Few would argue that for most of the U.S., the pace of new tribal casino development has slowed over the past decade.

This fact however has not diminished the growing acceptance and use of Class II gaming machine solutions in the tribal gaming space, and an ever increasing number of slot suppliers are creating new Class II cabinets and content to satisfy this growing demand.

“The Class II gaming market remains strong with real growth happening across the country,” said Andrew Burke, senior vice president of slot products for AGS. “Many casinos have done expansion projects in the last year and more are planned for 2018, along with a few new key casino openings. The state of the industry is very healthy and we’re excited to be a part of that.”

Indeed, although some tribes have captured the right to offer Class III slot machines through the compact process, many Indian casinos still rely on Class II devices and are pushing for more advanced products from suppliers. This increased competition and widespread focus on Class II innovation has resulted in more options for tribal casino operators and an elevated overall quality of solutions in the space.

“With the significant improvements in technology, Class II gaming has evolved into high performing, entertainment-filled product lines and is competing head-to-head with Class III gaming in many markets,” said Abhinay Bhagavatula, vice president, engineering and products at Eclipse Gaming Systems.

To help develop this segment, suppliers are working closely with casino partners to deliver unique solutions for their loyal patrons as well as to attract the younger generations and new demographics.  Mobile technology integration has been at the forefront in helping this segment grow, making it possible for suppliers to offer some of their most popular games on mobile applications that provide players continued entertainment, interaction and engagement while on the land-based casino location.

“The Class II segment is being positively impacted by investment in technology focused specifically on Class II from leading companies like VGT and Aristocrat Technologies,” said Jay Sevigny, president of VGT. “We have built our dedicated technology and game development teams that focus solely on Class II gaming, taking advantage of the unique experiences that can only be achieved within the Class II regulations of gaming. As part of this focus VGT / Aristocrat will deliver games to players across the casino floor, online and in the social and mobile space so players can experience our games anywhere, anytime.”

Perhaps a future path for Class II lies in combining popular online skill games with wagering concepts and bringing these hybrids to gamblers on tribal casino floors. This concept, along with integrating social games into Class II formats, are just a few of the many technology innovations taking place in this vital sector.

So, while Class III slots may garner most of the attention and press, Class II gaming machines still remain an essential source of sovereignty to gaming tribes across the country. Below you will find more examples of cutting-edge Class II products offered by leading slot machine manufactures:

AGS

AGS is a global company focused on creating a diverse mix of engaging gaming experiences for casino operators and players with roots firmly planted in the Class II Native American gaming market. Its customer-centric culture and dramatic expansion have helped the company branch out to become one of the most all-inclusive commercial gaming suppliers in the world.

Thanks to its long-term commitment and focus on tribal operators, the company’s continuously expanding slot library and growing jurisdictional licenses, AGS has become one of the leading Class II suppliers in the world.  Approximately 90 percent of all of its EGM game titles are made for both Class II and Class III machines and AGS’ strength is creating a nearly indiscernible gaming experience between the two classes. The company’s robust library of content is constantly on the rise to align with the continued growth of its core cabinet ICON and the release of its new premium cabinet Orion.

Recently, AGS acquired an installed base of approximately 1,600 Class II gaming machines across the U.S. that were operated by Rocket Gaming Systems. This all-cash asset purchase expanded the company’s Class II footprint in key markets such as California, Oklahoma, Montana, Washington and Texas. By significantly growing its Class II footprint, AGS believes it is also reinforcing its commitment to the Class II business while accelerating its yield-management strategy to partner with casino operators to upgrade their platforms and content over the next several years.

With the newly acquired assets, the company’s recurring revenue base worldwide has grown to approximately 23,800—with more than 12,000 Class II units in the U.S. alone. The Class II portfolio from Rocket includes wide-area progressive and standalone video and spinning-reel games and platforms, including the player-favorite Gold Series, a suite of games that feature a $1 million progressive prize and is the longest-standing million dollar wide-area progressive on tribal casino floors.

The company has also grown the business with its high-performing game content on new cabinets ICON and the Orion Portrait. Titles like Golden Wins and Jade Wins, two Asian-themed PowerXStream games on ICON, have been consistent performers, along with its Da Ji da Li Multi Linked Progressive.

