Casinos load the dice

Casinos load the dice

How the latest advances in video surveillance are improving proactive oversight for casinos, and enhancing the gaming experience

Thanks to the ongoing legalisation of gambling-related activities and the growth of the experience economy, licensed casinos have expanded across Europe and generated record-breaking revenue figures. Research and Markets estimates the European casino market generated a revenue of USD 115.39 billion in 2023 and is poised to register a CAGR greater than 5% to 2029.

It's a competitive sector and to maintain profitability, reputations and ensure safe and trustworthy atmospheres, security in casinos is critical. Casinos are prime targets for theft and fraud, both from external criminals and insider threats with large amounts of cash on hand, visitor traffic, wide-open environments with multiple entry and exit points, and high-value assets throughout the premises. Criminal activity ranges from petty theft to sophisticated scams involving collusion between employees and patrons. Employees with access to sensitive areas and operational information pose a significant risk whether they are conspiring with outsiders or acting on their own. These insider threats need to be carefully monitored.

Cheating at gaming tables is a constant concern, whether it’s card counting, using electronic devices, or more traditional methods such as card marking. To prevent cheating and maintain the integrity of their games it’s imperative that casinos are constantly vigilant.

It’s little wonder that casinos are among the most prolific users of video surveillance. We see them continuing to invest in technological advances to protect facilities, employees, and guests in their efforts to offer the ultimate experience and retain customers in an increasingly competitive global market.

International attraction

A notable recent example is the luxurious, five-star GoldenEye Casino & Resort, developed and operated by BC Industries, which is perched strategically on the Bulgaria-Turkey border and has become the latest venue to adopt advanced technology from IDIS.

BC Industries had to plan for all the aforementioned risks familiar to casino operators and also find the best video system for its high-end hospitality establishment. IDIS technology was identified as the preferred solution to tackle immediate security and safety challenges ahead of its grand opening, and the contract was awarded to IDIS integration partner Volga Elektronik.

The company describes its new camera system as a future-proof surveillance solution with ongoing options for systems integration and AI-powered analytics.

When the Svilengrad resort opened its doors in January this year it became Europe’s largest casino development. A purpose built 61,000 square metre luxury complex, the GoldenEye includes a 600+ room hotel, a vast 4,500 square metre casino floor, VIP gaming rooms, a spa centre and pool, high-end restaurants, and retail mall. Thanks to its strategic location, by the coast and close to the Turkish border, it has quickly become a major landmark attracting visitors from both countries and internationally - casino enthusiasts, tourists, spa and wellness customers, and business professionals.

High-definition monitoring

With subdued lighting and sometimes smoky conditions, chips and cards changing hands at a rapid pace and large numbers of people surrounding tables, gaming areas area obvious targets. Countering this, pit bosses work with continual monitoring by ‘eye in the sky’ surveillance teams to spot suspicious or criminal activity early, seeking to prevent and deter attempts at fraudulent activity and eliminate stoppage which impacts the gaming experience.

The GoldenEye chose a combination of IDIS 12MP Super Fisheyes, 8MP IR dome cameras, and 5MP IR domes with Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) allowing broad scene surveillance of all internal areas, without blind spots, plus targeted coverage of priority locations including gaming tables, slot machines, and cashier stations. IDIS Fisheye technology is particularly useful in allowing comprehensive UHD scene coverage without the need for costly, multiple cameras, explains Koray Ozyildirim, IDIS Turkey Country Manager.

It’s a major system, reflecting the scale of the resort. The initial phase comprises more than 600 cameras; seven 64-ch NVR recorders; IDIS Solution Suite enterprise-class VMS including failover against a range of fault conditions and redundant power to ensure continuous recording and access to video; and all network accessories. External areas at the GoldenEye, including parking bays and entrances, are covered using IDIS 5MP bullet cameras and 2MP IR PTZs. Operated using IDIS Solution Suite VMS, it allows 24/7 multi-task monitoring by six operators and two supervisors, using a control room video wall, with live viewing and simultaneous playback.

The solution is NDAA compliant, with industry-best cybersecurity protection; and GDPR compliant, with dynamic privacy masking allowing footage to be easily exported without privacy infringement.

“Today we are designing systems that offer greater efficiency and value, while ensuring increased capability. Using a combination of 12MP Fisheyes and HD dome cameras we can enable targeted surveillance of higher risk locations, along with complete scene coverage that ensues all activity is captured and recorded, including away from the casino floor. We are deploying similar solutions successfully in the retail sector and integrating them with retailers point of sale and ERP systems. Now the casino industry is taking advantage of the same, flexible approach and is looking for similar integration capabilities.”

Elevating surveillance with AI

Since the 1950’s when CCTV replaced elevated walkways and one-way glass that allowed employees to peer down with binoculars for monitoring gaming floors, video surveillance has been a mainstay for casino security. Indeed, it's hard to think of an environment where it’s more crucial to have high-definition video capture of transactions and activity, easy real-time operation for multiple users, and the ability to quickly retrieve and review footage.

Now casino operators are elevating their video surveillance systems with new AI capabilities that improve security, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure a better guest experience – taking advantage of the latest AI-powered analytics options from edge cameras, AI box devices to deep learning analysis software to improve security and public safety with features including object, intrusion, loitering and face detection, and line crossing.

And video surveillance is no longer just about security. Deep learning analytics give casino operators actionable insight into every aspect of their facilities as well as guest behaviour. Managers can decide how to place and utilise staff depending on people counting, dwell time, or queues for specific gaming tables or bars. Heat maps and flow patterns distinguish where casino guests spend most of their time and how they move through the casino, allowing casino designers to optimize floor layouts for guest engagement and positive experiences.

Flexibility designed-in

At the GoldenEye resort, BC Industries needed not only to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for hotel guests, but also to optimise efficiency in the back-of-house services. The company also wanted a futureproof and modular approach that would allow surveillance capabilities to be simply and affordably expanded, as well as easy integration with other systems, including the adoption of AI analytics.

Over several months the new system was installed to cover the casino, the hotel, and car parks. It was designed not only to ensure comprehensive coverage, but to provide a flexible route for the planned adoption of the latest AI features.

Advanced monitoring and investigation capabilities

The security team at the GoldenEye resort and casino now has a powerful video solution to keep watch over the thousands of daily visitors, to maintain safety, and to identify any suspicious transactions or activity, says Mert Çalışkan, Casino Operations Director, GoldenEye Casino and Resort.

“IDIS video technology is perfectly designed for casino security. Our new system gives us all the advanced surveillance capabilities we need to protect our guests and our facilities. And we’ll be able to easily adapt and extend it in the future and take advantage of exciting new capabilities.”

BC Industries is also taking advantage of the capability future proofing that IDIS tech ensures, and is now testing IDIS people counting, heat maps and occupancy monitoring, with analytics targeted at the casino entrances.

These will make it easier to manage peaks and troughs in activity, and automatically alert duty managers if additional staff need to be brought on duty. And as in the retail sector, it will provide operators with additional at-a-glance intelligence around seasonal footfall trends, allowing visitor numbers to be analysed more easily against turnover.

In addition, video system integration with the casino’s ERP software is also being introduced, by overlying transaction data on recorded video for more efficient incident investigation and wider organisational benefits.

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