Technology gives and it takes away, especially in the world of casino protection.
On the one hand, advances in surveillance and security equipment and systems are definitely helping the gaming facility and all its various vulnerabilities become more secure and safe. At the same time, increased usage of Internet, mobile and other emerging technologies opens gaming properties to new forms of criminal attacks aimed at the money or wellbeing of casino patrons.
Fortunately, the casino protection community is up to the challenge of keeping the gaming enterprise steps ahead of those seeking to wreak criminal havoc. Within this marketplace, vendors continue to star, offering new or improved security-oriented products and systems that solve protection issues for operators. 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 2018, as determined by the editors of Casino Journal.
Table game security and play integrity is a constant concern for casino operators; and an issue that Las Vegas-based ARB LABS, a hardware and software company specializing in optical recognition solutions for the gaming industry, can help resolve.
The company’s automatic and scalable Bet Recognition and Hand Count System provides casino operators with one of the most technologically advanced table bet recognition systems. By using state-of-the-art proprietary hardware and software solutions, the system not only makes table games play more secure but generates slot-like analytics for popular casino table games like blackjack and baccarat, according to the company’s website.
ARB LABS made a big splash last year when it inked a deal with VizExplorer to meld its ChipVue live bet recognition solution into VizExplorer’s tableViz analytics offering. ChipVue uses proprietary optical technology to collect real-time wager information, while automatically tracking various bets made on popular table games. Captured data is recorded and can be used for player tracking and rating, side bet participation and measuring dealer performance. tableViz provides accurate player ratings to help casino managers evaluate player worth and game performance by dealer and table, along with data about player behavior and activity to inform marketing campaigns, player development initiatives and gaming floor changes.
It will be interesting to see how ARB LABS leverages its optical recognition solutions to create a more secure gaming space in 2018 and beyond.
Last year was a gaming industry coming out party of sorts for Japan-based Canon, a global leader in the fields of professional and consumer imaging equipment, industrial equipment and information systems, which displayed for the first time at Global Gaming Expo (G2E).
The company showcased its wide array of technology and services, including network cameras and projectors, and demonstrated how it can support security, entertainment and marketing operations at various integrated resort locations, which comprise such facilities as casinos, restaurants, exhibition halls and hotels. According to press materials, Canon aimed to raise its profile in the integrated resort industry by featuring security and marketing solutions that utilize network camera technology, as well as entertainment solutions that employ 4K laser projectors to create immersive visual experiences.
Canon displayed its Profile Analyzer software, capable of estimating the age bracket and gender of integrated resort guests, to demonstrate how the company’s network cameras can be utilized not only for security but also for marketing purposes. The Canon booth also featured pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) network camera technology, ideal for such applications as monitoring for misconduct at table games, and XProtect from Milestone Systems A/S, which enables centralized management of multiple cameras from a single monitoring location.
Cognitec Systems, a Germany-based company with U.S. offices in Rockland, Mass., continues to innovate in the field of face recognition technology, a topic of growing interest in surveillance rooms and other areas of the casino enterprise. Cognitec’s portfolio includes products for facial image database search, recorded video investigation, real-time video screening and people analytics, border control, ICAO compliant photo capturing and facial image quality assessment.
The past year saw Cognitec enhancing its established product lines, including adding an extensive feature set to its core FaceVACS-DBScan product. The latest release combined the company’s renowned image database search technology with powerful video inspection tools for a multitude of investigation use cases. According to press materials, FaceVACS-DBScan LE enables fast import of video footage and detailed investigations of the extracted facial images. Agents can find known or unknown persons in multiple videos to quickly narrow down suspect investigations. The investigation can reveal, for example, if a suspect was seen in various locations within a set time window, always with the same group of persons, or in one location too many times during the day.
With one click, the investigator can add the facial image seen in a video frame to a local database. If a person is already known, the technology can quickly compare the facial image to all connected databases and instantly display a candidate list of possible matches.
“Searching through hours of video material continues to be one of the most tedious investigation tasks for law enforcement professionals,” said Alfredo Herrera, Cognitec CEO. “This tool will bring a new level of search automation and efficiency to the investigative workflow.”
Cognitec is also adding capabilities to its other products lines, such as integrating advances video investigation tools to its FaceVACS-VideoScan, allowing users to perform complex searches on persons appearing in real-time camera streams and stored media files.
Hanwha Techwin America is the U.S. subsidiary of Hanwha Techwin, a South Korea-based company. Hanwha Techwin is a leading global supplier of solutions for IP and analog video surveillance. 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, such as continuing development in advanced-edge devices and video analytics.
