News and notes from the international slot industry

Konami donating $1 million to UNLV

Konami Corp., a parent company of Konami Gaming, Inc., a leading global provider of slot machines and casino management systems based in Las Vegas, will donate $1 million to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

“Based on the success of our Gaming & System Business in the U.S. market, we will give back to the community where we operate and donate $1 million to UNLV for school programs and an endowment sum on behalf of Konami Gaming, Inc.,” Konami Chairman and President Kagemasa Kozuki said in announcing the donation.

“We are deeply grateful for the generosity and support of Konami,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “With this focused investment in our gaming management program-including the formation of a scholarship endowment that will benefit students in perpetuity-Konami has become a valued partner in maintaining high-quality academic programs and student support in our hotel college.”

After a corporate officers’ meeting on July 15, the proposal for the donation passed unanimously and the distribution of the funds among the school’s programs was decided.

A $50,000 portion of the sum will be designated to the UNLV Foundation Annual Fund for a five-year membership in the Academic Corporate Council (ACC) Annual Giving program. The ACC program works to invest in increasing possibilities for students and to help recruit top faculty, implement new programs, and provide the tools needed for educational work.

Another $450,000 of the donation will be distributed to an unrestricted expendable KONAMI Gaming Fund for the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. The money will work towards the betterment of programs for students, faculty and staff within the college.

Lastly, $500,000 will be placed in an endowment, to be known as the KONAMI Gaming Endowment Fund for Gaming Management Student Professional Development within the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration.

Filippo Ferri

GLI promotes Ferri to iGaming development director

Gaming Laboratories International has promoted Filippo Ferri to director of iGaming Development. The promotion came about after GLI acquired Technical Systems Testing (TST) earlier this year. In his new role, Ferri will direct all iGaming development activity throughout Europe. TST CEO Salim L. Adatia and will continue to direct development efforts in Canada, the Caribbean and the Asia/Pacific region.

“With the acquisition of TST, GLI will be concentrating more on interactive gaming testing, systems testing, and wagering system certification for regulators around the world,” said GLI Europe Managing Director Phillip Barow. “Filippo has an impressive knowledge of iGaming, and with his proven abilities to serve customers across the continent, will be a tremendous asset to our clients and to our company in his new position.”

“The acquisition by the leading certification laboratory of the terrestrial gambling industry of the leading laboratory of the online gaming industry sends out a very clear message. Technology is converging – server-based gaming platform increasingly resemble online gaming platforms; regulatory frameworks are converging – by dropping infringement procedures against Italy the ECJ de facto declares the Italian online regulatory framework as valid as any other set of gambling regulations in Europe,” Ferri said. “This means that the terrestrial and the online sectors of our industry are blending into one. Nobody will be surprised to see our current key suppliers from the land-based industry wanting to distribute their products through more interactive channels. The reverse is already happening. GLI/TST is ready to offer its services in this new world.”

Prior to his promotion, Ferri was regulatory development manager for GLI Italy.

Aristocrat appealing recent patent judgment

Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd has announced it is appealing the recent judgment of non-infringement issued by a U.S. District Court in a patent infringement lawsuit.
The judgment relates to a case in which Aristocrat is suing IGT for infringing certain patents covering Aristocrat’s highly successful Hyperlink range of progressive jackpot games.

The judgment was based on an order in which the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that IGT did not infringe U.S. 7,056,215 and U.S. 7,108,603. The order did not address the validity of these patents, the company said in a news release.

In addition to U.S. 7,056,215 and U.S. 7,108,603, Aristocrat’s Hyperlink games are protected by further U.S. patents that were not the subject of the judgment of non-infringement. Aristocrat also expects to be issued with further U.S. Hyperlink patents in the near future. Aristocrat is committed to defending all of its Hyperlink patents. Aristocrat’s decision to appeal the judgment reflects Aristocrat’s strategic and commercial commitment to enforcing its intellectual property rights, the company said.

Bally re-entering Australian market

Bally Technologies reentered the Australian gaming market with its debut at the Australasian Gaming Expo in August.

