Why should slots players have all the fun and get all the rewards?
Advances in computer technology have not only made slots machine faster and easier to play, but also added capabilities that enable bonusing, progressive jackpots and other features that boost the energy and excitement of playing. So we can excuse pit bosses for looking in envy and saying, “Damn! I got to get some of that on the table game floor.”
Fortunately manufacturers heard these murmurs and responded with products that likewise add electronics and betting options to ordinary table games. And the current crop of products is taking this trend even further to not only ramp up playing fun but enable casinos to exert tighter controls over the games and better reward their best players.
Here is a rundown of some of the latest games and devices:
BLOCK PARTYLas Vegas-based Interblock USA offers a broad line of G4 Organic line electronic table games (ETGs) that enable players to share remotely in live games or to compete in a virtual world. Features include tables of a distinctive design that attract player attention. For casinos, these ETGs contain a single server in every game and can be customized to accommodate different games on a single platform. Each is multi-denominational and can be configured to meet the needs of any floor.
Among Interblock’s offerings is G4 Organic Roulette that provides players with every wager available on a live game but with a much faster pace and immediate payouts, and in versions that seat six, eight and 10 players. G4 Organic Virtual 10 allows players to wager on a common, life-like roulette wheel and game layout that is horizontally placed them. G4 Organic Virtual Blackjack stages the games in virtual space with no dealers, and with digital rather than real cards and chips. The fully automated G4 Organic Dice offers craps or sic bo, either as stand-alone games or simultaneously, and is equipped with two large built-in community displays. The latter system has six LCD displays that provide statistics and live video image that inform players and catch the eye of potential players as they pass by.
Count the Hippodrome Casino in London among the gaming companies willing to devote large chunks of floorspace to Interblock’s G4 line of table games. Indeed, the property spread Interblock’s Organic Island multi-game environment over all three of its levels.
To create a G4 Organic Island environment through different sections of the casino, Interblock used the G4 Organic Live Card 06 with three stand alone units of roulette and dice games, Organic Live Roulette, four single wall PIDs and stand alone PIDs, everything connected with 51 play stations in black-gold design in the theatre layout. “We have developed site-specific multi-game environment that addresses different type of players in different areas of the casino, but connects all the Organic PlayStations in one amazing gaming environment,” said Miha Miklavcic, Interblock sales director for Europe in a prepared statement.
TICKETS TO RIDETo accommodate players who like to switch games, Glendale, Calif.-based FutureLogic offers the TableXchange printer/scanner that links the pit to a casino’s existing TITO network, thus creating a bridge between slots and tables. This enables operators to strengthen the relationship with the all-important “crossover player.”
“Many casinos are now considering delivering promotional content to the player via TITO printers at slot machines, and this new device will allow them to do the same at table games,” said Nick Micalizzi, vice president sales and marketing, North America, for FutureLogic.
With TableXchange printer/scanner, a player moving from a slot to a table game no longer needs to stop at the cage on the way to redeem a TITO voucher for cash. They can buy in to the table game by handing the voucher directly to the dealer to scan. An LCD or touch screen quickly displays the voucher value and they receive their chips and a TITO voucher for the balance. To cash out, the dealer simply collects and enters the value of the player’s chips on a keypad and TableXchange printer/scanner dispenses a cash-out voucher.
TableXchange printer/scanner also records and updates loyalty card information, enabling casinos to award slot-style points for table play. It can further be integrated with FutureLogic’s dynamic new PromoNet couponing solution, which links promotional campaigns directly to specific player actions and enhances cross-venue marketing by tying together reward programs across a variety of non-gaming as well as gaming activities.
FutureLogic is not the only company with a TITO-centric solution for table game play. As part of a recent distribution agreement it inked with CountR, Minnetonka, Minn.-based Table Trac now offers TiTa, a micro ticket redemption and issuing device that can be used at table games.
“CountR’s ticket redemption device, the TiTa, designed for the table games market, is especially appealing as it provides operators with a reliable and secure way to increase revenues while reducing costs, said Table Trac CEO Glenn Goulet in a prepared statement. “This new TiTa system allows table games to accept and issue gaming tickets, all the while providing increased accountability and profitability. It is truly one of the most innovative technologies for table game operators seen in years.”
