Signage Solutions in a Digital World

When looking at the prospect of purchasing digital signage or giving your current system an upgrade, there are many aspects to consider. There really is a solution to fit any size or type of property, from a small, tribal card room to a multi-billion casino resort, and digital signage can add significant value to either. “It is an incredible tool for them to market their property, venues, events and promotions and engage with their demographic audience,” said Rick Juleen, project manager for YESCO. “Digital display systems offer infinite changeability to support any client’s brand identity and marketing goals.”

City of Dreams in Macau makes an impact with outdoor signage.

So how will you decide? The following pages contain reviews of some of the top digital display and digital display management companies currently in the gaming industry. Learn about their product offerings and backgrounds, and see if any of them sound like the best fit for your gaming enterprise.

While these experts are all from different companies, there is one thing they all agreed on: Content and its ease of management are the most important components of any signage. Dave Barker, director of business development at Four Winds Interactive, explained, “If content is easy and fun to manage, your users will get involved and take ownership of their signs. This helps to keep the signs active and current.”

Jeff Gray, product manager for new business development at JCM Global, agreed, noting that many casinos are choosing to manage content in-house and disseminating its upkeep. “This allows content to be created and managed by internal marketing, slot, food and beverage and other departments at a lower total cost of ownership.”

It is also a good idea to look at the whole range of display types and sizes when choosing a new system, encouraged Damien Connelly, marketing manager for Gaming Support. This can include everything from large outdoor marquees to iPhone apps. Josh Hoffert, associate director of creative services for the Digital Display Group, agreed, adding that properties should look for a system that can maintain different aspect ratios and resolutions to work with each of those displays.

“The most important thing to remember is—what you want for your digital signage today is not what you will want in the future,” said David Levin, president of Four Winds Interactive. “It is important that you select a system that is flexible and easy to use. You need a system that has the ability to keep pace with your vision.”

Alpha Video & Audio
Alpha Video & Audio got its start 40 years ago as the first professional video dealer in Minnesota. The company has come a long way since 1970, expanding to become a worldwide integrator of digital signage and visual communications solutions. For the past 12 years, a division of Alpha Video called the Digital Display Group has been developing and integrating the company’s enterprise-level digital signage solution—CastNET. CastNET has been deployed in more than 200 casinos in the U.S., South America, Europe and Asia, making Alpha Video one of the world’s largest providers of casino integrated digital signage.

“CastNET offers more ways to manage digital signage in a casino than any other digital signage solution, while providing the most comprehensive administrative tools available,” explained Vice President Lance Hutchinson. “It can display live jackpot odometers, jackpot celebrations, menus, maps, poker room wait lists and seating information, bus schedules and even property-wide jackpot celebrations on every display. We are very proud that CastNET can do it all for a casino.”

Besides supplying the digital signage software, Alpha Video and the Digital Display Group can supply a complete solution to a casino. “There are very few companies out there that can supply the digital signage software along with an experienced AV integration staff and a creative services group for designing content,” said Hoffert.

“We have found that eye-catching content is as important to the success of a digital signage system as the hardware and software. Our creative team can supply that content to our customers.”

Lance Hutchinson
With all of the functionality it offers Alpha Video and DDG customers, it’s easy to see why CastNET is so popular. The system also manages to play quite nicely with others, meaning that you won’t have to upset other configurations on your gaming floor to implement it. Hutchinson explained: “Most gaming digital signage systems only talk to one system—we talk to and work with all the major gaming suppliers so you can integrate all the most popular casino data. Our customers have seen significant returns from our integrated gaming digital signage because it increases the level of excitement for the casino’s patrons. Simply put, CastNET is the most feature-rich and flexible enterprise-level solution for digital signage management in a casino.”

Alpha Video has deployed this signage solution extensively in the United States, as well as worldwide in countries like the Netherlands,
Josh Hoffert
Italy and China. The size of the digital display integrations has ranged from 50 to over 700 displays. And once it’s completed, an in-progress installment of CastNET will reach over 900 displays in one property.

The company is aware that customer wants and needs vary from project to project. So how do they address these different client situations? “We work with each customer in the way that works best for the customer.” Hoffert said. “We offer a consultative approach that helps to define the customer’s objectives and scope and then determine the best solutions to match their needs. A digital signage project can range from a low-end project with displays in a few rooms to a high-end system where displays are in every gaming room, restaurant, lobby and even outside on the marquee. It all just depends on what each customer wants and what steps they want to take to get there. Once we discover their needs and objectives, we supply them with the options they need to complete the system. ”

Customers can choose options like touchscreen displays, IP streaming delivery, creative content, video-on-demand television or CastNET Hosted, for off-site data management.
Alpha Video will put in the time before the installation to make sure the system is ready for integration. “All of our development and testing is done with our team of in-house programmers and support staff,” Hutchinson said. “Prior to shipping to a customer, we configure and test the system in our production center to reduce onsite installation time and costs. After installation, we have a highly experienced support team to answer customer questions by phone or online.”

