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And The Winners Are

The Groundbreakers - Winners of the fifth annual Global Gaming Business Gaming & Technology Awards strive for excellence and innovation

The gaming industry in 2008 finds itself at yet another technological crossroads. Vendors across the industry are developing products to fit into the new “networked” gaming floor, from software and system products to games that are adaptable to any new technology coming down the road.

At the recent International Casino Exhibition, Global Gaming Business honored the companies clearing the path to this new technology, in announcing the recipients of the fifth annual Gaming & Technology Awards.

The awards are the result of a joint effort between GGB and Spectrum Gaming Group to recognize the groundbreakers in gaming technology. We once again called out to the industry for nominations, and impaneled a group of distinguished industry veterans to evaluate the nominations at November’s Global Gaming Expo.

This year’s judges for the Gaming & Technology Awards competition included Robert Russell, editor, Michigan Gaming Law newsletter and principal of Regulatory Management Counselors; James Wortman, director of the Gaming Education and Research Institute at the University of Houston’s Conrad Hilton College; Claudia Winkler, president of GHI Solutions Inc. in Las Vegas; and Charles Lombardo, casino gaming operations consultant for Seminole Gaming, and former senior vice president of gaming operations for Seminole and senior VP of slot operations for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

As usual, our Gaming & Technology Awards are divided into three categories: Best Consumer Service Technology; Best Productivity-Enhancement Technology; and Best Slot Product. Finally, it was once again a close competition, so we have included “Honorable Mention” products in each category.

Here are the winners of the fifth annual Global Gaming Business Gaming and Technology Awards:

Best Consumer
Service Technology

1st Place EZ Pay Smart Card
International Game Technology

IGT has transferred its EZ Pay brand from ticket-in/ticket-out applications to the next step in
cashless slot technology. The EZ Pay Smart Card combines the functions of a player’s club card with electronic funds transfer, and adds hospitality functions as well. In this system, a player can deposit funds before checking into the hotel of a casino resort. Upon arrival, an EZ Pay Smart Card is issued that functions as the player’s hotel room key, card for any POS purchases at shops or restaurants, and pay method for playing slots. Players can move from machine to machine with the Smart Card, with funds withdrawn and deposited for losses and wins.

2nd Place iVIEW Media Server
Bally Technologies

Bally’s iVIEW customer portal has been one of the manufacturer’s hottest products during the past year. The iVIEW Media Server is designed to enable use of iVIEW to its maximum potential, to beam media messages in a variety of styles from the casino directly to the player via the small LCD iVIEW screen. Using either one of Bally’s slot management systems or a central server, the Media Server enables feeds of live video and audio, cable television, movies, DVDs, one of Bally’s “Live Rewards” promotional secondary video games, or any style of promotional message, directly through iVIEW to the player.

3rd Place PlayerVision
Las Vegas Gaming, Inc.

PlayerVision is the follow-up to LVGI’s second-place winner in last year’s awards, which was called PortalVision. PlayerVision is a proprietary multimedia system that uses existing VLTs or video slots to give players additional real-time wagering opportunities or as an additional marketing tool for promotions. The core suite of applications includes “PV-TV,” which provides a picture-in-picture view of a race or sporting event during a video slot game; “AdVision,” through which the casino can beam advertising as an additional revenue stream; and “NumberVision,” which can bring state lottery games right to the slot machine, as an up-sell to allow players to buy lottery tickets at cash-out.

Honorable Mention

AV Logica
Paltronics, Inc.

Paltronics’ AV Logica is a suite of software products centered around a personal service and entertainment window that can be mounted to the slot. The system provides bonusing games, streamed live video and marketing messages through the player tracking system to facilitate direct communication between casino and player.

Bonus Revolution
Multimedia Games

This is a package of server software for use in either Class II or Class III applications to provide what Multimedia calls “Community Bonusing.” The product provides common bonus events for as few as eight machines or as many as 250, and can accommodate either video or reel-spinning slots.

Best Productivity-
Enhancement Technology

1st Place sb Floor Manager
International Game Technology

IGT’s sb—for server-based—system is being built for use in a “open-architecture” system; machines from any manufacturer will work on it. The newest cog in that platform is a system to manage a networked operation consisting of a variety of manufacturers’ games. The sb Floor Manager permits seamless management of downloads, configuration changes, scheduling, and eventually, remote game ordering, all from a desktop computer in the back of the house. The scheduling module will allow operators to remotely configure the floor to maximize revenue, including exploiting periods of peak demand, creating instant slot tournaments, and targeting game styles according to customer demand.

