This year’s National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) trade show and conference, which took place last March at the Phoenix Convention Center, happened to coincide with a massive rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that was taking place just next door.
Chants of “Feel the Bern” could be heard when you were outside during the day, and every street corner leading to and from the convention center was populated with proponents, protesters and hangers on; many chanting and carrying signs, others silently protesting in rather elaborate and colorful costumes. It was political theatre of the first order.
Meanwhile, the “burn” was also felt within the convention center, perhaps nowhere more so than the event show floor, where manufacturers large and small showcased the products and services they believed will be of value to tribal gaming operators throughout the country. There were hundreds of gaming devices to peruse in a limited amount of time, a set of circumstances that can often lead to confusion and uncertainty as to which company was showing what products as time moves on. To help cut through these foggy memories, below you will find a recap of featured games and other items from leading industry suppliers:
Everi showcased how its top gaming, payments and compliance products can power the casino floor.
“Our diverse mix of products sets us apart from the competition,” said Michael Rumbolz, interim president and CEO of Everi in a prepared statement. “We have created a unique value proposition giving Everi a significant advantage as the casino industry’s single source provider of quality gaming and payments solutions.”
On the slots side, front and center for Everi was its newest gaming cabinet, Core HDX. According to press materials, this sophisticated and attractive cabinet boasts high quality features including dual widescreen 23-inch monitors with 1080p capabilities, integrated touchscreens and a premium three-way sound system. The eye-catching Core HDX cabinet also features game-controlled lighting, ergonomic controls and a LCD button panel that, for Class II settings, includes a mini bingo touchscreen display.
Showcased games included Bonus Attack, the first Core HDX-exclusive title to feature Everi Bet, the unique bet configuration system that gives casino operators the power to optimize their casino floor for maximum returns. With Everi Bet, casino operators can easily configure a game and preserve its hit rate by keeping the original number of lines, thus maintaining the game’s intended volatility.
Another hot Core HDX-exclusive title at NIGA was Jackpot Inferno, a proven, high-performing game that has already been well-received at casinos across the country, according to Everi executives. Jackpot Inferno is a five-reel, 50-Line video game that includes unique bonus opportunities such as the Jackpot Jump, which causes the previously locked-in progressive award to jump one tier higher.
Everi showcased innovation in its payments products as well. As many casinos implement EMV-compliant technology to meet regulatory guidelines, Everi stands ready as the casino industry’s first vendor to achieve full end-to-end EMV compliance with all its financial transaction devices, platforms and systems. The company is also the industry’s first partner to offer an innovative EMV chip signature option for ATM devices which will help casinos reduce fraudulent activity. As such, Everi is prepared to help casino operators meet EMV requirements with a diverse portfolio of products that are equipped with the latest technology and intuitive features.
Everi also unveiled an innovative new program that makes social consciousness a priority with meaningful ticket redemption. With the Everi Cares Giving Module, casinos can provide patrons with a convenient method to donate funds to select charities while redeeming gaming vouchers on Everi’s kiosks. As a result, casinos will notice a reduction in coin handling through a unique method that builds on corporate responsibility efforts.
Konami presented a collection of never-before-seen games for its new Concerto cabinet, including a standalone progressive game called Jackpot Ball with creative arcade-style animation in the style of its popular Jackpot Streams game. Guests to the company’s booth also experienced the world’s first Frogger themed slots, featuring a retro-pixelated crossing course bonus round with a progressive jackpot chance.
Meanwhile, Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system also received strong attention, and casino professionals and executives from across Indian Country took time to see and explore the latest systems technology through Konami’s comprehensive SYNKROS demo environment.
However, the star of the Konami booth was Concerto, which continues to arrive at properties across the U.S. and abroad with exceptional momentum, according to company press materials. Developed with intent focus on customer experience and entertainment value, this video upright cabinet combines top-tier technology for operators to deliver next generation gaming content that attracts patrons from every angle. Its signature holographic side lighting serves as one of Concerto’s most striking features. Each game has custom-designed digital elements that visually interact, from the dual 27-inch high-definition touchscreen monitors to the 19.5-inch video topper and down through the proprietary new DynamicDash button panel—all of which is made possible by Konami’s new KP3+ platform.
“Concerto has come out pretty strong for us and we are really happy with the performance we are receiving,” said Steve Walther, director of games product management for Konami. “We launched the cabinet over the past few months with 10 themes, as well as being compatible with our KP3+ library of games. At NIGA we are showing some additional new themes and bonus features for this platform. We are really trying to take the cabinet to the next level.”
