Technology in Casinos - Special Edition
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Editorial: Editor in Chief: Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor North America David Mckee email@example.com Special Assignment Correspondent: Jack Bulavsky firstname.lastname@example.org N Europe - Damien Connelly email@example.com UK - Alan Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org Latin America & Asia Correspondent: Janice Chaka Janice@ace123.com International Casino & Gaming Correspondent: JJ Woods email@example.com Online Gaming Editor: Sam Miranda firstname.lastname@example.org
Production: Designer: Stewart Hyde email@example.com www.totaldesignworks.com Subscriptions: Helen Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org Web & IT: Sudip Banjeree email@example.com Journal Manager: Chris Sanson firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher: Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 email@example.com
Guest Editor As the Owner/Manager of the Casino Surveillance & Security Society I am, through the use of new technology, helping to connect the world of casino security. This society connects Security and Surveillance Directors from all around the world sharing the methods used by today’s cheats which are in themselves becoming more and more sophisticatedly and technologically savvy. If I go back many years ago to when I first started in the casino industry this would hardly have been possible. The preferred way to connect with people was by telephone or slower still written letter. Today we can call, text or tweet in an instant, even that modern wonder the fax machine is all but redundant. In the late eighties photographs of cheats were sent around our group by fax resulting in darkened or blacken facial images that were unrecognisable. Today mega pixel images are sent by e.mail in an instant, which may clearly show the hairs on the faces of the suspected cheats. In the mid-nineteen seventies the first cameras were being installed into casinos, before that surveillance in the larger resorts used to walk around in the false ceilings on wooden walkways using binoculars to spy on gaming tables from a bird’s eye view, which is a total unnatural way for a human being to look at anything. Black and white fixed cameras were the order of the day for the first installations in the 1970s. Today’s surveillance officers can use pan tilt and zoom high definition or mega pixel cameras actually fitted to the gaming tables. The deterrence of cheating has become much easier with the tables becoming more statistically accountable by digital player tracking through the use of RFID chips. Chips which can be detectable at exit /entry points, on tables and at exchange points throughout the house. The documentation of cheats by scanning identity documents and photographing at reception areas or discreetly from cameras hidden covertly behind mirrors and glass screens and facial recognition technology is all aiding in the continuing battle against fraudulent activity. High tech cheating scams where the perpetrators were able to read almost a full deck of cards through the use of a micro mini camera hidden up their sleeve and with the wave of a hand and a disguised thumbing of the cards masked by the cutting card recorded nearly every individual card in the pack. Images relayed through computers and card sequence information sent back to tiny earpiece listening devices worn by the players on the table. These types of scams may be counteracted by the house use of scanners, which will pick up on any video or audio signal being transmitted to and from the gaming floor. As the cheats become more and more adept at the use of the latest advances in technology so the necessity for the casinos to play keep up or stay ahead of the game becomes a challenge for counter measures to be invented by those charged with the supply of or protection of the house assets. John Connolly COO at EyeOnTheAction.AG www.eyeontheaction.com
NOVOMATIC BIOMETRIC SYSTEMS™ Damien Connelly visited Novomatic’s pilot NBS site in Vienna
BS solves so many of the problems of TiTo and cashless, that I wouldn’t go back...NBS is a much better system,” stated Mr. Tekin Aykut, manager of the property where the pilot for NBS (Novomatic Biometric Systems) has been running for almost six months now. During this six months, almost 2,000 customers have registered to use NBS. During my tour around Austria visiting a variety of Novomatic’s operations, I used NBS as a customer. I found NBS to be a more convenient, easier and responsible system than the existing cashless systems I have used in casinos and gaming halls around the world. With NBS, you load your credits onto your thumb (or whatever is used for the biometric scan) and then just get on with gambling. If you need to load up more money or cashout your winnings, it’s the same process as existing cashless systems, easing customer adoption anxieties. NBS is a new product that is in the pilot stage, so there will still be bugs and operational issues to overcome. Once such points of detail have been addressed, then I think NBS is a perfect system for today’s multi-channel gambling environment. Especially when you look at the history behind biometrics.
What are biometrics?
