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Gaming is in a state of recovery – well, that’s certainly what visitors to ICE 2012 left thinking. If exhibitions are a guide to the health of an industry, ours is looking good
We’ve always been fans of ICE at Casino International, mainly because the layout of the show itself works better than any of the other international exhibitions. Smaller exhibitors are in amongst the bigger names, there’s a greater sense of equality and of community as a result; it all adds up to more buzz and more excitement. Throw in the absolutely vibrant online gaming community, and you really have an infusion of energy. ICE 2012 was a return to form; it felt busier, the quality was there, and great product greeted visitors.
Abbiati was celebrating the announcement of GLI 25 approval for its Live Roulette Wheel with patented laser technology, as well as approval granted by the Nevada Gaming Board for their chips, plaques and jetons. Plenty there to celebrate, but that’s not the end of the story by any means; the Italian chip and Roulette specialists were also awarded ISO 9001:2008 status, showing they meet ISO quality requirements for their customers.
To describe Abbiati as Chip and Roulette specialists perhaps does them a disservice, but that is what they are best known for. However, visitors to their stand would have enjoyed the presentation of a wide range of displays, including the more traditional LED style, and LCD versions with full animation and wheel analysis.
Of the tables on show, notable were the dedicated poker table, and the attractive bean-shaped Baccarat table; the RFID 13.56 MHz PJM Poker table was also attracting attention, as of course such a table speeds up the deal by calculating rake and wins for the dealer.
The company said after the show that they had a very successful ICE 2012, with enquiries from existing and new clients; many of these were European, but customers from Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas were also present, backing up the exhibition’s truly international claims.
MEI’s portfolio continues to gain traction around the world, and a recent installation in Italy’s Casino di Campione following a Value Added Trial further cements their reputation. The casino now specifies CASHFLOW SC bill validators in all new slots and refurbishes.
Front and centre for the company is the MEI SC Advance, boasting improved recognition system, faster bill-to-bill speed, expanded memory, comprehensive barcode recognition, and an upgrade to USB 2.0. Perhaps best of all, SC Advance can work with CASHFLOW SC units already installed, as the enhancements are all in the acceptor head, so it’s win-win for customers.
Another notable product on show in London was the EASITRAX Soft Count, n integrated software-hardware solution that extends the security and acceptance found with CASHFLOW SC and SC Advance to the soft count room. It allows quick and easy access to information on what’s in the cash box without the insecurity of requiring staff to open the box; it can tell soft count staff what is in the box, acceptance rates, and much, much more.
The star of the show for Hess was the Scorpion 411 Casino System, a standalone multifunction machine, designed for 24-hour operation that breaks bank notes for change, accepts, loads and issues player cards, accepts and prints out tickets and much more. With a 300-card capacity, can operate in multiple languages, and is even usable remotely, so stock can be managed and information analysed in real time from the back office!
Alfastreet had a real surprise on their stand – a boat. Well, a model of a boat, but the concept is real, as the company have diversified into marine. Albert Radman explained: “It’s an electric boat with solar panels, the Energy 18. It’s a 5.4m-long boat with either a 2kW or 4kW electric motor, and the boat is an all-fibreglass construct.”
Of course, they were also showing gaming product, with the highlight probably the Derby game, a virtual horseracing product designed for Asia. Albert said: “It’s already certified and we’re bring it slowly into the major casinos in Asia. We’re signing some deals in Europe as well.”
The SL terminal was also a standout, an addition to the company’s multigame series of products. Players using SL can play any Alfastreet game – and even bet on two games at a time.
Casino Technology staged the launch of their new Penthouse slots at ICE, with three games ready to be launched into casinos. As Roy Student told reporters: “Penthouse is a world-renowned brand, and for many years it was looking at entering the gaming industry. They met with Casino Technology and made the decision to enter the worldwide gaming industry with Casino Technology as their vehicle on a global basis, with the rights to develop the slots, artwork and games they are developing.”
The slots are certainly eye-catching, and outside of the UK the Penthouse license is a strong one. The slots’ furniture is also well-made, with a glossy lipstick-print icon the main attention-grabber. The first European installations will be happening very soon, subject to finalising the certification process.
