Despite the fact electronic table games (ETGs) currently comprise less than 1 percent of games on the casino floor, the multi-player devices continue to garner attention from U.S. casino operators and gaming equipment manufacturers.
The reason: ETGs currently comprise 25-30 percent of the gaming floor in some Asian and European casinos, and some industry observers see North American casino facilities heading in this direction.
“Several years ago, it was relatively uncommon to see ETG installations in U.S. casinos, but today they are becoming key attractions at gaming venues of all sizes and types,” said Matteo Carli, senior vice president produce marketing ETG and poker for International Game Technology PLC (IGT). “In other geographies, such as Macau, ETGs have long been staples on casino floors and in those cases, the focus is more on enhancing the player experiences, rather than introducing and defining it. IGT identifies growth opportunity in this product segment through increased placements and the introduction of different games. As operators look to attract players of varied demographics, and also players who prefer Asia-style gaming, ETGs represent one way to achieve both goals.“
In the last few years, ETGs have been making some noticeable advances due to better market research. “Three years ago, one of the greatest disadvantages within the ETG segment was our understanding of how to evaluate the overall impact of ETGs on the casino floor and its ability to compete with slots,” said John Connelly, CEO at Interblock. “We are learning that ETGs need to be analyzed in their own category. In years past, operators were observing ETGs from a house average perspective. Now, several large operators are starting to categorize ETGs outside of their slot machine and table games reports by placing them into their own category.”
“In addition, data has verified that ETGs are able to reduce operating expenses versus traditional game play, while maintaining similar handle and hold ratios,” Connelly added. “We are now able to create $5 and $10 ETG pits that are reducing labor costs and operating expenses while driving revenue to the bottom line.”
Also boosting ETG demand is the popularity of the format among online game aficionados. “Interactive and online gaming support ETG products really nicely,” said Gabe Baron, senior director, electronic table games for Scientific Games. “Players find similar interfaces and become familiar with the concept of making wagers electronically. The more comfortable players become in betting in this fashion, the more you will see both platforms benefit long-term.”
No doubt the player enjoyment of live table play also crosses over onto the ETG front—after all, tables and ETGs share the same DNA. That said, content on an ETG platform can actually deliver experiences the player may not find at a standard table such as unique bet types and bonusing methods not available to traditional chip-and-dealer table games, according to Baron.
“Beyond that, most ETG manufacturers have upped their games—cabinets are becoming more and more appealing, and content is diversifying beyond the standard roulette, baccarat, blackjack and dice games,” Baron said. “Most importantly, players are far more comfortable with putting a portion of their gaming wallet towards ETG play now than in years past.”
For these reasons. ETGs are viewed as a game on the rise within the gaming community, and vendors are responding with new games and prototypes designed to entice both operators and players. Below are some of the latest ETG offerings from major gaming suppliers.
Scientific Games offers quite an array of ETG products, and continues gain market share with its Fusion line of core ETG products. Table Master Fusion pits up to five players against one of several filmed dealers, and features titles like Playboy Bonus Blackjack, Royal Match 21 Blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em and Three Card Poker. Fusion Auto Roulette utilizes player terminals with an automated roulette wheel in customizable configurations to fit any casino floor’s need. Fusion Virtual Multigame uses the same terminal to bring virtualized roulette, baccarat and sic bo games to players of all levels. And Fusion Hybrid allows completely customized stadium and arena configurations of terminals, all connected to live-dealt games including Dragon Bonus Baccarat, roulette, the very popular Stadium Blackjack and the company’s newest release, Stadium Casino War.
“Table Master Fusion is our most-installed ETG product in North America, as it allows casinos the flexibility to offer 24/7 blackjack, Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’Em at a lower price point for players than games live in the pit,” Baron said. “The blackjack titles on Table Master Fusion also stand out in that they concurrently offer Bet the Set 21 and Royal Match 21, the two most popular blackjack side bets in North America. Globally, our Fusion Hybrid product leads in connecting players to live baccarat, roulette, sic bo and Stadium Blackjack outcomes, and the line continues to grow both in seats placed and in content available for all markets. Fusion Hybrid sets itself apart with its exceptionally simple-to-use UI and the availability of concurrent games for players to wager upon. Lastly, with the backing of the Shuffle Master library of table game titles, the content available continues to be second to none.”
As for new ETG concepts, one of the most recent is the PRIZM GameTable which seats four players at a common multi-touch display, allowing them the chance to bet both shared and individual outcomes as well as entering community bonus events.
“The bar is being raised on ETG innovation nowadays and we spend a lot of time considering how to offer players the most exciting and innovative experiences possible,” Baron added. “Our brand new PRIZM GameTable takes a single 65-inch 4K display and allows four players to touch it simultaneously without error… up to 100 touches at once, in fact. Couple that with new game content that blurs the line between traditional and next-generation play, and you’ve got a really compelling product that can only grow as time passes.”
Meanwhile, on Fusion Hybrid, Scientific Games is taking proprietary table games like Three Card Poker from its Shuffle Master library and reimagining them for a stadium setting--common cards dealt to all players, but with very different results depending on what the players decide to do during gameplay. The result will be something not really seen prior—almost a “choose your own adventure” game of sorts.
“Without tipping our hand too much, it’s important to continue implementing next-generation displays and form factors, and we definitely want to continue pushing the envelope on content and leveraging games and features that fall within our company’s portfolio of IP,” Baron said.
Interblock is a worldwide leading developer and supplier of luxury ETG 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.
