Happy New Year 2012

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Casino Surveillance News

January 2012

CSN wishes you all a Happy New Year season  and a prosperous and productive 2012. Welcome back to Casino Surveillance News, the longest-running trade letter for our little niche in the casino world (even if I do miss an issue for business or personal reasons). This entire newsletter can be viewed at http://casinosurveillancenews.com/ The news-only portion can be seen at http://casinosurveillancenews.com/newsletter-2

CSN News:

The Keynote article follows the news in the new layout for the newsletter. This month's article was inspired by a question from an Asian correspondent, even though the article itself does not address the question he asked.

Casino Surveillance Operations Manual 2011 Edition is now available on CD. Check it out Here

It's News Time:

(Email me if any of the links don't work for you and I will send the text.) BUSTS AND SCAMS: On December 9, Louisiana state troopers assigned to the Gaming Enforcement Section arrested two people for their roles in internal theft during drawings held at L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles.  See the story A Munster, Illinois, man was charged with felony theft in a scheme to defraud Ameristar Casino in East Chicago where he was a pit manager. See the story Two men face embezzlement and fraud charges in a case where one person, and a casino host, allegedly conspired to use funds embezzled from the employer for gambling at MGM Grand Detroit. See the story A pair of Houston co-workers settled a lawsuit over the rights to a $12.7 million Megabucks jackpot won at the Aria nearly a year ago. See the story When the Revel megacasino opens in May in Atlantic City, applicants are being told, they will have jobs only for as few as four years at a time, after which they will have to re-apply. See the story [Ed. Note: this is only one of the ways in which casino and other employers are avoiding the costs of keeping employees for the long term. Marketed as a method of keeping its employees young and fresh, it is a means of getting rid of unsatisfactory employees with little liability, reducing annual wage increases customarily a part of the long-term employment process, and reducing payrolls in general. It is a bean-counter's solution to rising payroll costs and the need to really train and discipline employees. It has been many years since a person in the casino industry (or many others) could count on long-term employment, and this is another nail in the coffin of long term employment with benefits. I believe this casino, and many others with similar practices, will soon be running afoul of the Fed for unfair employment practices. This type of "solution" also encourages unionization, which I have personally never favored, but I can see the advantages in it for casino employees.] One of the 11 individuals indicted on April 15 during the federal government's crackdown on Internet poker pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and engaging in unlawful Internet gambling. See the story This one is really not casino news, but I could not resist throwing it in, having had something very similar happen to me a couple years back. A FEDEX delivery was made by throwing a large and fragile object over the fence, without even bothering to ring the doorbell first. [In my case, a box of computer components was thrown over the fence into my backyard, where they were shredded by my dogs.] See the story See the video [when you watch this one, there are several links to similar "deliveries"  available.] Another lawsuit was filed in Austria by a Swiss national who feels he was defrauded by the casino when he hit a jackpot showing 57 million euros. He feels the casino should honor the win, and that he was insulted by the offer of a free meal and 100 bucks. See the story [Not having the facts in the case, I don't know who is the scammer here.] A New York man was arrested on an outstanding warrant in connection with an alleged team card marking scheme last year at Dover Downs and Delaware Park casinos. See the story

ONLINE POKER NEWS:

Nevada Gaming Commission made online gaming history when the board unanimously approved the nation’s first regulations for online poker. See the story A Department of Justice legal opinion released in late December declares that Internet gaming transactions are legal between states where gambling is legal. See the story Professor  I. Nelson Rose has published an article examining this decision and putting it in legal perspective for all online gaming. See the story A summary of popular issues in regard to online Poker and other online gaming: see the story

OTHER CASINO NEWS:

A Colorado man who found $10,000 before boarding a flight in Las Vegas says he returned the money to the owner because he wanted to show his children it was "the right thing to do." See the story

Keynote Article:

