Card Dealers, Baristas, and Robots

CoffeeHandAndRobot

There's an interesting bunch of jobs that can be easily replaced by robots... but won't.

Running casino games. Making and selling coffee. It's really easy to automate those into oblivion, putting a lot of people out of a job.

I foresee technology entering these realms, for sure, but not truly replacing people.

My related background

I went to blackjack school, am certified to deal casino games, and did that on graveyard shift a whole summer. Respect your dealers because they put up with some serious shit. For the longest time I also thought my destiny was being a C-suite gaming executive.

Related post: The Perfect Casino

On the other hand, I have a bachelor's degree in computer science, taught myself web development, and have since held a slew of technical positions. Currently I'm a software engineer at Lockheed Martin focusing on unmanned systems.

Why not entirely replace these jobs

Surely replacing all of the humans with robots would do wonders for the bottomline, right?

Wrong. While you'd save payroll expenses, I suspect there would be a dive in revenue.

People don't just go to Starbucks for coffee and free WiFi. They don't just sit at the Turning Stone blackjack tables to play blackjack.

Starbucks and casinos are experience businesses. There's hospitality involved.

As our world gets more cold and mechanical, people will pay a premium to interact with - take a guess - other people!

If you want a $1 cup of coffee, head to McDonald's.

If you want to gamble pennies with a machine, head for slots and/or Resorts World New York.

Resorts World circa April 2013
Resorts World circa April 2013

The point

The same people who want these...

CheapCoffeeCheapGambling

... are not the same people who want these...

PricierCoffeePricierGambling

The middle ground

Technology can open up a middle ground. Actually, I'd say it already has.

Let It Ride is a total pain in the ass to deal. It wouldn't be possible without an automatic shuffler, and this little computer built into the table which helps track payouts.

Adding ticket in, ticket out (TITO) technology to table games would maximize the time dealers can actually deal their games instead of farting around with chip/cash exchanges.

Related post: The Merits of TITO for Table Games

But for the best example, look to the gaming paradise of Macau. The Asian Las Vegas.

They have traditional table games there with a human dealer and about six seats. Average minimum per hand of blackjack is equal to $36, I've heard.

What about people who want to play blackjack for less? There are these setups with 50 seats to 1 dealer. People sit down at these terminals that show the dealer's cards, and their cards are virtual. The minimum per hand is closer to $1.

Image credit - CalvinAyre.com
Image credit - CalvinAyre.com

Now you're catering to guests who don't want to spend as much per hand, or maybe don't want as much social intimacy, however they still want to play blackjack.

Briefly addressing the barista example - I'm guessing a lot of the mechanics behind Starbucks' counters involve some degree of automation. More efficient machinery allows a greater number of customers to be served by the same number of baristas.

Conclusion

McDonald's and Starbucks have different clientele for coffee. I've written before how McDonald's is going to be fully automated, and the corporation will have the last laugh on $15/hr fast food workers in New York state.

If Resorts World New York and Turning Stone were somehow in the same town, they'd have different clientele for gaming. At Resorts World everything's a machine. Even roulette and craps.

Image credit - JustLuxe
Image credit - JustLuxe

As unmanned systems become more prevalent in person-facing businesses, experiences and human employees will fetch a premium.

In those cases, management will want to make sure those employees have the tools to be as efficient as possible.

i.e. ticket in, ticket out for gaming tables would increase hands per hour and drive greater revenue at the same payroll costs