Innovations: Ideas in Action
Walker Digital’s mission is to create new business systems and profitably bring them to market, either by creating a start-up or enabling another company with a license. Examples can be helpful to illustrate how the process works.
Measured by dollars wagered, the world’s most popular casino game is not slots or blackjack. It’s baccarat, a card game played on felt-covered wood tables that look much like oversized blackjack tables. Originally popular in France, the game now dominates the Asian market. More than US$4 trillion will be wagered on baccarat in Asia in 2012.
The game of baccarat has relatively small operating margins but is highly profitable because of the enormous bet volume. There is a potentially huge payoff from eliminating mistakes by dealers and floor supervisors, reducing redundant labor, speeding up the pace of game play and eliminating player fraud. Each basis point of margin improvement is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a casino in additional annual profits.
But any changes must be “invisible” to players, who like baccarat just as it is. This largely explains why the technology of baccarat has not changed in 75 years. Live dealers draw cards from a “shoe” located on the table that holds eight standard decks of cards. Gamblers bet using traditional gambling chips like those common in U.S. casinos.
If traditional baccarat tables and chips were upgraded with hidden technology in such a way that they looked no different to the player and game play remained unchanged, casinos could generate billions of dollars in incremental profits by delivering the payoffs described above.
Walker Digital’s Perfect Pay table network provides this “hidden technology” upgrade. Intelligence is embedded in and underneath the table furniture as well as inside the actual gambling chips. Most Asian casinos have already switched to casino betting chips containing RFID tags to streamline chip inventory systems.
Perfect Pay utilizes RFID technology so that hidden sensors and computers track baccarat wagers, hand outcomes, payouts and player ratings with 100% accuracy in real time. This speeds up game play while eliminating losses from dealer mispays, drastically reducing labor requirements, and eliminating player fraud as well as other human or manual data recording and entry problems.
Walker Digital Table Systems, LLC was formed to develop and distribute the Perfect Pay networked table system. After two years of engineering, product and software development, the table began field-testing in 2009 in the largest casino in Asia – Genting Highlands in Malaysia. The tables handled more than two million individual bets and over $900 million in action over the last 18 months and passed every test – player acceptance, system stability, casino operations and perfect information tracking.
The company is now installing its first major table order and pursuing a rollout across Asia.