By just about any measure, Everi Holdings is riding high in the slot market.
The company’s recent accolades range from industry recognition in the form of a host of awards—including Best Slot Product two years running in GGB’s Gaming & Technology Awards—to dominance where it counts, in earnings reports.
Everi has established a residency of sorts in the monthly Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Report, typically recording results among the highest earnings in video and mechanical reels, in core games and premium leased titles, and among its array of cabinets.
The company’s customers are responding—as is Wall Street.
“Over the last six years, we’ve really transformed from primarily a Class II company into one of the big players in the slot space,” says Loren Rosenberg, senior vice president and chief product officer, games for Everi. “We’ve grown from an estimated 6 percent ship share in 2019 to 9-10 percent through the end of June 2021. With that, our stock has been trading near an all-time high.
“We’ve continued to grow our base. In the premium gaming ops area, we’ve grown from 25 percent to 43 percent of our overall footprint at June 2019 compared to June 2021. With this greater number of premium units in our footprint our daily win per unit grew 34 percent from 2019 compared to June 2021.”
He notes that the premium footprint is only one part of a total product library that serves customer needs with respect to every game genre, and making sure Everi offers the best variety of game configurations. “We’ve listened to our customers over the years as far as operator configurability—giving them more options,” Rosenberg says.
“Our approach is aimed at giving customers flexibility that enables them to tailor games to their floors’ needs, which includes hardware banking strategies, minimum and maximum bets, and configurability of progressives, as examples. We know it’s not ‘one size fits all.’ It’s all about listening to players and operators to address real needs.”
As a result, the industry accolades have rolled in for Everi. In the first two annual Eilers-Krejcik Gaming slot awards, the company collected nods for Cash Machine as Top Performing Core Mechanical Reel Game, Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel as Top Performing Third Party IP Branded Game, Empire Flex as Top Performing New Core Cabinet, and the overall company as Most Improved Supplier, Core.
In GGB’s last two Gaming & Technology Awards, Everi won for The Vault in 2019 and Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel in 2020. The Southern California Gaming Guide contest yielded four Everi awards, including two first-place nods. “When you look at our portfolio across the spectrum,” says Rosenberg, “we really have delivered.”
The Flexing Muscle
If any one product reflects the success of the Everi’s portfolio, it’s the Empire Flex cabinet. First released at the end of 2019, the hardware package—featuring a 49-inch curved monitor, curved LED light bars and a high-quality sound system—was slowed by last year’s pandemic shutdowns, but its overall performance has transcended all the roadblocks.
“Since we launched Empire Flex, it’s been No. 1 in nine of the last 12 reports from Eilers-Fantini,” Rosenberg says, “and we’ve consistently had an index over 1.47 (times house average). And that level of performance has remained consistent as we’ve added casinos as well as units.”
Of course, top-performing content has helped. Flex has hosted the Wicked Wheel, Power Shots and Emperor’s Frog/Tree game families, and the most recent hit, two new versions of the unique Crush game, which replaces spinning reels with a sculpted dragon or Aztec head that the player sends flying down to crush boulders for wins.
“We’ve had four different play mechanics that have just been really strong and have had great longevity since we launched this cabinet at the end of 2019,” Rosenberg says.
Earlier this summer, Everi released Super Dragon and its sister game Super Buffalo on Empire Flex. “These games are all about wheel innovations,” notes Rosenberg. “In Super Dragon, we have a wheel that offers 10 slices.” Moreover, players can win multiple wheel prizes. Six bonus symbols on the reels get one prize pointer on the wheel, but it rises from there—seven symbols yield two wheel prizes; eight yields three, and so forth.
In Super Buffalo, the number of triggering symbols increases a multiplier on the wheel prize, from 2X to 10X. “These games are great,” Rosenberg says. “They mirror some of our more player-popular mechanics displayed in Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel, combined with jackpot features from our soon-to-be-released Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel Fire and Ice games, to create new unique content.”
Two more exclusive Empire Flex titles, Gold Hills and Star Wild, were set for a third-quarter release. Gold Hills, with launch titles Lucky Mule and Prospector Pete, wraps the mining theme around expanding reels, multipliers and scatter pays. Multipliers are awarded through a mystery TNT blast.
“We’re really excited about Gold Hills,” says Rosenberg. “This is our first standard game that utilizes some of those moments that have made Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and The Vault extremely successful, as they go into a Frenzy Mode where the whole slot array completely changes form. We’re taking features we’ve leveraged with some of our premium titles and bringing them to the standard for-sale lineup.”
Star Wild Olympus and Star Wild Egypt, both offered in player-selectable multi-denom setups, showcase a time-based Star Frenzy Mode similar to the Gold Run bonus feature in Gold Hills, giving players 60 seconds of star-powered spins for a chance at big prizes. The games also feature an accumulator-triggered jackpot wheel bonus (Star Wild Olympus) and jackpot pick bonus (Star Wild Egypt).