Biometrics literally measure life: the word is derived from the Greek “bio” (life) and “metrics” (measure). Biometrics have been widely used in other industries for almost 20 years now. One of the first large-scale uses was at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The biometric industry was
given a big boost in 1997 by the introduction of the first commercial interoperability standard. Compare that to the adoption of TCP/IP in 1983 as the communications interoperability standard for what we know today as the Internet, and you can see that biometrics is still a young technology. Yet a technology that, I believe, offers a perfect fit for casinos, gaming halls, and online/mobile.
Technophiles among us already know all about the fingerprint readers on the latest smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5. Samsung has a partnership with Paypal to allow the S5 biometric fingerprint reader to authenticate mobile payments. With Apple’s Touch ID, customers can use their fingerprint to authorise purchases from the iTunes Store and more. Visa is also currently testing biometric payment systems. Given biometric technology is still maturing, there will be hurdles to overcome. As these challenges are solved, the technology matures, and as customers become more comfortable using biometric devices such as fingerprint scanners to make payments, they will also become more comfortable using biometric systems to make payments when they gamble. A leading biometric consultancy forecasts the consumer biometrics payment market is currently growing 40% year-on-year. If NBS could bring more money into the gambling industry in a way similar to how bill validators helped grow GGR by making the customer experience easier, then it would be a perfect solution. Which brings me to my visit to the test site of NBS in Vienna.
This was quick, simple and anonymous; it is important to distinguish the anonymity for this pilot project, as customer fingerprints are not stored for any purpose other than ensuring accurate customer identification to access Novomatic’s gaming operations and to credit/ cashout on the machines. You scan whatever finger(s) you wish on whatever hand(s) you chose, and an anonymous account is created for you. If preferred by customers and/ or required by regulators, instead of scanning fingerprints NBS can be setup for other biometric scanning, such as iris scanning. As I no longer look like I am 18 years old, I was not asked to provide proof of age. If, however, I did look like I was 18 or so, then I would have had to provide proof. In discussions with the property manager, Tekin Aykut, this was a major benefit of the NBS system as “no younger people try to enter anymore.” NBS offers another way to ensure responsible gaming policies are effectively implemented 24/7. As the NBS system is capable of being installed on gaming machines and in online/mobile gaming environments (via payment devices), it is currently the only solution I know of where one system can extend responsible gaming to all channels customers use to gamble.
Forget about the Hollywood idea of cutting people’s fingers off and using these to pretend to be someone else; that doesn’t work. NBS is harder to fool than existing cashless systems, thus making it much tougher for banned, unregistered and/or underage people to gain access to gambling areas - and play gambling machines. For example, if a banned player used makeup to change their appearance, they could fool facial recognition systems, while NBS is intelligent and active enough to recognise and refuse access/play to that banned player. NBS is a more intelligent and active system than the current ‘passive’ cashless systems. This makes it great for responsible gaming. In fact, I could see NBS being used by casinos and gaming halls to redesign their floors so
they become easier - and safer - for the general public to use more frequently. Just think of all those staffed identification barriers at the entrances of thousands of casinos around the world...if you can remove those barriers - or at the very least automate them - then the gain would be twofold: 1) a better customer experience of your casino(s) as all those ‘inhospitable’ identification barriers would be removed; and 2) a reduction in staffing costs...OR an opportunity to put more staff on the floor to improve the customer experience.
More Secure. More Relaxed
Gains from NBS go beyond reducing operational costs. With everything transacted on your fingertip (literally!), customers don’t need tickets or cards anymore. As Tekin Aykut noted, “Our customers have found NBS to be a big improvement as they can’t lose their tickets or cards now; that used to be a problem now and again when people would go to the toilet or go outside. Our customers also find NBS to be more secure to use as there are no tickets, so it’s not possible for someone to steal our customers’ tickets before they have cashed-out. That makes our customers feel more relaxed, both inside and outside our property.” Other operational improvements Mr. Aykut noted were NBS’ ease-of-use and its higher levels of control. For ease-of-use, Mr. Aykut has actually seen more customers using his property since NBS was introduced; NBS has attracted new customers. For higher control, this relates to his being significantly more confident that no underage, unregistered or banned players can now gamble at his property as each slot machine has an NBS biometric reader, and each access point/door the same...almost like the 2-step identification that is becoming more commonly used by websites to better ensure customer security. As a technophile, I have a penchant for new technology, especially if it benefits the customer experience, grows revenues, reduces costs, and/or improves responsible gaming. In chatting with Mr. Aykut, he saw NBS deliver against all of these. Maybe it’s time you took a closer look at NBS to see if/how it could benefit your operations.
