Anti-Cheating Security in Casinos

Long article.

With over a thousand cameras operating 24/7, the monitoring room creates tremendous amounts of data every day, most of which goes unseen. Six technicians watch about 40 monitors, but all the feeds are saved for later analysis. One day, as with OCR scanning, it might be possible to search all that data for suspicious activity. Say, a baccarat player who leaves his seat, disappears for a few minutes, and is replaced with another player who hits an impressive winning streak. An alert human might spot the collusion, but even better, video analytics might flag the scene for further review. The valuable trend in surveillance, Whiting says, is toward this data-driven analysis (even when much of the job still involves old-fashioned gumshoe work). “It’s the data,” he says, “And cameras now are data. So it’s all data. It’s just learning to understand that data is important.”

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 6:32 AM17 Comments


Calvin February 14, 2013 7:50 AM

So uhm, the trend is towards something we don’t know how to do? Let me guess, we’ll be there in five years … no ten.

Mike B February 14, 2013 7:51 AM

In person cheating is growing increasingly infeasible, but with 80% of casino revenue coming from slots and other electronic games they are going to become increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack, especially where wireless gets involved. If an electronic gaming machine has any sort of wireless link the drivers operating it (which typically have DMA) become part of the attack surface and even if that is secured an attacker could still use processor errata. Yes these attacks might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop…but the payoffs could be many times larger.

Anonymous 1 February 14, 2013 9:43 AM

I imagine that if the deck hasn’t been shuffled between the time one leaves and the other arrives they could do some card counting.

Tree February 14, 2013 10:38 AM

yeah, basically some casinos have decided it’s more profitable to throw out card counters than take the time to shuffle the deck.

RobertT February 14, 2013 7:23 PM

Talking about security ops caught on Video, I’m wondering if the whole “Prisoner X” debacle unfolding in Israel is the answer to who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh back in Feb 2010.

Seems suspiciously related from the time lines, and even contains elements of the whole foreign forged passports issue. Hmmm what to do with a videoed “wet work” operative caught in the act…

jdgalt February 14, 2013 8:35 PM

Nothing especially new here. Even with only human beings to monitor the cameras, the house has a huge advantage — plus, with no possibility of bringing in any security of our own, the house is perfectly capable of cheating with impunity any time it wants.

The real cheating scandal at casinos, of course, is the same thing it has always been — hidden owners to take a cut of the money gathered from tables in the counting room each evening, before the official count takes place. All the “anti-money-laundering” forms the Treasury requires won’t bring in one tenth the lost tax revenue that casinos generate. (Not to mention that many of these hidden owners are the very people the money laundering laws were written to catch.)

I would be astounded if Vegas is not paying off (via lobbyists) a majority of Congress to keep this loophole in place.

Clive Robinson February 15, 2013 5:57 AM

@ RobertT,

Hmmm what to do with a videoed “wet work” operative caught in the act..

The simple answer about dealing with people who might politicaly embarrass you is generaly to,

A, Tell them to shut up.

And if that does not work,

B, Threaten to or actually take away their money and livelihood.

We see this in the UK all the time in the likes of the NHS, Education etc. with “Gaging clauses” in employment contracts (ie “Bring organisation into disrepute) and if that does not work,

C, Pay Off with gag as a “Compromise agreement”.

Then if that does not work,

D, Super Injunction (it the judge can be persuaded).

If not then

E, Start dirty tricks in ernest (if they have not already) such as accusations of sexual harisment, bullying, using intemperate language, not carrying out duties correctly, etc etc. And

F, Start spurious legal action against the person and make further accusations against them in effect using the courts to get around slander and liable laws. And persuade an Elected Politico or other privaledged person to make public comment in the political chamber, for which they have legal immunity…

G, Using “Advertising purchasing power” get newspapers and other news outlets to make biased reports against the person.

And that’s what everyday employers can do quite legaly. Which is all befor you start talking about questionable or illegal activities.

Sometimes however there is not time and as was seen in the UK with Dr David Kelly and the Iraq WMD scandal quite public threats are made (ie sacking and removal oof pension) and then followed by a mysterious death that is portrayed as an accident or suicide. And people who raise concernce with the offiicial story due to the fact they have doubts based on physical evidence get the same sort of treatment started on them…

And with regards Prisoner X yeah being in prison is a very very dangerous place to be, falling down stairs or having slips in the showers etc etc happen way way more frequently than outside of prisons. Then there is the number of highly suspicious suicides, that again are way way worse than outside of prisons.

Oh and the political way to make these problems go away is a “Public Enquiry” that goes on intermanably and the person chosen to run it usually has political afiliation in one way or another or choses to only investigate under very narrow terms of refrence.

In the UK 41 years ago in N.I. members of the armed services opend fire on protesters and quite a few were killed. Various enquiries were held the early ones basicaly blaiming the victims or finding no fault with thosse who’s fingers were on the triggers. However after persistance by the many relatives etc the truth slowly starts to come out, especialy if those responsible have died of old age etc. And finaly having been found to be significantly at fault the Government turns around and says well each of the lives lost is worth only 50,000 (Most other Gov figures show a life to be worth as a minimum 1,500,000).

Then there was a football match which became a disaster due to at best Police incompetence, under orders of senior officers reports and witness statments were changed again to blaim the victims.

I could go on with a very very long list including the Brasilian Electrician Charles de Menzies, who the Met Police went compleatly loopy on and got away with it…

And just recently a faily unplesant story about the Met Police again and how the Police think they should for oporational reasons handcuff leg shackle a child with sever disabilities. Which a Judge very blutly told them was inappropriate behaviour and awarded the child damages. But the Met Police Chief decided that they were right and appealed, and subsiquently has now been told by three judges the behaviour was inappropriate,

Oh and the Met’s atitude is still “we are right the rest of the world is wrong”…

And that’s the point, people in positions of power take the view they are right and then act accordingly and deny any liability or responsability for the actions. And to give “deniability” they will get others to make troublesome people who upset their viewpoint or threaten their position go away one way or another…

Neeneko February 15, 2013 1:36 PM

Years ago I worked on some anti-cheating code built in to gambling devices….. ‘Cheating’ really just comes down to ‘winning too much’. The house employed all sorts of tactics that resulted in fewer wins and that was fine, but if players developed tactics that resulted in better payouts it was considered an offense, usually for some contrived reason.

WarLord February 16, 2013 5:44 PM

Casinos have little incentive to cheat. The rules/odds favor them and the thought of a “cheater” inside terrifies them. Look at the security next you’re there. Most is pointed at employees especially table games where dealer could “help a friend” beat those odds. No mid shoe entry and a deep cut card make counting unprofitable. I’ll bet they make enough from bad counters to subsidize the experts

MarkH February 17, 2013 3:21 PM

I agree with WarLord, the casinos worry about their own employees, who pose a vastly greater risk than customers.

I met a very nice woman who had worked in Las Vegas, who told me (in essence) that her training was about 20% how to do her job (dealing cards, or what have you) and 80% “if you take a dime from us, we will catch you, and we will send you to prison.”

Lawrence D'Oliveiro February 18, 2013 5:40 AM

What kind of game is it where anything you do to try to tilt the odds in your favour is automatically considered “cheating”?

A mug’s game.

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