Home CEM’s Networked Gaming Guide: An Operator’s Perspective

CEM’s Networked Gaming Guide: An Operator’s Perspective

Server-based gaming in 2010 begins a new direction for gaming operators. The games have been evolving, with technology driving the physical appearance and game attributes offering significant operational advantages. Last year, CEM launched its Networked Gaming Guide, giving voices to industry experts exploring various topics all related to SBG. We looked at open standards, how SBG affects players, what could be in the future and much more. We took a slightly different approach for the first installment of the series this year.

We gathered a panel of industry experts that have been in the front line driving the development of server-based and server-assisted gaming for a roundtable discussion. Hosted via conference call, these high-profile slot operators discussed not only the past, but the future from an operator’s stance, while technology is still evolving.

To the right is the lineup of those who participated in the discussion. On the following pages, you’ll read the conversation exactly as it happened. From what they expect out of SBG to how it affects the technicians’ job, regulation to standards, what they want from manufacturers and the future, the conversation was extremely insightful. These are the guys that are and will be using SBG, and their opinions were open and highly relevant. The conversation is one everybody in the industry needs to listen to.

The Lineup:

Rich Lehman,
Vice President of Gaming, Golden Gate Casino

Chuck Hickey,
Vice President of Slot Operations, Barona Casino

Charlie Lombardo,
Gaming Consultant

Michael Volkert,
Vice President of Slots, ARIA

Rich Lehman: In server-based gaming, what do operators expect in general? For a long time, people have told us what it’s going to do, but knowing what you see and the development that’s already taken place, can you give us an overview of your expectations of server-based and server-assisted systems?

Chuck Hickey: The first thing I’d say, more than what we’ve seen so far, it’s been a long haul for us being one of the first installations and four years and some months now, struggling with the teething pains of doing it. One of the things I hope to see in the future is the promised efficiencies of server-based actually come into being. We spent a lot of man hours in systems with compliance people, my technical staff and IT staff, but the labor hours put into server-based gaming so far have far outweighed the advantages of it. But that was in the development phase, and as we go forward, we’ll see a maturation of the product and hopefully some fulfillment of promises. What I hope to see in the future is more on the server side and on the network side, and less concentration on the download and configuration side. To me, the promise of server-based gaming is in what we can do with the system and with the player with us, as opposed to the dynamic floor that is frequently talked about.

RL: Thank you. Charlie?

Charlie Lombardo: What I would expect first is to be able to efficiently operate software, no matter whose system or game we’re operating. Meaning if I have an IGT system, I want to be able to operate software just as efficiently, not only on IGT games, but all the other games the same, whether it’s WMS, Bally, Aristocrat or Konami. I expect all the guys to play nice so that the operators are not the ones who get stuck trying to settle differences, and we get to operate a clean system without having one manufacturer pointing a finger at another one like they do today. And we’re not held captive; that is the easy way of putting it. And if they do those two things, if they allow us to operate software and they all play nice, the rest of it will come around the way we expect it to.

CH: I’ll throw in an amen on that one.

RL: Charlie, do you see any difference in an SBG floor versus a non-SBG floor in relationship to the overall operation, including intellectual properties that your employees are maybe required to have or maybe not have depending on their classifications?

CL: You know, you’re always going to have some differences based on employee classifications because you can’t allow every front line employee to perform all functionalities required to support the floor.

RL: Yes … in an SBG environment where we’re actually server assisted, you have technicians that perform one function on a non-SBG floor. How would that differ when it gets to an SBG floor?

CL: The difference is that you will have to is depend more on IT. So, as an example, where you may send a technician out to do a job today to make a software change, in the future you’re going to do that all through software on a server located in a computer room, and you’re going to need the IT department to do that for you. You’re not going to have your tech do it, but your tech is the guy who’s going to go out on the floor and verify that everything downloaded properly on the machine and worked the way it was designed to.

CH: Let me throw something in there. One of the things is the troubleshooting aspect. And the lines become very blurry between the tech and the IT side and slot side. We found our techs becoming much more proficient in network troubleshooting, and IT guys becoming much more proficient in looking at the insides of slot machines. For example, you might have a problem with the machine and you find out it’s a switch issue. So normally you’d have some network engineer or somebody else go out there and check your switches, but now you’ve got slot techs perhaps doing that, maybe not. But certainly restricted access to be able to do certain things and functions, either by password or not, or some other method, is probably going to have to happen. One of the biggest problems that we created for ourselves at Barona was that when we started this stuff, we tightened the policies and procedures down so tight in trying to protect ourselves from this unknown thing out there, that we have to work very hard now to get those loosened—and not necessarily loosened, but redone so that they’re more functional. You have to be very careful of that. It’s an understandable problem, but nevertheless, it’s a problem.

CL: And just to follow up on that, I think you also start blurring the lines between who’s responsible for what functionalities and the reporting lines. I only say that from the fact that, when the floor goes down, the slot guy’s the one that’s convenient and easy to access, but in most cases it may be an IT problem. IT is not always on property and available.

RL: Michael?

Michael Volkert: So to start over where we began, what the operators are expecting from server-based gaming in general, I think first and foremost is an open-source system. For us to realize a lot of the features and functionalities and opportunities that we’re all kind of anticipating out of the server-based and networked gaming floor—without open source, I don’t think we can ever really achieve that. And I think these gentlemen have echoed that. Part of that’s going to only come from a cultural shift from the manufacturers when they realize there is a shared benefit in moving forward with this technology, that they all equally benefit in this environment, that there’s a shift in how we’re going to do business moving forward, and they’re better able to work together. And we’ve seen some movement in that. It’s getting better. We are by no means at a place yet where we’ve broken down all of the barriers, and the manufacturers are not at the point where we’re working together as we’d quite like. But it is improving. So there is a little positive movement there, but until the industry really gets behind this and says, “We want this functionality in the future, and this is something we see that’s going to be positive for us, for our customers and for our bottom line,” it’s going to be slow going. And the industry really needs to be committed to this. I think we’ll hopefully be starting to see more of a shift in their perceptions.

Second, what do we want out of it? There’s kind of the obvious stuff that everyone talks about, the download and config functionality. And even with respect to that, we’re not even 100 percent there. We have immediate access to themes, which is great. That cut six to eight weeks out of our conversion cycle, just by having immediate access, whether it be over the server or the network, just downloading all that content to our servers. We’re able to convert product much quicker than we could in the past, but from a configuration standpoint, we’re still very dependent on our slot techs at the game, configuring those games. So we haven’t really matured enough yet, with even the configuration aspects or basics of the system, to where I think the industry wants it.

And then, long term, looking forward, the power of being able to leverage our own intellectual capital to develop applications that create true competitive differentiation between casinos, where we can create our own marketing applications, plug them into a socket. We can go anywhere in the world, having them write these applications that benefit open sources, and really start marketing differently, and marketing one-to-one and understanding customer behavior. And server-based, I think without a really strong business intelligence tool, is going to be really difficult to manage. I look at my casino; I only have 1,900 slot machines, but I have 8,600 different permutations of games if you look at themes, denom, hold percents. And trying to manage 8,600 different pieces of information and how you optimize that becomes very difficult. So we have quite a ways to go, but without the basics of open source, we don’t succeed—a cultural shift in all of the manufacturers working together, the basics of just simple download config. I think the real jewel is being able to develop our own marketing programs to really differentiate our product.

RL: Very good. And in that, the intellectual skill sets for the staff that you have, how do you see that evolving?

MV: The skill set is evolving. We’ve championed a lot of the initiatives for server-based in our organization. We work very closely with our IT organization to make sure the features that you want to bring to the casino fit within our architecture, our environment, all those things that go with creating these complex networks. So I think it’s the marketing teams saying, “What does my customer want?” “How can I create a marketing program that’s going to resonate with my guest?” You’ll have those high-level marketers kind of developing those concepts. And it’s going to be working with the manufacturer and possibly IT to help flesh those out into an application that makes sense. I think the talent of the slot group is going to start raising, as far as having to understand networks much more. I know just going through this process myself, being somewhat literate before but much more literate now. We’re just going to educate ourselves on the G2S and S2S standards.

