by Hamish Barwick

Echo Entertainment Group gambles on big data

May 31, 20133 mins
Big DataManaged IT ServicesMobile

Helping customers to find their favourite gaming machine and knowing when VIP players are at the casino without compromising privacy or “being creepy” is the goal for Echo Entertainment Group.

The Group owns The Star casino in Sydney, Jupiters on the Gold Coast and in Townsville, and The Treasury in Brisbane.

Speaking at the CeBIT BI and Big Data stream in Sydney, CTO Rob James told delegates that Echo Entertainment was looking at a proof of concept with wireless access points.

For example, Star staff could use wireless access points dotted around the casino to track Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices, find out where patrons are spending most time and which areas of the casino are more popular.

“Down the track we want to enhance the value we get out of that data. It could be things like helping customers find their favourite slot machine. We’ve got 1500 slot machines across our floor and you’re looking for one particular type of game. We have that information, how can we share that with the patron?”

In addition, James said its 3000 security cameras – which capture hundreds of gigabytes of data per day- could be used for more than just surveillance.

“Right now we’re looking at improving our operations in the casino because how we manage our tables is important to us. We have a lot of table analytics that we’re gathering but this is a manual process.”

Through machine learning of video signals, James said it could start using the cameras to track the number of bets, estimated value of bets and how fast a staff member is dealing cards.

“In a casino, cameras are everything so in areas where there are Wi-Fi blind spots we can see who is arriving and if some entries are more popular than others.”

The cameras are also used to identify problem gamblers who should not be entering the casino. “If they [problem gamblers] come onto our property that is a breach of our [gaming] licence,” he said.

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VIP enhancements

The Star also has plans for its VIP customers. James explained that the casino has a car parking level for VIPs which can only be accessed with a security card.

“As soon as they come to the casino, their VIP card is swiped and automatically we can look at their profile and see this is a $1 million a year customer,” he said.

According to James, the casino can then notify the VIP’s host that they have arrived, and if the card contains information about their favourite drink, they can also tell the bartender to get the beverage ready.

“The challenge is to do this in a way that is not creepy,” he said. “The reality is that this is happening in every retail sector and airport where they are collecting information about you.”

James said that customer privacy was very important as the company has a social responsibility to honour the Privacy Act.

“The privacy aspects of this are about protecting that information and identities of the individuals,” he said.

“The number one asset we have at our casino is customers. Losing a single customer can cost us tens of millions in revenue every year.”

He added that staff members who view customer data need to be licensed.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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