Fresh Zest

Zest Gaming, part of Italy’s magic Matic   Group, has merged with Sisal Network, one of the largest slot operators in Italy. Zest is a supplier of gaming machines for the international AWP and casino industries, and this merger gives Sisal, which is one of the 10 network concessionaires in the Italian market, access to its manufacturing expertise. In its domestic market, Sisal is looking to expand in the areas of Comma 6A (AWPs), VLTs and sports betting terminals. Sisal is also looking to raise its profile in foreign markets from this merger of two private companies. Sisal, which is involved in network systems,

historically has been an operator in Italy since 1946. At present the company is involved in sports betting and lotteries, but the acquisition of Magic Matic and Zest gives the group access to the machine operations market. The company has further acquired Italy’s Professional Games, which has now be rebranded ProZest. The company is the first to have approved a multi-player roulette game in the Italian market under the Comma 6 rules. “Once the new legislation comes into effect in Italy, the regulations will bring about   a 30 per cent increase in turnover from the machines, according to official estimates,” said Zest CEO Roberto Cian.

“However I’d say this figure is more likely to be 80 per cent, since the play can win 100 euros   not 50, which is a much better pay structure, while the cycle of games has been increased to 140,000 which makes the games much more attractive to play. ” A provision of the legislation is that all machines built in 2004 must be changed by October 31, 2006. The machines built in 2005 and 2006 must be changed or updated by January 31, 2007. “The change is to the benefit of the operators,” said Mr. Cian. “The new style machine will make so much more money than the old Barcrest games, there’s no point in keeping their old machines. The legislative changes give the operators real incentives to swap over to more appealing machines. ” As part of the Zest market plan, the company also manufactures a range of terminals which can be used as VLTs by swapping out the board. Mr. Cian predicts that VLT will be introduced into Italy in the first quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, he has high hopes for multi-players in the market. “ProZest’s Double Roulette expensive compared to standard AWPs, but we’ve taken had quite a few orders already since approval,” said Mr. Cian. “We saw three customers within the first half-hour of the Rimini show opening who wanted to buy the machine. It’s obviously not a bar machine, but can co-exist with bars sitting them in strategeis locations. Arcades allow operators more space, and as we’ve seen in Spain, operators are expanding their sites. Italy is definitely a market that could be big for multi-players, with potentially 300 pieces finding homes in this market. From a legislation point of view, the only thing that’s now needed are bill validators, and in due course I believe the market will probably allow note validation too. ”

Merit strengthening role in Italian games market

The enforced homologation of video and touchscreen games in Italy, has caused hold ups and headaches for many manufactures. Merit entertainment is currently homologating units that will potential be provided in new distributor Verbard Giochi’s cabinets. Merit is looking to fill the requirement by law to site one video product alongside every three gaming devices. According to Verbard’s Fabrizio de Grande, the most popular devices are those of fun world and TAB-Austria, but operators want Merit’s games at more competitive price.

     “Manufacturing the cabinets in Italy will lower costs, while still providing Mrit quality products, such as ION, at a price that’s right for the market,” stated Merit’s Frank Ballouz in Rimini. “We’re currently in third place in this market, with perhaps 1,000 older units in the country. But working with Verbard we are looking to move forward much stronger than in the past. ”