Covering 4.7 million square feet with 340,000 square feet dedicated to gaming space, the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino located in Mashantucket, Conn., is one of the largest gaming facilities in the world.
One of the people in charge of keeping operations at the resort running smoothly is Foxwoods Surveillance Director Tim Bohr, who monitors the actions of the thousands of guests and staff who move throughout the facility on a daily basis.
Bohr worked in physical security and investigations within the banking industry before joining Foxwoods 13 years ago. Now he is charged with overseeing a massive surveillance network which includes more than 4,000 cameras.
In this "At the Frontline" interview, Bohr discusses how emerging video technologies have changed gaming security and how it helps him and others in the industry keep tabs on those who attempt to defraud casinos.
How many different areas of the casino and gaming stations are being monitored by your CCTV system at a given time?
We monitor any areas that have money handling areas, anything with table games, slots, cages, count rooms. All gaming-related activities are monitored by surveillance. I have three different surveillance monitoring rooms throughout the complex. We basically have five casinos under one roof.
What are some of your primary challenges in monitoring a casino of that size?
Most of our challenges are just sheer volume. We average anywhere from 45,000 to 75,000 people a day through the resort. We use a lot of the newer technology to supplement our staffing. Our staff is probably one of the highest trained staffs in the industry. We put them through a tremendous amount of training and certification to work here. But the volume of people coming through and the scams weâ€™re looking for -- both internal and external -- create daily challenges.
What are some of the types of scams that you have to watch out for?
Weâ€™re constantly tracking cheating teams that are known throughout the industry. We track them by talking to other casinos on a daily basis to try and determine where these people are at all times. Obviously, you have your local players that try to take advantage of different aspects of the casino by cheating, whether it be simple betting and capping to more sophisticated card counting or collusion with dealers. We are constantly tracking individuals that we have knowledge of and weâ€™re constantly identifying other individuals we believe that may be beginning to start a team to try and cheat or feel their way around and see if itâ€™s worth it here or not.
How have CCTV and emerging video technologies affected surveillance in the gaming industry?
Obviously, the big switch was from VCR [to DVRs], now the big thing is from digital to IP. IP in a casino this large hasnâ€™t taken off yet because itâ€™s just cost prohibitive to do at this point. We run in excess of 4,000 cameras throughout our complex so to change all of those over to IP would have been cost prohibitive to do. There are certainly areas where we will utilize IP cameras and weâ€™ll identify those on a need-to-need basis. The technology out there now, the digital technology, the camera technology thatâ€™s out there now far surpasses the previous types of equipment that were available so we utilize the newest and best equipment that we can possibly get out hands on.
How has switching from VCRs to DVRs impacted the surveillance department?
Just the man hours you save in changing tapes and the costs of replacing tapes is tremendous. Itâ€™s just a much cleaner technology, more details to search for an incident. Itâ€™s a hundred times faster than anything in the past. Obviously, anything on DVRs can be retrieved from any station within any monitoring room. You no longer have to get up, go out, get a tape, come back, bring it in, and rewind it. Weâ€™ve been digital here for about six years, so we kind of made the switch early on in the industry. But even the technology thatâ€™s emerging today -- the fine tuning of digital systems -- is just leaps and bounds compared to what it used to be.