A new kiosk-based system being tested by Nevada regulators will arguably produce the most remote form of wagering the state has seen to date.
Leading race and sports betting technology provider American Wagering Inc. developed the system over the last year and received regulatory approval for the concept in November from both the Nevada Gaming Commission and the Gaming Control Board. The system is undergoing internal audits by state regulators, and AWI CFO Tim Lockinger is hopeful the kiosks will hit Nevada casinos by the end of January 2003.
This will revolutionize the way sports betting is conducted in Nevada."
- Tim Lockinger
"If everything goes well the audits should be completed by the end of this month," Lockinger said. "Then we will do field tests at selected properties."
AWI's kiosk concept has four different interfaces that enable gambling facilities to spread their sports books throughout their properties.
The main betting kiosks, which resemble ATM terminals, can be placed throughout the gaming floor of a casino, mixed in with slot machines, table games, keno rooms and other areas were gambling takes place.
There will also be a sitting terminal designed for sports books and restaurants. The units come compete with TV monitor and touch-screen functionality.
Lockinger said the user will be able to place a wager on an upcoming sports match or race and then sit back and watch it unfold without ever having to leave his chair.
Both the kiosk and the sitting terminal were given regulatory approval in November, and AWI hopes to get two other expansions of the system passed after the initial field tests for the kiosk are completed.
Included in AWI's long-range vision for betting is a wireless unit that would enable the bettor to take a laptop-sized terminal with him to any area of the casino property.
"They could take the unit to the pool, restaurant, spa or any other entity that is on the property's grounds," Lockinger explained.
The fourth devise is similar to the sitting terminal, but would be used for in-room wagering.
The aim of the system, Lockinger said, is to increase business within a sports book without having to encroach on other areas of a casino.
He feels that once the systems are integrated throughout the casino, business will pick up for the sports book.
"A lot of times the sports book is back in the corner and people don't even know it is there," Lockinger said. "By putting machines out where they are, operators will be able to take the sports book to them."
This, he said, should translate to impressive results. He compared the possible jump in sports betting once the kiosks are in place to the recent boom in keno betting. In the past visitors to casinos might not have known where the keno room was or how to take advantage of the option to bet on the game. But, once keno runners were introduced at casinos, more and more people started to play the game
In addition to increasing the volume of sports betting, the betting terminals and kiosks will also help ease traffic during busy periods.
"People won't have to stand in line anymore during a rush," Lockinger said. "Those people that come in specifically to place a bet will be able to avoid long lines by making the bet themselves through one of the kiosks."
The two systems undergoing the internal audits accept all forms of payment, including cash. The wireless and in-room systems would be cashless and would require users to fund accounts before wagering.
The in-room system will integrate a facial scan of the user before any bets can be placed, and the wireless device will include a fingerprint scan.
"So even if someone takes the device down to the pool and leaves it there, no one could access it," Lockinger said. "Even if they know the person's password, unless they have their fingerprint, they won't be able to make a bet."
The units are being branded as ISportsStand and were developed in conjunction with ISI Ltd.
Lockinger said nearly 98 percent of casinos and sports books in Nevada are already using AWI technology. Once final regulatory approval is given for the system, he hopes to see thousands of units installed throughout various properties.
By all means, AWI is no stranger to remote wagering. Its first foray into the area was its MegaSports Internet sports book located and licensed in Australia. That venture was cut short in 2000 following a 1999 investigation in which Nevada Gaming Control Board officers successful signed up for the service and took wagers from a computer located in Nevada--a major violation of Nevada's gambling regulations and a subsequent threat to the standing of AWI's Nevada gaming license.
The company's new system is completely independent of the Internet, however, the technology that went into it could conceivably lay the foundation for a viable regulatory structure for online betting. For now, Lockinger said, the Internet is not an option.
"These probably could be adapted for use with an Internet connection," Lockinger explained, "but that isn't part of our goal or agenda.
The Internet aside, AWI expects the system to change the face of sports betting in Nevada.
"This is cutting-edge technology we are dealing with," Lockinger said. "This will revolutionize the way sports betting is conducted in Nevada."