Last week, Circus Circus in Las Vegas installed several new blackjack tables equipped with an electronic side-betting system, which earlier in the month had completed a successful four-month field trial at the Strip casino.
The system — Lucky Jacks and Queens — offers players a side bet (from $1 to $10) that pays off when their first two cards are a jack and a queen.
The amount of the payoff is determined by several factors: the suit of the cards, the position of the player at the table and an electronic random prize selector that picks a prize of 15 to 2,500 times the side bet.
After all factors are considered, the side bet has a potential top payoff of $25,000.
Now, side bets are nothing new to table games. Manufacturers are always looking for ways to enhance blackjack — the No. 1 table game in Nevada. And side bets are integral to games such as Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride.
But the electronic system that runs Lucky Jacks and Queens is the first of its kind for table games, and portends a Brave New World of high-tech excitement for casino players and operators alike.
Manufactured by DEQ Systems Corp. and distributed by DP Stud in Las Vegas, the G3 Electronic Auxiliary System utilizes many concepts from the high-tech world of slot machines.
Indeed, terms such as "coin-in" and "hit frequency" that are intrinsic to electronic gaming, become part of the vernacular for table operators with the system.
"By using these electronic features, casinos are able to report and track the financial performance of the game," said Lou DeGregorio, chief operating officer of DP Stud. "And players enjoy the multi-betting capability of the system."
In addition to the side-bet parameters, the G3 system gives players the chance to win randomly-drawn prizes such as:
”¡ Magic card: when a player receives a randomly drawn "magic" card, he wins.
”¡ Lucky player: a player’s seat position can be designated as a random winner.
”¡ Lucky dealer: players who make a side bet on the dealer can win a bonus.
”¡ Happy hour: players receive free side bets during this random period.
”¡ Casino bonus: promotions and prizes can be randomly distributed.
Tables equipped with the G3 system include electronic credit bank acceptors — keypads that allow players to make side bets and accumulate credits; a dealer control console that manages all aspects of the side bets; and an LCD screen that displays betting results, promotions or other messages the casino would like to convey.
DeGregorio said the system’s ability to keep track of side bets (separate from regular bets) is a plus for casinos, which often don’t know how much of their drop is accountable to side bets.
More important, DeGregorio adds, the use of a credit meter helps stimulate play.
"A table game that uses this system will surely double its coin-in," DeGregorio said. "Just like with slot or poker machines, the customer will tend to bet more credits than when he’s plunking in coins, one at a time."
The coin-in for side bets, which is in addition to the standard bet of the game, can become significant, DeGregorio said. In some cases, the operator can generate more win with side bets that with the standard game.
DeGregorio said the system can be applied to other table games, including baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud.
The system can also provide an electronic delivery system for bonus features such as bad beat jackpots, progressives, dealer bets, linked tables and tournaments.
"The system represents the future of table games," DeGregorio said. "Many of the elements that make slots so popular and profitable are now applicable to table games."