September 10, 2007

Sports Wagering Kiosk

Nice reference story "blast from the past" with 2004 story on Wagering stations for Vegas. The latest iteration is the Hooters iteration.

Sports Wagering Kiosk launched by ISI

It's a curiosity that in Las Vegas " a 24-hour town " there is no 24-hour sports book. Fans have had to limit their sports betting to the limited hours the books are open. That is changing, with the advent of the Sports Kiosk.

For the past five years, Internet Sports International Ltd. (ISI) has been working to perfect a sports gaming kiosk that is fan friendly and economically efficient for the domestic and international markets. After testing, tweaking and customer use in select sites, the sports gaming kiosks have been placed throughout the Las Vegas Valley, with particular emphasis in major casino sports books. This action was taken in conjunction with Las Vegas based and publicly traded American Wagering Inc. (Symbol - BETMQ).

William Stearns, ISI president, announces the kiosk allows sports bettors to place wagers on a myriad of sporting events 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

"ISI has developed a system that is user friendly and fast, allowing the bettor access to the same services he would expect at a window in any sports book in town," Stearns says. "The kiosk will be available in convenient locations in the casino and will be able to handle bets at any time, day or night. When overflow occurs during high betting periods, subjecting the bettor to the stress of not knowing if he will make the window before the last bet can be placed, it will be comforting to know that the sports gaming kiosk will be there for quick action."

Ernest C. Matthews, an attorney and co-owner of ISI, believes the design of the device enhances the ease of use for both the young and old bettor.

"We made the kiosk so that someone with some computer literacy would have fun accessing sports gaming," Matthews says. "Importantly, the technical folks over at AWI worked with us to develop a system that will make those less experienced - or with no computer experience at all - have a great time using the kiosk. During our test phase, we watched people of all legal ages step up to the kiosk and place bets with no problems in the least."

In addition to being user friendly, Matthews talks about the integrity of the system that has been developed to link the kiosks with the sports book operations.

"The kiosk has integrated a security system that ensures that the person placing the wager is the person registered with an account at that particular sports book," he says. "It was an essential component from the standpoint of the regulatory concerns expressed as the machine was being testing."

In fact, it was the regulatory issues that presented the most complicated challenges for ISI and American Wagering. Tim Lockinger, chief financial officer of AWI, says gaming regulators had to be confident that the kiosk could not be tampered with in any way that would allow for illegal gaming activities to be engaged when using the devise.

"We were provided a series of tests where the gaming regulators intentionally attempted to abuse the kiosk and its systems in a way to gain an illegal advantage or to perform an illegal action through the use of the kiosk.," Lockinger says. "We passed the test while retaining its essential user friendly features."

Stearns confirmed the official deployment of the kiosks began in January, after final passage of the regulatory tests.

"Currently, more than 15 sports books have accepted and installed the betting device for their customers," he says. "One location was so remote that the device will present the first opportunity for the locals there to participate in a hands-on sports book activity. The small casino and its patrons are very happy."

ISI has been working on a sports package overlay that will allow kiosk customers to access not only sports gaming but also sports information, handicapping services, sports memorabilia and even golf course reservations.

"We have worked out an agreement with some of the area's top golf courses to allow customers in the sports book or around the casino floor to conveniently place tee-time reservations through the kiosk network," Matthews says. "If the golfer is not familiar with a particular course, we have video data available to give him or her a better idea of the challenge ahead before the reservation is made."

Stearns believes the one-stop sports shop will be attractive for the casinos and their customers. In fact, to add to the information available to the kiosk customers, ISI has negotiated a horseracing component through a local company that provides archived race videos.

"This will allow a horse player to analyze a particular horse's past performance when making a bet on an upcoming race," he says.

Stearns says he is delighted that a number of services have been negotiated as add-ons, such as casinos selling tickets to their special events and shows through the kiosks.

"We want the casinos to consider our sports gaming kiosk to be another efficient "employee," providing numerous services that will make their guests' stay more enjoyable," he says.

This component has been given to AWI to go through the approval process before the Nevada Gaming Commission.
"Although we don't anticipate any problems, we want to go through the appropriate regulatory steps before releasing this additional service to the public," Lockinger says. "We think that this service will make the kiosks even more popular."

Other products being designed for the Nevada market include a sit-down kiosk that includes a built-in television monitor, a unit that already has regulatory approval.

Additionally, an in-room unit has been developed that will allow a hotel guest to place a sports wager from the comfort of his/her room once an account has been opened. This device has a fingerprint security system to keep unauthorized betters from using the unit. Stearns said this protective system -- will keep a dad from learning that his minor son had placed a bet in the room while the dad was away.

ISI also has negotiated with a computer tablet company to put its software on walk-around units. "If approved, casinos can give their high rollers the device as a courtesy to place sports bets while they walk around the casino floor, playing blackjack or sitting by the pool," Matthews says. "For others, the casino would charge a per-hour fee."

The second stage of development for ISI is in the international markets, according to Matthews.

"Once we have our kiosks in place and operational in Nevada, we intend to expand into other jurisdictions where sports gaming is legal," he says. "We wanted to have the entire network withstand the rigors of gaming commission approval in the most professional and highly regulated market we would find. If we were able to do it in Nevada, we would be able to take our system anywhere."

Matthews points out that the expansion would occur through company owned subsidiaries or through licensing agreements in the future, depending on the political climate and opportunity presented by each new jurisdiction.

ISI was formed in 1998, and has brought together certain strategic investors. Shareholders include one of the country's leading kiosk manufacturers (Kiosk Information Systems), a software systems developer and kiosk manufacturer Netbooth, and a partnership made up of experienced casino developers, operators and owners, in addition to Stearns and Matthews.

"We were able to survive some really shaky economic times in 2001 and 2002, when venture capital dried up completely, through hard work and the contributions of our strategic partners," Stearns says.

American Wagering operates under gaming licenses issued by Nevada's gaming authorities. Other companies owned by American Wagering include Leroy's Horse and Sports Place, operator of the largest number of sports books in the state; Computerized Bookmaking Systems; and Contest Sports Systems Inc.

Posted by staff at September 10, 2007 03:06 PM