Supplier Awards 2011 - Special Awards
Our gongs for the best in electronic casino games and table equipment across AsiaFriday, 01 April 2011
The major change to Inside Asian Gaming’s Supplier Awards in 2011 is the addition of Singapore to the market mix. Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa marked its first anniversary on Valentine’s Day. Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Marina Bay Sands will celebrate its first year in operation in April.
Singapore doesn’t have the baccarat monoculture seen in Macau, where over 90% of gross gaming revenues in 2010 came from live table baccarat. In the Lion City, other table games including blackjack, roulette and craps have significant appeal. This fact—and the strong acceptance of slots and multi-terminal games by the players at the Singapore integrated resorts—has created newopportunities for multiterminal suppliers serving the region.
Our judges are all senior executives in the regional casino industry with detailed practical knowledge on what it takes to create successful products in the high-revenue, high-energy Asia-Pacific region.
We’re also publishing the criteria on which the awards have been based. In most cases, winning products received more than one nomination and similar score weightings from multiple judges, thus creating a majority winner. In cases of deadlock, the weightings were rated against the original judging criteria and the best performer under those criteria was declared the winner.
The judging criteria for electronic games are:
* Revenue performance measured by average daily hold over period of installation (65% of the final assessment).
* Operator floor feedback based on software stability, quality of hardware build, ease of servicing (15% of the final assessment).
* Cost flexibility for operators based on the options made available (such as outright purchase/revenue participation/management contract). This was weighted 15% of the final assessment.
* Crowd pulling appeal of the cabinet and overhead sign (5% of the final assessment).
In the 12 months to December 2010, slot gaming in Macau generated revenues of 8.6 billion patacas (US$1.07 billion). That was a year on year growth of ‘only’ 32.5%. We say ‘only’ because despite the fact that most casino markets outside Asia would be overjoyed with that kind of growth, the live baccarat market in Macau grew 61.7% in the same period. That explains why the contribution of slots to Macau’s overall gaming revenue fell in 2010 to 4.7% from 5.4% a year earlier. The number of slots in the market also fell marginally (2.2%) for the first time since market liberalisation in 2002, ending the year at 14,050 units compared to 14,363 units at year-end 2009. There are, however, anecdotal reports that VIP slot play is making a greater overall contribution to slot revenue than in previous years, mirroring the behaviour seen in the tables market.
Another trend is the growing presence of Asia-based slot and multi-terminal manufacturers in multiple markets. Gaming suppliers based in Asia with Asian managements have been around for many years, but previously they tended to serve domestic markets rather than developing sales internationally. Sometimes—in the case of a manufacturer such as Aruze, it’s a question of a manufacturer with Asian ‘DNA’ but based in the US, capitalising on its North American marketing expertise to create industry-leading products. Sometimes it’s a question of manufacturers based wholly in Asia getting more global in outlook and successfully submitting their products to internationally recognised compliance testing in order to expand their market appeal.
As one of this year’s judges put it: “Major international manufacturers such as Aristocrat, IGT, and Novomatic continue to lead the way in supplying the best performing games. However, there are Asian manufacturers such as Jumbo [Taiwan] Aspect [Macau] and Hydako [South Korea] that are starting to develop their own niche.”
Best Standalone Slot
|Aruze||Memories of Love|
|IGT||Treasures of Troy|
Winner: Aristocrat –50 Dragons
Aristocrat’s 50 Dragons first burst onto the casino scene in 2008, and has consistently proved to be a winner with players and operators, especially in Asia. It has even surpassed the big hit 5 Dragons, launched in 2004.
Honourable Mention: IGT –Treasures of Troy
Best Progressive Slot
|Aristocrat||FA FA FA|
|Bally||Blazing 7s Hot Shot|
|IGT||Classic Freat Escapes|
|WMS||Jackpot Party Progressive|
Winner: Aristocrat – FA FA FA
FA FA FA, an Asian-themed Hyperlink, launched into the region’s markets on Aristocrat’s Viridian cabinet in the autumn of 2008. Available games include three of Aristocrat’s strongest standalone performers in Asian markets—50 Dragons, 5 Dragons and Choy Sun Doa.
Honourable Mention: IGT – Classic Great Escapes
Best Slot Innovation
|Hydako||3D Video Slot|
|WMS||Time Machine Sensory Immersion|
Winner: Aruze – Paradise Fishing
Slots with fish and fishing themes have proved very popular in Asia with at least four major manufacturers releasing titles in the region. The fishing reel built in to each unit of Paradise Fishing definitely makes the product stand out in the market. The Reel Feel™ Gaming Technology gives players the sensation that the fish on the screen has actually taken the bait and is wriggling to escape. That in turn gives players a sense of control and skill with the game, as did the ‘bash’ button on one of last year’s award winners—Aruze’s Lucky Sic Bo.
