Traditionally, security and surveillance departments were primarily concerned with protecting slot areas, table pits and other spaces within the casino where gaming took place and money freely exchanged hands. Fast forward to today and the role of the casino security and surveillance arm has greatly expanded, especially as casinos have morphed into multi-purpose resorts and new technologies have pushed gaming beyond brick-and-mortar confines. Simply stated, casinos are more vulnerable than ever before because they offer more than ever before, and it is up to security and surveillance department to identify and mitigate the risks that arise from this expansion. It is a pretty heady task.
Fortunately, security and surveillance vendors are on the scene, providing products, technologies and services that make protection and observation tasks easier and more efficient. What follows is a rundown of some established and new gaming security and surveillance equipment providers that have made news in 2016 and bear watching in the future, as determined by the editors of Casino Journal.
Originally formed in Sweden in the 1980s, Axis Communications has made a name for itself in the gaming industry through its focus on IP camera technology, which led it to develop a number of first-to-market products including the world’s first network camera, the video encoder, HDTV and thermal network cameras.
The business model has resulted in Axis becoming a global market leader in network cameras and video encoders. Today, the company drives network video development, providing a variety of network video devices and creating various Internet of Things (IoT) security products to broaden the use of IP networks, according to company press materials. Indeed, over the past year, Axis Communications has introduced a number of new IP camera innovations to the North American marketplace such as i-CS lens technology that directly exchanges information such as geometrical distortion and the exact position of its zoom, focus and iris opening which allows for easier formatting of Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) and Barrel Distortion Correction (BDC); P12 cameras that feature a slim main unit with a bullet-style sensor for easy and discreet installation on walls and ceilings, and a main unit with a pinhole sensor for integration in machines and for extremely discreet surveillance applications; and Zipstream technology that offers even more storage and bandwidth savings in video surveillance applications without compromising important image details.
In the midst of all this innovation, Axis Communications surveillance products continue to make casino industry inroads. California-based Stones Gambling Hall recently installed a range of Axis cameras offering high definition resolution, discrete installation and options for remote maintenance and control.
“One of the benefits of using Axis is that it offers a product portfolio with dozens of different types of cameras, attachments, mounting assemblies, etc.,” said Ryan Gleason project manager for CCS, the integrator that installed the system for Stones Gambling Hall. “We could choose the best model number to use in a particular instance given the aesthetics, the location and what we were trying to see.”
HONEYWELL SECURITY GROUP
Some feel there is safety is size, a phenomenon which may explain the gaming industry ongoing devotion to security-related products and systems from Honeywell Security Group, a division of Honeywell, the massive Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing company.
Backed by this conglomerate, Honeywell Security Group has been able to research and develop a 360 degree portfolio of gaming resort security solutions that includes compliance, surveillance, guest safety, cash cage/count room, food and beverage and video analytics. This combination of products has led to installation in such well-known gaming properties as CityCenter, Mohegan Sun, Wynn Las Vegas and Rio Al-Suite Hotel & Casino to oversee its annual World Series of Poker contest.
According to a company case study, the CityCenter installation integrated Honeywell’s newest IP video technology with analog video and the facility’s IT systems. All the technology is managed under Honeywell’s MAXPRO VMS video management system. The single software platform allows personnel to quickly retrieve and view video from any camera to pinpoint and resolve issues as they arise.
The Honeywell video system uses equipment such as 360 degree IP cameras to cover the casino floor, as well as megapixel cameras that can capture clear identification shots of people traveling between different areas. Additionally, the surveillance system captures data from CityCenter’s parking and retail locations.
Meanwhile, CityCenter-based ARIA Resort and Casino implemented Honeywell’s HD3MDIP fixed mini-dome network camera, which is ideal for casino floors due to its superior picture quality and ability to capture high-definition images in variable conditions, including low lighting. It can also reduce the number of cameras needed to monitor table games.
“The amazing thing about these cameras is the image quality and the low light level performance,” said Ted Whiting, surveillance director at ARIA at the time of the Honeywell camera installation. “Most casinos are quite dark, which has always been an issue for CCTV systems. The Honeywell HD3MDIP handles low light better than any camera I have ever seen, and the resolution is fantastic.
