The 2014 edition of North America’s largest gaming industry trade show did not disappoint. In fact, the 2014 Global Gaming Expo, held Sept. 29-Oct. 2, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, proved a resounding success.
The event featured the largest expo floor in five years, showcasing the products and services more than 450 exhibitors from around the world. More than 27,000 people attended the show, a 3 percent jump from last year, and as American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Geoff Freeman has noted it was the first time a national cable channel, CNBC, broadcast live from the show floor.
The event, which is cohosted by the AGA and Reed Expositions, also featured a stellar lineup of conference sessions and of industry leader speakers, including Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, Novomatic Chief Technological Officer Thomas Graf, IGT CEO Patti Hart, MGM International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, Aristocrat CEO Jamie Odell and Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn.
Across the show floor were signs of an industry-wide focus on innovation and entertainment. Top slot companies showed their prowess with enticing new brands and new twists on old favorites and classic brands. Table games proprietors showed more interactivity, betting options and innovation in their products, while systems, hospitality, architecture and peripheral product providers showed how their products and services can help enhance entertainment, loyalty and efficiency.
At the Bally Technologies booth, a long line snaked around the booth and onto the expo aisles as attendees waited in line for a chance to have their photo taken with the real live Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, while across the way at WMS’ booth, signs from new games beckoned with the likenesses of Elvis, Elton John and “Mad Men” Roger Sterling. And at IGT, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres beamed out from life-size signage advertising her new themed slot game. Elsewhere, newcomer Gamblit saw a steady stream of traffic as attendees sought to learn more about the company’s plans to add a social gaming gambling twist to the gaming industry.
And that merely scratches the surface. Read on to learn what our CEM team discovered as they combed the show floor and interviewed executives from many companies to find out what’s on tap for the industry today and into the future.
Agilysys Inc. showcased the power of its innovative hospitality solution rGuest™ at G2E 2014.
“It’s our job as a provider to obsess about how we can help our customers with all of our products get more money out of their guests when they come to their property and give them a phenomenal experience,” said Michael Buckham-White, Agilysys senior vice president of sales and marketing. Agilysys’ rGuest platform will make it easier for hospitality providers to achieve that goal.
“Our whole vision is if we are able to meet the guest as soon as they come in and then help our customer provide them with an experience,” Buckham-White said, “whether that’s from a check-in, check-out standpoint, knowing what their preferences are and what their profiles are when they come in and check out, and also encouraging them based on what they know about their profile, in order to, say, suggest a restaurant or understand that I like a bottle of St. Andrews Washington wine, and I pretty much order it anytime I’m in your establishment.”
The hotel operator has to know that in order to ensure that St. Andrews wine is on hand. “If I can anticipate what those guests’ needs are and I can supply those needs and also make sure that I have the staff that can do that to meet those needs, if we can get those guests to spend as much money as they can and have a great time doing it, almost exhaust their wallet, and then encourage them to come back another time, that’s what drives us.”
rGuest is the cornerstone of a multifunctional platform capable of delivering all of the company’s next generation hospitality apps, including point-of-sale, analytics, inventory and procurement, and workforce management solutions. rGuest is a new open platform. “We’ve built it with layers in mind, so it can be built up and extended out to third parties or with customers so they can build on top of it based on the unique nature of their business,” he said.
The product also is designed to appeal to not only current hospitality front desk personnel but younger personnel as well. “We know that the people who have been running the front desk for years are starting to come out of the workforce, and the millenials are starting to come into the workplace,” he said. “We’ve got to give them an interface that’s attractive, appealing and easy to use, and it doesn’t take forever to train them.”
Ainsworth Game Technology
With its “A Winning Play” theme, Australian game maker Ainsworth Game Technology brought what one executive called “its strongest, most diverse product portfolio to date” to the 2014 G2E.
One of the highlights of Ainsworth’s booth was its brand-new A560®SL platform, which features a 32-inch high-definition display, 19-inch LCD Topper option for jackpot promotion, a unique attract lighting package, premium surround sound technology, sky-high stacks and animations, the company said. The A560®SL premieres with games such as Rumble Rumble™, Whopper Reels™, Bonus Bonanza™, Rampaging Rhino™, Order of the Dragons™, Fire Wizard™, Ice Wizard™ and others.
“This is a very exciting year for Ainsworth with the recent launch of the new A560®SL platform. We’ve pushed the boundaries of technology with our latest platform to ensure improved sound, graphics and a range of branded games like you’ve never seen before,” Ainsworth Group General Manager Strategy & Development Scott Clarebrough said in a release.
Ainsworth also displayed its latest licensed products Showgirls™ and Sound of Music™, as well as its new A560® Wideboy™ cabinet, which offers a 32-inch landscape mode LCD top box and LED lighting, and features new titles, including The Magnificent 7 Reloaded™, based on the legendary classic film and Ainsworth’s popular licensed slot The Magnificent 7™. Ainsworth also showed new Asian-themed link progressives, including Lucky Treasure™, Treasure Storm® and Oriental Fortune™.
Ainsworth has made its mark in gaming through its use of popular Australian math models that feature high volatility, said Cody Herrick, Ainsworth product marketing manager. “We really try to stick to our roots with what has brought us up as a company with our math model behind the games and some really, really good core titles,” he said.
Another product drawing operator interest was Ainsworth’s Rumble Rumble game. “It’s been one of those titles that has spread around the country from director to director as something that you need to have on the floor,” Herrick said.
American Gaming Systems
A “Whole New Light” served as an apropos theme for Las Vegas-based American Gaming Systems’ booth, which highlighted new slot and table games acquisitions as well as the company’s new branding.
G2E also showcased the company’s proven talent as a gaming machine supplier for Class II markets, and its emerging presence in Class III markets and new product categories.
“This year represents a pivotal point in AGS’s lifecycle driven by significant changes in the business such as our new brand reveal, must-have new slot products produced by the AGS core and Colossal Gaming teams, and the launch of our proprietary table games business,” AGS CEO David Lopez said in a news release. “With organic product expansion, as well as targeted acquisitions aimed at product diversification and content enhancement, our business continues to grow, diversify and evolve at a rapid clip.”
The reaction to AGS’ new branding and new breadth of products has been amazing, marketing manager Lesley Hodges noted. In addition to AGS’ proven games, other new products include games from recent acquisitions such as Colossal Gaming, War Blackjack Inc. and the most recent acquisitions—new table games products from the In Bet Gaming library, including In Bet™, a blackjack side bet, and Criss Cross Poker™. “It’s been really good,” Hodges said. “We’re a different company than we used to be, with how much we’ve grown and how much we’re changing around here. It’s not the same AGS as it was last year.”
Casino operators seemed particularly interested in Colossal Games, such as Big Red and Colossal Diamonds games. Others capturing attention were Bang for Your Buck, Ancient Embers and Birth of Orion, as well as all of the company’s new table game products, she said.
At G2E 2014, Aristocrat took its 2013 theme of “Transforming the Game” to “The Next Level,” with a content-led strategy designed to continue its momentum into the coming year and beyond.
“We’ve got great momentum in the marketplace today on the gaming ops side of our business, on the for-sale side of our business, on the systems side of our business, and we managed to grow share quite significantly in the last year,” said Matt Wilson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Aristocrat.
Last year, the company’s theme at G2E was about transforming the game, he said. “It had this connotation of great things about to happen, but we hadn’t really proven ourselves yet. Now it’s about continuing our momentum. We aren’t resting on our laurels, but we’re taking things to the next level,” Wilson said, citing as just one example its new Arc cabinet, with its 42-inch curved LCD screen.
A bevy of new licensed titles this year included games based on, “Game of Thrones,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Britney Spears” and “Ted.”
In addition, the company showed the Behemoth, an 84-inch portrait monitor, the newest Superman™ title, Superman™ Man of Steel™, and the newest game in the successful Buffalo franchise.