(L to R) Bertrand Meyer, Sonny Waheed, Cecilia Paolino-Uboldi, Carlo Musio
AVATAR BY IGT Launches in France Damien Connelly visited Seven Casino for the French launch of Avatar 7
roupe Tranchant launched IGTâ€™s Avatar duo video slots in 11 of their casinos on May 8. I visited Seven Casino in AmnĂŠville over two nights (May 8 and May 9) to see this award-winning slot in action on the floor of Seven Casino. The support provided for this launch was
impressive, ranging from Avatar-theming of both the Groupe Tranchant and Seven Casino websites, through banner advertising outside the casinos, to blue-coloured Champagne fountains and Avatarthemed cocktails inside the casinos. All types of customers were playing Avatar during my visit, likely due to the high customer
awareness of the Avatar brand; it is the highest grossing movie of all time. The slot is a five reel game with 25 paylines and a bet range from â‚Ź0.01 to â‚Ź0.50. Depending on your jurisdiction, it offers a standalone progressive jackpot or a wide area progressive link. There are three base game features, five individual bonuses, and three
communal bonuses available once unlocked through player achievements. Avatar is the first IGT slot that allows players to track their progress and achieve additional game content as they advance through the game levels during each gaming session. All bonuses are unlocked from the beginning to optimise player
participation in the international version (the US version has login/ save capabilities). I was given a tour of Seven Casino by Carlo Musio, Group Slot Manager for Groupe Tranchant, and Bertrand Meyer, Marketing Manager for Seven Casino. As noted by Carlo Musio: “Groupe Tranchant has partnered with IGT and Ludi to be the only casinos in France to offer Avatar to its customers. We have this exclusivity for three months. It is part of our interest in changing faster the range of slots and games we offer to our customers, so we can be more dynamic and give our customers a fresh and exciting slot experience on a regular basis.” “We are always trying to find innovative products and add game themes and types to bring a new ambiance to our casinos with the product. Ideally these products should have a high customer profile to allow us to make a large communication to our customers. Avatar is a game that allows us to create this new ambiance. We are looking to add about two or four new machines to each casino so we can make a new event for our customers every few months.” Noted Bertrand Meyer: “Normally we attract 2,500 people on a day like today (Thursday). With
our Avatar launch, we will attract something like 4,000 people today. Avatar will help us attract both more customers and new customers; at least 1,500 for today.” Commented Sonny Waheed, Marketing Manager for IGT Europe: “IGT has been working closely with Groupe Tranchant to make sure our introduction of Avatar to the French market is a great success. Avatar is a premium slot that has added immersive gameplay to the casino floor with a wide range of bonuses and features that have not been on any other machine. Avatar uses iconic imagery from the highest grossing film of all time, especially during the bonus features. This high impact imagery added to the immersive gameplay explains why Avatar is played by people of all generations.” Continued Carlo Musio: “The events we can create around product launches such as Avatar allow us to attract both new customers and old customers who have not visited for some time. Avatar has a major advantage that it is a product for all generations, from 20 to 90 years old.” What I saw during my visit to Seven Casino showed Avatar was indeed played by people of all ages.
Itâ€™s in our DNA!
