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European Update

Sensational

Unicum launched its new slot platform, Sensation, at the EELEX 2005 show in Moscow

The Unicum Group chose to reveal its new Sensation slot machine at the EELEX show in December under the veil of a black-out curtain.  A mimic of the product launches at G2E last year, the Russian distributor and manufacturer used the VIP ‘tent’ in the middle of its enormous stand to add to the excitement of the launch, rather than to screen off visitors eager to take a look at the new range.  Sensation is the brainchild of Unicum’s Vice President of R $ D, Peter Moffitt, who was on hand  to show his new ‘baby’ to the VIP guests.  The new platform boasts many firsts for Unicum, not only fitting into a new market segment, but also pushing slot technology and speed of application to the limit.  Sensation is available in two cabinet designs, a compact 17ins.  TFT screen.  As Mr. Moffitt explained: “This platform is a first for Unicum.  It is a proprietary design in which we have created a system that can be licensed to other users.  It is a trusted platform, secure and stable, MS Embedded with double hoppers and supports SAS 8.0.1.; it’s stackable and lockable, with double doors, one giving access to the cash, the other to the game elements.  It’s also totally Russian, every bolt domestically sourced.  And it’s completely configurable, the cabinet available in non-chrome, chrome, topper or no topper.

  There’s a surround sound system with stereo and sub-woofer, which can deliver 5.1 stereo, and for ultimate flexibility we can also support dual screens.  17ins, and 19ins, are offered to create different cost levels, since our aim is to be totally flexible and totally secure.”  Unicum started work on the new platform in September 2004, but only really confirmed the concept in March 2005.  The company signed off on product in September and the first builds were complete on November 27.  “The speed has been amazing,” admitted Mr. Moffitt.  “To meet out goals we had to hit every milestone.  The amount of time taken to create the platform has actually been four months in total.  I never thought we’d have it ready for EELEX or that we could bring it to the ICE show in January.”  Unicum has already submitted Sensation to GLI for testing and from the eight games shown at EELEX 2005, a further two games will be available in a matter of weeks as Unicum is working in collaboration with companies such as IGT Barcrest, who have been licensed to create games for the platform.  “Barcrest is to create the graphics and the math as part of a two year game deal,” said Mr. Moffitt.  “We are looking at six games per year from them to boost our own annual target of 45 games, around 15 of which will be provided by external games designers.” The target for the Sensation platform in international markets.  Russia and Ukraine are already underway and Unicum is now to venture outside of Eastern Europe this year.

JCM Europe delivers new secure gaming solutions

Shrewdly waiting until final approval from IGT before launching the new UBA II bill acceptor, JCM Europe now reports that the uptake of manufacturers across Europe has been overwhelming, with practically every manufacturer adopting the new acceptor into their product line.  Displaying the new validator and the latest bill acceptor with recycler, the DBV-300, at the EELEX show in December. JCM’s Bepi Mottes was very positive concerning success in 2006.  “The UBA II has been enthusiastically welcomed by everyone and is proving extremely popular,” said Mr. Mottes.  “Here at EELEX we are also showing the new DBV-300, a note recycler primarily for the vending market, which works with a coin changer from NRi, and is ideal for Russian currency vending machines.  We’re also showing the range of security devices from South Africa’s Deposita, whose machines are connected online and credit the operator on site as soon as the money is deposited in the device.  It’s a fantastic machine that’s created a lot of interest.”

Despite implementing new gaming legislation, Paul Gauselmann explains that proposed machine tax changes will have a major impact on the German market

Germany faces big challenges

Paul Gauselmann has been the Chairman of the German Amusement Association for 25 years.  During that time he has seen a great deal of change and also stagnation.  The introduction of the new German Gaming law has not been met with whole-hearted enthusiasm by the gaming entrepreneur, who believes there are battles still to come.  “After some eight years of struggle, we have a little more transparency in the German gaming law,” summarized Mr. Gauselmann in an interview with G3.  “Requirements of manufacturing and operation are now more clearly defined, but the huge looming issue is that of the European court’s judgment concerning VAT on gaming machines, which could have an enormous effect on the German market.”  Mr. Gauselmann explained that the provincial split of the country into 16 federal units, each with their own provincial Spielbanks with taxes collected heading into the coffers of the province, had created a situation in which vested local interest clashed with those of the Federal government and the European Court.  The Federal government wished to impose a blanket VAT tax that would include the currently exempt live casino’s slots. 

The government would like to simplify the pay structure, to equalize the taxes  for all slot machines in Germany, for AWPs and casino slots in compliance with EU legislation. However, each of the 16 states opposes VAT on casino slots, but would happily see a rise in street machine taxation, since this is gathered at the federal level.  The difference is, therefore, one of regional taxation versus local taxation.  The difference is, therefore, one of regional taqxation versus local taxation.  The provinces tax the casino tables to 80 per cent and over, leaving the operator to scrap together profit from slots and tronc (tips).  VAT on casino slots would force the provinces either to lower their online gaming taxes and reduce their revenue from the gaming industry, or watch the operators go out of business.  However, the European Court insists that VAT should be imposed across all such devices without exemptions, and the Federal government views this tax as another revenue stream.  The street market, on the other hand, faces a proposed tax at a federal level that is seven times higher than VAT and would effectively close the street business.  “Such a move would kill the street market in Germany,” stated Mr. Gauselmann.  “This would completely destroy us.  Combined, the state casinos employ 5,000 staff, but the government would rather put us into insolvency, a sector that employs 60,000 people.  This simply cannot happen.  We must apply the pressure to the government at every opportunity, though the final decision will be fought over the issue of VAT.  We are sure that Berlin will impose its taxation from a deferral level, as is the case in England and in The Netherlands.”  But despite the serious nature of the issues and the implications for his business, Mr. Gauselmann remains calm.  “It is our problem in Germany right now, but in three months I expect this to be behind us.”

Matching predictions to sales in Moscow market

UK components specialist, Heber, has been particularly adept at future-gazing and providing gaming solutions for the ever-changing needs of slot manufactures.  As if to underline this, Heber’s success at the EELEX 2005 show in December was attributable to its development of its axisboard and dual video Pluto 6, each cost-effective solutions for the delivery of video slot games in the Russian market.  “Axis has been great in this market alongside our dual video Pluto 6,” confirmed Heber’s Richard Placito in Moscow. 

“We’ve seen more and more LINUX interest in the Russian market, much more in fact than other jurisdictions.  And it’s been gratifying to see that the cost restrictions we imposed on ourselves have worked, with customers here taking the same developmental steps to the releasing of games as in the rest of Europe.  This has been another terrific show for us.”  

 

 
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