Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) last month announced the winners of the third annual EKG Slot Awards, with Aristocrat Technologies once again dominating the field.
The EKG Slot Awards were created by EKG, a top slot industry consultancy, to recognize excellence in slot machine gaming development. Winners in 17 land-based categories are determined by votes from more than 100 qualified slot directors representing over 300 casinos from across North America.
Interactive gaming winners in four categories are determined by a vote of a distinguished panel of industry experts.
For the third year in a row, Aristocrat Technologies took the top award of Best Overall Supplier of Slot Content. It was one of nine awards logged by Aristocrat in the competition.
Coming in second as far as winning companies was Everi Holdings, which claimed four EKG awards.
Aristocrat’s dominance of the awards covered a wealth of different slot categories. In addition to the top prize, the company won Top Performing New Video Reel Core Game for Buffalo Chief; Top Performing New Premium Game for Cash Express Luxury Line Buffalo; Top Performing New Premium Cabinet for Mars X; Top Performing Core Video Reel Game for Buffalo Gold Revolution; and two awards, Top Performing Premium Game and Top Performing Proprietary Branded Game, for Dragon Link: Happy and Prosperous. Aristocrat also got the nods for Most Improved Supplier-Premium and Top Social Casino Company.
Everi, for the second year in a row, took the award for Top Performing Core Mechanical Reel Game for the unique Cash Machine. Everi also won the award for Top Performing New Cabinet for Empire Flex, Top Performing Third Party IP Branded Game for Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel, and Most Improved Supplier-Core.
In the other main result of the competition, slot legends Scott Olive and Charlie Lombardo were announced as the new inductees to the EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame.
Olive, founder and principal of content supplier HRG Studios, created some of Aristocrat’s most storied titles when he worked for the supplier from the late 1990s until 2007—including the groundbreaking Hyperlink progressive jackpot system with games such as Cash Express and Penny Train. He co-founded True Blue Gaming in 2007 with former Aristocrat colleague Kent Young.
After Aruze Gaming acquired True Blue Gaming in 2009, Olive founded HRG Studios and went back to creating hits for Aristocrat under an exclusive contract. Among the most notable success stories of his second stint with Aristocrat is the mega-hit Dragon Link, with its Hold & Spin mechanic that is arguably today’s most copied game mechanic.
Olive was inducted via video by Aristocrat CEO Trevor Croker.
Lombardo, the first gaming operations executive to be inducted into the EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame, is one of the deans of the U.S. slot business. He started his career in the 1970s as a slot mechanic at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and worked his way up the slot operations ranks, eventually becoming senior vice president of slot operations at Bally’s Las Vegas. One of the first operators to open his slot floor to new suppliers, Lombardo worked with slot manufacturers on proprietary games for the Bally’s floor, and designed the slot floor for Bally’s new sister property Paris Las Vegas.
Caesars Entertainment ultimately made Lombardo vice president of slot operations for Bally’s, Paris and Caesars Palace, before he accepted a position as senior vice president of gaming operations for the Seminole Tribe in Florida. While with the Seminoles, he developed the slot floors of the two Hard Rock casinos and significantly expanded the slot floors of all the Seminole casinos. Lombardo serves the tribe as a consultant to this day.
“On behalf of everyone at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, I would like to congratulate all of the individual award winners as well as this year’s Hall of Fame Class,” said Todd Eilers, principal at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, LLC. “I would also like to thank our Board of Advisors, official voters, and our event sponsors.”
A complete listing of the winners of the 2020 EKG Slot Awards is on the following page.
Land-based Awards – 2020
Top Performing NEW Video Reel Core Game
Buffalo Chief – Aristocrat
Top Performing NEW Mechanical Reel Core Game
Dancing Drums Reels – Scientific Games
Top Performing NEW Premium Game
Cash Express Luxury Line Buffalo – Aristocrat
Top Performing NEW Cabinet – Core
Empire Flex – Everi Holdings
Top Performing NEW Cabinet – Premium
Mars X – Aristocrat
Top Performing Core Video Reel Game
Buffalo Gold Revolution – Aristocrat
Top Performing Core Mechanical Reel Game
Cash Machine – Everi Holdings
Top Performing Premium Game
Dragon Link – Happy And Prosperous –Aristocrat
Top Performing 3rd Party IP Branded Game
Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel – Everi Holdings
Top Performing Proprietary Branded Game
Dragon Link – Happy And Prosperous – Aristocrat
Top Performing Electronic Table Game (ETG)
Roulette – Interblock
Top Performing Video Poker Game
All Star Poker 2 – IGT
Top Performing Interactive Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM)/Skill
Cannon Beards Treasure – Gamblit Gaming
Top Performing Game from an Emerging Supplier
Dice Seekers Heroes and Villains – Gaming Arts
Most Improved Supplier – Core
Most Improved Supplier – Premium
Best Overall Supplier of Slot Content
Social Casino Awards
Best Use of Land-Based Content in a Social Slot Game
DoubleDown Casino featuring IGT content – published by Double Down Interactive
Top Social Casino Company
iGaming Awards (Real-Money Online Gaming)
Best New Online Slot
Extra Chili — Big Time Gaming
Top Performing Online Slot
88 Fortunes – SG Digital