Honourable Mention: WMS – Time Machine Sensory Immersion
Best Multi-Terminal Product
Multi-terminals—a product category that used to generate much of its Asian sales growth in smaller casinos in secondary markets such as Indochina—have now become a sales success in primary markets such as Macau and Singapore.
There are probably several reasons for that. One is the government cap on live table growth in Macau. This has led operators to look for new ways of offering the excitement and communal feeling of live table games play—but with lower staffing overheads, more hands per hour, no mispays and consequently a lower cost per bet for the players. Another is that in the new casino market of Singapore, many players from the region are already fans of electronic multi-terminal games, having played them in clubs or casinos in neighbouring markets such as Malaysia and Cambodia. A third reason is that the intensification of competition in the multiterminal segment has helped to raise standards all round, creating new value for operators and fresh excitement for players with innovations on some electronic table games such as side bets and improved ergonomics.
Lucky Sic Bo
|Alfastreet||SL Line terminals|
|Novomatic||Novo TouchBet Multiplayer|
|Shuffle Master||Rapid Table Games|
Winner: Alfastreet – SL Line terminals
The 115 SL-M3 terminals installed by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in November complemented the 66 R1SL terminals initially ordered by the property for its opening in February last year. The reduced footprint of the SL-M3 is an important innovation. Floor space is a valuable commodity in all casinos but especially in Singapore where the casino area is capped by the government at a maximum 5% of usable floor space in both casino resorts.
The versatile Alfastreet SL Line terminals are highly configurable. At RWS, the terminals are based around semi-automated wheels that feature a live dealer spinning the ball, whereas the terminals in Marina Bay Sands are based around fully automated wheels without dealers, and the terminals are capable of being reconfigured between semi-auto and fully-auto modes with a simple software upgrade. Alfastreet has also developed multi-game functionality for its terminals, and is currently waiting for approval from Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) in order to roll out the multi-game product in the Lion City.
Honourable Mention: Shuffle Master – Rapid Table Games
It’s not every day that a gaming product gets a special mention in a casino company’s earnings conference call. But that’s what happened in the case of Shuffle Master’s Rapid Table Games installation at Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Marina Bay Sands. The installation was singled out for special praise for its combination of live dealer action and electronic betting providing more games per hour and more security than traditional live tables. Shuffle Master has supplied a total of 370 Rapid units to MBS and 133 to Resorts World Sentosa. On the strength of its Singapore success the company also recently fulfilled an order for two major installations of Rapid Roulette and Rapid Sic Bo at The Venetian Macao.
Honourable Mention: TCSJOHNHUXLEY – Novo Unity II TouchBet Roulette
Best Multi-Terminal Innovation
Selection in this category was at the judges’ discretion and features any product or product area they felt had provided an outstanding contribution to the development of electronic gaming in the Asian casino industry in the last year.
|Aruze||Shoot to Win Craps|
|Aruze||Lucky Sic Bo|
|AutoGaming||Super Odds 1000/1 Roulette|
Winner: Elektroncek – Organic Island
Organic Island makes its appearance in this category as its installations at Resorts World Genting and Resorts World Sentosa were still undergoing regulatory approvals at the time of going to press. The RWS installation is the biggest single Organic Island array in the world with 206 play stations offering multiple games including baccarat and roulette. Such was the scale of the installation that the company reserved a whole Boeing 747 cargo aircraft to transport it from its factory in Slovenia to Singapore.
Honourable Mention: Aruze – Shoot to Win Craps
ELECTRONIC GAMING PERIPHERALS
Digital technology has allowed slot peripherals such as printers and bill acceptors to become increasingly ‘smart’. It has also allowed them to become increasingly reliable, flexible and integrated with the operator’s floor. All these qualities help to maintain and build casino profitability by reducing machine down time and reducing revenue leakage from technical error or fraud. These capabilities also make for a better player experience because there are fewer frustrating ticket-in-ticket-out (TITO) breakdowns or bill acceptance errors.
The judging criteria are:
* Operator floor feedback based on software stability, quality of hardware build, ease of servicing and upgrade, modularity (weighted at 60% of the final assessment).
* Player friendliness based on ease of use, robustness, level of intelligence, player interaction (weighted at 20% of the final assessment).
* Interoperability and integration based on ability to plug and play, linkage to operator’s back of house functions (weighted at 20% of the final assessment).
