Surveillance on the Casino Floor
Enter the Casino floor and you’re immediately captivated by the glitz and glamour of bright lights and gamblers that are in it to win it. Slot sounds emanating Bonus Games and winners pull you in one direction while roar of the crowd at the Roulette table wails when a stack of chips on number 23 hits pulling you in the opposite direction. There is no greater excitement than the anticipated hope that Lady Luck is on your side and walking out a big winner declaring victory as you click your heals through the exit doors and can’t help but clench your fists, flex your muscles and cry out “YES”!
The last thing ever thought about is surveillance cameras capable of watching your every move. Cozy up next to a Slot or Video Poker machine that is far removed from crowds, off in a quiet corner and privacy is just an illusion. Cameras so high tech it can zoom in and count the number of eyelashes you have.
Casino Security Cameras
George Orwell was ahead of his time and somewhat of prophetic Nostradamus in his epic book “1984” published in 1949. The “big brother” concept was unconceivable at the time but as the future unfolds there rings the truth of what otherwise seemed a sci-fi fictional novel from a writer who had nothing more than a wild imagination.
Those seemingly innocent small bubble domed fixtures in the ceiling are the eye in the sky. There are literally thousands of surveillance cameras throughout the Casino floor including restaurants, shops, lounges and parking lots capable of capturing your every move. Camera technology has become so high powered it can move in a 360 degree rotation and zoom in and read the serial number on a coin or bill.
Advanced software improves cameras capabilities through digital technology. Each camera is linked to a recorder and digital or tape that documents every second day or night 365 days a year. Digital software systems allow security to retrieve data history from archives in a matter of seconds removing antiquated ways of watching hours of tape. Computer software needs little human help in keeping a watchful eye on a certain player or a specific item like a gambling chip on the table and when there is any movement the system will set off an alert.
The surveillance room well hidden from public view have TV’s that are closely monitored by the security team along with a team behind them that are on a cat walk observing. Additionally, plain clothed security walks around the Casino floor.
Digital facial recognition is distributed throughout all casinos and quickly identifies cheaters and banned players. From the moment players walk through the Casino doors faces are scanned identifying suspicious players and are closely monitored throughout their stay.
Monitoring Casino Employees
A Casino employee or member of the surveillance team is not permitted back in the Casino for a six month period after quitting or retiring nor is anyone currently employed allowed to play in the Casino they work at.
Employees must where ID cards that are clearly visible at all times. The ID’s are easily tracked through transmission readers that record and store their whereabouts. This data tells upper management how long they are on break, how many times they have used the restroom, how long they were on their lunch break and the precise time. At any given moment their superior can locate them in real time when they are not at their designated work post.
Management keeps a keen eye on the tables consisting of Pit bosses and floor supervisors who continually observe the dealers and players. The eye in the sky watches everyone at the tables.
The body language of the dealer is very resourceful in alerting security when something goes wrong at the table. In many cases when a dealer realizes he has made a mistake his body movements reflect it and can be an accurate indicator an error has taken place.
Dealer observation will pick up and notice when a short payout has been given to a player as little as 50 cents. When this happens the pit boss is notified who then lets the player know and explains the error to the dealer. In the event the dealer paid out more money than should have and the player has already left an incident report is placed on the dealer and kept on file. However, it’s only human to miscalculate at times and does not have a major bearing the dealer if there are only a reasonable amount of mistakes over the course of their career.
Depending on what is happening at the tables the surveillance team may let a small payout mistake go if there is a more serious pressing issue at the tables costing the Casino a large sum of money as in cheaters in progress.
Table Game Play Surveillance
Thanks to advanced software technology it is becoming increasing more difficult for table game cheaters. There are several types of programs that specialize in specific areas and are proficient in capturing any suspicious or fraudulent activity.
Surveillance systems include:
- Reads and detects invisible ink signatures or markings on back of cards and prevents a hand from being played through a custom dealing device.
- A known cheater or suspicious person that has been identified by facial recognition involves going through surveillance footage that is then analyzed. The software will look for patterns in connection to any accomplices that are discovered.
- Software analyzes a variety of game play in real time including game speed, number of dealt cards per hour and player winning ratio. Through the analysis the software is able to detect trends that are out of the traditional norms and alert security.
Casino Cashier Surveillance
A Casino cashier like the dealer is continuously calculating and distributing money to players. Depending on the Casino, in the event a cashier mistakenly overpays a player it will or will not eventually be retrieved from the player. For example a player walks up with 2 $1.00 chips and the cashier pays it out as $100 chips, the casino is out $198. Through the surveillance technology the player is recognized the next time they return to the Casino and asked to pay it back before being allowed to re-enter.
In the case of stolen chips that are brought to the cage for a cash-out there is a software system available that will stop them in their tracks. The more modern advanced chips are implanted with a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). Once the cashier scans the chips it is instantly recognized as a stolen chip because the RFID has been disabled.
Due to the advanced internal computer mechanisms inside a Slot machine cheaters are far less common. This doesn’t mean that Slots and Video Poker sections are camera shy, far from it. For every new machine equipped with highly advanced technology there is always someone, somewhere able to break or fool the computer inside.
One of the most common cheat practices was tripping the coin return or using counterfeit coins. This has been greatly reduced with the introduction of ticket in – ticket out vouchers. Contrary to what most players may think that it was developed for their convenience it was primarily designed in the prevention of Slot cheats.
Casinos Are Protected but What About Players?
It is understandable Casinos have powerful security systems, after all where else is there such a high volume of cash exchanging hands or safes storing mega amounts of money. While the Casino is protected by this invisible steel armor of tight security, what about the protection of players?
In many Casinos there are no security cameras in elevators, on hotel floors or back stairs leading to hotel rooms. Crimes are committed in these areas where rape, theft and breaking into hotel rooms have been reported. Staff like maids working on hotel floors are unprotected if faced with criminal behavior.
What is also amazing is when a player gets a purse or voucher stolen security has been known to do nothing about it. The player isn’t encouraged to follow through and take action, instead they are discouraged with a mentality of chalk it up to a loss. Yet if a player is overpaid 50 cents at the table it is quickly recognized and handled promptly. Players should be equally protected because they can carry a large sum of money particularly after hitting a Jackpot that requires a hand-pay that almost always draws a crowd of onlookers.
It has been a problem of concern addressed by many Casinos that are well aware of the lack of cameras in certain areas. Some Casinos have installed cameras in designated areas to protect players and should be a policy all Casinos should follow.
It is always an uncomfortable situation when it feels like someone is standing over your shoulder. Some gamblers and casino employees alike are opposed to such extreme surveillance and view it as an invasion to their privacy. Are Casino cheats all that prevalent that it requires millions and millions of dollars in security systems? The answer is yes, because without it more scammers would come out of the woodwork bilking Casinos out of millions more. Although the thought of big brother watching our every move is unnerving, the fact is the eye in the sky isn’t interested in you at all. It’s the scam artists that are all too aware of the surveillance and living on the edge of fear that their every move is watched………and it is.