One of the most high-profile new Concerto releases at this year’s show was a four-level standalone progressive game called Jackpot Ball, with an iconic arcade-style animation effect in the spirit of Konami’s popular Jackpot Streams. In this mystery-trigger progressive game, players watch an animated round ball launch into the upper screen and bounce around pinball-style spinners, bumpers and targets to achieve a credit award or advance to the jackpot round on the lower screen.
“Jackpot Ball harkens back to a pachinko-style arcade event were you launch the ball, watch it go off the pins and into a hole for the prize,” Walther said. “It is part of our extended ROM family and can be played over the top of our KP3+ games. It brings an old time arcade feel to a slot game.”
The recently released Frogger game, showcased on a Podium Monument cabinet, also drew a crowd at the Konami booth. The launch of Frogger signifies a landmark IP release from Konami Digital Entertainment’s iconic arcade legacy to its casino gambling sector. Two debut game themes—Great City Wilds and Woodland Wilds—were shown, each with a four-level standalone progressive. Both themes feature classic Konami game mechanics such as Action Stacked Symbols and Xtra Reward.
From pioneering platforms to innovative slot and table games, the industry’s most robust systems, and interactive solutions that engage players in the casino, at home and on-the-go,
Scientific Games Corporation presented a must-see exhibit at NIGA Indian Gaming 2016.
“NIGA is a celebration of Indian Gaming and recognition that this sector holds a significant place on the global gaming stage,” said Gavin Isaacs, president and CEO of Scientific Games in a prepared statement. “As an important strategic partner, Scientific Games is committed to developing and delivering innovative end-to-end solutions that add value to tribal casino operations and support NIGA’s mission of advancing the lives of Indian people economically, socially and politically.”
Taking center stage at the Scientific Games booth was TwinStar, a for-sale platform that leverages the state-of-the-art ArgOS operating system to combine the best technology and game content from two of the industry’s strongest slot brands—Bally and WMS—giving tribal casino operators the flexibility to change game themes based on their players’ preferences. Twelve new TwinStar titles were on display at the show, including Quick Hit Jungle, Quick Hit Volcano, Kronos—Father of Zeus and Guardian of the North. The cabinet features dual, vivid, 24-inch full HD displays, 22-inch topper, chrome details and an iDeck touchscreen button deck for an unmatched multi-touch user experience, according to support literature.
New proprietary table games on display at NIGA included Flushes Gone Wild featuring head-to-head excitement as the player tries to get a flush with more cards than the dealer, and Two For The Show, in which players angle to beat the dealer with a better two-card poker hand.
From its electronic table games portfolio, Scientific Games is featuring TableMaster Fusion with Playboy Bonus Blackjack, a new game offering the first-ever slot-style community bonus side bet and capitalizing on one of the world’s most recognized and popular brands.
Scientific Games offered demonstrations of its robust systems portfolio including the Elite Bonusing Suite and featured new applications BetVIEW, a secondary wagering solution that generates incremental revenues while adding to the player experience; Power Progressives Strike for mystery-style jackpots; and Power Paytable Progressive, a new coin-in driven progressive jackpot feature with centralized SAS paytable progressive control.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT)offered a comprehensive portfolio of games, systems and solutions at NIGA.
In the slot game category, IGT expanded its legendary Wheel of Fortune product line with the world premiere of Wheel of Fortune Hawaiian Getaway. This new tropical‐themed title is set on the company’s CrystalWheel video cabinet, and offers unique bonus awards and a Big Kahuna re-‐spin feature to elevate gameplay, according to product descriptions.
IGT presented its compelling TRUE 3D portfolio with games that deliver a unique glasses‐free 3D gaming experience. Wheel of Fortune Double Diamond 3D combines the most successful slot theme of all time and IGT’s exclusive TRUE 3D technology. This game is slated to ship to U.S. tribal markets this summer.
Other slot game highlights for the company included a display of its latest licensed video slots (House of Card, Orange Is The New Black and TMZ); skill slot concepts such as Texas Tea Pinball on the CrystalCore cabinet, which transforms the top screen of the slot machine into a pinball machine for a skill‐based bonus event; and next generation Megabucks themes.
On the cabinet side, NIGA was the North American coming out party for IGT’s CrystalSlant cabinet, which incorporates successful design elements from IGT’s CrystalDual and CrystalCore hardware solutions. Leveraging the Ascent platform, the CrystalSlant cabinet will offer IGT’s 99 Riches, Valley of the Gold game series and other leading titles on the 27‐inch top box cabinet.
