In this modern age, the ability to instantly identify someone - be it for customer service or security and prevention purposes - has become critical. Casino properties across North America are utilizing new strategies and technologies in a continual effort to know as much as possible about their patrons.

One company helping to streamline that process through the innovative application of technologies is Santa Monica, Calif.-based Card Scanning Solutions. The company, founded in 1999, uses optical based scanners and information readers to glean valuable - and critical - information from virtually any sort of carded media such as state IDs, military cards, passports and even some documents.

“We read carded media like driver’s licenses in a very unique way … we read the face,” said Eyal Barsky, Card Scanning Solutions vice president of business development. “What that gives you is access to any type of license, whether it is based in the United States or internationally. It’s a completely different way to read IDs, and at the moment, we’re one of the very few companies that does this.”

What sets Card Scanning Solutions’ products and services apart, Barsky said, is the fact that they utilize an optical scanning process. Typical card readers glean information through reading a magnetic stripe or 2D barcode. The problem with that method is that not every state has those available, Barsky noted. Additionally, in some states, like Georgia, the barcode is encrypted, and the encryption keys can be very costly to acquire. Not many card-reading companies are in a position to acquire such tools.

Recognizing a need

Card Scanning Solutions got its start in Israel with the idea that being able to scan and collect necessary information from identifications would improve efficiency and accuracy for clients. Initially, the company produced a single scanner with a software tool built in to allow the optical scanning. Sales were coming predominately from Israel, but the company’s four founders soon realized there was a strong demand for the devices in other countries - especially the United States.

It didn't take long for the company to have U.S. representation. Its first client sought the scanning solution for six states.

“We templated those in and slowly but surely gained momentum to all 50 states,” Barsky said, adding that his company’s system can recognize virtually any ID from any state, instantly.

The first industries requesting the products were security and automotive. “One of our first big clients, Reynolds and Reynolds, has an automotive dealer-management system. You know when you go and test drive a car and you give your information? IDs are pretty imperative. It was a requirement, and we showed them our system, and they were pretty much sold right away. It’s still one of our top industries,” Barsky said.

The ScanShell 600 was one of the company’s first imaging products. Soon, potential clients were seeking imaging in the medical fields for OCR.

“As we got more and more client requests, we added business card support, the reading of one-dimensional barcodes, the 2D barcodes, passports,” Barsky said. “It was just an organic growth in our company based on what the clients were requesting.”

Until fairly recently, all of Card Scanning Solutions’ products were based on simple scanning technology. But as needs increased, especially with regard to how quickly identifications could be scanned, the company began implementing newer, more effective technologies.

“Until now, we used a scanner that is a small scanner the size of your TV remote. It passes the ID through it, and it takes about seven to eight seconds to go through the scanner. Because of the fact that it took a fairly long time, we came up with a new idea called SnapShell. SnapShell is actually a three mega-pixel camera in which you put the ID on top of it. The camera snaps the picture in two to three seconds and grabs the image and inputs the data into pretty much any system there is out there,” Barsky said.

The company also has readers that can scan and store information from business cards, documents and other forms of media that contain vital information.

“Our function is to supply the data and to supply the image. From that point on, we have a software development kit that several companies in the industry use. They integrate our solution into theirs. Whatever database they’re already using, we give them the data, and they compile it into their database. Technically, it works with any type of database. We write our software development kit in almost any language that’s out there and it’s very simple to integrate. We’ve been in the business for such a long time that we’re constantly adding features and examples of how to use it and integrate it.”

Advantages for gaming

Barsky noted that the tools and services Card Scanning Solutions provides are a natural fit for the gaming industry, and that client demand there has helped drive continued innovation. The company’s strongest business model, Barsky said, is integrating with developers and operators that have been in the industry a long time.

“We’ve integrated with major slot manufacturers for their player tracking systems. We’re integrated with several applications that are in the casino cage. If you go to a few hotels in Las Vegas, you’ll see our hardware - the ScanShell 800 and 1000 - in the cage. Slowly but surely, you’re seeing a lot of people are replacing those with our SnapShell product line.”

There are also applicable utilizations for the products among kiosks and security and access control areas inside casino resorts. But perhaps the best use lies with adding advantages to player tracking.

When a casino operator signs a patron up for its reward or players program, using Card Scanning Solutions products allows the retrieval of not only the player’s information, but also the ability to crop off the face of the ID. Once the player has a card, which oftentimes doesn’t have a lot of information on it, that player can be scanned to make sure it is actually the person to whom the card is issued - another tool to ensure the card wasn’t stolen or that players card scams are not being perpetrated. There are compliance issues as well in terms of tracking how much that person is making from the government.

“For instance in casinos it is Title 31. Now the Real ID Act has come out. There are new provisions under the Patriot Act. All of these new regulations require not just the information, but also an image of the ID,” Barsky said.

Ideally, Barsky said the devices could be installed at front desk and resort registration operations.

“I think the front-desk areas are the ultimate because if you can capture the information at the front desk, you can automatically have the customer opt in or out of the player tracking systems using the ID,” he said, noting that the devices can save time and labor, as well as eliminate data entry errors that can cause confusion. “That’s the one point where we haven’t had complete penetration, and it’s something that I would really like to break into, moreso for our customers, to really show the full power of what the software can do.”