Physical Security in UK Casinos: the shift from protecting assets to being one

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A new approach to customer service

The UK casino landscape has changed dramaƟcally in the past decade.   And so has the role of the men and women providing physical security to this  sector.  The security in a standard casino is generally split into two parts.   The Physical Security Team ‐  which  involves  trained  professional  security officers  patrolling the casino floor to respond to criminal or suspicious activities and also  managing access  to the premises.  

The Surveillance Team – which operate the closed‐circuit television system in  order to maintain an overview of both players and employees, reducing fraud,  money  laundering, theŌ and any type of misconduct.   Both of these specialised casino departments work very closely with each other  to   ensure the safety of both guests as well as the casino’s assets and staff.

This  dynamic also helps adhere to licensing and gaming regulaƟons.  Common  sense  ‐  and  regulation  –  has  meant  that  there  have  always  been      people  both  on  the  ground  in  and  outside  casinos,  as  well  as  watching  from  above through surveillance cameras, to ensure a casino remains a safe, viable  and  enjoyable  environment  for  customers,  employees  and  owners. However,  with  changes  to  regulation allowing  customer  to walk  in  off  the  street,  these  security people arguably now have an added role – encouraging fooƞall.  

While the ultimate responsibility of security personnel may not have changed –  to keep  people and  the  casino  safe –  they are also  now a  central  part  of  the  public ‘face’ of the casino.  

Often, they are the first person a potential new customer or exisƟng customer  sees and  their ability  to both do  their job and make customers feel welcome  and   wanted has commercial value.  

In a world of high competition, atracting customers is key.   The  easiest  change  is  being  approachable  and  friendly  so  new  customers  in     particular feel at ease coming to and into the casinos. To achieve that it is just  a  question  of  hiring  people  who  can  do  their  job  of  providing  security  while  smiling and being friendly.

A  casino  will  want  people  who  can  be  in  control  and  give  a  sense  of  ‘protection’ without being constantly threatening or menacing.   It gets  trickier when it is  comes  to existing  customers – and  particularly  high    rollers,  regulars  or  people  of  note.

They  can  go  anywhere  and  so  being recognised and having a sense they are valued needs to start on the pavement  to keep them coming back. For security personnel to add value, they need to  be consistently present enough to be part of the fabric of the casino. They will  need to – and want to ‐ understand the key players, how to engage with them  and how to manage them in a way that adds value and appeal to the casino.  

Another important element of the role is to be able to identify those that pose  a risk whether they are individuals known to the local authorities, those known  to  cause  problems  at  other  establishments  or  those  the  casino  itself  have  deemed  unsuitable  from  previous experience. In  some ways,  this part  of  the  role is similar to recognising valued customers – the physical security presence  must  identify  them,  assess  the  possible  risk  they  pose  and  establish  the  response  that  is  most  beneficial  to  the  casino,  all  before  the  individual  goes  through the door.  

To achieve all this requires the right kind training as well  as on‐going collaboration with other  security personnel  and  regular  use  of  facial  recognition  techniques  to  en‐ sure physical security adds real value to the business.  

The  training must go beyond  simply being SIA Licenced  and include a detailed induction into  the gaming industry and how to support customers and truly understand  the    business   In modern casinos, having physical security personnel is  not  just  about  protecting  assets,  keeping  people  safe  and meeting your legal requirements, it’s about having a     consistent  presence,  with  people  who  are  sharp, engaged, and personable with the  right  training  to  en‐ sure  they are able  to add  to  the appeal, and therefore  value, of the  casino. It’s about being an asset, not just protecting them.

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