The race to win the top honor at this year’s Casino Journal’s annual Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Technology Products Awards was very tight, but in the end Aristocrat Technologies garnered the points needed to receive the highly coveted Platinum Award for its Lightning Link progressive slot machine concept.

Competing for the top prize but having to settle for the second place Gold Award was Scientific Games and its i-Deal Plus, the latest iteration of the company’s popular single deck card shuffler. Winning the Silver Award was Pulse Arena, a stadium-style table game concept created by Interblock.

The platinum, gold and silver winners of the Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Products of 2015 were announced during the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, which took place last July at Paris Las Vegas. Visitors to the event’s trade show floor cast ballots for an Attendees Choice Award to be given to one of the Top 20 finalists, an honor that went to the iDROP-E Table System from Apex Gaming Technology.

The platinum, gold and silver winners received the three highest scores of over 52 submitted products in the annual contest, which was judged by Warren Davidson, slot director, Coushatta Resort; Donne Grable, vice president, gaming operations, VCAT; and Claudia Winkler, president, G.H.I. Solutions. The full Top 20 list of designated products was announced in April and written up in the June issue of Casino Journal; a recap description of the winning entries is provided below:



Lightning Link


Lightning Link from Aristocrat Technologies is an explosive set of linked games with progressives that have proven to be a hit with players in Australia, North America and Europe, making the game a truly global phenomenon.

Lightning Link has player-selectable multi-denominations, a multi-format jackpot offering that combines both linked and SAP jackpots, an excellent mix of games that attract a wide range of players, a patented new jackpot mechanic for innovative game play and trigger methodology and an intuitive layout that is easy to learn and play. Lightning Link was created specifically to appeal to all types of players—frequent players as well as more casual gamers, and those who like a jackpot experience as well as those who prefer a more entertaining experience. With frequent features and jackpots, the game keeps players and spectators entertained and energized. The Aristocrat team has so far developed 10 different Lightning Link base games with an exciting variety of themes and features.

Multiple denominations call to players of all levels, and players have been shown to love Lightning Link’s four current game themes, keeping players on the edge of their seats waiting for the free games and hold and spin bonuses to strike, especially when a single bonus spin could award multiple progressives and bonus values.

The game comes to the floor in the technologically advanced Helix cabinet, and has four fun game themes to choose from: Happy Lantern, High Stakes, Magic Pearl and Sahara Gold.

“What I love about Lightning Link is Aristocrat has made specific games for the link, with math models that take into account the progressive payout,” a judge said.



i-Deal Plus


Introduced in 2007, Shuffle Master’s i-Deal single-deck shuffler brought a new level of speed and accuracy to single-deck games like our Three Card Poker brand and other specialty table games. The i-Deal shuffler also offers an unprecedented level of security and key features including card recognition technology, fast, efficient operation and a low-profile design. The new i-Deal Plus from Shuffle Master offers enhancements to all of these key features and more.

Featuring a front-mounted display, casinos can now show game logos, table limits, paytables and videos without added signage, taking table game marketing to all new levels right at the table. An all-new on-board printer allows casinos to not only recall winning or disputed hands but also print out verification right at the table.

This added feature means extra efficiency and game integrity for unmatched table game security. The security card feature and redesigned output tray also help to virtually eliminate “flashing”the hole card, further protecting game integrity.

One of the fastest single-deck shufflers on the market, the new i-Deal Plus helps operators grow revenue by increasing hands per hour and enhances productivity by eliminating game downtime caused by hand hand shuffling, delivering significant cost savings to customers.

“I really like the on board printer that allows for hand recalls without the surveillance review or having to run back the cards,” one judge said.



Pulse Arena


The Pulse Arena from Interblock is an immersive, multi-sensory environment designed to offer established electronic table game players an exciting new wagering experience, while attracting the next generation of players to the casino floor.

Delivering a hybrid experience of entertainment, gambling and social interaction, the Pulse Arena can be themed to attract any type of player. Operators can set up the Pulse Arena to create a dynamic vibe, offer tournament functionality or educate beginners. Operators can even flip back and forth through themes to meet changing needs during the week or over weekends. Dealers are entertainers in the Pulse Arena—helping to pull in Millennials by creating a night club atmosphere on a casino floor. Interblock has developed unique dealer assist software that runs on an easy-to-use console, allowing dealers to focus on the players and their fun.

Central to the Pulse Arena is a video wall that delivers high-impact visual motivation stretched across all LCDs. Attention-grabbing special effects make the most of this impressive display.

This lounge offers an unlimited number of possible designs to meet each casino’s needs. With a minimum of 35 connected play stations, Pulse Arena lets casinos create the ultimate gaming hot spot.

“Interblock has not just created a great gaming product… they have taken it much further, understanding players are looking for more,” a judge said. “By incorporating the product into a multi-sensory experience, Interblock provides casino operators a full solution instead of just terminals connected to table games.”



iDROP-E Table System


Table games are an important part of the gaming industry and every casino’s floor, but drop procedures and security have been problematic for many of these operators both in the U.S. and globally.

The iDROP-E Table System has been brought to market from APEX Gaming Technology to answer all these needs while increasing player satisfaction.

The iDROP-E Table System integrates a banking industry transactional bill validator (JCM Global TBV) to provide industry leading counterfeit detection while recording all transactions, which eliminates potential dealer count errors. It is the only product of its kind to communicate through SAS protocol which links to any and all casino management systems, thus providing real-time data collection and reporting. A TITO printer (Nanoptix Paycheck Slim) completes the unit, allowing players to seamlessly transition from slots-to-tables and tables-to-slots, by allowing them to exchange bills and/or TITO slips to chips and chips back to bills/TITO. Each player at the table can provide the dealer their player’s card when entering the game, allowing them to reap all the program benefits just like at a slot machine.

In short, APEX has brought cash handling capabilities found in slot machines directly at the table while improving dealer reliability.

“I feel APEX iDROP-E is a true innovation not just for the dealers but for the count team as well, who should now be able to process table games much more efficiently,” a judge said. “Additionally, there is now a number for accounting to hold the count team to, making skimming much more unlikely.”