International Game Technology (IGT), the world’s largest gaming machine manufacturer, last week announced it has installed a server-based, downloadable slot system at the Barona Valley Ranch Resort casino in San Diego.
The cutting-edge system, which was unveiled by IGT at last fall’s G2E, is believed to be the first such system to be installed in a U.S. casino.
The "sb" system from IGT includes 20 Game King machines and six video slot themes, all of which were approved by the Barona Gaming Commission and certified by Gaming Laboratories Inc. (GLI).
"This is the first step in a long process of submittals, development and live testing, in jurisdictions throughout the world, which we hope will lead to widespread acceptance and use of this new technology," said Steve Morro, president of IGT’s gaming group. "Barona is a great partner that is forward thinking and committed to helping make these products successful for them and their players."
Server-based gaming allows the casino to download games and other info from one central computer to "generic" slot machines on the casino floor.
In addition to changing games on the fly, as well as denominations and payback percentages, casino operators can also customize their game content by offering special incentives and bonuses to, say, slot club members, special customers and VIPs.
Some systems even allow the operator to pre-schedule what games he wants on the slot floor, depending on the time and day of the week.
IGT’s server-based system features a library of game choices — possibly hundreds of games — that are stored on a central server and downloaded into generic "terminals" that look like slot cabinets.
Server-based gaming is being used in a handful of venues outside the United States, including in about 9,000 terminals operated by Hilton Hotel casinos abroad.
Barona was a logical choice to try out the new system — it was the first California casino to offer cashless (ticket-in, ticket-out) gaming as well as a proprietary patron service system for its high-takes players.
"We believe that the future of server-based gaming for the operator will be directly related to its value to the casino player," said Lee Skelley, assistant GM of the Barona Valley Ranch casino. "For the first time, an up-to-the-second slot experience, customized to the players’ expectations, will become possible."
In Nevada, no specific timetable has been established for approving downloadable slots, but regulators could approve technical standards early in 2006.