Like many other segments of the gaming industry in North America, the electronic table game (ETG) market is growing of late, thanks in large part to the product’s ability to convert slot customers into table game players.
“ETGs certainly are a growing segment of the casino mix and it’s a healthy kind of growth—large and smaller operators alike are looking for new ways to freshen up their gaming floors and many ETG games fit that mold perfectly,” said Gabe Baron, general manager and senior director of electronic system products at Scientific Games. “It’s very cliché to say variety is the spice of life, but on a casino floor, it’s just that—the more a casino offers differentiation, the more they find that extra body walking through their doors. Players see this and naturally gravitate to the locations who offer the best mix of games and variety of content.”
“Market data suggests that the ETG category is seeing continuous, positive growth,” added Colleen Stanton, global vice president of marketing and product management at Interblock. “Many casinos across Europe and in the Asia-Pacific already dedicate as much as 15 to 20 percent of their casino floors to ETGs. In the Americas the share is significantly less, about half a percent, but that too has been climbing in the last two years.”
Although U.S.-based casinos house less ETGs on average than their European counterparts, the large size of American wagering facilities makes them more amenable to large scale ETG solutions. As a result, stadium-style ETG environments are finding a home in an increasing number of North American casinos. This type of ETG setup involves multiple linked table game betting terminals in combination with entertainment elements such as music, video walls, live announcers and even DJs; the emphasis is on the communal and social aspects of the table game experience. Many properties are promoting stadium style ETG pits to younger clientele.
Interblock, with its PULSE ARENA concept, has been a pioneer in the stadium-style ETG segment of the market. The company also recently commissioned “The ETG Player Portrait,” the first-ever ETG player segmentation study. Among the study’s findings: Not only are ETGs drawing more newly-carded players than any other product on the casino floor, but they are driving incremental spending by existing slot and table games players as well.
“We worked through the study’s findings with our partners and have seen confirmation that the amount of newly-carded players wagering on the ETG is one of the highest on the floor,” Stanton said. “Slot players who have wanted to play table games but feel too intimidated or want to learn how to play table games in a more private environment are also playing ETGs.”
Mobile has also played a part in the growth of ETG popularity. “Online game play can have a very positive impact on the ETG market,” said Matteo Carli, senior vice president of electronic table games and industrial planning for IGT. “As anticipated, with our PlaySpot solution, we are enabling players to enjoy ETG through their mobile device, phone or tablet, while they are anywhere in a casino property, whether that is on the casino floor, at the pool, restaurant or even from their rooms, thus extending the table game experience online.”
“There is an enhanced demand for online game play as more U.S. states move towards regulated Internet gaming,” said Mike Robinson, international communications manager for NOVOMATIC. “The European market is well advanced and being a seasoned player in the interactive space gives NOVOMATIC a clear advantage when the U.S. opens. Gamers in this market will be more tech-savvy than ever before, and demand more options as they have access to an endless stream of games at their fingertips. New technologies are breeding more sophisticated gamers that know how to set their own limits and build confidence before playing for real-money. Younger generation players who have grown-up with mobile devices are also increasingly used to the digital privacy an ETG can offer.”
Past trends in player demographics are also changing with the popularity of online game play. “Increasingly, there is no such thing as a typical player in terms of demographics; and more and more ETGs find a normal, accepted place on a gaming floor,” Baron said. “This has changed over time—in the past, I think most thought of the ETG player as younger and male, but it’s just no longer the case. Instead, I look at players of these products to be more low- and mid-limit gamers and those players who may be intimidated or afraid of the machinations involved in sitting at a live table. ETGs offer the player a chance to learn and become involved at their own pace, and that really speaks to everyone—young, old, male or female.
“There is still one strongly-represented segment when it comes to virtual roulette and baccarat though— the Asian player continues to be someone that operators and vendors can expect to play ETGs and their involvement is probably the most consistent across all ages and both genders, and of course, we definitely keep them in mind when designing and bringing content to the market.”
Electronic table games are also an area where manufacturers can really shine in incorporating new technology into their products. “Of course we are always looking for better touch screens, nicer resolution and more novel ways of providing a unique experience to the players of our games, and so much of what the future holds includes technology which provides a means to that end,” Baron said. “Aside from that, new form factors and ways of thinking about the player environment are always thought about closely and you see that coming to fruition with PRIZM GameTable among others.”
As the ETG market grows and becomes more competitive, table game suppliers are introducing new concepts and technologies to keep pace and satisfy operator demand. Below is a rundown of the latest EGT devices from some of the gaming industries leading vendors.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) manufactures the Dynasty Baccarat and Dynasty Roulette electronic table games.