In all, Aristocrat showed nearly 200 new games, including games in its core game segments E*SERIES™, J* SERIES™ and C* SERIES™. In addition, the company showed the latest developments in its Oasis 360™ systems products, including advancements in bonusing, loyalty marketing and media management.
For example, Aristocrat’s Oasis HALO™ suite extends casinos’ marketing reach with advanced loyalty-building software, and new Oasis ONELINK™ technology enhances system bonusing and media management.
The company also showcased new bonusing engines—Episodic Bonusing™ and Elimination Bonusing™.
At last year’s G2E, Aruze’s tagline was “performance matters.” This year, the company’s tagline is “proven performance.” As Senior Product Specialist Rich Martinez said, “Last year it mattered, but since last year we have been able to prove it. The last three to four years we have really proven it and as a result of that, we are continuing to grow as a company.” As part of its proven performance, Aruze brought a number of new game titles and products to the show floor.
One of the new products was the cabinet Cube-X; it has an increased screen size with higher resolution than Aruze’s present cabinet, an additional touch screen, an LCD button deck, a new topper with LED lights and lighter hardware made from recycled materials. As the cabinet itself is smaller from front to back, it takes up less space on the gaming floor. Additionally, Aruze showcased its Rapid Shot™ game, its very first linked, 5-level progressive Innovator™, featuring three titles, Rapid Shot Diamond™, Rapid Shot Ruby™ and Rapid Shot Sapphire™.
Aruze also showcased Player’s Party™. It’s the third generation of Aruze’s six station communal gaming link. It offers five different bonuses during the base game and an additional five bonus events during the linked bonus featured called Party Time. The linked bonus events consist of Red or Black, a communal roulette wheel; Roll the Dice, a joint craps table; High or Low, a playing card event; Lucky Number, a live bingo contest; and Fun Wheel, which offers numerous selections for credit awards.
Martinez is confident about Aruze’s position in the upcoming year. “We’ve had one owner since we came about way back in 1983 and he’s still our sole owner and Chairman today. Since we are independently owned, we just continue to strive forward for one another as a team. We focus on what we can do to control Aruze and let that take care of itself.”
Bally Technologies’ “All in” G2E theme couldn’t have been more accurate, as the company demonstrated its prowess as a provider of slots, table products, systems and mobile and iGaming solutions.
Bally’s two-level booth was G2E’s largest, and the company needed all of its nearly 26,000 square feet to fit all its products, including table games from its SHFL entertainment acquisition.
“The biggest thing is you’re seeing table products in our booth for the first time,” said Mike Trask, senior corporate communications manager. Now, “we have everything you need for your gaming floor—the total package.”
New licensed entertainment brands offerings include a progressive video slot based on Warner Bros. Television’s hit comedy, “Friends.” Bally’s Friends™ features a wide-area progressive top award, show clips and a wheel bonus. The game is presented on the ALPHA 2 Pro Theatre, a new cabinet configuration that features twin Pro Wave cabinets topped by a 55-inch horizontal video screen. Other new licensed brands include a video slot based on the A&E® “Duck Dynasty” show, and a pair of for-sale titles featuring iconic DC Comics super hero, Wonder Woman™. Wonder Woman™ Wild™ and Wonder Woman™ Gold™, both on the Pro Wave cabinet, include action scenes from the classic 1970s television show starring Lynda Carter, who made a special G2E appearance.
Also highlighted was the new interactive Dragon Spin community-style game, featuring the Pro Wave 360° circular display that features five Pro Wave cabinets, a 50-inch curved 360-degree video topper and 360-degree surround sound.
Attendees also saw Bally’s Take ‘n Play, which lets players take their game off the casino floor to other on-property areas by playing a physical slot machine on a tablet. Bally also showcased new table games, including Free Bet Blackjack, Fortune Asia Poker and Match ‘em Hi Lo.
Electronic table-game solutions included Fusion Hybrid, which features connections with up to four live-dealer games and 22-inch widescreen electronic betting terminals. Players can switch between and concurrently play baccarat, roulette and sic bo from the same terminal. That product can help encourage players new to tables, Trask said, noting, “The number one reason people do not play table games is they’re intimidated to sit down.”
Bally also showed systems offerings, including Tournaments Express, a stand-alone tournament system; Casino Lotto, a floorwide technology allowing guests to wager on secondary games; and three new Elite Bonusing Suite applications.
Cadillac Jack highlighted the diversity of its product lines and demonstrated how its newest innovations are driving outstanding results that customers are talking about. Cadillac Jack’s Senior Director of Marketing Gina Lanphear is excited about the upcoming year. “So many of our customers have already experienced the incredible performance and profits from the recent introduction of our newest collections, including the PowerXStream® series. We’ve built further upon this success with additional features and volatility to provide greater entertainment diversity for the players. The feedback on our products has been fantastic.”
Building upon the popularity of Cadillac Jack’s original Genesis Chrome™ cabinet, the new Genesis Halo™ integrates a sophisticated game-controlled lighting package to the base Genesis cabinet. Genesis Halo is loaded with features that enhance player experience, including brilliant effects and attract modes which draw players to the game while the game driven lighting keeps the player fully engaged.
Stratos™ was also showcased in Cadillac Jack’s cabinet collection. The vertical stature of the Stratos cabinet offered an impressive platform for the flame effects and dynamic animation of the new Polynesian-themed Winferno game.
Cadillac Jack’s PowerXStream series includes a variety of reel configurations and a unique pay evaluation that awards based on the number of symbols that occur on adjacent reels, paying right to left and left to right. A range of new features and volatilities are available within the PowerXStream collection, including Turbo Boost™ which boosts the base game’s potential with the addition of mystery progressives.
Spirit Owl and Stallion of the Sky are two of Cadillac Jack’s newest PowerXStream games. Spirit Owl features Wild Multipliers—where wild symbols multiply wins during the base game—and free spins, providing players 1024 ways to win. Senior Marketing Specialist Lauren Lambrix explained Stallion of the Sky’s Symbol Surge feature as “wild symbols which expand and duplicate vertically and horizontally to yield higher payline awards.”
Minneapolis-based Cuningham Group showcased its latest new construction and renovation projects in its booth at G2E 2014.
The show has been a good one for Cuningham Group with steady traffic, according to company representatives. G2E gives the company a chance to display information about its latest works and interact with attendees about its projects and design philosophies.
Cuningham Group’s Janet Whaley recently worked as lead interior designer on the company’s most recent project, a19-story hotel tower created for the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Milwaukee, Wis. She noted Cuningham and tribal officials worked closely to develop a vision for a modern, iconic hotel tower that also would pay homage to the tribe’s culture heritage as “Keepers of the Flame.” In addition to a symbolic flame on the top of the tower, the interior design of the hotel lobby features tie-in to nature, through “trees” and “rock outcroppings” that form a modern “forest” in the hotel’s lobby.
She noted the tribe recently held a grand opening ceremony to celebrate the new tower. “It is a wonderful-looking tower,” she said. “It was a great project for us. I feel like they’re very excited about it and I think they’ll enjoy it.”
Cuningham Group’s portfolio of gaming and resort destination projects includes an array of casinos, hotels, theaters, convention centers, restaurants, retail venues, parking structures and support facilities.
Crane Payment Innovations
The theme of Crane Payment Innovations’ booth this year was progress, specifically the progress the company has made since being created, when Crane Co. acquired MEI in December of 2013. This was the first G2E in which the two former sides of CPI came together on one booth. Andrew Reichlin, marketing director, said, “That is the most important message to us. We are CPI, we are integrated and now we’ve got this comprehensive portfolio of products. Now, as a one-stop shop, we can provide our customers with more than just best-suited solutions—but complete solutions as well.”
The MEI SCR banknote recycler was one of the featured products at G2E this year. The SCR is a two-denomination note recycler based upon MEI’s SC platform. Reichlin noted that SCR is mainly targeted at the European AWP market, performing well in field trials and soon scheduled to launch in Germany. “At this point the market’s accepted the value of note recycling, but SCR offers features that we think make our product superior and unique. Usability, performance and security are central to its value proposition,” Reichlin said.
