Casinos Tighten Security with Network Video Solution

The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that gambling is a $100 billion industry in the United States. The AGA also estimated that in 2006, gaming casinos provided over 354,000 jobs, and yearly state and local tax revenue of $5.2 billion.[IMAGE]casino.jpg[/IMAGE]

Poker, a card game that is responsible for luring millions of people to casinos, has enjoyed surging popularity in the last decade and has served as a key catalyst in increasing casino revenue. While gaming casinos haven’t escaped the reach of the world’s economic slowdown, their onsite assets dwarf those of many other industries. Their sizeable coffers fund various investments in new equipment, technology, construction, furniture and infrastructure, among others. With all of these assets, and given the volume of cash that is kept onsite, gaming casinos face unique security challenges every day.

One of these casinos is the Black Bart Casino, which is located in Mendocino County, California. With a gaming space of approximately 9,000 square feet, the casino is packed with 220 gaming machines, numerous card tables and a favorite local restaurant by the name of Creekside Café. Employing over 260 people and with a total capacity of 1200 stay-over guests, Black Bart Casino draws in crowds of gaming enthusiasts looking to score the next big jackpot. Keeping track of so many people can be a daunting challenge, which is why video surveillance has become an integral part of every casino security system in North America. Of course, video surveillance equipment has been in use for many years by the casinos. As a result, casinos are often faced with revamping legacy technology that now fails to deliver the level of performance that today’s casinos require.

The Black Bart Casino’s problem of dealing with outdated equipment was not uncommon. Any time incidents on their casino floor occurred, security staff took on the tedious process of having to remove a VCR tape, rewind it, search for the incident in question and also make sure to put a replacement tape back into the VCR recorder. Needless to say, these delays in investigative procedures obstructed security staff to act swiftly in case of urgent security issues, such as table fraud, visitations by blacklisted patrons, or deceitful cash or key exchanges. Such considerable security inefficiencies were among the main topics of discussion when it came time for the casino upcoming expansion.

In vast environments such as casinos, which contain massive square footage, large crowds and the regular flow of large sums of cash, implementing a major security system overhaul is a decision that is not made swiftly. It was all up to Kani Neves, Executive Director of the Sherwood Valley Gaming Commission, to research all the technologies available on the market in order to find the most optimal solution for the current and future needs of Black Bart Casino. “We were looking for a solution that would allow us to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in technology, and from an observational and surveillance standpoint, increase our ability to respond to incidents more efficiently,” said Neves.

In his exhaustive search, Neves reviewed digital VCR solutions, DVR solutions and several advanced IP-based virtual matrix solutions, but wasn’t able to find a system that would give his team the tools to be expeditious in responding to time-sensitive incidents. He was also looking for a technologically advanced system that would also be flexible enough to allow him to keep some existing hardware assets, and enable him to grow the system seamlessly in the future when the new 50,000 square foot facility would be ready.

Neves eventually visited a nearby casino that was using an advanced IP surveillance solution; Omnicast from Genetec. After witnessing all of the benefits of the IP-based system, he decided to implement it for Black Bart Casino. The new system fulfilled all of Black Bart Casino’s needs and was the perfect fit for their security team, providing them with much more system functionalities than before. Initially the 170 existing analog Pelco cameras were integrated on the virtual matrix system, and another 25 new IP cameras were installed in other sensitive areas of the casino. The entire system runs off three servers, including the use of one failover server for an additional backup of archived video. “The flexibility of the system is key,” said Neves. “The fact that Omnicast can manage an originally analog-based system and then can still give us the ability to move comfortably into the future as everything goes IP-based is certainly a great advantage to have.”

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