Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vegas Using RFID To Keep Tabs On Bartenders, Chips And Maybe Even You

Several bars in "sin City" (and probably bars near you) use RFID tracking chips that measure the flow and amount of liquor in each drink poured. Tucked away in the pour spouts are small chips that act as part of the loss-control system. When linked to point-of-sale systems you can produce information on types of drinks poured, amount of alcohol used ect.

According to hospitality industry experts, every year in the United States, over $7 billion is lost due to “liquor shrinkage.” What is “liquor shrinkage?” It happens when bartenders give out free drinks, "overpour" (intentionally making drinks too strong), or make mistakes as they mix cocktails. It also happens when bottles of liquor disappear from bar storage areas due to theft. RFID tracking can dramatically cut those losses.

The drawbacks, at least from the bartenders point of views is that tracking of sales and limiting pours threatens the long-standing practice of giving bartenders generous tips in order to get generous drinks. While not a concern for bar owners, bartenders largely make their livings off of these tips.

RFID inventory control and liquor management systems are hardly revolutionary, however these are just a few uses Vegas has found for tiny RFID tracking devices.

RFID chips are now being placed in some casino chips, and according to a recent Computerworld article the MGM Mirage is looking at room keys that not only open doors, but also keep track of customer preferences and gaming play. This would essentially allow the hotel to monitor every aspect of a gamers stay.

We all know casinos currently film your every last move as well as track every bet but adding RFID tags to the mix would also mean they could track you outside the casino walls. An RFID tag in your room key could be used to pin point your exact location anywhere within range of their service, and with assistance from other casinos they could track any and every activity while in another location.

A scary though to some, a fact of casino life to others, certainly anyone not willing to give up a certain level of privacy shouldn't be in a Vegas casino.

Technology and Vegas seem to go hand in hand and casino are no exception. They are constantly working on new facial recognition technologies to track players as well as potential cheats. The latest in technology can be seen everywhere from the fountains at the Bellagio, to the newest in touchscreen slots.

Some of the newest technology used is algorithms that can predict customer wants. Sending information to systems that will respond to newly arrived hotel guests by automatically turning on lights, adjusting blinds and setting the television to the customer's preferred language. The algorithms will take into account everything you've done, bought, ate and drank and will have that at your finger tips prior to your arrival

"What we want to be able to do is predict the future." Predictive modeling of the hotel's guests' activities and requests makes the algorithms that sit on top of the data warehouse a "killer app for us," says Tom Peck MGM Mirage's senior vice president and CIO.

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