Technology is helping improve the casino experience in a myriad of ways—fostering better and more constant communication with customers, streamlining cash handling and other processes for increased efficiency and even by providing more access points for the gaming experience, just to name a few.
However, with each technological advance integrated into the casino environment comes increased susceptibility to security and safety issues such as identity theft, fraud and robbery; all of which adds up to very busy times for security and surveillance providers whose task it is to meet and mitigate these threats. What follows is a rundown of some established and new gaming security and surveillance equipment providers that have made news recently and bear watching in 2017, as determined by the editors of Casino Journal.
Training—both traditional and online—has become increasingly important for casino operators looking to keep security and regulatory personnel up on the latest threats, solutions and information. Leading this training charge in the Web space is San Diego, Calif.-based Casino Essentials, a leading gaming industry e-learning provider. According to company literature, Casino Essentials combines innovative and online training with a state of the art Learning Management System customized to support casino training initiatives. Among the courses offered by Casino Essentials are Emergency Evacuation Procedures and Workplace Violence and Active Shooter; both devised to prepare casino employees for workplace emergencies with the training that will keep everyone out of harm’s way.
Last September, Casino Essentials presented its first ever anti-money laundering (AML) Professional Development Program with an option to become certified as a Casino Industry Anti-Money Laundering Subject Matter Expert.
“Our company is well known for customized online training that is specific to casinos, and providing educational seminars and conferences; however, there is a real need for specialized AML training development for casino compliance professionals, gaming regulators and vendors,” said Mindy Letourneau, founder and president of Casino Essentials.
Casino Essentials founded the Institute for Certified Gaming Professionals (ICGIP) which will coordinate casino industry efforts to ensure compliance and operational competencies with subject matters such as Anti-Money Laundering. “There are AML certification programs that currently exist, but they are focused on other industries such as depository institutions, and the information is not specific to the casino industry,” Letourneau said.
According to a press release, the professional development program will consist of a comprehensive educational curriculum that addresses every fundamental requirement of Title 31 for casinos. This program will be the first in a series of development programs that will equip even the most seasoned gaming professional with the knowledge needed to protect the assets of their organization.
Until fairly recently, facial recognition technology seemed the stuff of science fiction and spy moves. However, advances in technology have made facial recognition solutions both affordable and easy to use for surveillance professionals in a variety of industries.
One company pushing facial recognition benefits into the gaming space is Cognitec Systems, a Germany-based company with U.S. offices in Rockland, Mass., that develops market-leading face recognition technologies and applications for enterprise and government customers around the world.
For the most part, 2016 was a very good year for Cognitec, which started the year by announcing a major product placement in Macau, where its highly-specialized face recognition technology, FaceVACS-VideoScan, was selected to strengthen physical security measures in major Macau casinos by alerting security staff in real time about banned persons entering the premises.
In partnership with Melco Crown Entertainment, Cognitec supported the large-scale design and implementation efforts on site, resulting in multiple efficient system installations that now successfully prevent losses and criminal activities, according to a press release.
Cognitec’s software solution uses advanced face recognition technology to detect people’s faces in live video streams and compare them to databases of banned persons. Security staff receives real-time alerts and can deny entrance to the detected individual.
“By working closely with Cognitec and through a process of internal research, experimentation and analysis, we have found a tipping point,” said Leroy Daniel, executive director, surveillance operations for Melco Crown Entertainment. “We are confident that our joint commitment to this significant project will result in safer casino environments for casino staff and patrons.”
The company also introduced a number of upgrades and added services for its FaceVACS-VideoScan last year, such as video screening and analytics technology that now allows users to perform complex searches on persons appearing in real-time camera streams and stored media files. The 5.3 product version introduces a user-friendly interface to quickly import sets of video and image files and then carry out detailed investigations, according to company literature. Security and law enforcement agents can now upload videos recorded at a specific location and time to track possible participants in a crime. Users can find a person enrolled in an image database or search for an unknown person and locate their appearances in multiple videos. Person searches can also make use of filters that specify age ranges, gender, ethnicity and glasses.
Many of the online gaming regulations currently existing or under consideration in the U.S. require that Web gaming take place within the borders of a state or confines of a land-based wagering facility. Companies such as Vancouver-based GeoComply, a market-leading geolocation and anti-fraud solution provider, are making a splash in the gaming space by providing services to online gaming operators to ensure they comply with these border restrictions.
