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Three Ways That Casinos Use Technology and Why It Should Matter to You

By Beverly Greer in Casino
| July 23, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Camera USB Sign Gambling and Database

I think it is ironic that casinos will do pretty much anything to avoid losing money, considering that their entire business operation is based on people losing money.

The customers have to win every once in a while, or they won’t keep coming back, but casinos are profitable when people lose. Gambling is a $40 billion per year industry, according to the American Gaming Association.

With that kind of money, it’s easy to see why casinos could be targeted and why they would be especially careful to avoid losing any of it.

Casinos have several tactics that they use to catch cheaters, thieves, and addicts. In fact, casinos have been some of the first to develop technologies that banks and governments have since started using for security (see the databases information below).

This article will look at some of the technologies that casinos use and how they work.

One of the things that casinos worry about is the ability to catch and prevent cheating without ruining the experience for other players. A cheater being forcibly dragged away by security personnel causes a scene and disrupts everyone’s play.

Therefore, casinos do as much as they can to prevent cheating and remove unwanted people before they even get to the tables. All of these technologies help them do that.

Cameras

Casinos use cameras to watch literally everything that happens in the building. The “eye in the sky” cameras attached to the ceiling can see in any direction, and there are enough of them that virtually every inch of the casino is visible at any moment.

What you might not know is that cameras are watching you even before you enter the casino.

There are cameras in casino parking lots to track every vehicle that comes onto the property. The cameras take a picture of the license plate and compare that information to known cheaters and addicts.

If you have a questionable record, security will stop you before you even get inside the building.

The cameras in casinos are the latest and greatest that technology has to offer. These pictures are not some pixelated form; they are in high-definition detail.

In fact, many casinos are beginning to use a biometric facial recognition software that not only takes your picture but also measures your facial features.

The biometric software uses information like the width of the bridge on your nose and the length of your jawbone to identify people. This kind of information is a lot more difficult to change, so simply putting on a fake mustache won’t help you go unnoticed.

No matter how fancy the cameras in casinos can get, they really can’t do much alone. Having a picture of someone doesn’t stop them from cheating, and relying on security personnel to catch unwanted guests is inconsistent. That is why casinos combine their fantastic image technology with powerful databases.

Databases

Databases are a massive part of casino security because it allows them to keep a record of everyone they don’t want coming inside. If you make a mistake as a 22-year-old college student, the casino database is going to remember it, even when you are 50.

The cameras listed above work in conjunction with two significant databases. The license plate cameras that are recording every car that comes on the property checks that information against the vehicles licensed to anyone who isn’t supposed to be there.

The database will alert security personnel within seconds.

If you are smart enough to take a different car to get past the garage security, the biometric facial recognition will most likely still catch you as soon as you walk in the door. The technology will compare your information with every image in the casino’s database.

This process might take a little longer since there are so many images to reference, but it is still more reliable than hoping that a security guard recognizes your face.

A drawback of this technology is that since cameras are usually in the ceiling, the angle of the image could interfere with the database’s ability to recognize someone, but as technology advances, this will become less of a problem.

This article has focused mostly on brick-and-mortar casinos, but online casinos need protection as well. Reputation Manager 360 is a software that uses Iovation’s Device Reputation Authority database to block hackers and cheats.

The database tracks millions of devices and their IP address. It can even identify when a proxy server is being used. If anything about the device’s signal looks off, the transaction will be blocked before it can do any damage.

Each of these databases is full of information and can find matches almost instantaneously. In addition, most casinos share information about unwanted players, so if you mess up at one casino, the next one won’t allow you in, either.

Tracking and Patterns

Just in case all of those cameras and databases miss something, casinos also employ incredible technologies to track everything that goes on in the casino and find patterns that are otherwise unnoticeable. Some of this technology is used in other ways, but some of it is specific to the gambling industry.

You have probably heard of RFID chips, because they are used to microchip your pet if it gets lost. They are also used in golf balls, credit cards, and virtually any other object that you want to have tracked.

