ICE Report: Day 1,2, & 3

Casinomeister

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Courtesy of infopowa news:

A BIG FINAL HURRAH FOR I.C.E. AT EARL’S COURT

Major turnout for 2012’s exhibition as plans go ahead for a change in venue next year

Large crowds of exhibitors and visitors surged around Earl’s Court in London Tuesday as the gambling industry attended the last ICE show to be held at the exhibition venue.

After many years at Earl’s Court, the organisers are moving online gambling’s biggest commercial show to new, purpose-built facilities across the city at the ExCel centre, an ultra modern venue situated next to the Royal Victoria Docks and close to London City Airport .

ICE organisers, Clarion Gaming , revealed Tuesday that the move – and new exhibition dates of 5 to 7 February 2013 - was only implemented after consultation with exhibitors and visitors, who were unanimous in approving the switch.

And what a send-off the traditional Earl’s Court is giving ICE; this year there are 64 new exhibitors and 52 nations are represented in the more than 20 000 square metres of show space occupied by 444different companies – the majority from the United States , with Italy , Germany , Austria and Taiwan in the top five.

Over 20 000 visitors will walk the aisles between the stands this year, and millions in business deals will be triggered.

InfoPowa visited many enthusiastic exhibitors undeterred by the harsh economic conditions in the world, among them Continent 8 , the Isle of Man hosting giant that now has facilities across seven nations including the UK, France, Malta, Singapore, Gibraltar and Malta.

Before 2012 is done, Continent 8 will expand its recently developed and comprehensive facilities in Gibraltar , launched in August 2011 and boosted by the company’s acquisition of the Vault Technology communications centre on The Rock last December.

From Dublin , the relatively new technology company Mobile Stakes is set to release an interesting iApp next month that enables punters to access a wider range of app-based games. Branded Slots Manor , the product is a Cloud-based, real-money gaming in-browser bridge that founder Rajat Gupta claims will open up a far greater selection of gambling offerings to players.

Over at SB Global , the staff was enthusiastically revving up the popular mobile trend, showcasing the firm’s first HTML.5 mobile betting platform which provides a full range of service facilities that includes player-location GPS capability.

Veteran games and software supplier Openbet augmented their customary wide product display with a challenge for visitors to take on two darts and snooker champions in a clever promo designed to draw attention to the company’s recent big sponsorship initiatives with sports bodies (see InfoPowa reports). ‘Challenge the Power’ will pit visitors against experts like Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Veteran Swedish industry software and games developer Net Entertainment was focused on its highly professional NetEnt Touch range of products – a move into the iTouch world with an initial range of specially revamped versions of its popular games Gonzo’s Quest, Jack Hammer and Blackjack. The staff was proudly showing off the latest online slot from the company – Starburst – and hyping a late afternoon launch of a mystery new Platinum-class product.

The universal optimism generated by the recent US Department of Justice policy change on internet gambling and the Wire Act has continued to buoy up hopes at ICE this year, generating discussions everywhere.

Bally Technologies is but one of the major American land gambling companies preparing to exploit any changes in online gambling’s status in the USA . The company recently acquired MacroView Laboratories , a mobile apps developer; with Bally senior exec Kurt Gissane confirming that the new member of the group will enable Bally to translate its existing range of land-casino games into the booming mobile environment.

The GTechG2 group is also building up mobile capability for its sister company Spielo International, enabling that company to translate land games like Book of the Sphinx to the mobile gambling sector. GTech is also publicising Casino Job , a new 3D game, and a product dubbed GMS Flightboard .

Casino Job is designed to engage players as they adopt one of four true-to-life characters, including an Angelina Jolie lookalike, and crack into a virtual casino safe against the clock. It’s the first of many new games that will see GTech G2 push new boundaries in game development during 2012, spokesmen assured us.

GMS Flightboard allows operators to communicate and interact with their players in real time, creating a truly personalised experience for every player.

In the European regulatory context, Dutch testing agency NMi has announced its accreditation by the Danish and Schleswig-Holstein online gambling regulators. The company is sharing a booth with responsible gambling accreditation specialists G4 , and the two organisations will be working closely together.

