Casinos are well known for increasing crime rates in their respective neighborhoods. Gambling venues lead to more crimes stemming from disorderly conduct, assault, robbery, and vandalism. Springfield, Massachusetts, for example, has seen its crime rate more than triple since MGM Springfield opened in August 2018.
Of all the potential crimes that can happen in casinos, robbery is the scariest. Thieves like to target big winners and/or people who are alone.
The thought of being robbed in or outside a casino isn’t a pleasant one. But there are things you can do to minimize your chances of being a target. Keep reading as I cover more on casino robberies and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim.
Why Are Casinos Such Popular Targets for Robbers?
Most casinos see millions of dollars exchange hands every day. The house wins over half of this money from players consistently. However, there are plenty of gamblers who win large sums from the casino too.
Casinos feature a concentrated area of people who are carrying large amounts of chips and cash. This scenario creates the perfect storm for robbers who are looking for their next mark.
Criminals can walk through casinos and scout out potential victims.
The elderly, alone, inept, and braggarts are all possible targets.
Robbers can either look for opportunities to steal within the casino our in the parking lot. The latter is much more dangerous for victims because it often involves being held at gunpoint.
Crooks may even go as far as to follow somebody to their car, then start tailing them as they drive home. The robbers will hold the person up in their driveway, or later break into the house when the gambler isn’t home.
Luckily, the vast majority of gamblers go to and from casinos without incident. But it’s important to be aware of why and how robberies can happen.
Even the Casinos Themselves Can Be Targets
Gambling establishments invest lots of money into security personnel. After all, they have millions of dollars’ worth of cash on hand and need to deter potential thieves.
Nevertheless, there are high-profile incidents where gun-wielding criminals have hit casinos. The most famous example is when Anthony “The Bellagio Bandit” Carleo stole $1.5 million worth of chips from Las Vegas’ Bellagio in 2010.
Carleo rode a motorcycle up to the casino, entered with a shotgun, and held up the famed venue. He then rode off with the chips, masked by his motorcycle helmet the entire time. Carleo was later busted after trying to sell $25,000 denomination chips to an undercover officer.
Gregory Bolusan hit Vegas’ M Resort three times in 2017. He brazenly robbed the casino’s cage three times with a fake handgun, netting $63,000 total.
Adding intrigue to the story is that Bolusan was a senior pastor at Grace Bible Church in Sin City. He was finally apprehended when security recognized him on the third attempt and detained him.
You don’t have to worry as much about these types of robberies unless you own a casino. But these incidents are still worth noting. If a criminal is willing to rob an entire casino, then they’ll have less qualms about pursuing an individual.
Theft Can Also Happen at the Table
Not all casino robberies are parking lot stickups or Ocean’s 11 style capers. They sometimes happen at the gambling tables too.
Few people pay heed to their chip stack 24/7. An adept robber can sense when somebody isn’t paying attention and swipe some or all of their chips.
Craps and roulette tables are especially popular targets for criminals.
These games feature lots of commotion and betting chaos, with people reaching over each other to place wagers.
A robber can look for a stack with thousands of dollars, wait for the gambler to stop paying attention, then move in for some chips. If they’re skilled at their “profession,” the victim won’t know what hit them.
You might think that casino surveillance will easily pick up any such incidents after the fact. But the truth is that these systems are mainly designed to catch habitual cheaters.
Surveillance is great for providing video evidence that can nab a cheater who keeps hitting the same casino. This technology isn’t so good, however, at stopping robberies in action.
Unless cameras get an excellent ID on somebody, little can be done after theft has occurred. The perpetrator will likely be long gone, leaving the victim with little to no recourse.
What Can You Do to Keep from Being Robbed?
The point of this post isn’t to create fear-mongering and keep you constantly looking over your shoulder. Instead, I just want to present possible robbery scenarios and how you can avoid getting scammed.
The following tips will improve your chances of not being a casino robbery victim. At the very least, you’ll be less of a target for any would-be criminals.
