Evolution of The Casino Business Over The Years
Move to the Cloud
From a business administration or file storage perspective, cloud computing has all of the benefits for the casino business as any other business. However, due to the highly regulated nature of the casino business there are some limitations. For example, any server in which gaming data is being accessed or stored must be physically located on property and not in a co-location facility or in the cloud.
One of my companies, Bet on Yourself Gaming, was recently working with MGM Grand and Golfstream (a virtual reality golf simulator) to develop and operate skill-based gaming tournaments and other games of skill. In non-casino installations, Golfstream’s tech stack was in the cloud but for this casino installation the servers had to be moved to a physical location at the casino property.
The Journey with Big Data Analytics
The casino business has had sophisticated data analytics departments for decades since the advent of the casino management system. Aggressive marketing campaigns to encourage players to join a loyalty club and play with a club card assists in tracking and better understanding the behaviors of the guests which then allows the marketing departments to customize compelling offers to retain their guests. For the past ten years, casino resorts have focused on understanding the enterprise value of the guest by collecting data from all profit centers (casino, hotel, food & beverage, spa, entertainment, and retail). Integrating or creating interfaces from system to system definitely has its challenges and let’s just say some systems play better in the sandbox than others.
Currently, the Downtown Grand has been highly focused on Esports and skill-based gaming to create a casino resort experience that is relevant and exciting to a younger demographic. The Gaming Control Board has been very supportive in allowing innovative companies to test new games and ideas. GameCO, the world’s first video game gambling machine, is currently going through the licensing process and will be installed on casino floors throughout Nevada in the very near future. This gambling device is a departure from the typical slot machine and one’s skill has an impact on the payouts versus sheer luck.
Fairly recent changes in gaming regulations has allowed for the use of digital wallets and mobile sports betting apps. Digital wallets will one day be across the entire casino resort experience. And it is a long way to go, but eventually we will see crypto currency accepted in casinos; most likely in non-US jurisdictions initially.
Role of a CIO
As with all department, having a strong team is paramount in the success of implementing and maintaining advanced technologies. Throughout our organization we have very strong IT leaders, including Erik Gavilanes at the Downtown Grand who has dramatically improved the network and IT infrastructure throughout the resort.
Mitigating Rising Casino Costs
High-tech/high-touch is the name of the game. Resorts throughout the world are implementing automated systems that cut down on labor (e.g. keyless door entry, check-in kiosks, and promotional casino kiosks). These technologies are great from an operator’s perspective but the savings in labor shouldn’t all fall to the bottom line but rather a portion should be redirected to roles where team members with great personalities can positively impact the guest experience.
What does IoT mean for casinos?
We have an opportunity to speak to our guests on property, at home or on the go. Whether via a customized app or dynamic mobile website, our guests are online all the time and this gives us the opportunity to stay connected and constantly nurture that relationship and build loyalty. However, there is a risk of over saturation so determining the right balance and making sure our messages are relevant and compelling is a priority.