Microgaming has maintained its major presence at ICE this year with an exhibit that emphasises its wide range of branded games and the geographic spread of its activities as a turnkey software provider. This industry veteran covers every aspect of internet gambling and supporting technology with its products, boasts a diverse games inventory of over 600 offerings in 24 languages, and supplies its products to more than 160 of the internet gambling industry’s top websites.

The stand is fronted by a large, metres-wide multi-screen presentation showing the company’s services and games around the world, and will continue to expand its games selection with new monthly releases, including some interesting new concepts in February.

Playtech , another top industry software developer across the range of online gambling genres, was also noticeable with an ancient Egypt frontage in the exhibition lobby and a large exhibition of its extensive range of products under the theme ‘Online gateway to regulated markets’.

The company used ICE to make several major announcements: The acquisition of a long desired sports betting channel through the GBP15 million purchase of Geneity, founded by former Openbet managers, and two major joint ventures in Germany and South Africa that are designed to strengthen the firm’s presence in regulated gambling nations, or those likely to do so soon.

Geneity, together with Playtech’s internal software development capability and the group’s mobile subsidiary Mobenga , has considerable potential; whilst the JVs with Germany ’s Gauselmann-Merkur and South Africa ’s land gambling Peermont group position Playtech strongly in those markets should positive regulatory developments occur.

A new slot based on the popular Deal or No Deal television game has recently been released.

Amaya Gaming , a Montreal-based group that acquired software developer Chartwell Technology and is currently negotiating to take control of Cryptologic (see previous InfoPowa reports) attracted a lot of attention on opening day. Manning staff hinted at more significant acquisitions by the Canadian-investor-backed company, which has made a substantial industry impact over the past year.

Amaya was successful in securing a content supply deal for the online operations of Loto Quebec and is on the lookout for more opportunities. The company has a new games release plan of at least two fresh games every month going forward, with Joker Jester and Aladdins Legacy among its recent releases.

Less well-known, but making its presence felt at ICE this year, is 36Gaming , a Malta-based online gambling software developer offering turnkey and white label services and a growing range of games from its development studios in Cyprus (see previous InfoPowa reports on controversial plagiarism claims regarding certain games)

36Gaming managers showed off a new browser-based 5 reel, 9 pay-line fantasy monster-themed slot dubbed The Sirylian Dragon , which features free spins and bonus rounds, and promised a release plan of two games a month in the year ahead.

The merger of Swedish software provider NYX Interactive and the Sydney, Australia-based games developer NextGen Gaming has seen the two companies gain from one another and set up headquarters in London under Matt Davey .

In addition to the companies’ well known and more conventional online gambling products, development is well advanced on an innovative and social networking oriented offering that will enable white label and other operators to translate virtual action to real money action in the Facebook environment.

New game releases include the 5 reel, 50 pay-line 3D-style slot Merlin’s Millions, Oil Mania and Pizza Prize. Also on display was a new bingo offering, and the MOVE mobile gaming system.

The merged company has 45 licensees using its games and systems, and a growing games inventory of over 300 products.

Plus Five Gaming , the online gambling white label turnkey provider that includes services and products from Aliquantum, Aberrant, AlchemyBet, Cellectivity, eNet Poker and others, appeared to be popular with visitors and reported a games content agreement with Casino Technology.

The prolific internet scratch card, instant games and slots developer Neogames continued to grow and innovate, this year showcasing its recently launched Horoscope, Go777 and Postcard games, which offer the player interactive choices of skin and multi-games in a single package.

With a release schedule of 3 to 4 new games every month, watch out for a magic-themed, highly interactive game branded Sampo , featuring 4 different optional skins and two games in one. The company is also about to release ‘Smile’ , a back-to-basics simple and straightforward slot for which there has apparently been significant player demand.

Neogames will also launch ‘Forever After’ , a romantically themed fairy tale of a game in time for Valentines Day which is described as a mix of both slot and instant game. On the launch pad is a fresh look at keno….and the company will be augmenting its range with the introduction of new lottery games.

If German law and politics can get its act together, the German software developer Edict will be well placed. Founded in 2002, the company started out live-streaming action from two German land casinos, but had to cease operations in 2008 due to the advent of the German Treaty . Despite the commercial risks it presented, the company was taken over by far-slighted execs of the Gauselmann-Merkur group, who saw the potential for a company that could adapt its large range of popular land games for the internet industry.