NEED FOR SPEEDGreater speed (more games per hour), more side bets and better security of table game play are made possible by the i-Table electronic table game system marketed by Las Vegas-based Shuffle Master.
“On a traditional felt table game, only one side bet is typically offered due to the complexity of multiple paytables and the time it takes for bet reconciliation. With the i-Table, players can now wager on up to three additional side bets concurrently on blackjack and three card poker games, creating even more opportunities to win,” said Don Taylor, emerging media manager at Shuffle Master.
“With i-Table Roulette, up to 60 percent more games can be played per hour as players bet on their screens rather than reach across the table to make bets. One added advantage is that changes the role of the dealer, as ‘chipless’ play enables automatic bet reconciliation, allowing dealers to better engage with players and make play more fun. And all play is recorded to assure better security and to resolve disputes,” he added.
Operator Wide-Area Progressive (OWAP) Table Games piggybacks on Shuffle Master’s existing table games progressive system and expands its capabilities. OWAP provides casino operators with the ability to offer a linked progressive jackpot across multiple properties. Because it builds quickly and hits frequently, this inter-casino progressive jackpot delivers even more excitement to the table and to the player.
Shuffle Master’s new MD3 batch shuffler for blackjack and baccarat builds upon the success of its previous shufflers and improves the overall offering. While previous models would shuffle and count the number of cards, the MD3 integrates optical card recognition, allowing the operator to also verify that all the correct cards are in play and that nothing is missing or added. The MD3 can now scan, shuffle and verify eight decks of cards in seven minutes. The high speed verification-only mode checks the cards in less than two minutes and, when coupled with the optional onboard printer, creates significant savings in time and manpower for opening and closing tables.
UPPING THE ANTEBeverly Hills, Calif.-based Creative Casino Games is attempting to bring new life to pit areas by introducing game formats for players seeking a new approach to traditional table play.
For example, the company’s Shootout Poker is specifically designed to attract new and casual players who dislike the intimidation of a poker room and want an exciting, easy approach to table gaming. Shootout Poker is the first casino table game that allows players to play against each other and concurrently play against the house. The use of poker skills invites strategic thinkers who may not otherwise be attracted to casino table games. Officials for Creative Casino Concepts describe it as Texas Hold ’em with a dealer button.
This innovation also allows the casino to realize an extra profit center by adding a rake to its edge.
SIDEBAR: Tracking changes
Las Vegas-based Paltronics also offers a table game player tracking component as part of its One Link Table System that is traditional used to centrally configure, manage and display media content and bonusing for table games. The TAVL display supports player tracking and guest services for individual players at table games. When connected with the One Link Media and Slot Systems, the Table System offers a seamless presentation of the table game, live TV, table bonus, progressive programs and media content.
Chip and card identification and tracking technology can also be used to make games more secure. Las Vegas-based Gaming Partners International(GPI), a provider of casino table games and equipment under the brand names of Paulson, Bourgogne et Grasset and Bud Jones, offers a line of RFID (radio frequency identification device)-enhanced products aimed at securing the cash stream at table games. The company’s Chip Inventory System 2.0 uses RFID technology to track the location and status of all enabled chips. According to company literature, CIS 2.0 helps operators increase inventory movement efficiency and security by tracking casino currency from the cage or vault to its authorized location on the gaming floor. An upgrade from earlier versions, 2.0 can also be integrated with casino and table management systems for reporting and transaction data, eliminating the need for manual data entry.
GPI also offers RFID Total Money Management, which combines the efficiencies of RFID with a high-speed table bill validator designed by JCM. RFID Total Money Management streamlines table game cash and chip transactions to enable an increase in rounds per hour while providing increased currency security through instant authentication and validation.
“We are… excited about the table game cash and chip management solution we are co-developing with JCM, as it will enable an increase in rounds per hour by streamlining table game money handling procedures,” said Gregory Gronau, GPI’s president and CEO in a prepared statement when RFID Total Money Management was showcased at the recent G2E Asia trade show in Macau, China. “We are anxious to debut this innovative product to our Asia customers and receive their valuable feedback.”