Biometrics: An Ace In The Hole For Casinos
Oneida Bingo And Casino needed to restrict access to its vault and other areas. Biometric technology is meeting the casino's access control needs.
VARs have capitalized on high-tech manufacturers' need to protect their facilities from intruders looking to steal valuable trade secrets. However, vertical markets outside the corporate environment, like gaming/entertainment, are also prime candidates for biometric verification systems.
And, while casinos don't have trade secrets to protect, they do have to protect another important commodity - money. Few enterprises physically handle more money on a daily basis than casinos. Take Oneida Bingo And Casino in Green Bay, WI, for example. Oneida Bingo And Casino, a Native American-operated facility, is one of more than 15 casinos in the state of Wisconsin.
Oneida Bingo And Casino has two separate facilities. A smaller facility that opened in the mid-1980s offers bingo, blackjack and slot machines.
A second, larger casino was opened in 1993 across from the old facility. This larger (165,000 square feet), facility has 60 blackjack tables and more than 2,800 slot machines.
Money Concentrated In Key Areas
Money is concentrated in four areas, says Vern Doxtator, director of security. These include the vault, "hard" and "soft" count rooms, and the "cage." Coins are counted in the hard count area. Bills are counted in the soft count area. Visitors go to the cage to exchange chips for money, or to receive bills for coins, and vice versa.
ID Card Access Proves Ineffective
Employees who work in the vault, cage and count rooms are the only ones permitted in those areas, Doxtator says. Initially, Oneida Bingo And Casino used ID cards and magnetic stripe readers to restrict access to those areas. "Employees had to swipe their card through a reader to enter the cage," Doxtator says.
However, such a system had flaws, he says. "Employees were giving out their cards to people who weren't authorized to enter those areas," he explains. "And, some employees lost their cards. In reality, anyone could run a card through a reader and enter the vault."
According to Doxtator, casino security staff soon realized such occurrences were common. "The system made a record of card swipes," he adds. "We found that ‘John Doe' had used a card to access an area when John Doe wasn't even scheduled to work."
End User Had Concern About Theft
According to Doxtator, the casino wasn't experiencing thefts due to the misuse of ID cards. But, with the amount of money flowing through the casino 24 hours a day, seven days a week, theft was always a concern, he says.
As a result, the casino installed hand readers from Recognition Systems, Inc. (RSI) to control access to restricted areas. RSI (Campbell, CA) is a manufacturer of biometric hand readers. More than 200 employees use the RSI devices; the casinos have a total of 1,600 employees.
To use the devices, employees enter an ID number on a keypad on the reader, allowing the system to know who is attempting to gain access.
Unauthorized Access Eliminated
The employees place their hand flat on the reader, which generates a three-dimensional image of the hand, including its length, width and thickness. That image is then compared to a stored image. (The stored image is generated during an initial "enrollment" process). When the individual's identity has been verified, a door automatically unlocks.
According to Doxtator, the RSI readers have eliminated unauthorized access to restricted areas. The casino also is using the readers for time and attendance. "We no longer have a problem with employees punching their friends in," he adds.
Employees use separate hand readers for time and attendance and access control.