Few would argue the fact that mobile technology continues to detonate across every aspect of the casino enterprise. And, according to equipment providers, one gaming area where mobile has made a particularly dramatic impact is the slot floor.
“Similar to the implementation of player loyalty cards years ago, mobile technology provides entirely new opportunities for data and analytics while delivering a higher level of personalization for customers with relevant offers and communications,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management at Konami Gaming. “It leverages technology that’s already in the hands of players—with established adoption and availability—and uses it to deliver greater engagement, entertainment and rewards.”
The use of mobile technology can increase the speed and efficiency of most gaming departments, including the slot floor, with its ability to identify VIP players and capture their market information. The technology can also simplify day-to-day operational tasks such as player club enrollment.
“We’re seeing tremendous growth in providing player services on the casino floor, which traditionally have been handled at a club desk or casino cage,” said Jeff Scott, CEO of Infinite Peripherals. “These services include everything from club enrollment, checking available comps, and updating player contact information, to reprinting player cards and capturing e-mail addresses.”
When it comes to the current state of mobile technology emerging on the slot floor, Charles Cohen, vice president of product marketing mobile for International Games Technology PLC (IGT) may have hit the nail on the head when he said, “I would liken the current state of mobile gaming technology to a volcano. On the exterior we may see a bit of smoke emanating from the top, and at a glance it may appear that not much is going on. However, under the surface it’s a different story—there is tremendous movement and positioning underway.”
“The prevalence of mobile technology in all aspects of society, and the ease of access that it allows, has created a demand for new ways to engage and interact with consumers and a need for a constant flow of information,” added Greg Colella, vice president of product marketing, gaming division at Scientific Games. “When customers walk into a casino, they expect the same level of convenience and service that mobile technology allows them in their daily lives.”
Truth be told, mobile technology is growing more prevalent across a multitude of touchpoints surrounding today’s casino experience, finding a home with every area of consumer commerce; and casinos are continuously incorporating this technology to benefit operations and provide better customer experiences. Below is a rundown of some suppliers that are finding new ways to update slot floor products using mobile technology:
As a total solutions provider, IGT’s mobile innovations represent an integral component of its overall product portfolio and they extend across multiple product lines. The company offers mobile systems solutions such as Mobile Host and Mobile Responder, mobile convenience apps such as Cardless Connect, mobile wagering opportunities such as PlaySpot, and a deep, proven mobile content library via IGT’s Remote Game Server (RGS).
“Integrating mobile technology into the casino environment presents many advantages for the operator,” Cohen said. “Not only are they providing a service that will please a segment of their customers, they can reap the benefits of operational efficiencies as well. Through mobile casino management systems applications such as IGT’s Mobile Host and Mobile Responder, casino floor and table management systems are moving out from behind a desktop computer and into the hands of slot teams, support engineers and patron-relations professionals.”
Through these connected apps, operators can optimize slot floors and more readily personalize customer service. Additionally, operators are able to capture meaningful, real-time business intelligence on a scale that was not possible before the introduction of mobile technology. For example, in the case of IGT’s PlaySpot, an operator can entertain an unlimited number of players on a “hot” table game that would otherwise only accommodate five or six players. In an instance such as this, the players will welcome the opportunity to participate in the game, and operators now have a resource to accommodate more patrons without adding operating costs.
Meanwhile, IGT’s Lucky’s Quest is a current example of an innovative casino game that leverages mobile technology to create a truly unique casino experience. Lucky’s Quest is a skill-based slot game that players can enjoy on a mobile device or slot machine, and then exchange their in-game progress between the two channels.
IGT’s Powerbucks is another industry-first example that harnesses the power of mobile to deliver a compelling offering. Powerbucks joins jackpot liquidity between the land-based, mobile and desktop versions of the game to create a jackpot pool that has the potential to accrue at an accelerated rate.
“Augmented Reality (AR)—a technology that involves projecting digital objects that people can interact with in the physical world, yet are seen through the screen on your mobile—is generating tremendous buzz in the technology space,” Cohen added. “Just a few years ago this notion was science fiction to many, yet today its standard-issued technology on new iPhone or Android devices. How this technology will impact gaming is impossible to predict given its nascent state. IGT identifies opportunity to apply this technology to mobile slots, table games and even in-casino sports betting, and we’re excited and inspired by the possibilities.”
Infinite Peripherals, a leading innovator of iOS business solutions, aims to empower businesses to operate more efficiently. The company offers barcode scanner data and insights that impact the bottom line in real-time as well as secure payment processing solutions on the sales floor. Infinite Peripherals also delivers solutions that help associates engage with customers in impactful ways. With over one million solutions deployed, Infinite Peripherals enhances operations in several industries including gaming.
