The ever-present concerns of crime and risk are motivating business managers across all industries to implement superior security systems. According to Security magazine’s “Security @ the Millennium” white paper presentation, …criminals annually steal $603 billion in assets while also creating an additional $1.1 trillion worth of lost productivity.” Furthermore, employee theft, property crime and access control, respectfully, are the leading threats to companies’ asset protection.


In the casino industry especially, these security threats are weighing heavily on the minds of managers. It is common for casino employees to be entrusted with keys that permit access to different levels of security every day. Considering the millions of dollars exchanged throughout casinos daily, a reliable, secure system to control access to company keys is essential. The Oneida Bingo and Casino, located on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Green Bay, WI faced this security challenge, and was successful in implementing a key management system that gave the gaming facility total accountability.

One problem facing Oneida, and most casinos, is the checking in and out of floor keys. Throughout Oneida’s daily gaming hours, a team of about ten employees would remove money from the casino floor to be accounted for in other areas. The team had to wait an average of 15 minutes while a supervisor signed the keys out under the watchful eyes of security personnel. This unnecessary waste of time, labor and productivity signaled that a new system needed to be investigated.


As a result, in early 1998 Project Re-Key was launched with Tom VanDeHei as Project Manager. VanDeHei was assigned the daunting task of implementing a brand new key management system throughout the casino.


VanDeHei had partnered with Morse Watchman, a Connecticut-based security management company, to set up new locks and discovered that they offered a key management system, known as the KeyWatcher.

KeyWatcher is a sophisticated key storage locker system. Its security management features include personal user codes that allow access to color-coded “Smart Keys“, which are tracked using detailed security reports. The Smart Keys sound an alarm if they’re not returned within a designated time period.


“I researched the KeyWatcher and found it to be a security system versatile enough to meet Oneida’s specific key control needs. I told the managers, ‘this is the only system I’ve found that can do it all,'” VanDeHei explained.

But before the casino could get the KeyWatcher installed, VanDeHei had to make sure the system met Wisconsin Gaming Commission regulations. VanDeHei teamed with others to write a comprehensive manual describing the KeyWatcher and its proposed use in the casino.


After reviewing the manual, the Commission found that the KeyWatcher met all their criteria and Oneida was granted clearance to implement it.

VanDeHei and the Morse Watchman team set up ten KeyWatchers throughout the casino all linked to a central computer. The casino’s 1300 employees underwent three training sessions to become familiar with the system in conjunction with the casino’s new policies and procedures.


The results, in VanDeHei’s words, were “phenomenal.” “The wait for ten employees to get their keys has decreased from 15 minutes to less than 90 seconds. We’ve had three audits since last December and every key has been accounted for, which is unheard of with other systems,” VanDeHei informed.

Furthermore, VanDeHei and Morse Watchman engineers developed custom software to produce special key tracking reports, enforce policies and procedures, and increase employee productivity.

Special hand readers were installed that substituted for the employees’ user codes.

Oneida implemented the system into all six of their casinos. All of the KeyWatchers are linked to a main server run by an administrator in the security department. The Smart Keys have made it easy to account for all the keys, regardless of department or site location.


VanDeHei is very frank concerning his assessment of the company and its products.

“Among the thousands of companies, Morse Watchman is one of the best companies I have ever worked with. They worked closely with us to install the system, program our customized software, and train our employees,” VanDeHei commented. “You’d be amazed how many times a day we access keys in this place, and still achieve 100% accountability from the KeyWatcher.”

Like all high-level security companies, gaming facilities such as Oneida Bingo and Casino can’t afford to gamble with the security of its keys. Thankfully, the KeyWatcher from Morse Watchman is making 100% key accountability a lock.

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