Table games have grown in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the integration of slot machine-like technologies into the table experience, which in turn has attracted a growing number of younger players into the pit.
To keep this table momentum going forward, game manufacturers and designers are looking to mimic even more gaming machine play mechanics into table game formats. Some recent innovations include:
- Increased side bet options;
- Live stadium-style electronic table games (ETGs) with individual betting terminals;
- New bonusing features;
- Progressive jackpots and operator wide-area progressives;
- Non-cash prizes;
- New display technologies; and
- Advanced security features.
Individual terminals are indeed providing players with a more approachable way to experience table games, and they are also giving casino operators the flexibility to optimize the games to meet player demand. “This maximizes the ROI of their ETG investment by reducing labor costs and improving the velocity of table game play,” said Paul Baskerville, director of ETG product management for International Game Technology PLC (IGT).
“Casinos are looking to provide more entertainment / lounge style environments that incorporate live table games, EGTs and virtual reality (VR) games,” added Tracy Cohen, director of marketing, TCSJOHNHUXLEY. “Traditional table games such as roulette, blackjack, poker, etc., will always be popular; what will change is the customer and player experience.”
It’s no secret that a growing number of casino patrons are seeking games with bigger, life-changing jackpots, and table game manufacturers are incorporating solutions that allow casino operators to deliver such opportunities.
“I believe that bonusing for players is the biggest wave of the future,” said Ryan Yee, senior director, table games product management at Scientific Games. “It will change slightly from the traditional format of simply betting on a progressive wager or side bet to something more interactive, where the player experience will be further enhanced at the table. I see people wanting bigger life-changing progressive jackpots offered in new formats. Million-dollar progressive jackpots are happening, and people will eventually want new and exciting ways to win these jackpots.
“I think moving forward, the table game bonusing will be much more interactive and will utilize things like license branding to entice players to participate.”
Community play features are becoming accepted and sought after as the player demographic continues to shift into a generation that seeks a more social connection and the opportunity for shared experiences.
“Not only do table games provide a community-style experience, there are also elements of both chance and skill in table games, which adds anticipation and complexity for players seeking that type of experience,” said John Hemberger, senior vice president of table products for AGS. “That’s why table games naturally attract players in ways that slots just can’t.”
So whether being played at a traditional table or at an individual betting terminal, table games will likely continue to emphasize the community element of the play experience. Game developers are even looking to boost the communal experience, some by providing non-cash prizes.
“These non-cash prizes give everyone in a group of friends, for example, a vested interest in the win and in sharing the rewards, whether it is bottle service at the nightclub, dinner at the steakhouse, or even reimbursement for your entire hotel stay,” said Hemberger. “We think these types of non-cash experiences—shared experiences, community experiences—could potentially drive new players to the pit.”
Another method being used to drive increased table games play is the infusion of bigger, flashier displays into the pit. Table displays are becoming a more prevalent, and proving to add excitement, motion and attraction to the game, with new technologies advancing the display content beyond simple results and real-time stats.
Below you will find a few of the key players in the table game product space and their latest and greatest developments for the gaming market.
AGS is a global company focused on creating a diverse mix of entertaining gaming experiences for every kind of player with roots firmly planted in the Class II Native American gaming market. The company’s customer-centric culture and growth have helped it branch out to become a leading all-inclusive commercial gaming supplier.
AGS launched its table products business in July 2014 when John Hemberger, who ran the proprietary table games division of SHFL entertainment and Bally Technologies, joined the company. AGS’ table products division now offers casinos more than 40 unique table product offerings, including proprietary table games, table progressives and side bets, card shufflers, pit signage and other ancillary table game equipment to provide a full solution set to casinos across the globe. In just five years, AGS’ table division has achieved more than 3,285 product installations (as of March 31, 2019). In the first quarter of 2019, the last reported fiscal quarter for AGS, the company’s table business reported record revenue and adjusted EBITDA.
