Spotlight on non-slot products at G2E
In this continuation of an article from last month’s issue, the editors of Casino Journal spotlight non-slot products that sparkled on the G2E showfloor
The scene stealers at any Global Gaming Expo (G2E) tend to be new slot games and concepts, and 2015 G2E was no exception, with exciting licensed and non-licensed content on display from large and small machine vendors.
However, equally important at any G2E are the hundreds of new non-game devices and technologies emanating from the show floor—merchandise that deserves more than a cursory glance. 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, customer retention and analytic products and technologies that we noted at G2E 2015. In this continuance of that feature, we highlight the new devices and advancements we saw in the slot slot systems and table games product categories.
ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO
Though not as viscerally exciting as superhero- or movie-themed games, slot systems remain an important and vital adjunct to any properly run gaming floor. Fortunately, there were a lot of noteworthy developments in the slot system field showcased at G2E vendor booths.
IGT emphasized its new HTML5 support capabilities and several of the company’s systems solutions including Floor Manager and Service Window. Featured was IGT’s Advantage system and its ability to integrate with IGT’s DoubleDown Casino app. Other mobile systems solutions from IGT include Mobile Host software and Mobile Responder application, and a suite of Intelligent Bonuses including Point Pursuit and Intelligent Rewards bonuses.
From a gaming machine perspective, IGT lit up its booth with SyncSation, a unique tool that enables operators to deploy choreographed light and sound shows across multiple IGT hardware solutions including the S3000 and CrystalDual cabinets. With SyncSation, operators can create attention-grabbing light and sound spectacles in one or multiple locations on their casino floors, according to company literature. IGT also took its video poker experience to the next level with the introduction of the Ultimate X Poker with Power Deals Tournament Game. Fueled by Tournament Manager 4.0, Ultimate X Poker with Power Deals Tournament Game enables operators to host video poker tournament games on their casino floors.
In the interactive arena, IGT demonstrated OnPremise software, an integrated mobile technology solution that modernizes gaming experiences and enables players to place a variety of wagers, including sports bets, slot wagers, bingo and keno, via a single mobile app—anytime within set boundaries at a casino or lottery retailer.
Scientific Games also showcased robust adjuncts to its Bally branded casino and slot management systems such as BetVIEW, a secondary wagering application that generates incremental revenues while adding to the player experience.
According to press materials, the award-winning Elite Bonusing Suite continues to offer more exciting applications that now includes Power Progressive Strike and Power Paytable Progressive, two new coin-in driven and pay-at-the-slot machine progressive applications. Also on display was Social Link, a pioneering Elite Bonusing Suite feature that enables casinos to integrate the suite’s bonusing events with their social media in real time.
Customer service is always a top priority for casino properties and visitors to Scientific Games’ exhibit experienced interactive demonstrations of BallyVIP, a comprehensive CRM (Customer Relationship Management) built to offer faster service to casino players and resort customers.
Scientific Games also demonstrated its high-performing BallyCoolSign 8K Video Wall Controller, a new product that quadruples the previous power of CoolSign by enabling unprecedented 4x4 video with multiple regions of content playback using any 1080p monitor—with no loss of resolution.
Last but not least was the Bally Servizio suite of mobile service solutions; version 13 of the company’s core systems products including ACSC, SDS, CMP, and Business Intelligence; and the new InSite site controller for operators with multiple locations featuring a user-friendly interface.
Konami Gaming debuted a number of important new updates and tools for its SYNKROS casino management system at G2E 2015.
SYNKROS Progressive Management (SPM) is a single interface within SYNKROS for defining, configuring, launching, and maintaining system-controlled progressive games across any slot machines with Synk Box hardware, according to company press materials. SPM is integrated into SYNKROS and provides multiple configuration options spanning standard pay table progressives, mystery triggered progressives, carded mystery triggered progressives, and multi-game/single game cabinet specifications.
SYNKiosk introduces real time, comprehensive loyalty program updates and benefits directly to enabled slot machines, customer smartphones and traditional standalone kiosk machines, to assist in achieving greater convenience and participation to valued casino guests.
Player on-demand multi-game tournaments are the newest enhancement to SYNKROS True-Time Tournaments. When redeeming an on-demand tournament entry at any enabled video slot machine, carded players have the option to choose from an array of game themes to help keep tournament promotions fresh and unique. Players are given a menu of game theme options when claiming their tournament entries, empowering them with an additional element of control and excitement when they achieve targeted sales and marketing rewards at the property.
SYNKROS casino management system brings business analytics to a greater level of on-the-go mobility and visualization with its all-new SYNKdot, which features expectation-based mobile dashboards. Meanwhile, for casino environments with legacy serial networks, Konami’s SerialSYNK allows operators to install SYNKROS’ Ethernet-based casino management system for near high-speed functionality without rewiring.
