Many people tend to forget that behind the glitz and glamor of the neon lights and ringing of slot jackpots there are a team of people designed not only to protect the casino and its investments but the people too.
We managed to catch up with a seasoned veteran of casino security, someone who has been able to work the room at Primm and Caesars, suffering the drunken debaucheries of biker gangs and dealing with sergeants a little too big for their boots. He tells us about casino security and what one can expect in most places.
How does casino security work?
It’s split up really similar to a police department. You’ll have your dispatchers, officers, and depending on the size of the property, at least one Sergeant and Lieutenant. Dispatch calls out incidents, chip fills (moving chips from the cage to a table), medical calls, etc. Generally, the officers will respond first and call for higher ups as needed.
How many people work a casino’s security in a shift (on average)?
I’ve worked with as few as 3 on a random Wednesday in August when I was at Primm, to as many as over 30 at Caesars Palace for NYE. It depends on the size of the casino and the expected guests. Strip casinos average 10-15 per shift, including dispatch and supervisors.
What courses/training does casino security need to have?
CPR/AED/First Aid is a given, Alcohol Management, and most of the major casinos also put you through a use-of-force, restraint, and handcuffing course.
What is the funniest moment you’ve encountered while working?
Primm hosts the Marine Ball every November. It’s usually exclusively Marines during that time, as they book the entire hotel and conference centre, and they’re spending the whole weekend pretty much in their dress blues laughing and drinking and generally carrying on. Security at that point is pretty much there for show, as they police themselves. One of the years, I think my second Marine Ball, it was pretty much business as usual. All of us were working overtime because the gov’t paid for it, so it was like 10PM rather than my usual midnight start time. The Marines had just gotten out of their thing for the night and had already had more than enough to drink. Out of nowhere, this fairly large brick wall of a (I think) Staff Sergeant decided he was going to get stupid and just be loud and belligerent and try to fight whoever was around. Well, we have our orders as security, we’re not to engage and we’re to go find the Gunny because, well, that’s why they’re there. It’s a small casino, but this place is packed and there’s only like three or four of us at this point, so it takes a minute to locate him at the bar. We’re all kind of in shock at first since he’s pretty small, actually shorter and smaller in build that I am, and the SSgt is making me look tiny.
He’s a little bevved up, but still able to do his duty since he’s had to take it slow. He walks up to the SSgt that’s been causing all the problems, doesn’t even raise his voice while the SSgt is yelling and being all kinds of profane, and just says, as calm as a summer breeze, “Sergeant, get your shit together now, or you’re cleaning toilets for a month.”
Almost immediately, this giant guy shrinks down and deflates, like someone stuck a pin in him. He mumbles “Yes Sergeant.” and slinks off to his room with the Gunny and two of us just following him.
We were all fairly intimidated since we were fairly out of shape security guards so we didn’t say anything then, but you better believe when we were sitting in the employee dining room waiting for shift change we were all busting up. That day guys got a kick out of the story, since a lot of them had been ex-military and some of them had gotten stupid just like the SSgt did.
What is the scariest thing that has happened to you while working?
Some genius in marketing decided it was a good idea to bring multiple competing bike gangs from SoCal to have a “trick show” in our parking lot, and basically just have a weekend of fun and debauchery. This was terrifying because this whole weekend there were fights and everyone was armed (the bikers, not security) and it was just all around tense and ended in a brawl at the dance the last night all because someone looked at someone else’s girl wrong.
What are the most common reasons people get picked up by casino security?
Most common are drunk, domestic violence, or solicitation.
Are there a lot of high-tech gadgets in security or does it depend more on people?
Yes. Cameras, facial recognition, digital radio bands. There is also a high degree of HUMINT as well. Guests letting us know something looks wrong, keeping your head on a swivel, working with Surveillance.
What is your average day like?
Bear in mind my experience is all with graveyard shifts. Generally, you’ll get to the security office, clock in, and the outgoing sup will brief you on what happened the previous shift and anything that’s relevant to the next shift. You’ll go out and relieve the previous shift so they can go home, and you’ll start walking the casino floor in either your designated area or the whole floor depending on the size of the casino. You’ll field random calls for chip fills, cashier escorts from stores to the cage, unruly patrons at bars, etc. After lunch, you’ll break into teams and do either the “slot drop” where you follow the count team around taking money out of the slots and replacing the cartridges with empty ones or you’ll do “table drop” where you take the full cash boxes from the tables to the cage. That’ll generally take an hour to three hours depending on the size of the casino. When I worked at Caesars, for example, there’d be two different table teams. One would focus north casino, one south, then we’d come together for poker room. I don’t know if it’s still the same since they’ve remodeled.
Is it a glamorous job?
I wouldn’t call it glamorous. It’s a necessary job, but kids aren’t thinking “I wanna grow up and be a security guard!”