CEM’s 2013 Slot Floor Technology Awards

New cabinets and platforms, tournament management systems and a sensory immersion game are just a few of the incredible products showcased in Casino Enterprise Management’s seventh annual Slot Floor Technology Awards. With their progressive technologies, it’s no wonder these products were nominated—and won.

Nominations this year included slot cabinets and platforms, pop culture games, analysis tools, mobile technologies and more. Each nominated product was deserving of our recognition, making it tough for our panel of distinguished judges to choose the top 10 to be this year’s winners.

The 2013 Slot Floor Technology Award judges were: Robert Allen, corporate vice president of casino operations, Pinnacle Entertainment; Richard Baldwin, managing director, Union Gaming Group; Mark Bennett, vice president of slot operations, Mandalay Bay; Chuck Hickey, vice president of slot operations, Barona Resort & Casino; Charlie Lombardo, gaming consultant; Frank Neborsky, vice president of slot operations, Mohegan Sun; Eric Pearson, vice president of gaming, Northern Quest Resort & Casino; and Wendy Reeve, director of casino operations, Sycuan Casino.

The criterion for submission was that each company could submit up to five new slot floor products that had been introduced to the market between March 2012 and March 2013 in one of the following ways: new product introduced at an industry trade show, new product in beta testing or any new-for-sale product.

Each product was evaluated for relevant criteria such as innovation, efficiency, usefulness, benefits and appeal. Based on the judges’ votes, the top 10 products with the highest combined scores won. It was extremely close, with some companies winning by only a few points.

CEM applauds the commitment to the advancement of the industry from each and every nominating company. We notice your hard work, and we are happy to bring light to the incredible products you produce.

Here, we present the winners of the 2013 CEM Slot Floor Technology Awards. On the following pages, read about each winning product to find out why it is deserving of recognition and what our judges had to say about each.

Leap Forward Gaming—Patron Display Interface (PDI)
Coming in with the top honors in this year’s Slot Floor Technology Awards was Leap Forward Gaming’s Patron Display Interface (PDI). PDI is a dynamic, one-of-a-kind picture-in-picture solution that aims to engage players, increase loyalty and enhance the gaming experience. This low-cost, turn-key solution works with all brands and generations of gaming machines as part of the applications enabled by the patented SaffariNet® ecosystem, according to a company press release. PDI supports all screen sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios.

This picture-in-picture technology enables players to communicate in new ways, receive new bonusing and maximize operator profitability. Some say that the importance of this technology has been underrated, as outlined in the Eilers-Fantini Quarterly Slot Survey. This only compelled Leap Forward Gaming to triumph over the competing systems.

Other companies have tried to harness this technology as well, but several techniques failed: proprietary technology, unsophisticated player content and rigid limitations on customizations for operators. Leap Forward Gaming has left all of those negative aspects in the dust with their PDI.

Tim Merrill, The Venetian Macau Limited’s vice president of casino operations, said in a press release: “The SaffariNet® PDI solution offers the innovative features and capabilities we desire to further our continued commitment to player entertainment value while enhancing operational efficiencies.”

According to Leap Forward’s website, PDI provides an interactive multimedia interface, which includes targeted patron promotions, unprecedented non-carded player tracking and promotional opportunities, session-based promotions, live video streaming and more.

Our judges also loved this state-of-the-art product. Judge Robert Allen seemed happy and relieved to learn about this product. “At last, the promise of a wonderfully practical picture-in-picture solution powerfully enabled by the highly innovative SaffariNet ecosystem,” he commented.

Judge Charlie Lombardo said he thought the product had the ability to revolutionize the casino experience for the player. And judge Mark Bennett was impressed with a different aspect of PDI: “Marketing possibilities are endless with this product,” he stated.

All of our judges agreed on one thing though: this product reigned supreme.

Bally Technologies—Challenge Connection
Bally Technologies took second place with Challenge Connection, a one-of-a-kind technology and cost-effective solution that connects an electronic gaming machine to a casino operator’s Facebook page, increasing competitiveness between players.

