A few years ago, slot manufacturer Casino Technology began branching out from its home base of Sofia, Bulgaria, on a quest to become a well-known force in the worldwide gaming industry.
With a little help from a strong reaction to last year’s sudden loss of two of the respected manufacturer’s key markets in Russia and Ukraine, those efforts have been accelerated, with Casino Technology product well-received in Central and Western Europe, and in several markets in South America and Southeast Asia.
North America is next, as the Bulgarian slot market leader stands ready to spread its innovative games across Native American markets in the U.S.-with this month’s NIGA show as a springboard of sorts.
Casino Technology is wrapping up a year-long celebration of its 10th anniversary as a company. While the first part of that decade was spent building up the company’s leading position in Eastern Europe, the last five years have been years of expansion, the success of which is a testament to what has been a sustained burst of creativity from the company’s research and development team.
Over the past few years, the company has launched a parade of innovative platforms, cabinets and game groups. The first two launches constituted a complete revamping of the way Casino Technology’s games look and play. The Gemini Sensa Plus cabinet comes loaded for the future, with dual 22-inch, wide-angle monitors, “sound enclosure” speakers and ergonomic design including specially placed buttons to maximize player comfort.
For operators, Gemini Sensa Plus offers “Eyesight,” a multimedia application window featuring a 10-inch touch-screen monitor for use in networked applications by the casino-promotion functions, special games as player rewards, player tracking, etc. It also is tech-friendly, with inner workings designed for trouble-free maintenance and the “Tough Ryder” platform, featuring a user-friendly push-out mechanism and front-panel diagnostic LED display.
Launched along with Gemini Sensa Plus was Tangra Touch, a slant-top cabinet featuring the same advantages as the Sensa Plus upright.
The timing of the two new products couldn’t have been better. Trade shows, word-of-mouth in the industry and a concerted sales effort have spread Casino Technology’s name and reputation to new markets around the world, and updated, innovative technology is precisely what is being sought in those markets.
“Gemini Sensa Plus and Tangra Touch respond to the newest trends in the industry,” says Sonia Nikolova, the company’s sales and marketing director. “Both employ many enhanced features, modern technology, ease of maintenance, ergonomic and space-efficient construction, and great design. Most of the changes we have made to the platforms have been implemented to enhance player comfort and operator needs.”
The talk of 2010 for Casino Technology is a new product group that was an unqualified hit with operators at the recent International Gaming Expo in London. Called the PRO Series (“PRO” for “Progressive”), the new line of 25-line, 50-line and 100-line video slots features a common multi-level mystery progressive jackpot system and a boatload of special bonus features. The new Pro Jackpot feature triggers a winning combination that can lead to several internal progressive jackpot levels.
Individual games like “Gourmet de Paris,” “African Moon” and “Hello Galapagos” have unique features outside of the mystery progressive jackpots. For instance, certain combinations will trigger a random “screen fill” feature in which the entire game screen fills with the same symbol, giving the player big credit wins on all the paylines. Some of the games also feature a “Super Free Games” round in which only the highest-paying symbols appear.
“The underlying concept is to offer groups of themed video slots with the same general theme, featuring the same jackpot symbol, available in the different games,” explains Nikolova. “Those machines are linked to a mystery progressive system, which is visualized on the original jackpot displays with themed video streaming and celebration events, corresponding to the main theme of the group.”
The PRO Jackpot feature occurs randomly on any machine of a linked bank-a jackpot controller feeds the top combination to one of the machines, leading to one of four incrementing progressive jackpots. Operators also can implement the PRO Jackpot as a stand-alone feature on any of the games in the series.
The mystery jackpot system also will allow the connection of base games from any other manufacturer, through a special interface controller. The four jackpot levels are operator-configurable.
“PRO Series was launched recently with the intention to employ the original design, which provides unique branding for this series, and at the same time recognizable and familiar themes for clients,” Nikolova says.
One of the first themes in the series to hit U.S. casinos will be “Motormania.” The common multi-level jackpot system in this product features a racing theme involving motorcycles, cars and off-road trucks, all presented in quality 3D animation. More than 20 new video slots will be placed in the Motormania theme, including appropriately themed games like “Born To Ride,” “Monster Wheels,” “Princess of Speed” and “Desert Kings.”
According to Nikolova, the variety of slots provided with the Motormania system will all feature a common thread of some kind of racing. “This provides the players a quick and easy way to move to the next game,” she says, “as they are already familiar with the theme and how to play the game. This allows them to feel more comfortable switching games and enjoying the theme variety. At the same time, the exclusive 3D graphics bring new dimensions of entertainment to keep players’ attention longer. The newest video slots linked to Motormania will provide a community feel.
“The interaction with the games is provided through the additional bonus feature of the jackpot, where the player enters an additional bonus and plays for the jackpot levels-Lead, Bronze, Silver or Gold.”
She adds that the graphics are designed to reflect a game style akin to home video games in quality and entertainment value. “Motormania was created to complement the linked base games, and enhance the sensation of the main game through lavish graphics and sounds,” she says.
In all, it is a new direction in entertainment-based bonusing for Casino Technology, with feature-rich bonuses added to the strong program math for which the company has been known for years. “The classic casino game, with a more and more refined math model, stays at the center of the system, remaining true to the preferences of more conservative players,” says Nikolova, “but at the same time it’s been enriched with more interaction, appeal and multi-functionality.”
Nikolova says Casino Technology executives hope the Motormania product, and the PRO Series in general, will give the company the kind of momentum in U.S. Native American markets that the company has enjoyed in markets like those in South America.
“Our products have a well-established presence in South America, where we have had a presence for five years,” she says. “The products of Casino Technology are very well accepted, and a lot of operators trust the quality and performance of our products in Peru, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and other countries. For the U.S. market, we hope to achieve the same success among the Indian operators.”
She adds that many Native American operators in the U.S. will also be getting their first look at the Gemini Sensa Plus and Tangra Touch platforms at the NIGA show, where she expects the same positive acceptance of the products as in Europe.
If the past is any indication, that assessment is likely right on the money. Casino Technology’s products have crossed over successfully to new jurisdictions around the world. “We have never relied on one specific market or region,” Nikolova says. “We are very proud that our products prove to be capable and well-accepted around the world. We have been working for a long time to build good and quality products with brand recognition and solid reputation. We hope we will achieve the same in Native American jurisdictions, as we know the opportunities this market provides.”
The company is certainly not done with its expansion efforts in other parts of the world. Casino Technology products are finding success in new Western European markets including Italy, Switzerland and Portugal, as well as new markets in Asia, growing sales in South America and of course, continuing domination in the company’s Eastern European home market.
The U.S., though, is the next big frontier for Casino Technology.
“For us, the U.S. market provides a great opportunity for creativity, meeting the requirements of one of the most well-developed player bases in the gaming business by trying to take into consideration the trends and player preferences typical for this market,” say Nikolova. “We think the advanced and serious players always accept any smart option or feature of a game that brings excitement and prizes. That is why we are convinced that the concept of our PRO Series will be very successful in this market.”