Placing the latest, greatest, most-advanced gaming machines in the right location is a challenge now met through CAD. The way a casino floor is designed could mean the success or failure of a game. IGT represents software called seePower from Compudigm International Ltd., Las Vegas, that lets casino owners track traffic flow through a casino, determining, for example, what games specific categories of players gravitate to, how much they play, and where they move to. What casino operators see looks a bit like a weather map. In one example, a screenshot shows banks of slot machines next to red contours that indicate heavy play, while blue/gray contours show cooler zones. "Casino floor design and slot placement are major elements," explains IGT's Ed Rogich, marketing vice president. "Casino operators have to ask themselves, 'Which of the 2,000 machines and five different companies, offering 10 new games a month, do I put on my floor? Where do they go? What stays and what goes?'"

seePower software takes the massive amounts of data casinos collect and transforms it into user-friendly pictures, explains Andrew Cardno, Compudigm's president and chief executive officer. Inputs to the program come from information gleaned from player-tracking cards, which show players' movement over time. "The key output," explains Cardno, "is a moving heat map showing player-movement patterns. Operators use this to connect individual player patterns to individual machine behaviors."

Many casinos are seeing the benefits of such software. For example, seePower is a component of Harrahs' slot-floor management system. A Harrahs' spokesperson says the tools, in use at The Rio in Las Vegas, helped that casino's slot team revise its mix of machines so they were more compatible with the preferences of its best customers. The result: slot win in Q3 at The Rio was up 12%, even with 400 fewer slot machines. (The team cut the number of machines on the floor to make room for other offerings.) Overall, slot win per unit at The Rio jumped 45%.