In states where authorized gaming has a presence, security for casinos is governed by strict rules and regulations that are established by various agencies within the government. One of the most critical areas of casino security that is subject to these conventions is key control. Physical keys are used to access all of the most sensitive and highly secured areas of the casino, including counting rooms and drop boxes, so the rules and regulations that relate to key control are extremely important in maintaining tight control and minimizing loss and fraud.

Regulations pertaining to key control extend from procedures required to access drop boxes outside of scheduled hours to the number of signatures necessary for accessing keys that require a user to get multiple permissions for the specific key requested.Every activity must be recorded and/or reported for auditing purposes.

Casinos that previously used manual logs for key control were at constant risk due to the inaccuracies inherent in the system, such as those concerning signatures that were missing or illegible. The manual sign-out process for keys was time-consuming and error-prone. Analysis, reporting and investigation were highly labor intensive as they involved digging through piles and boxes of log sheets, also making it difficult to keep an accurate account of key use. These issues, along with the impact of the ever-increasing number of compliance rules, have prompted casino management to move from manual systems to the more reliable and convenient electronic key control system solutions.

Electronic key control systems are a ready-made solution that offers multiple layers of security for access as well as automated reporting functions. Keys secured in the tamper-proof cabinets can be accessed by authorized individuals who have presented identification and been approved by the system to access the requested key. In some instances where access to certain keys or key sets that are highly sensitive is needed, compliance regulations require signatures from three individuals, one from each of three separate departments. Typically the three individuals would include a drop team member, a cage cashier and a security officer. The cabinet door will open and release the keys only after the three required logins are complete and the credentials verified.

Returning highly sensitive keys may be even more highly regulated, with multiple levels of security required. For example, regulations mandating “Full Secure” would require that the same users who removed a key also return the key, while “Department Secure” would require only the first user’s credentials to match exactly while the two other users would have to match by department.

Additional rules further specify who can and cannot access keys. Access to table game drop box release keys is limited to the specific employees who are authorized to remove the table game drop boxes from the tables. These same individuals would be prevented from having access to keys for table game drop box contents at the same time they have taken out the release keys for table game drop boxes.

Gaming regulations require a number of different types of audits on a regular basis to ensure the casino is in full compliance with regulations. For example, regarding employees signing the table game drop box keys in or out, Nevada Gaming requirements call for maintenance of separate reports indicating the date, time, table game number, reason for access and/or electronic signature. Reports detailing unscheduled access, including the reason why the access occurred (e.g., machine jam, customer dispute, machine relocation or maintenance) are also required by many state and tribal gaming agencies. In today’s mobile environment, emails and/or SMS text messages to management can be generated automatically any time those sets of keys are accessed for unscheduled drops.

In addition to simplifying compliance with these varying rules and regulations, electronic key control systems improve convenience of key access. When using an instant key release feature, users need only to input their credentials, and the system knows whether they already have removed their specific keys. If they haven’t, the system unlocks, and their keys are immediately available to them. Returning keys is just as fast and easy. The process saves time, reduces training and helps to overcome any language barriers. Personnel like housekeepers and slot floor attendants can be organized into “groups.” For each group, the hotel and casino would have multiple copies of the same respective key sets available; the system releases the next available set to each authorized user from a group, and cycles through the sets so that each gets equal usage.

When compared to manual systems, electronic key control systems are a good bet.