Since its debut in 2007, G2E Asia has established itself as an industry-defining platform for international suppliers of slot machines, table games, gaming signs, cash-handling devices, games management solutions and other software and systems. Held at The Venetian Macao, this year’s event kicked off May 21 with a day reserved for special invitees and members of the media. The general public visited the various stalls at the exhibition May 22 and 23.
The exhibits covered a total area of 14,000 square meters (about 150,000 square feet) with about 140 exhibitors displaying their wares. As in previous years, the majority of the display space was taken up by slot manufacturers, namely International Game Technology (IGT), Bally Technologies, WMS Gaming, Aristocrat Technologies and Ainsworth Game Technology. Keeping with current trends in gaming, this year’s show featured two theme-focused pavilions: the Business Solutions/iGaming Pavilion and the Security and Surveillance Pavilion.
Of interest to many readers would be the products displayed by slot manufacturers. I talked to representatives from Bally Technologies, IGT, TCSJOHNHUXLEY and SHFL entertainment. All were optimistic in their assessment of the Asian marketplace.
President and CEO Ramesh Srinivasan showed me around the Bally booth, while Kurt Gissane, senior director and managing director–Asia Pacific, talked at length about the prospects for slots in Asia and Bally’s strategy in approaching the burgeoning Asian market.
Gissane was very upbeat about the prospects for slots in Asia. He pointed out that while Macau is primarily a table game market (there are about 5,600 tables and close to 17,000 slots), a typical slot machine in Macau generates almost three times as much in daily revenues as it does in Las Vegas.
Bally showcased many Asian-themed titles at G2E Asia, including Zhi Nu™, the first in a series of novel games linked to a progressive multi-jackpot. Zhi Nu, available on Bally’s Pro Series™ V32 platform, is a 5-reel, 50-line game with three free-game triggers found in the middle three reels.
Asian-themed games on display at the show for the Pro Series V22/22 Upright and V22/26 Slant cabinets included Chinese Zodiac™, China River™, Fantastic 8s™, Red Phoenix™, Shadow Diamond™, White Lion™, Heavenly Empress™ and Pharaoh’s Dream™. Games on display for the Pro Curve™ cabinet, the only curved LCD on the market, were Star Signs™, Zodiac Fortune™, Joy of Samba™ and Koi Treasures™.
These games showed Bally’s commitment to providing a wide variety of games to the Asian market. Other products on display included NASCAR®, Cash Wizard Tiki Magic™ and TableView™, and there were also live demonstrations of the new Elite Bonusing Suite™ (EBS).
“We have focused on creating a new portfolio of dual-language English/Chinese video titles with rich graphics and rewarding bonuses that are sure to entertain casino patrons in the Asia-Pacific region,” Gissane said in a press release. “Those core titles, combined with compelling game content on titles like Tiki Magic and NASCAR, showcase Bally’s unfaltering focus on creating innovative gaming experiences for players, while delivering a strong return-on-investment for casino operators.”
International Game Technology (IGT)
IGT showcased about 20 High 5 Games (H5G) at the show, including proven performers Jaguar Princess™ and Shadow of the Panther™. In October of last year, IGT and H5G announced a partnership that would create new H5G games under the IGT name.
H5G’s Red Gold Studio recently created a few games inspired by Chinese stories, songs and characters, and titles like Golden Three Kingdom™ and West Journey Treasure Hunt™ were on display. Other Asian-themed games shown included the MegaJackpots® Game Changers series with Pearl Dragon and The Great Zodiac Race bonus themes. Fire Pearl, Money Idol, Dragon Dance and Silk Seduction all also include custom Asian graphics.
Attendees could also immerse themselves in a little bit of drama and action, thanks to the CSI: Video Slots game, in which players can choose from among CSI: Crime Scene Investigation™, CSI: Miami™ and CSI: NY™, all on one terminal. The Multi-Layer Display™ (MLD®) showcased games such as Takes the Cake™, a successor to the fan favorite game Candy Bars® that combines a classic gaming experience and 3-D technology.
IGT also highlighted a few systems solutions at the show as well. The company recently launched Lucky Chip™, a feature that creates surprise jackpot promotions for table games and a competitive advantage. Other systems solutions on display were the IGT Table Manager, a fully automated system that maximizes accuracy and delivers promotions; sbX® Floor Manager, which provides access to IGT’s game theme library; and sbX® Analytics, the only G2S-based analytics platform that provides in-depth analyses to maximize performance.
“IGT is dedicated to providing the Asian gaming market with the best possible products,” said Andrew Hely, IGT vice president of Asia Pacific, in a press release. “Our participation during G2E Asia gives us the opportunity to show our customers and friends our vision, including how we are taking active steps to design the most appropriate games and systems for players in all venues throughout Asia.”
TCSJOHNHUXLEY has been growing its market share in Macau, Singapore and Malaysia since 2000, and new markets are now open in the Philippines and Vietnam as well. The company has also set up comprehensive facilities in both Macau and Singapore.