More than anything else, the success of the company can be attributed to two of Alpha Video’s core values: “We Value Innovation” and “We Value Superior Quality and Service.”

And it surely shows.

Alpha Video & Audio at a Glance
Company headquarters: Minneapolis
Other locations: Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin
Executives: Stan Stanek, President and CEO
Kevin Groves, Director of Sales and COO
Lance Hutchinson, Vice President
Number of employees: 82
Year founded: 1970
For sales info: Mike Cannon
952-841-3373 or 800-388-0008
mikec[at]alphavideo.com
Website: www.alphavideo.com
www.digitaldisplaygroup.com

Four Winds Interactive
Four Winds Interactive (FWi) is a relatively young company in the gaming industry, but is steadily making its mark with major installs and stellar service. The company’s original focus was software for retail entertainment kiosks. Within a year, they shifted focus to the emerging market of digital signage, and in 2006 won their first major hospitality client, the Westin Times Square in New York City. They have continued to stay strong in the hospitality and education industries, but have made great strides in other industries, including gaming.

David Levin
“As a software company, FWi’s growth depends on our technology and continued innovation within our software platform,” said Dave Barker, director of business development. “ Our software product is built entirely in-house and is driven by our vision for digital signage and client requests. We have pioneered making communication through digital signage easy, flexible and versatile, offering support for all of the applications where digital signage can be used. Each client uses our software to solve a problem and benefit their customers.”

Four Winds Interactive prides itself on the ease of use of its software platform. The software has an intuitive interface that features a simple template editor, drag and drop design, support for several content types and simplified deployment. Additionally, it gives your property complete control of your digital signage network from one centralized platform.

“With advanced features built into the system including data integration, wayfinding and interactivity, we’ve consistently beat out the competition based on our out-of-the box features and functionality,” Barker commented.

Another great offering of the company is its online Sign Store, a new product that provides customers with the option to store and organize their digital signage content in one place. Here, users can log in and update their content, link it to their signs, and search the library for data options to use on their digital displays. The Sign Store is fully customizable and contains a variety of applications to fit a wide range of clients’ needs. Users can take advantage of this system for large-scale deployments or small properties with only a few signs.

Four Winds Interactive has more than 10,000 signs deployed worldwide, and that number is increasing every day. President David Levin explains: “The number of digital points of contact on casino properties will continue to grow. This will be driven by technology deployed by operators and by technology brought to your property by guests. Guests will continue to demand more support for all of these technologies. Guests will expect to be communicated with via these technologies and will expect that communication to be effective and timely.”

Dave Barker
One of the latest installs for the company was the ARIA Resort & Casino in MGM Resorts International’s CityCenter. Nearly 200 displays are using FWi’s digital applications throughout the gaming floor, including table game signage, progressive slot displays (through direct integration with IGT/PGIC’s CasinoLink), vertical slot endcaps and slot denom signs—and even on large, outdoor LED marquees.

The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa is also enjoying a significant Four Winds Interactive installation, a wayfinding solution known as Game Finder. Unique to FWi, this application uses an interactive map to help players locate their favorite game, and even provides them with a convenient walking path directly to it. Players’ club members can also use the interactive displays to access account info.

All of these applications serve to make things more streamlined for both the properties and the players, which is FWi’s main directive. “In the past, digital signage software has been highly specialized, and it wasn’t uncommon for casino operators to require the use of several systems to manage their network of digital technologies,” Barker explained. “FWi has been focused on eliminating these barriers by building a solution that allows you to manage every digital point of contact on your network.”

Four Winds Interactive at a Glance
Company headquarters: Denver
Executives: David Levin, President
Mark Fine, Senior Vice President, Sales
Dave Barker, Director of Business Development
Number of employees: 120
Year founded: 2005
For sales info: sales[at]fourwindsinteractive.com
(877) 204-6679
Website: www.fourwindsinteractive.com

Gaming Support
Gaming Support is a company that truly strives to provide a quality product for every customer. In fact, its brand motto is “products for every casino,” meaning that they try to make sure that every casino in the world could look to the Gaming Support product line and find at least one thing that would be of benefit.

And properties are seeing that benefit, too, as evidenced by the many installations Gaming Support has across the globe. In the Americas, they have products in Harrah’s casinos and the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino; in Asia, they are in City of Dreams and Resorts World Sentosa; and in Europe, they have a presence in Greece’s Regency Casino Mont Parnes and all 14 Holland Casino locations, their native country.

