If you call them, they will come… especially if they are Millennials seeking a better casino experience. Indeed, new mobile apps developed specifically for the gaming industry have already greatly improved communication between casino operators and younger clientele, and the second generation of these applications will include increasingly sophisticated capabilities.
“The role of personal mobile devices in the casino experience is not far from making the transition from ‘value-add’ to ‘must-have,’” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management at Konami Gaming. People of all generations are growing more expectant of mobile conveniences.”
Konami Gaming’s SYNKROS is just one example of a player loyalty program that allows customers to use their personal smartphones at the slot machine, or potentially any transactional touchpoint, in place of the traditional players’ card that is slowly fading away. “It’s something Konami is working diligently to deliver through 2018 and beyond to help provide casino properties new ways to reach customers with modern convenience,” Walther said.
Slot providers are not alone when it comes to integrating technology to provider better communications between casino services and increasingly mobile-dependent customers. Truth be told, more and more land-based operators are jumping on the mobile applications bandwagon to offer customers continuing entertainment and engagement with their properties while at a location of the players choice.
One encouraging example can be found with the launch of Play JACK from JACK Entertainment. Last year, Play JACK was created to give guests the opportunity to play some of their favorite casino games for free online. “It’s a great way for our guests to experience games they may not have played before,” said Darlene Monzo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, JACK Entertainment. “It’s also rewarding as they earn valuable comp dollars that they can redeem at any JACK location. Play JACK is just one more way for JACK Entertainment to connect with our guests and provide them with a full entertainment experience 24/7.”
And it is hard to argue with Greg Colella, vice president of product marketing, gaming for Scientific Games, when he states, “As in many industries, mobile technology and the use of high-performance smartphones have revolutionized every aspect of the casino gaming industry.” Scientific Games continues to innovate and research, and is creating cloud-based solutions, cashless solutions and exploring new ways to use mobile devices, Colella added.
Of course, improved mobile capabilities are only one way leading operators and suppliers are looking to entice more terrestrial and online visitation from younger generations. Below is a better look at the latest products and practices JACK Entertainment and a few leading suppliers now offer that aim to attract Millennial interest.
In addition to improving aspects of SYNKROS to better jibe with the demands of increasingly tech-savvy casino customers, Konami is continuously working to pioneer next generation gaming entertainment, including skill-based games, to appeal to multigenerational players. “With the worldwide video game and arcade legacy of our parent company, Konami carries a steep tradition of innovative game entertainment spanning everything from Metal Gear Solid to Dance Dance Revolution,” Walther said. “Today we’re bringing that legacy and innovative spirit to the casino space with new concepts like Beat Square, and classic themes like Castlevania and Frogger. By supporting operators with a growing diversity of gaming entertainment, Konami is providing new ways to reach new audiences. The market is hungry for these emerging product types and we’re excited to be a part of pioneering its development.”
Konami is uniquely positioned to bring new entertainment and reach new audiences through a decades-long heritage of amusement and gaming technology combined with advanced engineering from its parent company in Japan. That provides the foundation for unique development opportunities to help create future product in the industry and reach new demographics. For example, Konami’s new Fortune Cup multi-station game brings back the classic excitement and engagement of mechanical horse racing with advanced technology. “It has a timeless appeal that generations have enjoyed, now modernized with touchscreen interfaces; up-to-the-minute stats; advanced betting functionality for win, place and quinella; mystery progressive jackpots; and real-time digital animation of race events featured across a large LCD,” said Walther. “Initial trials for Fortune Cup under Nevada’s New Innovation Beta (NIB) program have produced exciting results for the Las Vegas launch locations and Konami looks forward to its anticipated continued expansion through the next year.”
