For years, new product releases at Global Gaming Expo meant debuting what consumers would see at their local brick-and-mortar casino. But at the 2014 G2E (September 30-October 2), while new entertainment-branded slot machine releases are still the rage, the software that allows players to experience the casino from the comfort of their cell phone or computer will receive more attention than ever.
“This year at G2E, we are proud to demonstrate the enhancements we have made to our Bally Interactive products in the last year,” says Mike McKiski, interactive sales manager for Bally Technologies. “For all of these products, this means a deeper level of integration with the core casino systems to provide one connected view of the player around the clock. Casino players are now able to sign up for new player’s club cards, earn points, redeem points and engage with their favorite casino hosts directly from their PC or mobile device.”
As a result of the development of both the strategy and offerings for Bally Technologies, more than a dozen casinos around the world have signed up to utilize the Ballly iGaming platform, which will be showcased at G2E.
“This variety of gaming experiences ranges from play-for-free to in-casino mobile wagering, to real-money online gaming,” says McKiski. “We have enhanced the user-friendliness of the back office, making it even easier for casino customers to access data, make decisions and engage players in the digital world.”
The mobile platform will also be the center of the exhibit for GameAccount Network. The Sense3 mobile platform, part of the company’s broader GameSTACK ecosystem, provides a suite of services supporting the iBridge content management system-to–internet gaming system connection. This enables loyalty identification login across desktop and mobile platforms while using a collection of native game themes from major manufacturers, further bringing the land-based casino experience to the online market.
“We will continue to build seamless experiences which carry across desktop, native and mobile web platforms,” says Dana Takrudtong, vice president and spokeswoman for GameAccount Network. “We are ahead of the competition on a host of services related to both real-money and Simulated Gaming.”
The iBridge CMS-to-internet system is able to exchange meaningful promotions between iBridge and Simulated Gaming. This allows GameAccount to issue loyalty points to players in real time for purchases of game credits in the online environments.
“Players can also upload loyalty points from the brick-and-mortar facility by exchanging them to purchase game credits online,” says Takrudtong. “But we also can issue loyalty points to players in real time for purchases of game credits in the online environments.”
G2E will also serve as a coming-out party for NYX Gaming Group’s SNG interactive, which recently announced its joint venture with Sportech PLC to provide a new online gaming platform to Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel.
“This year’s G2E is a real big deal for us, because we have mainly been focused on the Australian and European markets,” says Kevin Vonasek, chief product officer for NYX Gaming Group. “We are now turning to the American market, and are excited to be partnering with Resorts for the first American online gaming option. We are eager to show attendees that we can create an iGaming interface with their own look and feel to match their marketing desires and necessary changes.”
NYX’s iGaming delivery software, the Open Platform System (OPS), will deliver a full range of successful casino games including hit titles from NYX’s content division NexGen Gaming and other leading land-based manufacturers.
“We have 40 internet slot titles in Europe that will now be introduced to the United States via New Jersey,” says Vonasek. “We will unveil our new social casino product that, with the proper marketing, will definitely drive players into the casino.”
Seeking Social Player Participation
Because of current federal regulations, social gaming will still rule the online gaming experience at G2E. Social gaming is being used in two major ways by land-based casinos: to increase the visibility of their brand to current and prospective players, and to test certain products and strategies in anticipation of further legalization of online casino gaming.
“The goal is to get players aware of well-known titles before they get to the live casino, segue them to more games and use the experiences to generate more revenue for the casino,” says Vonasek. “We can focus on the individual player and be a lot more effective with our outreach.”
Vonasek says that in the last year, as land-based casinos have learned that they cannot compete with mega social gaming sites like Zynga, they have become more focused on targeting player experience in identifying what land-based casino features and games can be provided online.
“The marketing budget is smaller, the resources are less and all of the casinos that tried to compete failed miserably,” he says. “Now they are using the online gaming experience to leverage the casino brand and for long-term player development, while increasing their player database.”
Bally Technologies recognizes this trend, and will be communicating its increased focus on one-to-one marketing capabilities of its applications. Bally officials see implementation of these products as an effective way for casinos to expedite the transition from online to land-based casino play, while decreasing the millions of dollars spent on direct mail marketing every year.
“By linking mobile activity to land-based player activity for less than the cost of just one direct mail campaign, Bally Mobile is helping more than 100 casinos replace direct-mail efforts and drive large revenue to the bottom line,” says McKiski.
Bally recently entered the social casino space with its purchase of Dragonplay, a leading online social company with nearly 3 million monthly active users. Launched in 2010, the Israel-based company ranks among the top 10-grossing game developers in the social casino sector, with game versions for Android, Apple iOS and Facebook. Bally plans to leverage its content, including slots and proprietary table games, on Dragonplay’s popular casino.
