The land-based table games marketplace has been on an amazing run of late, thanks to the growing popularity of this style of gaming among younger casino clientele.
Indeed, compared to 10 years ago, one might say that now is a great time to be in the table game business.
“Ten years ago, table games were taking a beating,” said Roger Snow, senior vice president, tables and shufflers, Scientific Games. “It’s like they had one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel. Pits were being ripped out left and right in favor of slot machines. But then, as we exited the recession, something happened and table games started making a comeback. Table games are in the best position they’ve ever been in, and a lot of it is being fueled by young people.”
In fact, with the casino market growing as a whole, there’s financial incentive for the new casinos to make table game offerings more convenient for players. “The tax benefit when compared with slots in various market helps create a strong earning potential and significant floor space dedicated towards table games,” said John Hemberger, vice president of table games at AGS. “The overall entertainment value that casinos are providing today between F&B and entertainment continues to bring new faces into casinos and allows table games the opportunity to expand the player base as we continue growing that piece of the casino floor.”
While there remains room for traditional-style live table gaming, many players are looking for a more sophisticated experience when they visit the casino floor today. “This means more technology integration into live table games, without losing the human interaction and exciting atmosphere that they love,” said Tracy Cohen, director of marketing for TCSJOHNHUXLEY. “From the operator’s perspective, they’re not only looking at ways to engage and entertain players but are seeking access to data about their live table games so that they can enhance their security, optimize operations and ultimately increase revenue.”
“We see that there is a tremendous amount of innovation that is yet to meet up with the table games business,” added Todd Cravens, Galaxy Gaming president and CEO. “Further, operators are more open new products than they have been in the past.”
“It’s all about choice. It’s all about segmentation,” said Snow. “You know that old adage that less is more? Well, that’s a bunch of baloney in the table-games business. You need as broad a palate as possible.”
In response to these trends, table game manufacturers are offering operators a mix of classic table games and new concepts. Below is a recap of leading table game suppliers and some noteworthy new table game concepts and devices they are offering.
Alphastreet is focused on electronic table games, mainly roulette, baccarat, sicbo and various card games. It also produces live table games, all of which have numerous design options and different configurations. The company has been selling table games for the past 25 years and it is currently present in 107 countries around the world. Over the years, the company has introduced many new features; most recently it was the first to introduce simultaneous betting on its electronic versions of the table games.
The company offers many features and different cabinets and design options to appeal to a variety of player demographics. “Our games can be configured in a way that they combine old and new, conservative and volatile, daring and classic,” said Albert Radman, sales director at Alphastreet. “These are the things that give us an edge and that’s why you’ll find our products basically everywhere.”
Currently, its bestselling game is roulette. “We started selling this product at the time when there was virtually no competition on the market, so we had our time to establish ourselves as the leaders on numerous global gaming markets,” said Radman. “Over the course of the past years, we’ve always managed to stay ahead with a very innovative approach to development, conscious expansions and a very down-to-earth approach to our customers as well as to our players.”
The company has several different enhancements prepared for its next generation of games. “With the roulette, we’re always increasing the security, simplicity of use and game cycle,” said Radman. “Still, our more notable development will be focused on our card and dice games, where we’re preparing some major changes that’ll once again bring a spotlight to our products.”
Galaxy Gaming provides side bets, premium games, progressive systems and other electronics that will be debuting soon. With an install base on over 6,000 gaming tables located in over 600 casinos, the company is reportedly positioned as the largest independent provider of proprietary table games in the world.
Its most popular game is 21+3. “I think this game is loved by players everywhere, because it is easy to play, the paytable is straight forward and we do not alter the base game in any way,” said Cravens.
The company has been spending a lot of time installing progressives lately. “You can’t throw a progressive on a mediocre game and make it great, but if you take a game that players love and add in an interesting progressive, you can start cooking with gas,” said Cravens. “The evolution we have seen in our progressives comes from our philosophy about creating more wins, more often. We have really moved away from the life-changing event, to a higher hit frequency. Operators have seen a higher participation rate on the progressive bet, and instead of a six figure jackpot walking out the door, the lower value wins are invested back into the game.”
Galaxy Gaming is a big believer in open architecture, and operators will see that in some of the devices the company has coming later this year that are able to speak to any system. “If a shoe, or shuffler or progressive system all work independently, that is not a great solution for the operator,” said Cravens. “When they do work together, the operator will get much more from their investment in the various products on the table. Having a closed off system is short-term thinking.”
