Casino Solution Is Integration Gaming Changer

North American Video equips the new Maryland Live! Casino with an advanced video, access and POS solution. The intensive project is particularly noteworthy for its third-party VMS integration featuring digital recording with 800 IP cameras, and analytics logic engine for people and car counting.

Developed by The Cordish Companies, Maryland Live! Casino represents an investment of more than $500 million and is one of the largest construction projects completed in the Northeastern state this year. To oversee the acquisition and installation of a surveillance system, which is not only integral in protecting the casino’s assets and patrons but also required by state regulation, Cordish called upon North American Video (NAV), an award-winning security integrator with 15-plus years of experience.

Complementing the three million square feet of retail, entertainment and commercial space that comprises the Arundel Mills Commercial District in Hanover, Md., Maryland Live! Casino is located midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It sits on approximately 12 acres with more than 330,000 total square feet of gaming floor, restaurants, performance venues, bars and support space. The gaming floor alone is about 160,000 square feet.

The casino features 4,750 of the latest state-of-the-art slot machines and electronic table games, including two high limit rooms. Other first-class amenities at Maryland Live! Casino include the Shop Live! retail store, a bus lounge and a secure covered 5,000-space parking garage that offers direct access to the casino floor. The freestanding casino is situated next to the mall, providing an ideal setting for those seeking dynamic gaming entertainment with the convenience of world-class retail and dining experiences, all at one location.

The project was marked by both its cutting-edge technology and installation challenges. The former involved a fully integrated video management and digital recording system featuring nearly 900 IP cameras, POS, access control, and video analytics for people and vehicle counting. The latter included tight scheduling, coordinating with subcontractors and gaming industry compliance. The story illustrates how NAV made this complexity appear easy. 

Choosing the Best System

Having installed in excess of 500,000 channels of digital video to date, NAV is one of the largest independent security integrators in the world and has built its business primarily in the gaming market. Recent gaming projects completed by NAV include Las Vegas’ City Center (the largest privately funded new construction project in the United States), Revel Casino in Atlantic City, Yonkers Raceway (N.Y.) and Scioto Downs in Ohio. Other recent nongaming projects include Red Bulls Arena (N.J.), Syracuse University and the Houston Ship Channel.

NAV first learned of the opportunity with Maryland Live! back when Maryland was considering allowing gaming in the state. “NAV has a formal process for tracking large gaming opportunities. This opportunity has been in our pipeline since the initial stages of gaming approval in Maryland,” says Company President and CEO Jason Oakley.

After winning the project, NAV’s initial task was to work with the owner and its representatives to specify technology that would meet operational needs and the regulations set forth by Maryland Lottery to provide the casino with a state-of-the-art surveillance system.

“NAV has unparalleled experience in the gaming market and our team helped the customer select the appropriate technology to meet their needs,” says Oakley.

Ultimately the casino selected a digital recording system from Synectics with Pelco fixed and pan/tilt/zoon (p/t/z) IP cameras, a Cisco 4510 network switch at the core and included Synectics’ iSynx people counting video analytics. As a newly built property that would require a completely new surveillance team, the Maryland Live! surveillance department needed a system even novice operators could learn quickly.

“Synectics’ Synergy video management system is very user-friendly,” says Marco Valdez, director of surveillance, Maryland Live! Casino. “The touchscreen user interface is color-coded and easy to navigate. It’s simply one of the best systems available to introduce a novice to the world of casino surveillance.”

NAV suggested Maryland Live! select an all-IP system because of the many benefits it offered. In addition to eliminating encoders, which saves rack space and simplifies cabling, troubleshooting and maintenance of cameras is streamlined. Additionally, using high-resolution megapixel IP cameras provides greater detail in the identification of cards, gaming checks, currency, personal IDs, cheating methods, etc. Future expansion is also made easier with an IP system as additional cameras may be easily integrated into the surveillance system.

On Nov. 6, voters approved a referendum to expand gambling in the state, which will allow Maryland Live! to proceed with plans to add live table games and expand its hours. Valdez anticipates adding up to 400 more cameras as early as March 2013, bringing the system to a 1,200+ camera count.

“With an all-IP system, upcoming expansions will be much more streamlined than had we gone analog, and enabled us to use cutting-edge video surveillance technology that will only maximize the success of our surveillance operations,” says Valdez.

Accomplishing 3rd-Party Integrations

Included in the project design was a range of third-party software integrations — such as Micros point-of-sale (POS), Software House C-Cure access control and the casino’s TCS vehicle counting system — to Synectics’ Synergy video management software (VMS). While integration to POS and access control are more common in gaming installations, the request to tie the surveillance system to the vehicle counting system was more unusual.

The casino’s intent was to use Synergy as a data manager, enabling the vehicle counts (done by levels in the parking structure as well as total count) to be delivered to the digital readout sign at the two entrances to the parking garage. In order to gain optimal accuracy in the vehicle count, measures were put in place (motion detectors and guideposts) to ensure the flow of traffic on each of the seven levels in the parking structure was controlled.Maryland Lottery requires the casino’s 4,750 slot machines and electronic table games to be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by cameras recording 4CIF, 30 frames per second (fps) video. (Courtesy Maryland Live! Casino)

Once the adequate controls were achieved, vehicle counting became more than 90% accurate, which is considered very high by industry standards. The casino intends to use this information to evaluate vehicle traffic patterns associated with certain times of the day or year.

NAV and Synectics performed an integration of Micros POS to the digital recording system that allows the casino’s surveillance operators to now use the VMS to call up either live or retained video with receipt numbers that include employee ID, and the date and time for the transactions. Individual operators are given the directive to review the transactions for integrity and/or accuracy to ensure there are no suspicious activities that indicate collusion or shrinkage.

The C-Cure access control system was initially being controlled by a hardware switch box and allowed surveillance to open doors throughout the property. By integrating the access control software to the digital recording system, entry into sensitive areas is controlled directly from the touchscreen user interface located at each operator station.

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