Since launching in 2011 GeoComply’s proprietary and highly adaptive technology has successfully secured licenses from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Commonwealth of Delaware. GeoComply’s solutions have been utilized on over 250 million devices and perform more than 10 million verification checks a day, and are used by Georgia Lottery, Delaware Lottery, Caesars Palace, MGM and Draft Kings, just to name a few.
In 2016, GeoComply announced a partnership with NYX Gaming Group, a market leading content and technology supplier to casinos, lotteries and sports betting gaming operators across the globe, to marry NYX’s full-service Digital Gaming System (DGS) with GeoComply’s pINpoint hyper-accurate geolocation and anti-fraud tools. According to a press release, the partnership creates a turnkey solution for regulated operators looking to meet the growing needs of digital gamers who can now use their personal mobile devices to play while at home or on-property.
“Since becoming the market leading supplier of iGaming platforms in New Jersey, NYX aims to extend that position into the world of regulated on-property mobile gaming,” said Kevin Vonasek, chief product officer Americas for NYX. “The security and acute sensitivity provided by GeoComply’s system is unmatched. With this partnership NYX can now deliver mobile slots, table games, poker, bingo or scratch cards to brick-and-mortar casinos, allowing our partners to reach their younger in-venue players—or Millennials, who we already know represent the lion’s share of the digital gaming market.”
GeoComply’s pINpoint solution combines the power of Bluetooth iBeacon location tools with GeoComply’s robust geolocation solutions to restrict gaming to specific zones inside a property within a few meters of accuracy. Designed specifically for the gaming industry’s unique regulatory requirements, pINpoint offers the same real-time anti-spoofing and fraud benefits as GeoComply’s mobile and desktop solutions. pINpoint’s advance detection and monitoring system can even anticipate movements to alert players before leaving permitted areas, making for a seamless and uninterrupted game play experience.
“Building on a growing relationship, we’re excited to be working with NYX to expand our on-property solution,” said Anna Sainsbury, GeoComply’s CEO. “Together we can allow players to bring their own device and remain as safe as when they play on the machines and tables on the floor.”
Last year also saw GeoComply launching its proprietary Solusomnichannel solution for the U.S. iLottery industry.
Through a partnership with NeoPollard Interactive LLC, GeoComply’s no-download, HTML5 browser solution, Solus, provides cutting edge geolocation and anti-fraud solutions tailored for web browsing and user-friendly integration.
Already live with several Daily Fantasy Sports and Advance Deposit Wagering providers, GeoComply’s Solus solution offers a no-download compliance option that works directly within the operator’s website. For spoof-proof geolocation within mobile and desktop browsers, the player is prompted to allow their location to be shared in order to allow for secure collection of location data. Solus can be customized according to security and compliance needs, for both desktop and mobile Web user experiences.
“Protecting states’ rights is paramount to the Lottery industry as it continues its push into the online space” Sainsbury said. “We have designed Solus to fit the specific characteristics of the regulated lottery market to protect those rights across mobile and PC’s, while allowing for a simple and streamlined user experience.”
HANWHA TECHWIN AMERICA
Hanwha Techwin America, the U.S. subsidiary of Hanwha Techwin, is a leading supplier of advanced video surveillance solutions for IP video, analog and hybrid systems. Building on the company’s history of innovation, Hanwha Techwin America is dedicated to providing solutions with the highest levels of performance, reliability and cost-efficiency for professional security applications, including casinos.
The past year saw numerous product introductions from Hanwha Techwin, including its latest video surveillance solutions, the Wisenet P Series and Q Series. The unique combination of Hanwha’s innovative WiseStream Technology and H.265 deliver superior compression which significantly reduces bandwidth and storage requirements, effectively reducing overall costs while increasing surveillance system performance, according to company literature.
“Hanwha is in a unique position to deliver technology innovations as a result of our organic design and product development capabilities which directly translate into overall higher performance, enhanced quality and more functionality for users’ systems,” said Tom Cook, vice president of sales, Hanwha Techwin America. “This is exemplified in our exclusive implementation of H.265 and WiseStream compression across our extensive new and forthcoming product lines.”
