FORUM: What's your take on electronic table games? Are they growing in importance?
Jeff Inman, general manager, Dancing Eagle Casino, Casa Blanca, N.M.:
It’s something that I have on my floor. They do provide a 24-hour offering of table games that I can offer without the cost of manning a table during lower business periods. As far as my analysis on the current performance, they’re well worth their while. Because they have to run through a slot data system, my accounting for them shows up in my slot revenue, but I usually pull that out, and we usually look at that as an addition to my table revenue. They are positioned at the edge of table games pit. I keep them at a dollar minimum. We do get a little bit of play when the pit is open. On busy nights, they work as overflow capacity. I do have some people who just really like to play them because of the minimum and because they can earn points.
Bob Sobczyk, corporate vice president of slot operations, Ameristar Casinos, Las Vegas, Nev.:
We haven’t tested them yet. We’ve had them in one of our properties. It was an older game [that didn’t perform]. But looking at the [G2E] show, everything was pretty exciting. Right now, we’re building two poker rooms, and we’re going to open with just live games, but we might put them [electronic poker product] in there. So far, we haven’t been aggressive with them. I think sooner or later, it’s going to happen. I just don’t know if it’s the right time now.
Jerry Roed, director of slot operations, Ellis Island Casino & Brewery, Las Vegas, Nev.:
They’re going to take off. I think the casinos will have a few of them. Let’s say you have a night crew on. You can have that table open with fewer people. I think more and more places will try using them because of the perceived labor savings. I think that with the technology, it’s a whole new ballgame [compared to the older iterations of multiplayer table games.] It’s much more attractive. Pokertek has some interesting products. It has more of a feel of a real game. They had some two-station heads up poker game, where two people can play each other, that I’d love to try out. I think people would get excited about that. All casinos need a little more excitement in their casino pit. It’s not as exciting as it used to be.
Bob Stewart, senior vice president of casino operations, Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nev.:
We’ve tried Rapid Roulette [with little success]. It’s a live dealer with a live wheel. I’ve seen other products that are completely person-free. I’m interested in the Aristocrat Interblock product. I might try that once it comes out. I’m a little concerned that electronic table products can take up a large amount of square footage on the casino floor because my square footage is at a premium.
Todd Deremer, vice president of gaming operations, Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev.:
We had looked at the multiplayer blackjack, and we decided against it. Everywhere I’ve seen it, it hasn’t looked like customers have quite taken to it yet. When you look at the market, I just don’t see playing time yet. I don’t think it’s a never, I just think it’s a fair amount of time away. You’re looking at attracting the kinds of people who play internet poker, and they just don’t have the disposable income. We need them to accelerate from a lifestyle standpoint. I think they [the games] will have a niche, but I think it’s a long transition. The live game just has something that’s hard to replace with an electronic game.
Lee Skelley, assistant general manager, Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, Lakeside, Calif.:
I certainly think they’re going to be part of the mix of the future. When I look at the manufacturers’ products, it all looks positive to me. People like them. They seem to be doing very well. I see them as part of the pit mix. I think there is a danger in manufacturers using as a selling point that “these can hold 10 percent.” If somebody wants to hold 10 percent, that’s fine. But I don’t. We’re going to get it [the player’s money]. We don’t have to take it in an hour. One of the things that is a selling point is that you can do all sorts of exotic bets because it’s done by the computer, not a dealer, and the dealer doesn’t have to figure it out.
Steve Blazer, slot director, Bordertown Bingo & Casino, Seneca, Mo.:
We’ve had one game in for a year, and we’re going to get another one [a TableMAX Caribbean Stud game]. We’ll have up to four probably. We’ll see how it goes. Keeping the game mix changing is good.