A parade of international innovators marches through London for ICE 2007
More than 265 companies came to London’s Earls Court in January to display their wares to a marketplace that has become truly global in size, reach and diversity.
The expanded 2007 International Casino Exhibition saw visitation from outside the UK grow by 25.5% to more than 7,200, about 60% of total attendance. More than 110 countries and jurisdictions were represented. Visitation from the Far East and the Pacific Basin, from the United States and from Central and South America all were up significantly. And attendees were not disappointed by what they saw and experienced.
The following innovators represent just some of the highlights.
AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY
Things are looking up for Ainsworth Game Technology under new CEO Danny Gladstone.
Ainsworth maximized its ICE impact with the European roll-out of its new Ambassador Slimline cabinet, an optimal solution for the continent’s more space-constricted slot floors, featuring an eye-catching 26-inch LCD screen, an embedded platform by Microsoft, enhanced 3-D simulation and loads of player- interactivity extras.
Europe also has seen the release of three of five games on the company’s new Multi Play slot, powered by the improved Ambassador Excell platform.
The buzz around Multi Play was audible at the show. “We expect this product to be extremely successful not just in Europe but internationally,” said European GM George Steiner.
Said the man himself, Len Ainsworth, chairman of the board: “Our ability to stay abreast of local requirements and deliver timely technology is certain key to our future growth. We’ve been successful in that direction up to now and hope to maintain that success in the future.”
Alfastreet chose the London show for the world premiere of its new C Line multiplayer platform.
A significant advance on conventional multiplayer thinking, the highly flexible C Line has 12 player stations, as opposed to the standard eight, and can be configured to accommodate up to 24 stations. These can be upgraded to more as demand warrants. The C Line also can be fitted for the popular Asian dice game Sic Bo.
An emphasis on player interface, the obvious next step in multiplayer technology, is another outstanding feature of the C Line. Individual screens are adjustable. Table design and surfaces can be customized to enhance comfort and ease of play and property preference.
“Alfastreet is moving forward to take another step in terms of player-friendly interface,” Marketing and Sales Manager MatjaÏ Petek said. “We have some interesting developments that will follow during 2007.”
Aristocrat Technologies doubled the size of its stand at ICE 2007, the better to showcase the wealth of solutions the Australia-based slot giant encompasses under a single banner — “Experience More.”
“Basically, this is our big release of the year,” said International Marketing Manager Graeme Tooth, speaking of the 20 new MKVI game titles that saw their European debut in London in January.
Among the standouts, judging by the crowds, was the 100-line Wild Panda, the latest entry in Aristocrat’s hugely successful low-denomination strategy, and the Hyperlink-based “Zorro,” a smartly themed touch-screen game with four jackpot levels and a full five bonus features, including a free-game feature. PokerPro Heads Up, an exciting one-on-one version of the innovative electronic multiplayer game, was another big hit.
“The ICE show is a great platform to launch new products and strengthen relationships with our customers in the region,” said Nick Khin, executive general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Scaling new heights
Atronic roared into London with King Kong Cash, an exciting multilevel progressive concept that takes the company’s popular emotion platform to new heights.
With a dramatic display that won’t be overlooked on any casino floor, King Kong Cash features four jackpot levels, bonus rounds, including a “mystery” bonus and free-game extras, and the total package includes enhanced graphics, innovative flat-reel technology and the flexibility of multi-denominational play.
In addition to three new titles, King Kong Cash will be bolstered with regular software updates so the player experience is always fresh and fun.
A second and daringly new linked progressive, “The Game of Life,” received a similarly warm reception from the ICE audience.
“Life” takes progressive jackpots to a new level, literally, with five prize tiers, and it features a highly entertaining bonus round based on the popular board game that lends the platform its name and imagery. The game currently is available in four titles, with more to come.
Atronic also was pleased with the response — “excellent,” one company representative described it — to the sleek new, ergonomically efficient Harmony slant-top.
These are “exciting times” for Bally Technologies, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Gavin Isaacs, and if ICE was any indication, the feeling is contagious.
