Keeping an Unblinking Eye on Gamblers

Casinos wrestle with new technologies, digital video to cut down on cheats

The tribe operates seven casinos, including the two Hard Rocks near Hollywood and in Tampa. The casinos have slot machines and poker but none of the traditional table games such as craps and roulette.

Facial-recognition software works by comparing a person's face with an existing database of photos. Jenkins said the Seminole casinos do not use the software.

"Sometimes, the more bells and whistles you have on the screen, the more it diverts you from what's going on," said the 30-year FBI veteran and former assistant special agent in charge of the bureau's Las Vegas office. "Nothing beats experience."


Technology is trying, though. Another new form of software helps alert security officers to unusual events on the casino floor without having to scan all the cameras at once.

"The new hot thing is analytics," said Scott Bartlett, CEO of Southwest Surveillance Systems, a Las Vegas company that specializes in casino surveillance systems. "Some casinos are getting so big, with well over 3,000 cameras. It's impossible for operators to watch all of them. Analytics looks at all the scenarios programmed into it [card counting, too], calls it up on a monitor and gives the operator an alert."

For example, he said, video-analytics software can tell a computer to alert the operator if someone leaves a briefcase on a casino floor and walks away. The computer could be programmed to show the operator a few minutes of video leading up to the event and some afterward, to give a complete context.

"It allows the casino to very quickly respond to something suspicious or unusual," Bartlett said. "It can be used for slip-and-falls, to let the casino know about people wandering around the parking lot outside, for almost any scenario we can dream up. The sky's the limit."

<<Miami Herald, The (KRT) -- 05/31/07>>