“Our best-in-class engineers and innovators are always looking at our product portfolio with a focused eye on what we can do to take our product to the next level,” said Hemberger. “For example, we have redesigned our Bonus Spin Progressive product to enable the player to use their individual bet sensor to activate the wheel spin, expanding the capabilities of the bet sensor beyond just acknowledging a wager. And in our STAX Progressive, we use the bet sensor to identify a winner of the must-hit-by progressive jackpot, which adds excitement right at the table.”
When it comes to its table signage portfolio, which is a growing area of business for the company, AGS has continued to push the envelope by using graphics to do more than just display game outcomes. “We’ve added energy to these displays by incorporating things like animated characters that run along the roulette wheel, in the case of roulette,” Hemberger said. “And we are introducing casino-configurable seasonal themed backgrounds starting with the Halloween/fall, Christmas/winter, Valentine’s Day/spring and the Fourth of July/summer to add attraction to the casino pit.”
AGS will be introducing a variety of new products at G2E, and this year the company plans to have its largest portfolio of innovative table products on display. The company plans to showcase the second generation of its STAX Progressive platform featuring O-WAP functionality with single- and multi-site meters, a must-hit-by progressive and a new graphics package. The STAX Progressive platform allows casino operators to have the ability to use Golden Seat, a feature AGS developed to market directly to progressive players when coupled with its STAX Progressive. Golden Seat randomly selects a player at the table who has wagered the progressive side bet and delivers a customizable, casino-configurable reward. It is a second-way-to-win prize that adds a thrill of anticipation and potentially turns a loss into a win for the player. The company also plans to show its customers some new seasonal backgrounds it has developed for the STAX displays.
At G2E 2019, AGS will also be highlighting Bonus Spin Xtreme, its second generation Bonus Spin table progressive that is compatible with all games and creates multiple winners every spin.
Also lined up to unveil at the show is Pax S, the company’s new single-deck shuffler featuring card recognition, It will be displayed along the new ACOT chip tray, a 12-tube tray available with a no-peek device. “Both the shuffler and ACOT are easily installed on existing tables and we think they’ll be well-received at G2E by operators who are hungry for more choices from more vendors,” Hemberger said.
Visitors to the AGS booth will also be able to experience a host of new proprietary table games, significant advances in table signage, as well as other innovations the company is keeping under wraps at this point.
IGT offers a range of ETG solutions for its customers including live and random number generated (RNG) options that span baccarat, roulette and blackjack. With the company’s live Dynasty products, operators can have a single dealer playing to potentially hundreds of players, while its RNG offering is a completely automated solution with a robust library of games to keep players engaged.
Most recently, IGT released new RNG games such as Triple Zero Auto Roulette. IGT also provides players with a robust catalog of side bets within its Dynasty games. The company has reportedly found that players enjoy the “game within a game” experience that side bets provide. In addition, players can expect to see IGT’s Triple Hand Blackjack RNG game on casino floors by the end of the year.
IGT’s Dynasty RNG Baccarat gives players the option to customize their betting options to their personal preference with over 40 different betting options. This is done on the company’s patented interface that enables players to drag and drop their chosen bets for an intuitive player experience. The company recently installed its Dynasty ETG system with 28 stadium-style play stations at the newly opened Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. IGT also debuted its Triple Zero Auto Roulette game last year which introduces a new math that can increase the house edge.
Dynasty ETG in three- or five-unit “pod” configurations with new hardware will make their G2E debut this year.
Scientific Games’ recently introduced GM Atlas, its newest state-of-the-art progressive system. This next generation system and the new NXS Command II table progressive hardware system for GM Atlas is reportedly the most robust system that the company has ever created. This system combines the best of both worlds of the Game Manager 2/Nexus Command and G3 progressive systems. “The dynamic bonusing features that it incorporates will lead the way for more bonusing selections for your customers,” said Yee. “Our flexible sign package allows customers the ability to customize the signage with their own branding and to be also displayed anywhere in the property. We have made the dashboard more functional and the report is much simpler to use for the end user.”
When it comes to new technologies being incorporated into table game products, Scientific Games remains committed as a company to its new SG vision technology that features chip recognition and player identification products to further enhance security and provide additional data. “We are in the process of developing new applications for this technology and will have some of these on display at G2E,” said Yee. “We are totally committed to finding new ways to increase game speed, security and the overall player experience. The SG vision technology that we have recently debuted was designed to increase game security and profitability, by providing in-depth player tracking through use of small cameras on the table. Our team is continually working closely with the innovation team to enhance this product and provide the most dynamic player experience possible.”
The SG vision technology paired with the company’s existing shuffler and intelligent shoe products will be able to provide more reliable player data, giving casino operators a better snapshot of player activity throughout the casino.
Scientific Games plans to show GM Atlas with some of newest features that were not released in the first version of the software at G2E 2018. On display will also be a new table game called Paris Poker. This game allows players to make a five-card poker hand and choose one card from their hand to be wild. The game also features an optional Banker’s Buster and Player’s Monster bonus wagers.
Also anticipated to be on display at G2E 2019 is the company’s first MONOPOLY branded table game, called MR. MONOPOLY’S Big Spin—a new hybrid Big 6 game based on MONOPOLY.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY has been manufacturing and supplying live gaming equipment for over 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. Backed by a dedicated research and development division, the company continues to release a suite of products that are revolutionizing the way live table games are tracked, analyzed and operated; all with the help of seamless technological integration.
The company’s Blaze LED surface technology has spread throughout the live gaming market as it’s the only product available that features patented in-game animated video, which allows operators to incorporate themed designs and images. These eye-catching animations can add further excitement to already established games as well as appealing to new player demographics.
“Blaze not only attracts players, 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 the last year the company has added Blaze Craps and Blaze Baccarat to the suite of other games—sic bo, roulette and Big 6—all delivering flexibility, reliability and graphic capabilities. “Operators that have installed Blaze love the added excitement the tables bring to the casino floor and have noted the improved accuracy of lighting up all winning bets allows dealers to be more customer focused, providing the best player experience possible,” said Cohen.
Blaze products incorporate security features that assist gaming and surveillance staff. 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 mirrors the color changes on the Blaze table.
Another technology TCSJOHNHUXLEY has incorporated to help prevent cheating is Automatic Dice Recognition (ADR) built into its electronic Dice Shaker for the game of sic bo. ADR allows the automatic recognition of the dice in a shaker. The system consists of a controller, a camera and lighting assembly that is fitted into a dice shaker cover. There is also a collar that fits over the existing base of the glass dome. When used with TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s Dice Shaker, the ADR unit’s patented technology can process an image of the dice from a camera inside the cover, and return the result to the Blaze Sic Bo table for display on the gaming surface to add further security features to the game and prevent dealer and player collusion.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s latest innovation is a unique and flexible Roulette Progressive that is expected to be on display at G2E 2019. It is a first of its kind offering, where an optional progressive bet can be placed on a roulette table for an opportunity to win a combination of bespoke progressive, fixed or mystery jackpots. All of these jackpots can be customized to meet the needs and expectations of each operation, focusing on preferred hit frequencies as well as specific jackpots, their seed values and contributions.
Win, Place & Show
Here are some recent table game product placement announcements from leading gaming properties…
Barrière Casinos continues to upgrade its NOVOMATIC table game offerings
In recent months, the NOVOMATIC floor share at French casino group Groupe Barrière has seen a constant increase, with new cabinets and games being added to the existing offer on numerous gaming floors across the large casino estate.
Located in iconic seaside and spa resorts, top tourist attractions and major cities, the Barrière casinos are home to a total of more than 6,200 slot machines, more than 900 electronic table games (750 of which are NOVOMATIC ETGs), and more than 250 live gaming tables. To maintain the highest standards in terms of gaming technology and innovation, Barrière reportedly relies on leading international OEMs—among them NOVOMATIC with whom the group maintains long-standing business relations. NOVOMATIC games and machines can be found throughout most of the Barrière casino estate.
