2014 Gaming Industry Forecast: Part 3

 

André Wilsenach
Executive Director
Alderney Gambling Control Commission

It was generally agreed that the global recession will result in significant consolidation within the eGaming industry. Although this did indeed occur, we have not really seen the level of consolidation that most gaming observers expected. However, the introduction of regulation and taxation at point of consumption (POC), which is already evident in both Europe and the United States, is likely to have a much bigger impact.

The global eGaming and taxation environment is evolving into one of an increasing number of regulated markets, seeking to impose their share of taxes on the sector.  While some new markets will open up to eGaming groups and opportunities are likely to arise for pooling players and businesses in different regulated markets, the overwhelming impact of regulation at the POC is to substantially reduce profitability in comparison with profits previously achieved in unregulated markets.

Accordingly, eGambling groups will increasingly be protective of their post-tax revenues in regulated markets, something which might just play in the hands of jurisdictions such as Alderney, which has no option but to carefully consider its future role and how to remain a relevant force in this new world of multiple licensing authorities.

The fact that companies that are already operating appropriately from Alderney are exempt from VAT, with the potential to eliminate issues over irrecoverable VAT, and also Alderney’s 0 percent gaming duty, which avoids potential double taxation concerns in newly regulated jurisdictions, must be of particular import to eGaming operators.

Having said that, many of the potential tax advantages for eGaming groups are and will increasingly be linked to those groups having significant presence in the jurisdiction (or in other tax effective jurisdictions), and this may necessitate changes in the way some eGambling groups have historically operated.

While a number of the advantages of operating from Alderney relate to the cost effectiveness of taxation, this forms only part of the overall picture that will be important for eGambling groups when considering where to license and locate their gaming operations. There are clearly other key potential advantages such reputation and quality of regulation; technical superiority and infrastructure; a supportive approach to developing the skills needed by eGaming groups, skills which are often shared by the finance industry; and most importantly, the ease of doing business and living conditions.

From a regulatory perspective, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has worked hard to ensure that the regulatory standards it upholds enable licensees to operate freely and legally within regulated markets. Our reputation among other regulators responsible for consumer markets within the EU and the U.S. has secured their cooperation in facilitating access to markets our licensees, which is evidenced by the number of bilateral agreements we have entered into.

Our regulatory standards underpin player confidence and provide assurance to investors, financiers and other institutions. This is very important in a world where transactions will no longer be restricted to national borders as governments will have no option but to start sharing player liquidity across borders in order to retain or increase their gaming revenues.

Similarly, the increased multinational face of the industry will require regulators of eGaming to work much closer together, something which can only be achieved if there is a real commitment to being part of the solution rather than the problem. Well-run and stable regulatory regimes, characterized by a pragmatic, flexible, professional and transparent approach will increasingly distinguish themselves from rest, whether they are regulating at the POC or the point of establishment.

Travis Foley
EVP Operations
BMM Testlabs—Americas

Last year at this time, BMM announced our move to new state-of-the-art global headquarters. We knew that we would continue to grow in 2013, but just a year later we are pleased to announce that we are already set to expand our test lab facility in Las Vegas by early 2014. As the economy continues to improve, this is just one example of the growth we have seen in the gaming industry over the last year. For BMM Testlabs the recovery has translated into significant expansion, as demand for our highly qualified staff and services continues to grow.Looking to 2014, we see the industry continuing to embrace technical innovation and competition to lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Major manufacturers will release new gaming platforms and games while facing increased competition from smaller manufacturers who are keen to expand their global footprints. Operators will focus on technologies from a greater number of suppliers to expand and improve the patron experience. Regulators will look to allow new technology into their jurisdictions as they continue to face slowly improving revenue and increasing competition from neighboring jurisdictions. All will be looking for that special innovation or efficiency that will drive their own growth in the market, and all will be looking to each other to play their part.

For independent testing laboratories, these are all opportunities to build and grow partnerships. As we have always done, BMM will continue to assist manufacturers, operators and regulators in their endeavors, but during this upcoming year significant changes can be made to create real and tangible differences. At BMM we believe that creating efficiencies and lowering costs while maintaining the highest levels of integrity and accountability is key.

Importantly, increased competition and standardization in the independent testing laboratory sector will make a marked improvement in the gaming industry with benefits for all stakeholders. Independent testing laboratories must work together as manufacturers, operators and regulators have done in the past for true efficiencies and real customer choice in the gaming testing marketplace to be realized.

As I continue my role at BMM after many years as a gaming regulator, I am impressed by the industry’s ability to grow and work together. I am reminded, however, that the industry still faces obstacles. Whether it’s education, regulations, technology or testing—BMM Testlabs will continue to be at the forefront, offering advice to all regulatory agencies, manufacturers and operators to assist a smooth transition into 2014 and beyond. BMM wishes choice, prosperity and growth to the gaming industry in 2014.

Ian Hughes
Vice President of Global Services
Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)

2014 will be a very interesting year for regulators, suppliers, operators and players in jurisdictions around the world. Continuing i-gaming expansion, Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), social gaming and virtual currencies, combined with converging games and systems in the brick-and-mortar space, are providing opportunities as well as challenges for regulators, operators and suppliers around the world.

Our focus will be ensuring that each of these groups is able to accomplish their tasks of keeping the game fair for everyone while at the same time moving the industry forward toward increased profitability.

Over the past two years, GLI has dramatically increased our capacity in terms of labor hours and the number of locations we operate worldwide. While we are unlikely to revisit the dramatic upswing in hiring that we did in 2012 and early 2013, we forecast that we will continue to add staff in key lab locations as demand for our land-based and i-gaming services continues to grow.

This expansion in capacity will be coupled with an expansion in the exclusive tools that we offer to both regulators and suppliers. We have several tools in operation today that decrease time and costs that can be associated with the testing process and that speed time to market, and in 2014 we will continue to develop and release tools for suppliers that will further increase efficiencies, reduce costs and speed time to market.

For manufacturers we will also be unveiling new engineering tools that will make the engineering process more streamlined. In late 2013, we released our GLI S.C.A.L.E. SM tool that allows for load testing and other functionality that is critical for successful testing, and in 2014 we will add additional tools to this engineering toolbox. For regulators we are releasing GLiCloudSM that provide for faster and more accurate floor verification.

With the increase adoption of BYOD and i-gaming, network security will be an increasing concern for both regulators and operators. GLI continues to address the associated risks with Network Risk Assessment Audits and tailored training and education. In 2014, in addition to our highly successful contact training program, we will be supplementing our training programs with Web-based training seminars.

Certainly, we can forecast that our work in the i-gaming arena will grow in 2014. A growing number of consumers are questioning the RNG factor in online gaming, and this will result in a growing need for operators to clearly demonstrate that their games and systems have been properly tested and certified by an independent test lab. This is not to say that consumers are against i-gaming; clearly the trend shows they are not. What this does indicate is that consumers simply want assurance that the game they are playing is fair. This consumer need for reassurance is appearing in both traditional online gaming and in the quickly developing world of social gaming. Regulators, suppliers and operators will pay close attention to consumer reaction. The independent testing that will result will be good for everyone involved—from regulators to consumers—and we forecast that iGaming will continue to expand, in the U.S. and around the world.

From the entire team at GLI, best wishes for a very Happy New Year.

