From the outside looking in, it would be easy to conclude that the ICE London, which took place last month at the ExCeL Center in the UK, is simply a continuation of ideas and products that were first introduced last October at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) event in Las Vegas.

Such thinking does a great disservice to this event, however. Indeed, not only did ICE London attract more attendees (36,000 vs. 27,000 for G2E 2018), the show also had more tradeshow exhibitors (612 vs. 450) from a wider variety of countries (153 vs. 111), so it could be argued that ICE London is more international than G2E; not really all that surprising considering the event’s proximity to Europe, Africa and Asia, where gaming regulations are more liberal and operator needs are more diverse. 

This product diversity was evident on the ICE London tradeshow floor, where vendors not only showcased the latest in slot machine and table game products and technology, but also the recent solutions and advancements in online gaming, sports wagering, bingo and a host of other equipment topics of great interest to operators in international marketplaces. A recap of online and terrestrial slot news from ICE London is featured in this month’s Slot Management & Marketing magazine, which is packaged with this issue of Casino Journal. Non-slot gaming highlights from the ICE London tradeshow floor follow: 

SPORTS WAGERING

Thanks to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), liberalized and greatly expanded sports betting is becoming available in the U.S. But for Europe and other marketplaces, a thriving sports wagering business has been part the gaming scene for quite some time, so it is no surprise that numerous vendors on the ICE London showfloor showcased their latest advancements and improvements in sports betting systems and technology.

For example, Scientific Games displayed a player-devoted sportsbook solution offering a complete, reliable and scalable sports platform that provides customers with a full service, fast-to-market and versatile solution, according to press materials. The company recently expanded its primary sports betting technology, OpenBet, by acquiring Don Best Sports, which added managed trading services with real-time data and pricing resources, and the launch of its Sportsbook Operations Services, which provides trading, marketing and product management services to partners.

Other major systems providers also used ICE London to show sports wagering solutions. International Game Technology PLC (IGT) displayed PlayShot, a sports betting solution that is already a leading B2B sports betting platform in the U.S., according to a press release. IGT also introduced a range of self-service betting solutions including the PlayShot QuickBet kiosk, the revolutionary PlayShot “Mobile Kiosk” technology and the immersive CrystalBetting Terminal, highlighting the full capabilities of IGT’s omni-channel sports betting offering.

NOVOMATIC devoted booth space to a demonstration of its NovoPrime Sports solution—a scalable sports betting system developed in collaboration with Sportradar—that offers total flexibility across self-service betting terminals, desktop and mobile devices. The company also displayed another sports wagering solution developed with Kambi, as well as the latest retail and online products of Admiral Sportwetten and Millennium.

In addition to these products from larger international suppliers, a number of more sports wagering-centric vendors also presented systems and solutions. One such company is Playtech BGT Sports (PBS), which showed a range of new products and features at ICE 2019. A market-leading provider of omni-channel sports betting solutions, PBS revealed the new cashless Tap2bet functionality on its market-leading self-service betting terminals. The feature allows customers to simply “tap” their debit card in order to place a bet, according to press materials. PBS also demoed its state-of-the-art Bet Recommender engine, which uses artificial intelligence to suggest relevant selections and interesting content directly to shop customers. The company also announced a new collaboration with content provider Vermantia—a combined retail solution that will give customers the chance to bet on over 36,000 live betting events using pictures and data supplied to in-shop screens by Vermantia, with ready access to PBS’s odds and betting markets.

SBTech, a leading sports betting and gaming technology supplier to the regulated iGaming sector, introduced its game-changing Exploding Jackpots product, a unique cross-platform series of “must-drop” timed and amount-based jackpots available on any sports bet. SBTech’s Exploding Jackpots is the ultimate gamification tool for operators, enabling players to receive an enhanced experience with the chance of randomly unlocking one or more potentially life-changing cash prizes across any sports bet, according to a company press release. In turn, operators can use the product to significantly boost cross-sell opportunities and maximize their marketing efforts by alerting players to the status of “must-drop” jackpots before a sporting event begins or during a popular match or tournament.

While at ICE London, SBTech announced it would continue to entrust Continent 8 Technologies as its global data center and connectivity provider in the U.S. In 2018, Continent 8’s U.S. multi-state capacities increased to include Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, with upcoming locations in New York and Ohio. Continent 8’s seamless suite of hosting, security and network managed services is primed for those immediately entering the sports betting market in the U.S. and further growth is planned as the landscape evolves.

