Are Security Integrators Ready to Take a Gamble on the Gaming Market?

Surveillance Systems Inc. President Todd Flowers offers insights on how to succeed in this space.

As demand for increased security and upgrades to IP-based systems continue to surge, exceptional opportunities are up for grabs for enterprising systems integrators across a multitude of markets. These span commercial, industrial, municipal, health care, education, retail, housing and transportation, among others. And while technical prowess and business savvy go a long way in landing new projects, it’s important to remember that not all vertical markets are created equal.

Different sectors often require different approaches and applications. Learning the lingo and gaining acute knowledge of the inherent challenges and objectives specific to a particular segment of the market are vital to making a good fit. One such niche that demands a firm grasp of specific end-user needs and requirements is the gaming market.

To better understand key factors necessary for achieving success in the gaming market, Security Sales & Integration spoke at length with Todd Flowers, president of Surveillance Systems Inc. Also known by the acronym it shares in common with this magazine, Roseville, Calif.-based SSI specializes in the design and installation of networked video systems for casinos to reduce the negative financial impact from scam artists, false claims, advantage play, armed robbery, cheats and thieves, and internal theft.

The company’s roster of clients in Las Vegas includes the Wynn, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Golden Nugget and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Still other segment end users include Spa Resort Casino (Palm Springs, Calif.); Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (Calif.); Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Hallandale Beach, Fla.); plus numerous other Native American gaming properties.

Flowers estimates the gaming market generates about $25 million in annual revenue for his company, making SSI one of the leading integration firms in the nation to service this market niche. Let’s hear from Flowers as he shares insights into how to navigate this unique sector, the opportunities it can present, plus why it may or may not be too big of a gamble for some security providers.

Security systems at casinos can ill afford to go down, even for a short period of time.

Lower Storage Costs Lead to IP

Gaming establishments are making the migration to IP-based solutions a bit more rapidly now than in recent years. Flowers attributes this to the availability of IP solutions that can decrease storage costs. He notes that initially IP video was extremely network heavy and required a lot of storage capacity, which especially proved to be a deal killer in the gaming market due to excessive costs.

“The H.264 video compression technology available now is so much better,” he says. “Storage requirements are not so extreme. The costs have come down, which is why we’re seeing more momentum in casinos making that shift right now.”

In Flowers’ experience, Native American properties tend to adopt leading-edge technologies more quickly than corporate gaming clients. A lot of his Native American customers jumped on IP video early.

“We started installing IP in gaming environments back in 2008, 2009. They were hybrid systems. By 2012 we were moving along pretty fast, at least in native properties. They jumped on it sooner,” he says. “Vegas, on the other hand, seems to be the poster child for corporate gaming. There’s a lot of analog out there and they’re just now making the move.”

Legacy analog systems are still in wide use, including VCRs at some properties. While some end users make upgrading their systems a priority, Flowers says the deciding factor depends on the individual philosophies of the property. “You have early adopters and some are still 100% analog. MGM, Mirage, Caesars and Wynn are all on board with IP video,” he says. “Others are choosing to move to a more current VMS solution versus recorders, which allows them to encode their analog cameras into a VMS and migrate at their own pace.”

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