IGT Builds a Better Slot Machine with Data

By Michelle Wallace 2014/01/15

For nearly 30 years, International Game Technology (IGT) has been designing and manufacturing computerized gaming equipment for clients around the world. Lon O’Donnell, IGT’s manager of professional services, knows the data-driven science behind casino gaming. In this interview, he explains how IGT is using Tableau to optimize slot machine features in ways that were previously unimaginable.

“A single slot machine spits out six to ten fields per hour multiplied by a thousand machines multiplied by 24 hours, multiplied by 365 days,” O’Donnell emphasizes. “So you're looking at about a billion fields per year that a single casino will analyze.”

Casino at ExcaliburA single slot machines can have almost 125 individual attributes. With Tableau, IGT can design slot machines with optimal traits.

Before Tableau, he adds, it was difficult to understand why slot machines performed well or poorly. Now, the company can understand how the machines perform not only individually, but also according to how they're arranged in the casino.

And analyzing that performance based on a number of traits—from location to audio components—helps IGT design more effective products and improve its clients' purchasing choices. Although modern casino-resorts may collect a lot of data, actually understanding all that information can be difficult. With Tableau, IGT can help customers consider a number of performance factors that affect their own casinos.

By making better sense of the casino environment, IGT is changing the way modern slot machines are made. Rather than relying on inference, casinos can now optimize visitors' experiences using hard data.

"If we didn't have Tableau, we'd have to go back to the old, manual way, which is—for lack of a better phrase—throw it against the wall and see if it sticks." O'Donnell tells more here.

Photo credit: "Casino at Excalibur" by Thierry via Wikimedia Commons.