Noah Acres is in the evolution business.
His company, Acres Manufacturing, is guiding an evolution in the way casinos market to and reward guests. The catalyst is the Acres Foundation casino management system, which has revolutionized how and how much data is collected through real-time play on the slot floor—and how that data is used in casino marketing.
Foundation is the latest innovation to come from Acres Manufacturing, founded by Noah Acres’ father, gaming pioneer John Acres. While father and son are both principals in the company, Noah Acres has avoided labeling his own position with a COO, VP or other such title.
“We don’t really have job titles here,” he says. “We have about 50 employees and very few job titles. One thing that’s unique about our company is that we don’t have a corporate culture—we have an entrepreneurial culture. We have a creative culture. We have a competitive culture where we love to win. Our personality as a company is completely different from others in the industry. So, my role in the company is to focus on how our company can best fulfill those objectives of aggressive growth and change.”
Growth and change mean the Foundation technology, which Acres calls the first meaningful advancement in casino player tracking and awards (a field, by the way, pioneered by John Acres) since the major legacy CMS systems were introduced.
Foundation is designed to work within the ecosystems of those legacy CMS networks, collecting real-time data directly from the slot machines and using that data to enhance casino marketing efforts. It collects 1,000 times more data than possible with legacy casino management systems—data that can be translated into real-time bonusing, with possible host action being initiated while the player is still at the slot.
The real-time nature of the data from the slot level also is fueling Acres’ Cashless Casino product, which is being used by a growing number of operators—notably, Penn Entertainment—not only to electronically fund play, but to link to the casino’s players club without the need of a physical club card.
The latest iteration of the system, Foundation HQ, will go live in the first quarter of 2024, according to Acres.
“Some of the key features we’re introducing are the ability to rate all play, carded and uncarded; and the ability to card in or check in to a machine without a player card, and enroll right there from the machine. We really want to transition the industry from what we call ‘one too many offers,’ where we just separate players into tiers, and then players within those tiers get the same experience.
“We want to modernize it by delivering a more one-to-one type marketing approach where every player gets their own offer or bonus, based on their own gaming experience.”
He adds that the supercharged data collection is breaking new ground in casino marketing. “We have a tremendous amount of data behind our system,” he says. “Every metric from every slot machine is measured in real time. I believe that over time, we’re going to learn to predict player behavior and use that prediction to deliver the optimal gaming experience.”
The optimal experience, he adds, is one that “satisfies the player, keeps them entertained and wanting to come back—but also delivers profitability for the casino. We can’t just give away money.”
Moving into 2024, Acres says the launch of Foundation HQ will also launch the next phase of development for Acres Manufacturing. “I’m personally really excited because I know that our pace of development is going to increase dramatically,” Acres says.
“If you look at the net number of hours that we spend on applications that are going to grow casino profitability, historically, they’ve been really limited by focusing on jurisdictional approvals or focusing on patent disputes. Now that those issues are largely behind us and our team is growing, we’re going to be able to deliver a lot of really cool technology, especially towards the end of 2024.
“And I’m really excited to start seeing some significant changes in the casino industry.”
One of those changes that the Foundation HQ technology will address, says Acres, is finding a good replacement for free play as a player reward. “Our industry wastes about $37 billion annually in free play,” he says. “When a player is using free play, they’re not spending any money. And if they’re on a time budget, that’s money lost because you’re consuming the time they should be spending their own money with freebies. We want to resolve that issue.”
Resolving that issue using Foundation will involve a variety of bonuses players earn which “they’re going to have to pay to use but they’re going to love doing it, and they’re going to want to come back,” Acres says. “Those are our plans, and I think they’re going to rapidly accelerate, and become real by the end of 2024.”