Bally Technologies created this product to solve a growing concern among casino operators: how to bring “offline” players to their online spaces, encourage online players to visit their brick-and-mortar properties and entice these players to continue visiting both—an outcome called “round-tripping.”

Challenge Connection enables casino operators to post players’ skill scores from bonus rounds to a leaderboard that can be displayed on both individual machines and monitors throughout the casino.

Casino operators can add a Challenge Connection Facebook application for every game title to their respective Facebook pages. Communicating with players via a Facebook page like this can encourage their friends to get involved, and so the idea of round-tripping kicks in. Judge Richard Baldwin said this product was a unique and effective tool for bridging the online and offline worlds for casino operators, thus enforcing that concept.

Challenge Connection is the first technology to connect an EGM on the floor to an operator’s Facebook page, according to a release.

This product is available on multiple games across the casino floor, but it does not interrupt game play or require participation from any players.

An anonymous ID is linked to the player’s club card when results are tracked by the casino operator to ensure that player data remains only with the operator.

“Challenge Connection reveals the foresight and value of Bally’s strategic vision—integrating and linking meaningful innovations in gaming hardware and game content to powerful social media,” judge Robert Allen said.

Judge Eric Pearson agreed, adding that “Challenge Connection represents some truly innovative advances in combining the slot players’ experience with social media elements that will actually enhance the slot playing experience, as well as add value for slot operators.”

No matter how you look at it, Bally Technologies has accepted the challenge to create yet another superior product.

Taking third place honors this year is BIS2 with crmViz, an innovative solution that incorporates advanced gaming analytics and state-of-the-art CRM functionality to manage analytics.

It can be difficult for casino managers to pinpoint which customer segments are most likely to return to the casino, but with the help of crmViz, it’s easy to create campaigns around specific criteria for maximum return.

crmViz is used to generate customer lists based on slot machine activity on the gaming floor. Customers have described the product as “smart marketing,” due to its Visual Query, Visual Action and Visual Results approach. According to BIS2’s nomination materials, crmViz does all the “heavy” advanced analytical lifting for the user.

In the past, lag time and difficulty analyzing the data created challenges for casino operators. With this product, operators can create their own analytical reports and design additional campaigns to further identify customer improvement opportunities.

crmViz is also customizable in that it can be easily interfaced into other CRM solutions using crmViz’s RESTful interface. It is adaptable to almost any database and provides multiple levels of interaction with system data.

This management tool allows managers to analyze groups of customers based on any tracked variable, such as a geographic region or behavioral profiles. Effective marketing campaigns are a key driving force to the success of the casino, and this program can execute multi-level campaigns in less than 30 minutes without help from the IT department.

crmViz provides a window into all of a casino’s customers in one single picture. Typically this software has a pay-back period of one to six months. Overall, our judges were impressed with how simply this product could create better marketing for companies.

“With crmViz, casino marketing departments will be able to focus more on generating great offers and targeting the right players, and spend less time on running complex SQL queries,” judge Eric Pearson said. “This software will may allow properties that do not have a strong SQL competency to be less reliant on consultants and be able to have internal resources to make better marketing decisions.”

Judge Chuck Hickey also enjoyed this product. “I love this stuff,” he said. “[I] wish I had time to use it and then do something with it.”

Judge Robert Allen agreed. “From your huge, unwieldy volumes of marketing data, this superb visual analysis tool can create intuitive understanding and drive precise, rapid strategic action,” he said.

Bally Technologies—Elite Bonusing Suite™ Social Link
Bally Technologies took fourth place in this year’s awards with the Elite Bonusing Suite™ (EBS) Social Link, which aims to help casinos more easily market floorwide promotions through the use of social media.

Bally has introduced two new enhancements to its EBS: Social Casting and EBS Web Tags. Through the use of Social Casting, EBS will automatically publish wall posts to a casino’s Facebook page. For instance, if a casino is running an EBS Virtual Racing™ promotion, employees could configure Social Casting to automatically post messages such as when the race starts and ends, the available cash and/or prizes that can be won, how many people participated and won, how much money was awarded and more.

