Reimagining Gaming Operations of the Future
Casino technology has evolved tremendously over my 23 years in the industry. We’ve gone from 3 reel games and no bonus rounds to 5 reels 1000+ line games and multiple bonus rounds, the biggest being TITO (ticket in-ticket out). The introduction of carnival table games, bingo halls going from paper to electronic, and dealer-assisted electronic tables are putting casinos on a tech fast-track that is changing daily! For this article, I’ll discuss several current and upcoming technologies that are revolutionizing what it means to be in gaming operations today and for the foreseeable future.
Service windows have come a long way since their inception. Some take over about a third of the slot screen and offer a host of services ranging from assisting the user with drink orders, dining reservations and show tickets among other things. New casinos are investing in this equipment from the start but older and more established casinos are slower to convert.
Revenues from tournaments, hourly rentals, and sponsorship potential offer casinos several ways to recoup investment costs and generate profit
Unlike the slow adoption of service windows, more casinos are leveraging mobile apps. The apps keep players connected to the property in realtime and are an economical marketing investment. The casino can send out push notifications, create time-sensitive offers and target on the individual player level. The apps also offer players conveniences such as help with making hotel or dinner reservations, the ability to check their current offers and even locate favorite games on the floor.
Social gaming is coming along slowly, but some casinos are ahead of the curve. Like the mobile app, a social casino offers players the opportunity to stay engaged with the property anytime, from anywhere. Players can receive unique offers for purchasing “virtual” coins (which is a nice revenue boost for the property) as well as experience their favorite games anytime, for free. If a casino is considering a social casino, the ability to connect and tie in property loyalty rewards is key to buy-in from existing casino players.
I recently spoke about skill-based gaming at GiGse, an annual conference where industry professionals gather to network and learn from the leaders in gaming technology. Skill-based gaming is still very new but is gaining traction in some of the bigger markets in the U.S. The more tech-savvy players typically enjoy these games but so do those who enjoy more of a social gaming experience and the ability to play together. Some of these games-especially the table top 4-player games–allow players to compete against friends. These game providers are looking to expand their footprint on gaming floors by securing prime locations. The dilemma for operators could be how to justify giving up the valuable real estate for a game that likely won’t perform to their floor standards–especially if they are being charged a daily fee for these still unproven games. There are a few other skill-based game providers that are offering games for the Gen X’ers. These games appeal to a sense of nostalgia and replicate arcade-style games from the 1980s.
Mobile on Premise
Mobile on- premise is fairly new to the U.S. market. Some bingo halls are currently using a similar system (using handheld units and a ball call to operate the games), where players must stay in the bingo hall and can only play during the bingo session. Mobile on premise could reduce capital issues for properties that can’t allocate budget for new slot machines. There is an upfront charge for the mobile on- premise infrastructure and equipment and operators will need to decide where it will be allowed. State regulations will have to be updated in most jurisdictions. With all of the games and apps, this would be a nice enhancement to any property as players are likely already playing these games for free online.
ESports is another new offering that is exploding in popularity and revenue opportunity. With minimal upfront investment expenses, properties can increase engagement, interest, and loyalty with younger players looking for somewhere to gather with friends. Revenues from tournaments, hourly rentals, and sponsorship potential offer casinos several ways to recoup investment costs and generate profit. In my opinion, this will explode in the next year.
Still, in its infancy and unregulated, cryptocurrency will challenge U.S banking (Title 31) laws and casinos will be unable to move forward without a plan on identifying the currency source. There are a lot of other variables that will go into allowing cryptocurrency and it will take years to get there.
Chris Garrow has been in the casino industry for 23 years. He currently is the Gaming Operations Director at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, Minnesota. Chris oversees slots, table games, bingo and the player’s club. Treasure Island Resort & Casino is owned and operated by the Prairie Island Indian Community.