Rocky Gap Casino Resort, located in the heart of Rocky Gap State Park, is one of Maryland’s finest entertainment destinations.
Set in the scenic Rocky Gap State Park on the shores of Lake Habeeb, Rocky Gap Casino Resort is one of Maryland’s newest casinos. After initially failing under the ownership of the state, the resort was purchased by Lakes Entertainment in 2012 with the casino opening in May 2013. This breathed much-needed new life into the area and quickly transformed the resort and surrounding area into one of the region’s most popular destinations.
New Owners, New Challenges
The transformation of Rocky Gap was no stroke of luck, to say the least. The new owners and operators of Rocky Gap were determined to learn from the resort’s less-than-stellar operational history and wanted to go all in on investing in developing a top-notch gaming and recreation destination. Doing so required a deeper look into operational optimization and led them to reassess the way in which they made decisions.
Lakes’ previous casinos had gleaned insight using traditional tools and methodologies like canned and expensive custom reports from the various gaming systems used at their other casinos. Building and acquiring the daily, monthly and annual reports they needed to make informed decisions required specific tools and substantial man hours. In short, getting these reports was anything but convenient. Even worse, these reports often required outside assistance to build, which was very costly.
Knowing their analytics culture was in need of a refresh, they reached out to InterWorks Analytics Consultant Will Jones who they had known from Jones’ previous experience in the gaming industry.
“At InterWorks, we employ a lot of folks from different backgrounds. For me, it’s casinos. The challenges faced by Rocky Gap were familiar, but I was impressed that they were forward-thinking in wanting to address these challenged before opening their doors.”
– Will Jones, Analytics Consultant, InterWorks
Retooling the Analytics Culture
The first step in establishing any new analytics culture is starting with a firm foundation – a foundation hinged upon Tableau Software’s dynamic capabilities. InterWorks was present before the Rocky Gap officially re-opened their doors, utilizing years of direct casino operations experience to assist with pre and post-opening tasks. This included such activities as assistance with audit and cash control areas, allowing for a clean opening and preventing a potential regulator shut down. As part of this preparatory process, InterWorks implemented Tableau Server and trained up several Rocky Gap staff members on Tableau Desktop.
- Prepare for a clean opening
- Enable faster, more accurate audit reporting
- Set up sustainable visual analytics with Tableau
Once the casino was open, InterWorks turned their attention to Rocky Gap’s financial analytics. Speed, accuracy and optimization were all major goals in rehauling the way in which they approached their auditing and reporting. InterWorks began by setting up reporting and analysis across all revenue audits in Tableau, then radically changed Rocky Gap’s approach to ATM/Ticket Redemption audits to increase accuracy and reduce audit duration.
To streamline reporting further, several processes were automated, including pre-audit reporting for management and daily operating report creation and distribution. The daily operating reports even had user options for weekly, monthly and yearly reports. InterWorks also helped Rocky Gap radically change their approach to ATM/Ticket Redemption audits – a pain point among many casinos. Finally, daily and monthly general ledger verification was streamlined by building rapid data validation reports.
The gaming side of Rocky Gap’s analytics practice also received significant retooling, especially surrounding Rocky Gap’s Casino Management System (CMS). Flexible custom reports and simplified data connections to the CMS would allow the property to maintain and build reports with minimal training.
Along with the standard reporting fixes, InterWorks also proposed a more visual approach to analytics via Tableau vs. traditional text reporting. A good example of this methodology in practice was the creation of a visual floor map of the property tied to CAD floor maps. These maps, compared to CMS and competitor alternatives would be much easier to manage, and could be accessed by way of a customized web portal. To make consumption of all this data even more accessible, InterWorks helped Rocky Gap build out their analytics for multiple devices, including mobile, tablet and computer.
To permeate the culture of analytics, InterWorks helped Rocky Gap extend Tableau’s utility well beyond the financial and gaming portions of the business. Namely, comparison dashboards were built to view the property at a cross-functional level. Previously, such a task required significant time from Planning & Analysis to gather data and manually build offline reports. Using live data connections in Tableau, data dumping and volatile Excel reporting would be a thing of the past when attempting to analyze both gaming and non-gaming trends.
“We knew we wanted more self-serve analytics to help us manage casino operations, and we knew Tableau would play a big part in that. The most impressive thing about InterWorks is that they went beyond just implementing the tools and helped us build a self-sustaining culture of analytics.”
– Blake Lyon, Director of Gaming, Rocky Gap Casino Resort
Tableau Success in Action
With the casino successfully opened and their financial, gaming and non-gaming analytics in order, Rocky Gap now enjoys an even higher level of operational efficiency. Considering financial security was an issue when Rocky Gap was owned by the state, the new owners have much more peace of mind in understanding how their finances are situated and can make more intelligent adjustments if need be.
- Higher operational efficiency
- Better undertanding of finances
- Faster speed to insight
- Greater analytic independence
With Tableau reporting set up across all functional areas of the business, Rocky Gap can acquire more knowledge than ever before about all of their operations. By streamlining this reporting process, they can also uncover relevant data much faster – be it on ticket audits, machine activity or cash control.
In a nutshell, Rocky Gap now has the ability to answer complex questions quickly and intelligently. Best of all, their new Tableau-centric analytics practice gives them more independence, enabling them to find the answers themselves as opposed to reaching out to costly consultant’s time and time again. For Rocky Gap, this will only help them provide a better entertainment experience as their business and the surrounding park continue to grow.
“We’re confident that the new culture of analytics at Rocky Gap will help us succeed. Beyond just having a better grasp of all our moving parts, there’s a sense of ownership and excitement that wasn’t there before – simply because the power wasn’t in our hands. Thanks to Tableau and InterWorks, it now is.”
– Skylar Dice, General Manager, Rocky Gap Casino Resort