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Zitro: Art of the States

By - 4 December 2023

As the result of the company’s growth in the US gaming market, Zitro has opened of its new office and warehouse in Las Vegas, Nevada. G3 talks to Derik Mooberry, CEO of Zitro USA, about the past, present and future of the US market for the Zitro team.

Derik, the huge news story for Zitro at this year’s G2E Las Vegas, was the unveiling of the Las Vegas office. How important is it to have such a facility serving North America and what advantages will it bring for your customers? The facility will include warehousing, production and shipping, what level of production will take place in Las Vegas? How will this improve speed to market and servicing? Why did you choose Las Vegas and why was now the right time to open a headquarters?

Over the past two years, we’ve been fortunate enough to experience significant growth in the United States, and the increasing demand for our products has led us to establish a headquarters to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers. Las Vegas was the natural choice, given its position as the gaming capital of the world. Our administrative staff will be based in the office, and the warehouse will serve as our final production facility where we will stage and prep games for customer shipments. We’re proud to expand our presence through this strategic move and look forward to further strengthening our brand in the highly competitive US gaming market.

When you talk to a slot purchaser for the first time about Zitro’s range of gaming products what do you tell them? What is the USP?

When we talk to a slot purchaser for the first time about our range of gaming products, we start by sharing the history of Zitro. Until recently, some customers thought of us as a bingo company doing business in Latin America. However, it is important to highlight that we are now a global provider of both video bingo and class III slot machines. Furthermore, we have a team of over 1,000 employees around the world and hold market leading positions in many of the global markets that we operate. Our unique selling proposition lies in our comprehensive gaming portfolio, global reach, and market leadership, which set us apart as a trusted and innovative partner for slot purchasers.

The first eight months of 2023 have seen massive growth stateside with Zitro now installing slots in 13 states, which include Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio racinos, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Kansas, having previously been present in just California, Oklahoma, and Florida. What states are next on the roadmap?

We are extremely excited about our remarkable growth in the United States. As of today, we now have games live in 13 states and over 75 casinos. Our goal is to be licensed in every gaming market throughout the United States and Canada. We recognise this will take us several years; however, we are pleased with our progress to date. As for the specific states on the roadmap, we are actively exploring opportunities and partnerships to expand our reach, and we will continue to share updates on our journey to cover every gaming market in the region.

Is there anything you can tell us in terms of machine numbers in the various markets and performance on the gaming floor? Is California still Zitro’s most active market? Do you see this changing as new markets come onboard?

We have been very pleased with our game performance throughout the United States. Our ‘88 Link’ series of games have proven to be popular performers in every market that we have entered. While it’s true that we initially began installing machines in California, and it remains one of our most active markets due to our early presence, we continue to see growth in every market we operate. Our expansion across multiple states underscores our commitment to becoming a key player in the US gaming landscape.

The first Link King units were installed in Florida in 2020, at the Gulfstream Park Casino, Hard Rock Casino, Dania Beach Casino, and Coconut Creek Casino. I believe you were with a competitor at this time. As a then competitor looking in, what did you make of the new kid on the block and what attracted you to your position with Zitro? How did players and operators react to a new name on the gaming floor?

When the first ‘Link King’ units were installed in Florida back in 2020, I was indeed working with a competitor in the industry. It was an interesting time to see a new player entering the US gaming scene.What particularly caught my attention and eventually led me to my current position with Zitro was the promising potential for growth. Recognising the company’s commitment to offering casino operators a diverse range of products, I saw an opportunity to leverage my experience and contribute to Zitro’s exciting journey of expansion in the market.

From my perspective, the presence of multiple companies, each providing excellent content choices for casino floors, is undeniably beneficial for operators. The competitive landscape promotes innovation and diversity, to enhance the gaming experience. Players, typically respond very positively to the introduction of multiple game choices, as they are often in search of new and engaging experiences. We firmly believe that we can provide the level of excitement they seek.

In essence, my decision to join Zitro was influenced by the company’s commitment to innovation and the prospect of contributing to a company that offers a diverse and compelling portfolio of gaming solutions, designed with both operators and players in mind.

The 88 Link burst onto the Californian market with operators such as Pechanga, Viejas, Valley View, Pala and Red Hawk installing it. Why has this link proved to be such a trail blazer stateside for Zitro?

Undoubtedly, 88 Link stands as our most popular game series. We offer four distinct versions of this game: ‘88 Link Lucky Charms’, ‘88 Link Wild Duels’, ’88 Link Multiplier’ and the recently launched ‘88 Link Shiro’ as a premium version for our Altius Glare cabinet. Each of these game sets feature four unique themes designed to captivate and engage players. The game’s success is attributed to its eye-catching graphics and popular math combinations, creating both an immersive and entertaining experience that has resonated with operators and players alike.

When you look at a map of the US, what are the crucial factors in deciding which states to install in, player demographics, ease of gaining a license, market opportunity?

