A little surveillance, please

Feb 12, 2007 3:07 AM

S-s-s-s A-a-a-a F-f-f-f E-e-e-e T-t-t-t Y-y-y-y. SAFETY DANCE!

This week’s column has absolutely nothing to do with the pride of Quebec, Les Hommes Sans Chapeaux, better known as Men Without Hats; however, Safety Dance is one heckuva catchy tune (and now it won’t get out of your head for the rest of the day). The topic for this week however is safety (but alas not dancing).

The new kid on the block is doing right by its patrons by respecting their expectation to be entertained in a secure environment. They subscribe to the sentiment that limited stakes should not equal limited security.

According to Heather Leigh, Ameristar’s Public Relations Manager, "Ameristar Casino Black Hawk recently installed surveillance cameras in its parking garage as part of its effort to provide additional safety and security to team members and guests. The cameras provide general coverage on each level of the parking structure and operate 24 hours per day."

Shockingly, Ameristar is the first property of the neighboring casinos in Black Hawk to provide its guests and employees with sense of security derived from knowing that the parking structure is actively being monitored.

Most in the gaming community recognize that working cameras act as a deterrent to primarily two types of crimes, against persons and against property.

With cash in their pockets and a shuffle in their orthopedic shoes, the elderly are an "easy target" for criminals. There is no reason why these patrons should have to gamble with their personal safety and face potential crime against their persons venturing to and from casino parking structures.

Visible cameras keep all but the most determined and dumb criminals from even contemplating a mugging. Unfortunately without surveillance cameras present in a garage, those who are the most defenseless are "ripe pickings" for assailants.

While some may argue that crimes against property are not as serious a matter as crimes against person, these invasions of personal security are still significantly unbalancing for the victim.

Following is a recalling of a personal incident in a public garage. It should be noted that a casino parking garage is "public" only in that members of the public are invited to enter while they patronize an associated casino.

The structure remains privately held. The safety and well being of patrons in a parking structure are not monitored or within the direct jurisdiction of a public entity (e.g., local police), but the structure is, by design and operation, to be monitored by private employees.

Claims of not being responsible for occurrences in said garages should be restricted. Further, a casino has an ethical (if not legal) obligation to protect guests on any part of a property to the best of its ability.

As I learned the hard way on February 6, 2006, casinos do not have the alluded to legal responsibility in Colorado to maintain active surveillance of their garage areas. When my car was broken into in the "public" parking structure of the Isle of Capri and my stereo, prescription driving glasses, brief case, cell phone, et cetera were plundered (Case: CR- 06-532), Isle of Capri security (who also could not provide records demonstrating diligence of foot patrol rounds in the garage structure during the period in which my car was parked) had no surveillance. Not one camera in the whole parking structure.

There is virtually no means for the Isle of Capri to argue that they were not aware of a criminal nuisance since incidents reports to the local police had been made with the assistance of Isle of Capri security staff. Further, every other Isle of Capri property (via phone survey in February 2007) claims to have surveillance cameras in the garage.

This begs the question of why the Isle of Carpri, not only does not follow established nationwide gaming industry standards (i.e., maintaining a surveillance presence on all parts of a property including parking lots, hotel hallways, food and beverage areas, et cetera), but their own company precedent? It has been a year since the crime occurred and upon checking (as of this writing in February of 2007), the Isle of Capri Black Hawk garage continues to be barren of cameras.

Bravo to Ameristar for yet again being the conscientious market leader. Hopefully, other properties in the market will soon follow suit.