And they would be 100 percent right. It does not take a grizzled casino veteran to realize Macau unprecedented rise to the world’s largest single gambling market is largely based on the Asian gambler’s seemingly insatiable appetite for table game wagering. Not only is table game play king in Macau, it is growing in popularity throughout the region, as nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea jump on the integrated casino resort development bandwagon in hope of capturing a slice of lucrative China gambler trade.
All this activity has made Asia a primary proving ground for new table game products and systems, electronic table game formats included. This was evident at the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) conference and trade show, held last May at The Venetian Macau, which featured the latest innovations from the electronic table games realm. Here is a recap of new device introductions from leading ETG vendors as reported in Inside Asian Gaming magazine:
Macau’s LT Game is undoubtedly the envy of many an electronic gaming machine supplier.
Given the government’s cap on live gaming tables, Chinese players’ insatiable appetite for baccarat, the lower costs involved in running electronic terminals versus live tables—as well as those terminals’ ability to drive marginal business from players unable to afford Macau’s now lofty live table minimums—there’s no shortage of demand for LT’s core product: electronic betting terminals used to make bets on baccarat games dealt by live dealers.
And, of course, there’s also the not inconsequential matter of LT having managed thus far to cling onto the exclusive right in Macau to sell those products.
LT Game Chairman Jay Chun is not content with merely having a stranglehold on the most lucrative gaming machine manufacturing business in town. A tireless inventor, he appears intent on providing a complete solution for his vision of the casino of the future, and was eagerly showing off several new products at G2E Asia.
One such product was the E-Baccarat table, which made its live debut in April at the Casino Macau Jockey Club. The Casino MJC functions as a “chipless” casino, in line with Chun’s conviction that casinos in future will not use chips. Players ticket-in and ticket-out at the E-Baccarat tables, and while they can still squeeze the cards to maintain the feel of the traditional game, all bets are made electronically on touchscreens, enhancing speed and efficiency.
Among other items on display at the LT Game stand were unique games, including a standalone terminal with a personal dice shaker that can be configured to run either sic bo or craps, and a terminal called Double 32 that allows baccarat players to simultaneously bet on up to 10 fast-moving games.
LT also is seeking to make its mark on community games with an electronic version of Texas Hold ’Em and e-table versions of mahjong and a popular Chinese card game called Dou Di Zhu (“Beat the Landlord”), a team game for three players with rules roughly similar to bridge.
G2E Asia 2014 was the region’s first look at the biggest Bally Technologies it’s ever seen, pumped with SHFL entertainment’s added muscle and eager to show a range of games and systems and supporting products and technologies that for sheer scale has no equal in the industry—everything from linked progressives and standalones to electronic multi-station and proprietary table games to table game utilities and displays to a state-of-the-art casino management system.
The new slots alone will number more than 100, and they will include more games developed specifically for Asia, and for Macau in particular, than Bally’s ever shown; which only makes sense when you look at the quarter that ended March 31st, the most recent for the NYSE-listed slot giant and the first full quarter including SHFL’s results—34 percent of new unit sales were to customers outside the United States. Last year at this time it was 17 percent. And the influence of SHFL, as you’d expect, is becoming more pronounced. Sales of table products (utilities and proprietary games) generated 13 percent of the company’s record revenue of $338.4 million for the quarter, up from 7 percent over the last three quarters combined.
The e-tables business is important for the combined company as a wedge into Macau also ensures that Bally will keep the investment in R&D flowing, especially now that the patent issues that hung over SHFL Fusion Hybrid, the live dealer multi-game, appear to have been cleared away in the Macau courts. The five-station virtual dealer TableMaster Fusion is ready for deployment in a new multi-game format that’s been graphically enhanced and includes a Chinese version of SHFL’s Ultimate Texas Hold’em dealt by a Mandarin-speaking dealer. (Ultimate Texas Hold’em was also shown on SHFL’s i-Table along with the popular Three Card Poker.)
New this year for Novomatic at G2E Asia were Panther Roulette and Panther Roulette II. These are designed to build on the success of Novomatic’s popular Pinball Roulette, which features both a start button and an interactive pinball-style mechanism for launching the ball. Both are single-player formats that come with 23 optional high-definition video slot games and can be blended with traditional roulette.
Panther Roulette II also features a second 32-inch HD top screen aligned vertically to further enhance the experience.