Elsewhere for CT, the systems side is capturing their attention. The company is launching its server-based solution this year that will allow operators a fully integrated environment and to launch games across platforms including video lottery terminals, mobile gaming, and online.
Rossi McKee said at the press conference: “We’re planning to launch a casino management module which will provide one common management environment for casino operators across all platforms. Players that use the system will use it to log into one common account no matter where they play or what platform they use. For the operator, all this activity will be visible.” Exciting stuff.
JPM made a big splash at ICE, reiterating its commitment to the UK market in both the casino and AWP sectors. JPM’s Sales and Marketing Director Simon McCarthy revealed that JPM had enjoyed its best-ever ICE show: “The launch of our new platform utilising the Quixant QXi-200 PC based gaming controller has opened up huge opportunities, not least in the international casino sector.
“This year JPM will be celebrating its 40th anniversary and as you can imagine, in addition to our new games development, our back-catalogue boasts many classic games which can now be enhanced with the added dimension of stunning video.”
The first incarnation of the new platform is Video Max Power, a localised or remote gaming system featuring some very exciting player bonus features. Video Max Power was exhibited in the popular three-machine configuration, topped with an eye-catching TFT bonus display screen.
Video Max Power is a multi-currency system, configurable to meet local regulatory requirements and player preferences which premiered in the Czech Republic, where it became an instant success and plans are in place to launch in a number of markets.
An exciting development for JPM is in the shape of JPM Interactive, the company’s online content division which presented an array of exciting games for the online market, including Casino 5ive Liner, Full house, Big X, Turbo Gold and A Pot of Gold.
JPMi Director Andrew Davies explained: “With its portfolio of AWP games, JPMi has brought something new and refreshing to the online sector. The games all offer a high level of interactivity and have been successful in attracting and retaining a new breed of player to the online environment.”
Quixant launched their new QX-40 board, featuring the brand new AMD chipset, and it got them a lot of attention – even down to securing an order at the show, something quite unusual on the component side of the business. Gary Mullins enthused: “The level of interest in the chipset from the industry is phenomenal, and our product is already ready – we’re first out of the blocks with this, and that means a lot. We’re talking to gaming companies who are designing games with this chipset, before it’s even released, which is unheard of. Their products will coincide with AMD launching the chipset, which is toward the middle of 2012. Our early adopters of the QX40 are going to be a year ahead of their competition; the new chip is more powerful than a graphics card, so it means you don’t need a graphics card. It saves manufacturers a lot of money, generates a lot less heat in the slot machine, the benefits are huge.”
Quixant will be sad to see the back of Earls Court though, with Gary lamenting: “It was a cracking show, but then it always is; it lived up to expectations and was a good farewell to Earls Court. The venue has worked well for us, we’ll miss it!”
Spielo International had an amazing array of product on show, with VLT, slots, AWP, systems, and fresh ideas within those distinct areas. The company’s merge with GTECH G2 means even more for the future, as Spielo explores how to leverage that grey area between online and land-based gaming. With the changes of the last couple of years, we suspect that Spielo will be one of the companies leading the charge into this largely unexplored area of revenue- and loyalty-generation.
Spielo International unveiled their first progressive link using Episodic Gaming at ICE. As the player progresses through the game during one session, they can save and reactivate their achieved status during the next play session. The player unlocks more features and additional bet options for more action become available.
Mermaid’s Spell is a rapid hit 8-level linked progressive multi-game that features three distinct titles – Great Reef, Magic Lagoon, and Bay of Fortune. Players can choose their volatility by seeking their favourite progressive level. An attractive merchandising package, including a jackpot overview meter and hit history, makes Mermaid’s Spell quite a lure for players.
SPIELO’s successful multi-game solution, diversity, expands further with the introduction of Amazing Amber, Pure Purple, Gambling Green, and the brand-new
Absolute Azure. Combined with Royal Red and Brilliant Blue, operators can select game suites tailored to players’ desires. diversity offers a variety of up to 10 games grouped into categories that can be selected by players via touch screen, with Roulette now available as a selection. Presented on the new OXYGEN cabinet, diversity allows players to select their preferred game types with different volatility levels.
