Global Gaming Expo:
What’s new in gaming? Robotic dealers, fat cats, Willy Wonka and choose your own bingo
Hundreds of exhibitors displaying the newest products in gaming vied for the attention of thousands of people who roamed the convention hall of this year's Global Gaming Expo.
The convention is taking place this week at the Sands Expo Center and is the world's largest for the gaming industry. An estimated 25,000 people are expected to try out new games and learn about emerging technologies that likely will make their way into Las Vegas casinos over the next year.
Below is a look at some of the new products and technologies that debuted:
The new Superman slot machine from Aristocrat is the first to feature two rows for betting.
It also includes two separate reels. If penny slots are your speed, bet on Superman in increments of up to $2.50. More greedy players can choose Lex Luthor and risk between $5 and $25.
On the video screen, Lois Lane screams for help, while Clark Kent transforms into Superman and appears to fly out of the machine.
Four slots in one
Can't decide which slot game to play? Now, you don't have to choose.
Wonder 4, another Aristocrat game, allows players to pick up to four different slot machine games and play them at once.
If you have just one favorite, you can play the game four times with a single spin. Or, you can go to a menu and drag and drop up to four different games into a split screen.
The machine offers Buffalo, Pompeii, Fire Light and Wild Splash slots.
Slot machine developers know that games featuring celebrities (Michael Jackson or KISS) and famous brands (NASCAR and Big Buck Hunter) are sure to attract crowds. Now, designers at Bally Technologies are betting that slots with interesting but unknown characters will resonate with players.
Among them: Sumo Kitty.
The game features a fat cat that springs into action when a player hits a bonus and chest bumps another, equally large cat.
"These are the games that are our bread and butter," Bally spokesman Mike Trask said. "And it's different. It's safe to say there's no other game where you have two obese cats that fight each other and give you money."
Picture a robotic arm dealing baccarat cards.
It could be a reality in casinos next year.
The R-200 Robotic Arm picks up cards from a shuffler and deals them to baccarat players. It's the latest technology from Bingo Time, a Taiwanese company that aims to eliminate human error in gaming.
"Some countries, such as Vietnam, have laws against allowing a live dealer, so this is something they can use," company representative Howard Lu said.
American casinos also have expressed interest in the product, not to eliminate dealers but as an alternative to add variety to the gaming experience.
A new mobile cellphone application from Money Centers of America allows players to buy chips and withdraw money without leaving their chairs. The app, which gamblers download and which dealers are connected to, allows customers to check their bank balance, buy more chips and send money to pit supervisors via their smartphone.
Ever tried to get a good Internet connection in a casino? Sometimes you can't even get a strong cellphone signal.
Las Vegas-based R66T, short for Route 66, helps casinos provide free Wi-Fi connections for guests. It works off an interface that produces revenue through advertising, which the company shares with the casinos and which pays for the connection. It is free for casino visitors.
The company also provided Wi-Fi for G2E this week.
IGT, the world's largest slot manufacturer, is expanding its games to attract players from various geographic regions and cultures.
It introduced a Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) game last year and this year is introducing games such as Fiesta Chihuahua and Tango de Oro, which give people the option of playing in Spanish. Similar games offer other languages for different cultures.
Graphics on the slot also aim to appeal to different cultures, including Latino and Asian.
"It's not just about the language but the look and feel of how the game plays," IGT spokeswoman Shelle Murach said.
Side screen for extras
IGT also introduced a side screen for slots that allows players to pick from a menu of services and amenities without stopping playing.
Bid for a buffet meal using players rewards points or order your car from the valet.
For products that cost money, the concept is similar to an eBay auction. Bid against other players in the casino to determine how many points a buffet is worth.
In addition, taking a cue from Amazon, the machine will suggest different slot games that you might like. Touch the screen, and it will show you where the machines are located in the casino.
Willy Wonka slot
Some of the longest lines at G2E were made up of players wanting to try the new Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory game from WMS.
The game uses the same technology the company debuted last year with its Aladdin slot but with a Wonka theme. It features clips and graphics from the classic 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder. A moving chair simulates a ride through a chocolate river.
Top 3 is a new electronic bingo game from Zuum, a game manufacturer in Slovenia. Players can choose among three types of bingo and bet on which three of 36 bouncing balls will be revealed through a random number generator.
The first Top 3 game is set to debut in California and will be the first of its kind in the United States.