The gaming-testing lab BMM International announced in late May that it was moving its world headquarters from its current Eastern Avenue digs to the south-of-McCarran industrial area that’s become the city’s gaming-tech corridor—an area whose very existence defines the way Las Vegas and gambling are changing.
So, what exactly does a “gaming-testing lab” do? Important stuff, as it turns out. BMM certifies that a slot machine that claims to pay back 98 percent actually does; it tests the networks that link those machines together; and it helps regulators create the systems that monitor all of the above. It’s certainly not the kind of thing that most people imagine when they think of “what happens in Vegas,” but it ensures that what happens here happens on the up and up.
The work of BMM signals an important shift in the gaming industry. Back in the 1950s, people came to Las Vegas to gamble. End of story. Most slot machines were made in Chicago, and the table games, well, they’d been the same as long as anyone could remember. Today, though, several major slot manufacturers (including Bally, WMS, IGT, Aristocrat, Aruze and Konami) have facilities in the Las Vegas gaming-tech corridor, and testing and regulatory-consulting companies such as BMM and Gaming Labs Inc. are stepping up their presence. People still come to Las Vegas to gamble, but gambling technology and systems increasingly are delivered from Las Vegas to people around the world.
The gaming-tech corridor lets Las Vegas stay relevant at a time when gambling is nearly everywhere. Gambling devices and systems are more complex than ever, and if there’s one thing that will let Las Vegas lay claim to being a center for gambling, it’s the ongoing diversification from destination gambling into manufacturing, engineering and regulatory support. There probably won’t be a Hangover sequel set in a compliance lab, but that’s where the real future is.