Keeping an Eye on the Floor

It’s no secret that cheating by players, embezzlement by employees and fraudulent claims by customers are just some of the challenges casinos all across America must face on a daily basis. Gaming establishments have installed video recording systems to catch the culprits, only to find that older systems and the huge amount of taped footage they produce are clumsy and slow.

Tapes must be stored, taking up valuable space. Then, every nine months or so, they must be replaced. VCRs, too, are constantly being replaced due to wear and tear. For some casinos, video tape recorders require replacement every two years because of mechanical breakdown.

When an incident does occur and is recorded, locating the clip via the VCR can be tedious, very often requiring security or surveillance personnel to search tape after tape. It could take hours to locate the specific event recording. By that time, especially in a casino environment, the perpetrator could be out the door or even out of the country — a definite possibility for casinos that are located near an international border.

It is for these reasons, as well as many others, that Viejas Casino Security Director Jerry K. McCawley decided to go digital, installing 1,000 Sanyo DSR-M800 casino digital video recorders (DVRs) and compatible software, VA-SW814, at the gaming establishment he supervises. The digital video recorders and software are from Sanyo Security Products, Chatsworth, CA.

Casino DVR is User-Friendly, Technically Accessible
Viejas Casino is owned and operated by the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians, which is located in Southern California, just east of San Diego. Viejas’ 210,000 square foot complex has 2,050 slot machines and more than 100 gaming tables. Guests play poker, blackjack, Pai Gow, Caribbean Stud, 3-Card Poker, Let It Ride and Baccarat. They also enjoy the compound’s six restaurants, shopping mall, entertainment lounge and outdoor concert hall. Past performers include Chicago, Al Jarreau, Billy Idol, Earth Wind and Fire, and many more. McCawley and his staff rely on this system to help keep their guests safe by maintaining a vigilant watch over the indoor and outdoor areas of the casino property.

The casino, mall and parking lots require surveillance and were all formerly monitored by a CCTV system equipped with VCRs. McCawley, however, knew it was time to upgrade the video recording system. He chose Sanyo’s real-time casino DVR, which was specifically designed for the gaming industry, because it is user-friendly, sustainable on a generator and is technically accessible. In addition, the unit offers from one week up to one month of recording at 30 fps Real-Time (NTSC).

Like the Sanyo casino DVRs, the compatible Sanyo VA-SW814 Software was developed with input from many of Sanyo’s casino partners who were part of the "design team". “This software answers many of the needs specific to casino security operations. This is one of the only pieces of software on the market that is strictly for casino use that I know of,” said McCawley. The software allows the connection of 4000 DSR-M800 units and 16 PCs in a single closed LAN system. McCawley particularly likes the software for its key features including the ability to zoom in and zoom out, to monitor full screen or quad pictures, and for its broadcast functions. “Also, with three different user levels, I can assign people to monitor areas that are appropriate for their level,” said McCawley. The user levels are password controlled for additional security.

Another aspect of the Sanyo system that was particularly attractive to McCawley during the bidding phase was the fact it is comprised of individual units that are not reliant on each other for operation. “That means if one unit goes down,” says McCawley, “only one camera is compromised rather than the entire system.” The Sanyo DSR-M800’s sharp picture quality and low competitive price were other aspects of the system that made it a smart buy.

McCawley adds that during the installation of the DSR-M800s there was no need to change the existing matrix and cameras. Also, according to McCawley, the free-standing server system has eliminated hacking by outside attackers.

Search Time Reduced by More Than 70 Percent
Probably the most impressive benefit of the Sanyo DSR-M800, however, is its speed when retrieving event images. According to McCawley, “Sanyo’s product has enabled us to reduce the amount of time spent searching for incidents by 70 to 80 percent.”

In addition to the fast image retrieval rate, the product also offers MPEG2 video compression and 120 GB, 240 GB, 300 GB and 600 GB hard drives. The expansive hard disc space and MPEG2 compression method allow for continuous storage times of 7 days to 35 days in high quality mode (720 X 480 picture resolution) at 30 frames per second (fps).

Simultaneous record and playback capabilities as well as a mirroring function for redundancy recording are other useful features, as are the four picture quality settings, simple OSD menu setup, alarm recording, built-in time/date generator and user-friendly advanced software with four user levels.

System Positioned to Successfully Face the Future The DSR-M800’s speed and advanced features will come in handy in the future as casino criminals continue to find new ways to cheat. Additionally, Viejas Casino security and surveillance personnel can take advantage of the M800’s other security and surveillance applications and increase their return on investment.

For example, customer arguments over who sat down at a popular slot machine first could be resolved with images quickly retrieved from the DVR. Footage from parking lots and driveways could be viewed to prove or disprove claims of an assault or of car damage. The veracity of a slip and fall case could be verified as well.

Another benefit of the Sanyo system is its expandability. As Viejas’ business grows, casino management can easily increase the number of DSR-M800s deployed.

Up to 4,000 units can be controlled through the software, Sanyo’s VA-SW814, giving the casino flexibility in expansion. With the new Sanyo DSR-M804 digital recorder, the same benefits of the DSR-M800/810 recorder are available in a four-channel quad version, which many casinos are using to replace multiplexers, as well as to upgrade all of their non-surveillance areas of the casino. Both units can be tied together on the same software or separated, depending on the casino's preference.

All of these features ensure that if massive expansion is in store for Viejas Casino, Sanyo’s DVR system will be up for the challenge.