Little big things By Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports October 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm This is the best G2E show in years for new and exciting products. Each manufacturer has refined their technology, released improved new version and shown some impressive technological advances. However, there is a limit to just how much anyone can show, feature or hype in a single event, even if it’s three days long. This column is about some of those products that I think have potential, but that you’d probably miss unless you asked. And that’s what I did. I asked each executive to show me something that they thought was great, but was somewhat hidden, or at least masked by all the major product releases. Déjà Vu Diamonds – This is in the Scientific Games booth. You can spot this slot since it has a W2G symbol that has been crossed out. It looks like a no smoking warning, but it really means no taxes. For high limit ($5, $10 and $25) players, taxes are a major issue. No one like to pay them, of course, but for high limit players, it means that the game locks up on almost every single award. This is the reason that many slot jackpots on $1 games only pay out a max of $1,199; they simply want to avoid the current $1,200 taxable threshold. On high-denom games this is really a problem. Even small pays are greater than $1,200 all the time. The AGA is working to raise the 1980s $1,200 reportable threshold, but Geoff Freeman said this week, that, while he was optimistic that change was coming, it is still likely several years out. Thus, a machine like Déjà Vu Diamonds. The concept is that when you hit one of the larger awards, it is $1,199 plus some Bonus Spin. Here’s the trick: they aren’t free spins. You have to wager some of the credits on your meter to make the spins. These spins, though, are incredibly loose and on a completely different pay table. You are almost guaranteed another $1,119 hit, and this can continue until the player accumulates some big awards. Since the IRS bases their threshold on “one bet, one outcome,” this concept is immune, since there are multiple bets in play. The only thing preventing wild success is customer communication. IGT had a game with a similar concept called Sapphire some years ago, but it was the age of tokens, and they couldn’t convince players to put in more to continue play. The credit meter may be the difference.Big Multi-Games – Konami’s Selexion cabinet changed my long-held belief that multi-games wouldn’t work outside of the video poker world. They managed to solve the many problems of video reels by making instantaneous game changes. Other early competitors took just long enough to change that it became a player irritant. Even given their success, though, Konami still had one other obstacle. Many players prefer to look for their favorite game; they want to see China Shores artwork, for example. Most multi-games, including Selexion, default to a menu screen showing all the available titles. On standard sized games, a player could see China Shores, but it was small enough that it was easy to miss. Konami is now featuring the multi-game on their current Concerto Stack and the Concerto Crescent. These screens are big enough that you’ll never miss knowing that China Shores is one of the several games featured. Marketing chief Steve Walter said that these cabinets can support up to 10 games, but recommends just three or four titles to give the stronger menu display and overcome the last remaining objection to multi-games. I completely agree. Tableside PIN Debit – This is a stand-alone product from a Reno-based company called PlayOn. Their small size doesn’t mean they don’t have a big idea. It is a common urban myth in gaming that table games folks are slow to adopt technology. That may or may not be true, but we haven’t really seen many innovations on the felt since the introduction of automated shufflers years ago. PlayOn has an advantage in that most of their team had a background in operations. Therefore, they knew that any improvement in cash handling had to meet current practices, and more importantly, could not interfere with dealer practices on the games. Thus, they are demonstrating at G2E a small handheld PIN debit device that sits on a table until a player needs more chips. The dealer simply hands the device over, and the player does all the rest, as though they were at the supermarket or the pharmacy: swipe their bank card, enter a PIN, specify the amount and get a receipt. Once that’s done, a ticket that looks a lot like a slot ticket prints out at the back of the table. The dealer handles the ticket just like a bill: dispenses chips and drops it in the standard pit box. All the existing back-end accounting is identical to current practices. Even better, there is now a record of where money from a bank account goes, and digital images transmitted to Surveillance in real time. It’s been working at Thunder Valley near Sacramento very successfully for some time. It’s a product that is paving the way to our cashless future, and you can buy it now. Other Stuff – There are literally dozens of other hidden gems at this show. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors once they finish the initial sales presentation.