Thousands of gaming operators, vendors, managers and employees gathered last month in Biloxi, Miss., to attend the Southern Gaming Summit, a two-day conference and trade show that took place at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center.

The event featured a number of sessions, keynote speeches, networking events, parties and a trade show. Excerpts from the sessions and the keynotes can be found in this month’s cover story (starting on page 22) and in The Back Page column (on page 46). Below you will find some highlights from the trade show floor, as well as a photo album of the event:

 

SLOT SURPRISES

Gaming machine manufacturers were once again prevalent on the Southern Gaming Summit exposition floor, showcasing new games, cabinets and systems.

American Gaming Systems (AGS) prominently displayed its It Pays to Know line of slot machines, which included the titles Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and by Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?, both of which include a proprietary trivia-based bonus feature. “We have a patent for delivering trivia inside of a bonus game on a slot machine and this gives players the chance to control their own destiny in some ways,” said Andrew Burke, senior director of product management for AGS. “It is 4 percent of the return on the game, so if a player knows the answer to the question they will get a better outcome than someone who doesn’t.” AGS also unveiled its new Skytower cabinet with a slant screen and a 42-inch vertical top monitor, and a line of video slots with pachinko-style toppers that activate during bonus rounds.

The company also announced that it had purchased Colossal Gaming at the show. “We are really excited about them…they were founded by an absolutely brilliant technologist names Steve Weiss… he has built out a great niche in oversize gaming product, stuff that makes the biggest box you see here at Southern Gaming Summit look small,” Burke said.

Aristocrat Technologies introduced its 2014 theme at Southern Gaming Summit: The Game Transformed, denoting the influx of new recurring revenue and entertainment-centric games developed by recently hired designers Joe Kaminkow and Daniel Marks, formerly of IGT and High Five Games respectively. “For 60 years, Aristocrat had been designing primarily for one key segment, the core gambler,” said Matt Wilson, vice president of marketing for the company. “For us to grow, we needed to look at other game segments, but did not have the internal capabilities to build games for these segments. We were looking to acquire game design talent and fortunately Joe and Daniel were available.” Marks has gone on to develop Aristocrat’s E*Series line of games, and 2,500 of these entertainment-centric slots are already in the marketplace, according to Wilson. One of Kaminkow’s contributions to Aristocrat—the Batman Classic TV Series Slot Game—was showcased at Southern Gaming Summit. “It’s a perfect license for the gaming industry,” Wilson said, “especially when you consider the Batman we have is based on the 1965 television series, which has a real brand affinity and nostalgic resonance for the core demographic slot player.”

Aristocrat also unveiled its new Helix Slant and Helix Super Screen Slant cabinets. Several of Aristocrat’s newest product offerings will be prominently displayed in the Helix cabinet. To ensure maximum versatility and value for the operator, the cabinet is backward compatible with Aristocrat’s library of existing VIRIDIAN WS GEN7 game titles.

 Konami Gaming introduced its all-new Dungeons & Dragons themed slot machines at Southern Gaming Summit. The games are available in two rich fantasy themes including Conquests & Treasures and Enchanted Riches. The games will be placed in pods of two, three or four and will be merchandised with custom logo premium chairs, a themed bezel complete with glowing runes, faux stone design elements, hand painted 3D dragon toppers and a variety of sign packages including one with a large rotating red dragon. “Fantasy is a strong genre for the gaming industry,” said Steve Walther, director, product management-games for Konami. “We went out a found a partnership with Hasbro who has the Dungeons & Dragons license and we brought it to market. We wanted to make sure that it has an amazing presence on the gaming floor. A lot of people who have played D&D understand that it is all about the environment, so we created a strong environmental effect for D&D, with the stone borders between the game and an impressive bezel with lit runes on it that say “the path to wealth is through the red dragon,” for example. Then we created this very impressive red dragon that spins atop the game and really grabs your attention.”

Konami also showcased new games for its Podium Monument cabinet with 32-inch top screen and a new concept and mechanic called Reel Eleven, which features 11 individually spinning reels. “The 11 reels eventually give you an opportunity to win a very large jackpot,” Walther said. “There is a great amount of volatility in the game and the mechanic is different and catches your eye…it’s got a great feel to it.” 

Multimedia Games’ focus was on its new Maximum Player Experience cabinet—the first cabinet from Multimedia to feature a 40-inch, full 1080p HD display; sound chair with Earthquake Shakers and 6.2 custom surround sound; and game-controlled LED runway lighting. The MPX cabinet is engineered to deliver a 360-degree gaming experience—players are transported to the land of the game inside their display with every animation, light change, and vibration of this gaming platform. Multimedia Games also introduced special versions of Thundering Herd and Invasion 2: The Return designed specifically for the MPX platform.

• International Game Technology (IGT) showcased its MegaJackpot series which included James Cameron’s Avatar Treasures of Pandora on its new CrystalCore cabinet. Full of industry-first innovation and visual splendor, this game allows players to play for big wins while exploring the luminescent forests of Pandora. IGT also demonstrated its accelerated commitment to Class II gaming by showcasing a variety of new, Class II only titles including Bengal Eyes, The Horseman, and Bayou Nights.

 Cadillac Jack concentrated on its PowerXStream line of slots, which features a unique three-four four-four-three reel configuration with 576 ways to win. Themes with the innovative new PowerXStream pay mechanic evaluate the award based on the number of symbols that occur on adjacent reels, starting with the leftmost reel and moving right, or beginning with the rightmost reel and moving left. Cat’s Eye, Fire Wolf, Legend of the White Buffalo, Warrior Queen, Buff Beach and Thunder Bear were some of the PowerXStream titles on display.

Bally Technology showcased dozens of games across its vast product lines. One attention getter was Fu Dao Le, which featured a China-theme and a Red Envelope Jackpot progressive; a four-level linked mystery progressive that is triggered by a red envelope on reels one and five, and when hit, awards players with an enormous jackpot. Game appeal was aided by the fact it was house on Bally’s ALPHA 2 Pro Wave, the latest in a long line of innovative platforms, the first to feature a 40-inch curved high-definition monitor. The game screen curves gracefully inward, giving a brand-new look and feel to any casino floor, and optimal viewing and increased interaction for players.

Aruze Gaming continued to show new additions to its Innovator and Innovator Deluxe series of games. One new title was Ninja Warrior, which is a five-reel 30-line stepper slot game. The multiplier determined by the roulette selection is applied to all wins during the free games. When the roulette selects more than one multiplier, they multiply each other up to a maximum of 350x.

 Incredible Technologies also displayed numerous slots, one standout being Leonidas King of the Spartans, which showcases Free Spin Battle technology, an impressive 3D display which features added awards and locked wild Spartan symbols.

WMS showed its Blade Stepper cabinet, a modern spin on the classic three-reel mechanical slot machine. According to company literature, this new platform has all of the character and features that stepper players seek. Vibrant reels combine seamlessly with HD touch screens and beautiful glass artwork to bring a refreshed elegance to the stepper category. AfterShock, Reel’em in and Spy vs. Spy were some of the titles featured on this stepper reel/video hybrid.

Southern Gaming Summit was also a showcase for a host of non-slot casino products. These devices and systems will be reviewed in July Casino Journal.