Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino resort
Analysts predict that by 2015 Asia will take over from the U.S. as the dominant global casino market, generating estimated gross gaming revenues in excess of $79 billion. But growth presents fresh challenges and keeping sites secure is a key one. It’s one of the reasons why the Asian gaming market is experiencing a surveillance technology renaissance.
Expanding and new establishments are increasingly moving away from analogue surveillance systems in favor of IP-based solutions—a trend driven by demand for high definition (HD) video reproduction. In addition, intelligent surveillance is no longer just about image capture, it’s about making sense of disparate security-related information.
The Asian gaming market is characterized by scale. The sheer size of establishments and breadth of facilities offered means that casino management teams increasingly find themselves lost in a forest of data.
Being able to clear a path through the irrelevant, to locate the information that really matters, therefore offers a distinct business benefit—it will make a difference to the bottom line. By intelligently integrating video with third-party transaction and alarm data within a single monitoring and control environment, ‘clearing the path’ is entirely achievable, particularly over IP networks.
Integration with other security and emergency systems is a given. But it’s integrations of a more complex nature that really epitomize where the Asian gaming market is heading.
For example baccarat is by far the most popular game in Asia, so much so that integration between surveillance systems and baccarat tables is practically a standard requirement. Data such as cards dealt from the shoe or player statistics, can be married with high-quality video footage and, via the security monitoring and control platform, alert control room operators to any anomalies and automatically trigger a visual feed of the footage they need to investigate further.
Baccarat is not an exception. Slot machine jackpot payouts, roulette number sequences and POS cash registers—all are increasingly integrated with the surveillance system to pair statistical and visual data for a more holistic view of operations that enables rapid identification of and appropriate response to issues. It reduces review time, therefore cutting staffing costs, and means that potentially complex breach or fraud scenarios can be rapidly identified and resolved. Given the size, staffing numbers and visitor footfall of Asian casinos, operating this way is far more efficient and effective, if not essential.
Interest in mining data at this level also means there has been a shift in focus towards high definition and mega pixel cameras—a philosophy of ‘see more, do more’ is emerging. These cameras are capable of incredible detail, presenting clear overhead shots that can reveal distinct monetary denominations, suit types and hand movements.
But while these shifts in technology bring new opportunities, they also present challenges.
Regulations regarding coverage loss of any kind can be strict—the Singapore market being the most stringent. With IP-based systems, the threat is that points of network failure could result in loss of video coverage. Regulators can force casinos to shut entire gaming areas down if image loss occurs and fine massive sums for downtime or unreported failures.
This is one of the reasons why Asian casinos are working so closely with surveillance system providers to develop multiple levels of failover that improve overall resiliency.
For example, leading systems support HD IP cameras and encoders that record to local memory so that in the case of a network failure, video is retained and later, when the network recovers, is automatically backfilled to the primary storage servers. Redundancy is increasingly in demand and likely to become “the norm.” Such systems ensure continuous coverage and a seamless record of events that both protect assets and appease regulators.
But coverage loss is just one threat. Another challenge that goes hand-in-hand with greater levels of surveillance integration is ensuring that linking networked systems does not expose the enterprise to unauthorized access to critical data. Again, this concern is leading casino operators to work much more closely with surveillance technology providers to engineer robust network security firewalls and implement more vigilant access policies, procedures and audits against network and data breaches.
The trends outlined here will be relevant to all Asian casinos but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Yes, new large-scale Asian casinos—whether in Singapore, Macau, the Philippines or even Japan—will almost certainly adopt IP-based surveillance solutions moving forward as they offer the most cost-effective, scalable technology available; but each will have its own distinct needs and regulatory demands. That’s why flexibility is so important.
While it’s true the power of intelligent surveillance lies in its ability to sift through mounds of information to identify the important details, what really matters will depend on the individual DNA of each casino. Casino operators in Asia will increasingly turn to surveillance providers that recognize this and can work with them to implement technology solutions that meet their individual requirements.