The result is a Hamburg and Isle of Man-based firm which is strongly positioned for a truly liberalised German market, and already has its first international licensee in Sunmaker.com.

Edict’s HD-quality Craps and Sic Bo products are impressive examples of cutting-edge internet games development that caught the eye of many ICE visitors Tuesday.
 

Casinomeister

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Poker will probably open up within the next six months or so. Casino games much longer then that. Most everyone will be taking baby steps.

That's the "buzz" :D
 

Nifty29

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Cheers Bryan :)

Anyone notice a big provider not mentioned in that report?

Does it mean they didn't attend, or do they just cover selected exhibitors and we shouldn't read anything into it?

(Guessing the provider might be a Real Tough Gig...)
 

pmutts

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I noticed.

Cheers Bryan :)

Anyone notice a big provider not mentioned in that report?

Does it mean they didn't attend, or do they just cover selected exhibitors and we shouldn't read anything into it?

(Guessing the provider might be a Real Tough Gig...)

Makes me wonder.
 

chuchu59

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Cheers Bryan :)

Anyone notice a big provider not mentioned in that report?

Does it mean they didn't attend, or do they just cover selected exhibitors and we shouldn't read anything into it?

(Guessing the provider might be a Real Tough Gig...)

If you were the software provider and you had a customer profile full of the roguest casinos in the business would you want that much exposure?
 

maxd

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FWIW I noticed something of a trend at ICE which continued in a big way this year: HUGE booths bang in the center of things by some of the licencors. In particular Isle of Man and ... Malta if I recall.

Anyone but me getting a wry smile out of this? So what's the business plan here? "License with us, we give good booth?"

By contrast Kahnawake was a modest, all-business, off to the side little place that was basically just a reception desk and a meeting room. Three guesses who gets my vote for the "skip the BS and get the job done" award.
 

Simmo!

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Cheers Bryan :)

Anyone notice a big provider not mentioned in that report?

Does it mean they didn't attend, or do they just cover selected exhibitors and we shouldn't read anything into it?

(Guessing the provider might be a Real Tough Gig...)

"Low Profile" is probably the term you'd use :)
 

Casinomeister

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Day II

Day Two from Infopowa


CONVERGENCE THE GAME AT I.C.E.



Online and land move ever closer together



The links between internet and land gambling are strengthening to such an extent that operational cross-overs are taking place everywhere, numerous show exhibit and visitors commented at the ICE show in London Wednesday.



The growing numbers of commercial partnerships bridging what was once a clear divide attest to the increasing frequency of land and internet deals, with many land gambling companies now pursuing agreements with online developers to assist them in translating successful land gambling products to the internet environment.



The more positive vibe this year was the subject of comment by many of the thousands that thronged the ICE expo on Wednesday.



International hosting and services firm Continent 8 was just one of several service companies with ambitious expansion plans, announcing an extension of its pan-European network to service increasing demand from Italy .



The company will go live in Q2 2012 with a new Milan-based point of presence in conjunction with partners Tinet and Level 3 , adding to the Continent 8 presence in France , Singapore , Isle of Man , Canada , the UK and Malta .



The company additionally celebrated its second consecutive award as Technology Supplier of the Year in London Monday, an accolade from the International Gaming Awards.



With many visitors concentrating on the touch and feel of new products in the expo sections of ICE in London , it’s possible to overlook the outstanding range of conferences running in tandem with the show.



Featuring expert speakers, delegate interaction and networking, and above all a substantial flow of relevant industry information on a diversity of topics, the ICE conference program has eight major presentations.



Kicking off the action on January 23 rd was a high-powered exchange between delegates from the European Commission , who joined members of the European Parliament to exchange views on the Green Paper and regulatory developments at the fourth Annual International Casino Conference .



That was followed on Tuesday by four conferences:



Combating Cybercrime to focus on mobile fraudsters;



Discussion on domains – dot com vs. dot country;



Innovation in lotteries at the Multi-Channel Lottery Conference



Wednesday’s program features two more key events, a seminar focusing on customer relationship management and a presentation by key executives on the integration of online and offline gambling.



The conference schedule ends Thursday with a workshop on the monetisation of social online gaming and a discussion with execs from leading industry companies on mobile gambling and the boom this channel is currently experiencing.



