Focus on IGT: Louisiana to be among first to deploy IGT’s video poker/sports-betting combo

January 6, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
January 6, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Gamblers in Louisiana will be among the first in the nation to play video poker and place sports bets at the same machine.

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Regulators in Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Mississippi have approved deployment of IGT’s new offering, which combines the functions of a sports-betting kiosk with the company’s Game King suite of video poker, electronic keno, and slot games. Darnell Johnson, senior director of product management for video poker, said IGT’s PeakBarTop With Sports Betting is expected to go live in the first quarter of this year in Louisiana. Regulatory approval and deployment in additional states will come “relatively quickly” after that, he added.

He described the idea of a machine that offers both video poker and sports betting as a “no-brainer” that will be popular with operators and players alike. “The (PeakBarTop With Sports Betting) basically allows you to do multiple activities at the same time,” he said.

Johnson traced the idea to 2018, the year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting sports betting in most places outside Nevada. Customer feedback about IGT’s early sports-betting kiosks led developers to consider combining that function with other games. IGT began selling the first PeakBarTop cabinets, which offered an improved viewing angle and various technologically advanced features, in 2020 and then began work on including the sports-betting option. Johnson said that when customer focus groups tested the PeakBarTop With Sports, the typical reaction was “I can’t believe no one has done this before.”

The Game King portion of the PeakBarTop With Sports Betting has the familiar options of single-handed draw poker in a variety of games, including Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus, and Deuces Wild; single and multi-card keno games; and high- and low-denomination slot titles including Scarab, Solar Disc, Kitty Glitter, Wolf Run, and Mystical Mermaid. Overall, players can choose from more than 30 types of games.

Players access the sports-betting function through a banner on the right side of the screen. That opens a window listing events to bet on. The player chooses an event and is offered a wide variety of betting options. Then the player selects the type and amount of their bets.

“You can do in-plays, you can do futures, you can do prop bets,” Johnson said. Using the PeakBarTop With Sports Betting, “you can do all the typical things that you would do at a casino sportsbook or on your mobile device.”

To meet gaming regulations, sports bets and video poker/slots transactions are tracked separately, but the process is invisible to players, Johnson said. They don’t have to move money or do anything other than specify how much to bet on an event. The machine prints a ticket for the sports bet, and winners can be cashed out at the sportsbook or a kiosk or put back into the machine the player is using, Johnson said.

The PeakBarTop With Sports Betting requires IGT’s PlaySports platform, currently used at more than 70 venues in North America. The PeakBarTop without the sports-betting option will continue to be available.

Many operators see the bartop option as a way to ease congestion at sportsbooks or sports-betting kiosks. “(The bartop) can provide an inclusive and potentially a higher-end experience for a sports bettor,” Johnson said.

He sees the PeakBarTop With Sports Betting as the latest instance of convergence in the gaming industry.

“There are a lot of examples of where IGT and others are doing things, whether it’s online play and land-based play or entertainment in slot play. Those convergences have been happening for quite some time. This is just another evolution. And it just so happens to be very intriguing when you’re looking at sports betting and video poker.”