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AGI TOP OF THE SWISS PILE
AUSTRAIN Gaming Industries could further strengthen its market leadership in the category A and B casinos of Switzerland.
The history of AGI in Europe has always been blessed with success. At the beginning of 2006, AGI took a close look at its neighboring country, Switzerland. The machines made in Austria are very popular with the operators of the Swiss category A and B casinos.
Successful gaming concepts and an outstanding client service through Escor, AGI’s local exclusive distributor, have made the Austrian manufacturer the most successful provider of gaming equipment in Switzerland.
Swiss casino guests are quick to favour the sophisticated games following their installation, resulting in all of the games reaching the top places in the nationwide rankings.
Pascal Chambettaz of Escor said: “When we added AGI’s products to our portfolio a few years ago, they very quickly became successful. AGI definitely offers the widest range of popular games. As a matter of fact, each game from AGI that has been introduced to the Swiss market has reached top placing in the ranking lists.”
Besides innovative gaming concepts, one of the reasons for AGI’s dominant position in the Swiss market is excellent customer service: “Proximity to customers and a high level of flexibility are extremely important to Swiss casino operators,” said AGI managing director Jens Halle.
“Also, our delivery times for spare parts are unbeatable. Above all, we have found the perfect partner in Escor in terms of their excellent customer service teams.”
GPI rechips Emperors with RFID
GPI has just completed the delivery of over 200,000 chips, plaques and wheelchecks for the full rechipping of the newly- branded Emperors Palace in South Africa.
“Because it is a tested, proven and cost effective technology, the combination of RFID chips and reading devices located at cashiering points within the casino floor are proving to be the winning formula to address chip forgery and inventory issues at a very affordable price.”
The high quality chips and plaques manufactured by GPI at its Bourgogne et Grasset plant in France fulfilled the requirements of the management of the flagship casino of Peermont Global. The RFID chips provide Emperors Palace with unprecedented levels of chips management and inventory and a cost –effective solution to protect the chip bank and enhance security.
“There is no equivalent to 125khz RFID when it comes to securing and monitoring a chip bank,” says Christophe Leparoux, manager of international sales and marketing for GPI.
In addition to providing the casino with an extremely high level of security through the ability to identify each chip individually, the information can also be used to track chips, carry out inventory and monitor play.
Gallego moves on
ANGEL Gallego has set up a new base in Madrid, following his severance from Extreme Games.
Former unidesa sales chief Gallego brought Extreme to prominence as a distributor in Spain before a difference of opinion with partners led to his separation from the company. His new venture, Casino Distribuciones, will handle equipment for both the street market and for the casino industry.
“We have opened an office in Madrid and have begun to take on distribution lines,” he said. “The first was with Signs 4U of the Netherlands, which we will represent in Spain, Portugal and South America. We are in discussion with a number of companies about fresh distributorships.”
* FORMER head of sales at R Franco, Roberto Clan, is back in the business as chief executive of Zest Gaming, a company formed as a joint venture between Magic Matic, an established manufacturing and operating business, and Seco Group, which makes boards and parts.
The company is based in Italy, but Clan will continue to operate out of Spain. “We have some wonderful technology available to us,” said Clan. “Seco manufactures parts and systems for use in military and hospital situations.”
The company is turning out a succession of new products for the Italian street market, equipment for casinos and B-type machines in Spain. It has also opened in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
CASH handling equipment manufacturer JCM has opened a branch in Macau to offer direct local sales and support.
The office will sell and service the entire line of JCM products. The chairman of JCM Gold (HK), Yojiro Kamihigashi said: “We would like to do our very best to provide the best service to customers in the region and also contribute to the development of the gaming industry in general in Macau.”
Market update: targeting Eastern Europe
Let InterGaming lead you through the current state of one the industry’s most important markets…eastern Europe. Our two part guide concludes next month.
A SATURATED market with little room for further real growth, it has become increasingly professional since the 1998 introduction of gaming law.
High import duties and the high cost of new machines mean that operators either invest in domestically produced games or buy second-hand. The rapid growth of the tourist industry in Bulgaria has also brought challenges for the country’s operators.
There are half a dozen international – style casinos in the capital Sofia and video slots are the most popular type of machine, followed closely by automatic roulette. There is no equivalent of the AWP and it is estimated that there are around 13,000 gaming machines on site in Bulgaria.
On the tax front, operators have to pay an excise duty of 50 per machine per month. There is also a mandatory license issued for every venue. This is granted for a period of five years and costs between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000, depending on the location. There is also a 15 per cent tax on corporate profits.
Amusement games are not as popular as gaming machines in Bulgaria. Only a patent is needed to operate them, which is why there are no official figures on the number available.
OPERATORS here are still waiting for changes to gaming law that were announced by the government last year.
The government was responding to a grenade attack on a casino in the center of capital Prague in the summer of 2004. Operators believed that the government would focus on money laundering and licensing, but they were shocked to see that the first draft mainly affected AWP machine operators.
