Gambling gets a high-tech upgrade

Gambling is multi-billion-dollar industry that is very old and encompasses a variety of different games, from slot machines to good old fashion card games. As such casinos spend large amounts of money on ensuring they aren’t cheated or stolen from. Within the last 10-15 years casinos have been using new technology which can give them a big upper hand against thieves and cheaters.

What is it?

The Wynn casino in Las Vegus and a handful of over casinos have installed RFID technology into their gambling chips. What is this you may ask? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification; It is 2-part wireless identification system. The “tags” are small electrical circuits that can store a small amount of information that allows them to be identified wirelessly by special devices known as “readers”. The tags do not have to contain a power source and are instead can be powered wirelessly, through a process known as electromagnetic induction, when in proximity to a reader (same technology as wireless chargers).

This technology is currently used for many different things including myki, some hotel room keys and it is also used for tagging animals both in the wild and in captivity.

Gambling Chips

Within each gambling chip belonging to the Wynn casino (except for any chips worth less than $5), a RFID is embedded into it with a unique ID stored in it. So, from here any chip can be quickly wirelessly identified with the help of a reader. For one thing this allows casinos to very easily keep track of which chips are currently in circulation. So even if someone did manage to duplicate a chip, they would have a hard time turning it in since it would have the same ID as another one. It also allows them to quickly count chips and log them into a computer, making chip management infinity easier. No more miscounting of chips by a lazy employee.

Wynn casino pocker chips, Photo by Michael Dorausch

 

Potential future uses

By placing RFID readers at the employee exits, tagging chips could allow casinos to prevent theft by their own staff (which let’s be honest, probably happens a lot).

This technology could also help greatly with theft. Should any chips be stolen, they could be mark as “stolen” in the casinos database. From here any attempts to cash these chips in would result in them immediately being identified as stolen and likely resulting in the capture of the thief (or at bare minimum the casino gets its money back). This is already used to some extent however the current implementation definitely has room to grow.

Lastly, should the technology become sophisticated enough readers could be installed within various gaming tables. This would allow a computer to read in all the chips currently on the table, allowing the casino to accurately analysis how chips are spent and used through the casino. It could also be used to subtly rig games such as roulette, although this is illegal in government sanctioned casinos and anyone caught doing it loses their license to run a casino, so we’re probably safe there!