Casino Doesn’t Bet on Security

Casino Doesn’t Bet on Security

Expansion at California card games facility includes security upgrade

Casino Doesn't Bet LargeLocated in Ventura, Calif., Players Casino is a newly relocated and remodeled California card room with 28 tables for live poker, blackjack and other card games. The casino itself is a single, large building of approximately 30,000 square feet, connected to a large parking lot.

In 2010, this casino initiated a largescale, three-phase expansion of facility operations with integrator Customized Contractor Services (CCS) in Long Beach, Calif., a full-service contractor that specializes in turnkey solutions. CCS’s Ryan Gleason was assigned as project manager. This project eventually included video surveillance, access control, point of sale (POS), audio, data infrastructure, data security and domain/ file share as an integrated solution.

During the first phase of the project, “megapixel and IP video really had not been adopted yet at any wide scale in the gaming industry,” Gleason said. “Bosch analog cameras were installed, with approximately 120 cameras in place by the time the second and third phases began in March 2011. At that point, there was very strong feedback from the gaming community about the growth possibilities and being able to maintain compliance with a simple, software upgrade.” For phases two and three of this gaming installation, as camera counts began increasing dramatically, manpower for monitoring became another significant issue as well as tracking and noting incidents and events, making an IP system with a VMS essential.

Searching for the Perfect VMS

Players Casino requested demos and ultimately selected OnSSI’s Ocularis, using encoders to migrate many of their existing analog cameras to avoid the expense and inconvenience of having to rip and replace every camera. One key factor in the decision for Ocularis was the software’s fast and easy training for both new and seasoned employees.

F. Michel Velo, IT director and surveillance supervisor for Players Casino, led his team in making their choice of VMS.

“It’s an easy-to-use interface that provides all the functionality you need for day-to-day surveillance operations,” Velo said. “Unlike older analog systems, with cumbersome controls and difficult-to-understand modules, this software makes it easy to get the most out of your surveillance system without needing to be an expert. The ease of use is a huge benefit when training your surveillance operators.”

According to Gleason, the system enables surveillance operators to learn how to use the system in minutes, and to respond quickly.

“The operators running the system required an easy-to-use, quick interface to respond to incidents quickly,” Gleason said. “Being able to link camera actions together into a series of events simplifies how many actions are required for operators to actually pull up the appropriate cameras. Training for new recruits can be conducted in as little as 15 minutes.”

Going one step further, Gleason contends that data on the Ocularis is completely safe.

“Ocularis is also able to ensure no data is ever lost,” Gleason said. “Because of Ocularis and the expandable nature of the system, we’re able to make this system 100 percent fail-safe. You really couldn’t get that with any type of analog system and that’s why the gaming community is starting to embrace IP. That’s the approach that Players was going toward with OnSSI; they need to know that they’re not going to have any loss of data.”

In Control of Budget

Since budget was an issue, it was important to deploy a solution with an unlimited number of client connections. Players Casino did not want to be faced with sudden, unexpected costs in the future when adding clients.

“There wasn’t a nickel-and-dime aspect to the installation and expansion of the system,” Gleason said. “I think that is big, especially for gaming properties where they’re not interested in hidden costs; they want to know what it’s going to cost. With Ocularis, they can have as many clients as they want. They can keep their clients on a USB and install it freely as they like.”

The first steps toward a fully-integrated solution have been taken with the software, delivering automatic notifications when specific doors open and close. Because the system gives triggered alerts, it also helps Players search for footage. For example, when looking for something that occurred around the same time that the count room door opened, they can review their log and view footage from that specific timeframe. In the near future, the casino plans to integrate access control as well as POS into the system.

“With this software, the end user has an all-inclusive, no-headaches approach to the installation,” Gleason said. “They did not want something that was going to cost them a lot of money to maintain year after year.”

A Satisfied Casino

Players Casino is using a combination of 3-megapixel, 1080p and 720p Axis cameras, as well as Bosch analog cameras on encoders with an Axis high-density rack. For their remote parking lots that, by law, must be under surveillance, they have a Cisco wireless bridge system that is point-to-point transmission encrypted. Gleason said that Players Casino has maintained 100 percent uptime for all remote parking lot surveillance without ever dropping a frame.

For recording, the casino has a custom- built server with an NVR farm using super high-performance machines with Intel chipsets and direct-attached storage that pulls the footage at high speed. Both the network infrastructure and data security were provided by CCS.

Players’ executive management is highly satisfied with the system.

“With a secure remote connection in place, we can browse footage from anywhere with an Internet connection as easily as if we were connecting remotely to check our office email,” Velo said. “I can easily log into the recording servers and perform any maintenance that needs to be done.”

While the video surveillance system now in place at Players Casino is quite sophisticated, the successful casino already has plans for expansion. Additional megapixel cameras will be deployed in the parking lots, replacing current analog cameras on encoders. As the property adds business value, the software can continue to grow with the installation.

“Because Ocularis is a Windows-based application, it can be more easily integrated into our business’ computer network and is easier to configure when compared with old, traditional analog systems,” Velo said. “This has made it easier for us to distribute secured access to the system via any compatible, Windows-based PC.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Security Today.

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