2nd Place ACE Interactive Gaming Solution V4.0
Aristocrat Technologies

Aristocrat’s server-based solution is a true thin-client network that was initially developed for the Norwegian Lottery in 2003. Aristocrat acquired the company that supplied this system, ACE Interactive of Stockholm, Sweden, and has adapted the system for use in server-based casino settings. The system can manage more than 10,000 terminals simultaneously, delivering different games from multiple vendors to terminals on the floor through high-speed Ethernet supporting TCP/IP protocols. The V4.0 solution is designed to make a variety of game content available to players on demand, as well as permitting remote management of the entire slot floor.

3rd Place Game Maker HD Scheduler
Bally Technologies

This software module is embedded in the Alpha OS operating system that is now the standard for all Bally video and reel-spinning slots. It allows one of the primary operator functions of server-based gaming—adapting games to the players in the casino—on today’s analog slot floor, by permitting the casino to pre-program changes in denomination, percentage or game content and schedule the change for a specific time. In jurisdictions that have approved rules for remote changes to games, operators would simply submit their scheduled changes to regulators, and once programmed into the machines, they would change automatically—dollar games could become quarters, nickels to dollars, etc., without the door being opened. Bally is promoting it as a way to give the slot floor the same flexibility as the pit in changing buy-in levels.

Honorable Mention

Sona Gaming System
Sona Mobile Inc.

The Sona gaming System is a server-based gaming software package that permits slot games, video table games, video poker, and race and sports book wagering to be transmitted to hand-held device (including Blackberry units), or to any wireless terminal. Where permitted, players can take their games anywhere in a casino resort. Sona has partnered with Shuffle Master, Inc., to offer mobile versions of Shuffle Master specialty table games and standard table games on the wireless system.
Title 31 Accelerator eSubmission / Automated FinCEN e-Filing
Resort Advantage

Resort Advantage is offering this software to provide casinos a direct link to the processing servers of the IRS Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, for the purpose of complying with reporting requirements of the Title 31 Anti-Money Laundering Act. The system eliminates paperwork and manual steps required by casinos to report transactions requiring registration under the law—reducing the manual steps in the process from 20 to only two, and the average time to report a transaction from 20 minutes to two minutes.

Best Slot Product

1st Place Viridian Gen7
Aristocrat Technologies

This is Aristocrat’s groundbreaking new video slot platform and cabinet. The platform represents a major technological advance over the current MKVI platform, featuring a more open architecture and modular platform to allow more flexibility and innovation in game design. MKVI games produced over the past few years can be upgraded to the new platform, which is the manufacturer’s technology on which its server-based products will be based. To that end, the Viridian cabinet
features a flexible dual-monitor presentation that will allow instant changeovers of games, including all artwork, in a server-based
system. (The top monitor substitutes as the slot glass.)

2nd Place Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
International Game Technology

This game represents the debut of “PureDepth,” a technology purchased by IGT to bring the company’s reel-spinning platforms into the world of server-based, networked gaming, as well as providing a remarkable new way to create 3D graphics. The game itself is a multi-line video slot featuring bonus rounds utilizing clips from the Indiana Jones film. However, the PureDepth technology is the key to the presentation. Two video screens overlap to create the illusion of depth. In this case, it provides an uncanny replication of spinning reels in a video format—perfect for server-based applications. In animation and video presentations, PureDepth creates a stereoscopic
effect that could be the best-ever 3D technique.

3rd Place The Wizard of Oz
WMS Gaming

This incredible video slot is the second entry in WMS’ “Sensory Immersion Gaming” series, begun last year with “Top Gun.” The Wizard of Oz uses an arcade-like format, which sits the player in a seat surrounded by Bose speakers in what is essentially a virtual-reality experience that puts the player inside the classic film for various bonus events. The Yellow Brick Road, all the characters, Kansas and Oz are all reproduced with great flair. At the same time, the slot game itself offers a multitude of opportunities to win with various propositions, all involving some aspect of the film. There are even “Flying Monkeys,” which cruise onto the screen and transform reel symbols into wild symbols.

Honorable Mention

Fireball
Bally Technologies

This game marries Bally’s V20 video platform with a dramatic top box featuring a game-in-game player bonus. The slot is a five-reel, 40-line video slot under a themed top-box progressive bonus device. When the bonus is triggered, the player has the chance to win from one to eight separate progressive awards, based on the number of Fireball triggering symbols that appear. The 32-inch video display in the top box features blazing fireballs which ignite the individual progressive displays.

Quick Hit Platinum V32
Bally Technologies

This is a series of Bally “Quick Hit” video slots, which feature frequently hitting free-game bonuses and frequent progressive jackpots, all on the manufacturer’s vertical V32 cabinet. These are the first standard slot games to be placed on the V32, which was originally designed for a video roulette game (which also is very popular). Initial games including Black Gold Wild, Stars & Bars and Wild Jackpot Triple Blazing 777s. Each features bonus events awarding from five to 20 free spins at multipliers of 2X or 3X.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.