Top casino security concerns for 2012

Gaming execs should focus on budgeting, staffing, training and maintaining equipment

With more than 30 years of security management experience and 18 of those years in the casino gaming sector, I know firsthand that casino security and surveillance executives face different a set of challenges. With the economy showing signs of recovery, casino security executives' top concerns should be rebuilding their programs to ensure regulatory compliance, guest service and safety, responsible gambling and alcohol programs, and maintaining the public trust.

As part of rebuilding the security program, casino directors should consider budget planning, balancing staffing levels, ongoing training, and upgrading and maintaining equipment. Doing so will ensure the business that never sleeps can continue operating.

The importance of annual budgeting

Prior to any new year, most security and surveillance executives have completed their budgets that include staff requirements and wages, outside services and training, and capital and operational expenses including equipment and maintenance contracts. Typically these budgets are prepared in the last quarter of each year and are reviewed by the CFO and senior management team for opportunities to reduce operational costs.

This is an opportunity to show C-level executives that the security and surveillance departments can contribute to the organization's bottom line. The advancements in security and surveillance technologies provide the ability to reduce liabilities, save on equipment costs and get better quality images for everything from combating money laundering to better customer service and employee conformance.

Often departments operate under a "use it or lose it" policy. That makes planning and following through on budgets a significant contributor to requesting new funds and rebuilding your program in 2012. So make sure that you use this year's budget to provide value for your business. This will help with future budgetary cycles.

Balanced staffing

Staffing has been one of the most significant areas impacted in the past five years of the economic downturn. For example, in Las Vegas as much as 30 percent of all casino employees -- this includes security hourly employees who are working "on-call" – are working two or more jobs.

With so many security personnel, this raises interesting red flags where an expectation of integrity exists. Many security staff members are not achieving enough hours to qualify for benefit packages, raising the question of loyalty and commitment to duty. Improving economic conditions provide an opportunity to make sure you have the right amount of staff matched with the right technologies to allow the company to save costs, but also better take care of your existing staff.

When I reorganized the security staff for a major casino operation, I had 33 full-time security officers and three times that many on-call. I was fortunate to have a senior management team willing to work with me to balance my team.

For those security and surveillance executives who are balancing their staffing, the human resource department and modern technology will become your best allies. In my situation, the HR department and I determined that the hire date would be the qualifier for on-call personnel re-assignment to full-time providing them with regular hours and benefits. The remaining on-call team was assigned to business units such as nightclubs, banquet halls and concerts where sufficient hours of operation made providing benefits an option.

When adding advanced technology to the mix, you can gain the trust of the senior management teams by showing them that you have the organization's best interest in mind. A great way to save on operational costs is by having your existing personnel operate more effectively. Providing security and surveillance staff with the tools they need, like mobile security management systems and HD surveillance systems, can help them react more efficiently. As a security director, you will then be in position to provide existing employees with better benefits and incentives to promote loyalty and commitment to duty.

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