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Key Insights from Casino Cosmopol that Remained Open During COVID-19

Niji Narayan

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Key Insights from Casino Cosmopol that Remained Open During COVID-19
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In a new paper from UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (IGI), researchers compiled key insights from Sweden’s Casino Cosmopol that remained open through the end of March as counterparts in Nevada and around the world, closed. The casino, like properties around the world, eventually shut down, but during its extended time open, IGI researchers were able to glean best practices that operators around the world can learn from.

Casino Cosmopol, unlike casinos in Nevada and elsewhere, had to “adapt on the run,” and did not have months of downtime to draft a detailed strategy for reopening, IGI research assistant and Harrah College of Hospitality doctoral student Kasra Ghaharian and IGI Executive Director Bo Bernhard found.

In addition to employing extra hygiene procedures and social distancing at restaurants and table games on the casino floor, Casino Cosmopol’s CEO Per Jaldung shared in-depth details of the experiences while his business operated during the height of the pandemic. Ghaharian and Bernhard construed the insights into the following lessons learned for other hospitality industry executives.

Key insight No. 1: Share best practices

Constant best practice sharing, even with competitors and across geographic borders, is the best way to get smarter and faster.

Participating in industry video conferences, such as IGI’s Executive Development Programme, is one way to do this.

“If you’re the kind of leader who usually keeps things close to the vest, as your competitive impulses win out over information sharing — stop,” UNLV researchers write. “Now is not the time.”

Key insight No. 2: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Customers have an enormous thirst for information.

Jaldung quickly learned that even more important than the safety and cleaning procedures themselves was Casino Cosmopol’s decision to communicate those procedures at multiple levels with customers.

Visibility was also important. Customers may be comfortable with—and even prefer—highly visible cleaning and sterilisation policies, UNLV researchers write. When customers could see staff constantly making a concerted effort in repetitive cleaning of slot machine touch points, elevator buttons, and door handles, it translated to positive customer morale.

Key insight No. 3: Be flexible and agile

In a dynamic time such as this, it is important for casino operators to remember that they won’t have all of the answers at hand, researchers said.

Casino Cosmopol did not have the benefit of widely published operations guides to deal with the coronavirus, and yet they arrived at smart, flexible solutions.

“While everyone talks about the importance of ‘turning your property into a lab,’ Casino Cosmopol was able to do it, at the very time they needed to innovate most, thanks to enhanced communication and empowerment tools,” the researchers said.

Key insight No. 4: Employees want to contribute

They want a seat at the table and they know more about how customers are genuinely feeling than anyone else in the company. Management needs to leverage this and let employees know that they are a critical component to the recovery strategy.

Key insight No. 5: Technology is key, most notably as an enabler of human social intelligence

Casino Cosmopol used technology to institute a group chat, which they named “Corona Chat” among employees, enabling real-time intelligence to be shared on what was happening in the trenches. In one notable interaction, a dealer and cashier addressed a concern about the frequency of cleaning chips without ever having to involve a manager.

“Casino Cosmopol’s ‘Corona Chat’ was the best ‘game changer’ for the company, as it empowered employees across hierarchies to lead, to share, and to bond in their common interest of continuing to serve during difficult times,” researchers wrote.

Industry News

SkyCity Shuts Down Auckland Casino as New Zealand Re-enters Lockdown

Niji Narayan

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SkyCity Shuts Down Auckland Casino as New Zealand Re-enters Lockdown
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Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group has once again closed down its flagship integrated resort SkyCity Auckland, after the New Zealand government revealed four new cases of community transmitted COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The cases have come as a huge shock to the country, which only 24 hours earlier had celebrated 100 days without a single new locally transmitted case of the coronavirus. Auckland has immediately been placed back on Stage 3 restrictions for three days as a precautionary measure, with the rest of New Zealand on Stage 2. Under Stage 3 lockdown, bars and many businesses will be closed, gatherings restricted to 10 people and travel in and out of Auckland mostly prohibited.

SkyCity’s casinos in Hamilton and Queenstown will remain open with social distancing measures in place.

“SkyCity is fully complying with this latest update from the New Zealand government. SkyCity is well prepared to respond quickly to these changes and is in a strong financial position to withstand the financial impacts of these temporary restrictions,” Graeme Stephens, CEO of SkyCity Entertainment, said.

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eSports

Guild Esports appoints MediaCom S&E to support global partnerships strategy

George Miller

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Guild Esports appoints MediaCom S&E to support global partnerships strategy
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Guild Esports (Guild), the global esports business headquartered in London, today announces the appointment of MediaCom Sport & Entertainment (MediaCom S&E) as the Company’s first consultancy delivering Guild’s commercial partnerships strategy.

Guild’s appointment of the esports division of MediaCom, one of the world’s leading media agencies, will support the Company across all aspects of its commercial proposition, development, and global go-to-market strategy for its commercial partners.

Guild Esports, which is co-owned by David Beckham, is bridging the gap between sports and esports with an academy-powered model and a brand that celebrates and harnesses the diverse and tribal loyalty of esports enthusiasts on a global scale. The Company’s ambition is to build a culture of excellence around both its brand and digital presence and to develop a lifestyle cross-over brand suited to the fast-growing esports market. Globally esports is currently valued at US$1.1bn and is projected to grow by 42% to US$1.56bn by 2023.

Guild welcomes MediaCom S&E as an accomplished agency with a proven track record and a wealth of partnerships and esports expertise that will enhance and strengthen the appeal of Guild’s expanding business. Guild’s appointment of MediaCom S&E dovetails with the agency’s recent expansion of its gaming business following recent work with Tencent, one of the world’s largest investors into esports broadcasting and publishing, alongside Cartier, Piaget and Richemont.

Carleton Curtis, executive chairman at Guild, commented: “We are excited to be working with MediaCom to spearhead Guild’s partnerships strategy. Their wealth of experience within the tech sector and their understanding of our core channels makes them a perfect fit in supporting the growth and establishment of Guild as one of the leading players within esports.”

Michelle Tierney, Director of Commercial Partnerships at Guild, said: “We are at a pivotal moment with Guild poised for accelerated growth. This is an exciting time to welcome MediaCom S&E who can build on the momentum of our launch, foster partnerships and bring Guild to new audiences across the globe.”

Misha Sher, global VP of MediaCom S&E, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Guild at the beginning of their exciting journey. The popularity and appeal of esports as a cultural phenomenon continues to grow and Guild are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the momentum. Operating at the intersection of media, technology and culture, we know what’s required to attract commercial partners in a new, digitally led world. We thank Guild for their trust and look forward to helping them build one of the industry’s leading organisations.”

Guild’s inaugural teams for EA FIFA Esports and Rocket League debuted earlier this year and the Company will continue to scale into various esports disciplines over the course of the 2020/21 season. Guild’s professional athletes can also expect to compete in the popular title Fortnite.

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Gambling in the USA

Evolution Selected for PointsBet US Live Casino Rollout

George Miller

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Evolution Selected for PointsBet US Live Casino Rollout
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Evolution Gaming, leading provider of Live Casino solutions, announced today that it has been selected by PointsBet, a premier global sportsbook operator, for its rollout of Live Casino services in the US online gambling market.

Originally founded in Australia, PointsBet is currently operational in New Jersey, Indiana, and Iowa, offering both online and land-based sports betting. PointsBet entered the US market in July 2018 when it gained a commercial licence to operate as an online corporate bookmaker in New Jersey and commenced taking bets in the Garden State in January 2019. Since then, PointsBet has built a national footprint by entering into a number of other agreements to expand US operations into other states, subject to the passing of enabling legislation.

Evolution opened its first US Live Casino studio in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in August 2018. A second Evolution studio is currently under construction in Pennsylvania with go-live scheduled for H2 2020, as well as a third in Michigan, scheduled for go-live in 2021.

Commenting on the partnership, Seth Young, Chief Innovation Officer at PointsBet, stated: “We are thrilled to partner with Evolution Gaming to launch Live Casino technology in US jurisdictions, where we plan to offer our proprietary online casino platform. The addition of Evolution Live Casino extends the appeal of PointsBet’s premium product in the rapidly growing US market.”

Sebastian Johannisson, Chief Commercial Officer at Evolution Gaming, added: “Evolution’s Live Casino portfolio offers PointsBet a rich mix of world-leading online Live Casino games including classic table games, online Poker variants that are big favourites with US players, and our new generation of award-winning, record-breaking game show games. In addition, PointsBet will have the option of exclusively branded dedicated tables and environments, should they require these.”

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