Bar codes and RFID are now common elements in packaging operations, as well as in many everyday situations. A recent article in Popular Mechanics magazine describes how they are being used as part of the security and surveillance operations at casinos. According to the article, Las Vegas’s gaming industry invests in the best surveillance and behavioral monitoring technology in the world, so this is an interesting application of these relatively mundane technologies.
A common method of cheating in card games is to switch cards after they have been dealt. To prevent this, bar codes are applied to the cards with invisible ink, and a system is installed to record the identity of the cards as they are dealt. At the end of a hand, when the players show their cards, the dealer initiates a system that displays the cards that have been dealt, and if there is a discrepancy between that display and the cards that are turned over, the game is immediately halted and surveillance recordings are reviewed.
Among the newest and most advanced systems at casinos are those that use chips with embedded radio-frequency transmitters that communicate with sensors in the gaming tables. Among other benefits, this enables the casinos to detect counterfeit chips that have been introduced as well as alert them if an employee is walking out with chips in his pocket. If you tell yourself that this seems like an expensive way to achieve these results, I agree. However, these are just side benefits. The RFID-containing chips are part of a system called TableEye 21 that is really an automated tracking system. A video camera hidden in the ceiling above each gaming table transmits video to TableEye21’s video analytics system, which interprets the video to recognize gaming objects and record actual game events happening at the table. It captures every card and game outcome and its sophisticated software modules analyze the captured data and provide features to help “boost a table’s profitability.” I’m not a gambler, so this doesn’t affect me any, but for you gamblers out there, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to get any better for you.
Too often we . . . enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
- John F. Kennedy