Operations: THE STATE OF PERIPHERALS
It takes more than a good game mix to run a slot floor. Currency has to be validated quickly and accurately. Ticket printers have to be reliable, and can open the door for promotional opportunities. And speaking of promotional opportunities, a little technological help in getting customers in the door always helps.
The mechanisms, programs and creations that help accomplish this may be referred to as “peripheral devices,” but they’re not merely peripheral to a slot floor’s success. They’ve become integral parts of modern slot operations.
“For the casino operator, we look at it as how do we make his life better? How do we make it simpler, better, give him better tools?” said Tom Nieman, senior vice president of operations at JCM Global.
At this year’s Global Gaming Expo, manufacturers and distributors of such peripheral devices will be showing solutions they hope will make the slot management professional’s life easier. Here, in alphabetical order, are just a few of the highlights slot managers will want to check out as they stroll the Las Vegas Convention Center floor.
Crane Payment Solutions (CashCode), Booth 2230Exhibiting under the name of CashCode’s parent company this year, Crane Payment Solutions is featuring the oneCheck cash management system, which drew a strong favorable response at G2E 2009. The oneCheck solution for asset reporting and tracking cashbox management was developed in cooperation with printer manufacturer Nanoptix, and uses a barcode scanning system to check the cashbox contents while the security cage remains closed. Without opening the cage, the operator can press a button to print a ticket displaying the last five bills inserted into the validator without opening the cashbox.
New to G2E2 2010 is Crane’s new standard 800 note cashbox, with a third more capacity than the old 600-note standard, complete with the “nearly full” function to maximize uptime.
“The 800 note cashbox is part of our standard offering,” said Sim Bielak, vice president of sales and business development – casino gaming. “This would be another no-charge value added feature for the operator.”
Also at the Crane booth, look for the new 2,500-note cashbox, currently in field trials. Crane says the cashbox, developed for bill-breaking and ticket redemption kiosks and change machines, used with the CashCode one validator, can cut cash drops in half.
FutureLogic, Booth 2431bWith its GEN2 Universal printer, FutureLogic has won 12 gaming technology awards since 2003. At G2E 2010, FutureLogic plans to step up with a number of innovations, including the GEN3 Evolution printer.
The GEN3 Evolution features even larger paper capacity than the GEN2, in a standard footprint and faster printing and presenting speed.
FutureLogic sees a strong future for promotional couponing, and will feature the PromoNet couponing solution at G2E. This template-based solution helps casinos design and manage a wide range of promotional campaigns from the convenience of a workstation PC, and turns ordinary slot tickets into eye-catching coupons.
“We believe that promotional couponing will provide the next big lift in gaming over the next several years, and we are working closely with our EGM and casino customers to facilitate that evolution,” said Nick Micalizzi, vice president of domestic sales and marketing. “This technology can be used by casinos to reward and retain players, and most importantly, to recruit patrons to join their loyalty programs – since player’s club members typically become the casino’s best customers. Promotional couponing can also be used for cross-venue marketing, linking reward programs across multiple leisure experiences, as well as casino floors.”
Other highlights in FutureLogic’s G2E mix include the Eclipse universal ticket and receipt printer, designed for video lottery terminals and unattended kiosks, and the TableXchange printer/scanner. TableXchange connects table games to the casino’s existing network by scanning and printing TITO vouchers.
JCM Global, Booth 1883In the lead role at the JCM booth is the new iVIZION bill validator, along with the Sentry 2.0 validator bezel. JCM sees iVIZION as not just a next generation product, but for beyond with the potential to expand applications much like a smart phone.
JCM sees iVIZION as a breakthrough product, the foundation of intelligent validation that sees better, thinks smarter and runs faster than other validators. Its Contact Image Sensor (CIS) Technology, combined with transparency and reflective sensors that scan 75 times more data points, yielding an acceptance rate of better than 99 percent on valid notes and enhancing counterfeit protection. CIS captures 100 percent of the full front and back image of a banknote or ticket.