This year AGS is focusing on continued growth with the launch of Orion Slant. The company is also introducing new Orion Portrait game titles that add even greater variety to its already high-performing library, as well as growing its progressive library with three new multi-link progressive solutions, including Xtreme Jackpots, which connects across Orion and its core-cabinet ICON.  AGS has also deepened the game library on ICON with many new titles and a new, four-level linked progressive called Money Charge Jackpots. For its Big Red cabinet, the company has introduced the new game Colossal Stars, which offers another powerful game title on the distinctive cabinet.

“In the coming year, operators are going to have more game title choices than ever,” said Brett Vela, slot product manager for AGS. “Beyond our high-performing titles like River Dragons and Fu Nan Fu Nu, we have some of our best content coming in 2018 and we’re certain players are going to love it just as much as—if not more than—our current games in the market. The upcoming library additions will include more games that link to our Xtreme Jackpots Progressive system with some killer features built into them that are entirely new to AGS. Our Xtreme Jackpots Progressive system is unique, too, in that it’s a progressive ecosystem that connects across our ICON and Orion cabinets to offer much larger jackpot totals that happen more frequently.” 

“We’re constantly exploring new ways to add exciting consumer technologies into our products, and we’ve successfully integrated a ton of them into our new hardware and cabinets,” Vela added. “It’s incredibly important that we consistently innovate based on the allowed Class II standards to keep our customers happy and to optimize our shared revenue.”

ECLIPSE GAMING

Founded in 2008, Eclipse Gaming recently transformed itself with a new brand and corporate culture, enhanced customer support and an expanded and innovative product line. With a clear focus on the Native American gaming market, the company designs and markets top performing games and systems that engage players and deliver results.

Class II tribal gaming is core to business at Eclipse Gaming and the company is deeply committed to its partnerships in this area. During the past year, the company has established a solid foundation for growth with the launch of SAROS, its premium game cabinet, which improves the player experience with enhanced graphics, dynamic lighting and player ergonomics. Coupled with its new game engine, the company is developing exciting and engaging content with new features and rich math models that are providing robust performance for customers.  The company continues to experience robust market growth and is expanding into additional Class II markets such as Florida, Washington, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Michigan.

Super Slots of Cash has quickly proven to be a top performer for Eclipse on both the high-limit and main slot floors and is surpassing performance expectations. Super Slots of Cash’s classic, easy-to-play three-reel, one-line game concept paired with rich math and volatility appeals to a variety of players. It has quickly become a top revenue producer for Eclipse Gaming.

Last year, the company also introduced its patented, modular game cabinet, SAROS. SAROS has been well received in Class II gaming and is improving performance for customers. In addition to 1080p full HD visuals, curves and emotive lighting, its truly modular design allows for versatility and extended lifespan.

In addition to new products, Eclipse Gaming also listened to feedback from customers and its player base and have taken some of its best loved titles such as Big & Bad, Lighting Strikes Twice and Ragin’ Bull to create the new Arcadia Select Multi-game series. Complete with new 1080p HD graphics and enhanced animations, Arcadia Select is available on the company’s premium SAROS cabinet.

Eclipse Gaming evaluates strategic partnerships and works with industry leading technologies to bring further innovation to its Class II offerings providing unique solutions for customers. The company is continuously enhancing its hardware platform to deliver new configurations that support advanced game content with innovative features. Its gaming platform supports interactive player features which provide an immersive experience to all players. With these innovations, Eclipse Gaming believes it is best positioned for the future with the next generation of technologies such as mobile, near field and beacon.

IGT

As a total solutions provider that is deeply committed to its tribal gaming customers, IGT offers a strong portfolio of Class II bingo games that the company continues to build upon. IGT produces video bingo games for a range of IGT cabinets, mechanical reel bingo games for the S3000 cabinet and premium Class II games such as Wheel of Fortune.

“IGT does not specifically disclose Class II performance data, however I can confirm that IGT is gaining momentum in the Class II segment, and is investing to develop and introduce new technology for the market,” said Ryan Reddy, vice president of video lottery terminal and Class II for IGT.

Over the last year, IGT built on the success of the S3000 cabinet by introducing new Class II stepper content for this popular hardware. “Our S3000 Class II games were quickly embraced by players and operators in Oklahoma, and later in other key Class II markets such as California, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana,” Reddy said.

