Germany’s Merkur Gaming was one of the few companies at the Spring ENADA show in Italy to continue to champion traditional reel spinning games in the Italian market. While the rest of the industry shifts to video, Merkur reports that its games are continuing to find success with players in the market. Part of this success the company attributes to its usage of LED lighting in its latest games. “LED looks more attractive, uses less electricity and needs less air-conditioning, since the machine does not run as hot as a machine using lamps,” explained Merkur’s Axel Pawlas at the Rimini ENADA. “It’s something that operators are discovering quickly and it’s only a question of time before the entire industry changes to LED. ” In answer to the amendments to the gaming law in Italy, Merkur has created a series of conversion kits for its mechanical reel games, which Merkur states continue to earn more than the video-based alternatives in the market.

 “We’re very happy with sales and will stay with reels in the Italian market for now,” said Mr. Pawlas. “It could be that we introduce a dual ‘video and reels ’ product, but currently we’re providing games for a wide niche in the market in mechanical reels. ” Merkur’s LED games in Italy include Lucky Cash Diamante and Sphinx Diamante, with the company continuing to sell its bulb-driven older titles. “We’ve found right maths model for this market and the formula has worked for years and years,” explained Mr. Pawlas. However, despite advocating its one-stop-shopping policy in most European markets, in Italy, Merkur has split its distribution of kiddies rides with Italian company’s Smile. IGT remains the companies distributors for touchscreen games, multi-players, such as the Merkur Roulette, and AWPs. Merkur is also working with Cashpoint and SOGEMA in   preparation for the launch of sports betting  in the Italian market. “We will want to offer everything for the market,” said Mr. Pawls. SOGEMA  has the sport-betting solution, Smile, our children’s range and IGT out adult games. ”

Namco Europe riding high in Italy with SuperBikes

Namco Europe continues its successful relationship with US games creator, Raw Thrills, with the exclusive European distribution of its latest racer, SuperBikes. The game, shown in Italy on the Faro Games stand at the Spring ENADA in March, was in instant hit with visitors. The game, which will ultimately be housed in a bright red cabinet, is expected to be launched this month. “We’ve had a pair of bikes on test for five weeks in our regular testing location,” commented Namco Europe’s John McKenzie. “Every week it’s been the top earning videogame, beating other racers such as outRun, Max Tune and Underground by as much as £ 100 per week. ” Asked about his expectations for the Italian market, Mr. McKenzie stated: ”The first orders for Italy   have been substantial. They ’re the biggest we’ve had for several years and it almost feels like we’re had for several years and it almost feels like we’re going back to the good old days. It’s the first time we’ve worked with Faro Games and Della Pria, handling them joint distribution, which is proving to be a winning formula. ”

* Comestero create real-time change

At the Spring ENADA, the Twin-Jolly change machine was being pushed by Italy’s currency expert, comestero. The machines has two hoppers, with a capacity of 8,000 coins. In real time, operators can use the Twin Jolly’s system to receive information about the change machine via SMS messages to a mobile, or to a PC. Operators can find out how many coins they need per change machine at any time and can download data for an audit, connect another system via wireless and receive alarm alerts, again in real-time.

EssNet targets Italian market

All European markets are moving towards video lottery terminal installation, it’s just a matter of how, when and in what numbers. In Italy, the connection of 170,000 AWP machines to a central network and stated government policy to adopt sports betting and VLT gaming in the next 12 months, will see Italy moving faster than most towards this goal. Solutions provider, EssNet Interactive, which  has recently been acquired by Aristocrat Leisure, is one of the few companies to have a proven, operational VLT system. However, while EssNet’s experience in Norway with Norsk Tipping will prove invaluable, Italy remains a minefield of contradictory information. “Italy is very complicated,” acknowledged EssNet’s John Bertakis, “but the market is moving towards our system. We’re confident that our open source, open base is business model for the Italian market. Operators need a sophisticated online platform that offers the next step in play evolution, where the type of play is to change and revenues increase. ” Mr. Bertakis envisions this change as a small step shift were VLTs will initially mirror AWP games, but will quickly offer additional functionality.

“Players will be able to change the background colours on their favourite games, buy tickets for the cinema/car-park and place bets on football matches,” said Mr. Bertakis. “The player will see that the machine offers so much more than an AWP experience, but we will need to educate the market. It’s a new culture in gaming and there’s going to be resistance to change. However, we’re meeting the network concessionaries and with manufacturers to give them an overview. We are the only in the would that has tested and certified thousands and thousands of units in the field. We’ve already dealt with everything thrown at us in the Norwegian market and relish the challenge in Italy. ”