Scientific Game

Speed Counts

By automating the buy-in process on high-volume gaming tables such as those found in Macau, the i-depsys intelligent drop box could result in dozens more hands and thousands in extra revenue a day on each table

Friday, 17 May 2013 13:32
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Macau’s casinos generated over US$150 million per day in table gaming revenue during the weeklong holiday in China to mark Labour Day on 1st May. That works out to around $27,000 per day or $1,125 per hour on each of the city’s 5,800-odd gaming tables.

A technology that can increase the number of hands per hour by 40% or more clearly offers tremendous potential value in a high-volume market like Macau. Intelligent Deposit Systems, formed in 2006 by a group of industry professionals, has created just such a technology in the form of the world’s first table-integrated intelligent drop box, dubbed i-depsys.

The i-depsys units allow cash to be presented at the table and counted mechanically with a full range of forgery detection options. The system also gives an accurate, real time position on cash at the table by means of a software interface that records all transactions. It works with casinos’ CCTV systems to give an independent, reliable record of all table cash transactions. And using IDS’s patented technology, the cash is stored in a security tamper-evident pouch within the machine’s own drop safe.

A successful live trial of i-depsys units was recently concluded at the UK’s Star City Casino, leading to operator Genting UK placing an order with IDS for systems across an initial four properties with a view to adding further sites in the near future.

pouch

Cash is stored in a security tamper-evident pouch.

Star City GM Dave Scott commented: “We are extremely pleased with the performance of the i-depsys units and the efficiencies they have created for the business. We have made changes in procedure to accommodate the new system and have reaped significant operational benefits as a result. By using i-depsys I can now put my count staff back on the casino floor to make money not count money by opening additional tables.”

Inside Asian Gaming spoke to IDS CEO Andrew Beddoe about the evolution of the i-depsys and his company’s value proposition to casinos.

IAG: Where did the idea for the i-depsys come from, and what did the development entail?

Mr Beddoe: I have worked in the industry for many years and had many different roles with casino supply companies. I kept hearing the same story from casino management about how frustrating, time consuming and laborious the end of day count was for them. I thought there must be an easier way or solution. So I went to the banking industry to see what was available and looked at various products. Some, like bill validators/note acceptors were discounted immediately owing to their speed. I quickly identified a fast count and validation apparatus which suited our purpose and set about building that into a product that the casinos could use.

I engaged casino operators from day one to get their input as to how the product should look, feel and function. So i-depsys has been shaped by casino operators from its inception. The development has been challenging as whilst cash is one of the easiest mediums to transact it is one of the most difficult to count, validate, secure andtransport as no two notes are the same. Thankfully, IDS has a great technical team who have worked through all the issues we faced to deliver the tried and tested robust product we have today.

Can you offer an estimate of how much it speeds up table games, in terms of hands per hour?

The increase in speed varies from territory to territory and indeed in the UK from city to city. The increase is wholly dependent on the volume of cash going across the table. In some UK casinos there are a lot of single-note buy-ins, and the i-depsys unit is no quicker at processing a single note than human hand. Typically in the UK we see a 5-10% increase. Where you see big upsides and increases is in highvolume cash environments such as Asia and the US. We estimate that we would see at least a 40% increase in most environments and significantly more in certain casinos. We will know more in the very near future as our trials in Australasia commence. In no instance is the i-depsys slower than human hand and the processes used today.

What are the benefits operators have said they get from having a real-time position on cash at the table?

Operators are primarily seeing various efficiencies through improved control and real-time reporting. Knowing an accurate position of your business at any time is fundamental in any business operation. Today’s cash handling procedures in casinos are very antiquated and a legacy of the technology available at their inception. These processes have stagnated over many years and unlike the retail industry have not moved forward. Could you imagine today a supermarket without a till?

For the first time operators know the precise cash position of their business in real time which has meant they now have the ability to make efficiencies through informed operational decisions. It also means they can make decisions in real time based on the information they are receiving. They can refine banking and cash stock positions, make savings on cash/bank deposits and earn improved interest on deposited cash because the bank know its audited cash. As a management tool i-depsys has given transparency to the operators and eliminated any and all variance between estimated and actual cash drop.

How easily does it integrate into existing tables? How obtrusive is it?

We have been as size-conscious as possible. We are well aware how crowded and busy pits are with product and people, and so we have developed and styled i-depsys to be as compact and unobtrusive as possible. Nevertheless, we are often asked if we can make it smaller and until issuing banks make notes infinitely smaller it is as small as we can make it. The table integration is very easy and not dissimilar to a chip-sorting machine, albeit a lot smaller.

How have you modified your product for Asian drop boxes?

For Asia we have developed a unique product and formed a strategic partnership with the manufacturer of the casinos’ existing stacker boxes. Here we substitute our pouch for their existing stacker box and deposit the notes directly into their stacker boxes. This means that the operators get all the front-end benefits with no need to change cash handling protocols or procedures or any associated infrastructures such as drop box trollies, etc. This is a significant cost and time saving for operators and sets the i-depsys apart from any potential competitor. The i-depsys handles, validates and deposits all major currencies. The i-depsys unit has the ability to accept 30 notes a second but we set it at 16 notes per second for optimum performance.

andrew_beddoe

IDS CEO Andrew Beddoe

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