Allen Godfrey
Executive Director
Mississippi Gaming Commission

There is no doubt that the recession, increased regional competition, and natural and manmade disasters have all taken their toll on the Mississippi gaming industry, yet, in spite of it all, the market has regained a sense of equilibrium. After such a challenging list, equilibrium sounds good, but the Mississippi Gaming Commission desires more than the status quo for the gaming industry in our state. In the last year, the commission has taken regulatory steps to see that the gaming industry remains healthy in the years to come.

In February the commission passed a new regulation aimed at generating jobs, fueling economic development and improving the overall quality of life for the state. Instead of seeing more “pretty boxes with slots” being built, and cannibalizing existing gaming revenue from the existing properties, the commission changed the requirements for new developments to obtain approval to proceed with development. The new regulation requires new projects to “have or support an amenity that will be unique to the market and will encourage economic development and promote tourism.”

This regulation has already influenced potential new developments, as they now also consider what additional amenities they can offer that will make their property, and Mississippi, a more attractive tourist destination. Ultimately it is all about expanding the gaming industry revenue pie, not just cutting the slices smaller.

The amount that existing properties throughout the state are reinvesting in their own properties is always another positive development. The Golden Nugget acquired The Isle of Capri, Mississippi’s first casino, last year. It  rebranded the casino, all while continuing to pour more than $100 million into the project. All along the Gulf Coast, development is underway as The Hard Rock Casino is building a $30 million  hotel tower, and The Silver Slipper Casino is building a hotel for the first time. The Island View Casino signed a long-term lease with the Port of Gulfport and is refurbishing a beachside hotel and adding convention space, retail and new pool area. Not just along the Coast but along the Mississippi River, positive changes are underway. Natchez saw its second casino open, and the TropCasino Greenville has moved completely onto permanent pilings, and it is looking to expand the facility along the water.

In addition to looking to the future to secure greater and more diverse streams of revenue and reinvesting in existing properties, the Mississippi Legislature passed a law that explicitly banned Internet sweepstakes cafés. This law took effect in July and has added another tool in the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s arsenal to protect citizens from unscrupulous businesses and illegal gambling.

Finally, while it remains unlikely that Mississippi will copy other states that have legalized some form of Internet gaming, Mississippi will always remain committed to technological innovations that increase efficiencies and lower cost to increase revenue.
Now, as 2014 arrives, the Mississippi Gaming Commission remains committed to fairly regulating and supporting the vitality of the gaming industry.

Jonodev Chaudhuri
Chairwoman
National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC)

The National Indian Gaming Commission recently released data showing growth in the Indian gaming industry for the third consecutive year, culminating in the highest revenues ever for 2013. All seven of the NIGC’s administrative regions experienced growth in 2013, and improved economic conditions in the United States are expected to support this growth trend in 2014. This ongoing success is at least partly due to the technological advances cultivated by tribal gaming and the new and exciting products and services that technology is making possible.

First and foremost, the NIGC recognized that its regulations had to keep up with the technology. So in 2013, the NIGC gathered experts from tribal gaming operation across the country to review and make recommendations for updating the Minimum Internal Control Standards and Technical Standards. Based on their recommendations, as well as public comment and our own detailed internal review, the NIGC overhauled the standards to better address modern gaming. Realizing that one size does not fit all, the updated standards provide tribes with the flexibility to adapt technological advances to their particular needs.

Because Indian gaming operations have become more server-reliant, we have increased our IT training and technical assistance courses. Our Regulating Gaming Technology (RGT) course is currently the most frequently offered training. The course is offered annually in each region; however, due to demand, we are considering additional offerings in several regions.
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RGT is designed for novice and veteran staff alike. The course provides a foundation of knowledge and skills to prepare all staff and provide an understanding of various gaming technologies on the casino floor and strategies to effectively regulate such technology. RGT also provides instruction critical to understanding the unique gaming machine technology structure and a deep insight into current IT security threats and vulnerabilities. At the conclusion, participants leave with real world examples, materials and information they can take back to their tribal gaming regulators and operations to assist in their regulatory environment.

You will also see a completely new look, design and feel at NIGC.gov in the near future. Our Division of Public Affairs spent several months mapping more than 30,000 website visits per month, looking at how users enter the website, where users spend their time and the pages they visit. Based on a review of the user data, we redesigned the website to provide a more user-friendly and intuitive site. We also designed the website to present the commission in a consistent, professional and contemporary manner and emphasize the importance and scope of our work. We hope that you will find it much easier to navigate and get the information that you need.

The result will be reduced vulnerabilities, increased efficiency and regulatory assurances that Indian gaming complies with ordinances, regulations and laws that protect the industry and serve the public.

Robert R. Russell
Senior Gaming Analyst
Regulatory Management Counselors

The gaming industry will continue to focus on Internet-based wagering and similar technologies throughout 2014, as the industry looks for growth.

As the gaming industry continues to evolve with an increased reliance on technological developments and the anticipation of interstate Internet gaming, many operators will continue to develop innovative Internet, mobile, and interactive gaming efforts. The range of potential online opportunities, from the poker websites authorized in Nevada to the full range of casino games available through websites in Delaware, will continue to proliferate in various gaming jurisdictions as the industry grapples with how best to approach interactive gaming activity.

These diverse business approaches will assist in providing innovative strategies for implementing interactive gaming into commercial casinos’ wider gaming portfolios in a variety of markets, as well as develop a new growth area for the industry.

In turn, gaming regulators and state legislatures will be faced with the job of defining the Internet gaming activities within their respective jurisdictions. Throughout 2013, several different approaches were presented for such regulation, each uniquely tailored to address specific concerns within each jurisdiction.

While it is unclear whether there will be federal authorization for Internet gaming activity in the upcoming year, several states will likely offer some forms of intrastate Internet gaming in various capacities. These efforts are likely to be modeled after the existing standards in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware as each of these jurisdictions revises and tailors its interactive gaming regulations. As such, operators and suppliers that operate in multiple gaming jurisdictions will be faced with an increasingly complicated patchwork of varying state regulatory standards as the industry tries to determine the most effective method to regulate interactive gaming activity. As with outreach efforts to state actors, industry groups and trade associations will play an ever important role in understanding the regulatory landscape across multiple jurisdictions and providing assistance to suppliers and operators.

The industry will continue to invest into the future of i-gaming in 2014, and it is very likely that the picture of what the future landscape will develop based upon the actions taken by legislative, regulatory and industry leaders. With the very small sampling of i-gaming operations in Nevada, it appears that the market has the ability to grow. Therefore, although strides in i-gaming will occur in 2014 from a policy perspective, it is unlikely to be a year that the economic benefits are fully realized.  However, the future of the industry will be shaped by what occurs during 2014 as the industry seeks to modernize and establish the framework for legalization, regulation and operation of this industry segment.

Roy Corby
Chief Operating Officer
Acres 4.0

While most vendors will write about Internet gaming, their latest licensed slot theme or the still lagging economic recovery in their gaming industry forecasts, Acres 4.0 has a very different focus as we begin 2014. We believe our industry needs to get back to the basics: focusing on guest service and empowering our staff to deliver the type of experiences customers what to repeat.

