For casino industry server-based gaming still in the cards

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High-tech slot machines should get a big shot in the arm with all the opening of Las Vegas' City-center later this season. Still, a whole lot of rewiring remains to be done.nby Daniel Terdiman February 3, 2009 12:01 PM PST nFollow @GreeterDan nIn the summer of 2005, the casino industry was abuzz with excitement over what was then regarded as another great thing--server-based gaming, a major technological change in how slot machines work. nEssentially, this development was going to make it possible for the machines presenting a broad selection of games, all served up from sources, and selected on the spot by players. This was a sea-change in the traditional design, when a device had one game included in it. Consequently, I wrote then, the technology was 'planned to become the largest news at (the September 2005) Worldwide Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, the casino industry's huge annual trade show.' nFlash forward, but, to the November 2008 edition of G2E, the place where a engineering panel entitled 'Server-based gaming: Just starting to start' promised a stirring debate to the matter, and the one that belied the intensive optimism of four years before. 'While it might be uncertain when and how server-based gaming will be introduced widely across the market and to the consumer,' the panel's explanation stated, 'the question of if it will is not any longer.' nnLong viewed as another best part in the casino business, server-based gaming may finally get ready for primetime. These machines, from WMS Gaming, are permitted with the technology, allowing individual machines on a casino floor to acquire new games on the fly, as well as give the casino ways to offer players promotions.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nSo yes, the market was jumping the gun with its 2005 excitement. And of course, considering the fact that track record, any new commitment has to be viewed via a significantly suspicious contact. nBut today, industry executives say, the time is ultimately correct for sever-based gaming, and the first signs of the technology--albeit a brand new kind of it that has been re-worked dramatically from what it was originally--may actually be coming. The next great thing may at long last be here. nThat suggests a host of new slot machine-based innovations may be on the way. Included in this, explained Rob Bone, the vice president of marketing for WMS Gaming, one of the casino industry's big-four makers, is a community-gaming system that can allow multiple visitors to play games across a series of models. And still another, referred to as 'adaptive gaming,' can make it feasible for the machines to keep track of a player's development and let them rejoin their game, even in a different location. nFor each one of the four producers, then, the innovations that may come within a more substantial server-based gambling action are various and wide-ranging. If you loved this write-up and you would like to obtain additional info pertaining to online casino games kindly browse through the website. At its core to-day, though, the technology is about systems where the machines can speak to databases on back-room servers, making it possible to get new information and information to a machine at any moment, as well as to alter the denomination of games on the fly to react to casino job numbers. nThe world's first all-server-based gaming floornAnd if a new technology needed to be openly rolled-out with a splash, the casino industry could not have opted for a much better way to formally present server-based gaming for the world: CityCenter, a huge, $8 billion, joint MGM Mirage/Dubai World growth project now under construction on the Las Vegas Strip that encompasses thousands of hotel rooms, luxury condominiums and football fields' worth of casino space. And the world's first all-server-based gaming floor. nThis launch, that may include 2000 devices, is slated for late 2009, and could, after all these years, finally pave the way for server-based gaming to end up being the new industry-standard. nBut the delay was caused by what? nAccording to industry executives, soon following the 2005 G2E, there is a major philosophical change, when the major vendors--International Game Technology (IGT), WMS, Bally Technologies, and Aristocrat--came to the conclusion, along side regulators, that in the place of each wanting to develop their own exclusive designs of the technology, they would place their heads together and devise some new technology standards. n'In 2005, there have been no standards, and no protocols where we're able to produce assistance software,' said Javier Saenz, the vice-president of product management for community systems at IGT. 'We needed to produce practices, interfaces that labored, and some formalized technology.' nAround that time, then, a new standards body appeared, the Gaming Standards Association (GSA), and what resulted were protocols that would have the ability the casino operators to instantly pipe in communications to players--promotional messages, updates of free buffets and the like--in pop-up windows on the screens, no matter which manufacturer's devices they were playing. Previously, it would not have been possible. nFor organizations like WMS and IGT, this change in philosophy was nothing short of an important retrenching, but one they thought they no choice but to consider. n'Pretty much, IGT had to.abandon all past growth that leveraged old, exclusive protocols,' Saenz said. 'It was a huge undertaking.' nInstead, he explained, the four manufacturers have adopted what they call open networks, a new term for server-based gambling built around methods designed to provide casino workers the variety of new server-based technology they want, while also meeting the security and communications targets of the GSA. nGetting the requirements set up was the first step, of course, and in accordance with Mark Lipparelli, a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board--which adjusts casinos in that state--they were executed in November of 2005, just weeks after that year's G2E. nThe greater issue, then, was just how long it'd take for the outcomes of this standardization to manifest in industrywide roll-outs of server-based gaming. n'The widespread adoption and implementation of the secure system technologies,' Lipparelli said, 'will be more of a market function.' nOne unanticipated--at the time, at least--result of the philosophical move is that the industry's major manufacturers attended around, for the very first time, towards the realization that their technology must be interoperable, in at least some simple ways. nBanking on consumer loyaltynThese times, a big part of successful casino operations is best figuring out how not only to get a player to bring his or her income onto your ground, but also how to get that person to join your loyalty program and go back to one of your properties again and again. nFor organizations like MGM/Mirage, for instance, that type of customer acquisition and preservation is critical, especially in a town like Vegas, where in fact the giant currently owns ten major properties--including Bellagio, the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Luxor and others--and will soon open up City Center. Which makes it possible for its clients to play games and feel welcome and valued at all its casinos is just in regards to the most important thing MGM/Mirage or any of its competitors may do. nAnd that is why, while an IGT machine however will not work activities from Bally--at least not any moment soon--the four manufacturers appear to have come around to the notion that their technology needed to give the casino operators far more control within the messaging people would see on those machines. nAdditionally, Saenz said, the gambling machines will need to have the ability to access the casinos' databases of customer names and information, regardless of who made the device, so as to serve up information that is personal to each user. nnA schematic of a server-based gaming console from WMS Gaming.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nBut at the same time as large organizations like MGM/Mirage buy into server-based gaming, the ownership of such machines is going to be slow. nAs of to-day, Bone explained, WMS has about 1,500 server-based models deployed around the globe. He imagines that casinos will begin to roll-out server-based gambling on the 'bank by bank' basis, indicating one portion of machines at a time, rather than by changing full floors at once. nThat means, Bone said, that the technology goes gain footing throughout the casino industry within the next 2-3 years. nIGT's Saenz agreed with that analysis. nAt the moment, he explained, the company has two in Nevada, five server-based gaming discipline trials and one each in California, Missouri, and Michigan. nLots of computers, a great deal of rewiringnOf program, the forthcoming City-center beginning is going to be the big developing party IGT's--and the industry's--server-based gaming technology has been awaiting. But while that release will mean that around 2000 machines seriously line at the same time, Saenz said that there are practical reasons why the technology will be slow to spread, even now. nPart of the is due to structure. So that you can throw out server-based activities, Saenz directed out, casinos must have Ethernet networks deployed on the floors. That's something that several casinos have achieved thus far, he explained, adding that people who do have a much faster way to the newest technology. n'Historically, there was an expectation that whenever server-based gaming arrived, (casinos) would amazingly sculpt their whole floors,' Saenz said, 'and instantly there would be server-based gaming. But that's not realistic.' nThat is excatly why he needs to find out roll-outs a hundred machines at the same time through the entire industry, however not faster than that. n'In a few years,' Saenz said, 'the majority of casinos will have some server-based games, and (a few) will be 100 percent' rolled-out.