Products fall under three generator types: automated, dealer assist, video and bar tops. The automated gaming devices are fully programmed, independently operated machines that use, for example, a real roulette wheel and ball, dice and cards to generate automated results without a dealer.
The StarBar brings popular traditional table games to bar tops for the first time. It is a play station offering a blend of traditional table games and video poker games. StarBar can be installed into any existing or new bar top, and can be customized to meet the requirements of any gaming establishment. The innovative play station can be used as a standalone bar top gaming machine and/or connected to external generators to play Interblock’s dealer assist or automated games—including those based on dice, cards and roulette.
“This is one of the greatest advantages Interblock has to offer to the casino industry,” Connelly said. “For over 25 years, we have been focused on one segment of the casino floor—that being ETGs. This focus and innovation has enabled us to see the evolution of this product first-hand and the positive impact it is having on the casino industry.”
And with the concept of ETGs drawing in more new-carded players than any other product on the casino floor, Interblock is focused on creating new concepts, innovations and is constantly looking to make its products more efficient, while creating a complete portfolio of ETG products.
Interblock also continues to excel with the sale of its Diamond Stadium. “Our Stadiums can be configured with automated, video, dealer assist generators and/or live table platforms based on footprint availability,” Connelly said. “This flexible platform provides operators with the most efficient use of floor space when multiple games are activated, while providing a high-visibility focal point on any casino floor. It offers the most versatile stadium game portfolio to generate play 24/7 and reduces operating expenses.”
At G2E 2017, Interblock demonstrated new games such as bingo, keno, tournaments and a live craps table that allows a player to shoot real dice within a stadium environment, bringing even more excitement to the product. The company also displayed four new dice games, designed to leapfrog traditional ETG dice concepts. These games will offer a new “shooter” button designed to enable a player to control the dice on an ETG. This patented technology will significantly enhanced a player’s ability to interact even more with an ETG.
Looking ahead to G2E 2018, Interblock plans to announce new product segments that address the demand for casinos generating a lower net win per day. These products will reportedly deliver the same quality and luxury brand that Interblock is known for, but at a price point that allows all casinos to offer the latest ETG technology.
IGT offers live table games and random number generated (RNG) games. Within its portfolio the company currently offers baccarat, roulette and blackjack games.
ETGs represent a strategic component of IGT’s overall product portfolio. “IGT is committed to our role as a total solutions provider for our customers,” Carli said. “In an effort to grow our ETG business, we are introducing a broader games portfolio, and advanced technologies in our terminal offerings. In addition, we closely monitor player trends, conduct internal and external testing and are in regular dialogue with our customers about how we can help them grow their businesses and expand their ETG footprint.”
IGT’s principle ETG product is the Dynasty terminal. The company recently introduced a new Dynasty terminal that features a high-definition landscape display and a robust content offering. IGT’s ETGs also integrate with its PlaySpot mobile wagering solution, enabling players to bet on live table games from their mobile devices, from approved locations on the casino floor.
Live Blackjack features shared community cards and hands that create social engagement similar to live table games while maintaining a lower minimum bet entry point to encourage new or recreational players to join-in. The ETG plays similar to a live-table blackjack game but is designed specifically for an electronic table game environment: The dealer receives a second card after all player decisions are made and players share the same first two cards. The game features the exclusive Upcard Luck 21 side bet, which boasts an 80:1 payout, and additional tiered payouts for other side bet wins. Game productivity can be increased with live dealers supporting numerous terminals. What makes this game different than live table games is that multiple games within the Dynasty library can be played concurrently on the same terminal by one or 100-plus players at the same time, using just one dealer as well as the various table limit, speed of play and betting chip options used.
Players also can’t wait to spin the Double Zero Roulette wheel. This game features the functionality of live roulette with an updated look and feel: Traditional roulette holds familiarity with experienced players and gives new players the chance to play the game in a relaxed environment.
The recent big news for Konami Gaming in the ETG space was the market release of its Fortune Cup mechanical horse racing game, bringing modern technology improvements to a high-demand gaming format enjoyed by generations.
The game features a 9-foot wide mechanical track with eight horses that travel freely and independently across the course. The horses’ actions are mirrored by real-time digital animation on connected LCD screens in a sports broadcast format, and players place their bets through touchscreen stations with race stats, horse odds, mystery progressive jackpots and comprehensive bet options for win, place and quinella. Following months of success on the Las Vegas Strip under Nevada’s New Innovation Beta (NIB) program, Fortune Cup is now live at four locations and is expanding across North America, according to a press release.
“Mechanical horse racing is a unique attraction and beloved casino classic for its shared social experience, fun creative ingenuity and irresistible nostalgia,” said Tom Jingoli, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Konami Gaming. “Konami’s Fortune Cup is bringing that dynamic back to the casino with top quality and advanced features for players to enjoy for years to come. Fortune Cup has proven entertainment value both in the legacy of the product category and Konami’s roots as an amusement company for nearly 50 years.”
As the casino division of one of the world’s top gaming entertainment companies, Konami Gaming developed Fortune Cup based on proven technology from the organization’s video game and arcade divisions. Its core processing is powered by a proprietary cross-platform game engine and the machine’s hardware components have logged years of time-tested performance and durability under Konami’s amusement arcade division. Fortune Cup is a continuation of Konami’s specialty expertise in large multi-station products, designed for unique amusement and attraction.
“Fortune Cup is designed to provide new entertainment options to players and appeal to a broad audience, which we’ve seen affirmed in several ways by outcomes and results from launch locations,” Jingoli said. “It carries the most advanced technology in the history of this product category, without compromising the quintessential charm. The response from players has been strong and we’re looking forward to continued growth.”