Take a step back for a moment and think about your staff. If you were to take a close look at the employees within your organization, how many of them do you think feel good about working at your company? 60 percent, maybe? Perhaps closer to 80 percent? Well, according to a recent Gallup report, more than two-thirds of U.S. workers (70 percent) are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. That means the majority of your workforce is struggling to find the energy and interest to do their job to the best of their abilities. Beyond the taxing labor costs involved in having a disengaged workforce, the real problem here is how this impacts your customers. And believe me, it does.

Changing this trend in employee disengagement while increasing customer service levels is what’s shaping our business in 2014. And we’re doing it through a movement we’re calling Radio Free Casinos. Ask your casino line staff what one of the biggest burdens of their job is, and they’ll likely tell you it’s the annoying, bulky, archaic transceiver radios they must use every day to communicate with each other. With constant radio noise in their ears, employees are forced to only half-listen to and half-engage with guests, lest they miss a notice that they’re needed somewhere else.

Radio Free means losing those expensive and inefficient transceiver radios throughout the casino floor and beyond. In their place instead are inexpensive, wearable mobile devices equipped with software that gives employees whatever information they need to complete meaningful tasks for the organization, whether it’s on the slot floor, at the bar, in the hotel or at the valet stand.

This Radio Free movement centers on our new customer service and communication solution Kai™. Built on the concept that giving employees clear direction, instruction and information will empower them to provide great customer service, Kai is about the betterment of people and not about technology. While Kai is currently deployed only on the casino floor, he’s about to become an entire resort management system that simultaneously embodies rules of conduct and empowers employees to deliver more rapid, personalized service.

We initially worried that employees would resent taking work assignments from an automated personality, but we’ve found exactly the opposite to be true. Workers are glad to be relieved of listening to radio traffic all day, and they like getting concise work assignments that allow them to truly please players.

Our current Kai partners have found an increase in employee morale and a newfound energy and focus on service since bringing him in and moving toward a Radio Free Casino. With nearly a dozen properties already seeing a competitive difference since installing Kai, 2014 will mark an increase in market penetration and the advancement of Kai’s core features.

We firmly believe that once your employees’ daily lives are enhanced using this new way of Radio Free communication, so are your customers’ experiences. And that’s what we’re in the business of—enhancing experiences for both employees and customers.

Danny Gladstone 
CEO
Ainsworth Game Technology

Ainsworth is 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 offerings featuring a complete range of versatile cabinet options to support its rapidly expanding global game range providing total flexibility for slot operators to maximize investment value. As we move forward into 2014, Ainsworth will release a new addition to its cabinet range with the A560®SL. Featuring a striking 32-inch portrait display, 19-inch LCD top screen and dynamic attract lighting, the A560SL is set to steal the show. With the release of the A560SL in 2014, a ground-breaking range of A560SL game brands such as Sweet Zone™, Whopper Reels™, Rampaging Rhino™ and Bonus Bonanza™ will also be debuting. All games will be available with the optional Progressive Jackpot Topper.

Ainsworth’s latest innovation-inspired penny product, Reels of Wheels™, encased in the eye-catching A560® Wide Boy™ cabinet will continue to impress in 2014. Since its installation, Reels of Wheels has been a crowd favorite, producing strong performance numbers. Reels of Wheels is feature-rich with eight exhilarating free games providing guaranteed wild symbols and an accumulating wild multiplier, multiplying wins up to 5X on reel three.

In addition, Reels of Wheels is sure to be a hit with players as it continuously rewards with four levels of rapid triggering stand-alone progressives featuring a $5,000 grand jackpot option. Scott Clarebrough, Ainsworth’s group general manager strategy and development, comments, “the rapid fire progressives coupled with the Reel of Wheels multi-wheel feature provides the potential to add a new dimension to your gaming floor.”

As Ainsworth continues to grow, so will the technologies we offer. Internet gaming is the next technology shift for brick-and-mortar casino properties just as touch screen mobile phones and tablets have changed their respective industries. The Ainsworth team is embracing online technology and integrating our traditional development processes with online and mobile platforms to be able to provide a seamless experience for players on all formats. We aim to provide our market-leading slot contents to casino properties in all mediums.

Ainsworth’s game range will expand significantly during 2014, taking full advantage of the latest in display technologies.  Such technologies can be seen in our A560 Wide Boy cabinet, which features an eye-catching landscape display that is fully maximized with games such as Reels of Wheels. Curved horizontal reel bonus features will be shown using the latest display technologies in the new A560SL and soon-to-be-released Bonus Bonanza.

Ken Bossingham
Chief Operating Officer
American Gaming Systems (AGS)

2014 promises to be a transformative year at AGS. We are coming off our strongest G2E showing to date and looking forward to delivering cutting-edge content to our customers in both Class II and Class III markets with our It Pays to Know™ series, which kicked off with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!™ last fall. We have successfully navigated the Illinois VLT market and know that our experience there can translate to other new markets as we continue to pursue licenses in new jurisdictions. We are poised for growth in both new and existing markets, with our first two key approvals in commercial gaming jurisdictions, Louisiana and Nevada, and we are excited about the opportunities ahead as we come under new ownership this year.

While growth and change are a heady cocktail, though, a core value of AGS is loyalty. We remain grounded in our Class II roots and committed to delivering our core customers, who have been with us for years, the best product, service and experience the industry has to offer. We are committed to bringing high-earning titles to our core Class II markets, including a wide-area progressive developed solely for Class II. We have partnered with industry-leading developers and manufacturers, such as Colossal Gaming, to bring new robust content to Class II that has proven to be a player favorite everywhere it’s installed.

Our goal for 2014 is to bring even more compelling content to our customers and players through the use of predictive analytics. Companies from Amazon to Wal-Mart are using data to drive business and customize the user experience to much success, and we believe that we need to do the same in gaming to drive repeat play and encourage trial from new players. To that end, we are building a data department focused on predictive analytics, and we hope to partner with our customers to drive mutually beneficial results in the coming year. The best development is informed development, and we plan to get closer to our customers and players to ensure the timely and accurate flow of information straight through to our game development teams.

It’s interesting to sit here today and think of where we have been, where we are and where we’re going, especially as we’re in a time of such great flux. We are a company born from Class II and tribal gaming, and we owe a lot to those operators who have stood by us and helped us get here today. We are also a growing company, moving forward into new territory where the smallest inroad can mean big things for our organization. And finally, we are a company looking to the future, working to differentiate ourselves and bring world-class technology, performance and service to an already-crowded marketplace. We believe that we cannot achieve that goal without listening to both our casino customers and the players, on not just of our games but of all games.

Jamie Odell
CEO and Managing Director
Aristocrat

2013 was another positive year for Aristocrat as we continued to execute our growth strategy across key markets and segments. Nowhere was our progress more exciting than here in North America, Aristocrat’s largest and most strategically important regional business. Strong new games drove double-digit growth in our gaming operations footprint, an increased share in outright sales and a higher average selling price for Aristocrat products over 2013 compared with the previous year.

This momentum reflects the progress we’ve made in putting our “best games” commitment at the very center of our business. In practical terms, we significantly stepped up our investment in technical and creative talent over the past 18 months. We also sharpened our focus on what customers and players really want with more effort directed not only at pure innovation but also at fast following and speedier development cycles that respond quickly to fast-changing market demand.

