Casino management systems have evolved remarkably quickly in recent years, with true technology companies like Playtech emerging as front-runners in a fascinating field. Their Neon product, developed by Playtech’s subsidiary Intelligent Gaming Systems, is now in use by an astonishing number of UK casinos. And a sure sign a of happy customer, a year after implementing Playtech Neon, Grosvenor will be adding the IGS table management system to their suite.
Suzanne Birch, Head of Grosvenor’s Business Project Management Office explained to Casino International how and why they implemented Neon estate-wide.
Casino International: How did you first encounter Neon?
Suzanne Birch: We sent out our requests for proposals, as part of the tender processes. We knew the system we had was not providing what we needed at the time but also wouldn’t be able to deliver the organisations strategic priorities going forward. We went out to market and approached potential providers who came back to us based on their experience, what they had delivered elsewhere, and their ability to deliver for us. We then made a selection based on a ‘best fit’ for a replacement of our current systems and in line with the overall strategic roadmap for our organisation.
CI: What about Neon made it stand out?
SB: The IGS Neon system was UK compliant, whereas a number of other providers were not. So, in terms of cash desk and customer membership systems, it needed to satisfy not only this basic requirement; but also needed to enable the move towards a single account and wallet. This is the ability for customers, whether they play digitally or in our retail business, to move money, in compliance with regulatory requirements, between the two businesses. That’s something that has been very high in terms of our priorities so a key strategic milestone for us. We were unable to deliver on that with our previous systems so we have moved to an alternative that has enabled us to achieve a single account wallet by having an integrated system that links our membership and cash desk facilities across our businesses.
The IGS Neon system, as well as being UK compliant, is a tried-and-tested system, we knew it was up and running with a number of our competitors, and we got feedback from them as to how it was working for them. That was the basis for our selection.
CI: How long have you been running the system?
SB: We completed rollout to the whole estate – in July 2016. It took just over three months to do all 55 of our clubs.
CI: Is the single wallet proving popular?
SB: We haven’t launched that yet – what we have done is to launch the part that deals with membership, so that’s all about getting people through the door and identifying them, the cash desk system, which takes care of our accounting as well as customer care, and our asset control; and lastly, we have the player tracking element, so identifying what our customers are playing so we can reward them or run promotional marketing activity. The single account rollout follows the rollout of these facets of the system to our entire estate before we can progress with the other products IGS offer.
CI: You’re using Playtech’s analytics platform too; casinos generate massive data, but don’t necessarily have the skills to mine that data and get the best out of it, but companies like Playtech are working to make this side of the business much easier and unlocking great value for their customers, I think. What do you think the analytics platform is going to bring to the company?
SB: Certainly it will assist us with more targeted marketing, promotions and loyalty, which ultimately benefits our customers. The analytics platform allows us to reward the right customers at the right time with the right offer, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
The platform can also assist with our efficiencies, as it is able to indicate peak hours of business so at some stage we will be linking this to our table revenue managements system; that’s something we will be working with IGS and Playtech on in the future. That means we can look at table performance, so when it’s busier we know how the tables are performing and we can improve efficiencies and performance. So it’s a two-fold benefit.
Because we can enter the table or and slot results, the platform assists with our analysis of player activity, table performance and identifies hotspots and peak hours of demand. We are currently implementing the IGS table and slot management systems which will manage the estate’s electronic gaming machines and gaming tables. This next step will be complete by mid-2017.
CI: How and where did you trial the system?
SB: We didn’t trial it as such; we tested it thoroughly in a User Acceptance Testing environment. We had 20 or 30 subject matter experts working on different parts of the system to test that it met our requirements, and we then pressed ahead with five clubs. You could say that rolling out to five clubs initially was testing it in a sense, as we then left a short gap between that installation and the rollout to the rest of the estate just to check for any issues we may have missed. The rollout was very quick, 55 properties in three months, but it was dictated by the migration of that data which couldn’t be done on a bit-by-bit basis.
CI: Is the adoption of Playtech’s Neon CMA an indicator of your online strategy going forward?
SB: It’s fair to say that our digital online business is massively in growth. Therefore we need to put things in place both for digital and in retail to support that growth, so the implementation of the single account wallet can only be of benefit and support that online digital strategy.