If you walked the trade show floor at the recently held Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas for any length of time, chances are you would have run across zombies, Na’vi from the movie AVATAR, the menagerie from the novel Alice in Wonderland, superheroes of various stripe, and many, many more such specters from popular culture. Although each of these characters was distinct in their own way, they all had one factor in common: chances are they were promoting a new slot game.

Indeed, G2E has garnered a well-earned reputation for being the primary launchpad for new games from the casino industry’s top slot manufacturers and designers. (A review of new games trends present at G2E can be found in the November/December issue of ourSlot Manager supplement, which is packaged with this issue of Casino Journal.) But to say G2E is primarily a showcase for new slots and games would not be accurate—the trade show floor has much more to it than that. In addition to the slots, G2E was a platform to introduce a whole host of non-game products, systems and services; everything from the latest analytical software and table games to cash tracking technology and slot cabinets. And in many cases, these operations-oriented devices gained as much adulation and attention from attendees as the latest licensed game or themed slot.

Here is a quick recap of the non-slot game items noticed by the editors of Casino Journalat G2E 2013.

BETTER MOUSETRAPS

It would not be a stretch to say slot cabinet evolution has mimicked slot game development; after all, it is the cabinet’s job to present the latest games in an appealing and playable format. These cabinets also have to stand out on busy slot floors and entice consumers with widely-divergent ideas on what constitutes an enjoyable slot experience.

Bally Technologies was one of many slot providers unveiling new, technologically advanced slot cabinets designed to better showcase their latest games and play mechanics. Taking center stage at Bally’s tradeshow booth two new additions to its Pro Series cabinet family—the groundbreaking ALPHA 2 Pro Series Wave with the industry’s first 40-inch concave LCD, and the Pro V55 Jumbo platform, a nine-foot platform with an impressive 55-inch vertical touchscreen display. “The Pro Wave has a new look, is very ergonomic and also comes with a full library of games,” said Mike Trask, corporate communications manager for Bally Technologies. “It is a very innovative way to show a game.”

International Game Technology (IGT)put its new Crystal Core Cabinet to good use—as a showcase for its AVATAR Treasures of Pandora licensed game. The cabinet features a 42-inch vertical screen, 3D visuals and a dynamic player button panel, a new game function that offers a more hands-on player experience. The large, full color touchscreen of the Crystal Core allows for a superbly interactive experience during bonuses, according to company press materials. “The 10-inch dynamic play touchpanel has the ‘super button,’ which allows players to either spin or use a joystick to play the game.” said Boris Hallenbach, senior manager, Megajackpots for IGT.

The Player Cabinet Series from Multimedia Games was upgraded for this year’s G2E. The MPX takes slot cabinets to a new level with a larger-than-life 40-inch monitor featuring full 1080p HD graphics capabilities, a touchscreen fully-customizable button panel, game-controlled runway lighting that enhances the visual experience and six custom speakers—including two speakers in the fully integrated interactive sound chair with Earthquake Shakers technology to elevate the MPXentertainment value. Games fill the screen and offer vivid graphic elements and lifelike sound to provide players with a movie theatre-equivalent immersive gaming experience.

Cadillac Jackused G2E to introduce Stratos, a new cabinet that attracts players with its dynamic light display and impressive 8-foot tall vertical stature. At G2E, the Stratos cabinet was paired with Win With 7s, a new Cadillac Jack progressive game. Win With 7s is a classically themed multi-level progressive featuring a Wheel Bonus triggered by scatter-initiated Streaming Stacks of interchangeable 7s. The interactive wheel awards multipliers, free spins, credits and progressive award.

Ainsworth Game Technology showed off its super-sized A560 Wide Boy cabinet. The cabinet’s 32-inch-LCD top box features high-definition graphics that display a unique multi-wheel feature, linking five wheels to five reels, the Reels of Wheels feature’s wheels spin to determine special wild symbols linked to reels one through to five. Reels of Wheels builds anticipation with eight free games providing guaranteed wild symbols and accumulating wild multipliers, multiplying wins up to five times on reel three. Reels of Wheels continuously rewards players with four levels of a rapid triggering standalone progressives featuring a $5,000 Grand Progressive Jackpot.

