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Going Mobile

David Wolmetz, Senior OEM Technology Sales Leader, Casino Gaming & Lottery Applications, Zebra Technologies

Going Mobile

David Wolmetz is peering into the future of gaming.

Wolmetz handles gaming and lottery OEM solution sales for Zebra Technologies, moving there when Zebra acquired his former company, Motorola Solutions, Inc., last year. Traditionally a printer company, the new Zebra is a forward-looking vendor supplying wireless network and location-enabling technology and components to a number of industries, including health care, retail and transportation as well as gaming.

But in applying the technology to gaming, Wolmetz has a clear vision—a system that enables operators to know where their customers are within a property and tie that information into the back-end systems that hold the opted-in profile data on each customer.

In addition to wireless infrastructure, Zebra manufactures barcode readers, RFID, mobile computers, printer systems and other hardware to accomplish that vision, and helps OEM manufac- turers and partners work the new capabilities into digital ecosystems of their casino operator customers.

Zebra calls it “enterprise asset intelligence,” which, according to Wolmetz, allows operators the ability to see “assets” in the ecosystem—players, hosts, service employees, slots, table games, digital signage—in real time, and to use existing database information to serve them better.

“We’re giving a digital voice to the physical world,” Wolmetz says. “It involves connecting things to the cloud, so you can manage, analyze and make real-time operational efficiency or consumer experience decisions based on those elements that are connected. We can tell with our locationing-capable infrastructure where things are so a marketer can link a product to a customer in real time.”

In a casino, that means not only knowing who a customer is before he or she walks in the door, but also where that customer is inside a facility, using geolocation technology. “When you know those things, you can optimize your operations and deploy your associates effectively to cater to that person, so the guest has a better experience,” says Wolmetz. “Their experience can be enhanced through targeted incentives to play a particular game they may be interested in, eat in a certain restaurant, etc.”

Zebra works with customers to integrate the hardware it manufactures, such as a mobile enterprise tablet tied into back-end systems, into a wireless ecosystem that provides them information and an opportunity to make decisions on how best to market to that customer in real time.

According to Wolmetz, this next-generation system combines back-end data with indoor and outdoor location capability and pushes and pulls that information from a mobile device, or even a player card with tracking ability. “Operators can actually physically locate people as it relates to their total spend, including gaming hospitality and retail,” he says.

In addition to marketing, Wolmetz envisions a shift to phone-based payments in casinos, enabling transactions that are now commonplace in retail locations such as Starbucks. “Our technology enables movement of cash around the facility with a mobile device,” he explains. “Zebra makes barcode readers, small scan engines that take a picture of a barcode. We enable it with scan engines at different touchpoints around the casino.”

He says it is one way that casinos will ease the millennial generation into their businesses, by giving them mechanisms on the mobile device with which they are already familiar. Wolmetz says Zebra is quickly moving ahead on this journey, reaching out to the OEM manufacturers who produce casino management systems, patron management systems and to their end users, the casinos.

Over the next three years, Wolmetz predicts the industry will adopt standards that allow a wealth of different capabilities using mobile devices, as well as different cashless scenarios for casinos. Regulations will have to be worked through in many instances, but the result is sure to be a revolution in how casinos market to and serve their customers.

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.