CH: If I could add to that, I think one of the things that Michael said earlier is talking about the business engine and the permutations of the analysis that you need to have. The one thing that I’ve always said is, you need the one ring to rule them all, and you need some system that brings all these disparate systems together, whether it’s your CRM, your accounting system, your security, your player tracking system and your database mail and probably everything else. If you have that system, that will help you make some of these decisions. And then maybe actually find out whether those decisions turn out to be good ones or not, would be a nice thing to have as well. But you’re right. The permutations for the floor are incredible now. And it’s also pretty easy to mess it up if you work at it.

MV: Absolutely. It’s very challenging. Just from my days at Bellagio, we had 2,400 slot machines. Now trying to understand game performance, I have a multigame that could have four themes on the game. Some of it could be video, some of it could be stepper if you’re in an MLD type of environment. It doesn’t even matter who the manufacturer is, then you start combining product types within the cabinet. It starts becoming really challenging to wade through all of the information, to find out what exactly is the right configuration that I need to present to my customer that will yield the most benefit.

RL: Knowing and talking about that, if you were to present that to operators today, looking toward the future, how would you prepare them for SBG in the form of infrastructure, system, architecture? Are there any preferred standards that this team would recommend?

CH: I don’t know that I’d be really comfortable answering that question. Other than, I think that we’ve all said it already, that the combination of or the integration of various departments just becomes hugely important. And Mike, you already said this, but working with IT, working with your facilities people, working with the marketing people and then maybe outside developers. All those things come together and you’d better have good working relationships with them. As far as the hardware structure on the floor, there’s a lot of people with a lot of opinions out there as to how that would work. And I think if you have the luxury of building from a new operation, a new floor plan, that’s one thing. Going back and retrofitting to your floors may be totally something different. I know we have a lot of walker duct that’s full.

MV: I think the only thing you could probably agree on is you need a high speed network. And you can get to that a number of different ways, whether you’re running fiber or CAT6, you’re using all different types of network switches. Every IT team is going to find a different way to skin this. But at the end of the day, you need is a high speed, high availability network, in whatever form that comes in.

CH: Well, redundant as you can make it.

RL: What do operators see the product evolving into? And the reason I’m asking this question is because I look at what’s happening in government and what they’re proposing to allow and support, whether it’s intranet or Internet or whatever it’s going to become. This product is evolving into something that makes it more available. And I don’t know if that’s how you guys see it or not and want to get your opinions on what you think this product is going to continue to evolve into as it moves forward.

CH: I think Mike summed it up pretty well. The open architecture of things will allow us to create some compelling and competitive differences. And whether it’s wallet shared or just taking from a competitor or loyalty that I’m building with the guest, or both, I think the application side of server-based is where all of the true future is. To me, everything we do working toward that is what’s going to be important in this deal.

CL: It’s just not at the game level, but it’s got to go way beyond that. And probably the piece that becomes the most important at this time is the GSA protocols, game-to-game, system-to-system, so that suppliers are working on a common language so we can start integrating hotel systems, restaurant systems, casino systems, finance and accounting or anything else, being able to put money on credit at the cage or when you check in at a hotel they have that money put on your room key, play on a machine, or a table, sports book or poker. The ability to go from casino to casino up and down the Strip and your money’s good wherever you go. So I think it’s being able to integrate way beyond the slot floor.

