Everything you need to know about casino security!

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Sure, we’ve all watched Ocean’s 11 and thought ‘you know what, that looks pretty easy.’ The likes of George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon made it all look rather simple. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that casinos don’t really like the idea of losing their money to sneaky punters or nefarious dealers. Generally, they usually like to do something about it.

The real question is though, how easy is it to actually rob a casino?

Few people have got away with robbing casinos in the past. One prime example is the infamous Circus Circus casino robbery involving Loomis Armour Inc. driver Heather Tallchief, where she took off with $2.5 million back in 1993. She did hand herself in 12 years later, but it doesn’t exactly count as being ‘caught’ – she still got away with it! The fact of the matter is that casinos carry plenty of money and as such are regularly targeted; hence, they need to have pretty rigorous security standards.

Pioneers Of Security Standards

The first place you’re going to hit as a casino thief is that huge vault full of goodies, right? Of course, this doesn’t really apply to online casinos, that would be a cyber attack.

Since this huge metal cave contains millions of dollars, security has to be top-notch! Well, since casino boffins have invested so much time and effort into securing their booty, technology has been nabbed by others; most noticeably banks and government agencies, who use this tech to reduce security threats.

The closest you'll get to an actual casino vault door!
The closest you’ll get to an actual casino vault door!

When you combine technology and security though, your safe guards are prone to cyber attacks. A cyber attack occurred in 2013 at the Melbourne Crown Casino, where a hacker managed to make off a huge wad of cash from the safety of his home. With hackers becoming smarter and quicker, it means the casino has to keep up as well.

How do casinos stop thieves?

Criminals have tried nearly every trick in the book, from walking in with a gun to disguising themselves as dealers, and sure a handful of heists have worked, but the majority have failed – and that’s no coincidence.

Anybody who works in casino security, whether that’s at director or employee level, knows that everything needs protecting – from client information to blueprints. They have a number of ways to do this, so let’s take a look at a few!

Security Guards

The first line of defence for casinos, and the ultimate deterrent for most nefariously inclined individuals. They’re not robots, nor are they computers and sure, they’re not exactly nice to look at either, but stick on in the corner and chuck some black shades on their faces – alongside that essential headset – and you’re pretty much covered on most fronts. It’s not that they’re likely to stop a gun-wielding maniac, but it reminds punters that they’re being watched and sometimes that’s enough.

Ultimately, casinos generally have around 20 to 25 different security codes for individual situations, alongside an arsenal of tools to resolve security threats. They’re on the front-lines, and they’re a brilliant resource.

Planning ahead for robberies

Like fire drills, robbery drills are part and parcel when it comes to the running of a casino. Employees need to know how to use modern technology to their advantage, and as such are constantly updated with new protocol, tools of the trade and training.

Since a robbery is a very real possibility that could very much occur staff are trained to act in high-intensity situations. It’s not just about the cash cage though, as a potential robbery can be spotted sometime before. All staff then are trained to detect suspicious behaviour and to report this to security. They can then work with security to stop the robbery from taking place, and ultimately stop a gruesome shoot-out or worse, a successful robbery.

Security officials are always within 2 minutes running distance of anywhere in the casino. This means they can react promptly to a situation that might well be getting out of hand. This means that they can easily respond to a robbery, making the casino a much safer place.

Eyes on everything!

Casinos know, through experience, that they shouldn’t commit all their efforts on to the cage. Over the years, they’ve been able to identify potential threats a long time before they walk up to the cashier with shotgun in hand. No, all cameras don’t point at the cage any more, they point everywhere! Basically, it’s more important than every to monitor everybody, because anyone could be a potential threat.

He might look friendly, but he's lethal!
He might look friendly, but he’s lethal!

The Wynn Las Vegas casino, back in 2005 developed the most sophisticated security system on the Vegas strip. They consulted NAV (North American Video) to install and develop the latest in security technology which could secure every room in the casino, from the entrance to the parking lot to a specific hotel room. They had full control on who left, and who didn’t!

Nowadays you won’t see a casino without this software. Who goes in and out of their casino, and what they get up to, is the most important aspect in casino technology. The so-called ‘eye in the sky’ is responsible for monitoring everything that goes on, and it’s an effective approach. They can see all and report any altercation to security instantly.

Creating regulated security systems

The casino industry has sky-rocketed in popularity over the last 20 years or so and while some casinos operate with strict security protocols. This has allowed casinos the opportunity to identify whether certain security measures are as effective as others.

Wynn Casino learned the hard way when thieves made off with $258 million of their cash after a junket in China was robbed. This forced Wynn to learn a couple of quick questions:

– The requirement that one must react to local challenges, and not treat the USA, and other neighbouring countries as the standard for security.
– The necessity for high levels of security whatever the asset and wherever the aforementioned asset is.