At G2E, Everi will launch three more Empire Flex exclusives—Ultra Cascades, Cha-Ching! and Money Line.
Ultra Cascades is a series of games featuring Everi’s first cascading reels feature. The games combine the features with expanded reels in a ways-to-win format, which increases both the cascades and the potential wins.
Cha-Ching! is another game that eliminates spinning reels for a new play mechanic—as the company has scored successes with in game groups like Zap and Crush. Cha-Ching! is essentially a picking game in which the player picks to reveal credit awards and free plays behind boxes. “This is one of those big swings that we take to offer unique concepts,” Rosenberg says.
Money Line is another game featuring a play mechanic that doesn’t depend on reels. In this case, credit amounts, multipliers and wheel-spin icons appear in one of five lines on the monitor, and if they line up—horizontally—the player collects.
The Empire-exclusive games are joined by several new titles available on either the Empire Flex or the Empire MPX cabinet, with its 43-inch flat-screen portrait monitor.
Games in the field including Jackpot Rush, Raging Stampede, Orb Lock Dragon and Lanterns of Destiny will be joined by G2E launches in Blazin’ Riches, Super Jackpot Grand, and the sister games Genie’s Prize and Pixie’s Prize.
Blazin’ Riches Big Diamonds and Blazin’ Riches Big Rubies include a cash-on-reels feature designed to drive up the average bet, including a new mechanic called Gem Pays. When the Gem Respin symbol lands, all gems lock in place for a re-spin. It repeats the process as long as gems land. “Blazin’ Riches packages features that are popular in our games, as well as the industry, and takes them to a new level,” Rosenberg says.
Super Jackpot Grand is a three-game series known for quick-hitting progressives and multiplier combinations awarding up to 5X on wins. Genie’s Prize and Pixie’s Prize are ways-to-win games loaded with bonus features, including a pick bonus, full-reel wilds and a persistent coin-pot feature.
If there’s any game area where Everi continues to excel, it is in the traditional three-reel mechanical genre. Games such as Crystal Star Deluxe and Black Diamond are perennial residents near the top of the Eilers-Fantini earnings reports, and the company keeps churning out mechanical games that resonate well with players on both the Player Classic cabinet and Player Classic with Skyline top box.
“We’ve continued our commitment to develop 16 to 20 mechanical games per year,” says Rosenberg, “and the big focus for us is configurability, while sticking to those elements that have enabled our success in the segment like math-first focus, simple game play, familiar mechanics, and clear pay tables which appeal to loyal stepper players.”
This year, Everi has focused on flexibility for the player and operator, in the form of configurability. “How do we offer this experience to different segments of the floor?” Rosenberg says. “We’ve been putting into most of our games, starting with Double Black Diamond, configurable minimum and maximum bets—offering nine-coin games all the way up to 90-coin games in the same software. Rather than just pursuing the dollar segment on the floor, we can appeal to the nickel or 10-cent player by leveraging the content we have.”
He adds that configurable resets on progressive jackpots is another new feature.
Among the standouts among mechanical games launched this summer have been Double Black Diamond and Double Fortune, the first reel-spinners to offer all that configurability. Both feature the traditional mechanics of Everi’s hit game Black Diamond, with four symbol-driven progressives.
At G2E, the company will launch Diamond Power Grand, Smokin’ Hot Gems Grand, Gold Shots and Wild Freedom. All keep the classic game style and four symbol-driven progressives with the configurable bets and progressive resets.
Other mechanical three-reel standouts are new versions of Everi’s branded game groups, Press Your Luck and Snoop Dog Presents The Joker’s Wild, the premium brands leveraged in for-sale versions. Press Your Luck features a game board of credit prizes, multipliers and progressives displayed in the top box. The Joker’s Wild game mimics the card game of the popular TV game show.
“We wanted to leverage these licenses to provide different experiences to our classic mechanical players,” says Rosenberg. “We have true traditional classic math paired with enhanced features that you would expect with these licenses.”
More games are on tap for the Player Classic cabinet with Skyline top box as well. Star Jewels and Blazin’ Gems utilize the expansive top monitor for a classic pay-table display and five-tiered progressive. Triple Double Gems and Triple Double Patriot utilize multiplying wild symbols in a similar setup.
GLI-approved in July, the games are performing phenomenally well early on, says Rosenberg. “Mechanical games normally build an audience over time. These games have come out of the gates higher than most of our mechanicals, so we’re excited about where we think these can go.”
Set for a Q4 release are 5X Gran Coronas and 5X Wild Jackpot Gems, featuring large multipliers and a five-tier progressive.
Everi’s prowess in mechanical reels extends to its premium game category with the Skyline Revolve platform—that’s the Skyline setup with a top bonus wheel added.
“We’re always shooting for the moon to develop the next and greatest content that’s going to be on the floor for years,” Rosenberg says. “Skyline Revolve is one of those swim lanes, and has been the No. 1 premium mechanical cabinet in the Eilers report the last eight consecutive months.”