The quality and breadth of the portfolios Aristocrat showcased across our major tradeshows in 2013 set a new benchmark for our business, generating very positive customer feedback. I was delighted to see more than 210 great new Aristocrat games on display at G2E 2013, representing our most exciting North American portfolio to date.

Our recently released E*SERIES range of entertainment games represents our first compelling offer in the growing entertainment segment. The strong momentum the E*SERIES titles are already generating in the U.S. market is encouraging for Aristocrat, and we will certainly look to build on this. Looking ahead, we will also be bringing more multi-site progressive titles to market, helping our customers capitalize on increasing demand for MSP game play.

I’m also looking forward to the release of more gaming operations titles in 2014, including stunning new games from legendary designers including Joe Kaminkow, Ted Hase and Aristocrat’s other great creative talents. Key releases including The Walking Dead™, Flashdance™, Batman 1966™, Rolling Stones™ and a new participation version of the blockbuster Buffalo™ franchise will headline our release schedule.

Of course, Aristocrat is also positioned to ensure we can grow and build value not only in existing markets, but in emerging ones as well. With the acquisition of Product Madness Inc, a leading publisher of social slots, we increased our online gaming presence in 2013—delivering all the benefits of a top-tier social casino operator and best of breed social gaming platform. Throughout the year, we worked to leverage new and existing distribution opportunities for our broad game content library in the social network and mobile gaming channels, with early Facebook app releases generating encouraging results.

We also took full control of the award-winning nLive™ product, offering our U.S. casino partners a fully branded, free-play site to promote their venues and better engage their customers. nLive is also capable of delivering real-money online gaming in the U.S., ensuring our casino partners are well positioned to take advantage of further opportunities as the industry evolves.

Finally, I’m very pleased to see positive momentum in our Oasis 360™ systems business as we approach the milestone of signing our 300th casino customer. We will continue to work hard to retain our valued customers and grow our install base further with the best possible systems products and services.

As we look ahead to 2014, the whole Aristocrat team is energized and committed. Our unrelenting focus will be on delivering the best performing games and systems to our customers, helping them to succeed and, in the process, accelerating our own journey of transformation and growth.

Ramesh Srinivasan
President and CEO
Bally Technologies Inc.

The acquisition of SHFL entertainment opens up many new frontiers for Bally Technologies. The gaming industry will begin to see the benefits of working with a world-class, end-to-end gaming and technology innovator. There are significant advantages of customer-centric companies like Bally and SHFL with extraordinary track records of innovation, now being in a position to offer a broad portfolio of high-quality products including games, systems, proprietary table games, electronic table systems, i-gaming technology and content, automatic card shufflers and chip sorters.

Bally’s ability to offer such an interesting breadth of products also presents a great opportunity to engineer various value-added integration solutions across the different product segments. Bally also faces the tantalizing prospect of immense growth possibilities in each product segment. As long as Bally keeps up the pace of innovation, which it has established over the past few years—earning more than 60 awards for innovation—the sky is the limit!

During 2014, the Bally Premium Games product line, including the wide-area progressive family, will see the introduction of many compelling brand name products such as Titanic, The Magic of David Copperfield and Grease: Pink Ladies. The much anticipated Pro Wave and Pro Jumbo V55 cabinets are close to being launched in our for-sale games segment. The Pro Wave features a unique 40-inch concave touch-screen display. The Pro Jumbo cabinet is a stunning 9-foot tall showcase. Both these cabinets are being launched with a wide array of past and new game titles.
Apart from adding considerable strength, diversity and breadth to Bally’s slot machine offerings both in terms of cabinets and content, including the North American rollout of the highly successful progressive jackpot link Duo Fu Duo Cai for Asian-based themes 88 Fortunes and 5 Treasures, we expect the SHFL acquisition to also enable new product launches such as SHFL Flex, a new pricing model that enables certain occasional-table-use operators to pay based on actual shuffler usage; Table Master Fusion, a fully electronic e-table with touch screen wagering, optional side bets and an attractive virtual dealer; and new proprietary table game content, including derivatives of blackjack and poker with side bets and progressives for existing games.

As the leader in the casino systems area, Bally is all set to move the focus up a notch toward enabling its customers, both large and small, with revenue- and margin-increasing Elite Bonusing Suite (EBS) floorwide marketing tools built on well-established, powerful, reliable and secure slot, player tracking and patron user display (iVIEW, DM) products, well-supported by an array of business intelligence, media management (CoolSign), service tracking manager and other value-adding analysis and execution management modules. During 2014, we expect to add more creative and effective enhancements to the EBS modules such as DM Tournaments while also adding many new applications such as DM Wagering, Power Progressives, eWallet and PokerView.

We expect Bally’s technology and content offerings to grow rapidly in the Internet and mobile gaming worlds during the coming year. Our i-gaming platform will continue to grow both in terms of footprint and functionality to become the anchor of the single view of the patron (across online, mobile and land-based core player tracking systems) vision, which is a crucial requirement for our customer base.

Our solid systems strength will prove to be of great strategic importance in this regard. The land-based core systems will provide the base to help operators track, reward and cross-market to all patrons regardless of channel of gaming content use. Bally is also well positioned to make its market-leading table and slot content put to very good use in both unregulated (social gaming) and regulated gaming markets.

All things considered, we expect Bally to continue to create significantly increased value for its employees, customers and share holders during the coming year. On behalf of Bally, best wishes to all readers for a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2014!

Mauro Franic
Chief Operating Officer
Cadillac Jack

The gaming landscape remains extremely competitive as we enter the new year. However, we believe the playing field tilts in favor of suppliers who are nimble and have the ability to bring fresh products and new offerings to the casinos to provide diversification and value for their patrons. Even as the gaming industry faces challenges, manufacturers continue to invest in new developments and innovations which engage players and provide casino operators with a competitive edge. We all felt the tremendous energy and enthusiasm emanating from the marketplace during G2E this past October—higher attendance, more decision makers and truly exciting technology and innovations—signs of optimism in the market and economy.

This past year was a strong one for Cadillac Jack. I am very excited about the operational performance of the company as we continued to experience successful and profitable organic growth within our existing customer base, as well as obtaining new customers in new jurisdictions. Our primary focus in 2013 was to further penetrate the Class III market while continuing to provide high-performing products and services within our established markets and I am happy to announce that we successfully met this goal.

We received an enthusiastic reception for our new products during the past twelve months. Our strategy to provide our customers with a mix of innovative new player mechanics, as well as an expanded series of proven high-performing games, drove top performance for Cadillac Jack and our customers. In particular, our new White Buffalo series, which features the unique PowerXstream 3-4-4-4-3 reel configuration, has performed significantly above house average throughout the U.S. Our wide-area progressive line was re-energized with the introduction of the Stratos cabinet, which rises over eight feet in height and attracts players with a dynamic light display and interactive bonus capabilities.

Our experience and integration as a part the Amaya team has been nothing short of exceptional. Extensive support has been provided for expedient jurisdictional expansion, and we expect many new opportunities and synergies for the combined companies in both the U.S. and outside of North America, including one of our primary efforts to take select Cadillac Jack games onto the Amaya online platform.

