Over the last two decades, the global gaming market has undergone remarkable changes. Though Las Vegas is still the undisputed entertainment centre of the world, the Asian gaming explosion has been fueled by the popularity of table games like baccarat. At the same time, concepts like the Internet of Things and Big Data have become inescapable as inter-device connectivity and data mining capabilities have become more prevalent and valued.

In this blog, we discuss these developments and their impact on surveillance.

What is the gaming surveillance climate today?

Casino surveillance is in the midst of a global tidal change with the rapidly-growing migration from analogue to digital technologies. More and more IP-based data in casinos is generated from physical security, point-of-sale, player tracking, slot, and table systems. And, of course, casinos are also introducing HD and Megapixel IP cameras with advanced functionality.

This move to IP is a positive development that offers access to invaluable data about players, dealers, trends, anomalies and so on. However, the bad news is that there’s too much information for managers and surveillance operators to deal with.

Our challenge, as a technology and surveillance solution company, is to figure out ways to sift through that mountain of data and distinguish what matters. We need to give people a way to interrogate data and identify events that are most likely to be of interest and, importantly, ensure this information is readily available and retrievable.

Clearly, different global regions have very different needs

In the US, slot machines represent a huge part of casinos’ revenue. In these cases, casinos are more interested in tying slot data to video, so they respond when a door has been opened, if there are any tampering alarms, or to review jackpots of a certain size.

In Asia, baccarat is the game of choice. We’ve seen increased requests for integration to baccarat and player tracking systems. Casinos maintain detailed records about their players, including frequency of visits, average and aggregate bets, and how long they play. Each baccarat table also has screens that display real-time statistics. So it is now possible, if not required, to overlay player and game data with the video and to alert operators of trends and exceptions.

“Data integration and analysis can add tremendous value, like helping casinos adjust staffing levels, refine target marketing, manage or train dealers, or revise floor plans to increase foot traffic or play.”

Where does the greatest untapped potential exist for system integration?

There is a growing demand for integration into player tracking systems, both for marketing purposes and to uncover potential collusion or card counting by combining video and player data.

In several of our customers’ casinos around the world, we’ve seen situations where players are in collusion with employees that result in huge losses for the enterprise. For instance, a table game manager might overstate the amount a cohort is betting each hand to cash in on unearned comped dinners, hotel rooms and, in some cases, cash rewards.

With live analytic tools monitoring player tracking and video surveillance systems, operators can be alerted when buy-in to betting thresholds or averages are exceeded and directed to actively observe that game. They can also run a quick report to see how often a particular player and dealer have been engaged at the same table to help substantiate foul play.

Retrospective analysis is also possible, and we’ve seen a couple of cases where comp fraud audits on this kind of data have exposed scams that cost the casino $500,000 or more in losses in a six-month period.

This is just one scenario in which data integration and analysis can add tremendous value. There are other benefits, such as helping casinos adjust staffing levels, refine target marketing, manage or train dealers, or revise floor plans to increase foot traffic or play. Once you understand what makes your best players return, stay at the table, or increase or decrease play, you can serve them better and attract similar quality customers to your business.

How can casino operators use the data system integration brings?

In casinos, data typically resides in departmental silos, funded by independent budgets and managed by disjointed directors and objectives. Everybody owns a piece of the puzzle, but to be truly effective, all that data must be joined up in a common format and environment, analyzed as a whole, and then intelligently shared with the executive stakeholders responsible for the overall operation. Your most valuable customer may play at your casino because he loves the Kobe steak dinner and satin pillowcases. Food & beverage, hospitality, and player hosts all contribute to keeping or losing that customer, so data correlation and communication between them are absolutely essential.

As a gaming surveillance technology provider, we seek ways to eliminate business silos and build bridges with functionality that can intelligently analyse data from disparate systems. With access to thousands of video cameras covering the entire property, and highly trained, regulated and vetted personnel, surveillance is the ideal place to gather and monitor this kind of corporate-wide data.

One of our goals is to get surveillance teams to think differently about their jobs. Traditionally, surveillance meant looking at the live or recorded video and hoping to catch someone doing something wrong. But with so many cameras to choose from, and increasingly complex scams, you can no longer depend on visual feedback alone. It’s about understanding what’s going on behind the curtain, down in the data. If surveillance managers and departments think more like data analysts, then there’s an untapped opportunity for surveillance departments to evolve and contribute much more significantly to the well-being and profitability of their casinos. Transitioning surveillance solutions from a cost centre to a profit centre is not only possible, but it is also essential and inevitable.