It’s no secret that the thrill of competition and entertainment value attract gaming machine players to slot tournaments. A growing number of gaming operators are becoming fans of the concept as well, thanks in large part to technology upgrades systems suppliers are integrating into slot tournament solutions.
Indeed, upgraded slot tournament systems offer operators a growing list of advanced functionality that includes ease of use, automation, increased game selection, customization, promotional capabilities, operational efficiency and expense control; all of which lead to cost savings and greater profitability for gaming machine floors.
“By exploring system-delivered tournaments, operators have the opportunity to create real-time promotions and provide a buzz of excitement without requiring significant promotional costs or staffing requirements,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management at Konami Gaming. “Players get to experience and enjoy the surprise of winning a tournament entry and properties have a solution that is both efficient and cost effective.”
The ongoing success of the slot tournament format and the demand for ever more efficient and entertaining options has systems providers constantly tinkering with everything from game delivery to financial reporting. Below executives from a few of these suppliers provided an update on their latest solutions along with advice on how operators can get the most out of this technology.
Konami has delivered casino management system solutions since 2001 and today its core technology supports nearly 400 venues of various sizes. As one of the industry’s leading systems, SYNKROS is best known for its reliability, marketing tools and robust data.
“Casino properties of all varieties select SYNKROS to power business because it has the agility and core strength to power leading-edge solutions across diverse competitive markets,” said Walther.
Managed, controlled and deployed through the SYNKROS casino management system is Konami’s True-Time Tournaments, which allows players to both earn tournament entries from any machine and play tournaments on any True-Time window-equipped machine. “Practically any touch-screen enabled gaming device can be instantly transformed into a tournament-capable machine, and then returned back into revenue-generating game play,” Walther said. “With this system, casino operators don’t have to reserve dedicated tournament-only machines or purchase a large set of specialized game cabinets.”
Depending on the property’s particular promotional needs, True-Time Tournaments has the flexibility to deliver synchronized tournament games and on-demand tournament games to reward carded players. “Some of our customers create dedicated sections where their players compete in synchronized tournaments, others like floor-wide events, others award entries for players to access on-demand at their convenience and some properties will circulate through any number of these depending on the particular promotion,” Walther said. “All are seamlessly managed through SYNKROS and provide our customers with the flexibility to deploy either variation.”
True-Time Tournaments was originally developed using feedback from customers and recognition that there is a definite competitive advantage for casino properties when they can deploy tournaments on any windowing-enabled slot machine. Today SYNKROS’ award-winning tournament product continues to grow across North America because it allows operators to create excitement, drive trips and increase coin-in with a fixed marketing budget.
From an on-site marketing perspective, True-Time Tournaments supports customized leaderboard displays, so operators have the flexibility to feature their own unique branding and further optimize their promotional tournament messaging. Leaderboards help reinforce participation by highlighting top participants, while encouraging other players to join.
Operators utilizing True-Time Tournaments also have full access to a broad library of available tournament game themes, including Midway Madness, Hero Collection, Fruit Funds, Romancing the Reels and more, to keep promotions fresh and exciting for players.
Konami’s tournament solution is the only system-delivered tournament product on the market with player multi-game capabilities, according to Walther. “When redeeming an on-demand tournament entry at any enabled video slot machine, carded players can have the option to choose from an array of game themes, to help keep tournament promotions fresh and unique,” he said. “Players are given a menu of game theme options when claiming their tournament entries, empowering them with an additional element of control and excitement when they achieve targeted sales and marketing rewards at the property. This is a feature that operators can enable or disable for any number of Konami’s available tournament themes.”
True-Time Tournaments also gives operators a single location to configure, manage and monitor both player-on-demand and synchronized tournaments. “Our customers are able to define start times, end times, game lengths, invitation cut-off periods, player qualifying criteria and more. From the Tournament Director interface within SYNKROS, they can view current scores, rankings, active players and the number of missing entries,” Walther said. “They have the flexibility to put machines into standby mode, start rounds and advance rounds or heats.”
On the floor at G2E 2017, Konami will be showcasing True-Time Tournaments within the full context of its live demo environment. Guests will be able to see, interact and engage first hand with both player-facing and administrative functions.
