For the most of us, visiting and playing at a casino is a simple task. We visit the casino venue. We exchange our money for casino chips. We play the games. We make a cash out if we’ve been successful. That’s the general process for casino gamblers. It’s not very often that our thoughts wonder how the casinos that we visit keep money safe and secure. After all, there is a lot of cash passing through these venues on a daily basis. The likelihood is that the casino isn’t going to keep it in the building, right?
There must be some sort of structure in place to protect all that money, though. How does a casino keep it safe whilst on the gaming floor and then into a vault of sorts? Plus, has this ever gone wrong for a casino? Has anyone been able to get their hands on the money that is being transported from one place to another? Let’s take a closer look at how casino venues keep their funds safe and out of prying hands.
Casino Profit Is Big
When you enter a casino, you have to exchange your money for casino chips. You’re not able to take your everyday notes and coins to play with. These provide the casino itself with an extra layer of security. If people were playing with their own money, they can grab their bet and flee with it if they lose. Casino chips are only usable in a casino, so if someone steals them, they’re useless. This requires you to visit a money cage. Of course, should you be successful after gaming and want to cash out, you return there.
Have you ever wondered where that money comes from, though? Is it actually secure within that cage? Plus, where does it come from if the money in there runs out? Different countries will have different legislation about casino funds. Yet it is commonplace in some locations that casinos have to keep a certain amount on reserve. That should be available within the casino premises itself.
There is little doubt that casinos make a lot of money. Even though many within the United Kingdom have reported reduced footfall, they still rake it in. Rank, for instance, reported that its Grosvenor venues are suffering from declines. Yet its profits are still in the millions every year. Across the sea and into Las Vegas, reports suggest that casinos like MGM Grand are making big bucks. In 2019, financial reports suggest a $12.9 billion profit for the company. Over $5 million of that came about from gaming activity taking place on The Strip. Now, the amount of money within a casino will vary depending upon the venue. Some casinos hold a lot more than others.
If we stick with the United States for the moment, different laws dictate the amounts of money kept inside. It all depends upon the area that the casino is in. Laws in Nevada state that casinos have to have enough money in the venue to cover every chip on the floor. When you consider the amount on the floor in chips, that’s a hell of a lot of cash. So, exactly how is that kept safe and secure considering so many people visit these casinos?
The Front Door Checks and on to the Main Floor
When you walk into a casino, you will likely need to provide ID. This, of course, confirms you are over 18 and thus of the legal age to gamble. Some of the top-class casinos in the world utilise even stronger ID checking. This includes facial recognition scanning on the door. The Hippodrome Casino in London has this technology in action. This scans people as they walk through the entrance to the casino. Campaigners have spoken out against this technology in the past. Yet it is there to ensure the venue upholds gambling laws in the country as best it can.
There is also a security room where people are able to see everyone coming in and out. Should anyone trying to enter be on the exclusion list, they can deny their entry. Security is, without a doubt, tight at casinos, for obvious reasons.
Once you’re past the front doors, you’ll be on the casino game floor. There, you will see slot machines and table games, and so on. Yet it’s not only a matter of you walking in there and being left to your own devices. After you get past the front door, security doesn’t let up. Instead, positioned throughout the venue will be various security members. These employees are there to keep customers safe, as well as the money. Security members will keep close tabs on everyone. Don’t expect to see them charging down the casino aisles if they suspect a thief, though.
Instead, security personnel will capture the thieves in action on camera before pouncing. Speaking of which, casinos tend to have a massive number of cameras in operation. Look up at the edges of the ceiling and you’ll see them dotted around. They track every single part of the game floor and beyond to keep it safe.
These cameras link up to a CCTV system, which produces live footage to the security room. There, extra safety protocols are in action.
The Casino Security Room
The everyday casino gamer doesn’t see the security room of a venue. Of course, the idea for gamers is to enjoy their time playing games. In that instance, why would they need to see such a room? Yet don’t be mistaken and think there isn’t one within. All casinos have their own security room, with upwards of 50 livestreams of the cameras. A team of people watch over these screens in a meticulous way. They do this to make sure that all casino rules are in operation. Not only do they watch players, but they watch dealers as well.