On the systems side, products include cash wallet, a new smarter, ‘greener’ and affordable cashless payment method that provides more flexibility and choice for commercial casinos. At only 10% of the cost of a smartcard, it provides enormous savings to casinos. And the player will enjoy all the benefits of a ‘virtual wallet,’ so if he loses his card, he doesn’t lose his cash!
Roulette specialists Cammegh are the kind of company that keeps these exhibitions running, bringing with them a passion and energy that infects all around them. This year, they arrived after picking up an award at the IGA the night before. Andrew Cammegh told us: “The show was very busy; for us it was exciting and we arrived on the back of being awarded the Traditional Casino Equipment Supplier for 2012 at the IGA the night before. That recognition was for the highly focussed work we do on Roulette, with displays, support, innovation; it was for the whole package. It was great to start the show on the back of such an award.”
The company exhibited the Aurora Roulette and Double Shot Roulette, which uses a slot-based feature generated by the ball and the rotor on the wheel to create a side bet on the Roulette table.
There was also EyeCard, which is a camera mounted above the display which recognises cards as they are dealt and show results automatically on the screen, which removes the need for an intelligent card shoe, and allowing operators freedom to use whatever card they want, albeit with jumbo index. There is great potential for this, as Andrew elaborated: “We’ve got an order for 110 displays for Crown, and only 16 are for Roulette – the rest are for different card games. We’ve also incorporated a camera housing module for the top of the display so surveillance technology can be brought to the table top.”
Inspired’s star right now is Sabre, their standalone electronic Roulette terminal which recently earned GLI approval – and which has sold more than 1,000 terminals in the last year already. Inspired’s Lucy Buckley told CI: “Sabre is already installed in the UK with Genting and Gala, live in Asia with SHL and Sanum, and we’re about to go live in Macau, Argentina, North America and hopefully a few places in Europe as well. Expansion of the product is going brilliantly.” Among its strengths is that the player can bet simultaneously on games, depending on the legality of that in their territory.
Also of note is their impressive new marketing and rewards ‘ecosystem’, CORE VIP. A server-based rewards system, it can be used on any game, and Inspired tailor the bonuses to the game – it’s not umbrella bonusing, it’s tailored in-game rewards. It’s also very, very impressive – more on this in a future issue.
WMS arrived in London with more than 80 new gaming machines designed to engage current players and attract new ones, while enhancing loyalty and
driving performance for casino operators. One of the buzz-phrases for this show was ‘Cloud services’, and WMS were certainly on that train – but cloud products will be featured in another issue, as it’s too detailed to go into here.
Of particular interest were the new Wizard of Oz game Journey to Oz, an addition to the Monopoly family, and the great-looking license, Battleship, a five-reel slot with two base themes.
Arguably most exciting was WMS’s online casino platform, JackpotParty.com, and at ICE visitors could see its business to business potential, as a games provider for their expansion from bricks and mortar into online, for example.
WMS also showed their first participation games – the Super Team and Aladdin & The Magic Quest themes – that leverage the capabilities and functionality made possible by their proprietary, next-generation CPU-NXT3 platform.
Exciting times at WMS!
Giesecke & Devrient did not have their own stand, but had staff and product ona distributor’s stand. Jim Goodwin, Market Segment Director, Casinos, Giesecke & Devrient explained their star product at the show to Casio International: “We came to ICE to support our regional distributors, with our product the BPS C1. It’s a one plus one currency counter, and this is our gaming launch for it. One plus one, in currency counting, is where there is a counting pocket plus a reject pocket. It’s basically a high-speed currency and ticket sorter, on a smaller scale. For smaller casinos, that small footprint will be attractive. It can run up to 1500 notes a minute, though it’s adjustable from 600 notes a minute up to 1500.
“It also reads and images TITO tickets at 1500 per minute, which is quite unusual. It counts it, reads the number, and send the information into the accounting system. Right now, it doesn’t do mixed currency with tickets, but we’re working toward that in the near future. It can handle up to ten currencies, which in European and Asian markets would be a big boost.
“The BPS C1 could sit at the cash desk, count rooms in smaller casinos… The machine does have a LAN connection on it, and also you can have two tellers using the same machine, so you can switch between users. It’s a very clever, flexible device.”
