Saverio Scheri III
President and CEO
Hope springs eternal and everyone is hoping that 2013 will begin to build on the past year’s success with even stronger growth. While it appears most gaming markets have stopped declining and are actually trending up, gaming companies and the vendor communities are looking for a bigger jump in revenue this year. There are a number of factors that may actually help make this happen—the election is behind us, and while people may still argue whether the results are good or bad, the most important thing is that the uncertainty is gone. This will allow both private and public companies to understand the impact on their operations from a regulatory, financial and tax perspective. I expect to see many of these companies finally start to move faster with expansion plans, acquisitions and other large-ticket spending projects. This should be welcome news to vendors that have been surviving on the crumbs of small projects these last few years.
Other factors include a reluctantly improving economy, and more importantly, improving consumer confidence. This will help to increase the number of visits and the amount of customer spend at individual properties, assisting in the casino companies’ desire to trend revenues up. Additionally, the relative quiet in regard to domestic terrorism and the nation’s diligence in preventing incidents that would affect travel, hospitality and gaming continues to stabilize visitation. Unfortunately, this can always change in a terrible moment.
The expansion of gaming to new jurisdictions, and to some degree in existing jurisdictions, continues, forcing us to address the question of saturation again. For decades, opening new casinos in both existing and new markets typically meant expanding the pie instead of slicing it up smaller. But in recent years, it has served more to change existing market share than grow the customer base. This is forcing gaming properties to be more competitive, not just with their marketing promotions, but with the offerings of amenities in their properties. Older properties are being forced to invest capital to refurbish rooms and restaurants, or face living with less market share and lower revenues. Newer properties are enjoying easier customer acquisition, but properties that are poorly designed and miss the mark with customers are facing the same or worse problems than older casinos with an established customer base. A brand-new billion dollar property that doesn’t resonate with customers can’t very easily spend another $200 million to “fix” things.
Lastly, we continue to anticipate the legalization and regulation of online gaming in one or more forms, and in one or more states. The impact this will have on individual brick-and-mortar casinos, gaming companies and the overall market continues to be hotly debated. It’s clear that larger well-known gaming brands will benefit most, but the impact, either positive or negative, on smaller regional casinos remains contested.
COO – Americas
2013 promises to be BMM’s best year ever! We made some very positive changes in 2012 and had a highly active year, enabling us to set the stage as a leader in gaming testing and certification globally.
BMM welcomes 2013 from our new state-of-the-art global headquarters in Las Vegas. This new facility is the cornerstone from which we will provide world-class service and training to all of our customers as they seek testing, certification and related services amid an ever-expanding complex technological environment.
BMM sees 2013 as the year that will finally see the gaming industry have an effective choice in testing and certification services around the world. Testing and certification services have been dominated by a monopoly, and we hope to see an end to that this year.
In 2013, the free market will dictate the market for lab services. In doing so, the gaming industry will see fairness and efficiency. 2013 will be the year that all those qualified to do so will be allowed to render services to gaming manufacturers, and we believe that the industry as a whole will benefit from this in a significant way.
On the testing side, we expect to see a continued explosion in the interactive and online markets. As we continue to see more and more complex product placed in markets globally, we also see new jurisdictions opening at a steady pace. BMM will continue to provide our high-quality professional services to keep up with jurisdictional roll-out goals.
It’s become clear that online gaming has arrived in the U.S. and yet there remains much uncertainty about how to move forward. In the new year, BMM will expand our education program, specifically aimed at training and leadership in the online gaming space. BMM remains committed to providing independent and impartial education to regulators, manufacturers and operators alike, working hand in hand with all stakeholders as they determine their way forward. In 2013, BMM will be producing an extensive schedule of training and seminar events to tackle this important issue.
In 2013 and onward, BMM will strengthen its commitment to keep cutting-edge product on the floor everywhere, at all times, while maintaining a high quality of testing standards in the global gaming industry.
Eclipse Compliance Testing
The gaming industry has been anxiously awaiting the next big thing for several years. We all thought that server-based gaming would be the next big thing as we rolled into the new millennium, but that has yet to transpire. Sure, there have been lots of technological advancements in our industry, but nothing that has been deemed to be a game-changer. Now, we are all looking at Internet gaming, wondering if this will be the next big thing in gaming, and if it will ever take root in the USA.
We at Eclipse Compliance Testing see some big things coming to the gaming, amusement and charitable industries in 2013. We are already seeing movement in charitable gaming with the onset of electronic pull-tabs (e-tabs) in Minnesota and Virginia. It is likely that other charitable gaming regulatory agencies will enact rules and standards to regulate e-tabs in the coming months. E-tabs will provide opportunities for small, up-and-coming vendors to establish a presence in the gaming industry.
Promotional sweepstakes systems will continue to gain attention, as litigation will be ongoing to determine these systems’ place in our industry. Regulation of “sweepstakes cafes” is inevitable and essential. 2013 will likely see one or more states enact legislation to regulate the facilities that operate promotional sweepstakes systems and the companies that develop these systems.
Bingo will continue to see growth in both the tribal and charitable markets. Alabama is poised to see large bingo facilities return in 2013. Likewise, with the NIGC’s adoption of new, less onerous technical standards and MICS, Class II gaming in Native America is poised for a second wave of growth. Keep in mind, this is not your grandmother’s bingo game. Today’s electronic bingo systems are some of the most technologically advanced gaming systems in the industry today (especially in the U.S.). These systems do not just call numbers and match patterns on a card. Today’s bingo systems offer entertainment in many ways, including taking the bingo game result and making it look like spinning reels. These alternative entertaining displays, coupled with the increasing speed of game play, will help bingo continue to grow in the coming years.
Finally, we believe that Internet gaming will see its first bets taken legally in the USA in 2013. While several states are jockeying to be the first to allow Internet gaming, we believe that the first legal bets to be accepted in the U.S. will come from the least likely location(s). That being said, Internet gaming will pose some significant regulatory challenges in the U.S. While regulatory models exist oversees and in Canada, U.S. regulators will need to adopt unique elements in their regulations to circumvent existing anti-Internet-gambling legislation like UIGEA. Will Internet gaming in the USA take root without issues? Quite honestly, we see the early adopters of Internet gaming in the USA making some mistakes, and dealing with cases of fraud; but, regulations will advance to overcoming the challenges and shortcomings, and Internet gaming will take its place in the U.S. amongst the multitude of other regulated gaming offerings.
Eclipse Compliance Testing has established itself as a reliable and trustworthy source for compliance testing of electronic gaming devices and systems throughout our 12 year history. As our motto states, “We don’t play games … We test games!”
Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)
Situations and actions often have unintended consequences, and sometimes those can be bad, but sometimes they can be good. One interesting unintended consequence of the recent economic downturn is many gaming suppliers took their energies and focused them internally, heavily investing in R&D. Some of the results of those investments were on display at G2E 2012, and they were really terrific.
Of course, in our worldwide labs, we have been seeing additional technological developments that were not on display because they are still in various phases of development. Those technologies remain private, so we will not reveal them specifically or in detail; however, we can say that what we are seeing in the lab is exciting and has the potential to bring an even greater entertainment value to consumers.
That entertainment value will be realized on the casino floor, in the virtual space and, perhaps most interesting from a technological perspective, in a space where the casino floor and the virtual world converge.
For the past two years or so at GLI—in our roundtables, in trade show speaking opportunities, at private seminars and the like—we have been helping regulators understand that this convergence of the gaming industry is coming, and now we can go beyond the forecast to say that the day has arrived.
The official arrival of convergence is still in the lab; however, that means now is the time for regulators to carefully examine existing regulations, and in some cases, to create new regulations. This will be particularly applicable in jurisdictions where i-gaming is still a concept and not a reality. This is also the time for operators to carefully examine their casino floors, equipment, systems and marketing strategies to allow for consideration of the convergence that is at hand.
As we look to forecast what the coming year will hold for the gaming industry, regulators will be spending a great deal of time in 2013 examining the potential impact on their jurisdictions. One area of impact will be that of convergence. Just as the brick-and-mortar world is converging with the virtual world, so too can ideas and regulations from jurisdictions around the world. In other words, while i-gaming is new to regulators in North America, it is a been-there, done-that for regulators in other jurisdictions, and we have a wealth of good experience to draw from.
That is why we are so completely committed to our Roundtables and Standard Series, because they each give regulators a place for common ground and common experience. We can forecast that our February Roundtable in Las Vegas and our May Roundtable in Barcelona will be key opportunities for open discussion of best practices and converging ideas that can move the industry forward collectively.
We can also confidently forecast that what we are seeing in the lab today is just the beginning—the R&D of the talented engineering and design teams in our industry will continue to push the entertainment value, and therefore the regulatory boundaries of jurisdictions.
As the industry spreads to more places around the world, and as the technologies continue to converge, we can also forecast that the winners in this next phase of our industry will be those jurisdictions and operators who adapt quickly to new technologies, while at the same time maintaining the public trust and jurisdictional integrity.
Our best wishes to all for a very happy New Year!
Mississippi Gaming Commission
Ever since the global recession of 2008 shattered the illusion that the gaming industry was immune to an economic recession, the Mississippi gaming market has been seeking to redefine “normal” and discover its equilibrium. This has not been an easy task. New gaming markets have opened up as additional states have sought to find additional revenue, and the listless nature of our national economy continue to affect the Mississippi gaming market.
Mississippi’s challenges are not unlike other states; but there are some reasons for hope. Investors continue to see the Mississippi gaming market as a sound investment. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi and Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez opened in 2012. While both these properties are small, they represent new investment, increased economic activity, additional employment, and with the Margaritaville Casino, a nationally recognized brand. 2013 will represent the first calendar year to gauge the success of these new properties.
Other causes for optimism include multiple construction projects just underway or beginning in 2013. We have the construction of the Harbor Town Casino Resort in Gulfport, a waterfront development that includes a 30,000 foot casino and 200-room hotel; renovation of the Isle of Capri Casino Resort in Biloxi, which has been bought by Golden Nugget; and the Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, which has already begun construction of an additional hotel tower.
