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Head in the Cloud

Redefining casino security and surveillance in the AI era

Head in the Cloud

In our ever-evolving and accelerating technology-driven world, the global casino industry is being hailed as an easy target for cybersecurity-based criminal activity. Whether the threat is virtual or inside the walls of the building, security and surveillance are being challenged like never before.

The casino industry has historically been an easy target for a multitude of fraudulent schemes, necessitating the implementation of rigorous procedures and protocols to counteract conventional intrusion threats. Brilliant individuals have created a robust casino industry security and surveillance practice that has stood the test of time—until the arrival of AI, that is. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has created a new era of challenges that demand our attention so we can effectively evolve casino security and surveillance to adapt to this new emerging reality.

Today, we find ourselves in an era where everyone’s smartphone can potentially become a tool for intrusion, highlighting the need for proactive measures to counter this evolving threat landscape. The escalating prevalence of cyber threats, coupled with AI’s ability to explore innovative avenues for exploitation, has made the security landscape exceedingly complex and unpredictable.

The convergence of these two influential trends necessitates the development of fresh and inventive strategies to not only detect and deter threats but also to safeguard both physical and digital assets. In this context, we explore the imperative need for redefining casino security and surveillance practices, embracing the power of AI while remaining vigilant against its potential misuse.

Combating Cyberattacks: A New Urgency

Our industry, much like every other, is in a data race. The data race seeks to achieve a clear portrait of customers, needs, cost, investment, and loyalty and engagement strategies. It cannot be understated that data is the new gold.

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital platforms, and there is a complex mix of on-premise and virtual platforms making for labyrinthine information, technology and product strategy. This is increasingly exposing vulnerabilities in traditional cybersecurity frameworks. As casino operations increasingly depend on digital technology, the importance of robust cyber defenses has never been greater.

The rise in cyberattacks over the past few years has been alarming. A notable example is the MGM cyberattack, which served as a wake-up call for the industry. While we will never get all the details of this very regrettable incident, the complex mix of humans, isolated and fractioned technologies and systems as well as online and offline segregation of procedures and surveillance created a catastrophic path of vulnerability.

It’s estimated that the global cost of cybercrime is accelerating and reaching unprecedented levels every month. Cyberattacks are not just a security concern but also a financial one. With billions of dollars at stake, casinos increasingly face potential lost revenue, legal actions and increased insurance costs due to cybersecurity breaches.

The Shift to Cloud-Based Security Solutions

Our industry was built on incredibly talented and dedicated humans that spent countless hours developing procedures and practices to keep our casino floors safe from fraud, theft and violence, just to name a few. The humans bridged many technology and system gaps, and security professionals “stuck together” to protect an area, region or “strip” from waves of crime.

With the sharp increase in invisible threats, the proven traditional methodologies have to shift to integrate best practices and collaboration techniques to ensure a threat that is detected is shared with everyone, as security has to go global. We have a massive threat with AI, and the solution is real-time detection and sharing of everything—much like what is done in other industries where security is the foundation of success.

The transition from on-premise to cloud-based security solutions will be a significant shift in the casino industry. Cloud providers like Google, AWS and Microsoft offer scalable and constantly updated security measures. This levels the playing field against cybercriminals, providing a more secure and financially viable option for casinos.

Casino security now requires a multi-faceted approach, blending physical and digital strategies. Cyber resilience is key, involving continuous adaptation and improvement in security protocols to keep pace with evolving threats.

The Role of AI in Modern Casino Security

It cannot be overstated that artificial intelligence will revolutionize the casino experience. Prediction and prevention will become the competitive edge in the new casino world toward which we are evolving. An open-based systemic approach to detecting human behavior is the new era that other industries are adopting, specifically the retail industry. Shopping centers are now using predictive technology to detect a customer’s traffic pattern, habits and decisions. This same technology is alerting in case of threats.

It is no secret that the casino industry is attractive to organized crime, criminals, and those seeking to exploit a money-based entertainment system. AI will be the tool of illicit activities, and the industry must learn from and adopt AI-based technologies from other industries as mentioned.

Data is the foundation and fuel of AI. This cannot be repeated enough. The quality and the quantity of the data determine the performance of the algorithms. This is important to ingrain in our new, evolving world where data science is the foundation of the AI-driven organization.

In a cloud-based, open society, the quality and quantity as well as the availability of the data will determine legitimacy. It will enable the leaders to share anonymous data with other organizations and industries, and this will empower security services in other industries to alert casinos of suspect individuals and groups in the region.

