Oklahoma Casinos Cut Investigation Time With Avigilon
Avigilon | Date:
By leveraging the increased functionality of the Avigilon Control Center network video management software (NVMS) and installing Avigilon analog video encoders at six of its casinos, the Office of Public Gaming (OPG) for Muscogee (Creek) Nation has dramatically improved system performance. In the next phase of deployment, the OPG will migrate the remaining casinos over to the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system and replace old analog surveillance cameras with high-definition surveillance cameras. The OPG also installed Avigilon Network Video Recorders to store 14 days of surveillance video. The system is monitored live 24/7 in control rooms located at each casino. ACC Mobile is used to monitor the system from Apple devices within the facility.
The OPG can cost-effectively migrate to a full IP-based solution over time while dramatically improving system performance. Surveillance officers have reduced investigation time by 50 percent and enjoy a 90 percent investigation success rate. Internal technicians installed the system in just two days, saving both time and installation costs. The OPG has reduced the number of storage racks by 75 percent, saving valuable space and IT budget. The OPG is also better equipped to proactively ensure National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) regulatory compliance to avoid closure or heavy fines.
Known for its rapid incorporation of modernity and enthusiasm for innovation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a federally recognized Native American Tribe headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma with a compelling history and strong tribal identity. Responsible for the welfare of more than 20,000 people within its jurisdiction, Muscogee (Creek) Nation offers many services such as healthcare, education, and housing services to those in need. To support its local economy, the Nation also operates several significant tribal enterprises including 11 casinos, which are regulated by the OPG. As an independent agency, the OPG monitors all gaming activities within the jurisdiction to promote integrity, accountability, security, honesty, and fairness. Tasked with deploying the most effective surveillance system possible, the OPG has installed the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system at six of its casinos to help protect tribal assets, ensure customer safety, and achieve regulatory compliance.
The OPG is mandated to ensure National Indian Gaming Commission regulatory compliance at all Muscogee (Creek) Nation casinos. An independent federal regulatory agency established through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, the NIGC enforces IGRA's provisions, federal regulations, and tribal gaming regulations and can close Indian gaming operations or impose civil fines for noncompliance. The OPG has enforced its own strict tribal procedures, including high surveillance standards that are more stringent than NIGC regulations. “NIGC standards continue to evolve and we want to be well-positioned to lead the change,” said BJ Waggnor, director of surveillance at the OPG. “As a market leader, we knew it was time to transition from our old analog solution that was cumbersome and unreliable to the higher quality and reliability of an IP-based surveillance system like Avigilon.”
After reviewing several options, the OPG chose the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system because it delivers the image clarity and advanced functionality they need to better meet surveillance requirements. The Avigilon solution also allows the OPG to create a hybrid surveillance system that leverages its existing infrastructure. “After doing our homework, it became clear that Avigilon offered the best and most cost-effective way to gradually migrate to IP,” explained Waggnor.
With 11 casinos bringing in between $5 to $15 million annually and the larger properties pulling in well over $15 million each year, Muscogee (Creek) Nation faces, many security challenges from gang-related violence, money laundering, drugs, and machine cheats to employee theft and collusion. “Responsible for the safety and security of all our operations, security personnel monitor all areas of the casino including the main floor, all cash-handling areas, back of the house, kitchen, break room, and kiosks around the clock,” said Waggnor. “We rely heavily on our surveillance system to help us.”
With so much at stake, Muscogee (Creek) Nation wanted the most advanced surveillance system possible, but in a cost-effective solution. To leverage its investment in existing camera technology, the OPG chose to deploy Avigilon analog video encoders at six of its casinos to improve system performance and gain the increased functionality of the Avigilon Control Center NVMS with High-Definition Stream Management (HDSM) technology. “Using the Avigilon Control Center software, we can zoom in four times and still capture good image quality – with our old system, we couldn't zoom in at all.” In the next phase of deployment, the OPG will migrate its remaining casinos to Avigilon and replace old analog surveillance cameras with high-definition cameras. The OPG also installed Avigilon Network Video Recorders to store up to 14 days of surveillance video. The system is monitored live 24/7 in control rooms located at each casino.
The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system was also easy to install, a particularly important factor because the process was managed by an internal team of technicians. “We had the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system 100 percent operational in just two days,” noted Waggnor. As an added benefit, the OPG was able to save valuable space in its server room at the One Fire Casino by reducing the number of racks needed for storage by 75 percent.
Waggnor contends that with Avigilon Control Center software at their fingertips, surveillance officers can be more effective in their job. “We are tasked with a huge responsibility because we have to monitor patrons, employees, gangs, operational procedures, and more,” he explained. With its ease-of-installation and simple user interface, the Avigilon solution has facilitated the task of surveillance. “We keep waiting for something to go wrong, but nothing has. We are very happy with the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system.”
The casino environment attracts all types of criminality, but for the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, the biggest threat is employee theft. In fact, collusion between employees and patrons, in which employees pay a hand that did not win or stack the deck, costs the casinos the most in lost revenue. “We monitor for employee theft and collusion every day and have a 90 percent investigation success rate,” asserted Waggnor.
As a regulatory arm of the NIGC, the OPG must also ensure that operational procedures are being followed by casino employees. The NIGC outlines Minimum Internal Control Standards (MICS), which require all gaming tribes to implement internal control systems to regulate the movement of cash, gaming tables, and slot machine operations. “MICS violations can result in costly fines if not properly addressed, so we rely on the image clarity and search capabilities of the Avigilon system to quickly investigate and report potential violations to avoid being fined,” Waggnor acknowledged.
The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system has become a strategic tool used by the OPG to reduce crime, protect patrons, safeguard assets, and in particular, ensure regulatory compliance at the Muskogee (Creek) Nation casinos. For greater peace of mind, the OPG operates as though the newest NIGC surveillance standards have already been set. “We set very high surveillance standards – well above the national standards – because we are only as strong as our policies,” concluded Waggnor. “With the image quality, advanced management features, and storage capabilities of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, I am confident that we will not receive a fine on my watch.”