Hard to believe, but Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2016 is more than two months in the rear view mirror and fading fast as the new year, and new challenges, loom ahead.
As in past G2Es, lots of new game concepts caused a splash and sent tongues wagging during and immediately after the event. Lost in all this jawing were the many new and evolutionary non-game devices that turned heads at G2E and are worthy of mention.
For the editors of Casino Journal, this examination began last month when in the first part of this article we reported on some of the slot cabinet and game system new products and news that emanated from G2E 2016. In this continuance of that feature, we highlight the new devices and advancements we saw in analytics and data mining, table games, kiosks and a host of other product categories.
IN NEED OF ANALYSIS
Casino operators continue to seek analytic and data mining products and systems that can improve operations, marketing and sales; and operators responded at G2E with next generation software, technology and devices. For example, Agilysys unveiled an updated version of its award-winning InfoGenesis POS, which was approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in September. According to company literature, InfoGenesis POS v4.4.8 continues to demonstrate Agilysys’ hospitality solutions leadership, with support for EMV and a set of innovative enhancements designed to boost efficiency, improve the user experience and increase revenue.
InfoGenesis POS is Agilysys’ comprehensive point-of-sale system that combines easy-to-use terminal and tablet touchscreen applications with industry-leading offline capabilities. The system easily manages any combination of food, beverage and retail services, and integrates with other Agilysys applications and a wide variety of third-party offerings. InfoGenesis Flex, which offers full point-of-sale functionality on a convenient tablet device, provides a guest-centric feature-rich mobile experience for poolside, casino floors, outdoor patios, convention floors and other foodservice operations. InfoGenesis POS and InfoGenesis Flex are available as on-premise or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.
Engaged Nation, a full-service, digital marketing agency that combines gameology science technologies with content marketing and social interaction strategies, also introduced a new version of its core product at G2E—the 5.0 version release of its digital suite of interactive products, the patent-pending web CREDIT R.E.A.C.H (revenue-generating, engagement, activation, conversion hub) platform. According to company press materials, this enhanced system is the first to utilize gameology science to provide gaming companies with a new way to engage existing customers, increase loyalty, drive new customer acquisition and generate bottom-line revenue.
The new REACH gameology platform is built on the core principals of behavior modification and incentive psychology, creating a system proven to convert online traffic into revenue-generating property visits. Central to the system’s success is the scientifically proven value of consumers “earning or winning” awards through fun, interactive activities, which leads to increased on-property redemption rates and long-term property engagement. Engaged Nation’s new system is now broadly available to gaming companies, offering casinos an unmatched digital customer experience and marketing advantage.
In addition to upgraded systems and new products, VizExplorer, a provider of operational intelligence solutions for the casino gaming industry, came top G2E bearing great financial news—in the first half of 2016, sales increased nearly 80 percent year-over-year, and the company maintained its 95 percent customer retention rate for another consecutive year.
In a press release, VizExplorer reported that a number of factors fueled its impressive growth this year. Among them is a slate of notable new casino customers representing more than 250 global gaming properties, a range of strategic partnerships and the introduction of innovative new products releasing this year. In 2016, VizExplorer completed numerous new agreements with tribal entities, including a landmark five-year enterprise license agreement with Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of North America’s largest resort casinos. The company also added Boyd Gaming, one of the country’s largest non-tribal American gaming entities, which owns and operates 21 casinos in seven states. VizExplorer solutions have also been licensed by several mid-market properties, including Washington’s 7 Cedars Casino, California’s Elk Valley Casino and Oklahoma’s Cimarron Casino, among others.
The company’s reputation as a gaming industry innovator has led to multiple industry partnerships to develop solutions powered by VizExplorer technology. This year, VizExplorer announced collaborations with House Advantage on a player loyalty and CRM platform, and with Everi Holdings Inc. for its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance solution.
In 2016, the company also launched its guest service management tool greetViz, dispatch and service management solution techViz, and introduced its new line of Ops products. Featuring real-time data, predictive analysis, advanced automation and enhanced reporting to drive slot, player development, marketing and technical operations, the Ops line represents the most comprehensive offering for the smart casino to date. Dozens of existing and potential customers have already expressed interest in the new Ops products.
Like VizExplorer, Casino Data Imaging (CDI), a leader in advanced visualization and analysis solutions, used G2E to trumpet recent partnership news, announcing a strategic relationship with Hong Kong-based Intelligencia, a technology company involved with BI, CI, CRM, Data Lakes, marketing automation and analytics implementation for several casinos in Macau as well as offsite with clients in both Australia and the United States.
