No Gambling On Security

In the wake of the Met Police’s Game Unit’s first conviction for card-marking, this article outlines how a new generation of video surveillance technology is playing a dual role. Not just ensuring the safety and security of employees and guests, but also creating a better customer experience. Secure Operations With large sums of money at stake, casinos attract crowds of people hoping to be the exception to the rule that the house always wins. A small minority are even prepared to resort to unlawful methods to recast the odds in their favour. For as long as there have been casinos, there have been dirty players; and for as long as there have been cheats, casinos have had to try and stop them. The right security system makes this task a lot easier. However, it also helps to sustain a fun and exciting environment for the majority of guests who are there to be entertained. With hordes of people, both guests and employees, on the premises and big money on the line, security is an issue that every casino manager needs to consider wisely. In order to comply with rules and regulations, casinos use large numbers of surveillance cameras to provide an independent record of events. For example, in March this year the Met Police secured its first successful conviction for card marking against a 62 year-old man named Mihai Lacatos. Video surveillance footage which showed him spending hours playing poker at one particular table would have been a key piece of evidence. The same footage would also enable the casino to share intelligence with other venues so they could be watchful and prevent entry to a known cheat. As technology evolves, security personnel must increasingly face the fact that their traditional non-unified analogue video management systems (VMS) are not able to offer the broader security options and extensibility of a unified IP-based system. One of the challenges with analogue, closed system technology is that it can slow down the process of how security personnel act in cases of immediate incidents, be it table fraud, counterfeit cash or the arrival of blacklisted patrons. When incidents on the casino floors occur, security staff need to be able to intervene quickly. However, once an incident has taken place, the older technology can mean costly delays in investigations, as the process of finding and reviewing footage of the incident in question can be both slow and time-consuming. This is where open IP-based systems have the edge, as applications such as video analytics, automated face detection and filtering out of redundant data can significantly speed up the process. When the entire investigation process is taken into account – reviewing footage, exporting it and sharing it with law enforcement – the difference between open and closed technology is significant. In addition to this, new gaming regulations and standards have meant that casinos have had to accumulate more equipment in order to record and store footage from sensitive areas of the venue. In particular, rules which extend the amount of time security coverage must be retained have added to casino running costs. With casinos getting bigger and standards and regulation getting stricter, the need for more effective security tools has ascended. An increasing number of casinos are now turning to IP-based video solutions, which helps them to do a more effective and efficient job. Systems such as Security Center from Genetec help security personnel do a more efficient job by decreasing the response times and speeding up investigations. Beyond Security However, the new security systems do not only provide significant advantages in terms of security and fraud-prevention, but also help create a better environment for guests. An IP-based security system allows for integration between video surveillance and new software programmes such as automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), access control (ACS) and video analytics. This technology provides countless new opportunities in terms of recognising guests before they even set foot in the casino. Casino employees are able to not only keep track of the number of cars on the property, but they can also supervise exactly which cars are entering the premises and if needed take appropriate action. This could be to quickly identify and deny entry to blacklisted patrons or habitual gamblers without risking a high profile incident inside the casino lobby. Equally, it could be to alert staff to the arrival of a loyal high-stakes player to ensure they receive VIP treatment. For example, at one casino we work with reception staff are automatically notified when a VIP customer’s vehicle enters the car park and presented with information that helps them to provide a superior customer experience. This includes details such as a patrons’ favourite table number, what drinks they like and what games they prefer so that staff can look after them from the moment they walk through the door. This ensures they achieve a level of customer service far superior to what they would receive elsewhere, thereby ensuring they come back time and time again. By integrating video surveillance with analytics, valuable data can be gathered and decoded from video streams to assist with management decision-making. For example, when casino managers are able to get a better view of the movements of guests on the casino floor, their chances of successfully managing traffic are greatly enhanced. Similarly, integrating POS to a loitering analytic can ensure that when a “No Sale” or “Promo” transaction takes place a person is actually in front of the register safeguarding the transactional integrity of the patron events on a casino floor.  Analytics can also be used to determine dwell times and volume flows in the casino as a way of measuring the effective draw of a particular slot machine or bank of slot machines – of particular value to Slot Management personnel as this helps them in determining the most effective layout of their assets on the floor. When desired information levels have been reached with regard to patron density a notification can be sent to others in the casino environment instantly alerting them to the condition.  By making sure the flow of people is running smoothly at all times, issues such as congestion and dead space can be avoided. If, for example, an operator notices that a certain area is particularly crowded, they can open up more tables and place more staff there. Likewise, they can reduce activity in areas that are less busy, making more efficient use of resources. The information can further be used for long-term planning, such as when making decisions about casino lay-out or refurbishments. In addition to giving guests a better over-all experience, this also allows for more security staff to be placed in busy areas – thus assisting with the safety, well-being and satisfaction of every patron who walks through the door.