By Consumer Dummies

In today’s massive casinos, five-star hotels merge with gargantuan, themed buildings, encompassing entire city blocks and housing restaurants, bars, theaters, nightclubs, gaming tables, slot machines, ATMs, snack bars, gift shops, and even the occasional theme park. A casino’s security division, therefore, must function much like the police department of an entire town.

This discussion explains who the security personnel are, lets you in on who’s watching you, and details how you can be proactive to protect yourself when betting your hard-earned money.

Security personnel: The human touch

In the old days, casinos simply had hired muscle watch after the owners’ millions. These days, casino security folks are considered important members of a casino’s floor team. Because it’s a dynamic and demanding job, casino security has become a true career; casinos offer competitive salaries and benefits so they can hire people who are mentally and physically fit.

Security staffs have a two-pronged task:

  • Protect the casino’s property
  • Safeguard the casino’s guests

Unfortunately, a security employee’s job is made less agreeable by the fact that one task doesn’t always go hand in hand with the other. For instance, some guests are also out to separate a casino from its money, either through cheating or through faking an injury in crowded conditions.

The responsibilities of security employees range from viewing the rows of surveillance cameras in high-tech rooms to patrolling the casino floors, constantly on vigil for fights, thieves, drunks, and other disturbances. Surprisingly, security also keeps a close eye on the help — casino employees have initiated many cheating scams over the years.

You can easily spot the security staff; they’re always available to help you resolve a conflict or point you in the right direction. Even though every casino is different, security staff typically wear a uniform that is quasi-military, with a shirt that says SECURITY or at least a nametag or badge that identifies them as such. Other identifying features include a walkie-talkie, a badge, and possibly a gun.

Bigger hotels can have several dozen security officers working at the busiest times of day and a supervisor in each major area of the casino who manages the team. Security supervisors must wear many hats, including the hat of a diplomat. Their staff is on the front lines, both protecting and ejecting guests, and when the occasional temper flares or a misunderstanding arises, the security supervisor must wade in to render an on-the-spot verdict.

Surveillance: The eye in the sky

On-site security personnel at a casino can only see so much when trying to protect the casino and its guests. To assist them in their daily rounds, security personnel rely on electronic surveillance — the eye in the sky.

One-way glass conceals thousands of digital cameras in any casino. Some are hidden where you least expect them. Others are prominent, large, and noticeable to serve as warnings. Technology is such today that sophisticated cameras can see not only a player’s face but also the cards in his or her hands and even the serial numbers on dollar bills. On-site security personnel can view banks of television screens to identify cheats and save casinos millions of dollars each year.

Although most surveillance is for the detection and prevention of cheating and swindling, the eye in the sky also protects honest gamblers from slick crooks prowling the casino for easy prey. The newer casinos have cameras outside the building, such as in the parking garages, to cast the safety net farther for you.

Taking safety into your own hands

The modern casino should be a carefree environment where you forget your troubles, spend money, and — with hope — win some money back. Although winning isn’t always possible, at the very least you expect a safe environment in which to gamble. Unfortunately, where innocent, naive, and trusting people congregate in great numbers — surrounded by huge amounts of disposable income — the predators of society gather as well. Thieves are on the prowl for ways to separate you or even the casinos from hard-earned cash.

Although casinos implement the most stringent security measures and the latest in state-of-the-art surveillance technology, you, as a prudent casino guest, should assume responsibility for your own safety. The following tips can help you avoid becoming a victim of a casino predator:

  • Tuck your wallet in a safe, hard-to-access spot, such as your front pocket.
  • If you carry a purse, take a small one that you can wear close to your body, preferably under a jacket or wrap.
  • Guard your chips or slot payout tickets; these work the same as money, so treat them accordingly.
  • If you go to the casino solo, be cautious about the overly friendly people you meet. Maintain tight control of your personal information, get your drinks straight from the cocktail servers, and keep your big wins to yourself so you don’t become a target.