online casinos at Casinomeister

MEISTER MAIL




Special Edition
International Casino Exhibition 2016 - London Affiliate Conference - London

Dear Reader,

And here we go again - Casinomeister's annual ICE and LAC report. It's more or less a pub crawl, plenty of awesome food, people, with some business done in between. So if you're into London pubs, hanging out with groovy folks, chillin' and trippin' around, well - read on...

Reportingly yours,

Bryan

London Trip 2016

Chowin' down on the fish 'n chips...

It's funny how this is how I started off last year's report on the ICE and LAC, with fish 'n chips - but this year was even fishier. Yep, I have given up on eating processed meat - and just about all dead animals actually. I came to a conclusion a number of weeks ago that I will not eat anything that I would not personally kill. If I could kill a bunny, I would eat it. But to be perfectly honest with you, I would not want to kill a cute little bunny.

If I could at one moment hold a chicken, pet the cute feathery little thing, and then rip its head off - I'd eat it. But really folks, I couldn't do that - could you? And the same thing goes for baby sheep, cows, piggies, and the rest of our two and four legged friends. Of course if I was starving, I could kill just about anything and eat it - perhaps even you my dear reader - watch out! But I am not starving, so I'll just pass on the dead meat.

I have no issue with killing fish. I worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska for a number of years, and killed many, many fish - and definitely ate my share of them. I love fish, shrimp, crabs, just about anything that comes out of the ocean or lakes - yummy. So I have become quite the pescetarian - and deep fried fish was the meal of choice for nearly the entire week while I was in London.

Why was I in London you may ask? Well - I have traveled to London each year to attend the International Casino Exhibition - and recently the London Affiliate Conference - since January 2001. I have witnessed many changes over the years - many of them massive. The main mission while in London is to meet the people behind the scenes - the operators, marketing managers, fellow webmasters, and anyone else who wants to hang out. It can really be a great trip - this year was no different.

The first order on the agenda was to catch a flick - and Max and I were lucky to be there early enough on Monday to see The Revenant on the iMax in Leicester Square. Absolutely breathtaking on the big screen - and the performances in this film were beyond expectation; the cinematography will blow you away. Seriously, if you have not seen this film yet, I highly recommend it. It's one of the best films that I've seen in a long time.

That evening we had a traditional dinner with Micki Oster, Brian Cullingworth, Sue Schneider, and other friends and guests in an amazing place, the City Social in Tower 42. The halibut was ok, but the ambience, view, and company was memorable.

The discussion seemed to revolve around some interesting things happening in Canada, Mexican vacations, and a number of tantalizing subjects - and then someone asked the Americans, two of us, "So, what is the deal with Trump?"

Yes, what is the deal with American elections - these are like no other elections in the world. Honestly it's embarrassing to see these political figures spout such venomous, spiteful hatred towards others. The pandering for votes is so transparent. Question: "What part of the Bible is your favorite?" Answer: "I like it all." Barf.

Anyway, I really don't want to delve into the reality show that American politics has turned into. This is the ICE/LAC newsletter.

Anyway, we retired to ready ourselves for the following day: the ICE. The ICE is perhaps the largest exhibition for casino operations, both land based and online, and as mentioned, I've attended the ICE since 2001. Woo-hoo.

Fifteen years ago, the ICE was much smaller - being held in half of Earls Court - the other half reserved for video and arcade games. The "online" casino section was held upstairs, and the rows of "booths" were nondescript - reminding me of a small exhibition held in the center of a shopping mall.

Well times have certainly changed - now online gaming seems to be the dominant factor in the gaming industry. Well, at least in Europe. To give you an idea what it is now, let me introduce you to Dunover - one of our true Casinomeister contributors - who filmed the following video. You will get a good scope of this.

A walk-through the ICE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgag792KRww

Max and I had a meeting with a rep from the Mohegan Sun, a casino that will becoming on board at Casinomeister.us for our New Jersey players. They seem to be eager to come on board, and I am looking forward to be giving our New Jersey players (all three of them), another casino to mess around with.

From there we met up with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission where they discussed the complaints submitted for 2015. Just as important was their self limitation and self exclusion policies which are just about the most solid in the business. If other gaming jurisdictions would take a look at how the KGC is operating, I think the level of player assurance and confidence would dramatically increase.

We hung around for a bit, our heads swimming in the dazzlement of corporate decadence - some of these booths are just beyond ridiculously big. I guess it's a display of who has the biggest schlong - it's downright stupid. Size isn't everything y'know (or so I've heard). It's service, support, and the ability to solve problems quickly if and when they happen.

By this time we were getting a bit peckish, so it was a plan for fish 'n chips.

We left the ICE taking the long-ass ride on the DLR and transferring to the tube at Tower Station. It's always an amazing journey as a pedestrian in London - passing by the Tower of London thinking that five centuries ago our ancestors were selling wares, drinking ale, and publicly executing traitors on the grounds that we were treading upon. Fodder for a daydream.

We made it to the Sherlock Holms Pub across the street from our hotel. This is where Max and I traditionally discuss business - where Casinomeister is at now - where it is going. And there are some great plans for this upcoming year. I plan to revamp the site - to include the newsletter section (and archives), Accredited Casino section, Reservation section, Rogue - just about everything that is not in the forum.

You see, the problem with Casinomeister is that it is has so much content - dating back 18 years - that navigation is a real bitch. It has always been a problem. So needless to say (so don't say it) we have some awesome things in store. Patience is a virtue my friend - you will have to wait and see.

We retired to our rooms to freshen up for...

The Meister Meeting 2016
Waxy O'Conner's Dargle Bar: Yes, it was the annual Meister Meeting that we have been having since 2007. What a nice time we had. The usual crowd showed up - and a few other stragglers. Drinks flowed freely and the munchies were really quite good.

We have become somewhat of a fixture there since we have held it at Waxy for a number of years. The musicians recognize us, the staff remembers us, it's three hours of good fun and great company. For those who missed out, I hope to see you there next time - as for now you can check out picts on our Casinomeister page at Facebook.

Thanks to the folks at Affiliate Edge - award winning affiliate program for the sponsorship. Cheers to you!

We finished our jovial jocularities and commenced to have them at Joy King Lau, one of the best Chinese restaurants in London. It's the perfect place after a night of a few pints. If you order something they don't like, they tell you it's no good and tell you to order something else. Well, they sure weren't wrong. We had an excellent meal to include their world famous fried spicy tofu.

And the night became later; like well behaved gents, Max and I headed back to the hotel to retire and ready ourselves for the next day.

Voice from the past - ICE 2007
Another highlight that afternoon was the Meister Meeting back at the Atlas. Here a number of forum members met - some for the first time, and it was a true highlight of my London tour. Kasino King graced us with his presence. He had thoughtfully created bottle openers for many of us - with our little icons on one side and Kasino King on the other. If you missed meeting us there, you missed out on a pretty cool gathering - and keyring. Really an excellent gift - a big public thanks!

The following day we met up with the good folks from Club World Casino for a very nice breakfast to include the amicable and truly professional award winning casino manager, Karolina. I really can't praise the Club World Casinos enough. They have always gotten it right about everything - to include their staff. I am proud to have them on board; it's been going on ten years now.

From here, Max and I had some more meetings - this time off-post - like at the Chandos Pub, and then next door at The Harp, and then further down the street at a really excellent place for Fish 'n Chips: London Fish 'n Chips. That was a great lunch - topped off with a film viewing: The Hateful Eight - and topped off with an evening with the good people from 32Red to include Mark, PatH, and CEO Ed Ware.

We met at The Red Lion - a quaint, cosy Victorian pub on Duke of York street. The Guinness there is actually pretty good, and the barmaid was quite amicable and attentive. A hidden gem.

From there we perambled to The Wolseley - a celebrated restaurant which was once a showroom for the Wolseley automobile, which didn't sell very well. It was converted into a bank in 1927, and in 2003 was refurbished and turned into a marvelous gastronomic adventure. I had the escargot (amazing), and the halibut - which was a proper sized piece (remember, I used to fish these things).