The rhythmic skill-based game, Beat Square has been another innovative attempt in bring the next generation to the gaming floor. Beat Square is based on a popular arcade game in Japan, and one of the reasons the company identified its potential for the gaming industry is because it has the power to reach younger audiences as well as today’s core player base. “We were looking for something to engage multiple demographics across all generations, and that is what games like this have achieved in Japanese arcades,” said Walther. Beat Square is similar to other Konami rhythmic coordination games like Dance Dance Revolution, but instead of players moving only their feet, they also incorporate their hands into play to tap randomized choreographed square buttons across an elevated dashboard as they light up to the beat of the music. In addition, Beat Square is the industry’s first skill-based game with comprehensive tournament functionality, allowing players to compete individually and in teams. To date, it is something unique to the casino floor and could have the potential to reach new and existing players with new gaming options they can enjoy personally and/or play simultaneously with friends.
Scientific Games Corp. continues to be a leading developer of technology-based products and services as well as associated content for worldwide gaming, lottery and interactive markets. The company’s portfolio includes gaming machines, game content and systems; table games products and shufflers; instant and draw-based lottery games; server-based lottery and gaming systems; sports betting technology; loyalty and rewards programs; and interactive content and services. And with such a large portfolio of offerings, it’s not surprising they are at the top of the game when it comes to attracting younger players.
Many of Scientific Games’ latest marketing systems and interactive products are mobile solutions that enable casinos to reach the younger generations. The SG Universe product suite features components that provide operators with a casino-branded online and mobile presence. The suite of products includes the Mobile Concierge platform, which gives players an all-access pass to a property’s services and amenities including the ability to book resort services, review their loyalty account information and more. Also included is the Play4Fun Network social casino, a proven platform with a virtual currency economy that features player-favorite content found on the casino’s floor.
“This app is a particularly effective way to reach and interact with younger players who enjoy playing games on their mobile devices,” Colella said. “Core Systems Integration technology ties the experience together, allowing players to access their loyalty account information anytime, anywhere and providing the casino with valuable information to continually engage players based on their behavior both on and off the casino floor.”
SG Universe allows operators to increase engagement with patrons and to keep them immersed in the casino’s brand at home, on-the-go and during each visit to the casino floor, Colella added.
When at the casino, Scientific Games’ innovative systems surround younger players with technology they are familiar with, such as the state-of-the-art multi-touch display of the iVIEW 4. The new iVIEW 4 and accompanying iVIEW Display Manager is Scientific Games’ next generation of player interface display. The iVIEW 4 enables the casino to display dynamic marketing animations and video with instant response through the multi-touch display on the gaming machine, which like SG Universe, also increases player engagement and interaction.
Casinos can launch floor-level interactive promotions and games that appeal to younger generations through the iVIEW 4 using the Elite Bonusing Suite (EBS), which is a group of applications that allow casinos to interact with and reward players. An example of an EBS application is the Virtual Racing app that runs a group promotional event allowing players to select a car or horse to cheer on. The virtual race is broadcasted on the iVIEW 4 display on individual gaming machines, as well as CoolSign managed displays throughout the casino.
“Scientific Games invests a significant amount of resources into innovation and technology, setting new standards in the gaming industry” Colella said. “The company leads the way in the design, manufacturing and distribution of premium gaming content, gaming machines and systems, as well as the development of interactive content and services. This innovation and leadership is based on extensive industry knowledge and proven market research methods that result in a deep understanding of player and casino demand and preferences.”
“Once in the casino, Scientific Games has a variety of new and innovative products designed to appeal to younger slot players,” Colella added. These offering include:
- State-of-the-art, interactive cabinets with sleek, modern designs that immerse players in the game’s world. These include the TwinStar J43 and TwinStar V75 with their large, 4K resolution, touchscreen displays, as well as the Gamescape cabinet that has a gesture control device that allows players to interact with the game.
- The Prizm Game Table features a 65-inch, 4K resolution, ultra-high-definition widescreen display that provides an exciting community gaming experience, allowing up to four players to play at once. The Prizm Game Table will soon launch with Monopoly Evolution that will allow four players to spin the reels and play Monopoly inspired bonuses.
- Skilled-based games, such as the new Space Invaders slot game allows players to spin the reels and play the Space Invaders video game for big rewards.
