Nevada Week S2 Ep 14 | Gaming as an Export


While the ding
of a slot machine

is synonymous with
the Vegas experience,

some companies
are profiting

off the thrill
of winning it all

by selling casino
gaming as an export.

We’ll sit down with
a panel of industry

leaders to discuss
the growing business

of export gaming.
That’s today
on Nevada Week.

♪♪♪
Support for Nevada
Week is provided by

Senator
William H. Hernstadt,

Cashman Equipment
and additional
supporting sponsors.

♪♪♪
The bright lights of Strip
casinos draw millions

of people to Southern
Nevada every year;

however, tourists
aren’t the only way

local gaming companies
are making money.

For example, casino games
were Nevada’s second

largest export
in 2018 bringing

over $720 million
to our state.

This lucrative
industry is spreading

the Las Vegas experience
to countries all over

the world including
Macau and Singapore.

To discuss
gaming exports,

we’re joined
by Walt Eisele,

senior vice
president and chief

technology officer
of Scientific Games;

Sandra Morgan,
chairwoman

of the Nevada Gaming
Control Board;

Bo Bernard, executive
director of UNLV’s

International
Gaming Institute,

and Howard Stutz,
executive director

of CDC Gaming Reports.
(Kipp Ortenburger)
Howard, I want
to start with you.
We mentioned gaming
as an export,
but then we have
also some of our
international
areas like Macau.
We’ve got some of our
big corporations here
that have opened up
huge installations
in the hotel and gaming
industry as well.
When we’re talking
about exports,
can you give us
some scope on exactly
what we’re talking
about here.
(Howard Stutz)
Well, it’s the
intellectual capacity
that we’ve come in–
you know, the Nevada
gaming industry
has gone into a lot
of these different
markets and brought
the experience
of operating here
in the Silver State
and also operating
around the U.S.
-Sandra, let’s talk about
the regulatory side.
Nevada, I’m assuming,
is the gold standard
when we’re talking
about regulation.
It’s not the first thing
on the top of your mind
when you’re thinking
of something
that is exported,
but how are we exporting
regulation both
internationally
and domestically?
(Sandra Morgan)
Well, I think
I’m very proud to say
that we consistently
host other jurisdictions,
whether they be
other jurisdictions
in the U.S.
or internationally,
they will always
want to come to Nevada
to see how we’ve
done it because
we’ve been able to
do it so successfully
over so many years.
It’s important
I think for Nevada
to be not only the face
but to continue
to promote our gold
standard because
it’s very important
to ensure that gaming,
if well regulated,
can thrive.
So we need to make sure
that other jurisdictions
that are considering
legalizing gaming
or whether it be
sports wagering
or even other countries
that are considering
maybe allowing gaming
that we can show
the statutory and
regulatory structure
we’ve had in place
and how we’re able
to actually investigate
the people that want
to be licensed and
enforce them as well.
Of course every
country or state
has their
own demographic
and things they
may be considering,
but we always want
to be able to host them,
and of course we have
great relationships
with Singapore
and Macau,
New Jersey,
all the other states
that are considering
sports wagering.
We have consistent
communications with them.
It’s very
important to us,
and I think it’s also
important to them as well.
-The chairman brought up
a good point.
We talk about the casinos
that we saw an expansion
over the years,
but sports betting now,
you see Nevada
companies partnering
like MGM with GVC
out of Europe,
and William Hill U.S.
which was headquartered
in London
but they set up
a huge operation
in Nevada.
They’re moving into all
these different states
around the country
to take the risk,
assume the risk,
manage the sports
book operations,
bring that experience
into these markets.
So that’s where
we’re seeing that now
going forward.
-And Bo, we’re talking
about sports gaming,
we’re talking about
regular gaming as well.
From a geographic
standpoint,
where are the key
areas that we see
most of our
exports going,
or is it just kind of
worldwide right now?
(Bo Bernard)
Yes, so I’m lucky.
I have a great job
and my role
at the International
Gaming Institute,
we typically hit six
continents a year
each which have
Nevada inventions
in their backyard,
and not just at the level
of the great tech companies
that are here in Nevada
but also these big,
tall, shiny buildings.
These integrated casino
resorts now exist
in every continent,
and these are places
that are very much–
these are products,
if you will, that are
very much invented
by Nevada minds,
great minds
like Kirk Kerkorian,
like Jay Sarno
and now exist in
places like Singapore
and places like
South Africa and Seoul
and all points in the
geopolitical in-between.
-And to that point,
International Gaming
Institute is world
renowned for its research
but also its
intellectual capital.
I mean, how is
academia locally
then being
an export as well?
-So again, we’re
very fortunate.
We’re by far
the world’s largest
academic institute
that studies
the global
gaming industry.
We’re 38 team
members strong now.
We have centers
of excellence
in areas like
gaming regulation
and areas like
innovation
and areas like
hospitality
where again
we export the finest
in hospitality
