Slot games may get most of the attention at Global Gaming Expo (G2E), but when it comes to finding the products and services with the potential to bring in new clientele or produce significant operational cost savings for the casino enterprise, it’s often helpful to cast a wider net and look beyond the gaming machine category.
For the editors of Casino Journal, this examination began last month when in the first part of this article we reported on some of the slot cabinet, gaming system and table game products and technologies that we noted at G2E 2014. In this continuance of that feature, we highlight the new devices and advancements we saw in the online, cash handling and analytics product categories.
Within the United States, online gaming is currently legal in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware and a handful or other states are currently considering legislation that could lead to a dramatic widening of this market. Although initial revenue results from Nevada and especially New Jersey were not as predicted, there is still enough promise in this market that land-based operators are actively seeking online and mobile gaming solutions. In response, established terrestrial and Internet gaming manufacturers are augmenting their iGaming offerings, while smaller technology-oriented firms are unveiling new methods to better monetize the mobile and social gaming business.
GTECH is one of the traditional slot machine suppliers offering new products and services in the online realm. Visitors to the GTECH booth found a complete portfolio of games, systems, and services designed to work individually or together, including solutions for poker, casino, bingo, sports betting and lottery markets. GTECH offerings featured open architecture systems to allow fast integration of third-party products to easily create a successful online solution tailored to customer needs.
In addition to many new slot game titles, GTECH launched a new betting platform called WagerWise, a poker app for tablets and poker network solution, and the Play for Fun and Virtual Currency solutions. All will be available to connect directly to the WagerWise or through GTECH’s Player Account Management system, an innovative solution that offers a single 360-degree view of the player.
Bally Technologiesalso showcased the latest enhancements to its iGaming Platform and cloud-based Bally Mobile Platform that delivers a deeper level of integration with core casino systems to provide a comprehensive view of the player, according to company literature. Players are now able to sign up for players’ club cards, earn and redeem points, and engage with their favorite casino hosts directly from their computers or mobile devices. Bally’s iGaming platform also offers a host of play-for-free and wager-based mobile and online titles that have already proven successful in land-based casinos, including Cash Spin, Quick Hit Platinum, Hot Shot Blazing 7s, Vegas Hits, Wild Huskies, Cash Wizard, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, Mississippi Stud, and Crazy 4 Poker, among others.
Bally Mobile also demonstrated Guestagram, a new cutting-edge feature that empowers operators to send targeted marketing messages via push notifications to a player’s mobile device, decreasing direct mail costs and driving revenue.
International Game Technology (IGT) continued to display its market-leading DoubleDown Casino concept, which provides engaging social casino-style entertainment to more than six million players monthly. Improvements to the product include IGT’s Advantage System, which now boasts cross-platform player tracking, connecting data from DoubleDown Casino and land-based casino play. It’s an advantage that enables operators to deepen connections with players and offer meaningful promotions through a holistic view of player behavior and preferences, according to company literature.
IGT officials were also keen to mention the multi-year deal the company signed earlier this year with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to secure the future rights to the Wheel of Fortune game franchise, including an agreement to develop Wheel of Fortune mobile and online games for DoubleDown Casino and for-wager online play worldwide through 2024. The arrangement with Sony included a license for Jeopardy!, the popular TV game show, which will be developed as a game for DoubleDown casino, the first time Jeopardy! will be available on an online social casino in the U.S.
Aristocrat Technologies offered improvements to nLive, its comprehensive, turn-key solution that empowers casinos to take their brand online in a free-play environment. While other platforms brand the online casino to the supplier, nLive empowers the casino to extend its customer experience outside of the casino walls with an incredibly large range of games, according to company press materials. The latest iteration of nLive includes nLiveLink allowing operators to compare nLive data with the brick-and-mortar operation. The recent installation of nLive and nLiveLink at Desert Diamond Casinos marks the first time nLiveLink will be used between Aristocrat’s free play site and a competitor’s in-house system, fulfilling Aristocrat’s promise to deliver solutions properties want, the way they want them.
Other traditional slot machine providers offering enhanced iGaming offerings include Novomatic, which showcased its Greentube white-label social casino marketing solution at G2E. Meanwhile, Casino Technology offered The Big Five, its multichannel gaming system that provides operators with a complete online/offline infrastructure. The Big Five is comprised of the company’s RHINO casino management system, ELEPHANT remote game server, BUFFALO jackpot server, LEOPARD online gaming platform and LION money management system.
