The View Issue 168

Charitable Gaming - THE VIEW

1238 – Community Gaming Conference

1239 – Revitalization of Charitable (Bingo) Gaming

1240 – Responsible Gaming

1241 – Notice of General Meeting

1242 – People on the Move

1238 – Community Gaming Conference

Last month on the 21st & 22nd January 2015 the CGAO, with its conference partners the Canadian Gaming Association & Media Edge,hosted the first Community Gaming Conference that was held in Toronto.

Without question, this was a tremendous success. The format and program was extremely well received and the universal approval was reflective in the comments received back from delegates.

This conference concept was speared by our Chair & Vice Chair (Mr. Michael Orser & Mr. Cam Johnstone) who had long wished to raise the profile of the Charitable (Bingo) Gaming sector.Their commitment, supported by the Board & Staff, showed the success they had envisioned. The task at hand now is to springboard on top of the successful event in order to keep the momentum going forward into 2016.

The emerging Community Gaming Sector requires its own profile and showcase platform. Between this event and the Charitable Gaming Conference in the summer, it gives two opportunities to deliver our collective messages on the positives impacts this sector brings to the communities where they are located.

Both Mr. Michael Orser & Mr. Cam Johnstone, on behalf of the CGAO, want to express their thanks to all the delegates who registered and made this conference so successful. 

Community Gaming Conference

1239 – Revitalization of Charitable (Bingo) Gaming

As we move forward into 2015, the Revitalization of Charitable (Bingo) Gaming keeps rolling forward, even if it is slowly rolling forward. Without question, this movement is a positive thing but the real challenge has been twofold; a) Awareness – the lack of marketplace awareness of the Revitalization Initiative, which is not assisting the initiative in reaching lapsed and potential new guests and b) Product & Product Refresh – the placement of new products, combined with the refresh of product, to ensure we maintain an engaging product portfolio within the Gaming (Bingo) Centres. Both the CGAO & OCGA are working with the OLG’s c-Gaming Team to see how we can deliver on these challenges based on the resources at hand. There is no easy solution but through working together in partnership,our combined efforts have a greater chance of success. Other interesting developments in c-Gaming are listed below for your information:

Superior Shore Gaming Centre (Thunder Bay) - On the 29th January 2015, this Centre completed the final stage of its conversion process. Being in Thunder Bay on that day, you really sensed an air of excitement and opportunity within the Management & Staff who wished to ensure their guests are treated to a positive and social experience. In the immediate future, the Centre is looking to heighten its hospitality offering and is currently applying for a liquor license. Within the Taptix Lounge there is seating for 100 guests to enjoy a different type of experience than the traditional ‘Just Bingo’, which is rather exciting and I will watch with interest how this develops. I do wish to acknowledge Ms. Iris McCoy-Slongo and Team Thunder Bay on completing the conversion process and wish them all every success as they now forge a new path under this initiative.

 Superior Shores Gaming Centre

Bingo Country (Sarnia) - During the course of January, the Bingo Country Team had successfully achieved municipal approval to begin the conversion process. This Centre is operated through the Stuart Group of Companies and if Jackpot City (St. Thomas) is a guide, the Sarnia Centre has the potential to be very exciting indeed. There has been no formal date given for conversion but it is highly likely that this will convert during 2015. 

Kennedy Bingo Centre (Scarborough)  - In January, Kennedy Bingo Centre (Scarborough) received approval at their OMB hearing and is now in a position to begin discussions on a potential conversion process. This is the sister Centre to Rama Gaming in Mississauga and it will be interesting to see how this Centre will unfold in the coming months.  

Turbo Challenge (Rollout) - The rollout of Turbo Challenge enters the final phase. We need to begin the process of ‘Operationalizing’ this opportunity. It is delivering a 68% prize payout and thus generating margin and has tremendous opportunity to be an engaging intermission game within our Centres. I am extremely interested in seeing how our various members set about leveraging this within their current portfolio/structure and also how we start engaging the guests to return to the game.

Industry Engagement - There has been an agreed ‘Committee Structure’ set out by both the OLG & CGAO. We have accepted this concept proposed by the OLG Team as we have been informed it will drive decisions & accountability into the initiative, which has been needed. We, the CGAO, will select our delegates for these committees at our next General Meeting. It is important, if you wish to be engaged in these committees, that you need to be there to vote on your preferred candidate to represent the CGAO.

Awareness & Market Placement - I am often asked when there will be a Provincial Campaign to build greater awareness of the Revitalization of Charitable (Bingo) Gaming. We have long held the view that this is the responsibility of the OLG, while the Commercial Operators deal with the ongoing marketing/promotional elements of the initiative. This lack of broader awareness does limit our ability to reach new potential guests/consumers. It remains a challenge and we need to stay focused and continue to work in a constructive fashion with the OLG to forge a path forward together.

