Defining Performance Criteria
Integrating the right equipment for each surveillance goal
- By Jason Oakley
- Mar 01, 2020
There are good reasons that video surveillance is
mandated for any casino operation by both federal
and state gaming authorities – it has proven
to be an effective tool to help ensure safety, accountability
and lawful behavior in the gaming
industry. That said, casinos and gaming resorts have a wide
range of surveillance challenges, and therefore the video surveillance
system needs to be a sophisticated and effective blend
of cameras, video storage and video management to deliver the
required levels of performance.
For example, a typical casino has multiple entrances, in a range
of styles from doorways to wide openings, all open to the public
virtually 24/7. The gaming areas themselves range from table
games, where both the staff and the players must be well-covered,
to banks of electronic games, where the focus has to be on both
players and anyone else present or passing through the area.
All cash-handling locations, including the cashier’s cage and
the back office areas, must also be carefully watched to maintain
control. Every one of these areas has different surveillance system
performance requirements because of the specific distances,
lighting, visibility and objectives at each location.
With casino operations being the core revenue generator driving
gaming facilities, surveillance operations typically take a high
priority relative to budget allocation, levels of performance and
scope of operations. Casino owners and management select, install
and deploy advanced surveillance systems to address the
various needs of each area in the casino environment, in partnership
with an expert surveillance systems integrator familiar with
casino regulations and operations.
Here are several key casino areas that drive the performance
criteria for surveillance systems.
Table Game Surveillance
The expression “the hand is quicker than the eye” holds special
meaning for casino surveillance staff, as professional cheats have
engineered clever ways to conceal means of stealing chips, manipulating cards, changing bets and so on. But cameras don’t blink,
especially high-resolution IP fixed and PTZ cameras designed to
meet specific gaming regulations that combine fast frame rates,
high resolution and low light capability.
New multi-sensor megapixel cameras with panoramic viewing
capability or multiple independent adjustable lenses that can
also be focused on specific coverage areas provide an extremely
efficient, high performance solution to augment table game surveillance.
These technologically advanced imaging solutions have
proven to be very cost-effective, often doing the work of several
lower resolution cameras, reducing equipment, installation and
Recorded images from high resolution cameras can also supply
valuable meta-data to help casino security staff locate video
recordings associated with specific incidents. This functionality
may be primarily used for forensic analysis after a suspected incident
has occurred, but it can also provide additional advantages.
For example, data-mined video can also help with predictive
analysis by correlating otherwise unrelated events to warn
security staff of abnormal behaviors that may indicate an impending
situation. Data mining and review in the context of
operating procedures could also potentially suggest operational
Gaming Machine Areas
Slot games and electronic video gambling machines are highly
profitable because they generally require fewer casino staff to operate,
but these gaming areas need to be monitored very carefully
to meet compliance regulations, and to protect customers from
unscrupulous people. Surveillance cameras in slot areas can also
assist with service issues and identifying persons of interest – including
both high rollers and known threats – so they can be dealt
Variation in lighting poses a particular challenge amongst the
banks of flashing slot machines. There are many applicable imaging
solutions available to monitor activities in the difficult conditions
found in slot areas. A combination of PTZ cameras, 360
degree panoramic cameras or dome cameras with fixed lenses are
typically deployed to deliver the necessary coverage.
But finding the right economy of scale for camera selection
and placement is most critical, and often a judgement call beyond
the specific imaging requirements dictated by federal and state
compliance regulations. Tighter coverage areas will require more
cameras, particularly as casinos densely populate slot machine
areas to fully maximize gaming floor space.
New High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD)
cameras can provide a highly effective and cost-efficient solution,
providing they can be positioned for wide coverage in the target
image area. Available in many different form factors, the electronic
pan/tilt capabilities found in many of these cameras (or
facilitated through a VMS) can provide simultaneous, real-time
surveillance monitoring and recording of the full coverage area,
while allowing an operator to manually pan or zoom electronically
within the camera’s set field of view.
