According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), 43 states currently allow legal casino gambling. Many of the gaming properties in these states are racetrack casinos (racinos) and tribal casinos. While both have very different rules and operating principals, these two casino segments also must juggle two critical areas in order to be successful: they both need to combine a high level of security while simultaneously providing world-class customer satisfaction, and all while operating on large campuses or facilities.
Obviously, high-tech software solutions help the gaming industry on both fronts, but it is the relatively low-tech tool of two-way radio that continues to be one of the most valuable tools for casinos across the country. From cage cashiers to floor security staff, professional-grade two-way radios are critical for keeping guests and assets protected while also improving the customer experience.
In the world of two-way radios, there are two distinct categories: family radio service (FRS) and professional-grade radios (PGR). Basically, FRS radios are consumer-grade radios that are made of plastic that breaks easily in even the tamest environments, and they are not meant to perform 40 hours a week. However, for serious industries like casino facilities management, investing in PGRs—well-made radios that can withstand daily use—will yield the best long-term strategy. In addition, commercial-grade two-way radios offer the following benefits over consumer radios:
- Durability: Commercial radios are designed to hold up to abuse better than consumer radios—they are designed to be used for hours every day and are constructed with heavy-duty commercial housing.
- Battery life: Never underestimate the importance of battery life. Most consumer radios include rechargeable batteries that are good for eight hours or less of use. As is typical of batteries, this life will likely diminish slightly over time. By comparison, professional-grade radios will provide 12 hours or more on a single charge and even longer when in digital mode.
- Accessories: Business radios typically have a far better selection of accessories than consumer radios. Casinos rely on radio accessories like headsets, earpieces and speaker mics, and many consumer radios just don’t have the ability to provide these kinds of attachments that help improve communications.
Two-way radios have evolved significantly over the past 100 years and continue to be an indispensable tool for today’s commercial casino industry.
From communicating a slot machine issue to coordinating surveillance of a suspicious player, reliable two-way radio coverage is critical to maintain operational efficiency and be better prepared to respond rapidly to the unexpected.
Most of today’s professional-grade two-way radios use digital technology rather than analog. Digital circuitry opens up a much more robust collection of features that can be very valuable to the commercial casino industry. One of these features is the built-in digital algorithm that can automatically differentiate the human voice and background noise allowing it to cancel undesirable background noise for clearer, cleaner sound quality.
Another evolution in two-way radio equipment is that it can incorporate software applications that can integrate into existing computer networks, opening up an array of rich features. In addition, digital technology in two-way radio equipment means that the radios can operate on a weaker signal to achieve similar range as an analog device. This translates into longer battery life.
Apart from the digital versus analog debate, there are four specific areas two-way radios can be leveraged to improve operational performance. These include:
- Safety: All commercial facilities have security concerns. Casinos unfortunately have a much broader set of security issues than other facilities. Using professional-grade two-way radios helps connect multiple teams together with the push of a button, far faster than cell phones. Plus, because casinos are surrounded with concrete, steel and glass, using radios in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) mode ensures the signal can penetrate these materials and multiple stories.
- Efficiency: Customer service is important to any business, but when it comes to casinos, exceptional service means catering to customers in a proactive and super-responsive way. Two-way radios are a core element of guest engagement. Team members—such as those working in the pit, the valet and front desk—can respond to guest requests immediately. The more that on-site casino personnel are connected and communicating effectively, the greater the overall entertainment experience for casino guests.
- Productivity: Another huge benefit of using two-way radios in a casino environment is that they can cover a tremendously large area—sometimes as much as a 30-floor hotel. This saves an incredible amount of time and improves productivity throughout every department. In fact, it has been well documented that professional-grade two-way radios pay for themselves in a matter of a couple of months in terms of customer satisfaction and increased business. Finally, because two-way radios can be programmed to have isolated channels, different employee groups can communicate on their own channels to keep communication organized while avoiding cross talk noise.
- Durability and functionality: Professional-grade two-way radios are incredibly rugged, constructed with high-quality, reinforced polycarbonate housing and a die-cast chassis for greater protection. Many industrial radios are often built to exacting military specifications for resistance to shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, dust and even moisture. industrial-quality two-way radios are also equipped with state-of-the-art technology that can be leveraged for a host of reasons. Depending on the job, casino workers can employ radios that come with 16-character displays, multiple programmable function buttons and a full keypad for text and dialing capabilities.