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New Date, New Venue Makes for Fresh Feel at G2E 2011

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Anna G. Larson
Publish Date
November 1, 2011
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Anna G. Larson

2011 Global Gaming Expo Post-Show Review

 

With a new venue and new dates, this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E), held Oct. 4-6 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, exuded vibes of change, growth and excitement in the industry.

As in 2010, quality trumped quantity with exhibitor numbers and booths this year, though perhaps less so in comparison to last year.

“Anecdotally, the exhibitors all think attendance is up, and they’re really pleased at what they’re seeing at their booths,” said Judy Patterson, senior vice president and executive director of the American Gaming Association (AGA). “Change is never easy, but it has gone better than we could have hoped for.”

The 440 vendors at G2E 2011 set up shop on 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, showing top-notch new or improved products, services and technologies. More than 70 international exhibitors from 25 different countries also had a presence at the show.

“It’s vibrant; people are better experienced from a business morale standpoint. The new venue adds a fresh energy. Everyone is speaking highly of that,” commented Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM).

Peter DeRaedt, president of the Gaming Standards Association (GSA), added: “G2E has been extraordinarily good this year. Some pivotal decisions have been made by the industry that will help the industry move forward very rapidly. It’s very exciting.”

Keynote speakers, seminars, panel discussions and conference sessions educated attendees and sparked conversation. The inaugural Social Media Boot Camp held Monday, Oct. 3, was led by nationally recognized social media marketing agency Masterminds.
“There’s a lot of discussion about social media. [The Social Media Boot Camp] was very successful, we had very good attendance,” Patterson said.

While examining the social media landscape, attendees were versed in ways to create a social media strategy, measure its impact, gain followers and create promotions. A panel discussion featuring nine savvy social media experts wrapped up the boot camp with commentary and insight about becoming a trailblazing brand.  

“Companies are figuring out how to turn a fad into a profitable aspect of their business,” Patterson added. “They’re all experimenting a lot with social media.”

In addition to social media, tribal gaming panels were popular. A session dedicated to tribal tactics covered issues like tribal sovereignty and online gaming, off-reservation gaming, new developments in Class II gaming and financial restructuring.

Valerie Red-Horse, president and owner of Red-Horse Financial Group, sat in on some financial sessions and took away one key message: Money is available. “What’s nice is, some of the investors are here and the money is flowing again,” Red-Horse said. “That’s the message, and that’s important, and it’s not just tribal—it’s across the gaming industry sector.”

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) roundtable, moderated by Ernie Stebbins, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, reviewed how the group’s work impacted the community over the last year.

“We are helping this economy. In tough times, 600,000 employees is a tremendous number,” said Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). “So again, we’re not just moving Indian country forward, we’re moving America forward.”
Additionally, a tribal commissioner’s roundtable examined the role of commissions in regulations in Indian country. The scope of regulations in Indian country, relations with states and views on the new NIGC regulations were discussed.

Some of CEM’s editors attended a panel discussion and also found out just how valuable these conversations can be. Held Oct. 5, the “Innovation and Renovation: Reinventing the Casino Resort of the Future” panel answered two key questions: How do you reinvent a tired property? And how do you amp up an existing property that needs some oomph? Moderated by Brad Schulz, vice president at Bergman, Walls and Associates, the panel featured players in the architecture and design world including Joel Bergman, Bergman Walls and Associates; and Tom O’Connor, partner, SOSH Architects.

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose seemed to be the mantra of the panel. Faced with a new, younger audience focused on entertainment and not necessarily gaming, a still unsettled economy and fierce competition, casino hotel resorts have to find a way to transform their properties to meet patron desires. Repurposing spaces on a resort property can drive revenue to the bottom line, and the most popular revenue generating engines appear to be the 24/7 pool and club scenes.

“The casino has become almost a tertiary element in all of this,” Bergman said. “Nightclubs have the greatest return.”

The bottom line of getting the most value out of a space is tailoring it to fit what the patron values, and as O’Connor said, “Value to an owner is different than value to a patron.”

Some of the hottest topics at G2E were the recession and economy, regulatory reform, online gaming, mobile gaming and Asia.

For the first time, G2E co-located with two other industry conferences: the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA), held Sept. 30-Oct. 2, and the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), held Oct. 2-4. The IAGA conference had an impressive list of speakers and events, focusing on the study and development of gaming law. Casino executives, regulators and lawyers met to discuss national and international developments in gaming law.

Other components of G2E’s conference program included the iGaming Congress, the largest conference in North America for Internet-based gaming, and the Security & Surveillance Institute at G2E, specifically designed to address the growing demand for access to the latest information on major incidents within a casino property and leading-edge information on surveillance techniques.

Another area of interest to attendees was the food and beverage pavilion. It featured gourmet food and beverage items, food service equipment and supplies, technology, décor, and other products.

Overall, industry leaders seem to have a positive opinion about the slight upturn of the economy this year. “Today I can say with some confidence that this [economic] recovery may well be underway,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the AGA.

National gross gaming revenues through July 2011 were up 3.5 percent from 2010 figures according to the AGA. A survey conducted by G2E organizers found that gaming professionals are optimistic about the industry heading into next year. Out of the 1,150 people surveyed at G2E, 77 percent said they feel positive about 2012. The statistic and survey findings appear encouraging, but Fahrenkopf still urges caution.

“Complete recovery will not take place over night. We are living in uncertain economic times,” he said.

Prater remarked that he’s impressed with the fervor of industry professionals despite the recession. “I can’t think of another industry that has had to weather a recession like this—where their buyers and the casinos don’t have money to spend, but yet the suppliers are coming out with some amazing stuff.”

Fahrenkopf echoed Prater’s praise for the industry’s vitality and influence, stating that the industry’s impact is “much larger than meets the eye.”

All together, commercial casinos support approximately $125 billion in spending and 875,000 jobs in the U.S., and 240,000 of those jobs are generated in counties with no commercial casinos. Spending with and by the commercial casino industry is approximately 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.S.

“These numbers are a remarkable testament to the growth of our industry,” Fahrenkopf said.

The AGA will release an economic impact study in late October or early November. “It [the study] confirmed for us that this industry is really coming of age,” Patterson said. “We’re now able to say that, of the roughly 800,000 jobs created by this industry, two-thirds of them are in casino communities and another one-third are not in casino communities, so we obviously have an impact beyond where casinos are located.”

Regulation and online gaming were even more controversial and heated subjects than the economy—“inevitable discussions” Patterson said. Many of the gaming regulations currently in place were developed decades ago.

“If G2E shows us anything, it is that our industry is constantly evolving,” Fahrenkopf said. “Regulation needs to evolve as advancing technology transforms the industry, changing not only the games to be regulated, but the tools available to our regulators.”

The AGA released a white paper Oct. 4 that advocates for regulatory reform. It details 10 recommendations for streamlining gaming regulations while maintaining the integrity and transparency of the industry.

“Tough regulation is a necessity for our industry. We don’t want to do away with regulation. The paper advocates for smarter regulation,” Fahrenkopf said. He added that the first goal of the paper is education for regulators, lawmakers and members of the broader gaming community.

“Ours is one of the few industries that welcomes regulation,” he said. “It’s integral to our business and always will be.”

Fahrenkopf also stated that the AGA hopes to back an online poker legalization bill during this congressional session.

Additionally, the AGA has come out strongly in favor of federal legislation that would allow states to license and regulate online poker. The group is neutral on the two online poker bills that have already been introduced, but feel that federal legislation for online poker is closer than it’s ever been. “There’s a buzz in Washington for a need for action,” Fahrenkopf said.

Gaming in Asia certainly created a buzz at G2E. Fahrenkopf referred to the market as “explosive.”

Macau continues to be one of the most exciting gaming markets in the world. One analyst recently predicted that Macau gaming revenue could exceed all of that in the U.S. by 2015, Fahrenkopf said.

 Singapore is making a name for itself, too. The Singapore market had a successful year that exceeded expectations. “If no one has been there to see firsthand what Sheldon Adelson has built, the Marina Bay Sands, it is really one of the most incredible structures you’ll ever see in your life,” Fahrenkopf said. “I think it will become the icon for Singapore just as the Eiffel Tower is for Paris—it is phenomenal.”

Beyond Macau and Singapore, major gaming developments are underway in Vietnam and the Philippines. “We’re all watching Asia very closely in the year ahead,” Fahrenkopf said.

It’s important to note that James J. Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, delivered an exclusive keynote to G2E conference attendees on Oct. 5 that addressed the current state of the industry, growth opportunities and the significance of MGM’s expanded focus on corporate social responsibility.

On a lighter note, celebrity guests like actor Dan Aykroyd and comedian, author and TV personality Penn Jillette pumped up G2E exhibitors and attendees. Aykroyd, who wrote and starred in the 1986 cult classic Ghostbusters, joined Fahrenkopf at the show’s ribbon cutting. He welcomed show-goers in a Ghostbusters fan club T-shirt and hat, using humor to put the crowd at ease. Aykroyd and a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man were at G2E to take the official first pull on IGT’s new Ghostbusters™ Slots.

Jillette delivered an animated performance to several thousand G2E conference-goers on opening day. He opened by telling the crowd that even though he rarely wagers and doesn’t even like playing non-gambling games, his libertarian philosophy made him happy to appear before a group of people in an industry that allows people to pursue an activity they enjoy.

Henry Hill, whose life as a former mobster and FBI informant was immortalized in the film Goodfellas, was at the Fremont Street Experience at the show. Poker star Lacy Jones and model Victoria Fuller appeared at the IGT booth. In addition, the Las Vegas Philharmonic performed some of Elvis’ hit classic songs at the IGT booth. R&B singer-songwriter Sleepy Brown and former boxer Mike Tyson were found posing for photos at Interblock’s booth.

All work and no play makes for a long G2E, and luckily companies and associations hosted some entertaining parties for the hard-working attendees and exhibitors. AGEM’s Party in Paradise at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Beach Club was one of the biggest parties of the week, attended by many members of the gaming community. Guests enjoyed the pool space of the Hard Rock and company-sponsored cabanas. Prater considers it a highlight of G2E and noted that he saw lots of “very happy” people. It is the fourth year AGEM has hosted the party.

TCSJOHNHUXLEY again hosted an off-site Access All Areas event, and this year’s theme was Gaming in Style. Held at Ghostbar at the Palms, the party was a throwback to a glitzier, more glamorous time. Guests appreciated the incredible view of the Strip.
With the wealth of knowledge and innovation presented at G2E, and the smooth transition to the new location and new dates, it’s no surprise people were “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Patterson. 

Prater characterized the event as “as good or better” than past G2Es, adding that, “It’s a show of the industry working together for a common good, common fun, common interests that our customers enjoy.”
In such a dynamic, competitive industry, it’s encouraging to know industry professionals can come together for work—and play.

 

G2E’s Best Bets in 2011

Industry executives weigh in on the most innovative and exciting products they saw on the G2E show floor this year.

By CEM Staff

Vibrant colors, bright lights and loud noises filled the show floor as companies worldwide displayed their very best. This year’s G2E was nothing short of stimulating and exciting, but beneath all of the commotion, there were definitely a few products that stood out to the CEM team and those we visited with. On the following pages, you’ll find booth-by-booth what companies showed, but here’s a look at some of the products people were buzzing about on the show floor—G2E’s Best Bets.

IGT’s new Ghostbusters™ Slots machine was unveiled at G2E, and combined with Big Buck Hunter Pro®, it made IGT’s booth one of the most popular on the floor. Attendees got the chance to play this cutting-edge arcade-style game that combines spectacular graphics and innovative mechanical gun hardware. With a great aisle location, there was always a crowd huddled around this game.

Speaking of impressive slot machines, Bally unveiled its newest addition to their line-up—Michael Jackson King of Pop. Players got to sit in a chair equipped with surround-sound speakers, making the pop icon’s music even more enjoyable.


WMS brought back memories with their new Aladdin & The Magic Quest game, another that was never short a crowd. With a jackpot bonus simulating a magic carpet ride on a specially designed chair, attendees were impressed and gathered around the game for a chance to play.


On the technological side of things, Resort Advantage demonstrated a new, impressive product called Slots Jackpot Accelerator that we heard lots of conversation about. This wireless device allows jackpot-winning players to collect their winnings quickly and efficiently. Attendants carry the devices, and when a player hits a jackpot, the process begins almost immediately. The attendant is able to collect the patron’s information right at the machine on the wireless tablet. If that player has won before or is a member of the rewards club, their information is already in the system. In just minutes, the patron’s social security number is validated across several databases, the filled-out forms can be e-mailed to the patron and submitted to the IRS. “It takes a very manual, labor-intensive 5-10 minute process down to two or three minutes,” said Brian Ferrilla, managing director for Resort Advantage. “It leads to happier customers, and more revenue for the casino.”



Another product that had one CEM editor excited was a developer’s preview to Windows 8, running on TabletKiosk’s Sahara Slate PC i500 tablet with a wide range of new innovative features and an iPad™ feel all on a standard computer or tablet with the option to switch between this and the traditional operating system we’re all familiar with.

Agilysys also announced their mobile ordering solution that will be available on the Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Mobile was definitely a hot topic at the show, and attendees noticed that this technology company had harnessed it for a great hospitality solution.

Other products that were centers of conversation include both Marco and Kortek’s eye-catching 3-D screens, AGS’ Caribbean Pearls, JCM’s NFC technology, Aristocrat’s Superman, Tarzan and Zorro games, Konami’s Fortune Chaser, and Inspired Gaming’s flashy booth in general caught some buzz.


To hear a post-show G2E podcast with Tom Loughran, click here.

For our full video coverage of G2E, check out our video library.

 

Slot Manufacturers

AC Slots

With a new name and countless new games, AC Slots had a lot to show—and tell—at G2E.

“Our new name, our rebranding, is an evolution of where we came from and where we’re going. We want to stay true to our roots—we are a slot manufacturer,” said Aimee Schultz, director of marketing.

 Dropping “Coin” from its name suggests an updated, fresh company that’s still maintaining its legacy that began in 1978 as a vending business.

“It’s a really good change at a perfect time,” Schultz said.

 The company recently bought out its contract with IGT so they can now produce and sell their own slots.

AC Slots showcased its proprietary slot platform called “Axcess.”

Cabinet styles include vertical, slant and premium. LCD monitors, high-definition graphics and surround sound are standard on the new machines.

Games drawing crowds on the new cabinets included The Freakshow, Golden Koi and Karate Pig.

“These games are so graphically rich and they’re built on a Microsoft platform,” said David Wafle, central regional sales manager. “Our customers want their customers to be playing games. We want a game that can sit on your floor for a year without being converted.”

Axcess isn’t just the new slot platform. It also marks the company being able to literally access new markets and more content.

“We are going to be going into a few more markets that we weren’t able to go in before,” Schultz said.

AC Slots will begin to enter Mexico, Latin America and Asia.

“It’s really, really exciting for us. There are a lot of places you can go with Axcess,” Schultz said.  AL


Ainsworth Game Technology

Ainsworth Game Technology has been busy in Las Vegas recently, and was able to share some news and showcase products at G2E this year. The company’s Vegas office is now open. “It’s a great facility that has everything we need,” says Jason Meyer, global product marketing manager. “We’re developing it a little bit further, adding some more offices to it and creating our show room. We’ve got a whole new service center there and we’re adding more service techs.”

At the show, Meyer highlighted two new games for us. Dragon, in the Super A560 cabinet, is a 3-level link progressive. The Asian-themed game was created by designers in Sydney. “This is probably one of our most popular products in Asia and we’re glad to have it here at the show for the world to see it,” Meyer says.

Dragon brings players to a feature that does two things at once.“What happens is you’re collecting status symbols and they each have two functions,” he says. “You have the minor progressive jackpot, the major or the grand. By matching three symbols, you get 10 free games on the feature.” There is also an opportunity for players to earn more free games during the feature, along with getting another chance at the progressive. “It’s a pretty action-packed feature; we’re pretty excited about it,” Meyer says. Dragon is expected to be released by the end of the year.

Also showcased this year was Ainsworth’s newest box, Mega Top, with a 32-inch LCD on top. It was showcased at G2E with the newest Player’s Paradise game. “We’re taking that to the next level with premium presentation and a new twist on the game, which we’re really excited about,” Meyer says. The game offers six levels of progressives and a free game feature where all five-of-a-kind will pay one of the progressives. “Now, the most unique thing about the extension to the original version is this star symbol,” Meyer pointed out. “As we play through our free games, we collect more and more stars, they’ll accumulate here for our platinum play feature. Once we finish our 10 free games, we’ll then go into the platinum play series. It’s an extension of the feature, giving it a whole new element again.” It is also possible to win 10, 15 or even 20 progressives in one spin. “We’re quite excited to see how the players take to that,” Meyer says. This product is expected to launch in 2012, making the year one Meyer and the Ainsworth team are looking forward to. SK


American Gaming Systems (AGS)

Just one year after its G2E debut, American Gaming Systems (AGS) showed up in 2011 with a new corporate identity and a new management team—along with several innovations company leaders believe will prove longstanding.

