Guarded approaches in casino surveillance and security
Protecting people, assets and games remains top of mind for the casino industry, as these case studies, expert advice articles and new product launches from security and surveillance providers show
CASE STUDY- Found treasure
TI Casino sees value in the easy-to-use and efficient VideoXpert VMS product
BY PELCO/SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC
In the early 1990s, Las Vegas was evolving from a gambling-focused destination to include world-class recreation and entertainment. The opening of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in 1993 was a big part of the city’s game-changing renaissance. Combining nearly 3,000 rooms, 90,000 square feet of gaming floor and a swashbuckling pirate show that packed The Strip sidewalk with spectators for every performance, it was an impressive symbol of the new Las Vegas.
Today, the renamed TI Casino is riding high again, thanks a major renovation in the past few years and a significantly upgraded digital video surveillance and security system. The newly upgraded property has been refashioned with retail and interactive exhibits based on superheroes as its main attraction, so the pirates are gone but the excitement is greater than ever.
“We needed a world-class security system suitable for our newly renovated, world-class destination,” said Kim Smith, surveillance director for TI. “SSI, our security integrator, worked with us to deliver a system that would meet our needs today and into the future. As the critical operator interface and management tool, Pelco’s VideoXpert VMS was a big part of that success.”
Technology advances and the need for improved head end control were the driving force behind the first major overhaul to TI’s video surveillance system in 2010. The original closed circuit television system was installed when Treasure Island opened in 1993, and consisted of several hundred analog cameras, each with a dedicated VCR, and a control room with hundreds of monitors and a matrix switcher for head end control. Gaming regulations at the time required that video be recorded at a full 30 frames per second, which meant that tapes in the VCRs had to be changed approximately every eight hours—24 hours a day, seven days a week. If an event occurred or there was indication of some impropriety, either the table/slot machine had to be shut down or transmission of images from that particular camera had to be rerouted to another VCR so the incident could be investigated.
The 2010 upgrade was designed and built by SSI, a nationally recognized systems integrator. SSI replaced the legacy head-end analog VCR and matrix system with a Pelco Endura 2.0 video management system (VMS), with digital recording and a virtual matrix to monitor and record up to 1,400 channels of video. A server-based platform, which retained all video for a minimum of seven days, eliminated the need for racks of VCRs and freed up the space the equipment had occupied.
“We were the only integrator that laid out a plan that increased both the security and surveillance department’s workspace and placed them on the cutting edge of the latest security technology,” said Todd Flowers, president of SSI. “In fact, when the 2010 upgrade was finished, TI had the only fully functional virtual matrix switch on The Strip.”
The new system provided room for infrastructure expansion, created by eliminating almost 50 percent of the existing racks and removing considerable amounts of cabling.
The 2010 upgrade to the Endura 2.0 VMS, along with the related infrastructure improvements, paved the way for further improvements in 2017, when SSI installed VideoXpert to further unify the user interface and prepare for the changeover to digital cameras.
“VideoXpert was designed to leverage existing system investments, bringing together the information needed for real-time event and incident management,” said Miki Manjal, vertical market manager—casinos and gaming for Pelco by Schneider Electric. “TI immediately experienced the benefits of an intuitive, unified user interface, while also enabling the phased upgrade of their cameras when budget permits.”
The changeover was simplified for TI because Endura components map nearly one to one with VideoXpert and SSI could install the new VMS in parallel with TI’s existing network to eliminate downtime. As an example, the new system utilizes the Endura encoders to support existing analog cameras. Pelco’s simple migration process transferred user names, roles, permissions and the associations from Endura to VideoXpert so that all user data would be maintained in the new system. The migration process also transfers all existing camera names, numbers, groups and locations to VideoXpert.
Not only did the new VMS make the changeover easy, the system also quickly improved operator efficiency and speed of use. One example cited by Flowers illustrates why VideoXpert’s tag-based organization feature has been extremely popular with both operators and technicians who need to view footage or locate specific scenes from thousands of video streams.
“In the past, if a technician tagged elevator cameras as ‘elevator,’ when an operator called up that name the system would pull up every elevator camera,” Flowers said. “From there they would have to drill down to the specific elevator camera or group of elevator cameras they were looking for. It was time consuming and not terribly efficient.
“The new VMS really allows operators to expand the tagging capability. On a table game for instance, they can tag it with multiple names which allows for a more specific and dedicated search. They can also customize for each operator which also improves efficiencies.”
