Across the global gaming industry, there are a multitude of equipment manufacturing companies of various sizes, backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses—but how many are suppliers? What percentage of makers, builders, fabricators or assemblers actually work to create products that prioritize the needs of everyone else rather than those that simply maximize their return?
To supply is to provide something of value that proves vital to the success of one or more subsequent links in the chain that eventually forms the fabric of an industry at large. And inevitably, the experience of the end user is the lens through which all of that legwork is evaluated.
In other words, good suppliers amount to good products, which in turn creates happier and more satisfied patrons. Suppliers’ tides lift all boats, and few companies of today have proven more valuable to the industry surrounding it than Everi Holdings.
As the result of a 2015 marriage between Global Cash Access Holdings and Multimedia Games, Everi represents a unique, supercharged combination of gaming and finance, a new-age experiment less akin to the clunkiness of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and more aligned with the power and finesse of a Captain America.
From early 2016 through the drudges of Covid and on to mid-2022, longtime industry veteran Mike Rumbolz assembled and steered the Everi vessel as its chief executive before stepping down in April of that year to make way for Randy Taylor, whose appointment as president and CEO signified the beginning of a new chapter for a company with a breadth of offerings that now includes everything from slots to fintech, kiosks, loyalty, cashless payments, iGaming solutions and yes, even bingo.
Despite the change at the top, however, much of the remaining executive suite has been with the company since its inception, which has done wonders to foster a smooth and effective changeover.
“We all know each other, we all know what our focus is,” Taylor says. “We all know what’s expected. So I’ve been really pleased about that transition. As you say, once you get in the hot seat, things are a little bit different. One thing is that it’s always harder than you expect, right? It’s just different. You have different challenges. You have different things that you have to oversee and manage.”
So what exactly is that focus for Everi in 2024 and beyond? Is it diversification? Growth? New markets, new products?
The answer, unironically, is yes, because as Executive Vice President and Games Business Leader Dean Ehrlich notes, the goal is to become “a holistic global company,” and the only way to accomplish that mission is to “make compelling products that work not only in tribal casinos, not only in Class III, but Class II, bingo, central determination markets, and eventually to be designing and developing products that will resonate more internationally.”
For Everi, diversification and risk are not mutually exclusive, because poor performance in a particular sector or market inevitably casts doubt on the brand as a whole; after all, it’s hard to sell additional products to customers who aren’t happy with what they’ve already gotten. In a sense, the company’s trademark “E” has come to represent Everithing, for everyone.
“It’s not just the desire to be great in one particular market or product segment,” Ehrlich says. “To reach our overall broader objectives of continued growth and becoming a top-tier industry global supplier, we need to have a substantial presence across the board.”
In business, and in life, it never hurts to have a solid basis of financial expertise. From its inception, Everi has never tried to be a gaming company venturing into fintech, or vice versa. It’s always been both, and the key to capitalizing on this construction is to find the best talent with both skill sets.
“I’ve got a real eclectic leadership team, very different backgrounds,” says Darren Simmons, executive vice president and fintech business leader. “A lot of smart technology people, but all have a very different approach. And so it’s finding that balance of diversity and experience that I think is super critical, and we’ve been really blessed to have a great leadership team that’s been driving our success, in my view, with the broader team. So it’s all of those things that go into getting the right people.”
In some ways, gaming and finance are uniquely suited to each other, as both are highly regulated environments that emphasize consumer protections. Everything from research and development on down to product safety is painstakingly scrutinized.
Simmons explains that the company’s success has been linked to its ability to take “some of those user experiences, whether it be from an operator standpoint down to the patron level or what’s worked outside of gaming, and start to bring and adopt some of those technologies and drive those initiatives into the (gaming) space.” By doing so, Everi can continue to “set the bar for innovation and leading technology” while also “understanding who our customers are and meeting their needs.”
By all accounts, the approach is working—in less than 10 years, Everi has become an extremely powerful financial force, with offerings ranging from ATMs and kiosks to its CashClub software line and even crypto and security solutions. In 2022 alone, the company processed over $40 billion in financial access transactions, more than any other supplier in gaming.
But, as is common among high-level performers, past results do not define the present, or the future. This is especially true in gaming, which is experiencing multiple waves of innovation, from cashless to iGaming and more. But instead of trying to beat the market, Everi prefers to take a more comprehensive approach, alluding back to the theme of diversification.
“We remain tech neutral, which gives us the ability and flexibility to integrate and enable the solutions that casino operators want,” Simmons says. “It also allows us to scale across multiple platforms and complex regulatory jurisdictions very quickly.”
Organizations as far-ranging as Everi are like ecosystems in the sense that no one segment is more or less important than another in its overall survival and success. However, the company’s fintech prowess is to be admired in an environment that still relies heavily on cash and human interaction.
Recent feedback for the financial segment, as Simmons notes, is increasingly positive—“I think we were about 14 percent growth year-over-year for the quarter”—but as one can probably deduce by now, complacency does not prevail. In fact, it’s the opposite, as the company is less than a year removed from its October 2022 acquisition of the entertainment and hospitality-based platform Venuetize, which was its first foray outside of casino gaming.
“From a fintech perspective,” says Simmons, “our goal if you look at the acquisition that we did (with Venuetize) is to look at these adjacencies from the gaming floor, because we’re getting those inbounds from customers of, ‘How do we create more value to our enterprise and extend beyond just our four walls?’ And whether that’s sports, entertainment, or iGaming and adjacencies, that’s where I see what we have in terms of a very unique, robust product set in being able to actually stay in gaming, but also leverage that to help us extend and grow off the gaming floor.”