Intelligent video analytics can also be applied to better secure
and monitor slot machine areas. This includes, for example, “object
left behind” detection to spot suspicious packages or personal
belongings left unattended by customers, people-counting
analytics to gauge traffic in specific slot areas for both security
and business intelligence data gathering, and facial recognition to
detect known individuals, such as pickpockets and banned players,
who may have evaded detection at casino entrances.
Cash Handling Areas
Cash cages, ATMs, ticket/cash redemption kiosks and back areas
where chips and cash are handled all require the highest levels of
video surveillance. ATMs and ticket/cash redemption areas generally
use dedicated, fixed cameras monitoring all activity 24/7.
Cash cages demand more attention with dedicated cameras surveilling
all activities from both the customer’s and the cashier’s
perspectives for documentation of each and every transaction, as
well as identification of both the cashiers and customers.
Surveillance for back areas requires stringent measures dovetailing
with identity management and access control. These areas
can involve several layers of access control technology including
card/proximity readers, biometric identity confirmation and door
interlock systems, or “mantraps,” to ensure only authorized staff
Surveillance cameras are typically deployed on both sides of
these entry points as well as in the interior of any mantrap solution
and can be integrated with access control systems. Analytics
may also be applied to these cameras for an additional layer of
confirmation, business information and security.
Once inside secured areas, particularly those where cash and
chips are handled, surveillance cameras must be deployed to
monitor all activities to capture any misappropriation of assets,
and for documentation in the event of discrepancies.
Identifying Persons of Interest
One of the primary objectives of casino surveillance operations
is to quickly and easily identify persons of interest. This can include
known gaming cheats, individuals banned for unacceptable
behavior or theft, and worse. Because the numbers of these individuals
and visitors are both large, it is difficult for surveillance
staff to memorize and pick out the important people without
some form of assistance.
Using advanced VMS solutions, high-priority persons of interest can be put on a display in the form of a digital slideshow
next to a live surveillance feed. This serves as a constant visual
reminder to look for these people while making the likelihood of
identifying them much higher.
Going a step further, advanced facial recognition software can
be added to the cameras covering entrances to identify persons of
interest and automatically notify security staff. Facial recognition
software can be centralized and applied to specific cameras across
the network, or implemented on the edge, as several popular brands
of IP cameras feature embedded facial recognition capabilities.
These cameras also can be used to identify high rollers who
may arrive at a facility unannounced, alerting casino and hospitality
staff that they are present and further elevating the level of
customer service these important guests receive.
As with any form of image-based analytics, image quality and
consistency are critical contributors to the performance of the
system. High-definition cameras with features like Wide Dynamic
Range (WDR) can provide extensive scene detail and expanded
coverage, even in challenging lighting conditions such as casino
entrances, where lighting conditions change throughout the
course of the day. The combination of VMS digital slideshows,
facial recognition analytics and cameras designed for challenging
lighting conditions can prove to be the most effective identification
It is important to note that all activities in gaming areas need
to be recorded and archived for specific periods of time, according
to federal and state gaming regulations. Recording requirements
may vary from one gaming location to the next, and significantly
impact the design and costs of gaming surveillance operations.
Consultation with a knowledgeable systems integration company
is recommended to navigate specific compliance requirements.
This will help to ensure that the new system meets those
requirements, and remains on budget while maintaining gaming
There is no “cookie cutter” solution to deploying video surveillance
cameras or surveillance functionality within a gaming facility.
Each casino has its own unique nuances and potential challenges
based on the nature of the clientele, physical location, layout and
design, and of course, federal and state compliance regulations.
Thus, each property requires an individual analysis by a professional
security consultant or systems integration firm who specializes
in gaming surveillance and security. This is
the best way to make sure the right equipment
is deployed to achieve the security and business
goals of the surveillance system.
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Security Today.