In addition to new iGaming products from slot manufacturers, a number of new-cutting edge companies seeking to exploit the mobile and social gaming markets also shined at G2E. One such company was Gamblit Gaming, a California-based technology provider for real-money wagering in mobile games, which introduced a proprietary new platform for casino owners, operators and game developers at the event. Gamblit’s platform gives game developers access to real-money gaming capabilities to enhance mobile games, tap into the lucrative online gaming and land-based casino markets and attract the high-income consumer. Developers can integrate a single SDK into their existing mobile games or design new, original real-money games with the development kit. Gamblit provides all of the technology, operations, account management, security, gambling licenses, regulations and compliance elements needed. The company also helps casino operators deliver a new entertainment experience to not only attract new players, but retain existing players.
“We develop social skill games with a wagering component,” said Eric Meyerhofer, CEO of Gamblit Gaming. “We’re trying to address the entertainment needs of the Millennial Generation, the 21- to 42-year-old player, by bringing wagering fun into the social skill games realm.”
In addition to the new platform, Gamblit showcased a number of new games at G2E including Dreadnought, a space-themed multiplayer strategy experience that combines compelling game elements with a proven gambling mechanic; and Lucky Words a turn-based multiplayer word game that challenges players to generate the most points with a themed gambling mechanic that spells out words awards money or credits to buy power ups.
GameAccount Network, a London, UK-based developer and supplier of enterprise-level B2B gaming software and content, came to G2E this year armed with a new product aimed at aiding land-based casino operators looking to transition to the online gaming environment. The company’s Simulated Gaming system offers terrestrial operators a gaming-as-entertainment consumer website enabled with unique monetization features and a compelling portfolio of over 100 casino slot, table and skill-based games. At the show, Game Account announced Yonkers, N.Y.-based Empire City Casino as the latest property to join the Simulated Gaming website, effectively lifting their casino floor and representing it online, with all of the associated benefits of increased patron visitation on-property and the generation of meaningful levels of new income from an online channel.
“Enabling bricks-and-mortar casinos in the U.S. to move online is a core element of our mission statement and G2E certainly enabled us to have the conversations we were looking to have and with the right people,” said Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GameAccount Network in a prepared statement. “Simulated Gaming and the award of a U.S. patent for our iBridge Framework which enables the complete integration of an Internet Simulated Gaming system with a land-based casino’s rewards points program, created a real buzz at the show as operators realized the benefits in a yet-to-be regulated environment.”
Casino cash management suppliers were out in force at G2E, displaying products aimed at streamlining the money handling needs of land-based gaming floors and offering web and mobile-based solutions for consumers looking to wager over these increasingly popular channels of communication.
The G2E booth of Vantiv Gaming Solutions featured systems designed to handle both terrestrial and web-based needs, offering comprehensive, scalable and customizable payments solutions that run on a single, proprietary platform and are built to enhance the overall customer experience beyond just traditional services to include iGaming, mobile gaming and social gaming. Merchant services functionality in the company’s online processing solution include credit and debit card processing, robust gift card programs, ACH and other alternative payment services, PCI and breach assistance, prepaid loyalty card programs, encryption and tokenization, dedicated customer support services, least-cost transaction routing, guaranteed transaction authorization system availability, and network, regulatory and legislative consulting services, according to company literature.
“We entered the gaming space five years ago and see Internet gaming as a greenfield development area with astronomical growth potential,” said Joe Feldkamp, vice president of strategic planning and development for Vantiv. “We were ready to roll day one in Nevada for online gaming with a secure enterprise solution for casinos—a single payment hub for a property instead of a series of disparate networks.”
Global Cash Access (GCA) also showcased Everi, a line of solutions aimed at streamlining the online cash processing needs of the entire land-based resort enterprise. Components include Everi Payments, a simple and sophisticated interactive payment wall that consolidates numerous payment options into one user interface. Everi Digital Wallet is a robust and streamlined account management tool for players that bridges disparate game and loyalty systems while providing operators a unique marketing opportunity to extend their brand beyond the interactive gaming experience. Everi Stored Value Card is a card program that will align with a property’s current marketing and loyalty programs while delivering rapid integration across various point-of-sale devices, revenue capture for enrolled point-of-sale locations, incremental revenue from the card itself and rapid issuance of cards for special events.
For primarily land-based gaming operators, GCA offered CashClub, its next generation of QCP portfolio built on a stronger and more stable technology platform to reduce transaction time and overhead costs. Using an intuitive interface, CashClub facilitates common cash access tasks such as PIN debit cash advance, credit card cash advance, and check warranty services, according to company press materials. Through feature enhancements to receipt printing and electronic storage of customer signatures and receipts, CashClub reduces the records retention burden currently placed on casino staff.
GCA also displayed solutions from NEWave, a compliance, audit, document, data and efficiency software supplier it acquired earlier this year. Among the products at the booth were NEWave’s Anti-Money Laundering package with a new business intelligence module; NEWave Audit Manager which scans, totals, balances and archives jackpot slips, table fill/credit slips, scrip, tax forms and tickets using digital images; and NEWave Check Prove software that enables immediate comparison of checks against business rules, check cashing history, visual check and customer ID comparisons to known good images, helping reduce fraud and protect the casino.