MV: I’ll chime in. I agree with a lot of what these gentlemen have said. When I look at the future of server-based network environments, where we’re at right now, I use the analogy of, look at where the Internet was in the early ‘80s. We got the Internet and the coolest thing you could do was send e-mails to people, which was faster than putting a stamp on an envelope and putting it in the mail and waiting three days later. So we’re kind of doing that now, getting games to the floor faster than we used to. But the real future is when the Internet matured and grew up, all of a sudden you had all of these powerful tools and it became a game changer. No one today owns a computer without the Internet. You have them together. I just can’t imagine anyone ever doing that now. It just becomes something you have to have, kind of de facto. And I think at some point, if we have open source, we can create compelling enough product where it really becomes a game changer. Maybe because of regulatory environments—the example’s a bit extreme—but Apple’s app store for the iPhone … it’s pretty interesting how instead of leveraging all of your intellectual resources and push all that capital out there trying to develop every possible application, concentrate on the source system and other people to develop product that makes your system more relevant. And where I want to be is, no matter what base system I have, if a competing vendor out there has a compelling bonus or a product, I can plug it into that system and I can deploy it to my floor. That’s really what I’m looking for out of an open source system.

CH: Where this all is going to as there’s some other technologies out there that make me a little apprehensive. Think about what you can do with your phone now compared to what you used to do when you had your brick phone. You had your bag you used to have to carry around. There’s a lot of things that we talk about doing via the server on these games now, and then you turn around and see someone already doing that on their phone. It doesn’t scare me but it makes me a little apprehensive about what we can do next to make this a compelling thing on our slot machines. And at the same time, my big worry is, what we have done for many, many years now, from manufacturers and from operators side, we’ve tried to build, for lack of a better description, a trance-like state with our players. We like them to be engrossed in the game. We like their attention to be right on that screen, whether it’s reels spinning or lights blinking. Interrupting them with spam is not something that I look forward to doing. Interrupting them with something that is compelling that makes them want to come back for more or go home and try to complete whatever it is you’re doing at home, or do that at home and come back to your casino to see the result of that. I mean, those kinds of things, I think, are on our future, and do create some kind of compelling, competitive edge.

RL: What should be the next development focus when it comes to manufacturers and hardware software game themes that complement SBG? There’s a lot of things that are happening out there in the industry today, and you’ll have vendors that are coming to your office, offering opportunities for Internet wagering on your own casino site, which is linked into your games or the games that you have on your floor, just to give people an appetite for gambling possibly in your casino with availability to free prizes or merchandise and things like that. Do you see that SBG offers that opportunity to send more of something out to the customers so that they can interact with the casino more effectively?

CH: From our end, we’ve looked at some of that, and in some ways they become regulatory issues here in the sense of allowing the game to be more than a game. So we’re being very cautious in that respect, how our regulator looks at the individual machines and even how games are counted on the floor from a compact standpoint. I do believe that the opportunities are there to be able to lay a bet in your sports book, if you have one, or your race book. Play-away keno was a big deal many years ago, but just to be able to do that kind of thing while you’re sitting, playing your game, I think is going to happen. It probably has to happen.

RL: And the reason why I raise that question is, if you were to give a 10-year focus on development, where would you see the products changing and what would be the primary benefit? If you look back in time, when we first did a multigame into one can, regulators didn’t allow multigames because they had different hold percentages. When they realized the abilities to actually go into the system and calculate a weighted hold, all of a sudden it became a very popular product. But if we were to look at a 10-year focus on something like that, would you see some opportunities there in being able to motivate regulators to embrace it?

CL: I think the regulator’s job is going to become a lot easier, because if I was to go 10 years down the road, I’ve got to believe that there’s no bill validators, there’s no printers, there may not even be a CPU in a game. Everything might be in the server itself. In saying that, really all the regulator’s job might be is looking at software that’s going on the server. So from a game aspect, 10 years down the road, there’s very little that’s happening at the machine.

