On a Run

Tracking table games becomes easier with new products

Run the table” boasts a new interpretation.

Its sports-world origin denotes a team that must beat a string of opponents to reach a playoff berth. Table games unfurled that equivalent in recent years, toppling demographic obstacles to regain prominence via bonusing, side bets, wild cards and progressives.

This was a great comeback for the classic brick-and-mortar sector once damaged by the ascent of slot machines and the mobile age. Table games own new significance, built on the back of multiple wagers, numerous variables and the rush of instant action.

The makeover was timely. A new challenge, and opportunity, has emerged. Gaming plays an industry wild card with the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act opening the floodgates for sports betting by phone, tablets or in a book. Short term, that lessens table-game revenues. Yet long term, it may increase the gaming pool. Bettors of football and college basketball, using vehicles like in-game wagers and prop-till-you-drop phone accessibility, could become new customers, anywhere inside the casino.

With football season ending, these players are candidates for the table-game expanded menu. Side bets at table games spawn a win-win performance, with players enjoying their excitement and operators gaining an abundant house edge.

Vendors believe table games can serve the next wave of aficionados. The new table age prompts technology that captures their habits, and reveals a future blueprint for promo offers, comps, meals and game platforms.

For operators, knowing this market has never been more important. How they run the table has become as interesting as the games themselves.

 

Bravo!

Spring, Texas-based Genesis Gaming Solutions, involved in table game tracking technology and systems since 2000, has showcased a major catalyst with the Bravo Pit System. The signature table-game management and tracking product, now used by more than 500 casinos, debuted in 2004. It has evolved from a stand-alone electronic ratings program into a full-service system containing multiple applications.

The next innovation wave involves radio frequency identification, an increasingly viable vehicle. GGS sees sensor and RFID technology as the path to give casinos a performance picture enhancing functions like table game performance, chip tracking and cage operations.

“RFID integration with Bravo Pit is the next big thing for us, given the growing demand for accurate data,” says Randy Knust, president of Genesis Gaming Solutions. “We are already seeing significant RFID adoption and believe that it will continue to grow over the coming years, especially given the improved RFID pricing in the marketplace.

“With the growing demand for accuracy and following the recent installation success by certain Caesars properties, we believe that RFID, in conjunction with Bravo Pit, will be at the forefront and heavily adopted in 2019, especially given the advancements made in reducing the cost of RFID chips.”

RFID has indeed come a long way. At one point it was considered difficult to work in casino environments. Bulky hardware and the clashing of signals at or near table games was cited. Yet that has changed, according to Knust.

“The technology has improved in recent years with manufacturers producing hardware that is more robust and accurate than ever before,” he says. “Today’s RFID readers and antennas have improved location sensitivity along with auto-tuning functionality. This enables large amounts of hardware to be strategically installed into tables with minimal ongoing maintenance.”

Chip quality has substantially improved, with the likes of Walker Digital PJM 3.0 tags delivering top read speed and reliability, he says. More RFID chip manufacturers in the space add healthy competition, which in turn is bringing more affordability to the marketplace, he asserts.

While that unfolds, Genesis thrives with Bravo Pit, which contains an array of segments:

“We have created a platform that gives casinos a variety of ways to enhance their table game operations, improving efficiency, player tracking and bet tracking,” he says. “The Bravo Pit system is at the heart of the tracking solution, fulfilling core fundamentals for table game divisions looking for robust table management, player ratings and tracking. For those seeking more precise data, patented sensor technology embedded in the table has further expanded the system’s ability to accurately measure table game performance.

“The sensors, which are located beneath the table felt, identify when bets are made and hands are dealt,” says Knust. “This delivers precise side-bet participation metrics as well as providing detailed analytics on dealer efficiency such as accurate hands-per-hour count.”

With the new technology, properties can now capture more “slot-like” data across table games and cage operations, he says. Marketing and analytics teams will be able to evaluate performance and make more informed game-specific decisions that will essentially improve the overall bottom line as well as the experience for players.

With RFID specifically, additional benefits can be realized across the property as the chips can be accurately tracked and monitored.

Toward that end, Genesis Gaming forged a working partnership with Aruze Gaming (distributor) for chips including RFID last year. Knust says the partnership gives the industry a complete RFID tracking solution that is secure, accurate and cost-effective.

This business approach acknowledges the significance of RFID and tries to reduce its cost. Money, especially the retention of it in one’s budget, talks.

 

The Viz Biz

Developing an alternative to RFID costs has been an angle for San Diego-based VizExplorer, which helps organizations combine data sources from their systems to uncover actionable insight. It delivers a software platform and applications to provide deep analytical information.

Its latest catalyst is ChipVue, powered by ARB Labs. The product has been submitted to GLI, and will receive certification for Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana tribal, Michigan tribal, Nevada, Ohio casino and Oklahoma Class III in February, according to company officials.

Jason Bonner, vice president of product management for VizExplorer, says his product does not utilize RFID, which he considers effective at curbing counterfeiting (even while noting that you can fool an RFID solution by putting a couple of fake chips below an RFID chip), but expensive and difficult to deploy across all games for the purposes of bet recognition.

“That’s an area where we are different,” he says. “The TableViz with ChipVue solution includes highly accurate camera technology and works with the operator’s existing rack of casino chips. It comes down to what the operator is trying to accomplish and what technology is the best fit.”

