Slot tournament management systems are gaining popularity in casinos, creating simplicity for operators and bringing fun and excitement for patrons.
By Joan Mantini
Slot tournaments bring energy, excitement and competition to the casino, which is perhaps the reason they are gaining popularity with patrons both on and off the casino floor.
In addition to creating excitement, slot tournaments provide operators with a number of tangible benefits such as the ability to keep customers at the facility longer (and hopefully gambling more), cross promotion with other areas and attractions within the resort and, if successful enough, much needed distinction in increasingly competitive gaming marketplaces.
The good news for operators seeking to make a slot tourney splash-gaming suppliers are continuing to evolve slot tournament management systems. These advancements in technology are making it easier for slot tournaments to be more automated, increasing game selection, decreasing operator responsibility, and lowering the overall operating expenses by making tournaments more efficient.
“Casinos have always seen the value for slot tournaments, and with today’s tournament systems, they are able to run them in a cost effective manner to help increase overall revenue,” said Keith Riggs, vice president of gaming technology at Everi. “Additionally, by providing appealing content and seamless integration, casinos now have the opportunity to engage and entertain players with a different gaming experience that encourages social interaction, making them feel like part of a community.”
As an added incentive, fully-integrated slot tournament management systems allow the casino operator to build a slot tournament marketing program around real-time incentives. “Casinos are able to define targeted actions — such as new loyalty card sign-ups, particular wager amounts, or time on device — and automatically reward players through the casino management system based on whether carded players have completed qualification criteria,” said Michael Ratner, director, product management, systems, for Konami Gaming. This helps operators customize slot tournament marketing to the wants and needs of a specific patron and perhaps get that player to visit the casino more frequently.
Indeed, as slot tournament technology continues to evolve, it’s likely casino operators are no longer faced with the decision of “should we get a tournament system,” but rather, “what tournament system will work best for our operation?” After all, there are currently plenty of slot tournament systems from which to choose. Here is a quick rundown of the latest technological advancements from some of the most popular slot tournament systems providers:
TournEvent is Everi’s award-winning slot tournament management product and their TournEvent of Champions event continues to grow each year as a result of its success. The TournEvent product line is currently used in hundreds of casinos, making Everi one of the undisputed leaders in slot tournament management systems and technology.
“Over the years, we’ve taken feedback from casino operators and marketing teams, combined with lessons learned through our National TournEvent of Champions program, to enhance the platform,” Riggs said. “TournEvent is so easy to use that just one casino promotions employee can manage an entire slot tournament, greatly impacting staffing and costs.”
TournEvent continues to revolutionize slot tournaments for both slot operators and players with the release of their latest version, which includes new operator-friendly functionalities such as the ability to seamlessly switch from in-revenue gaming to out-of-revenue tournaments in seconds with the click of a mouse, according to Riggs. TournEvent also continues to increase operator efficiency with updated features in scoring, reporting and round management. “TournEvent enhances the player experience and eliminates operator headaches with a number of features that prove this system triumphs above the rest, and when you add our patented TournEvent of Champions campaign to the mix, there simply is no comparison,” Riggs said.
TournEvent of Champions (TOC) is a six-month slot tournament tour that takes place across more than 100 casinos in North America and culminates with a finale in Las Vegas where the finalists compete for a US$1 million top prize. In 2015 alone, TOC traveled 50,000 miles and interacted with more than 250,000 players. “It’s a game-changer and we’re looking to keep the momentum going as we celebrate TOC’s five-year anniversary in 2016,” Riggs said.
Many new features of TournEvent have been implemented to ease the operation of slot tournaments which results in an enhanced player experience, Riggs remarked. “While the industry attempts to match the capabilities of TournEvent, we look to the future, with the belief that there is opportunity for innovation through delivery of the tournament experience to a wider audience in the form of new and exciting games,” Riggs added.
Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system offers True-Time Tournaments. It’s one of SYNKROS’ top marketing tools, with awardwinning functionality, according to company literature. True-Time Tournaments gives operators a single location to configure, manage and monitor both Player-on-Demand and SYNKstart synchronized tournaments. Casino properties are able to choose from a broad library of available tournament themes. In addition, Player-on- Demand tournaments allow patrons to choose which tournament theme they wish to play, in true multi-game format to help keep promotions fresh and engaging.
True-Time Tournaments allows players to earn tournament entries from any machine and play tournaments on machines that are picture-in-picture enabled. Any touch- screen enabled machine can be instantly transformed into a tournament-capable machine, and then returned back into revenue-generating game play. Casino operators do not have to reserve dedicated tournament-only machines, nor do they have to purchase specific machines from a vendor in order to launch tournament capabilities across their casino floor. Everything is managed, controlled and deployed through a single location within SYNKROS.
