There is enhanced flexibility with an IP-based security video system as people monitor images on site and remotely.

Terri Seigler wanted an upgrade of the facility’s security video system, quickly and to an intelligent IP-based system that uses networked video memory.

Sho Ka Wah Casino, located in the picturesque mountains of Northern California, has implemented an advanced IP-based digital surveillance system using intelligent video and networking through HP Intelligent Edge Switches.

The casino is owned and operated by the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians and is one of the premier gaming destinations in Northern California. The installation comprises more than 300 cameras and was designed and installed by the Alliance Systems Group (ASG). Surveillance covers the entire casino, gaming tables, all areas involving money, exits and entrances and the parking areas. The aim is complete electronic security coverage.


Video from all cameras is continuously transported over an IP network to be monitored all the time and recorded at a high frame rate and high resolution in gaming areas and slightly lower frame rate in non-gaming locations. The network infrastructure consists of multiple switches that offer flexibility and wire-speed performance. “We chose the switches because of their scalability,” said John Pritchard of Alliance Systems Group. This is the second casino in which we’ve installed such equipment and the performance has been flawless.”

The new upgrade replaces more than 300 VCRs, and the greatly reduced system footprint has been a major, immediate advantage, according to Seigler. Another key benefit is the enhanced system flexibility, which enabled management to install three monitoring stations throughout the casino and a fourth one off site, where the California Gaming Commission can review video without using the casino’s surveillance offices. Sho Ka Wah operators have been immediately impressed with incident review capabilities and the many advanced features of the system’s management software. Security staff were able to effectively operate the system with minimal training, resulting in improved productivity from day one.

The casino’s management company, Ellis Gaming of Las Vegas, Nev., contacted the Alliance Systems Group about upgrading the analog equipment to a digital system. The strong, long-standing relationship between ASG and Ellis Gaming helped create an effective team for Sho Ka Wah. John Pritchard and Jason Banks of ASG designed the new system.

Pritchard said, “At the Sho Ka Wah Casino, time was of the essence to implement a top quality installation. Alliance Systems Group provided the knowledge and past experience imperative to a successful project and (it) was installed and up and running in a matter of days.”

“Our Surveillance Department was thrilled to upgrade our security and we chose the Alliance Systems Group to install the new network-based system. We have been pleased with the outcome of the work and their professional attitude,” said Seigler, director of surveillance at Sho Ka Wah.

Security at casinos often falls into two distinct areas – surveillance to meet state and local gaming regulations and security to protect facilities and people outside the gaming environment. Each casino is somewhat different, but they all have a wall of monitors and a group of highly trained security personnel who keep a watchful eye on the action.

“We can tilt and pan, and we can also zoom in, so we can see exactly what is on the machines,” said Michael Thomson, surveillance director at the New Frontier Casino in Las Vegas. Newer security video systems can see employees [and] their name badges. Added Thomson in media reports, “ We can see employees who are using sleight-of-hand techniques to steal from us. We can see customers who are using sleight-of-hand techniques to steal from us. So really these cameras are our first line of defense to make sure that we can catch things as they happen.”

Rubbernecking on Video

Security video can capture a diversity of cheating techniques. Robbernecking involves people looking over their shoulders looking for slot supervisors, security, for anybody who’s a threat to them.

The latest security technology is face recognition.

A casino’s surveillance cameras focus on patrons, and computer software compares the facial features to a database of known individuals.

Training also is important. Thomson has told audiences that it can take six months to teach a new surveillance agent even the most basic observation skills. In a Web-based report, David Nichter, CPP, CPS, training manager, security operations with Las Vegas MGM Grand, is concerned about slot cheating, switching, distracting, flimflamming and forceful taking. He sees growth in counterfeiting and switching and some of the common ways these crimes are committed.

SideBar: Inside the Application

Sho Ka Wah Casino in Northern California has implemented an advanced IP-based digital surveillance systems using the DVTel intelligent security operations center and ProCurve Networking by HP Intelligent Edge Switches.