Scheduled for October 10-13 at The Venetian Expo, G2E Las Vegas is set to reunite the global gaming industry at a point of sector recovery. Among companies to exhibit at the can't-miss industry event is supplier of gaming systems and jackpots DR Gaming Technology (DRGT), which will be presenting its solutions at Stand 4405.
Ahead of this year's edition - the first fully in-person one since the pandemic - Yogonet spoke with DRGT's CEO Jurgen De Munck. In this exclusive interview, he discusses the company's system-driven jackpots and its player-centric developments in cashless, plus expectations for the event.
As the casino industry rebounds from the pandemic, how would you describe the current demands from the market? What opportunities could this event open in terms of networking and potential deals?
It sounds quite dramatic, doesn’t it? Those words: ‘rebound from the pandemic’, but we all know they’re true, and whilst in my view it is still quite surreal, it affected every single one of us, and every single business sector; none more so than our entertainment industry.
In respect of your question though I maintain that inherently the market is still after some form of escapism, a break from reality and a memorable value-for-money experience that includes a surprise or two. The challenge though, whilst all of us are aware of these demands, is that as service providers to the sector, and probably more so as operators, our businesses remain under pressure as we recover from the longer-term effects of COVID-19.
The opportunities I believe G2E will open from a deal perspective will relate in all likelihood to cashless gaming (a technology that much of our business has been built off of, and that the pandemic has expedited the further adoption of); and products (and services) that meet the escapism and surprise demands from our players, but similarly need to offer operators ‘bang for their buck’.
CEO Jurgen De Munck at G2E 2019
What are your specific goals for this edition, considering it's the first fully in-person one since the pandemic? What will make the company stand out from the competition?
The goals, I have no doubt, for any exhibitor and (in most cases) visitor to G2E, or any expo for that matter, are exactly what you referred to in your initial question: networking and deals.
What I believe makes a company’s showing at an exhibition worthwhile and memorable - and this obviously is aside from the size and or design of their actual booth which has a significant effect on ‘walk in traffic’ - follows the efforts made ahead of the exhibition.
Any exhibitor worth their salt engages with customers and potential customers, and in our case partners and potential partners (as in the systems and jackpots business we are exactly that) ahead of an exhibition, prepares engagement sessions, and in many cases tailors those sessions to meet specific needs.
What is key though is that an event like G2E, which in my view - and not taking anything away from what Clarion managed to deliver in respect of ICE 2022 and its VOX conference in April - will be as you correctly stated: the first '….fully in-person…' event post-COVID, is the opportunity to again physically amass thousands of industry operators and suppliers together in one place for 3 days – that is something invaluable, and almost impossible to actually quantify.
What new technologies is DRGT seeking to leverage in its current products portfolio, and what markets will you focus on at the expo?
Despite the global spread of visitors attending G2E, it remains a key engagement opportunity for particularly our North American, LatAm, and Caribbean customers. Interestingly, 2022 is also a particularly significant year for us in respect of the Americas as it marks our 10th anniversary in the region. We opened our initial ‘local’ office in Lima in 2012, subsequent to which our footprint now extends to Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay, and Uruguay, amongst others.
A key new addition to specifically our cashless offering (a technology we have been advocating, developing and installing internationally since our inception in 2005) is a solution that now allows players to top-up their account without having to leave their EGM.
All a player needs to do is select ‘top-up’, and then an amount on their drScreenUltra player tracking display. Our technology then generates a unique QR code which the player then scans with their smartphone. The QR Code then ‘takes the player’ to a selected secure pay gate (e.g. PayPal) where the payment is affected in much the same way as you’d purchase an airline ticket online.
The transaction is then verified by the player through their own personal banking App and the transfer is affected; either directly to the slot machine or, depending on local regulatory requirements, the players account/card. Pretty simple and something our customers, and many of their players are really enjoying.
Could you perhaps expand a little on DRGT’s broader product lineup? The two product pillars, if you like, outside of your core systems offering are cashless and jackpots, correct?
100% correct! The two dovetail one another, and I firmly believe that it is this holistic solution that sets us apart.
What cashless does, outside of the ease of use for players, and the operational and physical cost benefits for operators, is drive tracked game play, and as such provide operators with significant insights as to how to not only reward players, but also serve them tailored products and offers – one of those is jackpots. The surprise and delight element I referred to earlier.
Historically jackpots were ‘standalone’, and as a result relatively limited in respect of what configuration options they were able to provide operators and their players. In addition to that, the developers of those jackpots also defined the physical make and often model of EGMs that they were available on, not to mention the theme too. Even with the advent of wide-area technology, this status quo remained.
What more recent developments in technology have afforded us is the ability to create a mesh management system network via our patented drSMIB; once installed in each EGM, it connects every slot machine in a casino to every other slot machine, and/or Table, capturing all jackpot (and other gameplay) data, incrementing it locally and then sharing it across the distributed network. What this does is not only afford operators unsurpassed reliability, but also no need for any add-on equipment.
With our system in place all that is required is the enabling of the jackpot feature on our drSMIB, and one is then able to connect as few as maybe 5 EGMs in a single venue to as many as our single biggest jackpot customer who has our solution installed on over 5,000 devices across approximately 100 venues. It really is an extremely powerful tool.
Operating within our system, as opposed to alongside or on top of it, our ‘system-driven’ jackpots provide operators with arguably the widest selection of configuration options currently available in the market, along with the ability to not only ‘set-up’ a jackpot as they see fit on any 3rd party EGM, but then serve it to whomever they choose, when they choose, based on the gameplay data derived from our cashless solution.
As we all do our level best to differentiate ourselves from one another, and service levels aside (as these remain a differentiating given), system-driven jackpots empower operators to do just that: serve tailored products to specific players, as and when they see fit.