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Paying for Tables

Is the cashless era about to begin for table games?

Paying for Tables

Run the tables—the pit has become a fulcrum of innovation.

Companies target a suddenly fertile industry niche with products enabling both funds access and live-game enrichment. Enhancements embrace the table-game resurgence sparked by young players, mirroring their modern-day preference.

Advancements perform like spokes on a wheel, revolving around the table-game hub and spreading across several product types.

Facial recognition identifies players who marketing campaigns have yet to reach. Companies with bill validators and printers speed the pace of play around tables with their combined forces. We’ve reached the age in which a projector can be placed upon felt, enabling an in-game bonus with the wave of a hand.

And a min-cage is the rage, as a new service changes a long casino line into mobile-access fingertip control.

Tables may soon receive time-saving initiatives first displayed in slots, where individual machines fill less space than a multi-player table game and a bonusing device affects only one player, not several. The tables have growth potential within a process looking to blend pit functionality with game fun.


A System Vision

“Systems have been more focused on slots,” says Ted Keenan, vice president of product management for industry giant Scientific Games. “In the coming years, we want to know how we move some of the success of slots to table games.”

Keenan cites some inherent roadblocks for table game flow, including ratings not opening and closing accurately. Operators can’t easily tell when a player has begun and ended his session, prompting guesswork in the reward process. Another hurdle is the table-game buy-in process, which remains slow compared to slot machines despite enhanced transaction solutions.

A third complication is more of an unrealized opportunity: converting frequent on-site customers into loyalty club members. That situation, produced by the massive number of casino visitors and limited employee resources, touches all facets of the casino.

These concerns helped inspire SG Vision, a company-tailored version of Computer Vision, the video-surveillance and people-counting tool used in many fields, including security at airports. SG Vision, still in development, will produce these assets and more.

“A technology we are developing for the casinos, partnered with Amazon Web Services, will provide the object recognition,” Keenan says of the new product. “We are using their base technology to refine it for the space. With SG Vision technology, we will be able to enable a number of products.”

One future use will be patron identification. It will entail having cameras not only at tables, but in point-of-sale locations to identify customer identity and spending patterns.

“If you know that a player received $100 at the slot machine, played $50 at the table and then walked to the bar, you want to know that same player was at three locations, and reward that player,” he says.

Another use for player-identification technology involves serving the mass customer market. Players on the property can be identified for marketing purposes.

SG Vision can become a bridge product, connecting modern convenience at a table with the time-honored service of personalized customer interaction. There’s always a place for reminding customers of their status, as shift bosses did during the age when they eyeballed potential rewards players. They’d notice an active player, offer perks and try to retain the individual’s business.

Employees still talk of the late Dennis Gomes, the casino icon who taught them the “soft hustle” of engaging customers and procuring tips. The process involved one-on-one communication.

Keenan believes casinos are just scratching the surface of potential customers they can reach.

“When you look at casinos, the player tracking systems are only touching a fraction of the players at the slot machines,” he says, “and the slot machines are only a fraction of the players in the casinos.

“When you look at those fractions, even successful marketing to players in the casinos represents a small percentage of the players.

“Using biometrics (part of SG Vision), we now can recognize that here is the same face of someone who was in here last Tuesday, played on a particular game, wagered $500 and then was in here on Wednesday playing another $300.

“The operator may not know that person’s name, but understands that a player is in the property and at the point of play. That enables engagement. We believe this will be very impactful for casinos going forward.”

The technology aids the rewards process in another manner. Although a gambler may wager a specific amount of money in a time period, not all hands are created equally. A player who doubles up and bets more in certain periods can be identified for instant rewards.

Keenan believes SG Vision’s range of products will ultimately include anti-money-laundering and responsible gaming solutions.

The product’s capability may also bring chills.

The company showcased futuristic-looking Augmented Table Games at G2E to rave reviews.

Using SG Vision, a projector can be placed onto the felt, allowing players to engage in bonus games, right at the table, with hand gestures. The technology will be available to all table games and presumably gain more use with bonusing and wild-card situations.

“Let’s say you just earned a bonus game,” Keenan says. “The technology enables us to project a wheel onto the table felt. You go ahead and spin that wheel by dragging your hand across the felt.

“That same camera used for detecting your face or your chips can detect where your hand is. When you make a sweeping gesture, right above the wheel projection, we know that you have tried to spin that wheel.”

The in-game bonus does not affect surrounding players.


A New Concierge

It is a utopian concept for some players. What if the cage came to me?

Now it does.

Everi touts CashClub Concierge, a personalized cash access cage service for VIPs as well as table games and high-limit room players that integrates mobile tablets and mobile point-of-sale devices through CashClub. The service eliminates the need for a player to move away from gaming to access additional funds, as the product brings the cage to the player.

