Focus on JCM Global: Digital signage brings new attractions to casino floors – and ceilings

March 10, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
March 10, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
  • United States

On paper, the new showpiece at JACK Thistledown Racino sounds like a challenging race course, with its 90-degree turn followed by convex and concave curves.

It’s actually a huge sports ticker, with a screen 2 feet tall and 96 feet long. It also provides a prime example of what signage experts call “dynamic content” designed to attract and motivate customers.

James Smith

Such content can include live sports broadcasts on massive screens, constantly updated scores, odds, and statistics, and a variety of information about a property, explained James “Smitty” Smith, audio/visual product manager for JCM Global. JCM’s Digital Signage Solutions segment provided customized screens and other products for the recently opened sportsbooks at Thistledown and at the larger JACK Cleveland casino, both operated by JACK Entertainment.

The sportsbook at the Downtown casino features an odds board measuring 16 feet wide and 8 feet tall and a sportsbook monitor display 34.5 feet wide and 10 feet tall.

Company executives said the Digital Signage Solution team posted strong growth in 2022, with more projects in the works this year. Last year’s work included:

  • A 10- by 6-foot wall-mounted digital sign, capable of displaying more than 281 trillion colors and used to broadcast live sporting events and other programming, at Rolling Hills Casino & Resort in California. It was JCM’s third signage installation there.
  • A large digital display archway, 14.6 feet wide and 17.8 feet high, over the entrance to the high-limit room Dragon Room at Angle of the Winds Casino in Arlington, Wash. The arch shows marketing information and creative content, even a three-dimensional golden dragon animation.
  • A dozen digital signage cubes suspended from the ceiling at The Point Casino & Hotel in Kingston, Wash. The cubes hang at various heights starting at 10 feet above the casino floor and display resort information and artistic content.

The sportsbooks installations at JACK’s two Cleveland locations were part of a $100 million renovation. Smith said it was one of the biggest projects so far for JCM Digital Signage Solutions and demonstrated the ability of the team to work with a variety of partners not only on the physical installation but also in adapting the signage to get the desired look and performance.

“For example, the ticker at Thistledown was the first of that type we had done,” he said.

“Because we were able to work so closely with the cabinet maker, the contractor, the unions, and everyone, it was a success.” When the sportsbook opened for bets on Jan. 1, “they had the biggest weekend they ever had. It was a full house.”

Smith said the impact of digital signage is measured by a “return on objective” basis because a “return on investment” is impossible to calculate. “Do you want customers to move to an area, to tell customers something, or to watch something?” he asked. “With a sportsbook display, how do you determine if the return is good? The number of bets or the size of the handle shows how it helps accomplish what you want to do.”

Getting a display that attracts customers is far more complex than running a wire from a satellite TV dish to a monitor. HDMI cables, commonly used with high-definition televisions, start to lose signal strength after about 75 feet, Smith said. To ensure quality images on mammoth screens, an AV network should be separate from the casino network that links work stations, slot accounting, pit information, and the like, he said.

Many large casino operators have centralized their TV systems, but smaller operators might not have the AV staff to do so, Smith said. “We talk with people to make sure we understand what they want to do.”

JCM, whose U.S. headquarters are in Las Vegas, is known worldwide for transaction and payment technologies for gaming and banking operations. It began in 1955 as Japan Cash Machine Inc., manufacturing cash registers, and it released the world’s first side-mounted bill validator for slot machines in 1988.

Mark Gruetze is a veteran journalist from suburban Pittsburgh who covers casino gaming issues and personalities.