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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Touch screen table games gather momentum

27 February 2008

The new generation of touch screen table games that is making an impact on casino floors worldwide may never completely replace traditional felt tables, chips and dealers, but it most likely will gradually become a viable alternative.

Just as slot players have grown accustomed to touch-screen play and gaming floors where coins and tokens are relics from the past, so will table games players gradually be introduced to video screens and paper vouchers.

Rapid Roulette, a product developed by Shuffle Master, is in play at casinos around the country, including the Majestic Star Casinos in Gary. The game is surrounded by touch screen player positions and uses a real wheel and a live dealer to spin it.

Players are comfortably seated in front of a video screen, where, at the touch of a finger, they make their bets for the next spin. The rules and mechanics of roulette make it a table game that is most easily adapted to this technology, which is why the concept is being expanded.

Gaming manufacturer TCS John Huxley has a version called Novo TouchBet Roulette, a game which has been popular in Great Britain for a number of years and which has been accepted enthusiastically by gamblers at casinos in Canada. The game will soon be introduced in the United States at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

TouchBet Roulette installations can accommodate up to 250 player stations around the casino floor. In addition to the primary installation of the game, satellite locations with a real time projection screen showing the results of every spin are available, differentiating this product from Rapid Roulette.

Touch screen roulette is an efficient and highly accurate modern version of the table game classic. All that's missing are the chips and the thrill of watching the dealer push the stacks of winnings your way when you hit. But just as slot players no longer rejoice over coins cascading into the tray, roulette players will get used to it.

There's an upside for the casino owners as well. With a built-in house advantage of 5.26 percent on American ("0" and "00") roulette, the increased number of possible players coupled with the increased number of decisions per hour increases profits.

Similar technology is being applied to other table games, including blackjack, craps, and of course, poker. PokerTek's fully automated electronic PokerPro tables are beginning to take off big time. The World Poker Tour branded poker room at Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, is comprised entirely of PokerPro tables.

"I come from traditional poker rooms, and this is so much less intimidating," said Glenn Arana, poker room manager at Four Winds. "Everybody plays poker; it's the American game. But when you walk into a casino, sometimes you're a little apprehensive. You may know how to play, but you're not really sure when to bet.

"The PokerPro system eliminates all of these concerns. You can only bet at a certain time. People can't turn their cards over prematurely. All of the mistakes that can happen in a traditional poker room are now taken away, and the customers are really beginning to take to it."

The applications of craps and blackjack to touch screen technology are a little more complicated than they are with roulette and poker, but first generation versions are already out there and it won't be long before they'll be alternatives to the "real thing".

CASINO NEWS: Majestic Star Casinos' Deep Stack Poker Challenge will be held March 1 through 9. Single table satellites for the tournament, featuring an $80 buy-in and entry fee, begin February 18. For complete details visit www.majesticstarcasino.com or call the poker room directly at 219-977-7444.

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