IGT also gave special attention to Class II games, offering a rich product lineup of bingo‐themed games such as Air Heart and Quest for the Golden Statue with a custom button configuration feature that tailors the bet credits on every button and offers configuration for high‐denominational or low‐denominational gameplay.
“Class II is important to us, and I don’t believe we are operating at our full potential there yet,” said Victor Duarte, global chief product officer, gaming for IGT. “We have an initiative now to improve our overall offering in Class II… we have launched an enhanced Class II system, we are working on a mechanical reel version of our Class II products and we are trying to improve our video content there as well.”
Aristocrat and VGT headed to NIGA with an unparalleled portfolio of games that have been carefully curated to appeal to every type of player housed in industry-leading cabinets and supported by one of the most widely used casino management system in Indian country.
“We understand that for tribal operators, their business is more than just business—it’s personal, it’s family,” added Jay Sevigny, president of VGT. “We have the proven portfolio of hardware, games and system solutions in Class II and in Class III to help our tribal partners utilize gaming as an investment in their communities and to further secure their financial success.”
The Aristocrat NIGA experience included licensed titles such as The Walking Dead II Slot Game, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, Ted, Batman Rogues Gallery, Magic Mike XXL, Man of Steel and Bettie Page. Other featured games were Lightning Link, Buffalo Grand, Can Can de Paris, Pixie Wishes and new titles in Aristocrat’s C*Series, E*Series and J*Series.
New to NIGA was the M*Series, an exciting new collection of multi-game, multi-denom games engineered specifically for core and jackpot players. Each machine in M*Series comes complete with six games, and every game is a player-favorite classic—proven titles with original math models.
For the Class II side of the operation, VGT showcased new entertainment-style games centered on a three-reel stepper wealth theme that includes a new button configuration. Two new features—locking and nudging reels—are incorporated along with one of VGT’s classic characters, “Newton the Nudger.”
American Gaming Systems (AGS) showcased its immersive slot machine cabinet ICON, along with dozens of high-performing slot, table and interactive game offerings NIGA. For the first time, tribal gaming customers were able to experience the company’s expanded product offerings in one comprehensive booth.
“The numerous strategic acquisitions AGS made in 2015 across all three of our product categories—slots, tables and social casino—bolstered and broadened our product portfolio, elevating our status to one of the most diverse suppliers in the space,” said David Lopez, CEO for AGS in a prepared statement.
Taking the main stage at AGS’ NIGA 2016 booth was the ICON cabinet. Featuring two flush-mounted 23-inch hi-def LCDs and an integrated digital sound system, the ICON cabinet delivers a truly compelling player experience, according to a company press release. Its visual effects enhance AGS’ suite of customized, premium game content and play mechanics, which include the hits Gold Dragon Red Dragon and Fu Panda.
In less than two years since its inception, AGS’ table games division has placed more than 850 table products in the field, which is a testament to the strength and diversity of its growing product catalogue. AGS’ innovative Bonus Spin technology was the main focal point of the company’s table demonstrations. Bonus Spin allows AGS to provide a bonusing/progressive system for table games in the form of a virtual wheel—an unprecedented approach to offering players the opportunity to win top jackpots or prizes for hitting a premium hand.
• Ainsworth Game Technology introduced its inaugural line of Class II games with the titles Twice the Money, Mustang Fortune and Cash Cave. The company also offered new product for its Nova Technologies subsidiary, displaying China Gold, Dragon’s Heat, Wheel of Time and a pair of companion games, Immortal Nights Day of Reckoning and Immortal Nights Judgement Day. These Class II games will be available on both the A560 Dual Screen and Atlas 100 cabinets.
• New Class II slot titles for Eclipse Gaming Systems included The Jazzy Night, Witch Hunter and Totem Spirts, all of which featured a 3-4-4-4-3 reel configuration. Also at the booth were Valor & Fortune and Professor Kranium based upon Eclipse’s wildly successful Wicked Mad Hot, and Elementary My Dear which utilizes the popular and proven Volcano math model.
• NIGA newcomer Spin Games displayed its BYOD—Bring Your Own Gaming Device concept consisting of Rapid Games. Rapid Games is the industry’s first Class II on-property mobile entertainment which is available for iPhone and the Android. Featuring Spin’s very own Class II content such as Rapid Bingo and Lucky Daub, its geolocation technology allows on-casino boundary access and offers value—added services such as casino offers, loyalty programs and purchase history.
• Gamblit Gaming offered a “gamified” version of the popular Catapult King mobile phone game. The skill-based game uses a random number generator to determine returns and a wager takes place every time a player pulls back on the launcher to launch a projectile.