Optimal Payments, a global provider of online payment solutions, also offered an online cash processing solution for gaming operators. Online gaming entities can use the NETBANX platform and services to simplify how they accept credit and debit cards, direct-from-bank, and alternative and local payments, according to company literature. Meanwhile, Optimal Payments’ NETELLER service can be used to increase revenues and capture new customers. Guests can also use the multilingual and multicurrency NETELLER and Net+ Card stored-value offering to make secure and convenient payments.
Post G2E, Optimal Payments announced its was providing Pala Interactive, an emerging leader in the online, real-money gaming space, with payment processing services for the regulated U.S. online gaming market. “A key element of our strategy is to partner with best-in-breed providers, such as Optimal Payments, who bring expertise in payment processing and risk management services,” said Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive in a prepared statement. “Together, we will address the needs of the regulated U.S. gaming market, state-by-state.”
Sightline Interactive, a subsidiary of payment solutions provider Sightline Payments, offered its own aid to online wagering with the Loyalty Card Plus prepaid card program. Loyalty Card Plus is a revolutionary payments platform that offers a single, integrated solution for all the gaming and non-gaming needs of gaming companies and their players.
Station Casinos recently went live with the Sightline Interactive solution under its Sports Connection Prepaid Card program. The card allows for secure deposits and withdrawals with ease and convenience for sports bettors via its Sports Connection Mobile product allowing guests to bypass the sports book visit to make deposits or cash winning tickets. Sports Connection Prepaid Card allows users to securely load money onto the card from their home PC, Mac or mobile device. Any wins resulting from wagers placed from a guest’s Sports Connection account can be transferred directly to the prepaid card. Bettors may then use the card everywhere Discover is accepted and at ATMs.
Payment technology provider First Data emphasized its recently introduced PayLucky Solutions for legalized online and offline gambling and gaming at G2E. PayLucky offers an innovative package of comprehensive payment services, all in one place and all from one source. Proven solutions include check, debit and credit processing with emphasis on protecting operators by qualifying players and guaranteeing player funds through third-party validation and analysis of individual spending habits.
Cash handling providers also showed a number of new products and services aimed at the land-based casino operation. Transaction technology giant JCM Global featured its iVIZION bill validator bundled with enhancement tools called Dynamic Network Applications (DNA), which empower operators as well as regulators with real-time monitoring, triggered event alerts, along with peripheral component management.
According to company literature, DNA provides real-time health and event monitoring of all peripheral components used inside an electronic gaming machine, utilizing either a wired or wireless connection to a local server. Peripherals that DNA can monitor include bill validators, table game validators, ticket printers, card readers, digital displays and coin acceptors. DNA passively monitors the SAS line, and provides diagnostics, analytics and value-added features that can all be managed through DNA’s user-friendly mobile dashboard. The dashboard was specifically designed for platform flexibility and can easily be used on a PC, a tablet or a mobile phone. Additionally, DNA gives flexibility of information the user chooses to use/see for reports etc.
Ticket printing and couponing provider FutureLogic, recently purchased by JCM Global, displayed the latest advancements to its TableXchange table games payment solution, a printer/scanner bridge between slots and tables, that helps casinos identify valuable crossover players, and ultimately enhances the casino/property experience. With chips remaining at the table, the TableXchange device further increases operational efficiency at tables, cash cage and kiosks by significantly reducing the resources associated with chip refills and cash handling throughout the property.
CPI, born from the 2013 Crane Co. acquisition of MEI, offered a comprehensive portfolio of cash management solutions, with coin and note products from the CashCode, MEI, Money Controls and NRI brands at G2E. OEMS and operators now have more convenience in obtaining complete solutions from a single vendor.
The company showcased its new MEI SCR banknote recycler at the event. The SCR is a two-denomination note recycler that combines the performance and reliability of SC Advance technology with the benefits of note recycling as part of a total cash management solution, according to company press materials. As a single closed-loop system, the SCR accepts, accounts for and stores cash from one player to give as change to the next. This allows operators to pay out winnings completely and securely without worrying about hopper starvation. And by holding up to 60 notes on each of its recycling drums, the SCR provides the capacity required for longer uptime, less cash float needed on site and, ultimately, lower operating costs.
Other cash handling highlights from G2E include:
• Cummins Allison introduced the latest improvement to its JetScan currency processing line. One such advancement was the JetScan 150 currency scanner, which features a full pocket to stack processed bills as well as a half pocket for off-sorting bills that are questionable or unreadable or for facing and orienting.