“We really just have a whole new attitude on how we do game development and how we do business,” said Paul Lofgren, vice president of sales and business development.

Lofgren says the transformation started at the top, when Bob Miodunski came out of retirement to serve as the company’s CEO. From there, Lofgren says it’s been a “radical change over the last nine months,” leading to AGS’ chief focus, the Roadrunner™ platform.
“This is a product that was just a glimmer in the eye of our game development team at the beginning of this year,” Lofgren said. “Within a very short period of time, they’ve developed a product that is now approved with three new titles and a brand new cabinet.”

Roadrunner operates 50 times faster than the company’s previous platform, while running in high resolution and high frame rates within the GT5000 cabinet. This led to the creation of new releases like Tropical Hideaway, Evening in Paris and Golden Panda, all of which will be available in Class II and Class III markets. 

Several of AGS’ slot machines this year, including Blackbeard’s Treasure™, also combined feature-rich base games with a top-level bonus wheel, a soon-to-be staple for the company. Lofgren added that a lock-and-bump feature shown to CEM at G2E will become another core technology, where reels are frozen before sliding down to initiate a bonus win.  

”This brings more money to the player. The longer they play, the happier they are.”

Lofgren’s statement is a timeless gaming truth that company leaders hope customers will continue to associate with the new faces behind AGS. SS



Aruze Gaming

The Aruze display at G2E this year was beautiful and eye-catching. Brightly colored fabric draped the convention center ceiling above Aruze’s games. “We took a lot of time,” said Steve Walther, vice president of marketing. “We wanted to make sure that everybody, when they leave, knows they’ve seen the Aruze stand and they know that Aruze has made a significant presence here at the trade show. It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s cheerful, it’s warm and it’s welcoming.”

As your eyes dropped down to see the games, the visual treat continued. Walther summed up Aruze’s offering this year, “We’ve got it all in our product line: from steppers, to video, to video poker, to multi-station games, to link games.” 

One of the most visually stimulating games at the show was Four Chinese Beasts, featuring Aruze’s Radiant Reel Technology. It uses 240 LED lights on the reels to create multiple different presentations and draw attention to the game. The reels also move backward and forward at up to 200 revolutions per minute. The base game uses the radiant stepper reels, while a wheel-style bonus game uses video on the top-box. Bonus wins give players free spins or the opportunity to win one of the four progressive jackpots. Walther pointed out, “It really transcends that category from your mom or your grandma’s stepper all the way to a new interactive stepper.”

Walther also showed us Fortune Festival™. “It’s a totally packaged, themed game. It has this beautiful layout with obviously fantastic colors, graphics, excitement and very strong imagery surrounding luck and celebration.” Fortune Festival has three base games: The Year of Happiness, The Kingdom of Wealth and The Lucky Gateway. Each of those three games has its own play mechanic associated with it. They also can link together with a 5-level progressive where the top level is linked and the other four levels are stand-alone. With wilds, it is possible for players to win more than one progressive. When a player does hit a jackpot, other players will know because a light and video show highlights the win.

Overall, Walther wanted to get across to attendees that Aruze is, of course, all about creating excitement for the player. “People come to the casino to play the games and have fun,” Walther said. “When people see this stuff going off back and forth, the fireworks, the music, it creates that immersive experience that really brings joy to people.” SK



Aristocrat Technologies

Aristocrat Technologies had a busy booth again this year at G2E, as the team worked to share five key messages with attendees. First, they highlighted Aristocrat’s core product range. Nick Khin, president of Aristocrat Americas, said one goal at the company is “to make sure that we have the most innovative stand-alone core products in the market today.” Some examples of this type of product include Buffalo Moon™, Wicked Winnings III™, Wonder4™ and the Mega Pay category of games.

Wonder4 offers players four of Aristocrat’s best titles all in one game. Players can chose to play all four games at once, or any combination of the four. “It’s a very unique concept,” Khin said. The game also includes a Super Spin feature that offers free games on one game or all four independent games. “It’s created a lot of buzz with our customers on the show floor and we’re excited to get it into the marketplace,” Khin said.

Second, Aristocrat showcased its new VIRIDIANTM Hybrid™ games—seven are now available. Product Manager Peter Mastera demonstrated this for us, explaining how Active Reel Technology™ works. The game features an LCD screen with real windows cut into it as openings for the player to see the mechanical reels. But, during certain features a shutter made of a special material actually blocks the light between the mechanical reels and the LCD screen and all you see is the video on the screen. Mastera said: “Technology is good, but it’s what you do with that technology. This is what differentiates our product from other competitive products.”

Third on the list of key messages is the product or content support that Aristocrat offers across its portfolio. Khin highlighted games like Mission: Impossible that are capitalizing on the success of Tarzan® and Rockin’ Olives™ on the Vervehd™ cabinet.

Next, Aristocrat’s Director of Networked Gaming Chris Rowe spent time at the show explaining On Demand™, the company’s downloadable gaming solution, which recently received approval. The solution provides operators with a downloadable interface, where they will find a content library, options to configure various perimeters, and the ability to push the content to games on the floor. They can also use the interface to change game denominations. Aristocrat’s library has 30 games now and 50 games are expected by the end of the year. “Every new game going forward from Aristocrat will be downloadable so that library will just continue to grow over time,” Rowe said.

The company is also proud of On Demand’s ability to be fully interoperable. “The GEN7™ platform is fully G2S-based, which gives us the ability to plug into anybody’s system that is G2S as well and interoperate. So we’ve proven that interoperability, not only with our own interface that we are demonstrating here, but also with IGT amongst others,” Rowe said. “We can go plug our solution into somebody else’s interface network. That’s been certified in the labs and it’s done. It’s approved and ready to rock.”

Finally, Aristocrat had big news to announce in the online gaming space. Sam Nickless, managing director of emerging business and strategy, was on hand to discuss Aristocrat’s work in Europe and the U.S. In Europe, Nickless said, Aristocrat’s class titles like Lucky 88™ are taking off online. “I think as more of these titles come out, players are going to start to find the Aristocrat titles they are looking for, their favorites, and that’s really exciting,” Nickless said.

In the U.S., Aristocrat is offering virtual casinos to operators and recently reached agreements with Island Resort Casino and Maryland Live! Casino. “This offer is about helping our land-based customers to build their online presence and entertain their players with slot games, poker, table games and the like, and start to build that online presence ahead of potential legalization but also as a way of promoting and enhancing their company,” Nickless explained. The contract with Maryland Live! Casino includes the complete suite of Aristocrat’s Oasis 360™ systems products and the online solution, nLive.

In the year ahead, Aristocrat hopes to gain players on the virtual casino sites in the U.S. so that they can combine the networks and allow players to challenge each other in free-play poker. The company will also keep an eye on iGaming legislation. “Perhaps in the next year or so we’ll see changes in the U.S. toward regulation and utilization towards gaming and we want to be a part of that,” Nickless said. “What we are trying to do is keep our options open and, as much as possible, have options and be able to move quickly when things happen.”

Overall, Khin wanted to be sure attendees understood this: “Aristocrat content is now available and actively being pushed through multiple distribution channels. Traditionally our content was only available on Class III casino slot machines, but now it’s available via online casino sites in Europe, in play for free virtual casino sites in North America, in an app or on a mobile device (via the Apple app store), in our downloadable library and also available on our TruServ lottery system.” SK



Bally Technologies

There are a few games everyone was talking about at G2E this year, and Bally Technologies’ Michael Jackson King of Pop™ was definitely one of them. Jean Venneman, vice president of product marketing and licensing, took time to tell us about the game that features six of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits. Bally licensed a total of eight of his songs; a hint that there is more to come. Venneman said, “Michael Jackson is just such an amazing artist and he spans the decades and his dancing and his songs are so iconic that it really made a wonderful slot product.”

The bonus rounds in the game take you to events like the Beat It Bonus, where you get to watch the “Beat It” music video; or the Smooth Criminal Bonus, where Michael Jackson dances across the reels and offers more wild symbols. Other songs in the game include “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough.” The music is also heard in a way players have not experienced, with a new custom Pro Series sound chair with 5.1 Dolby sound. The chair also vibrates in coordination with different events in the game, creating an immersive experience. Overall, Venneman said, “We’re really excited to see how it does in the field, but we think our players are going to like it.”

Bally also showcased its Grease™ game, featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Venneman said, “The movie Grease really hit our player demographic, and there are so many iconic scenes to the movie that we had so much material to work with when we were creating the bonus events.” The main bonus in the game is called the Yearbook Bonus. Players touch the screen to “flip” through pages of a yearbook, and each page represents a different bonus. Venneman explains, “You might land on the You’re the One that I Want bonus, for example, and then you’ll play the game as well as watch the video up on the top screen.”

G2E attendees were also able to play with Bally’s new Skee-Ball game. Players are awarded a certain number of skee-balls and roll them down the aisle by touching the ball on the screen, dragging it forward and releasing it. Bally calls this play mechanic U-Roll. 
Players accumulate a certain number of skee-ball points which awards them tickets that can then be used to redeem virtual prizes that result in game credits. Venneman explains, “This is a perceived skill game, where the actual skill of the player and the skee-ball bonus doesn’t necessarily affect their bonus round value. So they’re involved with the game, but they don’t actually have to have a specific skill to get a specific bonus value. It’s still a random selection of the prizes at the end of the bonus.”

Bally was also showing other interactive games with perceived skill elements, using the iDeck. They challenge players to shoot at spaceships, shoot bubbles at fish, and even play the piano.

In summary, Venneman said Bally had three key messages from the games side for attendees this year: The company is offering compelling game content, differentiating play mechanics, and big brands.

Tom Doyle, vice president of systems product management, took time to show us Bally’s latest systems offerings. He was excited to share details of the bonusing products Bally is offering to help casino operators take the player experience to a new level with tournaments, horse racing, flex rewards and other applications. Bally calls these bonusing apps the Elite Bonusing Suite, and they work with the iVIEW or iVIEW DM player-user interface.

Display Manager Tournaments is one application Bally is offering with five different types of tournaments available. The base game can near instantly be changed to tournament mode. Players see a countdown, and their scores go onto a master scoreboard using a CoolSign® product. Doyle said: “We have a casino that recently did a tournament with approximately 2,000 participants. So, this is really exciting for the casino to save labor and offer their customers a whole new exciting experience.”

Another Elite Bonusing Suite application called U-Spin Bonusing enables operators to give certain players special rewards or perks. Operators set up the parameters, and the system listens, giving a prize wheel spin to players who are losing a certain amount of money, for example. “When the customer hits the criteria and they think, ‘Well, I’m having a terrible day,’ all of the sudden, in the middle of it, we pop up a wheel, they spin it, and they can win free play, T-shirts, or whatever the casinos want to put on the wedges of the wheel,” Doyle explains.

The other application Doyle was proud to show is Virtual Racing™. Casino operators can require customers to play a certain amount of money to qualify for a race. Once the race begins, qualified players will see the race on part of their screen, while the base game continues on the other portion. Doyle said: “We’re really thrilled about it, and the fact is that it really creates more of a community with interactive gaming in the competing and yelling for their horse over their neighbor’s horse. People really, really like this and it keeps them excited and enjoying the experience longer, and keeps them coming in more often, which is the whole objective of all these promotions.” Doyle added that operators using Virtual Racing feel it provides a significant return on investment.

Finally, Bally shared news of its Service Tracking Manager™, which should be rolling out soon and has already been installed at Foxwoods Resort & Casino. The product allows casino staff to use handheld devices to see the floor and where help is needed. “We increase customer service and cut the amount of service time by more than half,” Doyle said. “You can also keep track of your labor force much better as far as your schedules and all that, so really it saves you money right out of the box.”

Much of the work Bally has been doing came together in a big announcement during the show. The company introduced a new business division, Bally Interactive. It will encompass the mobile, Internet and social initiatives, complementing the games and systems business lines. This new division will surely be one to watch in the coming year. SK



Cadillac Jack

On the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, Cadillac Jack’s glowing blue booth at G2E mimicked what they promise in their games: the highest resolution in the industry. Showing off 80 new titles on 1680 by 1050 screens, the slot manufacturer touted products for every personality —from Class III to multi-level progressives, and persistent multipliers to deeper bonus games.

A Cadillac Jack employee favorite was Goddess of the Woods, a richly-animated slot machine employing a unique Connect to Win™ feature. Viewed for the first time at G2E, the Connect to Win series incorporates natural payline algorithms, making play more intuitive and winning easier to understand. In short, symbols placed adjacent to one another award players with three- or four-of-a-kind.

While Cadillac Jack Producer Tim Ryan says Connect to Win was created to make the game “more approachable” to players, he adds the real beauty of the game rests in its outward appearance, not its internal design.

”This is our first game where we went all out on 3-D, where every asset was done in 3-D, even the fonts,” Ryan explained. “We have everything animating. Everything’s alive.”

One game available for both Class II and Class III markets was Operation Jackpot™, which Cadillac Jack also demonstrated. The 4-level progressive revolves around a ‘60s spy theme, where players find themselves involved in a high-speed car chase on the top board.

Moving forward, Cadillac Jack offered no clues as to how they may expand their catalogue even further, except to say they’re planning “all good things.” SS



Casino Technology

Standing before flashy, hot pink machines adorned with lip-shaped toppers, two Penthouse Pets helped launch a new branded video slot that promises to bring renewed passion to casino floors: Penthouse Slots™.

The inaugural games are a result of a new partnership between Bulgarian-based Casino Technology and the Penthouse Magazine publisher, General Media Communications Inc. The deal marks the first global license issued in the gaming industry for the popular adult entertainment brands Penthouse and Penthouse Club. Hesitant to make such a move with just any product, Penthouse executives say they know the video slots will only enhance the company’s 40-year reputation.

“You’re going to find something that’s very unique,” said Jeff Stoller, Penthouse’s director of global club licensing. “It’s not just Penthouse by name; it’s Penthouse by image, by feel.”

The Penthouse and Penthouse Club slot machines will also feature the Penthouse Pet and Penthouse Key Girl brands. Available at the beginning of 2012, current titles include Butterfly Dreaming, Umbrella Dance, and Wild Temptations, all featuring mathematical models designed to keep players engaged longer.

“Those titles will bring many new customers to the casino operators,” said Sonya Nikolova, sales and marketing director for Casino Technology. “This is the real added value.”

Built within the SENSAtional Plus cabinet designed exclusively for the series, the suites also feature plush chairs, vibrant signage and cross-promotional opportunities, where Penthouse Pets host on-site activities to spotlight the new games.

Leaders from both companies add that the slots unveiled at G2E are just the beginning. Product ideas are already in the works for the next three years, with more machines to launch at ICE this January in London. After that, Casino Technology plans to release new Penthouse Slots products every three to six months.

“Whatever you see here is just the start,” Stoller said. “This is just an introduction.” SS



International Game Technology (IGT)

International Game Technology (IGT) had one of the games that people were lining up to try at G2E. Big Buck Hunter® Pro Slots made its debut at the show, next to IGT’s gigantic video screen and welcome center. The game, on the Center Stage series, had a top screen that stretched across two cabinets with two mechanical guns resting between the games.

Tom Mikulich, senior vice president of Mega Jackpots, demonstrated the game for us. “The twist about this particular game is that there is some integration and much more immersion into the game than maybe a typical game,” Mikulich said. “We have our sound chair that creates that sound immersion with the game, and in this case, we have a mechanical gun.”

In case players don’t know how to play the game that is popular in bars across the country, the slot machine version is instructive and walks players though what they are supposed to do. A highlight of the game is the Big Buck Bonus. Players choose if they want to shoot at an animal or a target, and the challenge begins.

“This game is perceived skill, not actual skill. It does take a little bit of skill to actually hit the target, but it is random number generated on what you get,” Mikulich explained. Other bonuses allow players to shoot at gophers, beer cans and even UFOs. Mikulich enjoyed the week of watching people try the game. “Over the past three days, just watching people’s reaction to this as they do the activity in the game—you can see their smiling faces even though it’s perceived skill. You’ll see if they miss they say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe that.’ It really shows that they’re having a lot of fun on this game.”

