In the cruise ship gaming circles, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Iverson Gaming is a tried-and-true supplier; instantly recognizable as a world leader in onboard gaming management systems, which have been installed on over 100 cruise ships around the globe.
The company is making inroads into other gaming markets however, and its products are installed in small-to-medium sized land-based casinos in jurisdictions such as South Dakota and South Korea. Iverson is also developing a number of cutting-edge products, including its virtualATM solution that looks to replace ticket-based payment systems.
Millard H. Reeves, vice president, new product development for Iverson recently took some time to discuss the company and its business plans for the near future with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey. Below are some excerpts from that conversation:
How did Iverson Gaming Systems come about?
Reeves: In 1997 we were developers of software for the newly announced IBM Personal Computer. We were contracted to develop software to track slot machine activity for a casino. Seeing the opportunity to provide this service for the casino industry, we founded Iverson Gaming Systems in 1998. We specialized in systems for casinos based on cruise ships and have been working in this area since that time.
What are the company’s business strategies regarding its primary products and markets?
Reeves: Our primary philosophy is and has always been to understand the needs of our customers and convert those needs into solutions. We have been in the forefront in providing account-based gaming solutions (transferring funds from a casino account on and off of the slot machine credit meter). Our strengths are in designing automated data communication for slot accounting and player tracking systems. Along with this, we provide the tools that enable the casino to analyze data collected/generated by the system. This provides functionality from basic slot accounting (accountability of funds) to drilling down into the effectiveness of promotions to analysis of player activity based on game availability as well as overall security monitoring and reporting.
How did Iverson originally get involved with cruise ship gaming?
Reeves: Our original involvement with cruise ships was driven by our willingness to customize and unique ability to take advantage of powerline data communication technology. This allowed us to install a full slot and player tracking system without having to run new communication lines. This gave us a tremendous advantage over system providers that were dependent upon running CAT5 cable during ships’ once every three-to-five year dry-dock upgrade cycle. Of course today we support powerline as well as standard CAT5 communications.
How big is Iverson now in terms of customer base and products sold?
Reeves: We are a small company that over the last 15 years has, for the most part, concentrated on serving the cruise ship market. We are installed on over 100 ships for Carnival Corporation. This includes well-known brands such as Carnival Cruise lines, Holland America, Princes, Costa and Aida.
How strong is Iverson in this segment now?
Reeves: Being a company focused on customer service, we have always been willing to customize our solutions to meet changing market needs for our cruise line customers. This has allowed us to be the hands down leader in the cruise line casino market.
How is the company growing cruise ship casino business going forward?
Reeves: Our goal in the cruise ship market must be to grow horizontally. There are opportunities being created by the guests’ increased need for the availability of onboard technology. As the need to increase the availability of technology is driven by guests, the cruise lines have challenged us to create improved guest satisfaction through innovative products designed to provide increased availability of online information, services and entertainment. I believe much of this will be driven by providing mobile apps and opportunities for guests and staff to communicate with each other as they would while on land.
Is Iverson looking to expand beyond cruise ships and into land-based gaming environments?
How will the company go about doing that?
Reeves: Besides having a solid proven system, we are actively developing integrations for our system that will provide functionality for land-based operators. Again, many of these functions will focus on expanding functionality and communication through the use of mobile devices.
How did the virtualATM product come about for Iverson?
Reeves: I would have to say that it was a natural evolution of our many years of experience with shipboard account-based gaming with increased prevalence of mobile devices in our day to day lives (especially when thinking of mobile payments and online banking).
What niche does virtualATM fulfill within a gaming operation?
Reeves: The virtualATM allows for the convenience and functionality expected by today’s players. It becomes the obvious replacement for ticket-based systems with the added benefit of increased accountability and controls.
Are there any new products or systems on the drawing board that you would like the mention?
Reeves: We are in discussions with some potential partners for some very exciting opportunities associated with our virtualATM product.
What are Iverson’s plans for the upcoming G2E show?
Reeves: We plan to continue to introduce the concept of the virtualATM to operators and regulators looking for alternatives to ticket-based gaming. At the same time, we will reintroduce our Mobile Gaming system with a focus towards serving operators in the day cruiser, pull-tab and Caribbean markets.