360 Panoramic Cameras In Casinos?

Pelco is promoting 360 cameras in casino, saying that they 'change the surveillance game for casinos.'

I am curious what you all think.

My main concern are these cameras short effective range.

From our panoramic camera shootout, here is the view / details from just 12' away:

It's not that panoramic cameras are bad, it's just that even with lots of pixels (3MP, 5MP, etc.) distributed across such a wide FoV, pixel density drops off very quickly as you move even moderately far away from the camera.

And in a casino, details are quite critical, ergo PTZs and tight shots of key areas.

What am I missing? What do you think?


I know of casinos that use 180-degree and 360-degree cameras. We have resisted the urge. There are several issues with them in my mind:

  1. Like high-megapixel cameras, many panoramic cameras are not capable of delivering 30fps video. This is a regulatory issue, since our regulations require 30fps for all cameras.
  2. As pointed out, panoramic cameras tend to have poor resolution. We would have to use a large number of them to adequately cover any given area. High ceilings in many areas would accentuate the problem.
  3. Panoramic cameras will not see through objects any more than any other camera type. Camera locations and fields of view are typically optimized to cover specific areas from specific vantage points. A panoramic camera located to see in one direction would not necessarily see well in another direction.

In my opinion, the Pelco ad displays a lack of knowledge of casino requirements on Pelco's part.

Depends on the purpose you have, but certainly not to get players details.

For Identification (300 to 500 ppm) and close details (800 to 1200 ppm) forget it. For general movements, circulation and target tracking it's very good with correct lighting: so reco ( > 100 ppm) and detect ( > 30 ppm) That kind of camera are good for hotels too (I've done a complete webinar on that, with on site testing) in halls and and any busy crossing path.

Just to detect where people have been moving around. It's so just a complement that facilitate general surveillance. Security Managers love it. Same for 180° behind the reception desk.

Marc,

720p or 1080p cameras with >/=90 degree HFOV will also provide excellent area overviews while giving more pixels on target. Proper placement is the key. We use them all of the time. They also provide the 30fps we require.

I honestly don't see the point of using panoramic cameras in hallways. Those cameras would cover way too much dead area (unless you want to see the proverbial fly on the wall). For hallways, I prefer two cameras located at opposite ends but zoomed in so that the HFOV covers the entire width in the center. That effectively "shortens" the hallway due to the zoom.

I prefer two cameras located at opposite ends but zoomed in so that the HFOV covers the entire width in the center.

Where do y'all set your focus though? DOF ever a problem on longer hallways?

We zoom in so that the halfway point nearly fills the FOV, typically using 5-50mm lenses. Focus is also set at that point. Depth of field is a non-issue, likely because our hallways are well-lit. That's for hallways longer than around 20 feet. For shorter hallways, we just use one camera with a wide FOV.

I call that method "criss-cross". It also works well for Supermarket aisles.

yes Karl , of course 360° are complement to the main system. one camera and one stream to know who go to which direction or corridor, you can reco 12 persons in a blick and detect 50 persons with one stream - and NO dead zone - If very large hallway, several 360° will cover the perimeter. 5-50 and FHD Boxes are kept to identify with strong back focus the main entrance and will keep on being the best solution for that.

I 'm just pointing out that - CUSTOMER - security managers - understand the way they will use it. This is not strong security, this how to make exploitation easier....

The guy keeping the 180 ° in his hand during test.. was the security manager himself, very surprised by quality and looking to get a large frontdesk view from rear. (but he will not count bank notes and see hand details for sure)

simplified hotel

Several casinos that use this technology rely on it to supplement their coverage currently in place. As Carl mentioned because the units are typically not capable of 30FPS their use in general casino environments is limited. I think this may change this year as manufacturers come out with 360 cameras capable of 30FPS with higher MP abilities.

Hi stranger,

Zeb, You've seen our camera coverage. How would you compare 360-degree cameras to our 90-degree overview cameras?

My biggest concern with 180 and 360-degree cameras is that efficient placement would be difficult if not impossible. Even 90-degree cameras tend to have issues with all of the obstructions casinos tend to place in their way: signs, slot toppers, banners, video monitors and even the slot machines themselves. With 90-degree cameras, we can usually find locations where 3-5 of them can be placed so that areas obstructed from one can be seen from another.

I would think that panoramic cameras would have the same problem but using 3-5 to accomplish the goal would be a waste of money and resources and with lower pixels on target, would provide far less usable images.

