Gaming’s future: a Brave New World?

May 21, 2002 7:16 AM

Gaming industry executives were recently treated to a preview of Totally Automated Casino and Keno Interactive Entertainment (TACKIE). The movers and shakers predict that TACKIE facilities will soon replace outmoded gambling palaces of yesteryear.

TACKIE installations avoid all the nettling nuisances that get between gamesters and their coveted shots at the really big bucks. Annoyances like stodgy tables that crowd out glitzy machines. Slots that run short of coins, making players wait until the refill arrives, while someone else grabs the spot where they were planning to move and zingo, hits the jackpot. Personnel who often get surly but expect good tips anyway. Restaurants where you have to lollygag in line just to get through the door, never mind the hassle of pushing and shoving at the buffet counter or dealing with servers at sit-down eateries. Delays at cashier and coin redemption cages. And so on.

Do you see the common thread running through these aggravations? People. Nothing personal, of course. Some of the finest, warmest, kindliest, most caring people in the world work in casinos. But they’re only human. And the TACKIE innovation is to sidestep the human factor with all its follies, foibles, and frailties.

TACKIE joints are 100 percent machine. For wagering, table games are eliminated entirely. Nobody wants them any more anyway. If you’re an old fogy and doubt this, talk to any silk suited boss and you’ll probably hear the same story. "Tables are dead ducks. Slots are the action."

The reasons include many well-researched elements. The generation that learned craps and blackjack during the Second World War isn’t around any more. The dealers and other patrons make the games too intimidating for neophytes. The bets are too steep for most solid citizens even at the lowest limits. Players hesitate to ask pit supervisors for comps because they fear face-to-face rejection. Most payoffs are so low that you can’t strike it rich unless you can afford to bet high, in which case you wouldn’t have to be gambling in the first place.

The slots in TACKIE establishments are completely cashless. You couldn’t insert a coin if you tried. This gets rid of attendants for nonproductive chores like providing change or filling payout hoppers. The machines accept credit and debit cards as well as bills and coupons. Winners can have earnings posted directly to their bank accounts, or collect proceeds in coupons. Those with excess coupons at the end of a visit, who want to take cash home, can use the automated redemption machines in the lobby.

The TACKIE plan goes beyond merely replacing table games with slots. Drinks and food, prepared in robotic commissaries, are delivered to patrons at their machines by sophisticated conveyor systems. Players punch up touch screen menus and place orders. The cost of the order is deducted from rating points the person has earned, with any excess charges taken from credits still to be played. If the reserve isn’t high enough, the patron is prompted to enter a cheaper alternative or add money to the machine.

Food and drink delivery, in and of itself, isn’t revolutionary. But the TACKIE approach uses an idea pioneered by the eminent Sir Charles Chaplin, originally introduced in the 1936 documentary, Modern Times, which was then too far ahead of its time. Orders are deposited on rotating trays at the gaming stations. Sensors detect when patrons turn to utensils to feed the individuals and dab off dribbles. Folks can therefore wine and dine without ever interrupting the rhythm of their fingers on the buttons.

Inquiring minds might want to know, why not just take TACKIE one more level? Why bother with a physical location at all? You have to heat or cool a building, clean the floors and restrooms, and fix the roof and escalators. Why not do everything in cyberspace? Virtual gambling. On the Internet. Patrons wouldn’t even have to get all gussied up, leave their homes, and fight the traffic.

Nah! It could never happen, could it? Who’d go for anything that crass? For, as the memorable muse, Sumner A. Ingmark, mentioned in his monody:


The interpersonal
Are recreation’s
supreme attractions.