It’s a sad sign of the times that there is a need for something called the Gaming and Hospitality Active Threat and Crisis Management Symposium, which took place at Park MGM, Las Vegas, last week.
Sadder still, that the event was packed with representatives of hundreds of casinos from across the US, all seeking to protect their guests from those that would inflict mass murder.
But the events of October 1, 2017, when a lone gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay onto a country music concert below, have forced casino operators to rethink security.
Paddock murdered 58 people and injured hundreds more in the worst mass shooting in modern American history, after gradually transporting an arsenal of high-powered weaponry into his room inside his luggage, completely undetected.
The question operators must face is how to reconcile Las Vegas’ famously welcoming open-door policy with the need to screen its patrons, and to find the right balance between safety and a lack of intrusiveness.
Patriot One Solution
CDC Gaming Reports, which attended the event, described the Patriot One Technologies booth as particularly busy.
Patriot One was pushing a “first-of-its-kind Cognitive Microwave Radar concealed weapons detection system,” which aims to negate active shooter threats before they happen.
From the Patriot One website: “The technology, which is intended to be placed in key access points, utilizes radio wave emissions to safely target, identify and notify of concealed threat potential through software recognition of specific wavelength patterns.
“Early warning is the key to effective deployment of timely countermeasures, and Patriot One is commercializing its PATSCAN™ CMR technology as an automated alert system capable of covertly screening moving individuals for on-body concealed weapons (handguns, knives, grenades, explosive vests, etc.).”
For operators, emerging technology like Patriot One’s, if effective, will be preferable to the conspicuous metal detectors, which, in busy properties, could make the experience of entering a casino like going through airport security, with all the delay that entails.
The implication, too, is that Patriot One would have stopped Paddock.
Safety at a Price
According to CDC Gaming Reports, The Westgate Las Vegas has been testing Patriot One’s tech since before the Las Vegas shooting. The system would cost around $250,000 to for a major Strip resort to install and between $25,000 to $50,000 for smaller properties.
But it’s not the price of the tech alone – the bigger cost will be the payrolls of properly trained security staff, who can be deployed in sufficient number to analyze the systems and respond appropriately. Properties with multiple entrances could be facing be looking at a few million per year in salaries a year.
Meanwhile, from the sight of vendors at MGM Park hawking everything from the very latest in facial recognition technology, to radio wave detectors, to systems that neutralize individuals with a spray emitted from the ceiling, it’s clear technology is emerging to deal with the emerging threat.
For casinos, it’s about finding and investing in the “right” technology, and in manpower too.