A happy medium

March 18, 2010
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs stays IP-ready with integrated system

In 2005, Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun - one of the largest U.S. casinos - purchased the 40-year-old Pocono Downs Racetrack in Plains Township, Pa., and renamed it Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The organization sought to convert the property to a casino complex and significantly expand it. In late 2006, as part of this transition, the organization put in place a temporary 1,100-slot gaming facility exclusively equipped with IP video technology as it worked on completion of the new facility set for opening in early 2008.

While IP video is becoming an increasingly common part of today's video installations, Mohegan's security personnel quickly learned that IP systems are not one-size-fits-all solutions after seeing the temporary facility's system in action. Though technically advanced and "future-forward," the IP technology was a hindrance to the new Mohegan site's operations, according to Dave Zarn, surveillance technical manager for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

"The IP technology in place wasn't well-suited for our operations," Zarn says. "We couldn't easily expand the system, plus the technology was slow and lacked the versatility we needed for an environment with so much happening at once. We'd have one piece work in one setting but not in another, and you can't successfully run a gaming operation that way."

Zarn and his team sought an alternative solution for the permanent facility that would yield better results. Selecting an alternative, however, would mean deviating from the technology in place at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. That meant the team needed to demonstrate why it was necessary to change systems and how it could be financially viable. The answer meant finding an integrated system that would protect current investments while offering enhanced technological benefits that could easily expand with the facility. After reviewing several different products and observing installations at other casinos, the team selected a fully integrated video technology system from Honeywell.

"We needed technology that plays nice with other products, and that's what we found," Zarn says. "Our selection gave us an opportunity for cost savings through enhanced integration, and it also offers greater flexibility for future expansion."

Designed, installed and integrated by North American Video, the video system encompasses a mix of products from Honeywell, including analog dome cameras on a CAT5 and fiber backbone that's IP-ready for expansion. Honeywell ACUIX PTZ cameras provide video monitoring of the casino floor, as well as Mohegan's parking structure, racetrack and clubhouse, and are tied into matrix switchers through its Honeywell's VideoBloX matrix system. Honeywell enterprise-level digital network video recorders (NVRs) capture the images. In total, 724 cameras were installed in the front and back of the house and 110 on the permanent casino floor.

Zarn also sought a way to further simplify security and surveillance operations by tying together video subsystems spread across the facility. To accomplish this, the organization selected MAXPRO-Net, Honeywell's video management technology.
The Windows-based server leverages the analog video matrix and supports video subsystems, including the digital NVR systems throughout the facility, and has the capacity to support other security technology - including access control, fire, building management, intercom and perimeter systems.

Operators can easily access live or recorded video from 12 workstations spread across the property, based on specific permissions assigned for each station. The workstations are each configured for different purposes, including video review and risk management assessment. The system can also integrate both analog and IP video cameras in a single display, ensuring that IP technology can be easily incorporated as the system expands in the future.

To further drive integration throughout the facility, Mohegan Sun also implemented technology that ties together data from point-of-sales systems, slot machines and cash counters, and integrates with the broader video management system platform. The data monitoring and mining technology, Honeywell's Integrated Data Manager (IDM), captures cash-handling information from casino registers and machines and then integrates the data with video. As a result of this integration, casino officials can review cash handling from anywhere within the facility.

The data monitoring technology features real-time reporting capabilities, which personnel can use to generate reports, such as the previous day's transactions. Users can also perform customized searches for specific data and pinpoint suspicious activities and security issues. "It's challenging to keep a close eye on cash handling throughout the facility like ours - and demonstrate ROI, no less," Zarn says. "Now, we can quickly pinpoint data and resolve issues, which keeps guests happy and helps our bottom line."

From an operator perspective, Mohegan is able to partition the integrated system so both the security and surveillance teams can benefit from it. The surveillance team uses it to monitor cash handling on the floor and in cash-count cages. The security team leverages the installation for handling back-of-the-house operations and other operational issues that go beyond security breaches, including visitor injury incidents.

"We can easily pinpoint and share only the pertinent video with the appropriate parties, which is a big timesaver," Zarn says. "This takes just seconds, and it provides greater data security in that the coverage cannot be duplicated or burned at the remote station. Plus, it facilitates the workflow of our risk management department, so it helps on many levels."

In addition, the new integrated system is also helping Mohegan meet gaming regulations in the new Pennsylvania gaming market. "Because Pennsylvania is a new gaming market, regulatory requirements are very stringent when compared to mature gaming markets," Zarn says. "We needed technology that would meet those requirements, while also providing the ability to expand and be IP-ready."

In the near future, Mohegan will expand the system due to the recent passing of Pennsylvania legislation that allows table games at the facility. The organization will add 380 cameras to accommodate its planned 80 table games and a new slot machine area. Officials also plan for the expansion to include the facility's access control and life safety systems, which will further drive the benefits of integration in the facility.

"Having an integrated system lets us be more proactive in our approach to asset protection and keeping our visitors and employees safe," Zarn says. "We're better equipped to prevent incidents like theft and don't have to wait for events to happen. And by being proactive also helps boost morale among our staff members, who in turn are more productive and effective."