- Mar 26, 2013
- Reaction score
- Wilmington, DE
In the early days of legalized gambling, table limit signs were very basic engraved metal or plastic. (Below, left). Later, they evolved into something more eye-catching, like the shaped neon sign (below, center) with the digital minimum and maximum numbers.
Today's limit signs have eye-catching features...
Modern casinos mount a small digital monitor on the table or on a pole behind one side of the table and display which game is being played,the table limits, and lots of other information. These systems are made by casino industry companies, and have lots of special features useful to casino managers. At the casino where I worked as a blackjack dealer, our signs were awesome. Along with the usual stuff –- the name of the game and the table limits --- part of the screen was always a high-definition video display that shows the side bets, the progressive jackpots, the casino’s contests and promotions – even the specials at the different restaurants. They display sports scores, show game highlights or live TV, all on a vivid, beautiful screen.
... and lots of stuff you don't see
The back of the sign has a digital touch pad and a port to scan a magnetic strip – technically called an “EFTPOS” or a “PDQ” terminal. As a dealer, when you arrive at the table for the day, you can swipe your ID or enter your employee number to put yourself “in” at the table for your shift. When a player offers their affinity card, the Floor Supervisor will swipe the card here to record the players presence at the table. The player will then pop up on the Floor’s tablet, making it easy to enter the player’s buy in. wins, losses, comps and time at the table.
They're also "casino proof." That means they're tough, waterproof, dust- and smoke-proof, and easy to clean. (Just about everything in a casino has had urine or vomit on it at one time or another.)
These amazing, high-tech signs and their software are sold to licensed casinos by companies like GPI and John Huxley. The smallest sign Huxley offers right now has a 23-inch monitor.
I’ve always wanted to have a custom table limit sign made for the Key West blackjack table. I deal with one vendor who makes them, but they have high minimums. Small signs (8- or 10-inch monitors) come loaded with software and run about $750.
The project: Making a sign
This year, a new project has become a reality at the Key West, and I’ll be returning to dealing blackjack at our Key West table at a few events a month. So it’s time to get serious about a table limit sign.
Modern casino table limit signs are essentially a computer monitor used to display some nice graphics. I decided to give this a try. If I could find a way to get full-motion video on part of the screen, that would be a plus.
With apologies to our Apple friends, I’m a PC guy. I spent some time toying around in Paint and Word to create a rectangular image of a basic sign. This will turn into your desktop background, so you'll need to make this the size and shape of your monitor. When you display it “full screen,” it will look great. To find your screen resolution, just search “display” on your computer.
You can mess around with colors, shapes, images, colors and textures, shadows and other aspects to make the sign you like. I left a rectangle in one corner, and came up with this:
I made the original, with nothing written under the word "blackjack," then three copies. Each has a different rule on it in white. Put all four of the images in your desktop backgrounds, and they'll rotate and display one rule every 30 seconds. The beach scene is just filler that looks good. We'll do more in that area below.
I grabbed a small, spare laptop and tested the image. The laptop has the same screen resolution as my desktop computer, so the image displayed “full screen” with no problem. You could probably store this image on a laptop, tablet or even a smart phone. I used a little "HP Stream 11" laptop.
Next, I snagged this monitor on Amazon for $89.99. (Not as easy as it sounds. I tried about three monitors before I hit on one that has a really good, bright, sharp image.)
The photo is deceptive, and the bottom edge of this monitor sits right on the feet. To make it look more like a casino sign, I stopped at a local metal shop and asked if they could make me an extension to make the monitor sit higher. I brought the monitor and stand to the shop. They made essentially a metal tube that attached to the base and raised the monitor up by five inches -- not too high, but high enough that it is higher than the discard rack and people can see the sign.
I know the guy who did the work, and he wouldn't take money. I paid him with a case of Mexican Coke. (Yes, Coca Cola, made and bottled in Mexico.)
Connect the laptop to the monitor and turn it on. The desktop background is your basic sign. My four signs rotate. It looks like the image stays the same and the rules are displayed under the word "blackjack," and change every 30 seconds. They say, "Dealer stands on all 17s / Surrender is offered," and the others (doubling, splitting, etc.)
Adding video to your screen
I used Windows Movie Maker to create a video for the left of the screen. Here, you're only limited by your imagination. You can take still photos or buy or make videos to display on your screen. I got some video of some slot machines, a roulette wheel, and a dealer at a blackjack table. You could customize several different signs and videos for your events and use them as needed.
After you put together your video (with or without sound) in Movie Maker or your program of choice, you just open a player and stretch it fill the area where you want it. Set the player to repeat, and the monitor won't turn off. You can also adjust what your laptop does when you close the lid. Set it to "nothing," and you can close the laptop and put it under your table.
Here's how mine came out: (Below the photo, there's a link to a video showing the monitor with the video player running.)