A center of attention in London was the new 26-inch CineVision monitor with its movie-quality resolution, enhanced sound and touch-screen capabilities and an array of comfort features designed to “immerse” the player in the gaming experience.
As you’d expect, Bally also had a wealth of video and reel-spinning games on display, powered by the muscular Linux-based ALPHA OS and new M9000 and S9000 cabinets. The company, in fact, was preparing for international release ahead of the show no less than 40 titles — among these a Spanish-language version of “Lucky Mon,” a 25-line progressive with loads of bonus and freegame features, and “Alaskan Sun,” fitted like Lucky Mon on the advanced M9000 and configurable for multiple lines and denominations.
Of course, the Bunnies were out in force at Earls Court to underline the continued success of Bally’s “Playboy” video slots, which have parlayed one of the world’s most recognized brands into one of the most successful licensed game titles to be found worldwide.
As a global leader in server-based games, ICE 2007 was a natural progression for U.S.-based Cadillac Jack, which took the opportunity presented by one of the industry’s best-attended events outside its home country to showcase the range of its downloadable technologies and a host of new video- and mechanical-reel titles.
Several new Latin-style four- and six-card bingo games — “Medieval Legends, Universal Bingo, Mellow Yellow” and “Carnival Bingo” — were on hand, each featuring a unique option that allows players to purchase additional balls for increased chances to win the jackpot.
On the video side, highlights included “Genie’s Jackpot, Fruit Party, Surf Rider” and “Wildball Tsunami II.” Two popular reel titles, “Super Hot 7’s” and “Reel Diamonds,” were on display as well, available in downloadable and stand-alone versions.
The “Dr. Strangeluck” platform of multi-denominational games was also well-received. ICE was “a great way to kick off the year for us,” said CEO Mike Macke. “A top priority for Cadillac Jack during 2007 is to increase our presence throughout the international gaming community.”
Casino Technology has been enjoying robust growth outside its core Central and Eastern European markets with popular products that range from video slots to electronic roulette games to jackpot and management systems.
With the Bulgaria-based manufacturer recently establishing itself in markets as far as
Latin America and Asia, ICE 2007 has become an increasingly valuable stage for showcasing its innovative wares.
The London show saw the launch of the Multi Gemini, which takes Casino Technology’s successful Gemini series to a new level with an advanced multi-functional cabinet, an array of interactive features, and a highly flexible SAS-compatible platform that offers second-screen options, multi-denominational and cashless play and a variety of jackpots.
Bonuses, free games and multipliers are among the highlights of Multi Gemini’s four initial titles — “Golden Elephant, Silk Quest, Purple Hot” and “Gold of Babylon III” — each designed in its own way to satisfy different player preferences.
A ‘classic blend’
EURO GAMES TECHNOLOGY
Euro Games Technology continues to build on its video slot expertise with new products like the sleek new 19-inch dual-screen Vega Vision cabinet, fitted with life-like stereo sound, enhanced 3D-simulation and SAS compatibility so that it easily interfaces with all casino management systems.
EGT used the show to show off Vega Vision’s hot new “Rise of Ra” title, a 15-line multi-denom game geared for high volatility and featuring a highly animated scatter-pay feature.
Another highlight at EGT’s stand was a new jackpot system, the latest in the company’s Classic Blend line, which allows multiple game terminals to participate in a network of up to 16 independent progressive jackpots and supports up to four levels of mystery jackpots. Classic Blend Jackpot enjoys all the hallmarks of its popular product line: attractive graphics, high-quality sound and configurable LCD informational displays to enhance player communication and maximize a casino’s marketing and promotional opportunities.
Classic Blend Jackpot also provides valuable management tools like PCbased set-up, information storage and detailed reporting.
Gaming Support professed itself “pleasantly surprised” by the interest the Rotterdam-based supplier exhibited at ICE for two new additions to its broad range of solutions for the casino floor.
The first of these, BonusBox, is all about generating more bang for a casino’s marketing spend.
