This was the subject matter of one of the speakers at the “World Game Protection” conference, which was recently held in the Paris Casino, Las Vegas.
A recent case in Atlantic City, where the surveillance department was found guilty for their staff ogling customers, instead of watching what they are supposed to watch, is an example of what may go on inside some CCTV operations. Where the staff, unlike all the other employees in a casino operation, are very rarely held accountable for their actions.
In this case the casino was fined $185,000; this follows a similar case in 2004 when the same casino was fined $80,000. The operators themselves were either fined or had their licences suspended for a short period of time. So the first warning was ignored and so a stronger one was needed.
In another recent case in Switzerland, a disgruntled casino surveillance operator took documents from the casino, (relating to player tracking and evidence showing that surveillance were recording and copying player’s identity documents) and delivered them to the press. The Swiss journal “Blick on Sunday” carried the headline “Casino Scandal”.
These are just a few cases of misconduct but many more have occurred throughout time, cases of surveillance turning a blind eye to events happening on gaming tables and openly participating in casino fraud. We don’t suggest that all surveillance rooms operate like this but obviously some do and who can hold their hand up and say ours doesn’t because no director or manager is there 24 hrs a day seven days a week.
The International Casino Cheat Detection Agency, have recently developed a system, (known as “ Eye on the Action Surveillance assistant”) which includes installing a camera in surveillance rooms. Although this system is designed to assist surveillance in the detection of cheats and cheating incidents, it may also act as a deterrent to any misdemeanours by staff, all staff.
This smart digital camera has a two-way audio attachment, which permits the users to communicate by way of continual intercom. This service allows your surveillance staff to alert ICCDA when suspects are located in the house or in most cases ICCDA will alert your officers.
Additional services will include review of suspect losing tables in order to verify or refute legitimacy of losses. These IP cameras are employed over a fixed secure Internet connection with Voice over Internet protocol and have a range of 10, 000 kilometres. Extra cameras may be installed throughout different locations in the casino, in reception where ICCDA has had much success in identifying cheats, before they even enter into gaming rooms. One or two back up cameras could also be employed on the gaming floor, giving the ability to follow up on subjects once they have assembled at the tables.
The system also allows for the images to be sent back to you and may even be viewed by multiple users. Casino executives on the move would be able to keep up to date with different units, while being able to visualise and communicate with the management on the ground. In times of bad weather or tight schedules, company executives could see events taking place in different locations simultaneously, assisting in the use of on the spot decision making.
Considering the expansion of the gaming industry throughout the world and the absorption of some of the most experienced surveillance personnel by the casinos in the far east, this brain drain is creating a shortage of experienced man power particularly in Australia and America.
According to the United States Department of Labour gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators will be among the fastest growing occupations over the next ten years. Progressive thinking management will admit that this type of “Eye on the Action” system belongs to the future of casino security and the day when the majority of surveillance rooms will be observed by independent observers and expert consultants is inevitably on its way.
There are other cheat detection systems in the worldwide market place but they are passive and therefore only as good as the operator who is viewing them. The ICCDA “Eye on the action system” is a pro-active system, which is overseen from a remote location by experts in facial recognition. We not only help in discovering subjects but also in sharing our experiences with your surveillance personnel. On the spot advice and tips on how to detect events before they happen can be given because prevention is always better than cure.
There are small casinos throughout the globe, working under tight budget restraints, which will install sophisticated camera and video equipment but cut back on operators to watch over it. The “Eye on the action system” is a very cost effective system and could be used in these circumstances, as it is not long before gaming staff realise that nobody is watching them. Those casinos where the gaming manager has to leave the floor to review footage in times of table game disputes, will also be taken advantage of by the staff and players who will collude in order to maximize this situation for them selves.
Typical examples can be found such as when, a certain gaming manager was asked by a regular player who had apparently left his mobile phone on one of the roulette tables and it had gone missing, “could you find out what happened to my phone”. Before the manager had reached the surveillance door, a cold deck of cards, was introduced onto the stud poker table by the player’s wife and she hit the table jackpot with a royal flush. The manager on his return apologised to the player for not being able to locate his phone and then went on to pay out his wife, who had been waiting to collect the jackpot payout, without bothering to review the shuffle procedures on the poker table.
Not so long ago teams of Armenians crossed Europe collecting a reputation for card counting and shuffle tracking! This was mostly because surveillance or the lack of surveillance had failed to notice that what they were really doing was memorizing the first cards of the deck with the use the cutting card and by fanning the front of the pack prior to the cut. This information was then used to bust out the dealer’s hand on the third hand of every shoe. Assuming they were card counting the shoe was cut in half, producing twice as many opportunities for them to fan the deck, in half the amount of time. Had sufficient experienced staff and quality surveillance officers been available in those casinos then they wouldn’t have got as far across the continent as they did before their real modus operandi was discovered.
John Edward Connolly of I.C.C.D.A. is a casino veteran of 34 years and fluent in five European languages. He is a former founder member of I.A.C.S. with over twelve years of contribution to that security association.
John may be reached by:
Tel: +36 30 982 6191
Fax: +36 1 279 1968
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