Do not gamble on security

April 2012 Surveillance, Entertainment and Hospitality (Industry)

Pierre Malan, a director of SV Solutions spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about the current state of security threats in the casino industry. SV Solutions was formed seven years ago to provide industry with sustainable systems integration services and is based on the 30 years' gaming security experience of its directors, complemented by the capabilities and experience of the SVS team.

“The nature of the risks experienced in the casino industry has not changed over the past five years, but what has changed is the incidence of certain trends. While there has been a marked absence of armed robberies in the past 12 months, fraud and scam incidents have fluctuated,” he says.

“We saw a definite ramping up of criminal activity until the early months of 2011 then the curve flattened out substantially,” Malan says. He attributes a generalised overall lowering of crime to the implementation of increased security measures and the intention to anticipate and counteract the actions of the criminal element.

“We find that scams have become more sophisticated due to criminals having increased access to technology and information. So similarly, it has been necessary to up the ante by sourcing increasingly high-tech counter measures. It is never easy to completely predict criminal patterns, but with access to high-end technology, supplemented by appropriately trained security personnel and the provision of behavioural analysis information, the industry has been able to gain valuable ground in this respect,” Malan adds. “It is important that security personnel are trained in the detection of trends and react quickly to the threat to minimise its effect. An integrated approach to problem solving is critical.”

Technology first?

Malan emphasises that there has been an acceleration in the convergence between the physical investigation and technology elements within the industry. “The risk or security manager no longer operates in isolation from the technology. The first source of information is derived from the installed technology and once a potential threat has been identified, the incident will be passed on to the investigation department for individualised attention and action.”

He says that, currently, video analytics and content analysis predominate. “Information acquired is used for both personal identification purposes and for detection of criminal trends. We are seeing integration of data from gaming machines and point of sale devices with the surveillance cameras. Data mining is becoming more sophisticated and provides greater feedback for increased verification.”

“All casinos are governed by the regulations of the Gaming Board, which stipulates, amongst other prerequisites, that any recorded material needs to have a title, and a date and time stamp, in order to be considered valid and binding. In addition, the control room is required to be onsite, is accessible only to authorised personnel who pass through a number of access control systems to reach it, and it may not have any Internet access.”

Apart from the fact that surveillance cameras and high-definition recording devices provide recorded footage that can be used in criminal apprehension and prosecution, their role in highlighting trends has also increased.

“Many casinos see the inherent value of employing behavioural analysis specialists to train their security personnel in the detection of irregularities in behaviour patterns by patrons,” says Malan. “By being able to proactively detect a trend, control room personnel and even security officers on the floor, can alert security managers who will then provide the investigation team with the required information to take further action.”

Into the future

While wireless systems are proving increasingly popular in industrial, residential and commercial applications, hardwired installations are the preferred norm in the casino environment. “This is relevant for a number of reasons, predominantly because of the sensitivity around the possible hacking of systems within the casino environment.

“I have no doubt that the incorporation of IP technology for surveillance will become an industry standard. This is a reflection of the industry’s move towards a more electronically-controlled environment,” Malan concludes.

Because of the direct monetary risks involved, casinos will generally use more sophisticated technology than in many of the commercial installations. Casinos deal in large amounts of money, so the risk is noticeably and unavoidably larger. This requires a concomitant requirement for superior and failsafe security systems to ensure that assets are protected at all times and risks are minimised.


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