Best Electronic Gaming Peripheral — Bill Acceptor
|Aruze||Shoot to Win Craps|
|Aruze||Lucky Sic Bo|
Winner: MEI – CASHFLOW SC
CASHFLOW SC’s accurate and robust performance was praised along with its modular design. Customers can remove the head of CASHFLOW SC to upgrade to the next generation SC Advance rather than having to swap out the whole unit. MEI says CASHFLOW SC was specified as the preferred bill acceptor for all slot machines selected for the two Singapore casino properties.
Honourable Mention: JCM – UBA-14-SS
The GEN2 printer is the second-generation ticket-in, ticketout (TITO) printer by FutureLogic. Its proprietary Intelligent Ticket Handling technology ensures that cash out tickets are fully printed before being ejected from the slot machine. To improve the printer’s reliability further, the IntelligentBezel feature detects for obstruction near the bezel and reduces paper jams, by waiting for a clear path before a ticket is ejected. A separate port is provided for convenient firmware upgrades without the need to remove the printer from the slot machine.
Best Electronic Gaming Peripheral — Printer
|Aruze||Shoot to Win Craps|
Winner: TransAct – Epic 950
This category was a two-horse race between two quality products. Opinion tipped in favour of TransAct’s Epic 950. High reliability, ease of integration, and the ability to easily swap the printer between one device and another have been cited as reasons for the success of the Epic 950. Others include dual port capability allowing the product to be linked to a network and so enable property-wide or player-specific coupons to be printed. Strong sales and service support from the local TransAct team were also highlighted for praise.
Honourable Mention: FutureLogic
The GEN2 printer, the second generation TITO printer by FutureLogic, builds on the success of its predecessor the PSA-66-ST, maintaining the latter’s robustness and reliability. The GEN2 printer offers improvements such as ITH (Intelligent Ticket Handling) technology, IntelligentBezel system, and ProColor printing.
Best Electronic Signage
Over time, casino signage has transformed itself from straightforward advertising and direction finding to become an integral part of casino marketing.
The judging criteria for best electronic game signage were:
* Crowd pulling appeal based on packaging and attractiveness (weighted at 50% of the final assessment).
* Daily operation judged by software stability, quality of hardware build, ease of servicing (25% of the final assessment).
* System integration based on ease of operation and ability to integrate into operator’s back office and marketing systems (weighted at 25% of the final assessment).
JackpotJunction XL/ CastNet
|Orion Art||Customised signage|
|Paltronics||One Link Media System|
Winner: Gaming Support – JackpotJunction XL/CastNET
Gaming Support’s JackpotJunction XL/CastNET has arguably helped to move the market for casino signage forward by offering a modular and server-based system that integrates the management of all signs and sign functions across a whole floor. The system went live at the opening of Resorts World Sentosa in February last year. It followed the successful introduction of the product at City of Dreams in Macau in 2009.
Honourable Mention: Paltronics – One Link Media System
TABLE GAMING SUPPLIES
Many of the benefits of digital technology and networking that have so transformed the slots and multiplayer segments are also having an impact on table gaming. The benefits of technology can be seen even in what appears on the surface to be a relatively low-tech, traditional casino supply product such as playing cards. Many casino grade cards now have highly complex manufacturing processes to reduce the risk of shoe malfunction or dealing errors.
Best Table Gaming Essential
This category covers cards and dice. In the table gaming-focused markets of Asia, it’s not surprising that operators unanimously chose playing cards as their nominated products in the Table Gaming Essential section.
|Angel Playing Cards||
Casino Angel pre-shuffled cards
|Gemaco||Gem Pro Casino playing cards|
|United States Playing Card Company||KEM casino plastic cards|
Winner: Casino Angel pre-shuffled cards
In Asia, a large casino can use 10,000 card decks in a single day. Even a 0.1% inaccuracy rate in card printing or general manufacture would mean 10 faulty decks per day. That’s too many from a casino management’s viewpoint and from a regulator’s perspective. The accuracy of Angel’s pre-shuffled casino grade products makes the company the leader in the segment in Asia. Singapore’s two integrated resorts both exclusively chose Angel, and the company continues to dominate the Macau market.
Honourable Mention: United States Playing Card Company – KEM casino plastic cards
Best Table Utility Product
This category includes shoes, shufflers and chippers.