MV: Yeah it’s interesting. You think about 10 years from now, I think I agree. The regulators would probably have a little bit easier job. There’s a very accurate record of everything that happens—logs record every change to the systems and game. But we need to start looking at what they could be focusing on to complement server-based. I think that the development needs to focus on creating a more compelling gaming experience. I think what people are entertained with today, they won’t be 10 years from now. And the ability for people to multitask increases as we become more exposed to technology in our daily life. And people are going to demand new and creative ways to be entertained. If you look at any business meeting in America, you sit in a room with 20 people, 10 people are on their Blackberrys, texting, reading news updates while they’re in the meeting, listening, taking notes. And that’s just sitting in the meeting. Look at people and how they use the Internet when they’re at home, whether it be gaming or what else, and the use of social media, and keeping track of Twitter, and all these information sources. I just think that as time goes on, the way people want to be entertained is going to change, and SBG gives us a way to layer in games on top of games.

I agree with what was said earlier. We don’t want to spam people. It’s not just getting in front of people’s faces for the sake of that. Now you have an opportunity to say, “OK, here’s a base game. Play this.” And maybe I have an application for a particular section that I can lay on the top. And maybe I have a floor application I lay on top of the game. And maybe I have a multisite application I lay on top of that. I don’t know how this is going to mature, but I just think that fundamentally people are going to change in what they demand from us. Entertainment, and the value from that entertainment, is going to change.

CL: Maybe just to follow up on that, the box is just going to be a dumb terminal. There is not going to be anything there. And I think what happens is the manufacturers wind up finding creative ways of doing math and tying different game themes together. Outcomes will be coming from the server and not from individual boxes. I think it’s going to change the whole gaming experience of what we know today. And it may, at that point in time, be able to become more like games that we see on other gaming systems.

CH: Charlie, I think you just scared a whole bunch of manufacturers, because one of the problems that I’ve seen with server-based gaming now is they don’t really understand how they’re going to make money on this deal. And I think that’s part of the proprietariness of what they’ve been doing and of the open nature of the network and the system. They just don’t know how to make a buck that way. They’re too wrapped up in manufacturing boxes and gameware and haven’t figured out that profit.

CL: And Mike, you said it best, in open architecture, being able to go out and get custom software anywhere. And applying it to our individual operating systems.

CH: Absolutely. We just did that with an iView product, and the manufacturers we were dealing with said “Gee, why didn’t you let us do that and build that for you?” And our answer was, “Well we wanted it like next week.” And we wouldn’t have gotten through the RFP process within a week, so we were able to get somebody from outside to do it and they turned it around in record time and did a wonderful job. It was an interesting and sort of liberating experience.

RL: Without discussing your own property strategies and utilization of SBG, which of the attributes of SBG do you find plays the most significant role in revenue improvements? And I’m asking that question because each time we talk about the purchase or acquisition of SBG servers, there’s always that one question that’s raised about ROI, kind of like TITO. When TITO was put in, we realized a reduction in machine downtime versus coin-operated games producing an increase in coin-in and revenue. Here’s another system sitting out here, when you have your player tracking system, your SBG system, then you have your accounting systems. It’s a lot of systems, and operators with owners are always asking, “How do I put an ROI on this?” So if you were to name something and said, “This is the improvement we expect to receive and this is the reason why,” what would it be?

CH: It’s kind of difficult to say what that is. I mean, there are little pieces and parts. And you’re right, there’s no TITO overwhelming efficiency or anything. Mike, you’re using 3.2 now?

MV: Yes.

CH: I’m still on 3.1 and right now I would really, with my current experience, struggle to give you an answer. There is the immediacy of being able to put new games on the floor. We already talked about that. I call it the Blockbuster model, where you could, not suggesting this is a great thing to do, but you could flood the floor with the hot new game, giving people a chance to play it and reduce the number as play subsides. You can certainly get games out to the market, to the rest of the market quickly. That eight weeks, I think you said, of delay that you’ve experienced before. There’s some yield issues where if you’re busy enough where you could change your denomination of your games, sort of a table games model—not one of my favorites. But it’s certainly there in the right environment. The ability to do mass changes on your floor, should that be necessary? It’s not often that it is, but for example, I just added a bunch of penny machines. If I had a server-based floor I could have done that a lot faster and with a lot less labor than it actually took. So those are some of the immediate things, but those are really big game changers so, at least not in the short term. They may add up in the long term, but I think the other stuff like the bill validator updates, those are all efficiencies that are nice to have, and you should have. But it’s not a reason to go out and buy server-based.

