For casino market server-based gaming still in the cards

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High-tech slot machines must obtain a big-shot in the arm with all the beginning of Nevada' CityCenter 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 seen as another good thing--server-based gaming, a major technological shift in how slot machines work. nEssentially, this development was going to be able for the machines to provide a wide number of games, all plumped for on the spot by players, and offered up from databases. This is a sea-change from the conventional type, when a device had just one game built into it. Consequently, I wrote then, the technology was 'planned to be the largest news at (the September 2005) Worldwide Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, the casino industry's huge annual trade show.' nFlash forward, nevertheless, for the November 2008 version of G2E, in which a technology panel entitled 'Server-based gaming: Starting to begin' offered a rousing talk about the subject, 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 industry and to the consumer,' the panel's information mentioned, 'the question of if it will is not any longer.' nnLong regarded as the next best part in the casino industry, server-based gambling may finally be ready for primetime. These machines, from WMS Gaming, are enabled with the technology, that allows specific machines on a casino floor to down load new games on the fly, as well as give the casino ways to offer people promotions.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nSo yes, the business was jumping the gun with its 2005 excitement. And of course, considering that background, any new enthusiasm must be seen via a somewhat cynical lens. nBut today, business executives say, the time is finally correct for sever-based gaming, and the first signs of the technology--albeit a new kind of it that has been re-worked dramatically from what it was originally--may actually be on the horizon. The next best part may finally be here. nThat means a bunch of new slot machine-based innovations may be on their way. Included in this, explained Rob Bone, the vice-president of marketing for WMS Gaming, one of the casino industry's big-four companies, is a community-gaming system that may allow multiple individuals to play games across some models. And still another, generally known as 'adaptive gaming,' can make it easy for the machines to record a player's progress and allow them rejoin their game, even at a different place. nFor each of the four suppliers, then, within a more substantial server-based gambling activity the improvements that may come are varied and wide-ranging. At its core today, however, the technology is about systems in which the machines can talk to databases on back-room servers, rendering it possible to get new data and information to a device at any moment, or even to alter the denomination of games on the fly to reply to casino occupation numbers. nThe world's first all-server-based gaming floornAnd if your new technology needed to be widely rolled out with a splash, the casino industry could hardly have plumped for a much better solution to formally introduce server-based gaming to the world: City-center, a huge, $8 thousand, mutual MGM Mirage/Dubai World growth project now under construction on the Las Vegas Strip that involves thousands of rooms in hotels, luxury condominiums and football fields' worth of casino space. And the world's first all-server-based gambling floor. nThis start, which will include 2000 models, is slated for late 2009, and may, after all these years, finally pave the way for server-based gaming to end up being the new industry-standard. nBut what caused the delay? nAccording to business professionals, soon following the 2005 G2E, there was a major philosophical change, where the major vendors--International Game Technology (IGT), WMS, Bally Technologies, and Aristocrat--came for the conclusion, along side regulators, that in the place of each wanting to make their own private versions of the technology, they'd place their heads together and devise some new technology standards. n'In 2005, there were no expectations, and no protocols by which we could generate support software,' said Javier Saenz, the vice-president of product management for community systems at IGT. 'We needed to produce practices, interfaces that worked, and some formalized technology.' nAround that time, then, a new standards human anatomy emerged, the Gaming Standards Association (GSA), and what resulted were practices that could be able the casino operators to immediately tube in communications to players--promotional communications, notices of free buffets and the like--in pop-up windows around the monitors, regardless of which manufacturer's devices they were playing. Formerly, it would not have been possible. nFor businesses like IGT and WMS, this change in philosophy was nothing short of an important retrenching, but one they felt they no choice but to adopt. n'Pretty much, IGT had to.abandon all past development that leveraged old, proprietary protocols,' Saenz said. 'It was an enormous task.' nInstead, he said, the four companies have adopted what they call open networks, a new term for server-based gambling built around systems made to give casino operators the kind of new server-based technology they want, while also meeting the security and communications goals of the GSA. nGetting the requirements set up was step one, needless to say, and in accordance with Mark Lipparelli, a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board--which regulates casinos in that state--they were implemented in November of 2005, only weeks after that year's G2E. nThe bigger problem, then, was just how long it would just take for the results of that standardization to manifest in industry-wide roll-outs of server-based gaming. n'The widespread adoption and implementation of the secure system technologies,' Lipparelli said, 'may well 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 came around, for the first time, towards the recognition that their technology has to be interoperable, in at least some basic ways. nBanking on consumer loyaltynThese times, a big part of successful casino operations is most beneficial determining how not just to get a new player to bring his / her money onto your ground, but also how to get that individual to join your loyalty program and return to one of your properties again and again. nFor businesses like MGM/Mirage, as an example, that kind of customer acquisition and retention is important, particularly in a town like Vegas, where in fact the giant already 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 easy for its clients to play games and feel welcome and valued at all of its casinos is just in regards to the most significant thing MGM/Mirage or some of its competitors can do. nAnd that is why, while an IGT machine however will not work games from Bally--at least not anytime soon--the four manufacturers seem to have come around to the idea that their technology needed to give the casino operators a lot more get a grip on within the messaging people would see on those machines. nAdditionally, Saenz said, the gambling machines will need to find a way to access the casinos' databases of customer names and information, aside from who made the device, in order to serve up information that is individual to each user. nnA schematic of the server-based system from WMS Gaming.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nBut at the same time as large companies like MGM/Mirage get in to server-based gaming, the use of such devices will probably be slow. nAs of today, Bone explained, WMS has about 1,500 server-based machines used around the globe. He thinks that casinos will begin to roll-out server-based gaming on a 'bank by bank' foundation, indicating one portion of devices at a period, as opposed to by replacing full floors at once. nThat means, Bone said, the technology goes gain traction through the casino industry within the next two to three years. If you have any type of inquiries relating to where and ways to make use of online casino games, you can contact us at our web site. nIGT's Saenz agreed with that assessment. nAt the moment, he said, the company has two in Nevada, five server-based gaming subject trials and one each in California, Missouri, and Michigan. nLots of computers, lots of rewiringnOf course, the future City-center opening will likely be the big developing party IGT's--and the industry's--server-based gaming technology has been looking forward to. But while that introduction will mean that around 2,000 models think about it line at once, Saenz said that there are practical reasons why the technology will be slow to spread, nonetheless. nPart of the is due to structure. In order to throw out server-based activities, Saenz directed out, casinos must have Ethernet networks deployed on the floors. That's something that few casinos have achieved currently, he said, adding that those who do have a much quicker path to the newest technology. n'Historically, there was an expectation that after server-based gaming appeared, (casinos) would amazingly improve their total floors,' Saenz said, 'and instantly there would be server-based gaming. But that's not practical.' nThat is why he expects to see roll-outs a hundred machines at any given time through the business, although not much faster than that. n'In a few years,' Saenz said, 'the vast majority of casinos will involve some server-based games, and (a few) will be completely' rolled-out.