DRGT: “The needs across many jurisdictions are getting aligned, and so competition becomes more and more fierce”

Industry

Ahead of the 2024 edition of ICE London, which will also mark the event’s farewell to London, DRGT participated in an exclusive interview with Yogonet. The casino solutions provider shared insights on what to expect from its participation in the event, set to take place on February 6th – 8th at Excel London.

In this interview, Jurgen De Munck, DRGT CEO; Duncan Pollock, Managing Director (MD), Africa; Andreas Duller, MD Austria; and Christophe Van Quathem, MD DRGT Online, discuss in detail the company’s plans for ICE London, the company launches that took place in 2023, region-specific highlights and hint about upcoming developments for the year. 

This year’s ICE London will be the final one after which the event moves to Barcelona. How has the experience been so far? Does it feel like the end of an era?

De Munck: I suppose so, but I am 100% convinced that ICE 2025 in Barcelona will be just as good, if not better than the Earl’s Court and now ExCel events Clarion has been presenting for well over a decade.
 
Van Quathem: I’ve been with DRGT since almost day 1 and was probably the company’s 3rd employee after Jurgen and Michiel (van Dam, CTO, and co-founders) 20 years ago. In 2020 we received our 10-year exhibitor award from Clarion and that to me was a surprise, I couldn’t believe how time had flown, then granted we missed the show in 2021 and 2022, and now it’s 2024.
 
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, as an exhibitor, I have witnessed first-hand how this event has grown to become the biggest gaming exhibition on the planet, and as such endorse Jurgen’s comments regarding its new location next year and the spectacle we can all look forward to.

Barcelona, though, is 12 months away. What can we look forward to at the final ICE in London from DRGT?
 
Pollock: Our two key exhibitions each year are G2E in Las Vegas and ICE; with G2E primarily focussed on our North and South American and Caribbean customers and ICE on our African and European partners. That said, as the world gets ‘smaller and smaller’, the wants and needs across many jurisdictions are getting more and more aligned, and as such the competition becomes more and more fierce. Those who were once local experts are now becoming formidable global service providers.
 
Duller: So true, but in my view that’s a good thing for everyone. It keeps us all on our toes and ensures we all remain focussed on delivering relevant and cost-effective solutions that meet, and ideally also drive, player and operator wants and needs.
 
Can you give some examples of such relevant and cost-effective solutions?
 
Duller: At G2E we launched our new-look web-based drReportsBI software; something I am proud to say was developed out of our offices in Graz, Austria. After that launch, and following feedback from the Vegas show, and specifically our sister company Infiniti’s operations in Acapulco, as well as in Oostende and Dinant in Belgium, we have added some additional features and tweaked the UI somewhat to offer an even better experience for operators. These changes will be on show at ExCel.
 
Van Quathem: Even though drReportsBI was launched in Las Vegas, and has only been rolled out to a select few casinos, and I reference the ‘smaller and smaller’ world Duncan alluded to just now, our European customers have already been asking a lot of questions about it and asking when they can get it.
 
Key discussion points have already been its 100% responsiveness, the fact that it is accessible from any mobile device, and that there is no need for any sort of technical assistance or know-how to install or operate it. It’s super intuitive, has some really easy search features, and even if I say so myself, it looks really good – you want to use it.
 
Moving to mobile devices, will you be featuring drApp at this year’s ICE?
 
De Munck: Of course! Cashless, as you know, is ‘our thing’ and our App is a piece of tech I am extremely proud of. In fact, if you ask our Dev Team, they’d probably tell you a little too proud, and as a result too involved.
 
Nonetheless, its (Android and iOS) functionality continues to grow, and due to what I guess you could refer to as a modular design, its various features can be activated or deactivated depending on relevant jurisdictional legislation. 

In addition to the ability for players to now ‘connect’ their drApp to their EGM via an ever-changing QR code to affect fund transfers, check special offers and personalized jackpots they qualify for etc., and as such do away with the need for a physical player card, the App now has the functionality that allows players to top-up and cash-out their casino wallet directly from and to their bank card; a feature I know our South African customers will really appreciate.
 
Pollock: Without a doubt. SA legislation allows for it, and as such due to its pivotal role as a regulatory leader on the continent, I have no doubt that it will create some significant opportunities for us. It really is an extremely player-centric solution and one our customers started enquiring about directly after its launch.
 