Aristocrat Technologies offered new capabilities for its Oasis 360 system solutions, which helps operators stay connected to customers on-property or out in the world. According to company literature, Oasis 360 solutions track behavior when customers patronize affiliates and strategic partners, giving a clear and complete view of crucial data, empowering operators with crucial data to meaningfully reward customers.
Many new solutions are available regardless of the CMS system the operator is currently using. One such product is ONE LINK, a fully customizable, integrated media and marketing solution deployable throughout the enterprise, including EGMs, marquees and wayfinders. Fully integrated with (or decoupled from) the CMS, ONE LINK delivers promotions, account information and customer service features like resort info through the Oasis nCompass Media Window and LCDs.
The Oasis 360 HALO ecosystem creates a truly engaging casino experience. Player loyalty rewards, comps, promos, and spend are instantly captured and shared between all customer touch points. Player experience and spending behavior can be captured and realized on all devices ranging from resort and point of sale, to mobile and off property.
Carded Mystery gives carded players the opportunity to play for life-changing jackpots designed just for them. Operators can easily design programs for smaller groups, or leverage a larger player community spanning the entire casino floor or enterprise.
Mobile Concierge is a new player app that builds loyalty by enhancing communication between casino and player. As it builds loyalty, the app collects important player data, giving operators a more complete player profile, empowering them with smart business intelligence for better informed decision-making and player outreach.
Aristocrat also showed its new beverage ordering system, Drinks on Tap (DOT), unattended jackpot processing system, and a completely redesigned nCompass player interface. Additionally, the Oasis SpeedSolutions Bonusing rewards players and creates anticipation and energy with a vast range of events, such as floor-wide mystery bonus or a spontaneous EGM promotion.
At G2E 2015, Everi displayed an exciting new feature set for TournEvent, the award-winning solution that has completely reinvented slot tournaments. According to company press materials, TournEvent version 4.3 features updated graphics, new audio-visual effects and out of revenue titles, themed bonus targets and, most importantly, Money Man 2.0. New game and system features available through TournEvent 4.3 include cumulative solo scoring, same round buy back, previous round revert and session player assignment reporting.
Much like system providers, table game vendors came to G2E with armfuls of new concepts and technologies.
American Gaming Systems (AGS) debuted a number of new table games and devices, including Bonus Spin Blackjack. This is a one-of-a-kind blackjack side bet where players have two ways to win: if there is an ace in the first two cards, players are paid even money or if a blackjack is dealt, the player will press a button which spins a virtual wheel to win various amounts of money or a unique prize. AGS will showcase the Count’s Kustoms version of the game at G2E, which is based on the popular History Channel show, Counting Cars, and offers players the chance to win a custom car, truck, or motorcycle. The company recently acquired the Bonus Spin technology and plans to offer other entertainment-themed brands of Bonus Spin Blackjack in the future, according to press materials.
The fastest growing poker derivative in the U.S., High Card Flush, was a highlight at the booth. In this game, players are dealt seven cards and compete against the dealer to create the longest flush possible (ex. a seven-card flush beats a six-card flush).
Internally developed and a new offering in the hold’em poker-style category, River Hold’em was showcased. Both the dealer and players receive two hole cards and share five community cards to make the best five-card poker hand possible.
AGS also displayed its award-winning roulette utility device, dubbed The Tornado, which enhances player interaction by allowing the player to control the spin of the roulette ball—something never before seen on the casino floor. When a player presses the button on the remote ball activation device, a signal is sent to a control unit which releases the ball into the roulette wheel through a chute.
“Last year we just began branding our table games; at this year’s show we actually have a presence and are seguing into execution,” said John Hemberger, vice president table games products for AGS. “We are in the process of completing our games library… now we can walk into operator meetings, ask them what they’re looking for and fulfill that need.”
Scientific Games also showed an expanded portfolio of games and devices under the Shuffle Master moniker. DJ Wild Stud Poker headlined an array of 12 Shuffle Master proprietary table games that include Fortune Asia Poker, Flushes Gone Wild, Picture Perfect and an assortment of blackjack side bets that feature an automatic dealer tipping feature.
The company’s Shuffle Master shuffler segment featured the Safe-Bacc, a machine that combines a shuffler and card reading shoe into one device to increase game speed and improve security on baccarat tables. Also on display were the i-Deal Plus, the DeckMate2, and the utility products i-Score Plus and the Chip Star sorter for roulette.
Scientific Games continues to provide innovative electronic table game solutions (“ETS”) for every type of casino floor through its Shuffle Master brand. Several of these e-table innovations will be prominently featured, including Tablemaster Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, and Fusion Auto Roulette.
Headlining the ETS segment was Tablemaster Fusion—Playboy Bonus Blackjack. According to company literature, this one-of-a-kind blackjack game features the first-ever licensed brand ETS product that incorporates a community “slotlike” bonus round and highlights the beauty of four Playboy Playmate dealers.
Taking center stage was the cutting-edge Fusion Hybrid, which features connections to up to four live-dealer games and user-friendly, 22-inch widescreen electronic betting terminals. For a dynamic gaming experience and increased revenue potential, players can switch between and concurrently play baccarat, roulette, and sic bo from the same terminal with the convenient touch of a button.
