Neil Moir from market-leading server-based gaming company The Global Draw spoke to Euroslot recently on the rise (and rise) of the VLT.
The rise of VLTs
Founded in the late 1990’s, The Global Draw, now a subsidiary of Scientific Games Corporation, has always been involved in networked gaming. We introduced network gaming in the U.K. by pioneering what were then known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. In terms of technology, these devices were similar to what became known as VLTs in the rest of the world.
As network reliability and bandwidth has developed, it has been possible to run more and more functions on an “online, real-time basis” - for example, network monitoring, player tracking, and jackpots.
VLTs in numbers
The longest standing networked gaming market in Europe is actually the U.K. with over 30,000 devices operating across the retail betting sector – although they are not called VLTs, the technology is essentially the same. In addition to the U.K., we currently provide VLTs in the Czech Republic and we recently added Italy to our European estate. We also provide terminals in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
The benefits of VLTs
For the regulator, there is the certainty of collecting revenues, player protection and the ability to block players or machines remotely.
For the operator, there is the opportunity to download games to maximise income, to run player loyalty programmes and to run other promotions remotely. From a performance point of view, there is also the opportunity to monitor the machines and utilise remote diagnostics to maximise uptime – we know immediately when a machine is not functioning and often resolve the issue without needing to send a technician.
For the player, the primary draw of a VLT is the increased confidence of participating in a product that is so clearly regulated. It is also possible to run innovative new products such as jackpots, tournaments, and player loyalty programmes to enrich the player experience.
When selecting new games to introduce, we select content that will help increase customer yield, which is achieved by delivering games that will engage the player. To ensure we are delivering best in-class content, we run insight programs through workshops and surveys which help us in selecting content to deliver into different jurisdictions to meet specific player needs.
We are very selective about the games included on our machines and this has kept us in good stead. Games like Crown Gems and Lucky Lions have been in the international market for awhile, but are still some of our best performing games. This is because players get used to a certain type of game - games that are both rich in content and interactive – and these are the types of things that attract a player. What the competition is offering comes into consideration, but what the players want is paramount. We will soon see the introduction of our first 50 Win Line game - Mad Mad Monkey - into Puerto Rico and Mexico, as well as the introduction of licensed games such Gladiator into the Caribbean territories in which we operate.
It’s not only content that attracts the player - terminals play an important part as well. The Global Draw will be launching the single screen Blade terminal in Puerto Rico which offers new technology that provides flexibility and promotional functionality, as well as back office systems and reporting.
We believe that many new jurisdictions will open up over the next several years, providing lots of opportunities for companies that have the right focus and technology. In terms of the further development of the product, we see land-based and internet-based businesses combining to further enhance the customer experience. At The Global Draw, we refer to this as ‘Cross-Platform’.
A good example of the ‘Cross-Platform‘ way of thinking is if a player plays in the afternoon in a branded retail operation using a player account, they could continue to play on the internet in the evening using the same virtual wallet. This way, they would build credit in the same player loyalty programme. Not only does this build brand affinity, it can increase loyalty to a specific game.
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