“One of Konami’s high priorities is to deliver as much loyalty information to the player as possible directly onto their smartphone,” Ratner said. “Konami’s SYNKiosk mobile application pulls real-time information from their SYNKROS casino management system and will allow players to access and view information that is typically available to them while they are at the slot machine, such as bonus offers and incentives. For instance; allowing loyalty patrons to view and redeem their tournament entries on a mobile device. Players will be able to play their tournament game via smartphone if the property allows. Once a player earns their tournament entry at the casino property, they can view it on their phone from anywhere and play their entry remotely, or at any video slot machine with windowing functionality.”
“In terms of our outlook moving forward, Konami is uniquely focused on delivering player experiences directly on to mobile devices,” Ratner added. “For example, the potential for players to use their personal smartphone as a medium to view information that they would typically see at the slot machine, and offering targeted bonusing applications directly on their mobile device. Konami aims to augment a player’s gaming experience by using a familiar, everyday device that players already have in order to provide more opportunities for player engagement.”
Tournament Manager, IGT’s slot tournament solution, has been in the field for several years and the company recently unveiled Tournament Manager 5.0, its latest iteration of the system. Part of the Tournament Manager 5.0 offering is Spin Ferno, a product that enables operators to host single or multi-site slot tournaments on IGT’s S3000 line of spinning reel cabinets.
“Spin Ferno debuted at G2E and it was met with resounding enthusiasm, as it gives our customers another way to build on the successful momentum of the S3000 cabinet,” said Victor Duarte, global chief product officer, gaming, for IGT. “Of course the player interest in the solution is what drives its success, and response to the S3000 cabinet has been remarkable. Our focus groups and G2E feedback on Spin Ferno reflect a similar positive sentiment.
Players really enjoy the touch-panel display below the Spin Ferno mechanical reels, as it adds an extra, interactive element to the spinning reel slot experiences and encourages players to use both hands in tournament play, rather than just bashing buttons repeatedly.”
According to Duarte, Spin Ferno is going through trials and is expected to enter the market in early 2016. “Based on feedback collected at G2E and the overall popularity of the S3000 cabinet as performance predictors, we believe that this product is wellpositioned to be a hit on casino floors.”
With a 90 percent market share in the video poker space, it only makes sense that IGT has also developed a tournament solution for the still popular slot game format.The company’s Ultimate X Poker with Power Deals Tournament Game is fueled by Tournament Manager 4.0 and enables operators to host spirited video poker tournament games on their casino floors.
Online literature states that with the Bally Tournaments Express, casino operators can quickly and easily turn just about any iVIEW Display Manager (DM)-equipped slot machine on their floor into tournament machines, regardless of the slot-management system or manufacturer. Once the tournament ends, games can easily be switched back into revenue-generating mode, adding versatility and the best use of floor space. Using a PC or tablet, Tournaments Express can easily change more than 120 different slot cabinets from over 20 manufacturers into tournament games within seconds. The Tournaments Express game suite includes just about any kind of tournament — free-play, invite-only, buy-in, multi-round, group-start sessions, or play-as-you-come.
Tournaments Express is a complete package that includes an interactive kiosk for players to self-register — requiring less time and fewer operating staff. There is also a display that shows scores and results in real-time for everyone to see. A feature setting Scientific Games apart from competitors is the full integration of the player tracking system. “A lot of the competitive solutions all make various portions of the tournament operations, but only the DM tournament product enables everything from tournament creation, setting-up the invite list, segmenting players, all the way through to running the tournament and at the very end awarding those prizes,” said Ted Keenan, senior director of systems product management, Scientific Games.
Another claim to fame for Tournaments Express is that it’s the first system to offer a Bonus Tournament format which allows the game to stay in revenue producing mode. This allows the player to continue to play their base game while at the same time playing their bonus tournament game.
“We are taking the tournament application and really expanding it into other areas and opportunities,” said Tom Doyle, vice president of systems product management for Scientific Games. “One of the features that is coming out next year is that we are going to allow the people at the machine to suddenly have the opportunity to buy into a slot tournament.” Scientific Games’ new BetVIEW technology is a new wagering solution that enables players to make secondary, concurrent bets, on a variety of games through Bally’s iVIEW DM and the Elite Bonusing Suite. Players will be able to spontaneously use their game meter credits and place additional wagers on secondary games like floor-wide tournaments, without leaving their machines.