Scientific Game

Table Service

Boosting the volume of play while reducing costs—for pit management these are the twin sips from the holy grail—and they’re increasingly within reach thanks to technologies that are automating everything from buy-ins to player tracking and comp calculations to the very nature of casino currency

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 17:45
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SHFL Entertainment’s iTable Roulette, on display at last year’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

Competition demands that casino operators of all sizes and in all markets be constantly on the lookout for ways to maximize profits from their mass-market table games by increasing play among patrons and streamlining operations.

Rewarding players on the main floor with complimentaries or other perks is one way to get them to stay at the tables longer. But measuring levels of play and bet sizes to fairly rate players hasn’t been as easy as with slots, although that is changing.

Gaming Partners International, specialists in radio frequency identification device technologies, offers an array of products aimed at securing the cash stream at the tables. The company’s newest version of its innovative Chip Inventory System (2.0) enhances the ability of RFID to track the location and status of all enabled chips, from the cage or vault to the gaming floor, and boosts the efficiency and security of those movements. It can also be integrated with casino and table management systems for capturing and reporting transaction data, eliminating the need for manual entries. It also provides operators with real-time chip tray monitoring at the beginning, duration and end of each dealer’s shift. This eliminates the need for manual dealer and supervisor counts, eliminating the human error factor and significantly reducing down time.

gaming partners internationals rfid tray inventory
Gaming Partners International’s RFID Tray InventoryModule (TIM) is an enhanced RFID solution that isan add-on to its Chip Inventory System

Bally Technologies’ Chip Recognition system similarly provides casinos with the ability to identify the value of chips being wagered, using optical bet recognition software to “view” chips as they are bet. It can distinguish chips by denomination and perform automated counts using advanced camera technology to provide a snapshot of wagered chips for each hand played. It works hand in hand with Bally’s CMS and TableView real-time table management systems to more accurately track player activity for comps and rewards, while also enhancing the ability to track play on the table to improve dealer efficiency and productivity.

bally technologies chip recognition system
Bally Technologies’ Chip Recognition system

Genesis Gaming offers its own take on chip-tracking and player-rating. Its Bravo Pit Card & Chip Detection system, CCD, as it’s known, enables casinos to track and rate players using sensors installed beneath the felt to read all the cards and chips in play. The tracking begins when the dealer swipes the player’s mag-stripe loyalty card at the time of the initial buy-in. CCD then captures and records additional buy-ins, chips-in levels and the amount the player walks away with.

CCD’s detailed recording also helps management evaluate the speed and efficiency of their dealers.

The Need for Speed

Tracking and recognition systems are important pieces of the competitive puzzle, but they’re far from the only ones.

With the Deck Mate 2, SHFL Entertainment has halved the time its renowned automated shufflers get cards to the player, from about 40 seconds to 20, enabling more hands per hour and thus more revenue for the house.

“This shuffler also can trim card replacement costs,” notes Chief Product Officer Roger Snow. “It can shuffle the more expensive but longer-lasting plastic cards. So instead of tossing the deck of paper cards at the end of the shift, the Deck Mate 2 puts the cards back in order so they can be reused like a fresh deck at the start of the next dealer’s shift.”

The optical recognition system within the Deck Mate 2 also alerts dealers if a deck is missing cards and can tell them exactly which card is missing.

Then there’s SHFL’s innovative iTable system, which combines the personal touch of a live dealer with the security and efficiency of a virtual touchscreen-enabled betting platform.

As Mr Snow observes, “Betting, removing and counting chips is time-consuming. With virtual chips, games played per hour increases by about 30% while also increasing game security and accuracy. Problems and cheating [such as short-stacking in roulette] are also eliminated.”

The system currently is available for blackjack and roulette.

FutureLogic has opened an entirely new front in the war against down time with its TableXchange system, which transforms ticket-in/ticket-out into a common currency for tables and slots. Developed in conjunction with ATM giant Global Cash Access, TableXchange is mounted on the table. Players can walk straight up to a game with a TITO ticket in hand and start playing. No need to stop at the cage or a kiosk. The player hands their TITO voucher to the dealer. TableXchange scans and displays the voucher value on an LCD touchscreen, allowing the player, dealer and surveillance to confirm the cash amount. The player then receives chips and a voucher for any cash balance. To cash out, the dealer simply collects and enters the value of the player’s chips on the numeric keypad, and the device prints a voucher for the player and a receipt for the drop box. Hands per hour are increased, the volume of chips leaving the table is dramatically decreased, and therefore the number of chip fills and the time it takes to complete them.

TableXchange also incorporates a magstripe reader to record and update loyalty cards, enabling players to receive points or other rewards for their play. It also prints promotional coupons and audit reports on demand.

FutureLogic has been tweaking the system based on suggestions from casinos and players—“enhancements that ensure its compatibility with ticket generation systems and gaming regulations around the world,” says John Edmunds, vice president of Global Product Management.

“Additional features include the issuance of change tickets for players bringing TITO tickets from slot machines to play on table games with minimum stakes, and receipt tickets and audit tickets to ensure all table transactions can be netted out accurately and efficiently at the end of each shift.”

Table Trac, meanwhile, has brought its own innovative thinking to the currency issue with a system called TiTa, a micro ticket redemption and issuing device aimed at reliably and securely boosting revenues and reducing costs. TiTa accomplishes this through a smartphone or tablet PC in the system’s core, which is linked to a camera that scans bar codes. The system is connected to a printer that issues tickets on cash-out which can then be inserted into a slot machine and played same as cash.

Optimal Management

Table Trac offers some inspired solutions in the area of systems as well, like the new TTrac2 Pit System, which helps supervisors track the action at floor level. It integrates seamlessly with the company’s CasinoTrac casino management system to processes table play information, markers, front money and chips via a user-friendly touchscreen interface. It automatically processes fill and credit requests, automates player-tracking and brings a new accuracy to calculating comps by providing management in the pit with information in real time. It even adds value to the player’s experience with unique reward and bonusing features like Hot Seats and iProgressive.

Tangam Systems’ Table Yield Management is changing the way casinos typically use data. It automatically analyzes head counts and other key metrics to help management align game mix, spread and pricing with demand at specific time periods, providing management with real-time alerts to prompt them when exactly to open or close games and adjust bet minimums as action fluctuates during the day.

“This eliminates having dealers sitting idle at tables at times, or not having enough tables open when players demand it at other times,” says George McDonough, customer relations director at Tangam. “Likewise, TYM enables pit bosses to plan to have the optimum number of [tables] open as patrons require and bet limits priced to the crowd throughout the day.”

Casinos using TYM report profit increases from 7 to 10%, he says.

Genesis Gaming offers a similar solution for poker in the form of Bravo Poker, an end-to-end solution that incorporates on-table tracking to accurately monitor and analyze play across an entire room.

“Poker room supervisors can monitor and manage most poker room functions, such as player tracking, lobby tracking, game setup and maintenance and waiting list functions,” explains Randy Knust, president of Genesis Gaming. “It also compiles room statistics, player history and measures dealer speed, kiosk utilization, promotion tracking and complete tournament management.”

Reprinted with permission from Casino Journal.

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