innovation as well.
The fun part for us
is seeing the way
in which our status
as a global intellectual
capital really
transforms Nevada.
It transforms
Nevada into a more
recession-resistant
environment because
it allows us
to be more nimble.
Nevada companies
have the capacity,
given that they operate
all over the world,
to be far more stable
than they were maybe
prior to the last
great recession
because they have
that global footprint
in a way
that makes them
more nimble but
also more stable.
-We’ve been called
the Silicon Valley–
Las Vegas is
the Silicon Valley
of the gaming industry.
Scientific Games is one
of the world leaders
also in gaming;
do you see
Las Vegas as being
that Silicon Valley?
(Walt Eisele)
Absolutely. I mean,
there’s so much innovation
that comes out
of Nevada in general,
and I would
also mention
that even Northern
Nevada too.
We have tech
centers as well.
So innovation is coming
from all over our state,
and it’s
exciting to see.
But if you look outside
where we are exporting
a great deal
of our technology
and our innovation,
we also have to be
a little more nimble
from a global perspective
because global markets
are a bit different.
Las Vegas is
an amazing place.
People that have
been to Macau
will say it’s
an amazing place,
but it’s quite
a bit different too.
There’s a big
focus on probably
more live games in
Macau than there is
on slot machines,
and slot machines
are really the staple
of Nevada gaming,
right, as we’ve
grown up with it.
Our job and my job
as the person
that drives technology
and products
is to make sure we have–
as we export
more and more
to make sure we have
a global awareness
of what that
market looks like,
what we do to make
sure our innovations
are relevant and keeping
pace because frankly,
some markets
move very quickly
and some markets
move very slowly.
-Companies like
Scientific Games,
IGT and Aristocrat,
Nevada is really–
our slot industry
is really like
the auto industry
has been for Michigan.
It’s very important
in this industry,
and when you realize
how many people
companies like
Scientific Games employ
and the innovations
being driven
out of this state,
it really has been–
it’s an offshooting.
I mean, if you think
about the casinos,
you got this whole
other industry
that really
services worldwide.
That’s what’s
very important.
-I’m always
trying to convince
my students
of that, right?
My students are
distracted by the big,
tall, shiny buildings
because we build them
to be distracting.
That’s kind of
the point.
But sort of more quietly
back behind the airport
and along
the 215 freeway,
there’s these more
low-flung campuses
that look much more
like a Google campus
or an Apple campus,
and whereas an MGM
might be in what, six
jurisdictions worldwide,
you’re in over 300
jurisdictions worldwide.
So for university
students looking
for an opportunity
to participate
in what’s increasingly
a massive, tech-driven
global economy,
in many ways it’s almost
a better fit
for people like that.
-It is, and it’s
worth mentioning too
one of our
challenges we have
as the gaming
industry expands here
is recruiting talent.
It’s a great point
that Bo makes
because we rely on
top-talent engineer,
content
and mathematicians.
There’s a lot of
different aspects
that make great
gaming products
and we need more.
-That’s our step.
-And it really is.
-You need a range
of skills as well.
-Absolutely.
-Bo, let’s talk about
the economic development
side of this and try
to put this maybe
in some tangible
terms for our state.
How is the export market
benefiting our state?
-There are those who
might look at a place
like Macau that’s
generating what,
six times now, seven
times the revenue
of the Las Vegas Strip
and sort of seeing it
as a lamentable
sort of outcome
when there are jobs
in Nevada that exist now
that didn’t
exist before Macau
that exist solely to
work with that global–
you know, international
jurisdiction.
So each time
we’ve expanded–
and this doesn’t happen
forever necessarily–
but when Atlantic
City came on,
people said oh, gosh,
nobody’s going to go
to Las Vegas because
now they can go
to the East Coast.
When tribal
gaming happened,
everybody said well,
they can go
in their backyard.
They’re not going
to go to Las Vegas.
When Macau happened
and we saw the numbers
we saw there,
everybody said
ooh, jeez,
is that a threat?
When actually the
opposite has been true.
More people in each
of those places
have been exposed
to the Nevada invention
that is the integrated
resort and said hey,
I actually kind of
enjoy these rides
at the amusement park.
Here there’s a place
called Las Vegas
that has a whole bunch
of roller coasters
and I want to go there.
So at each opportunity,
at each threat
or something that was
perceived as a threat,
it’s become
an opportunity
for the state of Nevada.
-One of the points Bo
made about expansion,
years ago when California
launched Indian gaming,
I went down to
San Diego for a story
because it
was a huge market.
You had a lot of people
that started out
in low-level positions
on the Strip and casinos,
move into
management positions
in these Indian
properties because
they wanted the
experienced people.
Now you see people
coming in and getting
experience in all
these other markets
and they’re coming
back to Vegas.
So it’s really
bred this huge–
-Global ecosystem.
-Exactly.
It’s amazing
to see that.
