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Slot Floor Dynamics Require an Expert's Touch7 January 2009
Managing a casino's slot machine inventory is a little like running a major league baseball team: you can never stand still.
Just ask Philippe Khouri, vice president of operations at Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel. Even though his responsibilities are expanded in his present position, Philippe is the former vice president of slots for Showboat Casino in Atlantic City and has executive experience in slot operations at several different Harrah's properties.
He tracks industry trends, evaluates the current products, and makes plans for replacing units that don't perform with ones that will.
Something he's looking forward to is the debut of the new Star Trek slots from WMS Gaming.
"We're not officially approved in Illinois, but it has been submitted by WMS to the gaming commission," Khouri said. "As far as exclusives go, every Harrah's property is getting a few of these machines. We're going to be getting four, I believe, probably in February. I can't say for certain because sometimes things get turned back when they're going through the approval process, but that's what we're projecting right now."
The Star Trek slots were developed on the manufacturer's exclusive Adaptive Gaming platform, which allows players to save their progress and pick up the game where they left off on their next casino visit.
"This is pretty creative," Khouri said. "Think about video games in general, like Tiger Woods golf, for instance. When you start getting good scores you get more money and you can buy new equipment and become a better player.
"Star Trek is kind of the same concept. Players get more medals as they go through the episodes. New episodes are unlocked as you reach a certain amount of medals. People want to keep coming back so they can get to the next episode."
The industry is trending toward the lower denomination video and five-reel gaming products. Harrah's Joliet has been bringing in more two-cent, three-cent and five-cent games to meet the customer demand.
"You can bet just as much as you would on a quarter or dollar game, but they (low denomination slots) seem to be more exciting because there are more lines involved and more 'hit' frequency," Khouri observed.
Some of the more popular themes are games that are leased to casinos by the manufacturers rather than ones the casinos purchase outright.
"As far as leased product goes, we constantly want to change that out as soon as it drops off," Khouri revealed. "Not every game is like Wheel of Fortune, which just never dies down."
Khouri knows that his slot floor is only as popular and productive as what products are in place. Making wise choices from among all of the games that the various manufacturers roll out is crucial.
"Bally Technologies has done a great job the last couple of years," he said. "Now their big effort is making the games more exciting for our guests. They've been concentrating a lot on changing up their games from a math perspective. We should see some good stuff from Bally.
"IGT (International Game Technology) is kind of a wait and see," he said. "They've done some pretty cool stuff with their displays and video technology. IGT is the dominant player, but they've struggled a little bit in the past hitting home runs with the video product. They still do a great job on the lease side with Wheel of Fortune and the EBay slot game, which is something we're also looking at potentially getting."
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp