The nightclub is packed and the music is loud and pulsating.  

Bartenders are making drinks and slinging beers as fast as they can. One bartender grabs a wad of cash from a customer, takes it over to his register, enters the transaction, looks around to see if anyone is watching, voids the sale and places the cash into his toke bucket.

The bartender’s been stealing for several weeks and doesn’t expect to get caught. He knows surveillance rarely watches the club, and even if they did, they would never figure out what he’s doing. He smiles thinking about how much money he’ll have at the end of his shift. He’s still smiling when security grabs him and marches him away.  

Unfortunately for him, surveillance did watch the club and did figure out what he was doing.

In surveillance, we often talk about training our agents to protect the property. Knowing how a scam operates is very important for its detection. This means that a lot of our focus is preparing our staff to know what to look for. I think it is important that we continue to do this, but I think it’s even more important that we place ourselves in a position to detect the scam quickly.

Let me explain what I mean. Nowadays, there is a lot of criminal activity occurring in casinos. There is, of course, the traditional cheating at gaming. In addition, we now must be concerned with losses that can occur (and do) in any of a property’s departments or venues. If that is so, then the way we must operate is to find ways to put our surveillance personnel in a position to detect them. If you think about it, almost every scam that’s caught is usually reported by a guest or employee, or is caught by accident. Unfortunately, most scams are caught too late to prevent the loss of thousands of dollars. We just get there too late.

We need to do more besides knowing how a scam works. There are so many new scams or variations of old ones that we can never know all of them. Surveillance must operate in such a fashion that we are able to place ourselves where it is likely we’ll detect the activity, regardless of how well the scam is hidden.

That’s not as hard as it sounds. What I’m saying is that instead of randomly moving surveillance cameras in the hopes that we’ll see something suspicious, we use tripwires and data analysis to drive the surveillance team to where they need to be, and allow them to focus their considerable ability and resources on a particular issue or concern.

Here’s an example. In table games and slots, we will have players win. Most of them are not going to win very much, and what they do win will be legitimate. They are not of concern. The winners who win a lot, who are unknown to the property, or who play suspiciously, we must look at to ensure that their win is legitimate. Surveillance must get to those players and stop them, if necessary, before they beat us for too much money. This is an operational issue that can be resolved quickly. I just make it standard operating procedure that surveillance must be notified (via a tripwire) when a player wins a certain amount and require that surveillance perform a thorough review and evaluation to ensure that the play is normal. We evaluate the player at a lower amount to detect suspicious activity in order to prevent it from becoming a larger amount.

Of course, there are other scams we must also detect in all of the other departments. We must keep in mind that nowadays surveillance is rarely going to see someone steal money or property and run out the door. Most of the crime is perpetrated by employees using the very technology we furnish them with to perform their duties. Whether an employee works in the players club or as a bartender, they’re using a computer. It is our technology that they use to beat us, and it is that technology we’ll use to catch them. 

 In today’s gaming world, with the myriad scams and internal frauds that continuously occur, surveillance must use their operational procedures to isolate, identify and focus on those issues requiring their attention. Focusing on getting into a position to detect those issues allows surveillance to operate proactively and detect losses quickly wherever they occur.