Scientific Game

Terminal Velocity

LT Game dominates Macau’s live-dealer multi-game market—for good reason

Monday, 28 May 2012 12:55
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Live Table Multi-Game at The Venetian Macao

If you’re following the prodigious growth of machine gaming in Macau and you haven’t heard of LT Game, you’ll want to remember the name. This locally-based electronic table games innovator, a division of Hong Kong-listed Paradise Entertainment, has quietly cornered about 8% of the peninsula’s floor space in machine games and will be adding to that with placements in at least two more casinos before the year is out.

Paradise Chairman and Managing Director Jay Chun wants LT’s sleek, customizable player terminals with their distinctive skins of black or metallic gold to be as ubiquitous in the market as slot machines. While that’s some considerable distance to cover, with more than 1,200 units in operation and counting—at City of Dreams, The Venetian Macao, Sands Macao, the new Sands Cotai Central and at Casino Kam Pek, Casino Grand View and Casino Greek Mythology—certainly LT is moving in the right direction.

“It’s becoming popular now,” says Mr Chun. “I want it to become more popular.”

To this end, LT is unveiling the next generation of its feature-rich Live Table

Multi-Game System at G2E Asia, with enhanced software, greater functionality and some tweaks in the design of the terminals to make them more comfortable and more conducive to extended play.

“I think every year we will have at least one new version,” says Mr Chun. “Software also can always be upgraded. It’s in-house software so we can upgrade it all the time. If an existing customer requires a software change we can provide this service as well. For different jurisdictions, and even in Macau, where different houses have different requirements, we change it for them. We are always customizing software for them.”

As the name of the system implies, the games are live, which is a key selling point for Chinese players. Baccarat is the most popular offering, not surprisingly, accounting for about 80% of LT’s handle. But roulette, sic bo, san gong and keno have their followings. Or players can elect to bet any combination of games concurrently. Baccarat includes an optional side-bet progressive jackpot. There are also five server-based slot games to choose from. A limited version of blackjack also is available. The games are dealt in real time, the tables and staff physically present, usually on a raised platform, the action transmitted by video camera to large overhead monitors and to the screens on the scores of terminals surrounding the platform. Where it’s installed, Live Table is a focal point of the floor, a natural attention-getter, the rows of terminals exciting to behold in large numbers, the way they fan out from the action amphitheater-style.

In its ability to blend the personal interaction and privacy of the slot experience with that jolt to the pulse you get only in the pit, it is the perfect complement to table-centric Macau, and one that checks a lot of demographic boxes besides. Stakes can vary. Depending on the venue they can range from a low of HK$20 to as high as $500,000. So the system appeals both to seasoned players who prefer smaller stakes and perhaps a more relaxed pace than they find at the traditional tables and the occasional big bettor who desires an added measure of anonymity.

“Privacy is very important,” notes Mr Chun, speaking of the latter group. “They don’t want to stand out.”

Understandable, considering that some of them are plunking down six-figure bets.

The system is opening up new markets, too, drawing slot players accustomed to the relaxed solitude of machine games, many of them females who would never venture near a table game, and novices eager to try their hand at baccarat or roulette but who may be unfamiliar with the rules and customs and perhaps a bit intimidated by them, which is a factor worth considering among the Chinese, who take their gambling seriously and tend to pursue it in the belief that here is strength in numbers. As Mr Chun explains, “You sit down at the regular tables, maybe other people are sharing a table with you, and if you want to play ‘Banker’ and the rest of the table is betting on ‘Player,’ if you’re betting the opposing side, the people will yell at you.”

Each terminal is equipped with an easy-to-navigate help menu that includes game rules and instructions. If you have a question you can summon assistance with the push of a button.

“Definitely, it has kind of educated people about how to play the games,” notes Mr Chun. “They are using it as a training tool.”

You can even order a beverage or something to eat directly at the game. In all, it’s a lot like having your own private betting parlor. Gaming generated more than 85% of Paradise Entertainment’s revenues in 2011 (the company also develops biopharmaceuticals, principally in Mainland China), and those revenues were up 74% year on year to HK$464.6 million, clearly a reflection of the success of LT Game, which makes money both from sales and leases of the Live Table system. Paradise also operates Casino Kam Pec as a “satellite” casino of SJM Holdings and shares in the casino’s net win. Profit across all segments of the business was $39.3 million last year, or $1.24 per diluted share. The group rates its “future prospects” as “excellent”.

For the casinos deploying Live Table, that is good news. They like the technology’s marketing prowess, its player tracking and VIP client alert functions and its ability to support an array of direct customer communications in the form of Flash-enabled advertisements and notices of special drawings, jackpots and tournaments. They especially like the system’s efficiencies, the savings on labor costs, the security and reliability of a machine-based system, and above all its ability to deal many more hands per hour than conventional tables.

“It’s much, much faster,” attests Mr Chun. “That’s very important. If you’re on a table and people are putting HK$100,000 down, VIP, you may have to wait four or five minutes for a hand. On this, 30 seconds there’s a new hand, new hand, new hand.”

They like the flexibility, too, the fact that the technology is GLI-certified, SAS-compatible, LAN- or WAN-enabled and capable of supporting any configuration of terminals both for ticket and cash play. (Theoretically, the number of terminal interfaces is unlimited.) They can choose from two slant-top cabinets: one combining game monitor and betting on a single 26- inch touch screen, the other designed with two 19-inch monitors for a comprehensive view of the live tables from the top screen and a spacious betting area below. Ideal for baccarat, both provide an extra arm rest and writing space to satisfy the obsession among Chinese players for tracking outcomes and analyzing them to try to suss out patterns in the cards, same as in the traditional game. LT plans to build on this with technology they expect to release by the end of this year that will allow players to pre-set their favorite betting patterns.

“I think it’s more choice for the player,” says Mr Chun. “We let them play smart.”

LT plans to parlay its success in Macau into expansion abroad, where demand for Live Table also has been “strong,” Mr Chun says. The company has applied for licensing in Singapore and in parts of Australia and is looking to partner in the United States, in Nevada and select Native-American markets, as an associate equipment supplier

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