Online was a big part of everyone’s ICE, and outside the online section of the hall, the big names in gaming were realising that there was great value in their game libraries. Dan Savage, Vice President Marketing, Bally, explained to CI: “Last year was the year of the cabinet introduction, the Pro Series, the iDeck; this year we’re adding to our portfolio the internet games, we have about 14 games online that we’re showing, as well as the mobile apps. About six months ago we purchased a company called MacroView, and they’ve been making our casino apps, for 20 or so casinos globally – the Bellagio, MGM, et cetera. We’re getting into that B2B relationship with casinos a little deeper; we’re not looking at targeting players directly, we’re trying to offer casinos solutions for when internet gaming comes live in North America, and how we’re going to offer our assets in Europe, for example.”
On the slot floor, the star of the show was the Michael Jackson slot, closely followed by another evergreen license, Grease. Both look absolutely terrific even on a slot floor as crowded as ICE; watch out for their impact in casios worldwide this summer. As Dan said, “Michael Jackson is probably the biggest licence we have ever purchased; it’s a big summer release for us.” That may prove to be one of the show’s understatements.
GPI’s message was simple: RFID is not just about security, it’s about efficiency on your casino floor. Nicole Grauzer, Marketing Manager, GPI, told us: “Operators are often looking for ways to save money and to bring more players into the casino to increase revenues. Our RFID Poker Solution is a good example of a way RFID can be used to generate revenue, as Poker is so popular here in Europe. Poker Solution actually works in both ways, allowing the casino to save on manual processes that may involve error, and improve player experience too. By using RFID-enabled chips, the system will automatically calculate the pot at all times during the hand, and at the end of the hand it calculates the casino rake. So the dealer no longer has to sit and count the pot, or make potential errors working out the rake. There are more rounds per hour too, because it saves so much time. This year what’s new is our optional progressive, which is an incrementing jackpot the player can win based on whatever hand is predetermined. So if they get a Straight Flush, for example, and the jackpot is nice and high, it’s a good perq for the player as well. It can be linked on multiple tables or just one; we’ve installed it at the Sun Casino in Monaco quite recently, with around eight tables. They have one of the most reputable poker rooms in Europe, so that’s exciting for us.” We’re sold.
GPI has many other product developments too, which we’ll go into in a future issue.
Crane Payment Solutions had, for the first time, all of its brands on a single stand, and it made for an impressive sight. Last year you may remember that the acquisition of Money Controls had only happened a month or so before the event, so MC were on their own stand; this year the company presented a united front, and a line-up of great product for visitors.
Of course, Money Controls’ Ardac Elite and the CashCode one bill acceptors took centre stage. Ardac Elite, says CPS, is the first and only field-proven imaging bill validator. State of the art imaging technology and a four-way barcode reader allows customers to insert barcode tickets in any orientation, increasing acceptance rates and user satisfaction. It has established an excellent reputation, particularly in the demanding environment of casino gaming, where any breakdown or poor acceptance rates can be very costly. The Ardac Elite’s state of the art imaging technology ensures the highest standard of validation. By simply plugging in a PDA via the USB port, an image of the last note inserted can be displayed.
CashCode one boasts a universal design to accept all currencies; one single hardware platform to reduce support and operation costs, and flexible architecture with multiple options and configurations. CashCode one also has advanced sensor technology which scans both sides of the bill, optimising recognition. Its self-centering transport guides adjust automatically to perfectly align bills or barcodes of different widths, even when fed in at an angle. The CashCode One also comes with oneCheck cash management and accountability solution
FutureLogic are gradually repositioning themselves as a gaming solutions provider, says Annette Jauch, Sales and Marketing Manager, EMEA. “At this year’s ICE we are launching two new systems products that really highlight FutureLogic’s new aim in gaming. Instead of being a hardware supplier or printer supplier, FutureLogic now aims to be a gaming solutions provider. Our core product is obviously still our printers, but we have accessory products to support the printer range.
“We have PromoNet, which we showed in Las Vegas, which we are now really launching in Europe; starting in the second quarter of 2012, we will have field trials in place for that here in Europe, so we’re really pushing into the market. It has GLI and BMM compliance approval so the time is right for that product. As you are probably aware, PromoNet is a promotional couponing system designed for use in casinos.