While the construction projects underway in 2013 represent potential increased revenues for the future, it is likely that businesses will continue the trend of looking to technological innovation to increase efficiencies, and lower cost to increase revenue. The Mississippi Gaming Commission welcomes technological innovation, particularly in the areas of patron experience, convenience and ease of use, but these technologies must conform to the highest standards of fairness, reliability, auditability and safety, not simply be a means of boosting the bottom line.
With the conclusion of the 2012 election, it is likely that we will continue to hear increasing talk about legalizing Internet gaming. Various jurisdictions from the federal government to individual states are seeking additional sources of revenue, while the gaming industry seeks new sources of growth. As always, the Mississippi Gaming Commission is prepared to deal with any federal guidelines, but we do not anticipate any large role in Internet gaming.
While no one can look through a crystal ball and completely predict what 2013 will be like, whatever the future holds, the Mississippi Gaming Commission remains prepared to regulate fairly and support the vitality of our gaming industry.
National Indian Gaming Commission
Over the course of the past two years, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has used meaningful consultation, training and technical assistance, regulatory review and agency operations review as guideposts to enhance federal oversight of the Indian gaming industry. We are pleased to say that we have made significant progress toward achieving our goals, making the commission more efficient and better positioned to perform our statutory responsibility under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
In order to ensure that the NIGC’s regulations remain relevant and practical, periodic review of existing regulations is necessary. Through a revised consultation process, over the past two years, the commission conducted more than 40 consultations to review more than 20 regulations, which resulted in nine thoroughly considered final rules. Tribal participation aided these efforts through informal discussions and formal comments. Through those collaborative efforts, new and amended regulations are now in place for tribes to use to further protect their gaming operations.
We have also ramped up our training and technical assistance programs as a resource for tribal regulators and operators when specific technical expertise is required. In addition, as a result of the revised regulations, the NIGC is now offering training to assist tribes to achieve compliance with the new rules. The agency has made training and technical assistance a major focal point and key to compliance and, thus, training requests have risen dramatically. We anticipate requests to continue to rise in the future and look forward to working with tribes to maintain compliance.
To ensure that the NIGC is well-equipped to carry out its regulatory responsibilities as intended by Congress, the commission has directed a comprehensive review of the entire agency. Although this initiative may not appear as relevant to tribes as the regulatory review, it is important for the management and operation of the agency. For example, we removed work flow silos, eliminated redundant functions and discovered opportunities to better manage the agency. Because tribal revenues are the sole funding source for the NIGC, it is imperative that the NIGC utilize these revenues efficiently. Additionally, we are in the process of drafting our strategic plan, which will outline the NIGC’s priorities from 2014 to 2018. In 2013, the agency will work toward achieving the objectives outlined in the final strategic plan.
Over the past few years, many tribes have taken the opportunity to refine their operations, helping to ensure their long-term success. Last summer, the NIGC reported a 3 percent rise in gross gaming revenue for the industry as a whole. This is especially important to small and moderate operations, which account for 56 percent of the industry. This is the first increase since 2008, with 65 percent of all operations experiencing an increase.
In the course of the past two years, the NIGC has made significant progress by working respectfully with tribes. In 2013, we will continue moving forward with our four policy initiatives. We believe that a strong NIGC, a well-regulated industry and a well-trained workforce further maintain the integrity of Indian gaming, an industry that has made such an important difference to so many tribal communities.
Over the next four years of this administration, tribes will continue to see respect for tribal sovereignty and a strong commitment to promoting tribal self-governance and successful reservation economies. At the NIGC, this commitment is demonstrated through meaningful consultation, sound regulations, achieving compliance by conducting training and technical assistance, and a more efficient and better-equipped agency.
New Jersey Casino Control Commission
From where I sit as chairman and CEO of the Casino Control Commission and a member of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), it is clear that Atlantic City is reinventing itself.
Last year, Gov. Chris Christie appointed me to join a team of people in key positions who are leading Atlantic City’s efforts. They include David Rebuck as head of the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), former State Police Lt. Col. Tom Gilbert as commander of the Tourism District and John Palmieri as executive director of the CRDA. I am working closely with them and other leaders to ensure a coordinated approach to move Atlantic City forward. There is a new spirit of cooperation and confidence in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City’s Boardwalk and casinos were virtually unscathed by Hurricane Sandy, and the outlook for the future is dramatically improved from just a year ago. That’s because of a commitment from both the government and the gaming industry to remake the city and its image, and a new partnership between the public and private sectors. Christie’s efforts to revitalize Atlantic City are bearing fruit with a livelier Boardwalk, new gaming opportunities, more entertainment, vibrant public art projects and other attractions. While there is increased competition for the gambling dollar, Atlantic City is broadening its appeal to attract people here for its fine restaurants, great shopping and wide array of entertainment offerings.
The casino industry and the CRDA are investing tens of millions of dollars to transform Atlantic City and to tell the world about it. The Atlantic City Alliance is spending $150 million over five years to advertise and promote the city, and recent legislation puts the newly created Tourism District under the CRDA’s control and redirected casino redevelopment funds back to Atlantic City.
Along the Boardwalk, the new Margaritaville will open at Resorts Casino Hotel this spring. The Boardwalk façade will be re-themed with the Margaritaville brand and the theme will flow through the casino, restaurants, bars, retail stores and across the Boardwalk to a restaurant and a beach-bar complex. Nearby, the Steel Pier is in the middle of a multi-year expansion and renovation that is bringing exciting new amusement rides, theaters and other attractions.
There are other exciting new Boardwalk attractions like the spectacular 3-D light show at Boardwalk Hall, called Duality, which appears to make the hall crumble, reappear and then morph into modernistic images. In addition, the first segments of a five-year public art project called “Artlantic” have opened, transforming vacant spaces into inviting attractions.
In addition, Bass Pro Shops has announced plans to build one of its large signature stores in the heart of downtown Atlantic City. Usually attractions by themselves, this store will be a significant addition to the 100-plus retail outlets and restaurants at The Walk (and the overall retail landscape of Atlantic City).
The DGE is moving forward with rules for mobile wagering to provide visitors another way to enjoy gaming in our casino hotel complexes, whether they are in restaurants, shops, the spa or any of the other facilities the properties offer. Those rules detail how and where mobile gaming devices can be used and, importantly, they ensure the devices cannot be used by underage persons. The implementation of mobile gaming is another example of New Jersey’s commitment to allow casinos to introduce new products quickly and efficiently. The DGE has also developed rules for sports wagering so the state and its casinos will be poised to introduce the new wagering when any legal issues are resolved.
We at the commission will continue to maintain the highest standards for integrity in the gaming industry, as we license casino operators and their key employees. That has been and always will be the foundation on which public and investor confidence has been built.
William H. Ryan Jr.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Approximately six years after the opening of the first casino, Pennsylvania’s gaming market now produces the second-largest amount of commercial gaming revenue in the nation. To date, 2012 continues to show a positive, upward trend. Gaming revenue has been 5 percent higher than in the previous year, while the number of jobs at the casinos has increased to more than 16,000. And, Pennsylvania’s gaming market continues to grow and evolve.
In 2013, Pennsylvania’s 12th casino, Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, is expected to open. This casino, a smaller venue that will be an added amenity to one of America’s premier resorts, will be limited to 600 slot machines and 60 table games. However, Lady Luck Casino will provide hundreds of employment opportunities and additional tax revenue. The only other such facility in Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Casino Resort, opened in March 2012.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) also just closed its application period for a second casino in Philadelphia. A total of six applicants have submitted proposals for a license that would permit up to 5,000 slot machines and 250 table games.
As the casino industry in Pennsylvania expands and matures, competition from neighboring states continues to increase. Pennsylvania casinos, therefore, must work to offer games and amenities that their customers want. To help them accomplish this, the PGCB works hard to ensure that the approval process for new games is completed quickly and efficiently.
Casinos in the state are also working to diversify their facilities to offer more than just gaming. Entertainment and conference venues, hotels and additional restaurants are planned, and will be added to a number of casinos in the near future.
A major reason for the success of Pennsylvania’s casinos is that they are located close to our population centers. This allows patrons to make affordable and comfortable day trips. The expansion of their non-gaming attractions should encourage more multiple day visits.
This past year, our executive director, Kevin O’Toole, was recognized as “Regulator of the Year for the Americas” by the International Masters of Gaming Law, while Susan Hensel, director of the board’s bureau of licensing, was elected for a second term as president of the International Association of Gaming Regulators. These honors are well-deserved and exhibit the professionalism and expertise that the PGCB and its staff bring to the regulation of gaming.
In conclusion, our goal will always be the protection of the commonwealth’s interests through the strict regulation of gaming. However, we recognize that this can be achieved in a thorough and efficient manner that assures that the gaming public, as well as the gaming industry, are treated in a fair and impartial manner.
Robert R. Russell
Regulatory Management Counselors P.C.
My practice at Regulatory Management Counselors P.C. has evolved dramatically over the past 15 years and has grown by creating working relationships with both regulators and gaming and non-gaming suppliers in numerous jurisdictions across North America. Oftentimes, I work hand-in-hand with clients as they evaluate whether to enter into new jurisdictions. This includes assisting them in understanding new and unique licensing, compliance and disclosure requirements. It has been my experience that the great majority of gaming regulators have come to understand the complex difficulties that can arise during an application process and with ongoing compliance. As a result of the variation between licensing systems in various jurisdictions, it is necessary for the industry to continue to evolve in order to establish a more universal and consistent system of licensing, ongoing reporting, technology approvals and notifications that seeks to remove the enormous costs and burdens placed onto the industry.
In this regard, it is nearly impossible to find a solution to the regulatory burdens that are impacting the supplier side of the casino gaming industry without first understanding, and appreciating, the legal and regulatory constraints that gaming agencies have to balance throughout the industry. Therefore, as the regulated gaming industry continues to expand into new markets and new forms of gaming are considered—VLTs, Internet, commercial, etc.—now it is more important than ever for the industry to better develop ways of finding collective solutions for businesses and the governmental agencies that oversee the industry in order to reduce time spent, confusion and overall expenses. There are commonalities and practical solutions that can be found in developing a workable regulatory scheme; however, without a common industry voice and approach, the task will surely never come to fruition.