Product Refresh (Taptixs) - Work continues in the Multi-Demo and Progressives on the current Taptix Units (Diamond Game). This is due by the Spring of 2015 and will offer a real opportunity to market these enhancements to our guests and ‘shake-up’ the Taptix Lounges. I acknowledge this is not a  ‘Silver Bullet’ but it is another additional small feature that will add to the entertainment value of the Taptix experience.

New Product – Needed - I acknowledge that there have been consistent requests from the Commercial Operators for new product or refresh of products. Although efforts have been made, it has not been fast enough. We, the CGAO, understand the request and continue to advocate for a product portfolio for the Charitable Gaming Sector.

 Charitable Bingo and Gaming Revitalization

1240 – Responsible Gaming

The CGAO continues to work with both the RGC and OLG (RG Team) in promoting and understanding this important initiative and how it fits into the overall gaming environment within c-Gaming. Through constructive engagement on a regular basis we have managed to ensure understanding is flowing both ways and throughout that understanding we are bridging the difference between a Casino, Racino and Lottery experience versus that of a Charitable Gaming (Bingo) Centre.

Within the CGAO we have advocated the need for balance at all times and I am pleased to say the feedback from RG partners is the same. There is no desire to impact the social experience. It is more about effectively raising the awareness of RG and its support services that are available, should and when a guest feels they could benefit from such support.

I want to acknowledge Ms. Paula Antoniazzi – Director (RG-C) and her team for their leadership in this field and the positive relationships she cultivates among stakeholders. The CGAO, RGC & OLG meet on a quarterly basis to discuss developments and initiatives designed for our sector.

1241 – Notice of General Meeting

Please be advised that the Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario will be hosting its next General Members Meeting as indicated below.

DATE: 18th February 2015
DAY: Wednesday
TIME: 10:00am to 1:00pm
LOCATION: Holiday Inn (Airport East) Hotel, 600 Dixon Road
ROOM: Centennial B
REFRESHMENTS: Light Snacks & Coffee 

1242 – People on the Move

Mr. Tom Marinelli  - It was announced two weeks ago that Mr. Tom Marinelli, Internal CEO at the OLG,headed into retirement in January 2015. Tom, who has been with the OLG for roughly 23yrs, has seen many changes during that time and twice held the position of interim CEO during his career at the Corporation. He had always been a major advocate for Charitable Gaming through his clear understanding of the value this brings to the communities they are located in. I am sure you will join me in wishing Tom and his family every happiness as he undertakes his retirement. A Job Well Done – Tom!

Mr. George Sweny  - It was announced on the 21st January 2015 that George has been appointed Vice President – Strategic Ventures for the Amaya Gaming Group, a world leader in on-line & interactive gaming. George brings to the company a deep and broad understanding of the Gaming landscape, not only in Canada, but internationally as well. It is unique in having both commercial & regulatory experience, combined with a deep understanding of the value of relationships & partnerships to drive a strategic agenda forward. I am sure you join me in wishing George every success as he undertakes his new role.

Mr. Andrew LaCroix  - At the end of 2014, Mr. Andrew LaCroix was promoted from General Manager (Chances – Haney) to Executive Director, Vancouver Island, overseeing Great Canadian Casinos operations on the island. This is a good promotion for Andrew and is reflective of his ability to establish constructive engagement with colleagues and stakeholders and inspiring leadership to his peers. I am sure you all wish Andrew well in his new position.

Mr. Ron Ko - It was announced last Tuesday that after 18yrs of service with the OLG, Ron had decided to resign as Director of c-Gaming. This was rather a shocking announcement but Ron has decided that his career lies beyond the OLG at this moment. I am not sure where Ron’s career will take him but he has expressed an interest in remaining with the Gaming Industry and is currently reviewing opportunities. Ron has indicated that he will let me know once he has made a decision and I will naturally pass it on. Without question, Ron has made a very positive contribution to the Charitable Gaming Sector in this province. His leadership, commitment and advocacies for Charitable Gaming has been tremendous, I trust that his abilities, skill and knowledge will not be lost to the sector in the years to come. Good luck Ron on your new career opportunity.   

Mr. Nick Eaves  - It has been announced that Mr. Nick Eaves, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group, is stepping down after 20yrs with the company. Nick has led the Woodbine Entertainment Group as CEO since 2010 and leaves the company in good shape to face the challenges of the future. I am sure you will join me in wishing Nick every success in his future career opportunities.

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