Back on the show floor, Betsoft continued to add to its game inventory with the release of the 5 reel, 30 pay-line slots Lost – an ancient Egypt / intrepid explorer theme - and Madder Scientist , a continuation of the company’s earlier success with a similar product.



The graphics on these 3D games, which include bonus rounds, are outstanding.



iSoftBet showcased an intriguing Facebook-friendly marketing app titled Crazy Slots and talked up several new platforms compliant with a range of European regulatory regimes.



The new platforms cover mobile casino and jackpot games, and mini and side games.



The company has a gaming suite of almost 400 products, to which it is adding monthly, with the latest releases including a comical Western chameleon-themed slot titled Rango , a mystical The Love Guru and several other 3D branded games from Paramount .



The latter is especially intriguing, with illustrations from major movies like Basic Instinct and Bruce Lee hinting at the themes for upcoming releases.



The Icelandic software developer Parspro was again much in evidence at ICE this year, punting a new mobile platform for sports betting in answer to growing demand for this profitable and expanding gambling channel.



The mystery product launched by Net Entertainment at the show turned out to be a surprise for everyone – a slot themed on the crime cult movie Scarface, which flows from the software developer’s brand agreement with Universal Studios.



The 5 reel, 20 pay-lines slot has a host of features that includes free spins, expanding wilds, a massive bonus round and even a nudge feature to improve winning opportunities, all wrapped in a cinematic and interactive theme with superb sound effects.



The UK-based online games content provider Mazooma has grown remarkably in only a few years of business, and its games can now be found on most of the big European internet gambling groups. Its latest games include Atlantis Treasure , a 5 reel, 20 pay-line slot with an innovative ‘stepping’ function which resets after every win, triggering a cascade of new opportunities across the reels.



The company has also launched Monkey Business , a 5 reel 20 pay-liner which debuts on Sky Vegas soon, along with a Hi Lo Poker game with a built-in progressive. Mazooma has some interesting future partnerships in mind and we will soon be hearing more from this burgeoning firm.



Sustained player interest in live dealer action is continuing to encourage companies offering these facilities either through agreements with land casinos or from specialised studio sets.



The Smart Gaming Group has studios in London streaming its products to a growing number of internet operators and land casinos wishing to make in-room or on-premises mobile gambling available to guests. The company has developed quality software for pre-loaded tablets using both Android and IOS platforms, and was displaying outstanding clarity on large screens.



The Aussie-founded Vuetec live dealer supplier, which streams from Fitzgerald’s Casino in Dublin, is about to widen its sphere of influence with a new agreement with the Palace Casino on the Isle of Man. Testing is in progress and the company hopes to be fully operational from the Isle of Man, operating under a Malta licence, by mid-February, according to operations manager and former Dragonara Casino chief Gordon A. Clark . Vuetec currently has around 20 operators using its product, which was among the industry pioneers of this style of gambling.



The popular Latvian software provider CTXM had a noticeable presence and like many of its rivals is paying close attention to improved mobile products across the main platforms. Its game release schedule hopes to push out 2 to 3 new games a month.



Openbet was showcasing a very impressive new online slot branded Double Dragon , with an oriental theme and a slew of features that includes expanding Wilds, Scatters, Free Spins, multiple and varied bonus rounds, a gamble facility and something called MegaSpin in which for an additional stake a player gets 5 spins with ‘enriched’ win lines and awards. The whole package is carried by rich animation and sound effects.



Barcrest , a former IGT company now in the Scientific Games group, has augmented its interactive range of slots with Arabian Charms , a 5 reel 20 pay-line game with two bonus rounds; Crown Jewels , a 5 reel 10 pay-line slot featuring cascading reels and multipliers; an updated Rainbow Riches slot with three bonus rounds and a 5 reel 20 pay-line format; and Ca$ino which has similar features.



Talking of IGT, the Interactive Division of the company has some great game treats in store following the runaway success of its Pixies in the Forest slot, where the multi-featured format and 3D stereo sound effects will probably be carried into future games.



Ready for launch later this year is the latest in the company’s Monopoly range, branded Monopoly Plus . This is a slot based on the popular board game, and the graphics – especially in the bonus round – will be immediately recognisable to punters.



