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Class Conscious

Patrick Ramsey, CEO, Multimedia Games

Class Conscious

When Patrick Ramsey took over as interim CEO of slot manufacturer Multimedia Games in March 2010—an appointment made permanent in September—former chief executive Anthony Sanfilippo had only recently begun a growth plan for the slot-maker.

With a few very important twists and turns, Ramsey has used his first year at CEO to turn Multimedia Games into one of the fastest-growing slot manufacturers in the business.

Multimedia was well-established as one of the top suppliers of Class II machines in several important markets. Sanfilippo had tapped slot industry veterans like Mick Roemer to lead the company’s push into the more traditional Class III gaming markets.

With a creative team in the company’s Austin, Texas headquarters that is clearly one of the best in the business, Multimedia began last year to make serious inroads in many Class III markets. However, where Ramsey altered the company’s course a bit was in splitting the management focus between its new Class III jurisdictions and its traditional markets.

“When I started out, we were quite focused on Class III and the new jurisdictions, but we found that concentrating on our core markets and customers in core markets like California, Oklahoma and Washington, where we once dominated, was much more important in the near term,” Ramsey says. “The other markets will be slower builds.”

Keeping the company’s best Class II customers happy comes natural to Ramsey, who, like his predecessor, was an operator first. “Coming from casino operations—especially Harrah’s—makes us focus on listening to customers,” says Ramsey, who was a corporate vice president for the former Harrah’s Entertainment and slot VP for Caesars Atlantic City. “Our customers in Oklahoma helped us refocus, and it has really helped us turn our company around.”

Luckily, the creativity pouring from Multimedia’s game designers applies to both classes of slot machines, more so because of both recent improvements in technology and the company’s expertise. “We have gotten to a point where we can go from Class II to Class III, and even VLTs, very easily,” says Ramsey. “We can focus on our core technologies, and use some of our best content to get into the new markets.”

Multimedia slots have been popular in both markets, as Ramsey says is obvious in jurisdictions such as Oklahoma and California that have both Class II and Class III games. “Several tribes have been looking at expanding their Class II product, and Class II is getting more and more attractive to the operators—the tribes,” Ramsey says.

“It’s a great option when the Class II games can perform as well as the Class III games. Years ago, there was a performance gap between the two. Now, we’re seeing some markets where Class II actually out-performs Class III.”

Meanwhile, Multimedia continues to impress an expanding number of slot executives in the traditional Class III jurisdictions with its product. Ramsey is likely to spend 2012 jetting back and forth among the team in Austin, new customers in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, and the investment community.

“With a company our size, we clearly have to be telling our story quite a bit,” Ramsey says. “And, putting up the results to support that story.”

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.