When you think about cutting-edge gaming resort security, it’s unlikely that the first thing that comes to mind are old-fashioned machine, lock and door keys. But misplaced or stolen keys to areas such as count rooms and to items such as drop boxes are very much a security risk at any property, so key storage, management and control is a vital aspect of any gaming resort’s overall safety solution.
When it comes to key control in the gaming industry, one company currently stands out from the crowd—Morse Watchmans. The Oxford, Conn.-based company specializes in state-of-the-art key management (KeyWatcher), locker systems (SmartKey) guard tour (PowerCheck) and key ring (KeyRing) systems. These products can act as standalone units or, as technology evolves, be integrated and networked into access control and other physical security systems. This systems capability is front-and-center in Morse Watchmans’ latest iteration of its key management solution—the KeyWatcher Touch, which is quickly finding a home in increasingly wired casino enterprises.
For example, the Tohono O’odham Nation’s three Arizona-based Desert Diamond Casinos recently upgraded to KeyWatcher Touch so management would have centralized control of the entire key control system, according to a company case study. Touch allowed synchronization of the same information across all of the key control cabinets to simplify updating user key access or enrolling information. Profiles were created and assigned to each user and any changes to the profile are cascaded down to the users assigned to it. The move to a common user database helps ensure system integrity and even allows for auditing transactions and history after an employee’s departure.
Because the upgraded system is integrated with the casinos’ business /communication network, e-mail and SMS texts can be sent automatically to authorized individuals. Locating keys or determining when a key is scheduled to be returned is also faster and easier.
Lately the company has taken this desire for network integration a step further, and KeyWatcher Touch can now integrate with Honeywell, Lenel and Software House security management software. Recently, Morse Watchmans announced KeyWatcher Touch is now integrated with AMAG Technology’s Symmetry V8.0.2 Access Control System.
“The integration between these two technologies eliminates the time-consuming and potentially error-prone tasks of entering users into two separate systems,” said Fernando Pires, vice president of sales and marketing for Morse Watchmans. “We are very pleased that the KeyWatcher Touch key control system can be updated and managed through Symmetry, increasing the accuracy and effectiveness of both solutions.”
NORTH AMERICAN VIDEO (NAV)
Creating new surveillance products and systems is an involved task, so too is designing, installing and maintaining these devices within a gaming resort environment. Brick, N.J.-based North American Video (NAV) has built its reputation on delivering world class integrated security solutions and service to many industries and markets, gaming included.
Indeed, the NAV business model was originally established to provide integrated surveillance solutions to the gaming market, and it still provides system design, equipment installation, training and service to casino across the U.S. One recent customer for NAV services was Washington-based Snoqualmie Casino, which needed an analog-to-IP surveillance system conversion. In this case, NAV provided a design-build that included encoding 700 channels of analog video to a fully digital Dallmeier SRS video management system, which offers full virtual matrix capability.
To better serve its gaming customers, NAV recently relocated its western regional headquarters to a new, expanded, state-of-the-art facility in Las Vegas. The new facility includes a fully functional camera lab that allows the customers to validate camera performance in real-world situations. NAV has also constructed a temperature controlled server lab where software and hardware from major VMS manufacturers has been installed for testing and evaluation purposes. Both the camera lab and the server lab are integrated in a fully functional training room, which can accommodate up to 50 people, that is designed to provide customers and employees with a classroom learning environment for technology training and education.
“Thanks to NAV’s continued expansion in the gaming market and tremendous support from our customers, we had outgrown our previous Las Vegas location,” said Laurie Smock, vice president, NAV. “This was a good problem, which resulted in the design of a new facility that provides the additional space, capabilities and technology we need to deliver the superior support that our customers have come to expect from NAV.”
The ability of surveillance cameras to read car license plates has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade, as anyone who failed to stop at a camera-equipped red light or stop sign and received a ticket through the mail can attest. Surveillance camera suppliers for the gaming industry have responded by adding license plate reading capabilities to existing products and systems. However, a new company has formed and has decided to make license plate reading and analytics its specialty—OnArrival Surveillance.
The Portland, Ore.-based company is now offering its license plate recognition (LPR) technology to the gaming industry. This technology leverages the solutions OnArrival developed for the demanding needs of law enforcement in accuracy, performance, reliability and scalability.
