Technology of Sin City
As a software developer I always keep an eye out for way computers impact life. Las Vegas has seen multiple changes due to the cpu. I have only been going to Vegas for nine years so these observations are based on that time frame.
One of the most obvious place computers have impacted Vegas is with slot machines. Gone are the days of the reeled machines with a single pay line. Thanks to the increased speed of the cpu now you have video slot machines that have up to 100 pay lines. Each line requires a separate bet and thus making the slot machine the number one money maker for Vegas casinos.
High speed networks have allowed slot machines to be linked across many different casinos and thus allowing larger progressive jackpots. The way the jackpots work is simple for every coin in a linked machine a percentage gets added to the progressive. When you have many of these machines linked together that jackpot increase rather quickly.
Table games are always changing. Casinos are always adding new games to the floor to go along with the basic games of blackjack, craps, and roulette. For the game play there is very little technology, in fact casinos will not let you sit at a table while using a cell phone, mp3 player or any other portable electronic device (Poker room is an exception). Behind the table games however is a plethora of technology including some of the highest level security and player tracking computer systems.
Lets start with the player tracking system. how it works is simple. You give the pit boss you players card, and they go over to a computer and pull up your history. They can learn everything about you as a player. Things like your average bet, the times and games you like to play, if you are an advantage player, what you drink, and most importantly your importance to the casino as a player. As you play, the bosses continue to add data to the system. Over time the casino has a very clear picture of there players and thus who deserves free room comp, and who deserves the buffet comp.
Casino security is the most high tech security you will find. There are very few places you can go without the eye in the sky not being able to track you. Also, rarely can you get to places in a casino you do not belong. Every casino has hundreds of video devices and linked with that is software that can scan a persons face and pull up possible matches. The computers are smart enough to analyze video of game play and come to a determination if there are any shenanigans going on and can alert security personal to watch and notify pit bosses. The security is so good that after 911 airports went to the casinos to learn about security.
Technology you don't see
Other ways computers have helped casinos become even more successful is by tracking how money is made. If you walk around a casino you see that the table games are arranged in a pit and slot machines are arranged in banks. Casinos have software that track how well individual table games, pits, and groups do. They also track the same for slot machines. By tracking the dollars the casino knows games customers want to play and what games are flops. With this knowledge a casino can maximize it's earning potential.
Well this brings me to the end of my Vegas posts. I am letting Harrahs off the hook since I was going to devote a whole post to a rant about how the Harrahs chain has really started to fall in quality and service. I decided that it was not worth my time.