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'Inspirational' Casino RAY Helsinki

Glyn Thomas chats with Janne Perakyla VP COO RAY Finland

What are amongst your many responsibilities are what you would consider the most essential involved your role of as VP & COO.

Now when world around gambling is quite challenging I try to focus my work to three things: look the future, inspire staff and follow profitability.

What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying?

I have to say that future forecasting and inspiring young experts.

RAY is a quite unique gaming operator, with some 4% of its gaming revenue coming from the single landbased casino in Finland - Casino Helsinki - while the majority of your gaming is operated via business partners dispersed around the country (hotels, restaurants, service stations, bars and clubs). What challenges, and opportunities, does this business and operating model create for RAY?

We consider that it is a huge possibility for future. We have been committed to create multichannel gaming world to Finland and we will do that. Of course different business units need "steering" that they remember our common goal. And in development work we need to do all the time prioritising decisions. You cannot do everything everywhere all the time.


You design and make most of the slot machines you operate yourself. Why is that?

It comes from our 75 year old local tradition. We have in Casino Helsinki international games and we are testing international games in our arcades. So far they have not been quite successful outside Casino Helsinki. Even still after 2 years in internet casino local brands are the most successful games. But you need to be awake. Change can happen.

All of these machines are linked to RAY's gaming management system. Was this also designed and made in-house?

Partly in-house partly with partners. We have around the country now 20 000 machines. We are now really near to move to control these from headquarter´s. Aim is cut the maintenance cost even "thinner" than they are now and to get speed to gaming portfolio changes.  We have now new attitude - we managed to get over 10 finnish small gaming development companies to partner with us. I strongly believe that they will get us lot of new ideas and can challenge our traditional "heads".

You have "card gaming" available - are all RAY machines TITO-enabled?

We have exceptionally great situation with Finnish banks. We have been able to built with them debit card possibility for customers. With card we can check age limits and player can set up suitable limits for his/her own gaming. And this kind of responsible gaming grows all the time.  At the moment we bet on debit card instead of increasing TITO.

RAY will open a second casino in Virolahti in 2015. What are the objectives for planning a second casino in this location?

State decided to give us possibility to go to eastern boarder. Actually place reserved for us is 6 minutes from liveliest boarder stations. Interesting challenge. St Petersburg with 5 million people only one hour 15 minutes from the place where we are going to be 2015. The aim is to built up international casino. Different than Casino Helsinki but of course utilize synergy. We need to be humble and listen carefully what modern Russian customers wants. And design game portfolio and interieur based to that knowledge. At this time I have a feeling that Russians are more keen to tables than slots. We have 2500 square meters to fill. Planning just started that involves incorporating bars, live entertainment and hotel.

Have you a favourite quote or phrase?

If in Casino Business you do not feel excitement yourself, change profession!

Bingo has globally popularity how does Ray Finland cater for those whom enjoy that gaming pastime?

Recent years have seen a ever increasing range of technical advances in Slots but also machines such as those termed as multiplayer’s, are there any of them installed at the Casino Helsinki, if so what was the thinking behind your choice of supplier?

At the moment there is a Novomatic´s Multigame system installed in Casino Helsinki, where players can pariticipate to same game with different terminals, these kind of games include for example Blackjack and Texas Hold´em Poker. We have also tried a communal jackpot theme, but it wasn´t a success so we removed that. We have also had Touch table roulette, where players can play roulette with operating touch screen. In this case, I think the meaning of multiplayer machine is the closest. The supplier is chosen on references and also on the product bases.

The advantage of multiplayer´s machine is of course the social feeling - that you can create a fun atmosphere where you and other players can enjoy and have fun together. And group of friends can participate the same game. This was and is the thinking behind the multiplayer´s machines. Although we have tried it has not yet been a hit in Casino Helsinki.

What gaming systems and equipment installed over recent years in the Casino Helsinki have made the biggest significant difference, and what slot machines have been the most successful or are there several in both cases?

The biggest significant difference in Casino Helsinki has been installing the EZPay system, which actually had a huge impact on games played but also on revenues. Gambling suddenly got much easier and also faster when you didn´t have to operate coins anymore. There are many successful slot machines, it depends much on the concept, for example Fort Knox jackpot has always been very successful and it has kept the same revenues for many years now. Last couple of years has been very successful for Williams´slot machines. Customers seem to enjoy playing WMS machines because of the themes and also the mathematics are good, you can win big even with smaller bet.

Finally, when you are not at work – how do you relax?

When I am not my kids personal F1-driver to their hobbies, I play tennis and try to learn golf. Rest of the time I try to test casinoes everywhere and find interesting games and visual solutions.