This is a joint hardware/software solution. Minimal ChipVue hardware is installed on every table. The package includes a chip tray with integrated optical bet recognition devices, hand-count sensor, card reader, an LCD screen and a small server, unobtrusive to the dealer and players, that attaches below the table. From the software perspective, TableViz does the analysis and empowers the operator with unique insights not available for table games until now, Bonner asserts.

ChipVue provides an optical, bet-tracking table-game performance analysis. The product helps casino operators generate slot-like analytics for table games like blackjack and baccarat.

“VizExplorer and Arb teamed up to deliver a complete solution to operators seeking a real table game optimization solution,” Bonner says. “Arb provides the operational hardware used by the dealers, and VizExplorer provides the strategic tools to help make informed decisions leveraging all of the great, accurate data operators will now have access to.”

Some results have been stunning, he believes. Significant data has emerged over the rankings of premier players. Some heavy hitters, it turns out, are lightweights.

“TableViz with ChipVue has been deployed at a number of early-adopter sites with exciting results,” Bonner asserts. “The solution has maintained over a 98 percent accuracy rate in capturing player bets, and has confirmed that a large variance exists between a player’s manual and actual rating. On average, this has impacted 90 percent of rated table game players, with their rating over or undervaluing their play by 100 percent. This means 90 percent of players aren’t receiving the right offer today, which is a big deal as it translates to maximizing table game profit.”

Bonner says the product has been endorsed by properties because “we’re solving the age-old table rating dilemma, which is a hot topic for properties that have a decent number of tables on their floor. Most database marketers ignore table players today due to the accuracy of manual tracking systems.

“We’ve received a lot of attention at trade shows where we’ve showcased the solution on the floor. Often our demo table has been swamped by casino staff that are amazed how the technology just works—and captures every bet accurately.”

Bonner touts TableViz as the vehicle to help operators capture the actual player bet, timing player and decisions per hour as a game-changer.

“It gives operators all the tools they need to optimize their table games,” he says. “They need to understand who their valuable customers are, what games they should have, where they should be located, and when they should have a dealer on the floor. Understanding the value of your table game players to inform offers to drive incremental visits is critical, but just one part of the larger story.”

Operators will have access to the performance of their tables to help them determine what games they should have on their floor. What are the best table game themes? What are the most successful side bets?

“With visibility into decisions per hour and the types of players that frequent their tables, operators will be able to maximize dealer performance by matching their dealer to the situation on their floor,” he adds. “This is the solution you need if you really care about optimizing table games.”

 

Casino Connection

Konami Gaming, the Las Vegas-based subsidiary of Konami Holdings, anticipates a first-quarter announcement of table-game enhancements to Synkros, its award-winning casino management system. That’s always an interesting development for a product already known for innovation regarding data collection, adaptable floor management, POS and hotel management.

The fourth quarter of 2019 was no exception. The company was hailed for a product giving players a chance to connect to the table games.

Konami’s SynkConnect cardless player tracking solution was awarded a gold medal in the annual GGB Gaming & Technology Awards, recognizing the casino gaming industry’s best in innovation. SynkConnect delivers secure authentication methods to augment or replace a traditional player loyalty card, including via personal smartphone, fobs, a room key, wearables, etc. For tables, it could eliminate the need for a pit boss to manually enter player data at buy-in.

“Synkros has long been focused on delivering technology that enhances the guest experience while providing meaningful positive impact to the business,” says Jay Bertsch, vice president, global systems sales. “The way SynkConnect drives real-world convenience, adoption, engagement, data and value to help pioneer the next generation in player tracking technology is a reflection of Synkros’ enduring approach to new innovation and future development.”

By combing near-field communication (NFC) through a card reader, SynkConnect delivers a multi-channel solution for a number of authentication methods, from touchless mobile connection to the traditional card swipe.

 

Optimizing the Pit

Tangam Systems, a leader in table games optimization software, deploys its products on over 5,200 tables in eight countries, officials say. The list keeps growing for the company, which launched its signature table-games yield management software product in 2010. It is based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The Table Yield Management suite helps casinos align their game-mix, product location, staffing and pricing to patron demand, resulting in increased productivity, improved Table Games EBITDA, and an enhanced guest experience.

It turns data into actions to optimize spread planning, game mix, and dynamic management for table games.

Another system for optimizing table-game yield is Gaming Floor Live from London-based TCSJohnHuxley. The Gaming Floor Live platform provides operators with real-time visibility and total control over the gaming floor by drawing data from every aspect of the table, allowing the opportunity to quantify every connected table and its devices.

“With GFL Optimisation, casinos can save time and money,” says Tracy Cohen, director of marketing for TCSJohnHuxley. “The system clearly indicates where operational attention is required the most by pulling data from the table in real time, allowing accurate up-to-date transparency of table operations.

“While this is important if you’re operating an average-sized European casino with 15-20 tables, in Asia and the U.S.—with their dramatically scaled table environments—incremental data is vital to making strategic minute-by-minute decisions that affect the bottom line.”

Gaming Floor Live’s real-time insights and additional modules can increase a table’s hands/spins/dice per hour, customer engagement and bet frequency, and in turn help to drive revenue increases.

There’s always a niche beckoning those who wish to monitor the area where casinos made their first big imprint. With ICE London set to unfurl the 2019 major-event schedule, companies have reserved their place at the tables.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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