The MindPlay Table Games Management System: A High Tech Casino Job Killer
FROM ET FAN:
Bye Bye Pit Boss: Here Comes MindPlayBy Arnold Snyder
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. XXIII #1, Spring 2003)
© 2003 Blackjack Forum Online
Once there was a time when the pit boss was king. He knew the games better than anyone, and his value to the house was immense. He truly was “the boss.” His decisions were final; his word was law.
The pit boss was the only man with the “power of the pen.” If you wanted a comp, you had to ask the boss. You didn’t talk to a host, or a marketing exec, or plead your case at the “VIP lounge.” There was no VIP lounge. There was no computer program that estimated your average bet, your hours of play, your expected loss.
If you wanted show tickets, or a room compliments of the house, you asked the boss. Period. The surveillance guys were lackeys of the boss. They did what they were told, watched who he said to watch, and looked for the moves he told them to look for. He was the protector of the games. The guys on the catwalks worked for him, did as they were told.
"These days, nobody thinks of them as ‘bosses’ any more. It’s a title, but it’s an anachronism. They’re ‘pit clerks,’ and they know it. They’re grossly overpaid for what they do, and they know that too. For all the talent and knowledge they need for the job they do, they could be check-out clerks at Seven-Eleven.”
Is MindPlay the End of the Pit Boss?
Now, it appears, the days of the boss are numbered.
The prototype MindPlay tables have been in testing at Eldorado in Reno for about a year now. A few months ago, the Las Vegas Hilton also opened some MindPlay tables. Based on the successful tests at Eldorado and the LV Hilton’s experience with the system, Nevada Gaming Control approved the MindPlay system for widespread casino distribution in Nevada.
The system itself costs an arm and a leg. This is not a system for your average Mom’n’Pop casino. Each MindPlay table costs about $15,000, and the casino using the system would also be required to purchase a maintenance contract from Bally/Alliance for a couple hundred thousand per year more. That means if a big Strip casino wants to install MindPlay tables, it will probably cost them $2 to $3 million just to set up the initial operation.
A High-Tech Casino Jobs Killer
I read the paragraph he was pointing to: “And then there is the costly staffing of too many pit clerks and supervisory personnel, all of which manually collect the kind of information that more modern gaming systems, such as slots, can produce automatically.”
Do you have any idea what the annual payroll is for pit personnel in a big Strip casino? Much more than the cost of MindPlay. Most floor personnel are no longer involved in game protection. All they do is monitor the buy-ins, make sure there are no payout errors, watch the check trays to visually verify the transactions. The only thing they do is count the checks and count the money.
With MindPlay, the table counts the checks and the money. The table verifies correct payouts. The table even alerts the cage when a check tray is low and needs a fill.”
The dream with MindPlay, as the top execs envision it, is that the only supervisory casino employee needed will be a shift manager. And his job will pretty much be a function of accounting. It will not be the same high-paid position it is today. There will be no reason to pay that much, as the job will not entail much more than looking at the numbers and signing off on the daily totals.”
"The few really big players will still have hosts. But MindPlay will eliminate all of the bosses, half the surveillance department, and most of the hosts. A big Strip casino like Mirage or Venetian, Caesars, or Bellagio, is paying a few million per year in salaries just to the pit personnel. MindPlay looks like a bargain to those at the top, assuming it works.
If you can replace a hundred executive positions with a couple dozen change girls and cashiers, you are looking at a huge increase in profits. It makes no difference if MindPlay can’t catch a card counter. Most pit bosses can’t recognize advantage players any more. Their only game protection function anymore is to make a phone call upstairs if they’re suspicious about a player. Now, MindPlay makes the phone call. And it will probably be more accurate in recognizing a threat than most bosses or surveillance monitors.”
"On the other hand, it will be sold to pit and surveillance personnel as a solution to card counters, cheaters, comp abusers and other advantage players. This will not be announced in the industry as a device that will eliminate most pit, surveillance and marketing personnel.
"The marketing people are key in making this thing work. They understand spin. They’ve got the toughest job of all. If MindPlay works, it will eliminate 500 hosts’ jobs in this town. That’s most of them. They are the highest paid class of employees in this industry. There won’t be fifty to sixty hosts left here if MindPlay works. It will be the job of the marketing people at the top—those who hope to survive—to sell this thing to their underlings as a marketing ‘tool,’ when, in fact, it will ultimately eliminate all but one or two hosts from every casino.”
