Hurray for Hollywood Casino’s Video Solution

What happens when an educated end user sets out to design its own 2,100-camera surveillance system? In the case of Indiana’s Hollywood Casino and its new superboat, tremendous success – thanks to a cohesive partnership among end user, integrators and suppliers.

The crown jewel of Penn National Gaming’s 15+ property portfolio, Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind., opened its $336 million gaming “superboat” this past summer. The gaming vessel’s 1930s Hollywood-themed, art deco design serves as a backdrop for the events captured by its $7 million state-of-the-art video surveillance system.

As the largest gaming facility in a 1,000-mile radius, the Hollywood Casino craft’s two decks (each wider than an aircraft carrier and almost as long as a football field) can accommodate nearly 9,000 guests. Among the casino’s major attractions are an expanded high-limit gaming area and a 41-table World Poker Tour poker room, the largest room of its kind in the Midwest.

The casino brings classic Hollywood to life with a 60-foot serpentine video wall, nine large billboards, more than 300 flat-screen displays, and a movie set back-lot depicting Central Park (complete with trees and foliage sprinkled among slot machines). At the center of it all is “Hollywood on the Roof,” a performance area and high-energy circular bar with a panoramic screen resembling the Hollywood Bowl.

Monitoring more than 3,200 electronic games, 88 live table games and six electronic tables amidst a complex interior design environment, the 2,100-camera surveillance system also covers the hotel, skywalk and parking garage. From a lengthy evaluation process to major interior design changes to challenges posed by recording in two separate control rooms, this was a complex project involving a diverse and skilled team of players.

Casino’s Duo Take The Lead

With Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) agents on property 24/7 to monitor gaming operations for compliance, Penn National Gaming was highly invested in choosing a best-of-breed surveillance system. Hollywood Casino executive management assigned two of its top surveillance personnel to select the right solution.

Surveillance Director Mike Burnett and Lead Technician Chris Krabbe not only led the process of evaluating systems but were hands-on in every aspect of the project. Both profess to be dedicated SSI readers and keep stacks of the trade magazine on hand for reference.

Based on his long-standing relationship with Penn National Gaming, Tom Dallmann of Jeffersonville, Ind.-based systems integrator Dallmann Systems Inc. was asked to oversee the surveillance upgrade. For nearly 40 years, Dallmann Systems has handled a range of projects for clients such as Louisville Int’l Airport and National Amusements movie complexes in Ohio, New York and Massachusetts.

To round out the team, Todd Pulver and Tim Lyvers of New Albany, Ind.-based Advanced Digital Systems (ADS), a casino specialist, were brought in to complete the land-to-vessel surveillance system installation. “Because of the complexities involved in an installation of this size and scope, it was mission critical to bring on additional expertise,” says Dallmann.

Flexible Solution Is Sought

Confronted with a property expansion and plans for future growth, Burnett knew the new solution had to be scalable and compatible with the casino’s existing systems. Also of great importance was choosing a system that would be user-friendly for anyone from entry-level operators to IGC agents who require their own onsite review station. “I wanted to be assured that we could get the system installed and running quickly, and that our operators could start actively using the system without having to memorize all the camera numbers,” he says.

After evaluating the range of surveillance and technical needs, Burnett assigned Krabbe to conduct initial research and compile equipment lists, quotes, integrator information, etc. The duo then reviewed the findings and Krabbe prepared a master list of pros and cons for each integrator and solution provider.

“A large portion of our decision was based on using the systems during 10 live demos, as well as during site visits to other casino properties where we considered the range of their systems,” says Burnett. From the technical side, Krabbe notes, “We were looking for a stable system that was simple for operators to use and also easy to maintain. It also had to be cost effective and deliver high quality video to meet the regulatory recording requirements of the IGC.”

Of particular concern for Penn National Gaming is the ongoing pressure to maintain IGC compliance. If Hollywood Casino steps out of compliance, the property may be assessed substantial fines. Manny Becker, supervising agent for IGC, is located on property to oversee agents assigned to 24/7 watch of the casino’s gaming activities.

“The new surveillance system meets the most updated requirement for gaming establishments to go to a digital system,” says Becker.

As Hollywood Casino would be adding more Pelco equipment, the new surveillance system had to work seamlessly with the manufacturer’s cameras and matrix, as well as integrate with the casino’s Micros point-of-sale (POS) software. Nearly seven years of research led Burnett and Krabbe to recommend the casino purchase a digital recording system from Synectic Systems Inc. (Synectics), a U.K.-based supplier with U.S. headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif.

“When the first Synectics demo was brought in, it was an eye-opening experience for us because of its ability to integrate to analog and third-party systems. We knew this kind of hybrid solution was exactly what we needed,” says Krabbe. Burnett adds, “Synectics’ Synergy video integration software has the easiest mapping system and most user-friendly interface of those we evaluated. The system is very reliable.”

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