erik, we wanted to talk to you about the importance of the Caribbean market for Bally. We know for instance that you have recently entered an agreement with a casino here.
We have had a lot of success in the Caribbean in general. We consider it part of the Central American region and we have had a lot of fantastic business growth in the area, specifically with our slot machines but also our systems business as well, and we are really excited to bring our SHFL entertainment line into our product line. They have a nice presence in the Caribbean and we see a tremendous opportunity to continue showing and demonstrating our products.
Which Caribbean market is the most mature? Which has most potential?
I don’t know if there’s one that’s more mature and has more potential than the other. We’ve always believed that if we build good products then consumers will gravitate towards them. So we are really focused on innovating – which is really our credo as a company – producing new products and delivering them in our key business segments, to help casinos and their customers.
What about the customers here, player preferences here?
We do see differences in terms of what the end-player likes around the world in terms of the different products that are out there. In some of the Caribbean markets we tend to see games that have a lower line count; they tend to have a smaller average bet so we need to make sure we design products that optimize play within those parameters, so that we can provide an enjoyable player experience; they are related to the wagering habits and ultimately to the project that the customer has, because you are in the business and providing entertainment to them, and they want to be entertained. We’ve come up with some products that are really designed to meet that marketplace and we have had some success.
And what about Bally Interactive? What is the situation for remote gaming in the Caribbean?
We continue to grow our interactive business; we are live in a number of sites here and we are also live in New Jersey. There are a number of free-playsites around the world actually. Today in the Caribbean we are not doing real money wagering, but we do actively market all of our platforms and products as well, as our mobile concierge applications, because those are products that can be used whether online gaming is approved or not.
What is the main challenge for the Caribbean market and how do you think it will evolve in the short-term?
I don’t think the Caribbean markets are any different from other markets in the world. However, for existing operators the challenge is how do I keep the products fresh in the marketplace, how do I continue to reinvest on the casino floor, innovate and make things fun, and that’s where we feel we are a great provider to the industry. We make new and exciting fun games, we make system products that help casinos differentiate themselves to create new uses of technology, we have table game products that are always evolving, and changing. And the whole interactive space is another field in which I think casinos can leverage to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. I think it is about staying fresh and staying firm.