Flowers also pointed out that system operation and event interaction are made easier and more functional with VideoXpert’s browser-like interface that utilizes tab views for a single source experience. Views can be shared with other users when additional “eyes” are needed and can be called up via sequencing, alarm tabs and event viewer features. Operators can quickly review bookmarked footage with a feature that captures scenes from multiple angles and then synchronizes the video, utilizing the powerful investigative engine that quickly locates and collates the video.
SSI is understandably proud of the work it has done with TI in modernizing the video surveillance and security system with the Pelco VideoXpert VMS. What pleased them even more was TI’s immediate satisfaction with the new system.
“Any changes to the routine are usually not welcome by our staff, but VideoXpert’s ease of use made the switchover very easy and our operators were pretty much up to speed in two or three days,” Smith said. “The system has been rock solid since its installation and it’s a very convincing testimonial for Pelco and SSI.”
Pelco by Schneider Electric is focused on the development of video surveillance and security solutions that provide customers the information necessary to make real-time, business-enabling decisions. For more information, visit www.pelco.com.
CASE STUDY- Timing is everything
A phased approach was key to a successful surveillance system update at Snoqualmie Casino
BY NORTH AMERICAN VIDEO (NAV)
Snoqualmie Casino is the closest full-service casino to Seattle, Wash., located just 30 minutes from downtown.
Nestled in a spectacular Northwest setting, Snoqualmie Casino combines breathtaking views in a sophisticated gaming setting complete with 55 classic table games—including blackjack, roulette and baccarat—1,700 state-of-the-art slot machines and a five-table poker room. Snoqualmie Casino also serves up high-quality amenities such as a cigar lounge, two popular concert venues featuring all-star acts and diverse dining in six restaurants.
Recently, Snoqualmie staff decided the surveillance system at the casino was in need of an upgrade. Naturally, the property wanted this work done in a timely fashion with as little disruption as possible, and turned to North American Video (NAV) to get this done.
NAV quickly determined that Snoqualmie Casino required a two-phase approach to its surveillance technology upgrade. First, the VMS and recording platforms needed to be replaced, followed by an analog to digital migration of all cameras.
This phased approach ensured minimal disruption to casino operations by maintaining continuous surveillance coverage during the system transition. By adopting this approach, both the old and new systems were able to run simultaneously, maintaining gaming compliance throughout the upgrade process.
Another consideration for the project was an extremely complicated system cutover process. There was very limited space for two full systems to operate while installing the new fanned and formed inter-rack cabling, extracting older analog cabling with minimal interference of day-to-day surveillance operations. All aspects of the project had to be completed in a precise, step-by-step process to utilize the limited space available to cutover to the new system.
Communication between all stakeholders was a crucial element of the project’s success. Frequent and effective communication and coordination between NAV operations management, the onsite project team and the Snoqualmie staff was a priority from the outset. From the initial meetings through the planning, and installation process, the ongoing communication helped to ensure that the phased installation went according to schedule. Constant communication and project involvement from the Snoqualmie surveillance team was vital to ensure the project team stayed ahead of potential challenges and found proactive solutions in order to avoid any costly corrective actions later in the project.
“NAV’s internal coordination was key to the success of our phased approach,” said Jolene Glazier, director of surveillance for Snoqualmie Casino. “Their careful planning and communication minimized any issues during the transition process.”
NAV’s expertise in system engineering, design and installation drove the successful completion of the two phased approach which resulted in a state-of-the-art digital surveillance solution for the customer. The completed system at Snoqualmie Casino consists of a fully digital Dallmeier SRS solution with a robust Brocade core network. Over 700 channels of digital video is produced by using a mixture of Panasonic and Dallmeier 2 megapixel fixed and pan/tilt/zoom IP cameras.
“This multi-phased surveillance system upgrade has provided Snoqualmie Casino with a high definition video management solution that will allow them to grow and adopt new technology as it develops,” said Laurie Smock, vice president for NAV. “Snoqualmie can remain confident in the performance and reliability of their new system for years to come.”
North American Video (“NAV”) was founded in 1995 and has served the gaming market as a systems integrator for over 20 years. The company is deeply rooted in the gaming industry and its business is built on long-term relationships with customers, employees and technology partners. For more information, visit www.navcctv.com.
CASE STUDY- Vision quest
Panama City’s Golden Lion Marbella Casino selects VisionHub to improve security and safety
Golden Lion Marbella, one of Panama’s top-ranking casinos, has selected VisionHub from Qognify, a leader in big data solutions for physical security and operations, to upgrade security, safety and operations.
