Scientific Game

Supplier Awards 2014

Asia now stands in the forefront of gaming industry innovation, which pleases us more than ever to announce the winners of Inside Asian Gaming’s Supplier Awards 2014. We salute the developers and suppliers and the casino operators along with them who have made this happen through their commitment to providing a more entertaining and satisfying experience for the consumer and a more rewarding business for their stakeholders. As the technological bar continues to rise we’ve come to realize that revenue performance, while it may be the final word in assessing the ultimate value of innovation, is not the only one. Accordingly, our panel of experts, all senior casino executives, gave considerable weight to player feedback. The perspective their staffs brought to the process also factored in a big way. The extensive knowledge of our judges and their wealth of hands-on experience were our most valuable resources, and we wish to thank them for generously sharing both.  

Monday, 05 May 2014 15:01
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ELECTRONIC GAMES

The flow of new titles onto Asia’s slot floors slowed dramatically over much of the last year. This was mostly due to the internal dynamics of the Macau market. Part of it was the result of a new get-tough regulatory stance by the government’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which crimped the development pipeline right where it opens out to the end users, the casinos. The other factor was the difficulty in finding space for new games in an environment where demand at the public tables has outstripped square footage to the point where average bet sizes are going through the roof and operators can do little but focus on the monster yields this is delivering them. The 12 months through December 2013 saw the number of slots on Macau’s floors decline by 21%. The fact that south China is generally recognized now as Asia’s proving ground for new product—this by virtue of the sizeable revenues Macau’s machines are throwing off, more than US$1.79 billion in 2013, and that’s not counting the boom in live-dealer ETGs—meant the impact on the rest of the region was profound as well. Not surprisingly, the cold hard facts of performance carried special weight in our Supplier Awards 2014. But that’s been a good thing. Macau’s slots generated 8% more revenue in 2013 than they did in 2012 in a market that was lighter by more than 3,400 machines. Clearly, the manufacturers are rising to the challenges. In our view they’ve more than earned the recognition we hope to provide them in the pages that follow.

Best Standalone Slot

Nominees: 

Manufacturer

Title

Aristocrat

5 Dragons

Aristocrat

5 Dragons Legends

Aristocrat

5 Dragons Deluxe

Aristocrat

50 Dragons Deluxe

Aristocrat

Fortune King

Aristocrat

Fortune King Deluxe

Weike

Qin Shi Huang

 

Winner: Aristocrat – Five Dragons Legends

Aristocrat so completely dominated the list of nominees our judges submitted for this year’s “Best Standalone Slot” that when the votes were tallied it was no surprise to find 5 Dragons Legends on top for the third straight year. Aristocrat knows how to play a hot hand. Its success across Asia—and in Macau in particular, where its market share is estimated at better than 60%—is built on games tailored like no others to the preferences of Asian players. Of the several that have proven so popular they’ve emerged as brands in their own right, 5 Dragons still comes foremost to mind. It was the title that established the slot machine as a contender for the spend of Macau’s growing mass market with that selectable volatility feature that delivered RTPs Chinese gamblers could relate to. The Legends series was introduced back in 2011 specifically to extend the popularity of this Reel Power classic, and it continues to win fans with its enhanced graphics package and potent mix of higher win multipliers and options in the free games feature that let players pick either six games with multipliers up to 40 times or a “Mystery Choice” in the form of a “Pink Dragon” that picks both the freebies and the multiplier at random.

Honourable Mention: Aristocrat – Fortune King

Few games are as synonymous with Macau’s slot market as Fortune King. The King has enjoyed a long life and won high marks from our judges again in 2014 thanks in no small part to its reissue in an enhanced Deluxe version featuring increased multipliers and more free games, with two additional ante bet options, and all of it displayed in an even more striking visual package.

 

Best Progressive Slot
Nominees: 

Manufacturer

Title

Aristocrat

FA FA FA

SHFL Entertainment

Duo Fu Duo Cai

IGT

Megabucks

 

Winner: SHFL – Duo Fu Duo Cai

Duo Fu Duo Cai surged past some strong competition in 2013 to win “Best Progressive” in its first full year on Asia’s slot floors. In recognition of the legions of fans this colorful, featurerich four-level link continues to win in Macau and across the region, our judges chose it hands-down again this year. Fitted atop such stalwart titles as 88 Fortunes and 5 Treasures, Duo Fu Duo Cai’s arsenal includes stacked symbols and as many as 10 free games and a link jackpot win in the feature. The highlight is its unique “All Up” game style, an elaborately themed element where all lines are always in play even at the minimum onecredit bet. As players buy more “Gold” symbols they access a higher-paying scorecard and more opportunities to win a progressive jackpot. There are lots of ways to translate Duo Fu Duo Cai from the Chinese—“much luck, good fortune, much treasure” or simply “money”—and for SHFL Entertainment and a growing list of casino operators it’s meant all of them.

