Hospitality and Casino Security

Traditionally, casinos and the hospitality industry have divided their security solutions into two main areas of focus, namely a physical security solution – through security officers operating on the ground – and a surveillance system. However, the growing number of criminals targeting these areas, the increase in syndicate activity, and well-planned criminal attacks, has demonstrated the need for sophisticated and holistic solutions, together with a complete risk management solution.


Wednesday, 01 December 2010


Traditionally, casinos and the hospitality industry have divided their security solutions into two main areas of focus, namely a physical security solution – through security officers operating on the ground – and a surveillance system. However, the growing number of criminals targeting these areas, the increase in syndicate activity, and well-planned criminal attacks, has demonstrated the need for sophisticated and holistic solutions, together with a complete risk management solution.

These total solutions should consider every aspect of the organisation from the staff recruitment process to monitoring the establishment’s patrons. Research has also shown that a thorough and comprehensive risk assessment is critical to these organisations in order to formulate a customised solution to meet the specific needs of a particular establishment.

The head of the security team at any establishment should include a qualified risk manager, supported by a highly trained and professional team, a thorough knowledge of the most appropriate physical and electronic solutions, and a willingness to keep up-to-date with changing crime trends in order to adjust a security plan accordingly.

Consistent surveillance

Roy Alves, country manager of Axis South Africa, says that strategically-placed high definition cameras provide a major deterrent for crime in casinos, particularly in the gaming area. HD surveillance cameras can deter crime, and also aid authorities in identifying criminals during investigations. Employee theft is another major concern that can also be prevented with the appropriate video surveillance.

He says that an IP-based surveillance system provides the added benefit of remote monitoring for casino security. In essence, IP surveillance technology enables the security department to monitor footage and operate cameras from remote locations.

“In looking to upgrade their security systems, many local casinos are starting to consider open IP-based solutions that provide secure, evidentiary-quality video recordings, operate at 30 frames per second, and would be easy to implement and expand without major expense or disruption of gaming activity,” adds Mr Alves.

Custom-made casino solutions

Most security specialists and consultants agree that standard or typically used solutions, will not provide adequate protection. Frank Oetjen, sales manager at Dallmeier, emphasises this fact through his explanation of the CCTV security solution recently installed at Sun International’s Grand West Casino in the Western Cape.

Although Dallmeier has installed countless similar solutions, no two clients are the same. The management thus decided to switch to digital recording. Thereby, a digital matrix was to be used for playback, while the existing analogue matrix was to be further used for displaying the live images. In order to realise this a hybrid solution had to be created. The requirements for the new system were also clearly defined for all other aspects of application: a reliable recording with the highest possible availability and high-quality images which would provide detailed and clear evidence in a case of emergency.

Jaco Coetzee, who is the director for Gaming Compliance and Tables at Sun International, said the high availability and reliability of the system were the main reasons for the casino’s decision to choose Dallmeier.

“Dallmeier has long been successfully equipping casinos around the world with highclass video security technology, but like other projects before, the Grand West Casino has again demonstrated that the high requirements regarding video surveillance cannot be met by standard mass products,” says Mr Oetjen. “We designed the system together with Sun International. Based on the customer’s special requirements, the system has been customised in order to achieve the highest efficiency for the casino’s CCTV operation. Grand West Casino is well prepared for the possible next step of migrating to a full-IP matrix solution.

“Only a tailor-made solution, whose individual components are all specifically developed and manufactured with the conditions in casinos in mind, can provide the quality and high availability which is partly required by law and is thus so important to casinos,” he added.

Employee checks and balances

The protection of patrons, infrastructure and resources within the entertainment and hospitality sector has emerged as a market of growing potential within the security technology services market. This is the view of experts at Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ideco Group. Ina van der Merwe, chief executive officer at MIE, says that service providers in the security services space have had to become increasingly proactive in order to meet market demand.

As an example, she refers to operators of casinos and other gaming/entertainment outlets who are compelled to be meticulous in the recruitment process. They have to ensure that potential employees – particularly those that will handle funds directly or manage finances – have clear records and can easily fit into the HR structure of the organisations.

“Operators within the hospitality sector, such as hotels and casinos, continue to seek out and engage with prospective partners that can add immediate value. They must have the resources, technical knowledge and expertise to offer their clients the highest level of security. We have found that background screening services have become particularly meaningful and relevant to the recruitment process within these industries,” says Ms Van der Merwe.

She adds that background screening is by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to ensure that an employee has the qualifications that he or she lays claim to and also to verify that the CV they present at the time of their interview is accurate and presents a clear picture of who the aspirant employee really is.

According to specialists at MIE, the consequences of not screening candidates can expose the company to significant risk and could be very costly.

The basic principle behind the credentials verification service is to ensure the person sitting in front of the employer at the interview is, in fact, who they say they are and all information supplied is true.

“It is very important to verify if the employment claims are true. If the person has not held the positions they claim to have held, then why are they lying? And, obviously they do not have the skills they claim to have. These are all critical to safeguarding the interests of the employer and their environment,” she adds.

Ms Van der Merwe also says it is important to understand why someone left a previous position and try to ascertain an accurate assessment of what they were like as a worker.

The stance that MIE takes is that factors such as credit checks, criminal records and fraud listings must take precedence within the recruitment process.

“Every employer looks at the complete picture when it comes to criminal records. What is important to find out here is if the prospective employee has a history of repeated offences. Things of interest would be violent crimes, and fraud/theft-related crimes. Additionally, someone with a long list of debt may be a risk in terms of accepting bribes, or stealing money from the company. This is vital to detect if the candidate is being placed in a position of trust, such as handling funds.

“It is important to remember that not all employers press charges when an employee is fired for theft/fraud. Many of them do, however, list these employees on the South African Fraud Prevention Service database.

“If someone commits fraud once, chances are they will do it again. While we are sure many recruiters or HR managers do not always want to wait for the results of conducting these checks, it is best to be safe than sorry,” Ms Van der Merwe continues.

While the credentials verification service is aimed at ratifying information supplied and protecting the interests of companies, Ms Van der Merwe says this is always done with the legal rights of the individual/candidate in mind.

According to MIE, there are rules that govern the process of background checks and screening of individuals. These have to be adhered to by employers and include written consent from candidates, the requirement for a comprehensive check that will provide an accurate and complete assessment and the fact that certain checks can only be conducted in certain circumstances (i.e. a credit check on individuals only when that person is applying for a position that deals directly with finances, for example).

“There are a number of aspects to consider in the process of employee screening. While the main objective of decision-makers in business is to take every precaution to recruit honest employees with integrity, the rights of individuals must also be taken into account. To this end, it is advisable for organisations to be fully aware of legislation that governs human resource practice, particularly from an equal opportunity and anti-discrimination point of view,” she adds. This is where having the services of trained experts in the field can make a significant difference to levels of success and progress of checks on potential employees, says Ms Van der Merwe.

Management at MIE continues to witness growth within the hospitality and entertainment markets. “The outlook for the industry looks promising. We anticipate an increase in competition among service providers and an increase in investment in credentials verification as a primary means of personal identification and security assessment in human resources,” concluded Ms Van der Merwe.
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