Phil Horne, chief executive of SG Gaming, talks about the company’s latest launch, the importance of retail player privacy, omni-channel development, and the importance of responsible gambling.
iGaming Times: First of all, you have a new range of Equinox cabinets here at the show. What innovations have you made specifically for the British LBO sector?
Phil Horne: We have developed the new Equinox 2.4 and 2.7 terminals, which are B3 and B2 products, with an industry first “Privacy Mode” game functionality.
We’ve created a technology solution to resolve a problem that the bookmakers have highlighted around privacy, where players have said they don’t want to share their betting experience with other people in the betting shop.
What bookmakers have been doing over the years is installing additional pieces of furniture around gaming machines, just to create an area of privacy. From a responsible gambling perspective, enshrouding the gaming machine does not allow the staff to see what’s going on quite as readily.
Our “Privacy Mode” functionality enables players to transfer their game down onto the V-Deck+ screen, a 15.6 inch HD screen, similar to a large tablet. Our technology solution means that the player is still in full view of the shop staff, but they can still benefit from a more private gaming experience if they choose.
From an operator’s perspective it saves cost, and for the player they get full control. We have a suite of games which are now “Privacy Mode” enabled. It’s a unique functionality in the industry, with no other companies currently offering a similar solution.
We recently installed the Equinox 2.4 and 2.7 terminals across Ladbrokes Coral and Paddy Power shops and the feedback so far has been very positive.
iGT: Another exciting area is around your online products and converging them with your retail range. How do you see the omni-channel concept growing for SG Gaming UK in the near future?
PH: I think the UK is leading the way in the omni-channel experience. There are multiple phases to it. The initial phase being simply an opportunity for a player to play the same game title in a retail environment, on mobile devices and desktop.
The next evolution is to build on that. We can look to create an omni-channel journey where you can play a game in retail and unlock a feature in the online game, allowing players to see the benefits of playing in both the retail and online environments with cross-channel promotions.
It allows us to enhance the games and provides an exciting new playing experience for players. This link up between online and retail can happen in the other direction as well and we will continue to see this evolve over the next two or three years.
iGT: The wider Scientific Games Group is obviously going through a transformational period at the moment.. How will these changes affect the UK division?
PH: It’s definitely a very exciting time for the whole Scientific Games Group, and we’re pleased that SG Gaming UK’s role within the overall business will become increasingly significant, particularly as we continue to grow our talented engineering, supply chain management and content development teams across the UK.
We have a proven history of creating content under some of the biggest brands in the industry, and this is an area where we continue to innovate and develop exciting new playing propositions.
Barcrest, one of our most popular and recognised brands celebrates its 50th birthday this year, so we are also working on some exciting plans to mark that later in the year.
iGT: The impact of changes to UK gaming machine regulations due to the forthcoming Triennial Review are expected to focus on the maximum stakes of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. The current maximum stake of £100 is expected to be reduced by the government in the summer of 2018, with speculation that the fall could range from £50 to £2. What are your thoughts on this?
PH: It’s difficult to speculate on the outcome of the Triennial Review, I don’t think anyone can say what the verdict will be at this stage, however we look for an evidence based response.
There are a number of issues that need to be addressed when it comes to the subject of gaming regulation and player protection.
There’s consistently been a lot of public point scoring within the industry for individual sector gain, and the image of the “problem gambler” is often used, politically overshadowing all the good work that has been undertaken by the gaming industry.
This really goes to highlight the importance of trade bodies, regulators, manufacturers, developers and retailers in joining together to find effective solutions more quickly and efficiently, and I’m extremely keen to see this happen.