The Merits of TITO for Table Games

TITO (ticket-in, ticket-out system) isn't a new concept for the gaming industry. I can't recall any reference from Kilby's Casino Operations Management but the Gaming Auditorium mentioned TITO back in 2003. It's used overwhelmingly on "the machines" - slots, video poker and keno, ETGs. Major adoption on table games doesn't seem to have yet taken place. I think this move is inevitable for modern facilities to stay competitive. TITO for table games (ticket-in, ticket-out) leans a casino operation in the best possible way.
tito for table games
Image credit FutureLogic, Inc.

How does it work?

Devices to print and read tickets, plus read players' club cards, are outfitted to existing tables. FutureLogic is big into this but there are also some other options. And now through a simple touchscreen interface:
  • When players are leaving the table, the dealer prints them a ticket.
  • Surveillance can see everything that goes on with the ticket units - the UI was designed with this in mind.
  • Guests can buy into a table with either cash or a ticket.
  • To ultimately convert a ticket to cash, one would go to a cashout kiosk. Exactly like slot play.
That's the gist of it.

Upside

Reduced staffing costs

When you replace live table games with ETGs, you directly eliminate staff. Dealers and their floors, plus reduce the aggregate labor of surveillance, security, and all staff up the command chain in gaming. TITO on table games doesn't directly eliminate anyone but does impact the amount of labor employees need to perform. Ultimately this could reduce staffing costs:
  • Responsibilities at the cage decrease. In an environment where all machines are already on TITO, it's typical to have terminals (similar to ATMs) set up for cash payouts. Guests take their tickets to these machines, they're scanned in, cash is dispensed. The majority of table game players would now also be using these machines. Instead of taking cheques to the cage and going through that process of cashing out, it's now straightforward as putting a ticket into a machine. Cashier positions could be trimmed.
  • Responsibilities of security decrease. With less cheques actually leaving the table, frequency of fills decreases. This decrease could possibly be quite drastic. When a fill has to be performed, the table game comes to grinding halt. A security person has to stand there while the dealer breaks everything down, fills out the paperwork. A sharp decrease in the frequency of fills allows security to be better utilized elsewhere, at least.
    Image source - HotelMule.com
    Image source - HotelMule.com

Increased revenue per table

What's the holy metric of table game revenue? Hands per hour. Get more decisions through the table per hour, statistical magic occurs, and the house makes more money. TITO on table games allows for -
  • Less frequent fills and credits. As already mentioned, less cheques traveling to or from the tables means less fills and less credits. Possibly pushing both to near extinction. Right now, these procedures are always necessary on the busiest of tables - it's the nature of the transactions. They stop the game for precious minutes and make everyone unhappy. This is one scenario where operators can make the guest happier while also increasing revenue.
  • Color ups are drastically reduced. 9 times out of 10, a color up is performed because the guest is leaving the table. They need a convenient way to bring their money to the cage or a different game - one $500 cheque is easier to carry than 100 $5 cheques. Whenever a dealer colors up, they have to call the floor. Sometimes it's busy and this is a long and drawn-out process. Now when players are leaving, they get a ticket. Floor comes and approves it quickly. Everyone is on their way, the game's running again.
  • Speedier buy-in process. Whereas before every player buying in on a table would be doing so with cash, now a good deal might be doing it with tickets. This cuts out the breaking down of the bills for surveillance. It's also easier for floors to verify and approve a ticket than a bunch of cash laid out.

Better player tracking

Tracking money flow between tables becomes a whole lot easier. Say Jim buys in at Spanish 21 403 with $500. After 20 minutes he doesn't like the dealer, so he gets a ticket for $390 and goes to Spanish 21 404. Leaves that later with $250 and decides for some twisted reason to play Let It Ride. Etcetera etcetera. This moving around is all easily tracked. It could mean collecting some information on an unknown player, or automatically tracking someone enrolled in the loyalty club. What if a player's loyalty card info is automatically attributed to their ticket? When Jim jumps tables, the ticket scanner at each table knows it's him. His rewards card was attributed to these tickets and he gets migrated right over in Synkros. TITO on every game encourages it player tracking to a new extent.

Improved inventory control

In a product business the ultimate inventory is minimal inventory - eliminating as much as possible between the manufacturer and end user. To a certain extent, table games can come across like a product-based business. The product is cheques. The back-and-forth flow between tables and the cage is a non-value-added activity paid for in operational resources. With TITO on tables, that flow becomes close to non-existent. Tickets leave the tables instead of cheques. Stockpiling inventory can also provide a buffer for operational issues, making them more difficult to detect. At the tables, a strictly controlled inventory allows for discrepancy to be spotted faster.
  • Minimize resource requirements, lower costs
  • Reduced chips at the tables
  • Cheque inventory now mostly constrained to the tables

Possibilities for crossover play

Crossover play becomes simplified and more natural with TITO on all casino games. Currently, if a guest has been playing video keno and now wants to play craps, they have to take their ticket to a cashout kiosk or the cage, exchange it back to cash, then buy-in on the table. With a common medium, everything's streamlined and I'd imagine this encourages cross-over play. A gaming spree can now involve a single buy-in event instead of two or more.
Slots TITO
Image source - Slots.com

Downside?

  • Technically Synkros can print tickets from the tables now. However that's not set up to handle the transaction volume a full TITO for table games conversion would bring. Plus I doubt many properties have printing equipment hooked up to their Synkros terminals.
  • Table hold will be affected, obviously. This isn't a bad thing but would need to be accounted for.
  • While training staff to use the systems is easy due to simple UI, it may take some getting used to on the part of guests. I could see some senior regulars becoming distraught.
  • It's potentially easier to misplace a ticket than cash or cheques.
Unhappy casino guest
What makes guests unhappier - getting used to new TITO or long fills and lines for the cage? (Image source - Casino Top 10)
Ultimately I adore this concept. The sooner a property makes these upgrades, the sooner they can reap the benefits.