Preparation Delivers Payoff for Hollywood Casino Security

Planning a gaming surveillance room from top to bottom


Penn National Gaming's new Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind., is the largest riverboat casino in the world. The entire casino-3,200 electronic games, 88 table games, a World Poker Tour poker room, as well as four restaurants on the property-is monitored by a $2 million surveillance system designed by Synectics.

The casino's surveillance system is one of the most advanced in the world and includes 2,100 cameras, 420TB of RAID6 storage, new eSynx-16 PCI-e DVRs, a Pelco 9700 series matrix switch, integrated Micros point-of-sale (POS) software and Synectics' Synergy video management software.

At the heart of the operation are the surveillance agents monitoring activity throughout the casino 24/7 from a world-class control room. Helping to bridge the gap between the state-of-the-art technology and the operators that control it is a series of Winsted Sight-Line consoles.

"It's a big thing when we can take two systems, the digital system with LCD monitors and all the best that Synectics offered and put it with the best console Winsted offered," said Mike Burnett, surveillance director for Hollywood Casino. "It was just a fantastic mesh to be able to integrate those two systems."

Burnett and Surveillance Technician Manager, Chris Krabbe began planning the surveillance system and control room for the casino five years ago. The two were extremely thorough in their research and selection of solutions for every aspect of the surveillance system and control room.

During the planning phase, Burnett and Krabbe visited the control rooms of other casinos, attended trade shows and spent a lot of time researching consoles until they found a product that was going to be the best possible solution for their long-term needs.

Plans shift with technology changes

Early on, plans for the control room included using VCRs and CRT monitors in a big square room. However, in just the few years between initial and final concepts for the system, mainstream surveillance technology made the shift from analog to digital.

This changed everything from the room's layout to the style of the console. After the decision was made to use flat panels rather than CRT monitors, Burnett and Krabbe opted for a curved wall with nine 60-inch monitors mounted on it.

"The Winsted Sight-Line console was chosen because we thought it would be a great look with our 60-inch plasma screens," said Krabbe. "It's also more workable in an ergonomic way to view the plasma screens we have mounted on the wall like a video wall."

While both Krabbe and Burnett agreed that aesthetics would be an important deciding factor when selecting a console for the company's highest profile control room, each had their own requirements when it came to functionality.

Ergonomics play a role

Having been a surveillance operator himself for many years, it was important to Burnett that they find an ergonomic solution that would be comfortable for the agents sitting at the station for 10-hour shifts.

On the technical side, Krabbe knew they needed a console that would provide outstanding cable management as well as allow for easy access to electronics inside the console.

"So when we looked at the different consoles that are out there, not just for aesthetic reasons but also for functionality, it was just a perfect console for us," said Krabbe.

The new control room at Hollywood Casino supports up to 11 surveillance employees at two Winsted Sight-Line consoles.

Surveillance agents sitting at the front line are the ones protecting the company's assets. They're doing the everyday surveillance monitoring work-monitoring the count processes, table games, slots and all cage transactions.

The front console consists of nine separate workstations for surveillance agents. Each workstation has three LCD monitors-two in the front and one on the left, which is mounted on an articulating monitor arm and holds a touchscreen for a digital mapping system.

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