You go out on a Friday night to the casino with some friends, throw a little money down on a blackjack table or play the penny slots, and hope to win big. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t – that’s the nature of the beast. But chances are you haven’t considered all that happens behind the scenes, all the intense regulations, rules, procedures and protocols that go into making sure that your Friday night experience at the casino is a smooth and safe one. The world of casino security is a fascinating one, optimized over the last 70 or so years to ensure that no one gets an unfair advantage, and that every casino-goer is safe from harm. Let’s take a closer look!
Casinos are a little like banks, in that they deal with vast quantities of physical money on their premises on a daily basis. But while you hear a lot about bank robberies, there aren’t that many stories about casinos getting robbed. That’s because casinos use sophisticated methods of protecting their money, using the latest digital ID card printers with cutting edge holographic and watermark technology to ensure that their vaults are ironclad and impenetrable. Only authorized personnel are allowed around money, and ID card access is strictly enforced.
In order to tackle theft on the floor, the approach is two-pronged: you have your guys on the ground, and your eye in the sky. The system was famously depicted in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 crime drama Casino, when Robert De Niro’s character coolly explains that, “In Vegas, everybody’s gotta watch everybody else… The shift bosses are watching the pit bosses. The casino manager is watching the shift bosses. I’m watching the casino manager. And the eye-in-the-sky is watching us all.” And while things may have changed slightly since then, the same rule of thumb remains, with security on the floor reporting to each other in a hierarchal fashion, and a closed circuit surveillance, feeding to a control room, watching over everything.
On the micro-level, small rules are enforced by dealers. You can’t place another bet down on a roulette table after the dealer announces “no more bets”, for instance, and you certainly can’t touch the wheel as it spins. These small rules, of which every game has its own, are the backbone of etiquette at a casino, and are followed for the most part. It’s only when these rules are violated (or suspected to be violated) that the security chain of command kicks in, and enforcement is used. As for anyone trying to sneak around where they’re no welcome – as mentioned, that’s where advanced technology like key cards play their major role.
Because of all the money floating around, and because emotions are often high, casinos are the site of a lot of unwanted theft attempts. The reason you hear so little about successful casino thefts, though, is a testament to the sophisticated system of manpower, surveillance and ID technology. In this regard at least, the house always wins.