A Key for Casinos
Maintaining tight control to minimize loss
- By Fernando Pires
- Sep 01, 2013
With so much money flowing throughout casinos, these establishments
are a highly-regulated world within themselves
when it comes to security.
One of the most critical areas of casino security is
physical key control because these instruments are used for
access to all of the most-sensitive and highly-secured areas, including counting
rooms and drop boxes. Therefore, the rules and regulations that relate to key control
are extremely important to maintaining tight control, while minimizing loss
Casinos that are still using manual logs for key control are at constant risk. Not
only are there inherent inaccuracies with this system, including signatures that are
missing or illegible, but this sign-out process is time consuming.
Analysis, reporting and investigation are extremely labor intensive due to digging
through piles and boxes of log sheets, making it difficult to keep an accurate
account of key usage while having a negative impact on compliance.
Choosing the Right Solution
When choosing a key control and management solution that meets the needs of
the casino environment, there are important features to consider.
Multiple layers of security. Before accessing any key in the system, each individual
user should face at least two layers of security. Biometric identification, a
PIN or an ID card swipe to identify the user’s credentials are not enough separately.
The cabinet door should not open until the system verifies that the user has
permission for the specific key requested.
Three-man rule. For certain keys or key sets that are highly-sensitive, compliance
regulations may require signatures from three individuals, one each from three
separate departments, typically a drop-team member, a cage cashier and security
officer. A secure key management system should be programmable to recognize
these keys or key sets and only open the cabinet door and release them once the
three required logins are complete and the credentials verified. A system designed
for user convenience will prompt for the additional logins only once, regardless of
how many sets were initially requested.
Returning highly sensitive keys may be even more highly regulated, with multiple
levels of security required. For example, “Full Secure” would require that the
same users who removed a key must return the key, while “Department Secure”
would only require the first user’s credentials to match exactly while the two other
users would have to match by department. The key control system should be configurable
to handle these levels and others as well.
Limitation of access. Access to drop boxes outside of scheduled hours is another
regulated area that requires specific functionality from a key control system.
In the case of an event like a machine jam, customer dispute, machine relocation
or maintenance, the user would typically be required to include a predefined note
and freehand comment with an explanation of the situation before removing keys.
In a casino environment, specific keys or key sets should be configurable so that
the user is prompted for this. Reports detailing unscheduled access, including the
reason why the access occurred, should be available, as required by many state and tribal gaming agencies. Additionally,
emails and/or SMS text messages
should automatically be generated any
time those sets are accessed for unscheduled
Access to table game drop box release
keys is limited to the specific employees
who are authorized to remove the table
game drop boxes from the tables. These
same individuals would be precluded
from having access to table game drop
box contents keys at the same time
they have the table game drop box release
keys out. Again, this functionality
should be easily and conveniently configurable
in a key control solution.
Reporting. Gaming regulations require
a number of different types of
audits on a regular basis to assure the
casino is in full compliance with regulations.
For example, when employees
sign the table game drop box keys in or
out, Nevada Gaming Commission requirements
call for maintenance of separate
reports indicating the date, time,
table game number, reason for access,
and signature or electronic signature.
An “electronic signature” includes a
unique employee PIN or card, or employee
biometric identification validated
and recorded through a computerized
key security system. The key management
system should have custom software
that enables the user to set up all
these and many other types of reports.
A robust reporting system will greatly
assist the business to track and improve
processes, ensure employee honesty and
minimize security risks.
Convenience. It is useful for certain
keys or key sets to be quickly available
to their authorized users. With an instant
key release feature, the user only
needs to input their credentials, and
the system knows whether they already
have their specific keys or not. If not, the
system unlocks and their keys are immediately
available to them. Returning
keys is just as fast and easy. This saves
time, reduces training and sidesteps any
language barriers. Personnel like housekeepers
and slot floor attendants can be
organized into “groups”. For them, the
hotel and casino would have multiples
of the same respective key sets available;
the system releases the next available set
to each authorized user from a group,
which cycles through the sets so that
each gets equal usage.
Gaming requirements vary from state
to state, and from tribe to tribe. The
key control and management system
chosen for deployment in a casino environment
should be flexible to accommodate
for any of the above regulations
and. It should also be modular and
scalable, so the number of keys and the
scope of features can change and grow
along with the business.
Finally, it should be easy to use, as
training time can be costly and many
different employees will need to be able
to access the system.
By keeping these elements in mind,
a casino can manage their key control
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Security Today.