Angel Eye Shoe
|Shuffle Master||Easy Chipper|
|TCSJOHNHUXLEY||Chipper Champ Plus|
|USPCC||Bee Electronic Baccarat Dealing Shoe|
Winner: Shuffle Master – MD2 Shuffler
The MD2 Shuffler continues to set high standards in the regional industry for its ability to cope with high volumes of table play accurately and securely. It combines multideck batch shuffling with optical recognition of every card that passes through it. Its patented platform and gripper system dramatically reduces card wear-and-tear and ensures q u i e t e r ma c h i n e operation.
Honourable Mention: Angel – Angel Eye Shoe
Best Table Gaming Peripheral
Table peripherals include applications of sophisticated technology such as radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and plaques. They also include tableside displays that help players— especially Asian baccarat table players—follow one of their favourite pastimes: namely, trying to identify patterns in betting and outcomes.
|Gaming Partners International||Bourgogne & Grasset RFID plaques|
|Matsui||MG Eye-MB chip authenticator|
Winner: Gaming Partners International – Bourgogne & Grasset RFID plaques
Gaming Partners International (GPI) is the dominant supplier of chips and plaques in the Macau and Singapore markets. The company has been a key player in the development of the modern Macau gaming market, first supplying chips to the territory’s former monopoly operator STDM nearly five decades ago. The company’s recent acquisition from IGT of the rights to Progressive Gaming’s RFID technology could lead to further innovation in the sector. In November, it was announced that GPI had been chosen to supply the casino at Galaxy Macau—the new Cotai resort opening on 15th May—with one million casino chips and plaques. The value of the order represents GPI’s largest single order for a new casino opening.
Honourable Mention: Matsui - RFID chips
Best Table Gaming Innovation
Selections for this category were made at the discretion of the judges, who were instructed to choose any product they felt had provided an outstanding contribution to the development of the Asian casino table gaming industry in the last year.
|TCSJOHNHUXLEY||Omni Baccarat Display|
|Walker Digital||Perfect Pay baccarat|
Winner: TCSJOHNHUXLEY – Omni Baccarat Display
Table side baccarat displays are vital for Asian players who often bet according to perceived patterns in results. They also act as unofficial advertising boards, informing players some distance away at another table if some ‘lucky’ patterns are emerging. The displays, therefore, need to do simple things well. They need to be easy to read, robust, reliable, and easy to install and service. TCSJOHNHUXLEY’S Omni Baccarat Display fulfils these functions extremely well, according to the judges. It can display two languages at a time and comes pre-loaded with a variety of ‘skins’ for the graphics. It also has an easy to use colour coded pad for table staff to input results.
Honourable Mention: DEQ Systems – EZ Baccarat
The following two awards were made at the editor’s discretion, after consideration of industry developments and feedback from various operators, players and suppliers.
Best Asian Supplier
Winner: Weike Gaming Technology
Weike Gaming Technology marked 2010 with a triple success. It was named an approved supplier of gaming equipment by the Singapore government after rigorous background checks on its management and business structure. It continued running its wide area systems business without a glitch, and widened its systems client base in Singapore and Malaysia. Then in December, the company’s subsidiary Weike (G) Management Macau Ltd took over the operation of 170 slot machines and electronic game terminals at one of the recently-opened Macau casinos. The machines had previously been operated by another outside party. This added to the 237 slots the Weike subsidiary also runs at another casino site in downtown Macau.
Regulatory compliance and market acceptance (when competing against major Western-based suppliers with well developed compliance and marketing support teams) are probably the biggest hurdles facing Asia-owned and -based manufacturers. Weike’s ability to build its market presence in the key gaming jurisdictions of Macau and Singapore through a combination of regulatory acumen and strategic partnership is what earns the company this award.
Winner: Bally – Cash Spin
Bally’s Cash Spin product has already been a big hit in North America and may produce similar excitement in key Asian markets. Cash Spin utilises Bally’s U-Spin gesture-control play mechanic, which allows players to touch the screen and spin a virtual wheel, with a chance to win marketing dollars. “In the US, Cash Spin is a premium game title for Bally, which means it is placed and operated on a daily fee or participation basis,” Cath Burns, Managing Director and Vice President of Asia-Pacific for Bally Technologies, said in an interview published in last month’s issue of Inside Asian Gaming. Cash Spin has become the fastest selling premium game title in Bally’s history.
Honourable Mention: Walker Digital Gaming – Perfect Pay baccarat
Perfect Pay has faced some developmental challenges on its journey into Asian markets. But the product is a good example of the value of innovation. It’s what drives markets forward and provides fresh value for operators, players and investors. Any live table product holding the promise of live dealer gaming with the reporting and analytical capabilities of a slot accounting system is in our view worth the industry’s close attention.