When asked how G2E 2014 felt compared to previous years, Reichlin said he was pleasantly surprised by how well the show was attended. Despite the tough industry environment, Reichlin was optimistic about CPI’s progress in a difficult operating environment. He said, “One of the things that amazes me is that we can go into any property and they welcome us. As a component supplier, that’s an achievement. Slot managers know how critical our component is and how it impacts not just the slot floor but also all operations. That makes us feel really good about the future.”
Jim Kirner, senior vice president of sales and marketing, said DiTRONICS is a funds access solutions provider. The company is a “one-stop shop” for casinos that want ATMs, kiosks, cash advance, check guarantee and online funding options—which is rare in the gaming industry.
At this year’s G2E, DiTRONICS featured advanced funds access options that included the DFS-200 all-in-one kiosk solution, Transaction Rewards® patent-pending software that integrates funds access applications with a casino’s player database and the new SMART Dispense® patent-pending technology that optimizes imprest cash in kiosks and saves a casino money on interest expense, while also reducing wear and tear on the kiosk and enhancing the player experience.
Kirner described the mood of this year’s G2E as generally optimistic, noting, “Operators are very interested in hearing about new solutions and enhancing their operations with new and creative technology.”
“DiTRONICS is now actively increasing sales with greater visibility and awareness—and 2015 looks very promising,” he stated. “As always, DiTRONICS is focused on the customer as its first priority… and customers let us know they appreciate it.”
“Customers are focused on improving their operations, especially now,” Kirner observed, “and DiTRONICS remains committed to thinking outside the box to better serve them… by paying attention to the long term and maintaining a high level of importance on the player experience and the operator benefit.”
“We are seeing the results now of our commitment to leveraging technology and our customer-centric approach. DiTRONICS exists because our customers are successful with our solutions. Taking care of the customer and giving them the absolute best service and solutions matters… and it is paying dividends right now.”
“DiTRONICS only wins,” he added, “if our operator customers and partners win.”
FutureLogic celebrated its 15th year of technology leadership in gaming with a blast. Champagne was served as speakers from Pechanga Resort & Casino, Valley View Casino, Jackson Rancheria Casino, as well as FutureLogic’s John Edmunds and JCM Global’s President Aki Isoi reflected on FutureLogic’s past, present and future. Matt Naraghi, Director of Marketing in North America, said, “We got our start in 1999 by introducing the very first TITO printer in gaming, the PSA-66ST. Since then, we have shipped over 1.6 million printers worldwide, more than all other manufacturers combined.” At G2E, FutureLogic also celebrated the next step in its journey with its acquisition by JCM Global. The acquisition closed only about a month before the show and both companies were still feeling out the details.
Generations ahead of competing TITO printers, FutureLogic showcased its GEN3 Evolution® printer at G2E. The GEN3 Evolution features industry’s largest standard paper capacity of 450 tickets and at 8 inches per second, it prints and presents a ticket/coupon in less than one second. A new low paper sensor eliminates paper waste. In addition, operators can easily update firmware by simply connecting a pre-loaded thumb drive to a printer while it’s still in the slot machine, significantly reducing down time for each slot machine.
With the ability to buy-in or cash out at table games, FutureLogic’s TableXchange® printer/scanner provides a bridge between slots and tables, helping speed up play and identify crossover players, ultimately enhancing the casino/property experience. With chips remaining at the table, the TableXchange® device increases operational efficiency at tables, cash cage and kiosks by reducing the resources associated with chip refills and cash handling. The TableXchange® system can be integrated into promotional couponing systems and deliver coupons at table games.
By offering operators the ability to use the existing TITO and player tracking infrastructure, FutureLogic’s PromoNet® couponing solution allows operators to identify and reward high value players instantly at the game without delays. Moreover, by providing a vehicle for tangible awards for a participating player, the PromoNet solution can steer players to online sites, bridging the gap and acting as an affiliate program between land-based and online venues.
Gamblit Gaming made a splash at this year’s G2E as it introduced its proprietary new platform to casino owners, operators and game developers.
The company generated plenty of buzz and drew gaming operators and developers who are seeking ways to attract a younger demographic to gaming without alienating their current clientele.
Gamblit CEO Eric Meyerhofer said the company was excited to offer the industry more information about its platform, which is designed to engage players “through fun, easy-to-play real money mobile games.”
The company showed a mix of 10 games developed by Gamblit and partners. Among them were Dreadnought, a space-themed turn-based strategy experience that combines compelling game elements with a proven gambling mechanic, and Lucky Words, a turn-based multiplayer word game that challenges players to generate the most points.
With Dreadnought, players take turns guessing the location of their enemy’s ships while destroying the alien fleet. The game includes a 5-reel, 3-line slot machine with a double or nothing bonus game that inserts essential digital virtual goods to continue gameplay. With Lucky Words, each letter/word placement on the board has consequences. With a themed gambling mechanic that spells out words to win money, players can also win game credits to buy power ups.
Gamblit’s platform is designed to give game developers access to real money gaming capabilities to enhance mobile games and tap into online gaming and land-based casino markets. Developers can integrate a single SDK into their existing mobile games or design new real money games with Gamblit’s development kit. Gamblit provides the technology, operations, account management, security, gambling licenses, regulations and compliance elements needed. The company also offers casino operators a way to deliver a new entertainment experience to attract new players and engage current ones.
Gaming Laboratories International
Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) celebrated its 25th year in business at this year’s G2E. Russell Witt, national director of tribal development, said GLI was “excited to celebrate 25 years. G2E was a perfect place for us to meet with regulators, suppliers, operators and others to say thank you for supporting us, and thank you for all the things you’ve done to contribute to GLI’s success.”
Witt explained GLiCloud, a new tool in GLI’s award-winning toolbox, which GLI staffers demonstrated in their G2E booth. GLiCloud is a product designed to help regulators, operators and suppliers maintain slot floor inventory error-free and in real time. GLiCloud streamlines processes, saving users time and money, as well as protecting revenue and ensuring the casino is compliant. Witt also talked about how GLI is honored to be partnered with the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) to provide commissioner training for levels one, two and three, as well as a master class. GLI global experts led the first session Nov. 5-7, 2014 at the GLI offices in Las Vegas.
When asked, Witt talked about this time of change in the industry and emphasized GLI is solid and prepared to help suppliers and regulators. “We are optimistic about the upcoming year. There are exciting things happening in gaming all around the world, and in each of our 21 locations we are ready to help with our testing services and our many services beyond testing. For GLI, 2015 will be more than just business as usual.”
Gaming Partners International
With this being Gaming Partners International’s (GPI) first show since the acquisition of GemGroup Inc., GPI was eager to showcase the new products it had added to its lineup. According to Maricela Maciel, director of global marketing, “Our goal is always to provide the best products possible with the best customer service.” GPI was able to do just that with this acquisition by adding GemGroup’s playing card and table layout products to the product portfolio.
As a leading table game products manufacturer, it is important for GPI to find new options for their customers. “For us,” Maciel said, “it’s about giving our customers not just more options, but quality choice options to provide them the best service and the best product possible.” The booth was continuously filled with people curious about the exciting new changes for GPI. It wasn’t just new products that GPI had to offer. “We’ve expanded our sales team,” said Maciel. “We’ve added new sales people to our sales force which means we can serve a broader customer base with an unmatched level of customer service.”
Despite the fact that there weren’t very many casino openings this year, Maciel remained positive about what that means for GPI. She said, “It goes back to finding new ways to provide our customers service, whether it be innovating on the products that we have or offering new products. We have a strong executive team and we are looking forward to next year.”
Gaming Standards Association
In the simplest terms, the Gaming Standards Association provides a forum for the gaming industry to come together and agree on how open technologies are used. President Peter DeRaedt put it another way at G2E when he said, “GSA standards create the freedom and power to do what you want.” GSA has developed and implemented standards within the gaming industry for more than 16 years, and its standards are recognized around the world. This was apparent as the 2014 G2E tradeshow floor was filled with games and systems built on GSA standards.