IGT offered a wide range of game titles at the show. Mikulich also showed us Breakfast at Tiffany’s™. The movie is actually celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. “We’ve done a lot of customer testing on this and people absolutely love this so far.” The game offers 15 different small features and five bonuses, sprinkled with video clips from the movie. Holly Golightly’s cat also appears throughout the game, in various features. “There is one that is interactive too, where you can actually pet the cat,” Mikulich demonstrated. The game is also a multi-play game, allowing players to bet on up to two games at once.

Of course, IGT also showed its new Ghostbusters™ game, complete with an appearance from Dan Aykroyd, who cut the ribbon to open the show Tuesday morning. IGT also had its Atari® Centipede® game on display, which has a joystick and buttons, allowing for play like some remember on their Atari. “That is actually real skill based,” Mikulich explained. “So the base game, you can’t control the reels, that’s random, but once you get to the bonus, you go in the top-box and that is skill based.”

IGT’s Vice President of Systems Products Richard Yim also spent time with us at the show. He demonstrated some of the company’s systems applications, which all operators to differentiate their floors with networked activities. IGT has been talking about the benefits of its systems offerings for years, but this year they showed us. “It’s been a very exciting year for us,” Yim said. “We reached a critical mass of about 50 customers who are using the system, and we’re starting to see an increase of performance of more than 250 percent on some floors.”

The benefits start with a live game-change option that allows operators to choose from 300 games available in IGT’s game library. It takes only moments for the game to download and be available for play on a connected machine. Yim said, “For a player, we envision the future as being similar to movies on demand and say, ‘What’s my favorite theme? Where do I like to play in a casino and when do I want to play it?’ It’s an exciting way for casino operators to customize the experience for players.”

IGT also showed what can be done with the Service Window infrastructure. An application studio now offers a range of games and activities for operators to choose to offer to players. One of those is an auction game that allows players to bid on property offers, using their loyalty points.  “It really appeals to the gamer because it’s a live game and they’re competing with other people on the floor for offers like the next spa treatment,” Yim said. “And while they’re having fun, they’re actually doing something with their bonus points that’s fun for the player.”

Another application is called Team Challenge. Operators can set this up to be available to a specific group, like a bachelor party, or on certain parts of the floor. “It really starts to bring the community game away from an insular experience that you typically have on the EGM,” Yim said. “You can now play with your buddies across the floor or the whole casino. It’s a lot of fun.”

Operators can also choose to use a player’s Service Window inbox to send offers when they are losing. “If you don’t catch it right there, players tend to be superstitious and not want to come back,” Yim explained. He believes this application is ideal for local casinos hoping for repeat business. These applications are also available on legacy machines, with use of IGT’s Universal Game Adapter.

Yim says the company knows operators want to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but are struggling with budget constraints. “It’s a bit of an arms race right now for casinos,” Yim said. He believes Service Window applications are one way to win the race. Operators can even use IGT’s system to create their own unique applications. When it comes to finding the money to invest in IGT systems now, Yim says, “Do it now when they can be ahead of the pack.” SK



Incredible Technologies

The once self-described “young scrappy upstart” is really coming into its own—Incredible Technologies (IT) shared exciting news of growth at G2E 2011.

“Everybody knows our story. We were the young scrappy upstart for awhile, even though we had 25 years of experience in the amusement business with Golden Tee® Golf and our video game hits,” said Dan Schrementi, director of gaming marketing and new media. “But finally, this past year, we’re starting to earn our reputation for success in the gaming field with our original Magic Touch® titles that are doing quite well.”

Schrementi showed us some of the new titles in the Magic Touch family. Schrementi says Rollin’ on Route 66, a 25-line multi-denominational game, shows some of the maturity that IT has found in its development process.
“This game proves how we’ve grown as a development organization without losing sight of our entertainment roots,” he said.

The game is themed around the iconic Route 66, taking players on a casino cruise through time. The immersive bonus experience is packed with free spins, credit wins, mini games and an innovative dice line-win multiplier feature called Multi-X Symbols™. “Basically, we’ve taken the iconic road of Route 66 and made it more like a board game that you would’ve played as a kid,” he said.

IT licensed the famous “Route 66” theme song for the game and recorded its own version with a big band in the company’s sound studio. Another game players can’t miss is King of Bling™—a 5-reel, 25-line  celebration of hip-hop with an over-the-top appeal. Gold and diamond-encrusted symbols beat to the bass line of the soundtrack. Revealed wilds explode and make it rain dollar bills. Characters with gold chains and stylized art appear to reward players new symbols for bigger wins. In one bonus, players can be awarded 60 scratches of the record and pretend to be disc jockeys to win credits.

“I guarantee you’re going to walk around this floor today and there’s not going to be another game like this,” Schrementi said.

King of Bling shows IT’s diversity—the company showed King of Bling alongside nine new games in its Magic Touch™ Traditional Collection. Schrementi describes the game as “way, way out there” and notes that it is designed to appeal to a younger audience but preliminary tests are scoring well with the core player demographic as well.

In total, Incredible Technologies showed nearly 30 video slot titles at G2E in addition to their new slant top cabinet, video poker and keno collections.  The company is planning to roll out all of its titles by 2012 in the eight states it’s currently licensed in while continuing its strategic growth next year. AL




Konami Gaming

Konami Gaming’s main message at G2E may have been all about fun, but their customers were buzzing about function. The company’s new Dynamic 5™ platform dominated the conversation and grabbed the attention in Las Vegas, helping Konami pack its booth for all three days of the show.

The 5-reel stepper machine contains inside and outside mechanical reels, which appear layered during a bonus round. Couple those moving parts with integrated video, a 22-inch high-resolution LCD touchscreen, 3-D graphics and the KP3™ Platform, and Konami officials say they’ve got a winning hand.

“It’s something that the player has never seen. They’ll definitely be wowed when they see this technology,” said Justin Torres, senior marketing analyst.

Konami hopes to roll out the product in spring 2012 under four new titles including Dragon’s Reward, Glamorous Gold, Hot Winning Wilds and Kingdoms of Treasure. All contain unique components and a shared skill-stop feature that allows players to win additional free spins by timing their move correctly.

“It’s definitely memorable and interactive,” Torres added.

Fortune Chaser™, Konami’s 8-level linked, community-style progressive that lets players travel from island to island searching for hidden treasure, proved memorable. The game is possible thanks to the capabilities of KP3, the company’s new operating system and platform. By improving KP3’s CPU processing, graphic engine and graphics resolution, the game manufacturers can now push creativity even further.

To do that, Torres says in the coming year, Konami will build on bringing technology from its Japanese parent company to its slot machines.

“They’ve been doing video games for years and years, and we’re starting to acquire some of that technology in our games,” Torres said. “We’re excited to see where it’s going to take us.” SS



Multimedia Games

There was no shortage of excitement and fun at the Multimedia Games booth at G2E—in fact, you could even say it was a festival of fun. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the company debuted five new premium participation games, the latest enhancements for the TournEvent® slot tournament system, new Class II, Class III and VLT games, and the Player HD® SLX™ slant-top gaming cabinet.

TournEvent was on prominent display this year at the booth. Crowds gathered to watch the tournaments, and the newest version of the game proved to be a big hit. You’ll have to watch our video from G2E to see the exciting new features of TournEvent 4.0 and see who won the annual competition between CEM’s Sarah Klaphake and Multimedia Games’ Senior Vice President of Sales Mick Roemer.

On day two of the show, Roemer said it was going great, and their booth was slammed on day one. In all, Multimedia Games had 50 titles and 95 units on display, making it their most extensive range of products they’ve had at G2E ever. “We’ve got a great library of games in Class II, Class III and video lottery,” he said. “We’ve got reel spinning games; we’ve got high rise games now; we’ve got what we call side action games, which are games within a game, like a slot game and a poker game. We’re also introducing a slant top this year, and the whole library is solid.”

Five new games at the booth were specifically developed to leverage the attributes of Multimedia’s new gaming cabinet. The High Rise Games™ cabinet features the industry’s largest top-box, a 37-inch vertical LCD screen, which helps to eliminate the need for overhead signage. The cabinet features the following games: MoneyBall™, Jackpot Factory®, One Red Cent Deluxe®, A Girl’s Best Friend® Deluxe™ and White Hot Progressive™.

MoneyBall should be out in early 2012, Roemer said. The game uses the 37-inch screen on top to display a bonus pinball game. “Now, you have a pinball-like board and you can see the little shooter moving back and forth, so there is an ability to put that ball exactly where you want it,” Roemer explained. “There’s kind of a perception of skill that’s in there.”

Multimedia also had one of its new dollar products on display this year, highlighting the company’s increased emphasis on its dollar games. “The dollar players haven’t really had a lot of excitement lately,” Roemer said. “Not too many people have really had a product that appeals to the dollar player. So we’re keeping it  in a nice looking traditional cabinet, but then giving them something extra.”

Roemer showed us Treasure Tunnel, based on an old, successful game. “One of the things that we were lucky enough to get were some SIGMA Games, which were great in Nevada in the ‘90s; this was one of their best games,” he said. There are three different titles in the Treasure series, including Wild Wheel, Treasure Tunnel and Red Alert. The games use traditional symbols and original sounds in a combination of mechanical and video.

Why the dollar market? “For us I think it was a little bit organic,” Roemer said “We’ve had a lot of successful dollar product in Washington State with the Meltdown, which is the best-earning dollar game in the state. We brought that into some Class II casinos and those were working well, so when we decided to go into Class III, we already had a cabinet that had some history. For us, it was kind of a natural thing.”

In other company milestones, the company just got licensed in Nevada. Roemer says that they’re also now benefiting from the last couple of years, reengineering the company. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to expand, so some of the fundamentals have had to be put in place, like a new management team. We also just got licensed in Nevada.”  AH/SK



Novomatic

Hot topics at Novomatic’s G2E booth included server-based gaming, community gaming and tournament play. These were demonstrated through several platforms and impressive cabinets on the show floor.

Novomatic’s NOVOSTAR® SL2 slant top was a main attraction at the booth, and has unique features such as its flip screen, allowing players to switch the action from upper to lower screen with one push of a button. Other focus at the booth was on the Super-V+ Gaminator® and Novo Super-Vision™ cabinets, both equipped with multi-game solutions almost guaranteed to be a perfect fit in any casino.

Community gaming and tournament play were a major focus for the company, although the concepts have been around for a while, said David Orrick, communications and business development director. The company’s new REEL TOURNAMENT™ offers players live tournament play in real time. “Tournaments are run for two reasons—they run a different kind of play but still make a direct contribution to gross gaming revenue for the operator,” Orrick said. “They are also done for marketing reasons—to get people together, show off the property, etc.”

Unlike other tournament-capable devices, REEL TOURNAMENT is able to switch from stand-alone devices to tournament-style gaming in a very short amount of time. “Previously, to play a tournament, the games could be out of action for up to a few hours,” said Max Lindenberg, marketing and business development representative. “Now it takes the push of a button.”

REEL TOURNAMENT also allows operators to choose from a variety of games and offer different win modes, tournament settings and promotional extras.

Community-style gaming, another main focus for Novomatic, was featured through BANK BLASTER™. This game challenges guests to team up and crack a safe, achieving the jackpot.

As both a manufacturer and an operator, Novomatic focuses on the concept of duality. “We are a manufacturer, developer, designer, producer of gaming equipment across a broad range of categories,” Orrick said. “We are also a major gaming operator in our own right. Therefore, whatever we commercialize to our customers has already been through accurate data testing within our own operations.”

 Regarding goals for the future, Orrick only had one thing to say: “Bigger and better.” JM



SPIELO International

The big news from ATRONIC and SPIELO this year at G2E was the announcement of the company’s new name, SPIELO International. “This new name symbolizes our formal integration as SPIELO International, that we’re committed to the North American casino market, we’re here for the long haul and it’s kind of a new dawn,” said Product Marketing Manager Michael Brennan.

Brennan also showed us two new games and a new cabinet. The first, King Kong, is a game for the loyal dollar player. “As all the manufacturers are looking at low-denomination penny games, we’re working to really market one of the better dollar-product lines in the market,” Brennan said. The math model for the game is based on one that Brennan said has proven successful for SPIELO International in the past. “It’s really giving a value-added entertainment product for the dollar player.”

Brennan also showed us the new View Slant cabinet and the new game Goldify. The cabinet has two 22-inch monitors that are used to enhance game play as players use the top screen to choose which symbol to Goldify on the main screen game. Choosing one symbol versus another will change the game’s volatility. Brennan said: “Volatility is a tough thing in the industry. We all have our own definition of what volatility means internally, within the industry, to customers and such. We feel like we have the best way to present the choose-your-own-experience game in the market.” The symbol players choose to Goldify will pay five times what it ordinarily pays. “If I want a game experience where I’m kind of chugging along, sustaining wins, I’m going to Goldify one of the lower symbols,” Brennan explained. “If you want a more risky approach, where you get huge wins, you’re going to Goldify one of the top symbols.”

Brennan said it’s a new day at SPIELO International, and with a line of strong products, the company is well positioned to make aggressive moves into the market. “Where we stand right now and where we’re going to be in three years is going to surprise people,” Brennan said. “We’re ready to Goldify our business.” SK



Video Gaming Technologies (VGT)

Video Gaming Technologies’ (VGT) team members took time at G2E to share their plans for next year with key customers. Scott Winzeler, vice president of product management, said, “We’ve hired a lot of creative people in the company in the last few months and this year and we’re defining what our roadmap is.” The overall plans were kept behind doors at G2E, but Winzeler said everyone can expect to hear much more from VGT in the coming year.

There were some new products on the floor that Winzeler was able to show us. One is ready to be offered in Illinois as a multi-game product with poker, a 5-reel video game and more. It’s a stand-alone product, unlike the Class II machines VGT is known for. “It’s a brand new platform, brand new cabinet, brand new games,” Winzeler says. “We’re pretty excited to be there.”

The delays in Illinois have kept even industry leaders guessing in the last year, but Winzeler says the process is now in the final stages and he expects a system to be selected by the end of the year. “Once that takes place, all of us manufacturers will make sure our equipment is compatible with that back-end system and we believe product will be placed in the middle of next year,” Winzeler explains.

VGT used the development work that went into the Illinois product to bring a new cabinet with dual-screen capabilities to Oklahoma. The secondary touchscreen will be used to create a more interactive bonus experience for players. “It’s a much more comfortable cabinet to sit at and it has a modern look,” Winzeler added. “We branded it with a VGT logo and the sound is right here in the player’s face, which is much more appealing.”

Attached to the new cabinet, G2E attendees saw a Bonus Box from Gaming Support. At the show, it allowed them to play for a daily cash prize giveaway. On the casino floor, the box could offer players money, keys to a car, an iPhone® or other prizes. 

“It’s basically a mystery jackpot that’s tied to the game,” Winzeler explained. “When that box pops open, it generates some excitement, the lights flash, the noise happens. It’s just a different thing that people haven’t seen yet in Oklahoma.”

Stay tuned to Casino Enterprise Management for more details from VGT in 2012. Winzeler says the company will be sharing its plans as soon as possible. SK




WMS Gaming

WMS Gaming brought a wide range of products to G2E this year, showcasing its traditional stand-alone games, VLT products and networked gaming options. WMS President Orrin Edidin pointed out that the range of products also offered a wide variety of math models, resulting in unique player experiences. “We’re using a diversification of math models to fit the different demographics of the different markets we serve all around the world,” Edidin said. “And when I say diversification of math models, there’s more math this year than the last two years combined.”

Although many of WMS’ popular new games include features made possible by networked gaming technology, you don’t hear the WMS team saying “networked gaming” very often. Edidin explains, “I think that’s because people are now learning how to incorporate that into the game and drive the top line earnings of the game.” WMS has certainly learned this and is carrying it out on various games including Super Team™ and Clue™.

Super Team is a game based on the adventures of super heroes. Players have the ability to customize their character and their experience by building their own super hero, playing missions they have unlocked and choosing a super team, which will determine the volatility of the game as well. The game is integrated with Player’s Life® Web Services, allowing players to save their hero and pick up where they left off.

The game uses customized characters and teams to tell a story and engage players. While showing us the game, Chief Innovation Officer Larry Pacey said, “When we did Lord of the Rings™ we learned a lot about how players really have a lot of interest in moving through an episodic story. And that’s all built here with now your own character.”

