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Glitz, glamour and ... geeks?

Susan Tsang | Aug. 20, 2008
Casinos have long been associated with glitz and glamour, but with IT systems becoming critical for the gaming industry, Susan Tsang reports that the 'geeks', and their handiwork, are becoming increasingly entrenched in Asia's 21st century gaming palaces.

"Casinos make use of some of the most sophisticated video systems in the world," notes Pechet. "Most casinos have invested millions of dollars in extensive video coverage throughout their properties, with high-density coverage of the gaming floor. Many large casinos have several thousand video cameras installed on their properties to do so, all controlled from one central command centre."

While most casinos still use analog video surveillance systems, some with the latest technology use IP, or digital, video systems. This high-tech route brings with it more innovative features, making it easier to track security threats. Pechet points out that it can give an added edge to general operations, as "the software can also interface with various casino management systems focused on improving customer service. For example, video systems can be used to identify areas that need more staff".

Indeed, casinos may be leading the way in the 'big brother' approach, keeping an eye on us.

"In many ways, the gaming industry is pushing the envelope of technical innovation in surveillance, both visual and behavioral," says David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research (CGR) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in the CGR website.

"Casino surveillance is interesting because, within a casino, patrons and employees accept levels of surveillance that they would find intrusive elsewhere. So casino operators have had a virtually free hand in developing systems to track people and money throughout the casino complex. Facial recognition is one of the latest innovations, as are systems that automatically scan for certain persons or actions."

If surveillance cameras zoom in on suspected cheats, the image can be analysed by software, comparing the face against a database of unwanted individuals. So known cheats, or those forbidden to enter, can be kept out, and suspicious behaviour can be tracked.

Know the customer

Despite all the snazzy surveillance and gaming equipment, perhaps the most valuable IT system that a casino can have is customer data mining.

"As the competition continues to increase, the only way casino resorts can set themselves apart from their competitors is to know more about their guests than their competitors. As a result, customer intelligence is a critical element in helping casino resorts to understand their guests - to know who they are, where they're coming from, why they're here, what their likes and dislikes are," asserts Jason Tang, head of practices and solutions at the SAS Institute.

The first thing a casino resort must do, he says, is consolidate a vast quantity of visitor data into a clear picture of guest profiles and market segments, to give resort executives the ability to devise and manage timely, personalised customer communication strategies.


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