This is an exciting time in the gaming industry. For example, Reuters recently reported that Singapore’s economy could receive a $1.47 billion annual boost from its two casinos. Malaysia’s Genting Bhd and Las Vegas Sands Corp. opened integrated resorts earlier this year, and the report quoted DBS economist Irvin Seah as saying, “The overall economic gains to the economy are likely to be significantly larger if the spinoffs to other industries are taken into account.”

It is also an interesting time of transition in the history of GSA. Developments are happening around the world in regulators’ offices, suppliers’ R&D centers and on operators’ casino floors that are taking the industry to the next level, and GSA standards are at the heart of it all, driving innovation that will help to ensure the industry remains competitive against other entertainment industries.

On the regulatory front, more and more regulators are specifying GSA standards in RFPs that they are sending to suppliers. For example, several regulators across Canada are calling for GSA standards in their VLT RFPs, because they understand that GSA protocols are open, sound and expandable, enabling the drive for innovation for years to come. They understand that standards provide security, audit-ability and integrity – three vital elements for maintaining the public trust.

On the supplier side, we are hearing tremendous things from our supplier members about the innovative products they are showing at SAGSE and at G2E. Additionally, at our recent annual strategic planning session, the board set a course that will have our certification checklists finalized by year’s end, meaning operators can expect that products that are GSA-certified will contain fully tested communication protocols, which are the most critical component of interoperability on the gaming floor. In other words, operators can expect that a GSA certified slot machine will work identical to another GSA certified slot machine, delivering on the “promise” of interoperability at the slot machine level.

While we were at that strategic planning session, and as we were talking, I looked around the large oval conference table on IGT’s third floor. Behind the table, out the window, the entire Las Vegas valley spread out before us, from Downtown to the Strip to Henderson. At the table, I was struck by a profound image of cooperation: seated next to each other were high-level executives from Aristocrat, Bally, Konami, IGT, WMS – competitors who were all talking amicably, openly and with a focus on standards. Gathered there to talk about the future of gaming were some of the most technologically intelligent minds in the world, and behind them, looking over the meeting from afar, were the largest operators in the world.

These member companies have been working very hard to develop standards and to help the entire industry understand that when we have a common solution, we are able to focus on innovation. When we commit to a single standard, it allows the focus to fall on innovation.

Now that standards are in place, suppliers are able to focus the core of their resources on going in to new markets. In other words, instead of focusing value resources of time and labor in developing proprietary structure, suppliers are now able to instead focus on growing their business in new markets, such as the blooming lotus of Singapore, expanding their bottom line.

GSA is also focusing on operators, and at a landmark event in October, GSA and HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) met with operators and suppliers to chart an incredible new course for operators. Working together, GSA and HTNG will use our standards to give operators a complete look at their guests from a micro “grain-of-sand” level. The new customer profile format will help operators to deliver a unique guest experience that is tailored to each individual guest’s habits, likes and needs. This technology and ability to serve our customers is only possible because of standards, and adds to the excitement we feel for the industry and for GSA.

Now that standards are developed and are being implemented by suppliers and encouraged by regulators, the ball is in operators’ courts. Operators need to understand that when you demand GSA-certified devices and systems from your suppliers, you experience an economic savings because you only have to install one protocol. For example, one soon-to-open casino will open with more than 110 system protocols. Imagine the time and cost savings that could have been experienced had they insisted on common open industry standards.

This is truly an exciting time of innovation, and GSA is proud to be a driving force. Keep up with us at www.gamingstandards.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.