The extensively animated 5 reel 30 pay-line game features a new concept called persistent data – or ‘memory’ in which the game servers remember the player’s achievements, enabling him or her to earn better bonus game results as they rise to different levels, unlocking more tokens in the process.



An IGT Interactive spokesman summed it up as “The more you play, the richer the game.”



The company has designed in localised Monopoly boards and level meters so the player can keep track of progress, and the new features could well be carried over to a new series of games.



Around Q3 2012 players could also see a new version of the highly popular Elvis series slots dubbed Elvis the King , featuring all the icons associated with this great American entertainer, wrapped around a big, multi-featured game that will have 3 different and entertaining bonus rounds, roaming Wilds and tumbling reels.



Plans to simultaneously launch this and other slots themed on Ghost Busters and a new Star Trek online and in land casinos are in progress.



The giant land games supplier Novomatic is pushing its interactive interests through its subsidiary Greentube , which is keen on multi-platform mobile development and on translating popular land games to the internet medium.



New slots on the Greentube launchpad include Rainbow King, Roaring Forties, King Cash, Ultra Hot , Rex and Moorhuhn.



Passoker, which provides an in-play betting product that includes elements of card gaming, has signed up UK gambling group William Hill plc . The product will go live next (February) month, according to Passoker CEO Stuart Carr (see previous InfoPowa report).



Bally Technologies sealed a second internet-related deal at ICE, inking a deal with ComTrade that will see the latter company assisting Bally in moving its games to the internet environment.



Another US land company interested in the internet is Shufflemaster, which is using its interactive division at ICE to promote a new product that will enable online operators to host play-for-fun, customisable games on their websites.



Players can learn to play the games interactively, at the same time accumulating loyalty points redeemable at land casinos and helping Shufflemaster to prepare the ground ahead of possible US legalisation.



Digient chief executive Martin Prantner has high hopes for his new Bingo Booster product, due for launch in Q1 2012 in the UK and later in Ireland .



Bingo Booster enables remote participation via the Web in land bingo halls desperate for business. The product will assist land bingo operators to extend their reach to the online environment.



Away from the strictly business side, entertaining visitors to ICE on Wednesday included the famous wrestler, television and movie celebrity Hulk Hogan on the Openbet stand, and IBF boxing champ Dejan Zavec who spent some time with the staff at Interblock.
 

Casinomeister

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Day III

Day 3 of the ICE


PLENTY TO CELEBRATE AT I.C.E.2012



Exhibitors in positive mood as last appearance at Earls Court ends



ICE 2012 closed its doors for the last time at Earls Court in London Thursday with most exhibitors making positive noises about the future and the commercial interest the show has brought to their doors.



With a new date and a new venue scheduled for 2013, most stand holders appeared keen to have an ICE presence again next year as workmen started to take down the elaborate and complex structures erected by the leading companies at this year’s expo.



Announcements of successful product launches and business deals continued to proliferate as the show wound down, with Microgaming’s Prima poker network revealing that it has been contracted to supply a range of Quickfire no-download online casino games to Media Providing S.rJ , a Milan-based operator of internet fixed odds betting, poker, skill games and bingo.



The visit of television celebrity and wrestling ace Hulk Hogan to the Openbet stand coincided with the launch of its Endemol -developed new online slot Hulkomania.



Openbet had other announcements, too – the imminent launch of a new slot and scratch card game themed on David ‘Knight Rider’ Hasselhoff in collaboration with MX Gaming , and an important agreement with the Australian land gambling supplier Aristocrat which will see the UK firm help develop its games for the internet, and distribute them through its wide network of licensees and that of subsidiary Electracade .



Future plans include two five reel, 20 pay-line slots dubbed Geisha and Wicked Winnings.



Philippines-based Inplay Matrix was showcasing its sports betting software at ICE for the first time, with director of operations Adrian Lee pleased with the response to his company’s product.



Inplay Matrix’s fully automated software covers the full spectrum of sports betting and is easily integrated into operators’ sites, covering 15 sports elements and including the betting process, events creation, pricing, risk management, bet acceptance and settlement.



WMS , a Chicago-based land gambling supplier that has been making an impression in the online industry over the past two years with its online casino Jackpot Party and a stream of original new online games, is looking for more action in the full service business-to-business field, says marketing chief Candace Lucas .



