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Emily Kumler

G2E Promises Lots of Pennies, Celebrities

4 October 2004

The gaming industry's best and brightest, big companies and small, will raise the curtain Tuesday on the very latest, hottest and hippest in gaming technology as the Global Gaming Expo 2004 opens at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Pennies and celebrities promise to be two persistent themes weaving together what for the third year in a row will be the biggest show on earth for the gaming industry.

Running through Thursday, G2E will host more than 700 vendors and approximately 26,000 attendees including those who attend today's G2E training development institute, Judy Patterson, senior vice president and executive director of the American Gaming Association, said.

"It is the gaming industry's largest trade show and where the equipment suppliers unveil their newest and latest technologies as well as stimulate order flow for the next 12 months," according to an analyst report released last week by Susquehanna Financial Group.

Aristocrat Technologies will introduce 152 games at the expo, 70 percent of which are penny games. "Our theme this year is lots and lots of pennies,' " said Kent Young, an Aristocrat spokesman.

Half of the 240 games Bally Gaming and Systems will display have penny play options, said Mickey Roemer, senior vice president of game development for Bally.

WMS Industries, which plans to unveil a company record for any G2E show of 63 original games, will present its first line of low-denomination progressive games with two Monopoly Money machines: Own It All and All in the Cards.

International Game Technology spokesman Ed Rogich said low-denomination games will also be a focus for his company at G2E.

Whether pennies, new progressive machines or operating systems, new technology will be the name of the game.

"Investors need to see this technology firsthand and judge for themselves who might have the `better mousetrap,' " according to a Susquehanna statement.

IGT is introducing a new version of Wheel of Fortune featuring Pat Sajak and Vanna White on streaming video with a five-reel option, nine paylines and increased jackpots and higher wagers per play.

Bally is showcasing advances in gaming platforms, including ergonomically designed cabinets.

WMS is also introducing platforms intended to increase player engagement and comfort, including 13 new video games featuring "super animation" and sound systems developed by Boss Corp. The company is also promoting 29 new mechanical reel machines.

Aristocrat will unveil a wireless pocket computer that identifies important casino players as soon as they begin playing. The company will preview its OASIS promotional technology, which allows customers to electronically deliver specialized promotions to gamblers.

Addressing recent trends in the market, leading manufacturers will display games to fit new demands.

IGT is offering more Class II machines targeting states that prohibit traditional games.

"Oklahoma, for example, doesn't allow Class III games, the traditional Las Vegas games, but they do allow Class II, which offers huge potential growth and new revenue sources," Rogich said.

Bally is marketing new products to women. "In a nod to the ladies and a perfect companion to Bally's Playboy brand, Chippendales is featured in a `Super Frenzy' version that utilizes exciting artwork mimicking the visuals of a ladies' night out at a Chippendales show," the company said in a statement.

Bally is expecting that its Pamela Anderson special edition Playboy Get Lucky Wheel will appeal to two targeted demographics: women and Russians.

"Playboy has been a great brand and, in fact, more females play it than males," Roemer said. "Russia is primarily a video market with low denominations and higher hits and Playboy has been very successful there," he said, adding that judging by phone calls he's received he expects the Pamela Anderson game to take off in Russia.

Young said Aristocrat is going after the Latino gambler with its new Pele's Legendary Goals hyperlink game, which offers four levels and random second-screen progressive jackpots. The legendary Brazilian soccer player will be on hand to sign autographs.

"We get a good PR burst out of it," Young said about naming games after celebrities. "We're targeting the Latino market and soccer is obviously very popular."

WMS is also using celebrity endorsements to publicize two new games. The company's A Fistful of Money line will feature two new additions, Wild Shot and Wanted, paying homage to Clint Eastwood. The actor will introduce the products on Tuesday.

Drew Carey, Ann-Margret, Paul Rodriguez and other celebrities will also join the convention festivities to promote new games.

Bally will also introduce games named after popular television shows, cartoons and variations of its Saturday Night Live game.

Aristocrat is excited about its new Zorro-themed game. The company expects Zorro's brand name recognition and the character's arcane persona to help promote the game.

"Zorro is mysterious; he wears that mask," Young said. "Mystery is always good for gaming. You have a chance to win."

Among the expo's featured speakers will be Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association; and Phil Satre, chairman of Harrah's Entertainment, who will discuss financing, building and operating casinos.

G2E Promises Lots of Pennies, Celebrities is republished from