It’s not beyond the limits of croupiers to try and take advantage of the casino they work in. Back in 2018, dealer Michael Huo and three associates tried scamming the Crown Casino out of A$400,000. The scam they partook in occurred within the casino’s VIP room. Reports suggest that Huo looked at cards and then informed his friends which the next one was. This, of course, assisted them in winning.
The security team within the back room are there to prevent things like this happening. It’s another way that sites try to keep money safe.
You may not know it either, but the chips used in the casino are another sort of security. Usually, these are all tracked, thanks to the addition of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Designers of such integrate them into the chips themselves. Thus, anyone trying to counterfeit them or use them elsewhere hasn’t got a chance.
The Casino’s Vault
Yes, it’s true. Casinos will usually have their own vault as well. It’s normal for us to think of banks when vaults come into conversation. Yet casinos have such huge sums of money within their premises that they need such, too. The vault in the casino holds the playing chips and the physical cash. It’s not something that anyone can walk into in a swift way, though. The vaults in casinos are usually very high-tech.
Often times, the location of the vault is further back than the security room. It may also be underground for extra protection. Different casinos have different size vaults. Of course, that’s only natural when you consider the venues are of different sizes, too. A casino under construction can have a modular vault integrated into the site. The design of that is exact, so that it fits into a specific space and provides enough room to house money.
In most instances, the four walls and ceiling of a casino vault are 100% secure, thanks to the material in use. Steel is the most common metal used to construct them, and they tend to have a single entrance. That is the vault door, which you’ll likely be familiar with if you’ve ever seen vaults on TV. They include heavy steel bars to lock the door in place. Then there is the lock itself, which is a dial that turns left and right. A number combination will be in place that opens the vault door. Over one million combinations are possible for this. Very few people are aware of what that combination is.
Should anyone try to tamper with one of these high-tech vault doors, it will sense it. It will likely re-lock itself, making it even harder for a potential invader to get in. There is even a drill-resistant metal plate covering the door. If you’re thinking of taking tools down there, it’s not a good idea.
The vault holds individual cases, which house the chips and cash. That adds another layer of security for the casino. Control over temperature and humidity also occur within the vault. Alarm systems will likely also be within, giving that slight boost to everything. Should there ever be worries about getting stuck inside the vault by such a door, don’t worry. The casino vault door usually has a mechanism where someone can unlock it from inside.
Casino Heists That Haven’t Worked Out
Casino and bank heists are something that you often seen in movies. People take drills, blow torches, lock picks and everything to the money vaults. Sometimes they can use those tools to get inside the vault in a quick way. Other times it takes much longer to gain access. Most of the time, they manage it, though.
It’s not like that in real life. The truth is that it is almost impossible to invade those secure vaults. That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried it, though. In 2000, Jose Vigoa took part in a heist at the Bellagio in Vegas. Alongside Luis Suarez and Oscar Sanchez, the trio wanted money – and lots of it. Vigoa had actually involved himself in several other casino heists before this one. Unfortunately, the raid of the Bellagio did not go as he expected it to. The three of them tried stealing $160,000 (£110,000) from the venue. They didn’t attempt to grab that from the casino’s vault, though.
Instead, they jumped over the cashier counter, grabbing both money and chips. Vigoa must have forgotten that he was a wanted man, though. He chose not to wear a mask or any disguise while invading. As a result, someone spotted him, and a chase ensued. Sanchez ended up caught at the scene, while the other two hightailed it. It didn’t take long for the authorities to catch up with them, though. Vigoa received four life sentences, and remains in prison to this day.
The Bellagio was the scene of another attempted crime in 2010, too. Anthony Carleo – the son of a high court judge, believe it or not – was the instigator. He pulled up outside the casino on a motorbike. It was then that he stole $1.5 million (£1.2 million) in casino chips, holding the craps table staff up at gunpoint. While Carleo made a clean getaway with the chips, he faced quite a problem after. Some of the chips had values of up to $25,000 each, and he had to get rid of them. Unfortunately, he tried to do this online.
Having the username of “biker bandit” at an online casino forum, he posted images of the stolen chips. Carleo bragged about his crime on the forum to other users. He then returned to the Bellagio to use the chips. Yet it came about that he tried selling some to an undercover policeman. In 2011, he pled guilty to his crimes and received a nine-year prison sentence.