“That opens the door to do so many things,” Nieman said. “None better than the idea that you can evaluate currency even better and capture information off notes that you’ve never captured before. You’re even capturing information off rejected notes because in the past, if the note didn’t end up in the cashbox, there was no way to ever capture information. But today, even when we reject it why know why we rejected it it, what data we had that made us reject it.”
When the Sentry 2.0 bezel is incorporated, JCM says slot floor personnel can see any operational error or show customers the last banknote inserted without opening the machine. The Sentry could be thought of as the first app for the iVIZION. It has a two-color LCD and instead of just flashing arrows to indicate where to insert currency, it can communicate with the player in four languages. Easily visible, it can serve to alert floor personnel when a customer is having a problem. In attract mode, it operates at full light intensity, then dims when the customer begins to play.
MEI, Booth 2431aWith more than 1 million units in the field, MEI has had big success with its Cashflow SC bill validator. At G2E 2010, the spotlight is on the next-generation validator, the SC Advance.
MEI says the SC Advance brings an improved recognition system, which provides proactive security by utilizing transmissive sensors to see all the way through notes in multiple wavelengths. Faster bill-to-bill speed speeds up transactions, while an expanded memory allows more notes to be recognized in a specific release of firmware.
The unit also features comprehensive barcode recognition, processing barcode coupons and tickets in all four directions and improving acceptance on multi-width currencies for international use. And it upgrades to USB 2.0, which speeds up communications with the host machine and even potentially expands functionality.
The introduction of SC Advance doesn’t make replacement of Cashflow SC necessary. MEI says that because the enhancements are localized to the acceptor head, SC Advance can work hand-in-hand with legacy Cashflow SC units already in the field. Intelligent support tools will be able to sense the product version and provide the appropriate software.
Micro Gaming Technologies, Booth 3118As slot machines have gone electronic, so have promotions and marketing. Micro Gaming will be back with its MGT Promotional Intelligence Suite, a collection of integrated computer applications that provides users with advanced and dynamic kiosk and player tracking marketing tools. It provides for eay creation and set up of a wide range of promotions, including electronic drawings, scratch cards, swipe-to-win, new member bonuses, bounce backs, age or other demographic based promotions. MGT Promotional Suite operates through an interface to the casino’s player tracking system and touch screen kiosks.
Among the features Micro Gaming will be highlighting is the MGT EDraw software that allows the operator to control how customers get electronic tickets through the MGT Promotion Management System. Through MGT EDraw, operators can award additional entries based on the current day’s play, or award bonus entries based on historical play, or both. It’s possible to award top-end players tens of thousands more entries than bottom end players to facilitate marketing goals.
Nanoptix, Booth 2029Nanoptix printers, already integral to Crane Payment Solutions oneCheck system, have been chosen by VLT manufacturer Video Gaming Technology for its entry into the upcoming Illinois video gaming market. VGT selected the Paycheck 4 printer, one of the products Nanoptix will tout at G2E.
The Paycheck 4 prints a ticket in 2.2 seconds, and Nanoptix says that at that speed, a presenter is unnecessary. It’s hot swappable and dip-switch configurable, and has a print-head life of 62 miles - that’s 100 kilometers of paper.
Among other Nanoptix solutions are the High Speed Kiosk printer, which can print up to eight inches of ticket per second, and the EZ Load, with clamshell paper loading for kiosks and VLTs.
TransAct Technologies, Booth 1593One of the industry leaders in thermal printer technology, TransAct will be showcasing its Epic 950 and Epic 880 printers. The Epic 950 is a workhorse printer that TransAct touts for innovative technology, reliability, and much more. The Epic 950 gives operators the option to print casino logos in color, making the ticket itself a marketing tool.
TransAct also has introduced ServerPort, enabling operators to upgrade existing Epic 950 printers. Through the Epic 950 with ServerPort, casinos can print promotional offers right at the slot machine, video poker game or other electronic gaming device. Through ServerPort, operators can configure the printer for special functions and monitor what’s going on at the printer.
The Epic 880 was designed with tight space requirements in mind, whether for electronic gaming devices or for kiosk use. Despite a compact size, it’s rich in features, including the ability to print tickets from 2.5 inches up to 10 inches, allowing for graphics and promotional use.