Leading international sports betting provider Betinvest showcased a new online gaming platform at ICE London. The Betinvest Online Platform offers a wide range of ready-made solutions with the opportunity to add third-party products as needed and its multichannel online and retail solutions are adaptable to any region in the world, according to a press release. In addition, operators will be able to manage profit margins, products, sports and even markets by themselves at any time and the software has been developed and optimized to ensure the fast and efficient set-up, management and extension of businesses. A key focus for Betinvest is risk management and the company’s enhanced gaming platform has been developed to deliver on this with its intuitive interface and anti-fraud tools across both mobile and desktop.

Sports Information Services (SIS), a leading multi-channel supplier unveiled a groundbreaking new live eSports betting product at ICE London. SIS Competitive Gaming broadcasts live head-to-head competitions between skilled gamers, specifically created for sportsbooks. The schedule of 15,000 live events a year has been optimized for operators globally, and will offer multiple quick-fire betting opportunities, helping to increase customer engagement and providing incremental revenues according to press materials. SIS Competitive Gaming will be delivered to operators as an end-to-end solution, with live streamed pictures, commentary, on-screen graphics with betting triggers, data plus an extensive range of markets and prices. All matches are monitored by a dedicated integrity referee, trained by the eSports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), with strict player due diligence procedures in place to ensure competitions are fair and transparent.

In addition to eSports solutions, virtual sports wagering technology was also well represented at ICI London. Inspired Entertainment continued to make inroads, displaying its popular Rush Football and Virtual Horse Racing concepts along with these lines latest additions—1st Down Football and Virtual Grand National. The company also demoed Virtual Basketball, a virtual sports game that uses the latest in motion capture technology to provide a new level of realism for the player.

Kiron Interactive, a leading supplier of virtual games and gaming systems to the global gaming industry, unveiled UpNdown Virtual Golf in partnership with SingleShot Entertainment. UpNdown Virtual Golf, which is available to play on mobile and desktop, offers a first of its kind instant-win golf game with simple in-play betting options and the ability for customers to play on the go. Other offerings at the Kiron booth included an extended football portfolio, table tennis and a multitude of racing titles such as horse, greyhound and motor; all boasting high-end graphics and sounds and available via BetMan Omni RGS, a fully-hosted and turnkey virtual games betting solution.

TABLE GAMES

In years past, the ICE show was synonymous with table game advancements, a reflection of the importance this form of gaming played and continues to play in international marketplaces. This tradition carried on at ICE London 2019, with table games providers showcasing technology-forward games, systems and technologies.

On the electronic table game (ETG) front, Interblock introduced Universal Cabinet, its latest form factor which is a standalone unit with slot-like hardware designed to support a variety of games. Available in both video and automated formats, the product offers craps, roulette, blackjack and baccarat games and its ability to connect to external Interblock generators. Universal Cabinet is revolutionary to the gaming industry and will change the way a typical casino floor is configured, according to press materials.

“This year, it’s about our standalone Universal Cabinet,” John Connelly CEO of Interblock told Casino Journal. “For the past several years we’ve been emphasizing stadium designs, areas of the casino floor where you can have multiple ETG offerings, replacing live table pits with electronic pits. And that’s resonated very well; we now have stadium product in the UK, Holland and other markets. Now we’ve come out with a product that is designed for casinos with a smaller footprint, and would work for parlors or casinos with under 300 slot machines or 20 tables, which allows us to penetrate 80-plus percent of casinos around the world that have historically not been able to have an Interblock product. It also plays much faster so we can generate a lot more handle and higher hold through new side bets… with limited square footage and the need to optimize revenue, operators wanted a product that could generate more handle like a slot machine.  We think the universal cabinet solves all those concerns and the initial beta tests have been very successful.” 

“We’re in the process of releasing a whole new product segmentation between now and the summer that will augment our current products,” Connelly added. “The reception to the new cabinet here has been phenomenal. Some of the products, because of the rate of speed and the handle that you can generate, have been doing three times house average. The beta tests have been in Europe and North America and we’ll soon be launching in Asia and Latin America.”

ETGs were also front and center in a lot of other table game vendor ICE booths. IGT displayed its line of Dynasty Electronic Table Games and its robust content portfolio for random number generated (RNG) baccarat and roulette. The company also showcased its growing library of baccarat ETG side bets.

NOVOMATIC presented live, automated and virtual games in a stadium-style setup, all based on its NOVO LINE Novo Unity II platform. The new LOTUS Roulette II Pro Black Edition island was also at the show, streaming automated roulette to a variety of cabinets as part of a multi-game mix.