Much has been done by regulators and the industry to address the variation inherent amongst each jurisdiction’s licensing structures. Notably, there have been numerous regulators and casino executives that have been working toward a more manageable system of disclosure. One example of this is an agency’s openness to using multi-jurisdictional application processes. However, much more needs to be done in order to reduce the time and costs associated with the disclosure and reporting requirements throughout the industry. This will ultimately help to ensure that the industry vendors can focus on innovation, while at the same time ensuring an adequate culture of compliance.
Last year the American Gaming Association (AGA) published a regulatory reform white paper, and in 2012, the AGA launched a comprehensive website resource on regulatory reform (www.americangaming.org/government-affairs/regulatory-reform). The AGA should be greatly commended for taking a leadership position with regard to establishing a working dialogue amongst suppliers and regulatory to ensure the integrity of casino gaming industry while at the same time reviewing areas where change can be made for the benefit of all parties involved in the process.
San Manuel Tribal Gaming Commission
In looking forward through 2013, gaming regulators, tribal, state and perhaps lottery regulators are not going to be able to escape the continuing pressure to prepare for the regulation of Internet gaming. That preparation will include cram courses on how it all functions; awareness of weaknesses in systems, software, platforms, etc.; hiring or contracting experts in all computer disciplines; developing technical specifications, internal controls, and specific regulations for their respective jurisdictions; and a myriad of other associated details.
In the September 2012 issue of Casino Enterprise Management, I articulated in detail a suggestion that tribal governments may be able to engage in Internet poker now, under IGRA, as a Class II game with technological aids, thereby negating any need for additional state or federal authorizing legislation. While at G2E, I was informed that a good number of tribes are giving serious consideration to that premise. Pursuit of Internet poker as a Class II game will undoubtedly be challenged and litigated. However, if upheld by the courts, tribal regulators will have an enormous responsibility and, ready or not, the NIGC will find itself in a position requiring it to provide federal regulatory oversight. In this context, I would caution tribes to make a very clear distinction between the terms “Internet poker” and “Internet gaming.” They should not be used interchangeably.
Our agency has and will continue to make many of the regulatory preparations as described above. I have found it a bit amusing that within the last year there has been an explosion of pundits and “expert consultants” surfacing to get a piece of the action. They are appearing from all corners, i.e. manufacturers, IT experts, law firms, CPA firms, software engineers, etc. While undoubtedly, many of them do possess legitimate expertise, I would caution anyone considering pursuit of Internet poker or gaming to engage in serious due diligence in backgrounding their “experts.”
Finally, we cannot ignore the continued growth in the use of mobile devices, social media information and entertainment and “play for free” options. These will certainly become more integrated in tribal marketing strategies. This will require advancing the expertise of IT departments and more sophisticated websites and incentives for patrons to visit brick-and-mortar facilities. Tribes that are not already participating in this use of technology will be missing substantial marketing opportunities.
Again, I would caution tribal regulators not to turn a blind eye to the use of this technology simply because it is labeled as “marketing” or “non-gaming” activities. In the interest of protecting your tribal governments, you should be monitoring this technology and these activities and requiring some level of independent lab testing. There are always some risks involved in the use of this technology.
Director of Business Development, Global Gaming
One trend that unfortunately impacts all business sectors—not just gaming—is that difficult economies prompt a variety of reactions from people in all industries. In Las Vegas, for example, close to 30 percent of the workforce has learned to work on-call or hold two jobs to make ends meet. The challenging economic environment we are currently faced with can have the effect of placing greater value on people retaining their jobs. However, employee theft is another possibility, and when people have needs they can’t afford on their own, that is when employee theft and collusion are at their highest.
Advances in dataveillance have provided surveillance and security executives “live” alerts to fraud and potential losses to guests and the casino. When dataveillance is introduced, the most difficult challenge is making decisions when faced with the information. For example, a major casino caught a casino host writing comps in the name of players who were not even at the property for cigarettes for personal consumption. While this sounds like a small-scale theft, two to three cigarettes packs per day can add up quickly. Today, criminals take advantage of establishments with outdated technologies, as it’s easier to find the loopholes. Even in Las Vegas, many major casinos are still using VCRs and DVRs that provide grainy, recorded images and are difficult to integrate with newer solutions. Most gaming operations use server-based solutions for player tracking and managing their non-gaming businesses.
Today, networked video solutions, such as the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, are designed to provide a level of integration and video clarity that casino executives can use to make informed decisions to provide better customer service and thwart employee theft.
Casino operators that have integrated IP solutions and HD video have seen immediate results. Upgrading casino surveillance solutions to HD has resulted in a marked reduction in employee theft, customer claims and fraud. They are also resolving gaming disputes with clear evidence and mitigating potential litigation from risk management matters. In the past, prosecution decisions were hard to make because the recorded video images were not clear, resulting in inconclusive findings. With HD systems, clear evidence is available immediately.
The improving economic landscape has influenced an increase in gaming institutions throughout the world. Gaming operators are now more readily accepted by communities, as they come to see the benefits of the resulting taxes that can contribute to public institutions like police, fire and education services. In the U.S., states that previously offered only slots are now expanding to table games, due to the additional tax revenue that can be added. Outside of the U.S., emerging jurisdictions are committed to becoming destination locations because gaming operations also contribute to increased tourism.
Avigilon is experiencing consistent growth worldwide throughout the casino industry because of the image quality provided by our HD video surveillance solution. Casino operators investing in Avigilon are rewarded immediately with the ability to make fast and informed decisions to the clarity of the video evidence and open platform for IP interoperability for dataveillance solutions.
The industry will continue to ask for solutions that are easy to use and provide not only security functionality, but also the ability to use video for business intelligence purposes to make the most informed decisions possible. Avigilon is a leader in the networked HD video space and will continue to provide casino operators with a consistent pathway to the future of surveillance for casino operations, business and critical infrastructure.
Ainsworth Game Technology
2013 is set to be another promising year for Ainsworth with the tremendous international success of the flagship A560™ family of products. Highlights of 2012 include the global launch of a lineup of new A560 product innovations appropriately tagged “Play the Future.” In Further good news, Ainsworth is delighted to report that the product assembly commenced at the new Las Vegas headquarters with key operational support in place, including technical game design, marketing, product management, technical and field service. The year culminated in achieving a landmark for the company with the first A560 installations in Nevada after successful product trials, and Ainsworth being granted the slot route operators license, enabling provision of product on a participation basis within the Nevada market.
Ainsworth’s “Play the Future” A560 range was created to offer the ultimate flexibility providing customers a mix-n-match approach to product configuration across the entire game portfolio. With the latest advances in the A560 technology such as the A560st™ Slant Top, QX32™ Jackpot Controller, Premium Plus™ and Game Plus® library, the opportunity to tailor a complete range of products with industry-leading performing game content has never been so exciting.
The all-new A560st Slant Top embodies the attributes of a classic entertainer. The A560st provides for state-of-the-art technology with its dual widescreen LCD presentation, powerful Quadtronic™ processor, compact storage, premium sound system and an intuitive player interface supporting a 15-button play deck play with a programmable button option.
Ainsworth’s QX32 intelligent controller not only manages multiple jackpot banks, but it has the ability to simultaneously manage both symbol and mystery jackpot pools. During 2013, Ainsworth will be releasing more Mystery & Symbol Driven Jackpot Packages such as Jackpot Kingdom™, Jackpot Dynasty™, Colossal Cash™ and Big Hit Jackpots™ to name a few!
Showcased in the A560™ Mega Top and A560™ Wide Boy cabinet, featuring the 32-inch LCD top-box with event-driven LED lighting, the exclusive Premium Plus™ range provides for unique themes, with seven titles already released: Players Paradise Platinum™, Tower of Fortune™, Red Wolf™, Inca Reef Grand™, Reels of Wheels™, Around the Board™ and King Spin – Wild edition™. And this is just the beginning, with many more new Premium Plus brands due for release in 2013.
Furthermore, Ainsworth will expand their successful GamePlus range with new games including two-, three- and four-level SAP and Link brands.
As we move forward into 2013, Ainsworth will further expand its cabinet technology with new presentation mediums that utilize advanced hardware solutions. Ainsworth is continually driven by expansive R&D programs focused on innovative new product presentations and unique game technologies. The end goal for Ainsworth is to provide world-class product offering, featuring a complete range of versatile cabinet options to support its rapidly expanding international game range, providing total flexibility for slot operators to maximize investment value.
Director of Marketing
American Gaming Systems (AGS)
2013 is poised to be the most exciting year in the history of AGS. We will launch our It Pays to Know™ series of games, which will include our new trivia-based game mechanic. We will release titles in the series from our branded partners Ripley’s Believe it or Not!™, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?™ and Family Feud™. We believe that players are looking for a higher level of engagement in their slot play. With the It Pays to Know series, players will utilize AGS’ unique trivia-based bonus application to win progressive jackpots. We trust that this series of games will really take community gaming to a new level.
AGS is committed to pioneering innovation in the Class II space. In 2013, we will strengthen our commitment to the Class II space with unique partnership and the introduction of industry-leading content. We create all of our titles with our Class II customer base in mind and will continue to deliver top-tier content to our tribal customers.
2013 is the year that players and our customers in Illinois will benefit from all of the time and effort that we have spent on the video gaming terminal (VGT) market. We have been investing in the market since 2009 and are excited to see our product finally go live. We view our strategy there as long term and will continue to develop innovative product specifically tailored to the VGT market. Our Gambler’s Choice™ product is the culmination of years of research and development on the ground in Illinois. We believe it will be the player’s top choice in the market for a long time to come.