EBS Web Tags allow casinos to provide their players with EBS promotion and competition eligibility via simple hyperlinks to include in e-mails, Facebook wall posts, tweets, text messages and more. Once a player clicks on an EBS Web Tag hyperlink, they can visit the casino and insert their player’s club card into an iVIEW™ or iVIEW Display Manager™-equipped gaming machine to begin to participate in the promotion or competition, according to the product’s nomination materials.

Our judges seemed to agree that the tie-in to social media will be a very valuable asset for casinos, whether it be through marketing or connecting players. “[This is] an effective way to integrate your Elite Bonusing Suite casino promotions into social media streams,” judge Robert Allen said. “This is certain to intensify their value and ultimate success.”

“This system will allow casino operators a turnkey application to engage more heavily in to mobile and social media strategies with their players,” judge Eric Pearson said.

And judge Charlie Lombardo commented that, “Connecting players to social media and events when they are not in the building can only be a plus to the marketing of the property.”

Bally’s Elite Bonusing Suite Social Link is a plus for all.

WMS—Sensory Immersion 2.0 SPIDER-MAN™ Slot Game
Through WMS’ new, third-generation CPU-NXT™3 operating platform and Sensory Immersion 2.0 technology, free spins take on a first-of-its-kind feature with the SPIDER-MAN™ slot game, coming in at No. 5. Through the power of the CPU-NXT3 platform, it is possible to synchronize the motion chair with the nail-biting action scenes from the film that play behind the spinning reels. It’s even possible to have as many as eight reel sets spinning at the same time during the bonus round.

“A wonderfully crafted merging of innovative slot machine hardware with superbly creative, powerfully branded and highly entertaining game content,” said judge Robert Allen.

As a “dual-array game,” SPIDER-MAN is visually stunning with video from the movie playing across the bottom screen. There are also six random features and bonus rounds called “Spider-Sense” that include actual scenes from the arachnid superhero trilogy. Players also get to experience a fight with the GREEN GOBLIN™ in a throw-down bonus battle feature that synchronizes the game’s motion chair with eye-catching video graphics.

SPIDER-MAN delivers two bonuses for players to enjoy. The first is the Goblin Battle Bonus that is triggered when the GREEN GOBLIN flies on the screen, throwing pumpkin bombs randomly. The second is the Spider-Man Free Spin Bonus where SPIDER-MAN can randomly award up to 30X multipliers on each play and bonus spins are awarded when three bonus symbols appear across all reel sets.

The Spider-Sense Features that SPIDER-MAN allows players to experience include Pumpkin Bomb: all pumpkin bomb symbols turn into Wild symbols; Peter Parker WILD: all Peter Parker symbols turn into Wild symbols; Super Multiplier: a player spins the wheel for a chance at a multiplier up to 30X or it initiates the Goblin Battle Bonus; Super Scatter: Peter Parker, Mary Jane or GREEN GOBLIN symbols will pay scatter; and finally WILD Transfer: Wild symbols transfer from the first array to the second array or vice versa.

Allen believes that this game will snag the attention of players in its web. “It’s certain to be a hit!” he said.

BIS2—Customer Preference Calculators
BIS2’s Customer Preference Calculators, No. 6 in the overall standings, lets users have the ability to translate game play patterns by analyzing machine and player data. Customers’ preferred games can now be calculated based on two key concepts—preference filters and preference restrictions.

A filter can be applied to data with the preference filter. These filters can be applied by hour of day, location, theme or even by a specific marketing program. Users are able to decipher customers’ true preferences by applying a filter and eliminating less-meaningful data that would normally fog overall data. A percentage calculation can also be applied to the filter to dig deeper into the specific preferred play of customers, providing a more substantial insight into the behavior of customers.

Players can also be grouped based on how they choose their gaming product with a preference restriction. Users can apply these restrictions in numerous ways. For example, a user could specify all players who played a specific machine in a given month. Drilling down further, users have the ability to see what players have invested a major percentage of their play on that specific machine in the month. A restriction can even be used to determine all players that have spent a major percentage of their total play on a specific machine in a given month.

Judge Charlie Lombardo said, “This is a tool that can assist in game analysis and floor changes, and is more than a marketing tool.”

Too much data can be daunting for an operator and can make it extremely difficult to identify player preferences, especially in the context of the gaming floor. Being able to figure out customers’ preferred games used to be a major challenge for operators with previous technologies. But now with BIS2’s Customer Preference Calculators, the “noise” of the data is silenced, transforming the previous challenge into a simple task, resulting in useful data for the operator.

“Customer Preference Calculator offers slot operators the ability to gain real and impactful insights into the game preferences of their customers,” said judge Eric Pearson. “This has real value in activities like machine purchase decisions, targeting casino host activities and more effective database marketing strategies.”

Bally Technologies—DM Tournaments’ Bonus Tournaments™
Taking the No. 7 spot is Bally Technologies’ DM Tournaments’ Bonus Tournaments™. As part of Bally’s Elite Bonusing Suite™, DM Tournaments’ Bonus Tournaments allows casino operators to enhance guests’ experiences by creatively adding value.

Floorwide tournaments will never be the same. Bonus Tournaments lets any iVIEW or iVIEW DM-equipped machine be involved in tournament events. The solution enables players to take part in the tournament game while simultaneously playing the base game, so that there is no interruption in coin-in. The player experience is given extra value by allowing the opportunity to win a casino-configurable tournament in addition to playing the base game.

Judge Eric Pearson gave Bonus Tournaments a perfect score and had this to say about the solution: “This system offers almost unlimited flexibility that hasn’t been seen before from a promotions and bonusing standpoint that will really free creative managers to provide a lot of added value to the guests’ experience.”

Bonus Tournaments is a player-centric tournament solution with numerous features that make it award-worthy. One feature allows tournament play to take place on any bank of games on the casino floor without having the interruption of base game play. There is also a set of integrated tools that an operator can utilize for registration, scheduling, scoring, enrollment and prize awards. Slot tournament operations are now streamlined and the different types of tournament offerings are expanded. When you add automated qualifications into the mix, Bonus Tournaments is nearly seamless for casino operators. There are even two themed games—Bonus Times and Prospector’s Plunge—that give operators additional options for their slot tournaments.

Our judges believe Bonus Tournaments is a solution that won’t break the bank, but will bring new excitement to the casino floor. “The evolution of a game within a game concept is a very thoughtful and cost-effective tool,” said judge Richard Baldwin.

But don’t worry, it’s much easier to understand than Inception.

Bally Technologies—Virtual Racing™ NASCAR®
The technology of floorwide bonusing solutions has advanced with Bally Technologies’ Virtual Racing™ NASCAR®. Coming in at No. 8, this adrenaline-pumping community event is the first and only to deliver a major licensed brand to a casino operator’s floor.

On iVIEW™ and iVIEW Display Manager™ (DM), players touch and select from eight famous NASCAR drivers—Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin or Martin Truex Jr.—and cheer them around the track. Coin-in and carded play have already been proven to increase with Bally’s Virtual Racing solution, and with the addition of a major licensed brand in NASCAR, operators have the ability to tap into a vast fan base with their casino promotions.

Virtual Racing NASCAR allows operators to fully customize and streamline promotions through server-based technology, and can be offered by nearly every machine on a casino’s floor. “Virtual Racing NASCAR has the potential to be a big hit with a very large demographic,” said judge Mark Bennett.

The action is displayed on all iVIEW and CoolSign®-managed displays throughout the property as the race begins. Excitement culminates when players cross the finish line and prizes are awarded to the players who selected the winning driver. Casino operators are in complete control when configuring prizes for the winning players. From free play to merchandise, operators can offer prizes of their choice.

Judge Richard Baldwin gave the racing solution nothing but praise. “Virtual racing is an effective way to further engage players and increase time on device,” he said.

Building player loyalty is now a goal that an operator can easily achieve through the creation of thrilling special promotion events. By using community events, operators can take the players’ experience and literally drive it to the next level.

