An unidentified man robbed the Bellagio poker room’s cashier cage on Tuesday night.
Unlike what the movies would lead you to believe, people rob casinos more often than most people realize.
One of the most notorious cases was the “Biker Bandit,” who made off with over $1 million in Bellagio chips back in 2010.
More recently there was the story of a local pastor who robbed the M Resort on three occasions before getting caught. Additionally, there was the shooting death of a security guard during a robbery at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
Even more troubling was the October mass shooting at Mandalay Bay; the deadliest in US history.
This latest brazen robbery could easily have been another maniac hell-bent on killing people. As such, it should lead to a review of the efficacy of current casino security measures. Especially considering an anonymous person can walk in off the street with a gun and conceal their identity without raising an eyebrow.
This even after a May video from ISIS led to beefed up casino security in the latter half of the year.
What do casinos do now?
In addition to varying levels of security, cameras are the backbone of casino security.
But cameras only serve as a deterrent and after-the-fact evidence collectors.
They won’t prevent every crime, but they do prevent some of the more rational-minded and less desperate from acting, as they increase the likelihood a criminal will be caught if they make it past the security guards.
That being said, cameras aren’t going deter the truly depraved and desperate. They are not going to stop a crime in progress either.
What else could casinos do?
To ramp up security, US casinos could adopt some or all of the policies outlined below.
Most of these measures are already in place at airports, courthouses, and even concert and sports venues. Some of these measures are also already in place in other casino jurisdictions.
100 percent ID verification
If you’ve been to European casinos there’s a good chance you’ve shown your passport in order to walk through the door.
In conjunction with cameras, this 100 percent ID verification would help deter crimes. Identifying a suspect would be easy. Casino reps would as just go through security footage and line up the timestamp with the person’s name.
It would also allow casinos to better respond to an active shooter by keeping would-be shooters confined to a specific areas of the casino: the entrances.
Casinos can increase security, putting guards on heightened alert at these spots. Ideally, this would further deter crime as well as improve the response time to situations.
Yes, it would slow down entry. However, its ability to deter and stop crime seems like a good trade-off.
On a separate note, another positive outcome is showcasing how seriously casinos take responsible gaming policies. 100 percent ID verification would be a marked improvement over the current system.
Bag checks and metal detectors
Casinos should also consider installing metal detectors and/or doing bag checks.
Following the mass shooting at Mandalay Bay, Wynn casinos in Las Vegas did bag checks and wanded guests. Considering this was a spur of the moment decision with an impromptu staging area, the process moved relatively quickly. I didn’t encounter any serious grumblings about the added layer of security either.
With time to plan, and setup areas to accommodate these safeguards, casinos can further streamline the process, making them relatively unobtrusive.
In the same way, armed security won’t prevent all crimes. It is another layer of security and yet another deterrent though.
Simply knowing there are armed guards around make some people think twice about committing a crime.
Focusing armed security on points of entry, and using them in conjunction with ID checks and metal detectors/bag checks would provide a very strong layer of security.
Right now, would-be criminals targeting a casino worry about differing levels of on-site security guards. They also risk identification via security cameras.
Adding ID checks at the door would exponentially improve identification, particularly when used in conjunction with security cameras.
Other security features – bag checks, metal detectors, an armed guard presence – are additional deterrents which could improve the casino’s ability to confine and respond to an active situation.
If properties enacted these policies, a casino would no longer be a “soft target” for robbers, or people with even worse intentions.