Protecting Casino Guests

Part II

By Jim Goding

Each casino, as well as every hotel and restaurant and any other commercial enterprise, has the responsibility of maintaining a safe environment for its guests. This is especially true in the case of casinos, amusement parks, hotels and other recreational facilities. First off, it is recognized as a good business practice. If your players and other guests feel secure and safe, they are more likely to let their hair down, relax, have a good time, and spend more money. If they feel safe in the environment, they will return. Second, and in fact even more importantly, most jurisdictions require that an "innkeeper" provide a safe environment to the degree that would be considered reasonable and prudent. The key question is, what would a reasonable and prudent person do to prevent situations where a guest could become the victim of a scam? If the host invites people to his establishment he is to some degree responsible for the security of his guests and their property while they are there. The back side of this, of course, is that if a host (casino, hotel, restaurant, bar, etc.) takes no measures to safeguard the security of his guests, he is responsible if they are injured or robbed, to the degree that prudent and reasonable measures have been neglected. If the host is negligent in normal security, allowing thieves to run rampant, making no attempts to handle situations where guests have been victimized, laying the responsibility for robberies and thefts on the guests themselves, he is liable to some degree for the situations that inevitably will occur. Desirable guests will not return, the thieves and scammers keep on coming, and sooner or later the environment degrades to the point where the only clientele are people there to see what they can steal or how they can cheat. And in a case like that, often the only employees who will remain are those with the same attitude. This may sound extreme, but I have worked in two casinos, for a brief time, where this had been allowed to happen. This is a matter of casino policy and compliance with local laws. In some areas, the "loser" is the victim, especially in cases where his or her own carelessness left an opening for a thief or scammer. In other areas, even picking up abandoned credits off a slot machine or found money on the floor is grounds for arrest. In one jurisdiction, the finder of lost or abandoned property must make a reasonable effort to return it to the owner, without soliciting reward, and keeping found property without making that effort is a crime. What is required is a policy, made in alignment with local law, that allows Security, Surveillance and operational areas to take action―or refrain from doing so―according to the circumstances involved. It may be necessary for such policy to be approved by local Gaming Control authorities. In any case, such policy should be approved by the company legal counsel. Let's look at a couple of examples. Probably the most common theft occurring in casinos is a player carelessly leaving credits on a machine, or cashing out a slot machine and leaving the voucher in place. The player goes off to the bathroom or to the food court, along comes the thief (under whatever name―credit puncher, slots thief, silver miner, or less printable and far more politically incorrect names), who cashes out the credits, visits the closest kiosk and turns the voucher into cash, and departs the area or the casino. A common variation on this is for a player to leave property behind―purses, wallets, clothing, etc. The thief doesn't usually care. He (or she) will take the purse or wallet, retrieve the cash, and drop the wallet in the closest bathroom or trash can, or in extreme cases take the credit cards too. Unfortunately, players often seem to trust others in the casino; they rely on local customs, such as leaning a chair against the table or machine, to guard their money or property. Often they will even ask complete unknowns to "watch their machine" for them while they go to the bathroom or visit with a friend at another machine. Or they rely upon the dealer to keep the other players from filching chips from the bankroll they left behind on the table. All of these things leave your players open to theft. So, the player leaves his chips on the table, the dealer goes on break, and the new dealer doesn't know who they belong to. Or the slot player who has been asked to "watch this machine" runs out of credits or wants to move to another machine, and leaves it―or cashes it out himself and moves on. All of these examples fall under "abandoned property." The casino needs a policy that says how much responsibility it is prepared to take for the money left behind by the player. The next level is a player who puts a voucher in a machine and receives a partial cash-out, because the denomination of the machine will not accept the credits. We call this "residual credits." The player has been playing a nickel machine, and