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AVoIP Case Study: Casino distribution over IP

Fluid Sound designs an affordable and robust AV-Over-IP video and audio distribution system for Rolling Hills Casino

To bring patrons through the door, casinos hedge their own bets not on gambling alone but also by providing top-tier amenities and a memorable guest experience. At Rolling Hills Casino and Resort in Corning, California, the 20-year-old casino was due for an upgrade. In addition to over 800 slot machines and table games, the casino is a draw for golfers, hunters, and equestrians, with a golf course, hunting range, and equestrian center on the grounds. Last year, the facility was completely gutted and remodeled from top to bottom, doubling the square footage. This included a new 5,720-square-foot meeting and conferencing space that can be divided into up to five separate meeting rooms.

Casino principles wanted more than just an expansion, they wanted the remodel to visually enrich the visitor experience with 60 new displays, two video walls, and a handful of digital signage and wayfinding displays all throughout the facility. The casino turned to Fluid Sound, San Diego-based AV integration experts, to design an AV distribution and control system that could be easily managed by Rolling Hills staff and inexpensively scaleable for future needs. They also wanted to be able to use an integrated control system that could bridge across the wide range of professional and value end-points and could mitigate the headaches that can go with divisible spaces.

Fluid Sound designed a system that would allow the staff to quickly select and distribute a range of available video sources to each screen. Video sources included DirectTV receivers, BrightSign digital signage media players, and computer software housed in four network IDF closets located throughout the sprawling casino, along with some remote video sources for video walls and presentation inputs in the new event space and sports pub.

“We had a 40GB fiber-optic trunk between all the closets — a significant amount of bandwidth, which was going to require a pretty robust AV distribution solution when you have that many network closets that are lit up with dedicated Cisco network switches,” said Dennis Pappenfus, CEO of Fluid Sound. “While Rolling Hills had a sizeable budget, it wasn’t endless because it was a large renovation. They needed a distributed AV-over-IP solution that would also be easy to program with their chosen control system and eliminate the common room combining challenges that come with distributing video into  divisible conferencing spaces.”

Having previously used J+P for the Barona Resort & Casino, Fluid Sound specified it again for this project, and incorporated much-needed value engineering on the project while retaining functionality and flexibility. Just Add Power fit the parameters of their budget while providing unlimited source and screen capacity. The network-based system uses a modular approach to video distribution, pairing every screen with a simple compact receiver that mounts onto the back of the screen and every source with a transmitter. (The system offers ultra-low latency from source to screen and instant switching between any resolution HDMI source as well as support for uncompressed lossless multichannel audio formats including Dolby Atmos. It supports resolutions up to 4K UHD, HDCP 2.2, and PoE). Expanding the system with an additional screen or source is as simple as adding another receiver or transmitter.

This topology allowed Fluid Sound to put all of Rolling Hills sources onto the network, run fiber between the IDF distribution closets to create the fiber trunk for the Just Add Power platform to ride on, and eliminate expensive cable runs from all the screens back to a main head-end. Now, all sources and inputs in the Just Add Power system are available at any video display anywhere on the casino property. Fluid Sound equipped each display with a VBS-HDIP-508POE or VBS-HDIP-518AVP receivers. Source transmitters included seven Just Add Power VBS-HDIP-707WP2 wall plates in the meeting and event center; the VBS-HDIP-747POE and VBS-HDIP-749AVP for DirecTV, digital signage players, and other sources; and the Dante and AES-67-compatible VBS-HDIP-767DSS in the casino’s private dining room. The receiver can control the display, both with serial control and CEC over HDMI control.

“Casinos tend to look at displays as a napkin — a disposable commodity that they’ll use until it needs to be replaced, which is fairly quickly considering they’re on all the time,” said Pappenfus. “So, you’ll find a mix of higher-end commercial displays and value displays. Just Add Power allows all the displays to be controlled in the same manner.”

Further, Just Add Power solved the programming and control challenges that are common with divisible spaces. From Crestron TSW-570-X-S wall mount controllers, facility operators can easily select the presentation wall plate input that goes with the correct screen in the event center.

“That decentralization of the old video matrix head-end topology is a real valuable tool, especially for room combining,” said Pappenfus. “Managing all those room combinations would’ve been way more challenging and intensive for our programming team. Just Add Power’s fully fleshed out API allows for the programming process to be smooth and seamless while making it just as simple for casino staff to operate.”

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