Honorable Mention: Aristocrat – FA FA FA

Fa Fa Fa was Aristocrat’s first Hyperlink designed for Asian players, and it’s still one of the region’s most popular games. Our judges gave it high marks again this year for the legendary performers configured underneath it—5 Dragons, 50 Dragons, Choy Sun Doa and Lucky 88 among them—and for such unique features as its randomly triggered game-within-a-game feature and an interactive touchscreen that lets players select any of the “Shrine” symbols in the second screen to reveal either a “Grand, Major, Minor” or “Mini” jackpot character. Any three-symbol match is a win.

Best Slot Innovation
Nominees: 

Manufacturer

Title

Aruze

Aladdin and The Lamp

Aruze

The Gold

Aruze

Alibaba

Bally

Fu Dao Le

Bally

Titanic

 

Winner: Aruze – The Gold

Bally Technologies is selling more games outside of North America than ever before— about 20% currently from only 6% less than a decade ago—and is investing heavily in the Asia-Pacific region to push those numbers higher. The Las Vegas-based slot giant is amassing a portfolio of licensed titles it sees as integral to this effort, headlined by iconic names calculated to deliver sure-fire global recognition, like Michael Jackson King of Pop, which arrived on Asia’s slot floors only within the last several months and is proving already to be one of the more compelling of the group. Fitted on Bally’s robust Pro Series V22/32 cabinet, it’s a dazzling, music-filled game experience packed with mystery wilds and free game bonus events that unfold to the hit sounds of the late, great superstar. Features include a player-activated U-Spin Platinum Record Bonus and video clips of Michael performing “Bad, Beat It, Billy Jean, Dirty Diana, Smooth Criminal” and other hits via state-of-the-art audio provided by the Pro surround-sound chair.

Honorable Mention: Bally Technologies – Fu Dao Le

Bally’s Fu Dao Le is a progressive aimed squarely at the Chinese customer with one of the most engagingly playable packages he or she is likely to find on the floor. Housed in the stylish Alpha Pro Wave cabinet, Fu Dao Le (meaning “luck, or fortune, has arrived”) offers five jackpot levels and free games that start at eight and can be re-triggered when more of the “Gong” symbols appear that brought the player into the initial bonus. Jackpots are awarded in the Progressive Pick feature, which is triggered by three stacked wilds that can be “nudged” up or down to launch the feature. Players pick from among 15 “Coins” until three of the same kind (“Mini, Minor, Major” or “Maxi”) are matched up to a top prize of 888,800 credits. But the big-money action doesn’t stop there. Every spin at any bet level has the potential to land a player in the Red Envelope Banked Progressive when any combination of two scattered “Red Envelope” symbols appear on reels 1 and 5.

Best Multi-Terminal Product

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Aruze

Lucky Sic Bo

Aruze

Roulette Angels

Aruze

Shoot to Win Craps

Jumbo Technology

Long Dragon Baccarat

LT Game

Live Table Multi-Game System

SHFL Entertainment 

Rapid Table Games

 

Winner: LT Game – Live Table Multi-Game System

It’s all but impossible now to cross a casino floor in Macau and not see a bank of LT terminals or scores of them arrayed in amphitheater settings around a raised stage where their live dealers work ceaselessly beneath the cameras. At some properties entire rooms are devoted to them. As a low-cost, high-yield alternative in a market where demand is pushing minimum bets at live baccarat beyond the reach of many players, their numbers continue to soar, increasing by around 50% over this time last year and now approaching 3,000 units. Far from content to rest on its success, LT is continually upgrading the customizable software and the design of the player interface to keep the experience fresh, comfortable and conducive to more extended play. But that’s the inner beauty of the Live Table Multi-Game System: it’s a highly flexible platform as well, capable of supporting any number of terminal configurations both for ticket and cash play and available in two slanttop styles. It also provides player-tracking and VIP client alert functionalities and supports an array of direct-marketing features that can be delivered in varieties ranging from Flash-enabled advertisements to notices of special drawings, jackpots and tournaments.