As we look towards the future, Cadillac Jack has initiated an aggressive Class III expansion strategy. We kick off 2014 in hyper-growth as we begin the largest jurisdictional expansion in the history of our company. To further support this growth, we have commenced a retooling of our production processes to ensure exceptional quality control and integration of our horizontal manufacturing efficiencies and vertical integration with all of our suppliers with the end goal to offer more competitive pricing to our customers.

As we further differentiate ourselves through product innovations, we are excited to build upon our top performing product series including PowerXstream, Connect to Win and Goddess Treasures. We are also poised to release new game mechanics and math models to diversify our offering and provide an immersive gaming experience for players.

2014 will be a pivotal year in our expansion into new jurisdictions, online gaming and the significant expansion of our product portfolio. We are prepared for the challenges ahead, and we are excited to leverage this momentum to enter new markets and continue to build value for our customers.

Jaymin Patel
CEO
GTECH Americas

The coming 12 months promise to be among the most dynamic and interesting in the history of gaming as technology, new media channels and regulations evolve and intersect to create unique new opportunities.

We’re seeing a macro trend of greater strides toward liberalization in gaming markets. Governments around the world are becoming more comfortable with authorizing and regulating destination casino gaming, distributed slot machine gaming, interactive games and lottery privatizations.

Another macro trend is the growth of privatization models under which governments are seeing the benefits of partnering with experienced private organizations to responsibly drive their gaming programs’ long-term sustainable growth.

In terms of the enormous growth of interactive gaming, we don’t believe that brick-and-mortar operators should see it as a threat; instead, an online presence can boost the land-based operator’s brand and attract new players by encouraging online-only players to comfortably make their first forays into a land-based casino.
While convergence is a key trend in 2014, we recognize that interactive and land-based gaming remain very different markets. As a company fully immersed in both worlds, we develop strategies with our clients to appeal to players in each segment.

Interactive and other entertainment channels are influencing land-based casino product development, where larger high-definition displays, seamless touch-screen player interfaces, immersive 3-D visuals and animations, skill and entertainment-based game mechanics are integrating at a faster rate and creating an immersive entertainment experience beyond gambling.

We’re seeing increasing and diverse competition in this market, which is driving the emphasis on unique approaches to game design. Similarly, competition in the gaming operations arena is at an all-time peak, with an emphasis on high-profile branded licenses. The amount of premium offerings available to customers is greater than ever, so there’s more pressure on each product to perform.

In response to these trends, we’re rolling out our SPHINX 3D™ game, the first title in our new True3D™ premium product line, throughout North America in 2014. It’s housed in our next-generation hardware that brings together our new player-focused ergonomic AXXIS™ cabinet and a new digital button panel. It also features a player-adjustable, motion-capable 4-D gaming chair for optimal comfort and game immersion. Operators will also benefit from the wide recognition of our licensed, branded titles offered through an affordable leasing model as we continue to roll out our PopCap games library, particularly Zuma®, Bejeweled® and our Bejeweled® community link, in addition to our DEAL OR NO DEAL™: In It To Win It™ community link.

Mobile will play a critical role when it comes to building new player bases and entering emerging markets. We also expect the boundaries between different gaming segments to blur at an increasing rate, such as the impact of social gaming on real-money gaming.

Online operators will also need the right casino platform to gather critical 360-degree player intelligence and provide exclusive premium content in this rapidly changing market. They are seeking advanced analytics and the ability to target their marketing, enhancing player loyalty and increasing revenues.

For our online product rollouts in 2014, we’ll continue porting our casino slot content from our proven SPIELO games library across multiple distribution channels. We are accelerating the development of mobile games, and we plan to launch our games across all channels and devices, such as slot machines, desktop, tablet and mobile.

Convergence has vast potential. However, only the best-equipped suppliers with access to distribution across all channels, including land-based channels, and that operate with high levels of integrity in regulated markets will be able to fully deliver these opportunities to gaming operators.

Patti Hart
CEO
IGT

At IGT we continue to lead and transform gaming entertainment by creating and distributing best-in-class content for the casino floor, online and mobile devices. Anywhere that gaming exists, you will find IGT. We are committed to pursuing new market opportunities, for example in jurisdictions such as New Jersey that have implemented legal and regulated for-wager online gaming. Our involvement in New Jersey is a great example of how we are taking the same exciting game experiences that casino players know and love, and delivering them with the same game-play dynamics online and to mobile devices. IGT’s recognizable, fan-favorite titles enable our operator partners to engage players through their own branded, interactive casinos and platforms.

Elaine Hodgson
President and CEO
Incredible Technologies Inc.

2014 will be a breakout year for Incredible Technologies (IT). Though our history as an emerging slot manufacturer is still young, it has been filled with barriers to enter this competitive market. 2014 on our roadmap marks the year that these barriers are at their lowest for IT. It’s taken years, and to prepare we have strengthened all the elements it takes to be a significant competitive manufacturer in this industry.

At its core, it starts with building a revenue-generating catalog by leveraging previous successes. We have crafted a product strategy that maximizes return through creating game families suitable for strategic banking. Features are being built around our proven math models with skins and game derivatives to extend the life of the brand.  Our greater understanding of the player base is helping us target games to different player segments.  We continue to aggressively research the market and still refuse to fear developing daring and different concepts that move the industry forward. Many barriers threatened the development of this strategic product catalog, and I am proud to say we’ve persevered, and our customers are starting to reap the rewards.

The next massive barrier we have cleared for 2014 is the securing of licenses in 15 strategic markets, plus Macau and other international endeavors. This is the cornerstone of our growth. We continue to expand into new territories at a rate that doesn’t compromise our current customer satisfaction. We’ve recently added Colorado and Arizona to our portfolio, and we’re only just getting off the ground in Nevada. Our sustainable growth target for the coming year is to gain one bank of IT product on the floors in the majority of these markets. With good performance and a positive service track record, we are well on our way.

The next barrier is the most important piece of the puzzle. In 2014 IT will be releasing its first new major gaming platform in this history of our company. The platform, which includes a ground-breaking new upright cabinet and hardware, was built with a market-focus and a fearless eye to category innovation. Our current platform has a unanimous industry reputation of reliability. Our new platform is a summation of everything we’ve learned since we’ve started in gaming—it’s the start of the next chapter in defining IT’s future in this industry. It’s a pivotal and exciting time.

Finally, in 2014 we will continue to take our games to where the audience is. We’ve been creating entertainment for nearly 30 years at IT, and we’ve experienced how disruptive technologies affect our other industries. I-gaming provides a great opportunity for us in the casino business, giving new ways for players to consume our products. Through strategic business partners, we’re bringing most of our land-based casino games to social gaming and for-money gaming online sites.  We will monitor how this channel evolves and leverage our lean size to adapt.
When we decided to become a slot manufacturer, the critics told us it would take 10 years to come to market. 2014 puts us just over the halfway mark, and I am confident that with our plan and our people, we will have arrived.

Steve Sutherland
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President
Konami Gaming, Inc. 

The public is consuming gaming as an entertainment option in an increasing variety of forms. The emergence of i-gaming and proliferation of mobile devices as a preferred media consumption tool is compelling gaming suppliers to adapt product offerings and business models to address changing patron needs. Konami Gaming, Inc., whose mission is to create “valuable time” through various forms of entertainment, is adapting by offering its popular games for play via the Internet, creating unique amusement-style gaming products like the Titan 360™ to offer experiences that cannot be replicated online and the SYNKROS™ system to manage all patron interactions with our casino customers, including those that take place online. Konami develops products that help our customers grow their businesses by acknowledging their changing relationships with the market.

