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Gaming technology expert Lyle Bell dies at 69 in Florida

A longtime gaming executive specializing in information technology and credited with developing gaming systems that networked with slot machines has died.

Lyle Bell, who retired in 2012 to Coral Springs, Florida, spent the last 10 years of his career as senior vice president of information technology for Seminole Gaming, the Florida-based tribal gaming operation that built two Hard Rock Hotel-branded casino-resorts and five other casinos in the state.

He was 69.

Bell, who died Sunday, began his career as vice president of information systems at Caesars Palace in 1984, spending nearly 12 years there before becoming vice president of gaming systems for IGT.

While at Seminole, he also logged six years as chairman of the board of directors of the Gaming Standards Association.

“He was the smartest guy I ever met in my life,” said longtime colleague Charlie Lombardo, who served as Seminole Gaming corporate senior vice president for casino operations.

“He had so much knowledge about things and the foresight and the ability to look at something and make it better,” Lombardo said Wednesday. “In the gaming world, he was always finding better ways to do things on the IT side of the world. Just a real genius.”

Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming, said Bell developed the technical engineering to comply with regulations in tribal casinos for Class II devices.

Class II machines are similar in look and design to Class III machines used in Las Vegas, but the outcome of a spin is produced through a fast-paced bingo game instead of with a random number generator.

“Prior to what we created in Florida, none of the tribes in California, Oklahoma and Wisconsin were able to figure out how to maximize potential with a Class II device,” Allen said. “Therefore, they were left with no leverage negotiating with governors and states, but by us creating this technology and having the IGT and Bally titles, it just gave so many tribes the ability to say, ‘We don’t need a Class III compact … we’ll offer a Class II device that’s just as good.’

“When you think about back in the late ‘90s, about 80 percent of the slots were mechanical devices,” Allen said. “We did all this with video reels. The concept of ticket in-ticket out wasn’t available for Class III so we created all of this technology and Lyle was the architect, obviously working with (another gaming technology pioneer) Bob Luciano and Charlie, but Lyle was obviously the spearhead of the group.”

Bell loved to fly, built his own plane and had a pilot’s license. He also was an avid model railroad enthusiast and belonged to the South Florida Railroad Museum.

He also enjoyed photography of landscapes, people and places of interest, and from early in life to the present, he was an amateur ham radio operator.

Bell is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jane; two sons, Eric and Greg, and daughter Heather; his mother, Janet; sisters Laurie Moerdyke and Lisa Couper; and four grandchildren.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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