Virtual Racing NASCAR will let the excitement on the casino floor shift to a higher gear. Put the throttle to the floor and don’t look back!

FutureLogic—TableXchange® Printer/Scanner
Nabbing the No. 9 spot in the overall standings is FutureLogic’s TableXchange® printer/scanner device. Specifically designed to allow players at table games to utilize cashout vouchers, this is truly a revolutionary product for an operator’s casino floor. Table games can now be connected to an existing TITO network at the casino, allowing for TITO vouchers to be scanned and printed. The TableXchange device introduces a technology that leads to a common currency for the casino, creates a connection between tables and slots and helps operators identify crossover players with value. Chips no longer have to be replenished at the table in turn streamlining the operations on the casino floor.

“Connecting table games to the casino’s TITO system has numerous benefits to the house,” said judge Eric Pearson. “From better data capture to an enhanced customer experience, the added flexibility that this new product affords casino operators is very exciting.”

Players arrive at the table game of their choice and hand the dealer their TITO voucher in order to buy in. From there the voucher is scanned by the TableXchange device and the value is displayed on its LCD and touchscreens, allowing all parties involved (player, dealer and security personnel) to confirm the amount of the voucher. Chips are then given to the player and a TITO voucher is supplied for any cash balance. Cashing out is done by the dealer collecting and entering the value of the player’s chips on the device’s numeric keypad. The TableXchange device then prints out a cashout voucher that the player receives, as well as a receipt ticket that is placed in the drop box.

Judge Charlie Lombardo commented: “This allows players to move more freely between tables and slots. It also has potential of moving money within the casino, creating less chance of cash outs. Tickets may walk or return later to be played.”

A Magstripe reader is also built into the device in order to track and update player’s club cards, awarding loyalty points to the player for their activity at the table. The TableXchange device also gives the dealer assistance through administrative interface features including a numeric keypad, table-limit selection, manual printer controls and the ability to print coupons for promotions and up-to-the-minute audit reports.

Multimedia Games—TournEvent® 4.0
Rounding out this year’s awards is TournEvent® 4.0, brought to you by Multimedia Games. TournEvent 4.0 allows operators to switch from in-revenue gaming to out-of-revenue tournaments with just a click of a mouse.

Other tournament systems have taken classic tournaments and automated them, according to the product’s nomination materials, but TournEvent 4.0 has revolutionized the tournament experience with its upgraded Control Center and user interface, Bulk Import and Player Card Swipe functionality, team tournaments and new out-of-revenue game titles and bonus features.

The TournEvent Control Center features a new user-friendly interface that includes improved look and feel, attractive graphic updates, entire player session select-ability and more. It also features a Tournament Wizard that guides operators through the setup to ensure efficiency and flexibility.

The Bulk Import Registration with Player Card Swipe functionality allows casinos to upload specialized lists of tournament invitees, VIP players or an entire player database into the TournEvent database. Moments prior to a tournament, operators can simply swipe the player’s card and enter them into the current or upcoming sessions.

TournEvent 4.0 takes the guesswork and the hassle out of running slot tournaments for operators, while at the same time providing players with a dynamic and interactive tournament experience.

“The industry’s best slot tournament product is now even better with the release of TournEvent 4.0,” judge Robert Allen said.

TournEvent of Champions®, a slot tournament promotion, plans to revolutionize slot tournaments by boosting the player experience, the nomination materials said. National TournEvent of Champions, the first-ever nationwide slot tournament, is taking place again this year, culminating with the final championship during G2E 2013. Players from across the nation will fight it out for a $100,000 grand prize and the title of the “Nation’s Best Slot Tournament Player.” The National TournEvent of Champions tour will travel to more than 20 states and include more than 60 casinos.

“TournEvent has revolutionized the way I run slot tournaments,” said judge Eric Pearson. “It has really taken the hassle out of the entire experience for the guest, as well as the casino staff. I can’t imagine going back to long lines and clip board scoring again after using the TournEvent system. One of the best slot purchases I’ve made.”

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