When we consider where to install games across the US map, we take several crucial factors into account. The primary factor is deciding where to install games based on the license. Many of our early installations have taken place in Tribal casinos across the United States, as they often allow us a faster entry into their markets than many of the commercial locations.

Our strategy involves beginning in markets with some of the largest quantities of slot machines, providing us with a solid foundation to expand further. This approach allows us to tap into markets with a significant player base and promising market potential, all while ensuring we align with the right player demographics.

You’re obviously proud of them all but are there any installs that the US team is particularly proud of or any install that has provided the greatest fanfare, floor share, performance, or feedback?

While it’s challenging to highlight one specific installation, we appreciate the unique value each one brings to our journey. We are proud of every install we have, and we take none of them for granted. Every installation, regardless of its size, contributes to the overall success of the company. We are very appreciative of the casinos who have placed their trust in us and chosen to install our products, as they have played a vital role in our growth.

Has Zitro’s success in international markets or indeed in Latin America helped ease open the door to US market entry?

Without a doubt, our success in international markets, particularly in Latin America, has played an important role in our expansion into the United States. The ability to tell our customers that we are one of the largest providers of slot machines in nearly every Latin American market lends credibility to our product line. While we acknowledge that every market is different, our customers appreciate the fact that we are far from a startup company. Instead, we are a well-established global provider, present in more than 40 countries worldwide and this reputation has been instrumental in building trust in the U.S. market.

Zitro has enlisted Dynamic Gaming Solutions as a distributor covering Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, as well as exclusively in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Given the territorial reach of the States how important was it to sign up with a distributor for certain key markets?

As an emerging supplier of slot machines, partnering with distributors in key markets has been instrumental for our expansion plans. We are fortunate to work with three fantastic distributors of our products, including Delta Gaming Solutions, Dynamic Gaming Solutions and KGM Gaming. These partnerships, in conjunction with our Zitro USA sales team, have done amazing work in our growing our install base.

If Zitro is now three years into a five-year plan for the US, how do you think things have gone so far and where would you like to see the company positioned within the next five years?

In the past three years, we’ve achieved remarkable success. Looking ahead over the next five years, our goal is to expand our presence of Zitro products in more of the commercial markets across the US. By the end of this five-year period, our aspiration is to secure licenses in nearly all commercial markets, firmly establishing Zitro as a key player in the US gaming industry.

What opportunities does Canada present for Zitro in terms of both land-based and online video slots?
Canada most definitely holds significant opportunities for Zitro in both land-based and online video slots. It’s a diverse and promising gaming market that we look forward to entering in the future. However, in the near term, our primary focus will remain primary on the United States market, where we are already experiencing significant growth. As we continue to expand and strengthen our position in the US, we’ll strategically explore the potential opportunities that Canada presents.

A host of new titles were launched at G2E Las Vegas including Lún Pán Dú with its American-style wheel, the multi-game 88 Link Shiro and Billy the Pig, a brand-new star game. Which games particularly excite you to be able to sell into the US markets? What was operator feedback like for the new range? Can you say which new markets will open up as a result of discussions at G2E?

At G2E, we presented the most extensive and diverse product lineup to date for our GLARE cabinet line. We received tremendous feedback regarding our products, as well as multiple congratulations for the way there were presented at the booth. We had the opportunity to showcase over 50 games with different graphics, play mechanics and hardware offerings.

I’m particularly excited about three games. First, there’s ‘Fu Frog’, set to be installed in casinos before the end of the year. This game title embodies Zitro’s unique style and incorporates market trends like persistent gameplay elements. The second is ‘Lún Pán Dú’, which you highlighted. This game is perfect for our Altius Glare cabinet, as the wheel feature is displayed beautifully on the 4K top screen. It offers great entertainment not only through its gameplay mechanics but also with its fun and inviting characters throughout the different sequences. My third highlight is ‘Billy the Pig’, a highly entertaining game with outstanding graphics and innovative math models that offer fast-paced gameplay.

Many people have said that this year’s G2E was a return to pre-pandemic days of business. What was the feeling on the Zitro stand?

The atmosphere at the Zitro booth during this year’s G2E was truly amazing. We were thrilled with the attendance and the overall energy at the show. Our booth was filled with activity every day, and it was a pleasure to welcome customers from around the world.

Finally, the launch of the Las Vegas office begs the inevitable million-dollar question, will there come a time when Zitro will apply for a Nevada licence, and will we ever see Zitro’s slots and links on the Las Vegas Strip? Aside from the cost what are the barriers to doing this and what are the rewards?

Indeed, Zitro has plans to obtain a Nevada licence in the future. While the exact timing of when we will submit the Nevada licence has not been determined yet, it’s on our roadmap. We believe it’s a logical step in our growth, as it would open doors to a broader market, potentially including the Las Vegas Strip, and further solidify Zitro’s presence in one of the most renowned gaming destinations globally.

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