Slot play from your keychain?

Dec 4, 2001 8:55 AM

The future of video and table games could be hanging on your keychain.

“It’s the coming wave,” said Patrick Schmit, chief executive officer at Ardent Gaming in reference to its new sensor that acts in place of money in video slot machines.

Customers are handed devices called Electronic Funds Carriers, which is basically like having an ATM and calculator in the palm of your hand. The sensor is located inside the EFC.

“This EFC performs three functions for players,” Schmit said. “It pays your balance, it allows you to add or subtract the amount you want to wager, and it allows you to cash out.”

The device, which can be attached to a keychain, is inserted in the video game, allowing players access to the machine without having to insert money.

“If someone calls and you have to leave the game, you push the button three times and cash out. That’s it,” said Jacquelyn A. Rinaldi of Sciortino Advertising, which promoted the EFC last week at Texas Station.

“We had people come to our exhibit and play the games that operate with the EFC,” Rinaldi said. “Everyone really seemed to enjoy using the device. It makes things so much easier for everyone.”

The device was submitted for approval last week in Mississippi and could be seen in Las Vegas by the middle of next year.

“Our partner is Isle of Capri Casino (out of Biloxi) and they wanted to debut the EFC in Mississippi,” Schmit said. “Ardent and Isle of Capri both believe Mississippi is more aggressive and proactive to approving new technologies.”

Schmit believes that the EFC is ground-breaking technology.

“The goal is to migrate the customer to a ticket-free, coin free method of play,” he said. “It’s a cleaner way of playing.”

Players can receive redemptions at ATM machines or from cage cashiers.

“Customers can come back next week with the earnings they accumulated right in the device,” Schmit said. “Right now, it would only be good at the place you play at, but eventually the EFC will work on an inter-corporate basis. In other words, all the Stations Casinos, not just Texas.”

Schmit said that the EFC would also be used at table games in the future.

“We believe this is the way games will be played,” he said. “The less money people have to carry, the more comfortable they will feel.”