Bally, Aristocrat joining forces

14 November 2006

Two slot machine manufacturers believe joining forces is a quicker way to bring the newest gambling technology to the casino floor.

Bally Technologies and Aristocrat Technologies said Monday they will unveil a prototype of a server-based gaming system that works with slot machines manufactured by both companies this week at the Global Gaming Expo.

Sever-based gaming, also referred to as downloadable technology, conceivably allows casino customers to change games on a slot machine with a few clicks. Casinos could also have greater flexibility in managing the games on their slot machine floors.

Bally Technologies and Aristocrat said the companies will work together to develop and market a downloadable slot machine system that would service games built by each company. Game content would remain proprietary to each company. The companies' neighboring booths at the G2E trade show inside the Las Vegas Convention Center will both display the prototype.

"This spirit of cooperation among two technology leaders will go a long way toward an overall download implementation that benefits both operators and players," said Bally Technologies Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill.

At last year's G2E, server-based gaming was a hot topic in the booths of major slot machine manufacturers. But switching casino floors over to the new products has been moving at a snail's pace, the manufacturers said.

Aristocrat Global General Manager of Marketing Kent Young said a major concern was the possibility casinos would need multiple servers. Conceivably, the games of each slot maker would need their own server.

"This eliminates that issue," Young said. "The propriety nature of the game content remains the same, but it just seemed to make more sense for us to work together to come up with one solution, rather than each company coming up with multiple solutions."

Bally Technologies spokesman Marcus Prater said the main question that kept arising was how the casinos would implement multiple server-based gaming systems. One server handling the games of two manufacturers seemed to be the best concept, he said.

"The protocols for the configuration and content download will be in accordance with the Gaming Standards Association," Prater said.

Young said Bally Technologies and Aristocrat will approach other slot makers to participate in the system.

"I think we'll create a bit of a buzz at the show," Young said. "There is still a lot of interest in server-based gaming."

Stifel Nicolaus gaming analyst Steve Wieczynski said the agreement helps both Bally Technologies and Aristocrat play catch-up with rival slot maker International Gaming Technology, which has been test marketing server-based gaming in casinos in Las Vegas and California.

"It's a good move for both companies and it might play out well for them," Wieczynski said. "They're steps behind IGT."

Slot makers said they think server-based gaming could remake casino floors by the end of decade. Slot machine boxes would have pull-down menus of different games, denominations, wagering limits and payouts. Customers could tailor-make their play.


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