When most people think of a table game, they likely envision a group of people gathered around a dealer who are betting, socializing and otherwise enjoying a classic game of blackjack, roulette, poker or craps. What likely doesn’t spring to mind is advanced technology—after all, part of the appeal of a table game is its timeless simplicity.
However, this doesn’t mean technology can’t be integrated into the table game in such a way that it preserves the flow of the game. Indeed, the proper enhancement in the right place can boost player enjoyment while making the game more streamlined, efficient and profitable for the operator. One company looking to provide such technology to the table game pit is Automated Cash Systems (ACS), a Reno, Nev.-based supplier of PlayOn, a solution that allows players to access commercial transactions and payment options through point-of-sale, PIN-secured debit payments at the point-of-play in gaming environments.
“In today’s marketplace, everyone has easy electronic access to their funds no matter where they are—no one really uses their checkbook anymore,” said Stephen L. Warner, founder and COO of ACS. “You can go all around the world and get electronic access to your funds. We’re just taking the initiative to get this technology to the customer while at the table game in a secured and controlled way.”
At its core, PlayOn is a Payment Card Industry/PIN Entry Device (PCI PED) with Payment Card Industry/Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In layman’s terms, PlayOn is a hand-held wireless banking terminal configured with POS PIN PED Pad and LCD display for debit card magnetic swipe strip readers, EMV dip readers, EMV smart phone and non-contact payment ability; enhanced with ACS software and firmware applications that provide connectivity to secured payment gateways, processed with wireless banking terminals and hardware components. The end result: a convenience application that provides secure terminal connectivity to casino wagering tables that allows patrons to electronically transfer funds from a financial bank account to their gaming position.
“What makes our system novel and unique is the gateway we created to route transactions so that regulatory limits can be enforced and there is an audit trail for operators and regulators,” said Michael J. Sackrison, CFO for ACS. “We had to create a lot of new software and systems to make this work, all of which we had to patent as well.”
The actual operation of the ACS PlayOn system is simplicity itself and very similar to other POS debit transactions: The handheld wireless banking terminal is positioned by the game dealer who, upon request, hands it to the player during a break in the game. The player then swipes or dips their debit card into the reader, which in turn asks the player for the amount of desired money and PIN number. The reader then notifies the player of any additional fees and the player pushes a button to accept the transaction. Upon approval, which usually takes two to three seconds, a “patron receipt” will be printed from the hand held device and will include a recap of the transaction amount requested, transaction fee, total amount of the transaction, date and time. The patron will tear and retain this receipt as proof of the transaction. Simultaneously, an approved and successful table game transaction will result in a printed “gaming voucher” at the game, controlled by the dealer and exchanged for gaming chips. The voucher is dropped by the dealer in the table drop box for count room reconciliation.
“It is just like a point-of-sale debit transaction you perform when purchasing a shirt at Walmart or buying nails at Home Depot,” Warner said. “The key is we don’t stop the game to do it, the transaction takes place during the hand break portion of the game, when the dealer is sweeping the table or accepting new buy-ins.”
With some modifications to these procedures, the ACS PlayOn system can be used to deliver chips to the customer at the table from the poker cage, or even facilitate transactions during slot machine play.
Warner is also quick to point out the other advantages of having the proprietary ACS PlayOn PIN debit transaction technology at tableside, which includes holding customers at the tables longer; reduction in operating capital; continuous play at the table; no incurred debt to the player; and no upfront costs to the property.
So far the product has received good reviews wherever it has been demoed, according to Warner.
“There were four factors we wanted to avoid when creating PlayOn—cost, labor, interruption and disruption,” he said. “So our product does not interrupt or disrupt during install or the actual game process. The cost is minimal and most of the labor is done by the patron seeking the funds. It is a very simple system that has been accepted by table games employees and players.”
The PlayOn system was trial launched at a small casino last December. ACS is currently working on deals with casinos in the Midwest and the East. The company is in the process of securing a license in New Jersey and already has a vendor’s license in Connecticut. The product itself has received attestation approval from GLI.
“So far we have been under the radar with our table games rollout, but we are talking to several large casinos and hope to have a major announcement soon,” Warner said.
And ACS is already looking toward the future, which includes pushing its product into the slot floor area.
“We’re migrating and progressing as rapidly as we can with our slot solution,” Warner said. “The interfacing to the slot systems is quite detailed, but by 2016 we hope to be in a trial site. Operators are biting at the bit for a PlayOn slot application.”