English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

Bally Technologies Prospers with Innovation and International Growth

Richard Haddrill Visited with Jack Bulavsky During G2E Las Vegas

Richard (Dick) Haddrill became Chairman of the Board of Bally Technologies, Inc. in December 2012 after serving eight years as the Chief Executive Officer. He joined Bally as CEO in October 2004 and has served on its Board of Directors since April 2003.

Prior to coming to Bally Technologies, Haddrill was CEO for five years at Manhattan Associates, Inc., a leader in software solutions to the supply chain industry throughout the world. During his tenure there, the company expanded its product offerings and market share, more than tripled revenues, and increased its share price more than eight fold.

Haddrill previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Powerhouse Technologies, Inc., a technology and gaming company. Powerhouse was acquired by Anchor Gaming, a publicly traded gaming company that was acquired by International Game Technology (IGT) in 2001.

Among his many responsibilities, Haddrill is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

What does G2E mean to Bally Technologies?

It’s a great internal event for the company in that all departments are involved in getting ready for the show. G2E is an opportunity to proudly present our products and spend time with customers, old and new. This year, we’re excited to show our customers how we can connect their entire gaming world through our games, systems solution, and i-Gaming and mobile offerings.

You came to Bally 10 years ago. What has changed?

On the first day of the show, an investor told me that walking the floor today versus eight years ago illuminates the fact that the Bally product line is so much more technologically diverse and so state of the art.  Our position in the industry is much broader with a greater offering of games, systems, and interactive products.

How have you been able to do that and stay ahead in the technology?

Some years ago I learned that the faster the rules change the better it is for those willing to accept change. I like that because it allows us to add value for our customers and if we’re strong against our competition, which we are, we succeed. To stay on top, we must innovate. We have to bring new technology to market faster and we have to make our games better and more entertaining.  So the pressure is there because there is more competition for the gaming dollar in North America. And that competition means we have to provide a stronger value proposition for the casinos and that means innovate, innovate, and innovate some more.  We’ve been pretty good at that.

Besides the technology, what else do you do to stay ahead of the competition?

Well, that’s the internal “secret sauce” that we have and I can’t share that with you. But it’s the developers and their understanding of the math and graphics that go into our many products.  We deliver enhanced sound and chairs that vibrate when players trigger a bonus. We graphics on our innovative curved Pro Series™ Wave cabinet screens that immerse players in the game experience. Machines are now able to hold so much more capacity and that capacity generates sharper graphics and more complex bonuses. We bring this all together. Remember: innovate, innovate, innovate. 

With all this innovation, what have you learned about your customers and what they want to play?

As you know, customers and what they like to play vary by market. Bally was first into Illinois and we have the leading market share there.  We were late entering Italy so our product is taking longer to take hold. Therefore, speed to market is one issue that allows players to get used to your game and they become loyal to those games. It’s up to us to understand what games Europe and Asia want and then get those games to them. France still likes steppers more than videos but that is slowly changing. And no matter where you go, a local player is different than a  tourist, which is at the forefront of the Las Vegas market. We do know that our games such as Michael Jackson, TITANIC™, and The Magic Of David Copperfield™ are global brands that play anywhere. We are constantly learning.   

Is Bally Technologies becoming more active outside North America?

Yes. Ten years ago, we weren’t international and revenue in that category was only about five percent.  As the U.S. market became more saturated, we moved more aggressively into Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Europe is still only three percent of our revenue, but international revenue is up to 20 percent and it can go much higher. We know that the global demographics for gaming are great.  Asians enjoy gaming and Western Europe has an aging demographic that has a tendency to spend a higher percentage of their disposable income on gaming. This is good, not only for us, but for the industry overall.

As AGA board chairman, what do your members have to say about the international market?

Many AGA members have international operations and there is discussion about adding members from outside North America. Keep in mind that when the AGA began 18 years ago, the main mission was to protect the industry from federal attack and from those who didn’t understand the industry or just wanted to tax it or ban it. Today gaming is across the breadth of the country and accepted as a common form of entertainment. So now we advocate. We focus on integrity, such as Internet gaming, and make sure that states that do expand do it in a positive manner for our members and for players. Further, we are driving the benefits of AGA membership deeper into all member companies and getting everyone to share ideas about  marketing, compliance, and any number of other different arenas.   

But back to the international market. Yes, we are discussing adding international members, but I don’t see it happening in the near future.

What can you tell me about the pending acquisition of SHFL entertainment?

The deal is quite exciting because of the strategic fit. SHFL entertainment can bring us international experience, table technology to add to our leading systems, and allow us to leverage SHFL technology across multiple platforms such as tables, games, systems, and Internet gaming.