Over the past two years, we have been working tirelessly to obtain all of the necessary licenses and product approvals required to operate in most major tribal and commercial jurisdictions. All of our hard work has paid off and we are excited to be entering a number of new markets in 2013, upon the completion of various product regulatory hurdles including Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey. Stay tuned for more exciting news from AGS in 2013.
CEO and Managing Director
2012 was an exciting, productive and profitable year for Aristocrat. The year culminated with our G2E stand, where the message was “All Together Now.” This message demonstrates the depth of our product offering across a number of channels and creates a united experience for the player that truly delivers the world’s greatest gaming experience.
Our recent announcement with GameAccount Network (GAN) is evidence of this, as Aristocrat will assume full ownership of the award-winning nLive™ platform solution.
The agreement encompasses the purchase of GAN’s Internet gaming system (IGS) and remote game server (RGS). GAN is a U.K.-based privately held firm, which owns and operates an Internet gaming platform, powering online casinos in regulated jurisdictions. Previously, Aristocrat and GAN entered into a partnership to provide Internet gaming platform services and solutions to North American operators via the nLive platform.
This new transaction positions Aristocrat to benefit as the online gaming segment gains momentum over the medium term, and represents a significant milestone in the execution of our online strategy.
The nLive platform is an integral part of our plans, offering land-based operators a turn-key, wager ready, “virtual casino” online. Since its launch in the U.S. in April 2012, nLive has delivered impressive results and generated strong customer interest.
This acquisition delivers two advantages to Aristocrat. First, it bolsters our position in regulated gaming markets around the world by facilitating more rapid content distribution through an RGS. Second, it positions us well in the critical U.S. market, where we will assume full ownership of the nLive IGS.
In 2013 and beyond, we are committed to extending our market-leading casino management systems capabilities into the digital space, thereby expanding the view of the player for our customers, enhancing the player journey and delivering quality content through a “wager-ready” digital platform.
Full ownership of the platform is the next logical step in Aristocrat’s digital strategy. It provides the ability to innovate in the nLive platform, distribute Aristocrat’s great content across multiple channels and meet the growing needs of our customers.
As we head into 2013, Aristocrat is committed to building on the momentum we have created over the year. It is going to be an exciting year for the company and from all of us at Aristocrat we send our very best wishes for a happy and successful new year.
Executive VP, Chief Marketing Officer
Aruze Gaming America
As the fog of uncertainty over the future of the global economy begins to dissipate, we enter 2013 with a bit of muted optimism toward better times for our industry. Thinking back over the last 12 months, there have been events that draw excitement, and those that make you pause and ask why. Still, we firmly believe that success is momentum-driven in our industry and there are clear signs of this for both operators and suppliers.
Aruze Gaming has been leveraging the momentum generated by the successful performance of its engaging products to position itself as a leading provider of gaming entertainment. Our games have consistently performed at the top of their class in the venues where they are placed, and that provides a nice boost to continue to develop innovative new products like Rich Life™, Amazon Fishing™ or the dancing reels of Catch the Money™.
The economy is poised to rebound in 2013, and with that, visitation and spend at casinos will rise again. This rebound provides enormous opportunity for Aruze Gaming and other suppliers to energize the industry for a grand resurgence.
Walking around G2E this year, the energy in the gaming industry is palpable with an even greater sense of quality and depth of new products on display than seen at previous shows. Furthermore, the level of attendees and sheer volume of business generated at the show is indicative of an industry ready to explode. While 2012 provided for modest growth and the industry still facing some challenges, suppliers like Aruze Gaming have continued to invest in development and innovation, taking the gaming experience in new directions with greater engagement and a focus on fun.
2012 was a fantastic year for Aruze Gaming, as we continued to launch more award-winning products, grew our install base and expanded our product portfolio. Our mix of classical gaming elements, innovative concepts and player mechanics—for example Reel Feel™ Gaming Technology and Radiant Reels™—continue to drive the top performance on the casino floor. We will continue to build even more products in 2013 that keep our performance at the highest levels.
As the industry begins to further its growth and shorten the replacement cycle in 2013, we will see an expansion of the player demographic and develop new mechanics to expand our target player profile. We must still continue to provide the maximum entertainment value for the player’s investment, while still balancing the needs of the operators. Aruze Gaming takes pride in balancing the strength of its mathematics with engaging game mechanics and strong packaging that meet both the players’ and the operators’ needs.
We look forward to bringing more fun to the gaming floor and expanding incremental player revenue. With products like our Innovator Deluxe Aladdin & the Lamp™, Aruze Gaming brings new levels of excitement and anticipation to a popular platform. With an interactive top-box and the unique presentations offered by the dynamic and engaging Radiant Reels, Aruze Gaming creates more fun on the casino floor, rewards players with an engaging experience and drives performance for the operator.
Aruze Gaming will continue to expand its diverse product portfolio in 2013 and further introduce players to our philosophy of creating engaging fun. 2013 brings even more competition to the supplier side of the industry and that raises the bar for success even higher, but we are prepared with some new technologies, an expanded games portfolio, exciting new concepts and a few surprises too.
The energy in the industry continues to grow, and we are pleased to be a part of that growth. It’s time to put that energy in motion and have a strong-performing 2013. Good luck, everyone!
President and Chief Executive Officer
Bally Technologies Inc.
With the elections behind us, a new calendar year ahead and seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year revenue growth, we at Bally Technologies are quite optimistic. All indications are that after four challenging years for the gaming industry, casino operators seem more enthusiastic with their capital spend on quality new games and systems products that give them a competitive advantage, and good technology solutions that help operational efficiencies and make it more entertaining for their players.
What is even more heartening is to watch capital spend on gaming technology having a real measurable impact on better revenue and profitability for the casinos during calendar year 2012. Recent surveys also indicate that the planned games replacement rate is set to be twice as high in international jurisdictions as in North America, providing gaming equipment suppliers with increased growth opportunities across the globe.
There cannot be much debate about the fact that game content from all manufacturers continue to deliver a far better entertainment experience than in the past. Trailblazing new play mechanics, greater levels of player interaction through breakthrough innovations like iDeck, creative arcade-like features, backed up by floor-wide community play-enabling systems, modules are all creating the kind of returns that casino operators are looking for. Slot floors that are upgraded and refreshed are driving better results, increased new player signups and are enabling casino operators to stay more competitive with other forms of entertainment.
We are also witnessing increased casino interest in new systems technology. We are thankful for the tough decisions we made to increase R&D investments, even during the most challenging economic conditions. Powered by the industry’s largest R&D and services and support systems teams, our systems products have changed the landscape of what is possible for operators. These configurable modules now have the ability to drive floor-wide excitement through player-centric targeted bonusing applications and in-game player-user-interfaces which work well on old and new games from practically all manufacturers. Casinos are using such technologies to run floor-wide virtual-racing events, gigantic slot tournaments and reward-targeted players in new ways through secondary-bonusing events that pop up on the game screen. These events have proven to increase carded play, coin-in and casino visitation, among other tangible and intangible benefits. Such applications are now being combined with the power of licensed brands like NASCAR, providing even greater ROI.
We expect the interactive gaming space to move multiple steps forward during 2013. Many North American casino operators will evaluate the use of free-play sites for marketing and promotions while they await the possible legalization of online wagering. Like in 2012, mobile technology will most likely continue to lead the way with sophisticated concierge applications adding great value to casinos’ marketing arsenal, while also providing precious data to help monitor trends and new possibilities. Savvy casino operators understand the power of a single view of their player across the land-based casino, online and mobile offerings, and the value of integration of technology solutions across all of them. That kind of integration will also provide the much-needed return on previously invested capital, which will remain a guiding principle for Bally in products like iVIEW DM and with the upcoming open online solutions, which will become increasingly integrated with already purchased and implemented land-based systems solutions.
As a company driven by customers, market-centric products and innovative solutions, Bally will continue investing and creating the kind of value our customers have come to expect. I am confident that our great people, driven by our customer-centric culture, will strive hard and make 2013 a great year for the gaming industry. And we will be sure to have a lot of fun along the way!
Chief Operating Officer
We enter 2013 with enthusiasm and high expectations for another year of strong performance and global expansion. Over the past few years, we have successfully grown our presence in both the U.S. tribal gaming and the Mexican gaming markets, by creating strong products and customer platforms. Our primary focus in 2013 is to further penetrate the U.S. Class III market while continuing to provide high-performing products and services within our established markets.
Our recent merger with Amaya Gaming is an exciting development with tremendous growth potential as both companies will be able to leverage strong brands and experienced management teams. Amaya’s strength in international interactive gaming and lottery will combine with Cadillac Jack’s performance and reputation in land-based gaming. The merger creates many new opportunities and synergies for the combined companies to provide a ubiquitous gaming solution across multiple media channels—interactive, casino and mobile.
As player behavior evolves and adaptation of gaming in social media, online and mobile applications increases, we anticipate continued investment in interactive from all gaming companies. This collaboration of technologies, and the ability to provide game content through multiple media, will extend the player experience beyond the casino and into their daily lives.
Amaya’s acquisition of Ongame and its online poker products provides our company with new channels to service our customers with a wider suite of products to better entertain their players and increase profitability.
Cadillac Jack’s immediate focus continues to be on the expansion of traditional casino gaming, investing heavily in product development. In 2012, we released a number of new product lines, including the Connect to Win, Xtra Bonus, Bonus Choice and Hot Streak series of games. We also delivered new multi-bonus and mystery progressive games to our customers, including Peter & Wendy, based on the beloved story Peter Pan. This stunning theme, featuring 3-D graphics, mystery progressives and six engaging bonus games, has captured the hearts of players and has quickly become a top performer for our customers.
Building upon our previous successes, we are creating new products for 2013 that complement and expand our existing product line, while enhancing the entertainment value and player experience by increasing variety and features. For example, our already popular wide-area progressive product has been transformed with new features, a dramatically increased top level jackpot and annuity payout, more frequent jackpot hits and a lower max bet.