Zeb: Why 30 fps ? Why not 50 fps ? These cameras are not designed to provide a zoom to target and extract, you would pay it by getting additional dewarping delay on your VMS and Cpu overload which is already saturated by (too?) many other high rate high res long focal & Ptz streams.12 fps is correct because anyhow you get 5 MP /4 = +/- VGA with recognition at 1 meter ! tomorrow , may be 12 MP / 4 = 3MP but sensivity & blur issues if spotty or dark environments

Marc,

As I said before, 30fps is a requirement. That's not only in our casino but in many. Your applications may allow 12fps but this discussion is about "360 Panoramic Cameras in Casinos".

In the same vein, we also haven't considered high-megapixel cameras due to their low frame rates.

Now, I'm not saying that every casino requires every camera to provide 30fps. In the US, that depends on a lot of variables, including regulatory authority requirements, which vary by state and type of casino (Tribal, Corporate, etc.). Each state's regulatory authority has different requirements. The NIGC MICS (National Indian Gaming Commission - Minimum Internal Control Standards) requires a minimum of 20fps for specific applications but leaves other applications up to each tribe. Many Tribal Gaming Commissions use the NIGC MICS as-is but others expand on its requirements or enact more stringent requirements. Each state that allows Tribal casinos also has its own regulations, some of which are taken almost verbatim from the NIGC MICS but others enact there own, even more stringent, regulations.

States like Nevada and New Jersey that allow corporate casinos have their own, usually completely different, regulations for Casino Surveillance. Regulations also even vary regarding fps requirements. Some are quite vague - what would you say is "Real Time"? 15fps? 20fps? 30fps? At least some regulatory agencies don't specify frame rates but require some, or all, cameras to provide "Real Time" video. Most of us would interpret that as anywhere between 15fps and 30fps. Being very conservative myself, I would tend to define that as 30fps to prevent any possibility of misinterpretation.

Hey Carl,

My desire is to maximize the return on these camera investments in a space such as yours and to achieve that I am of the opinion the cameras need to be UHD resolutions so minimally 10MP or above and 30IPS.

This is based on as you said 90 degree FOV as well as length of FOV. While you are going to get more out of a Cage or Count Room because the ceiling height is much less for general use on the gaming floor, which most people, are after it has been my experience that many more pixels are needed to avoid the "ohhh" moment indicating the dreaded expectation gap!

A couple different manufactures are promising products next which aim to eradicate this gap so we will see.

Agreed, Zeb. I'll be watching the news and perhaps testing those cameras when they become available. I guess at that point, I'll have to consider storage expansion :-(

In France, camera covering public places should record at 6 fps minimum with a large angle and 12 fps when covering a thin area. That said , some SI install all cameras at 25 fps (PAL) to be sure to get better results even when cameras won't be used by police because far too high, or far too bad to export anything usuable to identify somebody. (very large FOV and lack of contrast) Obvioulsy cameras viewing and recording crabs and poker tables with be set to 50 fps in every country...

My feelling is, if you don't have the budget to have all cameras at the maximum view/ rec better apply a differenciated strategy by camera type. Only "strategic" identification camera (400 ppm in France) should really be set to the maximum fps to garanty max quality during an exportation and avoid the bloody blury frame effect. Strategy is often 50 cameras to find the target and only 5 able to export in the correct quality.(in Casino, financial stakes make it easier to justify a maximum of high quality lenses and high fps because ROI is easier to demonstrate, which isn't the case for hotels for example)

Hello Marc,

You are correct that a balance needs to be found between resolution, FPS and bandwidth as all affect storage costing as well as evidentiary quality. I have seen much more focus on roulette for higher frame rate needs than craps, which I assume you meant, or table games.

While I fully agree that most would consider going to 60FPS over all money operations in a casino of they could most will not at the cost of resolution due to the positioning of the cameras. This is why resolutions such as 4K at 30FPS and lower at 60FPS hold such promise. When they become commercially popular I am sure you are correct that many will want to turn down a few of the 8.3MP to go to 60FPS but not many will do that that to the 2.1MP of 1080p.

8MP for craps tables? Do casinos really need that resolution and for what purpose? NIGC MICS requires two cameras per table so we use 1MP cameras and set each to cover slightly more than 1/2 of the table. We've found that is more than sufficient resolution to see what we need to see so we aren't even considering 2MP cameras for craps tables.

no no no. I'm not saying 4K at 50 fps..

when trying to identify a card jumpin from a hand to an other one you just need a thin Fov and probably 400 to 800 ppm, sometime more (so 5-50/15/50 or PPTZ) but you need just more than 25 or 30 fps to get the manipulation and also avoid H264 Pframe blur (short interframe and sometime.. Mjpeg depending on the manufacturer H264 production quality !)

