For casino operators, knowing exactly how their slot floor is performing is critical to running an efficient, profitable business. On a daily basis, the best operators are examining which games are performing well and which are not; they’re looking to see which banks of machines get the most attention and which may get lost on the floor; they’re surmising whether the handle from certain games is meeting expectations when it was purchased; they’re gauging whether certain slot promotions or players club perks are paying off; and, if they’re smart, they’re already planning for the future.
But unlike the days of old when all of these questions were left to be answered by hand-gathered data, operators today are getting an assist. One company that has had the pulse of slot floor analysis since 2001 is Casino Data Imaging (CDI). The Las Vegas-based data visualization and slot floor analysis firm uses technology based on CAD design to give operators a birds-eye view of their slot floor operations.
CDI’s core CasinoCAD product automates the data gathering and analysis functions on the casino floor, then allows operators to see a visualization of the data. For example, if an operator wants to know the machines with the best coin-in during the last week, CasinoCAD can take critical data and generate a detailed map of the casino floor using color-coded slots to show the “hot” and “cold” machines.
“The specifications for CasinoCAD were developed from a slot analyst/casino manager perspective,” said George Levine, CDI’s director of sales and marketing. “What they were doing manually [reports and graphical representations] were automated by CasinoCAD. To accommodate the uniqueness of the casino industry, we created our own CAD environment versus adapting technology used for other industries.”
User-friendlyIn order to make CasinoCAD as viable to the casino industry as possible, CDI has relied on in-depth input from its customers. Levine said that operators first and foremost wanted a way to electronically process the data and analysis they had been doing previously by hand.
“We automated all of that so there’s no more having to recreate the floor, do the color coding by hand and taking mounds and mounds of reports and change that into a library of reporting. That’s how this started. It clicked right away because they’re the experts not the engineer. So we were able to collaborate with them and turn around a product that was very useable,” Levine said.
The CasinoCAD product initially launched with a gaming company wanted the application for multiple properties. Levine said it was a great way for CDI to cut its teeth,and the immediate feedback and input from that client went a long way toward refining the product in the years ahead. Soon, more and more casino customers were on board, and CDI was readily listening to every issue, demand and question that operators had.
“The input we got from them [the operators] translated into valuable upgrades and enhancements to the program,” Levine said.
The result? A CasinoCAD system that can drill down to virtually any critical slot accounting and performance data, giving operators a much better perspective of their slot floors.
The system is very user-friendly. For example, in evaluating a slot machine’s or slot bank’s performance, the CasinoCAD customer would set thresholds for what he or she considered a hot game, an average game and a cold game. Those thresholds are then entered into a form within the program (they can change any time they want because it is user-configured.), and averages and range values can be generated where the operator is able to see the peaks and valleys by coin-in and win.
“Say you set white as average, orange as above average, red as strong, and then below different colors to signify games that are below average. You look for trends on the floor based on different attributes,” Levine said. “We could also look at it by manufacturer and create a color code where the Konami games are, the Aristocrat games are, the Bally games are etc. and then color code financial information on top of that. It could be that attribute or slant-top, upright, novelty games … There are various ways of looking at the floor.”
And Levine added that there are well over 1,000 different layers of analysis for operators to work with. CasinoCAD offers the ability to print the information right next to the machine or bank of machines. The system also has the ability to do advanced queries using CasinoCAD’s Query Editor.
“Let’s say we brought in some trial games at Mohegan Sun. I want to find all my Konami games but I don’t know where we put them, it will search for them by the color code you set for their criteria. Once that’s highlighted on the map there is a detail view you can grab and it will give you all the information about your search. There is a financial column. In that column you have three groups where you can compare a period to that same period month to month and year to year. It’s simple and very versatile,” Levine said.
The bigger pictureOne of CDI’s recent advancements with CasinoCAD is the addition of CasinoCAD Enterprise. The program, which overlays CasinoCAD, allows a centralized, enterprise wide visualization of performance across multiple properties and locations.
“In an effort to centralize and standardize game performance analysis and reporting across the enterprise, each property’s gaming data is copied to a central repository daily. There are several obvious advantages in maintaining a central repository or warehouse but the most important would be the ability to standardize common naming conventions across the corporate enterprise,” Levine said. “Standardizing game themes, game types, cabinet styles, etc allows analysts to compare and study game performance from a corporate perspective; helping them understand what is working and where. The enterprise version of CasinoCAD was developed to leverage the benefits provided by utilizing a common data warehouse.”
Additionally, CDI is working on some new features to CasinoCAD that will allow quicker, more effective exportation of information. Levine said more enhanced graphs and charts are among items that are in development stages. Levine also noted that while there is currently no CasinoCAD application for traditional table games, the company hopes to conduct some beta tests later this year on the table games side. In January, the company opened a development center based in Mumbai, India with the availability of 14 engineers to assist on with those plans and other proposed upgrades, applications and enhancements.
CDI is also cognizant of new potential with server-based gaming and is already planning for its arrival on slot floors.
“One of our future enhancements will be game level analysis,” Levine said. “Within each box you can have 10 or 12 different games, denominations, etc. We’re working on the specs right now and there are some summaries for what we’re doing with server based games. The logic is that the machine will be sent out from the central server. So there will be ways to track all that. I think our product will adapt to that. We have some new features we’re working on that would fit.”
With a CasinoCAD product that us now robust thanks to customer feedback, as well as very affordable by comparison to other analysis and business intelligence systems in the market, CDI has carved out more than a niche. And Levine said the company is ready to take its success to the next level.