‘Behind The Flickering Screens’
by Bill Bonar

‘Behind The Flickering Screens’

Since we last spoke I have been busy plying my wares, fighting crime and corruption at every corner and trying to get my head around how to survey the second largest building in the world, some 1200 gaming tables in what is still the most interesting gaming environment there is. Twelve months in the Casino business is not a particularly long time, myself some twenty-four years later it all seems to have passed in a blur or is that a haze! The past six years have just been a complete mystery to me; I am not sure where the time has gone, although when I look in the mirror I can certainly see a few extra years on my not so young face.

In my previous ramblings, last year, I left you with some passing thoughts that I would like to begin with to refresh your memories (and mine).

“Don’t forget the basics, use your head not your heart, put the calculator back in the top drawer and don’t take your eye off the game. If someone fires a question at you, answer – ‘True 2’ – “be true too yourself”.

Oh yes, ‘Why is it always dark in Surveillance rooms?’ a question for you younger members of the “Casino Surveillance Fraternity”, as this old troglodyte drags his knuckles back to the cave.

Not to be considered a philosopher or to even think of myself as one I do believe that there is much in these few short sentences that we (our industry) takes for granted.
There are many basics that seem to have passed by or been forgotten by society in general not just our industry.
The three R’s for one – ‘R’eading ‘R’ighting ’R’ithmetic, OK, who ever coined this phrase struggled with spelling, but we get the point – “Basics”.

Simple manners, Common sense and, oh yes Honesty! Wow; stop me; I seem to have strayed from the path, or have I? Is the Casino Entertainment business so different that the simple basics don’t apply or in the case of my field within Casino Surveillance? The answer is of course, no! Basics are the foundation from which we grow! Grow our children, our profession and ourselves.

Last time I spoke I raised more questions than I answered (had to leave room for a sequel); herein I will endeavor to put my ‘spin’, my view, on how I see the world of Casinos from behind; ‘The flickering screens’.

To help emphasis my point, let me tell you a story...

...It was 3am; Brad slouched in his chair trying to fight off fatigue, rubbing his eyes as the slight flicker of the screen in front of him displayed a busy baccarat table. Brad was six hours into his fifth straight night shift; he sipped his coffee hoping the caffeine would carry him through; just to be on the safe side he had previously taken a ‘no-doze’ tablet, Joe the Surveillance Supervisor always had supplies that he would give to staff, (‘For a small fee of course’; just to cover his costs, he would say.)…

Part I

Brad, casually glancing back at his screen, froze and then sat upright; something caught his eye, an unusual movement.

Brad had been assigned to watch this game of Baccarat (Midi-Bacc#54) by his Supervisor; it was a new group of players brought in from Hong Kong; High Rollers who were ‘squeezing’ the cards. Normally this increases the risk as the players are touching the cards, however, Brad felt more at ease, the Casino he worked for had technological security measures in place that prevented cheating. His Supervisor, that new kid from Australia (new breed; you know the one with degrees) told him technological game protection was revolutionizing Surveillance; secretly Brad wondered how long it would be before he was out of a job; 17 years of loyalty would count for nothing as the “bean counters” abacus’s started to rattle!

[Brad was the ‘Old guy’ of the room, been in the business for 17 years, loved the job; been promoted and demoted a couple of times, didn’t care too much. “I just love the thrill of the Hunt” he always used to say to all the new ‘kids’ that joined the department. Back in ‘his day’ “we didn’t have all this fancy stuff”; ‘Bells & Whistles’ the consultants call it; object tracking, people tracking, facial recognition, IP’s, LAN’s, WAN's, Tera Bytes, flat screens, data bases, interfaces; a whole new world, a different language, that he didn’t just quite understand at times. He did like the new DVR’s though, so much easier than all those video tapes, however, he did miss reading the newspaper while waiting for the tapes to rewind!]

Brad looked back at his screen again, the players were clustered around the table, they were sitting awfully close together and only a couple of people were betting. He frowned a little, zoomed his camera in on the dealing shoe the right light was flashing as the dealer pressed end of game, everything must be ok – the shoe gave him the ‘Green Light’!

Brad sat a little straighter in his chair now, he had a feeling; the hair on the back of his neck bristled slightly; (the last time he had that feeling was in 2003 when he saw a female dealer who was chipping up on Roulette, continually fixing and adjusting the bow at the back of her hair; 45 minutes later they arrested her with $3,000 in chips down the back of her shirt). Brad thought for a moment…

Interested, Brad decided to bring up another Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) camera onto the secondary monitor to his left, the primary table shot was right in front of him. Brad watched as the players crowded the table, the ‘big player’ sat at box 1, betting to the max on Bank, while the player ‘squeezing’ the cards sat a box 7, betting the table minimum on Player.

Next to this player was a pretty girl, Brad thought she was probably quite young, along for the trip and enjoying the fun watching her friends gambling. On closer inspection Brad noted she appeared quite tense with her arm tightly entwined with the guy on box 7, while a third associate stood closely behind them, a little rigid in his stance for Brad’s liking.

Brad felt uneasy. Calling Joe, the Supervisor over to his console, Brad began to explain what he saw,
Stating “something just didn’t feel right, but he couldn’t just put his finger on it”.

“Show me the shoe”, Joe replied.
Brad pressed a button and instantaneously the image on his primary monitor started to replay (he loved this part). Together they reviewed the footage of the previous coups (hands). Brad pointed out the players ‘body language’ and the fact the ‘big player’ wasn’t squeezing the cards; Joe watched the shoe.

“See!” exclaimed Joe, “look there”,
Tapping his pen on the screen (a pet hate of Brad’s – he would clean that up later),
“See the shoe”;
Every time Player wins - Player light, Banker wins – Banker light.
“Zoom in on his Baccarat score card for me!” Joe commanded. “Look; look at that”,
“He is following the ‘Trend’”.
Joe smiled confidently, that was why he was the Supervisor not this troglodyte operator, Brad. Inwardly Brad thought to him self
“I hate that word ‘trend’; there is no trend until after the fact”.
“You are tired Brad”, quipped Joe,

“Why don’t you take a break while I complete my paperwork,
it’s nearly time to go so lets tidy up”.
Joe walked away, already thinking about the game of golf he has planned for straight after work. He doesn’t have time to waste, as Tee off is just 20 minutes after end of shift. Joe has lined up a game with some Surveillance Managers from other properties, working hard at lifting his profile; no way was he missing this game!

Shrugging off Joe’s comment, Brad knew Joe was in a hurry to get out of here; Brad called up another PTZ camera on monitor 3, this time he watched the player with the cards; overview, back shot and close in on the cards/hands – he waited!

Checking the computer beside him, Brad noted the table was losing; these guys were having a good run of luck; (must be that trend)! Zooming in on the player’s hands, Brad watched carefully as the player squeezed the cards (slowly opened, a trait among Asian players). Th Download file - Behind_the_flickering_screens_WFB[1].doc (286k)

Date Posted: 08-Feb-2009

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