Casino Security: How Casino Surveillance Operates Today

Casino security has become a vital part of operating procedures at a casino. Measures are taken to protect the customers, the staff, and indeed the property or money of the casino, and they have been improving rapidly over the past decade. Security within a casino focuses primarily on the protection of assets, the prevention of violent crime within the premises, and stifling any other inappropriate or illegal behavior. Throughout this article, we’ll take a closer look at how casinos are adapting to modern security concerns, discuss a few vulnerabilities that casinos have to take particular caution with, and explore some of the past cheating and rule-breaking scandals at casinos in the past.
A security camera and other security technology, next to a roulette wheel and slot machine.
Published on: 11 July 2020

Given the huge reserves of liquid cash held by a casino, there are a series of unique threat vectors that all top-quality security teams will be aware of. The massive amount of cash being handled by a casino in their day-to-day operations poses a serious vulnerability for theft to occur. Much of the casino security teams’ focus will be dedicated to mitigating the risk of having their own cash stolen by patrons, guests, or employees. These crimes are the most common to be committed at a casino floor, and well-experienced casino security will seldom miss attempts made to steal cash from the casino vaults. There are many methods taken by security teams to prevent these crimes, with the most basic level of security being mass surveillance across the whole venue with trained individuals watching intensely to spot any sign of suspicious or criminal activity.

Casinos of the past relied primarily on intimidation and muscle to serve as the deterrent to committing crimes against them, but today’s casino security systems are far more sophisticated, packed full of expensive technology, and run similar to a police department. The typical structure involves the split responsibilities of the physical security team that will patrol the floor of the venue, and the backroom team monitoring the closed-circuit television system – colloquially referred to as the ‘eye in the sky’. This system has proven very effective at protecting the casino assets and ensuring the safety of both guests and employees. Before the days of video surveillance, casino security teams relied on one-way glass and catwalks that ran over the top of the casino floor.

Local law enforcement and casino security are heavily intertwined at the top-end of casino gambling around the world. Most policies are created in line with local laws and ordinances that the prosecutors in the region would be willing to litigate on. In addition to the technology and cameras used in securing a casino, the principles-based approach of enforcing rules of conduct e.g. players at card games keeping their hand visible at all times has proven to be an effective measure in the prevention of foul play.

Purpose of Security and Casino Surveillance

Protection of casino assets and other valuables within a casino, as well as maintaining a safe environment for everybody inside the venue are the broad purposes of casino surveillance and security. There is also a section of the security teams that will be on the lookout for cheating gamblers, there are many creative methods employed by cheaters at casinos to defraud the casino. From card counters to hustlers pulling cards out of their sleeves, the casino security cameras spend a great deal of time monitoring and catching those engaging in such illegal activities.

A security guard looking at eye in the sky footage at a casino.

Another major responsibility of the casino security teams is to control who can and can’t enter the premises. This task is not as easy as it sounds, due in part to enforcing age restrictions on guests and spotting individuals that have been blacklisted. Maintaining an up-to-date list of individuals who may have self-excluded from gambling is also a top priority of the security teams at a casino, and making sure that nobody is inside the casino that shouldn’t be there, whether that be due to being underage, blacklisted or self-excluded.

Casino Security by Game

Although casinos operate with a central security force, there are elements that are focused solely on the activities surrounding one particular type of game at the casino. These game-specific security agents will undoubtedly be experts in the game they are monitoring, and be on the lookout for unusual betting behavior and spotting any potential vulnerabilities in the setup being offered by the casino.

Security in Casino Roulette

In roulette, there are a number of specific rules that are enforced by security teams. Touching chips and generally hovering around the table are watched intensely by the dealer, security guards on the floor, and the eye in the sky. To avoid confusion over which chips belong to who, players who make winning bets on outside chances are not to collect their winnings until all other winnings in the box have been paid.

A roulette wheel with a padlock symbol in the place of the zero.

When the dealer makes the signal for no more bets, it is strictly prohibited to interfere with the chips on the table. Electronic equipment is usually prohibited at the table, and the only items you can expect to be allowed in front of you when playing roulette is chips, cash, cigarettes, and drinks.

Security in Casino Craps

The game with perhaps the most scrutiny paid to it by casino security staff is craps. In this game, a typical set up will require all the tables to be tightly packed in together in a pit area, and the pit boss i.e. the individual in charge of security will have excellent access and visibility towards the activities at every table in the pit. There is generally at least one floorman actively watching punters at each table, and monitor closely the actions taken when rolling the dice, placing chips on the table, or making bets. In some cases, casinos have asked players who are making large wins to leave the table, but this practice has been deemed illegal Las Vegas casino security, and New Jersey as long as the player is law-abiding.

Security in Poker

One of the most popular card games played at a casino is Texas Hold ‘em Poker, and you can be absolutely sure that the casino security pays great attention to the ongoing activity surrounding these tables. Not only are the cards closely watched, but also the movement of chips on the table. There are many policies in-play for punters engaging in casino poker, and if you’re new to the game it is worth briefly reading through a few guidelines before sitting down at the table and playing with real money. Etiquette is also just as important in these games, and you’re expected to maintain levels of respect against your opponents and the staff of the casino.

Casino Security Systems Designed to Stop Cheating

Cheating can be drastically reduced in casinos when structure and ‘proper procedure’ are correctly implemented. There are many practical and standardized ways that casino security systems mitigate these vulnerabilities, most common methods include shuffling cards, dealing correctly, and storing and receiving new decks of cards in the correct way. Facial recognition software is used to identify known cheats, card counters or ‘advantage players’, so when they step foot on the casino floor the security teams will be alerted. Casinos have developed many high-tech solutions to identify irregular gameplay, strange betting patterns, and players who are winning a lot. Video archives are often kept for very long periods as reference points to look back and identify patterns of cheating that may have gone on in the past.

Eye in the Sky Camera System

As we have already mentioned a couple of times, the majority of security at a casino revolves around a sophisticated network of cameras that feed into an ops room where machine learning algorithms and human security agents can analyze in meticulous detail every single action being taken across the casino. Coupled with teams of dedicated professional guards patrolling the casino floors, well-trained dealers, and good-hearted customers; trying to rob, cheat or commit a crime to a casino in today’s gambling ecosystem is certainly not recommended if you want to maintain your basic human liberties.

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