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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Alliance Set to Switch Name, Ticker

7 February 2006

Alliance Gaming hopes a trip down memory lane will give the slot machine manufacturer a fresh start.

The Las Vegas-based company said Monday it would ask its shareholders to approve a name change to Bally Technologies, which would reflect the growing systems segment of the company.

Results of the vote will be announced at Alliance's annual shareholders meeting March 6. If approved, the company will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange the next day under the symbol BYI. It trades now as AGI.

Alliance was known as Bally Gaming before a name change in the 1990s that reflected the company's multifaceted business operations. In 1975, as Bally, the company was the first gaming company -- manufacturer or operator -- ever listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Since 2000, however, Alliance has sold off its slot machine route operations in Nevada and Louisiana, a casino outside of Reno, and a German-based slot machine unit in order to concentrate on American-produced gaming equipment and management systems.

The company still owns the Rainbow Casino, a 35,000-square foot riverboat in Vicksburg, Miss.

Alliance spokesman Marcus Prater said the company will continue to be a slot machine manufacturer. But the systems division, which provides software and equipment for all areas of casino management, including accounting, slot machines and table games, has become a much larger revenue producer for the company. He said the company's systems equipment is being used in more than 600 casinos worldwide.

"Systems are technology based and the name change reflects the direction in which the company wants to focus," Prater said.

All of the company's gaming equipment is distributed under Bally Gaming and Systems, a subsidiary of Alliance Gaming.

"When we had all the other divisions, the Alliance name made sense," Prater said. "Changing to Bally Technologies allows us to concentrate on our core business."

The name change also allows Alliance to shed a title that hasn't had much good news in the past two years. The company's stock price fell almost 75 percent in value in 2004 because of diminished earnings.

In 2005, Alliance went through a management restructuring in the early part of the year and spent the last half deflecting criticism after delaying the announcement of its year-end earnings almost five months.

"As a marketing person, the name change would allow us a clean slate of sorts," Prater said.

Investors have warmed up to Alliance of late. Shares in the company hit a 52-week high Monday, closing at $16.08 during on the New York Stock Exchange, up 27 cents, or 1.71 percent. In April, Alliance hit is 52-week low of $9.32.

Company Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill said the decision to refocus the company away from multiple gaming disciplines necessitated the name change.

"Given our enhanced commitment to research and development, the Bally Technologies name also more accurately reflects our corporate identity as a true technology provider," Haddrill said.

Most of the major gaming equipment manufacturers are in the early stages of developing server-based gaming systems, which allows casinos to switch out games and content on their slot machine floor through a central computer. Prater said a name reflecting technology might give Alliance a boost in the endeavor.

"Most slot players don't realize the machines are all hooked to a network computer in some manner," Prater said. "We've been very successful in placing the back-end systems."