How the Internet of Things is transforming gaming
Gambling is big game, be it land-based or online where the top players leave little to chance.
Worldwide, gambling has been forecasted to generate about $400 billion in 2015, with maximum revenue coming from casinos. In the US alone, the annual contribution of the land-based gambling industry is close to $240 billion as witnessed by the increasing popularity and business value of companies such as MGM, Las Vegas Sands and Caesars among others.
With gambling becoming a prime pastime for people over time, it has become top priority for businesses as well. The sheer volume of data generated as a result demands gaming companies to resort to analytics based decision making to maximize their returns. Loyalty programs tied to a physical card used by the customer at every machine, table and attraction help these companies track every nuance of a customer’s journey, and intercede as necessary (show tickets, room upgrade, a free dinner) to ensure the customer has an unforgettable experience.
The next frontier of this oversight revolves around the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT and its associated Big Data sets can help gaming companies delight customers at scale and in a manner that was not feasible just a few years ago. In the process, these companies gain valuable insights that can drive operational excellence and directly impact both top- and bottom-line growth.
For instance, a frequent complaint of casino customers is that they aren’t receiving all the loyalty program credits they deserve for their gaming spend. Typically, dealers or pit bosses are responsible for manually recording player activity every now and then so that players earn loyalty points. Occasionally, they get it wrong – additional buy-ins, stashed chips and plain old human error are common causes. It’s a system that’s vulnerable to error. Sometimes those errors are in the player’s favor, and sometimes they are not. When a customer complains, managers are apt to simply give them extra credits or other perks such as show tickets to mollify them – even though in about half of cases, the casino is probably in the right.
Digitization of the interactions between the customers and the casino through IoT can take the uncertainty out of the process. Let’s explore the technology behind the scenes:
Thanks to the recent advances in video sensors, the cost of small cameras and corresponding big data computing hardware has come down significantly. This coupled with some powerful algorithms help us understand what happens on the casino floor to the minutest of detail.
- Cameras/Video sensors are mounted on tables to capture the gaming activity
- These cameras are connected to a local computing engine which processes the video captured and turns the unstructured data into structured data i.e. the player the cards the player got and the value of the bets placed
- The local computing engine(s) are then connected to a central hub which in turn collects all the processed output and generates insights. The central hub also manages the entire network. Such information now at the fingertips of the casino managers allows them to handle customer complaints and appropriate decisions more effectively and efficiently
All this is done in a way that the technology unobtrusively blends into the casino atmosphere. The algorithms deployed are state of the art machine learning algorithms to recognize chips and cards on the table and even customer sentiment on the floor by detecting micro expressions on the customer’s faces.