-And Howard, with that,
we’re talking
about major saturation
though, right?
It’s not just Macau now.
We’re talking
about Japan,
we’re talking about other
international centers,
and we’re talking
about statewide here.
Every single state
seems to be
developing some
form of casino.
Is there a point in time
where there is
a tipping point
and we’re not
seeing the revenue?
-Well, the market that’s
been the tipping point
could be the Northeast.
I mean, you look
at Maryland,
and Pennsylvania’s
expansion of gaming
practically killed
Atlantic City because
Atlantic City didn’t
keep up like Las Vegas,
adding the non-gaming
attractions
that we see all around.
Atlantic City was
getting crushed because
people just stayed
in Philadelphia
and didn’t make the
drive of over 75 miles.
Northeast is very–
that’s something that
the industry
has to look at.
Maryland,
now Massachusetts,
Connecticut–
I’m missing some–
Rhode Island.
I’m missing some
states here.
-New York.
-To that, I think
there’s something
about the entire
Las Vegas/Southern Nevada
experience that each
of these jurisdictions,
honestly, they just
simply don’t have.
With the threats Bo
mentioned with riverboats
as well that was
an oh, no,
they’re just going
to stay in the Midwest.
It’s there, they’re going
to stay in the Gulf.
I think Vegas and Nevada
has been able to,
with our regulatory
structure,
even though it’s been
in place for so long,
still at least be able
to move and modernize
with the needs of
the industry to ensure
that we’re going
to still thrive.
So I think everyone
mentions the threats,
even with sports
wagering now,
are you concerned
about it?
Our numbers are
continuing to grow.
It doesn’t mean
that because another
jurisdiction grows that
ours has diminished.
The only two times that
I think our revenues
have dropped was in 2001
and of course 2009.
But other than that,
with all those threats
throughout the years,
our revenues
continue to grow.
-It’s a great point
because people
come to Vegas,
you’re going to go–
they go to like five
different properties.
You come here and
you move all around.
You go to an Indian market
or a riverboat market,
there’s one property
and that’s it.
You’re struck there.
So that’s really what–
you come here for
the whole experience.
That’s why,
as Sandra said,
Super Bowl weekend,
March Madness,
we still had great
numbers in this state
despite sports betting
launching all over,
13 states now,
sports betting.
Despite it
launching all over,
we still had
great numbers.
-Sandra, let’s go
back to Nevada
and the regulatory
piece of this.
Our regulations
are based
and for our
own state, right?
But what are we doing
to make sure
that our regulations
necessarily
aren’t affecting what
international exports
or domestic
exports might be
that were being
developed here?
I’m speaking more
specifically
to just the innovation
factor here.
-Well, since I became
chair in January,
I’ve made it
a point to not only
talk to manufacturers
and people
developing the games,
and of course going
to mobile gaming,
even though
right now it’s still
a very small point
of our revenue.
That’s something that’s
growing at least
200 to 300% over
the last five years.
So I made it a point
to not only work
with the other board
members but of course
our technology division
to see what we can do
to of course ensure
that we’re decreasing
as much risk as possible.
We clearly have
a state public policy
that says there needs
to be strict regulatory
guidelines to ensure
there’s no nefarious
characters in gaming
and not a lot of risk
to the patrons
that are playing.
But I want to make sure
we give at least
the industry
enough wiggle room
or breath to be able
to try new, innovative
ideas with still
decreasing risk,
not only
for the customer
but for the industry
as a whole as well.
-And let’s talk
just about
the product development
piece of it too.
We were talking about
competition here
from international
markets.
Are we seeing
a lot of competition
related to
the development
of the actual
gaming products?
-Absolutely. I mean,
you know, we have
kind of a nucleus
of gaming expertise
here in this state just
because of the history,
but there’s a lot
of other companies
worldwide that
produce content.
I mean, you mentioned
Aristocrat.
They’re actually
an Australian company
and they do
wonderful content,
but there’s companies
in Europe that probably
most people
haven’t heard of.
A company called
Novomatic probably has
a larger footprint
of gaming machines
than IGT or Scientific
Games combined.
They’re huge.
So yes, and again,
it’s important
as we look at
export and expansion
of gaming outside of even
the U.S. in general,
understand what those
other providers are doing,
make sure we’re
in line with that,
and it’s back to
innovation because
some of these players
probably wouldn’t
be licensed in
our state, right?
That’s the reality.
So we appreciate,
Sandra,
your position on that,
that you’re going
to give us a little
bit of wiggle room
but we still
have to maintain
our “play by the rules,”
as it were.
Also, it’s interesting
to mention too
on that topic as we look
at the export of gaming,
there’s also the
export of regulation,
and I think I’ve seen it
on many occasions
where they actually
look back to Nevada
and they say,
how is it done there?
They really want
to learn from us
because we do things–
you know, we’ve been
doing it
for a long time,
