Game On! – Tony Macmillan, GM of Gaming Operations of Ballys Casino Entertainment Ltd

The journey began in London, UK, over 30 years ago, when he entered the Gaming and Entertainment industry as a Trainee Casino Dealer. Today, Tony Macmillan is the General Manager of Gaming Operations of Ballys Casino Entertainment Ltd. He is a UK licenced Gaming Manager and has vast international experience.

Tony is a Gaming and Entertainment industry professional with a comprehensive knowledge of remote and land-based casino gambling, with a proven ability to deliver Casino Profit and Loss (P&L) across Land based, mobile, native app and online product verticals, and is skilled in delivering land based and online gambling products, inclusive of content and Marketing Return on Investment (ROIs.) He possesses sound knowledge of Strategic Planning, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Development and Accountable Delivery.

“With my Internationally recognised UK Management Licensed qualification confidently under my belt, I embarked on the incredible journey of worldwide travel, developing my Gaming knowledge, skills and management style, enabling me to successfully deal with many of the culturally diverse and challenging opportunities that the International Gaming and Entertainment Industry presents .

“My reputation and international experience have afforded me the fantastic opportunity of working as a Gaming Operations Consultant and Resident Operations GM for some of the leading international Hotel and Gaming Entertainment resorts throughout Europe, Middle East, Africa, Turkey, the Caribbean and Asia.”

Tony’s exceptional leadership skills and the vast experience he has gathered throughout his career have further helped the growth of the already leading casino which is located in the heart of Colombo. “I have made sure that the casino’s products and service standards are constantly upgraded to maintain superiority in the market. The main objective is to gain an outstanding reputation, and we will continue to demonstrate our unique understanding of the needs of our customers. I use my leadership skills on a daily basis to communicate, motivate and guide Ballys’ excellent employee teams to offer the ultimate 360 customer experience. The introductions of Gaming technological and proven initiatives have been highly successful due to the immense support of the Chairman and the Directors, combined with the willingness of all employees to be committed team players.”

The GM of Gaming Operations continued: “Since my appointment in January 2018, I have been working in tandem with all the departments at Ballys on a number of comprehensive and complete training and development programs that include Gaming, Marketing, F&B, Front of House, Back of House, Surveillance, Administration, Accounting and Training teams. The main aim of these initiatives is to improve the overall understanding of the operations and the target of increasing the customer base leading to improved business operational successes. All these departments and their relevant team members each have an important part to play in the expansion and to increase the customer base. Together we have increased the customer base and casino attendance over the past two years, despite the terrorist attack in mid-2018.

Explaining the marketing initiatives of Ballys, Tony stated, “The ‘Know your Customer’ (KYC) and Ballys Customer Points Awards initiatives were introduced to increase the customer base by rewarding customer loyalty and retention. The Customer Relations Management (CRM) software programme (CRM) and the KYC programme are used to market existing customers to recruit new customers while also developing new customers to become regular customers. The new CRM allows all departments to update all 360 customer profiles with complete information and data on Ballys’ main database. As part of the 360 customer experience, we introduced a transport and logistics application called ‘Limo’ which controls all transport needs, including all airport and hotel transfers, of the customers’ of Ballys.

“Furthermore, we introduced a card control system (CCS) for gaming equipment, such as playing cards, that are used in casino gaming to ensure a safe and secure gaming environment. The other main initiative was to redesign the gaming floor to give customers a greater overall gaming experience by adding extra VIP facilities and VIP gaming areas. A main part of this process involved a complete assessment of all gaming team members, their skills and their abilities, in order to correctly assign all relevant personnel to the correct positions in the new gaming floor set-up to provide the ultimate customer experience.”

Online casinos, also known as virtual casinos or internet casinos, enable gamblers to play and wager on casino games through the internet. The origins of online casinos date back to the 1990’s after Microgaming and Crypto Logic developed software that came into effect to support and secure online gaming as a new platform for casino gambling. Ballys websites, ballyscolombo.com and ballysbet.com, are excellent examples of the growth in the Online Gaming industry.

“The Online Gaming industry has grown into a $60 Billion business, and it is forecast to double in the near future. There are three main types of internet casino gambling: poker, casino, and sports betting. The market for Online Gaming Entertainment in Sri Lanka is definitely a potential growth area, especially in sports betting on worldwide horse racing, football, cricket and other types of sports. Casino and poker betting are relatively underdeveloped in relation to the Sports Betting market.

“In my experience, having established a number of international online casinos throughout my career, including one of the first live casino streaming casino platforms with Vutec Ltd, I predict great potential for the Sri Lankan Online Gaming Entertainment market. For instance, Malta is an island that is 200 times smaller than Sri Lanka, but is one of the most  recognised and respected licensing jurisdictions for Online Gaming in the Entertainment industry, generating phenomenal revenues for the Maltese Government.”

He added, “Technology has always played a role in the development of Gaming and Entertainment practices. Technology will continue to provide new market opportunities not only in the shape of online gambling but also in the shape of more technologically advanced slot machines, video lottery terminals (VLTs), interactive television (i-TV) gambling and mobile telephone wagering.”

The COVID-19 has affected many countries and most industries worldwide, and the Gaming and Entertainment industry is one such market that has been affected due to the temporary closure of casinos. However, online operators like Ballys have managed to steadily run its business. “The impact of COVID -19 has been two fold and material due to restricted operations and actual closure of venues like casinos and hotels due to comprehensive travel restrictions and airport closures worldwide. However, there has been a recognised and distinct trend towards increased participation in online gaming and entertainment worldwide, especially throughout Asia.”

Speaking of other key issues surrounding the Gaming and Entertainment industry, Tony stated, “One of the key issues affecting the industry is the influence of technology, especially in the field of gambling innovation. It continues to grow at a rapid pace. The impact of gambling technology in the Entertainment industry has been widespread. There are many observed trends around the world that appear to have resulted from technological innovation. For example, gambling coming out of gambling environments, gambling becoming a more social activity, widespread deregulation, and increased opportunities to gamble as Entertainment.

With extensive experience and expertise in the Gaming and Entertainment industry, Tony has identified several focus areas for the development and growth of the Sri Lankan Gaming and Entertainment industry. “The Entertainment industry in Sri Lanka goes hand in hand with the Sri Lankan Tourism and Hospitality industry. I would like to change and reduce a number of red tape restrictions and bureaucracy that have a negative effect on the Entertainment business.

As Sri Lanka is geographically located well to attract tourists who want a complete Entertainment experience, it will be paramount in the future for the Government to continue to promote and develop the Tourism market in partnership with private companies like Ballys Entertainment and facilitate private sector initiatives.”

In conclusion, the industry expert highlighted the importance of creating a friendly Gaming and Entertainment legislation system, while stating that the Port City would present the ideal platform to achieve it.

“Countries that create a gambling-friendly legislation system and governments that keep up with progress and adapt to every technological development will benefit the most in the future. The Port City would present the absolute ideal platform to achieve this aim. This would take great vision and determination from the Sri Lankan government to make this progressive change in the Gaming and Entertainment industry. This is for sure achievable and will benefit everybody.”

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