Hanwha is one of the first in the industry to incorporate H.265 compression into its products—H.265 expands the efficiencies of H.264 compression standard by generating the highest-quality images in the smallest video files possible. The H.265 codec makes 4K and other higher-resolution video more accessible for security applications by improving image quality and lowering bandwidth and storage requirements.
Additionally, by applying Hanwha’s WiseStream technology to H.265 and H.264, users can benefit from significantly reduced bandwidth consumption and storage requirements.
Hanwha Techwin America also rolled out its new WiseNet Q Series cameras, which feature the highly-efficient H.265 codec. The 24 camera models in the Q Series also include the company’s WiseStream compression technology, which balances image quality and compression based on motion within a scene. Combined with Hanwha’s XRN network video recorders and management software, users can configure a complete H.265 system solution.
In addition to new products, Hanwha Techwin America also expanded its operations to a new state-of-the-art facility in Teaneck, N.J., to accommodate its recent growth and better serve its customers.
According to a press release, the new location features a large space for hosting corporate meetings and a dedicated lab area. In addition, Hanwha is installing cameras on the roof overlooking the nearby highways to enable customers and installers who visit the facility to view and evaluate their performance in real-world situations. They will also be used for training sessions Hanwha plans to host in the future.
“As a result of the rapid growth and tremendous support Hanwha has experienced over the last few years, we have outgrown our current location, which is a very good problem to have,” said Soonhong Ahn, president of Hanwha Techwin America. “We have designed this new facility to provide the space, capabilities and cutting-edge technologies necessary to meet the needs of and provide the best possible experience for our valued customers, installers and technology partners.”
SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS INCORPORATED (SSI)
Like many other businesses, casino gaming’s continuing evolution toward electronic channels of communication and distribution has an unintended consequence—exposing the business enterprise to illegal infiltration from cyberspace. More companies are realizing that their investment in technology to improve their operating efficiencies have left them vulnerable to security attacks on their networks. As more and more equipment and devices are being connected to the cloud, they become targets for cyber threats. IOT devices include computers, routers and switches, IP security cameras, printers, and even thermostats.
One company leading the way in combatting this threat is Surveillance Systems Incorporated (SSI), a Rocklin, Calif.-based surveillance integration provider offering clients comprehensive system solutions from design to installation and execution. In 2016, SSI launched a new division to help protect against cybersecurity threats, SSI Threat Protect. The new division provides service solutions with consultation, management and remediation for the security of its customers’ networks as it aims to secure the technology infrastructure.
“SSI has a strong track record of over 20 plus years of experience in protecting businesses from criminal activity with cutting-edge system design engineering, project management and system implementation for physical infrastructure, so cybersecurity was a natural next step,” said Todd Flowers, president of SSI in a press release. “With the launch of SSI Threat Protect, we now offer services that aim to protect our clients’ technology infrastructure as another layer of security to help IOT devices.”
The past year was a very important one for Veridocs, the Lexington, Ky.-based developer of advanced patron identity management systems, since it marked the tenth anniversary of the company’s first casino product placement at Venetian Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Since that time, the Veridoc’s product line has grown to include ID Authentication that allows for real-time validation and data capture, Under-Aged Screening for age verification, Watch List Management to handle both internal, government and proprietary watch lists, and AML/MTL Automation for better monitoring and reporting of financial transactions. The company’s solutions are used throughout the casino facility in the pit, hotel check-in, nightclubs, card rooms and cage areas, as well as back office applications in the security, surveillance, credit and compliance departments.
“Over the last 10 years, we have formed key industry alliances and built deep customer relationships that have been invaluable in our efforts to solve our customer’s challenges,” said Eric Walla, vice president of business development for Veridocs. “With help from our partners and customers, we have taken the patron management process beyond simple ID validation, setting us apart from all competing solutions in the market.”
The company’s latest product advance is ID authentication from a mobile platform, which was demoed at G2E. The CR5400 reader powered by 3M provides operators the flexibility to capture, analyze and store scanned identification document data, from the convenience of a Windows mobile device. The Veridocs true ID authentication utilizes a high resolution scan and multiple light sources, yielding a comprehensive capture, analysis and display of all data from MRZ including barcode and OCR translated images.