LAS VEGAS – The Global Gaming Expo, the gaming industry’s annual convention in Las Vegas, was a little less global this year as the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still restrict international travel. However, the trade show was proof that nationally just about everyone who was due to be at G2E in the 2021 return year was there. Last year, in the grip of the pandemic, G2E was a virtual experience.
Just a partial call from major slot machine and gaming equipment manufacturers at this year’s Venetian Expo show included Scientific Games, IGT, Aristocrat, and Konami. Vendors showcased old-fashioned casino products, such as table gaming chairs, playing cards, and gambling chips. Tech companies showcased their new-age services, such as contactless payments and B2B sports betting platforms.
IGaming comes to the fore
At the 21st G2E, a product that was not widely considered just a few years ago, but which is gaining more and more importance, is iGaming: online slots and table games played on computers and mobile devices in jurisdictions where gambling is legal. Currently, a handful of states offer iGaming; among the most important are New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Connecticut is on the way.
Scientific Games, with familiar slot franchises such as Blazing 7s and the ever-popular Monopoly, brings together legacy elements of the game and finds them a new home in the digital world.
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“We want to make sure that the player will find slots games that they are familiar with from their casino experience,” said Brett Jackson, Creative Director, Digital for Scientific Games. “It’s important that they find brands that they are comfortable with and already like. “
Jackson noted that while iGaming has been important in the UK for years, some of the more popular offerings, such as Fruit Games, wouldn’t necessarily resonate with an American audience. Scientific Games is setting up a creative studio in Las Vegas to develop online games that will appeal to US gamers and format those games on the smallest single screen of a smartphone.
Jackson said it is expected that real money online gamblers will always be casual gamblers probably playing for small stakes, say as little as 20 cents per game. However, there are potential advancements in gaming that could excite enthusiasm. players, such as progressive games, a familiar casino concept that generates mega-payouts and multi-line games with an impressive array of paylines.
Companies Unveil Immersive Gaming Experiences
For the casino floor, IGT showcased its CrystalFlex multifunction machine, which won the “Best Consumer Service Technology” category at the 2021 GGB Gaming & Technology Awards.
Simply put, the CrystalFlex is a single station casino. The sit-down tile has an in-screen display for watching live sports with touchscreen options for making pre-game, in-game and futures sports betting. And then there is also a suite of casino games available, including slots, video poker, and blackjack. There’s even a headphone jack and a mobile device charging port.
CrystalFlex, billed as a “VIP Betting and Gaming” experience, allows players to switch between sports betting and casino games using the same funds. The machine is not yet on the casino floors.
Meanwhile, Aristocrat was unveiling an immersive slots experience available at Palazzo Casino in Vegas, in the same building where G2E was held.
The machine envelops the player with a large, curved display screen up front and extends over a canopy that pretty much puts the customer in the slot machine world.
The themes on display were Dune (the sci-fi movie), Wild Wild Buffalo and Big Fish. The Dune Machine features the movie’s video action on the in-game reels and spaceships flying overhead. Wild Wild Buffalo features high western scenery with soaring eagles. And Big Fish turns the canopy into a fascinating aquarium.