We've all seen the movies where a group of streetwise characters and professional gamblers (or thieves) pull off a casino heist thought impossible, but just how easy is it to cheat at casinos in real life (if you’re not Brad Pitt or George Clooney)?
The answer is: very, very hard. It's not impossible of course – Derren Brown has been banned from a number of UK casinos thanks to his card counting skills. It's worth noting that he only ever did this to prove it could be done and wasn't trying to actually fleece the casino. Still, even in spite of his skill, he was caught.
Below, we'll take a look at some of the tech modern casinos use to keep out the cheats, addicts and other ne'er-do-wells. If you thought airport security was tight, you haven't seen anything yet.
No, it's not someone's aunty. NORA stands for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness software. It's designed to scour the casino's existing databases of all transactions, known cheaters, staff and anyone else the casino may have tagged, looking for links and relationships that might not initially be obvious.
It's especially effective at rooting out multiple cheats or scammers that might be working together, because it can quickly identify anything that might form common ground in their data. It could be that cheater A and B went to the same college, grew up in the same town, worked in the same job for a while and so on. If there are any links between cheats, NORA will find them.
To give you an idea of just how effective this software is, the US Department of Homeland Security now uses it to identify potential terrorists.
Counterfeiting casino chips is one way cheaters will try and gain the upper hand, or simply scam a casino out of cash. That's next to impossible nowadays though, thanks to RFID technology. Most chips in modern casinos contain a tiny RFID chip, which broadcasts serial identifiers over radio waves. The casino tables and cashier booths have receivers that confirm the ID transmissions. Any chip that isn’t sending out a signal won’t be cashed.
They've been tested in an actual robbery situation too. The Bellagio Casino was robbed for $1.5 million in 2010, but the whole haul was made worthless once the casino turned off the RFID.
Biometric Face Recognition
As soon as you set foot in most casinos, your face will have been scanned and stored on a database. While traditionally casino security would be responsible for operating cameras and keeping an eye on customers, biometric facial recognition is now essentially automated.
There are two kinds of recognition systems: smart and dumb. Both systems will record an image of everyone who enters, but smart systems will also run the image through the casino's security database (and potentially others) looking for any matches with known scammers and cheaters. It then alerts security staff if there's a match.
Card tricksters are flat out of luck in any casino that uses the Angel Eye system. While the name might conjure images of an all-seeing security system/robot that monitors the card tables, the reality is actually much simpler. The system works by marking each card with an individual invisible bar code. This code is then read by a sensor placed inside the card dealing shoe.
The sensor keeps track of all the cards as they are dealt for each hand and then, at the press of a button, the dealer can activate the system and make sure there are no discrepancies between the computer results and the dealt hand. If there is, security will step in.
This is some pretty impressive technology for sure. Now, casinos, especially online, are finding new ways to keep their funds (and players' information, in the case of online casinos) safe from harm. It's worth noting, of course, that all of these systems still require well-trained staff and security teams to operate and interpret them. We're not at the point of AI security yet and that means that when you boil it down, the most advanced security system in the casino is still the sharp-eyed dealer.