Electronic games are steadily climbing the casino ladder.
Operators consider this relatively young asset a multi-faceted tool. E-games produce revenue streams with or without trained dealers, reduce the time between hands or craps rolls, increase the speed of play and enhance the bottom line. They also provide low-limit betting stations and help lure customers at off-peak hours.
Players like the flexibility of e-games. They become training tables for players wishing to learn in a low-pressure climate, a method by which to wager faster, and a glimpse of fantasy. Visually resplendent, beautifully lit devices scream “play me.” Or, at least, “watch me.”
Electronic games have become increasingly prominent and profitable. That surge should continue as live online gaming recruits more customers and offers more options to play.
The e-game advance brings a high-octane rush from industry leaders to supply product. The process is exciting. In fact, it’s electric.
Best of Both Worlds
Faster play and lower minimums are inherent benefits of e-tables, but many players miss the interaction with a live dealer. Addressing this are a variety of hybrid table systems that combine human interaction with automated betting and payments.
One of the newest is the “AccuPLAY System” from TCSJohnHuxley, a modular system capable of hosting dozens of players for a single game, virtually at the same speed as one player against the dealer.
AccuPLAY is a touch-screen live card table utilizing a patented system that detects all wagers, card values and payoffs electronically. The system incorporates electronic play stations around a table with a live dealer. Alternatively, an “electronic shoe” can be used for completely automated operation.
The system allows “real card action at electronic speeds,” the company says. “This patented system, with integral electronics, enhances security and supports a range of casino games.”
Another top TCSJohnHuxley e-table is “MultiPLAY,” a system that places the entire game on a giant touch-screen LCD that mimics a live table. “MultiPLAY was designed to meet the demand for a live table with a lifelike, life-sized electronic betting screen,” says Luke Davis, director of marketing for TCSJohnHuxley. “This means that players can gather around the table as they would with a traditional live table and still enjoy the social elements of the traditional game.”
MultiPLAY also can incorporate elements of live games, including live croupiers and an automated dice that can be transferred from player to player, like the live game. “MultiPLAY merges a traditional roulette, craps or sic bo table with either a live croupier or automated roulette wheel or automatic dice recognition system and a fully electronic multiplayer betting surface,” Davis says. “Featuring a 56-inch Quad HD LCD screen, MultiPLAY was initially launched with a manually operated roulette wheel before automated versions of the game were developed.”
TCSJohnHuxley also offers a complete range of other multi-player electronic table games, including the DigiDeal Digital Table System (DTS), which offers a range of card games in either automated mode or with a live dealer/host to maintain the live-game feel.
With the new e-table, operators can choose between using traditional live cards or virtual cards. Play proceeds with virtual chip selection and betting, real-time card peeking and up-to-date credit and player bank information. The DTS also has full network capabilities and is compatible with back-end financial tracking systems.
The company also offers Super Sic Bo, with a unique 55-inch high-resolution play surface; and the complete Nov Unity II line of automated electronic table games, under a distribution deal with Novomatic.
Sharing the Wealth
Galaxy Gaming parlays electronics and electronic games into a new product push.
The Las Vegas company manufacturers table games, including side bets that can be played with such games as blackjack. Galaxy also distributes TableMax, an automated table game that offers blackjack without a dealer. Its latest hot ticket is MegaShare, a dynamic linking of different games. A player can win at a table he’s not even seated at. He can wager one progressive dollar for a jackpot on a game he plays. But a second progressive bet gives him a multi-game progressive wager, at another location. This formula could apply to about 20 games.
MegaShare is currently offered in several Washington state casinos, according to Dean Barnett, Galaxy’s national sales manager. The company expects to expand the principle after applying for a special license to link systems within Nevada. That rollout could occur in the first half of 2014 and connect Las Vegas with Laughlin, for example.
“You may play a hand in Las Vegas and win a jackpot, on another game, in another city, and perhaps someday in another state,” Barnett says. “It’s awesome. You can win substantially on a game, even if you were not even there.”
And it’s only a buck.
MegaShare grew from the Bonus Jackpot System Galaxy installed about five years ago, which constitutes a one-wager play for a progressive jackpot. MegaShare expands the concept.
The payout process is fully automated within the system. The system will detail the jackpot amount, the number of MegaShare winners, where each are seated (table and seat position) and how much each is to be paid.
While MegaShare is aimed for a major score, Galaxy also offers TableMax, an electronic, automated table game. It appeals to players who prefer anonymity and low limits. They can also enjoy side bets on Lucky Ladies and 21 plus 3. It has three- and five-player units. The action occurs faster than in a regular table game. TableMax is viewed as a means to teach people the game in a low-pressure situation.
Interblock USA has added two layers of excitement to its product range.
The company is already well-known as a subsidiary of Slovenia’s Elektroncek d.d. Interblock is a globally recognized trademark of automated electro-mechanical and video roulette, dice and card products. Elektroncek, under the Interblock name, distributes its products in more than 50 countries around the world, with more than 30,000 stations installed worldwide.