Instead of announcing new partners, some analytics vendors used G2E as a backdrop to reveal new acquisitions. For example, BirchStreet Systems, a leading cloud based procure-to-pay technology provider for the hospitality industry, announced its acquisition of AccuBar, a leading cloud based, mobile enabled beverage inventory software solution provider. This combination unites the best-in-class technologies, people and expertise serving the hospitality, bar and restaurant industries, according to a press release.
AccuBar’s customers will now have access to an end-to-end solution from inventory to automatic ordering and replenishment. The patented AccuBar beverage inventory, digital menus and barcode scanning technology will add a new breadth and depth of functionality to BirchStreet’s procure-to-pay (P2P) platform. Like BirchStreet, AccuBar has over 15 years of experience serving the hospitality, restaurant, casino and club industries.
Other analytics/data mining developments of note include:
- Konami Gaming, Inc. announced new interactive data insights and business intelligence features arriving through its award-winning SYNKROS casino management system. Developed seamlessly for the SYNKROS systems environment, SYNKROS Dashboards delivers convenience, accuracy, speed and usability with insight-driven business analytics across all areas of player activity and operational performance, according to press materials. SYNKROS Dashboards was constructed with an industry-leading intuitive design to offer agile data revelation and dynamic point-and-click interaction for complete analytic control. SYNKROS Dashboards leverages direct source data for optimal speed and accuracy, and deploys it to the industry’s latest and most intuitive visualization tool. Its highly interactive, customizable design delivers actionable information on a moment-by-moment basis, with unique insights across varied levels of detail. “From the ground up, Konami’s SYNKROS Dashboards was developed in close collaboration with Hidden Fruit, LLC by top tenured casino managers and operators who understand the unique business nature of the casino environment,” said Matt Reback, vice president, marketing at Konami.
- Scientific Games demoed its Praxis Analytics, a cloud-based big data solution for improved marketing and player engagement provides casinos with a centralized analytical platform that integrates with non-gaming business intelligence to maximize business decisions that optimize player value, enhancing the casino bottom line.
- Duetto, a market leader in hotel and casino profit optimization technology, announced that it added more than 40 hotels and 7,500 rooms in Europe in just two months. Duetto now has more than 500 hotel partners in Europe, including iconic individual hotels, regional brands and some of the biggest hotel companies on the continent. Duetto also appointed Justin Sadler-Smith as vice president of sales for the EMEA region and Gary Torres as director of deployment, and has more than doubled the size of the company’s London EMEA headquarters in less than a year.
- Optimove showcased its retention automation software that helps marketers maximize customer spend, engagement, retention and lifetime value. According to the company’s website, it does this by automating the execution, analysis and optimization of continuously-improving personalized multi-channel customer marketing campaigns. Optimove’s unique customer modeling, predictive micro-segmentation and campaign automation technologies are rolled into an intuitive Web user interface, making it easy and enjoyable for marketers to excel at their craft.
- The Offercraft booth at G2E drew a crowd seeking to learn more about the company’s award-winning, game-building tools that create customized marketing games for e-mails, social media, direct mail, websites, apps, digital signage, ads and more.
Domestic and international table game providers also had an impressive G2E, introducing new games and technologies to help operators better take advantage of the resurgence in table play. AGS is one of the companies riding the table game wave, with its table products portfolio boasting more than 1,100 placements across the U.S. in less than two years. At G2E 2016, AGS debuted its first card shuffler, the Dex S. According to company literature, this card shuffler, designed for poker rooms and hand-pitched or hand-dealt games, brings an economical and functional alternative to the marketplace. Also showcased were the new white-label version of the company’s Bonus Spin progressive technology packed with updated graphics and software, new hardware, and customizable branding, paytables, and top awards. AGS also revealed new variations of blackjack and poker games, including Mega Blackjack, Toss One 21 and Cali Lowball.
Scientific Games introduced a number of new table games at G2E, including the HIC Hold’em game, based on the popular HAWAIIAN ISLAND CREATIONS surf-themed brand of surfboards, skateboards, clothing and accessories. Players vie to get a better five-card hand than the dealer, and the “Big Kahuna” side bet delivers the chance for a big prize with three-of-a-kind or better. According to a press release, also new were ZAPPIT Blackjack, which takes blackjack to the next level by enabling the player to exchange their hand for a new hand of ZAPPIT Blackjack and the potential for greater wins; Blazing 7s Blackjack Progressive, which capitalizes on the player-favorite Bally Blazing 7s slot brand to offer a blackjack progressive side bet that delivers timeless entertainment; and Lunar Poker, already a favorite in Asia, which enables players to play five card draw against the house.