Expanding on this future growth, Simmons makes the comparison to the city of Las Vegas itself, which is also transforming from a gaming-centric environment to a “whole entertainment experience,” thanks to the development of new venues and opportunities.
It’s All Fun and Games
When talking about Everi’s ability to supply the materials needed to satiate the ever-expanding list of consumer expectations, it would be foolish to overlook the games themselves. After all, ancillary technology can certainly enhance and supplement a player’s overall experience, but nobody is visiting a casino or logging into an iGaming app with the sole intent of checking balances or transferring funds—they want to play the games.
And for the company, this means that the continued investment and development of its cabinets and game portfolio is paramount, in order to truly become all-in-one, end-to-end and all the other preferred hyphenated monikers.
As the leader of the games division, Ehrlich contends that his department’s role in the overall Everi world is “a very large one, because we’re such a meaningful contributor to the overall revenue and EBITDA of the company.
“That’s the simple answer, but when you think of Everi, it’s thinking of the bigger, broader ecosystem… It starts with being a significant provider of hardware and game content in the casino environment, and eventually porting into our digital business as that segment becomes a more meaningful part to our financial success.”
Competition is natural, and although the two sides of the company can sometimes equate to dueling banjos each vying for attention, in reality timing is everything. At certain points, one may be receiving more accolades than the other, but with G2E approaching fast, Ehrlich and the rest of the games team are packing quite the punch, with a whopping five new cabinet offerings.
At this year’s booth, patrons and convention-goers can expect to see a first look at the Dynasty Dynamic, Dynasty Sol, Sol Sync, Dynasty Horizon and Player Classic Reserve cabinets. Suffice it to say, Everi is sitting on “a tremendous amount of new equipment that will create a meaningful level of energy in our booth this year,” says Ehrlich.
Taylor also echoes this emphasis, noting that this year’s cabinet frenzy is “our biggest offering ever as a company” from a games perspective. Even though some products won’t be fully ready until the first or second quarters of next year, the investment is worthwhile, as he notes that the company has “some areas in our install base and on our for-sale side that need to be refreshed,” and new cabinets are a huge component of that.
Moving forward, these new developments will serve as a complement to the company’s longstanding mechanical reel success, which has been the pinnacle of its slot efforts thus far. According to the August 2023 Game and Cabinet Performance Reports compiled by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming and Fantini Research, Everi’s Triple Jackpot Gems was the No. 1 overall performer in the Core Low Denom Mechanical Reel segment. Overall, the company accounted for six of the top 10 spots in the Core High Denom Mechanical Reel segment as well.
And much like the fintech side, the company is also expanding its game presence to tap into new markets and new opportunities, hence the recent $59 million acquisition of bingo giant Video King.
“It’s a great tuck-in, and it touches an area that neither the games nor fintech business currently touches,” Ehrlich explains. “The Video King solution is installed at several tribal casinos as well as charitable locations, and provides an opportunity to put forth additional content onto an existing robust install base. Not to mention incremental installs with additional content into more tribal casinos to grow this segment of the business.”
This opportunity highlights the development of Everi’s digital game efforts as well, which of course is a must for suppliers intent on booking their ticket on the runaway iGaming freight train.
The company’s Vi mobile platform allows players to access digital versions of both Class II and Class III games anywhere on premises, which in turn allows them to step away from the traditional slot machine experience and interact with other aspects of the property. That’s more good news for the company, whose bevy of products extend to every facet of a casino.
This physical-to-digital synergy is crucial for Ehrlich and his team, but on a practical level, it’s a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
“Obviously, the success of digital is not only the content that we can port onto our Spark RGS (remote gaming server), but it also comes down to new jurisdictions that open up for real-money gaming,” he explains, “as there’s more sports betting currently approved in other jurisdictions but feel it’s a matter of time before real-money gaming gets approved in those jurisdictions. That’s a major growth channel. I don’t know exactly when, but you know, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
You’ve Got a Friend in “E”
From a company-wide perspective, it’s impressive to see how much Everi has accomplished in just eight years, but one internal goal that is just now beginning to come to fruition is the process of consolidating its game production facility in Austin, Texas and merging it with its fintech production under one (very large) roof in Las Vegas. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s a change that everyone, including Taylor, is bullish about.
He explains that for the company to “compete with the likes of Light & Wonder and Aristocrat and IGT, (Las Vegas) is where our base should be. So that was always our goal.”
Unfortunately, Covid tore apart the first several iterations of the game plan, delaying the move from 2020 to right now—in fact, the facility is expected to be ready by mid-October, right alongside G2E. Make no mistake, all the necessary precautions are being taken, but Taylor admits that he’ll be happiest when it’s complete.
Once the wheels and reels start spinning at full speed, however, Everi can really begin to accelerate its efforts of becoming everyone’s favorite supplier, a friend to all who wish to make their patrons, and subsequently their bottom lines, happier.
“We embrace the theme of ‘Everithing,’” says Taylor. “And I know that can be construed as we’re being boastful, but I believe that in our business segments, we look to bring as many products and services that we can, because we want to be a partner for the casino operator. They should be looking to us to provide products and services that make them more efficient, are better for their customers, and therefore make them more successful. And in my view, that will make us more successful.”