It is no secret that slot tournaments have proven to be successful promotional components for casinos.
“We’ve seen so many creative promotions in the past that involved everything from hot seat drawings to social media contests,” said John Carpenter, product manager for Everi, the supplier of the TournEvent slot machine tournament system.
Some of these tourney promotions have proven quite lucrative for slot floors. For example, Tucson, Ariz.-based Casino Del Sol recently won a Romero Marketing Award for their “Put me in Coach” slot tournament promotion, which generated a 191 percent ROI, making the tourney the most profitable VIP event of the year for the property.
Today, most slot systems providers offer some sort of slot tournament solution. Below executives from these providers discuss their tournament systems and some steps operators can take to get the most out of this technology.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) has been a long-time leader in gaming systems innovation. The company offers its customers a diverse portfolio of scalable systems solutions that can meet the unique needs of any venue size or type.
“We are in constant dialogue with our customers so we can assess their needs for today and innovate for the opportunities of the future,” said Sina Miri, vice president of casino systems for IGT. “When developing new systems products and enhancing existing ones, we evaluate how technology is driving growth in other industries, and examine consumer behaviors as they relate to spending, entertainment and social interactions. We then take these findings and determine how we can apply them to the system solutions that we bring to market.”
IGT continues to apply their approach when augmenting IGT Advantage, one of the most robust casino management systems offerings. This solution can manage nearly every aspect of a property’s patron management, machine accounting, bonusing, service applications, reporting and more. IGT continuously enhances the system’s capabilities and they are heavily investing into their mobile systems portfolio. “Mobile offerings free our customers from being tethered to their computers, and give them access to real-time events on their casino floors through mobile applications such as Mobile Host, Mobile Responder and Mobile Notifier,” said Miri.
In addition to IGT Advantage, IGT’s systems portfolio includes Tournament Manager, which powers the award-winning Spin Ferno turnkey slot tournament solution for the S3000 cabinet, in addition to video poker and video slot tournaments. IGT’s portfolio also includes a host of systems such as Casinolink, GALAXIS, and SYSTEM2go, and applications such as Media Manager and Service Window to enhance operator capabilities and player engagement.
“My biggest piece of counsel when it comes to ‘best practices’ for our systems customers is to use IGT as a resource,” Miri said. “As part of our Customer First approach, we have an extensive team of seasoned gaming professionals whose mission is to help our customers realize the most value from their systems investments. Beyond that, there are some tactical things that many of our customers can do to leverage technology and business intelligence to enhance gaming entertainment while increasing revenues and return on investment for all gaming and non-gaming offers.”
For example, when it comes to using IGT’s bonusing apps, Miri recommends operators monitor and revise bonusing pools and prize amounts to ensure they produce the desired customer experience and financial outcome. Similarly, it’s important that operators create prize awards that are new and attractive to players to help draw them into tournaments.
When it comes to the capabilities of a system, it’s critical that the customer always use the latest version of the software and utilize the data that is available to them, according to Miri. “Leveraging the data that IGT systems generate will give them the ability to produce personalized offers that speak directly to players’ interests and preferences,” Miri said. “Additionally, business intelligence can give operators immense insight into the health of their casino floors, game performance and how customer interactions are taking place. Combined with IGT’s Mobile Applications, operators can take action in real time to optimize the floor and address critical issues and opportunities based on severity and prioritization by which players are impacted.”
Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system is known in the industry for its reliability, marketing tools and robust data. Casino properties of all varieties have selected SYNKROS to power their business because it has the agility and core strength to power leading-edge solutions across different competitive markets, according to company literature. This year alone Konami brought SYNKROS to everything from large destination properties and multi-property portfolios to cruise ships and local casinos.
Casinos across the U.S. and abroad use SYNKROS to capture and compile customer data through all connected areas of the property in order to generate a 360-degree view of patron worth. This allows them to better understand unique patron demographics and reach each individual throughout his or her visit with relevant communications and offers. Ultimately this helps serve greater efficiency, increased revenue potential, enhanced reporting, improved marketing effectiveness, and most importantly, more meaningful customer relationships and experiences.
