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Show Me a Sign

The growth of digital signage in gaming

Show Me a Sign

Big and bold, or simple and subtle. The extreme range of digital signage reflects its enhanced role as a gaming catalyst.

Casinos facing competition from the online sector and nearby brick-and-mortar rivals take the signage realm to new dimensions.

It’s no longer enough to merely service customers. On casino grounds, signage must be prominent in the form of video walls, LED screens, interactive kiosks or other elements. Signage underscores the service realm. It’s a branding ally.

The question for properties is how to do it. One extreme is the dynamic effect of a video wall right in the heart of gaming activity. Project an electrified atmosphere with a large video wall curved around a casino sports bar during sporting events. Make a statement. Flex the property’s financial muscles.

Another is the cloud-based world of solutions that are simpler, relatively inexpensive, and easier to operate. This is a hit with bean counters. Vendors which service either end of this spectrum view a grand opportunity.

Competition is enormous, but so are the benefits. Vendors sell to casinos looking to separate themselves with visual splendor or with a tight financial ship.

This is a dynamic process to watch. The signs of the battle are, well, everywhere.

Clear Vision

Dave Kubajak, senior vice president of sales, marketing and operations for JCM Global, touts a product that will make its premiere in the JCM booth at G2E—DSS CLEAR.

These are transparent, smart-glass LED screens viewers can see through while also experiencing messaging or a show, he says. There are several configurations available for various applications like dynamic window displays, welcoming sliding doors, and wayfinding signage.

The technology has been available since 2019, and JCM now brings it center stage.

“The DSS CLEAR series delivers a unique customer experience in store, around the casino floor, and more,” Kubajak says. “The LED chip integration into LED beads guarantees high transparency and vivid color. They are lightweight and thin, making them extremely versatile, yet they are also waterproof and wind-resistant.

“Because they are LED, they are also energy-efficient. Designed in a variety of configurations, CLEAR features high-density industrial tempered glass and integrated circuit technology to form transparent digital signage perfect for modern architecture.”

JCM is offering CLEAR in five configurations:

  • NSN Series Glass LED Wall
  • NJ Series Transparent LED Window Display
  • NM & NS Glass LED Sliding Door
  • NexBarrier Series Glass LED Half Wall
  • NexESign Series Glass LED Hanging Sign

“This is incredibly exciting technology because it allows operators to approach spaces in entirely new ways,” Kubajak indicates. “First, the LED panels are scalable, so they can be built for any space. Next, because they are transparent, they can be placed anywhere and maintain visibility through to the next space. For example, they could be in a storefront window, on the casino floor, or at any point in the convention area.”

This is only the latest JCM breakthrough in the signage sector. At Jack Thistledown Racino, JCM reached a new milestone achievement, installing its largest-ever sports ticker—a DSS FLEX LITE-S 1.9 mm ticker measuring 96 feet wide by nearly 2 feet high. The display snakes above the sportsbook, curving perfectly along the area’s decorative fascia.

JCM also installed a massive DSS MAX-R 1.9 mm sportsbook display stretching nearly 30 feet wide and more than 8 feet high, as well as a DSS MAX-R 2.6 mm odds board that stands an impressive 11.5 feet wide and nearly 5 feet tall.

At Jack Cleveland Casino’s new sportsbook area, JCM installed a gigantic DSS MAX-R 1.9 mm sportsbook display measuring 34.5 feet wide and just under 10 feet high, as well as a DSS MAX-R 2.6 mm odds board measuring 16.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall.

The displays create limitless opportunities. Magnificent sportsbooks are one tool brick-and-mortar properties have to compete with online business. If casinos are to entice players to their book, it must create demand. Mobile betting has become too easy for patrons to use.

Sportsbooks, aided by signage, can enhance the depth of the sports-betting enjoyment. That’s only one use of this sector.

Kubajak says customers are continually surprised about the flexibility of his company’s signage solutions.

“Indoors or outdoors, they are really limited only by the imagination,” he says. “Three examples of that flexibility are The Link at Choctaw Durant, where a space was transformed into a full sensory experience with a digital signage archway; Jack Thistledown, where we created a sports ticker that perfectly matched the sportsbook’s facia; and an outdoor installation at Tachi Palace where we installed three massive exterior digital signs bringing brilliant, LED illumination to the resort’s renovated front entrance.”

Kubajak says JCM loves digital signage because it gives customers a dynamic way to enhance their guests’ experience. His company’s solutions help properties deliver a fun and immersive environment to interact.

JCM sells directly to operators, and also has a network of partners who can work with operators to further customize their digital experience. Kubajak says changes in this sector have given operators more options in recent years.

“What’s happened can best be described as ‘then’ and ‘now,’” he indicates. “Back then, we had static posters and duratrans that we hoped grabbed passersbys’ attention. Now, we have flexible, dynamic digital signage that raises the bar for customer experience. Casinos of all sizes are using digital

signage as an opportunity to refresh their spaces and elevate their hospitality and entertainment to the next level.”

James Smith, project manager, audio visual at JCM Global, outlines the company’s meticulous engagement process with operators.

JCM prepares customers for their upcoming Digital Signage Solutions projects by getting a better understanding of the property’s goals, existing structures and design ideas, he says.

The company asks customers what they want the display for and whether it will broadcast live on TV, provide customer information, or be used to direct patrons to a specific location. This helps outline the customer goals and impacts the recommendations.

