Circa is an important part of the renaissance of downtown Las Vegas. Located at the head of Fremont Street, the resort was the first new construction in the Fremont area since 1980. Guests are met with a true Las Vegas level of luxury and opulence. There are four signature bars, among them the rooftop Legacy Club featuring a stunning display of 500 gold bars, each engraved with the Circa logo. The casino boasts the largest sports book in North America, plus two full gaming floors featuring slots, table games and several bars. The rooftop Stadium Swim aqua-theater boasts six pools along with a massive 143-foot screen, another significant draw for visitors.
NAV was required to manage a number of significant challenges throughout this project, according to Keith Nichols, founder of DKNQ Inc and Owners Representative for the Circa Casino surveillance installation. First, most new casino construction in Las Vegas takes place on sites with abundant clear space all around. This was not the case for Circa. Building on Fremont Street was more akin to building in Manhattan, in an environment of narrow streets populated with a high density of existing structures which necessitated careful planning and maneuvering of construction and installation equipment and vehicles.
Next, the NAV team was further challenged by a unique connectivity requirement of the project. The owners of Circa also own the D Casino and Hotel, located three blocks away from the Circa site. Since the D already had a well-functioning surveillance room, the owners wanted to save capital investment construction costs, and continuing labor expenses, by using this as the head end for Circa’s surveillance.
Finally, as if those obstacles were not enough, perhaps the biggest challenge was posed by the timing of the project. The deal was finalized at the end of December 2019, meaning that the entire project – from ordering cameras and other hardware, through installation on a busy construction site, took place during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Building a new hotel and casino in the midst of a pandemic was an unprecedented hurdle. NAV overcame the obstacles at every stage. The project took 12 months from inception to completion, including securing the gold-bar Legacy Club.
The planning and foresight of the NAV team and Owners Representative Keith Nichols kept the project on schedule even during a near-shutdown of the supply chain. Paying close attention to the emerging pandemic situation, they ordered product well ahead of when it would be needed, to NAV’s Western Regional HQ until it was time for it to be installed. Had they waited to order, the timing would have put them into late April/early May, when supply chain limitations would have severely impacted the project.
Securing the expensive equipment once it was delivered was not a problem for NAV, according to Nichols. Inventory control at NAV’s Las Vegas facility provided high security for the product before it was installed at the casino. This also delivered benefits during construction, when NAV engineers were required to work within COVID-19 protocols in order to keep all tradespeople safe and healthy. The ability to configure and stage equipment at NAV’s facility helped reduce the number of hours their personnel spent on-site.
Procuring equipment ahead of schedule provided another unexpected benefit when the cameras were needed even earlier in the project than they typically would have been. Once the construction began, the cost to deep-clean the elevators each day was so high that all workers were pulled to the podium. Had they not had the cameras ready, there would have been a costly delay in the project.
As requested by the owners, NAV successfully leveraged the existing infrastructure in place at the D Casino and Hotel, using fiber to build a seamless link between the facilities. The video surveillance cameras at Circa are monitored at the D’s Network Operations Center (NOC), a configuration that is unique in Las Vegas according to Nichols.
The casino has some unusual applications for surveillance that go beyond security. In both the sports bar and the pool area, the Circa uses the surveillance cameras to watch the screens. With almost 600 channels of global sports to choose from, it is important to offer the crowd selections that are exciting and compelling. Using surveillance, expert personnel in the NOC can monitor the crowd to gauge interest in the varying sports events being shown, making swift choices to deliver what most excites guests. At times they may choose an alternate audio feed for a game – for example to provide a better commentary – and then use surveillance to ensure it’s tracking properly with the video being shown. They can also monitor the displays, including the enormous 3-story, 78-million-pixel screen, to ensure there are no flaws in the images.
Watching the screens also enables Circa management to shut down betting if there is any possibility that the odds board is incorrect. In this way they can avert the possibility of a timing error, something that has caused major losses and liability for other casinos in the past.
By monitoring the screens, staff in the NOC can also alert the DJ at the Stadium Swim complex when commercials are coming on. This is their signal to get the music going, maintaining the high-energy ambiance among the pool crowd.
The installation of enterprise class surveillance systems in new construction gaming facilities requires a significant level of large project expertise and integration skill to ensure schedules and budgets are adhered to. As Owners Representative, Nichols selected NAV for their extensive experience with new casino construction. “I knew my hands were going to be substantially full with this project, and that I could trust NAV with this property and my reputation,” said Nichols. “Their depth of experience in that environment is second to none.”