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You Don't RFID? How Un-Wynn of You

By JohnH on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 12:59am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 7


After a number of back and forth conversations among the members of Team VT concerning whether or not the technology was included in the new chip sets discussed in the previous post, a very, very, very super secret-but-reliable source within The Grimace of Las Vegas let it slip to yours truly that, yes, The Cosmopolitan has elected not to include RFID in its higher denomination chips.

When one considers that most of the major luxury casinos that have opened on the Strip in the last decade - Wynn, Encore, and various others - have made use of the technology, it's intriguing that the Cosmopolitan didn't feel the need to dial in the radio frequency technology. Why? Well, as the source put it, "What are we going to do with it? Track you back to your house? Serves no real purpose."

And, in all honesty, that does kind of makes sense. Consider this hypothetical: Some masked, motorcycle-driving hoodlum robs the casino cage at The Cosmopolitan, and makes off with $1.25 million dollars in high denomination chips. Rather than waste the man hours locating the serial numbers of each $X Thousand chip the moron took, and so that he couldn't then waltz up to the cage and exchange those marked chips, marking them as "STOLEN," it would be infinitely easier for the hotel to just change out their entire run of $X Thousand chips. It achieves the same end, but without any of the extra headache.

"But," you ask, "what about people trying to counterfeit chips?" Not to encourage counterfeiters, but what idiot would counterfeit, say, $100 chips from Wynn and then try to pass them off at Wynn? Wouldn't it be easier to walk over to Mirage, TI, Venetian, or Palazzo, and have those hotels honor a few of the chips? In that case you've got an incredibly costly technology that's just been reduced to a myopic sort of quality control, which only applies to an individual casino; you've got a waste of money.

So, there you have it, gambling nuts. No RFID at Cosmo..er...sorry...The Cosmopolitan. As any dealer at the resort will now tell you, "It's always The Cosmopolitan, never Cosmo."

Tagged: cosmopolitan   gambling   rfid   


Comments & Discussion:

"It's always The Cosmopolitan, never Cosmo."

then i'm gonna start referring to this place as Kramer.

I'm compelled to think that the person who discussed this with you has no idea what RFID technology actually does. RFID isn't a GPS pinger, but more of a very small transistor radio which holds data that can be read when it passes near a sensor. In theory, they can ping a localized alarm if an employee tries to sneak a $25k out the door of the cage, but they can't send information to a GPS satellite that pinpoints where the missing stash of Bellagio chips are. Such a device would require an antenna, software and battery power.

Beyond preventing localized theft, the primary usage of this technology in a casino is to robotically count amounts placed in a betting circle and assign them to the player's club card that is attached to this position. This gives the casino an exact measurement of what a given player is winning/losing instead of having to rely on a Pit Bosses estimation. Additionally, RFID can be found in decks of cards for some table games to keep track every card, in order, that is played to whom should there be a dispute or should they need to see if the dealer is working with the player to torpedo a game.

I have no knowledge of the reasons why Cosmopolitan doesn't use RFID, but my guess is that a) they aren't targeting big players b) someone delayed it to the next phase of the casino ramp up plan.

This is very suprising as I suspect almost every casino uses RFID for $500 and above chips. RFID chips have no power and are limited to a range of a couple feet. The casino does not and cannot keep track of every (high value) chip's location. In the Bellagio theft, they probably only know a few of the chip IDs for the larger denominations that were stolen. (Some high limit rooms use different sized chips that are tracked more closely - e.g. the Mansion) I understand they actually plant known chips into the table stacks for just this situation. Replacing all chips (w/o RFID) requires a new chip design and is a huge effort to make everyone turn in the old chips. There are several new technologies other than RFID that Cosmo might be using instead.

CM: In all honesty, the super-secret source was pretty tipsy when that information was slipped, but said source was also notably integral in their chip design process. Could this be yet another case of "Amateur Night at the Apollo" going on over there?

Chuck is totally right about how RFID is implemented.

At one Macau casino VIP room, I saw departing dealers walking through sensors--I was told it was so they could be scanned for RFID chips.

All the industry PR about it has been about the player-tracking value primarily, with loss prevention a distant #2.

I'm tempted to bring an RFID scanner with me to Interop next year, gather a few cheques from various casinos, and see just who is using it (though I can't afford to test anything bigger than yellow, surely they would start at least at that point).

Is it possible that the super-secret source wasn't as tipsy as you think and was purposely giving you misinformation?

The first rule of security is the more poeple know about your systems, the easier they can circumvent it. Cosmopolitan is tracking thier chips...bet on it.

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