Another successful Southern Gaming Summit (SGS) is in the books, and it is time once again to reflect on some of the news, trends and new products that sparked interest at the event.

The keynote address for the SGS, which once again shared its Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center locale with the BingoWorld trade show and conference, was delivered by Pinnacle Entertainment CEO Anthony Sanfilippo who kept the discussion to the lighter side of the casino business; not surprising considering his admonishment to the crowd to remember that gaming, “is a fun business. It is about entertainment and we should be entertaining… shame on us if we take absolutely everything too seriously.”

Sanfilippo did have to turn serious however during the question and answer period after his presentation, when someone inquired why he chose a controversial REIT conversion for some Pinnacle assets. “We decided that by splitting off our real estate and selling it to Gaming Leisure Property in return for long-term leases on these assets was a better outcome for everyone involved with the company,” he said. “Our yearly interest expense went from $266 million to $37 million. We have a much stronger company going forward with a much better balance sheet.”

Another serious topic brought up in a few Southern Gaming Summit sessions were the anti-LBGT initiatives supported by governors in North Carolina and Mississippi, which elicited less than generous responses from a number of speakers. “Personally, I think it is horrible,” said Steven L. Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel for Landry’s Inc., during a session examining commercial gaming in southern states. “Government has no place in bedrooms or bathrooms and no place whatsoever to legislate discrimination against anyone. I do think businesses in those states will be negatively impacted from this.”

PRODUCT PATROL

Much less controversial but still very interesting where the various casino gaming products, systems and services showcased on the Southern Gaming Summit show floor. Some of the highlights include:

Ainsworth Game Technology—The company displayed its new A600 cabinet which features state-of-the-art lighting and button dash. The for-sale machine currently has six dedicated titles, with 40 new games being developed for the fall.  Ainsworth also showed its line of Class II slot products that debuted at the NIGA show last March, and its Gold Award series of six classic titles that runs on the A560SL cabinet.

IGT—International Game Technology PLC (IGT) emphasized its latest TRUE 3D slot product: Wheel of Fortune Double Diamond 3D. Developed with a three-reel, five-payline configuration, this game theme is set on the AXXIS 3D cabinet and delivers a unique glasses-free 3D gaming experience. The company also displayed demoed its iReserve solution, which enables casino attendants to reserve players’ slot machines and provides VIP players with exclusive play on a preferred machine.

Everi Holdings—The company debuted its award-winning TournEvent system on the innovative Core HDX standard video cabinet. Now with a new USB camera, customized TournEvent lighting and a library of high-performing, Core HDX-exclusive games from which to choose, casino operators will be able to increase the excitement level of their slot tournaments and maximize the performance of games when they are in revenue mode. Meanwhile, Everi’s new Twin Dragon game was shown with Everi Bet, an innovative bet configuration feature that allows casino operators to configure a game and preserve its hit rate by keeping the original number of lines, thus maintaining the game’s intended volatility. On the payments side, the company displayed Everi Compliance, a powerful suite of products that help gaming operators maintain Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance.

Incredible Technologies—The Illinois-based slot manufacturer is having one of its best sales years ever (165 percent ahead of 2015 already), and its games have found homes in Beau Rivage, IP, Palace Casino and other nearby gaming properties. Front and center at the Incredible Technologies (IT) booth was its Infinity Skybox concept, a premium product that heightens the company’s InfinityU23 cabinet with the addition of an integrated 55-inch vertical monitor. Infinity Skybox was created with casino operators in mind as the cabinet utilizes a modular design leveraging IT’s Simple Sign Display Kit technology to secure the display right to the cabinet itself, meaning no sign jacks or heavy installation process is required. Infinity Skybox gives the impression of a jumbo cabinet, without the large floor footprint.

Gary Platt Manufacturing—The renowned chair designer and producer showed its new Monaco line of seats, which debuted at G2E last year. Gary Platt is also doing very well with its Lido and GX2 chair groupings, according to company executives, and samples of both were also on display at its SGS booth.

PromoGroup—In addition to its marketing and gift certificate products, PromoGroup also let visitors to its SGS booth know it’s partnered to develop an app. This PromoGroup Rewards’ Social Gaming APP is being built in a way to monetize revenue for the casinos, drive additional foot traffic, and acquire new player reward customers. This app will provide casino properties the unique opportunity to fully engage their most profitable consumer segments while attracting a new generation of players. Within the app, players will be able to take advantage of numerous promos, bonus offers and real world rewards that are dedicated to driving traffic on to the casino floor.

Pie Five Pizza Co.—The business used SGS as its big debut of sorts, announcing a new development partnership that would expand the franchise beyond its current five locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama including the flagship casino location inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi. At Pie Five, guests can choose from more than a million combinations of farm fresh ingredients, artisan sauces and handcrafted crust varieties. Pies bake in just 140 seconds in a custom-designed, state-of-the-art oven. By the time the guest arrives at the register, their hot pizza is ready.