Slot Add-Ons

Like cars, slot machines can be customized, and there are a myriad of companies participating in the market

Screen monitors and slot peripherals—two energized concepts—provide lucrative revenue paths.

Monitors house the rising world of vivid graphics, touch-screen technology and curved, tilted angles. Slot-screen innovation reaches largesse with forthcoming models being compared to living-room comfort. Suppliers position themselves for the trend, because although monitor sizes change, convenience cannot. Players want sleek gadgetry. And they want new.

While monitors house the action, slot peripherals feed it. Printers, bonusing software and bill validators maintain the flow of currency. They also offer incentives to keep players engaged. This realm includes repair mechanisms trying to nip malfunctions in the bud. Less downtime won’t sound bells and whistles, but will resemble a jackpot to casino bean counters.

The expanse of screens and slot peripherals provides vendors abundant opportunity.

 

Strong Rollout

What an inFuzion for JCM Global.

Last fall, the Japan-based company announced high hopes for its Fuzion technology, which, combined with the iVizion bill validator and Gen 5 thermal printer, unleashed the possibility for each slot machine to become a multi-line profit center. The product package offered the potential to vend and redeem lottery tickets, race and sports betting, facilitate daily fantasy sports (DFS) wagering, conduct cross-enterprise promotional couponing for carded and uncarded players, and streamline tax form processes.

For JCM, a leading transaction technologies supplier for the banking, retail, kiosk and gaming industries, this was perceived as the final piece of a major revenue machine.

And, like the sounds from a slot, cha-ching ensued.

During the first quarter of 2018, JCM notched a literal string of 7s. Osage Casinos opted to convert all seven of its Oklahoma casino floors to the company’s transaction solutions. JCM planned to install iVizion, Gen 5 and the ICB 3.0 Intelligent Cash Box system, while making Osage Casinos the first in the United States to have its Fuzion technology, officials said.

The conversion helps Osage Casinos increase security and anti-money laundering compliance. It also streamlines slot-floor processes including the ability to download an entire floor’s firmware instantly.

The partnership may become even more profitable over time. The Osage group planned an August 31 opening for its $150 million casino expansion in Tulsa. This coming-of-age development, denoting the ownership group as major players, provides a larger potential universe for JCM.

In July, JCM said its cash transaction technology was installed at Landing International Development Ltd.’s casino at Jeju Shinhwa World on the South Korean island of Jeju. Gen 5, iVizion and ICB all were placed in the 5,500-square-meter casino.

In August, the Australasian Gaming Expo was the showcase for a fleet of the company’s bill-validation products. They include the BlueWave DX firmware upload tool that allows users to quickly update bill validator firmware with less downtime, and the TBV bulk feeder, giving operators the convenience of accepting multiple notes and currencies simultaneously.

Whether by bill validation on the machine or in a kiosk pumping the cash one may bring there, spare parts matter.

JCM’s iVizion is field-proven with more than 250,000 units shipped. Its CIS technology scans the entire note or ticket, reading more than 9.5 million data points on every note, more than twice that of the nearest competitor.

The GEN5 has a faster CPU and faster print speed, and flexibility to print TITO and promotional tickets.

Downside protection exists with BlueWave DX, an indispensable tool for service technicians. Using high-speed data transfer, this lightweight, handheld tool allows operators to update, configure and test bill validators and printers.

The high-contrast, two-color LCD screen enables users to easily select firmware versions before transferring them. By connecting the BlueWave DX to the bill validator via USB, the device enables the user to view the current firmware version and acceptance rate on the last 100 banknotes, enable or disable ICB function, run diagnostic tools, and review status errors. The BlueWave DX is powered by either AAA batteries or a DC power supply. It supports iVizion and Gen 5, among a series of models.

 

Epic Milestone

It’s wise to accommodate both hardware and software.

That’s been a sound strategy for Hamden, Connecticut-based TransAct Technologies, which rides the Epic product line on both fronts. Epicentral, its most noted offering, opened to high expectations in 2013. It was touted as the industry’s lone enterprise-level promotion and software bonusing suite able to target customers in real time with unique custom-designed coupons. Epicentral features regular upgrades.

On the hardware end, TransAct delivers top TITO printers through the complete lineup of Epic gaming-device printers, according to Tracy Chernay, senior vice president of global casino, gaming and lottery. The fleet includes the Epic Edge printer, the Epic Edge TT and Epic 950 TT enclosures.

The packaged lineup allows comprehensive implementation. Chernay says TransAct software, combined with the company’s casino printers, allows operators to connect with gamblers while they play their favorite slot machines and electronic table games.

“We have seen continuous improvement in the system, as Epicentral allows users to run multiple promotions at the same time, create games within games, offer multi-user/multi-site promotions, run different promotions on different slot game banks, segment players by tier and promote to different levels of carded players,” Chernay indicates. “This one-of-a kind software also offers the ability to redeem, print or reprint bonuses at multiple locations. It also has an enhanced user interface and more reporting options.

“Epicentral is more powerful, more flexible and easier to use than ever. Some recent updates to the software include an improved, more user-friendly design center and an enhanced third-party integration via Epicentral’s SE API. An additional update is the ability to scale the award delivery services, resulting in an increased print volume.”

