Konrad Hechtbauer, MD of Dallmeier International, discusses how casinos can use smart, AI infused video-based technologies to leap another step forward in the move from analogue processes to digital ones.
Due to current circumstances, not as many players are gambling in casinos as usual. Nonetheless the challenges of casino operators stay the same as before COVID-19, and many actually use the slightly quieter times to assess technologies that might propel them further.
An essential aspect of every efficient casino operation is the integration, presentation and processing of many different data sources and interfaces. From surveillance management to auditing to marketing data and many more. Casinos can maximise efficiency for a multitude of workflows, creating more and more building blocks for what one may call a casino operating system. Advanced video management systems (VMS) such as Dallmeier’s Hemisphere SeMSy provide surveillance managers with vast control options all the way to quickly create a digital evidence file of any event that includes corresponding video, notes, reports and further information and can easily be included in respective processes. Advanced, unified reporting capabilities make the creation of reports a breeze (e.g., for casino regulation authorities). Extracting all sorts of data and correlating them with third-party applications give marketing managers tremendous insights in increasing profitability. Furthermore, they get a much better view on how effective their marketing spend is.
All functions and data within such a casino operating system approach are fully integrated into the video and data management world, thus saving time and cost through fewer workstations and considerably less complex work processes, making findings from previously unused data sources usable and help achieve synergies across different functional areas.
Table games offer a great example of the analogue to digital transition. By their nature, live games are particularly difficult to capture in the digital world due to the complexity of the actions and processes. However, this is exactly what casino operators need in order to create real-time data for their business intelligence tools and make their operations more efficient. Table gaming automation technologies combine technologies such as RFID, video images or AI-based recognition – e.g. chip value – promise a quantum leap in the digitisation of table gaming management; solutions are currently available for games like baccarat and blackjack. The primary functions of these technologies are overall tracking and management of table games, realtime player rating, automated table protection and a real-time view on the table inventory.
Automated and informed table management is an essential component for risk mitigation as well as the basis for informed business intelligence in the casino. With table gaming automation systems based on video technology and AI, a virtual table game supervisor and surveillance operator is permanently available and alert at every table to assist “human staff”: The system continuously monitors and analyses games and table performance, provides data on bet position and bet frequency and performs fraud probability tests. Furthermore, such systems facilitate the precise detection and analysis of all the relevant KPIs for the table management such as game pace information, yield management with gaming floor table data or occupancy/utilisation ratio to name just a few. The result is a highly-improved risk mitigation, increased profitability on each table and an entirely new scope of table management from a business analytics point of view.
Player rating is essential for casino marketing initiatives, customer retention and business planning. Today’s casino player rating systems often lack accuracy and the frequent player loyalty plans get abused, costing the industry huge amounts in lost revenue. With table gaming automation systems, casinos can rate players accurately and prevent such costly abuses and losses. Such modules offer in-depth analysis in real-time based on stack value, pay-outs and buy-ins as well as monitoring of chip collection. This data allows the casino operators to attain a thorough understanding of the players’ behaviour and activities, helping to determine the value of the players and increase accuracy of loyalty programmes.
Fraud and theft are also well documented in casinos: advantage play schemes, edge play, false shuffles, ratings and card cut scams, and so on. The resulting losses for casinos are astronomically high. Former solutions that rely on dealers as the first line of defence are vulnerable and often provide no win/loss information for up to 24 hours or longer. Table gaming automation systems give casino operators the ability to “follow the money” instantly and therefore prevent costly frauds and thefts.
It is important for casinos that they monitor the performance and inventory of their tables so that they know for example when to order a credit or chip fill. This is achieved, among other things, by tracking the float’s value and balance of a table after every hand or coup. Today, this involves a lot of manual tasks and provides a low level of transparency. Table gaming automation systems uses the float as a checks and balances tool to ensure better accuracy and automate numerous manual tasks. The result is high savings in labour costs and significantly higher accuracy.
As opposed to previous systems that required manual intervention and detection, the combination of video technology with AI-based data analytics enables the automated discovery of a wide range of activities – from theft of chips to dealer errors and late bets to tampering with closed table floats. Overall, table protection is increased by adding real-time live data to the existing video-based monitoring. That way the system can automatically trigger actions and alert systems or personnel in case of suspicious data patterns.
Eventually, with video-based table gaming automation systems, casino operators can gain access to a previously hidden treasure trove of data. Casinos now know what games to play on which time of the day or how to improve their loyalty programs based on the behaviour and preferences of their visitors and players. Way beyond gaming, also adjacent departments such as hotel, food or retail can hugely benefit from these data by massively improving their operational efficiency. Combining the various aspects – protection, automation, business intelligence – reduces labour costs and human fallibility and increases gaming floor transparency. The result is a much more efficient marketing and player management and a massive contribution to a casino’s business intelligence. This allows casino management to make much more informed decisions, quickly react to changes and events and tremendously increase the overall efficiency for their gaming table and other operations.
Classical video surveillance still plays a major role in a casino’s investment in video technology: Large areas need to be monitored to protect guests, players, staff and the casino’s inventory. With sophisticated camera technologies, such as the patented multifocal sensor technology Panomera casino surveillance operators can cover much larger areas with the same number of operators. In addition, the automatic transfer from camera to camera and the automatic selection of the camera with the best picture quality enable an unprecedented capture of even the largest spatial contexts.
The combination of a complete overview and a highest-detail resolution is particularly impressive: The technology can display distant objects with the same resolution as objects in the front image area. In the event of an incident, an unlimited number of zooms with extremely-high resolution can be performed in all detail areas of the overall scene. Especially in complex casino environments this is a very important function for a successful forensic evaluation, which is not possible with PTZ and megapixel cameras (single sensor or multi sensor). When it comes to analytics, this technology is also superior to comparable systems, as it enables a minimum image quality to be maintained across an entire area, an often-underestimated factor for any video-based analytics.
A lot is happening in the way casinos run their businesses: From new, AI-based technologies for intelligently analysing video images, for example to determine chip values on a blackjack or baccarat table to capturing data for table game optimisation to casino-specific video management systems that almost work like a casino operating system to new camera technology. All in all, there is a wealth of options that promise huge efficiency gains in many areas of casino operations. The challenge for decision makers now lies in the right combination of the technologies to avoid bottle necks in quality of individual components, so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.