Survey Results show Technology to play a Critical Role in future Success of Gaming Entertainment Industry

Server-Based Games Cited as New Technology That Will Most Impact Customers and Operators

Las Vegas – New technological advances, and how well casinos implement them, will play crucial roles in the future success of the gaming entertainment industry, according to the preliminary results of a survey of leading casino industry executives released today at Global Gaming Expo (G2E). The executives also rank server-based gaming as the emerging technology that will have the most impact on both the customer and operator experience in the years to come.

The 2006 installment of the G2E Future Watch Series, an annual research survey conducted in conjunction with Global Gaming Expo (G2E), taking place this week Nov. 14-16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, examines the present and future role of technology in the gaming entertainment industry through in-depth surveys of 16 leading casino industry executives and analysts. The survey covered technological innovations ranging from server-based games and RFID to mobile gaming and database management systems. The majority of those surveyed have been working in the industry for more than a decade, and many are the CEO or president of their respective companies.

“From mobile technology to the Internet, technology has been at the heart of myriad changes in every aspect of our lives – and our industry,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “This year’s Future Watch survey confirms that technological innovations and advances will continue to change how casinos operate – both in how we interact with customers and in our back-of-the-house operations – in real and lasting ways.”

An overwhelming majority — 94 percent — of the industry executives surveyed say that the way casino operators make use of technology is “very critical” to their success. A small subset of our experts (6 percent) goes so far as to say that technology will “determine the success of a property more than anything else.”

When asked to grade the industry on how successful it had been over the last five years in utilizing technology to further its goals, substantial majorities of those surveyed think the industry has enjoyed a great deal of success. More than three-quarters of respondents think advances in casino resort technology have been either extremely” or “somewhat successful” in enhancing the guest experience (81 percent), generating revenue (76 percent) and lowering expenses (77 percent).

When asked to rank five different types of technology based on how they will impact customer experience in the years to come, a substantial plurality (44 percent) of the industry insiders surveyed say the arrival of server-based and/or downloadable gaming machines will lead to the most significant change. RFID technology and improved database management also will have a significant impact on the customer experience, according to our respondents, with 25 percent of respondents ranking each of those technologies first. Both biometric technology (ranked first by just 6 percent) and hand-held, wireless gaming are viewed as having less on an impact at this stage in their development.

Just as with customers, the industry leaders see server-based or downloadable slots as the technological innovation having the most impact on gaming operators over the next five years (53 percent give it their number one ranking). Interestingly though, despite its higher rating for impacting the customer experience, RFID is viewed as having less of an impact on operators, with only 7 percent ranking it number one. Findings also suggest further improvements in database management are going to be important for operators in coming years (40 percent rank it first).

Fully 87 percent of the executives surveyed say technology will lead to major changes in the types of games casinos can offer. More than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) estimate that in five years, somewhere between 20 and 60 percent of the gaming floor will consist of served-based or downloadable gaming machines. Additionally, 51 percent of those surveyed think wireless, hand-held games will be available across the country within five years.

And interestingly, a significant majority (88 percent) of those surveyed also think advances in technology will allow casinos to track table game play as accurately as slot play in the future.

While the future role of technology in the industry received largely positive reviews, survey respondents do raise some concerns about introducing new technology into the customer experience. Firstly, when asked to what extent new technologies, such as RFID and biometrics, might engender privacy concerns among customers and/or employees, 63 percent say privacy issues are either “extremely significant” (38 percent) or “somewhat significant” (25 percent).

Some respondents (37 percent) also worry that the implementation of new technology, such as ticket-in/ticket-out technology, could negatively impact employee-customer interaction and make it more challenging for casino resorts to build customer loyalty.

Looking ahead five years, the executives surveyed think the most important goal for casino resort technology is to improve the customer experience (53 percent rank it their first priority); however, they are divided about whether or not this will in fact happen, with nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) agreeing that innovations over the next five to 10 years will do more to improve back-of-the-house operations than to appreciably change the customer experience. After improving the customer experience, a substantial percentage of the industry insiders (40 percent) say leveraging technology to generate higher revenues is their top objective.

To supplement the initial findings of the 2006 G2E Future Watch survey, the same survey will be conducted on-site during G2E to obtain feedback from show attendees. Attendees will be able to complete the questionnaire online in the Cyber Café by accessing a link on the show’s Web site at www.globalgamingexpo.com.

G2E is the leading trade event for the worldwide gaming entertainment community, attended by more than 26,000 industry professionals from around the world. For more information on G2E, visit the Web site at www.globalgamingexpo.com.

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