Video interview with Noah Acres

"Acres focuses on technology that makes casinos more profitable and our products at G2E were created with this in mind"

Reading time 7:01 min

With only just a few days separating us from a new edition of G2E Las Vegas, to be held October 9 - 12 at The Venetian Expo, Yogonet caught up with Noah Acres of casino technology developer Acres Manufacturing Company to know what the business has in store for the expo and how its portfolio of solutions improve profitability and loyalty, including the highly-anticipated Foundation HQ casino management system.

What do you expect from the new edition of G2E Las Vegas?

G2E is always a lot of fun because everybody in the industry gets to see all the new creative ideas that others have produced over the course of the year. For us, of course, it's a chance to show our own creations and show our own progress.

My expectation is that it's going to be a huge year for attendance at G2E. It's going to probably be about the biggest year ever and anybody who comes and stops by our booth and chats with Acres at the show is going to be left with the distinct impression that our technology can dramatically increase casino profits.

Can you provide us an overview of what products will be highlighted and what will visitors approaching your stand find there?

Acres is always laser-focused on developing technology that makes casinos more profitable, so any product that we showcase at G2E or elsewhere always is created with casino profitability in mind. Some of the products that we are showcasing this year are really focused on player engagement so that we can increase play and increase loyalty.

These top-line items include the Cashless Casino solution and Ticket-In Bonu-Out (TIBO). We're also debuting our Foundation HQ Casino Management System, which uses real-time analytics to enroll and market to players and maximize their entertainment and engagement.

One of Foundation HQ's main features is that it helps casinos scale new database acquisition at a significantly lower cost, and facilities enrollment as well. How is this achieved, and what else can you tell us about it?

A really big piece of Foundation is the new enrollment technology. Foundation removes all the friction from enrolling in a casino loyalty club. From the game, players can just scan a QR code and quickly enroll and start earning loyalty rewards. People can also, if they didn't bring their player card, use that QR code to essentially card into the game.

If you're familiar with how loyalty works today in casinos, you know players have to walk over to the club, stand in line, get a card, and then walk back. We did a survey and found that casinos today are making players wait a combined 1.1 billion minutes in line each year and that over 80% of the cards that are printed are actually reprints of pre-existing player accounts. What that means is that people don't really value the cards to begin with. They're discarding them after the visit.

We're helping the industry transform to this new method that is going to greatly increase the number of people who engage. If you look at the amount of time that players spend waiting in line, that's time that players are not using to spend their money and generate revenue for the casino. If we are able to deploy this new enrollment technology, casino profitability is going to be significantly impacted.

In addition to that study, Acres released a recent position paper that found that free play costs casinos more than $37 billion per year. One concept that we have seen gain momentum is "gamification." How does the company leverage this idea in its portfolio, and how does an effective gamified strategy help casinos save costs?

Free play is a one-size-fits-all solution in the industry, and it gets deployed whether or not players ask for it or deserve it, whether or not it moves the needle. We see a lot of free play being wasted and a lot of that expense goes back to the time value of the player's visit. Everybody has a limited amount of time they can be at a casino, and if they spend it essentially burning off free play, it's just as if they were standing in line for the player's club. That's time that they cannot use to spend their own money.

Gamification is a really cool concept. The reason players are in the casino, to begin with, is to play games and to win money. We propose an additional loyalty tool besides free play. Free play can be used in certain circumstances, but in a lot of cases, we actually need the players to play faster and increase their bets. If we can apply what we call multipliers to a game and give people increased pays for a limited period of time, that gets them playing faster, playing more, and it's a more entertaining and engaging prize that they're probably going to have fun participating in.

They're going to want to stick around a little bit longer and try to earn it again. I think that we really owe it to the players. Our main focus as a company is delivering these gamified loyalty experiences that make people want to play more, stay longer and come back again and bring a friend.

Two products that you mentioned will be part of the event are TIBO, a slot ticketing solution that dispenses cashable tickets and bonuses directly to players that launched earlier this year, and Cashless Casino. What has TIBO's initial reception been like in these first few months? And as for cashless, how has Acres' footprint in this area developed this year?

We did increase our cashless footprint this year. We're now live in 11 states. Pretty early in 2023, we got some pretty significant approvals and new states like Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. About 35,000 games are live on cashless. I see a lot of casinos looking to add cashless to their portfolio in 2024 as a service that they're offering to players, and Cashless Casino is the industry's best-of-breed solution. We can bring any casino up on cashless within 100 days; all they really need to do is select a payment provider and a mobile app provider. We make it a very, very easy process.

In terms of TIBO, that's always an interesting product that gets headlines. People are really fascinated by it. We've successfully concluded one TIBO field trial in Nevada and we're set to launch another in the next few weeks. Most of the stuff that we've been doing to bonus to the ticket printer thus far has been pretty simple, like giving away drink coupons. Once we clear this second field trial in a few weeks we're going to start doing some really cool things.

Hopefully, in early 2024, we can do a promotion on video poker where somebody hits four of a kind or a certain hand value and we pop out a bonus ticket; or maybe we can do one integrating live sports. NHL season is starting pretty soon and we got the Golden Knights here in Vegas, so hopefully we can do one where players get a TIBO bonus when the Knights score a goal, which would be a lot of fun. I think that 2024 is going to be a great year for cashless and I think it's also the year that we're going to start putting out a lot of stuff with TIBO.

While we are seeing all these emerging technologies in gaming there have been concerns, including in Nevada, where G2E takes place, due to slow gaming equipment approvals. Could these delays in timelines and approvals impact innovation in the gaming industry?

Yes, definitely. I can tell you from personal experience that slow equipment approvals in gaming definitely do slow down innovation in the industry. First of all, we have to recognize that gaming is a really highly regulated industry, and obviously rightfully so. But now we're in a situation where there are dozens and dozens of regulators from every individual state that has gaming. Plus, if there's a tribe, they have their own regulatory body as well.

What is the regulator for? The regulator is there, in my opinion, to make sure that the games are fair; that the players are being treated fairly and correctly. And number two, to make sure that the casino is doing proper accounting and paying their taxes correctly. The tricky part comes when you have a solution that's approved and working in a dozen jurisdictions with no consumer complaints and no tax problems reported. Yet it's not okay in Nevada or maybe another state.

That causes companies like Acres to say: "Hey, we've invested tens of millions of dollars in creating new technology, why can't we monetize or deploy it in Nevada?" There are other talented companies and investors that will think - "Maybe this is an industry we want to stay out of altogether because there are so many regulatory questions that can't be answered." They might think that investing in this industry and trying to create new technologies can be a risk because maybe the products will never get to see the light of day.

It's a really complicated issue. The people at the Nevada Gaming Control Board work really hard and have a lot on their plate. I've come to realize that this year, engaging with them directly. I'm really glad that Governor Lombardo, who's the new governor in Nevada, made this a priority when he came into office. From what I've seen, the board members and staff at the NGCB are really engaging in this issue.

Everybody wants to see the industry succeed in Nevada and hopefully, we can get somewhere. There are some suggestions on the table and we'll see what we can come up with. This is an issue that everybody recognizes needs to get fixed and we have some great leadership in Nevada that's trying to to solve it.

What can we expect from Acres in the near future?

The big thing that we're really focused on is launching our Foundation casino management system. We currently expect to do that quite early in 2024, so we're drumming up to that date. Once that date comes, then we'll be on to the next one, trying to get more footprint for Foundation, Cashless Casino, TIBO and all the cool tools that we've been developing. I think that 2024 is looking to be a really strong year for Acres

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