'Let's Catch Some Bad Guys'
by Vic Taucer
‘Let’s Catch Some Bad Guys’
Sadly, overreaction is the norm when it comes to most table game security and surveillance departments today
Vic Taucer is president of Casino Creations, a Las Vegas-based educational, training and consulting company, which specializes in table game evaluations, customer service training, dealer training and managerial training for table games operations. A former professor of casino management for the University & Community College System of Nevada and a long-time casino manager at many resorts, Taucer can be reached at (702) 595-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As I work with over 200-plus casinos worldwide, primarily with table games and surveillance departments, I am privy to a lot of information, including the attitudes and thought processes regarding our industry and certain topics. The topic of game protection—and the general attitude of what we do with regard to table games and surveillance—is reaching a critical phase that must be addressed.
In surveillance especially, some are convinced that our job is somewhat like a law enforcement officer.
Why is this so? Maybe it’s because of some of the terms we use in describing what we do. I, for one, have had it with surveillance departments referring to what they do as “catching the bad guys,” or referring to performing “counter-measures” to deal with these bad guys. Some think the job of surveillance and table games professionals is like being part of a SWAT team.
Case in point
I read an article on a gaming news Web site from the Detroit Free Press in October. The title of the article was, “Incident at casino could cost it plenty,” and it told a horror story of a gambler who sued after being called a cheat.
A player, Joseph Ogundu, after making what he called blunders at the craps table, was arrested by uniformed officers at the Greektown Casino and accused of cheating. The officers had the 46-year-old West Bloomfield resident charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor.
The article stated that the incident happened in the wee hours of Aug. 5, 2006, after Ogundu bought $100 in chips and stopped at a craps table. His lawyer said Ogundu was a novice at the dice game. Before long, Ogundu placed an improper bet, prompting the dealer to tell him to remove the bet from the table. About 15 to 25 minutes later, he made another improper bet. The dealer, who was getting ready to pay Ogundu $10 for winning, caught the error and paused to explain the rules to him, the article said.
A short time later a Michigan State police officer and uniformed Detroit cop arrested Ogundu and charged him with a state gambling violation that carried up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted, as well as a misdemeanor—trying to obtain money under false pretenses—which calls for up to a year in jail and a $500 fine upon conviction.
Before trial, Ogundu was offered two different plea deals, which he rejected. At the trial a jury acquitted him after viewing video from the casino table.
Ogundu, 11 months later, filed suit against the casino, as well as the state police officer and city cop. He’s accusing them of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He’s now seeking $25,000 in damages.
The bottom line here is that this player didn’t know how to play correctly. What is his crime? Not understanding how to play craps? Ever try to learn how to play craps in a casino? It isn’t easy. No written rules on the layout, the game is not self-explanatory and the dealers, especially in areas where they think they are factory workers, will basically explain what you cannot do in lieu of what you can do.
This was not a police issue. Law enforcement should not have been called in here. But sadly in a lot of venues law enforcement is being brought in to resolve silly, naïve-type scenarios, turning minor situations into major snafus.
A need to change thinking
What is making this matter worse is that in some venues our overzealousness is carried over into actions handled by actual police officers.
Here’s the nightmare scenario: an over-reactionary surveillance or table games person, encumbered with fear-based training that is prevalent in our industry, tells a law enforcement person that these are “the bad guys.” In relaying this information, the surveillance or table games person will fill the law enforcement officer’s head with talk of the “moves” that this perp used. He will inform law enforcement of the “counter measures” that are used to prevent this.
Let’s cut the crap here. This attitude has become too prevalent and must be curtailed. Our job in table games is to operate a profit-derived gaming department; dealing with game protection is part of that effort. In table games, two issues have to be put in place to ensure game protection, procedural compliance and accountability. It’s that simple.
In surveillance though, some of this thought process is because of the way that department is portrayed on television. Showing elaborate scams, television producers want to make this exciting, using terms like “catching the bad guys” and “counter measures.” It is not the way it is in real life.
This problem stems both from a perceived thought process. It is also the result of the training that some receive in this vein. Sadly though, many training programs and especially some of the so-called game protection experts in the training business are using a method that is detrimental to this much-needed training method.
These trainers are selling fear as a training mode for surveillance operators instead of addressing real world casino issues.
Lets get out of this thought process before it is too late.