This March was a great time to be in Las Vegas thanks to attractions such as the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship (March Madness), two NASCAR events at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction industry tradeshow.

Adding luster to this year’s March attractions in Las Vegas was the third annual Scientific Games’ EMPOWER Customer Conference, which took place at Planet Hollywood. Over 550 casino professionals, representing over than 200 casinos from around the world, attended EMPOWER, which was hosted by Scientific Games and sponsored by 23 gaming industry vendors. This private, invitation-only conference gave casino professionals exclusive access to Scientific Games product experts and insider information on how to best maximize investments in Scientific Games’ solutions.

The 2017 EMPOWER conference agenda offered more than 40 breakout sessions and 30 individual workshops that were tailored to meet the specific needs of the casino operators; executive speakers; general and educational sessions; hands-on product demonstrations; vendor/partner exhibits; and numerous social and networking events. There were also keynote presentations, including “Leading During Turbulent Times: Remembering the 5 C’s,” which was headed by Frances Fragos Townsend, network news contributor, homeland security expert and executive vice president for MacAndrews and Forbes Incorporated; and included Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman emeritus for MIT’s Media Lab and founder of One Laptop per Child; along with Bran Ferren, chief creative officer at Applied Minds.

To help navigate all these conference events, the Scientific Games EMPOWER 2017 mobile app was available for download. The EMPOWER App allowed attendees to view all of the general and breakout sessions, workshops and other informative details related to events, sponsors and keynote speaker. Also available on the app, attendees could find information about the host venue, Planet Hollywood, as well as maps of the property and exhibit hall.

But truth be told, those who downloaded the app may have had the iView4 Challenge in mind.  iView4 was displayed front and center on the show floor, catching the eyes of the attendees and allowing them to preview a demo of the Web Content Management System and join the experience with their downloaded EMPOWER App.  Participants could us the SG Cardless Wallet to download provided funds to a slot machine, giving them access to play games, participate in the U-Spin Bonusing Bonus Tournaments as well as other promotions designed to help build their Mobile Wallet balance. The partakers with the top 10 balances in their wallet were awarded prizes during the closing reception.

The 2017 EMPOWER conference was built around two concepts--fun and innovation—which were used to create the event’s theme, Funovation! The event’s mission was to empower Scientific Games’ customers by offering the world’s best gaming and lottery experiences.

“What gets me up in the morning is the sense of today’s the day; we don’t have tomorrow and we need to be thoughtful about doing the next great thing at every moment in time,” said Scientific Games’ CEO Kevin Sheehan during the opening presentation. “And we are here to provide the tools, solutions and the services to deliver high performing products designed to increase your revenue and your engagement with guests and, of course, your operational efficiencies.”

INTRODUCING BOND, JAMES BOND

Scientific Games used EMPOWER as a backdrop to introduce 15 new games, and announced an important new agreement with EON Productions Limited, Danjaq LLC and MGM Interactive Inc., a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., that gave Scientific Games the rights to leverage all past and future James Bond films, as well as the film’s talent portraying James Bond.

With the industry’s broadest product portfolio and a large library of engaging, player-favorite games, Scientific Games will capitalize on the James Bond experience across its omni-channel portfolio.

“Just think about James Bond, and think about all of the James Bond movies that you’ve seen over the years with the play in the casinos, and this very confident guy that comes walking in, self-assured, unapologetic, ruggedly handsome… action, highly glamourous sexy technology, all of the elements that will bring the next generation of gaming for us,” Sheehan said. “And we believe this is an opportunity to do something really special to try to change the game on the casino floor.”

Scientific Games expects to showcase the first James Bond-themed slot games at the 2017 Global Gaming Expo.

Meanwhile, the launch of the newest product in Scientific Games’ TwinStar family of leading-edge slot cabinets—the TwinStar 3RM—was announced one day prior to the EMPOWER festivities in a press release, and debuted at the conference as the opening product in the New Games Product Introductions breakout session. An innovative new cabinet platform that incorporates classic mechanical three-reel game play with the excitement of top monitor graphics for an all-encompassing player experience, the TwinStar 3RM offers enhanced 3D graphics, eye-catching lighting features and a multi-channel sound package.

