Thomas Schmalzer, VP of Global Sales

Novomatic: “An exciting addition to the premium V.I.P. X cabinet series range will celebrate its world premiere at ICE”

Thomas Schmalzer, VP of Global Sales, Novomatic
Reading time 7:02 min

Gaming technology group Novomatic is set to showcase its products and solutions at this year’s ICE London, set to take place at the Excel center from February 6th - 8th. In a special interview with Yogonet, Thomas Schmalzer, Novomatic's VP of Global Sales, discussed the company’s goals for 2024 and the range of offerings Novomatic is set to showcase for the gaming industry at Booth S7-150. 

In the conversation, Schmalzer says that this year the company is challenging operators of traditional casinos to “think big.” He also highlights the differences in regional preferences between Europe, Asia, and the Americas, which are reflected in the trends and handling of slot games and cabinets; and outlines the company's efforts to invest in a greener future through its ESG initiatives. 

In a way, ICE London marks the start of a new year for many gambling companies worldwide. Where does the event find Novomatic this time round?

In 2024 we continue our innovative momentum and carry on supplying our customers with state-of-the-art solutions for their land-based gaming offerings from slot machines to casino management systems, cash handling solutions, and sports betting equipment. The area of online, mobile, and social gaming activities in particular has also been experiencing significant growth for several years, and we will therefore continue to focus on our online activities in 2024. 

In this context, Greentube as Novomatic’s Digital Gaming and Entertainment Division has successfully expanded its international portfolio in the areas of software development as well as system and platform technology through several strategic acquisitions. 

Continued growth in the emerging sports betting segment can also be seen in the US market as more and more states regulate sports betting and casino operators expand their offerings as a result. We are particularly pleased to see that they are increasingly relying on Novomatic technologies.

What will ICE London attendees find at Novomatic's booth this year? Any new products or services you can discuss with us?
Especially at ICE London this year, we challenge operators to think big. Operators of traditional casinos and gaming arcades are faced with constantly growing iGaming offerings and are therefore constantly striving to create attractive new terrestrial gaming entertainment offerings in their gaming venues.

They are investing in exceptional service, a feel-good atmosphere, and a sound backdrop as well as room design and floor design to create a special kind of customer experience.
With our sophisticated new V.I.P. X premium line, operators will be able to introduce a truly exceptional Very Important Player X-perience on their floor – and their guests will love how that feels. The impressive V.I.P. X Royal™ 1.85, the V.I.P. X Dream™ 3.43, and the space-optimized V.I.P. X Lounge™ 2.32 represent outstanding luxury gaming with exquisite V.I.P. comfort, extra-high and extra-wide game screens and an integrated sound system in a comfy armchair which all add up to create the most intense gaming experience and maximum player immersion. 

An exciting galactic addition to the premium V.I.P. X cabinet series range is also on the way and will celebrate its world premiere at ICE 2024. New, exclusive products and a few surprises show that the Novomatic portfolio offers the right solution for every requirement. Visit our ICE 2024 booth, experience the variety of products, and immerse yourself in a world of galactic gaming.
Given ICE London’s status as one of the major global events in the industry, what are your expectations for the event, which is being held in the UK's capital for the last time?
Even in times of virtual networking, trade shows, and industry exhibitions are of great importance. ICE is one of the most important global events in the gaming industry and is of essential value to us.

As a global market leader, Novomatic exhibits at trade shows all around the globe but ICE is a very special event for us. It gives us the opportunity to showcase the latest products and innovations and at the same time present ourselves to a broad spectrum of potential international customers.

It is also particularly helpful to stay in touch and maintain our relationships with established customers, partners, and friends. When entering new markets it offers the opportunity to establish fresh contacts with potential suppliers, possible cooperation partners, and interested customers.

