Scientific Game

Bonus Culture

TCSJOHNHUXLEY explains why its purpose-built Supernova Table Bonus System is the way forward in live table games

Friday, 01 July 2011 17:58
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Baccarat is a beautifully simple game that is massively popular in its live table form with Chinese and other Asian players because of its low house advantage. But with such high volumes of play, accounting for so much of the revenue generated in Macau and beyond, casino operators would dearly like to increase the number of decisions per hour, while also adding excitement and value for players.

Technology can play a part in this process by speeding bet recognition and settlement on live dealer tables. Another important tool likely to play an increasing role in live table games in years to come is server-driven table bonusing.

At G2E Asia, TCSJOHNHUXLEY showed off the new back end for its Supernova Table Bonus System. The basics of the system were first revealed in Las Vegas during the Global Gaming Expo last November. Since then, the company’s product development team have been working energetically on the Supernova server engine.

Supernova Table Bonus System is described by the company as a powerful progressive and game bonus product that drives increased revenues by adding higher levels of player excitement and loyalty to table games. Bets are made and recorded when chips are placed onto the Supernova sensors fitted to the table. Players can play the base game alone, or they can choose to play the base game plus a mystery bonus and in many cases a progressive jackpot as well if supported by the base game.

Inside Asian Gaming caught up with TCSJOHNHUXLEY Australasia Technical Director Harley Jackson, the man behind the development of Supernova, to find out the latest developments.

IAG: What’s been happening with Supernova Table Bonus System since we saw you at G2E in Las Vegas?

Harley Jackson: In Las Vegas we showed you a demonstration of how the system worked. But, as this was the first showing of the system and the product was still in development, the back end server had not been fully implemented. What we have got now is a fully functional jackpot controller.

At the player end we’ve got an updated version of chip sensing technology. Our chip sensors have 16 million different colours—the same as a personal computer—so we can make the table lights turn blue, green, rainbow; make them spin, glitter, sparkle, blink, etc. We have developed numerous animations to indicate the various stages of the game.

We’re running the demonstration table at G2E Asia on a nominal stud poker game. You can fit this system to any game with a progressive jackpot or even any game without a progressive jackpot, if you wish to run nothing but a mystery jackpot. The idea behind a table-based mystery jackpot is you can set it to go off once an hour or once a day—something quite frequent—so that players see the reward for placing the progressive bet game, after game, after game.

In the case of stud poker a royal flush is a rarity. Most people have never even seen it go off, never even been in a casino when someone’s won it. Whereas with a table mystery set at let’s say $50 to $100, there’ll be fairly frequent small wins. Everyone will be aware of those going off. It generates a little bit of excitement and rewards the players for participating in the progressive win.

What’s been happening on the development of the back end?

The jackpot server engine has been designed and built from the ground up. It’s not a slots jackpot controller that’s been adapted for live table games.

There’s no limitation on the amount of games or jackpot pools that can be set up in this system. With every table potentially having its own table mystery, then in a casino with 1,000 tables, you’re talking about 1,000 jackpot pools. If those tables are arranged into 200 pits, there might be 200 more pit mystery jackpots. And if there are three main gaming areas in the property, there might be a mystery pool for each area, along with a large property-wide mystery prize. Right there we’re talking about over 1,200-odd jackpot pools in addition to the big one.

Furthermore, any game you could dream up can have up to 24 and soon to be expanded to 32 win levels. With a poker game it’s typically six or seven. In poker, you’ve got everything from royal flush down to two pairs or even one pair.

We’re developing a game for a casino in South America that has 15 win levels on a progressive blackjack game. That gives you an idea of the flexibility of this product. There are no inherent limitations in any game or any size of system you might want to put in.

The system is designed to create matrices of tables contributing to jackpots—it is flexible enough that you can go down to a very localised configuration if you so desire.

What demand is there in Asian casinos for table jackpot controllers?

Our research indicates a strong demand for a flexible platform that can carry out a range of functions that are not standard to jackpot controller engines. For example, our Supernova platform can manage many thousands of jackpot pools. It can also manage a co-player bonus pool. For example, if a person on the table wins a big mystery or a big event-based jackpot such as the royal flush, you may reward the other players at that table who have participated in the progressive side bet by having them share in another pool that’s been set up specifically for rewarding players for placing a progressive bet.

The unique multicolour bet sensors enable the operator to change the different lighting themes that indicate the different stages of the game, to suit the property’s decor and theme if required.

So how does the Supernova system look from the dealer’s and pit manager’s viewpoint?

If you’ve got hundreds of tables, each with its own table mystery as well as a progressive jackpot and perhaps a casino-wide mystery, then you’re going to have hundreds of jackpot pools. They’ll be listed on the back end display. Each jackpot pool lists the tables that are contributing to it; its current value; its primary and its secondary set amount and so on.

When a jackpot goes off, it goes into a pending state. That can be cleared depending on the level of authorisation. With a small win, the dealer might just pay it. The next level of jackpot might require a pit boss; the next level after that might require it to be paid from the cage, with verification by a senior casino manager. Once a major jackpot goes off it goes into the pending list and this is where they get cleared off, authorised to be paid and so on.

Can jackpots be paid in chips as well as cash with Supernova?

It’s a feature of the system that you can choose either. If you have a small mystery win at a table, it’s not easy to pay an amount such as $62.67 in chips. This system has a feature whereby it is configured with the smallest chip value in use at the table, and when a mystery jackpot goes off it’s rounded to that chip value so the dealer can pay it from the float tray. The difference in the rounding is accounted for using the mystery’s secondary jackpot pool.

Can Supernova Table Bonus System be used for VIP table gaming?

We designed this engine to be flexible and configurable. We can link jackpot pools so that if an event goes off then it might trigger more than one jackpot pool and then the winner might get a sum of two jackpot pools. It can conglomerate the two pool amounts and award them to the winner as one amount. For example, consider you have got a VIP jackpot and a main gaming floor jackpot. If the VIP jackpot goes off, it will probably now be smaller than the main gaming floor jackpot. VIPs might be coming downstairs to play. We can configure the VIP tables with a compound jackpot pool which is the larger one and the smaller one combined. The main gaming floor players only see the main gaming floor odometer. If the VIP jackpot goes off, that person wins the VIP meter plus the main gaming floor meter, but if the main gaming floor one goes off the players there just get the main gaming floor meter. That way the VIP meter is always greater than the main gaming floor meter. Supernova is very configurable like that.

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