ICE London turned out to be a coming out party for Spintec, a developer, designer, producer and supplier of electronic table games. The company showcased two product lines, Aura amphitheater solution and Karma compact gaming solution, and introduced a new blackjack ETG concept to its existing games lineup that includes roulette, sic bo, caps and baccarat. The blackjack game offers a virtual dealer on a big screen, an intuitive interface that supports several languages and displays game rules and statistics, seating and five additional side bets, according to a press release.

The big news for Spintec at G2E was announcement of a deal with Merkur Gaming, a leading developer of slot machines, video lottery terminals and server-based gaming systems, to produce and supply a new line of ETGs. The Merkur ETG will be presented under the Merkur trademark and powered by Spintec’s signature. The product portfolio includes a wide range of ETGs, from standalone playing stations to amphitheater setups.

The AMATIC Industries booth housed the Roulette Grand Jeu 24HX automated roulette, which has sold 1,200 units in Spain alone, according to a press release. In its standard version, the Grand Jeu provides space for up to eight players around the table. Each player has their own gaming terminal equipped with a 24-inch HD monitor that provides all necessary statistics and graphics in pin-sharp quality for increased comfort. The Grand Jeu is also available in a flexible version—with the Solitaire electronic roulette wheel and an individual number of connected satellite terminals.

Win Systems unveiled its Gold Club Chinese Roulette ETG concept at ICE London. The game, which allows players to switch from the traditional roulette game to Chinese Roulette, was showcased with a new Bingo Jackpot, part of Win Systems’ strategy of developing new jackpots for the its electronic roulette range.

Table technology at ICE London stretched beyond ETGs, with various vendors displaying virtual/live table game technology for online audiences. NetEnt was one such company, unveiling its Perfect Blackjack concept at the event. According to press materials, Perfect Blackjack is a live casino game that allows players to be dealt cards according to the perfect blackjack strategy, which cuts the house edge down to 0.5 percent and delivers a return to player (RTP) of 99.5 percent. Perfect Blackjack also adds the element of speed to the game as players are automatically dealt cards according to perfect blackjack strategy. In Perfect Blackjack, players pre-select whether they want to auto-split or double down according to the strategy. With the addition of multi-seat and multiple players per box, this game allows full scalability and flexibility as players can decide to auto play hands as well as sit out hands and join in again when they think the time is right.

NetEnt has been working together with Rank Group in developing this new game, which will initially be available exclusively at Grosvenorcasinos.com.

New solutions for traditional table games were also showcased at ICE London 2019. Scientific Games displayed TableVIEW, a table games management solution that offers operators a fast and easy solution for entering player ratings, issuing comps and more activities in the pit, according to press materials. The information and transactions recorded at the tables are seamlessly integrated into existing systems and provide casino personnel with secure and instant access to player ratings and data. All of these products and systems integrate on the gaming floor to create the connected and immersive experience for players, while creating efficiencies and value for operators.

TCSJOHNHUXLEY, a leader in research, development, services and innovation in the live gaming space, debuted Blaze Craps, which joined other Blaze products on show, including Blaze Roulette and Blaze Money Wheel. Like all products in the suite, Blaze Craps features eye-catching energy efficient LED lights fitted below the surface of the gaming table which display unique “attract sequences” and custom-themed animations, while also highlighting winning numbers, according to press materials. The Blaze product suite not only provides stunning graphics—it also increases security on the casino floor and assists dealers with game accuracy. 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.

APEX Gaming is a pioneer when it comes to cash handling at live gaming tables, a status the company is augmenting with its latest edition of iDROP. The iDROP enables players to exchange their cash or tickets for jetons directly at the live gaming table. Cashing out is simple as the amount is paid out in ticket form by the iDROP. The integrated touchscreen makes it simple to use for croupiers and the fact that it is linked to the management system gives management complete control of the drop, according to press release. The iDROP family has been extended with the iDROPe and the iDROPs. The iDROPs can manage 250 bills (and tickets) at one time at a validation rate of up to six per second, making it ideal when players sit at a table with a large number of bills. It also provides the casino the option to use the iDROPs to exchange a large number of bills for one TITO ticket, meaning the game is not stopped for large buy ins and hands per hour increases.