New Jersey and Delaware have also become the first states to approve online real money gaming. This expansionary trend has produced a range of responses from gaming suppliers. Whether opting to build, buy or partner, all major manufacturers are taking steps to make their content available to patrons online. Konami has opted to make our games available online in a way that supports our casino operator customers instead of competes with them. Suppliers that offer a management system can also leverage Internet gaming to create extended environments wherein patrons’ activities are tracked, analyzed and managed with marketing and loyalty programs. Whether a guest plays China Shores™ in the casino or on the casino’s website, their play can be captured and leveraged by savvy operators through a system such as SYNKROS. Casinos ultimately benefit by creating value for the patron in the form of relevant offers and coveted status that are tied to their play online and in the casino.

While online gaming offers patrons access and convenience, the cost of these benefits for patrons is the loss of the environmental stimuli that makes casino gaming vibrant and thrilling. Even the best programmers in the world cannot replicate the sounds, scents, interpersonal connections and sheer scale of the experience offered in a live casino. Konami has recognized this as an opportunity to adapt to create products that drive traffic to the land-based casino. Konami is leveraging its global amusement and digital entertainment heritage to create unique products such as the Titan 360 to offer experiences that can only be found in a brick-and-mortar casino. Differentiated by its oversized center bonus unit and community engagement features, the game has patrons seeking out the experience in which gravity and chance guide a shimmering metallic ball around a mechanical spinning bonus ring to determine their fates.

The motion picture industry similarly expanded its reach, offering convenience and access by making content available to patrons online, at home and on mobile devices. Consumers, however, still flock to theaters in record numbers because the cinema product offers a communal experience, overpowering sound, massive screens and a sensory experience that cannot be equaled on a smart phone or flat screen LCD. Casino operators can learn from the developments in this industry, and those who adapt will survive and thrive.

Konami is in the business of creating products that turn consumers’ ordinary time into “valuable time.” By offering our games online, creating unique products that can only be experienced in a casino and offering a system designed to manage all patron activities, Konami is committed to helping our customers adapt and flourish in an ever-changing market.

Pat Ramsey
President and CEO
Multimedia Games

This past year has been one of great transition. As much as I don’t want to use the word “turnaround,” there is no better way to describe the last five years at Multimedia Games. And now that the Multimedia “ship” has been turned around, what lies ahead for us in 2014?

Our strategy of producing innovative games and technologies while focusing on customer relationships will be our cornerstone. In the past, our expansion strategy was to shore up our performance and relationships in our core markets, gain access to new markets and utilize the award-winning TournEvent® system to give new customers a reason to try our product. However, now that we have at least some access to almost all of the domestic market, the depth of our portfolio is one of our priorities. We have a full line of strong products from the High Rise Games® series, which continues to add to one of the largest operations footprints in the gaming industry to our mechanical reel products that are putting up impressive numbers in the high denomination segment and the truly entertaining video products that only our Austin-based studios can produce. This gives me confidence that Multimedia Games will increase its share of the U.S. market once again in 2014. We still have a lot of room to grow in all of our product segments, including the release of our new premium Maximum Player Experience™ cabinet in the second half of 2014. And watch out for the second National TournEvent of Champions® tour next year! I believe we are in the early innings of creating this very unique, value-added brand for our casino operators, driving incremental revenues to those who own TournEvent and participate in this incredibly energizing and dynamic promotion. For the 77 casinos that participated in the inaugural event, and for those who recently joined us at our summit in Austin, I believe they will agree that we are on to something Bigger, Bolder, and Louder.

Given the success of our products and market penetration, our financial position is completely different than it was several years ago. Record revenues and profits several years in a row have produced a powerful balance sheet, and we are constantly looking at ways to utilize it to grow our business and produce returns for our shareholders. Looking ahead, we will use one of the industry’s highest net cash positions to continue to invest back into organic growth, we will continue with our own stock buybacks, and we’ll increasingly look at opportunities to diversify either our product portfolio or our geographic reach—or, ideally, both.

Finally, in the past, we had been less concerned with macroeconomic trends, or the slot machine replacement cycle, simply because we knew there was significant value to be created by getting our own house in order. However, as our share of the domestic market hopefully grows from the current 2 percent to3 percent range, we are more mindful of the bigger picture. We are particularly optimistic about the tailwinds we are beginning to see in the Class II segment, and we will keep a close eye on Internet gaming. In fact, recent results show that our entertaining game content plays particularly well in the social gaming arena.

So with just a small piece of the land-based market, and a sliver of the online market, Multimedia is poised for growth, and there’s a sense of excitement and optimism coming out of Austin for 2014.

Jordan Levin
Vice President and COO
Williams Interactive LLC, a Scientific Games Company

We expect a very busy 2014 for Williams Interactive and are excited at the opportunities ahead of us to distribute what we feel are the most compelling i-gaming experiences in the world. On the real-money i-gaming side of our business, we plan to continue to strive to be a partner of choice for our operator partners in Europe, North America and any other regulated markets they pursue in the world.

Our product and customer launches in Europe are moving at a brisk pace, where we are focused on launching our casino offering with all of the leading operators and many of the emerging growing operators. We’ve improved our overall content offering in a number of ways by re-focusing our release schedule with sophisticated math models and game engines and adding the U.K.-leading Barcrest’s line of content to our current library of player-favorite WMS Gaming slot themes now being offered through our remote game server business.

With the access Scientific Games has to various gaming channels in the U.K., our combined content portfolio and a growing portfolio of licensed brands, we believe we are very well positioned to achieve success in that territory by offering i-gaming player experiences that can’t be found from anywhere else, available wherever players wish to play.

We’re extremely focused on the further roll out of our mobile wagering offering as a key component of our omni-channel content launch strategy. From launch, our games have already seen promising numbers when released on mobile only, and starting in 2014 we’ll begin launching new games simultaneously on desktop, tablet, mobile and even mini games, increasing the ease of access to our content by players everywhere while optimizing the marketing efforts of our customers who can promote one game across all channel marketing efforts.
2014 will see us allocate our new market effort toward the North American markets—specifically in the U.S. and Canada.

On the free-to-play i-gaming side, we see a significant potential for growth. We’re seeing more and more interest in the benefits of convergence between land-based and online gaming opportunities for players and will continue to evolve our premium product lines to address these emerging opportunities.

We will continue to invest in the growth of Jackpot Party Social Casino, our social and mobile virtual currency offering, which is on Facebook, iOS, Android, and Kindle channels. As a successful business line leveraging our content for social and mobile gaming solutions, we’re accumulating best-in-class experience that we leverage for the ongoing improvement of our B2B free-to-play offering for our casino operator partners, the Play4Fun Network. This solution allows our operator partners to engage with their player base off-property through a compelling social gaming and mobile marketing solution, currently providing casinos with more than 30 minutes daily of digital engagement with players online between their trips to land-based casino floors.