Fusion Auto Roulette, which brings traditional roulette to a fully configurable, live-action, electronic layout, was also shown.
CATCO is another table games provider that has expanded its product portfolio over the past year, and was more than willing to showcase these new wares at G2E. One of these items was Bet’em All Blackjack, which seeks to take North America’s most popular table game to new heights by adding over 20 percent to daily win per unit in addition to fundamentally change the way blackjack is played for decades to come, according to company literature.
Designed in pursuit of ever more excitement and entertainment for players, Bet’em All Blackjack is a simple betting option which drives increased wagering while adding a heightened level of interactivity to an otherwise unaltered and familiar blackjack game. The premise is incredibly simple—players are able to bet on each other’s hands in addition to their own. There’s essentially nothing more to it, so casino operators can add the Bet’em All option to virtually any standard blackjack game and players are not faced with any barriers to play. That is, players can take the Bet’em All option to enjoy expanded opportunity. Or, they can simply ignore Bet’em All and the game remains a standard blackjack offering.
Another new concept on display at the CATCO booth was Lunar Poker, the only true game of five-card draw poker game available today which is played against the dealer, according to company literature. Lunar Poker is highly interactive and exciting, has a fast pace and a strong social aspect while offering players much of the same decision-making control as traditional poker games.
The developers of Lunar Poker haven’t left a stone unturned and have placed a heavy focus on protecting Lunar Poker against advantage play. GLI completed a thorough stress test on the game for the impact of player collusion. Due to the design of the game, this in-depth analysis concluded that Lunar Poker is one of the most secure and robust poker products in the market. Lunar Poker commonly attracts players from all other card games and will deliver a substantially higher cash drop, volume and hold to the operator. In particular, Lunar Poker will attract poker players, making each converted customer a far more profitable proposition for the casino; the game typically holds 30 – 35 percent of the cash drop with new players and the hold will settle at around 26 – 32 percent once players become skilled.
“Lunar Poker is a variant of five-card draw poker where the player builds a hand using the dealer’s cards,” said Mark Henderson of CATCO. “The game has undergone very successful trials in Oklahoma, California and Nevada.”
Interblock came to G2E 2015 to celebrate its 25th anniversary and showcase its latest advancements in electronic table games technology. Most prominent at the Interblock booth was the Pulse Arena experience, an innovative way to attract players and keep them engaged in a social environment that extends the gaming experience to new levels. According to company literature, the patented Pulse technology is completely customizable in theme and set-up, and can be configured with a small number of play stations or an entire arena, involving any of Interblock’s games in a specifically themed setting.
With Pulse, Interblock unveiled its first branded electronic table game: Marilyn Monroe Roulette. The branding adds a deeper dimension of glamour to Interblock’s Diamond line of games for an even more meaningful luxury experience. The company also showcased a new version of its classic blackjack game, featuring enhanced game play, efficiency and player experience, with evolutionary tweaks to content intended to bring a higher win per unit that put it ahead of the competition. The new generation of Organic Blackjack is now faster with more interactivity, more anticipation and more game stats.
Also new was Diamond StarBar, Interblock’s first multi-game/multi-play product, which allows players to easily toggle between games, and can offer more than 500 games per hour. StarBar is an innovative new bar-top way for players to enjoy the entire spectrum of player-favorite Interblock games. StarBar is available in a standalone version that comes in its own sleek cabinet.
“At Interblock, we are steadily and methodically releasing enhancements and innovations that take each of our electronic table game categories to new levels of excitement and profitability,” said Rob Bone, president of Interblock North America.
NOVOMATIC constructed a two-story booth experience to showcase its cutting-edge electronic table games line. Live dealers operated the company’s Novo TouchBet Blackjack, Novo TouchBet Roulette and Novo TouchBet Live-Baccarat. At a time when electronic table games are making huge strides in popularity in casinos around the world, NOVOMATIC’s top quality and leading technology multiplayer products were a major G2E attraction.
NOVOMATIC displayed Panther Roulette II. Itself an evolution of the original groundbreaking Pinball Roulette, where the guest is not just the player but also the ‘dealer’ thanks to the unique Pinball launch system, Panther Roulette II gives the possibility for guests to switch between the main roulette game and up to 23 slot games, at the same machine.
Aruze Gaming America showed presence at G2E with a new showstopper—its electronicvirtual roulette game. According to a company press release, this HD projection roulette concept delivers a super-realistic wheel display and an exciting side game conducted in vivid color. Part of the G-Station series, the high resolution LCD player interface enhances player interaction with active scene changes depending on game play and information accessed. New features include player interaction in shooting the ball and a thrilling progressive jackpot side game. This exciting new table game can go from eight stations to 50 stations, and the player has the option to view the classic roulette screen or they can take things to the next level and use the strategy screen to check out the roll history and determine what bet they feel comfortable with.