Gambling by remote

June 12, 2001 11:25 AM
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Slot players who would rather feed coins into their beloved machines than feed themselves may soon be able to do both, simultaneously.

Station Casinos has come up with a new technology that allows guests to play their favorite slot or video poker machines while in a restaurant, their hotel room or poolside with a wireless remote.

The technology allows "live" slot machines - not virtual games - to be played via interactive TV, personal computer or a wireless Palm Pilot-type of device, according to Glenn C. Christenson, Station’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"Under the system, the customer can play their favorite machine, whether it’s Bally’s, IGT or Williams, as opposed to a virtual game offered on some online casino sites," Christenson says. "None of the existing Internet casinos offers real live games."

He says the new systems needs to be approved by Nevada regulators, and could be available in Station casinos next year.

"Initially, we expect to target cruise lines and Native-American casinos with the goal of eventually expanding this service to major hotel-casino properties in Nevada and other jurisdictions," he says.

Station has formed its own company, GameCast Live, to develop the technology.

Christenson says that once the system is approved, casinos will broadcast the games from a group of machines in an area separate from the casino floor.

"They will not be part of the regular inventory of machines, and they won’t look like regular machines because there’s no need for the cabinet and other cosmetic features," he says.

In fact, the remote machines will probably be stacked in cabinets without all the "bells and whistles" associated with a normal slot.

Christenson emphasizes that the GameCast technology does not involve the Internet. Instead, it relies on existing cable modem, DSL technology, interactive television and wireless devices.

"We are very excited about the potential market for in-room gaming applications, both domestically and internationally," Christenson says.