Technology is creating a brave new world on the slot floor, and it’s all coming through the online slot management system.
Slot management systems do things they’ve never done before. They can take drink orders. They make restaurant reservations. They are changing the way wagers are made, moving casinos toward a completely cashless environment.
Management systems give floor managers tools to identify the highest-paying machines and locations, to mine data about customers and develop targeted reward programs.
We talked to several manufacturers of such systems, many of which introduced their newest innovations at the recent Global Gaming Expo. There is no shortage of innovation coming down the road. Here are some examples:
International Game Technology
The big news at the leading slot manufacturer’s IGT Systems division is the acquisition of Mariposa Technologies, producer of the top customer relationship management tool in the business. The acquisition allowed IGT to add data warehousing and reporting and analytical tools to its Advantage slot accounting and player tracking system.
According to Steve Miller, product line director of network systems, for two years IGT has been rewriting its Advantage system. “Version 8.0 is the biggest and most robust of our software so far,” he says.
Advantage provides real-time player data and slot analytics combined with Mariposa. “Data warehousing is inherent in this system, as are multiple forms of reporting,” says Miller.
Data can be imported into an Excel spreadsheet or a report-writing package.
Mariposa collects data from the entire enterprise, identifying the player who may not spend much in the casino but might be worth more in the hotel or steakhouse. It also provides in-depth predictive modeling, addressing players who walk in off the street and have no history with the casino. In Las Vegas, 30 percent-40 percent of players don’t have loyalty cards. They can’t be tracked. Through predictive modeling, the Advantage system provides calculations to let the casino do that.
Predictive modeling has applications for floor changes. The manager can analyze games in their current format, make changes on the computer and predict the win based on those changes.
AT G2E, IGT also introduced the “EZ Pay Smart Card,” a player’s club-style card with an embedded smart chip that takes cashless gaming to a new level. It migrates from machine to machine, downloads credits and transfers them.
It can serve as a loyalty card, and may someday become a total property card, used to pay for meals and shows, and even as a room key.
Casino Data Imaging
Casino Data Imaging provides add-ons so slots managers can see a detailed floor map and get reports on nearly any aspect of the games, in its “CasinoCAD” system.
“We don’t care what the system is,” says CDI spokesman George Levine. “You can have data coming from Rocket Gaming or Cadillac Jack. They provide the hardware and software. We make the after-sales program that connects to their data source.”
It shows game floors by cabinet, denomination and all financial data associated with that distribution on one screen.
A query editor can find any particular game or group of games on the floor and create a statement—e.g., games that earn less or more than X, with a certain attribute, or 25-cent games by a particular manufacturer. It shows where they are on the floor, with details based on attributes the manager chose.
CasinoCAD’s performance indexing can compare all 5-cent machines, or all 25-cent machines of a manufacturer in a particular quadrant. It can determine if a machine has reached saturation, or is performing at expectation.
Paltronics’ “Random Rewards” bonusing solution for casino revenue and player retention is the newest component of the company’s “One Link” slot management system.
According to Terri Cooper, Paltronics COO and CFO, with Random Rewards the casino can set tight configurations of local- and wide-area prizes combining play-funded pools and promotional dollars. Operators can reward prizes to carded or uncarded players and higher rewards according to levels of club membership.
The system can be stand-alone, on several banks or can link games in the entire casino.
AVL, another component of One Link, is a player’s personal service and entertainment window that provides bonusing games; streaming media and live broadcast content; access to loyalty programs, amenities and property information; and marketing messages.
It is retrofitted on existing hardware to create the “Player Station.”
This links players to loyalty programs on slot machines and table games. Bonus games and programs follow them to table and pit areas, restaurants and fitness rooms.
AVL allows messaging across many platforms.
Paltronics’ One Link slot system with AVL can “tailor marketing programs, bonusing systems, customized promos and even direct marketing messaging down to the individual patron,” says Cooper.
The Konami Casino Management System, or KCMS, utilizes Fortune 100 company architecture on a TCP/IP network from slot machines to KCMS Oracle database. This gives real-time access to patron tracking information, including detailed reports of each game in multi-game or multi-denominational machines. It performs theoretical tracking by game and patron, even for multiple properties.
“We are the only system that can stream live video directly to the slot machine via our True-Time Entertainment LCD panel,” says Marketing Manager Leah Steinhardt.
The True-Time Player Interface displays cross-marketing messages on restaurants and events, broadcasting video and alerting patrons to promotions. The True-Time Employee Interface helps floor personnel maintain slot machine operations,
including acknowledging jackpots and fills, monitoring soft meters, and providing system-monitoring.