Data is the New Gold

The transformation to a data-centric security model in casinos is the quantum leap required for safety, security and competitiveness. The essence of this shift lies in understanding that the foundation of any effective AI-driven system is the quality, quantity and availability of data. In the context of casino security, this means a move away from traditional reliance on human observation and low data-centric systems and models. The shift has to be made to real-time, open-source data to compare with faces, behaviors and patterns that bring a macro perspective into a micro situation.

The cultural obsession for quality of data cannot be understated. For AI systems to evolve intelligently, the data fed into them must be accurate, relevant, and free from bias or tampering. This necessitates a rigorous process of data collection and curation. Casinos must ensure that their data sources are reliable and that the data is cleaned and processed efficiently. The quality of data directly impacts AI’s ability to make precise predictions and identifications, which is crucial in a setting where security threats can be subtle and highly sophisticated. In essence, the data set is the new source code of the organization.

Quantity of data also plays a crucial role. The power of AI and machine learning lies in the ability to process vast amounts of data and learn from it. In casino security, the more data available, the better the system can learn to identify unusual patterns that may indicate a security threat. This is where the shift to digital operations offers a significant advantage. With more aspects of casino operations digitized, there is a richer pool of data available for analysis. This includes data from gaming machines, customer interactions, social media platforms and enforcement agencies, just to name a few.

Data accessibility is another key factor. For AI systems to be effective, they need to have access to the right data at the right time. This means that data silos within a casino’s operation need to be broken down. Information from different departments—from gaming floors to customer service to security—must be integrated to provide a holistic view. This integration allows AI systems to correlate data from diverse sources, providing a more comprehensive approach to threat detection and customer management.

Advanced DA

The shift to a data-centric model in casino security also brings into focus the need for advanced data analytics capabilities. This involves not just collecting and storing data, but actively analyzing it for insights. Data analytics tools can help in understanding customer behavior, predicting trends, and identifying anomalies that could indicate security issues. For instance, predictive analytics can be used to anticipate potential areas of risk or to identify patterns of fraudulent activity.

In transitioning to this new model, it is crucial for casinos to invest in building robust data infrastructure and analytics capabilities. This includes hiring skilled data scientists and analysts who can manage and interpret the complex data landscapes. Training existing staff to be adept in handling data-driven tools is also essential. The human element remains critical in interpreting data and making informed decisions based on AI-generated insights.

Moreover, the ethical considerations of data use cannot be overlooked. As casinos collect and analyze more data, they must navigate the challenges of data privacy and ethical AI use. This involves developing clear policies on data collection, usage and sharing, and ensuring compliance with all relevant data protection regulations. Transparency with customers about how their data is being used is also vital in maintaining trust.

The ongoing evolution of cyber threats necessitates a proactive approach to security. AI and machine learning systems are continually evolving, learning from new data, and adapting to new types of threats. This dynamic environment requires casinos to be vigilant and agile, ready to update their systems and strategies in response to emerging threats and technological advancements.

The future of casino security is intrinsically linked to the effective use of data. By embracing a data-centric approach, powered by advanced AI and analytics, casinos can enhance their security mechanisms, offer better customer experiences, and stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of digital threats. The transition from a human-centric to a data-centric model is not just a technological upgrade; it is a strategic shift that will define the future of the casino industry.

The WOW Factor of AI in Casino Security

The evolution of AI will be swift. The reason is that it empowers revenue and reduces cost. This double-sided benefit of AI, in a data-centric organization, will become the single biggest differentiator in competitiveness.

Casino surveillance systems can become so much more than they are today with facial recognition, gesture detection and prediction and connectivity to outside systems to enhance and improve operations. The key factor is the ability to analyze vast amounts of data in real time. This will reduce the burden on humans to be on point all the time and focus their efforts on making judgement calls on detected patterns.

Casino security was always a silent, dark horse ensuring that the casino was safe. With the onset of AI, surveillance will evolve into the cornerstone of competitiveness, as the technologies and algorithms used in advanced security can now be integrated into learning customer behavior and fueling their fun.

I am betting on casino security and surveillance becoming the heart and soul of customer service and satisfaction, as this profession is data-centric and human behavior-centric, and should be the foundation of all facets of a casino.

Author’s Note: In the spirit of being entrenched in an AI-driven world, I would like to credit ChatGPT and Jasper for their critique, comments and suggestions in writing this article. Having a non-biased, always available, internet-empowered editor is the dream any writer can hope for.