Aruze Gaming America, the Las Vegas-based slot supplier and subsidiary of Japan’s Universal Entertainment, filed a notice with the state of Nevada that it will close its Las Vegas headquarters effective August 18 and lay off 100 employees.
The closure follows the manufacturer’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, which it described as only a financial restructuring following a garnishment judgment against Kazuo Okada, founder of Universal and Aruze Gaming’s sole shareholder.
The garnishment judgment is for $27.4 million owed to Bartlit Beck LLP, a law firm with offices in Denver and Chicago that represented Okada personally in the multi-year lawsuit against former Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn, which ended dueling lawsuits between Wynn and Universal that ultimately ended with a $2.6 billion settlement to be paid by Universal.
The January judgment authorized Bartlit Beck to collect $50 million in fees from Universal’s loans owed to Okada.
Okada also faces a warrant for his arrest in the Philippines over his takeover of the casino resort bearing his name earlier this year.
Leading ETG supplier Interblock will buy Aruze’s line of electronic table games, including the popular craps products like Roll to Win Craps, a hybrid crap game played on a craps-style table but only requiring one dealer; Shoot to Win Craps, a popular automated craps game with a central chamber that rolls dice on a shot of air; as well as hybrid roulette and blackjack games.
John Connelly, global CEO of Interblock, said the company will work with Aruze clients to “ensure a smooth transition and the continuation of excellent customer service.”
“Aruze Gaming provides us with a new level of diversity we feel will accelerate our vision to make Interblock synonymous with table game technology,” Connelly said in a release. “As we continue to differentiate ourselves in the gaming industry, this acquisition empowers us to offer a broader range of high-quality, innovative gaming solutions to our valued partners in both a traditional and online offering.”
Empire Technological Group, DBA Play Synergy, announced the pending acquisition of Aruze Gaming America’s slot operations, including land-based assets, a slot route and online gaming. The transaction is subject to court and regulatory approvals.
Play Synergy will take over Aruze’s online and land-based slot operations in the U.S., including sales, support and service. The company indicated that current customers should not be affected, and the transition will be as smooth as possible.
The acquisition will add Aruze’s games to the portfolio of Play Synergy. Play Synergy has an existing relationship with Aruze which began in 2022. Under the terms of their strategic partnership, Aruze has installed some of its retail games on Play Synergy cabinets. That has allowed both companies to expand faster.
Play Synergy did not disclose the financial specifics of the deal. However, it says it’s confident that the deal will close within 30 days, pending regulatory and court approvals.
Kelcey Allison, Play Synergy’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, formerly spent seven years as CEO of Aruze Gaming, leaving in 2016.
He told GGB News that Play Synergy has purchased the rights to Aruze’s slot machines, but not electronic table games (ETGs) like Roll to Win Craps, Shoot to Win Craps and other hybrid table games.
Play Synergy’s acquisitions will include the games in Aruze’s new arcade-style Activ-Play lineup—gambling versions of some of the most popular carnival and amusement games in history. One that has been packing customers into installations in Downtown Las Vegas is Go Go Claw, a casino version of the familiar crane/claw machines found in arcades and bowling alleys.
Another new Activ-Play game is Wacky Gator, a gambling version of the carnival “whack-a-mole” games. Another, based on a childhood game everyone knows, is Rock, Paper, Scissors. Casino slots acquired by Play Synergy also include the Ultra Stack series and Cannonball, two of Aruze’s most popular offerings in the U.S. market.
According to Allison, Play Synergy will soon change its name to Aruze Gaming. He said the company is currently looking into which manufacturing facility will be used for the Aruze games—the Play Synergy facility or Aruze’s existing U.S. facility. Play Synergy will assume control of the sales, service, support and operations of Aruze’s casino slot machines and slot route operations.
A statement issued by the company noted that Play Synergy will employ most current Aruze employees.
“Aruze, Play Synergy, and all other stakeholders in the process have worked exceptionally well together to provide the vast majority of Aruze team members with new employment opportunities,” said Play Synergy President Frank Feng in the statement. “This along with interest from others in the industry has had the result of minimizing the disruption to those impacted and their families.”