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Can Resorts World’s ‘tech ecosystem’ be the foundation for gaming’s future?

The iPhone 4 was just six months old when the last newly built resort debuted on the Las Vegas Strip.

Ten and a half years of technological developments later, a new property will open Thursday with a slew of state-of-the-art tech features — with hopes those features can propel Resorts World Las Vegas through this decade and beyond. Resorts World executives say the project’s ground-up nature afforded them the opportunity to launch with the latest connective and touchless tech.

Some of Resorts World’s electronics will be hard to miss: the roughly 100,000-square-foot LED display on the west tower, another 19,000-square-foot LED display on the east tower and a 50-foot-diameter interactive video globe, wrapped by 6,000 square feet of LED display. Other elements may impress with convenience, rather than size and brightness.

The property’s entire “tech ecosystem” is designed with the guest in mind, according to Rick Hutchins, senior vice president of casino operations and the man behind many of the property’s tech decisions. He and his team went searching “high and low” for the latest innovations to implement across the property.

“My goal was then create a really seamless end-to-end digital experience for the guests, not just to create a digital experience, but to make the guest experience just unlike what you have on the Strip and among our competitors,” Hutchins said. “And making one that builds the foundation for the future of what gaming will be.”

Resorts World in your hands

The tech tool best suited for making the most of your stay at the $4.3 billion property may already be in your hand.

Many of the traditional guest amenities and services will be available through mobile apps. The Resorts World Las Vegas app is a vehicle to buy tickets, make reservations and play the casino floor.

“Holistically as a property, we wanted to make sure that any service component that would normally require a ticket or a card or some form of credit card transaction, we wanted to be able to facilitate on your phone,” Resorts World Senior Vice President of Operations Max Tappeiner said.

The resort will be among the first to use a new integrated amenities booking system powered by UrVenue and OpenTable. Guests can book restaurants, clubs, pools, attractions, bundles, recreation and more all under one shopping cart. Hutchins said his team was “still working through the details” on whether the partnership will be integrated into the Resorts World app or as a “deep link” with the app.

Also, Hilton Honors members staying at the integrated resort’s Hilton hotel can use their phones as a room key through the Hilton Honors app, he said.

Open the Grubhub app at the property, and you can order delivery from the resort’s 40 food and drink outlets, taking the place of a traditional in-room dining experience. Resorts World is the first hotel-casino to use Grubhub’s program previously reserved for ordering food on college campuses, a property release said.

A digital concierge service, Red, can help secure reservations, answer common questions and check guests in and out of the hotel. It’s available through the Resorts World app and the property website.

The concierge artificial intelligence stands out to Mehmet Erdem, a UNLV professor who studies the intersection of technology and hospitality. Its visibility as a chatbot on the property’s website and mobile app demonstrates an emphasis on a smooth, convenient guest experience.

“Whenever you’re at a luxury resort or midscale, whatnot, it doesn’t matter. These are the kind of service features that people come to expect now,” Erdem said.

Digital standard

Las Vegas-based Konami Gaming partnered with Resorts World to facilitate cashless gaming across the gaming floor.

Konami brings its complete gaming management system, SYNKROS, to the property, with “a mix of (its) competitive, first-to-market solutions” at opening, said Tom Jingoli, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Konami Gaming. The management system will support phone number log-ins and ticket-in, ticket-out table game redemption.

Also, he said, a number-pick game will sporadically and simultaneously pop up across all active slot machines displays on the casino floor.

“The game activates with a unique animated journey we created specifically for Resorts World Las Vegas, and invites active players to compete for the chance at a progressive jackpot,” Jingoli said.

He said Resorts World will set a new standard for the Strip. Its opening is a “significant historical moment for our city and the global gaming industry,” he said.

“For more than twenty years we’ve had the privilege of serving area resorts. To now be part (of) the most high-profile opening on the Las Vegas Strip in years is a true thrill (for) Konami and its SYNKROS systems team,” Jingoli said.

Members of Resorts World parent company Genting’s rewards program can pay their way at the slots with funds stored in the resort’s digital wallet.

Android users can play on a machine by holding their digital loyalty card against the machine’s card reader. Apple users can open their digital loyalty card and scan a QR code on the machine.

The resort’s tech focus extends to the table games. Guests can scan a QR code at a table to play using their digital wallet funds; transfer ticket-in, ticket-out slips between tables and machines; and all chips are tracked with radio-frequency identification “ensuring accuracy for each individual player’s gameplay,” according to the resort.

Guests can load money into their account by using the Sightline Play+ system developed by another Las Vegas-based company, Sightline Payments.

Future guests will be able to fund their account at ATMs.

It’s not a replacement for real money gambling, executives say. Guests can still choose to pay cash at the casino’s 1,400 slot machines, 117 table games and 30 poker tables. The resort will offer physical loyalty rewards cards at the player services desk or one of 10 enrollment kiosks.

But Resorts World owns the benefit of “blank piece of paper” status, Hutchins said, allowing the property to launch with a digital focus, rather than try to retrofit an existing, older property with something new.

This is Resorts World’s “number one advantage” as the first Strip property to open since The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2010, Erdem said. A newcomer in the market has the latest tools to navigate changes and trends in tech and hospitality. He cited shifting attitudes toward touchless payment methods over cash, a trend he and others say was accelerated by the pandemic.

“The core business hasn’t changed, but how we deliver that core business has become somewhat easier — or it has more flexibility, if you will — thanks to these new technologies,” Erdem said.

Screenage dream

Among the other tech amenities guests will notice at Resorts World:

— High-speed Wi-Fi.

— Wireless charging ports at the guest check-in desk, some bars and other places with prolonged stays.

— USB ports at each bar seat in the property.

Oh, and there’s the 340-feet-wide, 294-feet-tall LED screen on the west tower. It’s one of the largest digital displays on the planet — the Viva Vision canopy at Fremont Street Experience is the largest — and makes up just under half of the more than 200,000 square feet of LED content across Resorts World. The east tower display is 64 feet wide and 300 feet tall, and the property marquee makes up another 10,000 square feet of LED.

Inside the property, there are more than 122 million combined pixels of LED video features. The interior displays are designed for crispness and durability, including a “new nano coating technology” to protect panels from splashes and spills in bar areas, according to Trustfall Production Group, the Las Vegas-based company that engineered and installed them.

A notable interior LED piece is the globe, comprising 8,640 triangular panels joined to form what Tappeiner called the biggest video display of its kind.

“We’re all screenagers in today’s world,” the property’s senior vice president of operations said. “And so we’re bringing an attraction that has never been more timely to Las Vegas than the screens, and the creativity of the content will blow you away.”

The globe, situated in The District retail shopping complex, is expected to be built by the time the property opens Thursday, but the video content won’t be ready until early July.

When it does turn on, the 40-foot-tall globe will shine with dynamic and interactive imagery, Tappeiner said. The resort has help from two Hollywood content producers with the piece’s videos, he said, suggesting the finished product will be enough to stop guests in their tracks.

“Certainly it should be a moment in time and a guest journey that is like nothing else in the United States,” Tappeiner said.

For more coverage of Resorts World visit lvrj.com/resortsworld.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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