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Forget Brexit…here comes Europe!

As we languish in the hinterland of the Brexit negotiations, the Hippodrome Casino will achieve something Boris Johnson can only dream of: gathering representatives from most of Europe in the heart of London for a friendly fight • Everyone will talk to each other. • There’ll be no shouting or petulant silences. • And every single participant will come willingly to the table. Yes, for the first time in its 11-year history, the European Dealer Championship is coming to the UK
The EDC is the annual competition between dealers from throughout Europe, who go head to head in the three key areas of Technical Skill, Game Control and Hospitality. It is organised by the European Casino Association in conjunction with the National Casino Forum, and will take place at The Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, London, on May 8-10.
From small beginnings, the EDC has grown into one of the most prestigious events in the gaming industry’s calendar, and this year will bring together 33 participants from a record-breaking 21 European countries. Countries can enter up to two competitors each, and many of the Union’s biggest operators compete. Representing the UK will be Jamie Cummins of the Ritz Club and first runner up Stuart McCallum, from Les Ambassadeurs, who won the UK leg of the Championships in February this year.
2017 will see more than 30 judges from 21 countries oversee the knockout-style competition. Dealers will showcase their talent and skill on two of the most popular casino table games, American roulette and blackjack. Hippodrome CEO Simon Thomas said he was thrilled to be hosting the championships. “Dealers are the lifeblood of the casino industry. They’re  at the coalface, and much of our success depends on their skill and acumen. So, encouraging and rewarding the job they do through the EDC is a fantastic opportunity

.” Tracy Damestani, CEO of the National Casino Forum and Vice-Chair of the ECA, said: “The EDC brings the casino community together and competitors get a chance to see how dealers from different countries perform. It’s extremely competitive but friendly too. The title of EDC Champion has true kudos across the ECA membership countries.” Tracy explains why competitions like the EDC are important for the sector and why the NCF has opted to retain strong ties with Europe in the face of Brexit. “In the UK alone, casinos employ upwards of 16,000 people, with an additional 30,000 casual workforce. Strong customer service is key to its continued success, which is why it’s important to hold competitions like the EDC which celebrate excellence in its field. And it gives employees the chance to shine.

“It also demonstrates what a close-knit community those who work in the casino business are. We share ideas, we innovate and also contribute massively to our individual economies. Shouting about what we do can only benefit the venues and the thousands who work within them.” The worldwide casino ‘community’ is why the Strategy Board of the National Casino Forum decided to commit ‘unequivocally’ to retaining strong ties to Europe and announced last year it will continue to work within the ECA ‘to promote the modernisation of the regulated casino industry at national and international levels’. Said Tracy: “I can think of few other sectors where so many of us have worked and developed strong ties and friendships across Europe and further afield. Retaining those links can only benefit the
“The NCF’s vision is to make the UK the most attractive destination in the world for casino gaming, not only for the customers but for those
from abroad who want to experience working here.” There are three key areas that the competitors will be judged on. Murat Salih, gaming floor manager at The Hippodrome, explains what they are: Technical Skill – We are looking to see if the competitor can cut chips correctly, use both hands appropriately and use technical equipment properly. This includes pushing multiple stacks, chip Mattias Luchesisni, who won the EDC title for the UK in 2015 positioning, ball spinning and table clearing. For blackjack, we are looking for smooth, neat dealing
and handling bets on the boxes.
Game Control – Good game security is an important aspect of being a top dealer. The croupier has to
calculate payouts accurately, show clean hands, protect their winning areas; and they must have an accurate knowledge of the games they are dealing. In this area, we are judging whether the croupier is in control of all aspects of their game. We are looking for clear, loud commentary; good float management and focus on table activity.
Hospitality – A very important aspect of the job, customer service is a key skill for an excellent croupier. We are judging the competitors on professionalism, politeness, how they greet customers and interact with them. Body language is also important for good customer service; we will be looking at the croupier’s non-verbal communications as well as their verbal ones. The winner should be able to respond actively to meet customer needs, even exceeding customer expectations when dealing to them.
Five-a-side There will be five side events during the championships.
Best Chipper Who is the fastest chipper (chip and stack) of 300 chips?
Best Card Handler Who draws the fastest initial deal at Blackjack?
Best Cutting Chips Who will be the best cutting stacks into fractions?
Best Pushing Stacks Who can push two to eight stacks the fastest from one side of the table to the other?
Best mathematician Who can calculate the fastest AR Manhattan bets?

The outcome of the side events has no effect on the main championship That’s Entertainment! Outside the competition there will be entertainment on the Hippodrome’s cabaret stage and pop up performances throughout the venue by BELAIR and Shane Hampsheir alongside the Hippodrome’s very own Lola’s Showgirls.

Images (top right) UK hopes in their hands Leading the UK charge at the EDC will be Jamie Cummins and (above left) from the Ritz Club and first runner-up Stuart McCallum  from Les Ambassadeurs