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Scientific Games CEO Gavin Isaacs On The Future Of His Company And Slots

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AP Photo/John Locher

People crowd the Scientific Games booth during the Global Gaming Expo on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Las Vegas.

When it comes to the gaming, Gavin Isaacs has more than been around the block.

Isaacs is president and CEO of Scientific Games. He has also held top posts at Aristocrat, Bally and Shuffle Entertainment.

Now, Gavin Isaacs is steering Scientific Games through a new era, including the introduction of skill-based games. Scientific Games also just completed its $5.1 billion merger with Bally Technologies.

Isaacs told KNPR's State of Nevada that the company now has three main divisions: SG Gaming, which includes the electronic tables, shuffle equipment and slots; the lottery ticketing business, which Scientific Games controls 70 percent of the worldwide market; and interactive gaming, which are the kind you download on your phone.

Isaacs admits that the company is dealing with a mountain of debt from the merger, but he says they're working on earning enough cash to pay down that debt.

He said the merger was necessary to have size and scale. 

"You really need to get a more extensive portfolio so you can really provide almost everything to your customers and have that size and scale," Isaacs said.

Isaacs predicts even more consolidation of the slot machine industry as smaller makers work to compete.

With its merger, Isaacs noted that customers in the casino won't notice changes and that each brand will keep their own identity, but there will be synergy.

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"Ultimately, behind the cabinet, all the internals of the machines, although they may look different, they'll be the same," Isaacs said. "So, we'll have synergy and savings by virtue of a brand new operating system."

For the future of his company, Isaacs said they're working on "community gaming" and featured the style of games at the Global Gaming Expo in September.

"It would be a different kind of concept where four of you could sit down, we obviously have lots of brands one of our brands is Monopoly, and you can play a Monopoly-style game," he explained.

The company hopes to have that game out by mid-next year. 

Scientific Games also introduced gesture-capture games, where motion capture cameras on the machine turn a person's gestures into motion in the game. Isaacs gave an example of a customer's hand appearing to be Homer Simpson's hand on the screen, grabbing sprinkles for extra points during a bonus round.

Isaacs said the company is dedicated to research and development. He believes making traditional games fun for a younger audience is part of getting them to play slots.

"I think the idea is we have to start designing games that really will resonant with that younger player, when they've got money and time to do it," Isaacs said.

And while a lot of people in the gaming industry are wringing their hands about how to get millennials to stay and play in casinos, Isaacs looks at it a little differently.

"It's a form of entertainment, and to do that entertainment you need two things: you need time and you need money," he said. "Very few millennials have the money... and very few of them have the time."

He thinks the so-called skill-based games that showed up at this year's G2E are part of way to get younger players in, but he doesn't believe they are the savior of gaming.

“I still think that skill-based games you’ve still got to try these things and then ultimately they become impactful but not the golden panacea, I don’t think,” Isaacs said.

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Gavin Isaacs, CEO, Scientific Games

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