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The casino gaming sector is not the largest kiosk vertical. Which is why gaming was hardly mentioned by kiosk providers in a soon to-be-published Kiosk Marketplace survey on growth opportunities.

And while no one can blame kiosk marketers for being excited about today’s growth opportunities in retail, foodservice and hospitality, one wonders why more haven’t noticed the convergence of those sectors with casino gaming — and vice versa. Today’s consumer, after all, wants to be entertained where they eat and sleep in new and exciting ways.

Self-serve kiosks have long played an important role in gaming casinos for ticket redemption, loyalty rewards, bill breaking and token and cash dispensing. But as commercial gaming becomes more pervasive (want to wager on this?) – both online and brick-and-mortar — gaming-related kiosks will play a bigger role in consumers’ lives.

Consider the facts

The U.S. gaming industry set a record in 2016 with nearly $40 billion in consumer sales, according to the American Gaming Association. Nearly half the states – 24 – have legalized gaming. And more will fall in line as government officials get wind of the nearly $9 billion in gaming tax collections paid to state and local governments in 2016, not counting the payroll taxes paid by about 355,000 gaming industry employees.

Aided by effective regulations, the gaming industry has positioned itself as a mainstream form of entertainment in the last two decades. The public has largely come to accept gaming as a form of recreation that average people can enjoy.

Looking forward, several developments within the gaming industry point to further growth.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to reconsider a federal rule prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting. The case, Christie v. NCAA, could radically impact the availability of sports betting venues.

“Esports,” meanwhile, a form of entertainment in which people bet on the outcome of video games — both online and in gaming halls — have exploded in the last year, posting nearly $700 million and projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, according to Newzoo’s Global Esports Market Report.

Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said in his welcome letter to last month’s Global Gaming Expo that whether or not eSports becomes a standard gaming product, it is likely to become a key component of what he called the “integrated resort of the future.”

But that’s not all. Social gaming, which requires social interaction among players online, grew nearly 16 percent in the past year and is expected to reach $5.28 billion by 2021, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a gaming research firm.

There is also a lot of conjecture about what impact IoT technology will have on the state lottery sector.

Gaming goes omnichannel

While it’s hard to predict the future, the growth of online gaming is forcing casino game manufacturers to become omnichannel marketers, which has significant implications for kiosks. Kiosks, after all, serve as critical touchpoints to bridge the online with the brick-and-mortar.

Jason Rosenberg, founder and CEO of American iGaming Solutions, an online game provider, noted in iGaming Business North America that games shared between online and brick-and-mortar casinos deliver higher revenues when properly marketed.

As online gaming expands, kiosks have no choice but to ride on gaming’s coattails.

All the while, the traditional self-service role will be main driver for kiosk growth in the gaming sector, noted Ethan Tower, protocol director for the Gaming Standards Association, an international trade association that creates benefits for gaming manufacturers, suppliers, operators and regulators.

“The player doesn’t have to wait as long, and you cut costs because people (employees) don’t have to be there,” Tower said. “Those are the primary things casinos will be looking for.”

Technology evolves

Numerous innovations were on display at last month’s Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas that, while designed for casinos, have application to retail, foodservice and hospitality locations. The convention showcased virtual avatars, curved touchscreens, loyalty solutions, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, virtual assistants, and voice and facial recognition.

One of the more memorable curved touchscreens was the TwinStar V75 from Scientific Games Corporation, 75 inches high, with 4K resolution, supporting multiple content streams and multi media sound and lighting.

Another was the CrystalCurve True 4D cabinet with a mobile device charging port, mobile connectivity, a built-in camera and crowd detect functionality. Gesture recognition allowed the user to change the graphic environment, while touch technology gave tactile sensations as the user manipulated 3D objects on the screen.

Umajin, a digital solutions platform provider, presented 3D virtual avatars that can offer personalized support, using both voice and touch, on a customer’s smartphone and on a kiosk. The avatars facilitate processes like searching, informing, booking and purchasing.

JCM Global Corp., a payment solutions provider, demonstrated its new Fuzion technology, a multi-functional system that includes a bill validator, reads bar codes, vends and redeems tickets, provides cross-promotional coupons, allows real-time currency exchange, and prints tax forms, tickets and coupons.

Suzo Happ, a kiosk component manufacturer, displayed new fiber optic buttons that can enliven digital screens, utilizing a single LCD with a polymer overlay to elevate the image to the button’s surface.

Loyalty rewards and promotions designed to integrate with kiosks were also plentiful. EngagedNation, a promotions specialist, offered a menu of niche-targeted, short-term, gamified turnkey promotions that integrate with kiosks.

Agilysys Inc., a provider of hospitality software solutions, presented rGuest Buy, s self-service retail kiosk that extends point-of-sale reach, improves guest service and reduces staff demand.

Beyond its exciting growth potential, the gaming industry has clearly emerged as an innovation lab for kiosks in verticals well beyond gaming.

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