When Billy MacLellan and Richard Cone founded Bet Rite in 2009 as a way to leverage their collective experience in the gaming industry – they had already garnered much success with their respective businesses, Macklyn Casino Services and Progressive Gaming Consulting – the pair had no idea that just over a decade later the world would be shunning previously sought-after social experiences like those found in casinos.
COVID-19, of course, had hit. Mirroring the shift in other industries around the world, the company’s vendors scrambled to update their product lines to reflect the growing needs of the gaming industry, first as it prepared to shut down in early 2020 and then some months later as its members looked toward reopening. MacLellan and the Bet Rite team (Cone had since stepped back from his responsibilities at the organization and is currently enjoying retirement) took a proactive approach and worked with their suppliers to brainstorm ways to stay active as the world shrieked to a standstill.
Gauging the industry’s temperature
One such innovation was a recently launched body temperature kiosk which Bet Rite developed with one of their Hong Kong partners that specializes in touchscreens. Their main concern was making the product easy to set up and use right out of the box, and after going back and forth with the supplier for about a month, Bet Rite had an innovation that they were confident would help gaming facilities as they reopen their doors – with the potential to expand into other sectors, too.
The benefits of the technology are twofold, explains MacLellan. “A lot of our [casino operator] customers are considering having their staff use it, to get their temperatures checked before starting their workday, which is important in keeping not only staff safe and healthy but also the [casino’s] customers,” he says. “On the other side, [casino guests] want to make sure they are coming into a facility that has stepped up and are doing the right things to make it safe for them to gamble on their property.” The tablets include facial recognition technology for staffing purposes and data is stored locally or in a network for a standard 60 days, though the length of time can be adjusted depending on needs and storage space.
The company has so far shipped 10 units to Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Canada, where they will be used to monitor the body temperature of staff and guests entering and leaving the facility, and they are also working with a manufacturing company to get 25 pieces of the technology into its plant to monitor the health of employees. Bet Rite has also approached partners in the apartment and building ownership sectors to see if there is a fit – and MacLellan is, no pun intended, betting there is.
Staying in the game
Though MacLellan admits COVID-19 has thrown the industry for a loop, he feels Bet Rite is in a good position, having established long-term relationships with many of its suppliers and customers. One silver lining is that several of Bet Rite’s products are perfectly transferable and, in fact, beneficial to gaming operators looking to reopen safely and quickly as restrictions are lifted. For instance, the tap technology utilized by Crane Payment Innovations (CPI) follows the cashless and contactless payment trend, Transact’s Clean2Play provides a ticket that alerts guests the machine they are about to use has been recently cleaned, and Bet Rite’s slot bank lifter helps staff reorganize floor plans to account for social distancing. Pristine-Screen, another Bet Rite product taken on by Fallsview Casino, is a sanitizer spray for electronic table games that provides a protective, germ-killing barrier that lasts five to seven days. This service can even be completed by Bet Rite representatives, so as to not burden casino staff on the floor.
But some companies have had to pivot to stay relevant. Bet Rite’s sign manufacturing partners have adjusted their current offerings to be applicable in a post-COVID world, introducing plexi-protective panels that can be added between slot machines, cash machines, and kiosks, and endcaps that can be modified to house personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves, as well as hand sanitizers and wipes. By providing a level of flexibility and the ability to retrofit certain solutions, Bet Rite offers casino operators peace of mind that their initial post-COVID-19 investment can be reused in a different capacity when things eventually return to “normal.”
MacLellan understands it’s a tricky situation to be in for any business, especially not knowing what – or if – any specific measures will be required in a casino’s jurisdiction. “If it’s mandated they will spend the money – if they have to, they will – but if it’s not mandated they have to be careful,” he notes. “There has been zero revenue coming into casinos and they are losing millions of dollars. They want to make sure they reopen and that they have everything in place, but again, this isn’t a time for overspending.” For Bet Rite, working within a customer’s budget is therefore more important now than ever.
The future is now
No matter how the rest of 2020 plays out, MacLellan is cautiously optimistic. “I think you only get one good shot at this,” he says of the reopening process. “If you open up and it’s too soon and things blow up, it’s going to look really bad.” By listening to its customers and staying ahead of change by being adaptable, Bet Rite will ride out the storm and emerge on the other side successful, along with their trusted partners and clients.