John,

I totally agree with you. I even did a theoretical study to prove that. You can read it at my website: http://www.cctvinstitute.com.br/fisheyecamera.html

One of the newer properties on the Vegas strip uses many 5MP/360 cameras mounted on the high ceilings of the casino floor. They're not running at 30 FPS and they're not used for capturing detailed video of gaming tables. They're used for overview / situational awareness. One real world example was a guest who forgot her purse at a blackjack table and soon after someone else picked it up and walked away. The 360 cameras were used to track the path of the thief throughout the casino until he walked into view of a choke point camera where it was much easier to see face details. Casinos are very large and the 360 cameras are a great tool to track movement and activity on the floor. Needles to say this is part of general surveillance at the casino and not part of the gaming table cameras that are monitored live for tells.

Vance,

So what frame rate are they running?

You have to keep in mind that different jurisdictions have different regulations. What is acceptable in Las Vegas isn't necessarily acceptable in California or Michigan or Arizona or... Then, at least when it comes to Tribal casinos, each tribe may enact their own regulations, as long as they are the same, or more, stringent than NIGC MICS and the state compacts require.

Remember MICS is just that: Minimum Internal Control Standards. In our case, for instance, all cameras must be 30fps.

Carl,

I'm curious how the state that has a tribal casino within it's borders can mandate policy?

The fact that the tribal land is sovereign would seem to be counterintuitive to state regulation, no?

I ask because I remember a few years back when the Governor of Alabama was vowing to 'crack down' on tribal casinos - but I believe the effort was rebuffed on the grounds I mention above - but I'm not sure if this is the same case.

Marty,

It depends on the compacts signed between the tribe(s) and the state(s). Even in California, there have been a number of compacts negotiated over time. The original one in 2000 imposed very little state regulation on the tribes but later ones imposed more regulation and the tribes themselves have given a bit more to California to keep the peace.

In other states, the state has even more regulatory authority, including over Surveillance. In Connecticut, for instance, the State Police Casino Unit has officers stationed at the casino 7/24. In Arizona, each slot machine that has a payout of over $75,000 must have a dedicated camera showing the face of the machine and the player(s). The camera covering the player is typically not the same as the one covering the face of the machine because that one would only show the back and top of the player's head. The NIGC sets the floor at $100,000 "reset" or minimum jackpot - what the jackpot starts off at or resets to after a win.

Alabama is a different subject. The state does not allow Class III gambling so Las Vegas-style slot machines are forbidden. Class II slot machines, which are based on Bingo and typically require the player to "daub" a card (press one button) and press another button to spin the wheels (often referred to as two-touch machines) are the subject of much debate. The Federal government says that any state that allows specific types of gambling (including charity Bingo offering cash prizes, card games and a lottery) must allow Class II gaming on Indian Reservations. Some states have been fighting that and the outcome is still up in the air.

The same goes for Bingo and card games (also Class II). If a state allows, for instance churches to run Bingo games with cash prizes, Indian tribes must also be allowed to offer Bingo for cash prizes. If a state (like California does) allows card casinos, they must allow Indian tribes to have card games, But even then, there are twists. Before the 2000 compacts were signed and ratified, California allowed player pool poker, whereby the players play against each other and the "house" took a fixed cut for each hand dealt. The 2000 compacts allow player versus house card games (including Pai Gow, Baccarat, etc.)

California also had specific laws against Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Slot Machines. The passing of the 2000 proposition required repeal of some of those laws as they were applicable to Tribal gaming establishments. The compacts allow player versus house poker and other card games, legalized Blackjack and Class III slot machines but continued the ban on Roulette, Craps, Big Wheel, Sports Book, etc.

So the gist is that although Indian Tribes are Sovereign Nations, if they want casino-style gaming, they have to negotiate tribal-state compacts, which may, and often do, sacrifice at least some of that sovereignty.

Carl,

Thanks for that detailed explanation - I appreciate it! :)

You're welcome. By the way, here's a definition of the various classes of gaming as they apply to Indian Tribes: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Note specifically the definitions of Class I, Class II and Class III gaming:

Three classes

The Act establishes three classes of games with a different regulatory scheme for each:

Class I

Class I gaming is defined as (1) traditional Indian gaming, which may be part of tribal ceremonies and celebrations, and (2) social gaming for minimal prizes. Regulatory authority over class I gaming is vested exclusively in tribal governments and is not subject to IGRA's requirements.[14]

Class II

Class II gaming is defined as the game of chance commonly known as bingo (whether or not electronic, computer, or other technological aids are used in connection therewith) and, if played in the same location as the bingo, pull tabs, punch board, tip jars, instant bingo, and other games similar to bingo. Class II gaming also includes non-banked card games, that is, games that are played exclusively against other players rather than against the house or a player acting as a bank. The Act specifically excludes slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance from the definition of class II games.

