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AGEM Seeks Growth Outside North America

                     AGEM Seeks Growth Outside North America

Tracy Cohen is AGEM’s Director of Europe.  Jack Bulavsky caught up with her at G2E Las Vegas.

Tracy Cohen is Director of Europe of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), a trade organization comprised of the top international gaming suppliers. Its mission is to further the interests of its members around the world. She also serves as Marketing Manager for TCSJOHNHUXLEY, the leading casino gaming equipment manufacturer and supplier with 10 offices worldwide. With more than 20 years experience in design and marketing communications for the international casino and gaming industry, Cohen oversees global trade shows and events, Public Relations, advertising, sales and marketing communications and product launch activities.

What is your role as Director of Europe for AGEM?  And to expand on that question, what defines Europe?

As a result of the drive to recruit more international members, AGEM, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, highlighted the need to have representation outside the U.S. My appointment as Director of Europe was primarily to address the growing need to have someone at the end of telephone or who could be contacted by email in a similar time zone. Currently, there are 18 of AGEM’s 128 member companies based in Europe as well as a further 12 with significant operations in the region. I have worked with many of these companies over the years and have established good relationships. Hopefully, this knowledge and understanding of the market allows me to be better equipped to address any issues that affect a broad range of suppliers in the region and service their best interests, while bringing them to the table for the wider membership to address.

How big an industry is gaming equipment manufacturing in Europe?

Gaming Equipment manufacturing is mature and well established in Europe covering table gaming, slots, VLT’s and electronic multiplayers, as well as a host of associated businesses. Even though total spending on legal gaming is similar between the U.S. and the EU, the composition of spending among important sectors of the gaming industry varies significantly. In the U.S., gaming spend within casinos dominates the market whereas in the EU casinos, it is  less so with gaming machines, lotteries and betting shops more significant than casinos. In addition, internet gaming continues to grow rapidly.

Eastern Europe dominates the world market of electronic multiplayer games, with some very significant slot manufacturers in Austria and Germany and across the whole region.

How would you differentiate European manufacturers from American manufacturers? 

It's important to recognize that Europe is heavily fragmented, not just in terms of number of countries, but within the different regulations in those countries.  Spain, for example, has 17 different autonomies/regions and that means a single country might have many different regulations. For the large international companies, this actually presents a significant barrier to entry, as the research and development work required to produce and approve products versus the amount of products they can sell sometimes doesn't add up.  

Companies based and operating mainly in Europe are just as significant as they just focus on the areas of greatest return and benefit from barriers to entry.

L2R TCS John Huxley's Todd Cravens CEO for the Americas, Luke Davis , Marketing Director with Tracy Cohen G2e Las Vegas

What games do Europeans like to play? Do they gamble any differently than anyone else?

Roulette is much more popular in Europe than the U.S. both in terms of live gaming as well as for ETG’s (Electronic Terminal Games), but Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker also are popular. With regards to slot machines, a good slot game is a good slot game; the maths fundamentally makes a game successful.  Specialist hardware (cabinets), great graphics, sounds, interactive and fun features or big brand licenses may be good acquisition tools, but the base maths are what makes a game that players want to play.  

Tracy Cohen with Michael Knutsson Director TCS John Huxley & Son of founder, Bertil Knutsson

Does the AGEM mission carry over to Europe? 

AGEM’s mission is global regardless of location. Saying that, a large number of agenda items covered in the monthly meetings are U.S. focused due to a large proportion of members being based there. It is also easier to address items in U.S. jurisdictions, as it’s not as fragmented as Europe. But keep in mind that due to the increasing international membership, we have started initiatives to aid doing business in Europe, currently working with the ECA address some general issues that affect members.

Here we are at G2E. Did you see a lot of familiar faces or do more of them attend ICE in London or G2E Asia?

The industry is pretty much global now with most companies operating in all gaming jurisdictions. The nice thing about travelling to different shows around the world is seeing what’s new and happening in a region, while also catching up with old friends. The gaming industry is global, but small at the same time.

You have been with AGEM long enough to see “things” or notice “stuff” between the two continents. What have you seen or noticed that separates the two or brings us together in terms of business or gaming philosophy?

There are undoubtedly differences between the two continents in terms of culture and regulations; however, in terms of gaming philosophy, the two are closely aligned. If an issue is affecting one of our members, you can be sure there are many others being affected too.

European casinos are generally smaller than those in the U.S. and the game mix differs. This is particularly noticeable, for example in the UK, where the maximum number of slot machines is capped at 150 but this only covers one or two large operations. Generally the maximum would not exceed 80, which is vastly different to U.S. and particularly Las Vegas where there is no limit. Maximum stake and maximum wins are also considerably lower too.

The area where Europeans are definitely leading is online gaming. Having been established for some time, the U.S. is looking to Europe in terms of regulation and also market knowledge and experience. Thus, more U.S. companies are seeking to partner with Europeans as online starts to take off in America.

As AGEM grows, do you see it happening in Europe, the U.S., or elsewhere?

AGEM has grown rapidly over the past five years with the majority of major gaming equipment manufacturers now members. As a result, I don’t think AGEM will grow significantly in the foreseeable future but we are seeing manufacturers from further afield (such as Asia) approach us about membership and how they can join.