Gaming regulators, it seems, are not good enough on their own to stop casino robberies occurring. This has resulted in certain gambling groups making their own efforts to nullify any potential threats. Nor were the casinos at one point as well, and this is when they had to step in and take control of their assets.

Back in the 1990s security at casinos was minimal. Sure, they had cameras and beady-eyed security guards, but they never took things as seriously as they do nowadays. It wasn’t until a successful string of robberies from criminals and employees – such as the employee who stole $10K in casino chips from the vault right under security’s nose – that finally pushed casinos over the edge. In 1991 cameras and audio bugs were installed into major casino around the world, and so began the era of surveillance.

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The sight of a normal security room found at most modern casinos!

Before the days of digital, cameras relied on analogue signals which were much less reliable and as such were prone to cutting out. Nowadays, cameras are much more reliable, have higher precision and the capacity to store and transmit more data. Nowadays, digital surveillance systems are able to incorporate much more advanced software, allowing casinos to be more secure than ever before.

Facial recognition was the next monumental leap in casino security history, as casinos could now identify players from past altercations automatically. They could incorporated number plate technology into their systems, which allowed them to see if a car that was previously accomplice to a thief was back on the premises. Unfortunately, most people started to fool these systems by moving quickly, wearing quirky disguises and covering their faces. This means that while advance systems are great, casinos still depend heavily on traditional security tactics.

But some experts would argue that casinos are not really bothered about cheaters. They might well have thousands of cameras and hundreds of screens, but they only have a few people watching. Cameras are generally used retrospectively, and for that reason they’re not as scary as they appear. They’re for after the fact, and that’s what makes them crucially important nowadays – evidence!

Monitor you employees

It’s imperative that casinos monitor their employees – whether they’re at the roulette table or blackjack table, as there are cases where dealers have been in cahoots with nefarious players. According to various white papers, employee theft accounts for 50% of all losses that a casino will incur. The Nevada Gaming Commission on the other hand comes up with 34%, which is a little more conservative but just as shocking.

One tactic is by using a chip cup, which is a hollowed out tube of chips with lower denominations on the outside. They slide this over a group of higher value chips and pass this to an accomplice, who takes the place of the player. Surveillance often catches these guys out in the end, but often it’s the win/loss data for individual tables that drops the crooked dealers into the limelight.

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One way to make sure this never happens is by performing background checks on all employees. If any employees are associated with known criminals they can be rejected as high risk. Employees are then required to license and register employees which results in a centralised, easily referenced system.

Protecting online casinos!

SSL protection is a necessary barrier against online hackers who use brute force (guessing as many passwords as they can) to access important information about both online casinos and regular casinos. Some attempt to access information through the casino’s wi-fi, whilst others try to hack online casino servers. Nowadays, 128-bit encryption is standard, while also monitoring strange behaviour.

Silent alarm systems

Loud and scary alarms might well be off-putting, but if you want to catch those crooks in the act then you need another system. Silent alarms alert authorities without signalling the robbers. This means officials can get to the scene and apprehend the criminals before they make an escape. This method is riskier than letting them go, but it might result in the arrest and apprehension, and as a result means robberies are less likely to occur in the future.

Vault security

Nope, not like Fallout 4 vaults – although you’re probably close – casino vaults are some of the most secure places in the world. Drilling through one would take days, and finding the code to one would take even longer. Essentially, there’s little point trying to get into one.

But why do casinos even have vaults full of cash? With today’s moneyless world, there’s little point in keeping that much money in one place. Well, it all comes down to the fact that regulating bodies insist that for every chip in play, the casino must hold the cash equivalent on the premises. This is to make sure that the casino isn’t using non-representative – or valueless to us – chips in lieu of valued chips. Fortunately, regulatory bodies also insist on a few key features; time delayed locks, thick steel walls and floor and limited access codes. Basically, they’re very, very safe.

RIFD Chips

Chips with chips, seems kind of strange doesn’t it. Well, the smart thing about modern high-value chips is that they can be made worthless at the push of a button. Basically, if a criminal manages to nick a load of $5000 chips and then tries to flog them for $2500 to unwilling punters, the punter will soon find out that their chips were stolen, in the form of handcuffs around their wrist. Once word gets out that these chips are duds, the crook will either get grassed on, or will be unable to shift his chips – making his efforts ultimately a waste of time.

Armoured vehicles

When those vaults get to full, the money has to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, that cash has to be transported and criminals are often on the look-out, like vultures, for an easy target. Enter the armoured vehicle, accompanied by armed guards. These trucks transport the many millions from the casino to the bank, and goodness they are beefed up. Their schedules are a secret, they drive really fast and are so strong that even a shunt from a SUV won’t do it much harm. Basically, you have no chance of getting into one of these bad boys!

So, that’s pretty much everything you need to know about casino security. If you ever dreamed of breaking into one of these before, Lucky Nugget Casino can categorically tell you that it’s very much impossible.

Sorry to dash your dreams!

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