Clue also uses Player’s Life to engage players in a new way. The bank of games has a large top-box screen that shows everyone the game board and the players moving through it. “The idea here is that it plays out just like the original board game, in that as you solve a mystery, you have to pick the character, the weapon and where the person was murdered,” Pacey said. “What you’re pursuing is that every time you hit the bonus round, you have a chance of going to that mystery event to unlock it.”

Each time someone tries to solve the murder mystery and win a progressive jackpot, the system will tell players one of the things that were wrong, and display that hint on the top-box. “Every time, you’re making it easier and easier for someone to win the progressives.”

Operators can use a website widget for this game as well, tied to Player’s Life. When a player uses that to win a casual game, it will unlock all eligible bonus rounds for 24 hours. “It’s a really great promotional tool. In other words, players know that they have a 24-hour window to get back to the casino and play all the big features.”

Super Team and Clue will be available in spring of 2012. Pacey also pointed out that Player’s Life is a promotional tool that operators are now fully integrating into their business by partnering with WMS. “They even have what we call ‘adaptive integration’ where when you put your player’s card in and it automatically logs you into the Player’s Life world,” Pacey said. “That’s actually a really nice feature that helps with carded play.”

Edidin said he understands, by studying operators buying habits, that they are not necessarily capable of buying a floor-wide networked system at this time. “So we’re being very selective on how we integrate certain functionality that they may not have a demand for across their entire enterprise, but they do want a specific bank of games and specific type of product.”

Another eye-catching game on WMS’s floor was Aladdin™ & The Magic Quest theme. It uses the company’s new Sensory Immersion 2.0 technology platform, the next generation CPU-NXT®3 operating system, new graphics, surround sound and a motion chair. “This is a pretty radical play experience that players have never really had before,” Pacey said.

Pacey took time to show us the game’s story-telling experience and how the motion chair follows the action in the game. As he flew on a magic carpet through the alleys of a 3-D city, Pacey said: “This is a shock and awe experience for people. There have been a couple occasions, where if you watch people playing this, as towers start falling down on them, they duck.”

This unique game is one WMS hopes operators will use to offer players something different and exciting. “That’s really what something like Aladdin is built around,” Pacey said. “This is supposed to really engage their existing customers, but it’s also supposed to be a tool to bring in new people who might be interested in something deeper, more dynamic.”Aladdin will be available early summer 2012.

Finally, Pacey and I took on two other players in a game of Battleship™. The game has a large top-box screen that stretched across the bank of four Bluebird xD™ cabinets. Once the bonus was triggered, Pacey and I took turns choosing where to hide our ships, then picking symbols that awarded us a certain number of hits on the other team. When the battle begins, an impressive light show highlights game play, helping your eyes follow the action. The game definitely reminds players of the experience they had playing Battleship, the board game.

WMS also showed attendees its MyPoker series, a new video poker product on the Bluebird xD platform. Edidin also hinted at more innovation in poker, including a personalized trophy room and the ability to share on social networks.

Overall, Pacey said WMS is most proud of the portfolio of products the company showed at G2E this year. “This is by far the richest, deepest, widest portfolio we’ve ever offered, the most content, and we couldn’t be more proud of what we brought.” SK

 

Systems & Technology

Casino Data Imaging (CDI)

Casino Data Imaging (CDI), the leader in dynamic data visual analysis and digital media, showed off its new and award-winning products at G2E, including the CDI GlobalSuite™ multi-module data visualization program, CasinoCAD© slot data analysis solutions and Casino iGuide™ Pro mobile and iGuide™ Wayfinder-Plus.

CDI’s GlobalSuite has taken data visualization analysis to the next level by harnessing the power of .NET and the Windows Presentation Foundation platform for enhanced graphical and report writing multi-module analysis that encompasses slots, table games and player data. Best of all, by leveraging OLAP and cube technology, GlobalSuite  provides fast, accurate multi-dimensional analysis providing the end user high-quality results. And the product line is designed to grow and expand for the ever-changing industry and customer requirements.

George Levine, director of sales and marketing, says the great thing about the show and visiting with clients is receiving feedback. “G2E was outstanding for CDI, as our clients and new customers appreciated the leap in CDI’s technology and our attention to providing a dynamic and practical approach to analysis,” he said. “The feedback was great and we’ll continue to work closely with our accounts concerning slots, tables and player modules.”

Levine took time to show attendees the opening screen and dashboard of CDI’s GlobalSuite. The sample dashboard showed gauges representing various data sets, pegged off a timeline. Users can drag the timeline as they wish to analyze and go down through the data. Levine says what they’re looking for are actionable information and logical controls when in the dashboard. Similar to when you start Microsoft Outlook, the GlobalSuite dashboard will be the go-to screen when the analysts and managers open up the program.

On the dashboard, you can easily move from module to module, from the floor map to reports. “Leveraging the power and versatility of Microsoft® Report Builder and Reporting Services makes it easy to generate new reports, plus the luxury of selecting a plethora of leading CDI standard reports,” Levine explained. Pivot Cube technology, easy data exports, enhanced charts and graphs further complements the report writing component. The entire GlobalSuite program has been designed for versatility and scalability.”

“As the pioneer in casino data visualization, the GlobalSuite graphical interface will set the new industry standard again,” Levine said. “Some of the great features include multi-point graphical analysis, historical playbacks, 3-D perspective, geospatial intelligence (next gen heat mapping) and game selection pivot drill downs.”

The reports can even be color coded, Levine says. They can pick KPIs (key performance indicators) and the ranges you set, then analysis can begin, which just adds to the product’s versatility.

Other new initiatives include an in-progress table games module and future player data module. CDI customer and technology partnerships is an integral part of the GlobalSuite multi-module developments.

Levine says CDI’s approach to new products and business is to talk to clients and find out what is practical for them—which is why he believes the company has been successful over the years—by providing a reasonable cost, great support and the 80/20 rule of a product, meaning what percentage of a product they are actually using.

In addition to a new iPhone app, CDI is also excited to celebrate its 10-year anniversary serving the casino industry. AH/SK



NEWave

There’s no secret about NEWave’s new look, products and people. The company has undergone many changes in 2011, and all for the better. And at G2E, we got a look at it all.

Claudia Winkler, senior vice president of professional services, explained that the company is in the process of migrating their product suites to the .NET platform. The .NET platform will provide the SOA (service oriented architecture) to streamline and enhance integration between the NEWave product suites as well as with the source system and third party vendors. The products have also been packaged into suites to leverage new features, enhancements and integration options. At the NEWave booth at G2E, a large graphic was on display highlighting the product suites and new functionality. Among these are myCompliance™, which allows front-of-house casino staff to better serve their customers and provides back-of-house staff with aggregated transaction reporting for Title 31 and tax forms to streamline the paperwork and processes required by law. myCageOperations™ addresses automating the balancing of the cage with the cashier’s tickets and paperwork at the end of the shift or gaming day to increase productivity, accuracy and efficiency. myDocumentManager™ saves money on paper, printers, ink and document storage. And myRevenueAudit  streamlines the revenue audit process and reduces actual audit time from about eight hours to two or three.

“Document management, which is the foundation of all of our products, is where the scanning and optical storage all of your paper begins,” Winkler said. “It is amazing how much money is currently being spent on physical document storage. We can provide solutions that will significantly reduce overhead by storing documents electronically.”  Winkler added that most jurisdictions will now accept a digital image for audit and other jurisdictional requirements.

Winkler explained that NEWave will be releasing a new product next year, which is a cash and vault management system that manages the money from the cage/vault to the individual bank or point of sale and back so you know at all times where your money is.
Mobility is another area where NEWave is breaking new ground. NEWave will be releasing mobile options that will run on an iPad™, Droid or tablet. This will give NEWave customers a variety of options based on their enterprise hardware standards.

NEWave is also expanding its professional services offerings. “One of the key reasons I came to NEWave is to build a professional services division,” Winkler told us. “We are in the process of launching a menu of basic packages that our customers have asked for over the years including: cage assessments, revenue audit assessments, IT assessments and document management assessments. We also perform custom work, including system selections, IT strategy workshops and database marketing/business intelligence engagements. We have a team of in-house resources and a bench of expert consultants that work with us to provide these services to our clients.”

NEWave also wants to work closely with customers, welcoming feedback and asking to hear how they can bring innovation to your organization.

“The company is growing,” Winkler added. “We have made quite a few announcements in 2011 and we have grown our customer base significantly. NEWave is focused on the continued growth of the company and growing our staff in 2012. We have a new image and we have rebranded the company; 2012 is going to be a great year for the ‘new’ NEWave.” AH

 

Peripherals & Accessories

3M Touch Systems

It was easy to get distracted by the 3M booth at G2E. The giant tiled wall made up of nine 32-inch multi-touch touchscreens encouraged passersby to stop and play.

“The big theme for us this year is more interaction. Each 32-inch touchscreen on the wall can handle up to 60 touches, so 360 touches on the bottom six screens,” explained Business Unit Manager Chris Tsourides.

Dozens of people could use the interactive wall at once. I tried it out and could feel why people were so attracted to the display—the wall responded to a soft touch, no poking or pushing necessary. 

“You don’t need to know anything special, it’s very natural and intuitive,” said Wayne Cole, national sales manager.

Last year, 3M partnered with Bally Technologies. Bally’s iDeck™ for ALPHA2™ Pro Series™ cabinets feature 3M’s innovative touch technology. It was the first industry implementation of 3M’s multi-touch player interface.

Today, 3M is focusing on inspiration. “We’re trying to showcase a lot of new ideas to inspire gaming people like we did with slot decks,” Tsourides added.

Bally uses the 3M multi-touch technology in their piano playing game All That Jazz, which was at G2E this year. The game takes full advantage of the interactive iDeck.

“They’re probably the finest example of using our technology to move forward and they’re making really cool software applications and they’re beginning to attract a lot of younger demographics because they’re the video game and arcade generation,” Tsourides said.

Always on the forefront of new touch technologies, 3M wowed G2E attendees with its cool touchscreens and inspiring advancements. AL



Crane Payment Solutions

This year’s G2E was special for Crane Payment Solutions in that it was a “first” for the company. After last year’s acquisition of Money Controls, G2E marked the first major gaming exhibition where Crane Payment Solutions exhibited with Money Controls’ products and staff. “Having a larger and more focused sales force allows us to spend quality time with our customers. It also gives us a stronger technical sales and support base,” Jim Gabriele, director of business development, North America, noted. “We have great BV technology that we can offer to our customers. Overall, it’s been a very good year for us, working together as one.”

The company’s theme this year was “Cash Handling Made Easy,” and they had a focus on showcasing their core brands (CashCode, Money Controls and NRI).

There were many products on display, including the CashCode one™ and Ardac Elite banknote validators, the GDS-supported NRI G-13.mft coin validator, Money Controls’ PayLink and CashCode’s oneCheck®. Launching at G2E was the updated oneCheck database. Also shown was the industry’s largest cashbox, the 2500 Note Cashbox for ticket redemption and the Bill-to-Bill™ 60 bill recycler for AWP.

Bill Nichols, OEM director – gaming for Crane, elaborated: “From the CashCode brand, we’ve continued with the release of our 2500 Note Cashbox. The industry’s highest capacity cashbox allows for fewer drops overall and emergencies on the weekends, keeping the uptime up in the ticket machines helps improve floor efficiencies.”

“With the standard slot machine products, the CashCode one™ and the oneCheck system, we’re beginning to work with other printer companies,” Nichols explained. Crane has added functionality with FutureLogic’s printers this year, which allows for more printer options for casino customers. Gabriele added that the company is also looking to integrate with TransAct.

Nichols explains oneCheck as a “tool-free, easy-to-use system that provides valuable information to the slot floors for dispute resolution, performance reports and back-of-house slot data systems.”

Robert Smith, U.S. sales manager, showed us the Ardac Elite bill validator. This product boasts impressive imaging capabilities. “We have a PDA device that can download the color digital image of every note or ticket that’s been inserted and in turn, show that to the player to help with disputes on the floor,” he said. AH



Elite Casino Products

Debuting the new Nitro-XL cabinet was the main goal for Elite Casino Products’ (ECP) G2E exhibit. With a prime location on the show floor, the company introduced their new 32-inch LCD touchscreen, providing operators unlimited graphic capabilities.

“We wanted to show the diversity and flexibility of our cabinet,” said Scott Farley, managing director. “Our Nitro-XL gives a different perspective of our gaming platform for our customers.”

Jayne Alm, marketing manager, added: “We expanded the line to include different features and options to give Nitro its flexible appeal. Clients can have a custom-branded cabinet solution by integrating features in a mix-and-match way.”

Both Farley and Alm mentioned the success of the cabinet, stating that it has been very well received at the show and in the industry.

Besides the new cabinet, ECP introduced a new line of bases that complement the Nitro products. “The cabinet looks so fantastic that operators didn’t want to put it on a plain black box,” Alm said.

Farley added: “They didn’t want it to be an afterthought. They want the whole package, and we designed a base that looks like it’s supposed to be there.”

Customer focus was another important aspect of ECP’s presence at the show. Farley said, “That’s really why we’re here—talking to them (customers), getting to know them, finding out what they want in a cabinet.”

As for the future, ECP has high hopes. Alm noted that the industry is coming back to life. The number of orders and the number of clients reaching out have both increased, she said.

Farley is focused on the technology side of things. “The industry is really getting complacent in innovative ideas,” he said. “We’re at a plateau technology-wise, and it gets harder and harder to come up with technology to top what’s already out there. But we separate ourselves from our competitors, and we’re always trying to come up with the next big thing.” JM



FutureLogic


FutureLogic demonstrated its innovations in TITO gaming at G2E by highlighting its patent-pending GEN3 Evolution® printer and the PromoNet® couponing solution.

The GEN3 Evolution printer offers precision grayscale printing that enables operators to issue eye-catching, photographic-quality coupons from every slot.

“Precision grayscale printing is something that no one else in the industry offers,” said Eric Walla, business development manager.

The GEN3 Evolution printer is also the first gaming printer equipped with separate processing environments for TITO and promotional couponing. This advanced peripheral doubles the print speed and offers more than twice the ticket storage capacity of other gaming printers. With room for up to 450 tickets, the GEN3 Evolution printer can save operators up to 30 refills per printer, per year. Its print speed of 8 inches per second allows it to deliver a ticket in less than one second.

The company also announced that they recently concluded a field trial of the PromoNet couponing solution at South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The PromoNet solution offers casinos the unique ability to recognize and reward both carded and non-carded players by automatically triggering marketing campaigns based on real-time game play metrics and player tracking information. This ability allows casino marketers to issue a coupon at the game, POS or HBE (hospitality, beverage, entertainment) location to identify, differentiate and interact with their most valuable players—even those not using a player’s club card. For players, these customized offers provide valued savings and incentives to enhance their casino resort experience. FutureLogic’s PromoNet promotional couponing solution can be integrated with TITO gaming printers, such as FutureLogic’s GEN3 Evolution printer and GEN2 Universal™ printer.  AL



Gaming Support

Steps away from the entrance to G2E this year sat Gaming Support’s booth featuring the BonusBox®—a well-known product that will soon sit next to thousands of games across North America.

The already-popular product displays and dispenses physical prizes—from cash, to tickets, to iPods—right at the game. While not new to Gaming Support, the product recently received approval for the North American market, giving the customizable technology a new push.

“It really brings up win-per-unit and time-on-device. When a player sees this they instantly understand they’re playing for this prize, and they sit down and they usually play it a lot longer because they associate it as ‘my prize,’” said Lisa Jensen, sales manager for North America.

In addition to working side by side with any manufacturer’s game, casinos can also program the BonusBox’s lighting and audio to fit their individual needs. Similar specialization can also be seen with Gaming Support’s JackpotJunction XL® digital signage solution. Thanks to a major enhancement this year known as the Wide Area Relay System, Gaming Support can now communicate winning amounts at multiple properties.

 “Now, somebody can be in the bar or they can be clear across the casino floor and know that somebody really hit big. So people know that that’s a good place to play, and they want to keep playing there,” Jensen said.

Currently located at 400 Lottomatica properties, Jensen says Gaming Support will soon extend that partnership to 900 locations, proving that, “If there’s a company that has three properties or 25 properties, it’s not a big deal for us to go ahead and accomplish that.”

Also showcased at Gaming Support’s G2E booth was its progressive jackpot controller, which was recently approved for many jurisdictions, including Nevada. With eight levels of progressives, the BaseSys Navigator® triggers environmental effects like sound and lighting, once again continuing Gaming Support’s 2011 trend of turning solitary machines into engaged gaming communities. SS



JCM Global

In a rare, sneak peek inside JCM Global’s “Experience Room” at G2E, CEM caught a glimpse of 2012.

