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NEWS Old dogs, new tricks

Game makers woo cautious casinos with novel twists on traditional slots and table games

Casinos may be chary of spending much on new slots or table games while economic woes persist, but that isn’t deterring the game makers from innovation. Indeed, it may be encouraging out-of-the-box thinking as suppliers compete for scarce dollars. Bally Technologies, for example, is claiming a number of firsts with its Code Red slot, which made its debut at the Indian Gaming 2011 event in April and has already been approved by Gaming Laboratories International (GLI).

“Code Red is a game-changer,” said Dan Savage, Bally’s Vice

President of Marketing. “It looks, feels, and plays like a traditional reel- spinning game, but is actually a video machine.” Key to that are a 22-inch curved LCD display; Bally’s U-Spin gesture-

control technology, which awards free games, progressive jackpots, and bonus credits; and the iDeck touchscreen button deck. The touchscreen is mounted in front of the curved LCD, allowing players to “touch” and “spin” the virtual wheel. Also making their debut in Code Red are new free games and wilds features.

WMS, meanwhile, is directly

WMS says it can increase player spend with its new slot features

addressing casinos’ bottom-line nervousness with its Ultra Hit Progressive (UHP) product family. UHP, it promises, will increase players’ spend by adding new excitement- building features to existing slots, taking advantage of networked gaming’s ability to update massed slots at the touch of a button. It works by adding a progressive

bonus feature to the slots already on the floor (with a further bonus for the casino: games can be freshened up without being replaced). UHP highlights approaching jackpots on the game screen and on digital signage, generating dramatic visuals and sounds as a progressive trigger is approached.

The first theme available under UHP is Jackpot Explosion, based on

imagery of a bubbling volcano. Coming soon is Piggy Bankin’, depicting the eponymous object stuffed with coins until it too explodes. And there’s new thinking in table games, too. For example, Interblock has just received Nevada approval for its Organic Roulette, which it says is the first electro-mechanical roulette to get the state’s okay. Organic Roulette combines a real wheel with electronic betting via touchscreen displays at individual player stations. The benefits for players include easy repetition of the last bet; for casinos, the attractions include faster play and fewer errors. “The games performed phenomenally” in a three-venue trial on the

Vegas Strip, according to Tom O’Brien, Vice-President of Sales for Elektroncek subsidiary Interblock. “The customer feedback was great. The interest level from other properties has been substantial. We look forward to a full rollout of the games in Nevada.”

Meanwhile, DEQ Systems is gearing up to take its EZ Baccarat – now

approved in ten US states and two Canadian provinces – to electronic platforms too. Said President and CEO Earle G. Hall: “EZ Baccarat offers the most economical offering for the player while eliminating all inherent irritants of the game. With the tremendous foothold of EZ Baccarat in the traditional casino market, it is time to take this iconic product to electronic tables and to the Internet.” DEQ will do this via a tie-up with LT Game, the Asian electronic gaming specialist.


NAUGHTY NAUGHTY North Korea’s embassy in Moscow is housing an illegal casino, according to a report in Russian newspaper Izvestia. It said that a building alongside the main embassy premises has been rented out to the operator of a casino with 14 tables and 30 slots across three storeys. A similar illegal operation has also reportedly been running at the embassy of Belarus.

NEEDS MUST Separately from its alleged Moscow shenanigans (above), the North Korean government is believed to be contemplating a casino at the Mount Geumgang resort site, hoping to attract Chinese clients with hard cash.

SECOND THOUGHTS Greece’s government is reconsidering its proposed legislation to liberalise gaming, after members of parliament said it could lead to too much gambling. The government wants to raise around €700m from gaming licences and royalties this year to support its ailing economy.

MORE OKAYS Gaming machine maker Euro Games Technology says it expects to receive regulatory approval for products in more territories after already securing authorisation in Croatia, France, Greece, Monaco, Switzerland and Slovenia.

UP DOWN UNDER Australia’s Tabcorp Holdings recorded net revenue up 5.4% year-on-year for the quarter ending 31 March, and a 3.9% year- on-year increase over the first nine months of the financial year. Casinos performed strongly, with Star City growing revenue 11.3% in the third quarter, although January’s Queensland floods affected takings at the Treasury Casino. The arm of the firm that provides games such as Keno also did well, but weather heavily affected Tabcorp’s race wagering business.

BOOK BUYER British betting giant William Hill is to acquire the 72 Leroy sportsbooks and kiosks in Nevada through an $18m buyout of their owner, American Wagering.

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