Google Glass: Friend or Foe?

Back in April I was reading a story about Google Glass and the new platform’s amazing capabilities. I was captivated. A light bulb went off in my little mind as I thought about the possibilities it could offer the gaming industry. I was excited enough to run the idea past several entrepreneurial types I know and respect to see if they were looking into it. They were of the mind that the product needed to be fully rolled out and tested before it could be considered. That seemed strange to me as entrepreneurs are generally big risk takers. I guess I was thinking about that first-to-market kind of stuff.

Then in the June 7 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there was an article titled “Las Vegas Casinos and Others Ban Gamblers from Using Google Glass” that might have burst my Google Glass bubble if I didn’t have a little gaming history under my belt.

Bill validators were a new technology for slot machines once. Now they’re commonplace and experiencing competition from new technologies such as account-based wagering. That’s why the validator manufacturers are clamoring to diversify in new areas of technology that address payment processing and, in some cases, completely new areas of product and service.

TITO, a not-so-distant cousin to the bill validator, was merely once a novel idea until an engineer envisioned the possibilities and put the idea into play. What happened next is that TITO revolutionized player behavior, slot accounting and the cage, but, alas, TITO is now seeing the possibilities of account-based wagering and i-gaming as the next emerging competitors to its finite market.

Server-based gaming was first deployed in the Class II and video lottery markets. The technology was clearly tested and proven, and considered old hat in those environments. After more than a decade of rumblings about it being next year’s latest and greatest idea to become reality in commercial slots and Class III machines, it did finally happen, although it has yet to really wow casino management in the ways that were promised.

Implementations of new gaming ingenuities usually happen too slowly for Type A personalities such as mine. Regulations can be seen as the culprit, but they are really the gaming industry’s saving grace. Like many of you, I am a technology junkie. It’s so cool and makes possible so many new capabilities. I never have a cellphone or tablet more than a year. I can’t resist the temptation of having the latest and greatest. In between the time I had my first Android smartphone and my new Samsung Note II, I purchased a top-of-the-line Blackberry. I was impressed with the trackball for almost half a day before more utilitarian necessities required me to sync it with my Exchange server. It sorta worked but mostly didn’t. I wasn’t happy, but I was only out a few hundred bucks.

I have always been the kind of guy who has to be one of the first to install new operating systems on my PCs and Macs. Like many of us Type A’s, I learned the hard way more than once that I would prefer to have others be the O/S guinea pigs as the level of reliability required rose with the level at which I was deploying the technology.

Gaming regulation is crucial to protecting an enormous industry that many depend on. The stakes are too high to screw around with merely novel ideas. Yes, the gaming industry usually lags behind other industries with technological advancements and deployment. Yes, that’s due to a complicated and slow regulatory process. And yes, it’s a good thing.

No doubt about it, Google Glass is way cool. Does it have application in casinos? Mark my words—we will eventually see Google Glass or a later incarnation of it as a gaming platform in casinos. It solves the not- so-mobile dilemma of mobile gaming. It works with the B.Y.O.D. (bring your own device) concept for casinos, a concept by which patrons will download a gaming app and play. It can and will deploy i-gaming. Mobile technology in the gaming environment is clearly an interesting idea, but I have had some reservations. It’s sort of in the stages of the portable brick phone we saw Gordon Gecko using while walking down the beach in one of the last scenes of the movie “Wall Street.”

So Google Glass: friend or foe? Like all technologies, a little of both.

Peter Mead,
Casino Enterprise Management