“Not all casino management systems are equipped to measure and analyze gaming and non-gaming spend in a single ecosystem, which prevents many operators from observing and implementing a cohesive gaming/non-gaming strategy,” said Steve Walther, senior director, product management, games and systems at Konami. “But through technology such as SYNKROS, it’s available in real time so that operators have the most accurate and up-to-date information to identify and capitalize on opportunities. Our SYNKROS team is continually engineering new tools and features to give operators an edge in their market.”
During G2E, the Konami booth included a comprehensive SYNKROS demo environment showcasing a leading new dashboard analytics interface, available to SYNKROS customers in late 2016. Designed to capture a wealth of data across complex gaming and non-gaming operations, SYNKROS Dashboards provide a visual breakdown of guest activity from macro trends to the smallest details of individual spend in order to power actionable intelligence across all areas of business.
In addition, SYNKROS Offers Management is further expanding the power of the marketing suite by making multiple loyalty offers available to players at a wide range of touchpoints. Offers can be non-contingent and operators can empower their guests to select between several offer options. These diverse tools help ensure that patrons feel connected, valued, and in-the-moment and casinos, in turn, are able target specific player behaviors—rewarding and engaging players accordingly.
Everi’s TournEvent continues to revolutionize slot tournaments for both casino operators and players and is still the top tournament system in the gaming industry despite increased competition within the segment.
According to company literature, TournEvent standardized tournament system functionality across the industry with its seamless ability to switch from in-revenue gaming to out-of-revenue tournaments in seconds. The award-winning system sets itself apart from the competition with interactive features and enhancements that fully automate casino slot tournaments, eliminating operator challenges in the process.
With the simple click of a mouse, operators can easily design and build a variety of flexible tournament formats such as solo or team tournament play, session or round winner advancement, and cumulative or max scoring. An expansive TournEvent game library helps operators customize their tournaments even more with games that are guaranteed to keep players engaged.
At G2E, Everi released TournEvent 5.0, which includes additional system features that increase operator efficiency and provides an even more dynamic slot tournament experience for players. For example, TournEvent 5.0 includes an Automated Wild Card feature that allows casino operators to easily facilitate Wild Card rounds or drawings within TournEvent utilizing overhead signage. For Automated Wild Card Drawings, operators can perform virtual Wild Card drawings at the start of any round (excluding round one) before any sessions have been played in order to randomly advance players that have not advanced based on their previous round score(s) to subsequent rounds. Automated Wild Card Rounds are easily conducted as the system allows operators to perform random drawings to determine which players can participate in a special Wild Card round for potential advancement during a slot tournament. The new Automated Wild Card feature simplifies Wild Card drawings for operators, advances players through the tournament rounds quicker and streamlines the selection process.
Communicating with slot players and determining where everyone sits during a tournament can be a challenge and cause unnecessary delays. TournEvent 5.0 addresses this by adding a Seat Helper feature that improves tournament efficiency, allowing players to find their assigned seats much faster. Casino operators can now preset a color for all their TournEvent banks which in turn, allows the system to auto-assign colors to players when registering them into the system. The operator can then verbally tell players their assigned color during registration and ask them to look for their bank color prior to their session’s start time. All EGMs within the same bank will have the same color LCD and EGM accent lighting so players can easily identify where they need to go. With these additional system enhancements, TournEvent 5.0 significantly improves player communication and makes tournaments run smoother.
No doubt casino operators can appreciate the convenience TournEvent provides as it helps them conduct slot tournaments in a more efficient way. For example, instead of having to schedule additional employees to help run the slot tournament, casinos can utilize less staff since TournEvent helps automate so many tournament functions; allowing casino staff to be available for more customer-facing roles that enhance guest relations during busy tournaments, adding a more personal touch that players appreciate.
Everi also continued to offer its TournEvent of Champions promotion to participating casino properties. “We have a dedicated promotions team that works closely with participating TournEvent of Champions casinos to design an optimal promotion strategy that produces positive results,” Carpenter said. “It is important for casinos to develop a detailed marketing and promotions strategy that sets the tournament up for success.” It also helps if casinos really understand their target audience—the slot tournament players—and provide them with multiple opportunities to earn tournament spots that will keep the interest level high and increase the number of casino visits in the process, Carpenter added.
