Licensing agreement with Hasbro, Inc.; first games expected to debut later this year

Pennsylvania-based Lightning Gaming has entered into a long-term licensing agreement with Hasbro, Inc., giving the gaming company exclusive rights to develop and produce gaming machines based on the popular SCRABBLE brand in the United States and Canada.

The first gaming devices to be developed are expected to debut later this year.

“This agreement gives Lightning Gaming access (in the U.S. and Canada) to an incredibly popular and iconic game brand,” said Brian Haveson, chief executive officer of Lightning Gaming. “We can now open up our game development and content innovation to bring a new dynamic to traditional product offerings in the casino industry.”

Mark Blecher, Hasbro’s senior vice president and general manager of digital media and gaming, said that Lightning Gaming “has proposed an innovative take on the SCRABBLE brand for gaming machines and we anticipate a positive reaction to their creative thinking.”

Chris Strano, chief marketing officer of Lighting Gaming, said Lightning Gaming’s take on SCRABBLE will capitalize on the brand’s popularity by providing the players with games that mimic the familiar attributes of the game.”

“There’s something about that game that keeps people coming back over and over again,” he said. It’s the number 2 branded game in the world behind Monopoly. From what we see it’s gaining momentum,” Strano said, noting the game’s strong following on the Internet, through sites such as Facebook and Yahoo games, an iPhone application and a Subway sandwiches promotion.

“SCRABBLE is very adaptable on many platforms,” Strano said. “You can’t go anywhere without seeing SCRABBLE and the elements of SCRABBLE on other platforms.”

Lightning’s take on SCRABBLE will be different than the game’s previous incarnation as a slot machine developed by WMS. “Our rendition of SCRABBLE and our take on SCRABBLE is going to be pretty unique. It’s definitely going to deliver on the brand experience of the players who sit down and play it.”

The first game, which the company hopes to have available by November, is Video SCRABBLE. It features a seven letter draw, just like the board game, and an opportunity for a redraw as well. “It’s going to have a lot of player appeal,” he said. “A player will get their seven letters, and the game will automatically sort the letters into the best word possible. Players can then hold the best letter or word and can redraw, with the machine then re-sorting into the best word possible. “You don’t have to have an advanced vocabulary. You don’t even have to know how to spell. It’ll give you the best word and even give you the definition.”

“It definitely has an interactive approach to it,” he said. Just like in the board games, letters have point values just like in the board game.

“We’ll see what the players have to say about it. The operators I’ve talked to all say SCRABBLE has a very strong appeal to it.”

Strano said the game will debut in West Coast and East Coast locations.

The next game, expected out by the first quarter of 2010, will be a more traditional slot with spinning reels that will use the well-known SCRABBLE symbols.