Infinite Peripherals was is widely known as the first company to pioneer line busting by leveraging the Apple iPod Touch. Since its initial deployment in Apple stores in November 2009, Infinite Peripherals has delivered solutions across a variety of vertical markets including transportation and gaming (player enrollment, ID/age verification, slot route operations, player tracking, ticket redemption, group event and payment processing).
“We are very excited at the opportunity to continue developing new and groundbreaking solutions for the gaming industry, including custom hardware to turnkey application solutions,” said Scott. “The number one benefit from our solutions is that it allows avid betters and gamblers to do more of what they love—spend more time at the tables and on the slots. In addition, casino staff will be able to provide more personalized, expedited and improved guest service on the floor. Our solutions allow staff members to access patron information with ease, eliminating errors and paper use.”
“Furthermore, improved delivery services to hotels, warehouse logistics and retail management are starting to play a crucial role for the gaming industry as well,” Scott added. “Our team closely looks at these trends and finds the best way to apply them into our suite of solutions.”
The incorporation of Infinite Peripherals solutions allows for operators to increase guest service capabilities without increasing expenses. “Mobility solutions are actually proven to reduce costs for operators,” Scott said.
Infinite Peripherals also offers a wide variety of mobile products that are iOS based with SDK’s available to work with the various software products used in casinos today.
Other mobile trends being looked at by Infinite Peripherals include using mobile devices to analyze driver’s licenses and passports and to help with payment processing. “Infinite Peripherals is always looking to integrate and combine solutions to simplify the overall workflow, such as combining a barcode reader and UV scanner into one device,” Scott said. This integration would allow casino staff to not only identify the player, but also verify their government issued ID in one operation. The technology could also be applied when reading UV bands on currency, according to Scott.
“We are also working on improving our highly respected line of mobile printers, to allow slot employees to easily encode and print a player card in the future,” Scott added.
Konami’s gaming business was first established in Australia in 1996, and expanded to the U.S. the year directly following. Today it supports all major gaming markets around the world with top casino games entertainment and casino systems technology. Through its parent company KONAMI HOLDINGS CORPORATION in Japan, Konami had the opportunity to leverage a wealth of leading edge gaming technology for the casino space, including an NFC mobile authentication system that has shown demonstrated success at businesses abroad.
Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system gives casino operators flexibility and control over the slot floor by capturing machine transactions by game, denomination and patron, delivering true patron theoretical win for multi-game machines based on what games they play. With its continued advancements throughout the years, 2018 plans to bring cardless mobile technology to SYNKROS.
“Mobile authentication and mobile payment options have been implemented in industries spanning retail, banking, transportation, service and more. Near-field communication (NFC) is one of the most trusted methods to deliver these solutions,” Walther said. “It is a short-range wireless technology that allows users to establish contactless communication from their personal smartphone within about 10 centimeters of a target. NFC’s ease of use and accuracy has contributed to its growth as a rising global trend, even reaching Konami’s latest SYNKROS casino systems enhancements.”
“We’re looking forward to delivering this new cardless mobile technology to Konami’s SYNKROS customers beginning this year,” Walther added. “One of the top SYNKROS innovations this year is a hybrid at-machine card reader that combines NFC and radio frequency identification (RFID) through a card reader bezel so casino players have a variety of secure authentication methods to replace a traditional player loyalty card at the EGM. Players can use a number of convenient alternatives such as their personal smartphone, a room key, fobs and more to card-in at the machine rather than being tethered to a traditional players card each time they visit the casino. It provides more ways to bridge the common barriers to carded play and make the loyalty experience seamless with technology players already have in the palm of their hand.”
As a global leader in the gaming and lottery industries, Scientific Games’ mission is to empower customers by creating the world’s best gaming and lottery experiences. Its games, systems, content, services, gaming machines and interactive products are designed to reach players wherever they are, whenever they want to play and in any channel they choose: retail, casino or digital. So it comes as no surprise that the company’s gaming and interactive divisions are developing world-class content that players love for both land-based and online venues.
For land-based traditional slot gaming, Scientific Games has implemented a number of features and developed products based on mobile technology. On the slot machine, players will find integrated USB charger ports into the new TwinStar family of new cabinets, which give the availability to charge mobile devices while at the game.
“Our Systems division has developed a few products that capitalize on mobile technology,” Colella said. “One is called Take ‘N Play, which allows players to leave the physical slot machine they are playing and take the game with them through the use of a hand-held tablet. Another innovation allows players to initiate a play session without their player loyalty card, either by entering a unique set of digits or by scanning a QR code with their smartphone.”
