For a long time, slot machines were fairly straightforward mechanical devices to keep up and running.

Even with the advent of video slots, bill validators and ticket printers, slot technicians could keep up with the changes that come with new technology.

But looming on the horizon is server-based gaming, and the transition to network-based gaming doesn’t promise to be a cake walk.

As traditional slots make way for machines with LCD flat screens and digital signage features, linked to a server in a back room, slot technicians fear they will be left in the dust like an outdated S-plus game.

And while server-based gaming is still very much a work in progress, today’s technology on the slot floor already is more complex than ever, and there is much to learn.

If ever there was a time when the slot gaming industry needed a talented, educated work force, this is it. The transition to server-based gaming is likely to be a challenging one, one that will require individuals to be well-grounded in both slots and IT.

 “There is definitely going to be an IT challenge in the gaming industry. It’s going to require a lot more sophisticated staffing than what we have today,” one slot executive told me.

The gaming industry appears to be moving to address the issue, at least in Nevada.

Earlier this year, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) donated $100,000 to the College of Southern Nevada’s School of Applied and Advanced Technologies. It was the final installment of a $300,000 gift from AGEM in support of the school’s slot-technician degree program.

Slot manufacturer WMS Gaming offers its own online slot education program, Slot Machine University, which last year received accreditation from the International Association for Continuing Education and Training. Slot Manager University is an interactive, online training and certification program for working slot professionals with course topics covering the gamut from basic slot functionality appropriate for beginning technicians to advanced networking skills required for the future server-based gaming environment.

Both AGEM and WMS deserve kudos for their efforts. But even more must be done to ensure today’s slot techs have opportunities to find their place in the future server-based gaming world.

Acquisition bolsters IGT's sb position, analysts say

Gaming analysts are bullish on IGT’s announcement in June that it is buying Cyberview Technology for $76 million in cash.

Analysts said they believe the acquisition, expected to close this fall, gives IGT additional valuable IP in the server-based gaming space as well as an additional foothold in the United Kingdom, where Cyberview has an established fixed odds betting terminal business, and in Europe, where the company distributes slot machines.

Analysts also have speculated that a purchase of Cyberview, which also has deal to share content or technology with WMS Industries, could move IGT and WMS one step closer to becoming a joined entity.