On the table solutions front, Scientific Games showcased ShuffleStar, a groundbreaking, low-profile front-loading shuffler that shuffles four to eight decks continuously and features a revolutionary high-speed flat-dealing shoe and sophisticated card recognition using two cameras; and Shufflink, a pioneering innovation that for the first time links shufflers, chip sorters and i-Shoes to the casino-management system to provide real-time data and reporting on table performance, player ratings and important metrics, all without dealer input, interaction or any manual data collection.
Sci games also displayed its electronic tale games (ETG) offerings, which included Fusion Hybrid Stadium Blackjack, Fusion Hybrid Stadium Casino War and Table MasterFusion PLAYBOY Bonus Blackjack.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) brought its ETG products to G2E, including its Dynasty ETG cabinets and dealing tables for live baccarat and roulette.
Also making a splash in the ETG marketplace was Interblock, which featured a number of innovative new technologies. Interblock’s ETG Pits are solutions for casinos that have unique configuration needs. Available in Automated, Video, or a combination of both formats, ETG Pits let operators transform underperforming areas of their casino floor, and can be customized to meet any establishment’s demands. The PULSE ARENA Stadium lets operators maximize their floor space by adding incremental play stations, dealer assist and/or automated generators based on their footprint availability. The Stadium gaming platform allows players to place wagers through play stations, while the dealer conducts games on the dealer assist tables and is compatible with up to six different game forms. Also displayed was StarBar bar top, a play station specifically designed to maximize casino space while creating an exciting player hotspot that offers up to 15 different games. With its own internal random number generator, it can be configured as a standalone machine, can connect to external generators or can combine both options.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY created excitement in the ETG scene at G2E with the worldwide launch of its Qorex concept. This innovative new EGT is powered by GFL Gaming, the company’s revolutionary platform that gives casinos real-time visibility and total control over their gaming floor, according to company literature. The Qorex terminal has been ergonomically designed for optimum comfort and playing position, incorporating a 27-inch widescreen display that provides stunning high definition graphics. Powered by the GFL Gaming module, all Qorex products benefit from the same intuitive user interface. This keeps navigation simple, enables ease of play from game to game and most importantly transitions players effortlessly from terminals to tablets. Currently available for roulette and baccarat, with sic bo coming soon, operators can choose to offer a live dealer system linked to tables or a podium, or alternatively fully automatic game options. All terminals can incorporate TITO and are SAS compatible.
The first installations of Qorex terminals are due to go ahead in Asia and the UK before the end of the year, with other regions being rolled out early in 2017.
On the traditional table game front, TCSJOHNHUXLEY displayed Saturn Glo, which debuted earlier this year G2E Asia in Macau. Boasting the same cutting-edge features as the Saturn roulette wheel, Saturn Glo incorporates LED technology providing in-rim lighting colour changes according to what’s happening in the game. Designed to literally “light up” the game, Saturn Glo can be programmed to indicate game status and also features an exciting array of attract modes in a variety of colors.
NEW AND NOTEWORTHY
- Pariplay, a leading gaming technology company serving land-based casinos, iGaming operators and iLotteries, launched eyeon, its new mobile gaming platform, at G2E. The eyeon solution allows land-based casinos to offer their patrons both real-money and free-play casino gaming via a branded iOS or Android app installed on their customers’ tablets and smart phones.
- Experiture offered a free custom-built mobile app to enhance player loyalty to every casino operator attending G2E. Experiture’s goal was to even the playing field for all casinos, bring the power of multi-channel marketing to properties both large and small and to provide casinos an introduction to its entire suite of Multichannel Marketing capabilities such as e-mail, mobile, direct mail and social.
- Greentube, part of NOVOMATIC Interactive, announced from the G2E showfloor that it has signed a partnership agreement with Gibraltar-based mobile gaming company Chopsticks in the apps Ltd. Under the agreement, Chopsticks will develop a range of popular mobile games into gambling titles that will be distributed by Greentube to its online, mobile, social and land-based channels.
