THE TABLES HAVE TURNED
Electronic offerings bring something new to table games
When you think of table games, what are the first things that come to mind? Maybe it’s how the cards felt, the roll of the dice, or roulette dealer calling “No more bets!” as ball descends toward the numbers, or simply the stacking or riffling of chips.
Random number generators and video screens? That’s for slots. Except …
Electronic versions of table games are on the rise. It’s a matter of evolution, not revolution—they’re not threatening to take over anyone’s table pits, but they provide a way to bring more table-style games to more players, and player acceptance is on the rise.
Electronic table games, or e-tables, have been growing in popularity both domestically and internationally for the past several years.
And from a casino operator’s perspective, the games are efficient, allowing more games to be played in a shorter amount of time with zero chance of dealer error. Plus, they enable casinos to offer lower limit players better access to table games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and specialty games.
Electronic table games come in many different styles. Some are electronic all the way, with virtual cards, dice and wheels on a screen, and results determined by a random number generator. Some have virtual dealers on a central video monitor, electronic hosts who look around the table and talk to players as cards are dealt. Many tables use live dealers for game play, but instead of chips, have wagers made on a video touch screen.
That ability to toggle back and forth between games is one feature that makes e-tables attractive to operators and players alike. There are plenty more:
Accurate Tracking. Every bet can be tracked, leading to player rewards data on table games as accurate as casinos collect on slot players. There’s no need for the pit supervisor to track buy-ins and estimate average bet and table speed to calculate a player rating. The data is collected automatically.
Video screen wagering speeds the game. If you’re playing video roulette, you don’t have reach over other players or across the lay- out to place your bets. Your video terminal has an image of the roulette layout, and you can touch the spots on the screen to make single-number bets, splits, streets, columns, dozens—any of the wagers you can make on a felt layout. When the spin is over, bets are settled automatically at your terminal. The dealer doesn’t have to take the time to clear and stack losing chips, nor to pay off winners. That leads to more plays per hour.
Wagering electronically enhances game security. There’s no question of the dealer paying the wrong player, or paying an incorrect amount. Electronic betting also puts the clamps on uncommon but costly cheats such as player-dealer collusion and past-posting, where a scam artist tries to bet after the result is known.
Electronic tables can be configured with remote betting stations, even if they use a live dealer. A roulette game with a live dealer and electronic wagering terminals can be set up near the main table games pit, and separate clusters of wagering terminals can be stationed in other parts of the casino. Roulette players can watch a video transmission of the live dealer and wheel on their individual screens or on a screen at the center of the bank of terminals.
Lower minimums. Multi-station electronic configurations add potential for games with lower betting minimums. A casino that can’t justify $5 minimums at live tables might be able to swing it if one dealer—whether live or in a video representation—is serving 100 or more wagering terminal.
Enhanced trend tracking. A wide variety of information such as streaks and trends can be made available on the screens. It can go much farther than the recent numbers displayed at most roulette tables. If you want to track how often black has turned up in the last 50 wheel spins, or how often banker has won at baccarat, or check your own won-lost statistics, you can do that.
Side bets. Many e-table systems can simultaneously run the basic games and bonus events, without slowing the game down. On some blackjack games with a live dealer and electronic wagering, players can make side bets such as Royal Match or Bet the Set 21. Used in combination with a card-reading shoe, it also can put up odds for side bets after you’ve seen your cards. For example, if you have a 17 against a dealer’s 9, or a 16 against a 7, it can offer you odds on winning the hand. That’s something that couldn’t easily be done without the electronic component giving instant odds, and it’s done without slowing down the game or requiring the dealer to take extra time for a payoff.
The potential is there for slot-style bonus events, or virtual prize drawings right at the tables, adding a little excitement for those who want more than just the base table game, while allowing those who just want the basics to stick to them.
Does all that mean e-tables are poised for a casino takeover? No—traditional tables still rule the pits. This is more of a table evolution than the slot revolution that led to video games overtaking the three-reel games that once ruled slot floors. But are electronic tables poised for an increased following with flexibility and fun? That definitely seems to be in the cards.