There is no greater challenge for public spaces and retail security than casinos and racetracks.
Canterbury Park Racetrack and Card Club is located in Shakopee, Minnesota, just 25 miles from downtown Minneapolis. Canterbury Park is home to both live and simulcast horse racing and an 18,000 square foot Card Club offering 50 gaming tables.
Canterbury Park employs video surveillance to protect the casino and also uses cameras to monitor cash transactions and collect footage of the races. In addition, Canterbury Park must ensure its racetrack horse barns remain under constant observation. The barns house 1,300 horses year-round, and racetrack officials don’t want to come to work one day and find out someone has stolen a $50,000 horse.
According to Chris Potter, director of security for Canterbury Park, management began looking into digital surveillance in 2003 and had closely followed the technology’s developments as it advanced and improved.  “The Minnesota Racing Commission has a plan of operation and strict standards that we must follow. If the commission determines non-compliance with any of its procedures, we can suffer heavy fines,” Potter said. “If a horse is injured during a race, we depend on video to see what happened and how everyone involved responded to the incident—from the jockeys to the vets, the ambulance, and EMTs.”
To make the transition for the analog system to digital, Canterbury Park officials reached out to USA Security, seeking to implement Honeywell’s Enterprise NVR Series system. Because it was the integrator’s first experience with Enterprise NVR, USA Security personnel basically designed the system as they went along. During the installation, for example, they found it most effective to move the existing security equipment to a new spot and install the new product on the existing racks. Although Canterbury Park management didn’t do any special customization, they ran a dual system for six weeks, until after Canterbury Park’s big annual poker tournament.
“That flexibility turned out to be the strongest part of the installation,” said Ross Brandon, general manager for USA Security. “We had to work with the existing building, so it was a challenge to run cabling. We were stuffing wires into cracks in the walls. We had a question about where to put the system, where to put the hardware. Finally we decided to pull the old VCRs off the racks and move them to bakers’ racks, and used video distribution systems to run the two systems at once.”
For security operators, digital surveillance technology has freed up a significant amount of time previously spent reviewing tapes. “Even when we were using analog, we knew what digital could do to reduce our review time,” Potter said “Success to me is having my guys on the floor 99 percent of the time instead of on the floor 60 percent and pulling tapes for the rest of the time.”
When it comes to measuring the savings afforded by the digital system, saving time and labor costs is a big factor. But Canterbury is realizing a significant amount of cost savings by reducing overpays, underpays and thefts from the casino floor. The casino’s ability to catch overpays and underpays jumped 60 percent once the digital system was in place, and live “kills” increased 25 percent
Because some court cases take a long time to reach resolution, the security office still keeps a pile of old tapes on hand for reference.