay rules will see the odds of winning a jackpot drop sharply, moving from the current 1 in 258.9 million chance to 1 in 302.6 million.

According to transcripts of the Commissioners’ meeting, the New York Lottery was compelled to consider such reforms by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) – the consortium of lottery operators which includes 31 states, along with Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By linking the various statewide lotteries within its purview, the MUSL is able to operate massive lottos like Powerball and Mega Millions on a nearly nationwide basis.

During the April 24 meeting, members of the NYSGC listened as a moderator introduced the Mega Millions issue by outlining the MUSL’s objectives:

“The New York lottery is a member of the consortium of state and territorial lotteries throughout the United States, which operate the Mega Millions and Powerball games. The multi-state consortium has resolved to modify the Mega Millions game matrix, which sets forth win probabilities and prizes.

Other rule changes approved by the consortium are intended to create larger jackpot amounts.

Should the commission choose not to adopt the consortium’s rule changes, the lottery would be required to eliminate Mega Millions from its game portfolio.”

Edmund Burns, general counsel for the New York Gaming Commission, issued a memo to lotto operators informing them of the decision. In the memo, Burns cited reduced sales of $ 280.8 million for Mega Millions tickets in New York, while echoing the sentiment that the state would be forced to forego participation unless the changes were authorized:

“Without these rules changes, the Division of Lottery would need to remove the Mega Millions game from its portfolio of offerings and aid to education would be affected negatively.”

The MUSL’s proposed adjustments to Mega Millions – which was launched in 1996 as the Big Game – are designed to combat a phenomenon known as “jackpot fatigue.”

In the last few years, several state lotteries have reported serious slumps in terms of ticket sales for major lottos like Powerball and Mega Millions, which have seen jackpots swell to $ 600 million recently.

According to stakeholders who specialize in the industry, jackpot fatigue is the primary culprit, as recreational players now shy away from purchasing tickets until the jackpots reach similarly high stakes.

During testimony delivered in 2015, amidst her state’s own lotto downswing, Massachusetts state Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg commented on the causes of jackpot fatigue:

“Not long ago, that threshold to draw the interest of casual consumers who do not traditionally play the lottery was [a jackpot of] $ 100 million.

The dilemma the industry now faces is once a big jackpot is hit, there is no more excitement and the media loses interest, so it is becoming increasingly difficult to grow jackpots and game sales.”

Other state lotto regulators, including the Ohio Lottery Commission, are currently considering the MUSL’s advised rule changes.

In addition to the increase in price from $ 1 to $ 2, the following gameplay elements will be adjusted effective October 31:

– Players will choose five numbers from a main set of 1-70, rather than the previous 1-75
– The secondary set of numbers increases from 1-15 to 1-25
– Odds of winning any prize fall from 1 in 14.7 to 1 in 24
– Odds of winning second-place jackpot ($ 1 million) improve from 1 in 18.5 million to 1 in 12.6 million
– Various non-jackpot prize amounts improve

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Amaya CEO Impulses Companywide Period from Texas hold em to actually On line casino Really concentrate

Amaya CEO Impulses Companywide Period from Texas hold em to actually On line casino Really concentrate

During the PokerStars parent company’s recent fourth quarter (Q4) earnings conference call, Amaya chief executive officer Rafi Ashkenazi repeatedly made reference to the online gambling platform shifting its focus from poker to casino games and sports betting.

Ashkenazi revealed that PokerStars – the world’s largest online poker room – generated 70 percent of its revenue from that particular vertical over Q4 last year. That marks a significant decline from the 78 percent poker revenue share posted over the same period in 2015.

Conversely, the company’s recently developed casino and sportsbook was responsible for 25.8 percent of Q4 revenue, up from 17.2 percent in 2015.

Furthermore, the company’s quarterly net yield – a metric measuring real-money online gaming revenue per active unique users – increased to $ 114, marking an increase of 1 percent year-over-year. Ashkenazi was quick to observe that this slight uptick was “driven primarily by growth in casino yields, offsetting declines in poker yield.”

Overall, Amaya’s revenue for Q4 rose by 6 percent to $ 310.4m.

PokerStars recorded $ 217.2 million in revenue from real-money poker games, down 5 percent year-on-year.

The site’s combined casino and sportsbook operation increased quarterly revenue by 59 percent to $ 80.2 million. Of that amount, the lion’s share ($ 73 million) was won from approximately 648,000 active unique casino players, a population 47 percent higher in 2016 than the year before.

Speaking during the introductory phase of the earnings call, Ashkenazi commented on the synergy between PokerStars’ poker and casino / sportsbook platforms:

“We have been successfully marketing and cross-selling casino and sportsbook to our poker players with about one-third of them already playing casino.”

