PENN Entertainment-Owned Retail Casinos to Feature Autonomous Robot Security System

Jessica Aletor
Jessica Aletor


  • PENN Entertainment has announced that it will be introducing autonomous robot security systems at its retail outlets.
  • This comes barely weeks after online security breaches grounded operations at MGM Resorts and Caesars Casinos across the US.
  • The K5 Autonomous Security Robots are developed by Knightscope and will soon roam the Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown in Detroit is set to become one of the first retail gambling outlets to have robots welcome visitors to their gaming floors. The new deal will feature autonomous K5 robots developed by Knightscope, a California-based security camera and robotics company. It is expected that the launch of Knightscope ASRs will help prevent security breaches and send sensitive information in real-time.

PENN Entertainment announced this new development barely a fortnight after MGM Resorts International and Caesars Casino were hit by cyber security threats. While Michigan online casinos have not been attacked, some retail gambling venues have recently been victims of cash cage fraud or theft.

A Primer into Knightscope’s Autonomous Security Robot Technology

Knightscope was founded April 4, 2013, by William Santana Li and Stacy Dean Stephens. Based in California, the company was borne out of multiple tragic events that took place in the US between 2012 and 2013. According to its founders, Knightscope was conceived in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing.

The company aimed at deploying data robots to parking lots, malls and other notable public spaces to monitor people, detect weapons and send information about potential security threats. And with casinos recently reporting digital breaches and cash cage thefts, it makes sense that PENN Entertainment would want to introduce more automated security systems.

Since it deployed its first robots in 2015, Knightscope reports that its security systems have clocked over 2 million hours of use with clients. The type of robots that customers can expect to see at Hollywood Casino are Automated Security Robots or “ASRs.” Sometimes called K5 robots, these automated devices are about four to five feet tall and self-driving. They can navigate large environments using a 360-degree view and an embedded 16-microphone array with two-way audio functionality.

Thanks to its many audio-visual features, the autonomous K5 robots can assist human security personnel and provide real-time information to combat security threats. They are also capable of live conversations when a human operates them.

When Will Hollywood Casino at Greektown Have These Robots?

PENN Entertainment announced their deal with Knightscope in September. The gaming company has since announced that the first set of autonomous robots have been deployed to the M Resort Spa Casino in Nevada. The next set of retail casinos to welcome robots are the Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs in Iowa and the Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois.

It is uncertain when robots will possibly be used at Hollywood Casino at Greektown. However, PENN has guaranteed that all its 43 outlets will soon have robot security systems manning them. So, while a specific date is unknown, there is an assurance that they will be used in Detroit in the nearest future.

Robotic Security at Casinos: A Good Deal or a Ticking Time Bomb?

Both PENN Entertainment and Knightscope are positive about the prospects of automated robots on casino floors. Knightscope believes that its robot systems are efficient and its prospective clients “need superhuman capabilities to fight crime.” In a statement released by William Santana Li, Knightscope Chairman and CEO, he expressed delight about the level of protection the company’s security solutions were bringing to casinos.

“PENN Entertainment’s commitment to safety and the guest experience is extraordinary,” Li said. “We are overjoyed that we will be providing Knightscope technologies across its portfolio to protect the surge of guests arriving and departing from all of its properties daily.”

However, not every industry stakeholder is convinced about the positives that roaming autonomous security robots potentially bring to casino floors. Many suggest that CCTV cameras already provide a similar function if properly utilized and robots could lead to privacy breaches. Nevertheless, the onslaught of thefts and security threats that retail casinos have faced in the past months is a major cause of concern.

Robots may help to reduce the margin of error caused by lapses in judgment and attention. They also offer more enhanced surveillance and can provide instant data unlike CCTV footage that mostly offers reactionary security measures.

In the coming months, all eyes will be on the results of automated robotic surveillance at PENN Entertainment outlets. If successful, more retail casinos may adopt ASRs, further contributing to Knightscope’s mission of making the USA the safest country on the planet.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments