The list of products that the industry recognizes as systems solutions is long and getting longer. What once started as a segment that was anchored in patron management solutions has now expanded to include mobile solutions, server-based solutions, digital loyalty cards, in-game messaging, tournament technologies, bonusing apps and beyond.
As casino management systems evolve, manufacturers are paying closer attention to developing expanded portfolios of solutions to meet increasingly diverse casino operator needs. Although there are many suppliers in the systems space, IGT continues to push the envelope of innovation and propel the segment forward by introducing game-changing and award-winning innovations.
Casino International had an exclusive opportunity to connect with Sina Miri, IGT VP of Casino Systems to gain a more comprehensive perspective of the Company’s systems portfolio and illuminate what drives IGT’s leadership in this space.
It starts with commitment
IGT is leveraging its industry-leading R&D investment to develop state-of-the-art casino management solutions that span the spectrum of innovation, from purely land-based solutions, to operator and player-facing mobile solutions.
“At IGT we draw inspiration for our systems solutions from many sources,” said Miri. “At the core of our systems strategy you will find our customers and their unique business objectives, but there are also many peripheral considerations that we take into account such as prevailing technologies, consumer behaviors and market opportunities.”
In terms of casino management systems, IGT is probably recognized most for its Advantage family of products, which are featured in premier operations around the globe. Augmenting Advantage has been central to the evolution of Advantage, which manages patron management, accounting, service applications, reporting, bonusing, and more. With Advantage as a foundation, IGT has built a host of unique solutions and applications to enhance the value proposition to casinos.
One way that IGT leverages its casino management systems to maximize the potential of a casino floor is by offering unique bonusing applications to operators. These bonusing capabilities for land-based games span the spectrum from slots to table games.
“Bonuses are tools that are designed to achieve specific objectives such as increasing length of patron visit or return rate. Our customers can leverage these advanced marketing tools to truly differentiate their casino floors and to establish world-class patron loyalty programs,” said Miri. “IGT maintains the industry’s most comprehensive bonusing portfolio, that when coupled with Service Window and Media Manager can really aid our customers in connecting with players. We find that operators often underutilize bonuses in their operations and for this reason, IGT has dedicated resources to help our customers get the most out of their systems and bonusing application investments.”
IGT has placed a global focus on its bonusing innovation, resulting in a strong mixture of solutions that appeal to different markets. Table Hot Seat is a time-based mystery jackpot that only hits at a time designated by the operator. Up to 16 different bonus periods can be set at one time, run across a single table, a pit or across the entire casino floor. It’s IGT’s response to player demand for table games in regions such as Macau.
In terms of cultivating unrivaled casino-player relationships, IGT is leveraging its Service Window to enhance casino loyalty programs. With Random Riches® bonusing, casinos can deliver random or fixed amounts of promotionally funded Xtra Credit® rewards for achieving specified point accrual levels. This enables a completely customizable rewards system for new and loyal slot customers alike, giving the casino full control of which targeted incentives, promotions and rewards to allocate to different players.
Return Play is another IGT bonus that utilizes the cashless loyalty benefits of Xtra Credit. Operators have the ability to configure multiple earning tiers and rewards, and scale rewards to address different player tiers. Players can visually track their progress and earned rewards on the game screen, or the screen of a NexGen II display.
Xtra Credit can also be awarded from a bonus that sits atop another bonus, such as Carded Lucky Draw. This bonus selects a qualified player to win an award at a specified time, easily integrating with other bonusing promotions and delivering a message to players via Service Window or the NexGen II display. Operators can award a fixed prize, cashable game credits or Xtra Credit while they increase carded play and increase the value of a loyalty program.
Turning up the heat with tournament technology
Shortly after IGT’s debut of the S3000 cabinet, IGT turned up the heat on tournament technology with the introduction of Spin Ferno. Fueled by IGT’s Tournament Manager systems technology, the turnkey solution was the first of its kind, allowing operators to host single or multi-site slot tournaments on a mechanical reel solution. Since its 2015 debut, Spin Ferno has amassed key industry awards and has been deployed in gaming markets around the world.
“IGT customers appreciate Spin Ferno for the boost of energy that it injects into their casino floors. We designed a game that performs very well in coin- in mode and combined it with a solution that enables operators to quickly and efficiently switch the EGM from coin-in mode to tournament mode with no down time and with very little labor,” added Miri.
IGT followed its introduction of Spin Ferno for its popular stepper cabinets with the recently introduced Spin-Splosion!, the latest product to join the TournXtreme automated tournament solution family. Spin-Splosion! is a video reel tournament package for the CrystalDual cabinet that is fueled by IGT Tournament Manager. It enables operators to efficiently host single or multi-site tournaments, while offering players a fun, upbeat carnival-themed tournament experience with real-time leaderboards and ongoing activity that drives engagement.
IGT’s Tournament Manger also powers IGT Ultimate X Poker Tournaments and was recently revealed in combination with the Company’s Siege VR virtual reality offer. By combining Virtual Reality with Tournament Manager, IGT has created an exciting, social Virtual Reality gaming experience that can be monetized in land-based casinos.
Streamlining operations and guest experience through mobile technologies
Given the prevalence of mobile technologies and the convenience they bring to our lives, IGT is committed to providing its customers with mobile solutions that can enhance the land-based casino environment. The lines between the mobile and land-based are increasingly blurred because the consumer has an expectation for a seamless experience across devices and channels.
“IGT is placing a tremendous emphasis on mobile technologies. Whether it is a solution that will enhance the player experiences, or a mobile application that can streamline casino operations, we are very committed to leveraging mobile solutions,” noted Miri. “The fact that our PlaySpot mobile solution was named Casino Product of the Year in 2016 indicates a positive shift in the way the industry is viewing mobile technologies and the value that they bring to the land-based casino environment.”
Having recently completed its trial phase at MGM properties in Nevada, PlaySpot enhances the playMGM app by enabling MGM Resorts’ M life Rewards loyalty program members to place sports bets on their mobile devices anywhere, anytime within the state. IGT PlaySpot provides a user- friendly interface that offers a real-time trend clouds that reveal the most popular wagers, intuitive search functionality, live in-play betting, multiple sport parlay wager capabilities and more on a single screen. Players also have the option to obtain a pre- paid card provided by MGM that allows for in-app cashless transfers via PlaySpot. Expect to see PlaySpot’s baccarat back betting and side betting features implemented in casinos in the APAC region as regulation permits. PlaySpot can either be utilized as a standalone app or embedded into a casino app.
n terms of player-facing mobile solutions, IGT’s Cardless Connect continues to gain traction with IGT’s customers globally. Designed to deliver a convenient and a frictionless user experience, Cardless Connect enables players to participate in a casino loyalty program without carrying a physical card. The technology can be embedded in the casino’s mobile application increasing its value and reducing the need for replacing lost or forgotten loyalty cards.
Instead of inserting a card into a card reader, players can tap their smartphone on the EGM card reader. The technology can also enable cashless gaming by providing access to a gaming wallet. The secure, third-party audited solution allows players to select how much credit they wish to transfer from their player account. Player funds are hosted in IGT’s EZ Pay, a widely deployed scalable ticketing and cashless solution. Players can add funds to their account in a multitude of ways. Players can add funds to their account in a multitude of ways. Credit can be transferred immediately by tapping a smartphone to an EGM to initiate gameplay, and then can be transferred to another EGM in one step with a simple tap.
Further streamlining casino operations through mobile solutions, IGT’s Mobile Host, Mobile Responder, Mobile Notifier, Mobile Dashboard and Mobile Voucher Redemption were developed to provide real-time data driven decision making and monitoring to the casino floor. These solutions enable operators to identify valuable players and respond to events and opportunities more accurately and efficiently.
Through a variety of land-based and mobile solutions, IGT is leveraging its R&D investment in casino management systems to help its customers maximize the revenue potential of casino floors, streamline operations and enhance casino-player experience. With new concepts such as PlaySpot and Cardless Connect being implemented in commercial and tribal casinos at an increasing pace, and with bonusing applications that encompass slots and table games, it’s clear that IGT is well-positioned to build on its Advantage with systems innovation.