We are also extremely excited to announce the launch of Dragon’s Lair in the first half of the year. As many will recall, Dragon’s Lair was the first successful skill-based video arcade game, and it has continued to enthrall audiences around the world for the past 30 years as it has evolved to new platforms. In Dragon’s Lair, we’ve taken an already rich, innovative game and translated it into a modern yet nostalgic adventure, where players participate in many challenging interactive bonus rounds that successively increase the level of the payouts.
This is a very exciting time for Cadillac Jack to utilize our strong product portfolio to enter new markets. We remain focused on operational efficiency, performance-enhancing innovation and we are committed to providing outstanding customer service to our current and future customers.
President and CEO
2013 marks Diamond Game’s 20th year in business and we could not be more optimistic about the future of our company and the entire gaming industry. From our beginnings as a pioneer in Class II gaming, to our many unique and patented products and features, we are always looking for new ways to increase revenue for our existing and potential customers. In 2013, we will continue innovating with game mechanics and features the industry has never seen before.
As we all know, many of the industry leaders are focusing on the development of Internet and mobile gaming platforms to prepare for the U.S. approval of Internet gaming. Our company continues to research and develop products that may be used in this realm, but maintain our focus on our role in the land-based gaming industry, particularly in tribal casinos and state lotteries nationwide. We want to ensure that, through the increased excitement over Internet and mobile, existing loyal and new land-based customers are completely satisfied with the products and service provided in our industry.
As a smaller manufacturer, we must continuously look for ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. First, Diamond Game is one of few manufacturers that offer every game we develop as both Class II and Class III, ensuring every customer is able to put our games on their slot floor. Secondly, we are developing games heavily influenced by casual games, such as greater interactivity, player involvement and decision-making. We are poised to release several new game series with thrilling features throughout 2013. Finally, we will release a new niche game category in the near future that will set us apart from the competition.
We are excited to see the gaming industry bouncing back after the economic downturn. Diamond Game stands ready to provide our gaming products on customizable platforms in any jurisdiction. Look for a great new cabinet, several brilliant new game series and continued, personalized customer service. At Diamond Game, we are all committed to the success of our products. Whether we are designing eye-popping game artwork, designing and building our “100 percent up time” cabinets, efficiently installing new games at your site or interacting with your staff and players during frequent site visits and innovative promotions, our customers get the best-of-the-best products and truly personal service every step of the way. The friendly culture at our offices across the country reflects the same caring service you receive from anyone on the Diamond Game team. That is what you get when the leadership team encourages team members to be proactive, question the status quo and constantly innovate.
We welcome you to join us—Where Innovation Plays.
Incredible Technologies Inc.
Incredible Technologies’ (IT) vision has remained consistent since we began our journey into casino game development: to see at least one bank of Incredible Technologies games in every casino. The devil is in the details.
Each jurisdiction (in reality, every casino) has its their own personality and style of games that do well. Our marketing department has made great strides in measuring the parameters that determine success in any given region. This information is then analyzed by our development teams to make smart design decisions. We have strategic partnerships with test locations across the country, who provide us with up-to-date earnings data and overall game feedback. All of our new releases must be tested and meet strict criteria before they can be offered for sale.
We aim to have enough games in development to ensure that we will have enough variety and successful titles to sustain a thriving bank in every casino. IT currently has eight development teams across the country, each striving to release a specified number of games each year. This means a good chance of having sufficient quality titles that will work well for every location.
Looking to the future, we have aligned ourselves with great partners to take selected games to i-gaming. This initiative is very new to IT and we are looking forward to seeing positive results and revenue in 2013.
This year, we doubled our sales staff in order to provide each casino the attention they deserve. Our staff continually works hard to gain trust and help the casino. Sales develop when we provide the right games, the casino has the budget and the customer trusts that we will stand behind our products. We are constantly refining our database of information to make sure we are conforming to all compliance issues and providing location-specific game options.
2013 will see our technical service team expand as needed to make sure our games are serviced timely. We are armed to keep games up and performing well for our operators. We receive many compliments regarding our helpful technicians, easy installs and overall reliability.
Our jurisdictional licenses are ever expanding. We are currently active in the Midwest, Southeast and much of the West. 2012 saw our first presence in Macau. Our rollout of slots is just beginning in Nevada. We aim to sell games to the East Coast and more international regions in 2013.
Over the next year, we will be bringing single game progressives, bank-wide progressives and some attractive licenses to our games. As always, we will keep advancing our math, graphics and sounds and overall strategy to develop an immersive gaming experience to our audience.
In 2012, we found that some of our customers did not have budgets that can purchase a large quantity of new EGMs. Because of that, we have formed partnerships with finance organizations that can help casinos place our games for reasonable daily fees that enable needed cash flow in difficult economic climates.
While the industry giants spread their focus to various business initiatives, our goal in 2013 remains simple: focus on developing core “for sale” games that casinos can own with strong ROI and a long earnings cycle.
One bank of games in every casino may seem humble, but in the end there are many hurdles we have crossed to get here. We continue to learn every day we are on this journey. Incredible Technologies is pleased to have earned the right to place two or more banks of games in many casinos. This exceeds our stated goal and inspires us to bigger visions in 2013.
Chief Operating Officer
Konami Gaming Inc.
In 2013, we expect to see competition amongst gaming operators in the wake of continued gaming license expansion. In gaming markets across the globe, especially the United States, widespread economic struggles facing federal, state and local governments have resulted in an unambiguous recognition that gaming establishments provide jobs and tax revenues that other private enterprises have recently struggled to otherwise generate. As a result, previously reluctant politicians are championing gaming and recognizing the community benefits it provides. This recent pursuit of gaming entertainment by existing and new jurisdictions alike—a trend that will continue in 2013—has created opportunities for operators, customers and suppliers.
Since the recession began in the United States during the third quarter of 2008, casinos have been opening regularly across the country. States like Ohio have expanded from zero casinos in 2008 to the point where they will have four massive urban casinos by the end of 2013. Ironically, this recession-fueled growth arrived on the heels of another period of gaming expansion buoyed by unprecedented access to cheap capital and euphoric spending, which also produced new casinos with thousands of new slot machines. Customers now have more choices than ever when seeking gaming entertainment.
Industry expansion provides obvious opportunities for developers, architects, contractors, lawyers, gaming equipment suppliers, ancillary product suppliers and employees. Consumers benefit from increased access to gaming entertainment and choice of venues, often in their local or regional markets. New properties also typically complement their gaming offering with dining, hotel, spa, retail and entertainment, such that non-gaming revenues can represent 50 percent or more of total revenues for properties formerly dominated by slot win. In most cases, additional licenses in or near existing gaming markets creates healthy competition by operators who vie for the loyalty and wallets of customers. As gaming equipment suppliers, our success depends on our ability to provide tools and products to help each operator compete and maintain profitability.
This next year, optimistically assuming that we continue to see some modest signs of economic improvement in the United States, we expect that operators will remain competitive by seeking the best games and systems products available. We also believe that increased business volumes and increased competition will empower operators to continue with investment levels similar to 2012. Increased competition for gaming and non-gaming entertainment seekers in 2013 will challenge operators to find ways to deliver even more value to their customers and at Konami Gaming Inc. we are committed to developing and delivering products that deliver this type of value.
Konami is dedicated to the original vision of our founder, Kagemasa Kozuki, creating engaging games that capture attention, pushing the limits of innovation and providing quality in every detail. Konami is Born from Fun™ and remains focused on delivering the highest and most enjoyable experiences possible. We fundamentally believe that if we continue to provide games that customers enjoy because they are fun to play and games that operators enjoy because they reliably perform, we will continue to see the types of growth that we have seen over the past five years.
Reliable performers such as China Shores™ and African Diamond™ are being complemented by innovative new games products such as Dynamic 5™ and Fortune Chaser™. Similarly, we have invested in SYNKROS™, our gaming enterprise management system that represents the evolution of Konami Casino Management System (KCMS)™. Built from the ground up with the operator in mind, SYNKROS is focused on delivering unparalleled marketing horsepower and reliability to help our customers compete for visitors. SYNKROS was built to help our customers’ businesses grow so that they can thrive in any market, whether expanding or contracting.
President and CEO
This past year has been one of great transition for Multimedia Games, as we have had incredible success in both strengthening our long-term customer relationships and creating so many new ones. As we continue to emerge on the national scene, like I stated last year, it is critical that we think outside of the box, both in terms of the games we make and in the way we look for opportunities to create excitement and generate business for our customers. Our tag line for 2013—PLAY LOUDER—summarizes that sentiment, and we feel we are in the position to do so with our planned expansion into Nevada and other markets, the addition of new titles to our High Rise Games series, the rollout of our latest premium product series Smokin’ Hot Jackpots, as well as the upcoming National TournEvent of Champions.
Our High Rise Games series is picking up significant momentum, and we expect to release a new game every quarter, along with growing the number of games featuring our award-winning MoneyBall bonus game. Smokin’ Hot Jackpots, our newest premium mechanical product series, will strengthen our position in our current markets but will also be a must-see item for players in our new markets when it hits casino floors, which is expected to be this summer. Paired with six popular mechanical base game titles and featuring an attention-grabbing top box tower, an 11-tier linked progressive and the innovative player anticipation “heat-up” feature, Smokin’ Hot Jackpots will make a big splash with players.
We’re also rolling out our National TournEvent of Champions tour early in the year, which will revolutionize the slot tournament experience across the country. Our own product and promotions team will visit casinos throughout the United States on our PLAY LOUDER tour bus and crown winners at each location, with the championship finale occurring in September 2013. With more than $250,000 being handed out in prizes and the title of the “Nation’s Best Player” up for grabs, this event will be a historic moment for Multimedia Games and our participating casinos. Just in the preliminary state championship events we held last year in Washington and California, operators told us that this event drove “New Year’s Eve”-type results for them, so we can’t wait to see what this national event can do!
All manufacturers strive for high-performing games, but we look at creative ways to draw new players and revenue to the casinos, so we are excited to partner with our customers and bring an electrifying event to their best slot players. We would not be in a position to offer such unique products and promotions without our talented, creative and diverse group of employees, so we will certainly be focused on continuing to add the best and brightest to our team. We continue to be enthusiastic and optimistic about our position in the industry, and we believe that with our healthy balance sheet and low penetration nationally, 2013 will be another great year.
