Preparation Delivers Payoff for Hollywood Casino Security

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.

"The ability to pull the LCD screen in front of you when you need to touch which cameras you want without having to reach three or four feet is very nice," said Burnett. "And that was just one of the great things that this console enabled us to achieve." The console was also customized with returns in between workstations that provide added desktop workspace as well as file storage underneath.

"When you're dealing with surveillance agents, you're not dealing with everybody coming in at 6'2." You have some operators that are 5' tall and some that are 6'3," so to be able to sit down at this workstation and be able to do their job comfortably because it was designed correctly is fantastic," said Burnett.

The back console consists of essentially two workstations for managers but allows enough workspace for two agents from the Indiana Gaming Commission, which operates onsite, to observe activities.

The managers are the ones overseeing all operations in the control room. They are the ones approving everything. They're also the ones that evaluate players.

The managers' console is set up to allow unobstructed views of the monitor wall and the entire control room. Two 50-inch plasma mounts on the left and right side of the station for tracking and viewing.

"The consoles give us the cable management we need when we're dealing with so much digital equipment. Every station has its own digital workstation, which means there are a lot of cables," said Krabbe. "But when I walk out there I only see three cables and each one goes to an LCD and is threaded inside the monitor mounting post."

Cable trays run within the consoles to hide the cables without restricting access. The consoles also have doors on the front and back and CPU shelves on the inside of the doors that allow Burnett and his team of technicians easy access to the electronics inside.

A Dupont Corian work surface was selected for the consoles for its long-term durability but also for aesthetics and flexibility down the road.

The new consoles made for an easy transition for the surveillance agents and managers from previous systems to the new state-of-the-art surveillance system at Hollywood Casino. Burnett reported that he doesn't have any agents getting stiff necks anymore.

"It paid doing a lot of homework from our side," added Krabbe.

 

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