Video interview: Noah Acres, AMC

"We were at IGA to show the future of bonusing and the reception was tremendous"

2022-05-20
United States
Reading time 7:47 min

As we near the end of the first half of the year, one can safely describe 2022 as a very active period for Acres Manufacturing Company thus far. In February, the casino loyalty and technology developer unveiled an app store for its CMS, the Foundation App Store. And only a couple of months later, the business announced a new platform set to revolutionize bonusing: Precision Bonusing, a suite of bonus applications that utilize the Foundation system to connect to any slot machine.

Precision Bonusing made its much-expected debut last month at the Indian Gaming Trade Show and Convention, in California. The new product was presented along with the Orange Blast app, made available prior to the show. "We were there to really show the future of bonusing, and I think that we did a great job with that," Acres Manufacturing's Noah Acres tells Yogonet. "The reception was tremendous."

In addition to discussing bonusing and its future, the technology expert reflects on the needs of the tribal market and what Acres can do to assist its partners in this segment; while also discussing the gaming industry at large, which he describes "as stuck in 1995." Moreover, Noah Acres talks about new technologies hitting the market, as well as the company's upcoming presence at G2E.

What was Acres’ participation at the Indian Gaming Association’s tradeshow & convention like, and which would you describe as the main takeaways?

We were there to exhibit our Precision Bonusing’s capabilities as well as our Orange Blast app, which was available for download for anybody coming to the show, or just anybody that had access to the Google Play or Apple App Store. We were there to really show the future of bonusing, and I think that we did a great job with that. The reception was tremendous.

What presence does the tribal market have within Acres’ operations at the moment, and what are some of the main demands of the sector?

We are a company with very new technology. Foundation’s only been out for basically less than a year now, but I can tell you that no company is better positioned to help tribal gaming operators than we are, and that’s because we focus entirely on player loyalty and casino profitability, and we accomplish this through the player experience.

If you visit our Penn National Gaming installation, with them running our cashless system, and then you compare that to some of the other cashless gaming systems out there by legacy operators, the difference is night and day. It’s insane: our products are incredibly fast and the real-time experience is something that I think consumers want.

When you ask what is the big priority for tribal operators, it’s really profitability. These aren’t just businesses: they’re communities that are there to support the members of their tribe, and they can’t really fall behind and stop producing profits. And they’re gonna stop producing profits if they fail to provide a good customer experience, so we’re here to provide that better experience and increase that player loyalty.

What were some of the comments you received from industry players at the event?

A lot of comments were along the line of “Wow, we’re finally getting it; the industry is finally going to get there.” It’s like when you walk into a Dave & Buster's, or an Apple Store, or any other store that you go to in your normal everyday life, and then you walk into a casino: it’s like stepping into a time machine.

It’s like going back 25, or 30 years because there’s no real-time data; there’s no personalization. And those are the features that we’re providing. I think there was just a tremendous amount of excitement from people who want to see casinos operate with the same level of technology that you see on Netflix, Google, Amazon and anywhere else you go. 

You participated in a panel session along with other experts at the expo. What did you focus on for your presentation and what key insights did you provide? 

The panel was about applying trend data to improve marketing and gain new marketing efficiencies. Hearing the thoughts from the rest of the panel and the people in attendance only underscored the need for this real-time data that our Foundation system provides. Through it, casinos are able to market to players at the moment; not just when they walk away and send them a mail three weeks later.

We need to market to people at the moment and we need to market to them as they play, using underlying data from their gaming session. One of the analogies that I use is that when I buy a shirt on Amazon, they know that maybe I’m going to buy a hat that matches that shirt. They use trend data from my experience, but they also see that a million other people bought a shirt and then later bought a hat as well.

We need to get this granular, real-time data and compare people to others in their demographic, and that’s going to give us insights that we can use to market to people really efficiently; much more efficiently than we’re able to do today. I just think that as of today, this is not possible outside of Foundation because of the legacy system operators: they only provide partial data views on really significant delays.