President and CEO
2012 has been another exciting year of growth for SPIELO International, and we’re dedicated to continuing that momentum into 2013. Following our corporate vision of “more people than ever before playing our games, anywhere, anytime, on anything,” we continuously aim to deliver more content and better technology, combined with a faster time to market. This vision is the driving force behind our 2013 planning, where we’re building upon our most comprehensive product portfolio to date across all gaming segments and channels.
Starting in North America, we are very excited about the future prospects in this space. Next year’s premium market will continue to be competitive and see introductions of new branded games and licenses in music, movies, TV and nostalgia. This is where SPIELO International offers something unique to our customers that will stand out in this crowded landscape: our partnership with online casual game giant PopCap™. Their portfolio of recurring game brands has a rabid following, robust online marketing strategies and built-in entertaining game mechanics that translate very well to the world of slots. In 2013, we will launch the casino versions of Plants vs. Zombies™ Backyard Showdown™, Plants vs. Zombies™ Gargantuar™, Zuma™ and the well-known Bejeweled™ title. These PopCap titles will permit growth based on the increasing convergence of the social online gamer and the brick-and-mortar casino player.
In 2012, we continued our foundation building with the successful launch of Deal Or No Deal™ Join’N Play™ at 175 casinos with outstanding reviews from the players. Next year will see us take two approaches to following up this huge community game hit. First, Join’N Play 2 takes elements of the original and makes them bigger, quicker and better, tweaking and improving the inherently player-friendly features. Then, later in the year, we’ll follow up with Deal Or No Deal In It To Win It™, designed to be divergent from Join’N Play with an immersive, bonus-rich experience where players will feel like a contestant on the show.
Quality content will be a focus across our robust and comprehensive product portfolio in all gaming segments and channels. As a group, we have embraced the concept of the multi-channel player, and our global reach is now even stronger with the integration of SPIELO International and SPIELO G2, experts in sports betting and i-gaming, and the backing of our parent Lottomatica Group, one of the world’s largest gaming corporations.
In 2013, i-gaming will begin to reshape the industry in the U.S., with some states already approving legislation to offer online gaming or mobile gaming within state borders. The question of federal or state legislation will be one of the biggest i-gaming debates. SPIELO G2 supports all legislative developments, and we also understand the importance of liquidity to the success of any online gaming operation. We’re able to work with operators to develop their online offering, and in preparation for these dynamic market openings, SPIELO G2 is emphasizing the development of new, innovative products. These include developments to our poker platform and the launch of exciting new game titles, with leading brands such as Slingo, CSI, and The Fast and The Furious.
Increasingly in 2013, successful products will work on all platforms, from traditional home PCs to tablets and smart mobile devices. Anticipating this shift, SPIELO G2 continues to offer a full product line on all platforms. For example, in 2012 we launched the industry’s first full feature MAC poker client and SPIELO G2 Anytime, our mobile and tablet range.
Overall, 2013 will see growth in social gaming, and continued convergence across channels with developments being made toward a true 360-degree view of the player, anytime, anywhere.
Orrin J. Edidin
President, WMS Industries
President and CEO, Williams Interactive LLC
Several years ago, we asserted that a global convergence of land-based casino gaming, online wagering, and social and casual gaming was underway. At that time, we had already made significant progress in preparing WMS and our customers to benefit from what we believed to be emerging opportunities. After significant research and development in technology platforms, the dynamics of social networking and casual play, B2C online gaming and B2B managed services, our thesis—authentic gaming content is driving the convergence—has been proven.
Building upon on the initial development of an online real-money casino (JackpotParty.com) in the United Kingdom and our Player’s Life® Web Services, we enhanced our interactive capabilities throughout the last year with the acquisition of Phantom EFX and Jadestone Group. In addition, we aligned ourselves through an agreement with 888 Holdings to deliver their world-class online poker platform to our U.S. customer base, and formed Williams Interactive LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary, to build and deliver a comprehensive suite of B2B i-gaming products, services and online solutions.
Today, WMS authentic gaming content is no longer limited to the physical confines of a land-based casino. Instead, there is a new virtual world with a nearly limitless horizon that brings online gaming to a much broader consumer audience, and is driven by the emergence of social media, and the evolution of and demand for smart technology. When we consider the proliferation of smartphones and smart devices (more than 115 million in the U.S. alone), and the nearly 1 billion Facebook users, the potential audience for our products through our casino customers is exponential.
Our interactive strategy has been to develop a robust and fully compliant online gaming site, with authentic casino content, as a proof of concept and a demonstration of our end-to-end capabilities, and then expand into new markets with a full array of B2B products and services for land-based operators ready to move forward with online gaming. We’ve done that in spades.
We are already attracting a new generation of players who are seeing the entertainment value of casino games for the first time. In early 2012, we launched our first social casino, Lucky Cruise™, on Facebook to great success even as we sought to better understand what online players value. Then in July of this year, we introduced Jackpot Party® Social Casino to Facebook fans, and in 90 days became one of the top social casinos on Facebook as measured by monthly active users. More importantly, by late November, nearly half a million Facebook fans were playing on the WMS Jackpot Party Social Casino on a daily basis.
While there is now no doubt that we can successfully leverage our proven and award-winning authentic gaming content into the social and casual gaming space, as well as the online wagering arena, our industry continues to experience the same challenges as the rest of the world—a limited discretionary consumer spend. The silver lining is that a recessionary environment also drives some markets to consider online gaming as a new source of revenue—similar to what our industry has experienced on the land-based side. However, in so many ways, legalization of online gaming is out of our control. What is a given in our industry as in other consumer focused areas, is that consumer demand for the latest and greatest technology must drive and shape company behaviors.
Land-based operators are now comfortable, if not enthusiastic, about casual play-for-fun and play-for-real gaming, and understand the need to prepare for the eventual transition to online-real-money wagering when it becomes legally enabled. Through Williams Interactive, we offer a full suite of managed services, supplying everything the operator needs to deploy interactive gaming to their customers, including game server integration, casino managed services, online player communities and authentic gaming content.
At WMS, we are excited about the future and the many changes that are coming, the potential for online wagering and the opportunity to introduce a new generation players to world-class casino entertainment.
Vice President of Slot Operations
MGM Grand Las Vegas
As we turn over the pages of the calendar to welcome 2013, there are some very exciting trends and developments in the world of slot operations and slot marketing.
Our ongoing challenge at MGM Grand is to cater to the individual tastes of a very wide variety of guests. Tens of thousands of visitors from all walks of life are coming through our doors every week.
Across the board, we aim to keep all of our customers happy—from the couple who spends a week in the hotel celebrating their wedding anniversary, to the thousands of people who visit the casino after a Grand Garden Arena event, and of course our loyal M life members too.
From where I stand on the casino floor, I see a wealth of new technologies converging to give our slot guests a more interactive and rewarding experience.
Slot manufacturers have become more innovative than ever in producing games that engage our customers to a greater degree. Smaller slot manufacturers are pioneering new products and putting them to market faster—and the larger manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice. This healthy competition benefits everyone in the gaming universe.
New games and exciting new slot visuals and sound effects are capturing our customers’ attention. Creative bonus rounds have diversified our offerings and guests can enjoy their experience longer.
We continue to see a rise in the popularity of video and automated roulette, craps, blackjack and the Big 6 wheel. Thanks to newer technology, the same customer who used to be intimated by live table games can now enjoy the mechanical equivalent. Also broadening our guests’ gaming options are “community” slots that engage more than one player and offer higher payouts.
On the horizon are more tools that will further enhance the guest experience. Server-based technology will be fully utilized to allow us to deliver more targeted incentives and give our guests the ability to personalize their gaming experience.
While VIP-level players are tantamount to the success of most casinos, the newer data mining technologies make it possible for MGM Grand to reach further into the “masses” of occasional visitors and provide them with a more individualized experience, and ultimately a repeat experience. Our M life database hosts some 70 million entries, and M life has expanded beyond a players club to be available to all guests, transforming everyday travelers into high rollers.
While we work in-house to provide the most attractive casino environment, forces outside of our four walls are moving steadily toward the introduction of legal Internet gaming in the United States. Instead of competing with brick-and-mortar casinos, the availability of Internet gaming will perhaps represent the largest expansion of the gaming market in the history of our industry.
Finally, 12 months from now, when we once again turn over the calendar to a new year, MGM Grand will have proudly completed its $160 million “Grand Renovation.” Just completed a few months back was the remodeling of more than 4,000 rooms and suites, and MGM Grand’s evolution continues into 2013 with the highly anticipated opening of Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, an upscale dining experience combined with multiple nightlife components.
These are very exhilarating days for Las Vegas and for the entire entertainment industry. I do wish you and your family the very healthiest and happiest of new years.
Vice President of Slots
The gaming industry continues to evolve and redefine itself on an almost daily basis. What was once considered taboo—the widespread approval and growth of gaming—is now the sought-after solution for high unemployment and additional tax revenue for states and jurisdictions that would have never considered legalized gaming just 10 years ago. While the continued development and growth of gaming may be considered a win-win, the proliferation of gaming places has increased economic burden on already-established operators.
Mega-resorts and destination casinos now must compete in the convenience marketplace surrounded by slot parlors and racinos, while collectively everyone is competing for the same discretionary income and entertainment dollars in a struggling economy with high unemployment. Add to this the possibility of legalized Internet gaming, and the competitive landscape becomes even more complicated.
Operators are now forced to balance high tax rates and growing expenses with shrinking market share and less discretionary income from a consumer who is shopping for the best value proposition available. To compete in this new market economy, casino operators have turned to richer, more targeted incentive programs. Free slot play, at-machine bonusing, player’s club promotions, sweepstakes and giveaways are now commonplace among casinos with one goal in mind—drive traffic, increase repeat visitations and create differentiation.
