Casino Security and Surveillance, The Eye in the Sky
I have done an extensive amount of work installing and maintaining security and surveillance equipment in Northern Nevada. I have also worked as a senior surveillance observer. I have worked “the room”, “sky”, whatever you may choose to call it at several casino properties in Northern Nevada.
With few exceptions none of them likely compare to the preconceived notions you may have. Paul Newman and shows such as "Las Vegas", if realistic would be a dream come true for the properties I have worked at.
Typically the monitor rooms are small, dark, and cramped. Miles of wiring enter these rooms and everything can appear to be a work in process as bundles of jumbled wires are attached to racks of RAIDS as well as a MATRIX.
When I first entered this line of work "the room" had two walls of shelving which held what appeared to be every brand of VCR ever produced. There was a large cardboard box full of remotes for the exciting power outages that are quite common in Northern Nevada.
The Casino Work Environment
Because surveillance departments are non-revenue producers, procuring funds for cutting edge technology and equipment is difficult at best. The average employees in this field are of higher than average intelligence but as with other casino positions the pay is far below the required qualifications for the employees.
Stress levels are very high as mistakes cannot be tolerated. The idea that “they just sit and watch monitors” is far from the truth. The quarters are cramped and they work alone more often than not. You may find yourself counting cards simultaneously on multiple players, providing video coverage for security as they escort a guest off the property, and doing an employee evaluation all at the same time. Feast or famine you never know what each shift will have in store. The paperwork is endless. With such a tremendous amount of responsibility this occupation really defines the term multitasking.
This is not to say you could easily cheat any casino. Regardless of whether you are being individually monitored, anything you do from the time you enter a casino’s door until you leave can easily be reviewed later.
The advantages of this occupation are that it will keep your mind sharp and continually present new challenges. Learning the numerous games and methods of card counting and slot cheating are indeed interesting. Although it would not be ethical to share any individual experiences on this site I can tell you there is no shortage of writing material derived from observing both casino employees and the customers of such establishments.
There is unfortunately a disturbing undertone as gambling ruins so many lives. It is shocking to see how many employees will return to these same casinos when they are off shift to “invest” their paychecks back into the same businesses they work for. I've seen parents leave their children, in strollers, at gaming floor entrances while they feed slot machines and order drinks seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. In some cases they may have sent older unsupervised children to arcades, the equivalent of putting an ad on craigslist; “Wanted, pedophiles’ to watch my child”.
Gambling, strictly as a form of entertainment, is not inherently bad. There are great shows, concerts, restaurants, and abundant nightlife. The purpose of this article is not to undermine the casino industry. Northern Nevada has much to offer and is a great place for weekend getaways. Times have changed everywhere, so while you are out on the town you should always be aware of your surroundings.
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