February 9, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Vegas casino bets on RFID

Casino mogul Steve Wynn has pulled out all the stops for his new $2.7 billion mega-resort in Las Vegas: an 18-hole championship golf course, a private lake and mountain, and a bronze tower housing 2,700 plush guest rooms.

But when its doors open in April, the Wynn Las Vegas will have one unique feature that few visitors are likely to notice--high-tech betting chips designed to deter counterfeiting, card-counting and other bad behavior.

The fancy new chips look just like regular ones, only they contain radio devices that signal secret serial numbers. Special equipment linked to the casino's computer systems and placed throughout the property will identify legitimate chips and detect fakes, said Rick Doptis, vice president of table games for the Wynn.

News.context

What's new:
Betting chips are getting a high-tech RFID makeover designed to deter counterfeiting and misbehavior at the tables.

Bottom line:
Despite this, RFID technology is still relatively rare in casinos--until that killer application arrives.

More stories on RFID

"Security-wise, it will be huge for us," Doptis said.

The technology behind these chips is known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, and it's been used for years to track livestock, enable employee security badges and pay tolls.

The casino industry is just the latest to find new uses for RFID technology. Retail chains, led by Wal-Mart Stores, are using it to monitor merchandise. Libraries are incorporating it into book collections to speed checkouts and re-shelving. The United States and other nations are incorporating it into passports to catch counterfeits. One company even offers to inject people with RFID chips linked to their medical records to ensure they receive proper medical care.

In casinos, RFID technology is still relatively rare and in search of a killer application to spur adoption. Yet some tech-savvy casino executives envision RFID transforming the way they operate table games, including blackjack, craps and roulette, over the next four or five years.

For one thing, there's the counterfeiting problem, on which there is scant data. The Nevada Gaming Commission gets about a dozen complaints every year related to counterfeit chips, said Keith Copher, the agency's chief of enforcement. Last year, a casino in Reno quickly lost $26,000 in such a scheme--one of the biggest hits reported to the commission in recent years. And counterfeiting is on the rise at overseas casinos, Copher noted. The RFID technology would let dealers or cashiers see when the value of the chips in front of them don't match the scanners' tally.

However, financial losses due to counterfeit chips are usually minor, and few perpetrators get away with it, Copher said.

Perhaps that's why the Wynn has found a dual purpose for the high-tech chips: The casino is also using the chips to help account for the chips they issue on credit to players, since managing credit risk is a huge part of any big casino's operations.

The Wynn plans to take note of the serial numbers of the chips they lend and of the name of players who cash them in. If someone else

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21 comments

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cardcounting
Whoever wrote the line, "card counting and other bad behavior" should be ashamed of themselves.
First off: The vast majority of card counters loose because the do not have the discipline to take the huge variance of blackjack.
Second: With few acceptions they are about the best behaved players at the tables. They understand the math so they know it is not the fault of dealers or other players when things go bad.
Third: Your implication is that card counting is somehow wrong or bad or something similar to that. That is the same as saying using your brain is wrong, for that is all that a counter does. Sure as casino is a private business and can refuse service to someone who just happens to be better than them at a particular game. That should not go with the implication that the person has done anything wrong.
Victoria Rosado
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RFIDs and card counting
The only way I can imagine RFIDs detecting card counting is by detecting winning. Actually, in the gaming industry, there is no difference between consistent winning and card counting. If you win consistently, they call it counting and ask you to leave! It's legal for you to do it if you can, and legal for them to ask you to leave if they catch you.
I think they publicize counting to lure customers who think they can count, but really can't. You have to be a very good counter to even the odds; you have to be a great one to tip the odds significantly in your favor.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Counters
Counters are not better than casinos at the game of blackjack. If casinos so chose, they could simply pay even-money on blackjack or remove specified cards from the deck (as in Spanish 21).

Counters are simply using a "system" that works. Every player who walks into a casino wants to win. Some players decide to increase their bet after three straight losses because they are "due" for a win while others increase their bet after three straight wins because they are on a "winning streak". Counters increase their bet when they determine the odds have shifted into their favor.

Whatever the case, most casinos have the right to refuse play to anyone they choose (it takes two to book a bet - if Donny Dealer won't book your bet you have no one to pay you). Counting is a cat and mouse game between casinos and counters. It is not bad and it is no more wrong than deciding not to double this 11 against a ten because you have a bad feeling or you see many tens already on the table (that is a rudimentary form of counting).

