Hikvision monitors high-rollers at Morocco casino

Agadir, Morocco

Casinos present CCTV manufacturers and integrators with some of the sternest challenges of any sector. The venues demand exceptional optical performance with widely varying fields of view needed from cameras operating under divergent lighting conditions across card tables, roulette wheels and gaming machines. Footage must be of a quality that will satisfy evidential demands from the venue, the judiciary and regulatory authorities, with disputes that can run to thousands of dollars depending on the denomination and colour of a single playing card or the positioning of gambling chips.

The five-star Atlantic Palace Hotel in Agadir is one of Morocco's premium gambling resorts with a casino that offers slot machines, roulette and many forms of poker including tournament play. Gamblers are attracted to the progressive jackpots of the machines and the country's only bingo hall, with cosmopolitan visitors using a hotel complex that is 200 metres from the Atlantic Ocean.

Local installers CST required integration of network megapixel cameras with IP-addressable speed domes. They also insisted that both camera types should be compatible with the Aimetis Symphony intelligent video surveillance software that had been chosen to provide both video management and analytics.

The casino is using network cameras from Hikvision that offer 1.3 megapixel data, high levels of vandal-resistance and resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels as well as video preview and support for Power over Ethernet (POE.) Speed dome cameras have long been a staple in casino installations and this venue is deploying Hikvision's IP-addressable speed domes which offer 360º pan range, 400º/s pan preset speed and 160º/s tilt preset speed.

The Hikvision units are combining effectively with Aimetis Symphony and the Casino Agadir Atlantic Palace is benefiting from instant playback at high resolution which is vital for prompt resolution of disputes and protection of revenue. Casinos must assess many aspects of visitor behaviour, guarding against sleight of hand, substitution of dice, theft of chips and inappropriate card counting. The casino in Agadir required cameras throughout the site, providing image quality that would allow reporting on visitor movement from table to table, footfall and abnormal frequency of machine usage in the event of exceptional payouts. The robust, vari-focal performance of the Hikvision units impressed all parties at specification stage.

The system was implemented by leading Moroccan integrator CST Centre Sécurité et Traitement who employ 150 staff at offices in the country's principal cities. Major contracts include CCTV surveillance at Total petroleum stations and storage facilities, electricity generation grids and production plants owned by the American-based multinational Proctor & Gamble Co.

The Hikvision network megapixel cameras support dual compression streaming, network intercom functions, sensor alarm input and motion detection. The speed domes are similarly feature-rich, and their compact dimensions contribute to covert surveillance that represents minimal distraction for visitors. The need to cover all 17 of the Atlantic Palace gaming tables at high frame rates throughout operational hours produces enormous RAID demands and the dome units optimise storage requirements by employing Hikvision's H.264 dual stream real-time compression.

A platform that can support multi-screen preview and playback as a high-definition preview is crucial in gaming environments where pit bosses must strive to keep play continuous and resolve disputes promptly. An IP network which could function with minimal transmission delay using IP keyboards was high on the client's requirements together with smooth pan/tilt/zoom functionality that was also free of time lag. Like any company operating a gambling venue, management at the Casino Agadir Atlantic Palace must detect subtle behaviour from would-be fraudsters such as the programming of slot machines using hand-held devices, the palming of chips and switching of cards. Movement associated with this activity can be barely discernible to the human eye, and transmission delay or degradation of image through limitations in the performance of cameras, telemetry or NVRs is not acceptable.

Managers needed to ensure that the installation could receive data from legacy third-party analogue cameras, a task that was achieved using Hikvision's DS-4016HCI compression boards which exploit H.264 and variable bitrate coding to provide high compression ratios while still preserving image quality. Security staff at the casino have already commented on longer recording times, system reliability and reduced maintenance costs since optimizing RAID usage.

Ms BenBrahim Wassima of CST said: "This is a best-of-breed solution based on vari-focal functionality in the Hikvision cameras and the efficiency of the company's compression algorithms. The end-user demanded full frame rate since a single skipped frame can determine the outcome of a claim against the casino or expose fraudulent activity. But bandwidth remained at a premium since there is extensive CCTV surveillance elsewhere in the hotel complex for general logistic and safety purposes. Reducing data storage demands and associated costs were also considerations."

Comments from pit bosses at the Atlantic Palace suggest that return on investment (ROI) from the new system has been almost immediate. It should be remembered that a table is usually shut down while management reviews disputes, so the disruption associated with examining footage must be minimised, with search, playback and analysis being streamlined.

Mr Polo Cai, Vice President of Hikvision, said: "In view of their need to detect fraud and theft as well as minimising table downtime and ensuring the safety of patrons, casinos are some of the most discerning clients we deal with. Image degradation in a sector where cash and gambling chips are being handled is unacceptable and Hikvision is delighted that the integrity of footage produced by its cameras has been endorsed at this location."

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