Server-based systems at Scientific Games provide operators with downloadable player content through a combination of Elite Bonusing Suite marketing applications and iVIEW DM technology, a combination that allows machines equipped with iVIEW DM to be part of a slot tournament through DM Tournaments technology. With over 200 different cabinets from over 25 manufacturers compatible with iVIEW DM, tournaments can be run most anywhere on the casino floor; for example, banks of machines from various manufacturers can all be grouped together to form one tournament area. The end result: no longer does an operator have to choose one particular type of cabinet for a tournament area.
For casinos with a Bally System, full integration with the player tracking system means registration, enrollment, eligibility and prize awards can all be automated. Operators can create tournaments and set eligibility requirements. Players can insert their player card and automatically be qualified for session-based tournaments or can even automatically earn additional tournament entries by continuing to play revenue-producing games.
For casinos without a Bally System, a separate kiosk can be used for players to self-enroll and then easily join a tournament at a machine of their choosing.
In casinos with iVIEW DM across the casino floor, tournaments can be localized to a small tournament area or can be expanded to thousands of machines for a truly exceptional tournament in which hundreds or even thousands of players can participate simultaneously.
“DM Tournaments is unique from competitive solutions because it works on several different cabinets,” said Ted Keenan, senior director, product management for systems at Scientific Games. In fact, it works on over 200 cabinets from over 25 different manufacturers. This means a casino operator does not have to choose a specific set of cabinets and group them all together to create a tournament area. Instead, an operator can group together several different banks of machines from different manufacturers to form one tournament area. All casino customers can take advantage of session-based tournaments or player self-start tournaments on various machines from different manufacturers.”
For Bally Systems customers, the DM Tournament solution is integrated with the Player Tracking System. Operators can easily set eligibility and qualification requirements so, for example, when a player inserts the player card, they can be automatically notified if they are eligible for a tournament. A feature called Bonus Tournaments is also available. Bonus Tournaments lets a player participate in a tournament while also playing a revenue producing game. Each time the player touches the spin button on the revenue producing game, another bonus game is also being played to create a tournament score—two games being played concurrently on the game screen. Bonus Tournaments can be configured as an “earn-and-get” promotion in which a player can earn additional tournament entries by playing more revenue producing games.
“Tournaments are a proven marketing promotion that drives revenue,” Keenan said. “Invite tournaments are used to reactivate players. Earn-and-get bonus tournaments are used to extend play. Session-based tournaments are used to create excitement on the floor and engage players for longer periods of time. Buy-in tournaments are used to elevate perceived value a loyalty program. DM Tournaments has been used effectively by casino operators for these uses and many more.
“The best tournaments administrators identify specific marketing goals,” Keenan added. “Modern marketing solutions like DM Tournaments include a variety of settings to deliver optimal marketing solutions. Creating the best list of eligible players, defining the qualification criteria, selecting the most compelling games and placement on the casino floor all combine to make successful tournament events.”
For casinos new to tournament operations and looking for specific help with DM Tournaments, Scientific Games has a marketing consulting team that can provide both training and best-of-breed experience, according to Keenan.
DM Tournaments will be shown at G2E on a traditional gaming cabinets and other gaming positions.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) is the global leader in gaming where players can experience their favorite games across all channels and regulated segments, from gaming machines and lotteries to interactive and social gaming.
“Leveraging a wealth of premium content, substantial investment in innovation, in-depth customer intelligence, operational expertise and leading-edge technology, our gaming solutions anticipate the demands of consumers wherever they decide to play,” said Sina Miri, vice president casino systems at IGT. “We have a well-established local presence and relationships with governments and regulators in more than 100 countries around the world, and create value by adhering to the highest standards of service, integrity and responsibility.”
The company offers a full suite of slot tournament solutions that add excitement and competition to any casino floor. These systems include Spin Ferno for mechanical reel slot tournaments on the S3000 cabinet; Spin-Splosion! for video slot tournaments on the CrystalDual and CrystalSlant cabinets; a variety of video poker tournament solutions such as Ultimate X Poker Tournament and a traditional video slot product that makes player-favorite themes such as Red White & Blue and Gold Bar 7s available in a tournament format. All of IGT’s tournament solutions are fueled by its versatile Tournament Manager systems technology.
“IGT is the only supplier to offer turnkey tournament solutions across a wide spectrum of product lines, including mechanical reels, video slots and video poker,” Miri said. “Spin-Ferno and Spin-Splosion! comprise IGT’s TournXtreme product family which is marked by an elaborate, branded experience, automated leader boards, full CMS integration and additional value-add peripherals. Additionally, IGT’s tournament titles have a history of strong performance in cash mode, and in tournament mode. Operators can keep these top-performing titles on the floor producing, and quickly change from coin-in mode to tournament mode at the start of the event. This functionality eliminates the risk of reducing revenue due to the moving of machines and roping off areas.”
