When I first met Willy Allison, he seemed to me to be this Australian cowboy singing the praises of security and surveillance in casinos, something few of us in the industry think about or consider a key lynchpin of their operation. But Willy surely had the experience, working for some of the largest and best operators in the business.
So when I attended the World Game Protection Conference that Willy and his wife Jo organized, I was blown away. I’ve been producing and attending gaming conferences since 1985, so I know a little bit about this world. But at the WGPC I learned more in three days than I had in three years of the regular gaming gatherings.
The content was different—but like others in the gaming industry, I hadn’t really thought about the difficult job it is for anyone in the security and surveillance departments. As Willy pointed out when I first met him, the S&S departments don’t generate revenue, so they are usually the last area to which executives dedicate capital. Like umpires and referees, it’s always the best when you never hear from S&S. But when you do, it’d better be that they’ve solved a problem rather than made it explode because they didn’t have enough capital to uncover the problem before it was too late.
That was the inspiration for our annual Security & Surveillance section, which is included in this month’s issue. Once again, we include topics that you may not have thought about but are deeply important to the success of your gaming enterprise.
As you might expect, some of the content at a conference dedicated to S&S is way down in the weeds, but sometimes that’s where you find the golden nuggets. So it’s not only the content that sets the WGPC apart, it’s how they present it. Willy and Jo try to change things up every year, and that’s why the S&S professionals come back again and again. There really is nothing like it.
And of course, this year there’s lots to talk about. Cybersecurity is at the top of the list because of the data breach that reportedly cost MGM Resorts more than $100 million. I’m sure they’ll talk about Caesars Entertainment paying some sort of ransom so that the cyberhackers would go easy on them.
Table game protection is always an interesting topic. Whether it’s advantage players at blackjack or craps or some of the more exotic games, it’s educational and entertaining to see how people will try to scam casinos. But as Willy notes in his feature article in our S&S section this month, the internal threat to table games is much greater than the wise guys.
Another aspect of WGPC that I enjoy is when they bring in non-gaming people. Last year, the former mobster Michael Franzese told some harrowing stories about his life in the Mafia. This year, WGPC is presenting Hasard Lee, a former U.S. combat fighter pilot, who will explain how to make split-second decisions whether you’re flying at Mach 2 or sitting behind your desk worrying about a problem that needs an immediate solution.
The WGPC, as you might imagine, is a “must attend” for S&S professionals. Not only will you be educated and entertained, but you will also network with other executives in your field to make contacts that will last a lifetime.
But why not send your VP of marketing, your director of retail or anyone else in your organization that might benefit from learning how S&S operates and why they are important to their specific departments? It’s an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the industry that they may not have considered. And the information they bring back will surely benefit your entire company.
Many casinos have experienced some of the most horrific events in recent years from active shooters to casino robberies and domestic violence that spills into the workplace. Cyberattacks, as we mentioned, are increasing and getting more costly every year. Your slots and table games are targets for increasingly sophisticated scammers. So how can you not afford to invest in your S&S departments? And it all starts at the World Game Protection Conference, February 27-29 at the Tropicana Las Vegas.