One of the issues GSA wished to highlight at G2E this year was online gaming. GSA recognized the importance of an online gaming standard and its Online Gaming Committee has made rapid progress with its new standard. As Protocol Director Ethan Tower said, “There are more and more opportunities for standardization in online gaming. Between the regulators and the manufacturers, the operators are trying to put more structure around how the online gaming systems work. As you get more players involved and more structure in it, the standards just follow right along.”
DeRaedt acknowledged that the recent consolidations would lead to significant changes for the industry. Despite the mergers of several of its members, DeRaedt was optimistic about the future of GSA because, “[The mergers] could create opportunities for new companies to come into the marketplace and offer competing products and more innovative products.” As long as the need for standards exists, GSA will continue to support the gaming industry by developing and refining gaming industry standards.
Gary Platt Manufacturing
Gary Platt’s theme at G2E was summed up by President Skip Davis. “Our driving message always is that we make a durable product.” This went hand-in-hand with Gary Platt’s new featured tagline: Unsurpassed Comfort. The company followed through on this promise and went into its existing lines of seating and subtly redesigned the seat. Davis explained, “What we did is simply went in and re-sculpted our backs so you can get a little further back in the chair. To a customer it looks like the same chair but it sits a lot different. On some models we also are sewing in a pillow layer on top of our standard foam to make it more comfortable.”
Davis revealed that Gary Platt has big plans for 2015. Some of the developments in store for Gary Platt included expanding its team. According to Davis, Gary Platt hired a quality assurance manager, a full-time chair designer and also was planning to hire marketing roles as well. “We are planning on growing the business,” Davis said, “We’ve got some top secret options to grow it that I can’t even talk about yet.”
With the new chair designer, Gary Platt has planned to come out with a new model about every six months. The new Lido model was highlighted at G2E. One version of the Lido model even had options for heating and air conditioning to keep players comfortable in outdoor gaming areas.
As Davis said, “Our whole business philosophy is that people that are gaming in a casino should have a good experience and the seat becomes an integral part of the experience. So whether it’s sound chairs or just comfortable chairs, our job is to make that experience better and in turn, make it a better place to game for the customers. We’ll continue to push, improve and offer solutions.”
President of Gasser Chair Mark Gasser was buoyed by the bustling atmosphere of G2E this year. “It’s been busy but more importantly it seems to be drawing in the decision makers, these are folks that either have active projects or they are writing the plans for a project. So that has been very encouraging,” he said. After a couple of lean years, it seemed to Gasser that many properties were moving forward with expansions and renovations.
The Gasser Chair booth was a ‘dazzling’ display of the many possibilities it offers to customers. As Gasser said, “We really excel at custom products. If a property is looking for a distinctive look and feel to convey to its customers, we’re able to help them create that.” The stunning combinations of color and variety presented throughout the booth were a clear testament to that claim.
Gasser Chair’s featured product line at G2E was the Quantum Series. Gasser said, “It’s specifically designed to be ergonomically functional and extremely durable. We have all the design flexibility that we have with all of our other product lines. So this is just a new look with the same solid Gasser quality built in.”
One of the most notable custom design projects Gasser Chair is currently involved with is working with the design team for the MGM National Harbor project in Baltimore, Md.
Giesecke & Devrient
From the moment the showroom floor opened at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo, the booth at Giesecke & Devrient was packed. The new design of the displayed BPS® M5 drew in a lot of people interested in learning more about the product. Jim Goodwin, market segment director of casinos, said, “The M5 is one of those machines that nobody has anything like it. It brings people into the booth and that’s what you’re trying to do at a show like this, trying to get as much face time as you can in the short period of time that you have with these people.”
This year, Giesecke & Devrient also featured the connectivity of its BPS® Connect Casino software. Goodwin explained, “The connectivity connects to our hardware on both the BPS® M5 and the C4 at the same time, how it tracks the assets, the slot drops or the table drops within the count room. It is pretty exciting that we are finally releasing that software and getting it out to the market.”
The strongest message Giesecke & Devrient wished to present at G2E this year was its dedication to providing a total solution to casinos. For instance, the BPS Connect Casino is able to interface to all casino management systems, all the way through to the accounting systems in casinos, giving Giesecke & Devrient’s clients a true solution. As Goodwin said, “We don’t piecemeal things and we don’t try to get other people to do things. We really have a true solution for the casino that brings efficiency that nobody else does.”
Global Cash Access
Global Cash Access highlighted its total suite of cash access solutions and related services, including NEWave services at its booth this year.
“From our integrated kiosks to our complementary service solutions, GCA is confident that our on-going dedication to providing innovative, integrated and efficient gaming payments solutions will be evident,” through the lineup showed at G2E, David Lucchese, GCA executive vice president of client operations, stated in a release.
Among the products highlighted were CashClub®, Xchange® Kiosks and Everi™ Solutions. Cash Club is the next generation of GCA’s QCP portfolio and built on a stronger and more stable technology platform to reduce transaction time and overhead costs. CashClub facilitates common cash access tasks such as PIN debit cash advance, credit card cash advance and check warranty services. Xchange Kiosks is GCA’s multifunctional suite of kiosks, providing cash handling technology, cash access, back office reporting tools and marketing services.
GCA’s CXC 4.0 features a sleek design, combined with powerful marketing peripherals and high capacity components. Everi Payments is a simple and sophisticated interactive payment wall that consolidates numerous payment options into one user interface. Everi Digital Wallet is a robust and streamlined account management tool for players. It bridges disparate game and loyalty systems while providing a unique marketing opportunity. Everi Stored Value Card is GCA’s card program designed to align with marketing and loyalty programs while delivering rapid integration across various point-of-sale devices, revenue capture for enrolled point-of-sale locations, incremental revenue from the card itself and rapid issuance of cards for special events.
With its All Together GTECH theme, GTECH, with its gaming product brand SPIELO, underscored its full array of games, cabinets, systems and interactive solutions, including an expanded library of True 3D™ titles.
For the North American market, GTECH showed that it is building upon its highly successful launch last year of SPHINX 3D™ by introducing exciting additions to its True 3D game library specifically designed to appeal to different player segments, with varying volatility. Titles include Bejeweled 3D™, Dragon’s Temple 3D™, Dreams of Asia 3D™ and Aladdin’s Fortune 3D™.
Last year GTECH showed one 3D unit with its Sphinx 3D, said Mike Brennan, company product marketing manager. “Fast forward a year and we have them out in the field and everyone says the games do fantastic,” he said. “So this year we’ve added four new titles to that. So instead of just a novelty, we feel like there’s a standard market for this.”
The company also highlighted its new community games from its licensed PopCap® brand library. The latest additions to GTECH’s Community product line are Bejeweled™ Community and Zuma™ Adventures. Bejeweled Community features two entertaining base games as well as a variety of randomly triggered Bejeweled Bonuses. Zuma Adventures offers two unique base games, market-proven community bonus eligibility and three innovative community bonuses.
GTECH also is releasing the newest version of its DEAL OR NO DEAL franchise, with DEAL OR NO DEAL™ Las Vegas. Using the MaXVusion™ cabinet and featuring Howie Mandel and the DEAL OR NO DEAL ladies, the game is set against a Las Vegas backdrop and offers two base games that share a unique middle reel that only contains wilds and bonus triggers. The bonus is played during and intermittently throughout the base game. The Money Drop™, offering two base games and highly interactive players’ choice bonuses, completes GTECH’s licensed product offering.
Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t in IGT’s G2E booth in the flesh, but it almost felt like she was with the signage, cutouts and banks of machines featuring IGT’s Ellen-themed games filling a large section.
The Ellen games were definitely the marquee product, but IGT also showed other products that showed plenty of promise, including the return of Quartermania slot machines, and the S3000™ cabinet that evolves the spinning reel experience.