MV: You guys are much further along than I am with this so I’d be more interested, I guess, from your point of view. I don’t know how to value the marketing potential. I think different markets find different things interesting. I think that if you are in a local, highly competitive, high-frequency market, there are certain aspects of the system that you will value more than a low-frequency destination market. So you have to look through the prism of the individual operator in an individual market and weigh the different revenue opportunities, which Chuck mentioned. I agree with everything he said. I think it’s really market by market. Casino by casino will find different aspects of server-based’s potential more compelling than others. I think downloading content in a local, high-frequency market is super compelling, probably more compelling than someone who resides in a destination market who sees their customer once or twice a year. I think different people are going to find different things, and when they produce their ROI, are going to weigh those things differently.

CH: I think the one thing the operator and the manufacturer seem to differ on, and the manufacturers sometimes design things and think we’re going to use them just because we can. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to do stuff. For example, Mike, probably not on your floor, because it’s too new, but I know there’s a lot of casinos out there that have 15, maybe 20-year-old Red White and Blues on their floor, that aren’t conversion targets, not subject to being converted anytime soon, at least until they fall apart, or other games like Blazing 7s. There are games like poker that don’t necessarily get converted very often. So just because we can do something, and we can do it quickly and easily with server-based, doesn’t mean we should. I think we need to learn restraint out of that, as we have a tendency to tick off our guests sometimes more than make them happy.

CL: Who do you trust with the keys to the kingdom? We’re talking about a lot of functionalities that could be changed on the fly, and I hate to say this, but I know in my case, as the corporate VP who was in charge of several casinos, I’m not sure that I’d want all my slot directors to just be able to access the system operating a casino change things on the fly and make those decisions. And most of the times, the decisions they made were for all the wrong reasons. Who do you trust those decisions to? Does a general manager feel comfortable with his team to just be able to say, “Oh, just go change the floor whenever you feel like it.” And then the finance CFO is going to get involved, and IT is going to get involved, and security and surveillance and everybody else. It just becomes a very difficult thing. And Mike, I don’t know how much you’re dealing with that today, but I just see it getting a little bit tough as more functionalities come into the overall scope of what we can do.

MV: Well I think each casino, as they gain functionality, needs to have a strong thought process of what their methodology is going to be. They need to figure out what their strategic plan is. They need to test it through trial and error and do real testing on their floors with control groups, those types of things. Every floor’s a little bit different. Every market’s a little bit different. Customers perceive things differently. Just because you have the functionality doesn’t mean you have to wield it like a club. Maybe it’s a much more surgical tool and you can somehow create incremental revenues using it surgically. But that takes a lot of discipline and testing and control groups, and really having a thoughtful plan on how you’re going to use these things.

RL: Some of the things on the server-based gaming side of life brings many things to mind, and things that we’ve been developing over the years, and even in the Harrah’s organizations in developing a packed CView of being able to look at the relationship of customers as they come through the building and kind of forecasting ahead of time the events that are going to happen, with even the games they like to play. Looking at server-based for the future always has been some sort of predictive modeling engine built around it. Maybe it’s a data cube that’s pumped into, the data that comes out of the games and out of the systems, the player tracking systems that gives us an idea of what it is we have on the casino floor, versus what we should have. We’re always asking our manufacturers, “How much of a leg does a machine title have on the floor on average?” and every casino’s just a little bit different than the last casino. And every jurisdiction’s just a little bit different. Even here in Las Vegas, the difference between a downtown and Strip, or a local market and a tourist market, as far as how much leg each one has in our own properties. And at some point, when we look at that open architecture for the systems, being able to tie that data into a predictive modeling engine gives us the ability to have insight as to where the drop off is to that certain game. It sure gives us a better feel as to what should go on the floor and how much of that product and whether we can oversaturate or undersaturate it on the product, even in denomination. So I always look at this as being the very top of the topics in the building. And for me, all the time with the owners, talking about where server-based gaming should go. First is where it is, where we currently see it. And you guys have obviously hit every aspect of what we currently have, in a very enlightening time that it’s been with you guys. And Mike, I’ve never met you personally, I don’t believe. I met Chuck; I’ve been down to Barona. And I’ve met Charlie and worked with Charlie for the past, I don’t know, I hate to say how many years.

