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Global Gaming Expo Sheds Light on Table Game Technology

13 December 2006

Last month's Global Gaming Expo, the gambling's premier trade show which is held annually at the Las Vegas Convention Center, attracts in excess of 30,000 attendees during its 4-day run, the majority of them industry professionals anxious to see the new product lines manufacturers are unveiling.

Some 780 exhibitors from around the world, representing every technological aspect of gaming, including a gigantic pavilion reserved exclusively for food and beverage vendors, have the opportunity to showcase their products and services before the movers and shakers of the casino industry.

The exposition is to the gaming industry what the Auto Show is to the automotive industry. In addition to being a showcase for new product lines, the Expo is also an opportunity to reveal concepts and give visitors a glimpse into the future.

Based upon my personal observations, one of the dominant prevailing trends is movement toward electronic table game play. Any number of products featuring virtual dealers and electronic touch-screen player terminals were on display, running the gamut from roulette and blackjack to Texas Hold'em Poker.

My guess is there'll always be a demand for live dealers and traditional table games, but there is no doubt in my mind that electronic, computer-driven versions are going to make a sizable impact.

Many established gaming companies are already in on the ground level with the new technology and new ones are emerging all the time, but one of the developers leading the charge is Shuffle Master with corporate headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The company that made its mark in the industry more than a decade ago with its automatic card shuffling machines is blazing new frontiers with electronic and virtual table games, many of which you'll be playing in the near future as they receive regulatory approval in gaming jurisdictions around the country.

One of them, Rapid Roulette, is already a staple in casinos throughout Nevada. The game has even made its way to the Midwest at Caesar's in Indiana, Harrah's and the Horseshoe in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Harrah's in North Kansas City, Missouri.

Rapid Roulette strikes a happy technological medium. It does not eliminate the need for a live dealer, nor does it take away a real spinning wheel with a ball. The table and the traditional color-coded roulette chips are replaced with video touch-screen player stations which surround the wheel. A dealer, stationed in the center of the playing area, spins the wheel and drops the ball.

No more arms and elbows reaching across the felt layout to place bets. With Rapid Roulette you buy into the game with cash that the dealer "loads" up into your terminal. Then it's a matter of touching the computer-generated roulette table layout on your screen to make your bets. All wagers are settled as soon as the dealer confirms the winning number on a centralized computer monitor.

Casinos have embraced this 21st Century version of the gaming floor staple because it speeds up the action (as many as 50-60 games can be played per hour). Plus, as many as 12 people can play whereas eight players at the traditional table version made for a very crowded, uncomfortable and tedious process.

Players appear to gravitate to Rapid Roulette because there is still an interactive human element. It's also a very relaxing and comfortable playing environment. The game by its very nature is easy to play and understand. Besides, almost everyone these days is not intimidated by touch screen technology.

Other "Rapid Table Game" products from Shuffle Master include Rapid Sic Bo and Rapid Big Wheel, although neither has the broad distribution of Rapid Roulette. The company is also about to come out with Rapid Mini Baccarat.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp