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DR Gaming Technologies business in a post-pandemic World

DR Gaming Technology™ CEO Jurgen De Munck talks to Peter White

How have the last 12 months been for DR Gaming Technology™?

All things considered we can’t complain. I think being a global service provider has assisted us significantly in enabling us to weather ‘COVID year 2’ relatively well. Notwithstanding that, when the pandemic hit in early 2020, and during that initial period when lockdowns were the norm, the entire planet was adversely affected; we were always of the view that as a global supplier we would be able to mitigate our exposure to market risks due to our geographical spread, but as we all know that was not the case. Luckily we managed to weather the initial land-based storm, and as jurisdictions started to open we were all able to start generating revenue again.

Image: DR Gaming Technology™ CEO Jurgen De Munck

How have the care and safety provisions the organisation now provides assisted land-based gaming operators from casinos to slot halls during the pandemic?

As soon as the World Health Organisation started to understand the pandemic, and how to mitigate it’s spread, we began looking at what might be the simplest and easiest ways to assist our customers in meeting those new operational regulations in as efficient and quick a manner as possible.

The first product augmentation we made was in respect of social distancing, in that we updated our management system functionality to: i. auto lock the EGMs on either side of an EGM as soon as it was activated (in so doing automatically enforcing social distancing); and then ii. auto unlock those EGMs after game play and lock the EGM that had just been played.

In addition thereto, an automated ‘Please Sanitize’ message is sent to staff to notify them that a specific EGM was no longer being played and needed to be cleaned, and then made available again for game play.

This tech was adopted by many of our customers almost from the get-go. It was also a solution we were able to deliver relatively quickly, in fact it was available to operators as early as May 2020. A key success factor here was not only the ability for operators to meet new distancing requirements in a cost-effective manner, but also the benefit of not having to switch off any EGMs on their floor, in so doing making all EGMs available for possible game play.

We also added some facial and temperature recognition hardware to our access-control technology integrating it into our drGate (and footfall count) solution, and offering it as a stand-alone option too.

DR Gaming Technology™ provides probably the largest selection of jackpot configuration options in the world. Can you explain to readers a little more about how jackpots can be tailored exclusively for specific loyalty levels as well as the options they provide operators?

Historically, casino operators would purchase or lease a jackpot system with its own patented theme, game, and machines, and as such be limited to the slot machines, themes and configuration parameters defined by that manufacturer.

As player demands have evolved, the above scenario has become more and more restrictive with an expectation now of multi-level jackpots and features on almost every machine. What our system-driven jackpot technology affords operators is a cost-effective and player-centric solution that is extremely flexible and easy to implement, with the ability to now integrate our jackpots into existing slot machines on their casino floor.

Due to the fact that our jackpot technology is driven by and out of our CMS, casino operators are able to configure any number of reward parameters, whether they be based on the loyalty levels you refer to, or playing time, average bet, time of day, birthdays, points earned or any number of other possible parameters or combinations thereof.

In addition to the above, what our drMediaManager then provides operators is the ability to design their own themes too; all in all an extremely powerful technology solution that, when managed well, should consistently surprise and delight players.

The philosophy at DRGT™ is that cashless propositions complement perfectly with your jackpot offering. Please, can you explain?

Cashless as a win-win for players and operators alike is a given; that said, we are of the view that even more can be had from the data acquired as a result of cashless gaming when that game play data is leveraged to drive local and/or wide-area jackpots.

When presented with third-party jackpots, in other words stand-alone products that are delivered with their own hardware, configuration and reward options (as referred to earlier), operators are limited in terms of what they can and can’t do with that product; whereas if their jackpots are system-driven, as in our case, the options are almost limitless.

Jackpots and cashless gaming can, and in many cases do, operate independently, but with all of the game play data that cashless provides operators it really does make sense to utilise that in every effort to make a player’s visit as entertaining, as rewarding and as personalised as possible. Our technology does that.

Can you explain cashless and cardless systems, and their capability to assign better game play data to specific players?