We stayed until closing, and that was it for Wednesday.

Voice from the past - ICE 2015 Playtech heard me out - on why I feel that their casinos that enforce withdrawal limits on progressive wins are acting in an unethical manner. Playtech confirmed that when a progressive win is hit, the funds go directly to the player's account. This is where their involvement ends though. It's up to the casino to process this payment to the player. What I have issue with is when a casino, Joyland for instance, enforces a $9K a month withdrawal limit on $4.2 million dollars - especially when these funds were not theirs to begin with. It's absolutely criminal what they did. They kept about half via a dodgy arrangement made by a manager using a private hotmail account. What happened to the missing $1.8 million? I feel that Sylvia should still be paid this amount - with interest. And I also feel that Joyland Casino should be audited for the year that those funds went missing to find out who pocketed this money. This is far from over in my opinion.

Thursday began with a brunt force attack on Casinomeister - oh, well. It had caused the site to go down for a few hours - but no worries, it was repelled and that was that. Thanks to Webzcas for squaring everything away. All I had with me was my smartphone to deal with forum issues - getting into the backend was not much of an option. My laptop went tits-up on Monday, and it was a perfect storm of sorts since all of the moderators were hanging out in London. The timing was suspect, but then we get these attacks all of the time.

Anyway, after a nice walk though Green Park and Hyde Park with Max, we met up with the guys from iNetbet. And this was a lunch at the Coya, a Peruvian restaurant that had an amazing menu - all sorts of tidbits, sashimi, spicy rice and fish, and battered prawns which are worth fighting over- seriously. We traded stories of our youth, critiqued current films, and just had an awesome lunch. Thanks guys!

Voice from the past - ICE 2005
Thursday, the last day of the ICE proved to be an effective and very satisfying day for me. Spearmaster and I met with the General Manager of the Virtual Casino group at length and gave him an ear to some of the future projects that Virtual is undertaking. It's been a difficult road for Virtual. A few years ago, they were known as one of the most notorious casino groups, in fact they had won the award for "Worst Casino Group" of 2001 at Casinomeister. But after meeting with the operator last year, he vowed to get Virtual back on track and to provide fair and proper treatment to the player; no more dodginess in other words. And so far, so good (comparatively speaking). This year I gave them credit for making some big improvements on this front; they were acknowledged in the Best and Worst of 2004 in the Player Improvement Awards section.


The London Affiliate Conference:

This by far was probably the best attended LAC that I have seen so far. Besides the gagglefuck of an entrance scene (no one it seemed had a badge yet), it was a pretty good layout.

Friday was a blur of meetings with a number of people. I met with Renee RA of Casino Rewards, and we have decided after years of being in business, the Casino Rewards group is coming on board as an Accredited Casino Group. This is a pretty big deal - the Casino Rewards group is the largest independently owned Microgaming casino groups. Many of their casinos were at one time accredited here at Casinomeister, but over the years - for whatever reason - were sold to the CR group; to include the Captain Cooks Casino group, Casino Profit Share, Mini Vegas Group, and a couple of others. This expands the Accredited Casino portfolio by nearly 30 downloadable Microgaming casinos - all of which are licensed in Kahnawake, one of the best licensing jurisdictions out there.

Why wasn't the original CR group listed as Accredited Casinos? One of the policies that we have is that the casinos must have a casino rep in the forum who can answer questions, respond to postings, etc., but their management said that they weren't going to participate in the fora - which ultimately excluded them from being accredited. But they do have rep, and I can say she is quite responsive via private messaging, and dealing with any player complaints that come though here. She has been working at Casino Rewards for donkey years, and it's time to give them credit for this. And it will be good seeing some of the old brands back up on Casinomeister again.

I also had an informal chat with CAP and the GPWA about some recent happenings with certain affiliate programs. This was prompted by AffiliateHub's rogue listing last October - the result of implementing draconian terms and conditions retroactively. I'll probably share with you what we discussed in an upcoming newsletter.