While still in the development stage, JCM offered select clients the chance to view, test and offer feedback on the Mobile Wager Wallet (MW2), a mobile e-money service for the gaming industry.

“They all know this is the future,” said Tom Nieman, senior vice president of global marketing. “Is it tomorrow? No. Is it eventually down the line? Absolutely.”

Partnering with the Japanese company TechFirm Inc., JCM unveiled the MW2 project for the first time at the show. With it, players can upload digital currency onto NFC-enabled smartphones, send it to games for gambling, and transfer any winnings back onto the mobile wallet.

“They knew the technology; we knew gaming,” Nieman said of the collaboration with TechFirm. “So we’ve worked together to bridge the worlds.”

Already, company leaders call the buzz surrounding the Mobile Wager Wallet “incredible,” with international clients clamoring for a closer look at it, along with other JCM projects.

Another one, known as Project 8, serves as a note sorter attached to a table game. Its main market, Nieman says, will be areas like Asia, Macau, Singapore and Korea, where mini-brick buy-ins are unusually large. In those instances, Project 8 will process the notes electronically, instead of requiring the dealer to do so manually. After being placed in the device, the notes are validated, denominated and put in escrow, where they are held until the player confirms the amount. In one demonstration given at G2E, the machine cut the time needed to process 22,000 Hong Kong dollars down from nearly 2 1/2 minutes, to just 17 seconds.

“From the standpoint of me as the player, I’m now in the game sooner. So I’ve got revenue being generated much faster by the house,” Nieman explained.

In addition to buying back nearly an hour’s worth of play in a shift, Project 8 minimizes dealer error and player complaint, by keeping all currency above the table.

Though still considered a work-in-progress as opposed to a finished product, JCM executives hope Project 8 will be ready and on display for its eager audience by G2E Asia in 2012. SS



MEI

MEI, the world’s largest transaction company that does more than 2 billion transactions a week, last year celebrated the millionth unit of CASHFLOW SC. And this year at G2E, MEI unveiled the SC Advance, which Eric Fisher, senior vice president, says really just takes the best bill acceptor in the market and makes it even better.

The SC Advance’s acceptance rate is about 30 percent faster than CASHFLOW SC. It also has more memory and is future proof. “There’s another wavelength of light that we use for validating bills,” Fisher said. He showed us a demo of the SC Advance and the CASFHLOW SC together. “Not only does it accept the bill quicker, but also stacks the bill quicker,” he said. “We’re very excited about the Advance, and so far it’s been accepted very well here at the show.”

An important feature of the SC Advance is that MEI made the heads swappable, which Fisher says is great for the budget-conscious customer. Swapping the heads also does not change the footprint or the chassis, so when MEI’s customers get an upgrade, all they have to do is a simple swap. “They can keep both BVs on the floor at the same time,” Fisher elaborated. “They can update them with the same PPM, which is the upgrade module we use to upgrade them, and the BV will understand which software it has. It’s easily retrofittable.”

Other initiatives at MEI include continued promotion of EASITRAX, its cash management software. “It’s almost 70,000 games, and that continues to grow tremendously,” Fisher explained. “We’re just excited about growing, and new markets such as Canada and South America have been really big markets for us recently. We have over 70 percent ship share now in North America, and we’re continuing that trend as well as picking up some of the customers in Europe and the Middle East as well.”

Fisher had an interesting perspective about MEI’s role in the industry and offered a fun metaphor. “As the casino industry starts to recover with replacement games, people are seeing the value in a bill acceptor,” he commented. “We’d like to say that we’re the offensive linemen of the slot floor. Our OEM partners create great games. If we’re doing our job, we make the entire team even better.”

He says not all bill acceptors are equal, and that the bill acceptor can mean more cash in the cashbox, which is what we all obviously want. “That’s what we’re about, creating that value to the end users, our casino customers and customers in other markets as well.”

Reflecting on MEI’s history, Fisher closed with “We’re just very proud of the advances we’ve made and look forward to a great 2012.” AH



Micro Gaming Technologies (MGT)

Convenience was key for Micro Gaming Technologies (MGT) at G2E. The company showcased its strategic alliance with Reel-TV and new features in its MGT promotional software.

The alliance with Reel-TV, a dynamic advertising platform, allows the marketing department to interact with players on the slot floor without the player ever leaving their seat, consequently offering the player and casino remarkable convenience.
“It’s a virtual host. Players can effortlessly order cocktails, participate in promotions and receive rewards directly on the slot screen,” said Travis Carrico, vice president of marketing.

The company’s MGT Promotional Intelligence Suite (MGT Promo) is its flagship product, consisting of several integrated computer applications. MGT Promo allows the casino marketing department to easily configure almost any type of promotion such as electronic drawings, scratch cards, swipe-to-win, new member bonuses, bounce backs and many others including promotions based on a large array of player demographic information. The newest module to MGT Promo is Sports Challenge.

Participants in Sports Challenge promotions simply select the option from any MGT-enabled device and choose the teams they feel will win specific events. Promotions can be configured to place the participants in competition for top positions or simply reward prizes based on picks. The casino decides how each promotion will reward the players.

 “We’re really looking forward to bringing our technology right to the player at the slot machine,” Carrico said. “They now have a choice to go to a kiosk or a video slot machine to get rewards.”

The outlook for MGT in 2012 is positive—the company has done 25 installs so far this year and has introduced several new products.

“It’s been our best year so far,” Carrico said. “Other alliances in the works have next year looking very promising as well.” AL



TabletKiosk

Outside of new slot games, easily one of the most exciting things at G2E was a special developer’s preview to Windows 8 at the TabletKiosk booth, making this CEM editor feel privileged, like looking into the future.

Though it was first unveiled at Microsoft’s recent BUILD conference, a partnership with TabletKiosk brought it to the gaming trade show. A prototype of Windows 8 was running on TabletKiosk’s Sahara Slate PC i500 tablet and had a wide range of new innovative features.

“We reimagined Windows,” Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, said in a keynote address at the BUILD conference. “From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise.”

According to a Microsoft product sheet, the new start screen gives the user a fast way to interact with all of the apps and content. The tiles are alive with information, showing you what’s going on at any time. Information that you care about—the weather, breaking gaming news, your next calendar appointment—is all there at a glance. You can personalize the start screen with shortcuts to your favorite things, like websites, a playlist or photo albums. You can optimize for efficiency by adding speed bumps between groups of apps so that you don’t have to swipe back and forth when you’re panning through your start screen.

It also includes support for ARM-based chipsets, x86 (as well as x32 and x64) devices. Touch and sensors means Windows 8 works beautifully across a spectrum of devices, from 10-inch tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens.
This screen looks much more like an iPad than a computer, but right when I thought that is when TabletKiosk toggled the screen and switched over to the traditional computer background as we have on the Windows 7 desktop. Here is where you can go back to working on things like Excel, Office and Word. Then when you’re done, you can go back to the tablet experience.

But what was so special at this showing was that you are not just limited to using the traditional computer or even laptop to run this operating system. This partnership allows Windows 8 to be run in a variety of formats, including the tablet.

Powered by apps, metro-style apps built for Windows 8 are the focal point of the user’s experience, filling the entire screen so there are no distractions. And, apps can work together, so you can easily select and e-mail photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on your hard drive. And that’s just the beginning!

Where TabletKiosk steps in is by providing the hardware—the tablets themselves—for this to run on. Martin Smekal, president and CEO at TabletKiosk, commented: “The iPad is a fantastic device for media consumption. It’s exceptionally well designed, but when you get into a business environment and you need to run robust applications that require hardware encryption to handle mission-critical or highly confidential data, you need something that’s designed specifically for enterprise use.” And that’s what TabletKiosk brings to the table.

Other features they bring in are dual, removable hot-swappable batteries, upgradable RAM up to 8 GB and hard drive up to 500 GB.

There is no doubt, both companies are visionary with this product and collaboration. This is Windows reimagined. AH




TransAct

TransAct got personal at G2E, promoting its software solution that prints targeted messages right at the slot machine with the slogan “Now It’s Personal.”

“It’s all about personal, relevant marketing messages that Epicentral can deliver directly to the player,” said Tracey Chernay, executive vice president sales and marketing.

The Epicentral™ Print System allows casinos to create coupons, marketing messages and other types of communication to the player. Once the casino creates the message, they can store the library of coupons or messages and deliver those through the system as the player qualifies for the messages. 

With the swipe of a card, the interface with a player tracking database allows casinos to know if a player has come up to the slot machine, how much they played, if they’re qualified for a message, etc.

“It becomes really easy to deliver coupons or offers right through the slot,” Chernay said. “That’s why we call it Epicentral—it’s the center of the marketing offers.”

When a player comes into the casino and they’re uncarded and begin to play, a threshold for uncarded play can be set through Epicentral.  Once they hit that threshold, the casino can make the offer to them to get carded in order to receive an incentive, such as free play or a free drink.

“It’s a way for casinos to really drive uncarded players to get carded,” Chernay added.

If a player hits a jackpot, Epicentral delivers a working document directly to the player, no waiting necessary. Carded players’ information is already in the casino’s system so the pre-filled tax form is easy to get to a player.

“It’s just another way to make Epicentral work for the casino,” Chernay said. Another way Epicentral works for casinos is offering accuracy and speed. The information found in player tracking databases makes it easy to check an I.D. and get the player back to playing.

Besides ensuring accuracy, speed and convenience, Epicentral gets marketing messages right to the player, ensuring that precious marketing dollars are not wasted, Chernay explained.

“You’re 100 percent guaranteed they’re going to read the message you’ve sent. I believe that Epicentral is going to help drive the behavior that casinos are looking for.”

Saving time and money for casinos and patrons? Now that’s what we call getting personal. AL



Trans-Lux

At G2E, Trans-Lux aimed to engage viewers and operators with its visionary display technologies. The company debuted a new line of TL Vision M Series LCD Displays, the new TL Control Digital Display Platform and the new line of TL Vision LED Large Screen Systems.

The TL Vision LCD Displays are available in stand-alone or integrated video wall configurations. The new lineup ranges in size from 19 inches to 82 inches. It features purpose-driven technology that highlights three key elements: design innovation, connectivity and energy management.

“Our new line of TL Vision LCD Displays complement our LED large screen solutions and TL Control content management and control solution to offer gaming facilities a comprehensive digital display solution,” said J. M. Allain, president and CEO.

The stellar image quality of the new TL Vision LCD Displays is enabled by professional integrated circuit drivers using 3-D comb filter and noise-reduction technologies. Colors can be independently adjusted for optimal viewing.

The second product to debut at G2E is the integrated TL Control Digital Display Platform. It is designed to improve the management process of digital signage content and provide a more effective digital signage application.

“LED large screen systems and LCD displays  deliver a wide range of gaming and entertainment content that needs to be intelligently controlled so that it is always relevant and engaging,” Allain said.

The platform renders broadcast-quality graphics and video in real time with the capability to change individual content elements without requiring entire video segments to be re-rendered.

The final product to wow at G2E was the new line of TL Vision LED Large Screen Systems. It offers patrons bright, HD quality images with superb clarity. Conveniently, TL Vision displays can be configured in almost any size and shape for indoor or outdoor use.

“Our new and comprehensive line of TL Vision display solutions provides the gaming industry with even more versatility to implement innovative digital signage systems that deliver content-rich programming in HD quality with lower total cost of ownership,” Allain said. “This is the new Trans-Lux.” AL

 

Cash & Ticket Handling

Automated Gaming Technologies (AGT)

In our ever-advancing high-tech world, security is imperative—and Automated Gaming Technologies (AGT) has you covered with their iris-based security solution. G2E attendees likened the futuristic technology to the movie Minority Report.

The Hoyos readers capture user’s iris code data at a distance and in motion while an individual approaches the reader. Once the technology recognizes a user’s iris, it allows them to enter controlled-access areas like cash vaults, server rooms, office buildings, parking gates, stadiums, etc.

“What we really want to do is get rid of card access controls. This way, we absolutely lock it down. You don’t have to worry about people sharing access, forgetting cards or former employees having access,” said John Prather, executive vice president.

AGT integrates Hoyos’ iris recognition technology into their cash management equipment including sorters, recyclers and handlers. 

The Hoyos biometric readers come in five forms: HBOX®, EyeSwipe®, EyeSwipe Mini®, Eyeswipe Nano™ and HCAM®. The HBOX is an over-the-door and mountable device that can be used indoors and outdoors. The HBOX can read up to 50 people per minute, which makes it an ideal solution for high-traffic environments like airports and stadiums. The EyeSwipe is a smaller version of the HBOX technology. It can read up to 30 people per minute, making it suitable for corporate headquarters or campus settings. The EyeSwipe Mini can read up to 20 people per minute. It is idyllic for server rooms, vaults and single-pedestrian doors. As the smallest biometric reader, the Eyeswipe Nano scans up to 20 people per minute. The HCAM scans up to five people per minute and is used for employee enrollment.

Some people have expressed skepticism about the identification system, but Prather reassures that the technology simply protects everyone and the goal of the iris scanning is to minimalize fraud.

“We’re looking at carbon footprint, cards are much more incapacitating than our devices,” Prather said. “The other thing is, people already know where you are. If you use a debit card or cell phone, they know where you are. You’re not giving up anything different.”

Also on display at G2E were AGT’s cash management systems including the COBRA, CBMS Software and the Revolution.

The COBRA features streamlined operator benefits, utilizing patent “Header/Trailer” card technology that ensures no transactions—cash and tickets—are co-mingled.

Advanced features make the Revolution stand out. It boasts automated cash disbursement, deposit and reconciliation of hotel, front desk, spa, business center, gift shops, retail outlets, entertainment venues, banquets, food and beverage. 

AGT’s progressive security and cash management solutions bring tomorrow’s technology today and offer business owners and people peace of mind.  AL




Cummins-Allison

New technology was a big part of Cummins-Allison’s booth at this year’s G2E. With two new products and a variety of successful devices on display, VP of Product Management Curtis Hallowell was excited to show CEM what the company had to offer.

The JetScan iFX i400 was debuted during the show, and is certainly an impressive product. This multi-pocket sorter revolutionizes high-speed currency sorting and can configure from three to nine pockets in the same compact space. It processes currency at 1,000 notes per minute—39 percent faster than the closest competitor.

“In the past, these machines have been available in only one configuration—very large—and what we heard from our customers is that they want the ability to have a modular approach,” Hallowell said.

Another thing that Hallowell said customers are looking for is integration. “Integration of processes, integration of work flow, integration of data, integration of technologies,” he said. “One thing we’re really learning is integration of relationships; how casinos can create a better relationship with their partners.”

The JetScan iFX i100 was also displayed at the Cummins-Allison booth. This device allows users to combine multiple processes on a single, compact device. This technology is a prime example of what customers want—integration. It combines three devices—a ticket scanner, currency scanner and check scanner—all into one device. “In the past, we’ve had a device that does currency and checks, or currency and tickets, but never all three,” Hallowell said.

These products are proof that Cummins-Allison is one step ahead, and we can definitely look forward to great things from them in the future. JM



Giesecke & Devrient

Giesecke & Devrient executives say their name is pronounced a bit differently in every country, but their message at G2E this year was fluent: Their technology will save you money by processing money faster.

Following in the footsteps of the BPS® 200 system, G&D officials gave CEM a preview of the recently released BPS® C4. The header card technology enables the machine to operate continuously, using as many as 20 output components to process up to 40,000 banknotes per hour.

“We’ve made some really great improvements to it, from speed, to touchscreen, to the ergonomics of the whole system,” said Jim Goodwin, director of casinos business development. “So if I’m running all of my slot machines, instead of doing one box at a time, I can actually stack in multiple assets into the system, which gives me a higher throughput than people are getting today with their existing equipment.”

As many as 100 different currencies are compatible with the BPS C4, up to five of which can be paralleled on a single machine. Ready for live operation now, Goodwin says interest for the product has been high among properties that offer between 300 and 1,500 slot machines. Since the BPS C4 never pauses or stops, it’s helpful to small and medium casinos when it comes to cutting expenses.

“They can get better efficiency, which means they can get their count done faster and they might not need as many people in the count room,” he added.

One other plus about the BPS C4: It will last longer than a decade, so operators don’t need to replace their G&D products two or three G2Es from now. SS



NRT Technology

While NRT Technology’s name may not officially stand for anything, it meant a lot at G2E in light of its world-class cash access solution.

“It’s a very competitive business,” said John Dominelli, president and CEO. “There’s a lot of people in the industry now so it’s good for customers. There are a lot more to choose from, so it forces us to be more innovative.”

