From the gambler’s perspective not much has changed. He walks up to the blackjack table, buys some chips and places a bet. But at 1,000 casinos in 20 countries there’s a whole lot more happening on the back end.
More and more casinos are spending money to put radio frequency identification tags in gaming chips, says Bodo Ischebeck, vice president RFID and table management systems at Progressive Gaming International, Las Vegas. He expects 30 more casinos to begin using RFID chips in 2009.
“It’s been difficult to track what’s going on with the table games at any given moment,” he says. “You only know how much you made by the amount of chips in front of the dealer at the end of the day.”
Placing the RFID tags into the gaming chips enables a casino to track the revenue flow at any moment, protect against counterfeiting and internal fraud as well as help manage guest relations, Ischebeck says. He made the comments during a session in September at the Future of Secure Documents 2008 event in Chicago.
The technology used in the casino chip is a 13.56-megahertz PJM (Phase Jitter Modulation) tag invented by Australia-based Magellan Technology. Magellan licenses the technology exclusively to Progressive Gaming.
Tags are placed in each of the chips. Each table has a single RFID reader with antennas under each betting spot. Each table is also outfitted with a PC to monitor activity at the table, Ischebeck says. The system is able to monitor 1,000 chips per second. “It constantly scans the table to validate the RFID and track the chips’ movements,” he says. “It can track the chips in real time and the casinos know where chips are at any given time providing real time win/loss information.”
The program also enables a casino to track players’ bets, Ischebeck says. Most casinos have loyalty programs that reward players based on how much they bet and what games they are playing. The RFID-enabled chips make sure the player is rewarded accordingly.
The chips also make it possible for casinos to offer table jackpots and bonuses, Ischebeck says. “It offers higher entertainment and attracts more players to the tables.”
The RFID-enabled gaming chips cost about $2 each, 40% of which is the RFID tag. But research has shown that casinos hit a break even return on investment in less than six months, Ischebeck says.