Casino 2020

Casino 2020

Casino Trends 2020

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.

Fostering Innovation

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.

Technology Trends

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.


Leveraging Technology to Meet New Hospitality and Gaming Trends

The history of the modern casino and gaming culture dates back to the early 20th century where slot machines were predominant, and a gambler put in a coin and pulled a lever. The wheel spins, and when three identical cherries matched, there was a winner. That isn’t the same anymore. It is too bland for the new generation that plays with Microsoft Xbox and Sony PS4. The new-age guests and players are more tech-savvy—they look for social interactions as well as more creative and interactive ways of playing casino games. The American Casino and Entertainment Properties is trying to unify technology as we try to reinvent ourselves and appeal more to the tech-savvy generation. The age of technology has improved in all aspects and we are trying to provide a more customized and technology-age experience to our guests.

Having worked in the hospitality gaming industry for over 21 years, I have witnessed a lot of changes driven by technology. For example, there is a drive to board the cloud bandwagon. Technology partners move their applications to the cloud which we use to provide our services. Social media is another factor that is a driving factor which is changing customer expectations. Customers expect their presence to be acknowledged as soon a game is played or form is filled and they wish to be rewarded and encouraged to be our loyal customers. We are in a constant state of change, trying to identify technologies that will benefit our internal processes and making sure that we deploy them accurately. The only constant is change.

  The new-age guests and players are more tech-savvy—they look for social interactions as well as a more creative interactive way of playing casino games  

When we discuss technology with upper management, the discussion is about trying to figure out how to strike the right balance between what we believe to be the next generation of technology and what we already have. We are trying to gradually implement technology that is going be appealing to the customer. The gaming hospitality business covers multiple verticals— food and beverage, hospitality, gaming, and all these by itself are moving at a faster pace. It is important for us to ensure that all these verticals and their respective technologies are brought together co-efficiently for best results.

We have invested millions of dollars in the existing infrastructure such as, Microsoft, which is a key partner in our business. We are going to deploy CRM on the cloud which will enable our employees to reach our customers on any platform— laptop, tablet, smartphone which will enable us to respond to customers faster. Apart from this, we look for potential partners who work with better and more attractive games. In the first week of October 2017, at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Vegas, we witnessed companies coming with very interesting products in the gaming space. Smaller enterprises tend to react faster in the software development process and bring to market innovative games more quickly than the bigger companies. When there is a huge range of games, pricing is very important for people to respond quicker. These games are developed, tested and put on the market. If they don’t work, they are taken off the market and redone. This is the kind of new games and potential partners we are on the lookout for.

Leveraging Technology

There are a lot of thoughts flowing on what the hospitality gaming is going to be in the future. We have just touched the surface of what Social Media can do for us, which is a very impressive channel of two-way communication. Previously, we were exploring one-way communication to our customers and hadn’t seen how they can talk back to us as soon as they want. It could be anytime—sitting at a slot machine and requesting for another game or driving to the facility and booking a reservation. Every person carries a mobile device with social media on it. With the presence of social media, our customers can interact with us more efficiently, enabling us to respond to them faster. On the hospitality front, we wonder why a customer needs to stand in a line to check into a hotel or casino when they have a mobile device at their disposal. The front desk requires a complete makeover. With geofencing, the guest can be identified through their phone. The idea is when e-commerce works on a phone, then why not e-check in from the phone. Imagine you want to book a room or a game and this gets done on the phone, so you will have to just get off the taxi and go to your hotel room or the gaming arena directly.

Staying ahead of competition

It is very important to communicate with the peers in order to stay ahead of the game. Only by communicating with others in the same landscape we get to understand the problems. This way we can get software companies to hear us out and develop technologies that will help us. As a cluster, we can understand and solve issues and hence, stay on top of the game.


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

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​  

Mobile Apps

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

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.

Skill-Based Gaming

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.

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