by Stal Herz - 01/13/2006
Just as most entertainment has gone from 'view only' to interactive for the consumer, the business of sports gambling is doing the same. Debuting this year at the Palms casino in Las Vegas will be enhanced betting, allowing gamblers in the casino to bet on the action of the game while it's going on.
You heard right. In the past, gamblers only had the option to put down their money and wait until time ticked away to see if they had the goose with the golden egg or to see if just got goosed. Now the adrenaline rush continues throughout the game with possibilities that MasterCard would be jealous of.
Imagine watching a baseball game and betting on each at-bat. You can be Maddux-like with little scorecards on each match-up and put your loot sack down accordingly. Who hits Clemens the hardest? Can Prince Albert get that double and hit for the cycle? Is Pedro gassed (Grady Little put your hand down, we see you in the back of the classroom).
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The Palms Casino is operated by the Maloof brothers, who also own the Sacramento Kings and are part of the new breed of sports moguls that grew up rescuing the princess and warping to different levels while watching the last of the analogue 80's sports dynasties. This is the new Vegas, baby, where casinos can no longer turn huge profits by simply opening their doors and asking people to sit still and gamble.
This is the fantasy age, where we want to feel touchdowns and first downs just like the pros. It is a level of control and interactivity that is reaching across all mediums.
Rich Baccellieri, the Race and Sports Book Manager for the Palms, is ecstatic about the possibilities that enhanced betting is going to bring. "It's really an innovative system," beams Baccellieri, a Las Vegas institution in his own right. "How many times have you been sitting there with a buddy saying 'I bet he gets a hit' or 'No way he makes this first down!'? Well, now you can make that hope a reality."
Progressive Gaming International, the creators of the enhanced betting program Rapid Game Live, hope to have their license go through in time for a beta test during the Super Bowl week, where people will be allowed to bet real time on touch screens with countless available options during the games.
While Las Vegas continues to loose millions of dollars each year to online sportsbooks, it does not have to mean the end of the Casino. In fact, often in times of economic challenges is when the greatest innovations arise. Necessity brings about creativity. What the Palms is trying to do is create an environment where both virtual and in-house betting can co-exist with one another.
What all this really means is that Vegas will start to offer more entertainment packages and make it more about enjoying the entire experience of gambling rather than just the money. Since money is the thing that drives most of us during the day, our escape should be based in some form of fantasy that puts the gambler in the middle of the action.
Enhanced Betting is the logical next step in Las Vegas sports betting.
Although already legal in Europe, the Palms debut is the first rise of the curtain in America for the new Kong of the gambling world. The initial plan is to have a testing area of 12 screens where people can bet the games in progress. Depending on the response of the public as well as how well the applications work, the increase of spaces will grow.
There is no doubt that within the next 10 years, gambling rooms with enhanced betting stations will be filling the Strip much the same way slot machines do today. Cocktail waitresses might be making big tips if they arrive at the right moment. Games like this allow for the customer to stay at the casino for longer and take breaks from table games to sit down, have a drink, and still be able drop in and out of the action.
The virtual age demands that institutions adapt or face extinction, and this means appealing to a wider demographic of customers who live with computers and feel the need to click away every few seconds.
You can be sure that the success of enhanced betting will bring back the gimmicks and showmanship that made the city a fantasy world for those who struggle to exist in the real one.