"Again, if MindPlay works—and that’s a big if—that’s probably what they will be doing a few years from now. They don’t know the games. They don’t read. They make no effort to educate themselves. They won’t even see it coming. At first, everyone will be saying, ‘Wow, look at all this information we have now! This really makes my job easy!’ Only a few will be saying, ‘Oh-oh, this makes my job disappear.’”
"A typical method of tracking employee efficiency is to manually count the number of hands of blackjack dealt by a dealer over some time period. A change in an amount in a bank at the gaming table can also be manually determined and combined with the count of the number of hands to determine a won/loss percentage for the dealer… “pit managers” can visually monitor the live play of a game at the gaming table.
"The current methods of tracking have several drawbacks. The methods typically depend on manual observation of a gaming table. Thus coverage is not comprehensive, and is limited to tracking a relatively small number of games, customers and employees… The tracking methods are also prone to error since the manual methods rely on human observers who can become inattentive or distracted…
"The report function generates appropriate reports regarding the playing habits of the players, and about the performance and efficiency of the employee dealer. Reports can cover all aspects of the gaming, including financial reports, statistical reports based on player profiles, human resources reports based on employee data and marketing reports. The above description sets out a non-intrusive system to record and analyze data for accounting, marketing and/or financial purpose.”
Mindplay: "To Bring Factory-Like Automation and Control" to a Casino Near You
Then I went to the MindPlay website to see what the company had to say about the system. Did they really believe they could run table game pits like a bunch of slot machines? A quote on the front page of their site answered my question:
"They believe in youth and brilliance. I’m old school. I think Bill Zender had the right idea. If you want to make money on your games, and protect your games, you hire a bunch of ex-card counters, ex-hole-carders, ex-crossroaders, and you let people who know how to take off games keep people from taking off your games.
"These corporate types actually believe that machines can protect the games better than people. In my opinion, this is lunacy. This system is so fraught with potential for abuse it’s insane.
How MindPlay Can Be Used to Cheat Players
“For instance, the computer will know the exact order of the cards in the shoe prior to the deal. This information can be accessed by anyone with the proper authority, meaning the password to get into the data screens. The casino manager can actually access this information from his home, over the Internet, if he wants to. I don’t care how many firewalls and layers of encryption they’re using, a couple of smart-ass humans who want to take millions out of a joint could pull an Ocean’s Eleven without any explosives. One password is literally the key to the vault.
"The potential for this kind of abuse is immense. At this point, the casinos can do anything that they are not specifically prohibited from doing, and shuffling up is always a legal option. Dealers in Nevada are currently allowed by Gaming to count cards and shuffle away player-favorable decks, and MindPlay would not really be doing anything that dealers are not currently allowed to do; it would just be doing it with extreme accuracy.
"No one in the industry wants to talk about these features out loud right now, but with MindPlay, imagine this: If the high cards are about to be dealt, and a player is sitting there with a table-limit bet, MindPlay would know if the best hand would go to the player or the dealer. MindPlay knows the exact order of the cards. If a dealer blackjack is coming, to beat a bunch of player 20s, why should the dealer be instructed to shuffle up? The current preferential shuffling practices have no accuracy. MindPlay can make these decisions with absolute precision.”
Implications of MindPlay Automation for Professional Gamblers
I called a few professional players and alerted them about this MindPlay monster, and I told them where they could find the patent data on the Internet. Okay, I called more than a few pros. I talked with just about every serious player I knew. I I mean, this is very interesting stuff.
The possibility of pit bosses disappearing! The patent describes virtually every feature of the system, complete with technical drawings, diagrams, charts. It explains how it counts money, tracks chips, cards, evaluates player skill, and how it will replace almost all of the pit, surveillance and marketing personnel, saving the casinos millions per year in executive salaries.
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||MindPlay and Casino Surveillance
The MindPlay casino games table management system may be used to reduce casino surveillance and pit personnel, but it won't be much of a bargain to casinos because it's easy to fool.