Las Vegas high rollers
Las Vegas casinos are incubators of the world's most advanced surveillance tech.
Here's how the spy gear that helps Sin City has taught everyone from government to big banks how to snoop more effectively.
It is 2 AM inside the bunker-like surveillance room at the Mirage Resort in Las Vegas, but 28 wall monitors show there's still plenty of action down on the floor.
A surveillance worker we'll call Tom logs in and starts the graveyard shift, taking an overhead tour of the 100,000-square-foot casino.
Using a joystick, keypad and three desktop screens, he surveys video from some of the 1000 ceiling cameras.
Tom is a table-games specialist, so he starts by scrutinizing a few poker hands, then sweeps over medium-stakes blackjack and watches a busy craps table.
He focuses on a young Asian man in a white suit who keeps his hands curiously positioned.
Sometimes they cover the cards in front of him; at other times they rest on the side of the table.
Suddenly, the man sweeps one hand up along a lapel of his jacket.
Like many gamblers in Las Vegas, the man presented a players card, the equivalent of a customer-loyalty card, to the dealer before buying into the game.
Through these cards, the casino monitors the play of guests and dispenses complimentary goodies accordingly risk enough money, and you may wind up in a villa with a butler.
The card enables Tom to retrieve a profile of the player: his name, date of birth, address, amounts won and lost on previous visits and other data.
Tom checks the player's long-term success rate at baccarat: He's a stone-cold loser.
Common sense suggests that his poor record should exonerate him.
Playing a hunch, Tom uses an internal search engine to correlate every player and dealer that the suspect has gambled with at the Mirage.
One name repeats—a big winner, also Asian.
On this trip alone, he's ahead hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he happens to be playing right now, at the same table as Mr.
Less than an hour later, Tom makes the call.
He is convinced that the fellow in the white suit is not rubbing his lapel but dipping his finger inside his jacket.
He is swapping cards in and out of the game, a tactic known as hand mucking.
Capitalizing on baccarat's simple rules, which allow gamblers to take the side of player or banker, Mr.
White Suit loses minimal wagers while his confederate wins large ones from the casino.
When the winning conspirator attempts to cash out his chips, guards detain him.
Other guards hustle the mucker from the table.
The cheater tries to break free, then drops to his knees and eats the card that he had slipped inside his jacket.
He may have swallowed the evidence, but the casino's digital ceiling cameras have captured all of his illicit actions.
Soon mirage blackjack table limits this incident, the Mirage outfitted its baccarat tables with a system known as Angel Eye.
A scanner hidden in the shoe—the plastic case out of which cards are dealt for multideck games—reads invisible bar-code strips on the cards.
If a player swaps in a card, the dealer knows.
Fixed-field-of-view units focus on tables, motorized pan-tilt-zoom cameras survey the floor, and 360-degree cams take in an entire area.
Enter a major Las Vegas casino, and you might as well be walking into a complex computer built to study your relationship with money, your motivation for gambling, even your taste in food.
Cameras capture your every move, software calibrates your play, and regressive-analytic applications like those used on Wall Street to predict a stock's future estimate your long-term worth to the casino.
Given the wild mirage blackjack table limits taken recently by investment banks, the overlap of gambling and financial technology may not be surprising.
But the innovations pioneered for Las Vegas surveillance rooms have significance and applications that reach a lot farther than a trading floor.
According to Dave Shepherd, former executive director of security at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas is an ideal proving ground for innovations that eventually end up in airports, shopping malls and government agencies.
People in other industries see how they work, and those people come up with fresh applications for the technology.
It's all in a highly controlled environment where customers eagerly volunteer personal data click here a chance at comps.
As a result, casinos maintain a treasure trove of information on customer behavior that most marketers would die for.
Players cards and gambling in general are opt-in propositions.
The casino industry is highly regulated, and the watchful tech is not only legal but, in many cases, mandated.
Still, the opaqueness of the programs is a cause of concern for some privacy advocates.
The software that measures your gambling skill at the blackjack table today could be gathering data for your performance review at work tomorrow.
