Betting on IP: The Second Generation of Casino Digital Systems

Casinos are moving to IP systems and focusing on hybrid in the interim

While many state gaming regulators have already required the migration from analog to digital video recording, some states still allow the use of complete analog recording solutions. Even though converting an existing site from analog recording (mainly utilizing VCRs and video tape), to digital recording (HVRs, DVRs and NVRs) can be costly, many casinos find digital systems offer significant benefits like being able to quickly and easily search and review video or tie third party systems (point of sale, access control, slot management, etc.) to the surveillance network.

Some casinos are even starting to bet on all-IP systems, especially when IT departments have a say in the surveillance specifications. Most however, are still harboring fears about more costly and complex network-based IP systems and continue to play it safe by adding IP slowly. This means the integrator who can provide a hybrid digital recording solution that merges analog and IP is likely to grab the attention of most casino operators, especially when and if they can migrate slowly and on their own terms.


Mix of analog and IP makes sense

Tim Lyvers, chief executive officer at Advanced Digital Solutions Inc. (ADS), Catawba, N.C., is a key integrator for the casino industry and started his career as a casino surveillance technician. He is sold on a mixed digital video offering and frequently sells IP and high-definition video in the cash areas at existing digital sites. “It is worth the investment in the money areas, over table games and at the entrances,” said Lyvers. “You can get a lot more data and clarity from your video.” While he admits there is little value-add for a high-definition camera recording at back of house hallways, he explained casinos are intrigued by the ability to check for slight-of-hand tricks or identify cash denominations passed across a table.

The casino market has been active for ADS in the last 12 months. They secured contracts to install video surveillance systems from Synectic Systems Inc.—a digital CCTV hardware and software manufacturer—in five Penn National Gaming casinos, including new properties in the just-licensed states of Ohio and Kansas. Lyvers said that Synectics’ Synergy video management software is very user-friendly. “That’s a big factor with the traction they’re continuing to gain in the industry—the mapping and reporting in Synergy is easy for surveillance operators to learn and use,” he said.

One of the recent sites to deploy the ADS installed, Synectics-driven system, is the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, outside Kansas City, which does business as Kansas Entertainment LLC—a joint venture of Penn National Gaming and International Speedway Corporation. Lyvers and his team installed a mix of analog and IP cameras all recorded on Synectics’ Synergy Video Management System. This is a strategy he frequently employs not only at the Penn National projects, but also at other sites he serves. “There is an analog and IP camera mix at the Kansas Speedway property but for table games they opted for high-definition IP cameras because of the superior image quality,” commented Lyvers.

At another current ADS/Synectics project, the Kansas Star Casino in Wichita, ADS has installed an all-IP camera recording system using Pelco cameras, Synectics’ recording and video management system and an ADS design. “Kansas Star went all IP because their IT director was involved in the decision process early on,” Lyvers explained. “Because of the picture quality and detail IP cameras offer, Kansas Star requested analog components not be included in the design.”

Lyvers sees picture quality as the key driver to casinos starting to use IP cameras and he finds state gaming regulators are pushing it once they see the value. The real move will come when the states begin to mandate it within gaming regulations.


Analyzing costs of analog versus IP

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