On Casinos and Humanity

March 24 2014

I’ve worked in the casino industry for over eleven years, with almost nine of them in Surveillance. In the past eleven years, I’ve lost a lot of hope in humanity. I’ve seen guests attempt to cheat the casino. I’ve seen employees steal from the company.

Those are to be expected. Those people keep me employed. What really pisses me off, though, is someone stealing from someone else. The worst are when the victim comes back and asks the suspect if they’ve seen their lost item – whether it’s cash, a cell phone, or even a cane (yes, a cane!) – and the suspect flat-out lies to the victim. To stare someone in the face and deny knowing anything about their lost $100, knowing it’s burning a hole in your pocket (or, in most cases, being lost with every pull of the handle), has to be one of the worst things you could do to someone.

What’s surprising is that these actions have no stereotypical look. I’ve watched homeless people do it, and I’ve watched players with thousands of dollars on the table do it. All genders. All races. All ages. No one, in our mind, is immune to the almighty dollar. I’ve even seen a victim of one theft become the suspect in another just an hour later. When she was approached, her justification was that because it happened to her, she couldn’t see why she couldn’t do it.

Just recently, I watched dozens of people take advantage of an error at a cash-out machine. Our employee put $20s in the cassette that was supposed to hold $5s, so when someone cashed out a ticket or a bill that would normally pay in $5s, they received $20s. While most of the people only did it once, several did it multiple times – to the tune of a few hundred to a few thousand in profit for them. The only reason it stopped was because a cocktail server broke a $20 for a guest and saw the problem.

The only way I can understand everyone’s reasoning is that they consider it a small win in their favor against a house (even if that house is another person) who has been “cheating” them since day one. For once, they found a way to beat us, even if it meant going against their morals and ethics (not to mention breaking the law). If it were the other way – $5s were in the $20s, for instance – the first person would have run to an employee and complained; they might have even used the phrase “cheated me” when speaking to the employee.

I don’t know if there are studies conducted on the thoughts and actions of guests and employees the moment they walk through the front door of a casino. If there are, I’d love to know about them. I want to understand their thought process as they pick up the $100 bill they just saw fall from someone’s hand. I want to know why employees think that extra $100 is worth losing their paycheck over.

I hope my view of humanity is flawed. Please email me and let me know it is. Give me examples of how others are fighting against this ignorance I observe on a daily basis. Better yet, tell me YOUR story of honesty and morality.

And, if you have any questions about the casino industry, especially about Surveillance, feel free to ask. I’m very knowledgeable about the industry and am willing to dispel, or possibly validate, the rumors or stories you’ve heard.

[email protected]
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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