Tournament Manager is a proven, flexible systems solution that enables operators to host single or multi-site slot tournaments that can reduce or eliminate many of the expenses that are typically associated with facilitating non-automated tournaments. IGT’s tournament solutions enable operators to quickly change games from coin-in to tournament mode, minimizing machine downtime and eliminating the need to physically move slot machines to accommodate tournaments. Additionally, IGT’s library of tournament-compatible titles is anchored in some of the industry’s most celebrated game titles such as Siberian Storm and Red White & Blue.
“IGT’s tournament products enable operators to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to their players,” Miri said. “Whether it’s the lights and sounds of a Spin-Ferno tournament, the two-hand action required in a Spin-Splosion! competition, or the mental race of a video poker tournament, IGT’s tournament solutions inject a burst of palpable energy to a casino floor.”
The tournament solutions also create a myriad of operational advantages. Tournament Manager automates the majority of the formerly manual processes common to slot tournaments. Tasks such as registration, scheduling, prizing and reporting can all be completed through the system technology.
“Some of our customers connect several dozen EGMs to create a tournament, while others connect just a handful,” Miri said. “By being an IGT Advantage customer, operators can truly maximize the full potential of their Tournament Manager investment. IGT customers who leverage IGT Advantage in conjunction with Tournament Manager can enjoy added automation with tasks such as event registration, player segmentation, leaderboard communication and event reporting.”
IGT plans to display its tournament solutions at G2E along with hosting daily slot tournaments and awarding exciting prizes throughout the three-day event. “We are also saving a few tournament-related surprises for the show,” said Miri. “G2E attendees will have to stop by our booth to learn more about IGT’s latest advancements in tournament technologies.”
Everi remains dedicated to providing video and mechanical reel gaming content and technology solutions, integrated gaming payments solutions and compliance and efficiency software.
The gaming division at Everi provides comprehensive content, electronic gaming units and systems for Native American and commercial casinos, including both wide-area progressive systems and the award winning TournEvent slot tournament solution, among others. The web-based TournEvent is a true turnkey tournament system that only needs one staff member to setup and run an entire tournament, offering casinos more flexibility and less manual actions from operators, thus decreasing human errors, lowering overall operating expenses and making it faster to run.
“TournEvent revolutionized slot tournaments for both slot operators and players,” said John Carpenter, senior product manager at Everi. “At the simple click of a mouse, operators have the ability to seamlessly switch from in-revenue gaming to out-of-revenue tournaments within seconds. TournEvent increases operator efficiency with the updated features in scoring, reporting and round management. For players, new TournEvent game titles brings a fresh new look to a slot tournament that already promises an adrenaline-fueled adventure. TournEvent continues to enhance player experience and eliminate operator headaches with a number of enhancements that prove this system triumphs above the rest.”
The latest TournEvent 5.0 version adds new system features that automate many tournament processes that operators are currently manually doing as well as new tournament games that include more interactive bonuses and require more skill from players. New system features include:
• Automated wild card drawing that allows operators to perform virtual wild card drawings at the beginning of any round (round one excluded) in order to randomly advance players to subsequent round;
• Automated wild card round that randomly selects players to compete in a special “wild card” round for potential round advancement during tournament;
• Automated VIP filtering that only select players will be automatically registered into tournaments;
• Find seat helper system that assigns a number and bank color to each player during registration; and
• On deck display that cycles through active, on deck and up-coming session player times.
TournEvent also has an expansive game library which helps operators customize their tournaments even more with games that keep players engaged. “Unique bonus opportunities that improve scores or automatically move a player to first place keep the excitement level high,” Carpenter said. “And with premium lighting and signage packages available, casinos can create a visually stunning gaming environment that puts an instant spotlight on their slot tournaments.”
Two new tournament themes showcased on TournEvent 5.0 system include Electric Diamond and Fruit Ninja.
“TournEvent user interface is web-based and is easy for anyone to pick up…however every casino is given a full training course on how to best use the system as well as a best practice that teaches operators how to run successful tournaments,” said Carpenter. “We plan to showcase our newest TournEvent 5.0 system with all the latest tournament themes along with some of our new in revenue slot products that can be installed on existing tournament gaming machines [at G2E].”