Jennifer Hones, Manager, USA Key Account Team at Milestone Systems reveals how data-driven video technology can help to enhance casino security and safety while improving customer experience.
The use of video cameras in casinos can be traced back to mid-1960s Las Vegas, where they were first used to deter crime and help security personnel investigate incidents.
Over the next several decades, as video cameras and recording and management systems evolved — from vacuum tube cameras and tape recorders to digital cameras and DVRs to IP cameras, NVRs and now AI and cloud-based solutions — video technology systems within casino security have become universal and are now a critical element in any casino’s business plan.
Over the years, in addition to deterring and helping to solve crimes, video systems have proved helpful in improving the gaming experience, for example, by using cameras to monitor customer behavior and to identify potential problems, such as people who are gambling too much or who are being harassed by other customers.
However, modern data-driven video technologies are paving the way for many new and innovative applications that extend well beyond safeguarding.
Through the strategic use of open platform, data-driven video management solutions, casinos can cultivate secure and enjoyable gaming environments that help attract new customers and ensure repeat business.
With more than 1,000 casinos across the US, guaranteeing customer loyalty and brand preference is tricky.
Casinos, gaming hotels and resorts from Las Vegas to Atlantic City to Tunica, Mississippi are constantly striving to improve customer satisfaction and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Many casinos now use advanced video technologies that rely on data to develop innovative solutions for casino security.
Casinos today often deploy extensive video technology systems that have two main roles. The first role is to watch over gaming activities and make sure all rules and regulations are being followed.
The second role is to maintain casino security throughout the venue and observe what’s happening inside and outside the building.
This can include managing operations, overseeing parking, assuring staff coverage and many other uses.
By using open platform video management software (VMS) that can integrate with a range of devices and technologies as well as software driven by AI, smart cameras and sensors, video technology is well positioned to help make the entire casino experience better.
Casinos, resorts and convention properties are often huge, with thousands of guests moving through the facility daily.
A VMS integrated with video analytics software and smart devices can become an efficient staff force multiplier.
These integrated technologies can monitor, detect and classify people, objects and activities and flag the appropriate employees with any abnormalities in real-time to improve casino security.
In simple terms, modern data-driven video systems can “watch and listen” for unusual actions or sounds. Integrated analytic software allows cameras to learn a scene and detect atypical events like a crowd gathering, someone moving against the standard traffic flow or a car entering a restricted area.
Additionally, audio sensors can pick up noise levels above certain thresholds, like arguing or calls for help, while air quality sensors can detect smoking, vaping other hazardous gases, making them an essential part of VMS effectiveness to support overall guest comfort and safety.
An open platform enables a high level of device integration as well as the integration of a facility’s existing safety systems – such as access control, lighting and intercom systems – into the video system, creating a comprehensive and user-friendly casino security and safety solution.
This deep integration allows security personnel to monitor events in real-time, make decisions and take action, reducing response times and improving overall safety.
The VMS platform can present all this information to operators through visualizations within the VMS as dashboards, maps or charts, providing a clear and intuitive way to understand the data.
As an example, the Chickasaw Nation migrated from a multitude of disparate surveillance systems to a single, network-based video management platform for casino security to cover the diverse needs of more than 155 tribal-owned properties.
“The Chickasaw Nation is like a big city,” said Kenny Mayfield, Director of Surveillance for the Chickasaw Nation.
“It’s not just casinos and gaming. We run our own medical centers, pharmacies, preschool and daycare centers, retail businesses as well as cultural and historic sites. We even own and operate several travel plazas.”
In terms of customer service, Mayfield added: “Especially in the casinos, we’re always using the cameras to find someone’s lost wallet or cellphone. If someone else picked it up, we’re able to track that individual down and return the property to its rightful owner.”
A casino’s parking lot is an initial touchpoint for many customers and the experience sets the tone for the entire visit.
Monitoring parking lots with video cameras is standard practice, but new video analytic software takes this process further, ensuring that customers and their vehicles are safe from the moment they arrive, enhancing casino security.
Video systems equipped with smart devices and audio sensors can identify loiterers and potential threats, immediately alerting employees of suspicious activities.
Video analytic software can distinguish between someone walking to their car and someone wandering in the parking lot or moving between multiple vehicles.
By proactively identifying and addressing suspicious activity, the casino security team can monitor events and respond accordingly.
Using video analytic behaviors to monitor parking structures can even reduce the time customers spend looking for a parking spot.
Staff can be alerted when a spot opens, directing customers to available spots, enhancing the experience.
The Chickasaw Nation team also recently deployed integrated license plate recognition (LPR) software within their VMS.
The team is still defining applications for the technology, but the system is already helping improve efficiencies and casino security at a handful of locations.
“Our primary use case so far has been in assisting with Amber Alerts, searching properties for license plate matches,” said Mayfield.
“The use of cameras and the LPR system saves a lot of valuable time and the end result is that perhaps we can help locate a child or save someone from harm. It’s a powerful tool.”
The team also uses the LPR system to search for reported stolen cars and to help identify abandoned vehicles.
“The integrated LPR is nice for us because it just adds an extra tab to the VMS and it is super easy for our staff to click over, type in a full tag or a partial tag and take a quick look at everything we have in the parking lot,” explained Nicholas Burger, Senior Surveillance Manager for Chickasaw Nation.
“Anything like that where we can stay in the same system, that’s really what we strive for – to keep it as simple as possible for the frontline users so that they don’t have to navigate multiple systems.”
A new technology finding application in casino security is LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). Using lasers to measure distances, LiDAR can create 3D maps of casino floors, allowing for the monitoring of customer movement and foot traffic.
The resulting data can be used to identify areas of the casino that may need additional staff or resources to improve customer service, as well as areas that may need additional lighting or other safety measures to reduce the risk of accidents and enhance customer safety.
Unlike facial recognition software, LiDAR does not capture any personally identifiable information (PII), which ensures customer privacy and casino security.
The software sees people as unique 3D entities that can be tracked, but their identity remains anonymous.
This game-changing technology, integrated with an open platform VMS, can be beneficial in detecting people loitering or groupings of people in areas where customers may require privacy, such as in restrooms or changing rooms.
This can help ensure that customers always feel safe, while improving casino security.
Like any hospitality venue, casino security teams must constantly provide excellent guest services and experiences while balancing nearly countless other critical considerations such as security, operational efficiency and evolving industry requirements.
Casinos aren’t just about luck; they’re about the experience, the thrill of the game and the feeling of being valued as a customer.
That’s why casinos are turning to cutting-edge video technology to give their customers an experience that’s not just fun, but unforgettable.
With the help of data-driven VMS and video analytics, casinos can analyze customer movements and gaming patterns to gain a deep understanding of what their customers want and need.
These insights allow management to make informed decisions that improve casino security as well as their facility’s services and operations.
By utilizing these integrated technologies, casinos can stay ahead of the competition and deliver a safe, secure, world-class customer experience that will keep their customers returning for more.
Jennifer Hones is Manager, USA Key Account Team at Milestone Systems. Since 2010, Jennifer has been a passionate member of the physical security technology industry. She has held various global strategic project-driven and role-based positions during her tenure at Milestone, ranging from learning and performance, product management, marketing, sales and operations. Jennifer has spent time at other organizations managing national distribution, system integrator and consultant channels, as well as business development. She has been involved in industry associations as Secretary of the Columbia River ASIS chapter in 2018 and the Women in Security liaison and Webmaster in 2019.
This article was originally published in the August edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.