“Our TwinStar slot cabinet family is at the forefront of innovation and we are thrilled to add a stepper option to augment our offerings,” said Derik Mooberry, group chief executive of gaming for Scientific Games in a press release. “Integrating the dynamic features of a video slot game onto a mechanical reel base game, as well as offering the increased power, enhanced features and content from legendary gaming brands Bally and WMS, the TwinStar 3RM really gives players the best of both worlds.”

Based on the robust platform of the popular TwinStar family of interactive cabinets, the TwinStar 3RM supports content streams from both Bally and WMS gaming brands, making it one of the most diverse stepper cabinets in the industry.  The TwinStar 3RM also delivers increased processing and graphics power, a 24-inch 1080p monitor that is significantly brighter than standard monitors, a larger iDeck for heightened player interaction, a USB charging port for mobile devices, a Super Candle for custom lighting sequences that are distinct on any busy casino floor and an optional handle mechanism for additional player interaction.

The TwinStar 3RM cabinet is currently approved for placement in multiple jurisdictions throughout North America and internationally. The cabinet was launched with two popular games—Fu Dao Le and 88 Fortunes. At EMPOWER, Scientific Games unveiled two additional Asian-themed games for TwinStar 3RM—Flower of Riches and Diamond Eternity. 

Game designers from the popular new Wonka games were also involved in the designing of  WOW Wheel on Wild, for the TwinStar 3RM cabinet. A well designed progressive game with the simplicity and basics attracts traditional stepper players, WOW Wheel on Wild is expected to rollout in June 2017.

Also among the new Scientific Games’ slot products at EMPOWER was The Simpsons, scheduled to come out in June 2017. Housed on the pioneering Gamescape cabinet, The Simpsons utilizes three vivid, high-definition displays that angle toward the player and a 40-inch curved top screen that surrounds the player. Additionally, an ergonomic 10.4-inch tablet button panel integrates gameplay to coordi¬nate graphics across multiple displays. The result is five unique screens that virtually combine to create an expanded platform for stunning graphics and seamless motion.  Lighting around the edge of each display envelops the player. An integrated sound bar completes the sensory experience by delivering 3D stereo sound, without the need for a sound chair. The sound bar matches the width of the cabinet so that stereo sound moves not only from right to left but up and down as well.  And the innovative motion-sensor feature takes player interaction to a new level.

Other slot concepts introduced at EMPOWER included new Wonder Woman concepts for the TwinStar J43 cabinet—Wonder Women Golden Lasso and Wonder Woman Bullets & Bracelets. Also new were Kronos Unleashed, Zeus Unleashed, Ultimate FireLink—which was displayed with a new sign package—Spiderman and Anchorman The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

HIGH TECH

Outside of the slot sector, Lighting Launch Roulette had a prominent spot in the new products grouping. Housed on the PRIZM GameTable, Lightning Launch Roulette offers players a new way to play a classic table game. Up to four players can join in a social, interactive gaming experience, allowing them to launch their own ball at the completion of wagering.

Scientific Games big data solution, Praxis Analytics, was another product offering that caught the attention of many casino operators. Praxis Analytics is a cloud-based solution for improved marketing and player engagement; designed to provide casinos with a centralized analytical platform that integrates with non-gaming business intelligence to maximize business decisions, optimize player value and enhance the casino’s bottom line. The Praxis Analytics software dissects the vast amount of collected data into impactful, ROI-increasing information for the casino, using complex data science techniques such as player wallet size, a player’s breaking point (used to predict when the player stops playing) and a new customer’s play preferences to increase loyalty.

Expect more high tech products and innovative game introductions from Scientific Games going forward. “The cornerstone of all is innovation and the art of the possible… that is the key to all of our shared success.” Sheehan said. “We shouldn’t fear any competition and threats; we need to be invigorated by the challenge and that is how you differentiate yourself and become successful, by knowing what is coming down the path and doing something a little bit different.”