Even though ICE is being held in London for the last time this year, it will remain a particularly fond memory for me personally and I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all our customers, partners, and the great city of London for being a fantastic host for so many years. So, take the chance and visit our iconic UK booth one more time!
What markets will Novomatic focus on at ICE London?
As a global player, Novomatic needs to focus on all its markets and segments. We offer solutions for everybody, such as small arcades in limited markets to large international casino resorts, worldwide. Our strength has always been to seize new opportunities for growth wherever they may arise. Our portfolio follows a 360-degree approach encompassing products and solutions for all regions, markets, and segments.
There are major differences in regional preferences between Europe, Asia, and the Americas, which are also reflected in the trends and handling of slot games and cabinets. 
The exceptional advantage of Novomatic as one of the global leaders in the gaming industry is not only its high-end gaming machines and equipment, but also the breadth of its own operations, which enables us to quickly recognize and react to market feedback and trends

Certain trends are definitely more present in specific regions of the world, while other trends can be recognized everywhere, for example, the rise of linked progressive jackpot games throughout the past years, which has found a lot of success in nearly all markets throughout the world. 

However, the core preferences of specific areas around the world remain unchanged; e.g. historical and mystical themes are popular in Europe like the Novomatic classics Book of Ra and Charming Lucky Lady; games inspired by pop culture, movies or TV shows are preferred in North America; vibrant and colorful themes linked with elements from local folklore in Latin America like CASH CONNECTION Candelas de los Muertos; Asia favors games with symbols and elements linked deeply with local traditions: dragons, the number 8, lucky symbols like in our games Lucky Twist or Lucky Trail.
Other markets have a strong focus on fruit games and certain markets on themed games. These are usually very strongly linked to progressive jackpot games, while others prefer classic multi-games.
Novomatic’s strength lies in the fact that, even in limited markets, we are able to implement the sometimes very different regulatory requirements such as gaming speed, stake or payout limits, etc. quickly. So, therefore, we have the right product for every requirement in each regulated market.

The event comes as we enter a new year for gambling. What is your assessment of how the company developed in 2023, and what should we expect from it in 2024?

Despite the global challenges, we are very satisfied with business development in 2023, as we were able to successfully continue our international growth strategy and targeted investments in product developments and technologies as well as acquisitions that helped to improve our performance and increase demand for Novomatic products.

We anticipate continued growth in 2024, as we will proceed to evaluate potential in the coming year alongside major investments in research and development in order to secure and further expand our position as market leader in core European markets such as Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and numerous countries in Eastern and Southern Europe.

iGaming is an integral part of our 360-degree strategy in regulated markets worldwide. With our core markets in Europe, we expand and gain further market share in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.
What other industry events does the company plan to attend this year?
Following ICE, we are already preparing intensely for the G2E Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in October, which provides a great platform for showcasing our innovations every year. We are also looking forward to the G2E Asia in Macao and numerous other trade shows together with our international subsidiaries, such as ENADA in one of our core markets in Italy, FIJMA in Spain, BEGE as well as BFG, and other local events in south-eastern Europe and leading events such as GAT, SAGSE, PGS and IGA in the Americas.

For us and our subsidiaries, on-site meetings are always an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and create opportunities together with customers and business partners.

Novomatic received several accolades for its sustainability endeavors, as well as its status as a major job generator in Austria, over the past year. What are the company's plans for 2024 where sustainability is concerned and how is this core value integrated into the company's processes?
Our employees are our most important asset, and we will therefore continue to make a strong commitment as an employer in 2024. Against the backdrop of our comprehensive ESG strategy, we are also investing in our extensive ESG program this year. In particular, the further expansion of photovoltaic systems in the group's central core markets is a planned fixture. 

The group's largest photovoltaic system is currently being built on an area of 20,000 m² at the headquarters site in Austria and will go into full operation in spring 2024. Not only are we investing in a greener future, but we are also making ourselves even more independent than we already are thanks to our high level of vertical integration. 

By using energy and resources responsibly, we want to make a positive contribution to environmental protection and achieve the sustainability targets we have set ourselves. In consideration of our strong group-wide commitment to responsible entertainment, we are constantly optimizing our efforts and regularly hold stakeholder dialogues with international responsible entertainment experts.

Our efforts in the area of responsible gaming are confirmed by the certification of the Global Gambling Guidance Group's G4 standard as the strictest in the area of player protection. We are also a global leader in player protection thanks to our technical innovations.
Current Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) evaluations confirm Novomatic’s non-financial performance with excellent risk and performance ratings. The rating agency ISS ESG, which specializes in sustainability, raised Novomatic AG's rating to level "C" for the first time in 2023. In this year's ESG study by PwC Austria, Novomatic is also ranked first in the industry.

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