“It is time to officially announce to the world that Bally is bringing its 78 years of innovation back to the Australian market,” said Gavin Isaacs, Bally Technologies chief operating officer. “We have established a sales and service office in Sydney, led locally by longtime gaming industry experts and my former colleagues Michael McNee and Ron Jeffrey, and regionally by Cath Burns, vice president and managing director of Bally Asia-Pacific, who is also an Australian. This experienced team is working with our Bally global staff to ensure that we bring the right games and systems products to Australia so that our customers can fully capitalize on Bally’s world-class innovation.”

AGA white paper explores impact of slot machines

The American Gaming Association recently released a white paper designed to pull back the curtain on slot machines, exploring how they work and how the machines have evolved into America’s favorite casino game.

According to the paper, there are more than 830,000 slot machines located across the country today, and their share of the casino floor has grown from 40 percent in the 1970s to approximately 70 percent today.

The report, “Demystifying Slot Machines and Their Impact in the United States,” investigates how slot machines are developed, operated and regulated, as well as how they affect both gaming patrons and communities.

“Nearly 60 percent of gamblers consider slot machines the most entertaining games available at casinos,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the AGA. “The popularity of slot machines has helped drive the expansion of commercial gaming – a vibrant industry that contributes jobs, economic development and tax revenues to hundreds of communities across the country.”

The white paper examines the defining elements of slot machines currently in use – such as the types, cost and lifespan of the games – as well as recent technological advancements in electronic games. It explores the creative process behind the development of slots, which includes lengthy design and consumer testing phases. It also details the inner workings of a slot machine, revealing precisely what occurs when play begins.

The paper notes that more than $265 million is spent annually to regulate commercial casinos – ensuring, among other things, that the games operate fairly and reliably. The paper investigates how slot machines are tested and regulated, and analyzes their social impact, addressing a number of commonly reported misconceptions about the machines.

Interestingly, the white paper finds that, though the gaming industry has grown substantially – and the number of casino visitors has increased to more 60 million annually – there has not been a significant jump in the typical amount wagered on slot machine games. The average casino gambling budget is $108 – a figure that, when adjusted for inflation, has remained virtually unchanged for more than 30 years.

The report also notes research has not found any link between slot machines and gambling problems. Citing a number of peer-reviewed research studies from widely respected institutions, the white paper finds that, though slot machines have multiplied tremendously since the 1970s, the prevalence rate of pathological gambling has held steady during that time. Research shows that approximately 1 percent of adult Americans have the disorder.

The white paper provided the foundation for the 13th annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW) – themed “Taking the Mystery Out of the Machine” – which took place Aug. 2-6, 2010.

Greektown casino-hotel launches Smartphone app

Detroit’s Greektown Casino-Hotel became the first Michigan casino to launch a free Apple iPhone and iPod Touch application to help guests and players’ club members get more out of their gaming experience.

Greektown Casino-Hotel unveiled the application to 250 of the casino’s top players, each of whom received a free iPod Touch, and demonstrated the app at a special VIP party in Eclipz Lounge. The application, which will eventually be available to other brands of “smartphones,” includes a detailed map of the property, information about restaurants and other on-site amenities, and access to Club Greektown members’ accounts giving members the ability to check comp, point, ticket, and cash back balances.

The application was developed by Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies, which designs, manufactures, operates and distributes advanced gaming devices, systems, and server-based solutions worldwide. The Greektown app is integrated with Bally’s SDS slot management and accounting system, CMP player-tracking system, iVIEW player user interface network, and Business Intelligence solutions also in use at Greektown.

In the coming months, other features will be added, including one that will enable guests to determine if their favorite slot machines are occupied or immediately available for play. Other customer-service features will be added as well, including progressive-jackpot amounts, promotional reminders, coupons, and the ability to make restaurant reservations at the touch of a button.

“Greektown Casino-Hotel is always seeking innovative ways to enhance our guests’ gaming experience,” said Greektown Casino-Hotel President/CFO Cliff Vallier. “We are thrilled about the free Greektown Casino-Hotel app and its capabilities to improve our guests’ gaming experience. This is just the beginning of what we have planned for the future.”

Sridhar Laveti, vice president of client services for Bally Technologies, noted that the app highlights “Greektown’s commitment to innovation” and has made it much easier for Greektown customers to access vital Club Greektown players club information and get detailed at-your-fingertips information about property amenities. “This is the next evolution in guest service and players club account management, and we’re thrilled to have helped Greektown make it happen,” Laveti said

The app is free for download by Club Greektown players club members and is available from Apple’s App Store.