by Judi Kelly
Imagine a game that has the traditional qualities of roulette - the
same odds, a real roulette wheel and dealer - the game of pure chance
and excitement of the ball landing on a winning number. Add dedicated
touchscreen terminals and extended betting features incorporated in
a clever, imaginative patent application lodged in countries around
the world - and the results are extraordinary.
The new game of Rapid Roulette has been operating at Melbourne's Crown
Casino for the past few months, attracting queues of both table game
and slot players - and all the while, exceeding profitability of their
American Roulette tables by more than 75%.
Rapid Roulette's benefits have a flow-on effect. The compact unit reduces
labour overheads for the casino by increasing the number of betting
positions for each game. As it's semi-automated, there is optimal game
play, with the spin rate jumping from an average 36 games per hour to
45. Floor space is also maximized, offering a modular choice of six
to 24 terminals per game.
Indeed, profitability is not the only reason to explain Rapid Roulette's
winning streak. Players can also bet on slot options such as mystery
jackpots, progressives - and even quinellas and trifectas, if they're
racing enthusiasts. Perhaps most importantly, initial indications at
Crown's 350 table, 2500 slot complex show that the players have taken
to the game with an absolute passion.
Following the spectacular success of Rapid Roulette game in Australia,
Crown Casino and video gaming company StarGames are preparing themselves
for a global assault of the casino market.
Essentially, Rapid Roulette combines mechanical table gaming with the
latest electronic technology to offer the player a multitude of familiar
betting options as an adjunct to the century-old game of roulette.
Rapid Roulette is a simple solution to the on-going battle for casino
operators to attract players away from the slots and back to the table.
Increased attraction of table games
"Rapid Roulette is the first game to apply our patented concept of a
table game combined with electronic betting features for the player,"
said Andrew MacDonald, Executive General Manager of Table Game Operations
at Crown Casino. "Roulette is a single result and has the high odds
and payback volatility of gaming machines, and therefore attracts slot
"In addition, roulette has the ability to cover multiple bet options
for a wager like a slot machine, and from a player's perspective there's
a level of skill - even though it's a game of pure chance.
"Having spent some 20 years as a casino executive on the gaming floor,
we also know a lot of our slot players like the game of roulette," he
MacDonald investigated the prospects of semi-automation, full automation
or chip-in-chip developments, which allows the operator to track the
players and calculate turnover.
The perfect opportunity to develop the new game came about through ,
an Australian public company focused on the manufacture of video games
and new opportunities. StarGames had already developed a fully automated
roulette game known as Aussie Roulette using touchscreen technology
and a central controller.
Crown, cognizant of its management agreement in Victoria, required a
semi-automated game, so that it could be classified as a single table
as opposed to a multi-terminal slot machine.
"A fully automated roulette game is classified as a multi-terminal gaming
machine, here in Victoria. Each terminal represents one slot, which
is effectively a graphic representation of the live game," explained
"Our game of Rapid Roulette is different. We use a real roulette wheel
and a real dealer. However, we have an advantage in that we automate
the bet process, and add extra functionality.
" Players can place their own bets via their own terminal. They don't
have to place their chips on a table and find that some other player
has grabbed their winnings," he added.
Melbourne's Crown Casino, the largest casino in the southern hemisphere,
has a license for 350 table games and 2500 slots.
In March 1999 the project was approved to reverse engineer Aussie Roulette,
and the Victorian regulators were supportive of the concept, particularly
with regard to its security aspects from an audit point of view.
The mechanical and manual processes associated with traditional roulette
no longer apply - although the dealer is still critical to the game.
Crown was involved with the streamline gaming controller, interface
to the dealer and casino management system. StarGames refined the automated
transaction station, touchscreen monitor and central controller.
In simple terms, it's like a routing operation. The roulette dealer
receives cash from the player, enters the amount at the streamline gaming
controller which is transferred to the central controller. Within a
matter of seconds the information is processed and posted as a credit
back to the player's terminal station.
The entire development, including a full six months of dedicated teamwork
to reverse engineer and develop the game as semi-automated with dealer
components, was an astoundingly short one year.
Testing agency BMM International checked the first complete unit at
Crown's training school, where it was approved in the first quarter
Rapid Roulette at Crown, with 12 betting stations, is classified as
a single table game according to the regulatory authorities in Victoria.
The joint venture patent involving Crown and Stargames specifies that
the game is based on the "dealer-determined game, dedicated to electronic
betting at the table...".
The game was first tested at the casino in early June by means of a
challenge tournament with 576 selected Crown players competing for a
$100,000 prize pool. This was followed by an invitation only celebrity
evening with around 400 participants, which was covered by TV.
Four units, each with 12 player stations, went live two weeks later
in mid June. Limits were progressively increased from a $2 minimum outlay
as players became more familiar with its functionality and the game
increased in popularity.
"We are still experimenting with different limits from $1 to $20, to
establish the best mix," said
Date Posted: 30-Oct-2000
KellyCom Pty. Ltd