Being a land-based casino operator or supplier of technology to the sector must be “kind of scary”, with the current downturn associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, says James Maida (pictured in a file photo), president and chief executive of United States-based gaming technology testing service and consultancy Gaming Laboratories International LLC (GLI).
“But that will soon ease,” suggested Mr Maida. What he termed the “new abnormal” was also creating huge opportunities for the land-based and online gaming industries, the GLI boss said in an online interview with Frank Fantini, of Fantini Research, a gaming industry news provider and consultancy.
‘I do not believe that land-based [casino gaming] is somehow doomed or somehow going to be changed,” Mr Maida argued.
“Once a [Covid-19] vaccine becomes available and people are comfortable with going out, people will return to Las Vegas… and those big [casino] markets,” he added.
The pandemic crisis had actually accelerated a trend of bringing digital technology – including cashless payment via digital wallet – to land-based casinos, the GLI boss suggested.
In addition, “many [casino operators] and suppliers” are “getting into this idea that when someone stops playing, how to set a ‘flag’” so that a casino staff member “knows to come and clean that machine,” said Mr Maida.
He added: “Some of the casinos have implemented a process where if you’re playing a machine in a certain location, the machines on either side of you may be locked out, using [a] system that knows where all the machines are… to keep social distancing.”
The GLI CEO noted: “These are the kinds of technology innovation that had to come around, frankly, because of the Covid- environment, and restrictions that government was putting on the casinos.”
Asked whether regulators were open to new technology in bricks and mortar casinos, Mr Maida stated: “We are seeing regulators get in front of the curve… They are very eager to listen, and to understand whether it’s permitted or not… under the relevant laws and rules.”
He added: “We have to wait until the casino operators come back’” in business terms. “When they come back, it will be because the people [customers] will be coming back; and things will be ramping up quite a bit.”
When that happens, the technology in those casinos will be “better than it’s ever been, and when the players show up, the technology suppliers will meet that need,” he added.
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”The gambling landscape will continue to evolve, and we must stay vigilant and responsive to emerging trends and technological advancements”
Teo Chun Ching
Chief executive of Singapore’s Gambling Regulatory Authority