- Licensed slot games based on some of the hottest entertainment brands including The Simpsons, James Bond, Iron Man, Spider-man, Playboy, Monopoly and Anchorman.
- Thrilling floor-wide promotional community games and events launched using the Elite Bonusing Suite on the iVIEW 4 display, designed to interact with players and build excitement on the casino floor.
“Scientific Games’ SG Universe product suite enables casinos to build a branded online and mobile presence that allows them to interact with current and potential players all over the world,” Colella said. “The Play4Fun Network social casino gives land-based casinos the ability to launch their own branded social casino gaming platform and to build engaged online player communities. The Play4Fun Network social casino is a great way to engage new players, particularly younger players who like playing online games, and to introduce players to the casino and what it has to offer.”
JACK Entertainment is a Detroit-based urban gaming, entertainment and technology company focused on the development of gaming facilities that are designed to maximize connectivity and economic impact in the communities where its properties are located. JACK Entertainment and its affiliates’ portfolio of properties includes more than 13,000 gaming positions, 400,000 square feet of gaming space, 400 hotel rooms, 26 bars and 22 restaurants, and is comprised of approximately 7,000 team members across four states generating more than $1.4 billion in revenues.
“We are committed to providing a unique gaming and entertainment experience at each of our properties,” Monzo said. “We seek to consistently deliver new experiences for our loyal guests and new guests alike. Within the past year, we have launched several major technology enhancements focused on improving the guest experience. Those enhancements include Synergy Table Games, GT Connect and mobile app, BEV and self-service food kiosks.”
In 2016, JACK Entertainment’s portfolio property in Detroit—Greektown Casino-Hotel—was the first in the world to combine Interblock’s electronic table games technology with live-dealers for a brand new gaming experience which was branded Synergy Table Games. Synergy is an immersive arena-style experience that combines high-energy dealer entertainment, play-stations with multi-game capability, live DJs, pulsating lights and music, social interaction and giant video displays for a revolutionary approach to gaming. “Synergy is perfect for both experienced and inexperienced players as it allows our new gamers to get comfortable with gaming at their own pace and it also gives our experienced gamers a way to play multiple games at a time,” Monzo said. “It’s also perfect for the many young players seeking a more interactive and entertaining gaming experience.”
To enhance the guest experience and simplify participation with its loyalty program, JACK Entertainment developed GT Connect and launched a compatible mobile app. The patent-pending GT Connect technology connects a virtual player’s card via a secure USB port installed in all slot machines, and is also compatible with all table games. While connected, guests are able to earn rewards, download bonus play and securely charge their smartphones, using any USB cord. The mobile app features exclusive app-only promotions, comps and free play bonuses. The app also allows guests to request their vehicles from valet, redeem comps at restaurants, access offers on the go and more. “GT Connect and our mobile app launched at Greektown Casino-Hotel last year and is currently being rolled out to the high limit areas at our casinos in Ohio,” Monzo added.
To improve overall guest experience, JACK installed a system called BEV into slot machines for guests to order drinks right from their seat. Self-service kiosks are quickly becoming a norm in the industry at fast-casual restaurants, according to Monzo “We took this one step further by adding the ability for the kiosk to handle currency and redeem comp dollars, making it more convenient for guests,” she said.
But the customer conveniences don’t stop there. ClubJACK members can link their Play JACK account with their ClubJACK account to be able to earn 10 percent back in comps on purchased chips. Those comps can be used at any JACK property. JACK Online Casino is just one more way for JACK Entertainment guests to earn valuable rewards
“Innovation is in our DNA,” Monzo said. “JACK Entertainment is laser focused delivering relevant technology to our guests and team members, and continuing to improve the overall guest experience, not just what happens on the casino floor. Leveraging the guests’ mobile device to give them the same conveniences they use it for in a home environment will be a big leap forward for our industry. We are good listeners. We hear what our guests have to say—what they want and what they don’t want—and then we move aggressively forward to provide an unmatched gaming experience.”