Electronic multiplayer table games continue to be a strength for Novomatic in Asia, and the company showed its Novo Unity II platform on the Novostar SL1 slant-top with its fully automated Novo Multi-Roulette wheel. The platform provides a broad choice of games for players to choose from—Novo Flying Black Jack, Novo Flying Baccarat, Novo Flying Sic Bo, Novo Flying Poker 3 and Novo Flying Double-Action Roulette—and they can even switch back and forth between games.
Slovenia’s Interblock made the inaugural presentation to the Asian market of its Hologram Gaming Lounge at G2E Asia 2014.
Continuing the company’s tradition of marrying the latest tech innovations with slick, eye-catching design and presentation, Interblock claimed the Hologram Gaming Lounge platform is set to be the future of gaming entertainment, and is built in partnership with Musion Systems Ltd from the UK. Musion owns and has the exclusive master global license for the Eyeliner projection system and is a global leader in the development, marketing, production and broadcasting of high-def 3D holographic video projections. Interblock enjoys the exclusive license to apply the technology to gaming floors.
Also on display at the Interblock stand was the fifth generation of its popular and attractive multiplayer product range in various configurations. The G5 MiniStar Roulette with eight G5 play stations is billed as the smallest and best performing eight-seat product from Interblock’s newly launched G5 family of gaming products. It is available with a single- or double-zero wheel, and spans a mere two meters in diameter, making it a perfect fit for smaller casinos. G5 MiniStar Roulette also offers the Golden Chip mystery progressive jackpot system, fast result detection, additional side bets and excellent roulette wheel visibility.
The G5 Bubble Generator is a newly developed electromechanical results generator that will be displayed in a 12-seat configuration with keno and Pop’n Poker. Then there’s the G5 IB-HG 55-inch LCD presented with five G5 play stations and based on a new type of 3D technology, creating the illusion of life-size, full-color 3D moving images.
Slovenia is an international hotbed for manufacturing cutting-edge multi-terminal gaming machines, and at the forefront of the industry is Alfastreet, which this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Initially focused on the European market, for much of the past decade the company has been involved in intense research and development to gear its products to the Asian market. It has excelled in that effort.
On display at G2E Asia was an enhanced version of the classic eight-station R8 roulette, which comes in a distinctive square shape and performs particularly well in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
In other markets, including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, players prefer single terminals, and the versatile SL has fit the bill perfectly over the past few years. Whereas Alfastreet’s previous roulette products had all been fully automated, the SL is its first semi-automated offering, with a live dealer spinning the ball but all bets and payouts made through electronic terminals.
Alfastreet has also been busy developing a slick new terminal with futuristic looks and superior ergonomics. Dubbed the Wiky, it features a 32-inch display—a lot bigger than the SL’s 23-inch screen though both terminals occupy the same footprint on the floor according to company press materials. Furthermore, while the SL debuted the unique feature of allowing players to bet on two games simultaneously on the same screen; on the Wiky they can bet on up to four games. The games displayed on the Wiky included sic bo, roulette, double spin roulette and semi-live baccarat.
WEIKE GAMING TECHNOLOGY
Weike Gaming Technology has Macau’s booming mass market firmly in its sights with a new Chinese-themed linked progressive and a simulated live dealer e-table that is growing in popularity across the region.
Weike sees its Infinity e-table series as another potent weapon in this year’s multi-pronged assault on Macau and the Philippines. Known for its innovative “squeeze-the-cards” technology, it has been a strong performer for Weike in Vietnam and Laos, where it is easily identifiable by virtue of a super high-definition LCD billboard for streaming the simulated live dealer and its extra-wide 22-inch player interface. GLI-certified and SAS 6.02-compatible, it’s a highly flexible and customizable platform that supports TITO play, is configurable for up to 128 terminals and comes available in an optional multigame format and in a variety of languages.
At its exhibit at G2E Asia 2014, TCSJohnHuxley spotlighted a far-reaching range of gaming industry products, including traditional gaming tables, roulette wheels, the Chipper Champ 2 chip sorter, its unique e-FX 2 displays for roulette and sic bo and its robust new A-Plus shuffler.
Another highlight at the stand was Sic Bo Blaze, an innovative gaming surface technology that offers stunning game animations projected through a traditional gaming layout. All winning bets and game sequences are highlighted, while the highly flexible surface allows casinos to customize graphics and branding within the layout.
Blaze will be rolled out in the coming year to cover a full range of table games.
Excerpted and reprinted with permission from Inside Asian Gaming magazine.