At NIGA, IGT will debut new video Class II games and showcase select video bingo titles on the AXXIS 23/23 cabinet—an IGT gaming machine that has yet to be readily distributed in North America. IGT’s Ascent game development platform enables the company to seamlessly migrate its successful “Proven Performer” Class III titles such as Elephant King and Dancing Reels Salsa to a Class II format, which extends the popular gameplay that propelled the original games’ success. Several of these new games, such as a Class II version of Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania, are live in California-casinos and with performance being closely monitored.

IGT’s Class II portfolio remains a significant area of focus for the company and an area where the company is continually innovating to better serve its customers. “The introduction of IGT’s Falcon Bingo system has positively impacted the overall quality of our Class II products,” Reddy said. “The Falcon Bingo engine generates faster game cycle times, leading to an improved player experience and benefiting operators with an accelerated rate of play.”

Similarly, IGT has introduced a unique Class II prize bank system whereby a portion of each wager can fund a progressive jackpot or prize such as a car or motorcycle. Another example of IGT’s continued innovation in the Class II space is its recently introduced, market-attuned content for the Oklahoma market. IGT’s family of Class II S3000 games includes a lively character named “Sparky” that is utilized across all themes, and includes play mechanics and celebrations that draw significant attention to big wins.

EVERI HOLDINGS

Everi is the third largest Class II gaming provider, and provides all of its games, cabinets, systems and infrastructure to the Class II market.  Class II gaming is approximately 70 percent of Everi’s business. The company continues to make a substantial investment in Class II gaming, designing all games, systems and products with its Class II customers in mind. With powerful titles like Fu Xuan, Triple Jackpot Gems and Lightning Zap, Everi offers its entire product and game catalog to Class II customers.

In 2017 Everi launched the all-new Empire MPX (E43) premium cabinet with dynamic licensed and original content. The E43 base design cabinet banks together to create a tighter pod configuration.

 Everi also launched a Class II Wide Area Progressive network in 2017 and continues to expand its portfolio, including the highly anticipated Willie Nelson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and South Park licensed themes.

Recently the company debuted Everi Bet 2.0, an innovative feature giving operators the ability to assign a unique RTP to each bet level—rewarding players with better paytables for higher bets. The company also continued its investment in Class II by introducing an advanced set of analytical tools that give both game developers and technical operations better insights into how the game is performing and operating, giving Everi the ability to automatically identify issues and actively take resolution steps prior to a problem being identified or encountered by casino staff or patrons. This has been accomplished through best of breed tools and added telemetry at the Class EGM.

The company plans to continue to invest in R&D to develop new, innovative technologies into its cabinets and games.

VGT

VGT—An Aristocrat Company is among the leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of Class II games for Native American casinos and emerging markets. The company is headquartered in Franklin, Tenn., with a manufacturing facility in Tulsa, Okla., and design studios throughout the country. The company was built on Class II gaming and has grown to be a leader in the industry.

“The market continues to grow and expand into regions of the U.S. that weren’t traditionally Class II, so it’s an exciting time for VGT,” Sevigny said. “With a proven team of game design, manufacturing, R&D, customer service and marketing personnel, VGT has the total package of resources and capabilities critical to continued gaming success in the Class II arena.”

The company continues to roll out its new line of OVATION games in the Helix+ cabinet, and in Aristocrat’s Arc Single cabinet. Its new Gold line of OVATION games is a blending of Aristocrat and VGT expertise and features four player-favorite Aristocrat Class III games, modified for VGT’s popular OVATION Class II platform. VGT’s OVATION is field-proven to bring player-favorite Aristocrat content to the Class II space, combining market-proven brands with field-proven math models. These elements come together to give Aristocrat and VGT customers an integrated experience and allows them to speak to multiple player types.

“VGT understands that companies who don’t innovate and offer new products get left behind in the competitive Class II marketplace,” Sevigny said. “That’s why we are constantly innovating, creating new products that customers want and that lets operators better serve their players.”

“We will continue to integrate the player expected features and will innovate with Class II to bring our players features and experience that they will not get anywhere else,” Sevigny added. “Features will include Hold-and-Spin from the industry’s most successful family of games: Lightning Link and Dragon Link. We will bring games with persistence, metamorphic and player-favorite progressives. We will also bring our market-leading and player-favorite wide area progressives technology into our OVATION video platform with some of the best licensed products from our Class III portfolio from Aristocrat.”