especially in some of
these emerging markets
where you have not seen
legalized gaming before.
In some cases,
some of the products
that might be there today
that may be considered
innovative may not even be
completely legal, right?
So the gray market thing
has to be addressed.
All these things
kind of roll together
as we look at
product innovation
as we push out into
these new markets
and new opportunities
for the industry at large.
-We talked a lot
about the Vegas
experience so far,
but a growing sector
of our local economy
is esports gaming.
Now this multibillion
dollar industry
has set up shop at the
Luxor Hotel and Casino.
We caught up
with the team
at the HyperX Esports
Arena to discuss
the future of esports
gaming as an export.
Take a look.
(Aaron Smith)
Las Vegas is
the up-and-coming
hub of esports.
It’s the global
destination
for everyone
in the entire world,
and it just
only made sense
to come to the place
that never sleeps
to bring out esports.
With online esports,
our goal is to really
just create the
perfect experience.
Vegas definitely
can compete
with Seoul, South
Korea and also L.A.
You know, the Staples
Center is great,
you know, and I’d love
to go to South Korea,
but Vegas
is where it’s at.
I definitely think
Las Vegas will become
the gaming version
of Silicon Valley.
I can’t tell you
exactly how much money
there is in it,
but you have major
partners like
Coke coming in,
and then you have
car dealerships
who are going
to jump into it.
So honestly I would say
you’re going to make
more money in esports
in the next couple years.
The future of esports,
just thinking about it
gives me goosebumps,
but honestly
it is going to
transcend everything.
The future of esports
is going to change
every single
person’s perception.
Before you know it,
you’re going to have
gamers from
all over the world
playing in
major tournaments,
and it’s going
to be a regular thing.
I would ask the board
what are they foreseeing
esports in
their own futures,
and then
on top of that,
how are they
embracing esports?
Would they look at it
from the betting side?
-So Bo, the question how
are we then embracing
something like
esports here,
and then really what
is the future maybe
for domestic or even
international export?
-Esports is the latest
in a series of changes
that Las Vegas
has incorporated
into again its
broader product.
At UNLV we have
the first esports lab.
We have entire courses
dedicated to studying
the way in which
these intersect
with our global
gaming industry.
I think it’s fascinating
because more broadly,
obviously the trend is all
of us are gamers, right?
We don’t think of
ourselves as gamers
playing
World of Warcraft,
but we’re playing
on our phones,
and the space that is
the casino being
completely distinct
from the space
that is the rest
of the resort,
those lines are probably
going to be blurring
over the next generation
or so, right?
The notion
of how you game,
how you’re entertained,
how you’re competing
with others,
and then in turn how
you bet on those sorts
of competitions is
a puzzle that Las Vegas
is obviously
trying to solve
both at the
regulatory level
and at the tech level.
-I mean, we’re talking
about digital gaming here.
That’s a lot wider
than just esports
when we’re talking
about skill-based games
and things like that.
I mean, how do you see
just that whole sector
expanding over maybe
the next 25 years?
-Clearly as an industry
we need to address
kind of the next
generation of people
that will be playing
games for entertainment
and maybe gambling,
maybe not.
You know, esports
is a great example.
It’s not
a gambling game,
it’s a game that
our kids play, right?
But, you know,
if you just look
at the popularity
of esports,
we clearly have
to be cognizant,
cognizant of it
as an industry,
and we need to understand
where it fits.
Can our technology
take wagers on it?
The answer is yes.
I mean, it’s another
event is the way
we look at it
at the most basic level
with our sports
betting technology.
Is it something
you want to do?
That’s a different
question, right?
When it comes to
engagement in general,
though, the digital
channel is clearly one
and Sandra, you said it,
it’s growing.
It’s small today but
it’s absolutely growing,
and we need to be aware
that younger people
want to engage
differently
than the tradition
of sitting down
in front of a slot machine
at a Strip casino,
and they want
the engagement
to go outside
the casino walls.
They want the engagement
to follow them.
They want to be probably
recognized in different
ways than we have
typically done it.
Even when we start
talking about
innovations around
recognizing people
with computer vision
technology, right?
There’s more and more
acceptance of it.
I’m not a big fan
of it but, you know,
the 20-somethings, it’s
what they grew up with.
It’s what they’re used to
and that’s what
they expect,
and they expect it
to understand them better
and to give them ultimately
a better play experience
because it comes
down to engagement,
because that’s
the business we’re in.
We’re in the entertainment
industry, right?
We want to
engage people,
we want them to have fun
in a responsible fashion
of course, but we want
them to be engaged
and we need to
think about that.
To me the digital
channel is clearly
where we need to
focus as an industry
across suppliers like
Scientific Games,
across regulators and