This technology simply forces more professionals to shift toward shuffle tracking.

That brings up another point. With infinite shoes available (automatic shufflers that can't be counted), it seems casinos have a less expensive alternative to preventing counting and tracking. If many casinos won't even invest in those why would they invest the many more thousands in this newer technology. My guess: you'll see this new technology in less than 5% of casinos worldwide - even ten years from now.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Cards-Counting-Chips-What Next?
Just think of the potential. A little chip in every card, a little chip in every "chip", a little chip in every die (dice), a little chip in every potato chip,and gambling will never be the same.
Somewhere someone will be "watching" everything 24/7.
Billions and billions of itsy bitsy chips all reporting to the BIG CHIP in the sky.
Of course, based on past performance, no one will know what to do with all this information and screw it up
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It Opens the door to casino manipulation
Hi,
i have dozens of scenarios that are workable.. note the article is showing that they want to analyse playing styles...

how hard is it to change a persons winning streak by interupting them with more alchohol or a question? sounds innocent eh? but if they KNOW how the person operates it would only take a momentary distraction to have an effect on their play...

the bottom line is that this removes the fog that makes gambling to some extent trustworthy. without laws that say that rfid can not be used to manipulate a game then its legal.. and i doubt the laws have this because laws by nature are reactionary, you cant make an anticipatory law.

with the casino knowing everything they can work the table in a way that has never been possible before short of frenchie polishing the spitoon behind the card player...

and what about poker.. where the house makes bets and they can now analyse the players to find tells that you cant normally see.

there are a ton of other things that can be done too...like scanning through walls to see who has left chips in their rooms...

granted you wont know the values, but if you know there is 40 chips in a room its probably more worth breaking or getting in then if you dont know anything.

the article points out that the use for which they say they are putting it in is not a real issue (counterfeiting)... in effect they are spending 10 times the amount or more being stolen to stop it?

OBVIOUSLY this is NOT the real reason... this is the plausible reason that makes most people not pay attention!!!

(card counting should be legal, and this tech will not stop it.. it will only make an assumption that the play is from a counter, but it doestn have to be, so others will be black balled... especially if they are good at playing)

I would advise not bothering to gamble in establishments that use this because they will have tons of information, and any info you get (like counting) is not allowed... they are taking a deck naturally stacked in their favor, and stacking it even more in their favor.. and there is NO WAY to detect or to monitor them!!!!!!

something is real wrong here...

another example of the vectoralists making pure existence an expense...

sigh.
Posted by Artfldgr (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Regulations
The casino industry is one of, if not the, most regulated industry on the planet. I work for one of the largest industry suppliers. The casino uses technology to protect it's investments and it's customers. I can guarantee you that before any technology is placed in a casino, it has been inspected, taken apart, and tested to death by several regulatory agents. None, I repeat, NONE of the technology can in any way manipulate the outcome of whatever game you are playing. Regulators would shut down any casino manipulating game outcome illegally in a heartbeat. Nobody in their right mind is going to put their multi-billion dollar business investment at risk trying to do it. RFID chips have been around for years. Sold by a company called Bourgne and Grassey. Chip pricing is now coming down so it is making it more practical to use the chips. Tracking chips is done to comp players more fairly and to make tracking the value of the chips on the floor easier. It makes some game analysis easier than doing it manually but the stats are collected either way. Specific chips are NOT identified with a specific player.
Posted by PatF (1 comment )
Link Flag
Ken doesn't know what he is talking about
Interrupting someone on a "winning streak" isn't going to change the order of the cards or the outcome of the game. The odds for the game are the same whether or not a cocktail waitress offers me a drink.

Casinos don't make money by trying to cheat players. They make money by providing entertainment and services. They don't have to manipulate the game to get an edge. The edge is built in. RFID would be used to keep more accurate track of a table players value to the company. Every casino operator knows that if they attempted to manipulate the outcome of the game not only would their respective gaming commission fine them (or shut them down), but players would stop patronizing the establishment. Players talk.

The house finding tells in poker? It sounds like Ken doesn't know what he's talking about. First of all, in poker pits the house is not your competition. Other players are. Second, if you're talking about Caribbean Stud and Let-it-Ride the house makes no decisions. Only the players do. Do your homework before you make any more ridiculous comments.

Scanning through walls to see who has left chips in their rooms? Are you implying that the house would attempt to steal them?

