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Unicum Group significantly increases its slots production capacity in St. Petersburg .

Russian gaming equipment supplier, Unicum Group, held a ceremony last month to mark the official launch of the new manufacturing capacities at Unicum’s slot machines plant in St. Petersburg. In the first half of 2005 the Group acquired a highly efficient production complex which is designed to manufacture sheet metal products. The launch of the state- of-art manufacturing line and the new plant facility occupying 6,000sq.m. took place at Unicum’s plant last month. This investment of $ 20m will significantly reinforce Unicum’s profitability with it’s plant now capable of producing up to 24,000 slot machines per year. Implementation of the new equipment provides Unicum’s manufacturing with additional flexibility in new product development, mastering and market launch. Unicum’s own metal-working machinery makes the company independent from metal components suppliers, late shipments and other supplier’s, late shipments and other supplier’s product quality issues. It also offers new opportunities for the company’s international partners to manufacture their slot machines in Russia, one of the largest gaming countries in the world and also to save on local production for the CIS and European markets.

“This unique equipment line, acquired by Unicum, provides the company with an unchallengeable competitive benefit in the gaming market. It is a lower cost value, faster time of delivery, lesser dependence from allied suppliers. It all strengthens Unicum’s dominant position in Russia’s gaming community, reinforces the company in international markets and offers a great opportunity to diversify its manufacturing,” commented  Alexey Gribanov, the Director of Unicum’s manufacturing plant. Previously, Unicum’s Saint-Petersburg –based production included components fabrication, slot machines assembly, tuning and QA testing. Now the plant’s specialists launch a full-cycle production with metal-working, welding and painting processes. Despite maximum automation and robotisation of the new equipment line, Unicum Group provided jobs for 150 professional specialists- engineers, production engineer, machinists and software operators.

Sega Sammy sees profit from pachinko surging

Japanese-headquartered Sega Sammy Holdings has doubled its half-year financial profit forecast to Y18bn (US $). The company also raised its sales forecast two per cent to ¥243bn (US $2.15bn). The company’s most recent financial results, covering the first quarter of the year, showed a boost to $95.5m in profit, thanks largely to sales of coin-operated pachinko gambling machines, and it appears that this positive trend is continuing, leading the company to warn of increased profits. Sega Sammy’s video game division showed a loss of US $18m for the first quarter, but is expanding aggressively in the west, announcing multiple new product acquisitions over the past few months, with a next- gen development deal with Bizarre Creations, developer of Project Gotham Racing 3, only the most recent. In addition, there’s reports from Japan that Sega Sammy’s US arcade equipment operations, which currently consist of Sega Amusements USA Corp, based in San Francisco –based Sega facility. Though the report has yet to be confirmed, the move is logical, given that Sammy’s US console operations were effectively moved into Sega’s when Sammy Studios ’ Carlsbad office completed a management buyout and became High Moon Studios earlier in 2005.

Disco days

Can Sega bring Japan’s medal game magic to the European market with Disco Dreams?

If you’ve ever been to a Japanese amusement exhibition, the second thing to strike you is the number of increasingly elaborate medal games that continue to grow in size and complication. From ancient bell-ringing games, to enormous jackpot-style machines with swirling token-filled drums, the Japanese pusher / medal game is an attractive and very popular sector within the shows. However, the only game to date that’s spread from Japan to the pusher market in Europe is Namco Europe team having developed the game directly with Namco Japan to create an appealing combination of the massive Pac-Man license, pusher and poker video game. What hasn’t been tried is to take one of the enormous six station. 12 –player machines so popular in Japan and  bring it to the attention of European operators. But that’s exactly what greeted visitors to the Sega Amusement Europe stand at Preview 2006. “We’ve brought Disco Dream to the show to gauge the reaction of customers to such a game,” explained Sega’s Justin burke. “It is the first time we’ve brought such a game to the UK and it’s an evaluation exercise to find out the response and see what measures we’d have to take to get the game ready for the UK market. And the first impression has been fantastic with operators loving it. ” Disco Dream is a six station machine, with two slots on each station to allow 12 players simultaneously side-by-side. There are two LCD screens per play station, with each player feeding coins into the slots to change the onscreen costumes of the disco-dancing characters. ‘70s dance tunes complement the action and there’s a stunning final jackpot award. “The rotating glitter ball tilts to spill the mass of coins collected within it towards the winning poker player. When the jackpot hits, the spectacle is straight out of Vegas,” said Mr. Burke. Oh, and the first thing that strikes you about the exhibitions are the bunny-outfit stand girls. Videogames come a close third though.

Slovenia to support mega Harrah’s and HIT casino

The Slovenian government stands ready to help a massive gaming project get off  the ground should the companies involved produce concrete guarantees. According to Prime minister Janez Jansa, the government is willing to listen to a proposal for a large gaming centre in western Slovenia and consider taking measures that would allow a deal on the project to be struck between a Slovenian and an American company. His comments come in response to questions from the chairman of Slovenia’s HIT gaming chain, Branko Tomazic, regarding HIT’s plans to work with Harrah’s Entertainment on a mega gaming and tourism centre in the town of NOVA Gorica. Mr. Tomazic pointed out that HIT and Harrah’s will sign a memorandum of understanding in November on the 800, euro deal. Mr. Tomazic   said the plan was for HIT and Harrah’s   to be equally represented in the joint venture, but added that for the deal to be feasible there needed to be changes to gaming and tax legislation. According to Mr. Tomazic, the current 38 per cent tax on gaming is too high, while provisions limiting the size of stake of a single investor in gaming companies at 20 per cent is also a barrier to cooperation with the US. Moreover, he claimed that the project would allow HIT to more than double the number of its clients and raise revenues from 240m to 420m euros.

*  XN Gaming plays it smart in Croatia

XN Gaming, part of the XN Checkout Group, has signed an agreement to install its ACE Smart card system onto the 230 machines in Casino Solei in Croatia (the first to do so in the country). Renowned for its multi-player devices, XN uses Linux server architecture, which enables multi-platform games and services from one single device. For example, a player may be offered two slot games, electronic roulette and black jack without   moving from   their seat. Added to multiple game choice, XN’s technology provides the ability for its clients to order drinks and food from their gaming terminal as well as watch a sports event at the same time, all controllable by the through an incredibly simplistic touch-screen user interface.



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