across industry experts
that guide us
down this path.
-Bo, Walt mentions
engagement, right?
When we’re talking
about digital
and we’re talking about
mobile types of gambling,
this is no
longer something
where you go
into a casino,
you play a couple
slots and you leave.
This could be a continuous
engagement thing.
Are we seeing that trend
internationally as well?
-Internationally
as well.
Korea is sort of the global
intellectual capital
of esports in
good and bad ways.
Those lines are blurring
all over the place.
I was invited last year
by the NHL at a series
of Golden Knights
games to view
a new technology where
they were embedding
the microchips
in the players.
You then put on a
virtual reality headset
and you got to
choose your player,
and I chose Fleury,
Marc Andre Fleury,
as the goalie,
pushed him on my virtual
reality screen,
and then I became him.
Live, as the game
was going on,
not in the sense of while
I’m playing a video game.
As the game
was going on,
I was seeing
the players fly by,
I was seeing
the shots come in.
And there’s no way–
again as crazy
as that sounds–
there’s no way
that the future isn’t
bending in that direction,
and Nevada will only be
stronger by recognizing
as we always have that
the world’s changing.
This is a place
where if you Google
“Top 10 implosions
in Las Vegas history,”
you’ll get 10 of them,
but you could
have chosen
10 other ones, right,
and that’s reflective
and symbolic I think
of a broader
commitment to change.
There are plenty of
traditionalists
back East who say gosh,
you guys blow up
your buildings
every 10 minutes.
But I think
it’s reflective
of a broader mindset
that’s unafraid
to say oh,
the world’s changing,
we need to change
along with it.
-A rebranding,
if you will.
I wanted to comment
just from a regulatory
perspective on esports
and skill-based,
which I do consider
to be different.
I know there’s clearly
the esports arena
on the Strip;
there’s also an esports
kind of movement
downtown as well,
and they have
an esports alliance.
We have a regulation,
Regulation 22,
that would allow
betting on other events
that would include
esports and things
like the MVP of maybe
the All-Star game
and things like that
where it’s not
a traditional game,
but they have to meet
certain parameters
and conditions.
We’ve only had
five requests,
maybe less than five,
to bet on esports games.
So yes, it’s a great
entertainment value,
it’s bringing
people in.
People may be
filling the arenas,
but from a regulatory
perspective for gaming,
there hasn’t been a huge
I should say desire
on the request
of books to be able
to accept wagers
on esports.
So we have the mechanism
in place to allow it,
we just haven’t seen
quite a spike yet.
With regard to
skill-based gaming,
it’s something that I’ve
publicly talked about.
I know that some
manufacturers think
it’s going to be a way
to increase engagement
for a different demographic
that’s coming in,
but I think the struggle
is not necessarily
from a regulatory
perspective,
because I think we have
the regulations in place
to allow it again,
but making the operators
comfortable with
actually giving up
very valuable casino floor
space to these games
that really haven’t
yet proven to generate
a lot of maybe interest
or revenue as well.
-I’m wondering, the change
we’re talking about
with regulation
then too,
and we’re talking about
skill-based games.
Regulation isn’t
something we think
can change really
fluidly or quickly,
but it seems like it is.
I mean, in Nevada
are we seeing drastic
changes in how
regulation is happening
towards something like
skill-based games?
-Well, actually, I can’t
take credit for this
because this happened
a couple of years ago
through the gaming
policy committee
and through
my predecessor,
and I think maybe even
former chair Burnett
actually put
parameters in place
to allow the wagering
on esports events
and for
skill-based gaming.
So I definitely would
say my hat’s off
not only to
the policymakers
but also to former
regulators to see–
or to actually
give us the framework
in place to allow
and be able to accept
wagers on esports and
on skill-based gaming
and to allow
skill-based gaming
to grow and
to be regulated.
-Gotcha. Howard, let’s
talk about barriers here.
We talked about a couple
before our segment here.
What do you see as kind
of the most emerging
barriers to us
really growing
what we’re doing
in the export?
-Regulations
are different
in every state and
every jurisdiction.
Tax rates, for example.
I’ve dealt with this
as a journalist
because people don’t
understand why Illinois
might have a 35% tax
rate on their casinos
and Nevada only
has a 6-3/4% rate.
Well, it’s because
it’s a limited number
of licenses in
a lot of these states
and people don’t
understand that.
-Well, thank you.
We’re out of time,
but great conversation.
We really appreciate it,
and thank you as always
for joining us this week
on Nevada Week.
If you at home would
like to learn more
about any of the topics
we covered today,
check out our website,
VegasPBS.org/Nevada-Week.
Now, before we go,
we’ve talked a lot today
about exporting
the Las Vegas experience.
As the numbers of
gaming outlets rise,
so does the
number of people
facing a
gambling problem.
We spoke with
the Nevada Council
on Problem Gambling
to learn what to do
when the fun stops.
Take a look.
When visitors
come to the Strip,

