The perception of Radio Frequency ID as applied to casino currency has been sullied by several false starts, with many early providers failing to deliver on their promises of what the technology could do to add value for operators. That’s now changing, in large part thanks to the efforts of Gaming Partners International
Until recently, RFID tags in casino chips were mainly used to verify genuine currency and ferret out counterfeits, but operators are now increasingly being turned on to the other efficiency-boosting benefits of the technology.
As Scott McCarthy, GPI vice president of Sales, Asia, puts it, “I see more and more operators embracing RFID as a total casino currency solution rather than just a counterfeit currency verification instrument. I know that in the past RFID promised to deliver so much more than it was capable of delivering at the time. This hampered the technology’s application in gaming and its wide-scale adoption in the industry. That’s changing now. RFID is finally landing on its feet.”
Mr McCarthy joined GPI—one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of casino currency and table games equipment—toward the end of 2011 and has proved a boon to the company’s efforts to develop RFID applications that are truly relevant to operators. His insights gleaned over more than 15 years working in casino cage operations in Macau and Australia include an extensive background in VIP junket operations.
Mr McCarthy’s appointment laid the foundation for GPI’s campaign to beef up its presence and offering in Asia out of its rapidly growing headquarters in Macau, the world’s highest-volume casino table market.
Officially joining Mr McCarthy in the Macau office from October—though she’d spent considerable time in the region dealing with the company’s business prior to making the formal move—is Kirsten Clark, who was concurrently promoted to the position of senior vice president and chief operating officer – Asia. On the occasion of Ms Clark’s appointment, company CEO Gregory Gronau noted, “Kirsten joined GPI in January 2011, and has since made some major inroads in the growing Asian gaming market. She has developed new working partnerships with key Asian customers and regulators, as well as identified and implemented numerous new product strategies. Kirsten’s work has been key to establishing a solid base that will support GPI’s future growth in the Asian market, and we are confident that she will continue to positively impact business development. Based out of Asia, working with key partners, she will seek to further expand and develop new product solutions for our customers.”
Ms Clark and Mr McCarthy spend a lot of time liaising with casino clients in an effort to figure out either how to improve their existing products or come up with all-new value-adding solutions. One of the fruits of those discussions, created specifically with Asian VIP baccarat in mind, is the RFID Chip Rolling Solution (CRS). GPI explains:
“By automatically tracking and validating all chip movement transactions that occur during VIP and junket play using nonnegotiable and live chips, our RFID Chip Rolling Solution streamlines the dead-to live chip rolling process by automating numerous manual processes and procedures that must be completed prior to calculating commissions and completing individual cash-out transactions.”
Mr Gronau commented: “This easy to-use application automates the buy-in, rolling and settlement processes that occur in baccarat VIP and junket play to ensure that each transaction is fast, accurate and free from the manual transaction accounting errors that can occur during rolling. We are anxious to receive the industry’s feedback on this innovative product that we feel offers significant operational value.”
The decision to develop the CRS appears to have been a no-brainer, but it takes a nimble company like GPI to go where others are loath to tread. Emmanuel Gelinotte, GPI’s global vice president of research and development, explains, “I’ve been traveling a lot myself in Macau during the past two years, and this is something I’ve been hearing repeatedly from operators every time I was going there: ‘Why don’t you do something for the rolling? Nobody’s doing that. Nobody will do it.’ It’s a niche.”
In addition to GPI’s willingness to fulfill such niche requests, it’s able to do so remarkably quickly. According to Mr Gelinotte, the project scope was only finalized in May, but a working prototype was ready by the end of September. Optimistically, after soliciting customer feedback, the company hopes to roll out the product by the second quarter of this year.
Another product with particular relevancy for Macau and Asia, given their relatively high volume of table game play, is GPI’s RFID Total Money Management (TMM). According to the company: “Combining the efficiencies of RFID with the iV8 high speed table-game bill validator designed by JCM, RFID Total Money Management streamlines table game cash and chip transactions to enable an increase in rounds per hour while providing increased currency security through instant authentication and validation.”
As Mr Gronau pointed out, “Our RFID Total Money Management solution also demonstrates our heightened focus on developing RFID products that improve casino performance and efficiency.” He added his company’s “latest product line-up reflects the invaluable feedback we regularly receive from our global customers.”