As Aria Resort & Casino made its debut at Las Vegas’ CityCenter in December, it also heralded a new era - one where networked gaming will play an ever-larger role today and in the future.

It is an important showcase to the world about how networked gaming across an entire casino floor can bring new, powerful benefits for players and casino operators.

The ARIA casino floor features a combination of IGT’s server-based network, including the Service Window, sbX Floor Manager and Media Manager, the IGT Advantage casino management system and 970 IGT AVP machines with 3-D Multi-Layer Display (MLD) technology.

“MGM Mirage has always been a forward-thinking organization with respect to technology on our slot floors,” said William P. McBeath, president and chief operating officer of ARIA Resort & Casino. “At CityCenter, we are pleased to offer our players the customization, choices and personalized service that sbX and the Service Window provide.”

IGT’s sbX system and Service Window is available on all of IGT’s machines and will be interoperable with WMS’ machines on ARIA’s gaming floor at opening, while other gaming manufacturers will come on line with sbX in the future as interoperability issues are worked out.

Ensuring that interoperability is key, and IGT knows it.

“All of ARIA’s game vendors have applied a great deal of effort in preparing their game products for compliance with the Industry Standard G2S protocols,” said Rich Schneider, IGT executive vice president of gaming products. “This has required a level of cooperation and interoperability testing amongst the vendor community far beyond what this industry has ever experienced.”

IGT has noted the sbX Service Window provides a unique player interaction experience, right at the slot machine. When the player inserts his players club card, a special “window” slides the game screen over, providing a menu of information and services that the player and operator can customize, all designed to improve the player experience. The sbX Floor Manager means ultimate access to the IGT game library, while the sbX Media Manager enables targeted messages and services to the Service Window.

But it really does much more than that. It opens the door for new applications and products that will improve the players’ experience in ways we can’t even imagine today.

Gaming loses pioneering force

The gaming industry lost an innovator and visionary when Rich Fiore passed away Nov. 27. Just 50, Fiore had long made his mark in the gaming industry as a slot pioneer whose credits include work on developing the first slant-top slot as well as designing innovative products on his own, with Sierra Design Group, and with John Acres.

Rich was the magic man, as one speaker described him at a memorial service. The guy who brought that something extra to a game to make it special, to make it stand out amid a sea of slots. His energy and enthusiasm for his work was inspiring, but he was even more passionate about his family and was devoted to Loraine, his wife of 22 years, son, Madison and daughter, Talyn. You are missed, Rich.