Operators are asked where they want to place the display, considering the distance of their audience and the location of seating, if needed. The budget process and site surveys follow. Once numbers are generally agreed upon, interior and exterior surveys unfold.

An interior site survey includes reviewing the structure, power and data box elevation drawings with the customer. It also involves existing utilities access and identification of any possible obstructions.

Exterior projects examine the foundation, main structure, subtypes and, if needed, proximity to bodies of saltwater. Air quality, humidity and average temperature also weigh into the exterior survey.

Throughout the digital signage installation process, JCM works with signage manufacturers, cabinet makers, contractors, A/V teams and more to bring the casino’s vision to life.

A Team of Experts

While much is known about digital signage, much more is still being uncovered, according to Dan Jared, senior account executive, casino for Alpha Video. One of them is a clever play on  words.

“‘Techorating’ is a relatively new idea in the industry that represents a shift in interior design practices that focus more on LED video walls to create customizable, immersive experiences that can be updated to suit the ever-changing needs of clients,” he says. “Casinos can leverage this to highlight casino heritage or digital artwork in any resolution necessary.”

The company has a diverse outlook on helping operators utilize the new, upgraded world of digital signage. They emphasize the simplification of putting control in the hands of the operator with easy-to-use technology and the value of immersive experiences.

“Technologies that reduce complexity for your operations staff and unify control of many of your AV systems under one platform that is easy for the customer to modify and update are the new standard,” says Alpha Video Vice President Lance Hutchinson. “The big-name control companies that require programmers to change layouts, features and permissions work great until you need them changed. The new systems make day-to-day operations and changes simple and easy.”

Kevin Higginbotham, Alpha senior account executive, casino, believes his company propels clients forward in this area.

“Several audio and video distribution systems in casinos are becoming very outdated, and with the latest technology of IP-based audio and video distribution, the need to consolidate distribution and control systems is a must for not only cost savings but also because it provides a major reduction in gear needing to be maintained for the future,” he says. “Alpha provides solutions to casinos to ensure integration with existing systems as well as being future-proof.”

Jared says the company’s Large Format LED offering is a prime player in this space. Alpha found a perfect fit at the Muckleshoot Casino in Seattle, Washington, which is undergoing a massive expansion. If any property ever wanted signage, it’s this one.

The Muckleshoot property is now the tallest structure between Seattle and Tacoma in Washington. It will eventually feature about 400 guest rooms, 157,000 square feet of continuous gaming, 29,000 square feet of event space and a Caesars sportsbook.

“We have recently installed 6-foot-wide, 55-foot-long LED archways with synchronized content to welcome guests as they enter the casino from the parking garage,” Jared indicates. “We installed a 96-foot-tall and 35-foot-wide LED on the outside of a casino hotel that spans the seventh to 18th floors, and for an immersive entrance, we implemented a 40-by-50-foot ceiling LED oval in a porte cochere that is half inside and half outside, creating a stunning entry experience. All are driven by our robust digital signage platform.”

Karen Kleindl, executive vice president of marketing and sales, says Alpha is all about making its clients’ vision come to life. “This means it works directly with top technology providers and manufacturers to integrate technology to deliver the exact solution our clients are looking for,” she says.

“We get credit for our ability to understand our clients’ vision and then making it possible using our close relationships with partners, ensuring a great solution and a great experience for our clients.”

The company has a team that sells directly to operators.

Think Big, Pay Small

Chad Bogan, director of sales and marketing for NoviSign, touts the speed and agility of a smaller company. Cloud-based signage solutions cost less, and can be accessed quickly and easily administered, he asserts.

“Ours is cloud-based; anyone can manage it,” Bogan says. “That is one of the biggest advantages we offer a customer.

“What we can give them is cut and dry, and you don’t need to be an expert to use. With us, you can be up and running within 30 minutes. With a lot of the big companies, the systems are so darn complicated that by the time you figure it out, it’s been a year.”

Bogan says NoviSign’s cloud-based digital signage provides complete control and flexibility, enabling casinos to design and broadcast highly targeted updates to casino screens. That area covers the lobby, gaming floor, dining areas and entertainment venues. Customers have numerous ways to utilize digital signage for entertainment.

It can be used to highlight nightlife, shows, concerts, special events and dining options. An operator can list scrolling event calendars with descriptions, times and locations. They can incorporate HQ media slide shows of rotating videos, advertisements, images and event commercials.

In the gaming realm, the signage can be used to spotlight jackpot winners, upcoming tournaments and poker waiting lists. Internally, it can help with employee communication.

With NoviSign’s digital signage software, one can also create engaging touch-screen kiosks, company officials say. There is no coding or HTML5 setup. Add a button and link it to open new pages of content, web pages and videos. The touchscreen widget is perfect for creating dynamic and fun interactive content for tablets, free-standing kiosks and touchscreen displays, according to the company.

The company’s all-in-one Digital Signage for Casinos product can be used on any screen, tablet or kiosk. It runs on Chrome, OS, Android, and Windows media players. It comes with more than 20 drag-and-drop widgets, enabling remote monitoring and scheduling.

This company understands its niche in this space. Bigger outfits advertise visual magnificence and aesthetic marquee. Smaller ones push their edge in cost and functionality.

Throughout the industry, digital signage offers varied implementation routes. Use it as a catalyst to go big and grandiose, especially in the middle of an expansion. Or use it as a functional cloud-based tool to be budgetarily lean and mean. Operators can literally sign on to what fits best.

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.