Per Jaldung, ECA's Chairman

"In 2023 we will continue discussions with Italian representatives to bring casinos back within the ECA membership"

Per Jaldung, Chairman of the ECA.
Reading time 3:02 min

As 2022 comes to an end, Yogonet spoke with Per Jaldung, Chairman of the European Casino Association, on what the closing year has meant for the gambling industry, as well as the challenges faced throughout the last 12 months. Additionally, Jaldung explains the main focuses for the ECA in 2023, including a goal to 'continue discussions with Italian representatives' to bring Italian casinos back within the ECA membership.

What is your assessment of how the gaming sector developed in 2022? What role did the European Casino Association play within this context?

The land-based casino industry lost not only many days of business during the pandemic, but has had to work incredibly hard to attract both players and staff back to locations in 2022. Finding and hiring staff is an acute issue not just for the casino sector, but across many hospitality sectors in Europe.

At the same time, players that regularly enjoyed our gaming tables discovered online gaming during the days of Covid-19, and have not returned to previous participation levels. Staffing and player retention are issues the industry faces collectively, and they have both emphasized the role of the ECA in finding solutions.

The ECA played a pivotal part during the pandemic as we sought solutions to challenges that were new to all members. We shared positive experiences as we each faced challenges in our day-to-day operations and used the ECA network to support one another during the crisis.

This network has since grown into closer cooperation and sharing of best practices as we've emerged from the pandemic. As such, we are a closer-knit and more communicative association that places a high value on the shared experiences of our network of casino experts.

This year also marked a general return of in-person industry events all over the world. What are your main takeaways from the events schedule in 2022?

We work in an in-person business, so it was great to meet again in live spaces. The ICE London exhibition, held in April, brought together operators and CEOs able to meet their peers for the first time in almost three years. We discussed not only our experiences during the pandemic, but shared views on staffing issues, cashless gaming, cryptocurrency, etc., but the main takeaway was that it’s great to return to business as normal.

We enjoyed an extremely busy G2E and look forward to ICE London 2023 in February, which brings a full-fledged ICE experience as a key highlight in 2023.

Both the ECA's General Assembly in September and the ICE & ECA Summer Symposium in July gathered industry stakeholders to discuss the most pressing topics and challenges in the casino industry. Based on these meetings, what issues do you expect to drive the agenda next year?

For the ECA, upcoming AML regulation in the EU and its effect on the day-to-day operation of the land-based industry is a priority. There are also several new EU laws in preparation, and further regulations at the national level in different countries, including advertising restrictions and player spending limits, with the ECA participating in the discussion to ensure the right levels of maintenance while seeking to avoid over-regulation.

The most pressing current topic for the gaming industry is the battle to stop illegal cross-border online gambling, which brings massive negative consequences for the reputation of gaming in general, in regards to player protection and the reputation of the legally licensed industry, and also as regards to tax income for governments. It is time that politics and governments bring these practices to an end.

What is on the agenda for the European Casino Association in the coming year?

Regarding 2023, the main focus will be the European Dealer Championship, held at the new Cyprus-integrated resort, City of Dreams Mediterranean. The next Casino Industry Forum, location still to be determined, will continue to assist members in their efforts to work with their national regulators and continue to address European developments and the pressing issue of illegal unlicensed online gambling towards Brussels authorities.

We are looking forward to ICE London in February, where the ECA will host its next General Assembly, and we will release news following the event as Per Jaldung steps down as Chairman after eight years. Explicitly, one of the goals for the ECA in 2023 is to continue discussions with Italian representatives to bring Italian casinos back within the ECA membership. It is one of our main focuses in 2023.

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