The Great Resignation has affected every industry, including casinos and resorts, especially where venue security is concerned. Labor in the gaming and hospitality industry is down 1.5 million jobs from its pre-pandemic levels.
It would be easy to say, “We can’t keep up or adapt to this changing environment.” However, it would be far more fruitful to weather the storm and use technology to supplement the existing workforce and compensate for the loss of labor.
Let’s consider the state the casino industry is in and how it could pivot to meet the latest challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and changing employee needs by implementing security technology.
What Challenges Are Casinos Facing?
Working in security or surveillance at a casino is both demanding and challenging, but if I had to choose what’s hardest about the industry from a labor perspective, it’s twofold: the jobs themselves and the workload.
First, it’s tough to fill jobs in this particular field. We’re seeing former casino workers transitioning to new careers because this is a demanding and always-on industry based on shift work. The fact is that most people don’t want to work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and there are fewer people willing to do the work.
Beyond that, the workload has not decreased, and many don’t want to continue with an increasing workload and limited support. As the industry struggles, casinos have more to get done with fewer staff members — and considerably more tasks have been assigned to them. So, as a result, casinos aren’t keeping criminals off the premises any longer. Perhaps casinos have taken self-excluded patrons off the marketing list or monitored them manually, but simply don’t have the people or technology to stop them if they try to get in.
What Risks Do Casinos Face If They Don’t Have Adequate Onsite Security?
I used to run security and surveillance departments, and I was occasionally confronted with, “Why am I spending so much on security? Nothing happens.”
However, some people don’t realize that nothing happens because they’re spending money on security. Without that investment, security staff and non-security staff very quickly realize what would have happened: an increase in incidents and criminals taking advantage of “weaker” targets. Failing to provide adequate security and surveillance carries safety, reputational and financial risks.
Let’s discuss these three risks faced by casinos.
1. Safety Risk
Safety starts from the inside — for employees. A dealer, slot attendant, or bartender doesn’t expect to have to break up fights as part of their job; it’s not what they signed up for. However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, a casino will be perceived as an unsafe environment and they will lose staff members.
On top of all this, once a venue is perceived as unsafe or not taking safety seriously, that perception brings unwelcome attention to the casino. As a result, casinos could have massive reputational difficulties.
2. Reputational Risk
Reputation is a huge driver for casinos, and name and brand mean something — but so does the experience. If casinos get a reputation for being problematic venues, people will find alternatives, impacting the clientele attracted to the club.
For example, if a few bar fights spill onto the game floor and patrons perceive that you aren’t taking action, that has ripple effects. Potential high rollers won’t want to spend their time and money in a casino where they feel threatened and unsafe.
3. Financial Risk
Obviously, theft and cheating are both substantial financial risks for casinos, but it’s much bigger than that. There are also financial risks concerning compliance and licensing. If the venue is deemed to not care about the law, casinos are likely to face enhanced scrutiny from law enforcement.
In certain cases, the casino venue could be fined considerable sums of money for not living up to its legal obligations regarding money laundering and terrorist financing. Casinos could also lose their premises license for various violations, which could result in staff losing their jobs.
However, enhanced security and risk assessments can eliminate many of these security, reputational and financial risks. On the other hand, not having an adequate security department or risk assessment program can impact the bottom line, drive away good customers and lead to revenue loss.
What Casino Security Leaders Need to Keep In Mind When Implementing Technology
One way to enhance casino security is by implementing the right tools and technology. When weighing security and surveillance technology options such as facial recognition, casino security leaders can’t go about it haphazardly. Instead, it’s essential to know what needs to be achieved.
First, define that endgame. Then, leaders should look at their options through the lens of how each technology can help bring them closer to security goals.
1. Develop an Aim
When first comparing facial recognition providers and tools, ask two questions: “What is this technology going to do?” and “What is the intended outcome?” Security leaders should have a clear idea of why and how they’d like to use a new technology beyond simply staying on the cusp of the latest trends.
2. Evaluate Technologies with Aim In Mind
Once the aim is defined, start getting at the heart of what different systems can do. If security leaders have an aim and desired measurable outcomes based on that aim, they can look at solutions that will allow them to achieve those goals.
However, the quality of the technology solution matters even more than its placement. Casinos also need good-quality photographs, good views, cameras with the right focal length, and proper lighting. As a security leader, ask, “How do the solutions stand up to these needs?”
The U.S. economy and labor force are not nearly at the end of their widespread labor shortages, and casinos and hospitality venues are stuck in the middle. Casino security leaders are in a unique position of having to not only continue along with standard operations but also ensure safety and security at all times — despite staffing conditions. Security technology such as facial recognition and identity management tools can help bridge the gap.
This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.