• Glory Global Solutions, a provider of comprehensive cash handling solutions, unveiled SK-500, a new, multifunction ATM, ticket redemption and bill breaking kiosk at G2E. The SK-500 provides increased transaction speeds, real-time activity monitoring, less machine down time and enhanced web-based data management capabilities when compared with Glory’s current kiosk line, according to company press materials.
• NRT Technologybrought a new cash management solution and a full suite of financial services to G2E. QuickBank, the revolutionary employee bank solution from NRT, provides an automated way to issue and settle casino cashiers’ daily float on a self-serve system. With cash recycling and coin capabilities this system reduces operational costs, improves cash security and adds efficiency to the cash management process.
• TransAct Technologies showcased its Epicentral promotion and bonusing solution and award-winning printers. The Epicentral promotion and bonusing and software suite is an enterprise-level solution that allows casino operators and their marketing teams to deliver targeted coupons and bonuses to players directly at the slot machine or electronic table game, all in real-time.
Analytics solution providers displayed the latest enhancements to their data crunching and organization software designed to improve the operations and marketing abilities of casino operators.
Visitors to the Casino Data Imaging (CDI) booth at G2E were able to experience the company’s latest enhancements to its GlobalSuite Advanced Visualization Analysis program and iGuide Wayfinder Plus system. GlobalSuite is an integrated environment host to all the tools needed to perform in-depth analysis for individual and multi casino enterprises regardless of the data source.
CDI also announced at G2E that it has formed a strategic alliance with International Game Technology (IGT) to integrate GlobalSuite into IGT’s systems portfolio for worldwide distribution. “We are enthusiastic about partnering with IGT and bringing even more features and functionality to our analysis solutions and IGT customers,” said George Levine, a spokesman for CDI.
eConnect, a technology company dedicated to improving businesses’ profits through data and video intelligence, unveiled its new eCounter people analytics system at the show. According to a company press release, it operates by using standard cameras to identify changes within video to tell operators how many people are in line and how long they are waiting. The technology can be operated in stand-alone mode or in conjunction with the POS Connect system to improve revenue, customer service and optimize labor.
eConnect also demoed its Pace of Play system that allows casino operators to improve revenue and table performance on nearly all table games. Again, using existing cameras, the system will conduct table game analysis in real-time, predicting and analyzing video data so gaming operators can make important business decisions when they matter most.
California-based Opticity used G2E to introduce the latest version of its data warehouse and customer relationship management software. The system provides Marketing-Ready Data directly to managers, eliminating the need for expensive business intelligence programs. It joins player tracking, hotel, POS and kiosk data together, and enables self-service reporting and data analysis.
“With this release we accomplished our goal of making Opticity so easy to use that everyone at the property can utilize it without any previous technical knowledge or reporting experience,” said Opticity CEO Adam Smithline. “For the first time, everyone across the property can have the same complete view of customer activity, giving them the answers needed to make correct decisions.”
Agilysys, a developer of hospitality software solutions, announced several new product announcements at G2E, including rGuest Stay, a groundbreaking property management system that is the first in a suite of applications built using the new rGuest hospitality software platform. The cloud-based PMS includes intuitive features that enable hotels to gather and analyze guest data, forecast demand and reduce staff training time—all while balancing guest needs and operational efficiency. The rGuest suite also includes solutions for dining reservations, table management, loyalty, payment and promotions.
Also showcased was Agilysys Analytics v2.0, a made-for-hospitality business intelligence solution that consolidates data across disparate systems and multiple locations into a single integrated source for comprehensive reporting, auditing and predictive analysis. Users can pull critical reports and make up-to-the-minute decisions anytime, anywhere, via a convenient mobile interface. Available as a subscription service, Agilysys Analytics requires no software installation other than a web browser.
ALSO WORTH A LOOK…
- Gary Platt Manufacturing was founded on the concept that a high-quality, more comfortable chair would increase players’ “time on device” and, as a result, casino revenues. This led to the development of the exclusive X-Tended Play seats engineered to deliver incredible comfort and durability for longer play and wear. At G2E 2014, Gary Platt officially introduced the latest iteration of this line, the x2 Series, which features ergonomic contouring, specially formulated chair foam that provides longevity and greater comfort, and a sleek modern design with new bases.
- Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) celebrated its 25th anniversary this year at G2E by offering demonstrations of its latest labor-saving technologies designed to streamline the gaming product testing process and help with training, professional services, consultation, auditing, IT security audits, rule-writing and field inspections processes. Crowd pleasers included its new GLiCloud inventory tracking and control system and the Kobetron line of products.
- Slot-Tickets Worldwide, an OEM source for slot machine tickets, introduced a game machine generated ticket with a peel away designed to mimic a traditional pull-tab paper slip.
- VSR Industries’ latest line of slot machine bases included charging station for iPhones, iPads and other mobile consumer devices. VSR’s USB convenience charging stations keep gamers playing, and revenue flowing.