IBM and four US firms push one-stop solution for managing Macau's gambling and hotel enterprises During his recent state visit to the United States, President Hu Jintao called on the US to increase its high technology exports to China. Chinese officials should take heart from Macau, if the territory is to serve as a gauge of US readiness to give China tech assistance. US firms are aggressively pushing Las Vegas-tested gaming and hospitality technologies into the territory, and in a grand way. In a drive aimed squarely at Macau's intertwined gaming and hospitality industries, IBM and four other US hi-tech firms have launched an integrated computer server and software applications system designed for managing gambling and hotel enterprises. The 'casino in a box' suite includes software from specialist suppliers Agilysys, Bally Technologies, InfoGenesis and SSA Global, all running inside IBM's i Series server. David Chan Moon-hang, executive for IBM Greater China Groups System i business, said: 'We are bringing together for the first time a one-stop solution for the gaming and hospitality industry of Macau and the rest of Asia.' Agilysys provides property management, inventory and procurement and wireless systems; Bally Technologies offers casino, slot machine and table management systems; InfoGenesis supplies point-of-sale, cashless payment and self-service solutions; and SSA Global sells customer relationship management and workflow systems. The group, which accounts for 80 per cent of the technologies used in Las Vegas, was in discussions with a big, new Macau casino and hotel operator. US hi-tech firms hope that by marketing tried-and-tested technologies used largely in the Las Vegas gaming industry, they can tap into the estimated US$20 billion to US$30 billion worth of casino-related projects slated for Macau. Specialist gaming security suppliers are also enjoying good business in Macau's expanded casino sector. The Galaxy Waldo Casino, for example, purchased 56 baccarat tables wired to monitor all moves made in a game by dealers and players. These 'MPBacc intelligent tables' were jointly developed by Bally Gaming Systems and The United States Playing Card Company. A laser scanner reads a bar code printed in invisible ink on each card, ensuring that each card that leaves the card shoe is genuine and belongs to the casino. When the cards are placed on the table, the system ensures they are placed in the exact order they left the shoe. The table, meanwhile, keeps track of each gambler's bets, recording information used in customer loyalty programmes. The sheer congestion in Macau casinos has made such a system necessary. Tables are often packed, sometimes several layers deep with people. The minimum bets are also typically higher in Macau, with huge amounts of cash landing on the table at any given time. 'It is only in Macau that players have unlimited access to the cards,' said Scott Madding, international casino sales manager at The United States Playing Card. US firms are also using hi-tech infrastructure in staff recruitment to raise the bar on the manpower in the Macau casino industry. Wynn Resorts (Macau) has adopted an online recruitment system, first used by Wynn Las Vegas, to fill up thousands of positions available at its facility. The company's website for the Macau hiring drive has been customised to accept and process input in Chinese. Applicants can also view a photograph of the person who would be their immediate superior for any position they may be interested in. The system has processed about 110,000 applications, leading to the hiring of an initial 10,000 employees for Wynn Resorts. The system is expected to be used to fill another 4,200 positions. Wendy Yu, Wynn's executive director, human resources, said the company had come 'to make Macau's gaming industry the best in Asia, or even the world, and we need good employees to make that happen'. Even Hong Kong-based technology service providers are apparently on a roll, thanks to Macau's rapid economic development. Systems integrator Automated Systems Holdings, which supplies EMC storage products and Sun Microsystems computers, said its Macau projects were on the rise. These included products for Macau's education sector. 'Our order book continues to improve against the strong economic outlook,' said Automated Systems managing director Lai Yam-ting. IBM and its partners have no market forecasts for the volume of hi-tech systems being shipped to Macau, but said their Macau business would serve as an important reference - 'an ace in the hand' - to help attract business from other emerging casino hot spots in Asia, especially Singapore. 'We have come to Macau because of the huge potential for growth,' said Kevin Patterson, director of worldwide sales iSeries servers at IBM.