High-Tech Chips Let Casinos Keep Track of Tables

Feb. 7--GULFPORT -- The chips that gamblers wager bets with are about to become high-tech and in use at a casino near you.

That's the word from John M. Kendall, the owner of Chipco International and Sensynet. Chipco manufactures and sells radio frequency identification chips. Sensynet produces the software and hardware to retrieve and process the radio signals emanating from the chips.

The technology allows casinos to keep real-time track of table game action, quickly assess player points and know that their chips are secure from counterfeit or theft.

Kendall recently told the Mississippi Gaming Commission he expects the use of the chips to become prevalent over the next three years. His company's product is in use in southeast Asia.

"You can tell what the casino's position is on every single table within a matter of seconds on the entire gaming floor," he said in a follow-up interview. "It is what I call transitional technology. Just like ticket-in, ticket-out for slot machines was a transitional technology, radio frequency identification will do that for table games."

Pit bosses, who won't have to estimate drops at the end of the shift because of the new technology, will have more time to focus on customer service and employee training, he said.

The use of radio bandwidths in casino chips is not new, but the technology has improved and become more affordable, Kendall said.

The first chips operated at 125 kilohertz, which had limited commercial applications. Newer chips operate at 13.56 megahertz. Government approvals for use of the bandwidth were resolved in January 2004 when regulators let manufacturers increase the wattage so the technology could be effectively used in casinos.

"This is a magnetic radio frequency, which means it comes up in the air and comes right back down," Kendall said. "It has a very nice mushroom-cloud quality to it. So if I had a stack of chips and I wanted to read that stack and not read the next guy's, 13.56 is a perfect magnetic frequency to read that stack of chips."

Chipco, which began offering the 13.56 chips in 2004, is about to get some competition. Less than two weeks ago, Progressive Gaming and Gaming Partners International announced that a joint partnership would start using the 13.56 megahertz technology.

[Sun Herald, The (Biloxi, MS) (KRT) -- 02/08/06]

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