Novomatic brought its futuristic Dominator slot cabinet to G2E. The cabinet celebrated its U.S. premiere by featuring a wide range of single games from Octavian and multi-game mixes based on the server-based ready platform Novoline Interactive. The machines will be connected to the Amazeland Community Jackpot as well as the mystery progressive Magic Joker Jackpot.

Konami Gaming unveiled the Podium Monument, the newest addition to its Podium family. It features a 22-inch touchscreen LCD for base games and a large 32-inch vertical top box to display progressive levels. The top box has bright attract-mode lighting that synchronizes with game play. Quick Strike Quad is one of the first titles that will be released on the Podium Monument. It’s a KP3 video theme that includes a four-level progressive. The progressive feature is randomly triggered and the more a player bets, the higher the chance of hitting the progressive. “The Podium series is so different from any other cabinet out there,” said Matt Reback, vice president of marketing for Konami. “It has been a great product for us.”

The technology used in GTECH’s new Sphinx 3D was so cutting edge, the company thought it was appropriate to develop a whole new cabinet to house the game. This cabinet is designed to maximize player comfort, create a sense of personal space and immerse the player in the game. It features an advanced button panel and full-scale illumination, as well as a benchmark multimedia chair with player-focused surround sound, rumble and a sliding mechanism for easy entry.

Zitro, a leading provider of video bingo machines, showed at G2E for the first time this year. The theme for the Zitro booth was “The Power of Ideas,” and the company brought along its latest cabinet, Blackwave, to showcase the games it would be offering the North American casino marketplace. These cabinets allow for the playing of floorwide community bonuses such as Air Cash, in which an animated airplane flies across the screens on a bank of bingo machines, eventually landing on one machine and giving that player the biggest share of the bonus.

WMS Gaming came to G2E with the latest iterations of its Blade and Gamefield xD cabinets, the most thoroughly researched products in WMS history, according to company press materials. The sleek new Blade gaming cabinet is WMS’ next-generation for-sale cabinet. The cabinet seamlessly integrates a cutting-edge cabinet design, a fast CPU-NXT 3 processor, and a diverse library of content. Its entire suite of content and play mechanics is tailored to the cabinet’s tighter, more connected set of high-resolution displays, which are designed to be highly effective in grabbing players’ attention. 

Video Gaming Technologies (VGT)is primarily known as a supplier of Class II gaming machines to the Oklahoma tribal gaming market. To expand its business beyond this border, the company has created a new system and cabinet. The XSpin gaming system offers players a new level in visual experience and animation in gaming. Fitted with dual 21.5-inch high-definition video monitors, an ergonomic design and an enhanced sound system, XSpin was created to increase player comfort and provide a gaming experience that is unparalleled in the industry. XSpin utilizes the latest technology and is housed in a sleek cabinet designed to provide for ease in maintenance, including faster currency drops and ticket paper changes. Driving next-generation gaming on VGT’s player-proven Live Call Class II system, XSpin introduces a Class II gaming device with appeal beyond that of Class III gaming, according to a company press release. “Our plans are to expand beyond our Oklahoma base, said Ryan Cuddy, vice president of game design for VGT. “XSpin and the two games we have developed for it—Frankenstein and Lizards on the Loose—give us the ability to do that.” 

Video bingo provider Ortiz Gaming came to this year’s G2E with its new O-future cabinet, an eye-catching platform the company claims will revolutionize the look and feel of the casino floor. The new cabinet is a vital component of Ortiz Gaming’s community gaming approach, where each game offers a true group bonus, sharing winnings between all players. When a player wins a jackpot, all of the other players on the bank of games wins a percentage of the jackpot. As a result, players encourage each other to bet more to increase the jackpot amounts to be shared.

 

MONEY MATTERS

The casino business may be picking up of late, but casino operators are still on the lookout for products that can streamline the cash flow process at their properties, which should bring more money to the bottom line. As you would expect, G2E vendors were more than happy to provide new product to meet this need.

