How casinos and manufacturers are beginning to change the energy equation on the gaming floor

A casino’s hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of gaming machines running 24/7 with flashing lights and bells and whistles, might seem like a daunting challenge to those seeking a greener slot floor.

But not to Eric Hansel, president of EGM Green, which builds sustainable table games and also offers green consulting services.

“A green slot floor is absolutely plausible and it will happen within the next three years in the larger more progressive casinos and will be scaled down through smaller casinos as they catch the wave,” said Hansel, whose company is based in New Jersey.

“Not only will the end machines be more eco-friendly, but the machines’ supply chain will be more sustainable,” he predicted.

Already, he noted, casinos are working to make their slot floors and gaming machines more efficient. “We’re already seeing people doing lighting retrofits for casinos,” as well as replacing CRT screens with more efficient LCD screens, Hansel noted.

And manufacturers, such as IGT, Atronic/Spielo, Aristocrat, Bally and others, are focusing on ways to make their products more energy efficient and green.

Hansel is leading the Sustainable Gaming Standard Committee, which is pushing for the first-ever complete and open source ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Standard for the development of sustainable video gaming machines.

“Within five years, we want slot machines to be 50 percent more efficient that they are right now, so if your casino floor costs you $100,000 a month to operate, it’ll then cost you $50,000,” Hansel said.

As server-based gaming becomes more of a reality, Hansel said, “I think the estimates we came up with for cutting power consumption will get blown away.”

Server-based gaming is a total game changer, he said.

“It improves the efficiency of the casino floor that much more so you don’t have people running from place to place looking for their favorite game. Their favorite game is where they are.”

Atronic/Spielo green strides are part of a corporatewide green initiative. It also sponsored the green bag for attendees at the 2009 Global Gaming Expo, which it highlighted in this advertisement.

Sprouting interest

Hansel noted that he’s seen interest grow in the gaming industry over the past three years he’s attended the Global Gaming Expo.

“There was a whole new group of green-facing folks at [the 2009] G2E,” he said, including computer board manufacturers, and lighting, air quality and water management companies.

Hansel pointed to examples such as IGT, Harrah’s, MGM Mirage and Barona Resort & Casino as operators making significant strides in the green space.

Chuck Hickey, vice president of slot operations for Barona, said Barona has been very forward-thinking and proactive in this arena.

“Barona is very well known for its green efforts. We’re always looking at ways to be green,” he said.

Barona has been recognized locally and nationally for its green efforts, which include water-treatment and recycling programs, its water-efficient golf course landscaping, property-wide recycling programs and energy efficiency measures.

Had it not been for the recession’s onslaught last year, Barona’s efforts to replace the slot floor’s CRTs with LCDs would have progressed more, as well as efforts to explore more efficient lighting, Hickey noted. “We are looking at it,” he said. “Our facilities people are supposed to be doing a bake-off with lighting suppliers soon.”

Among the manufacturers making strides in the sustainability arena is Atronic and Spielo, wholly owned subsidiaries of GTECH, which is owned by Lottomattica.

It’s an area where the companies and the corporate leadership is putting a lot of emphasis, said Ken Bossingham, chief operating officer of Las Vegas-based Atronic Americas.

“It’s something that we believe really needs to become a core fabric of our business,” Bossingham said.

There’s an overall green initiative corporate plan, he noted.

“We have a product specification document we use as we build new product,” Bossingham said. “Green is also a gate that has to be considered when we’re building the overall scope of what a new product is going to be. We have to be able to tell within that product what green steps we’re taking,” he explained.

Generally, he noted, “If there’s a way to incorporate a green initiative into that product, we’re taking that step.”

In terms of helping slot operations run more energy-efficient operations, the new prodiGi Vu terminal embraces environmentally responsible design and production, emitting It 27 percent less heat than the previous AURA cabinet, reducing cooling costs in venues. It also produces 27 percent less energy than the AURA, reducing venue energy consumption costs. It’s also 21 percent lighter than the AURA, which reduces fuel consumption during shipping.

Casino operators will benefit from these measures, Bossingham said.

“The efforts that we’re taking we think there are going to be advantageous to the operators,” Bossingham said, noting the prodiGi Vu terminal’s efficiency as an example.

“That’s going to offer the operator huge energy savings,” he said.

