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'Regulated casino industry will ensure fair play in Goa'
11 Feb, 
dominates the casino systems market and has lined up investments of over $32 million for India this year and is busy expanding its development centres in Chennai and Bangalore. With Goa opening up for casinos, Bally seems poised to take advantage of this opportunity. During his India visit, COO Gavin Issacs speaks on the prospects for the industry worldwide and its India plans. Excerpts: 

There has been a surge in internet casinos. Are you worried that these could eat into gaming industry business at some point? 

There was a mad rush a few years ago. I think thereís a very big social aspect to playing in a casino as distinct from playing in the internet. That barrier will always prevent the internet from overtaking what we do. Internet is a separate market; itís a very different market. Certain games play well on the internet. Others such as slot and table games donít do well on the internet. But the social aspect is the big differentiator. 

Besides slot machines, you are also into casino systems business. How are the two interlinked? 

The core functionality of the systems for the casino is the accounting and the marketing programmes, where there is player loyalty like in an airline. We now have a technology called the iView, which is effectively an interface through the systems to the player. 

So things like your favourite drinks are kept in the records and when you sign in, it would ask, ďHello, Smith would you like gin?Ē And if you hit yes, someone would bring you a drink. And if there are five or six different manufacturersí games on the floor, a system enables you to link them all together. So, systems has become very important for the casino. 

Can you give an overview of how gaming technology is evolving? 

Systems had always been separate from gaming. What technology is doing is moving them closer together. So, through systems you will be able to add functionality and flexibility to the games that people have otherwise played on standalone machines. In short, itís getting networked. 
 

How is the India development centre helping in the growth of Bally?

We are the worldís largest in casino management systems, which is very software-intensive. One of the commitments we make to our customers is that we will always support them. To do that, we rewrite a lot of software so that it comes up to the .Net architecture (.Net enables one to connect information, people, systems and devices through software). India is leading the way with that. The result has been seen in our systems business where we are winning about 8 out of 10 deals

What is the focus of the India centres? Is it the systems or the games business?
Both. At the moment itís 80% systems, but we are starting to build the games team. We will be doing more and more of the games here. Our very first game out of the India studios we showed at the international casino exhibition two weeks ago in London. Itís a huge breakthrough for us and it was very well received.

Do you see India emerging as a big market for you in future?

I would hope so. But I donít see it in the short term. At the moment, Goa has a couple of ships but they arenít regulated. The ships are actually being fitted out offshore. So, when they arrive in India, there will be no business for anyone doing business in India except for people wanting to go and gamble there. Which is a pity.
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