While perusing the Internet the other day, I came across an interesting article on Daily Mail website regarding movie star Ben Affleck and his reported card counting shenanigans.

According to the story, Affleck has been banned from playing blackjack at Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas after the pit crew noticed he was moving his money with the count during a session at one of the casino’s high-roller blackjack tables. Though not illegal, such a maneuver is highly frowned upon and considered just grounds for being banned from the game; and Affleck had allegedly been warned by the Hard Rock and other casinos in the past about the behavior.

Despite the alleged trespass, Ben Affleck is still a star, and to show there were no hard feelings, the Hard Rock supposedly told him he was still clear to play other games at the casino and even ended up getting he and his wife car service back to their hotel. I guess he should be happy that the casino industry as depicted in movies such as, well, Casino, no longer exists, or else he may have been given a different type of parting experience from casino staff.

Joking aside, table game security remains a big issue for casino operators, and is likely to become more so going forward, especially as the games grow in popularity among the young. If this trend continues, casino operators are likely to add more table games at the expense of slots, and it’s common knowledge that table games are much more vulnerable to cheating and fraud than gaming machines.

This point was brought home at the recently held Southern Gaming Summit during a session on the latest casino scams, cheats and frauds, all of which originated from people looking to take advantage of table game play. The bad news is that advances in technology are providing criminals with more opportunities to cheat the system. For example, some gaming properties in the south fell victim to frauds cashing in counterfeit chips at casino cages. It was discovered the perpetrators were getting fake, lookalike chips produced overseas through a legitimate free trade website. Fortunately, once alerted, cage personal were able to easily spot the fakes.

Of course, not all table game crimes are as easy to detect. One casino was cheated out of thousands of dollars when some enterprising criminals noticed a flawed table game layout was allowing certain players to see some dealers hold cards as they pulled them from the card shoe. Another property was victimized by a poker game cheater who was using infrared ink to mark cards and special infrared contact lenses to read the marks. More experienced card criminals notice flaws in the way some decks of cards are printed, and are able to use these “sorts” to improve their odds and influence the outcome of games.

In these cases, abnormal betting patterns made the scams noticeable to pit personnel. But it was technology, in the form of camera surveillance, that ultimately helped identify the problems, nab the crooks and set up procedures to make sure the crimes did not happen again. Indeed, surveillance equipment has improved greatly over the past couple of decades, as advances in consumer monitor, camera and recording technology have infiltrated security systems, allowing operators to view incidents in greater detail than ever before.

So in the ongoing cat and mouse game between security surveillance departments and table game cheats, new technology can both take away and give. It’s worth remembering when it comes to determining which departments within the casino enterprise deserve funding star treatment.