Internet gaming continues to present excellent growth opportunities for the global gaming industry and remains the sole focus of our business. As more gaming jurisdictions wade into the digital world, well-informed brick-and-mortar operators and product suppliers should be viewing Internet gaming as an opportunity for broader and more robust engagement with their players—a way to future-proof their business and begin targeting potential players who may currently not enjoy land-based casino entertainment with either real-money or free-play i-gaming solutions.

Chuck Hickey
Vice President of Slot Operations
Barona Resort and Casino

I’m beginning to think that my forecasts for the industry are about as accurate as my ability to predict the success/failure of the next slot machine. What I have figured out over the years is that no matter how I feel about a game, feature or theme for a game, the only real judges are the people that play them (or not). Put ’em on the floor and see if people sit in the seats and then whether they sit for long and whether they play fast enough with a large enough bet, followed by… Do they come back to try it again? Simple system. So, 2014, eh? Internet gaming is the next big thing, I guess. However, I remember saying the same about server-based gaming, bolstered by bold predictions of a rosy future. Perhaps I should put the hex on Internet gaming and pronounce it the NBT (Next Big Thing) just to give it the KOD (Kiss of Death).

2014 should bring changes, kind of like 2013 and 2012, etc. What those changes are… I haven’t really a clue. What I would suggest is for the astute operator to prepare for those changes by making your operation observant, reactive, nimble, critical and willing to take chances without fear of failure. Pretty easy. Learn to accept the fact that you and your company are going to make mistakes, venture down gloomy paths of insecurity and waste resources and energy. What would be beneficial to learn is how to react to those failures, turn on a dime and head in a new and hopefully better direction. What does it take to do this? If I knew that answer, I’d be writing a book and raking in the cash on the speaking tour.

What can you do to accomplish this nimble approach to 2014 is perhaps spend time talking to your guests. Promise yourself to clear a specific time from your calendar and spend it on the casino floor, hotel lobby, restaurant dining area, back of house with your staff and in direct communication with all these folks. I’d worry more about what I could address and fix than what I can’t yet see coming.

Shortsighted? Maybe it is. Lacking the Big Picture overview? Probably. But I see 2014 as a transition year (like all the other new years), and giving bold predictions about coming events doesn’t seem productive where I’m sitting right now. Keeping my ear to the ground and paying attention to those folks who know the way to my casino, have the time and money to visit and who are willing to tell me what THEY want to see in 2014, seems more productive to me.

Eric Pearson
Vice President of Gaming
Northern Quest Resort and Casino

We need to be engaging our players in new ways and working to add value to their experience on and off the casino floor.  We are old pros when it comes to bringing fun new games to the floor. The real question is how to go beyond that experience? We have to find new ways to engage our players outside of the traditional methods of direct mail, promotions, reel spins and bonus rounds.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll focus on two trends gaining momentum: reaching our players though their own smartphones and directly enhancing their gaming experience though slot ticket in/ticket out (TITO) couponing.

Mobile apps are nothing new, and many casinos now have their own eagerly awaiting download at an app store near you. I’ve downloaded dozens of these but still have not found a single one that I have ever opened more than twice or that has made my interaction with the land-based casino easier or more interesting.

If you’re shopping for a mobile app provider right now, ask yourself this, “how will this thing improve my customers’ experience and interaction with the core functions of my business?” If you don’t have a good answer, don’t spend the money.

A decent mobile site format will give your guests access to your restaurants’ hours of operation from their phones at a fraction of the cost. When considering how to move forward in this new frontier, you need look no further than your own smartphone. What apps do you use regularly and why? For me, my favorite airline’s mobile app changed the way that I can engage with the core functions of their business and has greatly improved my flying experience. Their app allows me to book my flight, check in, select my seat (and constantly check and change it to avoid having to be in a full row), check my flight’s status, check for upgrades, get through security and board the plane all without printing and holding a single piece of paper, waiting in an unnecessary line, getting on my computer or navigating a web page. It has fundamentally improved the way I interact with that company’s core business and has resulted in greater loyalty and my transformation into an evangelized supporter and promoter of their business.

Another way in which we need to strive to improve our guests’ experience is on the casino floor itself. One emerging trend that I believe we will be seeing a lot more of is couponing right at the slot machines through the ticket printers. This is something I implemented this year at Northern Quest, and we’ve been very pleased with the results. These systems allows nearly unlimited flexibility to deliver to our guests everything from random cash rewards to targeted rewards, unused perishable inventory (rooms, show tickets, etc.), enrollment incentives and tier status updates. Our guests have responded to the new tickets coming out of their machines through marked increases in play, trip frequency and loyalty though our enhancing their winning experience outside of the traditional action on the games.

One of my greatest mentors, Felix Rappaport, used to always tell me to “steal with glee,” meaning to find what is out there that works, and make it work for you. It is a very exciting time to be in this business. More new technologies and solutions are available to us than ever before and are often surprisingly affordable. By embracing the new and “borrowing” from other industries that are getting it right, we can also stay on the cutting edge and keep our players on our floors where they belong.

Buddy Frank
Vice President of Slot Operations 
Pechanga Resort and Casino

Remember complaining about IGT monopolizing everything? Or later cursing the iron grip of the “Big Four”—IGT, Bally, WMS and Aristocrat? [Back] then, we could only dream that someday there would be real competition. Today I’m reminded of those words from the renowned philosopher Eminem, “be careful of what you wish for.” We have 22 different manufacturers on Pechanga’s gaming floor arrayed in 67 different cabinets or versions. And there are eight more in, or headed to, our test lab. But is this the best of times or the worst of times?

Individual box prices have been on the decline, and some are at three-year lows now despite the fact that the equipment keeps getting better (layered-screens, high def, dual monitors, touch pads, flash drives, sub woofers and the like). And guess where a majority of hits from the last three years came from? The new guys are Konami’s “Podium” and “Titan 360”, Aruze’s “Innovator” and “Ultra Stack”, Multimedia’s “High Rise” and “Tournevent”, AGS’s “Colossal Diamonds”, SPIELO’s “Deal or No Deal” and “Plants vs. Zombies”, and Ainsworth’s “Wide Boys” and others.

Respectively, each of those was seemingly an overnight sensation jumping from obscurity to top of the charts. (Don’t write me that Len Ainsworth and Kazuo Okada have been producing good games for decades. It’s their current boxes that have peaked recently.)

If choosing from all these new guys weren’t confusing enough, the “old guys” fought back late in 2013, but in unexpected ways. Who could have predicted that Aristocrat would be a leader in branded product at G2E, or that Bally and GTECH/SPIELO would have the most innovative cabinets (the Wave and the 3-D respectively)? Even the undefeated 30-year champ, IGT’s video poker, scored another comeback this decade with the “Ultimate X” theme. Overall, life is good today.

Buying machines in 2013/2014 is a complete paradoxical enigma. Cautious budgeting means you trial games. Trials last 30 to 90 days. “Volatile” games seem to work best (unless you’re buying for the Las Vegas Strip, which is a gaming aberration compared to anywhere else). Seldom does a volatile game perform out of the box (30 to 90 days). The others work for the short term, but often fade faster than a gaming application in Massachusetts. It’s a no-win situation. It not only sounds absurd; it is. But don’t look for anything to change in 2014, unless we do first.
For some reason, sales folks pitch and slot directors buy new, unproven themes when they purchase new boxes. Think not? Did any of you order the latest IGT G23 with a “Cleopatra” or “Wolf Run” theme? Or maybe asked for some more “China Shores” for your latest batch of Konami Podiums? Trust me; you can always use another “Platinum Quick Hit” in a Bally V32, even though Bally’s new themes are really bright and shiny. Of course you have to try all the latest stuff, but hedge your bet with a handful of proven winners, too.

