The gaming industry of today is worlds removed from that of 25 years ago, thanks in large part to innovative figures and organizations such as the International Gaming Standards Association. Two huge catalysts for the creation and development of the IGSA are President Peter DeRaedt and Vice President Mark Pace, who have worked tirelessly over the last two and a half decades to standardize the industry. The pair spoke with GGB Managing Editor Jess Marquez via Zoom in August.
GGB: The IGSA is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What made you first get involved?
DeRaedt: I started in the gaming industry in 1986 developing table solutions, mainly for Holland Casinos. In August 1997 I was offered a position in Reno, Nevada to work for Aristocrat. I represented Aristocrat moving forward the year after that. I think in May ’98 Jeff (Freidman) left Silicon Gaming, and I was elected chair. I’ve been chair or involved since then.
Pace: I started in this industry in 1982, at Harrah’s Atlantic City. I was working in finance and accounting and became truly enamored by slots. Then I moved to Vegas when Harrah’s moved, and got into regulatory affairs. IGSA needed somebody to look after regulators and create a committee to harness their ideas. I met Peter and became involved with IGSA, and I’ve been involved ever since.
How tough was it to succeed in the early years?
DeRaedt: They were exciting times, but also painful in the sense that we had to learn very quickly. We had to see how to manage meetings, antitrust policies, all the things that you normally don’t think about. Our industry definitely wasn’t used to that—we had to put that into place. That was a very exciting time.
Pace: Imagine bringing a bunch of different engineers from competing companies into one room. One thing that had to be implemented was a very robust IP policy within these committees to make sure that the ideas being freely bantered around were not hijacked by a single entity.
What have been some of the biggest victories since then?
Pace: The first is Class II gaming, which is still significant after all these years. Lyle Bell, who was one of our long-term chairmen, said the growth of the Seminoles can be pinned to this one victory that we achieved thanks to IGSA creating the standard. A perfect example of how communication protocols provided significant uplifts to operations.
DeRaedt: There’s a whole slew of things we have done, but we should recognize the people who’ve supported this organization so far. More than 1,800 engineers from more than 195 companies have contributed to the technology that IGSA has developed. Those companies supply 70 percent of the global marketplace. It’s quite significant.
How did the international expansion come about?
DeRaedt: In 2007, we landed in Macau. We said, fantastic, there is no legacy. We thought it would be a great idea to get these guys informed and educated, and we’ve worked with the Macau Political University as it’s known today. In Europe, iGaming was on our radar, so we set up in Malta—there’s a lot of knowledge out there, and that’s what we had to do. Afterwards, we also copied that to Japan.
What do you anticipate happening over the next 25 years?
Pace: The days of being able to compete on low-level technology are long gone. Operators are now used to infinite amounts of data, so they’re going to realize that we need a fresh approach. Over time, the idea of standardization will continue to become more necessary and will be implemented. And, maybe one day we will get to global open statements.
DeRaedt: For me, the best step moving forward is a closer regulatory relationship. Regulations shouldn’t be fragmented over the world, because there’s no need for that. It should be a national or international set of regulations that are practical, enforceable and can be monitored. Open access to data and full transparency, that would be the next phase.