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Food, Technology and Mickey Mouse

Seeking efficiency in casino operations and pastrami

Food, Technology and Mickey Mouse

What a brave new world this is. It says here that Melco Resorts is rolling out an artificial intelligence system called Winnow Vision across its properties. Not for security, or Covid-related safety, but “to help eliminate food waste.”

According to Inside Asian Gaming, the gizmo uses a camera, smart scales and machine learning similar to the technology used in driverless vehicles “to recognize food being discarded and calculate the financial and environmental impact of the food waste for commercial kitchens.”

I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around just how this system works. Does someone get an alert on a smartphone if the cook throws out half a pan of lasagna?

What if I throw half my pastrami sandwich in the trash at the food court? Will I be wrestled to the ground by security guards?

Apparently, the system worked well during a six-month trial at City of Dreams in Macau. According to the article, it “saved 3,915 kilograms of food waste… representing a 67 percent reduction.” But what did they do with that heap of un-wasted food? Did they recycle it? “Surprise Loaf” in the employee dining room, maybe?

I know, I know. They identify waste and then don’t buy as much food next time. Melco has announced the goal of achieving zero waste by 2030, “contributing to circular economic leadership in Asia.”

Circular leadership? I think that means everyone follows leaders around in circles, and… oh, never mind.

Speaking of food, there’s a group that is pitching the idea of a fleet of food trucks in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, to get everyone through any bans on indoor dining imposed by the city.

Let me get this straight. With casinos shutting down buffets left and right because of health concerns even when indoor dining is permitted, people are going to be fine getting food from some unshaven, ponytailed, pot-bellied dude in a converted bread truck? I worked for six years in Philadelphia, where there are food trucks scattered around everywhere. There were a few that were a bit, well, questionable in apperance.

Oh, I’m sure the mobile food vendors opening up in Las Vegas are completely sanitary. The “Urban Food Lot” is planned for a 7,400-square-foot vacant lot that will accommodate 10 food trucks. You can eat, and then go to one of the Art District attractions. (Like the Cockroach Theatre. Seriously.)

My apologies to the food vendors’ union, or association, or whatever organization of which leaders might be offended by my admittedly stereotypical depiction of a mobile food service.

I pledge to eat from one of the trucks once they’re up and running. I’m just going to have a hard time forgetting when I found hair in my food-truck sesame chicken in Philly. I never had the nerve to go back and ask the vendor what kind of chickens have fur, because quite frankly, I didn’t want to know the answer.

I’ll tell you what. Show me a food truck that can make an authentic Philly cheesesteak, including an Amoroso’s roll, and I’m there. That’s something you just can’t get in Las Vegas. (And at least I know cows have fur.)

Oklahoma’s Quapaw Nation has a better idea. The tribe’s Downstream Casino Resort has a farm out back, growing crops, and even maintaining cows and bison. They have 80 beehives for fresh honey, for crying out loud.

Now there’s some food I can trust. (I won’t ask how the slaughterhouse process works.)

Finally, not all of this month’s casino news was related to food. The Walt Disney Company is looking to expand its ESPN+ streaming service with a bunch of sports betting-related content. ESPN—80 percent owned by Disney—already has deals in place with Caesars and DraftKings for its show The Daily Wager, which gives viewers the day’s best bets.

Disney fueling sports bets? What’s this world coming to? Anyone in the industry for a while will remember how Disney fought tooth-and-nail to keep commercial casinos out of Florida, to protect the family-friendly atmosphere surrounding Walt Disney World. The company has worked hard to disassociate anything related to the Magic Kingdom from the evils of wagering.

Well, except for that one cartoon where Mickey Mouse was in a derby hat smoking a cigar, giving odds on boxing matches and working with mobsters to shave points and fix games.

No, wait. I’m thinking of Foghorn Leghorn. You know, that cartoon where he took bets from the back of a food truck that didn’t waste any food.

I think the truck served chicken hawk.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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