[Poland] Is IGT ready for upcoming changes in the Polish gambling law?

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Wojciech Włodarczyk, CEO of IGT Poland (formerly GTECH): “We have over 1.5 million terminals and slot machines worldwide. This means we are able to fulfil even the largest orders.”

E-PLAY: IGT – formerly GTECH – has been on the Polish market for 25 years. How has your company changed throughout the years?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: Today, IGT is in many ways a very different company than it was 25 years ago. In the early 90’s, the Polish branch consisted of a small group of people whose main tasks included operating Lotto outlet systems.

Our American colleagues taught us everything from scratch, but Polish employees turned out to have great potential. The corporate executives would give us increasingly independent tasks. As the years went by, we were engaged in a growing number of foreign projects. And so the Warsaw Technology Center was born. Today, it executes over 500 projects each year, exporting services worth over 80 million PLN and employs about 350 people.

E-PLAY: What would you say about rumors speculating that IGT’s days in Poland are counted because the company doesn’t have a contract with Totalizator Sportowy?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: They’re false. Totalizator Sportowy remains one of our most important clients. We have been working together for years, with billions of transactions processed in Lotto outlets, millions of satisfied players and dozens of implemented games to prove our good relationship. We will do whatever we can to make it last. It is worth noting that today, IGT Poland primarily exports IT services worldwide. Our newly opened European Operations Center also remotely manages lottery systems in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, and, of course Poland. More countries are soon to join this group.

E-PLAY: The company created as a result of the consolidation of Gtech with IGT has the potential to become a leading player in the gambling industry. You have access to the most modern IT technology for lotteries, software for slot machines as well as loyalty program and payment systems. What is your policy for the coming months in relation to the new Gambling Act?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: Our business goals remain unchanged: we will continue working with Totalizator Sportowy and developing our technology center and European Operations Center. The consolidation gave us more flexibility in terms of the solutions we can now offer. We will definitely make all the changes necessary to comply with the new legal conditions.

E-PLAY: In 2010, IGF signed an exclusivity agreement with Totalizator Sportowy, the company that has a monopoly on lotto games in Poland. It is due to expire in 2020, just over three years from now. Knowing that other companies such as Scientific Games and Intralot will be taking part in the next tender, do you still plan on working as closely with the monopolist as you have done in the past?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: Our current agreement actually expires in 2018. We are natually interested in signing another contract and we will definitely take part in the tender. We have been working with our Polish client for 25 years. We understand the needs of Polish players and we are doing all we can to ensure they have access to the newest technology available in the lottery business.

Although we will be competing with several bidders, our position in the global market is  even stronger than six years ago (thanks to the merger with IGT, among others). I have every reason to believe that our experience, our technological infrastructure in Poland and the broad portfolio of services we offer will place us on top of the list of companies taking part in the tender.

E-PLAY: Since the Gtech – IGT merger, you have been providing technology for the slot machine sector. IGT is very popular in the US, less so in Europe and in Poland, where your machines could be found only in the Olympic Casino at the Warsaw Hilton. How are you planning to change this and what steps are you expecting to take in terms of promotion?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: IGT’s Polish branch is associated with lottery games. Currently, our Warsaw office has no plans for providing technology solutions for casinos, which are being handled by our other branches, especially in the United States.

E-PLAY: Are you preparing new lottery solutions? Will we be seeing anything new in our local Lotto outlets?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: We are currently working on replacing terminals with tablets in selected outlets. Tablets are essentially small terminals which have virtually all the functions of standard ones. Their main advantage is their size, as they can be used in smaller outlets. Totalizator Sportowy will be one of the first lotteries in the world to use them.

E-PLAY: Under the new gambling law, it will be possible to use slot machines in arcades. If the law comes into force, Totalizator Sportowy will probably be responsible for the actions of the state treasury monopoly. It seems highly likely that a subsidy system will be adopted due to the lack of know-how, necessary investment funds and pressure to adopt the new legislation as soon as possible. Only few companies, selected to work with the monopolist according to critera as yet unknown, will benefit from this system. Would you be prepared to provide slot machines to such companies?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: It is hard for me to tell. We currently know nothing about future requirements regarding slot machines. What’s more, the new law has not yet come into force and any assumptions would be purely hypothetical. As I mentioned before, IGT is the industry leader in technological solutions for lotteries and casinos. We have installed more than 1.5 million terminals and slot machines around the world, which proves we are able to fulfill even the largest orders.

E-PLAY: Do you have a “loyalty scheme” designed exclusively for casinos or arcades? Would you be capable of implementing such a system in the near future to meet the needs of  companies working in this sector?

Wojciech Wlodarczyk: All our solutions, whether for lottery games or casinos, are the most modern systems in the industry and they contain all the modules required by our customers. Including, of course, the ability to run loyalty programs.

E-PLAY: During my visits to IGT’s office in Reno and one of the European offices in Amsterdam, I had the chance to see and learn about the EZPay system used both in casinos and amusement arcades. Information about winnings and initial payments is stored on so-called tickets and all winnings are paid out based on this information. This solution makes work so much faster and easier, as players don’t have to exchange their cash. It is also very safe. Will the slot machines you sell to Polish operators be equipped with this system?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: As I mentioned before, we are focusing on lottery solutions here in Poland. As far as I know, Polish operators have not been enquiring about the solution.

E-PLAY: The new law will introduce a uniform control system for machines grouped in casinos and amusement arcades. The technical requirements for this system, so far described in outline, will soon be specified in the executive orders. I would like to know whether IGT is working or has already prepared a similar system?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: Obviously, we have already developed such systems. They are already in use in other countries. When the detailed technical requirements are announced, we will be able to see what we need to change to meet the needs of the Polish market.

E-PLAY: During a previous visit I learned that GTECH’s Polish office officeemployed around 400 permanent employees and freelancers. How many employees do you currently have and what are your recruitment requirements?

Wojciech Włodarczyk: As far as the Polish branch is concerned, the merger with IGT did not affect the company’s personnel policy.  We are still mainly looking for IT graduates to staff our technology center. We are also developing our European Operations Center.

As told to Iwo Bulski – E-PLAY

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