Interview with Lucien van Linden of Gaming Support
Gaming Support was established in 2000 with the primary goal of providing facility services for Holland Casino properties. Under the leadership of founder and CEO Lucien van Linden, Gaming Support has grown beyond its service provider roots, and now offers a wide range of products for gaming use including casino signage, slot accounting systems, hybrid slot machines, its BonusBox casino bonusing concept, jackpot controllers and media systems. At the upcoming ICE Totally Gaming show in London, Gaming Support will debut its latest product line—ergonomically-designed table games. van Linden recently sat down withCasino JournalEditor Paul Doocey to talk about Gaming Support’s growth strategy and its plans for ICE Totally Gaming. Below are some excerpts from that conversation:
Could you please provide a brief history of Gaming Support and how it has grown through the years?
van Linden: We started in 1999 by having Holland Casinos ask us if we could take care of all their facility services. That was the base of the company, and we founded Gaming Support in 2000. We started with six or seven casinos here in the Netherlands and quickly expanded to 14 casinos and my company grew from roughly 30 people to about 100. I have previously worked for Mikohn in Las Vegas so, although the company remains based in the Netherlands,
I decided it would be good to open up an office in Las Vegas, which I did in 2003. At the same time, I opened up an office in Belgium, in Oudenburg, because we had nine casinos in Belgium under contract at that time.
After the offices were open, we started to develop all kinds of equipment and products and that has led us to where we are right now. We are currently developing all kinds of bonusing systems, we have a large range of casino signs and we also develop and build land-based gaming tables.
What was the first breakthrough product for your company?
van Linden: Well, I started out by just doing service work for casinos so I had zero products. Then in the early years we started by offering a jackpot controller and our own displays and from there we started to develop more sophisticated systems like slot accounting and that kind of stuff. We have even developed our own line of video slot machines.
What are some of your best-selling products? Is there any one product you feel gaming support is best known for?
van Linden: Well BonusBox has been a great product for us…every time we think it has reached its end of life stage, all of a sudden we get a big order from Europe or Las Vegas or somewhere else and it is back in full-swing production mode again. So Bonus Box remains very important to us.
We also offer a media package that is called Media Junction. We have sold it to Harrah’s and Sands, Holland Casinos and City of Dreams in Macau…it has become one of our biggest product lines. We also deploy a media system in Italy for Lottomatica, and through them we are in 1,200 locations with the system. We sold that to them in 2010 and they are still operating with it. So the media package, which is kind of a digital signage package, is one of our better selling products.
What sets your table games apart from the competition?
van Linden: The actual table itself is different. What happens here in Europe is that dealers and people working in casinos are treated more and more like expensive resources. So every piece of our equipment has to be ergonomic…. If you move it or handle it you can not in any way or form be injured by it. That is mandatory here in the Netherlands… for example, it is mandated the dealer have 2.5 feet of legroom at the table game, the table has to be adjustable and so on. There are hundreds of rules that define how tables should be built to make sure the people that are working the table are not getting injured or sick.
That is a very important starting point for our design team that is making the tables….our tables look completely different from the standard table game. It has legroom. It has a special rim so guests can sit better around it. The table is a little smaller than you would expect because you do not want people reaching out too far because that is very bad for their backs. We took all these rules we got from supplying these casinos—we have 15 or 16 different casinos under contract—and everything we heard back from them we took as a starting point to developing a new table line. It is different from anything else out there, not because of its features, but because of the way it had to be built.
Do you see your specially-designed table games expanding into markets beyond Europe?
van Linden: We plan on launching this table game line internationally at the upcoming ICE show in London. We will be bringing two tables with us. So far, I have only been delivering them to the Netherlands, and we’ve been so busy selling them there that we did not have the time and resources to expanding the line elsewhere.
Are these markets ready for an ergonomically-designed table game?
van Linden: It is not just the ergonomics… the current market for land-based table games is kind of old fashioned. There are basically three manufacturers dominating the market; we would like to become the fourth since we have a better and more modern product.
Other than introducing the new table games line, do you have any other plans for ICE Totally Gaming?
van Linden: We have delivered a new sign system to casinos in the Netherlands, which is promoting the Mega Millions slot from IGT. They had us come up with a sign design that was a little different, and we did. It has roughly 1,000 high-powered LEDs in it, and we have a new form of plastic we can light up with the LEDs for a new and fantastic effect. We are bringing one of those signs to ICE as well.
Another item we are going to share on the trade show floor will be our new line of surveillance equipment. We have been distributing surveillance cameras for the past two years and we are starting to get some headway. We get about 200 new customers every year.