CASE STUDY 1
Serving as premier destinations for dining, shopping and nightlife, Casino Arizona and its sister property, Talking Stick Resort, have been pillars in Scottsdale, Ariz., since they opened in 1998 and 2010, respectively. Each week, thousands of visitors come through both properties to enjoy the amenities, which include a 240,000-square-foot casino—one of the largest in Arizona—Las Vegas-style entertainment and 36 holes of championship-level golf at the Talking Stick Golf Club.
Enhancing the guest experience is paramount for both Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort. There is a constant effort toward offering the best in all aspects of the business and exceeding expectations, whether it is a new dish debuting in one of their restaurants or the latest slots hitting the casino floor.
In order to continually go beyond basic guest satisfaction, the teams behind Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort realize they have to first meet and exceed the standards set by their competitors. Although they are located in Scottsdale, the blazing neon lights of Las Vegas are just five hours away. Similarly, multiple other quality offerings are in the Phoenix market. So when the teams laid out plans for the future of both properties, they knew they needed something special to help them stand apart from the competition.
Specifically, they wanted to give the 500-seat poker room at Talking Stick Resort a brand, said Bryant Santini, chief information officer for both properties. “It wasn’t enough to just have a high-quality gaming space,” Santini said. “We wanted to include something which could be iconic of the room itself.”
A similar idea was laid out for the newly constructed bingo room at Casino Arizona. Santini and his colleagues, Steve Tolle and Christopher Widmer, managers of infrastructure and audio/visual respectively, for Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort, know how crucial it is for bingo players to quickly see which letter and number are called.
They wanted to be able to make this as easy as possible for players without adding any distractions.
Other areas of both properties had different needs. Widmer said both the Maricopa Lounge and the Pima Lounge at Casino Arizona needed upgrades to the screens used to display advertising or show sporting events to patrons. Again, the goal was to meet and exceed guest satisfaction for the space. “It’s important that guests be able to view sports, live events, gaming information and advertisements from nearly any vantage point in the lounges,” said Widmer.
The rotunda at Casino Arizona presented a different challenge. This space houses guest services and is a key hub for interactions among visitors and staff. With so many people coming through this space, it was critical to make as much information available to guests as easily as possible.
Lastly, the Arizona Room and Patio Grill, a new restaurant at Casino Arizona that features a dance floor and stage, was designed with an exciting nightlife in mind. But to really set the room apart, the designers wanted to be able to highlight the fun and excitement of the dance floor to other restaurant patrons and guests throughout the casino.
For each challenge throughout Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort, the designers needed a commercial-grade display solution that could offer full HD resolution, sustainability and be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week as needed. Ultra-thin bezels were also a high priority in order to create seamless images in multi-display deployments.
Considering the factors of picture quality, stability, availability and cost, Santini said he and his team chose to go with NEC Display Solutions’ X551UN display. The 55-inch ultra-narrow, professional-grade, large-screen display is designed for the rigors of 24/7 operation in a variety of applications. It was these features, said Santini, that convinced him, Steve Tolle and the organization’s business partners to go with NEC moving forward.
To address the desire for a distinctive image for the poker room at Talking Stick Resort, a scoreboard concept was implemented. “The X551UN was set up in a 2x2 tiled design on a four-sided scoreboard similar to those hanging in major sports arenas,” Santini said. “Each side of the four displays work together to show a single larger image, similar to a video wall.”
Sporting events, advertisements and entertainment information are displayed to enhance guests’ overall experience. To add to the sports feel, a ticker was installed below the displays that provides updates on the latest sporting events in real time. The scoreboard itself became so iconic for the poker room that the space became known nationally as “The Arena at Talking Stick Resort.”
The new bingo room at Casino Arizona was conceived with a scoreboard similar to the one at Talking Stick Resort; however, this one lacks the ticker and is used primarily for sharing information related to the bingo game being played. Two large 2x4 boards are displayed at the front and back of the Bingo Hall and seven large 2x2 display setups were also implemented at key locations throughout the room to ensure that guests would not have to look far to stay on top of the letters and numbers called and be able to stay in the action.
In the Pima Lounge, a 10x2 display setup was positioned behind the bar. This allows patrons to easily view sporting events or advertising throughout much of the room. Additionally, this setup can be used as one giant screen or broken up into five 2x2 displays to offer guests a variety of viewing options.
The Maricopa Lounge used a different implementation. Behind the bar are two 2x2 display setups. “Given the layout of the lounge, it made sense to set up ten additional 2x2 displays on three walls in distinct spaces opposite the bar,” said Tolle. “This way, guests could easily view sporting events and promotional information surrounding casino activities and offerings.”
A giant 5x4 display wall was chosen to highlight the rotunda where guest services are located. Not only does this wall call attention to the exciting amenities, features and entertainment of Casino Arizona, but it serves as an iconic feature of the casino itself. Guests know they have arrived at an exceptional location and will remember their experience at Casino Arizona when departing.
The Arizona Room restaurant is outfitted with a 6x4 wall display as well. This wall can receive a feed from a camera that the designers have put in place to not only build upon the excitement in the restaurant itself, but to highlight the excitement on the dance floor to other guests throughout the property.
In all, 176 NEC X551UN displays have been installed throughout both Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort. Santini and his team tout the benefits of the displays and their ultra-thin bezels as making all the difference in the applications. “We didn’t want a black line to be distinguishable,” he said. “We wanted the 2x2 setups to be as seamless as possible and look like a single large unit.”
Santini added that they are looking into putting in some new wayfinding displays in 2013 and have been very excited with the guest responses they have received since installing the X551UN throughout both properties.
For more information, visit NEC Display Solutions at www.necdisplay.com.
CASE STUDY 2
An effective visual presentation is critical for maximizing the customer experience in a casino environment. The ubiquitous digital signage provides useful information to customers and offers point-of-sale benefits for the casino. Televisions located throughout the casino broadcast sports programming on a continuous basis for customers when taking a break from gaming activities or when they want to relax and enjoy a meal or beverage while viewing a racing event.
Developing a video and television distribution system that’s capable of managing the wide-ranging video needs of a casino is a challenging task. That’s why John Wise, CEO of Control Point Technology, chose Z-Band to meet his unique video distribution needs. Lebanon, Pa.-based Control Point Technology was the integrator charged with designing and installing the audio/visual systems for newly constructed Hollywood Casinos, a rapidly growing nationwide gaming brand operated by Penn National Gaming, Inc.
Wise’s assignment was to select a backbone RF video distribution system compatible with CP’s software solution for installation in three new Hollywood properties located in Toledo, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; and Kansas City, Kan. Wise states that the three sites average 300 television drops each as well as a large number of digital signage units. Most of the content broadcasts in high definition on clear QAM modulation; twisted-pair (CAT 6) cable was used for the horizontal transmission of the video signals from the data closets to the TVs and display devices.
PRIOR EXPERIENCE, FLEXIBILITY FAVOR Z-BRAND
Wise remembered Z-Band from a previous system demonstration that made a favorable impression. He used the Z-Band system in the Hollywood Casino located in Grantville, Pa., and was pleased with the results. He knew that Z-Band has extensive experience in providing state-of-the-art video distribution systems for the hospitality industry, as its client roster includes a variety of hotels, resorts, casinos, and off-track betting facilities.
“In the past we did traditional or conventional copper backbones,” Wise said. “The need for using RF distribution amplifiers, splitters, taps and coaxial cable… the Z-Band design eliminates all that. Everything is located in the MDF and a number of IDF closets, which makes the installation much neater. An added benefit of this design prevents the gaming floor from being disturbed for any upgrades or maintenance that may be required.”
“We were also able to piggyback the RF video and the IP-based 10/100 control signal on the same CAT 6 cabling by using different twisted pairs wires within the sheath, so we got two benefits from one cable,” Wise added. “This is easily accessed through the AUX port on the Z-Band equipment.”
Wise also indicates that although the material costs of a Z-Band RF distribution system may be somewhat higher than those associated with a traditional coax-based system, the total acquisition and life-cycle costs are lower since the Z-Band system requires much less in the way of installation, maintenance and labor. He says that there have been no performance issues with Z-Band since the opening of the three new Hollywood Casinos.
“We know [the Z-Band] system works,” Wise said. “Its technology supports the systems we use for high definition and control. Although there may be a more cost-effective way to do it, the ease of coordinating everything and the reliability of it makes up for any additional costs there are. Generally the IT team is tasked with supporting AV networks and their comfort level is much higher in the data structure environment of Z-Band.”
The Z-Band system is used to deliver modulated video content throughout the casino for a number of applications. The list includes dynamic themes for the Hollywood Casino brand, and digital signage including directionals to help customers navigate the facility with greater ease, as well as food service areas and lobbies. Distribution of HD sports programming signals via DIRECT TV and local cable programming is also provided. The system is also used for denomination signs above the slot machines that provide graphics of the coinage required for operation.
Wise also believes that the experience gained through CP’s collaboration with Z-Band can prove beneficial for any future casino owner or operator seeking to get the most out of a video distribution system. “For delivery of unattended automation of the casino floor AV system, where the distribution and control of content is done in a cooperative fashion, using the Z-Band delivery method and the Control Point software control system works great,” he said.
The Control Point/Z-Band collaboration will continue on future Hollywood Casino projects including additional Ohio sites in Dayton and Youngstown. These two casinos are expected to be open to the public by early 2014.
COST SAVINGS KEY
The Control Point/Z-Band relationship has paid dividends for both companies. According to Wise, Control Point has benefitted from the RF system’s ease of installation and use, the significant long-term cost savings, and the consistent monitor picture quality.
“Based on the large scope of the three consecutive high-visibility projects that we completed, the fact of the reoccurring use of Z-Band product in each project, being designed, I believe speaks for itself in determining the quality and dependability of the Z-Band system.” Wise said.
Dick Snyder, Z-Band’s vice president of marketing and sales, also has high praise for Control Point and its capabilities. “From a Z-Band point of view, the relationship goes both ways. It’s a dynamic, cooperative, open relationship. We’ve learned a lot from John about Control Point and how to utilize its technology to provide the most effective RF video distribution/control systems for the casino industry.”
For more information on Z-Band and its video offerings, visit www.z-band.com.