After more than five years working on perfecting a generation of shufflers, Lou DeGregorio arrived at the Global Gaming Expo in October ready to give his product the official debut. The Shark Trap shuffler improves game security, reduces card costs and increases efficiency. The shufflers also have to ability to provide casino executives with a vast array of data on players and dealers.
GGB: You’ve got years of experience in table games. Tell us how you see that market today.
DeGregorio: I see table games in two ways. You have about three or four companies today that dominate the market, splitting the market share. All of them are trying to come up with the next best idea. But now they’re getting distracted by how they can attract the millennials. And they’re playing tables more than slots, which is a bit surprising. Blackjack and roulette are very popular today. You would have thought the game of craps would have died out with the soldiers and sailors who made it so popular, but it’s now making a comeback.
So tell us about the next generation of shufflers.
I’ve been involved with shufflers for a long time, and I have a passion for it because I understand what a big game changer it was. Three or four years ago, I decided to come up with a new shuffler that would not step on any of the patents that were already out there, which is a big issue. So we filed for some patents, but we didn’t know exactly how the mechanism was going to work. We knew what the patent said, but not how to build the actual machine. And then one day I see on television that the students at the UNLV engineering school had made a bionic hand for a little girl. I knew immediately those were the guys we needed.
How does UNLV play into the Shark Trap?
We went to the head of the engineering school and explained what we wanted to do and how this would fit well with their mission, this being the gaming industry. So, we took a year and half to set up a methodology and came up with a prototype. We took that to an engineering firm and told them we needed it produced. It will be made in the U.S., developed by local guys in gaming. It’s a great, sexy story.
How is your shuffler different than what’s on the market today?
We take a different approach to shuffling the cards, different than any other company. The first thing you notice is its size. It’s very small; you can actually put it in the palm of your hand. Like a normal non-shuffling shoe, dealers can actually move it to fit their comfort. There’s no need to cut into the table—it sits right on top.
How does it protect game integrity?
First of all, we’ve eliminated “hold carding”—where a player may be able to get a glimpse of the down card—completely. The shuffler slides the cards right onto the table and there’s no need to pick them up.
We have a system that will also eliminate edge-sorting by reporting to casino management via a readout which way the cards are facing. So you’d be able to tell if 10-value cards are facing one way and cards with values in card counting are facing another way, and take action if necessary.