Casinos have RFID chips embedded in their poker chips, so they can follow where the chips are being used. In one famous case, someone stole $1.5 million worth of chips from the Bellagio casino. The casino simply used the RFID chips to turn off the chips so that they could not be exchanged for money.

Note that casinos are using those RFID chips for more than just theft protection.

RFID chips can also be used to track your gambling habits, including how much you spend and where you tend to spend it. Once they know your personal habits, they can offer you well-timed drinks or promotions catered to your interests, all with the intent of keeping you playing longer.

Similarly, casinos in Asian countries developed a technology called Angel Eye. It uses invisible ink to put a barcode on every card that is scanned as it comes out of the dealer’s shoe.

This way each and every card can be tracked, so you can’t pull a card out of your sleeve to win. If the cards on the table don’t match what the Angel Eye says it should be, security is on its way.

One software company has found a way to combine all of these technologies into one program, designed for casinos specifically, called Table21. This software uses the overhead cameras, the RFID chips, and video analysis software.

All of this information is combined and overlaid on top of the video screen, so security personnel has a video and information about the cards being dealt and the chips being wagered all in one place.

Table21 doesn’t stop at just displaying the information. It also stores all of this information to track patterns of play. It can tell you how many hands a dealer can deal each hour, what percentage of the time a person is winning, and other trends that are noticeable about a particular table.

Casinos use this information to catch card counters or when a dealer is working with a player.

Once a cheater has been detected, this information is stored in the database, so if they ever decide to try again, they will be recognized before they even enter the building.

Perhaps the most impressive piece of technology is NORA, which stands for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness. NORA was initially developed for casinos, but banks and government agencies have also started using it.

It scans through hundreds of databases of information to find out if two or more players might somehow be connected.

For example, if Table21 points out that two specific players both seem to be doing particularly well at a blackjack table, security personnel will merely put their information into NORA.

The software might come back with results such as the two players both attended the same college at the same time or that both of them were questioned in connection with a fraudulent scandal.

This information helps casinos track teams of people who are working together. Governments have started using NORA to identify relationships between potential terrorists.

The key to all of these technologies is information. The more information that the casino can track, the better it can protect itself.

If they can identify the habits, patterns, and relationships amongst players and dealers, they can prevent cheating, instead of having to try to identify it after it has happened. Advances in technology have given them the ability to track, store, search, and share this information with speed and ease.

Why Does It Matter?

Why does all of this information matter to you as a gambler? Well, first of all, if you are planning to recreate the latest Ocean’s 11 movie by attempting to cheat or rob a casino, just don’t. You won’t get away with it.

However, the average player is not out to rob the casino. This information should still matter to them because they need to know how these technologies are affecting them.

First of all, you need to understand that you are being filmed. Whether you are dropping your cigarette butt on the floor, harassing a dealer, or using gestures to signal a buddy, security personnel knows about it and has video proof. You consent to be filmed as soon as you enter the building.

Another thing that players should be aware of is the fact that their playing habits are being tracked. If you begin to notice that a cute cocktail waitress appears with a new drink for you every time you start to lose, it’s because the casino is trying to get you to keep playing.

If you get emails with a bunch of promotions for poker, but your wife gets promotions for slot machines, it is because the casino is trying to advertise the game it thinks you will play most.

There is nothing you can do about this tracking and its associated advertising tactics, but you can be aware of it.

I think that if you are aware of everything going in a casino, you will be more likely to turn down that drink from the cocktail waitress when you have decided it is time to be done. You can’t change what the casino is doing with this information, but you can change how you react to it.

Conclusion

Technology is going to continue advancing, and casinos are going to continue to be forerunners in using these technologies for surveillance and tracking.

The more that gamblers are aware of how this technology is being used, the more they will be able to be proactive about their gambling habits.

Don’t be afraid of mixing up your games every once in a while, just to see if you can throw them off, but do be afraid of trying to cheat or steal from a casino. Don’t do it because it will not work out well for you.

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