Vantiv, a provider of payment processing services and related technology solutions for merchants and financial institutions, used G2E to officially launch Vantiv Gaming Solutions. This new subsidiary has the capability and expertise to meet gaming payment objectives and serve the entire spectrum of this market by utilizing its scalable, integrated processing platform, key technology partnerships, industry-leading payments expertise, and its 40 years of innovation experience.

“Payments are the lifeblood of gaming,” said Joseph Feldkamp, vice president of market planning and development for Vantiv. “When you look at the United States, unlike Europe and other international markets where you have different regulations and payment methods and funding vehicles by country, the U.S. has been conditioned to use cards, whether it is debit, credit and/or pre-paid. That’s why when you take a look at our time-tested, well-proven infrastructure that supports today over 16 billion electronic transactions and moving over half a trillion dollars in volume, and our open-architecture platform that allows for different hardware and software companies, it’s a perfect entrée into gaming.”

FutureLogic, the California-based supplier of ticket printing and couponing solutions, announced new innovations to their line of products at G2E. One such upgrade was the release of an easy-to-use printer firmware upgrade process that eliminates the need for costly PCs/laptops, firmware upgrade utilities/tools, and lengthy upgrade processes. Once the firmware file is obtained and copied onto the USB thumb drive, the entire process takes about one minute to complete. With the ability to easily upload any firmware on any GEN3 Evolution printer, this simplified and unique process also makes it possible to interchange/move printers from one slot to another by simply downloading the associated slot manufacturer firmware.

FutureLogic also revealed it had formed a partnership withResort Advantage, a leader in FinCEN and IRS compliance solutions for the gaming industry. As a result of this collaboration, FutureLogic’s PromoNet Print Managerand the GEN3 Evolution printers can be seamlessly integrated with Resort Advantage’s Slots Jackpot Acceleratormobile jackpot payout solution for instant access and printing of jackpot payout documents while at the gaming machine.

NEWave, a software provider for the gaming industry, also introduced a number of new products including AuditManager. With the new Audit Manager, the casino audit staff can quickly and efficiently conduct any type of audit for any type of document in any department, gaming or non-gaming. Audit Manager centralizes all audit functions and is completely paperless, saving money and materials. Audit Manager also creates and routes exception reports electronically so there is no paper to print, and everything is automatically routed through e-mail and a work queue.

Glory Global Solutions,a global manufacturer of cash management equipment and software, displayed a growing assortment of products at G2E. Included in this array were the QuickChange self-service coin deposit solution, the Mach 9 coin counter and sorter, the CASHINFINITY touchless cash management solution, the ADA compliant SK-100C ATM/kiosk, and the RBG-300/SDRC-100cash and coin recycling system. This large influx of either new or improved products can be credited to Glory Global’s recent acquisition of cash handling solutions provider Talaris. “Talaris has added quite a bit of product to our portfolio,” said Richard Friese, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Glory Global. 

Cummins Allison, a provider of currency, check and coin handling solutions, introduced three new products at G2E. The JetScan MPS 4200 now has a powerful, affordable, automatic strapping solution that provides greater flexibility in the casino count room or vault, plus faster currency processing in a smaller footprint. Cummins also unveiled a partnership with NEWaveto develop a Ticket Reconciliation Softwareprogram that collects ticket activity from cage, slot and kiosk transactions and imports and verifies the number and dollar amount for all tickets processed in a batch on a the JetScan iFXmachine. Cummins also introduced a full line of LS series check scanners, manufactured by CTS North America. This partnership gives Cummins Allison one of the broadest lines of check scanning solutions in the industry.

JCM Global offerings centered on improvements to its successful iVIZION bill validator, which included a set of bundled enhancement tools that allow casino operators to do much more than they ever thought possible with peripheral components, and in real time. iVIZION’s bundled enhancement tools, called Dynamic Network Applications (DNA), empowers operators with real-time reports and alerts, and can enable regulators to instantly verify peripheral devices and software versions, view reports and more. JCM also continued to improve its Mobile Wage Wallet with new and even more powerful capabilities that allow customers to use their mobile phones as e-wallets, carrying cash, player club cards and promotional offerings electronically in a secure, password-protected environment.