Formerly the Princess Casino Marbella, Golden Lion features one of the largest casinos in Panama City which will now enjoy total coverage with Qognify’s security solution for gaming featuring its market leading VMS, VisionHub.
The casino environment is an enticing target for criminal behavior for both visitors and employees—with large amounts of money constantly changing hands. Continuous, reliable 24/7/365 monitoring is a necessity for theft and fraud prevention, allowing casino security management to identify, verify and resolve unfolding incidents. VisionHub provides 100 percent system availability combined with high-definition video quality that casinos need when monitoring card playing and money counting.
The security program at the casino serves as both a deterrent and accurate, non-refutable method to settle disputes. “VisionHub gives us the ability to view gaming sequences from many different angles and zoom in for close-ups,” said Moises Hasky, president of Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino, Golden Lion Marbella. “If a dispute arises, we can scroll through the video quickly—back and forth—and view images from several cameras simultaneously. We can see the fine details, which cards each player held, the exact amount of a bet and when it was placed.”
Specific industry experience is particularly important in the gaming industry. “Gaming is a challenging environment that requires an exceptional enterprise solution,” said Moti Shabtai, CEO and president of Qognify. “The solution our teams designed for Golden Lion Marbella enables them to cost-effectively monitor the entire casino operation, with high-quality video. In turn, this facilitates the prevention of potential security issues, promotes the safety of guests and protects the integrity of casino operations.”
Qognify helps organizations mitigate risk, maintain business continuity and optimize operations with a portfolio that includes video management, video and data analytics and PSIM/ situation management solutions that are deployed in financial institutions, transportation agencies, airports, seaports, utility companies, city centers and to secure many of the world’s highest-profile public events. For more information, visit www.Qognify.com.
EXPERT ADVICE- Key to security
Automated key control systems secure casinos and gaming properties
BY FERNANDO PIRES, MORSE WATCHMANS
Casinos and gaming facilities have a great number of security challenges, including large crowds, huge sums of cash on gaming floors and in cashier’s cages, strict compliance regulations and extensive physical property and assets. It is necessary to dedicate significant resources to protecting people and material goods, reducing casino liability and creating an effective security management program, which includes key control.
In addition, as with many private enterprises, casinos must protect themselves from their own personnel. With so much temptation, it is to be expected that employees will attempt to steal or commit fraud and other crimes.
In most gaming organizations, physical keys are still used to access all of the most sensitive and highly secured areas, including counting rooms and drop boxes. But with so much at stake, casinos that are still using manual logs for key control are at high risk. There are myriad inaccuracies inherent in a manual system, starting with signatures that are missing or illegible. The manual sign-out process for keys is time consuming and error-prone. Analysis, reporting and investigation are highly labor intensive as they involve digging through piles and boxes of log sheets, making it difficult to keep an accurate accounting of key use. This also has a negative impact on compliance.
Without question, casinos and gaming facilities can benefit from a comprehensive key control solution to minimize risk, loss and fraud.
For this reason, many of the largest—and some of the smallest—casinos and gaming properties in Las Vegas and around the world rely on key management. The systems can provide more control for highly sensitive keys, more reporting and compliance and more convenience. A well-run key management program takes conventional keys and turns them into smart keys, helping control access to critical assets while tracking key usage and compiling comprehensive management information.
Key management systems help casinos maintain compliance. For certain keys or key sets that are highly sensitive, regulations require signatures from three individuals, one each from three separate departments. These may include keys to drop boxes and counting rooms. Typically the three individuals would include a drop team member, a cage cashier and security officer. A secure key management system is programmable and can recognize these keys or key sets and only open the cabinet door and release them once the three required logins are complete and the credentials verified.
Systems can be configurable to manage several levels of security for returning highly sensitive keys as well. Alarms can also be triggered for certain predetermined circumstances such as the use of force to gain access or remove a key, invalid user codes, a door left open for more than 10 seconds after use, power failure, a key missing or not returned on time or a key returned by the wrong user. A key management system can also limit access to drop box keys to specific authorized individuals and alert management if they are returned to the key cabinet by anyone other than the people who removed them.
In addition, key management software enables set-up of many types of reports, including many required by state and tribal gaming agencies, which can run and be delivered automatically to management on a regular basis. The robust reporting system will help to track and improve processes, assure employee honesty and minimize security risks.
Electronic key control systems also provide convenience of key access. Solutions for key security can be tailored to the varied needs of a casino/hotel/entertainment property, including the flexibility to have differing levels of security (i.e. dual or triple authentication) in different areas of the premises.
