Manufacturers are in a race to provide bill validators that do more in less space… and maybe do away with banknotes completely



You don’t have to be an old-timer to remember when slot machines operated strictly on coins and tokens. But handling all that circular metal was a costly hassle, which led to slots accepting banknotes.



This trend has prompted a race by currency validator manufacturers to update their wares to keep pace with the increased acceptance of banknotes on the gaming floor and the need to handle a greater volume of play. New technologies are being brought to market to enable bill validators to do more in less space as well. And in one case, an evolved product is taking the handling of cash on the floor beyond banknotes to a completely higher realm.



The SC Advance note acceptor from MEI

The advances are evident at West Chester, Pa.-based MEI, which late last year unveiled a comprehensive cash management solution that combines the firm’s SC Advance and Easitrax Soft Count products that enables them to network the slot floor to the soft count room. The result is products that raise the bar for value and performance expectations while maximizing operator profitability.

Evolved from the Cashflow SC note acceptor, SC Advance applies new technology that provides enhanced recognition technology, faster bill-to-bill speed, and improved barcode recognition. It also has increased capacity to accept up to 100 different currencies and denominations, and can accept without bother valid street-grade notes, including those that are wet, crinkled or torn.

Because enhancements are localized to the acceptor head, SC Advance can upgrade legacy Cashflow SC units. As a result, operators can update their slot floors at their own pace as capital becomes available. Intelligent support tools will sense the product version and run the appropriate software.

The Easitrax Soft Count product has been upgraded to expand the reach of note acceptors from the slot floor into the soft count room. The addition of Easitrax to SC Advance or Cashflow SC creates a comprehensive software/hardware system that streamlines the cash management process.

Easitrax Soft Count works by gathering data from multiple note acceptors and funneling that information into a secure remote database that can be accessed to track revenues and analyze slot performance. RFID technology connects slot machine asset numbers to a specific cashbox to help eliminate “hot boxes” and increase operational efficiencies. Operators typically receive a return on investment in less than one year by reducing 20-30 seconds per cash drop and improving maintenance practices through access to eight pre-programmed reports.



JCM America’s iV8 table game bill validator

IN SEARCH OF VALIDATION

JCM Global, Las Vegas, likewise continues to evolve its iVizion bill validator with the addition of DNA (Dynamic Network Applications) technology that bundles the validator with enhancement tools that empower casino operators to do more tasks.

The iVizion is fitted with two high-speed processors and the company’s Contact Image Sensor technology, which captures the entire image of the banknote or TITO ticket, Tom Nieman, JCM vice president of global marketing, explained. The 85mm-wide bezel assures easy entry and optically centers each banknote automatically, thus enabling 99 percent first-time acceptance rates for both bills and tickets.

Maintaining the iVizion is simplified by its modular design, in which the head is separate, so operators need only change out the head when necessary. The unit’s back-to-back front stacking cash box enables the addition of more bill storage without undoing the surface alignment of games.

The new DNA technology, which is offered in both wireless and hard-wired versions, passively monitors the EGM “SAS” line for critical housekeeping data while securing two-way communication with all critical peripheral components. Casino operators can thus get extensive reports in real time and instantly deliver firmware updates with no downtime across the entire casino.

DNA further enables regulators to instantly verify peripheral devices, software versions and view reports, while boosting efficiency, productivity and (most importantly) profitability, Nieman said.

Meanwhile, JCM’s iV8 table game bill validator has been upgraded to provide instant validation at eight banknotes per second. Developed specifically for high-volume table games, the iV8’s overall design has been modified and compacted to be sleeker and more streamlined, as well as easier to use by both customers and operators to increase play time on tables.

With iV8, buy-ins are inserted directly into an adjoining tray where every bill is validated and counted with the total value displayed for all to see. Rejected or suspected banknotes are moved into a separate tray during tabulation, with the reject tray having a maximum capacity of 50 bills. The tray for validated banknotes holds 200, so it can process large buy-ins.

Reliability and cost-effectiveness are two features engrained in the GBA ST1 bill acceptor marketed by Las Vegas-based AstroSystems Inc.

The unit’s Sense Technology scans banknotes to assure a high level of acceptance of true notes while rejecting counterfeit bills and other attempts at fraud. The slim-line design enables these acceptors to be installed in more locations. The GBA can be configured to stack accepted banknotes either up or down. The device is also reprogrammable for currency designs change and it includes diagnostic tools to assure quick repairs and thus less downtime. All components can be reached quickly as the GBA can be completely disassembled in 30 seconds.