But what was true 20 years ago is even more important today. When you strip away the décor, the theming and all the architecture of the modern day casino, one thing stands alone: great guest service. At the end of the day, guest service is the single most important aspect of what we do. Guest service is at the heart of every interaction. Guest service is what drives every transaction. But great guest service is the true differentiator; the real game changer that can set one operator apart from another. Great guest service is what creates and maintains guest loyalty. Incentive programs, bonuses and giveaways get the players in the door; great guest service keeps them coming back despite the offer. Great guest service is the difference between brand advocates and naturals.
The challenge we face is not as much about the competition, for competition will always be present. Our challenge is more about ourselves; how we conduct business and how we do the one thing that matters most to our guests—provide great guest service. How do we maximize our service profit chain?
Delivering great guest service is easier said than done. How do you deliver great guest service to a guest who has increasingly higher expectations while using less labor? By leveraging your most important asset—the team members who face both your external guests and internal guests every day, and nurture a culture within the organization that lives and breathes guest service. Make every interaction with a guest a positive moment to remember. Develop a support network that includes supervisors and managers that encourages great guest service, backed by a reward system that provides meaningful recognition and feedback for the team while driving momentum and participation. There is no magic recipe, no special formula to create and deliver a great guest service experience. That recipe will be different for each of us, depending on our corporate or property culture, our employee base and our player demographic. And once you find the proper mix, it must be continuously evaluated and adjusted to meet any changes in your guest service requirements.
Vice President of Slot Operations
Pechanga Resort & Casino
It’s time to stop talking about the future arrival of server-based gaming, because it’s no longer a forecast; it’s a reality. What isn’t here is a solid reason why anyone would want to do this yet, and that’s a shame.
The technology requires a substantial investment in infrastructure to implement. Once you do it, get ready to learn that servers from Manufacturer X will only talk to Manufacturer X games. And only if you run them both on a Manufacturer X wire. If your existing network is Manufacturer Y, you’re out of luck until you pull more wire and add new switches (because your current ones are probably full supporting the basic system). The progress and promise made by the GSA to make everything compatible tomorrow using approved protocols has taken a giant step backward with server-based products. The road block is manufacturers who are protecting turf, IP and (falsely I think) share-holder value. This is all to the detriment of players and operators. There is simply no other viable reason why these parties can’t share a single wire and network. I understand why they might want to match servers and games (even though virtualizing these is the “right” way); but who wants to pull more wire and buy more switches? We’re actually running out of ports and physical room. I thought once the coin buckets went away we’d have room for anything; but who knew switches would proliferate like rabbits.
In defense of the manufacturers, even if they magically changed their spots and allowed network sharing like the rest of the world, there are still some hurdles on the casino floor. You can’t change a 9-line to a 20-line game or manipulate the credit amounts, unless you have a configurable player interface (geek-speak for buttons that can change).
While touring properties during G2E 2012, I noticed that the majority of the floors (with the exception of CityCenter and The Cosmopolitan) have less than 30 percent iDecks, fiber-optics or other forms of configurable buttons. Sadly, I think this is where server-based games are going to shine between now and 2015.
Denomination changes probably won’t be the key. A Monday-Friday 5-cent video poker that changes to a 25-cent game on the weekend has the potential to anger our guests since it drastically changes the experience. But a subtle change to the minimum bet (say 20 cents to 40 cents on a Saturday night) has a strong potential to realize true yield management on the slot floor. These games will retain the characteristics and appeal of the previous pay table, but truly allow us to maximize revenues during peak periods without alienating the player. This can be a true source of same store growth in our future.
We only need two things to make it so: a bigger in-house budget to buy new slots and some enlightened global leadership from the top manufacturers.
Director of Casino Operations
How confusing it is that social gaming is a practice performed all alone in the confines of your own home. While being somewhat of an oxymoron, social gaming is a must for any operator wishing to maintain the loyalty of their existing customer base, while attracting significant online participation through a broader interactive customer market. Tribal gaming is no stranger to the unknown, and social gaming is just another journey into uncharted territory.
Native American casinos have long been the beta test sites for the newest innovations when it comes to enhancing the gaming experience. We were loath to embrace TITO until we recognized how efficient and logical it was. Then we were reluctant to believe that player clubs would prove successful by marketing to our guests through accounting systems. Server-based gaming has yet to be fully accepted, but is slowly gaining more space on our floors as manufacturers squeeze out the glitches. While we are sometimes hesitant to be first to join the flock, the obvious realization that operators are going to be selling themselves short if they don’t have some online, social or mobile gaming alternatives in the near future, is a prevalent discussion.
Sycuan is no exception to this buzz. Social interaction through innovative technology has no boundaries. Thirty years ago we were just learning how to put the tape in the VCR, marveling at the fact that we could watch a movie repeatedly, whenever we wanted to, without having to go to the cinema. Today I can Skype my sister from my cell phone and I am instantly part of a family event occurring thousands of miles across the globe; I can pay for my coffee by scanning my phone; I can remotely turn on the lights and TV in my home from miles away. So is it any wonder that when sitting in strategic meetings I often confront the IT geeks asking “Is there an app for that?” In a nutshell, if you can think it, then someone, somewhere, can write code for it.
Sycuan is exploring whether connecting the social and mobile elements to drive player behavior could potentially encourage more visits to Sycuan Casino. If so, the online casino experience would be an extension of the Sycuan brand. But we must be cautious with our approach; a customer having a negative experience through an online portal may assume that the land-based operation will have the same offering and may never make that drive out to the property.
Our existing customer base has access to www.MySycuan.com, which can be tailored as a sounding board for upcoming games and used as a determining factor when placing an order with the manufacturer. Working with Aristocrat Technologies (we run Oasis) and other manufacturers, we hope to collaborate and share feedback with the game makers so they are informed of customer reaction before final product decisions are made. Having the extra layer of fresh visitors to a social gaming site allows Sycuan a new tool to dig deeper into the psyche of the gamer, to drive player behavior, create more visits to the property and generate more revenue. And the guest is happy too!
President and CEO
Gaming Partners International (GPI)
2012 was a big year for the gaming industry, marked with growth and change. Gaming continues to see expansion both domestically and internationally, which is a positive sign for operators and suppliers, and we expect this trend to carry over into the coming year. Gaming Partners International (GPI) has had a successful year as we unveiled a number of new products and advances in table game technology, while still offering our customers our full suite of currency and table game products.
Here in the U.S., the market showed some positive signs of growth. In addition to a number of new jurisdictions opening up, we are seeing more dedicated budgets as properties allocate funds to build on their overall brand. Operators have become much more aware of the importance of extending their branding message beyond traditional means. We have seen a marked increase in orders for currency and layout designs that take a property’s branding straight to the gaming tables, as they recognize the value of taking and putting their message directly into the hands of their players. This includes an increase in orders for commemorative products that promote special property venues and events such as Chinese New Year.
In the domestic market, we are seeing the impact of global industry trends. With continued growth and competition from the expansion of gaming in Asia and new global markets, American operators are more aware of how important the presentation of their table games is for players. GPI has seen this change with an increase in orders from our American customer base for products that had been historically only associated with our European and Asian markets.
As a gaming supplier, we have successfully managed to differentiate ourselves. In order to successfully continue to compete in today’s market, we recognize that customer value has to be redefined. We pride ourselves on the depth of our high-quality product lines and on the high level of customer service we provide our clients. We endeavor to continually surpass expectations and extend customer total value by way of our innovative manufacturing capabilities and technologies to meet constantly changing customer requirements and tightening price points.
Innovation has been key to our continued success and growth, as we continue to innovate on what have been deemed traditional products. We invest the necessary resources to offer our customers new gaming solutions for more efficient and profitable operations. We continue to make advancements with our RFID technology by using it in applications that extend beyond just gaming currency security.
Our theme for 2012 has been Tradition and Innovation, and we look to continue that theme into 2013. We will emphasize continued research and development in gaming currency, security and table game technologies in an effort to improve and expand on the products we offer. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on providing our global customer base unique, quality products to help streamline their operations.
Genesis Gaming Solutions/Genesis Interactive Technologies
We believe that 2013 is going see the table game industry continue to expand and evolve into a cutting-edge operation for the casino.
Casino operators are becoming more sophisticated in their search for ways to make their table game enterprise more profitable. In the last several years, we have seen casino table gaming transform from the traditional “old-school” manual operation to one that increasingly relies on technology and new ideas. Table game managers are looking at how they can bring in more revenue from the games themselves, as well as how they can make their table game operations more efficient.
We’ve seen the actual games continue to evolve, with side bets and proposition bets being added to the traditional games. These side bets not only give players more options and added value to their gaming experience, but they also provide the opportunity for operators to generate more revenue per table. But with so many new game concepts and side bets available these days, it can be difficult for operators to know which ones are profitable. It is extremely important to be able to accurately track and capture hand count data for side bets, as well as regular table play. Without this information, it is impossible to properly analyze the performance of any table game, much less its side or proposition bets. Our patented Card and Chip Detection system, which works with the BRAVO Pit table management system, was developed to track and capture exact hand count and bet activity at the table. Not only does the system help table game operators get more precise information to perform cost-benefit analysis of any side or bonus bet, but it helps them more accurately rate players, which benefits everyone.
Table game operators are also looking to new technology to help them make their daily activity more efficient. Gone are the days when casino management relied on the observations of busy pit managers to keep them informed about what was happening in the pit. With new technology, management has immediate access to information pertaining to their table operations, including dealer performance, player activity, buy-ins, average bet, table inventory, etc.
With all of this new information now readily available to table game operators, we also foresee casinos utilizing more and more social media to connect with their table players. Through table management systems like BRAVO Pit, pit managers can capture more detailed data on specific players, like their game and betting preferences, and customize promotions and messages specifically for them. Online and mobile apps, like BRAVO Poker Live, let casinos communicate directly with their customer base in real time, and players can get up-to-the-minute updates on the latest happenings at their favorite properties. Players who use BRAVO Poker Live can check in with their favorite poker rooms to see what tournaments and promotions are currently running, which games are live and how long the waiting lists are for each game type. Or players can search for specific games or tournaments within a specific distance or region. And this year we will be rolling out our online tournament registration feature, which will allow players to register for poker tournaments, reserve their seat and pay their registration fees all through the BRAVO Poker live app.