WMS Gaming: Looking To The Future In advance of the upcoming Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) 2014, Alan Campbell spoke with industry veteran Jon Lancaster, Executive Director International Sales for WMS Gaming. 12
From your perspective, how was 2013 for WMS Gaming and what significant milestones were passed? In 2013, we saw improvements occur in many of the regions in which we operate and began to focus on tailoring our products to the international marketplace in order to be able to supply customers in those regions as their available capital increased. For our Game Chest Multi-Game series, 2013 was the first full year of sales and this product was a leading revenue generator for us around the world. In addition, last year saw us launch the highly successful Blade cabinet internationally with positive results. Blade is currently among the industryâ€™s
strongest performers and reaffirms WMS as a leader in content and innovation. In which new international markets did you find success last year? In Peru, we established an entity that enables us to work directly with our customers in order to improve service levels and sales. Elsewhere in South America, we worked closely with our local distributors to expand our customer base considerably and capitalize on the success of the Game Chest Multi-Game series. We also prepared for an increased presence in New South Wales and other Australian states
and territories, which are among the most significant gaming markets in the world. We have now expanded our offices in Sydney with a new customer-facing sales team and a local product development studio. With a renewed focus on markets around the world, WMS is prepared to support existing and future customers. How has the WMS Gaming’s business changed since its successful merger with Scientific Games Corporation, which was completed in October? The merger of Scientific Games and WMS Gaming has been transformational, and we believe our customers are beginning to see how this combined organisation provides a platform for world-class gaming technology and hardware, content and service. Scientific Games is a truly global organisation and WMS Gaming’s international teams have benefited greatly from the combined strength of the two organisations. What other advantages have come for WMS Gaming following its union with Scientific Games? Scientific Games united with WMS Gaming is an even stronger leading company in the gaming industry. We stand ready to meet the needs of our customers around the globe with a larger and more diverse portfolio of products and services that has, in many cases, been developed specifically for individual international markets. That, along with the knowledge and expertise of some of the world’s top gaming professionals, puts us in a very strong position to meet the needs of our customers around the world. The union of Scientific Games, WMS Gaming and
Williams Interactive offers customers a wider range of products and services and a deeper catalogue of innovative content. The larger scale of the combined organisation has given us the opportunity to expand internationally like never before as demonstrated by WMS Gaming’s expanded presence in places like Mexico and Australia. We are developing product tailored to the needs of specific international markets and have invested in local talent within each market in order to provide the highest level of service to our customers. Customers will continue to see a robust games library and a strong pipeline of innovative top-performing products. WMS Gaming has demonstrated its dedication to the products, industry, customers and players as well as its commitment for continue to deliver meaningful results for our customers. Was your participation in early-February’s ICE: Totally Gaming show in London successful? The ICE: Totally Gaming show was very successful for us this year. We are cautiously optimistic that the gaming environment in Europe is beginning to show signs of recovery. This recovery would come at the right time for us as we have launched gaming platforms that are designed to set new standards for performance. The success of these products has us optimistic about the future. What products did you showcase at this year’s ICE: Totally Gaming and how were these received?
At ICE: Totally Gaming 2014 we showcased the successful Blade cabinet, which already has a comprehensive library and is among the strongest performing cabinets on the casino floor. We also introduced new LAP products, one which draws from the successful Colossal Reels series, the Colossal Jackpot series, while another, Winning Fortunes, has been designed specifically for Asian marketplaces. We additionally highlighted the next instalments of our Game Chest Multi-Game series, which supports different languages, currencies and multiple unique game sets, each comprised of a proven mix of WMS Gaming content. The Global Gaming Exhibition (G2E) 2014 will take place from May 20 to 22 in Macau. What products will you be showing off and what are you hoping to accomplish by exhibiting? Once again, we will demonstrate our commitment to the market with a broad portfolio of games designed specifically for the Asian player and showcase the pipeline of WMS Gaming products going forward. We will debut our first fully Asiathemed LAP, Winning Fortune Progressives, which is known as Yi Lu Fa or â€˜path to prosperityâ€™. The Macau market is showing strong performance results and we are on the verge of introducing games once again into Macau and Singapore following recent regulation changes. We see Asia as a key area of growth and we are investing heavily in the region in both product and infrastructure. We have already developed products specifically for the region using local game design resources. These games feature indigenous themes and artwork and are fully
translated into Mandarin with mathematics that suit the Asian player demographic. What areas do you see as key for development in 2014 and will you be initiating any collaborative ventures with Scientific Games? For 2014 and beyond, WMS Gaming plans to continue to grow our presence in the Asian and Australian marketplaces and support our customers in all of our existing international markets. In Asia, we are using local resources to develop products with themes and mathematics that should resonate with Asian players and we are expanding our commercial and technical support teams in an effort to provide our customers with the highest levels of service possible. Scientific Games, led in Asia by Michael Conforti, Asia-Pacific VicePresident for Scientific Games, has a strong network within the region through our lottery businesses. WMS Gaming is already leveraging these connections. With additional opportunities in marketplaces such as Macau, Scientific Games has the resources that allow us to invest heavily in product and talent so that we are positioned to capture these opportunities. Australia is also an important and stable marketplace. In 2014, WMS Gaming plans to offer an innovative product portfolio tailored to Australian players in order to enhance player experience and help drive longterm growth for customers. With this increased focus, we are prepared to support existing and future customers and capitalise on additional growth opportunities in this important market.