“As the gaming industry rapidly evolves, IGT leads the charge by expanding and enhancing global content creation and distribution to new levels, with jaw-dropping game themes, platforms that immerse players in excitement and systems designed to drive ROI and personalized connections like never before,” IGT CEO Patti Hart said in a statement.
IGT showed two slot machines based on The Ellen DeGeneres Show™, Ellen’s Dance Party Video Slots and The Ellen DeGeneres Show™ Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways Video Slots. Inspired by the Emmy® Award-winning daytime talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the games are housed on IGT’s CrystalCore cabinet and feature fun bonus rounds.
“She hits a great demographic that aligns very closely with slot players,” said Jacob Lanning, director of gaming operations and product management. “She’s a really relevant ‘today’ brand.” Along with relevant brands like Ellen, he added, “there are a lot of things we’re working on to try and make things relevant to my generation and generations to follow.”
Building upon the past success of IGT’s S2000 slot series, the new S3000 integrates stepper-style classic 3-reel games and 5-reel multiline games with powerful digital effects, providing a customizable light and sound spectacle that enables operators to sync an entire bank of machines. A pipeline of new and classic themes includes Double Diamond, Double Gold, Wild Cherry and Super Times Pay. Lanning said the new technologies used on the new S3000 games are “making those products cool again.”
Other buzz-worthy products include Wheel of Fortune® Jackpot Paradise. Housed on the CrystalCore cabinet, the 5-reel Jackpot Paradise features a touch-screen interface and interactive bonus rounds. Players enjoy scale-with-play progressives, in addition to the Jackpot Pick Bonus wide area progressive top award. IGT also showed Powerhits, on the Powerbucks link. Players can win life-changing jackpots at any bet level with Powerbucks™ Powerhits.
Chicago-based Incredible Technologies officially launched its new Infinity® gaming technology platform and debuted its Infinity U23 cabinet at this year’s Global Gaming Expo.
“The Infinity U23 cabinet is the focus for what we are showing. The launch of this new platform is integral to the future success of the company, and it’s been in the works for a couple years,” said Dan Schrementi, vice president of gaming sales and marketing, Incredible Technologies. “This is the foundation of our future growth.” Infinity features radical lighting effects, powerful system capabilities and a sleek new shape, the company said.
Schrementi noted that Incredible Technologies is a private company. “We take that as an opportunity to do things a little differently. We don’t have shareholders to impress. We only bring proven items to the shows.”
The Infinity U23 has been on beta test for six months, and proved itself both with older content and brand-new content. “So on older games like Crazy Money, King of Bling, Easy Money, the earnings went through the roof. Then we put the test content on it and the earnings went up another 20 percent, so we’re having a 50 percent premium with the new launch content.
“Since August we’ve been shipping what we’re calling our first national roll out,” he said. “At the show people who have already received the games in August are reordering them already. It’s been amazing. We’ve already sold through the inventory that we have.”
Now, Incredible’s biggest problem is forecasting how many cabinets it needs to build, Schrementi said.
Incredible also showed many new games from its E-Play™, V-Pro™ and I-Series™ family of games. The company also used the show to highlight its Simple Sign™ Display Kit, which has proven to be an economical, easy-to-install bank signage solution.
“Bigger and badder—in a good way” is how Interblock’s Marketing Manager Lauren O’Brien described this year’s G2E. “This has been a great G2E for us. Everybody’s been really taken with the StarBar product and our mini-roulettes are pretty successful,” O’Brien said.
Interblock’s StarBar has a touch sensitive display and mulitplay functionality, allowing players to play an additional game, such as roulette, while waiting for game results from a different game, such as poker. The mini-roulettes are standard roulette games that have been shrunk down to seat five, eight or ten people. “Those are a lot smaller, more compact for casino floors, and that obviously changed the price point. It made it a little more affordable to have our product on the floor,” O’Brien explained.
All of the products present at Interblock’s booth were immediately available for customers. “Our entire show floor is currently in submission or available. Rather than showing something that you might not get right now, everything you see you can get right now on your casino floor. Our point is we have product and we have product that’s available right now, and it’s all different and unique.” This rapid availability contributed to O’Brien’s positive outlook on the business climate going into next year. “We’re fighting pretty hard to get on casino floors and more placements, and we’re getting ourselves out there.”
This year’s Global Gaming Expo brought more activity and better questions to JCJ Architecture’s booth. Scott Celella, chief product officer, said, “People are searching for help and wanting to evaluate exactly where they are spending money.” Both Celella and Design Principal Kristina Ennis agreed that much of their work was planning and clarification in order to help their customers make better decisions.
Many of the clients that Ennis and Celella spoke with were alike in that they all wanted to be certain of getting the best return possible for their money—not only in terms of short term productivity but also for long term objectives as well. As Ennis said, “What we bring to the table is our ability to work across the disciplines—we start in those early planning stages and really obtain that insight into the business and operations. Then we take that planning and hone it into the design and the interiors.”
Celella and Ennis both felt positive about the future of JCJ and about the industry’s climate going into 2015. According to Celella, this is because “It’s a ‘re’ year. In an era where some are thinking of expanding, some are thinking of re-working, others are thinking of re-vamping or re-imagining. It positions us well because we are able to handle all of that. We are pretty optimistic.” JCJ’s mission is to help clients achieve their vision—whether that is through the planning stages or the design process. Ennis said, “We are thinking about projects holistically start to finish.”
JCM Global had a lot to be excited about at this year’s G2E. Having acquired FutureLogic just 30 days before the show, the connection between the companies wasn’t a visual one, but the bridge between the booths was one of excited energy. According to Tom Neiman, vice president of global marketing, JCM’s message at the Global Gaming Expo was one of evolution. “Coming into the show, our goal was to feature the transition of JCM from a pure peripheral component company,” he said. As a result of the acquisition, the company has expanded its product offering to include printers and digital media in addition to its currency validation equipment. “Our evolution is the creation of connectivity between those components,” said Neiman.
JCM’s highlighted product at G2E was the Dynamic Network Applications (DNA™). DNA is a peripheral management tool—an icon-driven software that connects and monitors all peripheral components including bill validators, ticket printers, card readers, digital displays, coin acceptors and more. Listing products such as PromoNet®, TicketXchange™ and Tickets2Go™, Neiman expressed his excitement with the FutureLogic acquisition. “All of those things synergistically fit right onto the DNA system. It was a great acquisition. Not only does it strengthen our printer line up, it strengthens the DNA product.”
Neiman had a practical outlook for JCM moving into 2015. He said, “Our relationship with the manufacturers and the operators is terrific. It’s as good as it’s ever been. If you look at all of 2014 and take our FutureLogic acquisition into account, every major opening or expansion put in 100 percent of our products between the JCM currency equipment, the Nanoptix printer or the FutureLogic printer.”
More than 100 games were on display in Konami Gaming’s booth this year, along with new offerings from the company’s SYNKROS® casino management system.
One of the most exciting products was Neo Contra™, the company’s first slot machine taken from Konami’s video game library. In the game, futuristic soldiers fight for fortune, which is packed with features and includes Konami’s newest 3D sound system designed to place the player in the middle of the action.
“This is one of Konami’s most famous video games,” said Matt Reback, vice president of marketing for Konami Gaming. The booth was packed with gaming executives trying out the product, and he said Neo Contra shows much promise, especially as gaming executives seek ways to reach younger demographics.
Konami Director of Product Management Steve Walther echoed Reback as to the potential of games pulling from traditional video game technology. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Konami has a lot of famous IP out there,” he said.
Konami’s booth included Herds of Wins, attracting attention for its stampeding feature, in which reel symbols lay back and begin charging toward the player in a unique animation sequence akin to a racing herd of animals. This original math new release includes hallmark Konami game mechanics such as Action Stacked Symbols and Xtra Reward.
