Acres announces new CMS system

October 7, 2023 6:36 PM
Photo: Acres Manufacturing
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
October 7, 2023 6:36 PM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
  • United States

When Acres Manufacturing unveiled its Foundation system a few years ago, most assumed it would be another casino-management system, or CMS. It was not. However, the latest version, Foundation HQ, certainly is and it may move the entire category forward.

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Company patriarch John Acres was fond of showing the first Foundation product alongside his 1994 vintage Motorola “cell phone” that was about the size of a brick. He noted that the majority of CMS systems on the market today are still using technology from that same pre-2000 period. “A few years back we came to the conclusion at Acres Manufacturing that our industry was being let down by technology,” he said. “We weren’t moving forward that fast, and were falling further and further behind.”

The first Foundation was not a true CMS, but rather a piece of hardware that intercepted slot-machine data and allowed it to pass through to whatever legacy CMS the customer was using. This pairing did upgrade customers’ marketing technology significantly, allowing them to do real-time bonusing and add cashless features and numerous other new technologies. A few years earlier, the company also launched a mobile-based dispatching solution, Kai, that was aimed at improving back-of-the-house responsiveness.

Given John’s background, it should not come as a surprise that the earlier product would evolve into Foundation HQ, a full-featured CMS. He was inducted into the AGA’s Hall of Fame in 2016 for his work on the industry’s first CMS system from EDT in 1981. That revolutionary advancement included a feature to print tickets that could be redeemed for prizes. That was the industry’s first true bonusing system, implemented by Harrah’s Club in Reno. In 1990, he launched Acres Gaming, which offered direct player bonusing and promotions that set the stage for today’s free play. That product was acquired by IGT in 2003 and became known as the IGT Advantage System.

G2E will be the formal launch of Acres’s new CMS, although it was previewed at the recent Oklahoma OIGA Conference and Trade Show. Spokesman Noah Acres said the first field deployment for HQ is targeted for January 2024.

Noah Acres

While the system includes all the traditional slot-accounting and customer-tracking information and reports, it also incorporates all the new features of both Kai and Foundation. However, the new Enrollment package is generating the most buzz from prospective customers.

John’s son Noah Acres says, “As an industry, we’re missing out on capturing non-carded existing new players, because they won’t take that step of enrolling.” Foundation HQ makes that process easy.

 

Each uncarded play session is tracked with a Play Code (such as TYP34 in the example below). The casino can then direct a message to the player on the machine’s display screen to encourage them to scan a QR code with their phone. This not only ties that play session to the phone number, but it allows messaging the player.

Incentive bonus options can be offered to encourage players to complete a full registration on their phone at any time. Industry research has shown that more than 70% of participants will enroll in a program on their mobile phone when an offer is made; an even higher percentage will do so using their browser’s autofill function.

Even without full registration, the phone number can be used to offer bonuses and communications based on their non-carded play and visitation patterns through their phone number alone.

A recent Acres’s study showed that the industry burdens its players by making them wait in line for over 1.1 billion minutes annually while trying to enroll in a loyalty club. That is time that they say the guests could be playing at the slot machines.

The company, through their various iterations, has always been an innovator in developing new bonus programs. Foundation and Foundation HQ are no exceptions. Bonuses can be offered on any number of unique demographics, such as when players’ favorite football team is scoring, or just as incentives to continue playing, such as instant point multipliers like the one shown here.

Noah Acres cited another unique bonus example. “One of the rewards that we’re working on is called Power Ups. The best way I can describe a Power Up is to compare it to Super Mario Brothers when you get the mushroom. You get super powers. So in a casino, we would say those super powers are very similar to some of the bonus games that we already play. Rather than giving a player just free play, we can give somebody eligibility for special jackpots or prizes.” He added, “We’re giving players the opportunity to win more, not to just play longer, which is the only thing free play does. We’re trying to get you to play more and have a better time.”

If the player remains uncarded at cashout, data from the Play Code is embedded into the TITO ticket, allowing Foundation HQ to resume tracking the uncarded session during subsequent slot play sessions throughout the casino.

With more innovative features being added all the time, it is clear that Foundation HQ has met John Acres’s original goal of bringing CMS systems into the future by taking advantage of today’s technology of mobile devices, real-time tracking, and hassle-free enrollments.

Pricing for the new system has not been finalized, but initial estimates are that it will be very competitive with others. You can learn more about the new Acres system at G2E in Booth 4211, located between Planet Bingo and Inspired Entertainment.