When compared to manual systems, electronic key control systems help provide for an effective security management program while delivering valuable business intelligence for the organization.
Fernando Pires is vice president of sales and marketing for Morse Watchmans, a leading provider of market-proven products and technologies for key control, key security and key and asset management solutions. For more information, visit www.morsewatchmans.com.
NEW PRODUCT- Deeper scan
The Ultimate Global Solution allows casino operators to automatically scan info from any country ID into management systems
IDScan.net has a new global solution which will change the way the gaming industry operates. The Ultimate Global Solution automates loyalty enrollment and jackpot win entry by populating the information from the ID directly into the casino management system (CMS). While IDScan.net has deployed this technology in casinos for over a decade, this solution is the first to allow casino operators to populate information from any country ID.
This is invaluable for the industry for a number of reasons. Casino personnel no longer have to waste time manually entering ID information and management can be assured that the information is 100 percent accurate. This is particularly important when issuing jackpot wins. In addition, the solution utilizes IDScan.net’s proprietary parsing engine along with UV and infrared technology powered by 3M hardware to provide an unparalleled level of ID authentication.
For further authentication, casino operators can pair this with IDScan.net’s biometric technology and watch list checks. Gaming personnel can run the ID against internal, national as well as international databases some of which include self-exclusion, OFAC and more. IDScan.net has worked with its customers and industry partners to develop a solution that would help slot floor staff increase security while enhancing operations.
The Ultimate Global Solution is IGT certified and will work with any casino management system. Casino operators can purchase it out-of-the-box or utilize it with IDScan.net’s ID scanning SDK for larger scale deployments.
New Orleans, La.-based IDScan.net provides the gaming industry with quality ID scanning solutions that streamline visitor management, automate data capture and authenticate worldwide government-issued IDs. For more information, visit www.idscan.net.
NEW PRODUCT- Sharper edge
VideoEdge NVR version 5.0 and victor management software offers new user interface, advanced perimeter protection and license plate recognition features
BY AMERICAN DYNAMIC/JOHNSON CONTROLS
Johnson Controls’ newest version of its victor Unified Video Management Systems and VideoEdge Network Video Recorders from American Dynamics provides a transformed, contemporary user interface and new detection and analytics features for increased visibility of the security environment.
With victor/VideoEdge 5.0, the updated feature set includes license plate-recognition, perimeter detection, edge-based SD-card failover redundancy and several other advanced surveillance features, delivering greater and faster command and control capabilities.
The newly enhanced user interface of the victor video management system (VMS) simplifies day-to-day activities for security operators with both dark and light theme options well-suited for dimly-lit command center environments. The interface offers a reimagined “home” view that remembers frequently-used features, simplifying forensic investigating and live viewing. Workflow functions have also been redesigned to be more intuitive and a new navigation bar and a variety of menu filters puts usability at the center of the victor VMS experience.
“victor’s transformed graphical user interface makes the security operator’s experience more comfortable and efficient, significantly reducing the number of clicks, while uniquely leveraging Illustra cameras for an additional level of seamless system redundancy,” said Jammy DeSousa, senior product manager, building technologies and solutions for Johnson Controls. “The newest version of victor/VideoEdge enables new levels of awareness with sophisticated video analytic capabilities for vehicle number plate recognition as well as perimeter detection with increased visibility for both exterior and interior environments.”
VideoEdge’s new TrickleStor feature has select Illustra cameras and VideoEdge working together to form a cost-effective redundancy and seamless failover solution. If communications between the NVR and cameras are interrupted or stop, the camera automatically detects the anomaly and begins recording video to its SD card. With VideoEdge TrickleStor, once connections are restored, the recorded video is then transferred back to the NVR’s hard drive. When the video is viewed later, operators will not be able to sense there was any outage, thereby capturing line of sight activity and providing a seamless experience.
Powerful license plate recognition (LPR) technology sends security operators real-time alarm notifications for arriving VIPs or when blacklisted vehicles are detected. Operators utilize “fuzzy match” with Smart Search, victor/VideoEdge’s forensic search engine, to identify commonly confused characters, such as 8 and B, to generate a list of possible matches. Smart Search can also place asterisks (*) and question marks (?) to correlate recorded video and searches when only a portion of a license plate number is known.
Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and multi industrial leader serving a wide range of customers in more than 150 countries. For more information about the victor Unified Video Management Systems and VideoEdge Network Video Recorders, visit Johnson Controls subsidiary American Dynamics at www.americandynamics.net.