While the MGM ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas was still being constructed in 2009, Ted Whiting was given the opportunity to design its surveillance system.
Whiting has been involved in casino gaming since 1989, working his way up from dealer to cage cashier to poker room brush. He worked in surveillance at the Mirage Casino and Resort, and was promoted to director there in 2001. In 2006, he was hired to create the surveillance system at the multibillion-dollar CityCenter resort.
During the years he’d spent learning and watching the casino gaming business, Whiting had been studying how cheats operate and where the technology was failing to catch them.
Older video feeds were in black and white with poor image quality, and defense attorneys often claimed the findings were “inconclusive.” Whiting needed a way to track a criminal until he could capture a face on a high definition camera. At the ARIA, Whiting introduced Oncam Grandeye 360-degree cameras.
360-degree cameras offer a 360-degree field of view capable of spotting a cheat from across the gaming floor at one vantage point and tracking him or her through to a choke point, or narrow pathway. At those choke points, high-definition cameras capture the cheat’s face on video. What’s more, the 360-degree recorded video allows Whiting and his team to track a criminal back in time, which can help determine identity.
For instance, if recorded video shows a cheat using a player’s card earlier in the day, Whiting can find name, address and phone number. Or, if a theft is reported at an ATM machine, Whiting can use an approximate time to identify the suspect in his ATM cameras, and then use the Oncam Grandeye 360-degree video to track the suspect through the resort.
Oncam Grandeye’s technology de-warps the 360-degree image, allowing Whiting’s team members a clear view of their suspects’ features — a vital requirement for prosecuting cheats. In addition, Oncam software allows his team members to conduct simultaneous review of recorded video from any number of workstations and from different vantage points within the 360 degrees.
Whiting manages a surveillance system of more than 1,100 cameras in the casino, including 35 choke-point cameras and 50 Oncam Grandeye 360-degree cameras. Whiting used one Oncam Grandeye 360-degree camera to replace what would have been four or five pan-tilt-zoom cameras; the new solution is not only more cost efficient, but also, with no blind spots, offers total situational awareness.
The ARIA’s surveillance department is responsible for 4,004 guest rooms and 150,000-square-feet of gaming space, and boasts one of the best track records on the Strip of catching cheats and thefts. Whiting does not rest easy though: he’s constantly on the lookout for new ways cheats can game the system, and the best technologies to outsmart them.