Casino Turns to CBRS’ OnGo to Improve Weak Cellular Signal

7 Cedars Casino is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state just off Highway 101 in a low-lying basin at the base of Sequim Bay. While the area is beautiful and easily accessible to patrons, it does have one major drawback: weak cellular signal.

“Because of the casino’s location in the basin, we’re too far below the cell towers for adequate signal coverage,” says Glenn Smithson, general manager. “Cellular coverage drops significantly when you drive the two miles down from Route 101 to our location.”

This has become more and more of a problem over the years for the casino’s back-of-house operations, staff management and guest experience. Additionally, 7 Cedars is currently constructing a new hotel with a summer 2020 debut date. The 100-room hotel will offer meeting spaces, four-star amenities, and other high-tech features. However, none of that will be possible – if the area continues to have cellular signal issues, Smithson explained.

To solve this problem, 7 Cedars turned to mobile network operator Geoverse. A member of the CBRS Alliance, Geoverse has provided 7 Cedars with OnGo – a private LTE network built to run on the 3.5 GHz CBRS band – that would allow the casino to offer patrons and staff access to 5G service on the property. 

4 Property-Wide Benefits of CBRS

  1. Greater security for staff communications. 

While the casino currently uses two-way radios, the signals from those radios can bounce which could cause a lack of privacy.

  1. Poor quality cell signal prevents “customer stickiness.”

“Think of some young parents who leave their children home with a babysitter to come to our property for the evening,” Smithson explains. “If we can’t provide them with a reliable cell signal, they can’t connect with the babysitter to make sure the kids are okay. That creates frustration and affects the business, potentially causing them to leave the property early or worse: to not return. We want people to stay where they are, here at the casino, in their seats, spending money. We don’t want them to feel compelled to leave for any reason.”

  1. Cost savings when it comes to important marketing and software implementation. 

The casino is looking to implement a marketing campaign where a waitress walks up to patrons and tells them that they can receive a free appetizer or dessert if they’re willing to post a photo to social media showing their friends they’re at the casino and having a nice time.

“It’s a great promotional tool,” Smithson says. “But we need strong cellular signal for it to work.”

With a strong cellular signal, the company would also be able to save money on software that would normally “cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to communicate with our guests at the slot machine.” Instead of purchasing expensive software, the company could use a combination of the internet and cellular signal to push out communications to guests as they sit at a slot machine using its player tracking software.

  1. Enabling mobility and removing friction for guests.

7 Cedars envisions using this technology to enable guests to link their bank account or credit card to a 7 Cedars account on their smartphone. Then the guest would simply tap the slot machine screen, and it would download the amount of credits they’d like to play with. 

With its new hotel, 7 Cedars is looking to implement technologies that rely heavily on strong cellular signal: SMS notifications when a room is ready, push notifications to visit the hotel bar/restaurant/spa, and mobile keys for guest room access. With these tech amenities and its location, 7 Cedars hopes to draw in meeting and event planners from companies such as Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon for employee retreats. It even has plans to begin marketing the property to international guests. But if employees from any of these areas cannot use their phones the way they want or need, that revenue stream will quickly dry up.

“At first we thought we had to determine if we could afford the OnGo technology,” Smithson said. “But the more we learned about it and understood its benefits, the more we realized that we couldn’t afford to pass it by. We had to have it. It was the practical and right thing to do.”



About the Author


Michal Christine Escobar

Michal Christine Escobar is Hospitality Technology’s Senior Editor, with a concentration on the hotel industry.  She has a decade of experience as a B2B journalist. She is responsible for the hotel beat at the magazine and often writes about AI, VR, IoT and other emerging technologies affecting hospitality.

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