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Novomatic Group: On to America

Novomatic seeks to transform its European success to North America

Novomatic Group: On to America

Although Novomatic Group enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the industry’s leading multinational suppliers of games and systems, the success it’s achieved in markets worldwide has proven elusive for it in the largest market of them all, the United States.

The Austria-based giant is more determined than ever to change that, and visitors to the 2015 Global Gaming Expo will be getting a firsthand look at the innovations that will be leading the charge.

Actually, the first major steps were taken a few years back with the establishment in Florida of Novomatic Americas Holdings and the hiring of U.S. industry veteran Rick Meitzler as vice president of sales. Meitzler, who calls the Chicago area home, had shepherded Australia’s Ainsworth Game Technology into North America and later headed Midwest sales for Bally Technologies.

When Meitzler formally took the helm at Novomatic Americas as president and CEO, the company pulled up stakes and headed north for the shores of Lake Michigan, setting up a base of operations west of Chicago with plans now in full gear to expand into new, larger facilities in Cook County proper, just 20 miles north of the Windy City and close to O’Hare International Airport.  

Of course, none of this means much without the product to support it, which is why Novomatic is turning its prodigious R&D capacities toward the development of an array of new games and game systems that look to be well-timed for an industry in the throes of a tectonic demographic shift. Age is decimating the slot floor’s traditional player base, and those who are playing are spending less.

Younger demographics weaned on the immersive realism and fast-paced competitiveness of digital entertainment aren’t lining up to succeed them. Needless to say, casino operators and manufacturers are having to rethink established notions about what machine games are and what they’re supposed to do.

Enter Novomatic, whose roots in the demanding soil of capacity-constrained Europe, where electronic table gaming was born, have enabled it to spread its branches far and wide—in Latin America particularly, though hardly exclusively—by virtue of a unique approach to hybrid technologies that excels at developing platforms for blending texturally rich slot gaming with top-notch automated table action in very player-friendly ways.

When visitors to G2E descend on the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas for the three-day super-show commencing on September 29, they’re going to find the company’s latest ideas showcased within an expansive two-story exhibit where a live DJ will be spinning the music and ratcheting up the excitement.

Their first stop is likely to be the Dominator Curve, the next generation of the popular Dominator triple-screen multi-game cabinet that takes as its point of departure a single, smoothly concave touch-screen monitor that stands a whopping 40 inches from bottom to top.

The beauty of the Curve’s inward slope is that it reflects the action directly at the focal point of the player’s view, delivering a one-of-a-kind experience that’s eminently satisfying ergonomically and comes supported by high-definition LED backlighting, color effects synchronized for each game and a satellite speaker system with subwoofer for theater-quality sound.

The Curve sports its predecessor’s innovative TouchDeck interface (available in a variety of button panel layouts), together with the same extra start button built into the foot rest. And like the Dominator, it’s TITO-ready, supports multiple denominations and can be configured for multiple languages.

Innovations popularized by the Dominator also include a pre-installed player-tracking module conveniently located just below the screen and an inward-opening main door that makes maintenance safe and easy and opens up more space between cabinets, a real value-add considering that the Curve is just as space-saving as its predecessor, weighing in at a slender 640 millimeters in width with a total depth of only 637 millimeters, including the base stand.

And the Curve is scalable, with an independent 18.5-inch multi-purpose TFT topper available as an option and a purpose-built four-level stand-alone progressive that renders the platform, as Novomatic calls it, the “perfect plug-and-and-play solution.” Exclusive to this are two 25-line base games, Lucky Rose and High Roller, developed specially for the Curve with jackpots that top out, respectively, at 5,000 and 2,500 times the bet per line.

Then there’s the NovoStar V.I.P. slant-top. Few U.S. operators have seen it, though it’s turning plenty of heads in other parts of the world. This is a high-end theater experience that invites the player to get comfortable in a plush, high-backed captain’s chair for gaming and a 27-inch TFT touch-screen enhanced with a second, giant 50-inch HD screen ideally positioned behind the cabinet to deliver a panoramic view of the action.

The chair—the Crown V.I.P., as it’s called—has speakers built into it for a realistic surround-sound effect and “Auto-Start” and “Start/Take Win” buttons within easy reach at an arm rest.

On the upper level of Novomatic’s exhibit it will be the Novo Line Novo Unity II. Three live dealers will be working the Novo TouchBet Blackjack, Roulette and Live-Baccarat offerings of this unique EGM/EGT multi-player hybrid that can be configured for both individual and group wagering.

The Novo Unity II’s core strength is the high-performance versatility of its NovoStar SL touch-screen play terminal. The brilliance of the SL’s LED details and satellite sound make it a standout on any floor, and it can accommodate up to three wide-screen monitors in comfort, which makes it the perfect vehicle for a portfolio of 23 player-selectable Coolfire II and Indigo Novo Unity II slot titles. And Class II and racino operators will love the fact that it can also be adapted for server-based video lottery play.

Another new idea in slot-table hybridism will be on display in the form of Panther Roulette II, the successor to the innovative Pinball Roulette, where players get to launch their own game ball. On the Panther, players can toggle from table game to more than 20 slot titles.

Two new major jackpot systems also will be displayed: Magic Joker, which debuted earlier this year at London’s International Casino Exhibition, will be featured on the Dominator. Book of Ra Jackpot, based on the hugely popular game of the same name, will appear on Novomatic’s flagship upright, the Super-V+ Gaminator.

All told, it’s a full-court press by Meitzler and his Americas team to take Novomatic to the front ranks of the U.S. market, and it’s leaving no market or product realm unexplored. The Action Gaminator, for one, is designed to bring a fresh and versatile element to the Illinois VGT mix with casino-style multi-gaming packed with the superior graphics and audio punch of the Super-V+ Gaminator and the twin-screen NovoStar SL2.

Also developed for Illinois initially is the Magic Games Premium HD, a multi-game platform featuring 25 player-selectable titles and a similarly eclectic range of uprights and slants that include the V.I.P. and the triple-screen Dominator and Super-V+ Gaminator III.

The group’s Octavian subsidiary will bring some additional international flair to the show with its ACP Casino Management System and some choice jackpot concepts, and a selection of games from its Octo-Games line.

The myriad opportunities available globally in online and social gaming—Novomatic’s “third pillar” of innovation, as the company calls it—will be the subject of a dedicated interactive area under the aegis of Vienna-based Greentube Entertainment Solutions.

Novomatic acquired Greentube in 2010, a smart move for a company that enjoys a geographic diversity few manufacturers can match. The group’s presence encompasses more than 230,000 machine games in 80 countries, and it has locations in 50 of them, a reach that extends to more than 1,500 casinos and gaming venues on five continents.

The company also is mapping expansion into lottery via Novomatic Lottery Solutions, whose staff will be on hand at the show to discuss a number of innovations developed for the sector.

“Being a full-service supplier to all segments of the gaming industry is one of our primary assets,” Harald Neumann, chief executive of parent Novomatic AG, said when the company released its first-half results in August. EBITDA hit €291 million for the period (US$325 million) on revenues that overcame challenging environments in a number of core markets to grow 5 percent year on year to €988 million ($1.1 billion), a new six-month record.

As Neumann stated, “We were able to demonstrate once more that our strategy as an internationally active gaming technology group proves to be the correct way to success.”