New Pinkerton team breaks into security

Sep 3, 2002 6:54 AM

One of the top names in security, Pinkerton, has joined API Services with the goal of making casinos safer in dicey times.

From audits to facial imaging surveillance, the new venture furnishes a wide range of security services to the worldwide gaming industry. "Until now, there has not been a major international provider of bundled services,’’ says API President Dennis Nelson, who heads the group’s campaign against inside and outside jobs.

Doug Florence, a native Las Vegan and regional vice president of gaming and hospitality, tells GamingToday that the Pinkerton-API division ”” branded APG ”” "is on track to become the industry leader in 18 months."

A former director of surveillance at the Mirage and the Rio, Florence recently helped a Midwestern casino nail a notorious slot cheat while conducting a security program demonstration.

"They had detained him, but didn’t know how to close the case. We can provide training on cheating case resolution and how to avoid litigation. By using cameras correctly, you can catch cheaters in the act and retrieve the evidence,’’ he said.

APG’s role as consultant and auditor goes far beyond catching cheaters and checking ledgers, Florence adds.

"The Hard Rock could have benefited from a complete audit,’’ he says of the Las Vegas resort that was recently slapped with a six-figure fine for permitting lewd and indecent conduct. "By doing the due diligence, you can tune up certain practices and abandon others."

The expanding scope of the security business has opened the field to a growing number of surveillance firms. And some competitors are skeptical that Pinkerton-API ”” relative newcomers to large-scale gaming ”” can knock them out of the box.

Nelson, a former compliance director for the Hochunk Tribe in Wisconsin, says APG has a "half-dozen" clients in Nevada and "about 50" outside the state ”” though officials would not divulge any names. The firm, which has eight technical consultants on core staff and "several dozen" unidentified business partners, expects that its "unique database" services will be attractive to hotel-casinos worldwide.

Pinkerton’s senior managing director, Jim Murray, adds that his company’s global reach with thousands of agents gives it an edge. "With so many new countries opening up [to gaming], it’s critical to know who you’re getting in bed with,’’ he said. "Corruption and physical security are large issues."

Bolstering its expertise, APG hired Michael Brave, a former Department of Justice intelligence officer. He specializes in risk assessment, with an eye toward the new responsibilities imposed on resorts under the new anti-terror Patriot Act.

Florence plans to share some of APG’s expertise at the Global Gaming Expo where he will conduct a session on "Surveillance and Internal Investigations’’ on Sept. 17.

Florence’s is one of more than a dozen conference presentations devoted to the increasingly hot topic of security. Others include "Propertywide Benefits from Surveillance’’ by Keith Michaels, surveillance director at Palace Station, and "Casino Database and Facial Recognition Resources" by Bob Schmitt, executive vice president of the Las Vegas-based Viisage Technology and Biometrica Systems.