TCSJOHNHUXLEY Takes Innovation and Evolution to the Pit

Showing a reporter around TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s Las Vegas office, a 31,000-square-foot manufacturing and administration facility, Todd Cravens is clearly enthused about the table game manufacturer’s products and prospects for the future.

He points out tables taking shape on the factory floor and describes the range of intricate finishes that the company offers its customers. He explains how the company creates the colorful custom table game layouts destined for casino floors around the world, and he talks about TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s products designed to drive revenue, increase efficiency and generate player excitement in the pit.

“We are already well-known for our core products, such as chippers, wheels, displays and tables, but going forward we have to maintain that great reputation while we continue to build and expand our product line,” Cravens said in an interview shortly after he began his new position as CEO for the Americas. “We are actively driving change, building for the future and taking control of our business with a continued investment in traditional and technical products.”

For years, the London-headquartered company, which has multiple offices around the world, has been well-known for its benchmark products, but in recent years the company has invested more in research and development for new leading-edge technical products, including its Gaming Floor Live system, Xia Tablet and Supernova progressive system. Over the past 12 months, the company has undertaken a full product review and road mapped it, so now it has full visibility of where every product is and where it’s going. This is a major step forward for TCSJOHNHUXLEY that will have an impact in the future.

In announcing Cravens’ appointment, Group CEO Cath Burns called him “a highly accomplished executive who brings broad and valuable experience” to the company. “His hands-on, client-focused approach and proven track record of driving profitable growth will allow him to build on our already strong presence in the Americas and move our business forward,” Burns added.

Cravens has more than two decades of experience in the gaming and amusement industries. He most recently served as president and general manager of American Gaming Systems (AGS), a manufacturer and operator of gaming machines and systems.

Among the deciding factors for Cravens taking the position was Burns and her vision for the company’s future. “I’d heard a lot of good things about Cath, and I could see her plans for the company were very exciting and something I really wanted to be a part of. I also knew I could learn a lot,” Cravens said.

Since starting his new position in May, Cravens has been doing just that, immersing himself in the business, getting educated about the company’s product range, traveling to different regions and meeting with customers and others. “Many projects are custom jobs,” Cravens noted. “What we build for some of the high-limit rooms is different than say what we build for a Strip casino or say a casino in the Caribbean,” he said.

While ensuring the quality of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s core products, “What we’re doing is we’re making our products smarter,” Cravens said. “We have fantastic products, but until now not all of them have been able to communicate with each other. We’re currently developing a whole new back-end platform by taking these products back to their core architecture so they can integrate seamlessly. By allowing products to communicate, the strengths of one can enhance the functionality of another, giving operators more of an opportunity to really manage their business smarter and have real-time data pushed to them before there could be an issue.”

The company’s Supernova.
The company’s Supernova.
“Our new Xia platform will allow all our systems and products to be integrated and collect data from each other, as well as information from other manufacturers’ products.” For example, he said, “this structure allows the Chipper to talk with a Saturn wheel, which talks to a display. Ultimately, it’s talking to the operator, relaying valuable real-time information about exact player betting levels or how to optimally staff a game.”

“We can give some interesting data back to the operator that can help them to manage their gaming floor dynamically in regard to ‘You need to speed this game up, you need to slow this game down or you should open another table,’” he added. “They then have the ability to change table limits or monitor staff performance there and then.”

The company’s new Xia platform will allow all of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s systems and products to be integrated and collect data from each other, as well as information from other manufacturers’ products.
The company’s new Xia platform will allow all of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s systems and products to be integrated and collect data from each other, as well as information from other manufacturers’ products.
Cravens said Gaming Floor Live can serve as an important tool for operators, and it can help TCSJOHNHUXLEY strengthen its relationships with its customers. “Once you start getting this data, we can help them optimize gaming revenue and help them save money. It’s a different conversation to have when you can start talking on the other side of the ledger as well,” said Cravens, who noted a major Las Vegas Strip hotel is trialing Gaming Floor Live on its floor.

Another important aspect of TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s plans is to ensure that its smart products are system-agnostic, Cravens said. “We want to make sure all of the hardware that we sell out there is smart, that it talks to all of our own products and then talks to the systems that are around it, not just our own.”

Xia is the core structure that allows creativity and flexibility from end to end. “We are providing operators [with] not only more control and more efficiency, but also the possibility to gain more revenues from existing resources.”

Another exciting development for the company is the full launch in the U.S. of Supernova, the powerful floor-wide event and mystery progressive platform. The system has already proved to be successful in South Africa, where more than 50 units have been rolled out this year.

The highly flexible jackpot setup allows casinos to easily configure multiple event and mystery-based jackpot accounts, select contribution ratios, choose fixed or percentage payouts, allocate levels of authentication and re-seed jackpots with two levels of reserve.

TCSJOHNHUXLEY believes its Gaming Floor Live product can serve as an important tool for operators to use the data to optimize gaming revenue and efficiency.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY believes its Gaming Floor Live product can serve as an important tool for operators to use the data to optimize gaming revenue and efficiency.
“Supernova is a flexible platform that allows operators total control,” Cravens said. Casinos can choose to use their existing licensed games or create their own branded versions of popular card games. “All of the properties we have installed the system in have reported significant increase in play, with one casino reporting an additional 10,000 side bets wagered over a weekend.There is no doubt Supernova is attracting players, creating great excitement and increasing revenues. We expect the same success when it is rolled out in the U.S.”

TCSJOHNHUXLEY also won’t be shy about pursuing new games, whether traditional or electronic, Cravens said.

The explosion of social/online gaming has endorsed the fact that casino games are extremely popular, especially with a younger demographic. The innovation of games, content and hardware has evolved at an unbelievable pace, which is great news for game developers.

In fact, Cravens said, just during his first couple of weeks on the job, four game developers came to his office to pitch new ideas for table games. “They ranged from people in the business to a dentist from the East Coast. It’s great because these people are so passionate about their game, and I love it,” he said, recalling his own earlier experience in video game development. “You just never know when something’s going to be interesting. We actually have a game we’re moving forward with right now, which we’re in the process of signing. That’s really exciting.”

Players, he said, seem more ready than ever to sample new games. “There is a reason that there’s so much more variety right now, and it’s being driven by the whole social/online gaming phenomenon. The migration of computer gamers to land-based tables can only be good for our industry, as players seem more willing to try something new. You’re going to have a much wider variety of table games going forward, and I think it’s great.”

The company will be pursuing several new table games this year, Cravens said. “I think we’ve got two, maybe three, that we’re going to run with,” he said.

“Our focus is our customers, our products and our people. We already have strong relationships with many of our customers, but are actively building these partnerships and constantly evolving to meet their business requirements to increase their bottom line. We’re committed to delivering innovative products and extraordinary service, and we work on this every day.”

That doesn’t mean Cravens is under any illusion that moving forward on this front will be simple or easy.

“There’s a lot of competition. Like so many things in gaming, what works in one market doesn’t necessarily work in another market,” he said. “But I still think that for a nimble company that is interested in really listening to feedback, there is opportunity out there.”

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