Known to many as the future of cash access, Center Payment Systems™ (CPS) provides ATM and cash advance solutions to the gaming industry. Compatible with TITO redemption products for ATM, debit and credit transactions, CPS features the payment processing and casino cage application, Cage Centre. Working as a complementary solution to the QuickJack Black Series™, the system provides a unique end-to-end solution.

“We’re the only one in the industry that can do that from end to end,” Dominelli said. “Everybody else has to go to some outsourced provider. We control everything, so we can certainly provide answers quickly.”

A highlight in the QuickJack Black Series, NRT showed off the QuickJack 2™ frequently to clients at G2E, which can accommodate the largest of casinos and recently rolled in to MGM. By breaking bills, completing ATM cash advance transactions, exchanging foreign currency and redeeming coupons, the high-end ticket solution remains the company’s most popular kiosk.

The fourth-generation QuickJack V4™ also delivers multifunctional capabilities ranging from ticket redemption to bill breaking and currency exchange. For smaller properties though, NRT points to the QuickJack 88™, a stand-alone kiosk that does not require central management.

Looking ahead, NRT plans to bring smartcard technology they have already implemented in the South African market to North America, though company leaders expect that could take anywhere from five to 10 years.

“The regulators are not sure yet how to treat smartcard technology,” said Art Ayow, vice president of international sales. “It takes time.” SS



Slot-Tickets

It was hard to miss Slot-Tickets’ booth at G2E. The prominent “Don’t monkey around with anyone else” sign, accompanied by the company’s orange trademark orangutan and the smiling faces of the husband-wife duo behind the company welcomed visitors to the booth.

This year, Slot-Tickets revealed their silver foil tickets for the first time. The shiny tickets consist of silver foil on blank paper. The silver foil conceals an image, and printing can occur through the foil. 

“It’s brand new for us,” said Tom Mitchell, managing director special operations. “We’re not sure where it will go but we hope it’s a successful product. We think it has promise.”

Tom Mitchell added that G2E attendees seem very interested in using the tickets to print promotional items at a kiosk.

Slot-Tickets has been in the industry for 11 years. Tom Mitchell is the original developer of the ticket. He and his wife Susan handle Slot-Tickets’ operations. As an industry veteran, he has seen the industry change and grow. His outlook for the future is optimistic.

“After billions upon billions of tickets, it’s still a phenomenal market,” he said. “We love casinos and we love our customers—we have hundreds all around the world.”

As the original source for OEM-approved slot machine tickets and a leading producer of all ticket-in/ticket-out (TITO) coinless slot machine tickets with optimal security, Slot-Tickets is here to stay. And, as Mitchell said, we “can’t imagine a better place.” AL

 

Table Games

Abbiati Casino Equipment

At G2E, Abbiati was excited to have a presence on the show floor.  PA Directors Reda Seiliute said that the show is a great way to make new contacts, as well as maintain relationships with current customers.

During the show, the Italian firm made a big announcement about the approval received from the Nevada Gaming Control Board for its chips, plaques and jetons.

One new product they had on display was an Asian-style baccarat table that Seiliute said is very popular in Asia. It was recently manufactured for one Singapore-based casino, she said. Other areas of the world that the company is looking to expand to include the U.S., South and Central Americas and Asia. “We’re expanding a lot in Asia,” Seiliute commented. “We were recently awarded with a very large order of chips, plaques and jetons from an existing client along with an order for a new casino in Asian region.”

The tables are unique to the industry—they were manufactured using a tiger-eye composite material. Visitors to the booth were impressed by the large selection of the material displayed in different colors and styles.

As far as the future goes, Seiliute said they never know what will be coming from the company’s founder, Giovanni Abbiati. “He’s an inventor; we never know what’s coming next!”  JM



DigiDeal

At an event where talks of i-gaming were as common as schedules checked on iPhones or iPads, DigiDeal’s all-virtual games fit right in. From “plug-and-play” to e-tables, attendees knew the company’s focus on everything digital makes it a possibility for any property or jurisdiction. 

“This year at G2E, we’re showing the most product we’ve ever shown with DigiDeal, so we’re just looking forward to really getting that out in the marketplace and seeing how it does,” said Luke Kuhn, sales manager for Latin America.

Among the favorite game themes was Pik-it Poker™, DigiDeal’s newly-introduced 3-card, 5-card poker game. With the touch of a virtual chip, players could place a bet against a pay table, while automatically entering an anti-bet and 5-card bonus hand. An optional 3-card bonus bet preceded dealing, where players could choose between 3-card and 5-card poker.

One unique feature of the Pik-it Poker table: It tells players which move is in their best interest, making the game a teachable tool for rookies.  

“It’s really easy for the dealer to deal, and it’s easy for the player to approach the table to learn how to play poker,” Kuhn said. “We’re excited to get this in their hands because they’ve been asking about it for quite some time.”

While not ready to hit casino floors until testing is completed by GLI, Kuhn says Pik-it Poker furthers DigiDeal’s emphasis on flexibility, also accomplished with the new title Racing Card Derby™. Here, the 8-position table allows players to bet on horses displayed on a center screen, each represented by a suit. The first suit to get four cards wins.

“In the group setting, people are cheering on their horse, and it’s kind of stupid and silly, but when there’s money on the line you’re yelling ‘Spade, spade, spade!’” Kuhn explained.

Looking forward to 2012? DigiDeal says attendees at next year’s G2E can expect to see the table game creators aligned with a number of new companies, adding games to their platform and their platform to new markets. SS



Galaxy Gaming

Three times larger than last year’s booth, Galaxy Gaming’s recent growth came to life on the show floor at G2E 2011. With more than 75 titles, the company’s main message was one of expansion and expertise.

“We’re rocking and rolling,” said Ron Marks, vice president of sales.

Leading the industry in technology that links table games from multiple properties, Galaxy showcased MEGA-Share to an eager audience. An enhancement to the Table Games Bonus Jackpot System, MEGA-Share allows players to place a wager on a community jackpot that grows through the linked tables.

“It’s a lot of fun, it gets everybody involved; lots of high-fives, lot of excitement,” Marks said. “It allows the jackpots to get built faster, so you get a lot of action on the game because people want to win the bigger amount.”

Also among this year’s highlights was Galaxy’s acquisition of TableMax, the premiere electronic table game that offers both blackjack and poker. This partnership moved the company into the e-pit, a transition Marks calls a link to smaller casinos that may not want the labor associated with traditional table games.

Yet another recent acquisition from Prime Table Games expanded Galaxy’s traditional library, with a game that combines blackjack and 3-card poker known as 21+3. Here, players begin by making a wager for standard blackjack, with the option for a side wager on a +3 bet. A separate pay table based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up-card determines initial winnings, before a hand of blackjack begins. Currently present in the Mississippi region, Marks says Galaxy is looking to add installations across the country.

“It’s a great game. We’ve had a lot of interest in it.”

And, after adding games in Switzerland, Italy, Australia and the Caribbean in just one year’s time, Galaxy Gaming is already looking forward to new acquisitions in 2012. SS



Gaming Partners International (GPI)

RFID products? Check. High-tech tables? Check. Beautiful dealers? Check.

Though they’ve brought that same checklist to G2E the last several times, Gaming Partners International (GPI) executives were excited to see something this year they call lacking at recent events: buyers.

“You see a lot of people now looking at spending money next year on capital expenses and upgrades to their systems,” said Greg Gronau, president and CEO. “It’s pretty exciting.”

That shift had the company eager to transfer several of their products from the show to the casino floor, including the new Chip Inventory System (CIS) 2.0. Using RFID technology, CIS tracks the location and status of all enabled chips throughout the casino.

Acquired from IGT, GPI has updated CIS so that it integrates seamlessly into backup management systems, eliminating the need for manual entries. Now featured on all of GPI’s tables and bet spots, the RFID technology enhances security, efficiency, and most importantly, profitably.

Another RFID casino application was GPI’s Dual Level Chip Tray, which reads flows in the tray at all times. An antenna on the table also authenticates chips entering and leaving the tray, providing systems manufacturers and customers with enhanced data. The product not only protects casino currency; it increases play speed while eliminating chip count and calculation errors.

“There’s been an increased interest in RFID this year. There’s also been an increased interest in just looking at budgets,” Gronau said. “It’s been a number of years, and I think there’s a pent up demand for some of this capital equipment.”

 RFID Progressive Poker also garnered interest at the show, an update from RFIDPoker that now includes a progressive. Capable of linking tables together to drive a higher jackpot, the game uses RFID chips to provide automatic readings of the poker pot.

With these and other RFID innovations, GPI’s goal at G2E this year was to become every casino’s “partner in the pit.” SS



INAG

For a company that started out small, INAG has certainly made a name for itself in the industry. The company is run by President and Co-Founder Mark Jones, who said that besides a few minor details, this year’s G2E was a success. “Foot traffic was a little light, but in a way that helps us,” Jones said. “It allows us time to talk with each individual customer. It gives us time to present the product in action.”

The product that Jones mentioned is INAG’s new Turbo Card Roulette. Turbo Card Roulette is a new, dealer-assisted electronic table game that uses a live dealer to generate the point outcome. The players place their wagers on a “dummy” terminal. The dealer removes a single RFID (hard plastic) playing card and places it on a reader, which communicates with the game server and settles all wagers placed on the player terminals.  Jones noted that the operator should be able to generate between 110 to 120 decisions per hour with no errors and no bleed to the casino.

The company plans to distribute the game through a strategic alliance with Amatic Industries, based out of Austria. Jones is optimistic about the partnership. “We have an alliance that looks like it’s going to work very well for us,” he said. “They’re a huge company in the European market. We’re a smaller company, but we’re going to get bigger.”

Another product that INAG displayed was Mystery Card Bonanza. This game is Big Six with cards.  “We brought in this game mainly due to all of the jurisdictional rules on what you can and can’t offer,” Jones said. “Our company really specializes in filling those holes in the law that still allows our customers the ability to offer the forbidden fruit to its customers in a legal format. Mystery Card Roulette is now the No. 1 card-based roulette game in the world because of this innovative thinking.”

With several patents pending at the federal level, Jones has high hopes for the future of INAG. “We’re shooting for No. 1 worldwide on all of our products.” JM



Interblock


Interblock can always be counted on to have one of the most stylish, exciting and visitor-filled booths at any trade show, and G2E was no different. In fact, this year, the Slovenia-based company really outdid themselves, bringing in celebrities that pulled many attendees in. On Wednesday of the show, word quickly spread of a famed boxer coming in to “fight for the revenue,” Interblock’s slogan. And it was none other than Mike Tyson who graciously posed with booth visitors and Interblock staff and signed signature red boxing gloves. Then before show close on Thursday, Outkast music filled the floor, and out came rap group member Sleepy Brown, casually hanging out at the booth and even letting some CEM editors pose with him for keepsake photos.

Though these celebrity sightings were certainly successful, it was really all about Interblock’s new table game offerings. One announcement was the company’s new Virtual Blackjack, which is quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. The other big push was Interblock’s Organic Roulette™ 10 FBS. Though the game isn’t new, it is now offered in a football shape with PID and multiple player stations.

According to Interblock’s PR Tina Ferko, part of what sets their games apart is their unique design and simple user interface, among which roulette is still the most popular game at the moment. But the virtual version is the most popular video table product on the market, which suits the player better because it’s totally automated and does not require any human assistance when simulating traditional table games. The display of a result of an individual game is purely random and not predetermined, which is the case in independent gaming devices featuring the same games, and this is an advantage we want to point out to their customers, Ferko said.

The other big news coming from this booth—many new installations aside—was the looming debut of a new service organization exclusively for the U.S. market for all the installed machines. Ferko says the company plans to strengthen the U.S. service department so that any errors can be resolved faster and efficiently. Interblock had a promo presentation of this at their booth. “If anything will go wrong with the machine, we will know it before the casino will know it,” she said. “The new service organization is the key part of communicating with customers and strengthening customer trust toward Interblock.”

Interblock’s goals for the coming year are to strengthen its U.S. business, as Ferko says at the moment it’s its most important market, besides Europe and Asia. She has noticed that, though the recession is not yet over, interest is back up, which is a good sign for the vendors.

After the trade show ended, Interblock’s executives shared their excitement for the result. Tom O’Brien, VP of sales at Interblock USA, stated: “G2E 2011 exceeded everyone’s expectations. What a fantastic turnout for attendance as well as the Interblock booth. Once again, we were busy all three days. Customers seemed very excited about our new offerings, and job was well done by the whole team.”

Danny Ouellette, senior account executive at Interblock USA, added: “The red and black color combination worked very well again, and customers have identified us by that look from past shows as well as new visitors, who loved our designs. The show was a great success overall and even more fun than the last year.” AH




Shuffle Master

Shuffling from end to end of a playing card-inspired booth, Shuffle Master leaders gave CEM a tour of the company’s newest technology, in everything from utility products and specialty table games, to e-tables, slot machines and i-gaming.

“We’re a technology company. We’re a brand creation company. Our job is to marry the brands and technology in the best way possible and continue to grow the business,” said Gavin Isaacs, president and CEO.

Among those unions was i-Table Roulette™, the latest in i-Table innovation. By combining automated betting through individual touchscreen player positions with a live wheel, ball and dealer, the game increases spins per hour and overall accuracy. Sized equally to a traditional table, the game also follows suit with all of Shuffle Master’s i-Tables, by connecting to a casino’s back-of-house player tracking system and recording game play habits.
“It’s going everywhere,” Isaacs said.

In the first phase of its Internet strategy, Shuffle Master also showcased its new i-gaming platform. By building proven proprietary table brands onto an online server, Isaacs said the company plans to bring those games to websites, social media and online gaming sites.

“The content starts on the tables without anything electronic,” Isaacs said. “When it’s successful, we move it onto [the i-Table]. Of course, we move our best games onto the i-gaming platform, so you’ll be able to play it in social media and on legalized online sites.”

While Isaacs says electronic platforms will be a focus in the upcoming year, he adds Shuffle Master will not ignore its “bread and butter business.” True at G2E as well, the company also highlighted the new MD3™ shuffler with card recognition, video slots on an all-new Equinox™ cabinet, and a proprietary table game lineup featuring six poker-based titles.

Isaacs’ summary for 2011 was that the company’s games are “doing incredibly well.” SS



TCSJOHNHUXLEY


Ghostbar at the Palms was once again the site of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s Access All Areas event during G2E. For the third year in a row, Ghostbar was transformed into an atmosphere filled with velvet drapes, beautiful models, and of course, TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s lineup of impressive games and technology.

This year’s event was themed Gaming in Style, as Ghostbar was transformed into an elegant lounge area where visitors were able to experience the golden age of gaming. They were taken to a time when Las Vegas became the world’s most glamorous playground for the rich and famous. This atmosphere made visitors feel welcome, leading to relaxing and comfortable conversation between customers and TCSJOHNHUXLEY staff.

Besides the impressive lineup of games and agreement announcements from TCSJOHNHUXLEY, no one could forget about the beautiful view from the top of the Palms. Sipping cocktails and snapping photos, visitors and company members alike made their way to the edge of the balcony for an amazing view of the city.

CEO for the Americas, Roger Hawkins, said that the event was again a success. “We continue to be overwhelmed by the positive response we receive from our customers attending the AAA event. Once again we maintained high-quality visitors who enjoyed our hospitality whilst being able to spend time with our team, really seeing our product offering.”

One of the products being launched at the event included Double Action Roulette for Novomatic’s Novo Unity™ II platform. Double Action Roulette offers a unique variation to the traditional game of roulette, delivering two winning numbers from a single spin. The leading multiplayer Novo Unity II platform allows increased game frequency to a much larger audience all from one dealer, and was popular among visitors at the event.

Another new product showcased was DigiDeal’s hybrid L2V (live to virtual) e-table featuring TCS’ Value Verification Unit (VVU card scanning shoe). This hybrid touchscreen live card table offers real card action at electronic speed.

This product is a perfect example of what TCSJOHNHUXLEY specializes in—hybrid products. Tracy Cohen, marketing manager for TCSJOHNHUXLEY, said that hybrid products continue to be very popular among customers. “These products integrate the traditional aspects of the game such as a live dealer, live wheel and actual cards along with delivering the benefits of electronic gaming, such as increased profitability and reduced time between games, without stripping away the core essence of live gaming that players enjoy.”

DigiDeal wasn’t the only company that recently signed distribution agreements with TCSJOHNHUXLEY—Inspired Gaming Group also announced an agreement. This agreement will enable DigiDeal and TCSJOHNHUXLEY to supply Inspired’s server-based casino terminal Sabre in specified regions of the U.S.

