GEM is the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. It is an international trade association, nonprofit organization that represents the manufacturers and suppliers of equipment electronic gaming systems, games tables, online technology, important components and support products, in addition to services to industry of gambling. AGEM works to further the interests of suppliers of gaming equipment in the world. Through political-regulatory influence, company trade shows, educational alliances, information dissemination and optimal corporate culture, the members of AGEM work together to create benefits for every company within the organization. Currently AGEM has over 140 international members established in over 21 countries.
The origin of AGEM dates back to 2000 when Aristocrat, Bally, IGT and WMS came together to discuss a common theme that affected the interests of the manufacturers. This union was the beginning of a series of success stories through AGEM and always with the same idea, "What is beneficial to one company, is beneficial for all others in the same industry." Since then, the voice of the manufacturer has been assessed and has scored in the jurisdictions in which it has participated. Sometimes collaboration with regulators has been needed to update some legislation and expose the concerns of the manufacturers so that these are valued and in most cases considered. Overall, activity with regulators has been very positive, not only in America, but also in Europe and other jurisdictions in other continents. In the same way it has maintained equity, AGEM and has managed to maintain a balance through the Board of Directors made up of representatives from several companies.
In Mexico, AGEM involvement dates back five years ago with Marcus Prater, AGEM Executive Director, who has remained in constant contact with the two major gaming associations that exist in this country AIEJA and APPJSAC, led respectively by Alfonso Pérez Lizaur and Miguel Angel Ochoa Sánchez, who have worked closely with manufacturers in Mexico, major gaming operators and federal and local authorities for the good of the gaming industry.
In 2013, most manufacturer AGEM members began meeting locally in Mexico City, along with some other companies that do not even belong to this association to discuss common issues affecting their interests. From these meetings and based on a need to create a joint agenda, they decided to work in a formal and organized way in Mexico creating the Committee AGEM Mexico and inviting other companies to join this international partnership. Because of this, more than ten companies have joined as members or associates to AGEM to participate in Mexico and the rest of the world with global discussions and informational updates AGEM provides.
Also, as a result of these meetings, manufacturers were able to have meetings with the authorities that govern the gaming industry in Mexico, particularly in the Interior Ministry through the General Director of Gaming, which has resulted in a change in the way the gaming industry is viewed in Mexico. The Ministry's intention is not to promote, but to regulate the industry and to provide certainty for all participants, starting with the players to reach operators, manufacturers, investors, etc. Therefore, AGEM has expressed interest to be a part of these changes ahead for the industry and to contribute to this worthwhile effort for the benefit of all who are participators in it.
There is a new bill project promoted by the Ministry of Interior and in cooperation with the Chamber of Deputies by the Special Committee to Investigate the functioning of the bodies of the Federal Government relating to the granting of permits for gaming, which has been very well seen by all sectors involved in the gambling industry and particularly for the manufacturers. From what we could learn from this project the rules will be clearly definedand concise, in order to avoid double interpretations, loopholes, or legal challenges. It is important to mention that the Federal Law on Games and Raffles was issued on December 31, 1947 and the Regulations of the Federal Law on Games and Raffles was issued in September 2004, so there is a need to update the law and its regulations. In 1947 no one looked at the drawing of numbers or figures electronically, not only in Mexico, but the rest of the world, there was not also the technology of money management through a cashless system where now not only money is involved, but also credits to players as promotional and incentive for their loyalty as customers. Technology has been and will continue the main driver in the development of the game, hence the importance of having a dynamic and updated legal framework.
Importantly, the cornerstone of these changes is to provide security and protection to all involved, so one of the important aspects involving manufacturers and suppliers is the certification of their equipment. This topic is not a problem or something new for us, since all members of AGEM already working actively in this area in most of the jurisdictions in which they are present and even some companies since it began work in Mexico and in the absence a policy of technical compliance, have been self-regulated by limiting the release of new equipment and games to this country unless certified by a laboratory internationally recognized to be similar to the standards that may be applicable to another jurisdiction is applied for Mexico based on the standards defined by the same manufacturers and testing laboratories through local agencies. So manufacturers are interested in promoting and working on the definition of an appropriate certification to the needs of industry, that is based on international standards, and is updated dynamically according to market fluctuations, to provide certainty to operators, is a proper process for manufacturers, and ultimately will provide the confidence to the players who are using products with high standards and safe.
Another important aspect that is on the table with this new bill is the regulatory compliance framework, the clear definition of which companies and establishments have been approved for the installation and operation of a casino, as well as future projects that are under construction, or under process, but at least now has the approval by the authority for development and final approval will be needed to start operation. Likewise it is important to create a process with the authorities to define which companies have been authorized and are recognized as equipment suppliers for these casinos, based on a set of criteria to determine their responsibilities and comply with defined standards for good industry. Having a well-defined industry regulatory compliance framework for all participants it will help to prevent the installation of unauthorized establishments, the use of machines of questionable origin in public places or the same casinos in the country, and the prevention of piracy and counterfeiting equipment. It is therefore essential to establish direct communication channels between providers, operators and authorities.
In the same way that regulatory changes are driving this new bill, providers are interested and concerned to promote educational information and awareness about the concepts that define the Responsible Gaming. This is an activity that must be undertaken directly and not forgotten, it is an important part in the gambling industry and must have appropriate policies and plans to educate and promote it. The responsibility starts by creating awareness of its importance and the necessity of its existence.
In summary, the main objective of AGEM in Mexico is to stimulate an ongoing regulatory framework and business environment in which our members can rely on for the future of the market. Likewise, AGEM is interested in promoting education and responsible gaming initiatives.