CASH HANDLING

Of course, cash handling options at ICE London stretched beyond the table games field. For example, Everi Holdings showcased numerous financial technology solutions for gaming operators. The company teamed up  with Atrient, a leading innovator in self-service loyalty and enrollment kiosks for the gaming industry, to demonstrate how Atrient’s PowerKiosk and Everi’s multi-function CXC 5.0 L kiosk can combine to enhance player loyalty and drive more funds to the gaming floor. Everi also displayed a number of its intuitive, flexible financial technology solutions including:

  • Figur- CasinoDirect’s space efficient, feature-rich touchscreen kiosk with a portrait display provides patrons with a simple, secure interface to complete their cash advance transactions; 
  • CXC 5.0 L- Everi’s newest full-service kiosk with a smaller footprint and lower price point offers enhanced security features including a real-time rear view camera as well as plentiful branding and marketing space;
  • CasinoDirect- the latest version of Everi’s cloud-based cash desk software platform is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant and arms cashiers with a single, easy-to-use dashboard that streamlines the retrieval of cash advance transactions; and
  • CasinoDirect Concierge- a personalized mobile cash access service for VIPs and table game players that allows for transactions to take place in a convenient and private setting.

JCM Global displayed a strong blend of bill validation, printing and system solutions at IVE London. Leading JCM’s exhibition was its landmark and award-winning iVIZION bill validator. Its powerful blend of high security, high acceptance rate and high customer satisfaction are all reasons why JCM has sold more than 400,000 iVIZION units to casinos of all sizes worldwide, according to press materials.

JCM also showed its new MRXModular Banknote Recycler. MRX is ideal for a wide range of payment terminal types and was created for ultimate flexibility, because it allows operators to select the number of cassettes they need for each individual application. It processes notes at two notes per second and has a 15-note escrow for fast returns.

Other JCM bill validators on display were the UBA, iPRO-RC, VEGA, TBV and the Fujitsu F53/F56.

JCM’s GEN5 thermal printer is a smart and fast printing solution. With its fast CPU and print speed, it has the flexibility to print TITO and promotional tickets, as well as various wager tickets and templated promotional coupons.

When paired with iVIZION and GEN5, JCM’s patented technology FUZION contains many features that enable casinos to operate more securely and efficiently. JCM will show FUZION v1.0, and its advanced features include:

  • Security monitoring- money laundering and suspicious activities are detected in real time, and alerts can be sent through email, text or logged in FUZION;
  • Health performance reporting- monitoring which devices have errors, how well each unit is performing, tracking of paper usage and cashbox fullness;
  • Transaction database- every transaction is recorded and associated to a timestamp, serial number, and high-resolution bill or ticket image;
  • Remote firmware updates- firmware for JCM’s GEN5 thermal printer, and iVIZION bill validator can be scheduled and automatically installed at set times; and
  • iPromo system-driven printing- GEN5 printers can now be used for printing different forms such as W2G tax forms.

Ticket2Go, a leading ticketing solution in the UK, has been enhanced with E-Wallet functionality. Operators can give their customers the new payment type they demand by easily adding E-Wallet functionality to Ticket2Go using the existing JCM system solution—no third-party software required.

Crane Payment Innovations (CPI) showed its extensive product range for coin and banknote validation, showcasing the Easitrax Connect platform and the CPI Ticket Purchasing Kiosk.

Perhaps the best known CPI solution in the gaming industry is the SC Advance, the preferred banknote validator at countless gaming locations across the world. The SC Advance offers outstanding performance with the industry’s highest first-time acceptance rates of valid street-grade banknotes and its capabilities to reject sophisticated frauds, according to company literature.

CPI now offers operators a unique hardware/software platform that combines the power of SC Advance with real-time payment connectivity so that operators can manage their floors and their cash more profitably than ever before. This global solution, which CPI launched to the European market at ICE, is called Easitrax Connect. Easitrax Connect offers an extensive range of features and benefits, and the software has been designed to work intuitively… it provides operators with a real-time look at how all their banknote validators—and even machines—are performing. 

Cashless has become the buzzword in the payment systems segment, so CPI showcased its Ticket Purchasing Kiosk that enables players who don’t carry banknotes or prefer cashless methods of payment to purchase TITO tickets with debit and/or credit cards. Players can simply select the amount to be deducted from their card, and this amount is paid out by the kiosk as a TITO ticket, which can then be used for play at the slot machines. The heart of the device is the CPI card reader—a proven solution as there are over 400,000 of these already in operation outside the gaming industry.

