Faced with a range of security challenges including false claims, Title 31 regulations for transaction accountability and money laundering, drugs, slot machine and table game scams, employee theft and collusion, casinos around the country are continually upgrading security and surveillance initiatives to ensure customer and employee safety and to protect corporate assets.
A video surveillance upgrade can have a positive impact on improving the safety and security of patrons and business operations, because casino executives can leverage the video evidence to make more informed decisions. While data alone cannot say who was involved in a financial transaction, gaming outcome or risk management claim, good quality video does make a difference.
With three successful technology upgrade initiatives under my belt, I am well aware of the challenges of introducing new technologies to a 24/7 casino operation. Here’s a look at the drivers behind the technology evolution in the casino marketplace; reasons for the most recent transition to high-definition (HD) surveillance; major factors that casino operators need to consider before embarking on a technology transition; and how to build a foundation for a successful technology upgrade project.
The Drivers for Technology Evolution
In gaming, most technology refresh initiatives are prompted by a significant technology advancement — such as shrinking price differences between color and black-and-white cameras in the early 1990s or a compelling event such as a substantial loss or claim that draws attention to the need for better surveillance. The consumer market also influences surveillance trends — with casinos adopting a number of consumer-driven technologies for security operations over the years. For example, in the early 1980s, Las Vegas casinos first started installing VCR recording. In the early 1990s, casinos began recording video digital surveillance footage to data tape. Later, casinos adopted hard-drive storage on digital video recorders (DVRs) with multi-camera inputs.
While consumers have long abandoned VCRs and are using HD megapixel camera technology on their televisions, recording devices, and mobile telephones, the VCR is strangely still in use in many Las Vegas casinos. There are many factors at play that are driving the current transition to HD surveillance. Most surveillance system upgrades to HD are driven by a specific incident in which the casino’s previous system was unable to provide conclusive evidence on an important matter. At casinos, HD surveillance takes recorded video to a new level of undisputed identification of the people, activity and outcomes on the game floor.
HD video from IP devices can be recorded in real-time and because the clarity of HD camera images removes all doubt, casino operators are left with conclusive evidence. With its superior image clarity, even an untrained person can see undisputed images of a game or accurately identify an individual to make informed decisions. The clarity of a single picture from a recorded video clip on roulette speaks for itself, making the transition to HD surveillance the right choice.
Increased image clarity is key for casinos to monitor bet amounts and hand movements on games such as roulette.
Technology Upgrades: Issues to Consider
Deploying the most advanced and innovative technologies is a great way to meet security needs in a cost-effective way, but the challenges of adopting emerging software and hardware must be considered before embarking on an upgrade.
Typical issues for consideration include:
• Regulatory standards that have been written for analog devices by non-technical staff who may have a VCR replacement bias;
• Existing wire infrastructure and building design;
• Budgetary submission and approval process; and
• Business continuity and training.