Remote gaming:
Brave New World for players

May 18, 2004 7:48 AM

The advent of remote gaming could signal a new era for casino players, and provide the basis of a new cottage industry for manufacturers.

Among the possibilities for players are: playing slots or video poker from your hotel room, betting the pass line from the coffee shop or playing bingo while lounging at the pool.

While these endeavors may sound like futuristic fantasies, they are not farfetched. Technology already exists for their implementation.

For instance, three years ago, Station Casinos formed a subsidiary called GameCast, which developed technology that would allow slot players to play a machine from their hotel room via interactive TV or a personal computer, or from a restaurant or pool via a wireless hand-held remote.

The GameCast system would allow players to electronically access a central "slot farm" and accept payment through bill receptors or cash accounts.

Even though the program is currently "on hold," Station officials said the slot farm machines had the potential to produce three- or four-times the amount of play that stand-alone machines would receive.

Another company that has targeted the remote gaming market is Atlantis Internet Group Corp. in Henderson.

Although most of its suite of products are Internet related, including online poker room and casino software, Atlantis produces an In-Room Gaming System designed to allow hotel guests to play electronic games in their guest room via the television set. Among the games available are blackjack, craps, roulette, slots, video poker and keno.

The Atlantis technology features a built-in management and accounting system that allows the casino to track all gaming activities.

To further the burgeoning remote gaming industry, a not-for-profit organization, The Interactive Gaming Institute of Nevada, was formed three years ago.

The Institute has hosted several symposiums on remote and Internet gaming, including one at the annual G2E, the gaming industry’s largest convention held each year in Las Vegas.

In addition to the possibilities listed above, technology already exists for other forms of remote casino gaming, including "back betting," in which players bet for or against a live player at the craps, blackjack or roulette table; server-based games — betting on electronic games that simulate casino games, such as the electronic keno games often used in hotel restaurants; and participation in skill-based games such as chess, poker or backgammon, where a person can bet for or against someone who is playing in the live tournament.

Richard Fitzpatrick, president of the Institute, said remote gaming is mostly evident on the Internet, but other forms such as interactive television, mobile and wireless gaming should experience growth as jurisdictions approve and regulate them.

Fitzpatrick estimated the revenue from wireless gaming could grow from about $6 billion in 2004 to more than $10 billion in 2006.