That’s why in the casino industry if you are a player, you come to the casino, you sit down, you play, you leave - and nobody ever talks to you. And then the only marketing that you get is maybe three weeks later. You get a piece of direct mail sent to you in your mailbox, and that is not the way that Google, Apple, Amazon, or anybody else does business in the modern economy anymore. It’s really time for casinos to engage with new technology - and that’s what we’re here to provide.

What can you tell us in regards to face-to-face discussions at the event and potential deals? What impact do you expect the expo to have on the company?

We really impressed them with a lot of the features that we showed, in particular the Orange Blast app, which obviously is not going to be called Orange Blast; it was just named like that for IGA. This is an app that encompasses cashless gaming, data, loyalty, marketing, and bonusing - all in one. The reception to that was amazing, and I think that we definitely did leave with a lot of really good potential to score some deals and get some installations over the summer and fall.

In terms of just meeting people and seeing people face to face, it was really great. We did G2E last year, but it was like a mini G2E, so it didn’t really count. I think that conventions like G2E and IGA are great for making deals, but they’re also an opportunity to just meet people and show your presence and create that awareness of your brand. I think that we were really successful in doing all those.

In regards to the US industry at large, the latest data shows that revenue in March has set a new record, according to the American Gaming Association. The land-based sector has now rebounded from the pandemic, stronger than ever before. Do you expect this momentum to drive investment in technology?

I really hope that it does because it’d be a mistake for casino operators to assume that every month is gonna be another record month going forward. We really have to put in place the tools that can help us in the downtimes as well. And there will be downtimes coming. 

I think that we can continue to set records if we embrace new technology. The way the industry is going, and the way I think it should go, is this 360-degree view of the player where you have continuous brand engagement with that customer. They come in and you have a cashless gaming app that also does marketing and bonusing. When that player leaves the casino, they still have the app and get messages and play bonus games, earn bonus prizes and get paid directly to their wallet. That can be used to drive business or repeat visits to the casino.

There are also a lot of other ways that casinos can use that app to generate revenue as well, even outside of the casino. I think that smart operators are investing towards that future, and it’s really where we need to get because YouTube, Netflix, Google - everybody’s doing it. It’s just gaming that is stuck in 1995.

While land-based casinos are “stuck in 1995,” we are now at a moment that offers new and exciting opportunities for gaming at large, including crypto and the metaverse. Given how future-looking Acres has always been, what trends do you expect to catch up and how will they affect the traditional industry?

When you look at cryptocurrencies and NFTs, and these various different kinds of tokens - how are they different from casino points? I think that they can, in a lot of ways, be superior to casino points because players can transfer them between one another. They can be used to unlock temporary benefits. I really think that’s the way the industry is gonna go over the medium to long term, and the problem in casinos right now is that, as I said, they are stuck in 1995.

The players are getting old as well. We have done a really bad job of modernizing our technology, and that has really led to a directly aging player base. What I see is that a lot of operators are really focused on catering to their players, which of course any business would do, but when you fixate on just one group of players that you have, you ignore everybody else.

So when our player base is 55, 60, or 65 years old or more - then what happens with all the people that are 40 and 30? They’re consumers too, and casinos are completely ignoring them. I think that casinos really have to invest in the future so that they can learn to communicate with the new generations that are going to propel their businesses forward.

Going back to tribal gaming operators, these are people who can’t sell their casinos and cash out, and then move on. That casino is there to feed their families for generations, and it’s not going to be profitable in the future if your player base literally dies out. And that’s kind of where we’re going right now if we don’t modernize. There are a lot of opportunities to do so: we don’t have to reinvent the wheel; we just have to figure out how to adapt the changes to our industry.

What other industry events does the company plan to attend in the near future?

You’ll definitely be seeing us at G2E. It’s like a hundred and something days away, so it’s right around the corner. We’re gonna have a big presence there this year. We’re going to do stuff with our app, with cashless, and we’re going to do some really revolutionary stuff with bonusing that probably nobody’s ever even really thought of before. I think it’s going to “wow” a lot of people, and I’m really excited to get to G2E and just close out the year on a really strong mill.

Watch the full video interview with Noah Acres on our YouTube channel.

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