Sept/Oct 2021

Editors Letter

Turning the corner doesn’t mean taking your foot off the gas. Pairing metaphors is just as bad as mixing them, I know, but with each success story told as we slowly dig our way out of the pandemic, there is an equivalent tale of caution to apply. There’s been no shortage of positives to focus on, though, and in this bumper edition of Gaming America, we celebrate some of the best examples of land-based and digital leadership in the industry.

The CEO Special is always a big deal, and this one, timed with the return of G2E, showcases key influencers, but not in the TikTok sense. These are true innovators who have proven that an inclusive and diverse organization is the latticework on which great things grow. Their successes speak for themselves and the features begin on page 28, starting with Melonie Johnson, president and COO of the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa. Once you finish reading about her, BetMGM’s Adam Greenblatt, GeoComply’s Anna Sainsbury, The Slane Advisory’s Sara Slane and PlayUp’s Dr. Laila Mintas, you’ll have all the inspiration you need to flourish in your own way.

The other big section in this issue is our Sports Betting Focus, and just in time for the start of the NFL season. It’s no secret that sports betting itself is having a banner season as more states realize the win-win it enables, not just for state budgets and operators, but for the fans themselves who have always had an appetite for it anyway, and found ways, irrespective of jurisdiction, to make things “interesting.” So taking certain markets as examples of success, like New Jersey, and extrapolating that model across the country is in full swing, and there’s no turning back now. From Bill Pascrell’s piece on the need for fixed-odds wagering in horse racing and 888 Holdings aligning with legacy media brand Sports Illustrated, to the rapid rise of esports and tactics to leverage the most out of strategic partnerships with sports franchises, we cover it all starting on page 58.

We also dedicate some space on page 8 to July’s return of NIGA, which served (successfully I might add) as a test run for the return of in-person gaming shows. And on that note, we hope you enjoy this issue as you explore the hallways of G2E. Welcome back. We’ve missed you.

In The Magazine
On The Up And Up

Dr. Laila Mintas is the brains behind PlayUp’s expansion into the US market, where the Australian-based technology company plans to use its Down Under experience and product innovation to deliver an all-in-one app.

Preventative, Not Reactive

Anna Sainsbury, chairman and co-founder of fraud prevention and cybersecurity company GeoComply, explains to Carl Friedmann how maintaining a healthy sense of perspective amid potential, risk and reward is vital to long-term growth.

Casting A Wide Net

As a leading industry advocate during her time at MGM Resorts International, and one of the principal voices at the American Gaming Association that led to PASPA being overturned, Sara Slane is understood to be “the face of legalized sports betting” and one of the most influential voices in gaming. For the last two years, and building on that success, she has cultivated the Slane Advisory, which services stakeholders from gaming, media and sports. Here, we learn about how Slane’s dedication to the continued pursuit of gaming growth in the US is always a work in progress.

The Halo Effect

Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, speaks to Carl Friedmann about how success is measured in degrees of empathy and transparency. The humanity always has to shine through first, and once a collaborative culture and a foundation of trust are set, the bottom line will take care of itself.

Walking The Walk

Resilience and empathy work hand in hand for Melonie Johnson, Borgata president and COO. From her response to the pandemic to a minor power outage at the property, how she manages challenges of every shape and description is steeped in her career and upbringing in the Gulf Coast.

A Foot In The Door

Robert Ziems, president of games developer Aruze, speaks with Henry Moore about automation, innovation and adapting to a new market.

Natural Phenomenon

Having been aqcuired by Scientific Games, Lightning Box Games is making a big impact in the US with an emphasis on keeping things fresh. Here, CEO Peter Causley speaks about the company’s success so far.

Do Your Homework

We learn from Pariplay sales director Andrew Maclean about how the supplier is applying its foundation of success in Europe, as well as its ability to be agile, to the potential that's revealing itself in the US.

Making Strides

Nick Nally, MD for the Americas at Continent 8 Technologies, talks about the technical and infrastructure advances made recently that allow operators and suppliers to enter emerging markets like US sports betting.

New Faces

Andrew Burke, CEO of Bluberi, discusses the company’s rebrand, but emphasizes how the right leadership team needs to maintain company values despite changes.