they are drawn in
by the possibility

to win it all.
(Carol O’Hare)
Gambling should be a fun,
entertaining activity
that people can do
within set limits.
For some people,
that is not the case.
Spend too much time
on the casino floor,

and the ding of a
slot machine can become

an addiction on par
with alcohol or drugs.

We basically address
problem gambling
as a community
health issue.
The council teams
with casinos

to battle problem gaming
from the inside.

Ultimately for
the gaming industry,
they understand having
a problem gambler
in the casino,
that is not
their best customer.
According to executive
director Carol O’Hare,

Nevada is
the world leader

at tackling
problem gaming.

Nevada has set
that bar and I think
they take it
very seriously.
What has been done
in Nevada is actually
influencing those
countries to look
at this product in
a more responsible way.
Although they have a hand
in international efforts,

the council’s number-one
concern is Nevadans.

If you or a
loved one are facing

a gambling addiction,
the Nevada Council

on Problem Gambling
is a solution.

They match people
with resources

they need
to stop the cycle.

The warning signs
of a gambling problem
are really
pretty simple.
If you’re supposed to be
picking your child up
from school but you’re
still at the casino,
that’s a real indication
that this is no longer
a social activity.
The nonprofit offers
a 24-hour hotline

to give resources
to anyone in need.

They also have
a full list

of resources
available online.

We have all the
information available

on our website,
VegasPBS.org/Nevada-Week,

and follow us on social
media at @NevadaWeek.

♪♪♪

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