Having recently launched our new table games supply company, Genesis Interactive, we are now a comprehensive solutions provider to the table games industry. We are very much looking forward to growing our business in 2013.
Those of you in table game management who attended this year’s G2E show in Las Vegas were probably not that excited about new table game content. What was noticeable was the increased presence of dealer-assisted electronic table games. Many of the larger manufacturers from around the world have invested in this technology, and for good reason. As table games managers, we are constantly challenged to curtail our operational costs. As labor is our No. 1 cost and managing it is our No. 1 expense variable, managers must find ways for dealers to service more customers, thereby reducing the number of dealers necessary to service the same customer base. Eliminating bleed by eliminating dealer decisions, increased decisions per hour and lower training costs are just a few of the ways that this style of table game will assist managers in reducing budget costs.
INAG Inc. owns a card-based roulette game, in place in California and Oklahoma tribal gaming. Mystery Card Roulette (MCR) has been widely received by both the customers and casinos alike. Pechanga Casino in California operates 10 tables with their eye on expanding to more. MCR allows these casinos the opportunity to offer a popular game using cards that would not be legal in the traditional format. This is great but does not afford the management staff the ability to massage their costs. Now enters Turbo Card Roulette (TCR), a dealer-assisted electronic table game that operates using two custom shufflers. Patented by INAG, it contains hard plastic (credit card plastic) cards that have RFID embedded in them as well as being bar coded. A single dealer (operator) can operate the front end operation with about 10 minutes of training, and can service up to 250 customers with zero bleed, zero gaming decisions and up to 120 decisions per hour.
This type of game falls under GLI 25 standards, and is considered a table game. Terminals are placed in one or multiple locations, and serve as bet placement positions only. No RNGs are present in the individual terminals as all results are generated by cards. In states like California, where slot licenses are limited and the casinos are not charged on table game revenue, this is a great benefit by itself.
Table game managers need to start looking at this style of gaming as they still have the warmth of a live person at the helm of the game so the personal interaction with the player is still there. The casino wins, as with one dealer serving large numbers of customers it enables increased revenue to the bottom line, and without having to budget for capital expense. This type of game will also add security to table games as there is no way to cheat the game via dealer-player collusion. The cards are memorized when placed in the shuffler, so no card will read except those memorized. These cards will last for months.
The other thing table games managers must now concern themselves with is the lack of new table game content due to a recent Supreme Court ruling which, in its current situation, does not make it worthwhile for a new game developer to go through the long patent process only to be rejected in the end. Our hopes, as game designers, are that the courts will re-visit their decision and give the United States Patent and Trademark Office a better picture on what their ruling entailed. If they don’t, table games managers will not see a lot of new content to offer their customers. This style of game is the future. Embrace it!
Vice President of Global Sales
Moving into 2013, we are seeing similar trends to what we saw in 2012, just at a much faster pace. Casinos are installing electronic table games (ETGs) in higher volume and more often, as players are becoming more comfortable with the concept. These games allow players to play at their own pace in their own comfort zone, while the casino can expect to see more win per unit. With ETGs, casinos don’t have to worry about staffing and can now produce more games per hour than the average table game. More jurisdictions are opening, and as that happens, we are releasing a larger variety of product. Players can now choose from blackjack, roulette, baccarat craps and even Sic Bo. Even the jurisdictions that don’t allow table games can allow their players to experience the games they love. The customers and the players like the flexibility of our product; they can choose what they want to play, when and how. Additionally, new technology is always on the horizon and is constantly adding new dimensions to games.
With faster processors comes more rapid game play, benefiting players as well as the operators. Not only that, but better graphics and more appealing hardware are attracting the eye of the younger generation, while providing the seasoned players the classic games they have always loved. We are constantly updating our technology to stay ahead and assist casinos in keeping their players interested. We have added enhancements to traditional table games, such as the Touchdown Roulette side bet. If this side bet is triggered, players will choose a team—red or black—and over four spins, their team will have the chance to get closer to their end zone, which will determine payout. Beyond that, we are preparing to release the Interblock Hologram Lounge, a product we first showed at G2E 2012. This will not only allow players to play their game with the look and feel of a live dealer, but the casino can add advertising all with the touch of a button.
We continue to improve and provide great customer service to ensure that our product is always at its highest level of performance. Customers and players are now embracing our products because of the ease of play in an environment that is perfect for beginner players as well as veteran table game players. Classic table games, coupled with the Interblock technology and new enhancements, are sure to provide casino floors with more excitement in the year to come.
I believe there are several prevalent themes for our industry in 2013—and particularly for SHFL—and those are the macro environment, i-gaming, market evolution and trends toward greater efficiency and security on the floor.
We are still in the midst of a challenging economic environment with soft consumer spend impacting the industry at large. Recovery is happening, albeit slowly. People want to gamble, and with so much gaming expansion over the last few years, they now have the convenience of going to their neighborhood casino. It’s no longer just a destination/vacation dynamic. This, of course, impacts supply, so we’re seeing casinos look for ways to have an edge in competitive markets, such as pursuing products that deliver enhanced efficiencies, getting creative with promotions and a compelling myriad of game offerings, and protecting every dollar with increased security measures. Fortunately, that aligns perfectly into all that SHFL entertainment has to offer with our five diverse product categories (utility products, specialty table games, e-tables, slot machines and i-gaming).
I think 2013 will still be challenging, but we’ve been operating this way for a while, so we’ve all learned to deal with a new normal. Each region has its own nuances and challenges. As a supplier, we need to keep innovating and coming up with ways to make all of our customers more profitable. That creates a win-win for us all.
I-gaming is still front and center and will continue to be a hot topic in 2013. Now that the election is behind us, we’re seeing i-gaming initiatives gain steam once again. I believe that 2013 will be a year with greater understanding and more clarity on i-gaming and how it works. The terminology will become less intimidating and the ways to think about measuring success in this area will become more defined. I think more gaming companies will start to embrace the various forms of interactive engagement and explore ways that it can enhance their business.
Personally, my vision is that online gaming will one day be ubiquitous, much like we’ve seen online commerce affect so many other industries. Online offerings have either created a complementary arm to land-based businesses or the industry itself has completely changed as a result. Online gaming needs to be well-regulated, secure and truly universal. I believe it serves as a complementary extension and a new revenue generator for operators and suppliers.
We will see a continued theme of market evolution carry into 2013. Maryland passed live table games this past November; that will be a big transition for that market in 2013. As a world-leading supplier of card shufflers and specialty table games, we look forward to serving as a go-to provider of security, efficiency and entertainment solutions. Globally, there are new openings in Asia, and that market is growing and evolving like no other. In the next several years, the Asian gaming landscape will witness dramatic growth, and as a result, the opportunities that will arise for our industry are numerous.
With the current environment, players seeking low-denomination games have grown greatly in volume and comprise a real demographic. Many operators have recognized that this is the new reality and have either adjusted denominations or sought creative alternatives like e-tables. I think we’ll continue to see the e-table trend extend into 2013 and we look forward to hopefully riding that wave with our newly refreshed offerings unveiled at G2E.
We’re also seeing more and more operators around the globe pursue greater security on their floors. It’s happening even in markets we thought were at least a few years off. With the introduction of our MD3 card shuffler for blackjack and baccarat into the marketplace, we’ve moved one step closer to our goal of making optical card recognition a must-have feature in the pit. The importance of this technology cannot be underestimated; it provides an additional layer of security so there is complete deck integrity.
2012 has been an interesting year for the gaming industry—one of tentative growth. But for the first time in three years, it’s one with a more positive outlook—particularly in the United States—as we see the industry begin to kick-start investment as we come out of the economic downturn. Asia continues to grow, and Macau continues to set records.
For me personally, the year has flown by since I’ve taken over as Group CEO of TCSJOHNHUXLEY in March. I’ve spent the first six months talking to employees and customers, understanding our business. That feedback can be condensed into two key areas and form the basis for our strategy moving forward—improving our infrastructure, the internal processes/systems and a more targeted product portfolio that provides value to our customers and to TCSJOHNHUXLEY.
We’ve had a significant infrastructure project underway for the past five months that concluded at the end of October. This gives us additional controls and efficiencies for our business and allows us to manage it in a more data-driven way. We have reviewed our product portfolio and analyzed our strengths and weaknesses. We have split our portfolio into traditional and technical products, as we are one of the few companies that offer products across both segments from tables, displays, cards, chips and chippers, to table bonusing and real-time game optimization systems. We believe that this is a compelling story for our customers.
Table games are enjoying increasing popularity, and we are well-positioned to provide solutions to our customers that deliver on all levels. Our traditional core products are well-established, but we are now focusing more on technical/software products that add value for the customer by driving revenue and driving efficiencies.
In line with table game growth, we have expanded our team in Asia, adding an additional seven staff members who specialize in technical support, project management and sales, to prepare for the next phase developments in Macau, as well as the significant projects in the Philippines, Vietnam and throughout Asia. We are also looking to increase our presence in South America, as the market there expands and more areas open up. In North America, we are focusing on making sure we have the right product mix, as well as expanding our technical product portfolio so we are able to add to the established traditional range.
We are actively growing our development team, and as a significant start have opened a software development division next to York University in the U.K., giving us access to the best software talent in the country. We are very focused on expanding the technical part of our product portfolio.
So looking forward to 2013, we see our newest innovations—Gaming Floor Live, a real-time data system; Supernova bonus system, a progressive and game bonusing system; and Tablet Roulette, an exciting server-based solution, offering tablet and mobile device gaming in a live environment—providing us with the foundation to grow. As our customers’ businesses change, we are well-positioned to add value. All of our platforms will be common so that we can develop compelling applications that provide effective efficiency solutions and drive our customers’ revenues.