Player tracking cards let operators determine player behavior: time spent on specific games, what they buy, and preferences.
Iverson Gaming Systems
“As times change, technology changes,” observes Iverson Gaming Systems Vice President of New Product Development Millard Reeves. “Now, the biggest thing changing is the players. Fifteen years ago, it was hard to get a player to use a keyboard, but now, everyone has PCs. Because of that, we can do more, and be more interactive.”
On Iverson’s SLOTmaster system, “Players can be offered items on a menu, shown pictures with lists of beers and wines and mixed drinks to select from,” says Reeves.
Interactive screens invite players to other venues, such as a restaurant, golf course or spa. They can make reservations and join blackjack or slot tournaments.
IGS will introduce a new product next year—so new that it doesn’t yet have a name. “It” will introduce new sounds to the casino floor. “We have to be cognizant of not raising the overall sound level, and there is an annoyance factor. You don’t want slots making too many noises,” says Reeves.
At G2E, Bally Technologies showed what it called the “Networked Floor of the Future.” “The theme,” says Tom Doyle, vice president of product management—systems, “is that there are a lot of things you would like to see that are available today.”
Bally’s iVIEW displays provide customer communication, enable bonusing games in Bally’s “Live Rewards” program, and stream video and movies. You can order cocktails, key in valet parking and do other customer service requests.
“Using high-speed internet to the floor allows us to play a game within a game on the iVIEW,” says Doyle. “So there might be a Live Rewards tournament, and while playing a regular game you earn points toward a tournament.”
Atronic Systems’ GALAXIS player tracking and slot accounting system has eight modules, and acts as a host system to the “Crystal Web” floor network. It performs accounting, reporting, player marketing, bonus schemes and cashless gaming.
The Crystal Web Floor Network and GALAXIS manage slot machines, tables, reception and cage. Modules give in-depth reporting for single or multi-site operations.
StarSLOTS provides slot accounting and slot floor maintenance, accounting of progressive jackpots and Atronic Systems’ Floor Messenger. StarVISION provides real-time monitoring and game floor
visualization. StarJACKPOTS manages various jackpot types. StarCASHLESS supports Atronic Systems’ “CHIP CASH” smart card solution. StarCAGE supports internal casino transactions, such as revenue reconciliation with slot machines and tables, and client transactions. StarMARKETING keeps historical records of player transactions, bonus points and registration information.
With the Crystal Web Floor Messenger with Ethernet, players can order drinks and call attendants. CHIP CASH lets them redeem loyalty points for drinks, meals, gift shop purchases and rooms.
The StarMARKETING player database stores personal information, historical data of transactions, comps and accumulated bonus points, and displays theoretical win-loss and casino potential earnings.
Cadillac Jack Inc. operates an enterprise-level gaming system with a patron management module, accounting and tax modules.
The Cadillac Jack system interfaces with many third-party systems. Its Data Warehouse employs analytical tools for customer profiling, data mining and predictive modeling.
According to David Harris, senior director of systems and game platforms, “Our slot management system also provides accounting, player tracking, ticketing and card-based wagering.”
Operators can monitor everything from individual game performance to game trend analysis. Software is loaded onto the server, and in minutes, all games update.
It tracks and stores a history of customers’ preferences including how much they wager, when they visit the casino, favorite games and denominations.
“We simply connect to servers, enabling our system to transact with not only our machines, but other vendors’ machines and systems as well,” says Harris.
Gaming Support’s casino management system is called “BaseSys.” BaseSys Interface Boards provide machine-level data collection, BaseSys Player Transaction Modules provides machine-level patron interface, BaseSys Jackpot Controllers handle jackpot integration and BaseSys GMS is a software layer covering slot accounting, player tracking, cage and vault, soft and hard coin, coinless wagering and tables. It manages loyalty programs, coinless wagering, jackpots and bonusing.
According to Nick Hogan, vice president of sales and business development for Gaming Support, players can execute service requests via a machine-level Player Transaction Module, linked to a workstation-based application called BaseSys FloorView and a messaging dispatcher, which sends requests using PDAs.
FloorView gives a bird’s-eye view of all activity. “You know who’s playing, what they’re doing and what they want. We monitor the patron’s every move,” says Hogan.
Another advantage, says Hogan, is that “application options are fundamentally limitless. When we first introduced BaseSys, we marketed nothing other than the hardware layer, publishing open-standard application programming interfaces and software development kits. Operators and manufacturers could transact with the data collection layer freely and customize. Using this model, we placed many thousands of interface boards without authoring a single line of back-office application source code.”
Slot management systems are moving toward a new world without cash, with greater custom-tailored service. In this competitive environment, it’s a train that few casinos can afford to miss.