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MERKUR INTERVIEW


emerging regional shows, in Romania and Bulgaria for example, has resulted in a very positive return on investment, a direct result of the excellent work done by our exhibitions department, they really do a fantastic job, all over the world.” Two other areas are also highlighted by Sakis: “After sales is


itself a vital part of the sales process. We work very hard at providing what I think we can justifiably say is the best after sales service in the industry. I also want to mention, very positively, the commitment that the entire Gauselmann Group makes on the subject of social responsibility. This is, of course, mandatory and we continue always to work together with regulatory bodies and experts in the field to support operators in the challenges that they face each and every day. This is a complex issue but the prevention of underage gambling and the help, support and treatment that must be provided for those who have issues with problem gambling are part of our social responsibility programmes. More than that, they are part of our Group’s DNA.” So Sakis is a pragmatic achiever, a success in a hugely


competitive business arena. But what about Athansios Isaakidis, the man when he isn’t either rushing to catch a plane for yet another trip or planning and enacting business policies through the seemingly never ending round of meetings? Sakis married and has two children, a boy and a girl. They


have both now left home to embark on their chosen careers and life paths. Perhaps Sakis and his wife can now take things somewhat easier? Not a bit of it! He has hobbies and passions away from work. He loves to cook (although he will allow that he usually cooks outdoors as the family kitchen is very much his wife’s preserve). He, perhaps surprisingly given his work schedule, still loves to travel but his vacations of choice these days centre on exploring the United States. “Well, given that we have been just about everywhere, holiday wise, in Europe, we have seen a lot of old stones and


88 FEBRUARY 2020


a lot of beaches. It was time for something different.” Different, like a trip out from California and across Death Valley heading for Nevada. He vividly remembers two things about that first trip: “The temperature was incredible, something approaching 50 degrees Celsius, the air conditioning in the car was struggling to cope and I remember thinking to myself ‘this is exactly the place to pick up a flat tyre or run out of gas!’ As the phone is always switched on Sakis also remembers taking an important call that, in the usual run of things, would be dealt with in five minutes. Where we were, way out in the desert and with no wi-fi and only minimal cellphone reception, the line kept dropping out or I simply just couldn’t hear clearly and I think I recall that conversation, in many separate fragments, taking over an hour to complete.” On the subject of roads and travel Sakis admits that his


big relaxation opportunity is when walking his faithful beagle dog. “We cover a lot of ground together and it is great, walking the dog is where I do my thinking.” He also has a passion that, other than his family, is very special. Sakis is a big fan of classic cars and says “Perhaps, one day, I will follow my passion and become a collector … but not yet, I am far too busy!” So, back to the day job and, as has been shown, call him


Mr. Isaakides or just simply Sakis, this is a man with the strength, skill and determination to continue to succeed in the world of gaming and also a man who has many facets and a private life that he enjoys and is thankful for. What is next for Merkur Gaming’s Chief Executive, International? “Next up is ICE and, as always, this is a crazy busy time for everyone but the show itself is always a pleasure to attend and really fun to participate in. I am ready, the team is ready: let’s go! I think that the French have a phrase for it: ‘Laissez les bon temps rouler’: Let the good times roll”.


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