In January 2014, Ram Chary took over as president and CEO of Global Cash Access. With a long history in the areas of retail payments and financial services, Chary’s expertise was well suited for the leader in the gaming sector of those disciplines. And when, less than a year later, GCA completed the acquisition of Multimedia Games, an innovative gaming machine manufacturer, Chary’s organizational expertise was tested. But he’s been up for the challenge, as both GCA and MM Games have continued to lead their sectors. Chary spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at his offices in Las Vegas in May.
GGB: It’s been about six months since the acquisition of MM Games has been completed. How has the transition gone so far?
Chary: It’s been going very well. This clearly was a transformational acquisition for us. It more than doubled the size of our company. We’ve identified areas where we can consolidate services, like human resources and finance, and understand why services need to be separate because of the unique characteristics of the two divisions. I’ve been very pleased with the efforts put in by members of the teams, and we’re very enthusiastic about the future because our company is so different than any other in our industry.
It’s not like one slot company buying another. There were two different businesses, so what has it taken to be able to blend the two into one corporation?
Yes, this is truly a unique combination of companies. We’ve been concentrating on adding the full product portfolio from Multimedia Games to our existing customer relationships, and that effort has begun to succeed. So, we’re creating a full-service solution for casino operators to optimize cash-to-the-floor solutions with player-proven slot gaming products that focus on retaining and acquiring new casino players. GCA is licensed in so many more jurisdictions that we’ve been able to introduce Multimedia Games to an entirely new audience in many cases.
Tell us about the GCA side of the business. Obviously, the casino business runs on cash, and that’s what you provide. Why has GCA been so dominant in this space?
We understand the needs of the casino operator like no other company. People forget that we acquired the NEWave company before we bought Multimedia. NEWave was focused on compliance issues and how casinos approach them, so our customers know that we provide solutions to them for the issues that are most difficult. This area has become more crucial recently because of additional federal regulations and proposals. And because we’re so large, we’re able to offer them the best deals, which we expect will continue with Multimedia Games. We are offering them value and product that nobody else has.
Remember, we both provide hardware that ends up on the casino floor that’s critical in the casino operation. That’s a commonality that’s very significant but that many people overlook. We sell to the same decision-maker in the casino’s organization more often than not.
What are the various services GCA offers to land-based casinos?
ATM transactions are more commoditized, and some of the cash advance aspects of the business were found in a lot of different places. We have proprietary technology—proprietary software that’s patent-protected, and kiosks that are also very unique and stand on their own in the space, and they are things that are not provided by the other suppliers.
Payment processing is such a hot topic these days. How will GCA play in the iGaming space?
We’re really not participating in iGaming at this time. Until our customers tell us that this is a service they require, I think we’ll wait and see what happens in this complicated area.
Let’s move to the Multimedia side, a new business for you. What have you done personally to get up to speed on the slot business?
I’ve been working very closely with the folks in Austin (the headquarters for Multimedia Games). We plan to leave them in place there to operate as they have been doing. As you know, they’ve been very successful. We have a great team there, led by industry veteran Dave
Lucchese. I’ve really been energized by seeing the enthusiasm and creativity that this team brings to the table.
MM Games’ TournEvent program has been very successful. What does it do for your casino clients, and how does it pay off for your company?
This event has gotten bigger every year. It’s a great way for our customers to invite their players in for this special event. Our team has done a great job creating excitement on the casino floor, and this year we’ll make more than 100 stops on two routes. It’s a way to partner with our clients and make them knowledgeable about our games and our people.
What is your company going to be known as going forward?
We’ll have an announcement around G2E to reveal the new name of the company. It won’t be either Multimedia Games or GCA, and it will be a brand that will quickly become one of the most powerful in the industry.
Is the MM Games acquisition the final move by your company, or are you eyeing some other moves that would make it stronger and more diverse?
It’s going to take us a few years to absorb this acquisition and make it work, so I don’t see us making any major moves during that time. But if we see some kind of tuck-in acquisition opportunity that will help us transform the gaming floor, we won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.