Allianceís WAN gives Russian punters online access to Vegas
By paul
Bally Gaming and Systems, an Alliance Gaming Corp subsidiary, launched a wide-area progressive system Wednesday that lets Russian punters play, while operators in a control center at the company's Las Vegas headquarters monitor the play on its Playboy video slots in Moscow.

Robert Miodunski, president and chief executive officer of Alliance Gaming, called the link-up a 'significant milestone' for the company.

The network system was four years in development and provides international clients with operations in their native currency, real-time notifications and automated reporting, system development director Vince Heyworth said.

The games on the wide-area progressive system are tracked from a remote site in Moscow and are operated from Las Vegas through a 'virtual private network.' (VPN). And although that means itís sent down telephone wires just like the Internet, in theory itís not gambling on the Internet. So no visits from the Nevada Gaming Board or the DOJ.

Network systems director Prakash Phalke said the system uses the Internet, a public network, just as if it was private.

That network application allows for an international connection to an unlimited number of games, operated from any location.

Operators in Las Vegas can monitor play in Moscow real time, just as if they were in the casino, he Phalke.

Now that the Russian launch has been successful, Bally Gaming has started exploring additional wide-area progressive opportunities in other international markets.

'By proving this VPN technology with the link in Russia, we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the strong interest we have received in other countries around the world,' Miodunski said.

Expressions of interest have been received from operators in Argentina and the Philippines, with more interest anticipated when the system is demonstrated at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas Sept. 16-18.

Difficulties that had to be overcome for the Russian launch were the real-time currency conversions between the US and Russia language problems, as the Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet.

The games on the Russian link are owned and administered by Belco GmBH, Bally Gaming's Moscow-based slot machine distributor.

The Playboy video games feature a 2-ruble denomination, with a nine-line, 45-credit maximum bet. The progressive jackpot resets at 3 million rubles (approximately $100,000) and will be paid instantly by Belco to the winners.

Phalke said Moscow was selected because, with more than 100 casinos in operation, it is second only to Las Vegas in terms of the number of gambling sites.

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