has a voucher for $72.85. He stops at a dollar machine, puts in his voucher, and the machine won't accept the 85 cents, so it prints out a new voucher for that amount. The machine still has 72 one-dollar credits on it. The player, being a player, thinks the machine has cashed him out, doesn't look at the amount, and takes his 85-cent voucher to a kiosk, leaving $72 on the machine. The player registers a protest with the closest Security or Slots person, thinking he got robbed by the kiosk. Meanwhile the credit puncher has "happened by" (probably hanging out in the area looking for the opportunity), cashed out the $72 and left the casino. As a personal opinion, I think the slots manufacturers share the blame in this one, but in fact the casino has a modicum of responsibility, even though the player has some too: The machine cashed out, but the player never looked at the amount, so left his credits behind. This happens often with inexperienced players. Perhaps the slots manufacturers could come up with a different solution; it would save immense numbers of man-hours on the part of Security, Slots personnel, and Surveillance, in tracing thieves, making reports, and also save local police a lot of trouble. Maybe cash out the credits at the end of play, instead of when the odd-amount voucher is first inserted. What should casino policy be in this case? Of course we are going to attempt to find the thief, but if the person has already left the casino, what is the casino's responsibility? A definite policy is needed here. Does the casino replace the player's credits? And what is the safeguard for preventing this as a scam? Perhaps the thief was the brother-in-law of the player, to begin with. Then there is the deliberate distract-and-grab thief. These operate in teams and by themselves, and any casino, hotel, airport or shopping mall is subject to their activity. They are looking for a busy environment where people are already distracted and where local security and other personnel have little attention to spare. Casinos and amusement parks are the ideal environment for this activity. We see them in table games too. We call them "rail thieves," as this is a traditional scam on the craps game, where players keep their money in the rail. With the noise and distraction of a hot craps game, it is easy for a player to nab a few chips and walk away. It happens at every game, though, including Poker. As above, the casino has a definite stake in, and responsibility for, safeguarding the players from such scammers. If your player can't feel safe in your casino, he will go somewhere else where he can. Certain policies I can definitely recommend. They start with identifying whether a person took a "target of opportunity," or whether he or she was in the casino looking for or creating the opportunity. Obviously, if a person has been busted more than once for theft in the casino, they need a permanent 86, making them subject to arrest if they return to the casino. Some jurisdictions don't allow this, and others support it completely. In general, a person ejected for cause from a casino can be barred from the premises (private property) in the future. And this is another area where policy must be set by upper management so that it is not up to the supervisor on duty to make the decisions. For what reasons can a person be barred from the premises? Where do you draw the line between a 24-hour ejection for a one-time target-of-opportunity theft and a repeat offender, such as the credit puncher who has repeatedly been thrown out? What do local laws state, and how tough does the casino want to be in safeguarding its legitimate patrons? Do your local laws and casino policy allow Security to eject a person for suspicious behavior alone (such as cruising the slots areas, not playing, apparently looking for credits left behind on machines)? Does it require an actual theft before Security can bar the person? Do repeat offenders actually get permanently 86ed, or are they allowed to return again and again, looking for careless guests and money or property left behind? These questions need to be answered in policy, because one day they may be asked in a court of law. Casino policy must also be set regarding handling the victims. Do you replace what was stolen? If the player abandoned his credits and walked away, at what point does the casino take responsibility? If we can catch the thief, and convince him to return the money, obviously it will go back to the owner. But if the thief cannot be apprehended (already left the casino, never IDed by use of a player card, and not already known to Security, Slots, Table Games or Surveillance), do we replace what was stolen? This is a crucial question, because policy on this will make the casino responsible in the future to whatever degree its decision-makers choose, whether those decision makers are top management or the Security or operations supervisor on the floor, forced to make individual decisions in every case.