I think the answer here is pretty logical. The more game play data you track the better your business intelligence, and your ability to then use that intel to tailor offerings to specific players, or specific types of players, in the form of the system-driven jackpots I referred to in your earlier questions, as well as bonusing and bonus games, raffles, loyalty rewards and loyalty points.

The Peter Drucker quote of ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,’ rings 100 percent true here. Any casino manager worth their salt wants to ensure the most rewarding experience for all their players and the more they know about them the better they are suited to providing those players with that experience Although there has been massive disruption to land-based casinos over the last two years it has not stopped casinos from continuing to invest. Can you provide some examples of work DR Gaming Technology™ has taken on during the last 24 months and has it been more in some regions?

You’re quite right. What has kept us really busy has been operators utilising the enforced downtime to not only upgrade their infrastructure but also augment their product offering. That said, the investments you refer to have been undertaken in an extremely measured and prudent manner, one that I think the industry as a whole can be very proud of.

There is always scope to do things better, and I think the past 24 months have provided operators and service providers alike with not only an added reason, but also (within reason) the time, to do so. In our case we were in a fortunate enough position to be able to ensure ongoing and uninterrupted levels of support throughout, and as such we were ‘always there’ as upgrades were done, new products installed, and casinos reopened.

Can you explain what is meant by ‘Player First’?

Player First’ is our design mantra. Without their players operators would not be able to operate, and if they’re not operating neither are we.

Notwithstanding the fact that operators are our primary customer, if the solutions we provide them to operate and manage their casinos do not ultimately make for a better player experience then we will have failed them as a service partner.

I realise it sounds rather obvious, but one can often get carried away with ideas, features and functionality. What our design mantra does is ask a simple question. If the answer is no, then we stop what we’re doing, as simple as that. We re-assess why we’re doing it, the challenge or opportunity we are trying to overcome or create, and make a revised call how to proceed, if at all.

I used the word ‘partner’ at the start of my answer because, as systems and jackpot developers, we aren’t merely selling a product to a customer. We are in the business of enabling operators to do their job better, which means consistently creating ways and opportunities to (again) surprise and delight their players in respect of both their product and service offering.

How has the company coped with component supply stocks?

To be honest, Peter, it has been and remains extremely challenging. Notwithstanding the physical shortage of components, there are a number of further issues that are at play. In an www.itweb.com article from mid-January reference was made of the fact that although many electronics manufacturers had hoped that the issue would be resolved before the end of this year, Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer at global technology intelligence firm ABI Research, seems to see no real short-term end in sight for the current global supply chain disruption. He said, “Although the pandemic has made supply and order volume extremely volatile, it is not the only factor at fault. A combination of factors will take until 2023 to resolve the semiconductor shortage issues: production constraints, verification of real demand versus panic, port congestion, re-shoring efforts and the inflationary impact on consumer spending on products.”

In addition to the global component shortages we had already been managing, the recent invasion of Ukraine will in all likelihood have a further impact on our timelines. To this end, The Australian Financial Review quoted Hiroyuki Sato, the head of Toshiba’s Devices Unit on 7 March 2022, who was of the view that supply challenges for electronic components were unlikely to cease for at least another 12 months, noting that: “The sense of shortages hasn’t changed at all, we expect the current tight supply will last until March next year at the earliest.”

To the above ends, we will remain vigilant and continue to use our best endeavours to meet all commitments to our partners in the shortest time frames possible.

What are amongst the main objectives for DR Gaming Technology™ in 2022?

Our goal was to get to 100,000 installed devices by the end of 2021; it is a goal we have had to, understandably, adjust; that being said, the progress we have made, particularly in the last 10 months or so, remains extremely encouraging.

The upswing we have seen has not just been in terms of new business partners, but also as a result of the augmentation (and upgrade) of our product offering at many of our existing partners. What I am referring to here are things like the addition of our system-based jackpot technology or the expansion thereof, the adoption of cashless, as well as operators who have opted to add our table management system to their CMS. Systems and jackpots remain at our core, and will always be our strategic focus.

 

***  This interview was originally published in Casino Life Magazine March 2022 ***