Gaming Slots and electronic gaming

Rise of the machines: stadiums in style

Written by The Tiger

This article first appeared in the Sep/Oct 2013 issue of World Gaming magazine.

The Tiger decided to have a look at the impact hybrids and stadium style seating table games are having on Macau. This is yet another example of the “Rise of the Machines”.

I have touched on hybrids and stadium style gaming in previous “Rise of the Machines” articles but have never dedicated an entire feature to it. The literal meaning of the word “hybrid” is something that is created by mixing different elements together to create a new object or thing. An example of this is a hybrid golf club that acts as both a driver and an iron.

When we talk about hybrids in the gaming world, we are usually referring to the combination of traditional table games with electronic wagering. The first attempts at something like hybrids were slot machines that offered electronic keno, blackjack and draw poker. These machines were huge in their day in Las Vegas and Australia and can still be widely found in the US – usually installed in a bar so you can play them while sitting on a bar stool having a drink. By the time Macau was starting to hit its straps in the mid to late 2000s, these machines had become old school and there wasn’t a demand for them in Macau.

The next step in regards to hybrids were table games that had an animated dealer. These were impressive in their day but the best was yet to come. The next stage saw roulette and sic bo tables (and even a very strange craps game) which, in the case of roulette, had a mechanically operated roulette wheel and, in the case of sic bo, had three real dice. This allowed players to play table games and bet electronically without any need for human dealers. Manufacturers were getting close to the miracle they were searching for, but there was still something missing.

The casinos were excited because they saw light at the end of the tunnel. Their dream was to offer a cheap to run solution to small stake players who were desperate to play table games. The problem was that animated dealers didn’t cut it for players. It was too much like a computer game. They were there to gamble on table games with real cards and equipment, not computer generated cards that resulted in computer-generated results. The mechanical roulette and sic bo was an improvement for the players, but you could only offer so many terminals for each machine if the players wanted to watch the ball roll and the dice jump around. The other massive problem for Macau was this technology didn’t offer a baccarat alternative, which was the game that 90 percent of customers wanted to play.

The solution arrived in the style of stadium gaming and with both the player and casinos seemingly besotted it’s safe to say that stadium hybrids are here to stay. Stadium gaming provides a real baccarat, roulette and sic bo experience but with the opportunity for many players to place bets on the one game from their individual electronic terminals. The name “stadium style gaming” comes from the fact that the seats and terminals surround the table, like in a stadium, with players able to watch the action in real time as the game is being run with real cards and dealers. Players can deposit notes into the terminal, place their bets, get paid by voucher and bet at a level they feel comfortable with.

The market leaders in this technology are LT Game, who have become one of the real movers and shakers by making stadium style gaming an attractive proposition for everyone involved. LT Game first hit the Macau stadium style gaming market in a big way when they installed hundreds of machines at Kampek Paradise Casino in 2007. To this day, Kampek Paradise Casino boasts the largest number of stadium terminals of any casino in Macau with the capacity to seat 685 players at any one time. However, it wouldn’t be until 2011 that LT Game really began to move mountains in the gaming landscape with four more casinos coming on board including Sands Macau and possibly the best-known stadium of them all at the Venetian.

With 2,694 terminals throughout Macau, the numbers are staggering and it’s amazing to think just how quickly hybrids have managed to take hold given they were a rare commodity a few short years ago. These numbers are only going to increase. Stadiums allow the casinos to make more money and low limit players to play their favourite games without affecting the players who prefer to play on standard tables.

Hybrids are never going to replace traditional table games. People will always enjoy squeezing the cards or sitting next to the roulette wheel waiting for the ball to drop right in front of their eyes. No matter how good you make the alternative, it seldom beats the real thing. But stadium style seating certainly fills a void and with issues such as the Macau table cap refusing to go away, it could well be the way of the future.

(B – R – S)
Kampek Paradise Casino
8 – 1 – 1
New Century Greek Mythology Casino
1 – 0 – 0
Grandview Casino Macau
2 – 0 – 0
Venetian Macau
6 – 1 – 1
Sands Macau
6 – 1 – 1
City of Dreams
10 – 1 – 1
Sands Cotai Central P5
6 – 1 – 1
Sands Cotai Central P6
6 – 1 – 1
2 – 1 – 1
Venetian Macau Phoenix
4 – 0 – 0
Casa Real Resort
4 – 0 – 0
Grand Emperor
4 – 1 – 1
Wynn Macau
2 – 1 – 1
Hard Rock, City of Dreams
8 – 0 – 0
8 – 0 – 0
4 – 1 – 1

Legend: B=Baccarat, R=Roulette, S=Sic-bo