All Macau Casinos to Install RFID Tables

By James Hickey, Managing Editor, RFIDJournal.com

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Operators have been using RFID chips to combat cheating, improve inventory management and reduce dealer errors

The six gaming operator in Macau informed authorities they plan to install RFID tables in the coming months.

The decision comes as Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) urged the casino operators to update their monitoring systems on the gaming floor. The technology rollout is expected to help operators maximize floor productivity and balance competition in the lucrative Macau gaming market.

RFID technology was first introduced in Macau in 2014 by MGM China. RFID chips are used to combat cheating, improve inventory management and reduce dealer errors. The technology utilizes analytics that enable a deeper understanding of player behavior for more effective marketing.

Benefits of RFID

According to a published report, Bill Hornbuckle, chief executive and president of MGM Resorts International thast is majority owner of Macau casino concessionaire MGM China Holdings Ltd, an important benefit of RFID was that it was possible to link gaming chips to an individual player, and thus identify and track overseas players. The tracking iof players is desired to see expanded the city’s traditional tourism market of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We put in a ‘chip in chip’ program several years ago where basically every chip is tracked,” said Hornbuckle. “The benefit of that at the time was no errors to the game [and we] knew exactly where to put our labor.”

Additional benefits cited were for the accounting and  finance department.

The Big Six

The other five casino operators—SJM Holdings, Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resorts—indicated that they are preparing to introduce RFID tables in coming quarters, according to the report.

Melco Resorts will have its first RFID tables installed this month in premium mass gaming areas. Galaxy Entertainment will follow in the second quarter of 2024, while Sands China will begin rolling out RFID tables at the Grand Lisboa casino in the fourth quarter, multiple media outlets have reported. The pace is dependent on the availability of smart chips and tables.

In a recent note, Morgan Stanley analysts Praveen K Choudhary and Gareth Leung wrote that the majority of Macau gaming concessionaires had already placed orders for smart tables supported by RFID.

Improving the Gaming Experience

The analysts outlined several advantages of the use of RFID, including improved game speed, higher win rates, reduced staff costs, and enhanced data availability on unrated gamblers.

“More importantly, they can accurately identify foreigner gamblers, which get a 5% tax rebate and are encouraged by the government,” the analysts highlighted.

Previously, Galaxy StarWorld and Wynn Hotel and Resort installed an RFID security system to combat chip cheats. A single interrogator can read as many as 500 chips per second, whether stacked (up to 40 high) or spread across a table, as they might be in a roulette or baccarat game.

“Each tag randomly picks from eight different channels,” says Rolland Steil, PGI’s product manager for RFID solutions, “as long as the reader is set up to receive multiple channels.” Most other RFID solutions, he says, transmit only over a single channel.

RFID Casino Chips

The companies purchase the chips from one of several manufacturers of chips with embedded RFID tags. The two largest such companies Gaming Partners International (GPI) and Dolphin, recently acquired by VendingData Corp. The system associates a unique RFID number, encoded in each chip’s tag, with that chip’s monetary value.

At both Wynn and StarWorld, the RFID reader captures the unique identifying number of each RFID-enabled casino chip when the player purchases it, then transmits that number via Ethernet or a USB port to a database managed by PGI.

This creates an electronic record showing that a specific chip is in play. When the player cashes in the chip, the interrogator again captures that ID number, verifying that the chip is legitimate and of the value the customer claims it to be.

“This give the casino the knowledge that the chip is real,” says Steil.

Key Takeaways:

  • The update comes as gaming authorities urged the casino operators to update their monitoring systems on the gaming floor.
  • Advantages of the use of RFID include improved game speed, higher win rates, reduced staff costs, and enhanced data availability on unrated gamblers.