Since the dawn of slots, human nature being what it is, people have always been trying to find ways around the rules in the pursuit of profit. Even back when slot machines were mechanical with levers, gears and coin slots, casinos had to keep an eye out for players that tied fishing line to coins or opened a back panel to tamper with the gears. Then, there have always been the card game cheats including hidden cards, marked cards, counterfeit chips and counting cards. And, let’s not forget loaded dice, rigged roulette tables and stolen chips. For each new, innovative method invented to profit by underhanded means, new security measures have arisen to counter it.
In these modern times, with the genesis of online gambling, new threats to security face both players and online casinos alike. External threats from hackers seeking to steal personal data and virtual chips are prevented by SSL Encryption technology. Iovation’s ReputationManager 360 software blocks known cheaters automatically by comparing a database worth of information against the IP address of each player. This detects and prevents known cheaters from repeating past transgressions. Then, there is the constant threat of ‘cyber attacks’ that cause ‘denial of service’ disrupting gaming sessions and resulting in significant cash losses. DNS software providers constantly work to counter this malware, however, this technology often struggles to keep one step ahead of hackers.
Internal threats from high-level employees that steal virtual chips also present a problem. To obtain a valid license, online casinos must meet rigorous standards for fairness as well as have no criminal background. Licensors regularly monitor and audit to ensure that players are provided with a safe and secure place to play.
Brick-and-mortar casinos have also taken measures to counter security threats. Some sophisticated technology measures that prevent players from cheating at table games include Angel Eye Electronic Security System, Radio Frequency Transmitter Chips (RFTC) and TableEye21. Angel Eye not only reduces and even prevents cheating, but it also eliminates the possibility of mistakes made by a dealer. This piece of technology is commonplace in Macau and Australia at the Baccarat table. A scanner is built right into the shoe. It scans each card’s invisible ink barcode as it leaves the shoe which makes it nearly impossible to add or remove cards without the dealer being alerted.
RFTC technology prevents both the counterfeiting and theft of chips by way of a microchip embedded in the core. When players cash out, the chips are scanned for specific serial identifiers transmitted by radio frequencies to ensure that they are real. If someone’s chips are stolen, the casino merely has to shut down the transmitters making them worthless. This technology can also track player stats such as wins and losses.
TableEye21 often works in tandem with AngelEye and RFID chips to track gameplay in real time. It involves filming with an overhead camera and transmitting vital information such as wins, losses, rounds per hour and other relevant stats. This not only detects players who are cheating, but it can also track employee activity to ensure fair gameplay.
All of this information is then pooled into a huge database referred to as NORA so that it can be shared with and accessible to multiple casinos. Players and employees that have cheated in the past can be recognized straightaway when they walk into a different casino. This has been such an effective security system, that the US Department of Homeland Security currently uses the same technology to identify terrorists and prevent attacks.
Another useful piece of identification technology is a license plate reader. These are often installed in the parking lots of casinos and are used to identify known cheaters, addicts and even criminals. Once a security threat is recognized, the owner of the vehicle is turned away. The entire process takes only seconds. If this security measure fails, then the biometric face recognition software which scans people that make it through the door will kick in. Snapshots are taken and compared against the NORA database identifying potential threats. If a match is found, then casino security personnel are immediately notified.
Whether online or in a physical location, technology will no doubt continue to evolve in fascinating ways to counter new threats in the eternal struggle between casinos and cheaters!