Harrah’s Entertainment announced on Monday that it had agreed to purchase a minimum of 11,000 new slot machines from International Game Technology (IGT), which said the order could be the largest in the company’s history.
The slot machines, which would be purchased without IGT’s EZ Pay ticket-in, ticket-out system, would be retrofitted with Harrah’s own Fast Cash, coinless system that is being rolled out to its casinos across the country.
"This purchase agreement will help us move even more quickly to introduce our Fast Cash system and provide our customers nationwide with their favorite new games in a convenient coinless environment," said Gary Loveman, Harrah’s president and CEO.
Harrah’s had put off implementing ticket-in, ticket-out systems until most recently, when it helped design the Fast Cash-branded system in conjunction with Alliance Gaming.
About 18 months ago, Loveman, in a gaming summit in Las Vegas, said his company was neither satisfied nor impressed with the existing coinless sytems on the market.
He added that Harrah’s preferred to design its own system, which will be adapted to the new slots being purchased from IGT.
For its part, IGT — the world’s largest manufacturer of gaming devices — said Harrah’s purchase was of "historic" proportions.
"This deal is one of the largest orders, if not the largest single order, IGT has ever received and is of historical significance for both companies," said IGT’s CEO G. Thomas Baker, IGT CEO. "This deal represents approximately 75 percent of Harrah’s expected slot purchases over the next year. With this order we are on track to achieve a new target of 60,000 to 65,000 domestic replacement machine sales for fiscal year 2004."
The epic order did not go unnoticed on Wall Street on Monday morning. After word of the purchase spread, shares of IGT skyrocketed $2.01 or 7.2 percent to an all-time high of $30.10.
The new machines will be purchased and installed as quickly as possible in order to get Harrah’s casinos on board the coinless trend.
"Our company is all about great customer service," said John Boushy, Harrah’s senior vice president of Operations, Products & Services and Information Technology. "The new IGT machines working with Fast Cash will give us the capability to take our customer service to an even higher level. By eliminating wait times for change and hopper fills, coinless gaming will offer our customers unprecedented convenience."
So far, Fast Cash has been installed on more than 3,700 slot machines at nine Harrah’s properties in five jurisdictions.
"Our coinless gaming plans are ambitious, with implementation of Fast Cash planned for more than 10,000 slots by year’s end," Boushy added. "Based on significant customer research and ongoing feedback, we are confident that our customers will embrace these new services and products."
Even though IGT will be selling machines without its own coinless systems installed, officials applauded Harrah’s for expanding the scope of coinless gaming.
"This is a significant step forward in the expansion of ticket-in, ticket-out technology nationally and we are extremely pleased that Harrah’s Entertainment is using its Fast Cash technology on our games for the benefit of their customers and casinos," said Ward Chilton, senior vice president of North American sales for IGT.