In addition, the new cabinet is 100 percent RoHS and WEEE compliant, has energy efficient buttons and service lighting, and was designed without fluorescent or incandescent lighting. All software and games are updated through memory card and Flash downloading, reducing waste and travel for service calls.

Atronic and Spielo also were official “Green2E” sponsors for the 2009 G2E. Corporate logos were on the event guide, show Web site, show map and on all cardboard enclosures for trash cans and recycling bins located throughout the convention center. The sponsorship also supported at least one conference session focusing on energy efficient and green practices in casino management.

Atronic/Spielo also were the show’s exclusive bag sponsors, which for the first time were reusable shopping bags with a design bearing the slogan, “Our view has never been greener.”

The efforts on all fronts demonstrate the senior leadership’s commitment to green initiatives, Bossingham said.

“I think if you look across operators, everybody’s program is probably at different stages of implementation,” he said. “We have to do a good job as an organization helping our customers understand these benefits. We have to do a better job of putting this more in quantifiable dollar terms in as far as the advantages.”

IGT is among the other manufacturers that are proactive in its recycling and energy saving efforts.

IGT facilities annually recycle millions of pieces of cardboard, metal, paper and glass, as well as aluminum cans, plastic bottles, printer cartridges, wire harnesses, pallets and fluorescent light bulbs, according to its Web site. While IGT does not generate a large amount of hazardous waste, small quantities of inks and solvents are recycled by an outside disposal company.

IGT also has steadily reduced the amount of energy consumed in its daily operations. A major example was a recent lighting retrofit that replaced more than 5,000 antiquated light fixtures and reduced energy consumption by 3.4 megawatt hours a year. Energy savings have also been realized through installation of lighting occupancy sensors and “as needed” use of service and electrical equipment instead of around-the-clock operation.

In compliance with the European Union (EU) Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) In compliance with the European Union (EU) Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive of 2006, IGT began manufacturing RoHS-compliant machines for European distribution. Although not required to do so, IGT now includes many of the parts that meet or exceed the RoHS standards in machines manufactured for the United States and countries outside the EU.

n addition to Barona, many other casino operators are taking strong environmental measures, including Harrah’s Entertainment with its Code Green program across its properties.

CityCenter is one of the world’s largest sustainable projects to date. Among its green highlights are the ARIA hotel-casino slot bases, which serve as floor air-conditioning units, efficiently cooling guests from the ground up, rather than wasting energy on empty space by cooling from the ceiling down.

Game changer

CityCenter is taking green to a whole new level in the gaming industry, as it is regarded as one of the world’s largest sustainable developments, from design and construction to operations and guest amenities.

On the slot floor at ARIA casino-resort, gaming machine bases serve as floor air-conditioning units, efficiently cooling guests from the ground up, rather than wasting energy on empty space by cooling from the ceiling.

The 18-million-square-foot development on the Las Vegas Strip is set to achieve a combination of gold and silver LEED ratings by the U.S. Green Building Council throughout its hotels; residences; dining, retail and public spaces.

Due to its size and purchasing power, CityCenter is driving green economies of scale in multiple industry segments, paving the way for other entities to build and operate sustainably, according to a news release.

“Designing CityCenter with sustainable elements and practices reinforces its permanence and creates a healthier environment for our guests and residents, as well as for the 12,000 people who ultimately will work at CityCenter,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Mirage, which is partnering with Infinite World, a subsidiary of Dubai World on CityCenter.

CityCenter has moved beyond existing green practices to empower industry-wide innovations. Key highlights include energy generation on The Strip through an 8.5 megawatt natural-gas co-generation plant, providing efficient electricity on site, reducing emissions and using “waste heat” to provide domestic hot water; and water conservation technology and programs that will save between 30 percent and 43 percent of water within the buildings and 60 percent in outdoor landscaping. CityCenter also features the first-ever fleet of stretch limos powered by clean-burning compressed natural gas. In addition, the project features technologically advanced hotel rooms with exclusive features allowing guests to “green their stay;” energy efficiency initiatives providing a savings equivalent to powering 8,800 households annually; and a large-scale recycling operation that enabled the recycling or reuse of more than 260,000 tons of construction waste, including 97 percent of the imploded Boardwalk Hotel.