Internet wagering within Nevada’s borders was approved by the state legislature a number of years ago, and as long as it stays entirely within the state it does not violate the federal ban.
But even though it seems like a great victory for Battle Born residents, it has problems. Certainly companies know how to create secure systems, but proving that security to the satisfaction of gaming regulators is an uphill battle. If there’s the slightest chance someone from outside the state can gain access through any means, they’re not interested.
So, Internet wagering was just wishful thinking – until now.
Last year Cantor Gaming introduced e-Deck, a wireless, location-aware, hand-held device that allows the user to play casino games or place sports bets from almost anywhere within a casino. Currently, it can be found only at M Resorts or Venetian and Palazzo, which have rebranded it as PocketCasino.
The brainchild of Lee Amaitis, Cantor’s president and CEO, e-Deck is similar in size and shape to a hand-held videogame, and it functions in much the same manner.
It also offers what the security regulators are looking for. The software for the monetary transactions and players’ betting credits is located on the casino’s secure servers and the database is triple-encrypted. E-Deck accesses it through a wireless Internet connection over a secure channel. For extra measure, every person who signs out a device must carry a plastic card with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip. The device is programmed to work only within a few feet of this chip, preventing any light fingered Louie from walking off with an e-Deck and accessing a player’s credits.
But, is it really as simple as it sounds? John Buyachek, Cantor’s marketing guru, says, yes. And to prove it he stopped by with a demonstration e-Deck apparatus so we could see for ourselves.
The screen was about the size of a 3"x5" index card. It was colorful and easy to read, although our aging eyes wished for something a little larger. (Not to worry, said John, the casino has a bigger, tablet-size device available.)
It operates by touching the option you want with your finger. It doesn’t get any easier. We had fun playing blackjack, baccarat, video poker and slots, changing our bet size, doubling down, holding, drawing and spinning with no difficulty. Since we are known among the nieces and nephews as a videogame-challenged person, it felt empowering to be able to handle this gadget with ease.
We think e-Deck is going to be a hit and it won’t be long before other casinos want to get in on it. There are also plans for bigger and better things to come for e-Deck, but until gaming regulators approve, John’s lips are sealed. We can hardly wait.
In the meantime, stop by M Resorts, Venetian or Palazzo and give it a try.
BRIGHT SPOT: We hear that hourly employees at the Venetian will be receiving a 3% rate increase beginning next month. That’s not much, but in the current Las Vegas economy with unemployment still over 12% as of November, every little bit helps.
RIDING THE RAILS: The 3.9-mile Las Vegas Monorail opened to the public in July 2004. It had some mechanical problems and shut down several times during its first year of operation. It also had a change of management from the original Transit Systems Management to the present Las Vegas Monorail Company in July 2005. But since then, its fully-automated network control system (that means no human operator) seems to have been running smoothly.
The train runs behind the casinos on the east side of the Strip and makes seven stops along the way, starting at the Sahara hotel on the north end and ending with MGM Grand to the south. In between are stations at Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah’s/Imperial Palace, Flamingo and Bally’s/Paris.
With time to kill over the weekend, we decided to take a ride and see how easy it was to use. We valet parked at the Sahara (Love their valet; it reminds us of old Vegas.) and entered the casino. There was no signage but as we headed toward the back of the casino we saw signs pointing us in the right direction. It was not a short walk and involved taking an escalator to the second floor, going outside to walk across the Paradise Road overpass, then going down a short escalator.
Placards said the fare is $5 for a single ride. You can also purchase unlimited rides with a $14 all day pass or $30 three-day pass. All can be bought from machines.
Having lived in Las Vegas for over 30 years, we suspected there might be a discount for locals, but there was no information on it. (Later we checked their website and found nothing there about a discount either.) Spying a customer service booth we moseyed over to inquire. As we thought, upon presentation of valid Nevada ID, locals can purchase a maximum of two single ride fares for $1 each at either of the customer service booths located at the MGM Grand station and Sahara station. The booths are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
With tickets in hand, we walked over to wait for the train. It arrived momentarily and we boarded, along with three other people. Recorded messages tell passengers what the next stop is and which casinos are closest to that stop. The train moves smoothly and quickly. The entire ride from one end to the other takes about 15 minutes, but since you are traveling behind the casinos the scenery is unimpressive as you look down on parking lots, storage lots, garbage dumps and roof tops.
None the less, if the Strip is in gridlock, it could be convenient.
See you around town.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Eileen Di Rocco