"Card counting should be legal" - good one Ken. Once again you don't know what you're talking about. Card counting is legal. It's not illegal. That's right. There's no such thing as a thought crime. Casinos can, of course, ask you to leave the premises if they suspect you of counting. It takes two to book a bet. If you don't want to make a bet you don't have to. If the casino doesn't want to make a bet against you it doesn't have to. That sounds like a fair game to me. If you knew one thing about casinos or counting you would understand that this technology is better for players (except card counters) and better for the casino. Players get the comps they deserve and casinos get the information to analyze and reduce losses to counterfeiting and card counting.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
We're missing the Point Here
RFID may aid casinos to stop cheating. It may help them win more. It may or may not be fair to players. But the bigger story here is what and how this technology can be used.

Sure it's great for situations involving money, tracking warehouse inventories, tracking expensive merchandise, tracking sex offenders, keeping tab on our kids, fighting crime and so forth. But should we implant them in our own bodies so we can be tracked with the same efficiency as the can of tuna I may purchase at the Safeway store? The conveniences and security of such a system could be wonderful. Simplifying paying for any items we buy. Proof that we are "ok" when it comes to passing through an airport security check and avoiding a possible body cavity search. And there is a thousand other conveniences that would be positively wonderful.

But, if the technology is used improperly, stolen, cracked by the bad guys, used improperly by the authorities, etc., it could turn out quite badly. Talk about identity theft and invasion of privacy. If someone manages to steal your RFID information and clone it, it will be very hard to prove. Who would believe that such a secure system could be compromised? I'm sure Microsoft has asked their code writers that many times in the past. And they keep getting hacked. So will this system. Someone will figure out a way to cheat the system. If someone see's a way to make a buck the system illegally, it will get abused. It may be more secure than a credit card is now but is it worth the price that may eventually be paid? I'm not going to let paranoia rule my life and none of you should either.
Posted by bonafide49 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RFID chips in casino cards
RFID chip in casino playing cards is the most dangerous thing for casino players.A shuffle machine can read the cards and place them in any order they wish.RFID cards can also be identified by casinos after the deck is mixed and cut on a computer screen somewhere in the casino. Can you imagine playing Texas-Holdem with the house knowing the outcome of the game. How can you trust anyone at the table if they were playing for the house.I believe this technology has been used in casinos since 1998, when I first knew about this technology. Were have we reached?
Posted by robert gurreri (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The radiofrequency idenification technology used is very nice to see.Lot may find advantages of it . But special measures have to be taken in order to stop gamblling.
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Posted by jimmy00777 (1 comment )
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Scanning through walls to see who has left chips in their rooms? Are you implying that the house would attempt to steal them? yes, that is what it is, a great techlology, www.rockyslots.com uses it all the time...
Posted by casinodad (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In casinoslike in www.onlinecasinotip.info/, RFID technology is still relatively rare and in search of a killer application to spur adoption. Yet some tech-savvy www.onlinecasinotip.info/ casino executives envision RFID transforming the way they operate table games, including blackjack, craps and roulette, over the next four or five years.
Posted by casinodad (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Other players are. Second, if you're talking about Caribbean Stud and Let-it-Ride the house makes no decisions at http://www.rockyslots.com so I think is it a good idea
Posted by casinodad (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Woww thanks for this gadget. I am rfid software developer at Meyer rfid www.meyerrfid.com . This really a very amazing rfid gadget.
Posted by rfid (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Northern NV gaming commision has been corrupt for generations and southern NV gaming commision has become increasingly ineffective over the last 30 years.

Several posters, such as PatF, here are parroting the gaming party line of how the casinos are squeaky clean because they have too much to lose if they cheat. They are either useful idiots or paid liars.

Wall Street, the gambling industry, the real estate industry, government itself and virtually all human endeavor will always degenerate into corruption to whatever extent standards are not enforced by an effective regulating authority. Non enforcement of standards is a society wide issue and the gambling and investment industries always lead the rush toward corruption when left virtually unrestrained.
Posted by cydebjac (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting article - I used to work on RFID technology back in 2001 and there was a lot of privacy issues that one can have with enabling RFIDs. It was a great technology for shipments, I guess the price point of RFID are so cheap now that they are installing it in the gambling chips.
Posted by ClaraLin (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
After the Bellagio robbery of $1.5 million today *Picturing Anton Chigurh driving around with his little beeping box looking for RFID chips and pneumatic cattle stunner*
Posted by Neseattle (1 comment )
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