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Kevin Smith

I-Gaming Meets Canadian Hospitality

7 July 2004

Canadian hotel operator Westmont Hospitality is testing an in-room gaming system that could bring online casino and sports betting to hotel rooms throughout the country.

The system is the product of a partnership between Westmont and Superclick Ink, with online gambling software provider Playtech providing technology as well. For the past month, Westmont has been offering a beta version of Superclick's "Hotel Casino Network" in 20 of its properties in Canada. The system enables hotel operators to offer casino and sports betting systems via in-room television.

Westmont's director of information technology, Steve Montague, said the in-room platform should increase revenues for hotel operators.

"It is a value-added service that we can provide through the TV that we already have," Montague said. "Now that we have high-speed connections, it only makes sense to offer value-added services through that connection."

He added that Westmont is also looking at shopping and printing options as well as other forms of entertainment.

"Hotel operators have to look at other ways of bringing in revenue," he said, "and we think this is a pretty easy way to do that without having to do much infrastructure work."

In addition to the front-end system, HCN offers user accounts through which individual properties can manage revenues, database reporting capabilities and targeted content with advertising delivery over the system.

Sandro Natale, Superclick's vice president of business development, said there's more to come.

"We understand that hoteliers must find ways to create and drive additional revenue per room," Natale said, "and this is just one of the many value-added applications that we are introducing to hotel customers to help them meet that objective."

Montague said that Westmont plans to place orders for 30 more properties during the third quarter to meet the demand for high-speed Internet service. Guests, he said, are choosing accommodations based on whether a hotel provides high-speed Internet in the rooms.

The value of offering a gaming product remains to be seen.

"It is still very early on in the adaptation phase," Montague said. "We are going to explore all of our options in terms of other streams of revenue. We aren't going to put all of our focus into gambling, but if demand is there, we will certainly make it one of our top priorities."

He added, "One of our biggest challenges is to determine how we want to market this. We want to let those that it would appeal to know the service is available to them, but we can't do it too aggressively either."

The philosophy in the early stages is that the system is better suited for sports betting than casino gambling.

"Sports betting is a huge opportunity for us," Montague said. "Down the road I think an ideal partner would be a video streaming provider of horseracing and other sporting events throughout Canada."

With such a partner in place, hotel guests could place bets on horse races or other sporting events without leaving their rooms.

Westmont owns around 250 hotels in the United States and Canada and around 130 in Europe. The company hasn't determined how long the beta testing period will last.

I-Gaming Meets Canadian Hospitality is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith