Video interview with Noah Acres

Acres: "Casinos often make choices based on tradition and we're moving to an era of data-driven decisions"

Reading time 5:25 min

Ahead of this year's edition of G2E, Noah Acres of Acres Manufacturing Company told Yogonet that the casino loyalty and technology provider would be showcasing in Las Vegas "how the cashless casino experience should be." In a new exclusive video interview, the expert now reflects on the firm's participation at the major gambling event; discusses data and technology in the industry; and talks about recent partnerships, including Sightline and Maverick Gaming.

What would you describe Acres' participation like, and what products did you focus on at the event?

This year, we really focused on our Cashless Casino application because cashless is really what casinos want. They're expressing the most urgent need to go cashless, and our application makes any slot machine or table game cashless compatible with any mobile app. It could be one that they buy or one that they make, but it just works.

The main takeaway that we left with is just confirmation that this is actually what casinos want. They want to go cashless and they want to do it ASAP. And I think that Cashless Casino and our Foundation CMS are the best way to roll out cashless and in the most cost-effective manner while getting the quickest deployment possible.

This was the largest edition in a few years, now returning to pre-pandemic attendance levels. What can you tell us in regard to networking within the expo? What kind of conversations did you have there? What did it feel like to return to the G2E?

It was great. There was a lot of enthusiasm from both the people who were just attending and the people who were exhibiting. It was busy, all three days of the actual show floor. I heard a lot of exhibitors and a lot of attendees just talking about how those who had booths were very busy with people coming through to check out their stuff. And obviously, for a lot of people, this is the first time that they've come in two or three years and the first time they've been able to check in on the vendors they rely on. That was really good.

Just before G2E, Sightline Payments announced Project 250. They're going to be investing in a $300 million fund that they're using to basically subsidize the cost of Foundation for casinos that want to roll out cashless. In terms of business, the line to talk about Project 250 was probably about two miles long at any given moment of the show. We were very, very busy talking about that.

What else can you tell us about this major project?

If you just step back and look at it from a wide angle, operators want cashless almost universally. The problem that we have in our industry today is that casinos are blocked from going cashless by their system vendors because they can't deploy a quality cashless experience. Sightline is contributing to removing this roadblock by helping operators pay for the cost of Foundation to implement cashless.

This is really badly needed by the industry and we're very proud to be working with Sightline on Project 250. This is the type of initiative that can really change the face of our industry for decades. It's definitely a very big source of interest. Frankly, it seems like everybody wants to talk about Project 250.

You told us in our latest interview that Acres would be showcasing "how the cashless experience should be." What are some specific comments you received from those approaching Acres' booth?

Our very clear vision is that the cashless experience should be mobile. It shouldn't rely on you keying into a clunky on-machine interface. It should be mobile, with an app, and it should be bundled with a mobile player experience. We hear from casinos all the time that players have to leave their game to go to a kiosk to find their current points balance. So with our solution, along with the cashless, we're accruing the players' points balance in real-time. They can look at the app and see every spin of the slot machine. They look on the app and they see the points balance went up. We're giving players real-time feedback for their experience.

Now we have the ability to layer on bonuses and messaging based upon game results or accumulated results. I would say the absolute star of our show at G2 was the Double Jackpot Time bonus. This is a bonus that players earn by connecting their mobile app to a slot machine. When the player pushes a Double Jackpot Time button on their app, it triggers the big sound and light package to go off, and all the pays on the slot machine are doubled for 30 seconds. Just hearing that Double Jackpot Time music playing and seeing the players slam on the button, that's really cool.

This is something that can be triggered by a player's mobile device. So when you ask what should the cash experience be, it should be one that encompasses all of this. And frankly, what we see elsewhere is limited to the ability to download credits to the game and that's it. I don't think that type of experience is going to get widespread user adaptation, like that all-encompassing solution that we're delivering will.

You participated in a panel within the expo on data and how to use it. What did you focus on for your presentation?

The panel that I was on featured a handful of casino data experts, and they discussed how vital data is to a casino. Again, if you step back and you look at business from a wide lens, Google is a data company, Amazon is a data company, and casinos, too, should become data companies. But right now we don't have the technology to do that. However, with Foundation and the ability to collect real-time data and open that real-time data through an API to other applications, we can become data companies.

The really sharp people who follow our industry can really see the shift that's going to take place over the next few years. Today, casinos oftentimes make decisions based on tradition or what's generally worked in the past. And we're moving to an era of data-driven decisions. What's worked in the past isn't going to cut it anymore when you have big data to guide every decision you make going forward. 

Last month, you announced a new deal with Maverick Gaming to deploy cashless gaming at its properties. How will the casino experience at their properties change?

Implementing Foundation at Maverick's properties is going to enable a whole new variety of bonuses and experiences for players. This comes from Foundation's unique ability to deliver real-time data and use any data point as a trigger event for a message or a bonus. And we're also going to be changing the employee experience as well with CMS Plus, which is our new casino management system.

I'll give you one example. Employees are going to become mobile. If you look at a position today, like a slot tech in a casino today, they spend a ridiculous amount of time in a back office entering data into a desktop computer and they're not on the floor. We can move all of that to an authorized mobile device so employees can get all their information right on their phones or an authorized mobile device. 

We're going to cut the number of hours it takes to configure your floor and maintain your floor. And we're going to get more employees out on the floor to help them deal with customers. All of that leads to more profit for anybody who implements Foundation.

The first deployments at Maverick will probably be early next year. We are waiting on some regulatory approvals from Nevada. They also have properties in other states as well and we've got to get through that process as well. But I think that by early next year we should be seeing some strong results from our installation at Maverick.

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