Let’s stick to Africa for a minute – some exciting growth opportunities in Botswana and South Africa at the moment, aren’t there?
 
Pollock: Yes, that’s quite correct; the Gauteng (provincial) Gambling Board in South Africa issued a Request for Application (RFA) for an additional 9 Bingo licenses last year and we expect the results of their adjudication process and subsequent allocation of those licenses imminently.

Similarly, the Botswana Gambling Authority issued an RFA for betting licenses in June last year, followed by a request for possible service providers of a central electronic monitoring system in respect of Limited Payout Machines (LPM), Tote, and Betting licenses, with their LPM timeline noting the awarding of licenses to successful candidates in early March this year.
 
Speaking of expansion, the company recently secured a supplier license in France, correct?
 
De Munck: Yes, correct. A lot of time and effort was spent assessing the opportunity, and then on obviously securing the license; we are extremely bullish at the prospect of servicing the French market.  
 
The key drivers of our positive sentiment, notwithstanding our European heritage and the market share we enjoy across that continent in places like Croatia, Germany, Cyprus, Albania, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, and our home country Belgium, are that several existing French operators are already our partners elsewhere in Europe; and that our sister company Infiniti has operated Casino Dinant on the French border since 2014.
 
We’ve grown our global installed base by around 15% over the last 24 months, we’re now (obviously) looking forward to our efforts in France contributing to that number.
 
Where Europe is concerned, the company has been working extensively on a Player Kiosk, where some rather special new ‘Reel Bonus Games’ launched in Ireland and Belgium of late. Can you tell me more?
 
Duller: We, as you know, probably offer the world’s largest selection of jackpot configuration options on the planet with our jackpots operating across numerous casinos the world over, either as local or wide-area progressives. The bulk of our success and the driver of the extensive options we can offer operators, and in turn their players, is because they are ‘system driven’. 

What that means is that casino operators are now able to interrogate the gameplay data generated by our system and then use it to define or select any number of parameters and then literally develop (and design with the help of our drMedia Manager) their own jackpots. And do so on any machine as long as it runs SAS.
 
Van Quathem: It is off of this tech that we developed the ‘Reel Bonus Games’ you referred to. Once the ‘Reel Bonus Games’ are installed players are automatically eligible for them as they play their favourite ‘primary game’. Then, whilst playing their favorite ‘primary game’, our drScreenUltra player interface shows their progress towards qualifying for the ‘Reel Bonus Game’ – it’s really all quite interactive, providing just another way to excite, surprise and delight players. 

Then once players have qualified, the actual ‘Reel Bonus Game’ itself is super fun and can be configured at the full discretion of the operator who can set the odds, manage the payable, select cash, loyalty points, raffle tickets of promotions credits as prizes, configure or present different games to different player tiers, and finally, just like our jackpots: use drMediaManager to design whatever theme they desire. We launched these in Ireland, and then rolled out two Festive Season themes in Belgium in December, all of which have been really well received by players.
 
DullerAnd so we get to the kiosk, where a player is then able to use the drApp or their player card to redeem their ‘Reel Bonus Game’ winnings or any others, or their loyalty points for cash, raffle tickets, restaurant or bar vouchers, or any other prizes or reward options an operator may see fit.
 
Returning to ICE, you have moved from the North Hall at ExCel to the South Hall: booth S6-350. Any reason for that?

De Muck: The reason was primarily driven by a change in the majority of our immediate North Hall neighbors to those servicing the online sector. As such, we put in a request to Clarion to assess the possibility of moving to a more let’s call it: ‘land-based section’ of ExCel, and they kindly obliged. 
 
Furthermore, due to our ongoing relationship with APEX, where initially we collaborated in respect of jackpots; an endeavor that has already resulted in ‘our’ jackpots operating on thousands of devices across the globe, we now also represent the company in a number of countries across three continents, so being closer to them made sense too

As a matter of interest, and subsequent to our chat post-G2E, I am proud to report that by the end of last year, our APEX revenue share installed base in Mexico alone had topped 1,500.

De Munck: See you in London on 6 February, at our new S6-350 booth location in the South Hall – and with a bit of a surprise (or two) that we’re keeping under wraps until February 6th.

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