The JetScan iFX i400 currency scanner/processor from Cummins Allison

MAKING IT COUNT

When it comes time for casinos to count currency, few systems do it faster than the iFX Series scanning equipment offered by Cummins Allison, Mount Prospect, Ill.

The JetScan iFX i100 processes notes about 33 percent faster than comparable equipment and with fewer jams, said Bob Gibson, vice president of branch operations at Cummins Allison. The unit includes an advanced counterfeit detection system that quickly rejects bogus scrip.

The scanner is designed for simple software upgrades, and casinos can add serial number capture, check imaging and other document processing features as needs change. In addition to banknotes, the system also can handle TITO tickets. Indeed, what sets the JetScan iFX series apart from other cash processors is that the same machine can also process casino tickets and checks.  According to company literature, JetScan iFX is the only solution that can process cash, tickets and checks all on the same device; and with speeds of 1,600 bills per minute, 1,200 tickets per minute, and 400 checks per minute, it’s the fastest processor for each medium. It can even process mixed cash and tickets in the same run, so cash and tickets do not have to be sorted before being counted and valued. 

Being able to process all types of media on one device reduces equipment costs and maintenance, but it also reduces footprint and training issues. The JetScan iFX series can image tickets, interface with existing casino systems and also send electronic check deposits to the casino’s bank for faster credit.

While the JetScan iFX i100 has one pocket for all banknotes and tickets validated and counted as they pass through the scanner, the iFX i200 has two pockets for separating banknotes from TITO tickets. And the iFX i400 can be set to have anywhere from three to nine sorting pockets.

According to Gibson, the iFX i400 can be configured to separate different denominations of bills, providing a pocket for $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills. Casino staffers need only feed the currency into the scanner, which automatically faces the bills and validates them on the basis of stored knowledge.

The multi-pocket i400 is able to scan and count up to 1,500 banknotes and tickets per minute. The device takes up very little counter space and can be configured vertically or horizontally as required, Gibson said.

In addition to scanning, validating and counting currency at speed comparable to larger equipment, the JetScan iFX products can archive serial numbers and other such data, thus saving space in the casino’s computers, Gibson added.



G&D’s BPS M5 banknote processing system

The BPS M5 banknote processing system from Munich-based Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) was specially designed for use in count rooms of casinos, which need to process large numbers of banknotes and TITO tickets quickly yet precisely. The product’s modular design can be individually configured and adapted flexibly to meet any casino’s special requirements.

With a processing speed of up to 33 banknotes a second, the BPS M5 is one of the most powerful systems in its product class worldwide. It can be set to process any currency intermixed with TITO tickets. And the BPS M5 can be fitted with up to 10 high-performance sensors and 20 stackers, enabling a variety of processing types in a single pass.

With the use of G&D’s header card technology, the BPS M5 provides true continuous processing giving its users one of the highest throughputs in the industry.



TableXchange, a cashless system for table games developed by Global Cash Access and FutureLogic

CASHLESS FUTURE

The future of casino gaming is, according to some industry observers, rapidly moving toward cashless. So Global Cash Access (GCA) has created a system that enables players to skip the banknote stage and go directly from their checking accounts (via an ATM card) to TITO tickets. The customer goes to one of GCA’s Quikticket kiosks and pulls funds either as currency or a bar-coded ticket that can be used to buy into table games through the TableXchange device. The ability to put all gaming cash on a ticket reduces the amount of cash casinos need to keep in these kiosks, which also reduces manpower needs while getting players to their favorite table game quicker.

Developed with FutureLogic Inc., GCA’s TableXchange device connects table games to a casino’s existing TITO network allowing for scanning and printing TITO vouchers. This technology creates a common currency across the casino, creates a bridge between slots and tables, and helps casinos identify valuable crossover players. The TableXchange device further streamlines casino operations by virtually eliminating the need to replenish chips at table games.

When a player hands a TITO voucher to the dealer, the TableXchange device scans and displays the voucher value on the device’s LCD and touchscreens, allowing the player, dealer, and security personnel to confirm the voucher amount. The player then receives chips and a TITO voucher for the cash balance. To cash out, the dealer simply collects and enters the value of the player’s chips on the numeric keypad, which prints a cashout voucher for the player and a receipt ticket for the drop box.

TableXchange is fitted with a Magstripe reader to record and update Player’s Club Cards, enabling players to receive loyalty points for activity at table games. The device also includes myriad administrative interface features to assist the dealer, including a numeric keypad and touch screen with currency type, table-limit selection and manual printer controls. It also prints promotional coupons and audit reports on demand.

TableXchange can be mounted on a gaming table three ways: directly on the table, on a pole or clamped on for easy removal.