Another new game that drew attention is Inari Riches, a game in Konami’s REELEVEN® series. With 11 action reels, REELEVEN consists of a 3×3 grid of separate spinning reels, framed by one standard reel on either side. Popular Xtra Reward and bonus features keep players engaged. Any time the same symbol appears throughout the two traditional reels, the Gigantic Symbol Feature is triggered, in which the nine reels are spun to complete a single gigantic symbol like puzzle pieces. “The more pieces of the puzzle you collect the higher your award goes,” Walther said.
Konami highlighted how standalone progressives such as the new Engine Ablaze and Pick Strike Quad use Podium Monument™’s 32-inch vertical top box to launch high-energy mystery games, and how its 2-level Gigantic Wheel of Winning reveals a 3D mystery prize wheel across both of Podium Goliath’s oversized monitors.
Multimedia Games introduced several new platforms and more than 100 unique themes and showcased the power of its award-winning TournEvent slot tournament system at this year’s Global Gaming Expo.
Among the platforms and content showcased in the Austin, Texas-based Multimedia Games’ booth was its premium cabinet Platinum MPX; The Texan HDX™, a new premium Texas-sized cabinet standing 8 feet tall; the brand-new Apex V™ Topper consisting of dual video toppers; and Cash Boom Bang®, the latest out-of-revenue game to join the TournEvent® slot tournament system. “For us it’s a transitional year, and we’re coming out with some pretty big platforms,” including the MPX, The Texan HDX™ and the Skyline high-denomination reel games, said Mick Roemer, Multimedia Games senior vice president of sales. In addition, the company has added additional treatments to its wide-body game and to signage for the TournEvent product. “The show has been good, really great,” he said, noting G2E also is an opportunity for Multimedia to showcase the power of TournEvent. For the second year, the National TournEvent of Champions was held in Las Vegas during G2E week, and it was bigger and better than ever, Roemer said. Held at Wynn Las Vegas, the event drew 122 contestants from 102 casinos across the country. “That’s a big deal—with a half a million in prizes this year and then announcing a $1 million prize next year, a $1.2-million pool. That’s an industry change that really says we’re not just a second-tier player,” Roemer said, adding that TournEvent is present in some 280 locations and that more than 4,000 games are connected to its network.
At last year’s G2E, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement (FinCEN), called for casinos to help in the mission to protect the financial system and NEWave stepped up, creating the new Walk with Chips the company featured this year. NEWave also featured its business intelligence tools, which are now more customizable to better search for any suspicious activities, and its audit manager, which can be used not only in the casino, but non-gaming areas, such as hotel and other point-of-sale areas.
NEWave’s goal with these products and services, Tom Bechtel explained, is “saving time and money and creating accuracy for all the audits, whether they’re regarding casino audits, non-casino audits, compliance; every area that touches the casino and non-casino items.”
Bechtel said this year’s G2E felt bigger than years before, with more people present in the exhibition hall and more movement around the booths. G2E was a great experience for the NEWave team.
As NEWave had recently been purchased by Global Cash Access (GCA) and Multimedia Games has likewise been acquired, Bechtel expected the upcoming year to be exciting for the combined companies.
NOVOMATIC has always had a strong presence at G2E, but it was different this time around as the company used the 2014 expo to not only showcase its wares but also to underscore its commitment to North America.
“As far as NOVOMATIC Americas is concerned, the world changed yesterday because we’re here with our American team, with our American-specific product backed up by licenses, backed up by product approvals,” said David Orrick, company director of communications. “We’re here now. Now the challenge is to make it work.”
NOVOMATIC Americas has headquarters in Deerfield Beach, Fla., an office and service center in Chicago, a growing portfolio of games and licenses and a team anchored by industry veterans Jens Halle, CEO of NOVOMATIC Americas and Rick Meitzler, vice president of sales, NOVOMATIC Americas.
Among the games the company hopes to make inroads in North America with is NOVOSTAR® V.I.P., which Halle said in a release features “supreme game play in panorama format with its large Crown V.I.P. chair and an extra 46-inch upper screen positioned at the perfect ergonomic distance.”Specifically for U.S. markets is the Action-Gaminator®, which offers a mix of internationally proven games for the Illinois VGT market, said Max Lindenberg, NOVOMATIC marketing director. “Novomatic is also an operator so we have a big advantage to be able to bring our games into our own operations before they go to market to test them there,” Lindenberg said.
The NOVOLINE Novo Unity™ II system was also on display, which offers multigame functionality allowing operators to link any number of terminals to an unlimited number of electronic table games, including roulette, baccarat, poker, blackjack, sic bo and bingo, as well as slot games, in one installation. NOVOMATIC also showed its Panther Roulette™ and Panther Roulette™ II automated single player roulette that combines roulette entertainment with slot gaming.
For NRT Technology, this year’s message was about the people behind its products. Product Manager Jay Tang explained, “Our customers are our partners, and our accomplishments are measured by their success.” The message was also, Tang said, that when a customer buys a product or solution, they were not just buying a box, they were buying the whole company with it. “So everyone, from the sales person, the after-sale support, the technical support and the product management group is involved with the overall experience of owning or operating an NRT solution.”
While its commitment to its customers remains the same, there were some changes to note with NRT’s cash access solutions. The formerly-known Central Payment Systems is now the NRT Financial Services Suite and NRT expects to remain just as successful in the financial cash access market. On a tour through the booth, Tang said, “We are expecting the same progress with our cash access products, and on our cash handling side, we had a lot of international customers looking at our QuickJack™ 88 Slim, and of course, our cage automation product, the QuickBank has once again been the highlight of the show for us.”
Tang also hinted at future developments for next year’s Global Gaming Expo. “The market keeps changing and I think with changing markets there’s always going to be good opportunities as well. It’s just a matter of knowing what those opportunities are and pursuing them and we think we have a pretty good sense of solutions coming for 2015. We are going to have quite a few new, game changing products.”
Ortiz Gaming celebrated the opening of G2E’s tradeshow floor with the amazing unveiling of its new O-Circle Cabinet. The new cabinet featured a 42-inch curved display and 5.1 surround sound all included to enhance the player’s game experience. As Gary Green, senior consultant to the president, put it, “The world’s not flat. The world is round, it’s curved! What this game does is it immerses the player into the game. You really become part of this game.” According to a press release, O-Circle prototype will be available during 2015’s first quarter.
Apart from the exciting cabinet unveiling, the prominent message Ortiz Gaming shared at this year’s G2E was the Ortiz Standard. The Ortiz Standard redefines the usual expectations of average game performance. Green explained, “The way the Ortiz Standard works is the Ortiz games start below the floor average. They catch on to the players, and then the games go up to the floor average. They climb above the floor average and they stay at a multiple the floor average.” Green was certain that as the Ortiz Standard comes to be understood by operators, the more those operators would start to rethink the metrics of their gaming floors. “It’s a new way of thinking about the slot floor and that’s the magic.”
Ortiz did not share the uncertainty brought on by the recent rush of consolidations. Instead, Green said, “It’s more to get excited about. There’s always an expansion and a contraction in any industry. We’re happy to see it. We’re not directly involved in it but we are certainly on the fringes of it and enjoy it.”
A great alternative to capital, PDS showcased three of its programs that can help slot managers refresh and renew their floors without breaking their budgets. Other than its core product, a finance and slot equipment leasing program, PDS featured its Premier and Enterprise programs. The Premier program offers casino operators short term leasing, and 50 percent of all revenue goes toward the purchase of the game. PDS’s Enterprise program is a property-wide financing and leasing solution for all furniture, fixtures, equipment and slot equipment. PDS manages the equipment through the slot manager, refreshing and bringing in new equipment at pre-determined times.
G2E was bigger and busier than before, PDS Vice President Simon Burgess said. “Three years ago it feels like there was about half this. That, coupled with the amount of business I am working on and others are working on, I think we’re back. We’re definitely back in an upswing in the industry.”
