New Age Dallmeier Welcomed by a part of Victorian Dunedin
As casinos go, the Dunedin Casino may not be the largest but must certainly be, by far, the most elegant in the country. From the mosaic floor of its vestibule; up the sweeping, grand staircase; beneath the glittering gold cornices; to the magical glass dome roof; the complex at once transports its visitors to the opulence of the Victorian era.
Indeed, the rooms that now make up the Casino were once part of the Grand Hotel built in 1883 and considered then to be one of the finest hotels in the southern hemisphere. Now known as the Southern Cross Hotel, much of the building’s original, ornate architecture was retained in the hotel’s fine banqueting and conference rooms, and the Casino’s Gainsborough gaming room, during a $14.5 million remodelling completed in 1999.
The gaming room facilitates the playing of Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Caribbean Stud Poker, and Poker while some 180 state of the art machines cater for those who favour electronic gaming. The Casino also hosts well patronised, bingo sessions twice a week and there is a food and beverage service available at the Casino’s Grand Bar and Café.
Former Dunedin detective, Geoff Purdon, has been the Security and Surveillance Manager since 2005 after starting as a Security and Surveillance Shift Manager in 1999. During that time, it has been the job of Geoff and his team to maintain an environment in which patrons and staff feel safe, secure, and welcomed.
There is some 160 full and part-time staff employed by the Dunedin Casino which is open from 10 am to 3 am Sunday through Thursday and from 10 am to 4 am Friday and Saturday. Security is tight at the Casino with a manned entranceway and controlled card access to administration areas. The activities of Geoff’s security and surveillance team are aided by the strategic placement of over 70 cameras that stream continuous images to a control room manned by specialist, gaming surveillance officers.
“Our surveillance personnel have to be well trained to spot any irregularities or mistakes made at the tables,” says Geoff. “In fact, we all have to know every game inside out to be able to do our job well.” “But it’s not just cheating we’re looking out for. Mistakes can be made by croupiers, other gaming staff, and customers without them being aware,” says Geoff. “In any case, before a player can be adequately identified and monies repaid or retrieved, we must be able to review the relevant footage and that’s where the importance of a reliable recording system is absolutely essential. It’s also essential for reviewing any number of other activities and incidents that can regularly occur at a Casino.”
“For instance, our staff are always sensitive to the sobriety of our patrons as well as the issue of problem gamblers. If there is any indication of either, through surveillance or by any other means, it is the casino’s policy to discuss the situation with the patron and provide advice and support if necessary.”
In late May 2009, the Dunedin Casino replaced all of its VCRs with the latest Dallmeier DVR technology provided by CCTV experts, C R Kennedy New Zealand Limited. Since then, dozens of stored video tapes have become redundant – their recorders having been replaced by the superior operability and storage capacity of the Dallmeier DIS-2/M and DMS 80 series DVRs neatly slotted into two, tidy racks.
“The simplicity, reliability and functionality of the Dallmeier digital recorders and video management systems, such as the PView installed at Dunedin, is the reason why many casinos around the world have chosen to install these latest generation hardware and software solutions,” says Mike Allen, an Account Manager with C R Kennedy. “Indeed, casinos such as Macao’s Sands and Venetian complex is using Dallmeier DVR technology to control and record as many as 3000 camera inputs at any one time. Similar casinos such as Darwin’s SkyCity and Cape Town’s Golden Valley are employing Dallmeier systems that control hundreds of cameras.”
“The Dallmeier DIS-2/M series installed at the Dunedin Casino is a high definition recorder supporting real-time MPEG-2 video formats, and therefore ideally suited to the recording of the analogue images streamed from the Casino’s legacy cameras,” says Mike. “The DIS-2/M recorders are supported by DMS 80 ‘In Memory of Leonardo’ hybrid recorders – stand-alone, 24 channel recorders that are optimised for recording with a high frame rate at high resolution utilising the H.264 codec standard. This standard combines unsurpassed image quality with particularly high data compression, thus reducing the demand for storage and network capacity and enabling longer recording times.”
The specially developed, Maxpro high level interface (HLI), the main video management system, was installed by Michael Johnson of picoSpace Pty Limited, a Perth based, IT consultancy specialising in custom software development, support, training, and troubleshooting.
“Dallmeier’s PView software is also part of the switching system, allowing the user and administrator to instantaneously interrogate and access current and recorded data which is particularly important in a casino-type operation when images are often required very quickly. Such searches are enabled by means of hot keys, customised presets, and rapid access to menu functions,” says Mike. “With the old VCRs, regularly changing tapes, archiving them, and then searching for the relevant footage when necessary, was too laborious for our needs so we looked for a solution that not only would provide us with clear, crisp images but images that could be instantly accessed and reviewed by my staff as and when necessary,” says Geoff. “The Dallmeier recorders allow us to do just that with the added bonus that they take up only a fraction of the space previously occupied by the VCRs and tape storage.”
“C R Kennedy understood our vision to have a customised solution peculiar to our circumstances. The Dallmeier digital system has certainly met our requirements and set the standard for future development of the Casino’s surveillance system,” says Geoff.
Article written by Keith Mexsom, Editor of “Security Today” magazine