Inventor and entrepreneur Darrell Ratliff was recently awarded a U.S. Patent for Smart Chip Tray, a gaming tray that allows operators to keep a real-time count of all the chips at a table game while also alerting security to any unusual activity involving the chips.

Ratliff came up with the idea while sitting at a blackjack table in Las Vegas. “The table was doing great and everyone was high-fiving each other. There was a lot of excitement because we all seemed to be winning,” he said. “But then they came over and stopped the play to change the dealer. They got a table chip count and added in more chips to the tray which seemed to take several minutes. Everyone sat around thru the switch and for whatever reason things turned—the energy at the table was gone with the new dealer. People started getting up and leaving and it made me realize if there was a way they could keep count electronically in real-time they would never need to shut down the table like that.” 

When Ratliff returned home he began formulating the benefits to such technology and studying ways to make it work and eventually came up with the Smart Chip Tray.  This product uses highly-advanced laser technology that counts the chips in each tube and maintains a real-time total and value. This prevents the casino from shutting down the table during live play for a manual count. "There is never a reason now to close a table and interrupt play." Ratliff said. "In addition, management can use the backend software to automate the fill process and notify the cage automatically of what is needed at which table. This saves additional man hours as well."

The tray value totals can be viewed at any place in the pit area, security offices or in multiple locations live and in real-time. Tables can be linked together by game or casino section or even multiple casinos.

"This technology can revolutionize how casinos keep track of table game activity and add another level of advancement to prevent potential cheating,” Ratliff said. “And the tray does not require special chips. The tray will work with any casinos existing chips.”

The Smart Chip Tray also has back-end software security features that allow the casino to set security alert levels to immediately spot abnormal activity. “If a table begins losing money beyond average play, the tray knows first,” said Ratliff. “It can be set to immediately notify security and they can then monitor the table closely for any potential cheating, preventing further losses.

In today's high-tech world, it is more of a challenge than ever for casino operators to stay ahead of people developing new ways to cheat. It's simply not possible to see everything at every table. However, with technologies like the Smart Chip Tray operators can cut overhead and automate the process while adding to their bottom line.

Launching into the market is the next step for Smart Chip Tray. “Once the patent was granted we had calls from security surveillance managers and even a casino from Switzerland wanting to buy the product,” said Ratliff. “We also had a couple of calls from people wanting to develop licensing agreements for the IP. We developed an animation showing how the product works, and we are hoping to develop a strategic distribution partnership soon. 

“Now that we have met with several casino managers in Colorado and Las Vegas, our goal is to get the products into these casinos as soon as possible. They have all stated that they could see a great benefit to our products,” Ratliff said.