Damien Connelly
Currently, the company is working on what will become its most significant order to date, in conjunction with Lottomatica. Marketing Manager Damien Connelly explained: “Once completed, this project will see JackpotJunction XL installed in thousands of gaming locations across Italy, all interlinked, giving Lottomatica the ability to layer real-time jackpot values on top of other communication messages, such as F&B, live entertainment, retail and hotel information. In terms of the number of properties covered, it will be the widest area digital signage network in the global casino industry.”

Since the company is spread through so many jurisdictions, and each casino property is unique, Gaming Support strives to focus on the specific needs of each, taking a consultative approach to each project. In their own backyard, they also diligently maintain, repair or replace any products on the gaming floors of local casinos as needed. This allows them to take responsibility for their products, as well as gain knowledge about their customers. “Having insights into the non-technical issues is very important for, as much as digital display systems are ‘technology,’ it is very important to remember that they are used by human beings to communicate with other human beings,” Connelly stated.

Before even installing in a property, Gaming Support spends a significant amount of time investigating their customers’ needs so the right product goes to the right place. Then it is pre-tested on Gaming Support’s own internal network before it is deployed.

And this isn’t a one size fits all type of product offering. There’s something for any property, “from our JackpotJunction Lite solution, which can be deployed and used quickly and simply to cover a small area such as a slot bank, all the way through to our resort-wide and/or multi-property JackpotJunction XL solution,” Connelly explained. “JackpotJunction Lite is the solution for customers with a constrained budget and/or smaller, stand-alone properties. It delivers a local solution that enables operators to play media loops, as well as integrating with progressive bank displays.”

Gaming Support’s Multi-Protocol Converter
Gaming Support also sticks around after installation, offering sign-up software support through onboard changes in the casino technology market, as well as the general ICT market.
Everything Gaming Support takes on is looked at through the lens of their core values of initiative, mutual respect, curiosity, accountability and risk. And those values allow them to connect with their customers on a personal level, always looking for the best option. Sometimes, this isn’t always the least expensive option, but it is always the option that is most suited for the situation. Connelly cautioned: “The cheapest solution is cheap for a reason. We’ve seen a few of our potential customers make a decision based mainly on price without taking into account the true lifetime cost of a digital display system and how their future needs may evolve far beyond the limitations of the cheap solution that they think will work for them today.”

Gaming Support stands firmly by a quality product in their digital displays, providing a customized and customer-friendly approach to signage solutions.

Gaming Support at a Glance
Company headquarters: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Other locations: Oudenburg, Belgium; Las Vegas
Executives: Lucien van Linden, CEO
Marnix Baes, CEO Belgium
Don Baugh, CEO U.S.A
Frans Kornaat, COO
Jaap van der Wees, CFO
Nick Hogan, Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Joe Giordano, Vice President, Engineering
Number of employees: 100
Year founded: 2000
For sales info: Nick Hogan
nhogan[at]gamingsupport.com
Don Baugh
dbaugh[at]gamingsupport.com
(702) 944-9224
Website: www.gamingsupport.com

JCM Global

The ePoster LCD display from JCM.
JCM Global is a company that is well known and respected for its cash management solutions, including bill validators and acceptors like the iVIZION™. A lesser known, though just as worthwhile, strength of the company is in its commercial-quality digital display monitors.

The company has direct access to a number of high-quality monitor manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and Viewsonic. And that direct link gives them the ability to pass on a highly cost-effective product to their own customers. “JCM has existing relationships with a majority of the sign companies and commercial LCD OEMs,” said Jeff Gray, project manager, new business development. “We can leverage these relationships to build solutions from single displays to enterprise-level applications.”

JCM has its origins in Japan, starting out in 1955 as a cash register manufacturer. It eventually grew to accommodate electronic machines, bill validators and a new office, JCM Gold HK, in Hong Kong. In 1988, the company expanded into the United States, where it has several sales offices and is headquartered in Las Vegas.

No company can have that kind of staying power without a good foundation of strong relationships and customer service. Gray explained, “Our customers have entrusted our company with their business, and in return, JCM Global must always be empathetic and responsive to our end user’s needs. We do ‘whatever it takes.’”

Jeff Gray
Able to cater to the needs of almost any customer, JCM is a full-line digital solutions provider. Early in the process, a JCM representative will walk the facility with a new client to determine the needs of that particular situation. Some of the American casinos already using JCM signage products include the Station Casinos, Wynn, Encore, Hard Rock, Bellagio, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Tropicana Atlantic City, and Chikasaw tribal locations throughout Oklahoma.

“JCM has the ability to build digital signage solutions based on each individual customer’s needs—from low-level hardware applications, such as denomination toppers, to fully comprehensive applications like stand-alone monitors, duratrans replacements and video walls, including content management solution software,” Gray said.

