One of the reasons we like playing roulette and slots online is for the convenience factor. Plus, the games are getting very good. But increasingly, we play online over going to a landbased casino because…er, how shall we put this, the surveillance technology that casinos used these days is frankly getting a little creepy!
Here is some of the technology that is used by landbased casinos to make sure that they stay one step ahead of the fraudsters, technology like casino facial recognition systems. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Unfortunately, normal players like you and us get caught up in their net. It’s Big Brother out there!
Registration Plate Readers
It all starts in the car park. You might not even get in to the casino, if they are monitoring cars coming into the car park and analysing your number plate.
Here’s the scenario:
Many casinos sufffer from fraudsters switching cards around on the tables. Some of these fraudsters are technically magicians, with an impressive sleight of hand. It’s very difficult to catch the quick fingered Joes when they are busy making money off the casino, so what the many casinos have done is to install a system called Angel Eye. The blackjack casino cards (for example) are marked with barcodes (invisible to the players). As the cards are dealt, a sensor in the dealing shoe tracks the cards being dealt and sends the data to a computer. When the cards on the table go face up, the system displays the results of the hand on a screen. Obviously, if the screen doesn’t match the cards on the table, there’s been some card switching going on.
Biometric Facial Recognition
Have you got a face that launched a thousand ships? Or have you been running after reversing buses? Well, it doesn’t matter which, because if you do manage to get through the door and hit the table, your face may be scanned by cameras as soon as you walk through the door. Most casinos have a spying room where trained professionals run high definition cameras that map your face and convert it into code: a series of 1’s and 0’s.
The system analyses the face of each player and runs it through a list of ne’er–do–wells and fraudsters in the database which is often shared among casinos across the world. Again, if it finds a match, the guys wearing beige pants with the big guts are soon standing by your shoulder asking you poiltely (at first) to leave.
Chips With Chips. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Thinking of trying to cash out fraudulent chips at the cash-out booth? Well, it’s been done before, but that was before the casinos started putting data chips called RFID chips in their chips (if you catch our drift).
These smart chips send out unique signals by radio (that’s why they are called RFID chips). Receivers at the tables and the cash-out booth listen to the signals. If you have got fake chips, they won’t be talking to the Mother Ship, or they won’t be talking the same language, and the casinos won’t exchange them for cash. They are more secure than money!
But the surveillance doesn’t stop there. The casino may track how you play with the chips- they’ll have an exact record of what you like to play at the casino, which is very useful information for enticing you to stay longer or to entice you back in the following day.
And if someone nicks the chips? Well, the casino know which ones have gone as they all have a unique code. They can just flick a switch, and “hey presto”- the chips are worthless. Very clever.
TableEye21 is an overhead camera, but one that is leaps and bounds ahead of the usual suspects you see in shops and lifts.
The camera watches the play on the table, and it keeps track of data coming in from the RFID chips. Then the system tracks all sorts of stuff like the speed of the games, how much the player’s are winning, etc etc.
If the numbers look funny, in come the investigators who try and spot if something funny is going on (like card counting, past posting etc)
NORA and ANNA. Big Brother? More Like Big Sister.
NORA and Anna aren’t the names of the cleaners who comes in at 6am after the casino shuts.
On no sireee. NORA stands for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness. The casinos are vulnerable if fraudsters work in teams. When they gang up, they are harder to spot, so NORA systems are used to try and spot links and relationships between players, staff, and anyone else in between. Casinos hold Gigabytes of info on casino players, cheaters, their staff and others.
Non-obvious relationship awareness (NORA) software searches these databases in any language, searching for obscure matches between relevant information- in this case the players. Anonymized data (ANNA) software uses the same technology to investigate data that has been encrypted.
The software can identify connections that have more than 30 degrees of separation.
So one degree of separation would be two employees who work at the same casino who listed the same address on their CVs. The second degree might be that a company salesman selling cards to the casino went to the same university as one of the 2 staff. The 3rd degree might be that all three guys have bank accounts at the same bank.
This stuff is high tech surveillance that is also used by the CIA and FBI.
The information is out there- it’s just about finding the links.
ANNA is a later development from NORA that allows the casino spies to search databases without seeing the names, addresses and other information. This gets around some of the legal problems around this spying software.
Big Brother? We’s say more like Big Sister. These lasses are smart, nosey AND they like to gossip and share tit-bits.
The Name’s Bond James Bond
So there you have it. Scary, eh? And you thought James Bond was the guy in black tie playing on the VIP baccarat tables. Nope. He’s the guy in the beige pants with the big gut, who is tracking the data churning out in the Back of Office Spy Room.
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