20 years of Entertainment Chris Sanson talks with Alfastreets Albert Radman ahead of 2014 G2E Asia exhibition
latest technology, made out of the best materials but still keeps the user friendly layout and operates flawlessly. And third one was R4, 4-seat Roulette that came out as a result of many requests we received from our partners, who needed a compact machine for smaller space venues. This machine is just as attractive and playable as its big brother, R8. For all the three new products we have been getting a lot of positive feedback and also the number of demands has increased tremendously. In London we also organized a special event where we celebrated our 20th anniversary with our friends, partners and customers. Although we are still planing many more surprises that will take place throughout the year. Given the awful weather experienced during the closing month’s 2013 and first two months of 2014, experienced in North American and much of Europe how much impact has that had on business for the end of last year and the start of 2014. We are well placed in gaming venues all around the world. This helps even up the results, even when certain areas are affected with such unfortunate events. During our 20 years of manufacturing, it was our goal to spread our products every where possible. This is paying off now, as we are able to focus on a favorable gaming jurisdiction and even up any possible reduction from another part of the world.
How was 2013 and how do you see 2014 shaping up? 2013 was very successful year for Alfastreet. We have finished the business year 2013 with more than 40% revenue growth, which proves that all the investments in development, service and sales were more than justified. 2014 is a very special year for Alfastreet because we are celebrating our 20th anniversary. We started our celebration at ICE in London at the beginning of the year. There we presented three new products. First one was Wiky, which has a distinct, futuristic design, perfect ergonomics and uses massive screen for the players. Second one was Royal Derby, realistic horse race game, which is packed with the
What has been responses to your 2014 cabinets and games from your involvement at exhibitions so far this year and can you inform readers of your booth location at this year’s exhibition along with what you have planned for your booth at G2e Asia? For the three new products that were presented at ICE London we have been getting a lot of positive feedback and also the number of demands has increased tremendously. At shows we have also been presenting machines, which our clients already know, but in the renewed versions. They have also been attracting a lot of attention, especially R8 roulette, which is one of Alfastreet’s most popular products throughout the world. And since we are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year we have been trying to make our every booth at various shows look and feel very festive. This festive atmosphere will also be visible at the Alfastreet’s booth No. 1429 in Macau. We would like to use this opportunity to invite all of Casino
Life readers to join us there and celebrate our 20th anniversary with us.
ourselves in the best way possible, and we are there, when the moment is right.
How important is the Asian market to your company currently and how big a part of its future strategy does it represent? Asian market is always special for us. This was the market where we first achieved our success with our single terminal lines, multi games, semi live tables ... In every way, Asian market gave us a lot, and itâ€™s still giving. That is why we always keep our focus and our efforts on our Asian markets and we make sure, we stay ahead of our competitors, as we did till now. In the future, we will bring more of our machines to different Asian regions, and the contracts we already need to fulfill are promising us a very successful Asian 2014 year.
Have you observed any new trends building for popularity for new games that have or could be brought into either or both the land and online operations. We believe some of our new games will start a trend and set new rules for popularity. Besides our own, the market is constantly looking for more features, jackpots, bonus games, bigger, brighter, better.
Which jurisdictions are particularly buoyant at the moment and which do you anticipate being future hotspots? Market is constantly evolving and changing the rules of the game. At Alfastreet we collect information at all times, we analyze and strategize. We prepare
Is 2014 a year of consolidation or is the operation looking at further expansion? In the last few years our company has developed and expanded tremendously which is something we are very proud of. We have even added a new program, Alfastreet Marine in 2008 which includes the production of boats. But we have many more ideas and goals that we want to achieve not only in this year but also in the years to come. We are soon announcing more products and services, outside of ETG area, and this alone, will bring additional expansion to our company and to our portfolio.
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