CL: Don’t say it.

RL: But I’m looking forward to visiting ARIA very soon. I haven’t been on the property yet. Just waiting for the dust to settle before actually going over and getting a feel for the architecture and design and just what’s going on over at your facility. But does anybody have anything else?

CH: I have one little parting shot. Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for. Well, often times you have to be careful what you ask for. One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is what the manufacturers are going to do to fill this insatiable desire now, or will be, for game content with server-based gaming. It got easier to do conversions when we went to video games. You didn’t have to order reel strips. And now you’ve got dual glass on your machines and you don’t have to worry about glass and all that stuff. And you’ve got dynamic buttons so I don’t even worry about button panels anymore. The ability to change with server-based is almost instantaneous. What is that going to do to the life expectancy of the game? What’s that going to do to the attention span of the player of that game? And then maybe my other Blockbuster example is the worst way to do this, because if I flood the floor with Coyote Moon 3, and everybody gets to play it first day it’s out, maybe they don’t want to play it on day two. Now I’m looking for Coyote Moon 4, and Coyote Moon 3 only lasted a week. So the manufacturers I think, in supplying the means for us to do this, are hopefully going to supply us with the means to fill the need for new games, content and ideas. You probably deal more, Mike, with that right now than anybody. You have the most machines hooked up to a server. I only have 113.

MV: True, I believe there are diminishing returns on conversions. At some point converting your floor at a certain pace would yield benefit but there is a point of diminishing returns. Like you said, there are examples of the staple games that have been out there for 10-plus years, whether it’s Blazing 7s, Red White and Blue, whatever, there is a certain customer set that gravitates toward that product, and everything else depends on your market place. In a destination market, you see your customers a couple times a year and they may not have that same fatigue on certain slot themes that they might get if they do a larger percentage of gambling in a local market where they see them a couple times a week. I do think it’s a balanced approach, being able to get to the floor quickly does yield something. You’re able to recognize trends, and as the games start falling off, you can react more readily to those trends. But I agree flooding the whole floor, that’s not necessarily the right strategy.

CL: You’re also going to have to get more creative. Set up the casino where gaming machines create little rooms so you can break away different game types and separate same game themes in areas. Be more creative in how you lay out the floor to accomodate new technologies. I don’t know that we’re going to be able to keep a supply and demand of new game themes coming in order to satisfy the customer.

MV: I think you can manage that though. In multi-denom, you typically have the option of cycling an attract sequence where it goes through every theme in the box or you have a default game, and you can manage what your customers see front-facing with different product. You may have more product out there than the customer can actually see based on your default themes that are selectable in the game and also have those games resident as part of the multigame set on other products on the floor. I think you’re right. By managing that, you have that choice on the floor but still the ability to merchandise the product correctly and have the right mix.

CH: That’s a whole new conversation we could spend hours on. I agree with you, the permutations of putting it on default, putting it on the top left of the screen when the people go in to more games, how you present that, what kind of static images are on the screen, I don’t really want to advertise multiplay. I’d rather be advertising a game, and hopefully the right game. Or, does it finally ever get to the point where the guest can just stick their card in and their games pop up no matter where they are. That certainly has an attraction to me, unless they all want to play penny poker on a Saturday night, then I’d probably be looking for a job on Monday. But there’s probably some players that I don’t care what time or day it is. They get to play penny poker because they’re good enough players, or they’re that valuable to me. Maybe penny poker isn’t a good example, but you follow me. I’d love to have that discussion with you.

RL: Sounds good, guys. Is there anything else you want to talk about?

CH: How’s business? (laughs) Never mind, I don’t want to talk about that.

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