Ashkenazi also revealed that PokerStars Casino had grown into one of the world’s largest online casino platforms, as judged by active unique users, in 2016. According to him, Amaya will fully embrace the casino side of its business over the next year.

“In 2017, we expect our casino growth to continue by continuing to increase the quality of our offerings and number of casino games, increasing marketing investment in customer acquisition, including ramping up external marketing to attract casino focused players, improve our platform and marketing tools capabilities, maintaining the engagement of the existing casino players and continuing to cross-sell to poker players and launching a dedicated VIP program.”

In discussing the setbacks suffered by PokerStars’ various poker outlets, Ashkenazi cited the impact of currency fluctuations and an adjustment to the site’s player loyalty program, among other downgrades including:

“(T)he impact of anticipated cannibalization from our other product offerings, decreased poker revenues in Full Tilt, which was merged into PokerStars platform during the year and the closing of certain small jurisdictions.”

Ashkenazi also elaborated on PokerStars’ ongoing transition from a professional-centric business model to one emphasizing the importance of recreational players. As he described the shift, which involves leveling the proverbial playing field between pros and their prey, PokerStars is actively courting recreational players in hopes of spreading their action to other verticals like casino and sports betting.

According to Ashkenazi’s analysis, the impending departure from Australia will accelerate poker’s decline in terms of revenue share, but he stated that Amaya hopes to record a “flat year-over-year in poker revenues after pulling out” of the country.

Also of note, the CEO mentioned that Amaya is considering changing the company name, telling conference call attendees that “we plan to seek shareholder approval to change our corporate name to better reflect the company we are today and the company we aim to be in the future.”

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NJ Regulators Seize $69,000 in Unclaimed Jackpots From Three Atlantic City Casinos

NJ Regulators Seize $69,000 in Unclaimed Jackpots From Three Atlantic City Casinos

The state of New Jersey scored a $ 69,000 haul this November, when the Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) took possession of unclaimed jackpots and other winnings held by three Atlantic City casinos.

The largest such seizure targeted the recently defunct Trump Taj Mahal, which was shuttered on October 10. Officials with the NJDGE transferred a sum of $ 66,364 from the Trump Taj Mahal to state coffers – $ 28,000 of which constituted poker winnings generated by two different players.

In both cases, the players were unable to verify their age as being over 21 years old, leaving the casino no choice but to withhold the funds.

Every state has its own policies for dealing with unclaimed winnings – which can occur when players aren’t 21, when payout vouchers are lost, or in the event of health issues and untimely death – and in New Jersey the NJDGE serves in the role of collections agent.

Per the terms of a state statute known as 46:30B1-109, the New Jersey Department of Treasury (NJDOT) operates the Unclaimed Property Administration to handle cases involving forfeited personal property. Within the dense legislative language outlining the Unclaimed Property Administration’s purview, the following passage covers the issue of unclaimed gambling winnings:

“Gambling casino funds in amount of unredeemed gaming chips and slot machine tokens, which Casino Control Commission had held in its possession for period of at least one year, were ‘abandoned intangible property’ subject to custodial escheat under Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. State v. Elsinore Shore Associates, 249 N.J.Super. 403, 592 A.2d 604 (A.D.1991).”

Casinos are obligated to hold any unclaimed winnings in proverbial limbo for a period of one year, at which point the player forfeits their rights of ownership over the “abandoned intangible property.”

As part of the program, all unclaimed casino winnings seized by the NJDGE on behalf of the Unclaimed Property Administration are diverted to a state fund which benefits senior citizens and disabled individuals.

While the Trump Taj Mahal held most of the $ 69,000 which was seized, regulators also targeted another bankrupted property previously owned by President-elect Donald Trump, as the Trump Plaza forfeited $ 2,200 in slot jackpots.

This smaller seizure required regulators to extend their investigative scope to at least September 16 of 2014, when the Trump Plaza closed its doors.

The third casino to part ways with unclaimed winnings was the Tropicana, which sent $ 437 worth of minor slot payout vouchers, a roulette machine payout voucher, and a single red $ 5 gambling chip.

In each case, the casinos participated fully with the NJDGE, as the process of accounting for unclaimed winnings is a regular part of every Atlantic City-based gambling establishment’s operational model.

When the identities of individual players were known, the state also sent letters to the parties in question, requesting documentation to prove that they were of age when the wins occurred. None of the gamblers who left winnings behind responded to the state’s queries, thus nullifying any objections to the seizure process that may have been levied on their behalf.

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