BonusBox allows an operator to attach merchandise prizes to any live slot machine. It interfaces with player tracking and casino management systems — like Gaming Support’s own BaseSys Accounting System to give operators control not only over which prizes are awarded to which customers, but the ability to quickly introduce and vary prizes in any number of competitive or promotional configurations, with the added value that their reward programs can be tracked and analyzed for effectiveness.
Gaming Support also introduced a new table game, Shut Dice, which is designed to enhance the community” gaming factor that is so important to every casino’s entertainment proposition. Shut Dice is housebanked and adaptable to any standard card table. The object of the game is to predict the number or numbers that are not rolled on a set of die marked differently from one to six.
Building on leadership
NOVOMATIC GROUP/AUSTRIAN GAMING INDUSTRIES
Global slot powerhouse AGI did not disappoint at ICE 2007, releasing an array of exciting new titles on the Cool Fire II, the forward-thinking platform first unveiled in 2006.
Eight new video titles have been released on AGI’s innovative Multigaminator. While in the single games segment, leading the Cool Fire II march is “Bingo+,” a fun variant of keno with a bonus draw feature.
Multiplayer technology, the gaming machine revolution AGI helped launch, was another ICE highlight.
The server-based Novo Unity now powers some 5,000 of terminals and has been upgraded with new management tools, a dealer interface and multiple screen designs. Novo TouchBet Live, powered by the Unity, has been bolstered with Live-Baccarat and Live-Sic Bo editions. Each is SAS-compatible, TITO- and smart card-enabled, is configurable for up to 250 stations and supports as many as 10 languages.
Together with the automated-wheel Novo Multi-Roulette, Novo Flying-Roulette (which employs a plasmascreen display wheel) and the versatile Novo Multi-Table Roulette, with its choice of live, automated or display wheel, AGI’s reputation as a leader in electronic multiplayer technology has never been more solid.
Playtech subsidiary Videobet brought to ICE a wealth of advanced server-based game concepts and delivery systems, all ample proof of the company’s high-tech line age.
Videobet’s open SB platform is easily integrated into existing infrastructures using SAS protocol, and at the high-end of the product range offers a centralized management system that is cashless-enabled and features real-time functionalities that include content downloads to each terminal and automatic updates.
Then there’s a unique Cross-Platform network which offers the considerable added value via player-tracking of game play at home on the Web or from mobile devices, and all from a single player account.
Videobet’s sleek, player-friendly game stations include the K-45 — with dualscreen TFT monitors available in 17 or 19 inches, stereo sound and multi-currency and TITO support — the touchscreen Butterfly and a 19-inch VGA dual screen slant top.
Europe is a key market for this young dynamo going forward, but the Far East and South America are of great interest as well.
“Our future plans promote a widespread geographic diversification,” said Marketing Communications Manager Ornit Gilman.
Blazing new tech trails
TCS JOHN HUXLEY
TCS John Huxley, long recognized as a leader in bringing new technologies to market, raised its game at ICE ’07 with several stunning industry firsts.
TouchTable MultiPLAY Roulette, developed in partnership with TouchTable AB of Sweden, combines live roulette with a 56- inch Quad HD LCD layout that simulates the traditional game’s full-sized playing surface as you’ve never seen it — completely electronic and touch-screen activated with automated calculation of bets, winnings, payouts and chip handling. The game provides a uniquely interactive experience and is configurable in formats that let up to 21 players in on the action. TouchTable also supports revenue-building side bets and progressive jackpots.
Also introduced at the show was AccuPLAY Blackjack, a touch-screen variation on the TouchTable roulette theme that employs an infrared technology called “Intelligent Verification Platform” for a unique and highly interactive player experience. AccuPLAY significantly boosts hands per hour and can accommodate side bets and progressive jackpots, with the added value of remote and online links. AccuPLAY also provides a full range of management and analysis tools.
Look for Huxley also to be blazing new trails in high-performance RFID technology through a distribution and service agreement recently concluded with Eurasiatrak.
By James Rutherford, International Editor of International Gaming & Wagering Business magazine. Reprinted with permission from IGWB.