GAMING | March 2008 28 RFID The delivery of fast, accurate and understandable data may be the key to successful casino management A casino table and a racing car cockpit do have a few things in common. They are places generating a lot of information, which needs to be digested and analysed in a matter of seconds. Decisions based on that data can make the difference between a place on the winner’s podium or being an also-ran. Froma casinohouseperspective, the judgement calls made by staff at table level can affect the number of bets processed per session and the accuracy of the accounting procedures. When extended across many tables and many hours of play, this can be the dividing line between a healthy margin and a slim one, or even a profit and a loss. The ability to monitor play data accurately and quickly is especially critical in Asia where the intensity and volume of play is often significantly higher than in other markets. Margin maintenance Progressive Gaming International Corporation [PGIC] has created a hi-tech chip tracking system based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that helps maintain and even build the margins of casino operators working in the high intensity Asian market. Theproduct,knownastheChipInventory System (CIS),helpsmonitor and protect what is the most valuable and potentially also the weakest part of any casino management system–its table chip stock. Like banknotes, gaming chips are essentially receipts for value that can (with the exception of VIP rolling chips) be redeemed for hard cash. That’s why casinos still have security guards to escort chips to and from casino tables. The ability of Progressive Gaming’s product to read tags embedded in gaming chips quickly and directly from the chip tray is the key to its success, says Bryce Rubio, Progressive Gaming’s Vice President and General Manager, Asia. From tray to play “The system gets significantly more powerful and flexible if you have an RFID chip tray.This is one of the most critical areas from an operator’s point of view,”he says. “With technology like this you can read the whole chip tray in real time, all the time. Speed is very important. The speed of read is one of the questions operators always ask first.” Monitoring betting patterns and preventing bet fraud are the most obvious applications of this technology but other important elements are player tracking and player marketing, says Russ McMeekin, Progressive Gaming’s CEO and President. The company’s information technology products cover all aspects of running a casino from back office reporting and cash desk management to slot monitoring. Table management is part of the vital ‘front line’ of that effort. The information provided by CIS assists casino staff in a number of key areas including: live game management, minute-by-minute inventory audit and frauddetection and prevention. Progressive’s system is already used by major gaming operators in Macau including, Crown Macau, Wynn Macau and Galaxy Entertainment Group. The latest addition to the system is an RFID-enabled dual level chip tray to cope with the high volume betting common in the region.The dual level tray is currently undergoing trials and will be released on to the market later this year. Speed and coverage RFIDinitselfisn’tnew.Taggingtechnology was first used 15 years ago by the United States’ Department of Defense, amongst others, to monitor some of its equipment. What is new in casino applications is the speed and comprehensive coverage of the CIS system, says Mr. Rubio The high frequency 13.56 MHz Phase Jitter Modulation (PJM) technology employed not only reads tags very quickly, it can also differentiate between individual gaming chips. In telecommunications ‘jitter’ is normally a negative phenomenon of physics because it represents an unwanted variation in a signal’s characteristics–for example in frequency–that can lead to data loss. In some applications though such as RFID technology,jitter is a blessing,because it enables the signal variations tobe used to sift through tightly packed items and read them. PJM can also write data at speeds of up to 424 kilobits per second and read data at 106 kbit/s from 8 chips simultaneously allowing a lot of information to be transported and sifted in a very short space of time.