With the general upward trend in the gaming industry, Burgess is still uncertain how the recent changes in the industry will affect the business climate. “We need to see how [the consolidations] shake out over the next year, whether we end up with a single slot manufacturer or a single supplier out of a merger, or if we end up with separate altogether entities that are managed together. That’s really the big question in my mind. What I’m afraid of is casino floors ending up with less choice. That’s not good for anybody.”
Despite the uncertainty, Burgess said, “There’s a sizzle [in the industry]. There’s excitement. There’s money starting to flow, new projects are opening up. People with long-dormant projects are starting to get active again.”
Slot-Tickets’s message for customers at this year’s G2E was simple. “We are the original and the best ticket manufacturer in the world,” said Managing Director Special Projects Tom Mitchell. Similarly, Mitchell said it would be interesting to see how everybody reshuffled at next year’s G2E, but noted, “We won’t be reshuffling. We’ll be us.”
Slot-Tickets featured its On-Demand Pull Tab, which Mitchell thinks will be a very significant product for the company over the next years and change the industry of on-demand gaming. The product is able to print thermal tickets for pull tabs or promotional prizes, easing the normally restrictive process. It is easily installed onto existing machines.
Mitchell believes the upcoming year will be business as usual for Slot-Tickets. “We are the razor blade of the industry. Even though the consolidations may be affecting the OEMs, if you will, or affecting the properties … It doesn’t really matter quite so much because the gaming public is still playing slot machines somewhere. They’re cashing out somewhere. We’re independent of all of what’s going on.”
This year, Slot-Tickets brought some new employees to experience the gaming side of the business, as the company is in the printing business for a variety of industries. “Slot tickets are just one of them, so we’ve brought some people here so they can see the real world of gaming. This is the best place to come.”
Spin Games LLC, an HTML5 content and solutions provider, used G2E to showcase 30 new interactive slot titles with 40 to 100 lines, 243 ways to win, multi-level progressives and IP-protected concepts that are playable on multiple platforms, including mobile devices.
“We do a lot of third-party content for other providers,” companies such as IGT, WMS, Novomatic and others, explained Spin Games CEO Kent Young. “So we have a lot going on with that side of the business.”
“The other part of our business is in the interactive space, so we’ve developed a remote gaming server and it’s all HTML5, so that means you can run it on any device.”
He highlighted Spin Games’ ROC, or Robust Online Client. This HTML5 Remote Gaming Server has been designed specifically for the regulated U.S. interactive gaming market and is approved in New Jersey, where it is operating with Caesars Interactive. ROC provides a wide range of content, from bingo, table games, keno, slots and poker, for many platforms, including IOS and Android and desktop applications.
One of the best performing games currently is Megaball, a South American-style bingo game. “We’re going to do more of this type of product because it’s really performing well. It’s really good on a mobile and really good on a laptop,” Young said, noting numbers games tend to do really well online.
Among the innovative products demonstrated in Spin Games booth was its MIG, or Multi-Player Interactive Gaming, which uses Microsoft’s Kinect technology and proprietary Spin Games technology to allow players to use their own mobile devices to play community-based games for wager or social gaming. The company also showed its ML3, a new 3D gaming technology using HTML5 technology, and the first HTML5 3D slot game technology that can be used within a browser without having to install a special viewer or program.
Young also demonstrated Spin Games Little Bonzer Wheel. “We also use our HTML5 technology here so this has different jackpots that are driven from a jackpot controller, and this will go on any device, so that allows us to put the wheel on any product. We’re quite optimistic about that,” he said.
Thalden Boyd Emery Architects
The Thalden Boyd Emery Architects booth was busy this year. In attendance were CEO Chief Boyd; President Rich Emery; Vice President and Principal Nick Schoenfeldt; Director of Marketing and Media Cheryl Nervez; Vice President Business Development and Client Relations Linda Roe; Manager Commercial Business Development Kevin Chapman; and Executive Assistant Regina Baker.
Emery emphasized that with Barry Thalden’s retirement, for whom they threw a retirement party at G2E this year, nothing has changed with the company. “It used to be Barry Thalden, Chief Boyd, Rich Emery. Now it’s Chief Boyd, Rich Emery, Nick Schoenfeldt … It’s just the three partners are one different than it was before.”
Emery remains hopeful and positive about the gaming industry in the upcoming year. “Every slowdown that I’ve dealt with in 32 years in this industry, everyone says, ‘Oh Vegas is dead.’ Vegas always comes out and improves beyond the other side. We’re right at that pivotal point.”
Schoenfeldt feels that the difference between the local casinos, which is the company’s emphasis, and the Strip casinos is the need for more amenities to draw the locals. “We’re not a big firm, but we do big work. That’s because all we do is hospitality work. … We live and breathe hospitality work and our goal is to make the client’s guests comfortable in the facilities we provide.”
Boyd shared some exciting news about the Native American gaming industry, his particular focus within the company. Native American gaming makes up roughly 41-43 percent of the gaming industry income, which income benefits the tribe and the tribe’s community. “The tribe gets to decide where the money goes. My tribe, for example, has opened up a bunch of Cherokee speaking schools … All classes, geography, history, math, everything’s taught in Cherokee. And that’s really exciting because it’s going to be a rebirth of our language, which is huge for our culture.”
TSCJOHNHUXLEY launched seven products that generated a lot of interest this year, including its Gaming Floor Live platform, which connects all the devices at a table in a way similar to slot machines and provides operators with real time data. Gaming Floor Live is an open platform, so not only can TSCJOHNHUXLEY products connect to the system, it is also possible to connect other vendors’ products. All of the company’s future products will be based, and available, on the platform. Having installed over 800 tables in Macau, Gaming Floor Live is already proving to be a compelling proposition for operators.
In order to make it even easier for casino operators and dealers to keep track of game play, Tracy Cohen, director of marketing for TCSJOHNHUXLEY, shared information about another of the company’s new products. “We are introducing Blaze LED Gaming Technology, which delivers brilliance and excitement to roulette, sic bo and big 6. Incorporating dynamic animation sequences, all winning bets and game sequences are highlighted for added security and to make it easier for players to understand the structure of the game.”
A further benefit to operators, the new Blaze LED technology is energy efficient and has many thousands of hours operating life, unlike traditional illuminated tables that consist of a light box with many individual light bulbs requiring frequent replacement. Game play is uninterrupted and regular maintenance limited.
Cohen sees the current changes in the gaming industry as a positive for the company. “The table gaming space is very exciting right now and as a smaller, flexible, privately owned company we are focused on developing and delivering dynamic table gaming innovations that drive and grow our customers’ businesses. The products we launched at G2E are just the start.”
TransAct Technologies Inc. drew G2E attendees to its booth with its Epicentral promotion and bonusing solution and its line of printers for the worldwide gaming and casino industry.
The Epicentral promotion and bonusing and software suite from TransAct is an enterprise-level solution that allows casino operators and their marketing teams to deliver targeted coupons and bonuses to players directly at the slot machine or electronic table game all in real-time, the company said. Since its introduction, Epicentral has consistently delivered meaningful performance in ongoing floor-wide marketing operations, and currently operates on more than 10,500 gaming machines in 11 casinos.
According to TransAct, its customers have reported a 46 percent average increase in slot handle the evening of a coupon-drawing promotion, a 100 percent increase in lower-tier player average daily theoretical, a 37 percent increase in weekday afternoon slot handle, a 14 percent increase in average player time on device, a 60 percent increase in new player enrollment in their loyalty programs, a 34 percent increase in the number of returning players, an 87 percent redemption rate of coupons that encourage mid-week visits, and an 86 percent increase in points earned by players club members.
“There is no doubt that in today’s industry environment casino operators are constantly looking for ways to best optimize their marketing efforts to drive revenue growth. With Epicentral creating innovative and real-time promotion and bonus offers that deliver results such as a 34 percent increase in customer return visits and a doubling of ADT, we believe it is an essential tool for casino operators’ marketing efforts,” TransAct Chairman and CEO Bart Shuldman said in a press release.