Honorable Mention: Aruze – Lucky Sic Bo

With its super-sized dice and its inimitable “bash button” to set them in motion, Lucky Sic Bo has been holding its own across the region for more than four years running. It shows off all the strengths of Aruze’s innovative G-Station series—the dazzling colors and crisp graphics, the eye-catching overhead display, the extraspacious player interface, the configurable seating—with a one-of-a-kind alternative to the traditional Chinese game that continues to intrigue players with the illusion that they, not an electromechanical wobble plate, can determine the outcome of the roll. Extras include a progressive side bet and a feature that provides players a chance to double their win.

Best Multi-Terminal Innovation

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Aruze

Lucky Big Wheel

Aruze

Lucky Sic Bo

Jumbo

Long Dragon Baccarat

SHFL

Entertainment

Fusion

 

Winner: SHFL Entertainment – Fusion

When Singapore’s two resort casinos opened in 2010 under statutory limits on slot numbers and casino square footage it provided SHFL a rare opportunity to showcase the reputation it’s long held in the US as one of the great innovators in table games. SHFL seized it. Its Rapid series of electronic baccarat, Sic Bo and roulette hybrids quickly established themselves as mainstays of the market and have been making inroads region-wide. Fusion improves on the formula with even more options—from a fully electronic version to multi-terminal and multi-game configurations that can be linked to virtual, hybrid and live games. Modular, scalable, designed for customization, it provides operators with a wealth of stylish, space-saving options, from the smallest environments to the most expansive stadium-style layouts to single-terminal “satellite” deployments for remote play anywhere on the floor via a direct feed. Fusion is compatible with SAS and TITO play and like Rapid supports a full suite of player-tracking and accounting and auditing tools.

Honorable Mention: Jumbo Technology – Long Dragon Baccarat

Long Dragon Baccarat has made a sizeable impact in the region by marketing directly to the age-old belief that outcomes move in trends waiting to be exploited by gamblers with the patience and savvy and imaginativeness to spot them. Its multi-terminal platform links a player to up to eight active tables and each is conveyed in a rich virtual environment brought vividly to life on a 47-inch widescreen. Long Dragon is versatile as well, SAS-compatible, supportive of both cash and ticket play and available with an optional side bet and a “mystery” jackpot. It even features a configurable “squeeze-card” function. The player interface has been thought through with similar precision. The 15-inch touchscreen is easy to navigate, the play buttons are extra-large and “re-bets” can be made automatically.

ELECTRONIC GAMING PERIPHERALS

Ticket printers, bill validators and electronic displays are the foot soldiers of the slot revenue wars. They exist to keep the cash flowing and the tickets printing and the lights and colors flashing, millions of times a day, every day, without a problem or hitch. They are the first point of contact between the player and the game in most cases and almost always the last. Their value is part and parcel of their reliability and functionality and the ease with which they can be installed, used and maintained, and in these capacities they are vital to the  performance of their host, which means the best ones are the ones you never notice, and our judges assessed them accordingly, and what they came up with in the process is an array of technologies that never cease to amaze us in the process of describing them.

Best Electronic Gaming Peripherial – Bill Acceptor
Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

JCM

iVIZION

MEI

Cashflow SC

 

Winner: MEI – CASHFLOW SC

The Cashflow SC was our judges’ top pick among bill acceptors because, quite simply, it is unsurpassed for security, speed and efficiency. Compact, easy to install and maintain, it combines RFID-enabled data-gathering with the transmission capabilities of MEI’s Easitrax Soft Count in a platform that is also backwards-compatible with its heir-apparent, the SC Advance, so operators never have to wonder whether they’re getting the state of the art in first-time acceptance rates for valid street-grade banknotes. There’s more too: like faster bill-to-bill speed, comprehensive bar-code recognition, expanded memory to allow for recognition of more currencies and denominations and a USB 2.0 upgrade to speed up communications with the host machine and allow also for the addition of even more functionalities.