The company offers stretch monitors with an extra-sharp picture as a great replacement to old LED jackpot screens on your property. A recent installation at Chukchansi used 16 46-inch Samsung Ultra Thin series monitors to create four impressive, virtually seamless video walls. JCM has also recently added Samsung hospitality televisions to its extensive product line.

Monitors can be combined for one dynamic display.
JCM is also aware that not all properties are looking for a digital signage installation of this scale. Many casinos may already changing their duratrans print ads many times over the course of a year. But JCM can now replace those print ads with digital content at about one third of the cost of a custom LCD with enclosure. Their ePoster product is a great starter solution for these types of properties.

As Gray explained: “Content can be published to this product through the existing network. For sites that do not have the wired infrastructure, content can be published by utilizing a USB thumb drive. This is an extremely cost sensitive application that is fully scalable to the size of an end user’s needs.” The ePoster product is available in 32- 46- and 52-inch sizes and can be placed and moved by casino staff with no additional costs.

JCM Global is a well-established company that has fine-tuned its skills with clients over the past half century, and easily carries those skills into all areas of its products and service.

JCM Global at a Glance
Company headquarters: Las Vegas
Other locations: sales locations throughout the U.S.
Executives: Akiyoshi Isoi, President
Mark Henderson, Vice President, Sales
Year founded: 1955
For sales info: contact your local representative
Website: www.jcmglobal.com

YESCO
YESCO is definitely a company that likes to “go big.” Founded nearly a century ago as the Young Electric Sign Co., they quickly built a name for themselves for quality and creativity. They also played an important role in the early expansion of the Las Vegas Strip, supplying signs for establishments like the Boulder Club and “Vegas Vic.” You know those world-famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” signs that are on nearly every piece of Vegas memorabilia? Yep, those are by YESCO.

The company has kept on pace with the times, too, adapting its flair for large-scale calling cards into our current digital era. They’ve even expanded their facilities to adapt to new demands. “YESCO’s continuous evolution of LED technology and outdoor media advertising, along with ever increasing client demands, led to the development of a brand new state-of-the-art electronics manufacturing plant in Logan, Utah, where all of YESCO’s digital products are assembled,” explained Rick Juleen, project manager.

And there’s been plenty of demand. There are thousands of YESCO signs installed across North America and at some impressive properties, including Wynn, Encore, CityCenter, The Shops at Miracle Mile, Red Rock and Caesars Windsor.

One area that YESCO has been working with extensively is environmental design, which is an area that new building projects are focusing on when they address digital displays. Juleen said: “We are seeing a heightened desire from architects and others in the design community to create more organically shaped signage and dynamic media environments. Our teams are currently involved in projects that are demanding a ‘seamlessness’ to the integration of media and architecture.” The company is also addressing a need to develop more of a relationship between a display and its content. A good example of this concept is the animated marquee YESCO created for Wynn, which has already become a noticeable fixture on the strip. “YESCO is not only keeping up with the trends, but setting them.”

Another aspect of YESCO’s abilities in environmental design is cost-effective displays with a small energy footprint. “Energy management is a primary focus, and green retro-fits for lighting and signage applications are a key growth area for YESCO,” Juleen stated. “ YESCO displays lead the industry in energy efficiency and reliability, resulting in operational costs that are substantially lower than our competitors. Financing projects has been an option that YESCO has provided for many years for our clients. We have now applied that option to our retro-fit customers—essentially providing the green to be green.”

Customers are given the opportunity to save resources and their pocketbooks with YESCO’s display solutions, but the most important thing to remember is that they are also receiving a premium product that the company stands behind, 100 percent.

“The manufacturing of high-quality LED displays is a highly automated process using state-of-the-art equipment engineered specifically for the technology,” Juleen said. “In order to produce our products consistently, the manufacturing infrastructure has to operate at a high level of tolerance and efficiency. Every layer of the manufacturing and assembly process is subject to stringent testing and calibration to maintain the highest level quality.”

YESCO takes full responsibility for every step that goes into the creation of their unique products, bringing “a full-service level of capability to the project—from environmental graphic design through engineering, fabrication, LED manufacturing, entitlement processes, installation, creative programming and service.”

Looking toward the future, Juleen noted that the level of integration of products is sure to evolve, as different mediums converge to create something entirely new. In order to address the changing industry and technologies, YESCO is in the process of establishing an in-house design group “to capture this expanding market for dynamic environments and world-class attractions.”

The combination of YESCO’s strong history and its view toward the future make it one of the best bets in the market for digital signage solutions.

YESCO at a Glance
Company headquarters: Salt Lake City
Other locations: Logan, Utah
St. George, Utah
Las Vegas
Reno, Nev.
Gulfport, Miss.
Bullhead City, Ariz.
President: Michael Young
Number of employees: 400
Year founded: 1920
For sales info: Rick Juleen
(702) 876-8080
rjuleen[at]yesco.com
Website: www.yesco.com

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