Chapter 5 - Your Safety

“Because that is where the money is!” Willie Sutton, when asked why he keeps robbing banks.

“Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.
" R. E. Shay

“Don’t worry. You’re safe now. You’ve got nothing left to steal.” Joan D. Vinge from Catspaw

Your personal safety is of the utmost importance, but losing all of your money so you have nothing left to steal is not the way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Remember that the lucky rabbit’s foot didn’t work so well for the rabbit! But it is Willie Sutton’s statement of “that’s where the money is” which should ring true with the casino player.

When you are walking around in a casino, you are a target because you would not be there if you did not have some money with you. And usually this is extra money that you are already planning to or willing to lose. There is always a criminal element out there looking for easy prey to make a quick score, and they are more than willing to help you part with your money.

This chapter will cover some common sense ways to help keep you from becoming the prey. Just like with the casino, you do not want to give your money away easily; you want to make it as hard as possible to get from you. Ideally, by becoming a smarter and harder target, you will prevent someone from even trying to take your money.

Sometimes criminals look like criminals and you can tell the moment you see them that something is not right. Other times they may look like your sweet little grandma from Kansas or the kid next door. When money is involved, it seems you can never be sure. The best advice is to stay alert and always try to be aware of your surroundings. Do not get so absorbed in your playing that you forget about simple safety precautions.

The first thing you should do is always try to stay sober in the casino. The free drinks are offered because the casino knows that alcohol lowers your inhibitions and causes you to make poor decisions, making it easier for the casino to help you part with your bankroll. Criminals target you after you have been drinking for exactly the same reasons. Staying sober may not be in the casinos’ best interests, but keeping your wits about you will certainly be in your best interest.

If you are going to drink, please do so in moderation or at least stay with a group of friends who can be counted on to get you home safely.

Isolating you from other activities is always on the bad guy’s mind, so always try to stay in public places and in groups. Criminals need to take advantage of isolated places to avoid being detected. Never be alone or in an out-of-the-way place where no one can come to your rescue. If that means trips to the restroom together with a friend, then do it. Try never to walk anywhere alone, especially out on the streets.

Always make every effort to avoid the far reaches of a parking garage. Even when the security cameras are there to record what is happening, the security guards will most likely get there after you have already become a victim. To avoid the parking garage, use the valet parking, even if you have to pay for it. You can ask a security guard to escort you to your car or up to your hotel room if needed; he will be happy to do so, as it is a basic part of his job. You should be sure to offer a tip if this service is provided, although this particular tip may be refused.

Don’t be flashy with your cash at the tables and in other places. Consider leaving the bulk of your bankroll in the hotel safe when you do not need it. If you’re going to dinner, you probably do not need $5,000 in your pocket.

Set up and use casino credit to take a marker at the table so you are not carrying around your bankroll. Casinos encourage this practice, and you will be able to relax a little and enjoy yourself more. You can also use travelers’ checks at the cage if you would rather not carry cash. Casino credit also lets you avoid carrying large sums of money through the airport and while traveling.

Ladies, if you are carrying a purse, never set it on the floor, drape it over your chair back, or sit it in the space between the slot machines. Put the strap over your opposite shoulder, then put on a jacket or sweater on top of that, or hold your purse tightly in your lap.  If you routinely carry a purse, consider purchasing one with a steel cable in the strap to prevent it from being sliced with a knife or blade.

In the restroom, be aware of stall doors which have the coat hook very close to the top of the door. Your purse can easily be grabbed from over the top of the door, and all you will be able to do is sit there and watch it disappear. Many places now put that hook on the side wall or lower on the door, and this new location is something you should be aware of to help protect your valuables.

Men, don’t carry your wallet protruding out of a rear pocket, unless that is your decoy wallet, with Monopoly money in it, designed to be stolen. Keep your real wallet in a tight fitting front pocket or an inside pocket with a button or zipper on it. A rubber band around it will help prevent it from being easily slid out of your pocket.

At a craps table, arrange your chips in the tray with the higher value chips in the middle, and the lower value chips on each edge. Then if someone grabs a chip from your rail, they only get a small one off the end of the row, because it is very difficult to pull chips out of the middle of the row. Better to lose a few white or red chips off the end while distracted than a few black or purple ones!

When playing craps, always be aware of your bet locations and when and how much you should be paid. At a crowded table, especially when playing with total strangers, it is not uncommon for someone else to attempt to pick up your winning bet after it has been set in front of you by the dealer. Sometimes this may be a simple mistake, but often it is just an attempt at stealing, with the would-be thief hoping it gets overlooked in the confusion. Pick your chips up as soon as the dealer places the stack, and then if two hands reach for it, the dealer can intervene, declaring the correct owner. You might give that stranger the benefit of the doubt the first time it happens, but be especially alert after that, and watch your own chips even closer.

On other table games, when you have a stack of chips, do the same thing by always putting a few lower denomination chips on top of the higher value ones. Then if someone grabs a few, hopefully, they only get the cheap ones on top.

When you have a stack of chips, always beware of someone “tapping” them for luck with a closed fist or a drink glass. A little two-sided, sticky tape on the bottom of the glass and there goes one of your chips!

When playing the slots, do not leave a coin bucket sitting between the machines or on top of the machine, and try to remember not to walk away from it. Many machines now issue tickets, which are vastly more convenient to put away in your pocket, and are much cleaner to touch.

Now let me mention a few ideas about your own physical security and safety while staying in the casino hotel, or in any hotel for that matter.

If getting on an elevator and things just don’t look or feel right, then do not get on! Trust your instincts here and do not worry about offending anyone. Your safety and security are more important than the feelings of a stranger.

If you are accosted when walking in the hotel hallway to your room, yell “FIRE” as loud as you can. That will bring people into the hallway quicker than yelling for help, because some people are not willing to get involved with helping another person out in distress. Knock on as many doors as you can to get attention.

When you are staying in an unfamiliar hotel room, take a few moments to read the safety information and get your bearings, just like when flying. During an emergency in the middle of the night is not the time to be figuring out where the exits and stairwells are located.

Never open your hotel room without looking through the peephole and verifying who is at the door. If a person claims to be a maintenance worker or other hotel employee, call the front desk and ask if the employee is supposed to have access to your room. If someone knocks on your door with a delivery or room service you are not expecting, you can always call the front desk to verify the reason and request security be present.

Any money or chips you may find on the floor belong to the casino. Do not think the chip is yours just because you found it lying there. I would not even touch it; instead call for security or other casino personnel to deal with it. I know this does not sound fair, but trust me on this point; you do not want to be arrested for stealing from a casino, no matter how innocent this act may seem to you.
The exception to this rule is if a player notices that he or she dropped the money or casino chips and can prove it. If it is yours, you can pick it up.

Another variety of people (criminals) who come out of the woodwork when there is money around are those who work in the sexual hospitality industry. If you suddenly find yourself being aggressively approached by someone offering a date or company, it is probably not because of your charm and rugged good looks. It is probably because you have money on you, and your internal personnel safety alarm should start ringing! Remember, while they say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, criminal arrest records and diseases will certainly follow you everywhere and you will be lucky if your wallet is the only thing you lose.

Casino security is there primarily to protect the casino from theft, but the in-house security guards will also make every effort to protect the patrons as well; they strive to prevent all types of criminal activity on their property. If something does happen to you, report it to casino security and management, and be prepared to deal with the local law enforcement organization that has jurisdiction in that area.

Gaming and gambling should be fun, and if you follow the rules and pay attention to your own personal safety, you should be able to play and stay safe while having a great time, and maybe come away a winner as well.

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