Not so long ago, casino hotels could rely on colorful but mostly static signage to help drive gaming play, provide information and direct guests to amenities and locations throughout their properties. Today, though, more and more casinos are adding digital signage to the mix, finding the versatility, innovative design and real-time capabilities invaluable tools<

Bally Technologies' CoolSign division gives casino operators new opportunities to reach out to connect and inform their customers.


Digital signage provided by Alpha Video’s Digital Display Group adorns a wall at the Diamondback Lounge inside the new Choctaw Casino Durant in Oklahoma.

Bally Technologies’ CoolSign division is finding traction as well with a solution that specializes in driving more personal messaging to customers.

“Everyone likes to have their name up on a leader board,” says Michael Ratner, director of systems product market for CoolSign.

CoolSign’s products also can be integrated into existing Bally Systems, another big plus. Casinos can feature a leader board showing the top 10 players club points earners, for example, or congratulate players club members who are celebrating a birthday. “The point,” Ratner explains, “is that you’re able to then advertise this type of information around the casino, which you ordinarily wouldn’t have been able to do if you weren’t able to tap into the back-end system.”

Pechanga Resort & Casino, for instance, keeps a running total of jackpots for different measures - today, this week, this month, this year. “You can see how much the casino has paid out,” Ratner says. “The fact is, there are all these wins on the floor, and no one knows about them. In order to add some excitement, the casino could tap into Bally Systems and find out where all these wins are occurring. You’re kind of constantly reaffirming that your casino’s a lucky casino, that there are wins taking place.”

Ratner points to a promotion offered at Barona Resort & Casino, “Off to the Races,” a weekly interactive floor-wide bonusing event held in July that gave Club Barona members the opportunity to select their favorite horse while playing their slots. If their horse won, they won. As part of the celebration, the race was shown on all of the casino’s media displays, including the individual Bally myView screens on the slot machines. Adding to the excitement were a professional race caller and live bugle calls to the post. “Off to the Races” was so successful, Barona repeated it in November.

Ratner calls it a “good example of how CoolSign and other Bally products work in synchronization.”



Bally Technologies showcases how CoolSign technology can be used to provide information on plasma screens behind a hotel check-in desk.

REAL COOL, REAL TIME

Among the other applications Bally has been able to leverage with CoolSign is its in-room Bally TV, which delivers customized marketing messages, cross-promotes amenities and events and provides access and interface to players club account information and features and personalized guest services such as high-quality HDTV VOD to network-based personal video recording and time-shifted television. It’s revolutionary in its way, Ratner says, because historically marketing efforts for the casino and hotel have been “quite separate”.

“Once you were in the hotel room, the casino couldn’t really market to you,” he explains. “Now we could send a message onto the TV telling you, ‘Come down to the casino, because we have a $20 offer for you that is valid for the next half-hour.”

Technology is continually expanding the possibilities, says Jim Cook, executive director, sales, for Las Vegas-based Casino Lighting and Sign.

“You have static messages to real-time live video feeds. Some of the casinos shoot real-time events going on in the casinos and broadcast it to the marquee signs. It’s a lot more involved. It’s much more intriguing. We’re using a lot more heightened lighting and sound.”

LCDs and plasma screens help create a more upscale environment. There is also a lot more interaction with companies that develop bonusing applications. “We kind of work hand in hand with them,” Cook says.

As networked gaming gains traction, Cook expects signage to have more digital elements that can provide for changing graphics, even while the sign structure may remain the same.

It also means sign companies have to grow and adapt with the technology. Casino Lighting and Sign has three graphic developers in-house. “We’re wide open and try to keep ourselves open,” Cook says. “As fast as technology is changing and improving, what’s current today may be something different in six months.”



Among the myriad casino projects created by Las Vegas-based Casino Lighting and Sign is this distinctive signage on a slot bank at the Hard Rock Hotel.

BEYOND NEON

Neon marquees once reigned supreme in Las Vegas, but Cook points to Casino Lighting’s huge outdoor display for CityCenter’s Aria Resort & Casino as an example of how newer technology is coming into its own. The stainless steel structure, which was 18 months in development and design, features LEDs that change colors at night. “It’s really the icon sign to the whole project,” he says. “At night, from the ground up, the entire structure is illuminated by LEDs.”

It also points up the value of full-color LED signage, which is brighter than today’s LCDs. “There’s nothing better for promoting a jackpot, especially a dollar slot jackpot,” he says. “The nice thing about LEDs is we can turn it up and turn it down. It’s going to definitely stand out compared to the LCDs standing next to it.”

Casino Lighting and Sign also was involved in developing a way-finding solution for Aria and indoor signage for The Cosmopolitan next door. The company also is working on a project for a new entrance to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino across the street.

“The interactive portions of digital signage are where you’re going to see the most growth in the next few years,” says Hutchinson, who notes that now a guest can make a restaurant reservation with a virtual employee right from a sign; a conference attendee using RFID can learn where his meeting is taking place and see a map of how to get there; a casino can instantly deliver a “push” coupon for $10 off at the steakhouse or last-minute 50 percent discounts off a show.

He says, “It’s almost expected that you have some kind of information to browse through rather than having to ask for it,” and it runs the gamut. “It’s everything from being able to find out restaurant hours, parking garage, hotel, to where’s my favorite game being moved.”



Marian Green is editor of Slot Manager and managing editor of Casino Journal. She can be contacted at greenm@bnpmedia.com.



For more on the latest trends in digital signage, check out the Digital Signage Expo, February 22-25, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Organizers say it’s the world’s largest international trade show and conference dedicated to digital signage, interactive technology and out-of-home networks. For information, visit www.digitalsignageexpo.net.