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Smart cash on bots taking your bets

Fast-changing technology to transform world of gambling Guy Rogers Robotic croupiers, gambling with cryptocurrency and using artificial intelligence to spot punters with a problem – those are some of the predictions for the future as the fourth industrial revolution collides with the gaming industry. Super-digital disrupters will likely make gaming more popular but the advent of robots will up the stakes and staff will to be retrained to meet the needs of the new-look gaming industry. Speaking at the 15th…

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  • Fast-changing technology to transform world of gambling

Guy Rogers

Robotic croupiers, gambling with cryptocurrency and using artificial intelligence to spot punters with a problem – those are some of the predictions for the future as the fourth industrial revolution collides with the gaming industry.

Super-digital disrupters will likely make gaming more popular but the advent of robots will up the stakes and staff will to be retrained to meet the needs of the new-look gaming industry.

Speaking at the 15th Gaming Regulators Africa Forum conference at the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth on Monday, Yekani Manufacturing CEO Siphiwe Cele said electronic hosts would be a feature of gambling in coming decades. “For example, a punter will enter a casino and enable an e-host on his phone and thereafter the host will welcome him and stay engaged with him through his visit, supplying him with refreshments, information on different machines and games and using artificial intelligence to design a customised gaming experience for him.”

The attraction of cryptocurrencies for gamblers was that they could access funds online and deposit and withdraw them with minimal fees. “Therefore allowing the use of cryptocurrencies in gambling games will increase the popularity of the casino industry,” Cele said.

Artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to spot potential gambling addicts, he said.  “AI software can identify players who are inclined to develop gambling problems, notify them and prevent the negative consequences in due time, which would greatly benefit the gambling industry.”

AI could be used for predictive maintenance of gaming equipment and avoiding unwarranted down times. While online gambling was illegal in South Africa with the exception of sport betting, overseas it had expanded in tandem with the fourth industrial revolution, Cele said.

It was anticipated that in 2020 online gambling revenue generated globally would grow to almost $60bn (about R924bn) in 2020.

Linked to online gambling, virtual reality would deliver online punters the full monty. “They will be able to immerse themselves into their casino … walk around, light up a cigar. Gambling providers invest in the development of virtual reality technology because they see it as an opportunity to attract younger generation who are not as likely to play gambling games.” Cele said despite these benefits, the fourth industrial revolution would pose challenges for the gambling industry. “Job losses will result with the replacement of dealers and hosts with robots,” he said.

This will require an up-skilling programme for current staff … There will eb a need for secure cyber security. “Lastly, the gambling will require highly skilled employees in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Cele said that to capitalise on the fourth industrial revolution and the gambling industry in terms of revenue and jobs, the government should help fund tech innovators. “We should develop our own virtual reality devices – by Africans, for Africans.”

The government should also support SA-designed indigenous gambling games and manufacturers such as Yekani, which had the competence to produce gambling equipment.

Welcoming the conference delegates – which included representatives from several African countries – Eastern Cape economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said the legislation of gambling in SA in 1994 had resulted in number of benefits. It had given consumers an additional form of recreation, largely eradicated the illegal gambling industry, generated considerable tax revenue and funded infrastructure, including roads and hotels, he said.

It was estimated that the provincial economy had grown by R985m over the past five years as a result of the gambling industry. “It is still our fervent belief that through the infusion of the new fourth industrial revolution and optimal regulation, a legalised gambling industry could be a game-changer.”

Eastern Cape Gambling Board deputy chair Odwa Mtati said while he agreed with much of what Cele has said, the social impact of unrestricted online gambling had to be taken into account and this was one of the reasons why the government had not yet legalised it.

EL tech company aims to spread its wings into Africa

New chair feels top manufacturer can do better in the jobs stakes TED KEENAN – BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT When Yekani Manufacturing (YM), the East London Industrial Development Zone’s (ELIDZ) technology-linked manufacturer, was looking for a chairperson, chief executive Siphiwe Cele wanted someone who knew his or her way around a boardroom rather than a factory floor, and who could sell the company at decision-maker level. Her choice for the job was Zolile Tini. He had chaired the IDZ for nine years,…

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New chair feels top manufacturer can do better in the jobs stakes

TED KEENAN – BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT

When Yekani Manufacturing (YM), the East London Industrial Development Zone’s (ELIDZ) technology-linked manufacturer, was looking for a chairperson, chief executive Siphiwe Cele wanted someone who knew his or her way around a boardroom rather than a factory floor, and who could sell the company at decision-maker level.

Her choice for the job was Zolile Tini. He had chaired the IDZ for nine years, was a senior figure and president of Border-Kei Chamber of Business and is a successful businessman in his own right. Tini was also well connected to many sectors of government and private enterprise.

“YM, which cost R1bn, has the tech savvy it needs, so I see my role well away from the manufacturing side and into the boardrooms of the decision-makers with the purchasing power. This is a world-class manufacturing plant and we need to get that fact out there. We cannot be a best kept secret, even from East Londoners.” YM’s product range extends to innovative technology products for clients in the automotive, defence, aerospace/aviation industries as well as a portfolio of products that includes education tablets and laptops, and mobile handsets and laptops.

Tini sees job creation as one of his many roles. “There are various statistics out there as to how many young people simply cannot find work. I think the most accurate one is that 76% of the Eastern Cape youth.

“They are desperate for work, but cannot find it because there are no entry-level jobs. It cannot continue, especially when one realises that this plant now employs 446 people, which is fine, except that it is designed to employ over a thousand, and with government support that will happen.” Talk of upskilling learners, giving them tablets and access to technology, readying them for the 4th Industrial Revolution, now needs action. Eastern Cape and national government can assist. In East London the IDZ has the manufacturing capacity to create work, but it needs support.

“We need to get our metro and the province behind us, and to achieve that we need a change of buying patterns. Buy local must be the message.” YM has, said Tini, excellent training facilities. It recently employed 100 technical students on a short-term contract, some of them electrical engineers, from East London’s two job creation centres, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Technical and Vocational Education and Training. “Some will be joining us, and the others can at least be assured that when they apply for a job and get hit with the question about experience, they can answer that they have worked on the shop floor.

Tini said that getting YM up to full manufacturing speed should be a short process, provided SA copied China’s approach with technology companies. “Huawei is an excellent example of how China turned a promising brand into an international leader by assisting it over the early barriers. “The same has to happen in SA. It is essential that we look after our own first, get our manufacturers to peak productivity, with a momentum that will enable it to explore markets outside SA: North up into Africa and then overseas. We have an excellent product and now we need orders to match it.”

YM’s vision is to be Africa’s leading international technology manufacturing innovator positioned to take of advantage of disruption, and to cause it.

 

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