“IGT’s live ETG baccarat and roulette are our primary offerings although we do offer RNG games as well,” Carli said. “IGT ETGs offer players with the opportunity to play more games at once than many competing solutions offer, elevating the engagement and entertainment to another standard.”
Inspired by the strong foundation of player-favorite mechanics found in LT Game offerings, the IGT Dynasty brand was introduced through the company’s PlaySpot mobile solution. “We will extend the ETG experience by offering players back betting and side betting from their mobile devices while they are in a casino,” Carli said. “This enables players to enjoy a game even if they are not seated in the ETG arena.”
IGT displayed its increased commitment to the ETG category with its April 2016 announcement of an agreement with Paradise Entertainment that provides IGT with exclusive rights for the development, manufacturing, and worldwide distribution (outside of Macau) of Paradise table game IP, which includes live and random number generator (RNG) electronic table games. IGT has also established a dedicated ETG organization, with a committed management and engineering team that is entirely focused on driving this emerging product category.
“We are optimizing our development platform and leveraging IGT’s industry-leading R&D investment to deliver best-in-class ETG solutions,” Carli said. “We’re looking at integrating a number of different variations of game play such as blackjack and additional side betting capabilities to ensure positive differentiation in the market.”
Scientific Games’ ETG lines range from virtual to dealer-assisted products, covering all the major content segments. These items include:
- Fusion Auto Roulette, which offers automated, 24-hour, labor-free roulette wagering;
- Table Master Fusion, which brings Shuffle Master titles and side bets, as well as the branded Playboy Bonus Blackjack, to life in a five-seat game where players all wager against a life-like dealer;
- iTable and iTable Roulette, a live dealer/electronic hybrid where wagering takes place electronically but the results are live;
- Fusion Virtual Multigame, which offers common outcome games based on RNGs utilizing the same cabinet; and
- Fusion Hybrid, a dealer-assisted concurrent gaming system that offers both small and stadium configurations and table game options such as baccarat, roulette, sic bo, Stadium Blackjack, Stadium Casino War and more.
The Scientific Games portfolio of ETG products is growing in popularity and has had recent placements in many of the major market including Australia, North America, New Zealand and Asia.
“We are growing this business further by always looking to innovate and leverage internal content—our table game roots are the strongest in the world and there is a lot we can do with the popular content found in the Shuffle Master library, not to mention our industry-leading service team,” Baron said. “Currently, the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Virtual titles are doing extremely well in Australia, New Zealand and the majority of Southeast Asia as well as portions of Europe and North America based on concurrent wagering and our industry-leading side bets. Table Master Fusion and Fusion Auto Roulette excel in North America, in particular where there is a large appetite for labor-free product, and it offers a unique gaming experience with our video dealers and excellent content including the first ever branded ETG product, Playboy Bonus Blackjack. It’s the innovation and our popular side bets which carry these products ahead of the competition.”
Scientific Games is always looking at new ways to present and enhance their current ETG offerings. “Come the middle of this year, you will see the launch of the award-winning PRIZM GameTable which brings a shared 65-inch, 4K display to four players, up to 100 simultaneous touches of the screen and an entirely novel way of presenting what is considered traditional game play but with new community and bonusing features that will enhance the player experience and bring increased excitement to the gaming floor of the future,” Baron said. “Fusion Hybrid and other Fusion products are also taking a trip down this path as new interfaces, cameras and other technologies are moving towards institution on the live gaming floor.”
Baron expects technological innovation will continue to impact the ETG marketplace. “There’s quickly becoming no one standard way to offer content to players and I expect we will continue to offer proven methods while also bringing new ideas and the requisite technology that supports them to our innovative product lines,” he said.
As a Europe-based supplier to the gaming industry, a fundamental part of NOVOMATIC’s product history involves electronic table games, and the company has a large installation base worldwide. Different solutions available for live games such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat, punto banco, sic bo and various types of poker include Novo TouchBet Live and Novo Flying game versions based on the NOVO LINE Novo Unity II platform that connect multiple terminals to live dealer-driven and fully virtual games, respectively, as well as Novo Multi Roulette that connects terminals to an automated roulette wheel. Each game displays winning numbers, provides live data and is packed full of features to maximize a player’s ETG experience.
The NOVO Line Novo Unity II platform combines electronic table games and slot gaming solutions on one terminal. It is a hybrid product offer that gives players a great variety and assists casinos in migrating players between live table play and slots. The multi-game functionality allows operators to link large numbers of terminals to create bespoke live gaming environments while giving players their own stations with the option to select electronic table or slot games. Simultaneous betting is also available where up to three live table sessions of one game type can be played at the same time.
