Case In Point: Viejas Casino

When an incident does occur and is recorded, locating the clip via the VCR can take hours


Cheating by players, embezzlement by employees and fraudulent claims by customers are just some of the challenges American casinos face on a daily basis. Gaming establishments have installed video recording systems to catch the culprits, only to find that older systems are clumsy and slow and produce huge amounts of taped footage.

Tapes must be stored, taking up valuable space. Then, every nine months or so, they must be replaced. VCRs, too, are constantly being replaced due to wear and tear. For some casinos, videotape recorders require replacement every two years because of mechanical breakdown.

When an incident does occur and is recorded, locating the clip via the VCR can take hours. By that time, especially in a casino environment, the perpetrator could be out the door or even out of the country.

It is for these reasons, as well as many others, that Viejas Casino Security Director Jerry K. McCawley decided to go digital, installing 1,000 Sanyo DSR-M800 casino digital video recorders and compatible VA-SW814 software.

Viejas Casino, located just east of San Diego, CA, is owned and operated by the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians. Viejas’ 210,000-square-foot complex has 2,050 slot machines and more than 100 gaming tables. Guests enjoy the compound’s six restaurants, shopping mall, entertainment lounge and outdoor concert hall. McCawley and his staff rely on the Sanyo system to help keep their guests safe by maintaining a vigilant watch over the indoor and outdoor areas of the property.

McCawley chose Sanyo’s real-time casino DVR because it is user-friendly, sustainable on a generator and technically accessible. In addition, the unit offers from one week up to one month of recording at 30 fps real-time (NTSC).

Like the Sanyo casino DVRs, the compatible Sanyo VA-SW814 software was developed with input from Sanyo’s casino partners. “This software answers many of the needs specific to casino security operations. This is one of the only pieces of software on the market that is strictly for casino use that I know of,” said McCawley. The software allows the connection of 4,000 DSR-M800 units and 16 PCs in a single, closed LAN system. McCawley particularly likes the software for its key features, including its broadcast functions and the ability to zoom in and out and monitor full-screen or quad pictures. “With three different user levels, I can assign people to monitor areas that are appropriate for their level,” said McCawley. The user levels are password controlled.

Another aspect of the Sanyo system that was particularly attractive to McCawley during the bidding phase was the fact that it comprises individual units that are not reliant on each other for operation. “That means if one unit goes down,” said McCawley, “only one camera is compromised rather than the entire system.” The Sanyo DSR-M800’s sharp picture quality and low competitive price were other aspects of the system that made it a smart buy.

McCawley added that during the installation of the DSR-M800s there was no need to change the existing matrix and cameras, and the free-standing server system has eliminated hacking by outside attackers.

Probably the most impressive benefit of the Sanyo DSR-M800 is its speed when retrieving event images. According to McCawley, “Sanyo’s product has enabled us to reduce the amount of time spent searching for incidents by 70 to 80 percent.” The product offers MPEG2 video compression and 120 GB, 240 GB, 300 GB and 600 GB hard drives. These features allow for continuous storage times of seven to 35 days in high-quality mode at 30 fps.

The DSR-M800 offers Viejas Casino security the chance to increase their return on investment through other surveillance applications. Customer arguments over who sat down at a popular slot machine first could be resolved with images quickly retrieved from the DVR. Footage from parking lots and driveways could be viewed to prove or disprove claims of assault or of car damage. The veracity of a slip-and-fall case could be verified as well.

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