Stones Gambling Hall protects patrons and neighborhood with HD video cameras
- By John Bartolac
- May 01, 2016
In the world of casino card games, opportunity for slight-of-hand is abound.
Dealers and players are trading palm-sized chips, swapping cards from the
deck, cashing out winnings. The action is fast-paced, the stakes are high and
the pressure on security staff to keep a sharp eye out is enormous. It is why
casinos rely on critical support from video cameras to closely monitor every
interaction on the floor, in the cage and in the money-counting back room.
Stones Gambling Hall is a prime example. When the Sacramento (Citrus
Heights) card house and entertainment center opened its doors in 2014, the saloon-
style decor included a discrete array of more than 200 high-definition network
video cameras from Axis Communications managed through an integrated
Genetec Security Center VMS platform.
Stones Gambling Hall features two state-of-the-art card rooms: the Saloon,
which centers on Northern California poker for seasoned pros and recreational
players, and the Tavern which hosts other popular card games such as blackjack,
baccarat and pai gow. The property includes a private event room and a tavern fare
restaurant and bar. Designed to evoke a frontier-era California saloon, the owners
placed great importance on the video cameras blending in with the aesthetics to
maintain the casino’s trademark atmosphere.
CREATING ROBUST, UNOBTRUSIVE SURVEILLANCE
Stones hired CCS, a full-service surveillance and data systems integrator out of
Long Beach, Calif., to design and install a highly responsive surveillance system
that would capture the action in high-definition video. The solution drew on a
wide portfolio of Axis fixed and PTZ network cameras and mounting options that
could address the unique challenges in various areas of the casino.
“We have Axis cameras above each table that provide multiple directional overviews.
We’ve set the PTZ cameras on schedules that we can modify at any time,”
said David Gray, IT manager for Stones Gambling Hall.
The high-definition cameras record full detail of the card games and the money-
counting areas. Because the cameras can be adjusted remotely, the casino can
quickly change views to monitor specific areas such as a popular game table. Shift
managers watch the cameras live 24/7 and are able to direct floor security in real
time to specific locations of concern. They can review archived footage to investigate
customer complaints or scrutinize questionable dealer/player interactions.bn
Adaptability has been paramount to the solution. For instance, the card tavern
section has a 30-foot vaulted ceiling with exposed trusses. The initial plans called
for a camera model with interchangeable lenses to be mounted in the ceiling. Ultimately,
the CCS team went with an AXIS P3346-V Network Dome Camera, a
camera model equipped with remote focus and zoom that they were able to mount
eight feet lower than originally planned. Even though the HDTV 1080p camera
had a narrower focal length than the first option, the lower mounting height enables
the cameras to capture the same area with greater resolution. This revised approach
enabled the casino to avoid dropping the cameras from a truss and having
to use conduit, which would have spoiled the property’s aesthetics.
The mixed lighting at the entrances and exits presented another challenge. In
those areas, CCS opted to install AXIS P3384 Dome Network Cameras with Wide
Dynamic Range-Dynamic Capture to balance out the contrast between indoor
and outdoor lighting. For facility choke points and certain high-limit gaming tables,
CCS installed discrete AXIS P12 Series Network Cameras. The installation
team used various customized mounting methods, including inside the displays
on the high-stakes game tables, to conceal the cameras and provide a “dealer’s eye
view” of the table which would allow management to observe what the players are
doing with the cards in their hands.
“One of the benefits of using Axis is that the company offers a really broad
product portfolio with dozens of different camera types, attachments and mounting
assemblies,” said Ryan Gleason, project manager for CCS. “We could choose
the best model for each particular instance given the aesthetics, the location and
what our customer is trying to see.”
In addition to the cameras and video management platform, CCS implemented
multiple security measures to prevent unauthorized access to the cameras and the
“The camera network is segregated on its own VLAN off of the in-house network,”
Gleason said. “We put ACLs, MAC filtering and other protocols in place to make sure that video traffic isn’t exposed
to the Internet.”
CCS also instituted a number of
failover measures for power, storage
and network infrastructure. “The
system is fairly well redundant,” said
Gleason. “We built it in such a way
that will allow that redundancy to
grow with the system.”
Since all the cameras already include
32-gigabyte SanDisk memory cards,
CCS anticipates implementing active
card storage management with the next
Genetec Security Center release. This
will give Stones another layer of protection
in case of archive failure.
Like all casinos, Stones is required
by law to retain all its video for periodic
auditing by the Department of
Justice. To accommodate all the video
generated by the 1080p and 720p highdefinition
camera, CCS set up a server
farm of three Dell servers with more
than 120 terabytes of storage.
ADJUSTING VIEWS ON THE FLY
Stones operates 24/7, so sending technicians
onto the floor to fine-tune cameras
would be disruptive and inevitably
affect revenue. Therefore, it was important
for CCS to design a solution that
could be remotely monitored, controlled
and adjusted on the fly. With
AXIS Q6045 PTZ Network Cameras,
the IT team can log into the Genetec
system and quickly change views if one
game table draws a large crowd or an
incident occurs somewhere in the facility.
If the casino adds a new game table,
IT can make remote adjustments to the
focus and digital PTZ of the cameras
already in place to ensure that all views
comply with local, state and federal
gaming regulations. IT can adjust also
camera two-way audio levels remotely
to improve the clarity of recordings.
“I work closely with all the managers
and the owners to get the views they
need on a daily basis so that they can
do their jobs,” Gray said.
Knowing that the casino video can
be audited by the DOJ at any time,
Gray pays particular attention to optimizing
camera angles to capture such
details as die cuts on game markers or
the denominations of paper money.
“The user interface from the web
browser is extremely easy to navigate.
It’s basically point and click,” Gray
said. “I find it’s pretty simple to change
color saturation, iris opening, field of
view, zoom and focus.”
SIMPLIFYING IRS REPORTING
The cameras and the VMS are built
on open standards so CCS was able
to integrate a custom application that
could help the casino comply with IRS
reporting regulations while minimizing
the tedious paperwork for their clientele.
The program links directly to the
video cameras so that management can
take snapshots of any transaction more
than $10,000 with a touch of a button.
In other gaming establishments, customers
would be required to fill out an
IRS tax reporting form before leaving
the casino with their money. At Stones,
however, CCS was able to integrate a
button-activated trigger into the I/O
port of the P3364 Network Camera
that directs the camera to snap a series
of photos and create an event in the
Genetec Security Center VMS. Security
staff can then use those images to document
the required IRS information for
the customer so they can gain quicker
access to their winnings.
The snapshot application is also
used to alert security guards to the
presence of gamblers on the statewide
casino exclusion list so that they can
be discreetly escorted off the premises.
The application is used to recognize
self-registered problem gamblers and
help them curtail their activities.
“Everything we do is based around
customer service, and it really reflects
in our casino’s integrity and our day-today
operations,” Gray said. “As long as
the customers are happy, we know that
they’ll come back.”
BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Having a robust casino surveillance
system has benefited the neighboring
community as well.
“We’re able to assist our local police
department with camera footage
of thefts, break-ins and other incidents
in our general vicinity,” Gray
said. “With our high-definition video
cameras we’re able to not only ensure
the safety of our patrons, but also our
neighbors. It’s really become a plus for
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Security Today.