This year operators will also see some of the company’s new products that give more security around real-time chip value.
iGaming has become the fastest growing part of business for Galaxy Gaming. “I have spent a lot of time in the UK in the last year and a half, and having a strong iGaming component is important to the casinos there,” said Cravens. “As we see the growth of iGaming in North America, I think a lot about making sure we have the same content available in the bricks-and-mortar casino, as well as their online portal. Players want to have the same experience and game availability, regardless of how they choose to play.”
TCSJOHNHUXLEY has been manufacturing and supplying live gaming equipment for 45 years. The company is world renowned for developing and producing live gaming products that have become industry benchmarks and can be seen in thousands of casinos across the globe. The company brings quality craftsmanship, combined with sophisticated technology, to the table.
Backed by research and development, TCSJOHNHUXLEY continues to release a suite of products that are revolutionizing the way live table games are tracked, analysed and operated; all with the help of technology integration.
Some of the company’s bestselling core products include:
- Saturn Roulette wheels with integrated reader heads that automatically feed results to e-FX winning number display. These displays have the ability to not only show results and stats, but also media such as video and live stream feeds.
- Blaze Roulette tables, which include patented in-game graphic animations for added excitement that also display each stage of the game as well as highlighting winning numbers and bets. This not only provides key prompts to players, it also assist pit staff and security with clear visuals of each stage of the game.
- The Chipper Champ chipping machine that revolutionized roulette by automatically sorting players’ color chips and delivering them in neat stacks, in record time. It also provided a resource saving for operators as a separate chip dealer or ‘mucker’ was not required.
The company also had its recent introduction of GFL Bonusing Rewards which unlocks the potential of progressive and mystery jackpots, providing an exciting twist to the existing GFL Bonusing System. “Initially, the powerful progressive system has allowed operators to configure bespoke event-driven and mystery jackpots via a secure centrally controlled platform,” said Cohen. “With the ability to intelligently customize games and provide multiple jackpots, the increased chances of winning keep players at the table for longer and casinos achieve the best hold possible. With the addition of GFL Bonusing Rewards, operators can utilize casino promotion budgets to fund mystery jackpots, creating an exciting ‘in it to win it’ prize pool which is independent of the base game.”
The system is very straightforward appealing to players and operators alike. Funded completely by the casino’s marketing budget, the awards can be configured by a percentage contribution based on the table minimum, with players enrolled in the chance to win a prize just by taking a seat at the table and participating in the hand. The only operational requirement is for the dealer to register players via a dealer console and they are confirmed as taking part with the player position indicated on the display. With no additional steps, game speed and player experience are not affected.
The first installation recently took place at the Venetian Macau consisting of 170 tables, with more due to be rolled out at the operator’s other venues. This adds to over a thousand tables they have already installed on the GFL Platform with the Optimization module.
“TCSJOHNHUXLEY is renowned for providing some of the best table gaming innovations in the industry,” said Cohen. “We have been at the forefront of developments that have changed the face of gaming floors, working with product partners to introduce the first electronic multiplayers and hybrid gaming products to more recent innovations that include our Gaming Floor Live platform and its modules.
“This complete network platform and gaming table management system provides a ground-breaking solution for operators and their table games, allowing a wide range of data gathered from each table to be analyzed in real-time enabling active and pro-active management of gaming floors,” Cohen added. “For the first time, it’s possible to provide the same levels of real-time data collection that operators currently enjoy from their slot systems. You only have to think about the multiple vendors’ products there are on a single table that stand alone unable to connect and interface, to understand how compelling the GFL solution is.”
From a table game perspective, the company’s Blaze LED surface technology has also rapidly spread throughout the live gaming market, as it’s the only product available that features patented in-game animated video that allows operators to incorporate themed designs and images.
“Currently dominating the illuminated gaming table market in Asia, Blaze not only attracts players, but it also increases security on the casino floor and assists dealers with game accuracy,” said Cohen. “Players and gaming staff instantly benefit from seeing winning numbers clearly highlighted, and with the improved visibility of these sections, pit bosses and security staff can easily monitor game procedures from a distance.”
In roulette, each stage of the game receives a prompt on the layout as well as color changing to reflect the game’s status and this is further enhanced by connecting the company’s new Saturn Glo wheel which has LED lights in the rim and duplicates the color changes on the Blaze table.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY is focused on developing its progressive GFL Bonusing System. “GFL Bonusing has made a major impact by allowing operators to create multiple bespoke progressives and mysteries for any table game,” said Cohen. “This is an added benefit because it means they can design and brand their own games without the need to pay game licence fees. We’ve had a major success with GFL Bonusing in South Africa particularly, where operators have embraced the system and there are over 200 tables installed.”
Scientific Games recently acquired the hole-card reader from Tech Art which is currently on more than 11,000 tables worldwide. The company also offers the one2six and MD3 card shufflers, which are both at around 10,500 installations. These are pure utility products in that they take an otherwise manual process (checking a hole card in blackjack or shuffling cards) and automate it allowing casinos a decrease downtime while increasing security.