Honourable Mention: JCM – iVIZION

The heart of the iVIZION is its unique Contact Image Sensor Technology, which delivers better than a 99% acceptance rate on valid banknotes and near-total counterfeit protection. Two high-speed processors, a sealed note path and a patented, removable stacker mechanism ensure the green stuff always flows smoothly, quickly and efficiently, while the RFID ICB cashbox has the data-capturing and transmission well in hand. The iVIZION has deservedly secured its place as the flagship for JCM’s fleet of “intelligent validation” technologies and as a fixture in casinos worldwide.

Best Electronic Gaming Peripheral – Printer
Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

FutureLogic

GEN2 Universal

TranAct

Epic 950

 

Winner: FutureLogic – GEN2 Universal

For the second consecutive year our judges made the GEN2 their top pick among printer technologies. The GEN2’s reputation for reliability, interoperability and ease of integration is almost legendary. Intelligent Ticket Handling, as it’s called, is what lies at the robust heart of it, ensuring tickets are fully printed and automatically burst before being released from the machine. Right behind it is IntelligentBezel, which significantly cuts down on jams by scanning for obstructions and waiting for a clear path before a ticket is ejected. The enhanced memory package can store hundreds of clip art objects and thousands of graphic templates. In-game firmware updates are easy to complete via a USB port so there’s no need to extract the printer from its host, and when it is removed the GEN2 is “hot swappable” so the unit doesn’t have to be powered down.

Honorable Mention: TransAct – Epic 950

The Epic 950 likewise enjoys enormous trust among operators for its reliability. TransAct’s comprehensive sales and service support also earned it points with our judges. The 950’s portability is another strength. It can be switched out among different games, and its dual port capability allows it to be linked to a network, enabling coupons to be printed according to player-specific criteria and/or to support a property-wide marketing initiative.

Best Electronic Signage

This year’s nominees were assessed on the basis of their attractiveness and of course the crowd-pulling appeal of the packaging. Also taken into consideration were interoperability and ease of deployment and use, as well as the underlying strength of the hardware and software.

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Simtech

Duo Fu Duo Cai

Paltronics

OneLink 3E

 

Winner: Paltronics – OneLink 3E

Crowd-pulling appeal was of course the first consideration for our judges in assessing game signage. The underlying technologies were weighed accordingly, with performance naturally ranked as Job 1. Overall attractiveness figured prominently as well. The 2013 field was narrower than in years past, which goes back to the fact that the region didn’t see the release of all that many new games, and it made the voting close. OneLink is total system incorporating video, animation, live streaming, text and other media designed to provide operators with the ability to centrally manage a complete range of digital content on any display at any property, even across multiple properties. It encompasses overhead, bank-level and top-box displays, table game and poker room displays, in-machine player-tracking and most of the critical points of contact with the customer—including interactive way-finders, hotel room channels, spa and fitness areas, conference centers, bars, elevators and backof- house. OneLink’s popularity is inseparable from the fact that it is so modular and customizable, providing management the power to deliver gaming and entertainment information, messaging and promotions either floor-wide or directly to the customer.

Honorable Mention: Simtech Gaming Products

Simtech has amassed a wealth of expertise over the 15 years it has been crafting customized jackpot theme displays and animations for casinos and clubs across the Asia-Pacific region. It’s why SHFL Entertainment turned to this Queenslandbased innovator for the colorfully compelling imagery that has been integral to the successful marketing of Duo Fu Duo Cai, one of the most popular linked progressives in the industry.

TABLE GAMING 

The largest table games market in the world has a problem—Macau hasn’t enough supply to cope with a demand boom that is pushing bet sizes to unheard of heights. It requires that casinos think about yield maximization in entirely new ways and game and currency security, the integrity of the reporting and auditing process, dealer efficiency, player rating and credit and not least of all the entertainment value of the experience they exist to provide, which takes in the speed and efficiency of play and its quality and variety. It’s made them more open to innovation and to new technologies, and they’ve displayed a refreshing willingness to experiment with reinterpretations of traditional games and game formats. The impact of all this is being felt to enormous benefit in markets across the region.

Best Table Gaming Currency

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Abbiati Casino Equipment

Chips and plaques

Gaming Partners International

Bourgogne & Grasset chips and plaques

Matsui Gaming Machine Co.