CashClub Concierge integrates mobile tablets and mobile POS devices with CashClub software. For credit card/debit card cash advance transactions, once players are enrolled with CashClub, they only need to visit the cage once for their transactions to be authorized, retrieved, and completed on the gaming floor. They never have to leave their favorite gaming location.

For PIN debit transactions, there is no enrollment required. CashClub Concierge is fully integrated with CashClub, and all CashClub Concierge transactions are included in reports available through the XView reporting tool.

CashClub Concierge can be configured in a couple of ways. One is PIN Debit transactions. Once notified by a player that funds are needed, a casino employee using a mobile point-of-sale device will locate the customer and code in the amount requested. The player then swipes or dips their card and enters their PIN. After the transaction is authorized, the same casino employee provides funds to the player in the form of gaming chips or similar gaming credit.

Another method involves credit and debit card advance transactions. Once notified by a player that funds are needed, a casino employee using a mobile tablet will locate the customer and follow the existing CashClub flow for cash access. Once the transaction is completed, funds are available to the player as gaming chips or similar gaming credit, or can be moved to their CashClub Wallet for access at any Everi kiosk on the property.

Featured benefits include integration with Cash Club cage application for streamlined internal reporting, customized payout methods and the increased availability of funds for play.

The product’s use of mobile apps is significant. Mobile apps are the flashpoint of an enlightened service era, spanning many industries. Convenience resonates in every spending format from legalized sports wagering and restaurant reservations to ordering show tickets, settling bar tabs and accessing funds on the spot.

To think of what a problem mobile eliminates, consider the 10th person in line at the cage.

Even if each transaction took only three minutes, the line is 30 minutes. And some transactions take longer than three minutes. Mobile functionality not only provides funds quickly, but saves customers from frustrating lines, especially if they are reconciling a small sum.


Counting TITA

It was only a matter of time before JCM and CountR teamed up.

CountR has steadily advanced its TITA system the past couple of years, gaining traction for the table games payment solution that allows for TITO and point-of-sale transactions.

JCM, via bill validators, printers and Fuzion technology, elevated the functionality of TITO to the realm of promotional tickets, race and sports tickets, lottery tickets and tax forms.

The movements of each company, tracked over different routes in the past couple of years, reached fruition in the fourth quarter. Under its Master Distribution agreement, launched in time for the high-profile G2E 2019, JCM will distribute CountR’s TITA system throughout North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions.

The TITA system enables TITO transactions at the table game where a TITO ticket is issued to a player in exchange for their chips. Players can redeem their TITO ticket at any redemption kiosk, or move freely from table games to slots or from slots to table games with their TITO ticket.

One of JCM’s latest catalysts is the MRX bill validator (right). It reads two notes/TITO tickets per second, bringing the fastest bill validation solution to table games, company officials say.

Product features include a bulk note feeder/payout component enabling a single-note feed and bulk-note payout up to 15 notes. A bulk-note feed model also is available.

MRX includes a multi-note escrow capacity. A 15-note escrow returns the same notes when a transaction is canceled.

The on-site module replacement minimizes machine down time. There is a 2,200 note-collection cassette and a retrieval bin. Unremoved banknotes can be retrieved into an independent bin, keeping the machine running.

The MRX can be upgraded to include JCM’s Intelligent Cash Box (ICB) system to provide the highest level of accounting.

CountR also marches independently with CATA, a micro card redemption machine for card redemption and charging at table games.

Card-based techniques are dominating slot machine gaming today. The next step of optimization is made by reducing action steps for players on table games. With the CATA device installed at a table game, casinos can validate cards and display their amount, accept cards at a table game to be partly exchanged for chips and charge cards in exchange for chips.


Bravo Upgrade

The Pit Watch module is the heart of the Bravo player tracking and management software.

Genesis Gaming is recognized for its leading Bravo hardware and software solutions. The product line spans Pit, Poker and Cage, and offers the additional power and accuracy of RFID technology.

A new type of recognition emanated from Genesis at G2E. It involves customers.

Bravo Identify delivers cutting-edge identification, tracking and dual-authentication solutions to operators looking to improve security, age verification, marketing and customer data. The system automates the entire ID verification and tracking process, harnessing the power of facial recognition technology mapped against any valid identification.

From security and surveillance to loyalty marketing and payments, Bravo Identify delivers both real-time and historical face recognition analysis and verification. The application can operate in even the most challenging environments, overcoming conditions such as poor lighting, large crowds and fast-moving subjects, as well as appearance-altering elements such as facial hair, hats and glasses.

One can monitor persons of interest, capture facial images via video cameras, assess each subject to identify unique facial signature and run an image against databases until an identification match is found.

The product allows for custom configuration of data-handling and alerts. This type of enhanced identification has both a security and potential marketing benefit.

Throughout the industry, operators know that tables will never operate with the speed of slots. But they can contain more of the thrill.

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.