Safeguarding the Casino

Setting precedents and setting policy are often the same, whether we like it or not, when it comes down to the courts. Policy should be vetted by the company legal team, to ensure it is consistent with local laws and gaming regulations. Often a company policy may change when the company itself has properties in several different jurisdictions. For example, in Nevada a person can be permanently barred from a casino for any reason at all, or even for none, at the discretion of the agent of the owners (employee or supervisor) on duty at the scene. In New Jersey, it must be shown that a person was in violation of local laws. Casinos are open to everyone, and in local law, are considered to some degree to be public property. Obviously, this has a great deal to do with policies that need to be considered by management. In some jurisdictions, for example, advantage players cannot be barred from the casino. New Jersey is a case in point. In others, it is totally up to the managers on duty as to how to deal with the casino guest or player in question. If there is no policy which can be consistently enforced, the casino is to some degree liable for inconsistent handlings of situations. It can also be very much open to scams of various types. For example, with no consistent policy, one advantage player is barred from the casino by the manager on duty, while another one, equally verified as an advantage player, is allowed to play though his betting range is restricted. Or a player is "trespassed" on his first visit and then detained and cited when he attempts to play on another day, while a different one is more or less courteously escorted to the door several times before being told he is not allowed in the casino any more. Remember, in the case of an advantage player, the casino guest has violated no laws unless he has already been told, in very certain terms, that he is no longer allowed on the property. Detaining such a person is a very questionable point, unless one is calling in local law enforcement to issue an arrest citation for trespass. One player is forced to leave and another one is detained for arrest. This leaves the casino open to "legal" scams, where the player in question can actually make more money from a lawsuit than he could ever have made if allowed to play the games with his skill advantage. Detention of suspects against their will is a set of legal questions that must be addressed by management and the legal staff, to ensure compliance with local laws and to safeguard the rights of the person detained, as well as the property rights of the casino. There are a number of questions that are involved here. First, who is doing the detention? Is it done by company Security, or, as in some jurisdictions, by local or state or reservation police? What is the reason for the detention? Is the person being "arrested" ? This is a legal question in itself, involving whether the person is cooperating or being held against their will, and whether the person ordering the detention has actual first-hand, or second-hand, knowledge of a crime or misdemeanor. Is there sufficient reason to believe, on the part of the person ordering the detention, that a crime or misdemeanor has occurred and that the detainee is the one who did it? Where is it being done, and are there safeguards in place to guard the casino from claims by the person being detained? Are they taking the person to a secure room, under recording apparatus? Are they forcibly taking this person, placing security officers, other patrons, and the detainee at risk? Are they physically restraining the person, and if so, do they have sufficient reason to do so (argumentative, intoxicated, confrontational or physically combative, danger to staff and guests, etc.)? Have they checked the person for weapons, to safeguard the officers, other patrons and the person being detained? Do the Security officers involved understand that once a person has been detained against his or her will, the detaining officers and the casino are fully responsible for the person's continued well-being while under restraint? Do they understand that physical restraints can be for the safety of the detainee as well as for the officers and others? If the person is a threat to personnel and staff―such as a confrontational or combative drunk― is the person being restrained in a manner so as to safeguard others? In such a situation, is Security getting law enforcement involved, as they probably should? These are policy questions. What is your casino policy? Is there any policy, and how well is it broken down for various situations, so that the policy can be executed and enforced consistently? This is safeguarding the casino itself, as well as its invited guests.

Copyright © 2012 by Jim Goding. All rights reserved

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That's all for this month, Folks. Sponsors for this newsletter: Casino Surveillance Operations Manual and Gaming Glossary: inquire with booksales@casinosurveillancenews.com If you cannot access the Internet site casinosurveillancenews.com from the computer where you receive the newsletter, please re-subscribe from your home address or other email address. Many of my subscribers may have restrictions on their internet access at work. You can now subscribe to the newsletters from any page of the website at www.casinosurveillancenews.com Mailing List Policy: Our mailing list will never be sold to ANYONE, and we will never send spam. No special mailings will go out for advertising purposes, unless I judge that it will be of real use and real benefit to you, the readers. The only use for this list will be the newsletter and any major flash that looks important enough that you will all want to know. Copyright © 2011 by Jim Goding. All rights reserved. Unauthorized sales or duplication by any means is a violation of law and of the proprietary rights of the author. Purchase this author’s work at www.casinosurveillancenews.com.

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