What is Casino Surveillance?
by William Bonar

The ‘Eye in the Sky’.

U tilize latest technology

R ecord & report.

V erify
or disprove allegations.

E nsure
Policy & Procedures.

I dentify acts of deception
& cheating.

L iaise with
Government bodies.

L aws & regulations.
We ensure all.

A sset Protection,
Casino & Customers alike.

N otify relevant parties

C landestine Surveillance.

E ndevour
to assist where possible.

Sitting at my desk I pondered how I could refine my operation to ensure that we not only achieved more quality observations but also continue to drive results that really showed our worth (value), as a department to the senior management – many Surveillance department heads simply document how much money their department saves the company through dealer errors and disputes - sounds simple; but is that really it?

It was about this time that I started to question and really think about what our role is; what is Casino Surveillance? If I didn’t know that answer after many years in the business how could I expect my younger employees and team to know; “if we don’t know what it is we do – how can we do our job?” or is that “if we don’t really know what we think we know, how can we know what we don’t know!”

Well this was just a little too deep for me; surely Casino Surveillance was just as my old Director once told me back in the eighties – “Surveillance, we observe and report, that’s it”. “Our job is not to make decisions; we just enforce the rules - simple”. Is that it? Well, for many of my early years I believed this to be the case, however, in recent years I have firmly believed that the role of Casino Surveillance is much more than that of a ‘Traffic Cop’ who hands out tickets when someone breaks a rule, Casino Surveillance Departments can or should play integral roles in the daily operations and long term strategic planning of any casino organization.

It was at this point as I tried to grapple with defining our role and subsequently how to communicate the role of Casino Surveillance that our young training manager walked past my door, I called her in and asked the question, “What is Casino Surveillance”, to which I received the obvious answer, ‘observer & report, protect the company assets’. “No, no” I said; go away and really think about it, think about not only what we do, but what can we do, what it means to be ‘us’ and what that means to the company!

After about an hour, sitting at my desk fighting countless emails instead of ‘crime & corruption’ I received an email from the training manager, this is what she sent me:
“Casino Surveillance is an underlying staple used in conjunction with supplementary departments. A necessary tool used to assist in the protection of; the Company’s Assets, Product and Employees. Encompassing every aspect of; Monitoring, Observing, Reviewing and Reporting of all; Cash handling and Illegal activity within Gaming and Non-Gaming areas internally and externally amongst Casino operations, which are inclusive of but not limited to; Scam awareness and Advantage Play or other means that may potentially exploit the integrity of Rules and Procedures enforced by the Casino”.

Thinking about this statement, it was all too clear that she was saying, “observe & report, protect the company assets”. Same, same. So, where does this leave us?
Casino Surveillance is not a process or a product of a by-gone era but an intrinsic part of a Casino’s daily operation and long term planning. Surveillance departments and their management need to understand that they can drive revenue through their role, more so than by just recording disputes and errors; but by also working with other operational areas. Thus, providing not only Surveillance’s unique overview perspective of the operation as a whole, but by their ability to see how each other operational area interlocks and affects the other.
How a slot promotion affects table games or a marketing promotion affects Hotel and F&B or even how that in-turn affects the Security and/or Surveillance operation. How one bad customer experience flows onto other aspects of the business.

No department operates in isolation and no incident is contained in isolation; the ‘ripple effect’ is felt by all - and no one single department in a Casino operation is better placed to know this and communicate this than the Surveillance Department.

Casino Surveillance is; misunderstood through poor self-marketing therefore generally under valued and/or under utilized as a vital management resource.

Casino Surveillance is the ‘lynch-pin’ of a Casino Operation; if strong it holds everything together, weak it all falls apart… “a central cohesive source of support and stability”

Date Posted: 09-Apr-2010

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