From a personal safety standpoint, the casino environment is arguably the most protected among all entertainment venues what with the omnipresence of security personnel and video surveillance of virtually every inch of the property.
But in a business enterprise dominated by transactions not only involving currency but also paper and plastic instruments which have cash value, how safe are casinogoers, and for that matter, casino owners, from forgery and fraud?
Enter Peter Ettinger, president of Document Security Systems, Inc., (DSS) a company which specializes in protection against counterfeiting.
"We have some unique and powerful security solutions built specifically for enhancing gaming industry security," Ettinger maintains. "Counterfeit losses are estimated worldwide at $250 billion across multiple industries, including gaming. If your basic paper or plastic product is not secure, then no other part of that product is as secure as it should be."
The expansion of gaming both nationally and internationally has created new business horizons for companies which specialize in protecting consumers and casino owners from fraud, not only as it applies to paper but also plastic such as room keys and players club cards.
"When you look at the gaming industry, you see paper being passed throughout the casino, everything from currency to coupons and vouchers," Ettinger said. "The tools of the counterfeiter are typically the copier, the scanner, the home computer and the ability to do digital imaging. We believe that if you can make it you can probably fake it, and if it's got value, somebody's going to try and copy it."
Aware that even the unscrupulous can replicate bar codes, DDS creates ink-on-paper solutions that prevent copying any negotiable instrument, including coupons and vouchers, from being copied, scanned or duplicated.
The gambling industry will even begin deploying advanced document security measures that are commonplace in financial circles and other cash-driven enterprises.
One of the company's patented products, AuthentiGuard Phantom, is an example of the technological advances the casino owners will embrace to preserve the integrity of players cards, plastic room keys, even gaming chips. It involves a new level and class of optical variable technology (OVT) which reveals a ghosted message discernable to the naked eye when tilted at a certain angle to assure authenticity.
Security measures being explored by casinos also apply to the industry's recent emphasis on hospitality, principle among them hotel complexes which generally are not subject to the extraordinary security measures taken on casino gaming floors.
"When you go past a guard in a casino hotel lobby, typically you must present your room key," Ettinger said. "There's nothing to determine if it's really the right key and the right person. Just flash it at somebody and you're in the hallways. This is the kind of problem that is being addressed."
Rapid verification of documents and plastic cards to confirm authenticity quickly and easily as it applies to bar code data collection, cashless card systems and player and slot tracking systems is a priority of gaming and will soon be the industry standard.
John G. Brokopp is a local free-lance gaming writer.