Baccarat alone generated more than $37 billion in table game revenues last year, making the focus of the Asian gaming market clear. This trend meshes well with many of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s products. For example, the Omni Baccarat Displays, which incorporate the Gaming Floor Live™ system, have been installed on more than 2,000 tables in Macau, marking their success in the region.
Gaming Floor Live, a real-time game optimization tool, aims to maximize key performance areas and profitability. Initially launched with roulette, it is now a fully inclusive system that includes baccarat and sic bo.
Marketing Manager Tracy Cohen said what Macau has achieved in a short period of time is nothing short of incredible.
“Macau had a strong gaming market before liberalization, and in eight years [it] has become one of the most commanding gaming markets in the world,” she said.
Because of the rapid growth of the market and the economy, a key challenge has been trying to keep up with it all. Other challenges include visitor restrictions limiting trips from the mainland and table capping. As a result of this, operators and suppliers have become more innovative and creative.
“Asia is driving innovation, and the technology being implemented will become global industry standard,” Cohen said.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY displayed a variety of games at G2E Asia, including e-FX™ Elite 2, which made its global debut at the show. The e-FX Elite 2 features improved camera fixing points, backlit buttons, improved usability and better customer service over its predecessor.
Supernova Table Bonus System merges Asian-focused games such as Dragon 21 to demonstrate floor-wide progressive and game bonusing on the trade show floor.
Dragon Roulette, another new game on display this year, combines the excitement of the Asian market and the classic game of roulette with odds up to 300 to 1.The game uses Double Action™ Roulette wheel technology with two independently rotating cylinders.
SHFL entertainment CEO Gavin Isaacs sees many great opportunities for future growth in the Asian gaming market, which is why one of its home offices is based there and why the company has chosen to invest in the area.
While no one can deny Macau and its exponential growth in the gaming market, the island is not SHFL’s only focus. The company has products everywhere from Korea and Cambodia, to the Philippines and Singapore.
“We think it’s a great region and a great opportunity,” he said. “Everywhere else is as important as anywhere else.”
TableMaster FUSION and House Money were two of the newest and biggest games SHFL unveiled at G2E Asia this year. The games got some buzz circulating around the trade show floor with new technologies and improvements over past games.
TableMaster FUSION is a new e-Table innovation featuring widescreen terminals with touch-screen betting, multiple side bets and support for multiple game offerings.
House Money, only available in American casinos so far, is a blackjack side bet. If the player is dealt a straight, flush or pair, he or she immediately wins and that money is either added to the player’s whole hand or taken off the table.
“It’s a novel idea,” Isaacs said.
SHFL showcased more than a dozen games in all at this year’s trade show, including Diamond Eternity, the third in the Duo Fu Duo Cai progressive jackpot series that also features 88 Fortunes™ and 5 Treasures. Using gold symbols earns players higher rewards for higher bets. Stand-alone progressive 88 Fortunes VIP was also on hand for VIP gaming rooms.
The Stone Age made an appearance at the technologically savvy show with the Asian debut of The Flintstones™, a 3-level linked-progressive theme. The game features three base games with interactive bonus features and jackpot prizes.
Hero and Mextica made their Macau debut in the new Block Pays games, which were first unveiled in Australia in March. These games offer prizes up to 250X the bet.
e-Table games on display included SHFL Fusion Hybrid and SHFL Fusion Virtual, as well as a few others.
The SHFL Fusion Hybrid, formerly known as Rapid, was on display with 22-inch widescreen electronic betting terminals. SHFL Fusion Virtual, formerly known as Vegas Star, is fully electronic, which means players can switch among roulette, sic bo, baccarat and craps on one terminal. i-Table Roulette, i-Table Blackjack and i-Table Three Card Poker were also ready to be seen at the show.
The ChipStar roulette chip-sorting machine, which debuted in London earlier this year, is the company’s latest innovation for Asian markets.
The DeckMate 2 poker room shuffler, a rising utility product featuring a 22-second shuffle time, new shuffling method, on-board timer and remote touch screen display, also drew interest at the SHFL booth.
Other games at the trade show included the MD3 baccarat and blackjack shuffler, one2six single and multi-desk continuous shuffler, i-Deal shuffler for single-deck specialty games, i-Shoe Auto optical card-reading shoe for baccarat and blackjack, double-sided LCD i-Score baccarat viewer, Deck Checker card verification system and Free Bet Blackjack.
Rounding out its display was Big Raise Stud Poker, a game in which two community cards are added to three cards from a player, making it a 5-card poker hand where the player can win with a pair of 6s or higher.
All in all, G2E Asia fulfilled its promise of a visually stimulating, technology-embracing, Asia-focused show. Looking at the various exhibits, particularly the slot machines on display, it is apparent that the investments made by major gaming equipment suppliers to open manufacturing facilities and design studios in China are beginning to bear fruit. Over the next few years, one would expect slot machines in Asia to reflect uniquely Asian themes, with math models and payouts designed to accommodate Asian tastes and culture.