TransAct Technologies, a global leader in software-driven technology and printer solutions for high-growth markets, showcased its solutions portfolio for the global casino, gaming and lottery industries at ICE London, including its full suite of Epic TITO and roll-fed printers that feature the next-generation, 300 dpi print resolution of the Epic Edge TITO printer, and its Epicentral promotion and bonusing print system.

According to press materials, the next-generation Epic Edge is the global casino operator’s new choice in TITO printers, bringing to the gaming floor a solution that allows slot and table operations to run at peak efficiency while delivering the fun and engaging experience that keeps players coming back for more. The Epic Edge’s 300 dpi print resolution delivers sharper barcodes for better ticket acceptance and drives a reduction in attendant calls, leading to a measurable improvement in slot floor performance. Epic Edge tickets also feature eye-catching, dynamic graphic images, making it ideal for implementation alongside bonusing applications such as TransAct’s Epicentral. The Epic Edge allows for firmware updates via a full-speed USB 2.0 connection or directly via a micro SD card, driving increased convenience and making the process of updating firmware speedier than ever.

TransAct’s Epic TITO and roll-fed printers have long been a constant in casino, gaming and lottery operations, delivering industry-leading dependability and unmatched reliability across a wide array of applications including slot machines, gaming machines, tables and customer self-service kiosks. Printers on display at ICE London included the Epic 950, Epic Edge TT, Epic 880, Epic 430 and Epic 3000.

SuzoHapp offered an extensive range of cash handling products for the casino cashier, creating a model cashier cage at its booth in order to present and demonstrate a broad array of cash management solutions coupled with the advanced CashComplete Connect monitoring software. As major highlights, the SCAN COIN ICX Active-9 coin sorter and the CashComplete SDS-35 Smart Deposit Solution were also showcased.


Gary Platt displayed latest designs and innovations at ICE 2019

Reno, Nev.-based Gary Platt Manufacturing came to ICE London on a business high note and with a desire to showcase unsurpassed comfort seating for all areas of the casino and hotel.

“Our customers worldwide have been responding very positively to our product lines, and because of their support, Gary Platt is the number one global gaming chair provider for the fourth year in a row,” said Joshua Corrick, vice president of sales for Gary Platt in a prepared statement. “We have one job, and that is to make the world’s most comfortable chairs for operators so that their players are as comfortable as possible, and we are honored to be recognized as the global leader in comfort and design.”

Leading Gary Platt’s exposition was the company’s new line of sportsbook chairs. Gary Platt’s sportsbook line featured styles inspired by the company’s portfolio of field-proven and player-favorite chairs, according to a press release. Styles in the sportsbook line include the patented Monaco, Bleu, Genoa Club, GX2, Lido Revo, Lugano, Sierra and Sonoma Club. Each chair is customizable to fit each individual casino’s design, with a wide range of upholstery, finishing and base styles to choose from.

In addition to sportsbook seating, Gary Platt showed seating for all areas of the casino, including slots, tables, back of house, convention and guest room.


GLI showcased its iGaming, sports betting and cybersecurity expertise

Predicting iGaming and sports wagering would be among the hot topics at ICE London 2019, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) had a team of locally focused iGaming, sports wagering and cybersecurity experts at its tradeshow booth to help attendees confidently navigate the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of online, sports wagering and interactive gaming technologies.

These experts were eager to demonstrate the many ways regulators, operators and suppliers could achieve success with GLI’s decades of tested, proven and trusted global iGaming and sports wagering experience, knowledge and capabilities, according to a press release. As pioneers in interactive gaming and sports wagering testing and consultancy, GLI Digital is everywhere iGaming and sports wagering are going. GLI Digital is trusted by iGaming regulators the world over and is approved in all regulated iGaming and sports wagering markets.

GLI’s experts also demonstrated how GLI is the only lab that can take suppliers’ newest gaming innovations anywhere in the world they want them to go. GLI is strengthening its hand in EMEA by increasing staff and expanding its technical capabilities. Now with more world-class testing, assessment and certification bandwidth throughout EMEA, GLI is better equipped than ever to help get suppliers’ gaming and lottery products over the line and into global markets with unsurpassed quality, speed, reliability, accuracy and cost-saving efficiency.

The unrelenting threat of cyberattacks on the worldwide gaming and lottery industries made cybersecurity a mission-critical topic at this year’s ICE show. Attendees who visited the GLI booth learned about the company’s cutting-edge Cyber Security Services—sophisticated and advanced cybersecurity countermeasures that to help secure their operations and protect their most valuable assets 24/7.