In 2011, Barrière was the premier French casino operator to introduce NOVOMATIC ETGs – with the first NOVOMATIC electronic roulette at the casino in Niederbronn. Today, Enghien-les-Bains offers a NOVOMATIC ETG roulette installation with 82 NOVOSTAR SL 1.27 and EXECUTIVE SL 1.24 player stations connected to fully automated NOVO Multi-Roulette wheels. Meanwhile, Casino Barrière in Toulouse has even more player positions: This ETG installation comprises 90 terminals and is reportedly the biggest in mainland Europe. Another popular sight in the Barrière ETG areas is the elegant LOTUS roulette island unit with six integrated player stations. One of these fully automated roulette islands is presented at the Casino Barrière Sainte-Maxime’s live gaming area—with a view of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez.
Recently, NOVOMATIC equipment at Barrière has seen an increasing surge of upgrades. The latest cabinets have been installed with a variety of multi- and single games additions. The operator’s NOVO LINE Novo Unity II ETG offer has been greatly expanded with 174 additional ETG terminals in the first quarter of 2019. NOVOMATIC ETG installations can be found in locations such as Enghien-les-Bains, Toulouse, Lille as well as others.
“We are very proud of the long-established relationship between Groupe Barrière and NOVOMATIC,” said Lawrence Levy, outgoing vice president of global sales NOVOMATIC. “Our strengthened partnership helps us to continue working to improve the casino experience in France. The success of Barrière and our close collaboration has allowed us to expand and develop our product range in line with their customers’ expectations and deliver compelling casino offerings throughout their impressive casino portfolio.”
Resorts World New York City adds to its line of Interblock ETGs
Luxury gaming manufacturer and ETG market leader Interblock announced an expansion of their footprint at Resorts World Casino New York City (RWNY), which already held North America’s largest ETG footprint within one casino.
The expansion takes the product portfolio of Interblock to nearly 1,000 seats at the property, according to a press release.
“The recent addition at Resorts World New York has allowed us to provide an unparalleled experience while creating a gaming environment that doubles as a centerpiece for the property,” said John Connelly, CEO of Interblock. “We truly value our partnership with Genting and look forward to continued success with the installation of a Pulse Arena being added to the property this summer.”
The imminent addition includes adding 43 play stations to RWNY’s Diamond Stadium, taking the number of seats within the Stadium alone to 52 play stations. The Stadium is part of a new gaming area on the casino floor, The Podium. This area also adds Interblock’s new Big Six Super Spin and Diamond Video Blackjack for an additional 38 play stations.
The Stadium is equipped with a custom cylindrical double-sided video ring suspended from the ceiling and composed of 32 custom 4K HD LED displays at the center of the stadium, two automated card generators, an automated roulette wheel and an automated dice generator. The video wall displays automated games in play, statistics, and game history. Players can play up to four games from a single play station within the Stadium including roulette, craps, sic bo, multi-hand blackjack and baccarat.
The new Big Six Super Spin has all of the classic features of big six but with an added bonus. The new Big Six Super Spin wheel is divided into 54 segments, each with a symbol. If the pointer stops on a selected symbol, players placing their bets on that symbol will win the payout designated by that symbol.
Diamond Video Blackjack will feature an enhanced virtual dealer with fast-deal graphics that have reduced waiting time for participating players resulting in more hands per hour. Each play station offers 27-inch high definition screens that allow players to play up to three hands at a time, as well as wager on industry-leading side bets.
“Resorts World Casino New York City places our customers’ experience first and strives to provide them with best-in-class products bringing our customers true casino gaming experiences,” said Scott Molina, president of Resorts World New York City. “To this end, we’ve worked with Interblock and led our jurisdiction in bringing these products to our property and to the state. Interblock continues to innovate our product requirements and we’re happy to enhance our customers’ experiences with these innovations.”
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood debuts Aruze’s Lucky Roulette
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., is the first casino in the U.S. to offer Aruze Gaming’s Lucky Roulette. The new machine, with eight stations, is located in the casino’s new gaming space as part of the $1.5 billion property-wide expansion.
Considered a “hybrid roulette” game, Lucky Roulette combines classic mechanical elements with innovative projection mapping technology, according to a company press release. The HD projector displays high-resolution graphics of the roulette wheel on to a spinning mechanical wheel. The result is a beautiful, crisp, hyper-realistic 3-D visual experience that melds the appeal of a traditional roulette wheel with vibrant graphics that significantly enhance the gaming experience.