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Technology and the Future of Gaming

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October 23, 2022
Gaming | Technology
Fran Worrall

Eight technology trends that will shape the industry for years to come.

New and emerging technologies are revolutionizing the hospitality industry, and the gaming sector is at the forefront of innovation. Casinos are employing cutting edge solutions for a wide variety of tasks, from collecting guest data to identifying cheaters. And more, gaming properties are increasingly harnessing technology to improve guest service, particularly in today’s market where brick-and-mortar casinos face stiff competition and online casinos are striving to create an immersive experience that resembles the real thing.

“The gaming industry is seeing the enormous potential that lies in technology,” said Mark Munger, founder and president of Valcros, a technology consulting company that provides both short and long-term contracts for hospitality technology management. Over the course of three decades, he has worked with dozens of gaming properties, helping them develop product strategy, create technology budgets, design cybersecurity programs, implement property-wide solutions, and more.

According to Munger, the use of technology in the gaming industry will only continue to grow. “Technology will help properties save money, boost revenue and deliver a state-of-the art experience,” he said. “In a nutshell, properties that use the right solutions in the right way can beat the competition and attract new customers.”

Following are eight technology trends Munger predicts will shape the gaming industry in years to come. While some of these trends have been in play for a while and show no signs of slowing, others are just beginning to make inroads in the industry.

#1: Artificial intelligence
A few years ago, the industry was abuzz about big data as a trend. Yet data alone isn’t inherently valuable to a property, Munger said. “Data must be actionable in order to be valuable, and artificial intelligence is what makes that happen.” Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. AI systems work by ingesting large amounts of data, analyzing the information for patterns, and using those patterns to make predictions. In this way, a chatbot that is fed examples of text chats can learn to produce lifelike exchanges; or an image recognition tool can learn to identify objects by reviewing millions of examples. Munger predicts that AI will proliferate throughout the gaming industry, helping properties provide more personalized guest service based on the data collected and analyzed at every touchpoint.

#2: Guest engagement apps
Most casino properties use mobile and web-based apps to drive incremental revenue and enhance the guest stay, and Munger predicts this trend will accelerate as devices and technologies improve. The best apps offer benefits to both the guest and the property. For the former, convenience is paramount — seamless check-in and check-out, effortless entertainment, and easy control of lights and temperature, for example. For hotels, it’s about streamlining operations and increasing sales. “These apps not only reduce touchpoints and boost customer engagement but also take the property to the next level,” he said.

#3: Contactless solutions
A recent survey by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company reveals a 20 percent increase in preference for contactless operations since the COVID-19 pandemic. And many experts believe this number is much higher in the hospitality industry. “The pandemic pushed us toward a new contactless model,” Munger said, noting the upsurge in mobile check-in/check-out, keyless entry, and the use of digital wallets. He predicts this trend will continue to grow as gaming properties rethink how they interact with guests. “If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that touchless technology is here to stay, and it doesn’t have to be a barrier to good service.” In fact, it offers convenience and efficiency and gives guests more control.
#4: Augmented and virtual reality
Munger predicts that the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) — both fast-tracked by the pandemic—will increase throughout the gaming industry in coming years. On the hotel side of the business, VR will allow properties to personalize service, upsell amenities, and boost bookings. “It allows you to present a digital re-creation of your property for potential guests to view from the comfort of their own homes,” he said. On the casino side, AR will be used to supplement the gaming experience, perhaps by allowing guests to view stats, digital promotions and bonus offers; or to gain access to AR-enabled games. “Companies like Apple and Google are already working on AR and VR for the home, and younger consumers, in particular, are embracing the technology.”
#5: Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here in a big way, with cloud computing, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology leveraging real-time connectivity between disparate systems to facilitate data transmission and sharing. From luggage carts with GPS-enabled tracking devices to occupancy sensors that alert housekeeping staff when rooms are vacated, hotels have adopted a variety of IoT technologies. Yet, Munger believes the industry is seeing the tip of the iceberg. “IoT will transform hospitality,” he said, particularly in the area of operations where it will be used routinely to regulate lights and thermostats, monitor indoor air quality, and predict when equipment needs repairs.

#6: Cybersecurity
Gaming properties are data treasure troves, which makes them prime targets for cyber-attacks. “Casinos have a lot of information about their customers, including preferences, and that data is extremely valuable to bad actors,” Munger said. Moreover, the implications of a breach are far-reaching, including damage to the property’s reputation. “Any violation of trust can compromise the guest relationship, and if the attack affects hundreds or thousands of people, it can be difficult to recover.” He predicts gaming properties will allocate more money to cybersecurity in coming years, from setting up stronger firewalls to educating staff about cybersecurity threats. “You have to be vigilant; otherwise, you’ll end up being another cyberattack statistic.”
#7: Voice technology
As more consumers embrace voice recognition solutions at home, Munger predicts that casino-hotels will increasingly deploy it in-room to meet guest expectations, particularly those of younger travelers. “In the gaming industry, demographics tend to skew older, but Millennials and Gen Z are the future, and they demand the latest technology.” Moreover, guests of all ages crave convenience, and voice technology makes it easy to do everything from ordering room service to requesting extra towels. Another benefit is the removal of language barriers. “The technology has evolved to the point where it understands languages and accents, allowing guests to interact in their natural way of speaking,” he said. “Voice recognition is also accessible, making it easier to use than some other technologies.”
#8: Robots
In busy gaming facilities, Munger foresees robots supplementing hotel, restaurant and casino staff, especially in low-end jobs. Robots can deliver room service, for example, or handle repetitive restaurant tasks like mixing drinks and chopping ingredients. In the area of security, robots are ideal at patrolling parking lots and monitoring casino entry and exit points. “Robots have a lot of advantages,” he said. “They can reduce operational costs, they never call in sick, and they engage guests in an entertaining way.”

Finally, Munger advised, when evaluating new technology, the overarching considerations should be providing value, reducing friction and streamlining operations. That goes for any casino, regardless of size or location. “Technology should offer benefits to the guest and the property, and it should never be implemented simply because it’s new and sexy,” he concluded. “It all comes back to value. If it adds value to the property, great. If not, don’t buy it.”

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