At G2E, Bally will boast its most expansive exhibit yet, from slot and table games to systems and interactive products. The company’s goal at G2E is to get new and regular attendees to see its seamless strategy in player development from online to land-based casinos.
“With our iGaming and mobile solutions, we give casinos a single view of the player across online, mobile and traditional brick-and-mortar gaming platforms and provide a complete cross-platform gaming experience for free-play and wagering,” says McKiski. “The iGaming platform integrates with the casino patron, slot management and business intelligence systems to enable casinos to market to their players regardless of where they are playing, whether in the casino, at home, or on the go. By utilizing our iGaming platform to offer play-for-fun sites now, casinos will have an advantage when online gaming is legalized.”
The transition from land-based casinos to the online experience also includes the sports betting experience, as Sportradar will be demonstrating to G2E attendees with the introduction of its Virtual Tennis product, as well as more new data-driven strategies in fixtures, results, odds-compiling, monitoring and in-running services. They will also be displaying front-end content solutions like statistics, live scores and virtual sports betting solutions, all while helping ease the customer from the casino to the online world.
To simulate the live action found at the casino, Betradar has constantly expanded its sports coverage, to the point where they are currently supplying in-play data for over 15,000 matches from 16 different sports with coverage 24 hours, seven days a week.
“Over the years our Betradar product has developed into a key player in providing all of the necessary data for bookmakers,” says Stefan Rottger, marketing manager for Sportradar. “The introduction of Virtual Tennis at G2E will truly be a groundbreaking virtual betting experience.”
Being a one-stop-shop provider for clients is also the goal for Sportradar, which will also showcase its new Virtual Dogs game at G2E.
“At G2E we will showcase everything a bookmaker needs to run and simplify his daily operations,” says Rottger. “It creates an entertaining and informative sports book and bridges the gap between sports book and casino for both retail outlets and online operations.”
The expanding capabilities of online resources for land-based casinos also continue to be a trend at G2E this year.
“The operators we work with as well as potential clients are viewing GameAccount’s unique Simulated Gaming product offering as a media platform as much as it is a casino gaming experience,” says Takrutong.
Simulated Gaming is deployed from GameAccount’s GamesSTACK internet gaming ecosystem. It offers operators the security and configurability of a real-money gaming system with a monetized social casino experience.
“Our focus in the remainder of 2014 and 2015 is to continue to enhance both the operator and user experience by incorporating advanced automations to the integrated marketing tools, in-game messaging and suggested game types,” says Takrudtong.
Williams Interactive will be showcasing its Play4Fun Network at G2E. It is an online gaming network that aims for play especially when guests have random downtime, like waiting in line at a nightclub or even a buffet.
“We also offer Las Vegas-style casino games made popular by different international regions,” says Rory Shanahan, head of marketing and business to business (B2B) products for Williams Interactive. “On the operational side, we have the experience in white-labeling social casinos without the client taking the risk of doing it on their own.”
According to Shanahan, the social casino business on Facebook and mobile devices will be a $2.7 billion industry in 2014, up from the original $2.2 billion estimate for the year.
“Some players are online 80 minutes a day, because they hop online four times a day for 20 minutes at a time,” says Shanahan. “We want to use that time to market players back to the land-based casino floor, because studies show they spend more once they get there.”
Shanahan says 50 percent of Play4Fun players are playing through an interactive device, making them the perfect demographic for a fully customized casino.
“We can implement a geo-fence within 10 miles of the casino and send offers to their phone to direct them to the property,” he says. “With push notification, the only cost is time.”
Time seems to be everything when it comes to social and online gaming, whether it be the immediacy to offer games and casino promotions online or the perpetual clock that is ticking in everyone’s head until online casino gaming becomes legal on a more widespread basis throughout the U.S.
“None of us know how the U.S. market will completely open up, but we know that we need to partner with land-based casinos,” says Vonasek. “The administration process is going to be tedious, especially with the use of credit cards. Everything is locked up super tight right now, and administration will grow as the industry as a whole becomes more knowledgeable.”
As other states open up on a regulatory scale, the race to the consumer should benefit all those who like to play, whether it be on a casino floor during a hot Las Vegas summer night or those who like to play in their warm bed on a cold winter morning. It is a different environment, but the same experience is the ultimate goal.
“Everyone is now looking for the social gambler instead of the social gamer,” says Vonasek. “We want players to play online, earn currency online using their player’s card and turn that into real-world comps and discounts. The casinos are all defending their turf and learning how to generate new revenue with these online-to-land-based casino opportunities.”