The Innovation Group (TIG) team had a productive week at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2018. Between the launch of The Innovation Group Exchange and our annual Emerging Leaders of Gaming programming, TIG experts spent their time in conversation with stakeholders from across the industry. Here's what they gleaned from dialogue and observation on and off the G2E floor.
IT'S A POST-PASPA WORLD
The theme of G2E 2018 was certainly sports betting. The show floor was covered with makeshift sports books and vendors demonstrating their technology to eager operators and enthusiasts. An entire education track was dedicated to the topic, and the bars and coffee shops were abuzz with talks of integrity fees, official data feeds, legislation and just how to leverage sports betting as an amenity to protect and grow gaming and resort revenues. We saw free-to-play apps intended to engage potential sports bettors while quantifying their likely behaviors and sports betting kiosks looking to reduce the labor burden of taking wages. There is broad recognition that in-play wagering is where the money will be and that Nevada's mobile app-based, in-play wagering doesn't have sufficient response time. Special purpose terminals for in-play betting were on display to give a flavor for how this will come to fruition.
SLOTS AND TABLES SECONDARY BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
While sports betting dominated, there was no shortage of improvements in slots and table games at G2E 2018. We saw more skill-based games this year and a lot of newly licensed content, from Arkanoid to Mad Max, but our favorites this year were slot advancements and an ETG:
Parlaying the popularity of its Shoot to Win Craps, an electronic table game (ETG), Roll to Win is an ETG on a full-size craps table, where the shooters pass and shoot dice just like at a real craps table. The game requires one dealer to manage the stick and enter the rolls into the system, but it's a much more labor-efficient and guest-friendly version of the real thing. The automated payouts and ability to buy in with TITO should increase rolls per hour significantly.
Slot cabinet with a built-in inductive cell phone charger. Completely wireless. Great benefit for the players.
Scientific Games (SG) featured its Die Another Day slot machine on this cabinet. When a bonus is activated, the 50" screen slides up, revealing a show powered by the "Pepper's Ghost" illusion. Amazing.
CASINO OF THE FUTURE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Following several running G2E's obsessed with Millennials, the conversation finally has turned to the casino of the future. With as much emphasis on the products as their potential players, the dialogue has broadened to multiple segments but we aren't much closer to what we believe will be in the casino of the future or to understanding how it will differ from the casino of today. To be sure, operators and developers are starting to warm up to the idea of flexible spaces for eSports, skill-based play and other pop-up gaming. And sports betting parlors in North American locals markets should become standard amenities. How operators will round off these additions in ways that include the retention of important, traditional player segments is an exciting work in progress.
ALL ABOUT THAT DATA
Slowly but surely, we're seeing a shift toward data-driven operations management in casino gaming. This G2E featured far more data products than we've seen in the past, a harbinger of things to come. We've mentioned that casinos are qualifying their sports betting audiences with free-to-play, and they can even use free-to-play user picks to shade real money lines. Don Best was purchased by Scientific Games and we saw VizExplorer announce a new CEO - one that comes from the gaming side and takes an analytics-oriented worldview. More than ever, we're seeing visualization tools, marketing technology and casino management software driven off of casino data.
TIG's Brian Wyman presented one particularly practical application: how machine learning can advance guest experience by analyzing the topics in satisfaction survey free response data.
Take a look at his slides
to discuss further.