Wireless gaming gets trial run in Vegas

May 20, 2008 7:05 PM

By GT Staff | The latest technological advancement in casino gaming – wireless or mobile gaming devices – has emerged at The Venetian in Las Vegas for a three-month field trial monitored by Nevada’s Gaming Control Board.

Developed by Cantor Gaming, a division of Wall Street financial services giant Cantor Fitzgerald, the mobile gaming devices resemble hand-held PDA’s and allow users to bet on a variety of computerized casino games – blackjack, roulette, baccarat, video poker and slots.

"We continuously strive to provide our customers the best overall entertainment experience available and mobile gaming is the type of cutting edge trend we think will further enhance that experience for our customers," said Rob Goldstein, president of The Venetian. "Cantor Gaming literally developed the market for mobile gaming, and we are pleased to partner with them to benefit from the evolution of gaming technology."

The wireless devices are available in the Venetian’s high-limit slot lounge, where players must sign up for the slot club and create a betting account by posting a cash deposit.

Along with the mobile gaming unit, which resembles a tiny Nintendo DS or Game Boy device, the player is laced with an electronic bracelet – not unlike the ankle bracelets for people under house arrest – that will monitor their movements.

Currently, mobile game players are restricted to the high-limit slot lounge; if they stray beyond the gold felt ropes, the mobile unit will shut down.

In the future, the players’ range of movements is expected to be expanded to the casino’s other public areas such as restaurants, convention halls, pool areas and shopping malls. Hotel rooms, because of the possibility of unauthorized usage or underage gamblers, will be off-limits.

The devices are relatively easy to play with games listed on a menu, along with instructions and even betting tips, such as when to hit or stand while playing blackjack. Games are selected and bets placed on the screen with a pencil-like plastic stylus.

When a customer has finished playing mobile, the device is returned to the lounge’s customer service desk, where any outstanding account balance is paid to the player.

So far, the mobile gaming devices only contain a few games, but future versions may contain an "electronic concierge," through which customers could order drinks and food, show tickets or merchandise, make restaurant reservations or spa appointments, view their hotel bill, book tours or other services.

Wireless mobile gaming was approved by the Nevada state legislature in 2005; it took about two years for state gaming regulators to fine tune corresponding regulations.

Other companies are currently working to get their mobile devices approved. One of them, Shuffle Master, has developed a Casino on Demand wireless system that includes many of their own proprietary games, such as 3 Card Poker.

Once The Venetian field trial is completed, it is expected the mobile gaming devices will become available at other Nevada casinos.