Top casino security concerns for 2012

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

The end result is a more balanced security organization with better control on staffing and operational costs.

Ongoing training

Besides having the staffing levels balanced and the right technologies in place to provide ROI for the business, the next issue of major concern is ongoing training. Whether training is provided by senior staff or outside trainers, there will be an expense for staff to participate in training programs because casino properties are 24/7.

The economic downturn saw widespread elimination of training programs for casino security and surveillance personnel. The risk of this action is a major loss of knowledge and leadership that can contribute to poor decisions in the field. Casino directors should incorporate training resources into their budget planning to ensure their people are prepared for situations in their respective roles. Security leadership should also consider training when adopting new technologies. For example, video management software can take days or sometimes minutes to learn depending on the ease of use of the system. Before buying anything, make sure you ask about training time required because that should factor into the overall cost.

With the reduction of casino operations on the whole training should also include guest service skills. Now more than ever, security staff must contribute to a positive guest experience. Like many industries customer service is a number one priority for casino operations.

Training can take many forms and costs. Staff can attend local security and surveillance meetings, trade shows and related business associations where educational programs are provided. Government agencies also offer specialized training on topics like homeland security, disaster preparedness or active shooter programs that are often times no cost to the attendee other than the time away from the property. Outside consultants can provide security audits to determine if practices meet current legal challenges, but they can also provide the roadmap to a successful ongoing training program. Professional associations and equipment manufacturers offer security related webinars that can provide security executives updates on what's new on the technology front, from high-definition (HD) video surveillance to significant improvements for report writing and the latest security software.

Upgrading and maintaining equipment

Planned and unplanned expenditures for repairing equipment have been hit hard over the past few years. Often times the reality of shrinking budgets meant having to take vehicles, bike units and surveillance resources offline because there was no money for maintenance and repairs. Whether it is a commercial or Indian gaming operation, casino security directors have to find creative solutions to improve their overall security program with limited budgets.

When choosing equipment and technology, it's important to consider the product's warranty and the company's commitment to upgrades and maintenance. This will allow security and surveillance professionals to get longevity and the most value out of their purchases.

Areas that are often overlooked when budgeting are maintenance of uniforms, bicycles, patrol vehicles, crowd control stanchions, traffic barriers and signage. One property I recently visited invested in a hybrid vehicle that reduced fuel costs when an aging vehicle was retired. While the initial cost might have been a bit higher, the organization will save money in the long-term. Don't forget that vehicles have to be registered and insured besides the mechanical maintenance.

This year casino security professionals will see signs of improvement as the economy recovers. It's important in this rebuilding phase that executives future-proof their businesses with the right people, technologies, education and plans for continued support from senior management.

About the Author: Douglas Florence, CPP, is the Business Development Director of Global Gaming at Avigilon. With 36 years experience with a variety of casinos and vendors, Florence is widely regarded as a surveillance, security, and gaming operations expert.