The biggest changes require higher deposits and company capital, changes that will hit small and medium-sized businesses. Another unpopular facet is the proposal that operators must publish all revenues per site. Operators feel that this could reveal information to competitors who could take advantage of it.
The Czech market has always been a strong one for foreign manufacturers and they will be concerned about the tightening of the law.
It is estimated that there are over 48,000 gaming machines in the Czech market and around 2,000 amusement machines. Video is rapidly replacing reels as the favorite medium and multi-players have started to come into the market. Video games are losing popularity, being replaced by redemption machines in many arcades and bowling alleys.
THE country joined the EU last year and its economy has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
Gaming and amusement operators expect that EU membership will lead to additional regulations in areas such as money laundering. Gaming facilities have already reached saturation and the competition is very tight, so it is unlikely that the market will grow much bigger.
Despite the small size of the Estonian market, it is becoming more professional and operators are investing in the latest equipment and this is a trend that looks set to continue. The capital, Tallinn, has nine casinos and 25 amusement arcades gaming machines cannot be sited in street locations.
The Estonian Gambling Operators’ Association pegs the number of gaming machines in Estonia at 2,700. There are thought to be around 500 video games and about the same number of pool tables in operation.
The Ministry of Finance keeps a tight control over the industry and increased taxes by 40 per cent at the beginning of this year. There are 122 casinos in Estonia- a high figure when you consider that the population is just 1.5 million.
THE once healthy AWP market in Hungary has been struggling for the past few years due to a particularly punitive tax regime.
The most popular types of machines in Hungary are interactive video AWPs and traditional AWPs with spinning reels. At present the ratio is around 60 per cent reel to 40 per cent video and the trend in recent years has been for video style machines to be housed in casino style machines to be housed in casino style cabinets, even though they are designed for street locations rather than casinos.
This situation seems unlikely to improve, especially in the amusement sector. On the plus side, the country is now an EU member and wages are rising, which can only increase leisure spend. And the casino sector is much healthier, with a number of Hungarian companies involved in exporting games to other eastern European countries.
There are two types of gaming machines in Hungary – category one that can only be sited in gaming halls and casinos and category two that can be operated in pubs. There are 33,000 category two and 4,000 category one on site. Amusement machines total between 2,000 and 5,000 (no official figures available).
Amusement machines are not so popular as pub owners prefer the higher income from gambling. As a result, the main amusement arcades are run in conjunction with gaming halls.
THERE is not likely to be major growth in this market in the near future due to high taxation and control by the country’s Gaming Board.
However, the economy is growing and Latvia joined the EU last year, which may result in more regulation, including new rules on money laundering. The industry is becoming increasingly professional and competition is extremely tight. Gaming machines can be sited in pubs and bars and, as a result, amusement machines do not enjoy much popularity.
The most popular games in Lativa are multigame machines. There is a top limit of five gaming machines in bars and cafes and gaming arcades must have a minimum of 10 machines. There are over 12,500 gaming machines in the market.
Latvian gaming law was established in 1994. The tax system for machines consists of two parts- state duty and machine taxes. Every year an operator must pay state duty to receive a license and then pay gaming tax every month. To enter the industry in Lativa, an operator has to make an initial payment of $ 427,000. Ongoing licenses cost $ 35,570 a year and a licenses to operate a gaming hall costs $ 2,150 a year.
HERE the casino industry suffers from too little regulation while the AWP industry is too heavily regulated, resulting in a black market that could involved up to 2,000 illegal machines.
Such is the competition between casino operators that thinks like huge jackpots and free drinks are offered as incentives. At the same time, amusement arcades are few and far between because of high taxation and the restrictive nature of the laws governing them.
Lithuania has a State Gaming Control Commission, the members of which are appointed by the political parties, and this has led to corruption claims. The AWP and casino industries are not distinguished from each other. Small casinos can be established with just three gaming tables and 30 slot machines.
As far as AWPs are concerned, single-site operation is not allowed. Also, the law does not allow pushers of multiplayer machines in arcades and cumulative jackpots are illegal. These limitations have made it difficult for arcade operators to attract players.
There are two types of games- category A and B. Category A games are played with tokens and the winnings are paid out through the machine in tokens. A category B tame is played with coins or tokens and the winnings are paid in money or tokens.
THE license for the first casino in the country has been issued to the Hyatt Regency and the Gaming Committee plans to issue another four licenses.
The future of this market will depend on what results from a desire by the government to strengthen control and regulation of the industry. The Gaming Committee was established nearly four years ago and forms part of the Ministry of Finance. This body has two main aims – to issue license and to regulate the industry.
The most popular types of machine in Albania are electronic roulettes and pokers and there are three categories of location allowed to operate machines. There are fixed monthly tax rates – category one locations pay US $ 150 for each machine, category two $100 and three $ 70.
With electronic roulette, operators have to pay for each playing position. Category one is $ 200, two $ 150 and threes $ 100. All gaming machines in Albania must pay out no less than 80 per cent back to the player. It is estimated that there are around 2,900 gaming machines in Albania.
Amusement machines are popular, but there are no statistics available regarding numbers on site. Such games do not come under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Committee