Casino Security: Is it really possible to rob a casino

Oceans Eleven was one of the biggest grossing movies of the 21st Century, and while many movie goers went to see the like of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, the film gave a fantastic insight into the high levels of security in large casinos.

You would assume that using facial recognition, security cameras, microchipping, armed security, employee background checks, crisis plans and reinforced steel vaults, youd be protecting something like Fort Knox. However, these are just a few security measures, policies and procedures that go into some of the most lavish casinos all over the globe. It begs the question, is it really possible to rob a casino?

Well take a look at some of the arsenal casinos have to thwart heisters making the chances of pulling off a successful casino robbery or heist very slim.

Highly Sophisticated Vault Security
The UK Gambling Commission requires that casinos have a reserve of cash to back up every single chip that is out in play, as do many other regulatory bodies. Since this is such as vast amount of money, regulations also require that every single vault be exceedingly secure. There are a number of security features that casinos use to thwart robberies such as:
- Time delayed locks
- Limited access codes trusted to a few select employees
- Thick steel walls and floors

In previous casino robberies it was natural to hear that criminals would drill through vaults. However, using todays security measures, it would take a crook days to drill through a vault. Criminals are more likely to try beating the slot machines or cheating at the blackjack tables as they have a much better chance of walking away with their winnings (even though these are still slim).

Keeping a Close Track of Cash Reserves
Casinos need to keep close records of all of their cash reserves in case of a security breach. If any cash isnt accounted for then they need to conduct an investigation.

Armoured Vehicles for Transport
Savvy robbers will always try to target the weakest link in the security system – often the vehicle thats used to transport cash to and from the casino. Cash is almost always transported in armoured vehicles these days because casinos want to make it as difficult as possible for potential robbers.

These vehicles are very secure, and transport guards are heavily armed. The money isnt kept out in the open for too long, which make it very difficult for robbers to pull off and intricate heist.

RFID Chips
When most people think of a casino heist, they think criminals are likely to steal money but this isnt the case. In fact, crooks are far more likely to steal chips instead. Their plan is to return at a later date and try to sell them back to the casino for cash or to sell them on the street. Its the casinos responsibility to make sure that the stolen chips cannot be cashed in at a later date.

One way in which casinos can monitor if a chip has been stolen or not is by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. These casino chips have a microchip built into them. These microchips have an electromagnetic field which can track the movement of a casino chip. These microchips are mainly placed on higher valued casino chips which will require scanning before they can be traded for cash.

This technology was originally adopted by casinos as a way to tackle counterfeiters but they showed to be a very effective solution for stopping robbers as well. If a criminal was to steal these chips in a robbery the casino can turn off the RFID on the chips, making them worthless.

Security Guards
They may not be high-tech but Security Guards are the first lines of defence in any casino. They provide a visual and intimidating presence that reminds guest and any aspiring robbers that they are being watched. It is likely that many attempted robberies have been called off because the assailant(s) had clocked eyes with a security guard and had second thoughts.

Silent Alarms
Naturally, casinos need to work closely with local law enforcement, particularly when a robbery is happening. In this instance, they find that subtlety is the best way to go. Using silent alarms to notify the police.

In the event of a robbery, they often use silent alarms to warn the police and get assistance. Silent alarms allow casino employees to notify the authorities about the robbery without the robber knowing.

These alarms are also used in vaults so that the crooks will take their time without knowing that the police are on their way.

Creating Crisis Plans for Robberies
Educating employees on preventing robberies is just as important as using the most up-to-date security technology and that a casinos employees must be instructed on how to use their security technology when a robbery is happening.

Employees are a fundamental intelligence gathering tool which helps provide other teams with additional information.

Casinos should train their employees to deal with any crisis that can occur. Since a robbery is a real possibility that they have to face at some point in their job, they must know how to act accordingly. For this reason, theyre trained to remain vigilant, report any suspicious activity to their security teams and to work with their colleagues and the police to stop a robbery when (or before) it happens. Employees can play a crucial role in stopping robberies – but only if they know how to respond.

Monitoring Employees
Casinos also have to be carefully monitor their own employees, as they can co-operate with guests to cheat or plan robberies on their own. One way they can do this is by equipping players with empty chip stacks that are made to look s if they are full. Dealers can subtly hand the players their chips, which are hidden inside the compartment.

Surveillance systems carefully, monitor all tables to try and catch this type of activity, they also pay close attention to losses at individual tables, so they can catch on if employees are conspiring with players.

Background Checks on Employees
As mention above, it isnt always the guests that casinos must scrutinise, some of the biggest attempted casino robberies have been orchestrated by employees. Leve every other business, casinos need to be wary about who they employee, which means they need to conduct thorough background checks, many of them required to register their staff with a gambling regulator.

License Plate Readers
Out of all of the new technology surveillance methods around, this is the most basic of methods but is still very effective in identifying criminals who are acting suspiciously or criminals.

Casinos are able to detect any cheaters or potential robbers but their cars and are able to stop them before they even enter the casino. A camera will capture the snapshots of all of the vehicle who enter the casino. Through the use of special optical character recognition software, they are able to see a number plate. The plate is then run through a comparison database of undesirable guest/visitors. If there is a match then security are alerted.

However, cheaters and robbers have been able to take advantage of this system by using another vehicle or hire car where the system would not be able to match their number plate and match it with the visitor on the undesirable database.

Facial Recognition
Video surveillance is not only able to read number plates but it can also recognise faces. A biometric facial recognition software is able to scan the faces of everyone who enters the casino.

The system is able to automatically detect a face, take a snapshot and analyse it with cross reference it with a data base of undesirable visitors. If the database is able to pull up a match then it can notify the security teams who will take the appropriate action.

Angel Eye Technology
There may be times where a criminal can disguise themselves and get past the biometric system. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to get behind Angel Eye Technology as well.

Angel Eye will address the issue of card switching. The technology uses barcodes which are printed on the back of every card in invisible ink. The cards are tracked from the moment the dealer deals the cards and all the information it collects is sent to a connected computer.

Once the cards at the table are revealed, the dealer will press a button which will then show the results that the computer has processed. If the results shown on the table do not match the results that are on the computer, then the security teams are alerted to act accordingly.

The odds of successfully robbing a casino are few and far between and that they prioritise its security measures to deal with cheating rather than robberies. These casinos arent through yet, casinos will continue to invest in security and technology making future robbery attempts to be even more difficult. As exciting as Oceans Eleven is, todays crooks shouldnt expect to walk out with a win full anytime soon.
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