According to company press materials, the solution provides the resources needed for surveillance departments to identify risks while providing marketing departments with valuable data about the visiting pattern and origin of their customers.
OnArrival Casino License Plate Recognition System employs Streaming Networks innovative LPR technology to accurately read the license plates of American, Canadian and European countries. The system can read misaligned license plates, vertically stacked characters and plates partially hidden by plate frames. Each vehicle arriving and exiting the property is documented by date, time, overview image and optically recognized license plate.
The LPR system can monitor a hot list up to 10,000,000 entries and send alerts as e-mail or SMS notifications, along with snapshots of the vehicle and its license plate to signal hot plate encounters. Hotlists can be used to identify excluded individuals, advantage players, law enforcement wanted suspects, or user defined category of visitor as they arrive at the property and before entering the gaming floor. Hotlists can be divided into categories to provide for different levels of notification.
From a data mining perspective, OnArrival’s advanced analytics package allows properties to leverage the surveillance tool to provide valuable statistics to casino operators. Current analytics functions include patron visits, vehicles on property, plate recurrence and origin distribution, to name a few. This information can be used to determine the impact of entertainment and/or promotions on the number of guest visits, length of stay and guest origin. The review of historical data will provide insight into the future scheduling of staff and events.
OnArrival’s LPR system also features open architecture, which allows for stand-alone operation or full integration into existing surveillance system’s monitoring console. console without requiring a specific vendor’s LPR camera.
TYCO SECURITY PRODUCTS
Sometimes it takes a village of companies to provide the products needed to create superior casino security and surveillance system. Fortunately for the gaming industry, there is an entity that provides many of these devices and services under a single umbrella.
Tyco Security Products and its portfolio of brands form one of the largest security portfolios in the world. According to the company’s website, engineers specializing in video security, access control, location-based security and intrusion security provide Tyco Security Products a competitive advantage when it comes to system integration. Security and surveillance companies involved with Tyco include American Dynamics (video-based security and integration), Bentel (intrusion security and fire alarm control equipment), CEM (access control technology), DCS (electronic security), Elpas (RFID security products), Exacq Technologies (video management system solutions), Kantech (access control products), Software House (security-oriented database management software), Sur-Gard (alarm receiving equipment) and Visonic (wireless intrusion alarm and safety systems).
This one stop shop for many security and surveillance needs is popular with a number of gaming properties, including WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa. According to a case study provided by Tyco, a recent expansion at WinnaVegas created the need for expanded depth and breadth of security. Expansion areas included the sports casino, hotel and additional parking areas. In total, the casino needed a system to protect these new areas, plus kitchen, countertop gaming and lounge/stage areas. In the hotel alone, 78 rooms, hallways, vending areas, elevators, stairwells and parking lots all needed to be secured. The resort also wanted to move its cameras and overall security system to IP-based technology and wanted single user interface for a system that could operate its access control and video together.
Solutions to these problems provided by Tyco included the victorUnified Client, Illustra Pro PTZ cameras and VideoEdge NVRs.
“Our new and existing video products from Tyco Security Products work well together, and the integration has been truly seamless,” said Joe Twaddle, lead technician surveillance for WinnaVegas Casino Resort.
• The intelligent table limit sign solution developed by Henderson, Nev.-based VisuaLimits features a customer- and dealer-facing dual screen that provides table game surveillance at a unique angle. Properties can use it to view the sides of chips, the cards on the table, and clear visuals of the faces of players at the table.
• Texas-based Razberi Technologies has developed the razberi ServerSwitch, an intelligent surveillance appliance that replaces the traditional server, storage device, network switch and PoE camera power. It also provides health monitoring and cyber security protection. Most importantly, the size of the appliance isn’t any larger than most laptops, making it the perfect solution for the casino and its space constraints.
• Glendale, Calif.-based Arecont Vision continues to carve a niche in the surveillance world by developing next generation megapixel (MP) cameras and technology. MegaVideo and SurroundVideo massively parallel image processing architectures are now in their fifth generation and represent a drastic departure from traditional analog and network camera designs. All-in-one products such as the MegaDome, MegaView, MegaBall and MicroDome series now provide installer friendly solutions.