The Gaming Standards Association will reach a milestone when it celebrates its 10-year anniversary in May. What the organization has been able to accomplish in that time period is nothing short of remarkable.

Sprouting from Acres Gaming founder John Acres’ seedling idea developed in the fall of 1996, the association officially formed in May 1998 with seven member companies and several affiliate members. Since then, it has grown into an extremely effective organization playing a pivotal role in the future of the gaming industry.

Its mission as an international trade association is “to facilitate the identification, definition, development, promotion and implementation of open standards to enable innovation, education and communication for the benefit of the entire industry.”

It was a pretty lofty goal, and there was no shortage of skeptics when the Gaming Machine Manufacturers Association, or GAMMA, as the association was first known, came on the scene. Some manufacturers were suspicious-how would they be able to protect their intellectual property? How could they keep other companies from gaining unfair competitive advantages?

Others were nonbelievers-no way could such an ambitious project ever get off the ground, they thought.

But many saw the light. They took note of what was happening in the computer industry and elsewhere-and pressed on. A turning point came when the organization decided to invite casino operators to become members and to allow regulators to be involved. It’s one thing for naysayers to turn up their noses at playing in the sandbox with their competitors; it’s quite another to snub their customers-those very same people spending millions on games and systems.

This new communication channel allowed manufacturers, operators and regulators to discuss the challenges, frustrations and problems with each other in a constructive manner.

Real standards resolving real issues

Plenty of ups and downs followed, but today, GSA has come through with bonafide results-real standards resolving real issues on real slot floors.

But that’s only part of the story. And as server-based gaming and other advanced technology continue to forge their way onto the gaming floor, GSA and its standards are providing a rudder for the future.

Expect growth and education to be hallmarks in the coming year.

The association already has embarked on an educational program with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to give executives a better understanding of GSA standards.

GSA also is focusing on spreading its message. Its 72-member roster already includes a significant number of companies from around the world, and GSA is intensifying its efforts to broaden its global influence.

Over the past 10 years, many have contributed countless hours and dollars to GSA’s goals. But along the way, there has been one constant-one driving force behind GSA’s success-a slightly built Belgian engineer with an unwavering vision of how standards could streamline the path for gaming innovation.

And for that, the industry owes Peter DeRaedt a debt of gratitude.

Thank you, Peter, and here’s to GSA’s next decade of fostering innovation and accomplishment.