The presence of mobile channels has led Scientific Games to the development of products that enhance the player experience while they’re at home, online or on-the-go. The SG Universe product suite is a holistic solution that provides 360-degree player engagement anywhere and anytime the player chooses. By putting a social casino, loyalty account access, loyalty linking with spending and earning capabilities and a casino’s amenities in the palm of the player’s hand, SG Universe gives players an all-access pass to the property. Meanwhile, the casino can use player data to extend exclusive marketing offers based on a user’s behavior on or off the property. It’s a truly all-encompassing platform that extends a casino’s reach beyond the brick-and-mortar.
However, a current general trend is the move towards card-less systems, and Scientific Games currently offers two solutions in this area that allow players to initiate a play session without using their loyalty card but ensure the same security that a card does. Players can enter a pin or phone number directly into the iVIEW player interface on the gaming machine, or scan a QR code with a smartphone app.
“We are working on the next step in cardless systems—cashless solutions,” Colella said. “We are currently developing a Mobile Wallet that will allow players to initiate gameplay with a swipe of their smartphone rather than inserting money into the machine. The benefits of casino operators not having to deal with large amounts of cash are numerous, not to mention the increased security and most importantly the convenience for players.”
Augmented and virtual reality platforms are currently being explored at Scientific Games as well, changing the way they make games and transforming how players interact. “As creators work to respond to these trends, they must adapt to the landscape,” Colella said. “Sometimes seemingly insignificant tweaks can make a huge impact. This is evident in LeapMotion technology in some of our land-based machines and in portrait mode gaming in the online space. Both innovations offer a refreshing twist on how a game or bonus is normally experienced. Evolution is a constant in this industry, so innovation becomes crucial.”
Players at Foxwoods keep an eyeON mobile technology
Pariplay Ltd., a provider of Internet gaming systems, offering state-of-the-art, in-house developed gaming platforms and Internet games as well as integrated third-party games from leading industry companies, recently announced a technology partnership with Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Connecticut-based resort and casino complex owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Foxwoods has adopted eyeON, Pariplay’s interactive gaming platform, allowing guests to enjoy digital gaming on-property, subject to any necessary legislation and regulatory review and approval, according to a recent press release.
Pariplay’s eyeON was granted Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) certification in 2015, and can now provide Foxwoods Resort Casino’s seven gaming floors, four award-winning hotels and over 35 restaurants, with an all-encompassing, integrated digital gaming experience. Complementing Foxwoods casinos’ vast collection of over 4,100 slot machines and 250 gaming tables, eyeON can help keep guests engaged on-property 24/7 by providing access to hundreds of digital games via a Foxwoods-branded mobile application and web portal.
Downloadable to guests’ own tablets or smartphones or accessible on the web, the eyeON omni-channel platform utilizes age and identity verification technology, robust responsible gaming features, and the latest geolocation and proximity technologies to determine the location of Foxwoods guests. From a casino bar to the hotel room to the pool, guests may use the system to wager real-money on state-of-the-art Pariplay-developed casino slots, including branded titles such Atari Pong, X-O Manowar and Atari Asteroids, as well as original slots like Jack in the Box and Pets, along with a range of third-party content integrated from a variety of game manufacturers.
eyeON can also provide guests with real-money instant win, scratch cards and bingo games developed in-house by Pariplay. The platform further expands Foxwoods’ casino floor by offering customers a range of third-party content from verticals outside the scope of the resort’s physical property, including content like virtual sports wagering, live table games and instant tournaments.
“Interactive gaming is a critical growth factor for the land-based casino industry in the U.S.,” said Gili Lisani, founder and CEO of Pariplay. “We feel that the growth is closely tied to on-premises interactive gaming using mobile devices, and our eyeON product remains the pioneering product in this space. Our partnership with Foxwoods, one of the world’s leading land-based casino groups, allows Pariplay to demonstrate our leadership potential as a significant technology player in U.S. gaming. Pariplay will almost certainly play an instrumental role in its digital future.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Pariplay and leverage their world class interactive gaming platform to lay the groundwork for our entry into the U.S. iGaming market,” said Seth Young, director of online gaming at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “The Pariplay on-premises solution is an exciting new amenity that will allow our guests to game anywhere that is legally permissible, and will allow us to prepare for broader opportunities outside of the four walls of the physical property. Developing an interactive gaming program is the next step in Foxwoods’ commitment to providing an ever-expanding range of amenities to match the changing needs of our guests, and to continue to be first-to-market with unique experiences for visitors. It is also an excellent new business opportunity for this organization, and by proxy the state of Connecticut, as iGaming has demonstrated its ability to both drive new revenues and augment the operations at brick-and-mortar facilities. This is a major step forward for Foxwoods.”