If you head into any casino in the world, you know there will be plenty of eyes watching you. Nowhere is this more true than in Las Vegas, where cameras – known as “eye-in-the-sky” – appear to be everywhere in black demi-globes above the casino floor. In an instant, security experts can pull up an angle and zero in so close that they can see the smallest detail that lets them know if someone is cheating at roulette, counting cards at the blackjack table, or trying to steal chips from another player.
And while that level of blanket security can sometimes be a little creepy, it’s also comforting to gamblers: it ensures that they are in a place where, should they be the victim of a crime, it’s unlikely the perpetrator will get away with it.
No Surveillance in Many Las Vegas Hotel Hallways
Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said about the busy hotels found in the same buildings as those closely-guarded casinos. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, 23 of the 27 major casinos on the Las Vegas Strip had no surveillance at all in the hotel hallways and elevator landings in their hotels, a conclusion they reached by interviewing casino officials and visiting the hotels for themselves.
The only casinos that they found with cameras in these hallways were Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, the MGM Grand and the Tropicana.
“People have a false sense of safety when they go to a casino (hotel),” said Fred Del Marva, a security consultant. “You think, ‘I’m going to Bellagio, they have 2,000 surveillance cameras, so I’m going to be safe.’ And you’re wrong. The level of security at the hotel level is zero.”
Room Burglaries Are #1 Crime
The biggest issue caused by the lack of cameras is hotel room burglaries, which account for the largest number of casino crimes. According to one story in the AP report, at least some criminals know where the cameras are and where they aren’t, and strike accordingly – leaving police with few ways to help tourists and other visitors who are victimized.
“The detective told us that the guy had a keycard made, and he was going from hotel to hotel,” said tourist Allyson Rainey, who had her computer stolen from her room last year at Harrah’s. “He had been doing this for the last eight years, so he obviously knew they didn’t have cameras there.”
While some casino executives say they are putting in more cameras to help deal with the issue, they also say that vigilance – both by hotel employees and guests – is important in stopping some of these crimes as well. One popular scheme is known as a “door-push” crime, in which a burglar will simply push on doors until finding one that swings open because it wasn’t properly closed.
More serious crimes are also more difficult to prosecute because of the lack of cameras. Rapes and sexual assaults aren’t unheard of, and could be prevented – or at least better prosecuted – if cameras helped track who was coming and going on each floor. Housekeepers and maids have also had plenty of scares, including both physical and sexual assaults, and these incidents are only occasionally reported.
The biggest reason why casinos haven’t added these cameras is cost, as it can cost millions to install such systems and $100,000 or more each year to monitor and maintain them, not to mention the additional personnel required to man, maintain and operate them.
But there’s also the somewhat delicate issue of who is staying where and with whom, if you get our drift, and many guests don’t like those moments immortalized on digital surveillance that could come back to haunt them in an alimony suit some day .