“We are also launching a ticketing product for the AWP market as well, called Ticket2Go. It’s geared for the street market, smaller arcades, pubs and bars, service stations and the like. One key benefit is there is no need for a network, or additional power as it draws it from the machine.”
“The product portfolio on display at ICE this year clearly underlines FutureLogic’s intent to play a dominant role in all gaming markets”, added John Edmunds, FutureLogic’s Vice-President International Markets. “It highlights the company’s transition from a printer supplier to a solutions provider.”
GLI’s big story was their new mobile application, available through the App Store, which allows the regulator to take the lab with them on the gaming floor on tablet or iPhone. If you have the app, you can customise your entire experience, and take the lab everywhere with you. You can search advisories, certifications, everything right from the floor, by type, jurisdiction or status. You can also check the latest advisories, so you know you’re looking at the latest updates and everything for your devices and systems. A simple idea but when you combine it with their GLI Access suite, it becomes pretty special. More on this in a future issue…
JCM unleashed iPRO on its international audience – it’s a bill validator with a difference; when coupled with JCM’s recycling technology it creates the iPRO Recycler, or RC. When a player is using the device, certain denominations are designated for recycling, and they go into recycling chambers. When the player cashes out at the end of the session, the notes from the recycling chamber pay the player. It’s a huge efficiency for route operators, helps keep uptime on the device, and keeps players happy.
JCM’s Tom Nieman told CI: “For the last decade, UBA has been the number one bill validator in Europe; iPRO has a more advanced sensing package, and because it fits the rest of the UBA it’s just a head swap-out. It’s 100 per cent retro-fittable, and has an even better anti-fishing package.” Looks like it will be another hit for the company, then – and when last year’s other developments (like the at-table note sorter) hit the gaming floor, it’s going to be a good year for JCM.
Shuffle Master took a stellar product in the iTable and reinforced some of its less obvious strengths at ICE. It’s long been clear to customers how good the table looks, how good the software is, but it’s not always beenclear what the back-office advantages of it are. Not any more, as John Strickland explains: “We’ve taken some of the key selling points from the iTable and demonstrated them for the customer here at ICE. We do a great job of displaying tables at G2E, but we’re really focussing on displaying the actual table data here at ICE; after all, one of the main reasons an operator would want one is mining information and information reporting. So we can see what the cash in is, if there are any markers, total buy-in, cash out, total tips on the table – then it gets even more detailed with analysis and player habits.”
Shuffle Master’s other great strength is in intellectual property, notably in its range of unique table games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Let It Ride. John explained how these properties can create new revenue streams for the company and its partners: “We’re really looking hard at maximising return from our intellectual property now, by offering our games to online and also to land-based casinos moving into the online space; so we offer the back end, with their casino ‘skin’, we don’t take any player information at all – we literally just supply the game. Of course, the online versions that are in play now can be free to play if you’re in North America, so the player logs in and plays, and the player collects time; when the player comes to ‘cash out’, the property providing the game can give the player some kind of comp to bring them into the property to claim it, and perhaps play for real… We think this is going to be incredibly popular.” We think you’re right, John.
TransAct’s partner in Europe, Middle East and Africa is Eurocoin, and TransAct’s Tracey Chernay was effusive in her praise of the company. “We’ve received a very warm response from casinos that have evaluated the system; Eurocoin has done a fantastic job of penetrating the European market with the Epic 950. Customers who already have the Epic 950 can simply upgrade their printers, as it’s entirely retrofittable. It’s an easy process, and it means customers who have invested in the 950 have not lost that investment as we can upgrade it and go to the next level of ticket printing, which is coupons, so they can promote the casino or events directly into a player’s hands.”
The big news for TransAct though was the European launch of EpiCentral. Tracey told us: “At G2E last year we showed all of the modules we have added to the initial base system; this year we launch in Europe and we’re preparing to make a big splash with our coupon printing system in Europe.”
The show was a success for both parties, as TransAct supported Eurocoin with staff and product. Tracey concluded: “Fantastic exhibition. We’ve had a lot of pre-bookings of people who want to see the system, but also a lot of passing traffic that has come on to find out more. It’s really been very vibrant and enjoyable.”
