Eyes Peeled

Casinos and gaming facilities provide a challenge to security professionals. In-house security staff needs to monitor constant activity at multiple locations. The challenge is compounded by the fact that patrons walking around and playing in a casino are holding cash and taking it out of their pockets and purses on a routine basis. Criminals target casinos for various reasons.

According to Craig Cotton, senior director of product marketing for Cisco’s Physical Security Business Unit, “Video surveillance is critical to public safety in a casino, and there are strict state regulations regarding gaming spaces. Casinos are regulated by state gaming boards that mandate what they monitor in a casino, and there are fines for not meeting those requirements.”

In fact, Cotton said, there was a recent incident in which a casino was shut down by a state gaming commission and police for 18 hours, with its doors chained shut, for not complying with surveillance and recording requirements. Therefore, owners must take video surveillance in their casinos seriously.

Security staff needs to be aware of two distinct types of potential security breaches in a casino. One involves individuals trying to steal money directly from other casino patrons, and the other involves individuals and groups that are trying to steal from the casino itself. This means two distinct types of potential security threats exist in a casino: threats involving public safety and threats involving casino operations.

Security to protect patrons
Security professionals use video surveillance systems to watch activity on the casino floor and in other areas. This is important as casino visitors are most likely walking around with cash, and many patrons are not local. A video surveillance system can help security professionals spot and possibly stave off potential dangers and occurrences and send help to the aid of someone in trouble.

The information can be reviewed and used if a security breach or theft already occurred to determine where the event took place and who was responsible. This type of surveillance can provide casino guests with comfort in knowing that they are being watched to ensure their personal safety.

Security to protect the casino
Casinos have to closely monitor players who may be trying to cheat the system. Some ways in which a thief can threaten gaming integrity are card counting and pinlight devices that trigger credits in a video machine without inserting actual money. Cheating is a big revenue loss to casinos, and video surveillance helps protect against it.

“Video surveillance can be used to protect a casino against claims of things like misdeals and cheating,” Cotton said.

Video analytics
Internet protocol (IP) has permeated video surveillance, and tying the surveillance into the network can allow for the system to be integrated into other systems and to be used for multiple purposes. One area that has been experiencing a rise in popularity, according to Cotton, is video analytics, which is generally a software-based analysis of video surveillance data to track trends and visually determine unusual scenarios. It is a form of automation that casinos can use to enhance the overall experience.

“A casino could use video analytics to view table games. They could then tell if there were no seats left at the table games, and the system would then alert the staff to open additional tables. In the past, this was left up to the pit boss who had to watch and make the determination,” Cotton said.

Casino owners use video surveillance to protect themselves and their guests. Cotton believes that the future of surveillance is heavily rooted in IP; it continues to be the basis for most integrated systems, and casino surveillance is following that same trend.

“We see an increase in state mandates from states that will support IP,” Cotton said. “There is more comfort with IP now.”

Video surveillance is used for safety and security, and it also helps casinos keep their compliance with the multiple rules and regulations to which they must adhere. Networked-based IP video surveillance is another technology that has evolved to bring the best of two worlds together. Nowadays, video surveillance data can also be harvested and used for other purposes, such as customer retention and marketing purposes. The use of integrated systems continues grow, and casinos are a good example of how security systems can be used for more than just protection.

STONG, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at jennifer.stong@comcast.net.

About the Author

Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

Freelance Writer
Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas is a freelance writer who lives in central Pennsylvania.

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