Focus on Acres: Acres CMS aims ‘to bring us into modern times’

August 18, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
August 18, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Stephanie Maddocks embraces her newest mission: providing exponentially more real-time customer data to casino executives and teaching them how to use it.

Maddocks recently joined the Acres Manufacturing team to aid in the development of Acres’ casino management system, Foundation HQ, which aims to replace CMS technology stuck in the 1990s.

“Since I started in gaming, we have cell phones, mobile tablets, cloud computing, and Wi-Fi,” she said. “There’s so much that has changed, but gaming technology really hasn’t changed along with it.”

After moving to Las Vegas in 1989, Maddocks started in gaming as a cocktail server, transferred into casino promotions, and then was put in charge of the first player-tracking system installed by Casino Data Systems. That led to senior management positions at Casino Data Systems, Aristocrat Technologies, and Bally Technologies before she founded Power Strategies in 2006. It has completed more than 150 technology projects at casinos worldwide.

John Acres, founder of Acres Manufacturing, invented player tracking and is in the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame. “John has a vision of how we can really change what we’re doing in the gaming industry and bring us into modern times,” Maddocks said.

Despite the wide expansion of legal gambling, inflation-adjusted casino revenue has been flat since 2007 while inflation-adjusted slot revenue fell over that time, an Acres Manufacturing report says. Outmoded casino loyalty systems are the largest cause of the decline and the aging of the casino gaming player base, the report adds.

Maddocks cited Acres Manufacturing’s TIBO technology – ticket in, bonus out – as an example of the “super-creative and super-cool” offerings that Foundation software can provide. Based on real-time analysis of individual playing sessions, TIBO can print out bonuses such as cash, free play, or merchandise for players, even those not using a loyalty card.

Foundation HQ builds on existing Acres technology, including what Maddocks called the “red box,” which gathers real-time data from each slot machine with a direct interface to the credit meter. Foundation collects 1,000 times the data of existing systems, allowing operators new ways to analyze and influence player behavior, the company says.

She explained that Foundation is designed to adapt to evolving technology in the same way that the iPhone, introduced in 2007, remains at the forefront of the smartphone industry. With the iPhone, apps can be built not only by Apple but also by outside developers. Foundation HQ follows a similar strategy.

“We need the basic hardware that gets the data, but then we plan to build apps to keep innovating and keep growing and keep making the player’s gaming experience much more exciting,” Maddocks said. “We’re building something that’s holistically useful to the industry. Anybody who wants to build an app to utilize this data can do that. We really want to bring innovation, bring a new vision, and revolutionize what we do with data.”

Foundation already offers numerous apps, including several cashless gaming providers and data analysis tools, plus specialty providers such as InfiGifts for continuity gifting and Marker Trax for cash advances.

Maddocks also compared Foundation HQ to online merchants that increase sales through detailed knowledge of their customers. “Amazon knows exactly what I want to buy because it knows what I’ve done in the past,” she said. “We want to have that same level of detail with the gaming customer, and we want to help them along that journey. We want to make each interaction more fun for the player.

“If we can keep the player on that device for 10 percent longer, then there’s 10 percent more revenue opportunity. So, everything is about how we make it simple, reliable, capable, and profitable and also how we continue to innovate and grow the business.”