This dedication to improving its video surveillance products was on display in 2017, especially in its core Wisenet X line of camera and systems. Most recently, Hanwha Techwin announced extraLUX, an industry-leading extreme low-light capability, is now available for its popular X series camera range. With the WiseNet 5 chipset and processing technology, the extraLUX-enabled cameras capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light conditions without IR LEDs, regardless of the environment or time of day. Using a Hanwha motorized vari-focal lens and CMOS sensor, extraLUX provides clearer, sharper images than ever before, according to press materials.
“We created extraLUX for customers with extreme low-light requirements,” said Paul Kong, technical director, Hanwha Techwin America. “This is the best low-light camera we have ever produced. Unlike typical low-light, noisy IR black and white images of the past, our extraLUX cameras generate minimal noise, allowing customers to see color images at night.”
Other recent new product introductions include the Wisenet P series Multi-sensor/Multidirectional Cameras. Available in 8 and 20 megapixel, these cameras offer unmatched performance and are ideal for applications such as parking lots, shopping mall entrances and lobbies.
Last year also saw Hanwha Techwin America bulk up its staff, bringing Kichul (K.C.) Kim as president, Alyssa Van Sant as inside sales manager and Johnell Johnson as marketing communications manager.
With new people and products in place, there is little doubt Hanwha Techwin will look to increase its North America casino footprint in 2018.
Morse Watchmans is world leader in security management products, specializing in state-of-the-art key management (KeyWatcher), guard tour (PowerCheck) and key ring (KeyRing) systems.
In 2017, Morse Watchmans added to its line of products, introducing the AssetWatcher System. According to press materials, AssetWatcher is an RFID-enabled locker system that allows businesses to secure and track valuable assets. Supporting over 10,000 users on a single system, AssetWatcher’s RFID technology allows operators to track who is removing or replacing an asset along with when and where in the system the asset has been taken from or placed into. In addition, AssetWatcher has many features already proven on KeyWatcher, including e-mail notifications, multi-site operation, multi-user capability, and is equipped with three user modes to suit any application.
“AssetWatcher with RFID takes asset control in the casino environment to a new level and new direction,” said Fernando Pires, vice president of sales and marketing for Morse Watchmans.
Morse Watchmans also released version 2.0 of its highly successful KeyWatcher Touch key control and asset management solution. KeyWatcher Touch 2.0 features support for the company’s AssetWatcher system; the ability to manage multiple KeyWatcher Touch servers with a single SQL database; a new Desktop Fingerprint Reader that allows users to enroll fingerprints through TrueTouch software; and a new database design to support the multiple functionalities of the KeyWatcher Touch.
SHARK TRAP GAMING & SECURITY SYSTEMS
There is never a shortage of new companies looking to break into the casino security space, and one that made news is 2017 was Shark Trap Gaming & Security Systems, which demoed new high-tech shuffling machines that will hit the market this year, offering a table-game platform that promises to increase productivity, reduce card costs and attain never-before realized levels of game protection.
Called the “Shark Trap System,” the platform features a network of super shufflers with the capability to detect marked cards, asymmetries, normal wear and tear, and much more, all in real time, according to company literature. The technology works tirelessly and invisibly to detect everything from the tiniest of discrepancies to blatant scams with scientific precision, and all without human intervention or the need to disrupt the games.
Shark Trap Gaming & Security Systems originally collaborated with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to design and build the early prototypes.
“UNLV has done an exceptional job getting us to the point where our one- and two-deck shufflers are ready for manufacturing,” said Lou DeGregorio, president of Shark Trap.
SMART CHIP TRAY
Smart Chip Tray is a new player to the casino space, offering a product it believes will make table game play much more secure.
According to company founder Darrell Ratliff, Smart Chip Tray counts all the chips in the tray tubes on the table in real-time. This allows the pit boss or any other level of management to see exactly what’s happening inside the tray without stopping play to make a chip count. The product is designed to alert the casino if there are any unusual losses or activity taking place on each table using the tray. This way staff can immediately spot the table and observe to see if cheating is taking place, preventing potential further losses.
As importantly, the casinos will know in real-time exactly how much they are making or losing. The tables can be linked together or they can see a real-time picture of the entire casino or even multiple casinos linked together.
“I have met with several casino managers and security surveillance staff and they all are seeing a great benefit to using this product on their floor.” Ratliff said.