Millions of people test their luck at any one of the nation's 1500 gambling facilities ranging from casino resorts to poker rooms. In the last half century, "Indian" casinos have gained popularity by becoming more accessible to the masses. As a result, these facilities have made stronger footprints in the gaming community.
According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, Indian gaming is a $25.1 billion industry. Net revenues were up more than 11 percent from 2005 to 2006. In fact, over the last five years from 2001 to 2005, revenues have doubled. Western regions that include Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas saw an increase in revenues from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $2.1 billion the following year, a 22 percent increase. This was the largest percentage increase regionally during 2006.
Indian casinos are taking advantage of the momentum by expanding their operations to feed the increasing demand. As new casinos are built and older ones get facelifts, security teams are preparing to handle increased in traffic flow, money handling and potential thefts. They are also making sure the facilities have the proper security tools in place to protect its customers and employees while preventing criminals from taking a share of the winnings.
Increased Growth Fuels Expansion
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is one example of an organization whose casinos are experiencing significant growth in the last five years. Choctaw Nation is a Native American Indian Tribe with its principal place of business in Durant, Oklahoma, near the Oklahoma-Texas border. Choctaw Nation owns and operates a variety of businesses including gaming centers, tobacco shops, truck plazas and convenience stores.
In the last five years, Choctaw's Pocola casino underwent renovations that tripled the size of the facility. The updated 65,825-square-foot facility offers some of the best gaming in the casino industry, featuring more than 1,000 gaming machines and a 200-seat off-track betting facility. The Choctaw security team recently upgraded the surveillance systems in Pocola in addition to two other casinos, Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant and Broken Bow.
More than 300 Axis network cameras were placed in these three casino locations to monitor gaming floors, high-stakes poker tables and slot machines. The cameras were being used in conjunction with the Universal Video Management System (UVMS) solution from Petards, Inc., a developer of advanced video surveillance systems and one of the leading security suppliers to the Choctaw Nation.
The Choctaw security team selected a network-based solution because they wanted to implement a more advanced surveillance system that could more effectively monitor the increased foot traffic in existing and new casinos. Their main priority was to install cameras that provided increased clarity and resolution, and to design a system that could handle the bandwidth needed to support more advanced network security functions.
Betting on IP Surveillance
When evaluating different systems, the Choctaw security team found that moving into the world of Internet Protocol (IP) surveillance had great benefits. They found that older legacy cameras produced images with poor resolution, and that the print quality of the images was substandard. The security team's ability to work with the local Sheriff or Chief of Police was greatly hindered by unclear images that could not be used in a court of law. In addition, they found that VCR tapes from legacy systems wore out over time, creating a hassle for security teams who had to play back video repeatedly over several days and/or weeks.
Dan Breshears, executive director of Tribal Police Security and Surveillance for Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, compares the differences between IP and legacy systems to the evolution of media within the music industry.