Land Of Opportunities

Mike Dreitzer, CEO at Gaming Arts, speaks about US expansion, innovation during a pandemic and staying ahead of the competition.

User Friendly

CasinoTrac founder and CEO Chad Hoehne explains the importance of brand image and the future of casino management systems with intuition as a key motivator.

Final Word

Zohrab Karapetyan, sportsbook product manager for igaming and sport betting platform Digitain, gives his thoughts on the NFL, in-play betting and how sports betting will continue to grow throughout the nation.

Joining Forces

Robert Rippee, executive director of UNLV’s research institution Black Fire Innovation Hub and former SVP of marketing for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, collates key points of data to explain the rapid rise of esports.

Court Awareness

Adi Dhandhania, senior vice president for strategy and interactive at Bally’s Corporation sits with Gaming America to discuss tactics in order to leverage the most out of strategic partnerships.

Wagging The Long Tail

Spotlight Sports Group VP of sales Justin Geiger discusses what Americans want from their sports betting market, where it’s heading and what goes into providing data on the smallest events.

Taking It All Into Account

Brandon Walker, head of Amelco USA, speaks about the necessity of player account management in order to scale up.

Sportsbook Smart

With its one-year anniversary coming up in October, there’s a lot to celebrate at Circa in Downtown Las Vegas, especially its renowned sportsbook. Property sports director Matt Metcalf sits with Ezra Amacher about successes so far and opportunities to keep learning and building on its reputation.

The Hard Miles

Gregory Gemignani, who focuses primarily on intellectual property, gaming and technology law at Dickinson Wright, chronicles the long march toward near national sports wagering.

Get Your Fix

William Pascrell, III, global gaming adviser and principal with Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc., details the power of, and the need for, fixed odds horse racing in America.

Stay In The Game

Evan Schaffner, Kambi’s US general manager and head of partner success, Americas, speaks about how in-game and instant betting comprise the key battleground for US sportsbooks.

Special Teamwork

As the NFL prepares to kick off the 2021-2022 season, Ezra Amacher investigates how the league and its teams have come to embrace casino and sports betting operator partnerships.

Staying Ahead Of The Game

888 Holdings SVP and head of US Yaniv Sherman discusses why the online gaming provider turned to legacy media brand Sports Illustrated to fuel its sports betting ambitions.

Roundtable: Cashing In On Cashless

Cash was always king, but is its reign on the wane? Experts in the field of cashless gaming discuss the need, demand and benefits of digital money as it changes the gaming landscape.

One For The Books

Urban One looks to become the first black-owned majority owner of a US casino, and in the process, revitalize the Richmond, Virginia, community. Ezra Amacher speaks with CEO Alfred Liggins to get the back story and what lies ahead.

Something To Celebrate

As G2E returns to the Sands Expo Convention Center from October 4 to 7, there is a palpable sense of excitement as we all properly reunite. The Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas, now in its 8th year, will once again be a highlight to kick off the festivities.

Beluga, Burger King And Branded Dining

Las Vegas is a culinary destination of global repute. Nowhere else can you encounter such dining diversity in such a concentrated space. Not Paris, London or New York. But it wasn’t always this way. Oliver Lovat, CEO and MD of Las Vegas-based consultancy the Denstone Group, works up an appetite detailing the city’s culinary evolution.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Jeffrey Silver, Of Counsel at Dickinson Wright, PLLC, explores the modern-day incarnation of shills and how they’re adapting in the digital age.

No Rest For The Dream Team

Stephen Crystal, CEO and founder of Las Vegas-based SCCG Management, a consultancy specializing in sports betting, igaming, intellectual property protection and casino management among other sectors, goes into the priorities and investment required to align more effectively with professional sports in order to engage better with consumers.

Build It First

With all eyes on igaming, Chloe Paul, manager of data analytics at The Innovation Group, speaks about opportunities for all parties to cash in.

Return To Form

The National Indian Gaming Association expo ushered in the comeback for in-person events in the gaming industry, and Michael Bartlett was there to get a sense of what happened and what we can expect as the calendar fills up again.

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