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New smart cameras to stop casino cheats

Grosvenor Casinos are currently assessing new software which could help spot cheats at the roulette table.

The major UK chain is looking at software that would be installed on existing CCTV cameras in casinos and can pick up two prominent forms of cheating.

Roulette cheats often try to place their chips on the table after the croupier has called “last bets”. Boghos Boghossian, head of technology at Ipsotek, the London-based designers of the system, says this gives the player an unfair advantage as it becomes easier to predict which quarter of the wheel the ball will land in after it has begun to slow.

To prevent this, the software analyses the video feed to monitor the speed of the ball so that it can determine when “last bets” was called. It can then detect when a hand enters the betting table and places a chip, with the croupier duly alerted.

It can also pick out a form of cheating known as ‘top-hatting’. This is when a cheat places a bet after the ball has landed, but the stack they place includes different coloured chips, borrowed from an accomplice, at its base.

If the croupier is aware of the late bet then the chips would be removed from the table. But unless the croupier is very sharp they may assume the accomplice’s chips were already on the table. The software would be able to spot this by keeping tabs on the colours of chips placed during betting.

Sean Cunningham, director of security for Rank Group, which owns Grosvenor Casinos said: "When you have 10 people around a table all trying to place bets as late as possible it can be difficult to see these things."

Surveillance cameras have been used in casinos for some time but James Ferryman, who researches automated surveillance systems at the University of Reading, thinks that Ipsotek’s automated system to spot cheats is far superior.

"You're trying to pick up anomalies, or anything that is unusual in the context," said Ferryman.

Boghossian also noted that although the software is currently only designed to work on roulette tables, if trials go well the plan is to extend this to blackjack and baccarat.

The casino group are due to make a decision on installing the software in January.

Jack Watkins
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