Cohen said that there were many benefits to forming agreements with these companies. “We are very excited to be able to offer the addition of an electronic multiplayer terminal to the range as this now allows us to meet all the requirements of casino operators in the region,” Cohen said.  JM

 

Bingo

Video King

Video King is a global provider of electronic gaming systems, bingo hall equipment and innovative games, and at G2E they showed off their hot new electronic bingo game, Crazy Quarters™.

Crazy Quarters is a parimutuel game where you play against other players for prizes determined by game sales, as opposed to a session bingo environment where you compete for predetermined prizes. “What’s unique about this game is our progressive prizing,” said Rusty Morin, CFO. “There are other games like this out there that are parimutuelly funded, but it’s the progressive prizing that we have that sets Crazy Quarters apart. What’s nice about it is how we build it, when the prize gets hit, instead of it going back to zero, we have a certain portion of each dollar that is getting spent that goes to fund a secondary prize.”

“With normal session-based bingo games, the onus is on the hall operators to make sure they get enough people in and the appropriate player spend to fund the prize boards,” Morin added. “On these parimutuelly funded games, you’re purchasing bingo cards and as you buy them, which changes the game prize amounts with each card that is purchased.”

Mark Newton, senior director of corporate strategy and regulatory affairs, also explained that a secondary benefit of the game for operators is that there can be very limited staff involvement. “In traditional bingo, you have a lot of floor workers running around,” he said. “The only reason the floor runner is going to interact with the customer with Crazy Quarters is to sell additional credits into their machine. In addition, when the game concludes with a winning card, the prize amounts are awarded directly back to the player’s machine, after the bingo caller verifies the winning card. Thus this game can operate with very few workers.”

The beauty of electronic anything is obvious, but the advantage to a game like this is all the accounting and reporting is being recorded and tracked behind the scenes. Newton added that, “This fact adds a lot of integrity to the game because it’s automatic, lessening the occurrence of a not-so-honest employee taking some of the prize. That was a game that was waiting for computers to show up.”

The game is new and ready for sale (with jurisdictional approval of course), and right now is going through a test in Michigan. “We’re expecting this to really take off, especially in places like Michigan where their gaming environment is under a lot of different stresses, so the bingo halls are having a hard time,” Newton said. “They figure this will work a lot better because there’s no no guaranteed prize liability, and they can build in a set profit margin based on set percentages that can be configured.”

“In addition to charitable bingo, we really want to get this in tribal facilities … as places like Oklahoma where they got rid of their session bingo, still have a need to play bingo,” Newton commented.

Morin added that tests show that in a facility with somewhere between 20 and 30 players, the bingo hall holds around $200 an hour, with the potential for up to $80,000 a year. Not bad for a charitable bingo hall! AH

 


Mobile Wagering

Cantor Gaming

At this year’s G2E, Cantor Gaming participated in a different way than most companies. Instead of exhibiting at a booth on the show floor, they took part in the panel discussions. The company’s president and CEO, Lee Amaitis, said that this was a much better option. “We can get more done with a presence in other ways (besides exhibiting). We participate in panels, putting our information out there.”

Cantor Gaming offers advanced race and sports book and gaming technology solutions including mobile sports wagering, mobile casino gaming, account-based wagering, server-based gaming, proprietary casino games and in-running sports wagering.

Amaitis said that one of the things he sees as a hot topic is something that’s been talked about for quite some time—mobile gaming. “Now it’s real and we can make money off of it,” he said. “There’s also a big theme of Internet technology. We are a software provider, and we see ourselves as a technology company who operates as well.”

In fact, Cantor Gaming operates luxury race and sports books at six properties throughout Las Vegas: M Resort Spa Casino, Tropicana Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, The Venetian and The Palazzo (at Lagasse’s Stadium).

Regarding the future, Amaitis said the company’s main focus is on advancing technology. “Cantor’s model has always been to invest heavily in technology, because that’s the way forward.” JM



Regulation, Compliance & Testing


BMM Compliance

The newly named COO of the Americas at BMM Compliance, Mike Dreitzer, was excited to share the news of the company’s other new hires with G2E attendees. Dreitzer himself joined BMM in August. He brings 15 years of industry experience to the BMM team, having worked on the manufacturer side of the business and served as counsel to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission.

Dreitzer is joined by new Vice President of Operations for the Americas Travis Foley, who ran Nevada’s test lab for 13 years. “Travis is responsible for the operations of BMM in the Americas and making sure that our service delivery is top-notch and meeting our customer’s needs, especially with regulators,” Dreitzer says.

Alisha Ray was recently named Vice President of Compliance for the Americas. She previously worked at IGT. Overall, Dreitzer says, “We think the additions to the team are solid and they add to an already solid team that we have in place.”

BMM is a full-service testing lab that works with more than 300 jurisdictions worldwide, 250 of which are in the United States. It is celebrating its 30th year globally. Dreitzer says: “In the Americas, we came to the party eight or 10 years ago and we are now continuing to expand our range of services throughout the jurisdictions in North America. So the message is absolutely that we’re here and we want people to know when it comes to test lab services, that they have a choice.”

CEO and President Martin Storm is looking forward to using the new team to compete in the U.S. market. “The idea that one supplier should control and dominate a market needs to come to an end,” he says.

In the coming year, Dreitzer says BMM will also be trying to work on a more extensive basis with regulators and have greater communication with them as well. “They’re a key constituency with ours and working with regulators helps us better serve our manufacturers.” SK




Casino Essentials

Casino Essentials, an online learning company that works with casinos across the United States to provide regulatory training for anti-money laundering, HR, risk and safety regulations, also does custom development and training for courses in other arenas in an online setting.

But at G2E this year, Casino Essentials was promoting its CELMS, or its Learning Management System. “On that platform, we’re able to host a variety of trainings, both trainings that we have developed that we customize for our clients, and ones that our clients can put on the system well,” explained Mindy Letourneau, managing director. “For example, a lot of clients have PowerPoint-type trainings. In addition to that, we have a product called our e-TRACK, a classroom tracking system so that in the same platform you can do your online training and track your classroom trainings, so you have a lot of flexibility between online and classroom.”

On trends she has witnessed, Letourneau references casinos that are looking for ways to provide their employees with the same level education that they had prior to the economy. She says what’s happening is that training departments are getting cut, but are looking at leveraging or utilizing different avenues, such as online learning, to meet those gaps—making this company’s service a particularly smart one.

“The other thing that we’ve noticed is, we believe that we’re one of the first online training companies to really come to the industry particularly as it relates to the anti-money laundering regulation, otherwise known as Title 31,” Letourneau commented. “And until such time it’s been trained in a classroom setting and there have been issues with inconsistencies and even just being able to get that message delivered to the staff for education purposes. That’s caused a lot of issues with breakdowns in the actual regulation among the casinos where we see a lot of those big fines and penalties.”

How Casino Essentials steps in is by working with the casino as well as with FinCEN and the IRS to make sure there is a product in the system that fits the regulations as well as the client’s needs, making for a true partnership for the best of your business. AH



Eclipse Compliance Testing

A company with arguably one of the best spots on the exhibition floor at G2E, nicely situated right next to all the major slot companies, sat Eclipse Compliance Testing touting their compliance services.

Now just past their 10th anniversary, this 11-year-old company offers services in the lab or on the casino floor to assist regulatory agencies in assuring compliance of electronic gaming devices and systems, and is backed by experienced professionals, some with decades of experience. Eclipse continues to offer its testing services in the lab, and its audit and inspection services in the field.

“What is new is the shifting paradigm in the industry to support multiple testing laboratories, and state agencies outsourcing compliance testing to independent testing laboratories,” Nick Farley, president of Eclipse, said. “This shifting paradigm is changing the focus of a one-stop shopping lab environment to a checks and balances paradigm whereby multiple laboratories serve varying needs of gaming regulatory agencies.”

Janice Farley, vice president, added that as this paradigm shifts and regulators see the benefits of competitive testing laboratories, companies like Eclipse will continue to grow and thrive, benefitting the entire gaming industry.

“Additionally, we have recently seen an uptick in new technologies and concepts coming into our laboratory,” she said. “While we cannot go into the details of these new products, suffice it to say, that these new concepts will change the complexion of electronic gaming for the better as we move into the future.”

And as Eclipse moves into the future, Nick Farley says 2012 will see Eclipse focus and build upon its strengths to become a market leader in specific market segments where they continue to shine. “Now in our second decade of business, look for new and exciting things to happen at Eclipse Compliance Testing,” he commented. “Janice and I are always looking for new talent and opportunities. With our company re–focused on what we do best, we anticipate big things.” AH



Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)

Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) made testing cool this year and showcased why and how at G2E with the introduction of GLI Mobile®. The app is the newest addition to GLI’s toolbox available to regulators and suppliers. It allows clients to take the lab with them, right on their phone or tablet. The app allows users to securely access GLI’s global database, GLIAccess®, in the palm of their hand. Mobile also sends notifications by e-mail and gives users real-time tracking and project management tools.

Paul Magno, vice president and co-founder, says, “We needed to give our customers and regulators as much mobility as possible so they could sign on, get a password, and they’re able to get the latest certifications, latest verification news and the latest GLI news.” He adds, “Users can go out on the casino floor and verify machines with just their phone or their iPad in their pocket. It’s a great customer service tool and we that hope everybody enjoys using.”

GLI mobile is currently available on the iPhone or iPad, but the company is working to expand the offering to other systems in the near future.

Magno was also excited to talk about GLI’s work in the online gaming space. TST, a GLI company, recently released the world’s first global interactive gaming standard, “GLI-19.” It is a technical standard created after review of key successful interactive gaming jurisdictions.

GLI has also been working with proposed i-gaming legislation across the United States. Magno says, “It’s just a matter of time until something really gets passed and everything gets going and we’ll be there to help.”

Finally, GLI encouraged regulators at G2E to join them for their next Regulator Roundtable at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, March 7 and 8, 2012. The European Roundtable is set for May 2012 in Budapest. The GLI team is now working on plans for the upcoming events. SK

 

Hospitality Technology

Agilysys

Also highlighted in CEM’s best bets this year, Agilysys’ Casino1 solutions and mobile technology were buzzing throughout the show floor.

Casino1 has business system components that address property management, point-of-sale, inventory/procurement and document management. All of the benefits provided by Agilysys’ suite of business solutions are highlighted in Casino1, and work together to help improve the guest experience while reducing labor hours.

A big industry trend right now is mobile, and Agilysys has used its technology and expertise to harness it, particularly at the point-of-sale. “For each component of a casino or resort property, we want to be able to manage the property, transact business with the guests, both in the shops and the restaurants, be able to align what the guests are considering with inventory levels in both food and beverage and retail. We then capture and archive documents related to those transactions, including electronic signature capture,” explained Jim Dennedy, president and CEO. “Beyond that, we’re now taking it to mobile-enabled point-of-sale.”

He says to think of a high-end poolside bar. Portfolios with paper and order pads—the traditional tools of servers and hosts in this environment—can be difficult to manage. Add special poolside attire and it gets even more challenging. Agilysys noticed this unique situation and extended it to a mobility solution, capable of utilizing either Apple or Android-enabled devices. These venues can now take guest orders and go about business as usual including closing out guest tabs and taking payments on a mobile device.

As to why this is such an advancement, Dennedy said: “Most of the data for guest transactions is contained in disparate data sources that you harmonize through reporting, but is relatively inactionable. So what we’re doing is creating a unified repository of guest activity that now becomes actionable. That’s the enterprise Casino1 concept. But on top of that for mobility, particularly with point-of-sale, you can think of it as a terminal-free transaction. The point-of- sale is no longer tethered to the terminal; it is the interaction between the guest and staff—that is the point-of-sale. Technology is there to facilitate and enhance the transaction and the guest experience.”

Other recent news at Agilysys was the Aug. 1 sale of its Technology Solutions Group business. Divesting this business enabled the company to focus solely on its hospitality and retail business. “We are well capitalized to make investments to pursue the opportunities that we’ve expressed around this Casino1 enterprise concept,” Dennedy commented. “That I think is the most exciting information for Agilysys, our customers and employees. As a result of that transaction, we have realigned the business. Tina Stehle (recently promoted to chief operating officer and senior vice president) is focused on customer operation needs including support, product management and product development. Tony Ross has been promoted to the position of the vice president of sales in the organization. Both Tony and Tina have a long history in hospitality, and specifically in the casino resort, vertical.”

What we can expect from this rising company in the future is to see a harmonization of product development as well as the introduction of more mobility-enabled solutions. “That’s really the emphasis of what we hear from our customers—they tell us that running their business and transacting with the business is stable,” Dennedy said. “They’re happy; they love our support. So now, the focus is on how we can extend our solutions to transact with the guest where they want to transact and not force them to go where we can transact.”

Dennedy adds that the other initiative is to extend to a measurable ROI to their customers’ investment in their business systems. “With respect to what we’re doing for casinos and the whole concept we have for hospitality, the unification of the data from the various business system elements will further enable our customers to recruit guests to their property better than their competition,” he said. “We’re going to help them enhance the experience and revenue opportunities with their guests while on site. And we’re going to help extend that experience to both pre- and post-property engagement opportunities. We believe that delivering technology that allows our customers to make a connection with their guests—not only while they’re on property, but also before arrival and after departure—is what they are most interested in when rationalizing spending moving forward.”

And that’s what Agilysys does best—identifies needs, listens to customers and develops innovative solutions for a delighted guest experience before, during and after their stay. AH



MICROS

A main focus for MICROS at this year’s G2E was mobility. Jonathan Seigle, vice president of MICROS’ casino and resort division, said that mobile commerce and mobile tools for hotel and restaurant staff is something they’ve been targeting. “We want to get technology out there to where the guests are,” Seigle said. “We don’t want staff tethered to where the technology is.”

One of the products they showcased at the show was the OPERA Property Management System. This system, which comes in several variations including Xpress, Lite, Operetta, and OPERA2Go, makes it easy to obtain fast, accurate and current information for individual or multiple property locations.

Another product, geared toward restaurant operations, is MICROS Simphony™. This web-hosted enterprise point-of-service solution is for businesses that want enterprise control and reduced management costs. This solution has the ability to generate up-to-the-minute reports on sales across a company’s entire enterprise—statewide, countrywide or worldwide. MICROS also debuted several mobile consumer-based products including OPERA2Go, mobile payment, mymenu, online ordering, and its point-of-sale on the iPad and tablets.

These products, along with an array of other great solutions, are sure to make the future bright for MICROS. Seigle said that the company is focused on building and continuing partnerships. “We’ve always had good relationships with the gaming and systems manufacturers,” he said. “What casino customers want today is that whole enterprise-wide view of guests. The closer we are to the player system tracking manufacturers, the better we can deliver on that 360-degree view of the guests to our casino customer.” JM


Furnishings

Gary Platt Manufacturing

For many games, the seats took center stage at G2E this year, and whether attendees knew it or not, they were made by Gary Platt.

New games from Bally Technologies, Aristocrat, IGT and SPIELO International, all featured interactive chairs created by Gary Platt. They sang. They shook. And according to many on the floor, they rocked. 

“We are the vendor of choice for the interactive chair, which is great for our business,” said Bob Yabroff, chairman. “I think these chairs are going to be great for customers. They’re going to be comfortable, the sound is great, and I think the customers are getting a great experience.”

Yabroff says by collaborating with the manufacturers, the comfort and quality of the interactive chairs outdoes any seating designed for the gaming industry in the last 20 years.

“They have a need. They come to us. We work together. It’s worked perfectly that way.”

In the first year following founder Gary Platt’s retirement, the company’s business for more traditional chairs has also remained solid. The first-ever model with arms is now available at the request of customers. The Gazelle Standard Chair still fits space requirements, making it a promising product that piqued interest at G2E.  The company’s designer series also remains a strong seller, but Gary Platt executives predict that the future will fly by the seat of the interactive chairs.  

 “We think it’ll be more of the same next year,” Yabroff said. “Next year looks like a good year.” SS



Gasser Chair

The new Halo base and Prelude series were the highlight of the Gasser Chair display at the recent G2E show.  Attendees who stopped to test the chairs were impressed and dazzled.

One of the many benefits to the Halo base is that, because of its unique design and powder coating process, it reduces the force required to move a gaming stool on carpet flooring. As Gasser’s president, Mark Gasser, demonstrated, a heavy stool can be moved across carpet with ease. The Halo base also reduces abrasive wear and tear damage that a traditional disc base can cause to carpeted floors.