Further notes:

Some casinos that will be coming on board via the Baptism by Fire:
Viks Casino (short for Vikings) - they should be ready soon. I've known one of their operators for a number of years. It should be a good going.
AllBritishCasino - they seem to be eager to come on board. They have a number of properties to include Nobonus casino - which I am sure will be a relief for a number of you.
Chance Hill Casino - they've been waiting for some time. Young guys ready to give it a go.
Royal Panda should be giving it a go in a few weeks. They have been getting a lot of good buzz in the fora, so I will be looking forward to bringing them on.
I should mention that Rizk is going strong in the Baptism by Fire - and it's about over. Me thinks they are ready for accreditation. This should be happening early next week.

And again it was time to chill in the pubs. Across from the conference is the Hand and Flower pub, a relatively large pub - with pretty good Fish 'n Chips. We sat upstairs.

The amazing end point of the day was held at the Boisdale - an incredible restaurant, jazz lounge, old school outdoor cigar lobby upstairs, whiskey bar. It was a befitting setting to be taken out by the guys from VideoSlots - Casinomeister's award winning Best Casino and Best Gaming Experience 2015. The highlight of the evening was witnessing the face of the recipient being served a plate of bird legs with the claws still attached. Yep, I'm sticking with fish - and I had the salmon - it was delicious.

The evening was completed with cigars, jazz, and a shot of Highland Park whisky. It was an engaging and delightful evening.

Voice from the past - ICE 2008
We also met briefly with Andrew Beveridge and Tex Reese from eCOGRA who have been instrumental on making great strides for players. It's a shame that there are still some individuals who have knee-jerk opinions about organizations that step forth to better this industry for the player. eCOGRA has done a hell of a lot of work, and they really make a difference for casino operator accountability.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur in a sea of people and casino booths. One impressive item - the new Lara Croft: Tomb Raider game due out from Microgaming soon. The graphics are absolutely awesome, and the bonus rounds bring online slots to another level. Hell, who needs land based slots when you have slots like these. When it's launched, you'll see what I mean.

Almost as good as the upcoming Meister Slots
Saturday: Well, I was to speak at a panel entitled "The LAC 10 Year Anniversary Panel". Since the LAC is ten years old, they brought in some old timers like myself to share some sage advice: Ariel Reem, CEO, ExtractNet - CasinoCruise.com, Luisa Woods, Vice President, Tropicana Entertainment Inc. Michael Corfman, CEO, Casino City, Gary Myers, Head of UK Sports Affiliates, Ory Weihs, CEO, XLMedia, and moi.

One question from the audience was interesting - "Is there still room for innovation in the online gaming industry?" Personally I think that the industry has been short-changed because of the cronyism going on in the States concerning online gaming. Just imagine what this industry would be like if the developers of YouTube, Facebook, Android, Microgaming and Apple had free reign back in the early 2000's? This was an opportunity lost.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of room. Try to visualize what the internet might be in tens years or so. It may be somewhat the same, but chances are it will be something totally different: virtual reality - somewhat like SlotsMillion is doing with their Oculus Rift casino. Which is actually in the fetal stage. Conceptualize a virtual reality Casinomeister? I can. I can imagine entering a website via virtual reality goggles - sitting in one place, reaching forward to open windows, or move shapes to enter rooms like the forum (with loads of forum personalities), or venture into other realms like the rogue section, archived newsletters (like this one) or play at an accredited virtual casino. That would be utterly awesome, and this is something that may be realized in the next decade. And remember folks, you read about this here first.

Picture this: a virtual reality rogue listing. I'd make it appear like an episode of the Walking Dead.

After hanging out at the Paddy Power stand (Guinness flowing freely) and chatting with a number of fellow webmasters, and affiliate managers, we had had enough. It was 2pm and time for, you guessed it, more food.

