Well, it’s another new year for Slot Management & Marketing magazine, which is nearing its 25th anniversary of existence.

Over those years, the magazine and its readership have witnessed a lot of technological changes on the slot floor and within the gaming industry as a whole, including the rise of video gaming, the worldwide acceptance of ticket-in/ticket-out (TITO) technology, the advent of server-based gaming, online wagering, mobile betting, electronic table games—the list is truly endless. One thing is certain going forward: this pace of technological innovation is only going to accelerate, and staying current with all the new devices and systems will be an ongoing challenge.

So, what will 2020 and the years following have in store for slot managers from a tech perspective? Prognostication is not among my skills, but Eilers & Krejcik Gaming along with Fantini Research conducted a post-G2E survey that does provide some insight into technology product trends that are top of mind for casino operators, and will likely remain so going forward. Some of these observations pertain to the slot floor, and follow along with some commentary:

  • Facial recognition—10 percent of respondents said facial recognition technology was important, since it better enabled them to accurately track player activity. Konami Gaming is a leader in this field—its SYNK Vision biometric player tracking solution uses facial recognition to identify, rate and reward all players, regardless of whether they are members of an established player loyalty program (see story on page 14). 
  • Bonsuing solutions—Bonusing technologies that enhance the player experience also struck a chord with 10 percent of survey takers. Indeed, every slot vendor booth at G2E featured progressive, persistence, and a host of other game mechanics all designed to add juice to bonusing solutions.
  • Slot merchandising—Eight percent of operators were excited about various merchandising technology surrounding slot cabinets which feature video elements that integrate with the game being played. A lot of companies outdid themselves in this area at G2E including AGS, Incredible Technologies, Everi and Novomatic, just to name a few. 
  • Skill-based games—This concept has been around for the past five G2E shows, but still continues to attract interest, with 6 percent of operators saying it remains on their radar. Game providers such as GameCo, Gamblit Gaming, Next Gaming and Synergy Blue are doing their part by continuously refining their gaming machines to better meet operator and player expectations.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)—This topic did not make the survey, but bears watching in 2020 and beyond since it can totally transform the decision making process on the slot floor as we know it. An idea of just how much AI can inform and enlighten slot processes such as game placement and replacement is showcased in this month’s cover story, starting on page 10.

Of course, there is always the potential for AI to evolve into something much, much bigger. A recent analysis provided by digital transformation service provider NEORIS offered the following compelling thesis: By 2040, the world will see an AI-triggered transcendental shift on humanity’s evolution.

“Research and current advancements tell us that the future of AI will be less artificial and more intelligent,” said Anthony DeLima, head of digital transformation and chief technology officer at NEORIS. “AI’s will inevitably either reach human-level intelligence or cause human parity.”

Here’s hoping our computer companions enjoy spinning the slot reels.