The other hot item at Gasser’s booth was the Prelude Slim-Line stool. Combining classic design and modern performance features, this sleek stool is perfect for venues that want seating with great customer comfort in a compact frame. “We’ve designed this model series to be ergonomically proper—with a wave seat configuration and compound-curve backrest in a slim 16-inch width,” Gasser said. “These seats are comfortable, compact and affordable.”

Gasser offers a wide range of products and price points, and even recycles used products. “When customers purchase new Gasser furniture, we can often buy back their older Gasser products for properly engineered recycling, minimizing materials that go to landfills,” Gasser commented. “And, although selections are limited, this program offers a quality seating product at a lesser price compared to similar new models.

Gasser’s associates were pleased with the turnout of serious attendees at this year’s show, as well as encouraged by the number of customers that stopped at the Gasser booth.

As for the future, Gasser has plans to “remain the leader in the industry by continuing to dazzle our customers with innovative products and superior customer service, while delivering the highest value for their seating dollars.” JM



StylGame

There may have been several companies at G2E who specialize in furniture—specifically gaming chairs—but one company in particular has a unique way of going about the production of their chairs. StylGame’s line of stylish chairs is not only nice to look at, but they’re quite comfortable, too.

In fact, the company recently performed a study on ergonomic research to “define the ergonomic issues concerning the use of the playing station on automatic machines.”

StylGame’s managing director of sales and development, DeAnna Franklin, said that one of the trends she saw at this year’s show was the use of the word “ergonomic.” “It’s the new buzz word,” she said. “But I can honestly tell you that, of what I know of, we’re the only chair company that has done this.”

Sure, it sounds cool, but the proof is in the research. The study was done by a panel of four scientists from different fields of study. After performing in-depth studies on players in casinos, in labs, and even taking X-rays of participants sitting, they came up with a list of concerns and how to address them. Based on that study, they took the study to a third party—Udine University in Italy—to validate it.

After designing chairs based off of the research study and through field testing, “Casinos and gaming rooms found an increase in revenue,” Franklin said. “A majority of the casinos have now changed their chairs out to ours due to the results of the testing.”
StylGame is expected to deliver 100,000 chairs to casinos and gaming rooms throughout the world in 2011.

Though most of their current business is done in Europe, StylGame is looking to expand into the U.S. “The Bellagio has about approximately 70 of our chairs in their high limit slot room, and South Point just ordered chairs for their poker table employees,” Franklin said.

The same test that was done in casinos throughout Italy is currently being done at the Bellagio, Franklin said, and the company has high hopes for it. “We think we’ll achieve that same increased revenue,” she added.

As a testament to how comfortable their chairs are, Franklin told us that every day at work, she takes a seat at her desk on a StylGame chair. JM



Architecture, Construction & Design

Airistar Technologies

The company known for cleaning the air in casinos was greeted at the Sands Convention Center by a group many other G2E visitors likely saw—protestors against smoking. Though it’s hard to ignore the irony here, Allison Burke, director of marketing at Airistar, commented: “I think what you can see is that people are becoming hyperaware of the situation. I think that any little bit a casino can do is positive toward creating a better environment for everyone.”

Airistar’s passion for clean air is evidenced by the work that goes into the products. Three on display at the trade show were the A-100GT, A-500 and A-1000. The former is the unit designed specifically for gaming tables. Conveniently tucked under the chip tray were three filters inside cleaning the air. “Basically it is taking dirty air from below the table and going through a filtration process in this box, coming out through this tube, then this grate is putting out clean air, 95 percent purified, at a 60-degree angle,” Burke explained, “so you can still deal around it and it’s not blowing in the cards or anything.”

This puts the dealers in a sort of clean air cone. Even if the table game players blow smoke toward the dealers, it hits a wall of air and is forced up and away. This unit can be mounted right under the table on the floor and can even be configured to fit into an environment that has raised access floors.

“You’re never going to be protected from secondhand smoke, but it does make it more comfortable,” Burke said. She adds that she has heard from clients that even some smokers themselves are complaining of the smell and sight of smoke on the casino floor, pointing even more to the need that Airistar fills.

But for casinos wanting protection outside of the table games, Airistar also has portable air purification units. The smaller one, the A-500, cleans 99.97 percent of the air that moves through it and at 500 cubic feet per minute. Burke says this unit is particularly effective for count rooms, break rooms, small bingo parlors and other smaller spaces, making for easy hideaway. 

The larger version, the A-1000, provides airflow up to 1,000 cubic feet per minute. Both units utilize Airistar’s HEXAFLOW™ Purification Process, a six-stage process using a combination of filters in the system to strip away smaller contaminated particles until the air is virtually contaminant free.

Evidence that clean air doesn’t have to be a burden, Airistar had its A-1000 unit cleverly hidden in a cabinet that was displaying digital signage, making myself and booth visitors completely unaware we were in a clean air zone, while still showing us ever-important marketing messages.

“We work with the casino, what kind of space they have, what they want it to look like, and how we can hide it to make it look like part of the environment so it’s not this big gray unit, but it’s still doing all these great things we want it to,” Burke added.

Other news includes a new partnership with Suzo-Happ, who also had one of the gaming table units in their booth. “We’ve been doing a lot of training with their sales force and supporting getting them up to speed and moving forward,” Burke said. “We’ve been looking at a lot more demos here in Las Vegas, because a lot of our properties have been tribal casinos. They’ve been doing a great job getting out there, learning the product, so it’s been a great partnership.” AH



Cuningham Group Architecture

Tom Hoskens, AIA, LEED AP, vice president of Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Cuningham Group), embodies the company’s vision of “Collaborate+Invent+Grow,” speaking descriptively and excitedly about the firm’s project lineup.
“We get to see a lot of new projects coming through and we are fortunate to prepare master plans for many of these new projects,” he said.

One of the main projects Cuningham Group has undertaken is Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, N.C. The firm has been working on the project for six years, renovating, remodeling and adding on to the existing buildings.

“The exciting part of that project is that it started out as a small, regional casino in the middle of the mountains, and now we’ve been able to transform it into a world-class resort  symbolic of the Great Smoky Mountains,” Hoskens said. The outside of the building is reminiscent of the soft curves of the mountain landscape, and the interior carries the theme of a walking through the mountains experiencing the natural landscape.

 “Our design is intended to be a metaphor for the Great Smoky Mountains,” he added.

A unique feature of the casino is the four different distinct themed zones of the casino.    Identified as “Mountain Breeze,” “Woodland Moon,” “River Valley” and “Earth Water,” each zone evokes a different theme and mood through lighting, music, signage and amenities.  Another project in Cuningham Group’s portfolio is the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, the former Trump Marina project. Cuningham Group is redesigning the casino, hotel rooms and main atrium, including new restaurants, bars, lounges and spa.

“We are redesigning the entry to make it lively and exciting,” Hoskens said. “We are taking the brand and design concept of the Golden Nugget and bringing it to Atlantic City.” The project will continue over the next year.

 A project that is close to Hoskens’ heart is Margaritaville in Biloxi, Miss., set to open in May 2012. Cuningham Group has worked in the Mississippi Gulf Coast market for more than 20 years, and the firm has an office and many good friends there. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the area was devastated.

“We have been working hard to help our clients resurrect the leisure and gaming market by helping to redesign the area and the projects to bring back the Southern style and charm that was lost to Katrina. We love being a part of the Gulf Coast, ” Hoskens said.
Hoskens noted that a trend in the industry is resurrecting a region to help draw more people in.

“If you can create these branded casinos, you’ll help your casino owner, yes, but you will also help the entire market because it brings new guests into a region.”

In 2012, we’re sure you’ll be seeing a lot of collaborative, inventive projects from Cuningham Group that will help the industry grow. AL



Hnedak Bobo Group

Architectural and design firm Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG) promoted in a nice corner booth their unique new design process they refer to as the “HBG-Smart Casino.” This process fast-tracks design by leveraging what the firm has learned throughout 30 years planning and creating casinos by looking at functional operations, good design, quality and sustainability. The Smart Casino process yields a fully customizable design solution geared to suit each client’s unique brand and cultural identity. But most importantly, the process focuses on value-conscious yet high-quality design options that are planned for operational efficiency and constructability. 

HBG also recently opened a new 52,000-square foot, $40 million Four Winds Hartford Casino in Hartford, Mich. (read about it in the October issue of CEM), which was designed using HBG’s “Smart Casino” design process. This was a key contributor to the casino’s early success. The project was completed on schedule, on budget, and 14 months from the start of design to opening day—quite a feat for anyone.  

 “Feedback from Hartford Casino has been enthusiastic, and the buzz surrounding the project and the value it represents definitely piqued a lot of interest from the G2E audience, especially from those interested in similar, streamlined casinos in mid-markets across the country,” commented Kelly DeVine, director of entertainment design and development at HBG. “We have new Smart Casino designs in the works, and now that Four Winds is opened, we are constantly being asked ‘Can you build me Hartford?’ That’s the best feedback of all. HBG’s Smart Casino process could be considered a near-perfect blend of efficiency, market acceptance and design elegance.”

In many ways, HBG’s Smart Casino is very smart for the modern casino operator having to be much more prudent and focused with development budgets. “Clients are looking for practical solutions to their building challenges, and HBG is ahead of the curve in responding to the rising need for smaller, efficient, profitable casinos that are also energized and stylish,” DeVine said. He added that this also makes the HBG Smart Casino process a perfect solution for racetracks looking to incorporate a cost-effective casino operation into their mix of entertainment amenities. AH



Business Services


Cintas Corp.


The famous ad campaign quote “image is everything” truly applies to Cintas—the company provides image solutions for everything from document management to floor mats to uniforms.

“Image is one of hotel casinos’ biggest concerns. It’s who they are,” said Todd McKeown, vice president of hospitality. “The unique thing about Cintas is that we provide a consolidated total image program from the front of the house to the back of the house. That’s really what we’re known for.”

At G2E, the company focused on delivering the “total experience” message by highlighting their efforts to help casinos improve guest satisfaction, operational efficiency and the bottom line.

In addition to offering ready-to-wear, customized and rental uniform solutions, Cintas offers casinos a number of facility service solutions, including tile and carpet deep cleaning. The complex process helps casinos maximize their investment in flooring by restoring the appearance of hard floors (terrazzo, granite, etc.) and soft floors (carpeting) to “like new” condition. The service delays expensive replacement costs and makes daily maintenance and cleaning easier for housekeeping staff. One of the company’s newest offerings for casino hotels includes an air conditioning coil cleaning service called ChemTron Coil Cleaning by Cintas. On average, hotel owners using the service achieve a 28 percent air flow increase and reduce energy consumption by 31 percent.

“It only takes seven seconds to make a good first impression with guests,” said McKeown. “Right when they walk in, they can determine if their stay will be a good one by whether the A/C unit is working, whether the room smells good and how employees are dressed. We are continually expanding our offerings for casinos to help them enhance their brands and enrich the guest experience.”

 The company’s green initiatives include recycling paper, batteries, plastic and other materials, purchasing sustainable items, using Green Seal certified products, water re-usage and environmentally friendly apparel.

Eco-friendly garments, such as the Jacquard striped shirt for casinos, are made from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are diverted from landfills, broken down into polyester fibers and woven into wearable fabric. Approximately five plastic bottles are recycled in the creation of each Jacquard shirt.

“The idea is to combine fashion with the environment and create something that looks good and feels good,” said James Overbey, director of marketing.

The company is currently working on creating garments made from milk fibers.

Cintas’ eco-friendly methods, attention to detail and diverse services ensure a quality guest experience at your hotel casino—because, after all, image is their business. AL



Cooper Levenson

Cooper Levenson brings a following to the table—and to G2E. The firm had a significant presence at the show, putting on legal seminars, exhibiting and acting as the legal and regulatory advisor to G2E. The firm has been the legal and regulatory advisor for the show since its inception as G2E and also when it was coined the World Gaming Conference.

Cooper Levenson’s CEO Lloyd Levenson noted that the firm has been in the casino law business for more than 30 years and their goal is to help the other companies showing products at G2E.
The firm assists companies in two different areas: licensing and getting their products through compliance.

“You can’t just take a slot machine and put it on the floor. It has a laboratory process to go through. We are very helpful in that process—moving things along,” Levenson said. “You can’t make any money if you’re not licensed and your equipment isn’t approved. That’s where we come in.”

Cooper Levenson represents and maintains relationships with many casino properties in the U.S. This connection is a valuable one for the firm’s manufacturer clients.

“If a new manufacturer wants to break into the casino industry, we have the relationships to introduce our vendor clients to casino clients and hopefully get the casinos to think about our vendor clients,” Levenson said. 

It was easy to see why the firm maintains such positive relationships—as busy as they were, they took time to warmly greet everyone who approached their booth.

The company prides itself on its client relations and its commitment to giving back to the community. Two years ago, Cooper Levenson received the George Bailey award for its tremendous charity work in southern New Jersey. The award is named after George Bailey, the character in Frank Capra’s Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, because he used his position to make his community a better place to live. 

Beyond showcasing their attorneys, practice and values, Cooper Levenson also put on legal seminars during G2E. The firm has offices in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. AL



GamblingCompliance

GamblingCompliance, the leading online publisher of legal, regulatory, political and business intelligence for the global gambling industry, was at G2E promoting its already known and trusted GamblingCompliance service and talking about a new branch of services, GamblingData.

While GamblingCompliance provides up-to-date news, information and commentary on regulation, compliance and market developments around the world, GamblingData provides the raw data, intelligence and analysis gaming businesses need to avoid pitfalls and make the most of the opportunities in a volatile business environment.

GamblingData was launched late last year and Greg Kilminster, CEO, shared that it was in recognition of a gap in the market for a service pulling together all the verifiable data that is available globally in this sector. He says the service is a combination of three things—underlying data in Excel format, written analysis of the data and innovative charts and graphs produced in an online environment. All of the charts and data are downloadable in PowerPoint or Excel, making for easy absorption and sharing. “The subscriber to the service can pick and choose the data they want to get hold of via a data wizard that allows you to filter by content type, geography, sector and the also the data sources,” Kilminster explains.

By simply pulling together many sources of readily available public data and by displaying it in an easy way, GamblingData does the hard part of the work for you. Nearly any report you could want is available—Macau casino revenue, Holland Casino reports, U.S. state outlooks, and much more. “It’s really slick stuff,” Kilminster said, and we agree.

He adds that there is an additional new part of the GamblingCompliance business, an information solutions side that provides very specific and bespoke reports on a variety of topics you might need information on. “We’ve had a lot of clients come back saying we love the GamblingCompliance and GamblingData subscription services, but we need something a bit more specific,” Kilminster explained. “We can provide all the information for clients to make rational, informed business decisions.” And you can have this information on a one-time basis, or sent monthly, quarterly, biannually, whatever you want.

Other recent news for the company is the opening of a U.S. office in Washington, D.C., in May of last year, as well as the hiring of Chris Krafcik as head of its U.S. research team. Kilminster left us with this: “There are a few more interesting highlights on the way over the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled for that.” AH

Marketing

SCA Gaming

For SCA Gaming’s 25th anniversary celebration at G2E this year, the presents went to the people. From a chance to win $25,000 through the company’s Win-Win Game on Facebook, to a possible prize for correctly keying open the Million Dollar Mission game vault, SCA’s promotions made their milestone a party for everyone.

In addition to the live game shows at G2E, SCA also unveiled VGAME—the latest in promotion technology. The 70-inch virtual touchscreen combines flash animation with several titles, creating a cutting-edge digital game board.

“It takes the place of multiple promotions on a casino floor, multiple trade-outs of games from Friday to Monday, from Thursday to Saturday. It’s all comprised of one game,” explained Linda Gordon, director of marketing. “You can have multiple games running at the same time with different prize structures, different graphics and different themes—all at the touch of the button.”

Gordon adds switching between programs like Holiday Cash and Final Fortune on VGAME helps operators cut expenses by reducing staff, commitment and long-term building issues. Another key to SCA’s success throughout the recent downtrodden economy, she says, has been to work within any casino’s available budget. By remaining flexible and creating offerings on various platforms for varying price points, the company has recently expanded into Asia and Mexico, while growing its tribal gaming clientele in the U.S.  

“Anything you see on an electronic game we can do as a game board, as a scratch card, as a direct mail promotion, as an online promotion. We can do it all,” Gordon said.

They’ve already deployed over 4,000 promotions to more than 400 international casino clients, but SCA leaders say they’re not done yet. Moving into 2012, they plan to launch a new game every quarter. SS

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