Double Down on Casino Security

Double Down on Casino Security

Strobe, LED and dim lighting can’t deter network cameras from their appointed tasks at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa

Like many gaming venues, the lighting scheme at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Oklahoma focuses on creating an atmosphere of fun and excitement. While this works well for attracting patrons, it presented challenges for nearly 2,000 analog surveillance cameras trying to protect the property. With up to thousands of people enjoying more than 2,600 electronic games, 40 table games, a poker room and a concert venue on any given day, the casino realized it needed more advanced IP-based cameras specifically designed to cope with the challenges of a casino environment.

Casino Lighting Compromised Video Clarity

“Implementing a new system allows us to better meet the operational needs of the property,” said John Underwood, surveillance technology manager for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. “Some of the bars and nightclub areas are very dimly lit. The concert and entertainment areas use strobes and spotlights during shows. Some of the gaming machines have LED lights that twinkle; some have really bright strobe lights on top. Our analog cameras were not giving us the clarity we wanted or expected with the advancement of technology.”

The overhead lighting was washing out the video. In the parking lots, flashing emergency lights from first responders, vehicle headlights and exterior floodlights resulted in a blur.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa decided it was time to turn the tables on surveillance footage. The surveillance team began a secondary build out of network cameras capable of compensating for any lighting condition while delivering exceptionally high-quality recordings of every casino activity. When the new system was completely installed, they simply turned off the live view of the old system and began running the new one.

“We never had to shut anything down during the switchover,” Underwood said. “And we have the flexibility to gradually remove the old cameras during off hours.”

The House Outsmarts Scammers with Cameras

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa has had its fair share of people looking to make an easy buck. Thanks to the cameras, the venue is able to proactively and reactively respond to people displaying inappropriate behavior.

Network cameras in the cashier area deliver such clarity that it is easy to distinguish between bill denominations. In the parking lot, cameras help to provide evidentiary quality video even with ambulances and patrol cars flashing their lights. The auto-tracking and auto-touring options in many of the cameras provide added safety to staff and guests when the parking areas are less active.

In the food service areas, the casino uses network cameras to monitor safety and food preparations. The ultra-discreet fixed mini dome provides a 360-degree panoramic view.

“Because of the wide field of view, we can use fewer cameras and still feel confident that we’re able to document any type of misconduct or accident,” Underwood said. “It allows us to be proactive in any litigation that might arise.”

Additional cameras in the warehouse are used to verify that the incoming palettes match the quantity of product listed on the bill of lading. Underwood’s team installed the cameras in horizontal mode to monitor the dock doors and in Corridor Format to look down the warehouse racks where product is pulled and distributed to different departments.

The casino also uses cameras in its food and beverage department, tying video to the live ticketing at the point of sale.

“This helps us track whether employees are providing the right discount to guests or ringing up discounts they shouldn’t,” Underwood said. “It also shows us whether the product being delivered is actually what’s being rung up.”

In some instances, the casino also uses the cameras’ two-way audio capabilities to up the surveillance ante. One primary location is the cashier area where interactions with customers can be monitored for threats or misconduct.

Insight Over the Entire Operation

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa has expanded its use of camera footage beyond safety and loss prevention. With the advent of video analytics such as heat mapping, the surveillance team is able to share valuable insights about prime real estate within the casino.

“We can show the marketing department, gaming department or the food service teams where people are congregating most frequently, where foot traffic tends to bottleneck,” Underwood said.

Having hard data at their fingers allows the casino to make betterinformed decisions about where to place new food venues or retail shops, or when to reconfigure floor layouts to ease congestion.

“The business intelligence they get out of the video helps them plan more objectively and more logically than they might otherwise have by just basing their decisions on a walk-through of the casino,” Underwood said. “So they can use the information to help grow our overall business.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Security Today.

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