“The future of TournEvent is promising as we plan to add in more system features that will enhance TournEvent’s in-revenue games as well as make it easier for casino operators to efficiently run and administer slot tournaments,” Carpenter said. “For years, our customers have relied on TournEvent to help streamline the slot tournament process, so continued innovation and enhancements are keys to the continued success of this product. We will continue to work closely with our customers to discover new ways we can make TournEvent even better and will stay abreast of industry trends that may have implications on how slot tournaments evolve in the future.”
Scientific Games continues to be a leading innovator in the global lottery and regulated gaming industries. Beginning with the breakthrough technology that launched the world’s very first secure instant lottery game in 1974, the company continues to advance their games, technology, programs, marketing research and security that have been a driving force behind the success of more than 300 customers on six continents over the last 40 years.
“We do everything all the other systems providers do as far as being able to manage the slot floor, but we also do a lot of specialty features,” said Tom Doyle, vice president products management for Scientific Games. According to their website, in conjunction with technologies enabled through iVIEW Multimedia Management tools, gaming operators can choose where on the game they want to display things like player name, session points, jackpots, promotional credits, casino and hotel specials and promotions, and any other systems content. Using its award winning technology, iVIEW DM allows gaming operators to present content such as player account information, bonusing offers, and directed marketing messages right on the main game screen or top screen. iVIEW DM turns gaming machines that have video displays using industry-standard protocols into a delivery system for customized marketing at the point of-play.
With Tournaments Express, casino operators can easily turn just about any iVIEW Display Manager (DM) equipped slot machine on their gaming floor—no matter its manufacturer or the casino or slot-management system in use—into thrilling tournament machines within moments. When the tournament is over, they can easily switch the games back into revenue-generating mode for the ultimate in versatility and the best use of floor space.
According to company literature, it is so easy to use that Tournaments Express runs with just a PC or tablet enabling operators to quickly change more than 100 different slot cabinets from more than 20 different manufacturers into tournament games within seconds.
Making the slot tournament process even easier, Tournaments Express is a complete package that includes an interactive kiosk so that players can self-register—requiring less time and fewer staff because players register and check their results right at the kiosk. There’s also an overhead display powered by Bally Systems’ CoolSign media-management system that shows scores and results in real-time for everyone to see.
Scientific Games also has their Power Loyalty system which enables casinos to extend their loyalty program to retail locations within and outside of their property, combining a point-of-sale application that runs on a sleek tablet device provided by Scientific Games and an administrative web application that runs on a PC. Both applications connect securely to the casino management system using advanced cloud-based security hosted by Scientific Games. From the administrative web application, merchants can customize their point-of-sale tablet application to fit their business needs.
“We offer great customer service, including a program called Location Awareness,” Doyle said. “We can know exactly where a casino employee is so when a machine has an issue, we direct them with a mobile device right to that machine. On the mobile device, they can enter what they did, close down the ticket, and we know how long it took to make the service call and get the game back into play.”
New to the slot tournament systems marketplace is NOVOMATIC, which introduced its World Championship of Slots (WCOS) concept at G2E 2016.
According to company literature, WCOS is an industry-first slot competition format produced in collaboration with Emmy award-winning game show producer Gary Hunt Productions, Entropy Entertainment and media sales company Trifecta Entertainment & Media that gives players the chance of winning up to $1 million on a national TV show, as well as offering sponsor casinos a unique marketing opportunity with reach into more than 85 million homes. Casinos are empowered to host their own qualifying events as often as they like, and the winners are eligible to move onto the WCOS television show qualifying events.
At Novomatic’s G2E booth, operators were able to watch the tournaments and better understand how this never before seen concept could impact their casino floors. A tournament took place every hour of the show and the surrounding area was bursting with excitement as attendees wanted to try their luck on the games.
“This is a first-time event where people who love playing slots will have a television show that they can enjoy,” said Gary Hunt, founder of Gary Hunt Productions from the G2E show floor. “We will also be able to find people who are watching at home—who have never played slot machines before—and they will have the chance to see what fun they’re missing.”