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UK – Smartgames makes smart move with ‘live’ poker machine

By - 24 February 2016

Russian entity Smartgames Holdings could be on the verge of a breakthrough poker product for the UK casino market with a poker machine that is actually classed as a live game.

Smartgames is a company that flourished in the Russian slot market prior to its 2009 closure and who has since then concentrated on providing the software for the Russian state lottery.

It could well have found a niche for itself in the British casino market as well as the Native American Tribal gaming market. In charge of Business Development, Eddie Ford, is helping to ease Smartgames into both jurisdictions.

Mr Ford explained: “Poker as content has struggled in the UK compared to other international markets due to the restrictions on numbers of slot machines allowed onto British gaming floors. The traditional poker machine is classed as a slot machine and with the vast majority of British casinos restricted to the 20 machines outlined under the 1968 gaming Act, therefore operators have preferred to operate slots. However, this machines compliance circumnavigates those restrictions by being classed by British legislation as a live game.”

Crucial to the game’s legal standing, is the way the result is delivered.

Mr Ford added: “The result is based on the outcome of 52 physical lottery balls. It is currently by legal opinion deemed compliant as an Automated Machine, thus similar in category to “Automated Roulette”, however the difference in play is that the player activates the Random Number Generator by pressing play. Each of the 52 balls equates to a playing card being dealt from the deck, meaning any variant of one-deck Casino approved card games can be played. We are continuing the machines development with input from the British casino operators and with further advisement to assure its continued compliance with the Act as recognised by the British Gambling Commission. Of course it has yet to be tested in a customer facing environment, but we are confident that the game will go live in the UK in the second or third quarters of the year.”

In terms of the US Native Indian market, Mr Ford said the machine is the purest version of a Class II game around.

“It is impossible to get any more video lottery than a video game that sees its results delivered by the outcome of a live lottery,” he explained. “The lottery draw takes place right in front of the player. We will be presenting the concept at NIGA in Phoenix in March, where, if we get the same market response as we have at ICE, we will be delighted. This is a product that the UK has wanted for years and we feel that North America will feel the same.”

The current Gravity of Gold game is just the start of the product’s life. “This is very much a prototype,” Mr Ford added. “We see future development outside of the variety of one deck Poker games and hope to develop and introduce carousels offering more content such as Blackjack and Baccarat, all using multiple versions of the same RNG ”

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