December brought a new G-5 line, which provides “some more engine power” via high-def graphics and larger screens, according to Tom O’Brien, CEO of Interblock USA. To complement this rollout, Interblock is prepared to unveil the first large-sized hologram on a Strip property in the December-January time frame. This promises to be a game-changer.
It was 3D at G2E when Interblock demonstrated its blockbuster new product, Hologram Gaming Lounge, to the casino world. Interblock expects it to hit many casino floors in March or April.
The product highlights holograms, the photographic images that are three-dimensional and appear to have depth. They work by creating an image composed of two superimposed two-dimensional pictures of the same object seen from different reference points.
For Interblock, that means a holographic projection system bringing precisely crafted three-dimensional, full-color moving images to life, creating the illusion of real dealers and live games, taking player interaction with gaming to a new level.
Displayed on stage in front of players, the realistic projections are linked with electronic table games to convey the action. Dealers throw 3D dice and cards into the virtual sphere, matching up game-play in real time.
This product may represent the crossroads of automation, animation and entertainment.
“We have already shown products that have helped operators save money and labor costs,” O’Brien indicates, “but now we are putting an entertainment element on top of it. When you put the two together, you can’t miss. If you look at some games out there, you see continuous loops of people saying ‘place your bets, no more bets,’ etc. That can bore customers to death. Here, we have 60-100 clips of different women, different men, different outfits, changing themes, etc. You can also make it seasonal. You can turn pretty women into elves, make them flip the cards, spice it up.”
The largest hologram enables around 50 games, the medium 28 and the smallest 22, O’Brien indicates. Baccarat and multi-game blackjack will be the most prominent, but craps is coming. So are slots, thanks to a hologram attached to the machine to display outcomes. While that product looms down the road, the others are coming fast and furious.
Interblock also announced a partnership at G2E with U.K.-based Musion, world leader in holographic technology. The agreement gives Interblock the exclusive master global license to use Musion Eyeliner holographic technology on gaming floors. Combining Musion Eyeliner technology with Interblock’s range of gaming products, the holographic solution incorporates Interblock PlayStation, Game Generator, Animation Generator, and can be used as a player information display linked to existing Interblock gaming devices.
Games that will become available on the Musion Interblock 3D system include Roulette, Sic Bo, Craps, Color Craps, Blackjack, Baccarat, Big3Six, Pop’n Poker and Keno. In addition to its high-tech gaming functionality, the holographic video projection system enables casinos to display scheduled entertainment such as tournament announcements, jackpot winners and sponsored promotional content.
Where is the best location for the hologram?
“I think it works best in some dull areas of the property, where operators can’t get people to play,” O’Brien says. “This will entice players. They will say, ‘Wow, what is this? We want to come play this game.’ This is something geared toward the younger generation as well.”
Bolting from the Gate
LT Game, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Paradise Entertainment Ltd., is the dominant supplier of electronic table games in Macau. When the company branched out to Las Vegas last year, it quickly sprouted wings.
The Las Vegas outfit, responsible for sales and marketing outside of Macau, has already produced installs both in Melbourne and in its own backyard. The Palazzo in Las Vegas now sports 24 units under the Stadium Gaming product line (also known as the Live Multi Game system) for LT.
“This a very exciting time for LT Game International,” says Brad
Glencross, technical and support manager for the company. “Our success in Macau is there for all to see, with over 3,000 seats installed. Our first installation outside of our Macau base is Crown Casino, Melbourne Australia started with 20 seats and increased to 150 seats in less than a year.
“This installation in Las Vegas, which we hope is the first of many in mainland U.S., will showcase to the American public and operators what all the fuss is about.”
Glencross believes his company found a solid niche.
“The lack of competition in the ETG segment in the North American market has seen it stagnate and part from some companies offering new-generation, random-number-generator-style games,” he says. “No progress has been recognized in the live dealer-dealt games in the electronic table games portion of the market. Five years ago, ETGs were viewed as niche products possibly taking up a small corner of the main gaming floor as an introduction for low-limit players to experience a live game of roulette or baccarat. Nowadays, these products have become a line in their own right.”
The LT Game products allow electronic wagering in a live game. Players make bets on a player terminal with full TITO support. They can select two baccarat tables operated by one dealer using two shoes, or one roulette table.
The dealer will either draw the cards or spin the ball to start the action. The outcome is fed directly to the player terminal through a live video feed window. All of the results are sent to the system in real time through an intelligent shoe or wheel ball reader. The dealer confirms the result and win/loss is calculated for each player with festive animation appearing for winners.
The players can easily switch between games or engage in multiple games. They can also save games they have wagered. If players wish to leave the table they simply collect a TITO ticket and leave.
The benefit to the operators is huge, Glencross says: multiple games, no chips, no more dealing errors and an electronic platform for marketing, enabling promotions that can easily be fed directly to players in real time.
“It offers a low-limit cost game to players with high turnover,” he says. “The opportunity of more hands per hour and higher volume of wagers will give a higher margin than traditional table games.”