The gamification aspect—creating a game within a game—is essential, Chernay asserts. This feature allows casinos to attract new customers while boosting engagement and retention of current players. As this marketing initiative grows, Chernay says to expect more casinos to use it.

Some big operators and some emerging properties already endorse Epicentral. Chernay says Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut increased its lower-tier player ADTs by over 50 percent when it teamed with TransAct.

“Working with us, the loyalty marketing team designed a promotion to randomly reward a slot player using their Foxwoods Rewards card with a bonus ticket redeemable for cash payouts up to $500 or prizes including gift cards for many of the more than 30 Foxwoods dining experiences,” Chernay says.

“They named their program FoxPerx, and the players began to look forward to the offers that would provide them with incentives based on their play.

“Most recently, Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia, New York began using Epicentral in conjunction with the Aristocrat Oasis 360 slot management system,” Chernay adds. “Through Epicentral, the casino can show all promotions on the media window of the slot machine, making it convenient for players to choose their own offers.”

This year, the product could be called Epic Five.

 

Soup to Nuts

Gaming Support, a prominent European provider of outsourced gaming services, has a major connection installing, maintaining and refurbishing all 14 properties operated by Holland Casino. On a daily basis, it monitors more than 7,000 gaming machines, nearly 500 live tables, and their peripheral equipment.

The Rotterdam, Netherlands company helped put the Holland casinos in the game. Now they keep them there via Gaming Asset Management Environment (GAME), a software-enabled watchdog helping properties anticipate maintenance problems. It was released at G2E last year.

“Gaming Asset Management Environment gives complete control over all of the most important assets of an organization in one glance, real-time,” company founder and CEO Lucien van Linden says. “For many casino organizations, maintenance of slot machines and equipment is of the utmost importance, since the service level is often a good indicator of the hospitality towards the visitor. By offering smarter tools to these organizations, they are able to accomplish their maintenance cycles more effectively and purposefully.”

With GAME, maintenance is only performed when an asset such as a slot machine requires attention—ideally just before a failure is likely to occur, van Linden asserts. This minimizes the downtime of the equipment being maintained, production hours lost to maintenance and the cost of spares and supplies.

According to van Linden, GAME helps track slot machines, gaming tables and all critical peripherals from the time one places an order to the moment it is put to rest. Users have the tools to initiate curative or periodic maintenance.

Accessible by computer 24/7, globally, it provides information about the daily occurrences of these high-valued assets and allows direct interaction to ensure limited downtimes, he says.

“Using GAME’s clean and intuitive dashboard minimizes learning curves so the user instantly becomes productive,” he adds. “It’s configurable to fit every need for companies’ staff and processes. Users love being able to ‘zoom in’ to the assets, allowing them to view and solve issues without leaving their desk.”

GAME’s dashboard gives a clear overview of all assets at one glance, whether it be a single property or spread across multiple locations.

In clear tabs, the user can track them from order until delivery, configuration, transport to the venue and placement on the casino floor.

Filtering options by type, brand or location allows users instant access to the asset of choice and all of its relevant information. The information can be edited to ensure proper disclosure to those who need it.

By zooming into the locations, individual assets can be reviewed as well as their settings, maintenance schedule and overall history.

The fully integrated Predictive Maintenance Module monitors the condition of a property’s assets in real time by sensoring orientation, G-forces, thermal imaging, magnetism, sound, temperature, humidity and air pressure.

While helping operators GAME the slot-machine system, van Linden believes the next brand of big spenders, millennials, prefer live gaming products like poker and blackjack rather than video-based slots.

 

Displaying New Lines

Quixant, a U.K.-based company focusing on gaming hardware design, development and manufacturing, showcases a new range of contemporary monitors and digital button deck solutions. Its array of floating, ultra-high-def and curved-screen monitors was unveiled at the Australasian Gaming Expo.

The latest releases include the “floating” 23.8-inch and 27-inch designs. Quixant officials tout this as stunning content delivery in an impressive aesthetic package with multiple touch-screen technology options. The 27-inch model has a 178-degree wide-view angle and full flat-service mechanical design. It enables faster gaming cabinet development and reduces time to market, along with flexibile color and optional halo lighting, company officials say.

The popularity of video button decks is increasing rapidly. The 13.3-inch Playdeck incorporates opportunities for bespoke cutout and physical button integration.

Ultra-high-definition displays are gaining widespread acceptance in the gaming market, due to increased pixel density over full HD monitors. This allows the graphics in games to be presented with high levels of detail. UHD Monitors with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels have four times the pixel density of full HD monitors. They work in perfect combination with Quixant’s 4K gaming platforms, such as the QMax-1, QX-50 and Qxi-6000.

 

Keeping Equipment Deployed

Casino Screens, based north of London, manufactures and supplies gaming machine monitors and digital signage. It provides custom metalwork as well as metalwork match for retrofit screens.

One of its highlights is the Dilamino Display, which serves to reduce downtime and allow for on-the-spot servicing and maintenance, according to company reports. The quick-release side allows access to all internal electronics and easy swapping of panels and cabling if there is a failure.

Key product ingredients include a reliable dual-display board, full assembly with custom-pole length, minimal external cable, slim 80 mm design and a bonded glass front for protection inside for 24/7 use.

A new button desk display is being prepared for the fall.

Throughout the world, suppliers seek their niche in the competitive yet profitable environment. Their products target what operators need and what gamblers want.

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Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.