During the European Dealer Championship in Tallinn, G3 spoke to ECA* Chairman, Per Jaldung, about the importance of both the competition and the growing relevance of the ECA as a unified voice for the casino gaming industry in Europe
It has been my pleasure to have been involved in the European Dealer Championship since 2009, when the event was held in Malmo Sweden. It was the start of my first year as CEO of the company and was an amazing experience. Since then both the event and the reputation of the competition has grown significantly. The European Dealer Championship used to be an internally facing display of the skills of our dealers, a showroom for our great staff, but now it has become an internationally recognised event both within the casino sector and externally too.
This is the fifth event during which I have been the Chairman of the ECA, and every year I have witnessed the growing interest from local television and press, both in the international host country and during the national tournaments.
Operators are enthusiastically welcoming the opportunity to host the event, which is a big responsibility, but we are seeing lots of operators putting their names forward as the reputation of this event continues to grow. The last couple of competitions we have drawn large crowds of spectators too, which is terrific for the event and for the dealers, judges and organising members taking part.
This year we have 12 companies sponsoring the event, the largest ever number with many of the industry’s big names, such as Scientific Games and TCSJohnHuxley. They recognise that a competition like this is important for the land-based industry in order to highlight the real experience of visiting a land-based casino. This event is celebration of the fabulous entertainment, the wonderful food and beverage offer, the music and shows and social experience of visiting a casino – as opposed to the digital gaming experience that’s increasingly competing for the time and attention of our customers.
The strategy of the ECA is to focus on regulatory issues facing the industry and have representation with the institutions in Brussels to ensure policy makers understand the issues facing our sector. GDPR, money laundering, responsible gambling, sustainability, fighting illegal gambling; these are all issues that we have successfully campaigned to bring to the wider attention of politicians in order to show that we are a serious corporate business.
We have a major campaign about to roll out across Europe that shows the Economic Impact of the casino industry upon the wider economy. We want the stakeholders and the institutions to listen to us and respect us, and to do that they need to understand the facts and statistics driving this industry. This report highlights the fact that we are part of a highly regulated, responsible business that brings multiple benefits to the communities in which we operate.
It is hard to have an impact in Brussels as a single entity, but speaking with a combined voice through the ECA, members have a channel with which to voice their concerns and have them recognised at the highest levels.
*The ECA represents licensed land-based casinos in Europe, with 29 members and over 70,000 direct employees supporting local economies across Europe. It has members from nearly all EU Member States, as well as non-EU countries. The main purpose and objective of the ECA is to address and promote issues related to casinos and promote the positive contribution of the industry.