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6b or not 6b?


That’s not really the question, reports Barnaby Page from the Enada show in Italy – the new Comma 6b video lottery terminals look destined to coexist happily with the established slots market, and many vendors are embracing both

udging from some of the hype last year when Italian regulator AAMS issued the first 57,000 licences for video lottery terminals in the gaming-mad country, visitors to March’s Enada exhibition might have expected to

encounter smoking ruins where the stands of slots manufacturers once stood. Would the long-awaited VLTs – called Comma 6b devices, in a nod to the relevant regulation – push aside everything in their path?

The answer, unsurprisingly, was no. Although the

VLT suppliers certainly used Enada to demonstrate their commitment to a potentially very lucrative Italian market, and Enada project manager Gabriella Zoni said the debut of Comma 6b systems was “raising optimism” about the future of gaming in the country, it was impossible to detect any dimming of enthusiasm for slots (termed Comma 6a), with vendors like Bally clearly remaining very committed to the already well-entrenched technology.

Indeed, nervousness in 2009 had been supplanted

by relief in 2010 that VLTs were not having a strong influence on the Comma 6a market, said Nick Jarmany, Managing Director of British embedded computing developer Quixant.

Marzia Turrini, Head of Business

Development at server-based game supplier Betstone, said operators were excited and cautious in equal measure about VLTs – enthusiastic about the opportunity to open up a new market in Italy, but aware that it is an untested one and that red tape could still hinder progress.

That’s certainly an issue: the VLT

sector will not be “fully up and running” until 2011, according to Armando Iaccarino, a Director at the AAMS. And although Betstone itself – which believes its established

26 APRIL 2010

server-based gaming platform will give it a significant advantage in selling content to Italian VLT operators – has 30 games ready to be submitted for approval and will have another 20 within a couple of months, Turrini said she wouldn’t hold her breath waiting for that approval.

Another server-based gaming specialist, technology

provider Inspired Gaming, also sees the certification process as key – but says that rather than being an obstacle, it could prove a positive advantage for those vendors well-positioned to meet the regulator’s requirements.

Said a spokeswoman: “The Italian VLT certification

process is very demanding, only a few suppliers will have a VLT platform that is suitable for the Italian market, and most are not flexible enough to make the required changes to adapt to new markets. A key factor here is speed – having a system ready at the earliest stage. We are deep into the VLT testing process and expect to be one of the first VLT platforms, terminal and game suppliers out of the certification process.”

She cited, too, an encouraging

precedent from northern Europe: “As an operator in the UK we used to operate 40,000 analogue AWPs and that evolved rapidly into networked gaming machines in the UK. We saw the UK market transform from analogue to VLT and it’s driven a huge growth in incomes.”

Inspired already has one big order

as a result of the Italian liberalisation, from Sisal Slot. The firm is to supply at least 2000 terminals to Sisal, a number which could grow markedly as the Italian operator has a licence to operate nearly 5000 VLTs.

Twice the fun

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