International Game Technology has practically become synonymous with slots. The company manufactures nearly 50% of all slot machines in the United States. Have you ever heard of Wheel of Fortune or Megabucks? Yep, that’s right. The favorite machines that you have known and loved all came from a single company.
So how did International Game Technology (IGT) managed to stay on top after nearly 30 years in the slot machine industry? For us to understand how one company alone can manage to gain much of the slots market share of the present, it’s important for us to know its history.
IGT – From Conky Jukeboxes to State-of-the-Art Slot Machines
William S. Redd is the founder of IGT. But the global company that we know today was very different from its humble beginnings. Redd was not a rich man; he saved up most of his income from selling newspapers so that he can invest in old pinball machines and jukeboxes. He would convince the owners of the local joints in his area to host the machines, in exchange for a cut of the profits. Soon, he made enough money to move to Las Vegas.
Upon arriving at the world’s gambling mecca, Redd went on an acquiring spree. He bought the Bally Slot Machine franchise from Sparks Nugget Casino owner Dick Graves, eventually forming the base for his future slot machine enterprise. Next he purchased video game manufacturer Nutting Enterprises and then Fortune Coin (who had at least 4,800 slot machine units). In the 1990s, the company has grown big enough for it to go public and be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The IGT Innovation
IGT’s rapid rise to success is attributed to the number of innovations that they have introduced to the slot machine industry. It was the first company to venture into the video poker industry. In 1984, having acquired Electronic Data Technologies, IGT started a computerized tracking system and player-rewards system that almost all slot machines in the world use up to this very day.
After introducing the Megabucks progressive slot system in Nevada, IGT’s popularity went up the roof. In Megabucks, Slot machines are linked together thereby allowing for insanely large jackpots that were not possible before. Just last year in November, one player managed to hit a $12 million jackpot on a Megabucks machine at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That was the 24th million-dollar payout that the system granted in 2013 alone.
Other notable machines of IGT include the perennial favorite Wheel of Fortune (introduced way back in 1996) and the more recent James Cameron’s Avatar Video Slots, which was named as a “Best Slot Product” at the Global Gaming Expo’s 2014 Gaming Technology Awards.
What’s In Store for IGT
IGT has annual revenue of nearly $2 billion. It is expected that this value will rise in the coming years due to the company’s propensity in pursuing new technologies. Last Januaru, IGT has announced that it is now working with data management company Tableau to make slot machines more responsive to player experiences.
From the looks of it, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year IGT.