However, when it comes to table games themselves, Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em are the 1-2 punch for Scientific Games. Three Card Poker has 1,500 placements, while Ultimate Texas Hold’em has 1,200. “As to why they are popular, I’ve always felt Three Card Poker has perfect math, especially the Pair Plus side bet,” said Snow. “Players win 24 percent of the time and the toughest hand to get in the game, a straight flush, happens once every 500 hands or so.”
The company believes that it’s all about the progressives right now. “They’re on Three Card Poker. They’re on Fortune Pai Gow. They’re on blackjack. And they’re coming soon to baccarat and roulette,” Snow said. “Table players want what their slot brethren have had for decades—the ability to make a bet and change their lives. This trend is a runaway train: Get on board or get out of the way.”
In terms of technology enhancements in table games products, Snow quoted Yogi Berra, saying, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But he predicts you will see the continued automation of process that perhaps, since their inception, were manual. “For example, we have a card reader that tells dealers how to set their hands in pai gow poker,” Snow said. “We have a ball-launcher for roulette. We have a card-reading shoe for baccarat that basically deals the game itself. Look around table games pit. If you see something that a machine could do better and faster—leaving the dealer in a position to have more interaction with guests—that’s what will likely go away.”
The table games division at AGS has over 30 unique product offerings ranging from felt games, including premium poker derivatives, to side bets to multiple progressive platform offerings, roulette and baccarat signage as well as the introduction of the company’s first shuffler.
Buster Blackjack has been its top product to date with over 1,200 units installed. “The community aspect of the game along with its simplicity is what drives the popularity,” said Hemberger. “All players at the table win or lose together each round as the payouts are based on the dealer busting, the more cards in a dealers busted hand the higher the payout, it’s that simple.”
Some of the latest table games from AGS include Chase The Flush and Premium Hold’em. The play mechanics in these games feature bonus wagers and high odds payouts. “These games have evolved over the years based on the players’ desire for a low limit point of entry into the game,” said Hemberger. “The most common need is volatility. Our most successful table games have been those that are volatile. A player could lose eight hands in a row and all of a sudden hit one hand and win all their money back and more.”
The company’s progressives and community payouts are being integrated into a lot of games to attract new customers and share wins among multiple or all players at a table. Signage on table games is another area where AGS takes advantage of technology to help make a game more inviting and appealing to players with world class graphics and the ability to educate and interact with players.
Dual Play Roulette evolves in Atlantic City
Evolution Gaming has signed an historic agreement with Atlantic City-based Resorts Casino to install a one-of-a-kind, multi–camera Dual Play Roulette table, which will allow on-premise customers to play alongside online players.
The Dual Play installation will be Evolution’s first outside of Europe, its first installation in the U.S. and also the first Evolution Dual Play table to feature American (double–zero) Roulette.
Resorts’ new Evolution Dual Play table will be a five camera installation with a customized rig and large screens designed to create a buzz on the gaming floor. The screens will feature the live-streamed game feed from the table and promotional messaging designed to engage with visiting patrons.
The Dual Play table is scheduled to go live in the third quarter of this year, subject to approval by New Jersey gaming regulators and will be made available as a business-to-business service to Evolution’s network of European licensees. Players of participating Evolution licensees will be able to play at the Resorts Casino’s Dual Play American Roulette table from virtually anywhere in the world on desktop, tablet or smartphone.
“I am delighted that Resorts will be working with the market leader in Dual Play tables,” said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel. “Evolution Gaming has a reputation for providing the very best Live Casino and Dual Play solutions which is second to none. I believe that Dual Play will be a key attraction on our casino floor and a great way to expand our gaming product. Evolution also has an enviable track record in attracting and retaining Europe’s leading operators, which will allow players to enjoy the experience of playing online at a real live American Roulette table here at Resorts.”
Interblock expands at New World Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
Electronic table games (ETG) market leader, Interblock recently announced the placement of a Diamond Virtual Baccarat with seven seats and Diamond Automated Roulette with six seats at New World Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The additional seats bring Interblock’s total seat count at the facility to more than 60 seats, according to a recent press release.
The new products coexist with existing Interblock products on the floor consisting of an Organic Roulette and a Diamond Stadium. The stadium is composed of two roulette generators, one dice generator and one virtual baccarat with 40 seats.
“We are thrilled to be part of New World Hotel’s ITC recent product upgrade,” said Michael Hu, vice president of Asia for Interblock. “The new products provide New World Hotel’s players with a variety of unique electronic table gaming experiences.”