Could Smart-Table Technologies Put an End to Cheating?

Smart tables at MGM casinos in Macau have proven an effective deterrent against cheating, streamlined operations and helped facilitate more targeted marketing, according to the company.

Could Smart-Table Technologies Put an End to Cheating?

Smart tables equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips have reportedly eliminated cheating at MGM casinos in Macau.

According to Macau Business, the tables, first installed in 2016, were discussed on the company’s first-quarter earnings call. Referring to would-be cheaters, MGM China Chief Operating Officer Hubert Wang said, “We have cases where people thought that they got away, but as long as the chips come back, they were caught.”

Table-tracking capabilities that are part of the technology also add consumer data, enabling MGM to “to do precision marketing based on various customers’ playing level,” Wang said. “We can also give them real-time rewards.”

Citigroup reports that other operators in Macau have also invested in the technology, including Sands China and Wynn China. The Sands’ Londoner is said to have at least 140 smart tables, while Wynn China has 24.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the remaining Big 6 concessionaires—Galaxy Entertainment Group, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and SJM—also have embraced smart tables. The news outlet cited comments by MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle, who observed that Macau’s foreigner-only gaming zones—established in 2022 as a way to track foreign play—have not been well received by patrons.

The “chip in chip” technology “enabled us to … let people go anywhere they want in the casino, because we can track their every move and their every play,” said Hornbuckle. “Mr. Jones can go anywhere and we can track his every play, which is a huge advantage because customers do not want to be isolated.”

In Melco’s fourth-quarter 2023 earnings call in March, Lawrence Ho, Melco chairman and CEO, said his company would get its first RFID tables in April and would add more over the course of the year.

“We’re getting them for the first time and there’s going to be a learning curve, but we’re excited to see and to make use of the full potential of these RFID tables,” Ho told analysts.

IAG reported that operators are using smart tables designed by Walker Digital Table Systems and Angel’s hybrid smart table system with both RFID and AI Capture.

Gaming industry veteran Clayton Peister told IAG, “The biggest issue in the industry is how you value players. I’ve been working with data for a long time now, and we can see that ADT (average daily theoretical) is only within about 20 percent accuracy about 25 percent of the time. That means 75 percent of the time it’s more than 80 percent off.

“Now, at the end of the year, those numbers pretty much converge,” he went on, “but for an individual player it’s wildly inaccurate. … You’d much rather market to the guy that has greater risk preferences, and that’s a big sea change in terms of how we market to players.” He called the data from smart tables “rich and fantastic.”

“People say that we now have slot-level accuracy on tables but it’s actually a lot better than that. This is more like online accuracy. … Unlocking that data allows us to really understand all sorts of things, such as average bet, game speed and how you change your betting behavior risk preferences.

“It just takes a little bit of AI, a little bit of analytics, and you can really open up a world of insights.”