Among the hits this year on Skyline Revolve are Gold Standard Jackpots and Cash Machine Jackpots, extensions of the hit game Cash Machine, with its “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” reel setup. Both of the new games use the same numerical reel results as Cash Machine—for instance, 10-5-00 on the three reels returns the top $10,500 jackpot on the dollar game. The new versions add a wheel bonus that includes progressive jackpots as wheel slices.
On tap on Skyline Revolve for G2E launch are American Wheel and Star Wheel, patriotic sister games featuring wild multiplier symbols and a bonus wheel including credits and two progressive jackpots.
Premium video categories also are receiving much attention this year. One highlight is on the Flex Fusion cabinet, the full-feature bank version of Empire Flex that features an overhead display with audio, lighting and sounds fully synchronized to game play.
The star on this platform at G2E promises to be Cashnado. One of the intriguing features of this game is that it’s a player-selectable multi-denom game in which the odds at two progressives scale upward as the denomination is increased.
But the feature sure to draw a crowd is called the Cash Grab Bonus, in which bills and progressive icons fly across the 49-inch touch-screen monitor, and the player tries to touch as many as possible to increase the bonus award.
Also on Flex Fusion is a pair of games extending the Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel franchise with “Fire” and “Ice” versions, both 243-ways-to-win games with seven-tier progressive jackpots. Both have central bonus wheels including progressives and a progressive picking bonus. There also is a random bank-wide bonus event.
New games also will be launched on the Empire DCX, the premium cabinet featuring dual curved 43-inch landscape-style LCD monitors that was launched with The Karate Kid and The Mask. Featured on this cabinet will be MonsterVerse, a monster-themed game that showcases a “Godzilla Lock and Respin” mechanic. Landing a red Godzilla expands the reels up to eight rows. It also includes a feature in which players can wager an ante of $40 to play four reel arrays at once.
Also on tap for the Empire DCX is Shark Week Feeding Frenzy, which adds a ton of new features to the TV theme, on dual 43-inch horizontal screens. Progressive jackpots scale with the denomination. In the primary game, wild reels expand to the left. It reprises the popular “Cage Bonus” feature from the original.
Finally, new games for the Empire Arena platform—home to the monster hit The Vault, which is still growing its install base 20 months after its launch—include Dragon Kingdom, Jackpot Falls and Fu Lu Shou.
Along with the new games in all the various Everi game groups is the next generation of TournEvent, the custom-designed tournament platform that has allowed operators to not only design their own tournaments—there are more than 5,000 TournEvent-enabled EGMs at 400 casinos in North America—but participate in the national TournEvent of Champions, with satellite events across the U.S. and Canada leading to finals staged in Las Vegas.
According to Rosenberg, the TournEvent of Champions, sidelined due to the Covid-19 crisis, is anticipated to return in 2023. Meanwhile, Everi is introducing the next generation of the TournEvent platform at G2E 2021.
“We’re turning everything that you know about TournEvent on its ear,” says Michael Conway, Everi’s vice president of communications and media for the Games Division products—and the longtime host of Everi’s TournEvent finals in Las Vegas.
“The first step was a logo rebranding; it has a whole new exciting look. But beyond that, we’ve strategically evolved TournEvent over the past year and a half to reimagine what slot tournaments will be in the future.”
The new TournEvent is split into five distinct modules. TournEvent Classic is the traditional group-style play that first launched more than 15 years ago, and the platform that both operators and players are familiar with—but now available on Everi’s dual-screen and portrait cabinets. TournEvent Now allows players to log their tournament sessions at their leisure, on tournament-enabled machines in any of several Everi cabinets. TournEvent Winners Circle uses a dedicated premium bank for championship round play. TournEvent Cross Play enables all TournEvent-supported cabinets in a casino to participate in a multi-round group-style TournEvent or TournEvent Now promotions. TournEvent Concierge allows players to register 24/7, using player’s club points among other features.
“The new TournEvent builds on the best-in-class tournament solution with new features that make it more powerful and flexible for slot operators and casino promotion teams,” Conway says. “And we’ve made it more fun for players. We believe it all comes down to simplicity and flexibility for customers, and providing a solution that best suits their players and their floor needs. This next generation of TournEvent is squarely aimed at improving ease of use for customers and players and driving increased revenue.”
Everi’s new casino offerings are complemented by the company’s still-growing digital division, which has had great success porting all of the company’s game styles for internet casinos using the company’s proprietary Spark Remote Game Server. That includes the supplier’s top mechanical reel-spinning titles, which have translated well to the online world.
It all comes down to driving customer return on investment, says Rosenberg. “What is our games mission statement?” he says. “First is innovating with intent to drive customers’ ROI across all slot categories that we’re in.
“We take all of our swings with serious intent. We invest in terms of R&D a fraction of what other suppliers do. If we’re going to move into a segment, we want to be successful—not only for ourselves, but for our customers. This is the intent of everything we put on our roadmap.”