Paying close attention to customers is as much a security concern as it is a marketing opportunity for casinos.
From the moment you place your first bet with your players card, the casino starts paying attention.
The most direct interface with the system is a modern slot machine.
These days most slots are run by computers, and until recently, all of these computers have been self-contained machines.
To make adjustments on standard slots, attendants have to stop play, open the housing and swap out chips, a time-consuming process that reduces profits for the casino.
That means Aria's one-armed check this out will run off a single computer, allowing supervisors to alter machines simply by pushing backroom buttons that can change games, odds and limits to suit the player or the situation.
If a player is in town for the National Finals Rodeo, the slot machine could load up a game with a rodeo theme, and alert the player when certain comps kick in or provide the showtimes of events he might be interested in.
It'll even wish him happy birthday.
All the personal attention may seem flattering so long as the casino values your business.
But what about those people who are viewed as undesirable?
At the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, special software allows security workers to enter a suspected bad guy's characteristics a mustache, say, along with a forearm tattoo and a habit of lurking around roulette tables.
If there is a visual match from the casino's database, it pops up on the screen, along with identification data.
New algorithms have elevated this type of on-the-spot background check to a Vegas art form.
Non-obvious relationship awareness NORA software allows casinos to determine quickly if a potentially colluding player and dealer have ever shared a phone number or a room at the casino hotel, or lived at the same address.
The technology proved so effective that Homeland Security adapted it to sniff out connections between suspected terrorists.
According to Mirage blackjack table limits Rotenberg, any industry that collects so much data on its continue reading is at click to see more for a computer security breach.
With all the data collection and camera monitoring going on in casinos, a sense of gambler's mirage blackjack table limits is understandable.
But it's worth remembering that the same technology that protects the house could end up protecting you.
Casinos are tempting places for pickpockets; customers stroll the floors with cocktails in their hands and thousands of dollars in their pockets.
Some of the sexiest-sounding software—facial-recognition systems that promise to set off alarms as soon as a known criminal enters the property—is still too primitive to be useful.
However, more reliable analytic software is employed in casinos such as the Mirage to monitor video feeds for suspicious activity—someone hiding in a stairwell, for example, or a purse left unattended too long.
Inside an RFID chip: This casino chip from manufacturer Gaming Partners International has an internal transceiver that can communicate with sensors in a table to spot counterfeit chips and track how much money is being won or lost, in real time.
According to veteran security director Arnie Rothstein, casinos can also use RFID to prevent employee fraud by positioning sensors near the employee exits.
The system, called TableEye21, was created by Canadian computer engineer Prem Gururajan to profile and rate players according to skill.
TableEye21 uses overhead video cameras and video analysis software, and can track information from casino chips embedded with radio frequency RFID transmitters.
The system quickly identifies "advantage" players who can sorry, 3 card blackjack strategy error casinos profits.
These gamblers use legal strategies such as card counting and shuffle tracking, in which the player watches for clumps of favorable cards.
Gururajan says TableEye21 will be coming online soon at a Vegas casino, and surveillance specialists are enthusiastic about the product.
A few years ago a product called MindPlay hit the market.
Fourteen tiny cameras photographed cards as they came out of the blackjack shoe.
The system's mirage blackjack table limits executed a quick bit of analysis and notified dealers, in real time, whether shoes were cold or hot—that is, when the remaining cards favored players.
Inside his plushly carpeted surveillance lair at the rococo Venetian, Dan Eitnier inspects the flat-screen monitors on the walls.
He acknowledges that technology runs both ways in the gaming business: The operators aren't the only ones who capitalize on cheaper bytes and easy access to data.
Eitnier admits that all casino games are vulnerable.
Enhancements in technology have simply added another layer to the endless cat-and-mouse game played by those who are paid to protect casinos and the renegades who get rich by out-thinking the protectors.
Cheaters buy and dissect slot machines, angle-shooters analyze automatic shufflers in search of patterns, and card counters continue to stymie facial recognition.
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