With its wide experience in land gambling compliance to strict standards, the group brings a particular understanding to the online sector and has started its own internet games development operation in Atlanta, with a presence in London, pushing out 45 games to date and with more on the way, although staff were tight-lipped about the next releases.



Nevertheless, multi-featured slots like I Love Lucy, The Wizard of Oz, Super Jackpot Party and Bruce Lee have developed positive perceptions among the internet playing public.



Another online casino games provider that has been noticeably active this year is the Eindhoven, Holland-based Sheriff Gaming , where sales director Stijn Flapper and around a hundred colleagues have been turning out a stream of quality and original 3D online games across all genres, licensing these to online casino operators.



Of the 50 games released so far, 20 have been pushed out in the last 6 weeks in preparation for ICE. The Flash technology powered slots have unique themes and remarkably detailed and deeply animated graphics, packaging a range of features that includes free spins, bonus rounds and fortune wheels.



Among Sheriff’s best sellers are the 20 pay-line slots Amsterdam Masterplan based on a land casino heist; the underwater exploration epic Atlantis ; Dr. Magoo and Fortune Farm.



The Kahnawake Gaming Commission created a stir of approbation at the show with its latest dispute resolution figures, showing once again that players have benefited significantly from the intervention of the Commission on their behalf.



Over 80 percent of complaints were ruled in favour of the player, illustrating once again the transparency and commitment to fair play by this Canadian regulator.



With its open approach to dispute cases, the KGC has gone further than almost all other online gambling regulators, but the Commission went a step beyond that this week with the release of gambler self exclusion statistics and a reminder that it actively polices this critical aspect of its licensees’ operations.



Whilst 26 self-exclusions over a year is undoubtedly a very small percentage of the business transacted by KGC licensees over the twelve months, it is again an indication that this regulator is prepared to go further than most in its disclosure of important statistics, although for obvious reasons the privacy of individuals militates against any publication of detail.



ICE 2012 has been a well organised and smoothly run operation again this year, and it is to be hoped that the enthusiasm and optimism of exhibitors and visitors alike will translate to the new venue in 2013….see you at the ExCel Centre in London 5 to 7 February 2013!
 

immortality

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Monkey Buisness is a great game, can't wait to play it online, love it!! We have it here at land casino, love those lions and the free spins with the monkey multiplier :D
 
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Casinomeister

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The smoke is just starting to clear here, and I'm just now putting together my report - hopefully out by close of business today.

As for RTG, they used to have a stand comparative to Playtech or Microgaming back in the day - mostly at GIGSE and the ICE - (maybe at G2E - I'd have to check the newsletter archives). Now they just have reps meet their licensees at some dinner and conduct meetings during the week.
 

binary128

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For those so inclined I've just posted my ICE 2012 report in my Meister blog:
You do not have permission to view link Log in or register now.

This was a frank, and fascinating, insight into that side of the "business model" which runs contrary to the Galewind ethos. The implication is one of almost contempt for the low roller/bonus player part of the customer mix.

"Those effing customers - all they want is their effing bonuses. Well, I'll give 'em their effing bonuses, and then I'll stick it to 'em on the back end."

Predator and prey. Or maybe that's predator and pray.

Thanks for the blog post.
 

maxd

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Thanks, glad you enjoyed the read. And yeah, I agree that there appears to be an inherent disrespect build into the "high bonus, slo-pay" model, or at least it seemed that way to me. To be fair, or whatever, I think there is some truth in the "if we give away all that money we have to claw it back somewhere" arguement. The mega bonuses seem like trouble from the get-go, IMHO.
 

binary128

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On consideration, I agree. Some contempt, I think. But also a heaping helping of frustration at feeling it necessary to bow down in supplication to the "Bonus is God" business model.

I think you know Galewind's stand on all of this. It's a trap. Ironically, and as you pointed out in the conclusion of your blog post, it is a trap built and maintained by both the Casinos and the Players, and it has apparently captured both of them in a "pit of frustration".

Chris
 

threescatters

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Excellent reports thanks a load for this thread Casinomeister!

threescatters.

P.S. lol the khanawake gaming comission
 

incrediblestuff

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I just was baffled reading about that slo-pay model!
Thanks for the article max, and meister.
I find it worrying though: i however, guess its safe to assume a casino
on the accredited list would not be allowed to use this model?
 
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