IGT’s still on a roll

May 20, 2003 4:06 AM

International Game Technology produces an astounding 10 new projects per month and many of them stick like Velcro on the plates of hungry customers.

"We are most excited about new games and technological advancement," said Ed Rogich, vice president of marketing for IGT. "Our Wheel of Fortune slot machine has been out since 1993 and the reel spinning version has not been changed. It continues to be our most popular creation."

As the world’s largest gaming machine manufacturer, IGT controls more than two-thirds of the market for one-armed bandits.

During the quarter that ended in March, IGT sold 34,800 machines for a total of $254 mllion, up 23 percent from the prior year.

IGT is riding a recent wave of hit video slots such as I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Family Feud and Sale of the Century. The company was the first to introduce the "ticket in, ticket out" concept, which prints out cash receipt tickets from the video machines instead of having to wait for coins to be dumped into the bins.

"We pioneered the system and just about every operator across the country is using them," Rogich said. "We have over 120 EZ Pay systems ”” Park Place, MGM Mirage, Stations and Coasts are using them."

According to IGT President Thomas Baker, Station Casinos will be purchasing up to 8,000 additional EZ Pay gaming machines over the next three years for their casino locations, as well as the new Thunder Valley Casino in Northern California.

Locally, IGT held a customer party at Cashman Field in late March during the Rockies-Dodgers exhibition baseball game to showcase the Sale Of The Century video slot game.

"Joe Garagiola (former major league catcher and broadcaster) was brought in for the Sale of the Century promotion," Rogich said. "We’ve also done that with Max Baer for the Beverly Hillbillies and our Lucille Ball imitator for the Lucy Game."

On the horizon for IGT is a 2-cent denomination M.A.S.H. game, the first of its kind. Beverly Hillbillies was the company’s first penny progressive video slot machine.

"There is a $1.50 maximum bet on the M.A.S.H. game," he said. "It should be available to hotels within a month.

Later in the year are projects involving Uno, 8-ball, a Frank Sinatra Wheel Game (complete with his favorite records) and Young Frankenstein.

In April, IGT acquired 13 U.S. patents previously owned by Eagle Company of Japan. The patents covered such slots as The Price Is Right, Harley Davidson and the new wide-area progression version of IGT’s Quartermania family of games.

"The Quartmania progression involves 5-times play," Rogich said. "It will be added to the Texas T and Diablo Diamond games."

Randy Hedrick, IGT’s Senior Vice President of Product Development, added in a recent company statement, "In addition to games like The Price Is Right that already use this technology, many of our premium products currently in the design stage will use these patents to create a look and game-play experience never before seen in North America."

Rogich also said the company was receiving a good response to a new poker game called Multi-Strike Poker, which pays at four different levels.

"A winning combination moves you to second level, where you are paid double the amount," he said. "On third level the customer is paid four times the amount and the top level gets 8-times the amount,"

The Multi-Strike Poker was voted the most innovative gaming product for 2002 at the American Gaming Summit at the Bellagio.

IGT, in existence since 1981, will be at the Gaming Technology Summit to be held May 28-29 at Green Valley Ranch.