Tribes retain their authority to conduct, license, and regulate class II gaming so long as the state in which the Tribe is located permits such gaming for any purpose, and the Tribal government adopts a gaming ordinance approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). Tribal governments are responsible for regulating class II gaming with Commission oversight. Only Hawaii and Utah continue to prohibit all types of gaming.[15]

Class III

The definition of class III gaming is broad. It includes all forms of gaming that are neither class I nor II. Games commonly played at casinos, such as slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette, clearly fall in the class III category, as well as wagering games and electronic facsimiles of any game of chance. Generally, class III is often referred to as casino-style gaming. As a compromise, the Act restricts Tribal authority to conduct class III gaming.

Before a Tribe may lawfully conduct class III gaming, the following conditions must be met:

  • The Particular form of class III gaming that the Tribe wants to conduct must be permitted in the state in which the tribe is located.
  • The Tribe and the state must have negotiated a compact that has been approved by the Secretary of the Interior, or the Secretary must have approved regulatory procedures.
  • The Tribe must have adopted a Tribal gaming ordinance that has been approved by the Chairman of the Commission.

The regulatory scheme for class III gaming is more complex than a casual reading of the statute might suggest. Although Congress clearly intended regulatory issues to be addressed in Tribal-State compacts, it left a number of key functions in federal hands, including approval authority over compacts, management contracts, and Tribal gaming ordinances. Congress also vested the Commission with broad authority to issue regulations in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. Accordingly, the Commission plays a key role in the regulation of class II and III gaming.

By, by the way, for anyone who's interested, here is a link to the NIGC MICS.

Surveillance Regulations for larger casinos (Tier C) are Here.

My favorite definition is "Sufficient Clarity", which is defined in the MICS as "Sufficient clarity means use of monitoring and recording at a minimum of twenty (20) frames per second. Multiplexer tape recordings are insufficient to satisfy the requirement of sufficient clarity."

Later on, the MICS uses the term "Sufficient Clarity" in other ways. Examples:

  • Table games:

    (i) With sufficient clarity to identify customers and dealers; and

    (ii) With sufficient coverage and clarity to simultaneously view the table bank and determine the configuration of wagers, card values, and game outcome.

  • (n) Gaming machines. (1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (n)(2) and (n)(3) of this section, gaming machines offering a payout of more than $250,000 shall be recorded by a dedicated camera(s) to provide coverage of:

    (i) All customers and employees at the gaming machine; and

    (ii) The face of the gaming machine, with sufficient clarity to identify the payout line(s) of the gaming machine.

    (2) In-house progressive machine. In-house progressive gaming machines offering a base payout amount (jackpot reset amount) of more than $100,000 shall be recorded by a dedicated camera(s) to provide coverage of:

    (i) All customers and employees at the gaming machine; and

    (ii) The face of the gaming machine, with sufficient clarity to identify the payout line(s) of the gaming machine.

    (3) Wide-area progressive machine. Wide-area progressive gaming machines offering a base payout amount of $1 million or more and monitored by an independent vendor utilizing an on-line progressive computer system shall be recorded by a dedicated camera(s) to provide coverage of:

    (i) All customers and employees at the gaming machine; and

    (ii) The face of the gaming machine, with sufficient clarity to identify the payout line(s) of the gaming machine.

I once told the Chairman of the NIGC that I felt that the term Sufficient clarity was confusing in that the definition specifies frame rate while the body of the MICS uses the term to mean definition. My boss was not amused ;-0

It's been over a year since I did the security tour there. If memory serves, it was about 10 FPS.

On the close-up gaming table cameras, the 30 FPS and minimum 8-camera failure point rule strongly applies, but it seems they had more wiggle room for general surveillance applications, especially when new technology was involved.

But you're right, evey jurisdition has their own set of rules.

The casino chain in Vegas that I know uses 360 cameras does as indicated not run them at 30IPS but the cameras are classified as "Supplemental" as the NGC would not approve them as "Primary" coverage cameras for the gaming floor. This chain of properties dies rely heavily on these camera for image acquisition once they have located the region and time of the incident.

We find that the best value proposition that 5-12MP fisheye cameras offer is in tracking. Determining where people were and where they went without having to review alot of different cameras.

Before we deployed fisheye cameras we wasted a lot of time jumping from one narrow FoV camera to the next in order to document a subjects location during a relevant time period.

'People surfing for slot machine tickets have a tendency to cover great distances quickly and sustain this behavior for hours on end.'

Additionally, we see value in the sense that it compares to installing a nest of analog cameras without the overhead for the seperate power supply, VMSlicenses and associated cables and encoders.

We call our fisheye cameras "trackers" and have them deployed "between" chokepoints and other sensitive areas where we use a high-res IP cameras with traditional fields of view for greater forensic detail.

In a nut shell we find panoramic cameras to be invaluable time savers.