The House Bets on RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 @ 11:03 AM

Giving new meaning to the ‘eye in the sky’

Remember the movie Rain Man when Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant, used his keen photographic memory to count cards to win at Black Jack?  In real-life, counting cards is a strategy that casinos deal with as part of the business.  Although, lucky for them, not many people have such an ability and using devices to count cards is illegal.  Yet they still must protect themselves by watching players very closely.

Casinos also face another challenge every day.  It’s the poker chips.  Even if you aren’t a gambler, you probably know that players accumulate chips (if they’re lucky) representing their winnings, which eventually turn into money in their hands.  The chips themselves don’t pose the challenge. They have a little help.  Players have tried to come up with ways to win big by using the chips in a way not intended by the casino.  If you guessed counterfeiting and smuggling, you’re a winner!

Casino ChipsIn a previous blog post we saw how the horticulture industry hopes to put an end to counterfeit containers with RFID.  Casinos are using RFID for very similar reasons.  By using an RFID-based tracking system, casinos can verify the authenticity and value of each chip in seconds.  In turn they can put an end to counterfeit chips and staff pilferage, as well as honest errors in cashier counts. This technology enables casinos to track each chip throughout the casino.  Specialized readers and software lets the casinos monitor and collect information on payments, fills and credits, table drops, tips, and win and losses per table.

One such solution is provided by Gaming Partners International Corporation which has provided more than 70,000 casino chips and plaques to the Viage entertainment and gaming complex grand opening earlier this year.  The chips and plaques, which are from the Company's Bourgogne & Grasset line of casino currency products, were fitted with 125 KHz RFID micro chips.

Aside from keeping an eye on counterfeiters and smugglers, RFID-enabled processes can help increase the speed of various casino actions.  As reported by RFIDNews, at The Global Gaming Expo Asia in June, GPI introduced its new RFIDPoker application, which automates continuous readings of the poker pots, charges and rakes.   With this type of system, casinos can obtain data and statistics to analyze table and game performances, round-ups lists and daily totals.  Also by GPI, an RFID Cage application serves as countertop reader that works in three dimensions so cage operators can read chips whether they are in stacks, in chip racks or in a pile. Now that’s cool.

So when that player tries to make a look-alike chip to double his money, or when that cashier thinks about taking a few loose chips home, they should remember that the eye in the sky has a new friend and its name is RFID.  

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Hospitality

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