Jerry Roed, director of slot operations, Ellis Island Casino & Brew Pub, Las Vegas:
There a few things that really got my attention at G2E. I liked IGT’s latest Indiana Jones slots with the two LCD screens that give the illusion of 3D even on the spinning wheel. In fact, I liked it so much I placed an order on the spot. I also like their Star Wars slots. Action games like that are real customer pleasers at Ellis Island.
The selection of new slot games, while not as plentiful as in past years, was certainly better. The manufacturers have done a great job in improving the graphics and the overall feel and play of their new games. And there were some nice innovations, like Bally’s Cinevision cabinet games with seven slot reels. And Aristocrat offered some enticing new video games. Let’s not forget the peripheral equipment. JCM had a great innovation with their rewriteable player and cash cards that can be rewritten up to 500 times inside slots as customers win or lose. That’s really something we can use.
Like all Las Vegas casinos, we’ve been affected by the economy. Our customer attendance hasn’t been bad due to our aggressive promotions and having good restaurants inside that attract the hungry who often gamble later. But customers are going down in currency denomination when they gamble. The $1 slots bettor is now betting quarters while the 25-cent bettor is now wagering nickels. For this reason, we are going a little slower in changing the content of our slots floor than we have in the past.
Frank Neborsky, vice president of slots operations, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Conn.:
The 2008 G2E had the best offering of new slots products I’ve seen in recent years. I was impressed by Atronic’s Stargate and Deal or No Deal games, and with their prodiGi Vu cabinet with its two wide screens and remote button action. IGT also had a great booth, not only for its Stars Wars MultiPlay Progressive and other Multi-Play slots, but also its table game machines that play roulette, poker and blackjack. And Aristocrat offered many great Viridian slots, with its Jaws machine looking really neat.
You can’t talk enough about the offerings of WMS, especially the one called Fishtank [that was displayed in WMS’ Vault area showcasing games and concepts more than 12 months out]. This is a game that will have a big impact on the industry. Despite the current economy, we plan to add as many new games as we can to keep ahead of our competition. But we likely will rely more on participation games to keep our floor fresh, especially if they can bring in at least 1½ times. We also will be acquiring upgrades for existing machines to bring them technologically up-to-date.
Jeff Inman, general manager, Dancing Eagle Casino, Casablanca, N.M.:
I saw so much great stuff at G2E it’s hard to recall all the best. I like Aristocrat’s Jaws machine, IGT’s Cleopatra MultiPlay game that plays four games in a row, and WMS’s Star Trek and Lucky Penny games. The penguin graphics on Lucky Penny really made it for me, as they hopped, jumped screens, helped spin reels, even sailed by in canoes. Konami had some interesting new games, especially the MirroReel games where the first and fifth reels and the second and fourth reels mirror each other, thus making it a more volatile game that can produce some big wins. Unlike many other people who select slots for their casinos, I notice the math of the games and I was encouraged by what I saw at G2E. Bally in particular has changed the math of their games, going with the more volatile Australian algorithms. This has made their games less predictable in payouts and thus substantially more exciting to play. But WMS and Aristocrat are keeping pace, and are adding some interesting bonus functions to their games. I also spent time looking as automated table games systems. Aristocrat had some good products, as did Novomatic with its MoJo automated craps and roulette tables. We plan to add 12 such automatic tables to our floor in the near future.
Shawn McDaniel, director of operations, Three River Casino, Florence, Ore.:
There is so much to see at G2E that you don’t remember the names of all the new games you see, but you do remember the themes and especially the technologies. I was most impressed by the transmissive reel games, where they overlay video over regular reels that give the game an enticing three-dimensional appearance. WMS had these first, but other manufacturers like IGT and Bally now have their own versions, with added features like larger and easier-to-understand buttons, which are a plus for older players. I also spent time looking at machines that played multiple games. With these systems, the manufacturers put on all their best stuff, so the guest always gets the games he likes the best. Bally, for instance, had a Blazing 7s Multi-Slot that offered a choice of three games, with a promise that future machine will have a broader choice. Bally also had a multi-player machine that can seat two customers at once. Good economy or bad economy, you have to keep your slots floor stocked with the latest and best games to keep your customers entertained. We plan to add 100 new slots to our floor in 2009. I ordered 50 of them at G2E. I plan to acquire the rest by March.