We meandered to Kitchen W8, a nearby eatery that proved to be a very nice place to have a late lunch. It was an appreciated invite from the operator of Sports InterAction who now only takes Canadian traffic. We had a nice chat about how things are developing in Canada, (Max is Canadian btw) as well as the politics in the States. It seems that each jurisdiction is moving towards proper regulation - mostly everywhere. But when this happens, grabbing hands grab all they can. Monopolistic tendencies run amok.

The rest of the day slipped away, and Max and I slipped off as well to the Scarsdale Tavern: a hidden local gem. And it was serious chill out mode. Adnan, formally of Affiliate Republik joined us, and we relaxed by one of the fireplaces, and recanted what we had observed over the past week. Not only has there been a lot of consolidation with casino operators recently, it's also happening with affiliates. I think in the near future you may see even more sites (not this one) being sold to larger entities - like Wizard of Odds, RightCasino.com, and others.

A couple of hours later we found ourselves once again at the Joy King Lau, where we partook another round of deep fried tofu, awesome noodles, and shrimp. It was indeed a great trip.

Last call was held at the Ship & Shovel, our traditional watering hole. And then it was time to call it a night.

All in all, this was one of the busiest and best conference tour I have been on in a long time. I want to thank everyone, especially you my dear reader, for making this industry - and especially my job - a reality. If it weren't for you, I'd be sculpting tiki heads.

Voice from the past - ICE 2006
Suddenly my time was up - had to check out of the hotel and the next thing I knew, I was back in Paddington station looking for the Heathrow express train. The trip was way too short. I didn't meet half of the people I wanted to meet; didn't see half the films I wanted to see. That's the shame about these functions - everyone is so damn busy.

And coming home. I barely had a chance to reflect on the trip since I have a ton of emails to wade through, PABs to bitch about, and lots of website updates to contend with...and one thing is for sure, I like this job. Thanks for making this work for me. It's because of you, my dear reader, that I do these things.

Photographic proof of the events can be found here.

Complaints? Kudos? Please let me know.

Peace
Bryan Bailey
Webmeister
Casinomeister
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Previous ICE LAC CAP London Reviews:

My First trip to London - gotta read these:
ICE 2001 Review Part 1
ICE 2001 Review Part 2
ICE 2001 Review Part 3
ICE 2001 Review Part 4

Meeting Julie Sidwell and Vahe Baloulian for the first time.
ICE Review 2002
Casino-on-net banner ads on the London Underground. It's party time with Peralis, Greeygirl and more! Fire and Ice party is a hit!
ICE Review 2003
Thieves suck! Small online casino presence - no Microgaming. 32Red interview.
ICE Review 2004
Awesome show! Partnerlogic donates $111,000 to tsunami victims via CM, meeting with Virtual Casinos, MGS party on the Isle of Man
ICE Review 2005
Webzcas eats Sushi for the first time. Meeting many operators, Chartwell Technologies is rogue.
ICE Review 2005
RTG's duck-and-cover exercise. Tila Tequila. First year that CAP was in London.
ICE & CAP Review 2007
Meeting Max Drayman for the first time, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider launches, first Meister Meeting at the Atlas Pub! I win an award at CAP.
ICE & CAP Review 2008
Sue Scheider's roasting, Montel Williams comes to the Meister Meeting, meeting Rushmores operator, CAP Awards.
ICE & CAP Review 2009
Casinomeister members donate $25K to Oxfam. CM player panel discussion. Stryke casino - rogue.
ICE & CAP Awards Review 2010
A talk with MGS, 32Red's trademark victory, CEC's "student clause" issue, iGB Affiliate Awards
ICE London iGB Affiliate Awards 2011 | Casinomeister Review
Last time at Earls Court. Discussing the Virtual Casino Group. "Inside the Player's Mind" player discussion.
ICE & LAC 2012
First time at the Excel - meh. Finsoft/Spielo Games issue. "Inside the Players' Minds II". ICE & LAC 2013 | Casinomeister Review
The beard tour.
ICE & LAC 2014 | Casinomeister Review
Nifty29 vs Vinylweatherman at the Meister Meeting. Equating advantage players with fraud.
ICE & LAC 2015 | Casinomeister Review