The Green Gaming Floor of the Future

I’ve seen the future of gaming! I don’t mean to say that I understand all the ins and outs of all casinos-to-be, but I do understand what the gaming floor will look like. This is something that the Sustainable Gaming Standards Committee discusses each time we meet. As an interdisciplinary team, our long-term goal is to bring large-scale sustainability to the industry in a way that makes it easy for all to participate and, more importantly, to realize the cost savings associated with these initiatives.

Our first task as a committee is to come up with an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard for the sustainable development of electronic gaming machines. Our initial goal is to decrease the energy usage of these machines by 50 percent within five years. As more and more prime real estate on the gaming floor is taken over by electronic gaming machines—roulette, poker and blackjack, among other games—reducing their energy usage will result in a great cost reduction for the total floor. What would it mean to your operational budget if half of your casino floor’s energy bill was gone forever?

As we look at the casino floor of the future, it’s easy to see that electronic gaming machines, from typical slot machines to server-based games to electronic table games and more, will take up the majority of casinos’ floor space—and will one day replace the majority of the traditional table games. This is the logical progression of technology, and it will allow for greater casino floor operational cost reductions. Unfortunately, it seems obvious that these cost reductions will come at the expense of jobs (e.g., dealers).

One company that seems to be leading the industry in “greening” the gaming floor is IGT. According to Chrisie Yabu, senior marketing rep and Green Team member, “IGT’s newer machines are SMIBless, which means there is less hardware needed by allowing the game CPU to deploy [the] Service Window and player tracking instead of using secondary hardware devices that emit energy.” In addition, IGT is introducing virtualization technologies (e.g., VMware) that decrease the server hardware needed to test and run the system. This results in energy efficiency through server consolidation and the dynamic management of computer assets across a pool of servers.

By reducing the amount of energy used on your floor, you are impacting your bottom line directly at your point of sale. This also gives you the opportunity to begin to educate players about your sustainable energy use where they already love to hang out—and spend money. Stakeholder involvement is crucial to the businesses of the future, especially public companies, whose S&P rating is based on stakeholder value, not shareholder value. The difference is that stakeholder value includes economic, social and environmental factors and benefits, instead of just economic ones.

Casinos of the future also need sustainable leaders in addition to traditional leaders. This new discipline will need to be effectively explained and taught to all stakeholders. The better the buy-in from your players and front-line staff, the better your green initiatives will stick and spread throughout your organization.

Putting a chief sustainability officer (CSO) in place will benefit your organization in a multitude of ways. By creating an executive-level position that is responsible solely for sustainability, you are making a commitment to your future. A successful CSO will take the executive team’s green visions and turn them into reality through innovative operational cost reductions. These cost reductions will improve profit margins in times of flat or declining revenues.

Addressing inefficiencies in energy usage is a much more creative and long-term way to “find more operational dollars” than layoffs or early retirement packages. The organizations that inherently understand this concept will have better-performing buildings and better-performing employees. These are the same organizations that are currently leading the pack in sustainability initiatives.

The Role of the CSO
Every company needs to take a different approach to sustainability, because every company has its own distinctive core values and strategic direction. In order to drive business growth and increase profitability within this unique corporate culture, the CSO must integrate business objectives with corporate, social and environmental responsibility. To achieve this goal, the CSO must address a number of sustainability issues:

• Environmental risk management
• Resource conservation and management
• Waste reduction
• Product stewardship and lifecycle footprints
• New green product lines or services
• Community involvement and volunteerism
• Green communications, reporting and marketing strategy
• Employee transportation plans and incentives

The role of the CSO is challenging and complex. The person holding the position must be creative and innovative in order to reconcile short-term goals with the long-term strategy of the company. This requires not only the educational background and technical knowledge required to achieve environmental sustainability but also the ability to lead and inspire others in order to affect change.

This role requires someone who is not afraid to take risks and who also has the ability to facilitate action, create consensus and drive culture change for the organization. These functions require a person who is able to multi-task and be an efficient project manager. This person must be a sustainability champion who integrates environmental thinking into every department, group and individual within a company.

Green Strategies
Other ways to become more green on your gaming floor might include placing recycling receptacles in convenient locations on the gaming floor and throughout the property; using a high-efficiency cooling system; or using paints or stains with no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Just like more-sustainable electronic gaming machines, eco-friendly gaming tables are also are point-of-sale sustainability opportunities. These tables allow you to start a conversation with your players about sustainability and its importance to your facility while they are doing what they love to do at your property—playing blackjack, poker or any other table game.

If you engage your stakeholders in this discussion, you will achieve better buy-in from them as your sustainability changes are made. Some organizations have started “Green Teams” to address some of these issues, but the ball usually gets dropped when it comes to community involvement. Allowing your players to be part of this discussion transforms them from “outside” players to “internal” gaming champions for your property. And can you ever really have too many champions for the causes you believe are important, especially if they will save you money?

The ability to engage your stakeholders in conversations about making your property more efficient, while sharing with them the successes that you have had, will give you the confidence to take on more and more complex energy conservation measures (ECMs). Moving from the low-hanging fruit on your energy tree to the most tasty and rewarding fruit will take time, but it is the natural progression up the sustainability continuum.

After you put down this article, I urge you to take action. Talk with your company, employees or bosses, and implore them to take part in the development of sustainable standards for the gaming industry. Join the Sustainable Gaming Standards Committee’s voting committee or simply learn more about the process until you are comfortable enough to participate. Support the cause in whatever way you can, be it financial, educational or otherwise. By taking action now, we can make our industry more sustainable for the future.

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