Chips and plaques

 

Winner: Gaming Partners International– Bourgogne & Grasset plaques and jetons

From offices in Macau, Las Vegas and the Burgundy region of France, Gaming Partners International is uniquely positioned to offer a global clientele the finest currencies for the pit. The plaques and jetons manufactured by Bourgogne & Grasset have been the industry standard in Europe for decades, and they enjoy the same renown in the two largest table game markets in the world, Macau and Singapore, where our judges gave them top marks for durability, security and beauty. The sophisticated manufacturing processes B&G has honed over the years provide operators with a wealth of options in terms of colors, materials, shapes and sizes and, importantly, the state of the art in security features and technologies, everything from lunettes and lace and lame overlays to UV-ELP and radio frequency identification.

Honorable Mention: Matsui Gaming Machine Co. – Matsui Chips

Tokyo-based Matsui has always prided itself on the reputation it’s earned as a one-stop shop for everything in table games. More recently, the company has made currencies a strategic priority and opened a purposebuilt manufacturing plant outside Seoul (the company supplies all the table game equipment for Kangwon Land, South Korea’s largest casino), to bring together the latest techniques and processes and an experienced eye for quality materials. The currencies it’s turning out are gaining a creditable reputation for their workmanship, aesthetic appeal and innovative security features. Matsui is equally serious about backing up the product with service and support and has expanded with offices in Macau, South Korea, Eastern and Western Europe and Las Vegas.

Best Table Gaming Essential

This category covers cards and dice, wheels, shakers and furniture.

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Angel Playing Cards

CASINO ANGEL pre-shuffled cards

TCSJOHNHUXLEY

Roulette wheels

Cammegh

Roulette wheels

 

Winner: Angel Playing Cards – CASINO ANGEL pre-shuffled cards

A large casino in Asia will go through as many as 10,000 decks of cards in a single day. Even a 0.1% inaccuracy rate in printing or general manufacture would mean 10 faulty decks per day. That’s too many from management’s viewpoint and from a regulator’s perspective. The accuracy and quality of Angel’s pre-shuffled casino-grade products make the company the sector leader throughout the region. Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa rely on its cards exclusively. Not surprisingly, Angel is utterly dominant in baccaratcentric Macau, a market that devours playing cards like no other in the world.

Honorable Mention: TCSJohnHuxley – Roulette wheels

TCSJohnHuxley’s flagship Mark VII is arguably the most popular roulette wheel in the world, and the London-based company continues to move nimbly with the times with its innovative Saturn and Gemini lines. Our judges liked the fail-safe accuracy the Saturn affords by virtue of its three embedded reading devices and a technology it employs known as Data Logger that captures and audits the information both for display at the table and in an array of analytical reports. The Gemini got high marks for versatility. It fits on any live table and can also operate in a fully automated setting, and it features the same robust data-gathering and reporting functionalities. Saturn and Gemini also interface with third-party systems, another strong selling point.

Best Table Utility Product

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

Angel Playing Cards

ANGEL EYE shoe

SHFL

Entertainment

MD3 shuffler

SHFL

Entertainment

one2six

Multi Deck Shuffler

TCSJOHNHUXLEY

Chipper Champ 

 

Winner: Angel Playing Cards – SUPER ANGEL EYE shoe

There is a reason Kyoto, Japan based Angel enjoys a 90% share of the global market for electronic baccarat shoes—it’s called ANGEL EYE, and it’s recognized as the state of the art for security and reliability. An enhanced version, the new SUPER ANGEL EYE, won high marks from our judges for a number of improvements, notably its superior security features and braking mechanism. The core strength of the ANGEL EYE lies with its ability to significantly reduce dealer error and minimize the possibility of cheating by virtue of a unique proprietary “code” printed on each card. It’s why more than 5,000 of the systems have been sold and deployed in markets worldwide and why it’s found on more than 80% of the baccarat tables in Macau.

Honorable Mention: SHFL Entertainment – one2six Multi Deck Shuffler

SHFL’s one2six is a versatile solution designed for multi-deck games like blackjack but fully capable of replacing a shoe on face-up baccarat. SHFL claims it increases hands per hour by as much as 20%. That’s a big win number in a high-volume setting. The one2six achieves it via technology that ensures a smooth and continuous supply of cards and includes critical features such as automatic verification of deck quantities prior to and during play. Our judges liked the fact that it’s a flexible solution as well, capable of working with all card types and vendors.

Best Table Gaming Technology

This category includes RFID applications and solutions, jackpot and management systems and bonusing and displays.