“In Europe, the company dominates both casino and arcade markets, including Europe’s largest casino market France where NOVOMATIC has an 80 percent share of this segment,” Robinson said. “In the UK, Germany and Holland, for instance, the majority of large casinos have ETG installations running on the NOVO LINE Novo Unity II platform in various configurations. There are also major installations in the Americas, as well as in Asia where large-scale NOVOMATIC areas are in operation, such as a 600-terminal area at Genting Highlands Malaysia and a 100-terminal area at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.”
Also new to NOVOMATIC are the cutting-edge technologies that have been implemented into the brand new LOTUS ROULETTE Pro—an automated roulette solution that is the successor to the LOTUS ROULETTE. The high-speed roulette wheel has been completely re-engineered and is significantly faster than the previous version, instantly increasing the amount of gameplay. Player interfaces have also been upgraded with new configurable options, and a major innovation is the ‘speed up’ feature that gives players the opportunity to release the ball once all bets around the table have been placed.
Like most manufacturers, new products that advance the sector are in constant development and can be previewed at the major international trade shows.
“As NOVOMATIC gears up its expansion into the U.S. market, its extensive track record spanning decades in the international ETG business means reliable solutions can be delivered with top performing games that are proven with players,” Robinson said.
Aruze Gaming is a global entertainment company that designs, develops and manufactures slot machines and gaming devices for the global casino market, and features an ETG portfolio that includes Shoot to Win Craps, Virtual Roulette, Dealer’s Angels Blackjack, Dealers Angels Baccarat, Lucky Big Wheel and Lucky Sic Bo.
Aruze multi-terminal machines can be found on casino floors with their sophisticated cabinet designs and grandiose scale, showcasing computer graphic dealers being brought to life in high definition using the latest technology, effectively recreating the look and feel of actual table games.
According to the company’s website, Aruze’s motto, “Designed to Engage Players,” is evident in every electronic table game in its portfolio. From the ability to “shoot” the dice, “spin” the Big Six Wheel, “squeeze” the cards in baccarat or “spin” the roulette ball.
However, when it comes to player interaction, Shoot to Win Craps takes center stage as a player favorite at Aruze. When it is a player’s turn to roll the dice, he or she must press the Shooter Button to pop the dice up and determine the outcome of the roll. The player-initiated CRAPS game recreates all the betting zones of the traditional table game, with easily understood help menu and bet screens.
Interblock is a leading developer and worldwide supplier of luxury electronic table gaming products. Its multi-play and multi-game devices set industry standards and provide the ultimate in luxury interactive entertainment experiences.
Interblock’s key product lines are Organic, Diamond, MiniStar, StarBar and the PULSE ARENA. The PULSE ARENA combines Interblock’s Diamond products, interactivity and entertainment to create an exciting gambling experience for established players, while attracting new players to the casino floor.
“Electronic table games are the very core of our business,” Stanton said. “In order to grow our business over the last two years, we invested heavily in player research and R&D.”
With the results of its recent ETG study in mind, Interblock focuses on creating new concepts, and innovations, and is constantly looking to make their products more efficient through a variety of methods including delivering more spins or more hands per hour, offering more progressives and more side bets. Interblock’s latest cutting-edge technologies integrated into ETGs include side bets, Simultaneous Bet Prevention technology on roulette, virtual dealers on blackjack and baccarat and their multi-game functionality.
Interblock’s multi-game technology allows players to wager on up to four different games at the same time. Players can easily navigate through the games menu and change the view of their player screens to view multiple active game boards at the same time. Multi-game capabilities allow operators to connect Interblock play stations to Interblock external automated, dealer assist or video generators located in different areas of the casino floor.
Interblock Stadiums are another recent cutting-edge, modular product. Interblock Stadium solutions allow operators to easily transform a dealer-assisted Stadium into a fully automated Stadium, ensuring that the section of the casino floor is always active, and able to generate constant revenue when dealers are not present. Interblock Stadiums offer wheel, dice and card generators. These generators allow for single or double zero roulette, craps and sic bo, single-hand and multi-hand blackjack, and baccarat. The Baccarat Dealer Assist table is even available with two shoes, giving players more opportunities to play and maximizing benefit to the operators.
“Our automated Diamond Roulette is known for its elegant appearance, with a luxurious and premium look and feel and unique customization options,” Stanton said. “Our automated Diamond Roulette is a great addition to stadium or ETG pit configurations, and is adaptable to meet space requirement demands and needs. It offers players a variety of engaging features, such as side bets, mystery progressives and an intuitive user interface.”
Another popular game at Interblock is MiniStar Roulette which offers most of the same features as the Diamond Roulette, but is a perfect addition for smaller venues that want the luxury of the premium Diamond Roulette in a more compact size.
“At G2E 2017, Interblock will launch new product lines that will set new industry standards in the ETG sector,” Stanton said. “We can’t tell you more without upstaging ourselves; you’ll have to watch for announcements to come.”