This year’s ICE was the premiere for “DRGT powered by SiP”. It was only last spring that DRGT purchased Systems in Progress (SiP) from WMS. Indeed the ICE 2011 was characterised by DRGT offering excellent new features to the systems world on an international basis.
Systems has been somewhat of a second-tier side of gaming in the past – a necessity, something in the background. DRGT has changed this in a very short period of time. Systems is now affordable to all as DRGT ensures it can be provided to all slots. WORKS WITH ALL SLOTS is not only the company slogan but the philosophy that drives DRGT forward in the international gaming world.
Got a floor of older machines you’d like to upgrade cashless? Choose the right solution to fit your needs. The ibutton from DRGT places all the accounting details on a key. Integration is simple at a very affordable price. Need ticket-in, ticket-out but you don’t have the room for the ticket printer in your machine? drSide Box is the answer. Want to make use of the great marketing benefits of drScreen on a reel-based slot? drReel Screen replaces the old pay table with an electronic monitor that replicates the pay table but allows much more. Thus, all the accounting and even jackpot information can be integrated.
Every gaming location can be modernised to make full use of the benefits of the systems solutions from DRGT powered by SiP.
It is important to stress that DRGT powered by SiP works on a serverless basis. The great benefit is thus that no server is required. The nightmare of the server failing – and all slots along with this – has now been banished. Furthermore, no expensive IT personnel is required – the software is simple to understand and use.
Interblock met their customers with their usual enthusiasm and backed by a dazzling array of products, beautifully designed and displayed. Oh, and of course they had a champion boxer on their stand too, in the form of Slovenian multiple IBF boxing champion, Dejan Zavec, backing up Interblock’s ‘Fight for the revenue’ slogan.
Their booth was very large, and attracted a large amount of traffic from visitors lured by the G4 Organic Roulette, G4 Organic Virtual BlackJack, and G4 Organic Bartop to name a few.
Mr. Klemen Sitar, Regional Sales Manager at Interblock, said: “This year’s company presentation with a renewed stand and twice the size stand of the last year’s was in my opinion was absolutely stunning. Our client and distributors from Belgium and the Netherlands share the same thoughts with me. Our new range of Organic products, the Football shaped tables with attractive PID’s, Virtual card table, Bartop terminals and especially brand new product, G4 Live Pulse are once again a new step forward for our company. I have enjoyed every moment of the show.”
Mr. Bojan Dreven, Regional Sales Manager at Interblock, commented the show: “Interblock again catches an interest of Casino operators with introducing a new Organic concept, the G4 Organic Live Pulse.
“It is another new product in G4 Organic range of products, which completes multi terminal- multigame Organic portfolio offer with more ideas, which brings every casino floor to a new level, helping them to ‘fight for their revenues’ in difficult times.”
One of the newest and most attractive amongst the exhibited machines, the ‘G4 Organic Live Pulse or Pulse Arena’ is an impressive looking product, launched for the first time at this year’s ICE 2012. The version that was displayed at the show was in theatre layout and consists of 32 play stations and two live games, Roulette and Baccarat with the ability to place wagers electronically on a live wheel operated by a croupier or a live shoe being dealt for a baccarat game.
Scientific Games demonstrated the strength of its recently expanded Gaming division, which includes The Global Draw, Games Media and Barcrest, by flexing its combined muscle at ICE.
Following Scientific Games’ acquisition of Barcrest in September 2011, the ICE Expo presented the first opportunity for the three businesses to exhibit as one. The unified Gaming division presented its largest and most impressive display to date, which was visited by a record number of attendees and generated substantial new business opportunities.
The division’s new ‘one vision’ approach aims to provide customers with significantly enhanced products and services by fully integrating The Global Draw and Games Media’s sought after content with Barcrest’s expansive game catalogue across The Global Draw’s state-of-the-art network.
Innovation was high on the Gaming division’s agenda at ICE, with the Company showcasing an extensive portfolio of unique and entertaining products and services, including new and exciting B2 and B3 games which include premium-licensed content designed by its expert in-house development team - available exclusively to Scientific Games’ customers. These games featured dynamic customisable content using high-definition graphics as well as interactive game play and attractive, easy-to-use loyalty tools, in order to enhance player retention and extend the life cycle.