AC Coin & Slot Service Company built its business on the fact it was the exclusive distributor in Atlantic City and the Caribbean for the largest slot manufacturer in the world, International Game Technology.
The Pleasantville, New Jersey-based supplier relied on that relationship in its early years, and depended upon the distributorship for the majority of its income well into this decade.
However, beginning in the late 1990s, the company’s business model began to change, as AC Coin became the creator of a wealth of proprietary bonus games, which it attached to IGT base games and began selling across the industry. The company’s reputation morphed into that of a supplier of original gaming experiences, rather than a distributor of the products of others.
“Over the past couple of years, (the distributorship) has been a smaller and smaller part of our business,” says Jerry Seelig, the company’s executive vice president and general manager (and the main creative force behind the company’s most successful slot brands), “as we’ve continued to grow other parts of our business.”
That natural progression of AC Coin’s business model came full-circle in early October, when the company announced the sale of its exclusive distributorship rights back to IGT, substantially altering the relationship begun in 1983 when company founder and CEO Mac Seelig signed the permanent distributorship agreement with IGT founder Si Redd. (At the time, Redd’s company had been incorporated for less than a year.)
IGT purchased the distributorship for new IGT machine sales in Atlantic City and the Caribbean from AC Coin for $20.6 million, including $10.6 million in cash consideration. Also, IGT and AC Coin have amended the terms of the AC Coin & Slot proprietary game agreement.
IGT will now have direct access to sell games to casino customers in Atlantic City and the Caribbean. On the other side of the equation, AC Coin will be free to partner with other slot manufacturers around the world to sell its proprietary slot games, and to partner with manufacturers of Class II and central-determinant lottery games inside the U.S.
The new terms enable AC Coin & Slot to sell proprietary games outright, as well as offer a lease-to-own, or traditional lease structures. (Under the former arrangement, all games were sold on a participation basis.)
The company also will retain the right to utilize IGT’s base machines and platforms to continue to develop its future product offerings.
According to Mac Seelig, the new arrangement retains the long-held relationship between the two suppliers, while allowing AC Coin the freedom to explore new markets. He says he expects the distributorship income to quickly be replaced with new business. “Over the years, we’ve been very fortunate to have a great R&D team here,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries over the years to do this with other manufacturers, so the new arrangement opens up a lot of things for us. We think we’re going to have a lot of people coming toward us at a very rapid rate. We’ve got a great reputation; I think a lot of things will come toward us.
“It’s very exciting-probably the most exciting thing that’s happened for me, other than when I signed the contract with IGT 26 years ago.”
One constant for AC Coin that will not change is research and development, and for G2E, the company will opt to display its best-new games on established platforms.
Don’t expect hundreds of new games, though. The company is introducing just five new titles. However, they are representative of the best of the company’s proven game platforms.
“Everybody is showing 50 or 100 games-we believe at the end of the day, that’s sensory overload,” says Jerry Seelig. “With the games we are bringing, we wanted to show the durability of the video platform we’ve developed.”
The games build on the success of classic reel-spinning games with mechanical top-box bonuses like the venerable Slotto, but squarely in the video platform.
AC Coin’s prowess in creating community-style games also will be on display. “Love Bug,” being debuted at the show, is a three-player conversion to Slingo and Big Game Show games now in the market.
Three base Triple Double Red Hot 7s games-an IGT stalwart in a 50-line setup-attach to a common game show-style bonus board, including a random “Free Bee” bonus feature that adds credits when a random number of selections on the big bonus board occur without a match.
The company introduces a new platform this year-a two-game community-style format, with two machines linked to an overhead bonus game. In “Rock ‘n’ Roll Legends,” a rocker character appears on the overhead board, and as he blasts out rock tunes, musical notes vibrate from the guitar across a board as credit amounts float upward. When a note intersects with an amount, the player is awarded that bonus.
IGT’s Triple Hot Ice three-reel, 15-line slot is the base game for these two-machine units. As with most of AC Coin’s communal game setups, each player earns bonuses and proceeds through his game individually, with bonuses played out on a shared screen.
“Dream Weaver” is a unique game that uses an IGT Sizzling Wild base game linked to a bonus on the top LCD screen. The bonus screen displays three sets of reels, and a random number of spins occurs. The reel spots display credit amounts. The “Dream Weaver” character appears to decide how many spins the player is awarded on the bonus screen.
The unique twist: On each bonus spin, the player can be awarded up to nine credit amounts. As long as each reel displays a higher amount than the previous reel, the values on each reel are added together.
Finally, “The Munny Returns” features cartoon animation of a mummy monster and a top-box bonus that houses two different bonus events. One of them, triggered by scatter symbols on the reels of a base Sizzling 7s game, is a simple event in which lights flash behind bonus amounts until one is awarded. The unique part of this event is its frequency-it happens every six spins.
The second event is a Slotto-style event that occurs every 65 spins, on average. The mummy’s sarcophagus in a creative top-box display disburses Slotto-style lotto balls to award credit amounts and multipliers.
Jerry Seelig says these five games are indicative of the strength of AC Coin’s platform. “We want customers to understand the fantastic value they are getting from AC Coin, and that our games continue earning at the highest level,” he says. “These are not flash-in-the-pan games that last six months. We still have S-Plus Slotto games (launched in 2000) in the field that are still very successful.”
He attributes this to “an understanding of what players want, and the ability to deliver that in a way that’s unique.”
“While the games change, the players don’t,” Seelig says. “They want to be entertained, and they want to feel they’ve gotten a fair shake from the slot experience. There are a lot of games we have on the drawing board that never make it to market, because we spend painstaking hours to determine how those games communicate with players.
“They know they’re getting a great value from us.”