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Q&A: Robert Brassai

| By Hannah Gannage-Stewart | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Sense4Gaming’s Robert  Brassai tells iGB about his new role with the Totally Gaming Academy and offers his thoughts on the challenges facing the industry over the next year

iGaming Business: You are now an established trainer for the Totally Gaming Academy. How did you get into the industry training game?

Robert Brassai: By accident really. I ran into Lucien Wijsman at a gaming show last year when I’d just started my casino consultancy and he asked me if I would be interested in delivering the table games course, which had no owner at the time. I said yes, seeing an opportunity to do something different from what I was used to and spread some of the knowledge I have accumulated during my career.

You are known for running the Table Games Masterclass for TGA, but will be tutoring a new course, Gaming For Non-Gaming Personnel, at ICE Africa. What is the thinking behind this launch?
This is a pilot project to see if there is interest among operators to bring their non-gaming staff closer to gaming operations by teaching them the fundamental principles of the industry. Most casinos tend to teach these employees the bare minimum they need to carry out their functions, but giving them an insight into the whys and hows of what makes a casino tick would result in tighter cooperation between the different departments, more engaged employees and ultimately a better guest experience.

Is gaming casting its net wide enough to capture talent pools from outside of the industry? If it isn’t, are there any particular sectors/specialisms it would particularly benefit from tapping into?
The principal gaming roles are very much experience based, so people tend to work their way up to become a tables shift manager or surveillance manager, for example. There are new roles that have a significant impact on the bottom line of a casino that are now mostly recruited from outside the industry. There are numerous examples of data analysts, marketing staff, finance people, etc. being employed in casinos without them having previous experience in the industry. There is certainly a lot of talent out there and the industry would benefit in the long run by shaking up the established matrix of roles and letting new views and thoughts shape the future.

Around which main themes/ pillars/theories will the course be organised, and how will these feed into the course and the main takeaways for participants?
This one-day course aims to show participants the basic working functions of a casino, the reasons for why things work as they do, how procedures and processes need to be respected for the common benefit of all, what makes casino patrons tick and how best to provide them with the services they deserve.

Compared with slots, table games are widely seen as a neglected area of the online product offer. What can be done to address this, broaden their appeal and drive more revenue for operators from table games?
The magic of live games is in the actual interaction of the customer with the gaming staff and other patrons. It’s a very specific player profile and their needs are difficult to satisfy in an online environment. While a typical slot player would have a very similar experience in a casino or on their tablet playing the same game, most table players wouldn’t find playing Blackjack on a computer giving them the same buzz. Live dealer online casinos are an improvement, though, and there is more and more demand for these. Proxy betting, on the other hand, could bring the experience as close as possible to live gaming, but is only allowed in a very few jurisdictions for obvious reasons. Virtual reality may help online gaming companies broaden their live games portfolio in the future, but as it stands now, their target audience is not exactly tech-savvy.

What do you think have been the game-changing developments in the gaming industry over the course of your career?
The biggest game-changer by far has been the birth of online gambling. While visiting casinos has always been the privilege of the rich and well-off middle classes in developed countries, with the appearance of online betting, literally anyone can place a bet, be it on a slot machine, a sports game or any other form of gambling.

How do you see the opening of the US sports betting industry post-PASPA impacting the areas of gaming you work in?
I specialise in land-based casinos, and I don’t believe this development in the US will have any significant effect on brick-andmortar casinos. There has been a serious illicit sports betting industry in the US and in some other countries, and this decision should hurt them the most. I think we all agree it is for the better. As in the case of land-based casinos, which saw their client base widen after the proliferation of online betting possibilities, in the long run legal sports betting possibilities in most US states will bring with them a broader acceptance of this form of gambling and higher profits for the operators.

What do you see as the major challenges ahead for the gaming industry over the next 12 to 18 months?
The global economy has been booming for almost 10 years now, and while it has never been healthier and there are no signs of a crisis around the corner, statistically it could happen at any moment. If it did, it could plunge the industry into recession. Investors have never been more confident, and new Integrated Casino Resorts are opening up, constantly raising the stakes. Too many companies are betting on the lucrative Chinese market, which being politically sensitive could very quickly turn the fortunes of these companies around. There will also be quite a few legal challenges, with responsible gaming gaining ground in more and more countries. Think of the new UK FOBT ruling, for instance.

Course outline: Gaming for non-gaming personnel

Introduction to casinos
• What sets gaming apart from other hospitality disciplines?
• The general working order of a casino
• Casino departments and the way they collaborate
• Casino language

The casino customer
• Why are they special?
• The mind of a gambler
• Different player segments and their habits
• Servicing casino players
• Customers’ special needs
• Unusual situations you might have to handle

Introduction to casino procedures
• Timeliness
• Discipline
• Money handling
• Information sharing
• The role of casino surveillance

Upcoming TGA events:

Gaming For Non-Gaming Personnel, 23 October, Johannesburg

Totally Gaming Summit, 14-15 November, London


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