TransAct Technologies, a provider of market-specific solutions, including printers, terminals, software and other products for transaction-based and other industries, used G2E to trumpet recent placement wins for its Epicentral promotions and bonusing system. Currently live at four casinos on over 5,000 gaming machines, Epicentral is a state-of-the-art software system that enables casino operators to deliver targeted promotion and bonusing coupons to both their carded and uncarded players in real-time, right at the slot machine or electronic table game. The easy-to-use graphical interface gives casino marketing and operations teams a simple tool to create customized coupons and offers based on any number of criteria such as uncarded player time on the machine, coin in, carded player data, rated player data, earned rewards and randomly awarded prizes, among others. Designed to work in conjunction with the company’s Epic 950 ticket printer and a ServerPort device installed within the slot machine, Epicentral can connect with all existing slot systems and games as it operates on a separate and distinct connection with the printer. As a result, casinos can deploy Epicentral to all of their slot machines—regardless of manufacturer—to enhance their customers’ experience on a real-time basis.

TransAct also announced it had entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Suzo-Happ.

Payment mechanisms provider MEI unveiled EASITRAX Web, a software extension of EASITRAX Soft Count that allows operators additional flexibility when accessing and evaluating performance data.  The data previously used to create pre-programmed reports can now be customized to highlight the most important metrics.  And, once those reports are in place, information can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The SC note acceptor, and the knowledge it gains denominating and validating notes, is at the heart of the EASITRAX system. That data can be used to assist the drop process, facilitate asset evaluations and drive preventive maintenance programs.  EASITRAX Web makes it easier to import that data, and convert it into reports, anywhere in the world.  And, as always with MEI, the integrated software/hardware solution can be easily retrofitted to new applications and be applied to existing EASITRAX customers.

 

ANALYZE THIS

Software and systems with the capability of examining reams of data and translating it into actionable steps that can either make a casino run more efficiently or generate additional revenue remained popular on the G2E tradeshow floor.

Infor showcased its Infor Hospitality solution. Infor Hospitality is an industry-specific suite designed to manage the specialized requirements of casinos, resorts and hotels by enabling connectivity between front- and back-office systems. With applications for everything from sales and marketing to financials, reservations and workforce management, Infor Hospitality delivers the necessary tools to help reduce operations costs and increase return on investment through an improved guest experience, all within a unified solution. Powered by Infor 10x technology, users also benefit from the latest Infor innovations including Infor ION, Infor Ming.le and Infor Mongoose.

NEWave introduced myData Manager, which brings the proven technology of information optimization combined with big data into strategic analytics. Information optimization turns disparate data, including structured, semi-structured and unstructured data, into dynamic reports for analysis and visualization. myData Manager takes large daily reports and files and automatically converts them into relevant data dashboards and spreadsheets. This data is then automatically flowed into daily e-mails with targeted, specific data to the finance, operations, and senior management teams. The end result is that each individual user has the data they want most, all in an easy-to-read dashboard. The user can then drill-down through the dashboard, all the way to the original report if they so choose.

Casino Data Imaging (CDI), a leading provider of analysis solutions to the casino industry, displayed improvements to its GlobalSuite Advanced Visualization Analysis program. The GlobalSuite program includes user-friendly interactive 2D and 3D casino floor visualizations with specifics for trending and performance troubleshooting (including multigame multi-denomination analysis). An ever expanding GS Control Center provides dynamic visual portals for interactive and actionable analysis.

The company also announced that Mohegan Sun casino will install the latest upgrade of GlobalSuite. “CDI’s new development is exciting and we look forward to deploying it very soon,” said Frank Neborsky, vice president of slot operations for Mohegan Sun. “Their continued focus on casino data visualization and optimization compliments our other BI assets.”

Aristocrat Technologies added analytics packages to its Oasis 360 casino management system. According to company literature, Cloud Solutions Powered by nVision is an exceptional B.I. solution which makes decision-making even better. With Cloud Solutions, operators can get all of the benefits from nVision B.I., while Aristocrat does all the heavy lifting that can be associated with data gathering and analysis.

 

 Editor’s Note: Part 2 of the G2E operations products review, which will cover table games, eGaming products and much, much more, will continue in the December issue of Casino Journal