At CATCO Gaming, love and knowledge of the table games market runs very deep.
That is in large part due to the executives in charge of the company, who have a combined 60 years of experience in all things casino. Indeed, CATCO Gaming Founder Chris Anderson can trace his gaming roots back to the mid-1990s, when he was supplying a majority of the California tribal casino market with video gaming products. He also made his bones in Mexico, where he opened the first casinos in the country before selling off his operation five years ago and retiring.
Retirement did not rest easy with Anderson, especially when he saw a long-time casino need that he could fill. “Back when I was building casinos and selling video slot machines, the table games managers were always coming to me and complaining about the quality and cost of their cards and chips,” Anderson said. “My partner, Kevin Thornton, and I came to realize this was still a problem for casino operators, and that we could fill the niche by producing higher quality, better designed table game products at less expensive price points. So I decided to come out of retirement, and launched CATCO Gaming in 2010 with my sons Chazz and Tyler Anderson”
It has been a rocket ride for Anderson and his partners since, with CATCO doubling or tripling sales each year it has been in business. Today, the company is the largest table game manufacturer in North and South America. CATCO boasts a strong tribal gaming business in the U.S., and an improving commercial casino trade that includes a growing presence in Macau and other Asian markets. The company is also the premier supplier for the California card club marketplace, with The Commerce Hotel Casino as its flagship client. In Mexico, CATCO has exclusive supplier agreements with 10 casino groups that oversee a combined 300 gaming properties.
CATCO executives run this growing enterprise out of a corporate office based in Chatsworth, Calif. The company also has an office in Mexico and a production facility in Las Vegas. All told, CATCO boasts 90,000 square feet of office and production space, and roughly 95 percent of the products they provide are made in the U.S. The company even has a unique mobile showroom that brings its latest wares to the doors of gaming operators throughout the Western region.
The reason for CATCO Gaming’s quick success and rapid growth is simple, according to Anderson. “It’s based on quality and service,” he said. “It’s our mission to provide better quality and service at superior pricing.”
The attention to quality started early with CATCO; indeed, in its very first product offering, which was a plastic playing card aimed at poker rooms and card clubs. “We took a close look at the plastic cards that were out there and realized we could produce something with higher quality than the other products in the market,” Anderson said.
The end result, after two years of product development and testing, was Hyperflex, a proprietary plastic playing card designed to withstand the rigors of the 24/7 gaming floor. “We had our own chemists create a plastic material that had outstanding memory and table wear,” Anderson explained. “You can actually rub large creases out of the card just using your hands—the memory of the plastic is just that good.”
From their plastic card beginnings, the company developed its line of paper playing cards, experimenting with paper card formulas and finishes to create a longer-lasting product that better resists dents, creases and moisture problems.
Both these paper and plastic enhancements are available in the company’s two primary playing card lines—Triton and Warrior, which are offered in a variety of styles, sizes and colors, and can be personalized with a property’s logo.
From playing cards, CATCO next tackled the table game chip market, going so far as to purchase RT Plastics company so they could create high-quality, injection-molded products instead of the typical, compression-molded fare. CATCO currently offers four lines of chips with features and price points that meet most casino table game needs. “No one else offers injection-mold quality,” Anderson said. “It makes the chips easier to maintain since they can now be washed. We’re also able to offer the customer artwork and graphics as well as a quick turnaround time.”
What further sets CATCO chips apart from the competition is a specialized security option involving inks currently used to protect paper currency from counterfeiters. The use of these pigments makes certain security features readily viewable with ultra violet and infrared lights or cameras. “This type of security does not require any wiring or alteration to the table game but still allows the operator to validate the chip at the table,” Anderson said. “It’s very high tech yet less expensive way to provide chip security.”
CATCO is so sure of this security feature that it offers a $1million guarantee against counterfeits.
With chip and card offerings in place, the next logical product expansion for CATCO was into the tables games themselves. To that end, CATCO now offers its Premium line of table game products, with formats for poker, blackjack, baccarat, midi-bac, craps and roulette. The core feature for CATCO’s table games is the Wildfire Quick Change Table System, which allows operators to remove and install new table layouts in a matter of minutes. The Quick Change feature is available on its complete line of table games.
“It means less downtime for table games when it comes time to service the felt,” Anderson said. “Wildfire also offers operators a chance to promote or advertise special events, or even theme the table to a specific holiday. And when the time comes, it’s easy to put the original layout back in place.”
CATCO has also branched out into some specialized table game offerings, such as its Wildfire Roulette system, which aims to bring a legal, live table game experience to tribal gaming jurisdictions. According to company press materials, Wildfire Roulette uses a tested and approved RNG roulette game engine in place of the traditional roulette wheel. The virtual roulette wheel and results of each game are displayed on LCDs while players are able to place their bets on a physical roulette table. The dealer controls the betting at the tables just like they do in a traditional roulette table game. Players have the option of playing at the live Wildfire Roulette table with real chips or at a player terminal electronically.
“Wildfire Roulette emulates roulette about as best you can in a tribal gaming environment where traditional roulette tables with wheels are not allowed,” Anderson said. “It is a very unique product.”
EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE
When it comes to expanding its product lines, CATCO is willing to look outside the box and consider new devices and technologies that can enhance the table game experience for operators and consumers alike. The company’s latest foray in this area involves a wireless phone recharging system that is called Casino Power. The property provides the player with a coin-shaped device that contains the connections needed to recharge a phone or other electronic devices at a Casino Power station, which can be located at table game positions or between slot machines. The customer than connects the device to the station and the device recharges while they play.
“Right now, there is not a good answer for people looking to recharge phones in a casino environment,” Anderson said. “Casino Power, which is patented, helps solve this problem in a wireless fashion.”
The company is also producing Hotel Power, a version of this solution for the guest room environment.
CATCO will also be showcasing a revolutionary poker table management system at the upcoming NIGA show in San Diego. Designed by two WSOP bracelet winners for the poker management market, this system replaces others that use blinking lights and a large amount of cable. “This system will be the standard of the industry worldwide,” Anderson said.