“We are entering the second generation of digital recording systems in casinos,” said John Katnic, vice president and chief operating officer at Synectic Systems Inc., Carpinteria, Calif. “We see significant evolution in the gaming market to IP because of the advances that have been made with high definition and megapixel cameras,” he continued. “An all IP solution can be cost effective because it eliminates the need for analog video encoders and simplifies cabling. Plus, when designed correctly, it is very reliable and offers casinos the flexibility to easily add a variety of third-party IP cameras as they expand.”
The cost-benefit from IP video depends on the situation and the specification. Clearly, most casino operators would prefer to keep their legacy analog systems for as long as they can to maximize their original investment in that equipment. Factors like ease of expansion, cost of rewire, availability on existing matrix switches and image quality come into play when considering a move to an all-IP networked solution.
“On a new build, it is as cost-effective to go all-IP as it is to go analog because the money ordinarily spent on the matrix and cable goes into the network. The price of recording is the same. Digital cameras do cost more but there is savings on the encoder and of course infrastructure efficiencies of having network-deployed devices,” commented Katnic.
Fines for not following the rules
With the steep fines that can be handed out by gaming regulators for the loss of video, there remains concern about up-time and single points of failure within any digital system. “If you drop your network in an all-IP solution, you drop everything. It is your spinal cord,” Lyvers stated. The jackpot for a casino is to find an integrator who can not only provide a seamless hybrid system but also have the technical resources to help them migrate to a resilient networked IP system as the casino goes forward.
“To efficiently protect the casino’s assets, the customer, integrator and manufacturer have to work together,” Katnic said. “What is required is a holistic system that normalizes video into one universal media format and brings together data from disparate systems from the enterprise into a central command-and-control interface.” That is not always easy. In many jurisdictions, there is a ‘church-and-state’ separation between surveillance and the local area network overseen by IT that can add complexity to the integration process.
With casinos starting to demand high-definition IP cameras over high-value sources like cashier cages and high-stakes table games, integrators will need to evolve to a higher level of network expertise sooner than later. Lyver’s recognizes this and has added technicians with IT knowledge to his team. He also relies upon solution partners like Synectics, who have network engineers and designers to provide the support required to offer a complete, integrated systems solutions.
Perhaps more than integrators or regulators, it is manufacturers who will dictate the move to IP. Lyvers does not expect a decisive move to IP in the gaming industry until manufacturers cut back on the production of analog cameras and the price of IP cameras drop. “Then, there will be a bigger rush to IP,” he explained.
“In casinos, they want ‘one throat to choke’ and a turnkey system,” Katnic added. The integrator who teams with a good manufacturer should never roll snake eyes.