Shuffle Master (now SHFL Entertainment), headquartered in Paradise, Nevada, and employs approximately 750 people. The company was originally started in Minneapolis, Minnesota by John Breeding, a disenchanted truck driver. Breeding read about Las Vegas blackjack card counters who were wining at 21 by using advance knowledge of how the playing card decks were being hand shuffled.
He borrowed $30,000 in startup cash to try and develop a machine that produced a random selection of cards from a mechanical continuous shuffler. His work was anything but quick and the results disappointing, but finally after nearly nine-years his machine was patented and approved for use in several gaming jurisdictions.
However, by that time many Las Vegas and Reno casinos had followed Atlantic Citys lead by implementing 6-deck shoes on most blackjack tables, thus limiting the demand for his single-deck shuffler. To provide a need for a single-deck shuffler, Breeding developed the table game Let it Ride, and within two years the revenue produced from leasing the game to casinos outweighed the income produced from the shuffle machines themselves.
Working with Bally and IGT, the small company moved to Las Vegas from its Minneapolis home and successfully launched a video form of Let it Ride. Unfortunately, the game wasnt well received by slot players and later efforts to crack the slot market with a Lets Make a Deal game were also disappointing. Instead of issuing new slots, it went back to its core business of shuffle technology and developed multiple deck shufflers that allowed dealers to deal from one set of cards while the second set was being manually shuffled. This change was very successful, and the slot patents were eventually sold to IGT in 2004.
Table Game Licensing
As Shuffle Master had learned from Let it Ride, pairing a new table game with a shuffler was the perfect way to increase profits, and the company tried several new variations over a ten-year period. No new game was as successful as Derek Webbs new Three-Card-Poker, introduced in 1997, so the company purchased rights to the game in 1999. Since that time the game has found its way into 1,600 casinos worldwide and is SHFL Entertainments largest income producer.
Over the years, Shuffle Master bought-out competing shuffle machine companies, and in 2004 Shuffle Master purchased BET Technology, which owned the patents for Casino War and Fortune Pai Gow. The purchase allowed the company to expand into even more gaming properties and sealed its grip on the shuffle machine and table game leasing industry.
The purchase was successful enough to allow the purchase of Australian slot manufacturer Stargames in 2006 for $106 million. It wasnt the slots that interested SHFL, it was Rapid Roulette, a new concept for an old game that introduced a single roulette wheel electronically connected to independent touchscreen terminals used by individual players, reminiscent of the Flasher Wheel used by Harold’s Club casino in the 1930’s. This new electronic concept has since been expanded to a non-dealer wheel that automatically spins the ball.
Currently SHFL has over 30 proprietary games available for casino owners and a great desire to expand their reach into onlineinteractive gaming.
Shuffle Master officially became SHFL entertainment in October 2012, with former Bally Technologies COO Gavin Isaacs at the helm. He was previously named CEO of Shuffle Master in March 2011 and oversaw the move toward mobile and social technology through an agreement with Joingo to offer digital versions of the companys casino table games to SHFLs B2B casino operators. Popular games such as 3-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Holdem will lead the way.
The following month, Bally Technologies announced an agreement to offer online table-game content from SHFL entertainment, just as many other gaming companys brace for a further explosion in mobile gaming.