The company also showcased its line of printers, including the Epic 950, a ticket-in, ticket out printer that uses TicketBurst™ technology to seamlessly print promotions and bonus offers directly to players at the gaming machine while they are playing. It also showed the Epic 880®, a compact printer for all types of gaming machines, including amusement with prize games, and the Epic 430®, which offers a compact modular design ideal for casino operators’ customer self-service kiosks.
Vantiv Gaming Solutions
Vantiv Gaming Solutions was most excited about the convergence of mobile and Internet gaming with cashless gaming and land-based casino operations. Vantiv Gaming Solutions offers a payments hub to its clients that can pull disparate data streams into one central location to allow companies to provide better services to their customers.
As Joe Feldkamp, vice president of market planning and development for Vantiv Gaming Solutions, explained, if a customer visits a casino with his or her family, each family member’s spending appears to be separate transactions. With Vantiv’s payments hub, all of the transactions can be tied back to one player and, as a result, a casino can better market to that family.
Vantiv also featured its data security solutions. While most companies try to keep people out by securing the outside, Vantiv approaches the problem from the opposite direction.
“Our client’s IT groups work diligently everyday to protect their systems and networks from fraudulent behavior. Vantiv’s role is that we work inside their systems and network to tokenize and encrypt the cardholder data. If a ‘hack’ does occur—our work makes the data meaningless and without value to the hacker,” said Feldkamp.
Most important for the company is its relationship with its clients. “Advocacy for our clients is crucial. We learn about their businesses and work with them to understand their needs. We help to find solutions that make the most sense. In some cases, we talk them into going a direction that will be beneficial for them, but doesn’t necessarily financially benefit us because that direction may not be purchasing our products,” Feldkamp said.
Because of these relationships, Vantiv is excited about the upcoming year. The changes in the industry provide Vantiv with opportunities to form relationships with new companies and maintain the already strong relationships with current clients.
For Ryan Cuddy, vice president of game design and development, VGT’s focus has always been making sure Class II is successful. At this year’s G2E, VGT focused on making sure Class II was successful in ways it hadn’t been before with the diversification of its product portfolio. Cuddy explained that VGT was developing in three product segments: the higher denominational 3-reel and the 5-reel low denomination on the mechanical side and in the video space as well. “The message is really about showing the a) diversification we are building into the portfolio for the video player and b) the quantity so that when you place one of these cabinets on your floor, you know that there’s a steady stream of high quality content coming to keep it safe and secure and keep your players happy.”
With customer favorites such as Mr. Money Bags®, Red Hot Ruby® and Lucky Ducky® spread across the booth, VGT was committed to bringing players the brands they loved. As Mike Smith, director of product management, said, “I think it’s important for our customers that we’ve continued to stay focused on Class II. That’s who we are; that’s who our customers want us to be. We embrace our customers, not like customers but like partners. We are here for them and they are here for us and we’ll continue with that focus.”
Cuddy and Smith were both positive about VGT’s and the gaming industry’s future. “We’ve had an incredible 2014, it’s really been our biggest year thus far on all three of the product segments, and of course releasing a new platform with a new game suite is always very exciting as well. It’s really been an incredible year for us to have so much success in all three of those areas of what we serve.” Smith added that it was the biggest G2E he’d seen in several years. “It’s a good sign that the industry is really starting to grow and thrive again.”
WMS Gaming’s theme was “Keeping Players in the Game™,” and judging by the booth’s offerings, the company was up to the task with a broad array of new game content, platforms and technology.
“It’s a pretty competitive market out there, so we’re just continuing to focus on making the best content we can that will draw players to the casinos, draw players to the games and keep them playing the games,” said Jennifer Healy, a principal producer for WMS.
Highlights include new for-sale games for its Blade™ video cabinet, including Double Buffalo Spirit™, Snow Leopard™ and Sweet Nothings™ themes, and follow-up themes to the popular OMG! Kittens™ game—OMG! Puppies™ and OMG! Kittens Safari™.
WMS also delivered new branded content, including The Flintstones™, Mad Men®, Gremlins™, Elton John™, Elvis® and Austin Powers™.
WMS’s Blade s23 cabinet is a hybrid slant cabinet that combines player-favorite features of the Blade cabinet and dual 23-inch HD displays. It offers a captivating bank appearance with dynamic game-driven direct and ambient lighting effects across an array of content, which includes Double Buffalo Spirit™, Eagle Maiden™ and Exotic Butterfly™ themes. The Blade s32 cabinet features dual 32-inch full HD Metascreen® technology displays and an ergonomically angled button panel tablet with a projected multitouch screen for improved gameplay. This cabinet will launch with Hot Hot 8™ and Dragons over Nanjing™ themes.
The Blade Stepper cabinet updates the classic mechanical reel game experience with features such as mechanical reels, HD touch-screens and glass artwork. Games that premiered at the show included The Best Things in Life®, Hearts & Dreams™ and High Speed™ Turbo®.
WMS introduced its first community immersion game for its Gamefield xD cabinet. The product features a Reel ‘Em In! Super Cast™ theme with wand technology, and has two Gamefield xD cabinet bases paired with three vertical 46-inch LCD screens that display a single image.
In addition, WMS showed its Cool Jewels™ theme—the first theme WMS Gaming and Williams Interactive simultaneously launched for land-based, social and real money wagering.
YWS Design & Architecture
As the consumer landscape continues to rapidly evolve, market research was a hot topic this year for YWS Design & Architecture. CEO Tom Wucherer explained that before a project design initiates “our team explores the project market and the intended consumer.” In today’s highly competitive markets, forward thinking casinos not only need to establish broad differentiation—they also need to demonstrate a precise understanding of consumer preferences and expectations. According to Wucherer, “It’s one thing getting numbers from a loyalty club. It’s another to actually speak with consumers to glean insights that can be inserted into an artistic process aimed at delivering something impactful, something they actually want.”
Roberto Coppola heads up the Market Research and Consumer Insights team at YWS. Coppola recently published a whitepaper that explores the role design plays in consumer choice and how subtle inferences can have major impacts to a company’s bottom-line. He is currently working on a whitepaper that already has garnered much industry curiosity: an examination of gaming environments targeting millennials. “The gaming floor of the near future is going to be different,” Coppola explains. “Getting ahead of, and influencing, this looming transformation is something YWS is at the forefront of.”
Next gen gaming was a major topic of conversation at this year’s G2E, with several of the majors and a crop of newcomers offering gaming innovations aimed squarely at this increasingly important demographic. Combining these new types of gambling propositions with a different type of gaming environment should make for an interesting topic of exploration by Coppola and his team at YWS.
Zitro’s mission at G2E was to show its customers that it has the ability to take the standard of bingo and raise the bar, to become a world leader in video bingo. Zitro delivered this in the form of Zitro Revolution 2014. Zitro added the option of buying up to about 10 extra balls—with the price of the balls dependant on the size of the table prize. Zitro has enhanced the bingo experience by allowing the player to make actual gambling decisions with their bingo cards.
CEO of Zitro USA Sam Basile explained how Zitro went the extra mile. “Here at Zitro Revolution, we’ve turned the gold standard into platinum. On top of the games that we’ve created, we’ve created community bonus prizes so while the player is playing, all they have to do is qualify to play and suddenly Air Cash—which is a random mystery event allowing players the opportunity to randomly win anywhere from $20-$75,000.”
Another product Zitro was eager to share was the Bingo Electronic Terminals system, or BET. The BET system fully automates traditional bingo. It allows players to buy from four to 150 cards to play simultaneously—dobbed with the help of the computer. As Basile explained, “This makes bingo more of a social game, because we can interact socially without being focused on the bingo card.”
Basile was very optimistic about the future of Zitro USA. “What we’re excited about with Zitro Revolution 2014 is we’re uniquely positioned to go into the markets here across the United States. We’re going to be able to basically place product throughout, and allow the casino player to have a bingo experience on the gaming floor.”
Also be sure to check out CEM’s Online Extra: Casino executives’ best bets.