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Securing casinos: know the challenges and opportunities

Securing casinos: know the challenges and opportunities
Once limited mostly to countries like the U.S. with destinations like Las Vegas, casinos are now popular in Asia too with places like Macau growing rapidly.
The casino industry has seen steady growth over the recent years as more and more countries across the globe become increasingly open to the idea of gambling and the revenue made from it. Once limited mostly to countries like the U.S. with destinations like Las Vegas, casinos are now popular in Asia too with places like Macau growing rapidly.

According to Research and Markets, the global casino gaming market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2 percent between 2017 and 2021. One of the main factors for this strong growth is increased contribution as taxes and GDP as the casino industry contributes significantly to a country’s economic development. In the U.S. alone, it accounts for 0.5 percent of the GDP. Casinos pay 25 percent of their revenues as tax, while an average American pays 10 percent.

Apart from this, the industry is also attractive for the number of job opportunities it creates, as casinos often need a lot of people. A large casino in the U.S. will need at least 8,000 to 10,000 employees working throughout the year.

A market trend that researchers have identified is the shift in consumer gambling habits. Besides traditional gaming locations, the increase in the popularity of gambling apps and social gambling are now propelling growth in this vertical. While this is indeed a threat to the land-based casinos, the latter is embracing technology to keep its audience interested. This includes the use of artificial intelligence-based analytic solutions to smart casino equipment and stronger security solutions.

Security is, in fact, one of the most important factors that casinos have to consider in order to attract more guests and ensure they have a good time. Recent incidents like the active shooter attack in a casino in the Philippines that killed 36 people have only served to heighten concerns in this sector.

Major factors to consider when securing casinos

Perhaps the first point to consider while providing security solutions to casinos is the government regulations of the country that the casino is located in. According to Miki Manjal, Global Vertical Manager for Casinos and Gaming at Pelco by Schneider Electric, casinos are required by regulatory agencies to implement a range of security requirements and procedures.

“These are important business imperatives – for example, Gaming regulations require surveillance of slot machines, table games, card games, keno and bingo games, gaming salons, the casino cage, count rooms, and security offices,” Manjal said. “Significant bandwidth and storage are needed as cameras must capture video at a minimum of 30 FPS, and recordings must be retained for up to 90 days. In parallel with these requirements, and because of the nature of their operations, casinos work to protect themselves with several layers of security from potential theft and fraud.”

Indeed, the single most important security equipment that any casino should have is a robust video system. Dan Reese, Director of Vertical Market Applications for Video Systems at Bosch Security System, said that in order to reliably identify individuals and to catch all of the action, casinos require minimum HD resolution, full-frame rate (30fps) images with excellent color reproduction. Areas with high-speed motion, such as the roulette wheels, benefit from even higher frame rates (60fps). If face recognition is being used, higher resolution is sometimes used.

Willem Ryan, Senior Director for Global Marketing and Communications at Avigilon added that ensuring the safety of guests, while protecting a casino’s asset is paramount. “By delivering exceptional image detail and powerful system control, Avigilon’s security solutions for casinos can help achieve this,” Florence said. “Avigilon’s advances in video surveillance, including HD cameras, self-learning video analytics for live and recorded video, and recently announced radar sensors, help casinos enhance protection of physical and virtual assets to keep casinos and their patrons safe.”

But while such expert opinions are useful to the systems integrators and casino-security managers, this particular vertical presents several challenges that are unique to it. Protecting casinos is a lot about understanding these challenges and overcoming them.

Challenges in securing casinos

Unlike many other verticals, casinos tend to have a broader set of security issues. This is mainly because many casinos are not just gaming centers, but also entertainment hubs, hotels and restaurants, all possessing substantial amounts of cash. While this in itself poses a set of problems, a major factor contributing to challenges is the vast number of people that are often present at the site. Massive crowds are a concern in any kind of location because the higher the number of people, the more chance of issues like assault, theft or accident that could have been detected and prevented if fewer people were present.

Other challenges in this vertical include the nature of lighting system in casinos. Reese pointed out that dimly lit areas and lots of flashing lights can pose challenges to creating high-quality images that allow positive identification of individuals, chip colors and card values. “Today’s cameras overcome these challenges by using the latest image sensors, which provide significantly improved sensitivity, and advanced image processing algorithms,” he added.

In Manjal’s opinion, the primary challenge is to ensure adequate imagery and storage to capture activities that might lead to theft and fraud, while limiting the cost and meeting approved levels of staffing requirements, all within regulatory guidelines.
“For example, on the equipment side, casinos benefit from cameras with high pixel counts because fewer cameras are needed to achieve the level of detail for forensic analysis,” Manjal said. “Improved video compression and integration with other related data sources also help because they decrease the cost of data storage systems and provide better overall situational awareness to the Surveillance team. Advanced video management systems (VMS) that are easy to use but also provide powerful analytic tool support (such as detailed meta data) can sharply reduce staffing costs by decreasing the need for real-time monitoring staff and speeding up forensic reviews. Together, these technological advances have provided significant benefits to casinos in recent years.”

Avigilon’s Ryan stressed the concerns of crowds, adding that with the amount of foot traffic going through casinos, security operators need to be able to identify and verify evidence quickly and efficiently, often in dark lighting conditions.

“Other major challenges facing casinos are ensuring ease-of-use in security systems and overcoming legacy analog systems that casinos relied on previously,” Ryan said. “The shift toward advanced IP solutions, HD video and innovations in video management systems (VMS) has improved ease-of-use and efficiency for operators by providing exceptional image detail and powerful system control. Avigilon analog video encoders are a cost-effective way to easily migrate a legacy analog system to a network-based IP system. Avigilon’s intuitive software and integration with third-party camera and hardware manufacturers enable efficient operations in casinos. Lastly, casinos often face the challenge of enhancing the overall reliability and availability of their system and video data. Avigilon’s modern server technology provides redundancy with RAID 6, redundant power sources, fail-over or duplication of recording schemes and monitoring system health, to help ensure more reliability in capturing and storing video data at casinos.”

However, despite having the best-quality video surveillance solution, things can go wrong if there is no proper method to monitor the feeds. Until recently, it was up to human operators to monitor each feed in real time and alert the people responsible when a need arises. Fortunately, now there are automated surveillance solutions, which are basically AI-enabled software that can detect anomalies and report in real time.
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