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Casino wireless networks rolled out by Leap Forward

John Seelmeyer

Ali Saffari jokes sort of that Leap Forward Gaming Inc. has received some good news and some bad news.

The good news: “The response we have received has been beyond our imagination,” says Saffari, chief executive officer of the Reno company.

The bad news: Now Leap Forward needs to begin delivering on the expectations it has raised among manufacturers of gaming hardware and casino operators.

Launched 16 months ago by Saffari, the former senior vice president of engineering for International Game Technology, Leap Forward Gaming is ready to begin rolling out a wireless technology that ties together equipment on casino floors slot machines, table games, printers, bill validators, signs and the like.

At the bare minimum, the Leap Forward technology saves the costs and hassles of hard-wiring casino technology into place. But more importantly, Saffari says, it generates a stream of real-time data that casino managers can use to track and fine-tune their operations and also offers additional enticements to their valued players throughout their multiple properties.

Leap Forward, in fact, says its technology which it trademarked under the name “SaffariNet” provides what it calls “a wireless ecosystem” for the gaming industry.

The key to its success, Saffari says, is the patented encryption methodology and software that he describes as a hundred times more secure than the systems used by our national security agencies.

“Millions of dollars are riding on the air, so security is paramount,” he says. “The wireless is not the only hard part. Security is an even harder part of this.”

The company has begun selling the wireless technology to casino operators they’ll be retrofitting it into existing hardware as well as the manufacturers who make new devices.

In recent weeks, its announced deals with JCM Global, which makes bill and ticket validators for gaming machines on casino floors world-wide, TransAct Technologies, a manufacturer of printers used in ticket-in, ticket-out technologies and bonusing for gaming machines, and Shuffle Master, a manufacturer of equipment for table games.

Leap Forward has two equity partners Action Gaming, a developer of video poker games, and JCM Global.

With their backing, Saffari says the company hasn’t had need for other investors who have come knocking on the door of its office in South Meadows. Leap Forward likely will go public with a stock offering in a couple of years.

Moreover, the backing allows Leap Forward to focus on what it does best cutting-edge technology development and engineering.

The cadre of JCM Global employees who take care of bill validators in casinos, for instance, can also handle fieldwork for Leap Forward.

Leap Forward is growing rapidly. It’s looking to add at least 12 engineers to its current staff.

While Leap Forward’s wireless technology has been in the spotlight lately, the company also provides outsourced game-development.

The company holds a large portfolio of patented games, Saffari says, and works with manufacturers to create casino products.

The company’s status as an independent provider of games and wireless technology keeps doors open in partnering with major manufacturers and operators alike, Saffari says.

“We can serve everyone,” he says.

Saffari’s stellar reputation in the gaming industry helps to open doors for the young company.

During a 24-year career at IGT, his first job involved writing software code for Megabucks the groundbreaking networks of linked, progressive slots.

He also was instrumental in IGT’s development of the ticket-in, ticket-out technology that further revolutionized casino slot floors.

Saffari promises that more big ideas, starting with the wireless technology, are on their way.

“My brain still is buzzing with more ideas,” he says.


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