Category Archives: Casino Management

The greatest game ever

In his book “Succeeding with what you have”, Charles Schwab recounts the following story at one of his mills:

“I had a mill manager who was finely educated, thoroughly capable and master of every detail of the business. But he seemed unable to inspire his men to do their best. “How is it that a man as able as you,” I asked him one day, “cannot make this mill turn out what it should?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “I have coaxed the men; I have pushed them, I have sworn at them. I have done everything in my power. Yet they will not produce.” It was near the end of the day; in a few minutes the night force would come on duty. I turned to a workman who was standing beside one of the red-mouthed furnaces and asked him for a piece of chalk. “How many heats has your shift made today?” I queried. “Six,” he replied. I chalked a big “6” on the floor, and then passed along without another word. When the night shift came in they saw the “6” and asked about it. “The big boss was in here today,” said the day men. “He asked us how many heats we had made, and we told him six. He chalked it down.” The next morning I passed through the same mill. I saw that the “6” had been rubbed out and a big “7” written instead. The night shift had announced itself. That night I went back. The “7” had been erased, and a “10” swaggered in its place. The day force recognized no superiors. Thus a fine competition was started, and it went on until this mill, formerly the poorest producer, was turning out more than any other mill in the plant.

Schwab brilliantly lead the steelworkers into a new game, with a new future. The new game was “beat six heats”, and evidenced by results, the workers found the new game inspiring.

How are you inspiring your casino employees to give of their best and continually up their game?

While you’ve been focusing on creating great casino games, at CHEETEYE, we’ve been focusing on creating great casino performance games. We use dashboards to communicate employee performance in a fun and creative way, thereby motivating and inspiring staff members to constantly improve their individual and team performance. Let the games begin!

casino performance


Measure like Billy Beane

Two quotes to ponder: “To measure is to know,” Lord Kelvin (British mathematical physicist and engineer); and “Knowledge is power,” – Francis Bacon (first English scientist to receive a knighthood).

Casinos that create a culture of measuring, recording and analyzing their data are the ones that will thrive in today’s information revolution. However, capturing measurable information requires the right set of tools.

We’ve spent 7 years creating these necessary tools and at ICE 2014 in London this month, we presented “MI3” to our partners and clients; a strategy to assist users of CHEETEYE to measure, manage and master the vast amount of information being generated at casinos.

Just as Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s became a winning baseball team by applying analytics and new types of metrics to the game, we’re helping casinos manage their data correctly, resulting in:

  • Cost savings of between 10% and 15%
  • Drastically reduced risk in the vulnerable parts of the operations
  • Increased customer engagement, brand loyalty and revenue

For more information on “MI3”, visit us at the World Game Protection Conference in Vegas next week or send an email to

Take a gamble with change

While we’re in that time of the year when change is at the top of most people’s mind, I’m reminded of a famous quote by George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change”.

As I have traveled around the world over the last few years, I have noticed a significant number of surveillance professionals changing their approach to their jobs. They are becoming more aware of the need to grow casino revenues and not only protect them. As a result they are forming closer relationships with their marketing departments and assisting them with their observations and insights. Ultimately, this improves customer satisfaction and increases revenues. Surveillance are the eyes and ears of a casino and can bring a view to marketing that they might be missing. I’ve noticed how this increased collaboration is empowering casinos to engage with their customers more effectively. A true 360 degree view of the customer can be built which enables relevant, targeted marketing which leads to increased customer engagement, brand loyalty and revenue.

Just a few months of immersing yourself in the world of marketing from a surveillance vantage point will be a stimulating experience and will undoubtedly add tremendous value to your casinos marketing efforts. Your personal and department value-add will be impressive and it will definitely be an exciting year as you take a gamble with change.

A note to casino marketers: We will be attending and exhibiting at the Casino Marketing Conference in Las Vegas from the 15th – 17th July, 2014 and our range of casino marketing software will be on show.
A note to surveillance professionals: We will be attending and exhibiting at the World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas from the 24th – 26th February, 2014 and our range of casino protection software will be on show.

We will also be at the following trade shows:
ICE, London, Feb 4-6, 2014
NIGA, San Diego, May 11-14, 2014
G2E Asia, Macao, May 20-22, 2014
G2E, Las Vegas, Sept 30 – Oct 2, 2014

Build a team you can be proud of

In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, he alludes to the fact that businesses become and remain great by getting the right people on the bus; the wrong people off the bus; and the right people in the right seats. However, keeping a handle on employees at a casino becomes difficult because operational hours are not the same as traditional business. Consequently it has become a feedback-deprived place and casinos need to be especially aware of this. It’s easy to miss that employee that goes the extra mile, yet they are the ones that boost productivity, profits, and competitive advantage at no extra cost. A casino that doesn’t recognize and reward engagement and high performance will not have engaged high performers for long. Keeping people in place who aren’t performing is not good for the casino and those who need to improve should be identified, coached, and motivated.

In 2012, HRExaminer wrote that “traditional performance management software based on annual and quarterly reviews, miss the whole rhythm of the business.” They propose systems that allow instantaneous and continuous evaluation as being far more beneficial to businesses. Move on to 2013 and add the continued rise of a fascinating trend called crowdsourcing: the marriage of data from multiple sources e.g. Amazon’s “star rankings”. Today people are making decisions based on feedback from many different people. These crowdsourced conclusions are supplementing “expert” opinions.

Performance assessments need to follow this trend and be based on a continuous stream of information from multiple sources in order to provide a more accurate assessment. Single managers give subjective performance assessments. The missing players in the traditional performance review process are everyone else who comes in contact with the employee.

George Bernard Shaw rightly said that, “Progress is impossible without change”. Casinos that invest time into changing the way they assess performance will keep and attract the high performers and gain a huge competitive advantage.

Swiss army knife for casinos

There was no better place to be last week than in the Swiss capital of Zurich to launch our latest innovation, “Knife”!

Zurich's most famous landmark, Grossmunster Church with its twin spires

Switzerland is the home of the Swiss army knife, a multi-tool that is recognized worldwide for its design and flexibility. The Swiss army knife made sure soldiers were not left stranded on the battlefield. Those involved in casino management often find the “always on” factor of a casino turns it into a business battlefield. CHEETEYE’s Knife will slice and dice your casino operations into graphical components which enable you to identify risk and act immediately. Our vision at CHEETEYE has always been to develop smart software that helps casinos consolidate their data to see anomalies that can’t be easily detected with visual observation e.g. incidents consistently taking place in specific areas, under performing slot machines due to bad lighting or ventilation etc.

Net win per machine & area per day

If you can’t measure, you can’t manage. However, measurement tools need to be easy to read due to the barrage of information we receive daily. Presenting the information correctly is often the key to great measuring. We’ve taken inspiration from books like “Information is beautiful” and talks by John Maeda to make sure we provide our clients with beauty and innovation. Stay beautiful Switzerland!

Dying for education

Without knowing while writing my blog last month, “don’t gamble with education”, a young lady would be fighting for her life a month later because she refused to gamble with her education. Malala Yousafzai, a school student from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as a result of her campaigning for girls’ education. As a father of two girls and founder of non-profit organization, Beyond Education, we’re doing all that we can to support this young lady and her fight for education rights. Right now we’re all hoping for a smooth recovery as she gets expert medical treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi, famously said, “it is not power that corrupts but fear of losing power”. Education is so powerful that it causes a little girl to be such a threat to men with guns! I’ve been fortunate that most of the leaders in my life have never denied my pursuit for education in order to advance my career. Those that did are a distant memory.

If ever there was a campaigner for education in the world of casino protection, it’s Willy Allison. As the “Chief Education Officer” of World Game Protection, he’s once again preparing a five star program for the next World Game Protection Conference. If you have staff that could benefit from further education in the world of casino protection, the M Resort, Las Vegas is the place to be from 25-27th February 2013.

A well educated team is a powerful team. Keep protecting with insight.

My first WGPC in 2010 with Willy on the right

Don’t gamble with education

My daughter and I are coffee shop connoisseurs and had a great time exploring the many London coffee shops during the Olympics. One thing we’ve noticed is how the size of muffins at most coffee shops have slowly decreased. You may not have noticed but many of your favorite products are getting smaller, but the price is not. It’s a marketing technique called “downsizing,” a way of passing on a price increase without technically raising the price.

Starbucks might gamble with the size of their muffins, but one thing they don’t gamble with is the size of their training budget. Starbucks set out in the late 1990’s to create a new training program for its frontline workers that would transform staff self-discipline. Executives felt that in order to justify the high cost of coffee, employees needed to be trained to deliver a bit of joy alongside lattes and muffins. Charles Duhigg in his book “The power of habit”, writes that Starbucks management felt, “if a worker knows how to remain focused and disciplined, even at the end of an eight-hour shift, they’ll deliver the higher class of fast food service that Starbucks customers expect”.

Starbucks spent millions of dollars to come up with a curriculum that would train employees in self-discipline and is one of the reasons why the company is so successful today. Essentially, the curriculum draws on the principle of the cue, routine and reward loop to instill reliable and successful customer service habits in employees for when things get difficult at Starbucks. For example, employees are trained in how to respond to particular cues, such as a screaming customer or a long line at a cash register, with preset routines that are designed to minimize conflict and stress, and maximize customer satisfaction.

The program is not only helping Starbucks with their bottom line, it is also turning out to help the employees in their own lives. As Duhigg explains, “Starbucks—like a handful of other companies—has succeeded in teaching the kind of life skills that schools, families, and communities have failed to provide”. One particular Starbucks employee named Travis Leach—who came to the job with severe self-discipline problems, but who has since been transformed into a very successful individual largely as a result of the training—went so far as to say that “Starbucks is the most important thing that has ever happened to me… I owe everything to this company”.

As a qualified teacher with international teaching experience, training is a big part of our CHEETEYE offering. We see the benefits and so do our students from their comments. If you’re leading a group of people, make sure you don’t gamble with their education. The odds are against you.

Plugging Small Holes for Big Results

With one day to go before the World Game Protection Conference, I began reflecting on some comments made from last year’s conference. One comment that I kept an eye on as I traveled around was the “lack of card control in many casinos“. I was surprised to hear at the conference last year that this is a problem at “many casinos”; and true it is!

Once again, I see that card control is on the agenda and this time at the “Surveillance Directors Meeting” – A 4 hour “closed-door” information & intelligence sharing meeting hosted by Darrin Hoke. Seems to still be a problem …

As a result, CHEETEYE’s Electronic Card Control module will be one of our featured demos at this week’s World Game Protection Expo. If you need to plug this hole at your casino and you’re at the The M Resort in Vegas, pop around and we’ll lead you through a brief demo. This casino software management tool applies strict card control using biometric enabled work flow processes that ensure accountability every step of the way. Strict accountability measures cause people to think twice about cheating and are the first and most important step towards protecting with insight.