IP Cameras’ Image Quality Ensures Fair Play at Casino
In 1964, two young entrepreneurs, Jerry Lodge and Jerry Stamis, created a compact new casino called Jerry’s Nugget in Las Vegas. Their small business immediately began growing and four years later, their “gold mine” needed to move across the road to its present location with a total area of 95,000 square feet. In 2010, Jeremy Stamis, executive manager at Jerry’s Nugget Casino, decided that it was time for a security camera technology update and that the casino’s 220 existing analog cameras would be replaced.
There was a lot for the new cameras to cover. The successful casino offers a keno lounge, table games, a race and sports book, and a slots floor. In addition to its gaming experience, Jerry’s Nugget provides live stage entertainment and various dining options. Currently, 350 people work at Jerry’s Nugget, and on a usual business day, the casino hosts 1,500 visitors.
“Due to the high number of cameras, large storage requirements, and stringent specifications from the gaming commissions, video surveillance in the gaming sector has always been a challenge. The industry hesitated for a long time before replacing aging analog systems with the latest IP-based megapixel technology,” said Marko Vogt, Basler Vision Technologies’ security sales manager for the Americas. Nevertheless, Stamis wanted to have the old analog cameras replaced by network cameras because the existing analog installation weren’t delivering images that allowed identification of small details, e.g., the face of a card on the gaming tables.
The majority of cameras at Jerry’s Nugget Casino were needed in the slot machine and gaming table areas to detect potential foul play. Cameras were also needed in the casino’s “cage,” the area serving as the financial center of any casino, where chips and tokens are bought or exchanged for cash and where the money is counted.
When looking for new security cameras, some of the prime requirements for Stamis were the speed and resolution of the cameras. If someone is cheating during a table game, their movements are so fast that they often can’t be seen by the human eye. In the case of suspected cheating, video recorded by a security camera can later be viewed frame-by-frame to detect whether there has been fraudulent action. The same applies to the cage area where it is even easier to palm something when someone turns their back on other employees or security personnel. With high resolution, it is also possible to zoom in on parts of the image and clearly see every detail.
A Closer Look at the Installation
Stamis decided to use Basler Internet protocol (IP) cameras. Basler’s BIP2-1300c-dn IP camera delivers real-time video data at 30 frames per second (fps) with any type of compression (MJPEG, MPEG-4, or H.264). These cameras were used in the slot machine area and at the gaming tables to thwart any attempted cheating. With the cameras’ megapixel resolution CCD sensors, they make it possible for a security operator to identify even the smallest image details such as the face of a playing card on a large gaming table. In this environment, the low-light capabilities of Basler’s IP cameras come into play. Even at a luminosity of only about 15 lux, Basler BIP2-1300c-dn IP cameras can deliver crystal-clear images while meeting the required frame rate and needing a maximum exposure time of only 1/30th of a second.
A number of even faster BIP2-640c-dn IP cameras secure the cage, where they record any activities at 100 fps. With this frame rate, the cameras can detect any irregularities that are too fast for the human eye to see. Given the number of IP cameras installed in the cage, all its important areas can be viewed, such as the machines used for counting money and tokens as well as customers’ and employees’ faces.
At Jerry’s Nugget, all video data is stored for a period of at least four months. In case of suspicious behavior by a player or an employee, the recorded video data is viewed at a very low speed by one of five surveillance agents in the casino’s security control room. By looking at each individual image in the context of a specific situation, the security agents can scrutinize the entire scene, evaluate the situation, and if necessary, inform one of the casino’s 30 security guards.
To secure the best possible image quality, all images recorded by Basler’s IP cameras are compressed with the MJPEG format and stored on TimeSight servers. MJPEG compression delivers the best image quality but also generates a large amount of data, so MJPEG video streams require a large amount of storage space. To reduce the overall cost of storage, all image data delivered by the Basler IP cameras at Jerry’s Nugget is transferred to the TimeSight servers and managed by TimeSight’s unique Video Lifecycle Management (VLM) process. The data is stored for a period of seven days — a time period that is critical for casino security — before it is compressed further. After 30 days, the stored images are compressed again, but still exhibit better image quality than the video recorded by analog cameras.
“Reaching a constant frame rate of 30 fps in the casino’s low light environment has been a hurdle to adapting megapixel cameras in gaming. The unique combination of Basler cameras and TimeSight’s Video Life Cycle Management solution provides high resolution, high frame rate video while reducing the required storage space by up to 90 percent,” Vogt said.
The Jerry’s Nugget casino is certified by the Nevada State Gaming Commission, and whenever an existing security camera installation at the casino is modified, it needs recertification. One of the main requirements that must be met in the certification process is a frame rate of at least 30 fps. Because Basler’s BIP2 1300c-dn IP camera delivers 30 fps and because the BIP2-640c-dn can even provide images at 100 fps, certification is no problem for the cameras.
Stamis was delighted with his new security camera installation, saying, “We had a number of objectives in mind when refreshing our surveillance system. Our key goals included true forensic-quality video as well as extended retention to protect our business against all types of loss, including regulatory fines, liability, shrinkage and other types of crime. With Basler’s IP cameras and TimeSight’s video life cycle management, we now get both an amazingly high level of detail and still save on storage costs.”
Scott Bartlett, chief executive officer of Southwest Surveillance, the installing company, added, “As one of the first certified megapixel installations in Las Vegas gaming, the quality of images is amazing and will set a new standard for forensic image quality in this environment. Most casinos struggle to determine the suits of cards on the table when viewing their video. This system gives us the ability to clearly read the suit of the cards on the table, not only immediately, but months later.”
|PROJECTS in the News|
Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Bernick’s Beverages & Vending is a fourth-generation, family-owned provider of beverages and foods, representing leading brands. Five warehouse locations meet the needs of retail customers in greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin. In 2010 Bernick’s tasked Minco Inc., a local systems integrator and authorized Toshiba dealer, with the job of migrating from its existing analog system to a state-of-the-art IP network video system. According to Jim Draper, corporate sales representative for Minco Technology Center, Bernick’s foremost requirement of the project was to enable management in the St. Cloud headquarters to remotely monitor all five company locations.
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