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

DEQ

Real Link 

Gaming Partners International

RFID chip trays

TCSJOHNHUXLEY

Omni Baccarat Display

Walker Digital

Perfect Pay

 

Winner: Walker Digital – Perfect Pay

RFID microchips, or “tags,” as they’re known, have been popular for years in chip inventory systems, but it took US-based Walker Digital, the brainchild of Priceline founder Jay Walker, to adopt the power of the technology to the baccarat table. Perfect Pay is the label for an expanding network of solutions pioneered by Mr Walker, the heart of which is an RFID tag in the game chip that works in conjunction with sensors hidden under the felt to track bets and handle outcomes, payouts and player ratings in real time and with 100% accuracy. To the player it looks and feels like a normal baccarat table, but the casino knows better. In a game where the house edge is so small and the volumes so big, the ability to reduce or eliminate dealer error, flawed ratings and overpaying on comps, not to mention fraud and counterfeiting, if it adds even a basis point of margin improvement, can mean hundreds of millions of dollars. Which is why Perfect Pay’s rollout in Asia continues to gather momentum since its 2009 debut at Malaysia’s Genting Highlands, where it proved its mettle in the first 18 months by handling more than 2 million individual bets—the equivalent of US$900 million in volume— without a significant hitch.

Honorable Mention: TCSJohnHuxley – Omni Baccarat Display

The popular Omni Baccarat Display is now available in a traditional Asian format in an easy-to-read table- or wall-mounted package that shows all the results—including naturals, pairs, bet sizes and the five main “roads” for keeping score—together with running tallies and an explanation of the symbols. There is also a “lookahead” indicator to help players with their betting decisions. It’s all part of a feature-rich system that comes equipped with a library of skins for customizing graphics. Game information or promotional messages can be quickly inserted for scrolling along the bottom in any language (and two languages at once). It also includes a full suite of tools for generating reports on-screen or for copying to a USB drive. Optional server networking rounds out this extremely versatile product.

Best Table Gaming Innovation

Selections for this category were made at the discretion of the judges, who were invited to choose any product they felt had provided an outstanding contribution to the development of the table gaming industry in Asia over the past year.

Nominees:

Manufacturer

Title

MGM Macau/IGT

Golden Chip

Sands China

Dragon Element Roulette

Sands China

Fast Action Baccarat

SHFL Entertainment

iTable

 

Winner: MGM Macau/International Game Technology – Golden Chip

MGM Macau joined forces with slot giant IGT earlier this year to bring a unique mystery progressive bonus to baccarat—unique because Golden Chip, as it’s called, doesn’t require a side bet for entry into the big money action, any player can trigger it at any time, the jackpot is constantly live, and that makes for a uniquely immersive and exciting experience. Linked initially to 16 tables, management thoughtfully spiced things up for the launch with a prize pool of $8,888,888. Golden Chip is available currently only to seated, rated members of the property’s Golden Lion Club, but management says it’s attracting new players, and they’re so pleased with the performance they’re talking about expanding the concept to other games.

Honorable Mention: Sands China – Dragon Element Roulette

The introduction of Fast Action Baccarat at The Venetian Macao last spring showed the creative lengths Sands China is prepared to go to attack the city’s problem of too many players chasing too few tables. Dragon Element Roulette, unveiled not long after, is the second tool in the arsenal. Everything about Dragon Element is the same as the traditional game except the things that are different, and these are significant, as each is designed to channel deep into the psyche of the Chinese gambler. Borrowing a feature central to the appeal of baccarat, the numbers are arranged on the wheel in sequential order, 0-36, to allow players to exploit trends they believe they’ve identified. Then there is the nod to Sic Bo. The wheel is spun automatically beneath LCD-coated glass that turns opaque once the ball goes into motion so the winning number initially is hidden, heightening the anticipation. Players may also bet after the ball has landed, which plays into the belief in one’s ability to influence random outcomes. Then there is the symbolism, the most prominent, as the name implies, is the “dragon,” a portent of power, wealth and luck. Its imagery sprawls across the felt and commands the action in the form of a glass sculpture atop the turret. The five mythological elements of gold, wood, earth, water and fire are worked in as well. And a bit of feng shui is tossed in for good measure. The tables (five were deployed in the early going) are sectioned off with pillars intricately depicting the five elements and crowned with an arch draped by a swirling gold-colored dragon.

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