04/24/2012 : BALLY TECH CHIEF SPEAKS ON INTERNET POKER
Evolutionary process rather than a revolution, says Haddrill
In an interesting and wide-ranging interview with the publication Vegas Inc this week, the chief executive of Bally Technologies and chairman of the American Gaming Association, Richard Haddrill, gave his thoughts on internet poker.
Haddrill opined that the legalization and integration into the wider US industry of internet poker would be an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process, and that the sector is clearly going to be important, but will not arrive as an overnight explosion for most land operators and players.
The Bally chief said that experience overseas had shown that "casino-style games and sports betting are even bigger than poker. For us, our strategy is to provide great [B2B] technology for our customers so they can participate with the best-of-breed platforms for poker, casino games and sports wagering and social gaming. We do have our own platform for mobile, hand-held gaming and we have our own Internet gaming platform that they plug into with their best-of-breed solution."
Bally has obtained the necessary assets and expertise through acquisition and internal development to go into the online environment, Haddrill revealed, saying that he expected to announce new poker partnerships soon.
"The integration will be done," he said. "Our casino customers will be able to have a best-in-class poker solution, but integrated into their marketing database so they get a single look at the player on their Bally technology."
Haddrill hinted that his company's hand-held mobile "on-premises" gaming device was doing well and could be approved more easily than other forms of internet activity.
"We acquired this last year from the leader in mobile gaming for casinos, Macroview. We now have more than 3 million players. Whether it’s restricted to a casino or not, we can still provide a good experience for our customers with that," he said.
"We’re also putting our Bally content out on the Internet in those jurisdictions where it’s legal to have casino-style games, so that will generate profitability for us. Our technology platform that we acquired, Chiligaming, will allow our casino customers to participate in sports betting or casino-style games when it comes.
“Our strategy is to be a technology provider and a content provider, not a direct business-to-consumer competitor to casinos, which is an important distinction.
Haddrill said that an important facet of his companies plan was to continue to develop great games, and those will go out on the Internet. "Any casino that wants to license those from us or any Internet site that does direct-to-consumer in a legal jurisdiction that wants to license us, that’ll be the second area where we’ll make money," he opined.
Federal legalization of online poker appears to be Haddrill's preferred route to ensure uniformity of regulation and protection…and he believes there's an even chance it could come as soon as the next six months.
Interestingly, Haddrill revealed that his company was hiring people for the recently acquired Chiligaming platform and particularly the mobile aspect, relocating suitable employees from Europe to the United States. His group as a whole is boosting staffing levels around the globe by a further 300 employees.
Bally is also interested in the developing social gaming phenomenon, with experienced staffers investigating the possibilities. "We already have a number of Bally games available for free play that players can participate with," Haddrill noted. "We do expect to be more of a player in social gaming as that evolves over the next 18 to 24 months. I can’t say much more than that for competitive reasons."
With his American Gaming Association hat on, Haddrill said that the three major issues facing the trade body at present are Internet gaming, social responsibility and regulatory reform.