Soft Gaming Gone Digital….Wanna Bet?
With the growth of online gaming, many believe that bingo halls and other non-virtual forms of soft gaming are going the way of the dinosaur. Well, think again. According to Casino.org, an independent casino analyst, spending at land-based bingo halls alone is around $70 billion. And in markets like the UK, where spending plummeted 10 years ago, there has been new growth–indicating that reports of non-virtual soft gaming’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
This is good news for an important niche in the printing industry. “Even electronic bingo companies are getting into the print game,” says Martin Dawson, president of Dawson Machinery. “I ended up in Las Vegas because end customers for this popular, crowd-drawing game demanded paper cards, and were not satisfied with black and white. I had to work hands-on and guide a company with no knowledge of print every step of the way to ensure that the cards they produced met customer expectations.”
This is important not only because of revenues from bingo, but for overall casino revenues, which go up 3-4% every time there’s a bingo game, according to Martin. “Bingo is unique in gaming because it’s very social. People of all ages come to chat, enjoy refreshments, and make a day of the experience. And the odds of winning are much better.” Because of Martin’s deep expertise in both print and gaming, he is much in demand at casinos and other soft gaming venues all around the world. In fact, he’s probably the only print expert in the world with this unique expertise.
The shift from analog to digital is another factor requiring careful management. “One customer came to me for advice and then did the opposite of what I had recommended. They came back to me after buying expensive digital machinery that did not do the job, and I helped them reconfigure their whole operation to get the right result,” says Martin. The main problem was that the digital machine they could afford did not provide color, and their end customers complained about the cards. Martin selected and integrated analog with the digital equipment to print high quality, full color cards, and ended up with a very satisfied customer. “New color digital machines don’t fit into typical gaming operations budgets,” says Martin. “The good news is that now there are more digital machines coming off warranty and onto the used equipment market that could be good choices for gaming.”
Other important areas in this industry include pull tabs, scratch off tickets, and other complicated print projects requiring multiple processes and the ability to customize machinery and parts for very specific and unique functions. Key to Martin’s operation is a workshop that enables him to build parts and even entire presses when required.
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