The Smart Approach to Protecting Casinos

Step out of your comfort zone and provide customized data beyond hardware


For the past two years, the casino market has been flat. With the exception of a few states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, which recently opened for casino gaming, the market is soft. Some, like John Katnic, vice president and chief operating officer, Synectic Systems, Carpinteria, Calif., see that regulatory drives the sale. Some manufacturers feel that integrators and dealers with traditional viewpoints hurt themselves. And in result, they hurt their casino clients, too.

Before an integrator bets his business on a casino project, they need to know just what is involved in casino and hospitality work. Casinos want smart systems but they also require integrators to be smart about casino systems.

A CCTV integrator is used to hanging cameras and pulling cable. Now, the industry requires integration of analog and digital equipment. In most casinos, 95 percent of cameras still are analog. Even in new builds, most cameras are analog. But point of sale (POS) and restaurant software is all digital. In addition to providing marketing data to every business unit, unifying data among departments using the right analytic tools will allow security to see things that eyes won't catch.

Compounding the difficulty of making a sale is getting into the right office. Integrators are comfortable talking to security or surveillance officers. However, the sale for integrated systems has to come from the top down-from the general manager or vice president who sees the business benefits of a smart system.

"Integrators have to learn how to manipulate, manage and affect data gathering," said Katnic. "They have to see themselves as data integrators, not just hardware integrators."

Perimeter security in transit

For Darrin Hoke, director of Surveillance, L'Auberge du Lac Casino, Lake Charles, La., it's a matter of making the enterprise smarter. "That's what needs to happen," he confirmed. He hopes for the day when the surveillance system can be used to generate business intelligence on the casino floor, for the hotel and restaurant operations. "It is not just about catching bad guys or breaches," Hoke explained. "It is helping operations with business analytics and security."
He sees the opportunity to integrate and analyze data and apply it to how well slot signage draws traffic. "There are a lot of dealers and even manufacturers who cannot do that yet," Hoke continued. While he has made good strides, he is not where he wants to be.

Floating casinos work under all of the restrictions of a land-based casino with some added challenges. For starters, the ship has to deal with naval codes in addition to the rest of the security challenges.

"There is a big difference with egress," said Chuck Miller, founder and chief executive officer of 4Tec Integration, Omaha, Neb. "On land, you have multiple exits. You can knock out a window. A steel boat is like a tuna can-you don't just walk away." In fact, there are different audible and visible notifications depending on whether the fire is in the engine room or on the third deck. As a waterborne craft, a floating casino has to meet Coast Guard inspection compliance regulations as well.

And while most agree that exterior perimeter security was still a separate network from interior smart systems, ships and boats are an exception to this rule. One example in which exterior and interior systems are linked together is merging corporate data with surveillance data. Yet, still present are a number of regulatory hurdles to such linkages in many jurisdictions.

More common is the hotel casino situation. This simply adds layers of complexity to an already complex installation.

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