After spending much of the past few years at no better than a four-star rank, International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT) has impressed enough top-performing members of our 165,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community to climb all the way up to five stars. A total of 658 members have given their opinion on the gaming equipment company, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

Gambling has essentially been a four-letter word during the recession, but some recent signs of life in the gaming sector has some CAPS members more bullish on International Game Technology's chance to benefit from the improved market conditions. The company has seen an uptick in replacement demand recently in the U.S. and has also seen increasing international sales, helped by a new casino in Singapore and better European sales. Confirming the sector trends, competitor WMS Industries (NYSE: WMS) also reported rising revenue in its fiscal third quarter as it has seen increasing demand, too.

Because the gambling technology industry is intimately tied to commercial casinos, its future success depends upon casino companies pulling themselves out of the economic downturn. Things seem to be headed in a positive way; Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) reported improved first-quarter operating results both in Las Vegas and Macau, and MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM) expects things to improve in the Las Vegas market this year. While many Macau casino operators pulled back on spending last year to conserve cash, soaring first-quarter gambling revenue reported by operators like Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN) and Melco Crown Entertainment (Nasdaq: MPEL) shows encouraging signs for the region's spending.  

Other casino operators Pinnacle Entertainment and Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD), which have properties in more locations throughout the U.S., have highlighted data pointing to an improvement in consumers' gambling appetites. Both topped analysts' first-quarter estimates and Boyd expects growth in the second half of this year. Despite the electronic charitable bingo issues in Alabama that affected International Game's fiscal second quarter, some CAPS members note a trend of several cash-strapped states expanding gambling to generate more revenue, which could be a big positive for the gambling technology industry.

Do you think International Game Technology deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock recently upgraded his poker face to pull off those big bluffs. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Melco Crown Entertainment is a Global Gains recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy always bets the hard ways.