While casinos have long been known to keep a watchful eye on their gaming floor and the customers who gamble there, modern technology has forged ahead in the past few years. The expected 'eye in the sky' cameras are still an integral part of a casinos' security suite, however, now there are several extra cutting edge digital technologies in use. This article outlines these new security technologies, and how, as well as securing the house, they provide protection for honest patrons — and stress for the would-be thieves and cheaters.
It Begins Before You Walk in the Door
License Plate Recognition (LPR) is a digital video technology that's been used by law enforcement for several years to identify vehicles of interest. Now this technology has migrated into the private sector, with casinos installing fixed LPR cameras on their perimeters and in their parking lots.
Casino game operators do not have access to law-enforcement databases; however, they have taken to compiling their own. The most typical circumstance where a casino's LPR software would throw up an alert are where a vehicle known to be connected to a person of interest is detected on the property. Such people as
- Previously identified pick-pockets and car thieves
- Previously identified con artists, cheats or prostitutes
- Persons banned from gambling, either by the casino or under a self-banning order for problem gamblers
As well as assisting the casino to head off problems before they happen, this technology is a comfort for the vast majority of patrons who are there to legitimately have a good time, and don't wish to experience any trouble.
You are Unique, and So is Your Face
As with license plate technology, biometric facial recognition software had its beginnings in the field of law enforcement — particularly in the area of homeland security. Now commercial versions of this software are available and being used widely in casinos.
When coupled to the existing camera feeds, this software can accurately compare filmed human faces to ones stored in a database. As casino operators have national industry bodies and sometimes numerous properties under the one ownership, these databases of stored facial images are massive and growing. As this news story from Canada shows, this software being installed widely, and is proving very effective in detecting the same problem patrons as its vehicular counterpart above.
And again, this is good news for all the honest folk who now have a much reduced risk of losing unfairly or being conned.
Now the Card Markers Run the Joint
A dodgy card player marking cards has been an issue in commercial casino gaming for decades, but now it's the house doing it! There are several systems available, such as this one built into a card shoe, that detects invisible identity codes stamped onto every card. This means that if a crafty cheat slips an unhelpful four of spades up his sleeve and substitutes it with just the ace of hearts he needs to win, then the linked overhead cameras will alert to this instantly and he's as good as caught.
In casino card games a cheat will not only disadvantage the house, but also the players alongside them. This clever technology makes it all but impossible for a card cheat to ruin an otherwise entertaining night out.
These Days Even the Chips are Chirping
Unfortunately from time to time casino patrons are robbed of their gaming chips after leaving the gaming floor. Now small encoded strips, known as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that were initially developed as inventory control devices, are being manufactured into casino chips.
Not only can the casino operator detect when these high-tech gaming chips leave the premises, they can selectively deactivate chips as required. This very protection was put to good use at a major Las Vegas casino in 2011, after a man ran out with stolen chips only to find them rendered valueless minutes later.
In that instance it was the house that was protected but, thanks to this same technology, mugging a departing patron to steal their chips is now a much less attractive crime.
So for all the bells-and-whistles gaming technology a casino patron is presented with on the gaming floor, it's comforting to know that there's also a whole suite of discrete technology whirring away in the background to keep the honest safe, and the dishonest nervous.