Not Just a Game

Video analytics turns the casino intelligent

It must be the “Hollywood effect”— whenever a casino’s looking at video analytics, the discussion often leads down the path of far-fetched concepts and applications for catching and tracking cheats. Due largely to its depiction on TV and in movies, the reality of casino surveillance is commonly misperceived. While security and surveillance directors should continue to push the envelope and encourage the industry to develop innovative new technologies to solve constant challenges, it is important that customers have an accurate understanding of what can and can’t be done right now with intelligent video.

Today’s state-of-the-art video analytics technology has many practical applications, but it simply cannot monitor all player movements and detect all behaviors that surveillance directors may want, especially considering the typically crowded environment around a table. For example, what’s the likelihood that the hand motions of every player will be unobscured? Or, how can the analytics software know when no more bets are to be placed in order to separate the normal betting motion from illegal behavior, such as past-posting of bets? Conceivably, high-definition monitoring of individual player betting areas could detect suspicious chip movement, but this requires expensive and potentially infeasible video coverage for a single-purpose piece of software.

However, the advances being made by video analytics that detect more specific behaviors are significant, and there are many applications within a casino where video analytics is being used to deliver immediate value and more return on the investment made in video infrastructure.

Real Results
While many gaming table surveillance applications for video analytics remain a part of Hollywood fiction, more casinos are recognizing the true capabilities of this technology and making a strategic investment in video analytics. Deploying analytics for multiple purposes within an organization, ranging from security to surveillance to marketing, can reap positive results.

On the casino floor, existing video cameras are being augmented with accurate people- counting software to yield business intelligence on traffic flow, gaming usage and promotional effectiveness. Off the casino floor, there are many high-value uses for video analytics to monitor retail, entertainment and backroom operations for additional business intelligence and improved customer service. And, of course, video analytics for physical security is being applied at many points around and within a casino/resort’s physical environment.

Untapped Intelligence
Casinos have invested millions of dollars into extensive video coverage throughout their casinos and resort properties, with high-density coverage on the gaming floor. These video systems are primarily used for both proactive and reactive surveillance. Each camera represents an ongoing stream of information that is generally untapped without analytics.

Consequently, people-counting and traffic pattern analysis is the hottest topic today for casinos evaluating video analytics. Existing cameras providing general area surveillance on the gaming floor represent significant sources of invaluable data on how patrons move in and through a casino. Using little effort and leveraging existing camera feeds, casinos have already started to use video analytics for these types of business intelligence applications and are producing actionable results.

One such casino, Chumash Casino near Santa Barbara, Calif., accurately monitors all entry and exit points to the casino floor and aggregates that data to reliably output the occupancy level within the casino at any given time. That occupancy data is compared in real time to game and slot usage and to verify if staffing levels are appropriate for the current casino patron population. This same occupancy information is used by Chumash to evaluate the effectiveness of entertainers and performances to attract customers to the casino and then to measure if those customers remain in the casino once the performance has concluded.

On the casino floor, people-counting technology also can be used to measure traffic flow at any place in the casino. Casino floors represent a series of traffic paths that can be segmented and individually monitored for people flow. One example for the use of video analytics is slots traffic for high-jackpot slots or for machines that have just been placed on the floor. Casinos already know how often each machine is used and how long players may stay at the same machine. Intelligent video provides added value by reporting on how many people walk by specific machines, how many people loiter in front of machines but don’t play, and more. By collecting and reporting this data over the long term, the casino can better assess the total traffic and conversion of that traffic to actual slot play, thereby determining the true effectiveness of the machine relative to its corresponding floor placement.

Maximizing Business Within Business
Most casinos are self-contained mini cities, providing food, retail and other services to keep guests happy, comfortable and in the casino. Having better insight into the patronage of those operations enables the casino to gain accurate knowledge of customer behavior and service that enables them to constantly improve those operations. Once again, video analytics can be used to continuously stream data related to ongoing activity within individual operations. Foot traffic for each retail store can be captured to either generate threshold alerts when occupancy reaches a specific level or assess data over time to interpret trends. Within each store, analytics can detect unsafe or suspicious crowding that requires response.

For any casino, maximizing business often means maximizing customer service. Poor customer response caused by extensive wait times must be monitored and corrected in real time. And, one thing a casino has plenty of are customer queues. Customers wait in line for check-in, taxis, ATMs, stores, show tickets, guest services and, of course, the buffet. Video analytics can monitor queues in real time to determine the number of people in line. Then, an alert can be generated when a certain occupancy is exceeded so appropriate action can be taken. Queue length or occupancy rules in place on video cameras throughout a casino provide a proactive and centralized method to resolve customer service issues before they escalate.

It All Starts With Security
Inside any casino, there are numerous restricted areas being monitored by passive video systems that can immediately benefit from intelligent video capabilities. Security personnel can spend more time on known high-risk areas while analytics picks up the continuous monitoring of all other areas, such as stairwells, fire exits, loading docks and perimeter access points. Analytics also can accurately monitor access to and from controlled areas and compare those events in real time with access control events to deliver a solution for tailgating and other relevant behaviors.

It’s easy to see how the proper application of video analytics starts with security, but forward-thinking gaming operations— like Chumash Casino Resort—are demonstrating that intelligent video also can be used to optimize customers’ experience and maximize their stay. From a business point of view, customer service and hospitality are the name of the game, and casinos can gain a competitive edge by using video analytics to take their business to an entirely new level of operational effectiveness.

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