VIDEO LOTTERY TERMINALS T Connected gaming
he rapidity of the Italian VLT rollout is all the more impressive when you consider the complexity of the systems.
Amatic Industries’ VLT platform, for example,
includes: • A game server whose tasks include generating
the random numbers at the heart of play, managing wins and payments, and remotely maintaining terminals.
• A library of games software. • Individual gaming machines incorporating
banknote readers and TITO printers. • Inspection units with touchscreens and barcode
readers for validating winning tickets. • Management software for financial reporting,
managing loyalty programmes, monitoring possible problem gamblers, calculating tax due, and a host of other tasks.
flexible platforms. I predict that many system suppliers will take a long time and significant investment to achieve full certification.”
But, of course, it is technology suppliers including
Inspired, Spielo, Aristocrat, and Novomatic that stand to benefit from the arrival of VLTs – also known as Comma 6b machines, in contrast to Comma 6a slots – almost as much as the operators.
Open arms Inspired launched its Open VLT platform in Italy
with content from Max Gaming and Psiclone as well as its own, soon adding games from Magic Dreams and Merkur too. Cabinets, likewise, can be supplied either by Inspired itself – with a line-up including the HD Storm cabinet – or by third parties.
And although VLTs are new to Italy, both Inspired
and its partners point to past technology and gaming experience as the key to achieving rollout so rapidly. Inspired has long focused on server-based gaming,
The testing process is much more demanding than for the slots market
and this linkage of local machines to a central server is the prime distinction between VLTs and conventional slots. Merkur, meanwhile, is porting successful slot games to the VLT platform, as is Magic Dreams, which will give Inspired’s customers access to its market-leading Double Draw Poker title.
Other vendors are also bringing their best-
performing games to Italy’s VLTs – for example, Apex Gaming, which is supplying Atlantis World’s B Plus network, holder of the largest number of VLT licences (about 12,000, with Lottomatica in second place). Among its innovations will be five progressive jackpots for the Leonardo’s Code, Arriva, Ocean Tale, Legend of the Sphinx and Red Hot Fruits games,
42 OCTOBER 2010 It all adds up to a jackpot for suppliers, and
although – perhaps because of the speed of the rollout – the majority have been from beyond Italy’s borders, local companies are unsurprisingly keen to take their share too.
Said Renzo Terrabusi of Nazionale Elettronica:
“The Italian gaming and game industry must find a space on the VLT market, since the manufacture of software and platforms is currently mainly in the hands of foreign companies. On the other hand, they have ten years’ experience in this sector, whereas for us Italians VLTs are something new we are trying to adapt to. Nevertheless, Italian manufacturers have the creative flair to stand out in this sector too.”
The bad news Not all, however, regard the future as entirely rosy.
Italian slots maker Tecnoplay’s Mauro Zaccaria has warned that “the arrival of VLTs on the market will take away a large slice of the revenue from [slots]” at just the time that tighter regulation of slots themselves will result in “the withdrawal of approximately a third of the machines currently installed”.
VLTs are also facing competition. Online slots,
expected to be legal from March next year, are likely to have maximum stakes far greater than the VLTs’ ¤10 – probably in the hundreds – and it has been suggested that minimum payout could approach 95
offering players a chance to win up to ¤500,000. And it is not only the makers of gaming systems
themselves who are reaping the benefits of Comma 6b. Firms specialising in cash handling, for example, are also targeting the Italian market: Eurocoin has opened a new office in Bologna, JCM has been gathering VLT network operators together in Rome to show its wares, and MEI is supplying one of them, Cogetech, with note validators for 5000 gaming machines.
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