- GAN, an award-winning developer and supplier of enterprise-level B2B Internet gaming software, services and online gaming content in the U.S., announced at G2E it has partnered with one of the longest-standing Native American casino operators in America to launch GAN’s proprietary enterprise-grade social gaming solution: Simulated Gaming. Turning Stone Resort Casino is a major destination for residents of central New York State and has been operational since 1993. This 23-year old casino is owned and operated by the Oneida Nation headquartered in Verona, New York. Following an extensive diligence process, GAN was selected for their deep capabilities in providing both real-money and social gaming experiences from a singular technology platform together with the ability to deliver a custom-designed website/app wholly integrated into their on-property loyalty program and Konami Gaming’s SYNKROS casino management system.
- Veridocs, Inc., the developer of advanced patron identity management system, demonstrated an industry-first true ID authentication from a mobile platform at G2E this year. This new feature provides operators the flexibility to capture, analyze and store scanned identification document data, from the convenience of a Windowsmobile device. The Veridocs CR5400 reader powered by 3M was on display to demonstrate this new ground-breaking mobile ID authentication function. According to a press release, the Veridocs true ID authentication utilizes a high resolution scan and multiple light sources, yielding a comprehensive capture, analysis and display of all data from MRZ including barcode and OCR translated images. Competing mobile device providers claiming authentication, simply display a picture of the ID or at best capture the barcode data, leaving them far short of “true ID authentication.”
- Visitors to the Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) at G2E learned more about the company’s wide range of services, which includes: field inspections; GLI University Training and Regulators Roundtables; lottery testing; network risk assessments; quality assurance testing; regulatory/jurisdictional consultation; and tribal consultation. Beyond GLI’s international technological capabilities, the company is completely integrated, which helps keep pace with the speed of innovation and allows GLI to offer its clients so much more.
Atrient stands tall
The kiosk’s role within the casino environment continues to evolve as technologies improve and these customer-facing devices gain become more flexible, allowing them to take on more marketing and operations tasks.
One supplier ahead of the curve when it comes to second generation kiosk machines is West Bloomfield, Mich.-based Atrient; a company focused on gaming solutions and the understanding of technology and how to apply it to gaming. “We are always developing the next product that will disrupt marketing technology… that is how we became the first to release a fully integrated mobile app and allow kiosk functionality on a slot machine,” Sam Attisha, managing director at Atrient told Casino Journal earlier this year.
As described on their website, Atrient’s PowerKiosk is an extensible workflow engine designed to provide operators with the ability to reward players in new and exciting ways. In addition to offering promotions, PowerKiosk can also be used as a self-service tool for account management, allowing guests to spend less time at the players’ club line and more time gaming. One of the most powerful and unique features of PowerKiosk is the scalability and flexibility of the system; it is designed to allow new and unique promotional rules to be inherited by the system. PowerKiosk also integrates directly to patron management systems.
PowerKiosk can integrate with patron management systems developed by Aristocrat, Scientific Games, IGT and Konami, and through Atrient’s professional services team, custom interfaces can be designed to integrate PowerKiosk to any system. Atrient’s PowerKiosk solution has several modules that are managed through its control panel, which allows operators to easily deploy modules that are most important to them.
Through the control panel, operators can quickly update content ensuring current and relevant information is displayed in a consistent and branded manner.
The core application of PowerKiosk was created for usage on a traditional kiosk, but it has since been expanded to allow the same functionality on slot machines and mobile devices. Players can participate in promotions, check account information and find the location of their favorite slot machine. “Our platform offers significant line-busting functions including enrolling patrons in the players club and reprinting their club cards,” Attisha said. “Traditional kiosk systems offer limited functionality outside of promotions, but we encourage patrons to explore all amenities of a site from the kiosk.
We go beyond advertising… we allow for food and beverage ordering, calendars with event registration, and soon to be released, hotel reservations.”
“As a technology-based company, we have little to no issues in building applications.” Attisha added. “We have replaced all of our competitors in the space multiple times. Our products are used in some of the most sophisticated operator’s sites in the country including MGM Grand Detroit, San Manuel Bingo & Casino and Rivers Pittsburgh. Our client list will be expanding in 2016 with some large global operators.”
Atrient has also inked a major deal with Konami Gaming, using its gaming technology solution to help power Konami’s new multi-platform, multi-device SYNKiosk patron loyalty tool. This latest addition to Konami’s SYNKROS casino management product portfolio allows casino players to simultaneously access loyalty kiosk functions—such as player account information, special offers, casino promotions, and more—from personal mobile devices, video slot machines, and traditional kiosk machines.