More importantly, I’d suggest re-examining your analytics. It’s hard to ignore absolute performance; but today we’ve got to give more emphasis to trending. Sticking with a weak game that is showing a positive trend can be very wise. Do you (or more importantly, the management team looking over your shoulder) have the patience to suffer sub-par performance for 90 days or more? If a game is consistently trending upward, it might be well worth the gamble. Aristocrat’s “Buffalo” was one of the biggest hits of this decade, but it didn’t go from zero to 60 overnight. It took a while.

Greg Gronau
President and CEO
Gaming Partners International (GPI)

In the U.S., most recently, the State of New York approved the awarding of seven new casino licenses, with the first four to be developed upstate. Gaming in South Africa is also gaining ground as operators continue to pursue additional gaming licenses. Japan’s legislature is considering legalizing integrated casino resorts in major cities such as Tokyo. The Philippines has two major casinos planned for Manila, with the first opening later this year. Macau will add seven mega-casinos in the near future, expanding the market’s ability to meet the gaming demands of its surrounding region. Consequently, with the gaming landscape continuing to grow from one year to the next, it is vital that gaming suppliers continue expanding the options they provide casinos to ensure the industry remains vital and responsive to its players’ ever-growing demands. GPI stresses its efforts to develop new products and solutions that meet the changing needs of our global customers.

Casino operators are constantly in need of new ways to differentiate and protect their money, and to answer their needs, we have recently introduced two new products, our Paulson $100 denomination mold and B&G J3 jeton. By stamping $100, or any other denomination, into the outer edge of the Paulson mold, an additional level of security renders it more counterfeit resistant while at the same time creating an aesthetic feature. Our B&G J3 is probably the most innovative currency product in the market, as it combines the easy handling and identification of American-style chips with materials traditionally reserved for European-style plaques and jetons. The J3 can incorporate a wide range of decal, printing and security options, making it very unique and highly counterfeit resistant. There is nothing else like them in the market. Developing and introducing new currency products like these are important for casino operators requiring new options for both security and branding purposes.

Our ongoing quest for customer feedback has also revealed that operators are looking for ways to maximize their players’ game time at the tables and to streamline everyday manual tasks and processes. Customers want to make more money at the tables while making everyday table game operations more efficient and cost saving internally. GPI understands the importance of both of these issues and has developed numerous RFID table game solutions that speak to the varying needs of our growing base of RFID customers. As part of our commitment to innovation and customer service, we also work with them to develop custom RFID solutions that address their specific requirements. Heading beyond 2014, GPI will focus on continuing to develop other quality, innovative products and solutions to meet the needs of our global customer base.

Mark Jones
President and CEO
INAG

Looking back at my forecasts for 2013, much has come to fruition. Electronic table game products are popping up in casinos worldwide. These products are being promoted by both large and small gaming manufactures alike. If you attended the 2013 G2E show and really took a look at the quote “new products,” one has to wonder where the creativity has gone in table games.

I review a lot of new game content from small game developers looking for assistance in getting their games to the floor. Many feel that their game is the new wonder child the casinos can’t live without and that the game is worth a lot of money to the casinos.
I love their passion, but they have no clue [about] the costs involved by companies such as INAG to establish relationships within the casinos, paying state and tribal licensing fees, travel expenses and so forth. They also have no clue as to how difficult it is to open the eyes of managers to give the new game a trial.

I am a big believer that managers should let their customers decide their table game mix because we all have our own fixed predigests when it comes to making decisions. With the patent laws as they currently stand, new game creation has slowed to a crawl as protecting ideas is getting harder and harder. Managers need to take an open look at what is out there and capitalize on them.

I look for product that is fresh, unique and one in which the player can make an initial wager and stay in the game to the end without risking any more money. Of course they will have the opportunity to risk more throughout the games but never required to, to stay in action to the showdown. This is about entertainment value for the player. This is a must in today’s economic environment.

I have had some good results partnering with companies such as Amatic, TCSJOHNHUXLEY and SHFL to bring to market games that use each other’s intellectual property. Amatic is working with our dealer-assisted ETG called Turbo-Card Roulette. SHFL and INAG are under contract allowing SHFL to use our patented MCR shufflers in conjunction with its iGame roulette. TCSJOHNHUXLEY under the new leadership of Americas CEO Todd Cravens, is working to add our big six shufflers to its LuminAR family. This is where the future lies. Strategic partnerships will allow the best and greatest to hit the floor running.

We can never forget that Internet gaming is here and the need to get younger people engaged in a manner in which they want to get up off the couch and have a reason to go to the casinos [is important]. I am currently reviewing a product where customers come to the casino, pick up a tablet, head for the pool of hotel or any other place within the casino property and wager on live table games being played in the pits. I see casinos adding e-gaming parlors within the casino to attract this segment of the population.

Table games managers need to remove the blinders and jump in the water just like slot operations managers do on a daily basis. The world is changing at an ever-accelerating rate. Don’t be left behind.

Todd Cravens
CEO for the Americas
TCSJOHNHUXLEY

We at TCSJOHNHUXLEY are very excited about 2014. Over the last 18 months, we have spent a tremendous amount of time speaking with customers and learning what they need to run their businesses better. At that same time, we have invested heavily in research and development to create new products and make our traditional products more intelligent.

2014 will see the broad rollout of our Xia platform that combines our best-of-breed technology products into the standard gaming table. The Xia platform is an open platform that has been designed to connect to most products, including both hardware and software products on a table, and extract data to enable more timely business decisions. 2014 also sees the rollout of our new progressive system, Supernova.

In 2014, Gaming Floor Live will land throughout North America. This application allows the operator to gather data from their roulette, baccarat and other tables. Operators now have a tool that allows them to make decisions on their floor based on data. As an example, over a period of time, operators will understand what their optimum spins per hour are with five players, or when it is best to open another table. From a security standpoint, if a wheel bias is detected, an instant text can be delivered to staff, alerting them to the problem. Gaming Floor Live allows operators more visibility through data on their existing equipment.

This year in North and South America, TCSJOHNHUXLEY will also debut its progressive system for tables, Supernova. Supernova is a flexible progressive system available to operators today. The system offers an almost unlimited amount of event-based jackpots along with a number of configurable mystery jackpots that can be used across the casino floor and on any style of game. TCSJOHNHUXLEY has had tremendous success with Supernova in other markets, and it stands to be the signature product for the company in 2014.

While TCSJOHNHUXLEY builds for the future with technical products, the company has also continued to improve on our traditional offerings. We have recently launched the Elite 2, the successor to our most popular winning number display. This new display incorporates the latest design elements and has all of the electronics completely contained, which makes service easier, and the display clarity is excellent. Some of our new features will be on display throughout the year.

We are really looking forward to 2014, as we think the innovations that our R&D teams have created will really help our customers do more with the existing products they have on their casino floor. We look forward to delivering data to our customers through Gaming Floor Live and helping to drive their revenues with Supernova.

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