Have Security Escort You to Your Car After Big Wins
Casino parking lots are a popular spot for robberies. A criminal may notice a big winner, or just somebody with a huge chip stack, then follow them outside. This is why gambling venues offer to have security escort big winners to their cars.
Security may not always discourage a determined thief. But their presence alone is often enough to scare off muggers.
It’s customary to tip security if you do get escorted out to the lot. Of course, you shouldn’t have trouble covering a small tip if you’ve hit a large payout.
Get a Cashier’s Check at the Cage
Security escorts may be entirely unnecessary if you request a check from the cashier’s cage. Just ask the casino to write you a check when cashing in your chips.
You can endorse the back with “deposit only.” The deposit-only designation lets a bank know to only deposit the money into your account.
Don’t sign your name on the back yet. Doing so could make it easier for a thief to cash in the check if they hold you up.
You should always consider opting for a check after large wins. Few robbers will be motivated to go after you if the reward is just a check.
But if they still mug you, having “deposit only” on the check along with your name printed on the front can prevent them from cashing in.
Be Wary of Anybody Tailing You on the Way Home
Chances are that you’ll be safe with your cash or (hopefully) check after a big payout. However, you also have to account for the possibility that somebody could follow you home.
I’m not saying that you should risk accident by continually looking in your rearview mirror the entire way. But it’s good to at least be mindful of any cars that have been following you for a long distance.
In 2018, a Rhode Island woman was tailed for 43 miles after somebody saw her make a big cashout at the Twin Rivers Casino. When she arrived home, the thief pushed her down in the driveway and made off with her purse.
You might consider taking four right turns (circling a block) to confirm a possible tailer. When on the highway, you can take an exit and then immediately get back on the highway.
Try staying on busy highways and streets when using these techniques. Doing so limits the chance that somebody will cut off your way and force you to stop.
Call law enforcement if you for sure think that you’re being followed. It’s better to have an officer on the way just in case the robber gets desperate and eventually tries cutting you off.
Never Brag About Winnings on Social Media
Simply getting your money home isn’t the final step to staying safe. It’s also important to avoid celebrating through social media.
The temptation is strong to brag about your winnings, so that friends and family can see your success. The problem, though, is that it can also attract unwanted attention.
If the wrong person sees your post, they might think about robbing your home. The money could even be safely in your bank account, but they’ll rummage through the house when you’re not home anyways.
Unless you’ve won a multimillion-dollar slots jackpot and can afford the best security, don’t share your wins through social media. Save Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for other subjects.
Watch Your Chips at the Table
The inside of a casino can be a breeding ground for crooks. Thieves can steal gamblers’ chips when they’re not looking and either cash out immediately or do so on their next visit.
It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your chips. You don’t have to stay 100% glued to your stack. But you should at least have a good idea on how many chips are in your stack every few rounds.
It’s especially crucial to mind your chips at busy craps or roulette tables. These aren’t like baccarat or blackjack tables, where there’s separation between you and other gamblers.
Instead, these games can get chaotic when everybody is placing wagers in between rounds. Don’t let a thief catch you off guard and take part/all of your chip stack.
Visit the Casino with a Friend or Two
Most people enjoy going to casinos with their friends. Doing so creates a more-memorable experience by having more people to share it with.
But visiting gambling establishments with friends has more benefit than just entertainment value. It can also protect gamblers from being robbed. Criminals are less likely to mug a group of two or more people.
Be Especially Guarded if You’re Older
The elderly are often targeted by crooks before anybody else. It doesn’t help matters that older people make up a large portion of the land-based casino crowd.
Anybody over the age of 60 should be on guard at the casino. They stand the best chance of avoiding robbery by traveling in groups, like the tip above suggests.
Casinos will always attract thieves. These establishments have lots of money flowing around the slots and table games, which creates opportunities for robbers.
Some of these crooks are so brazen that they’ll even pull off daring casino heists. But the more likely scenario is that they’re looking for a big winner, or anybody who’s carrying a large bankroll.
Most muggers only want to scare their victims and get the money without causing physical harm. Even still, no gambler wants to see a criminal make off with thousands of their dollars.
Luckily, you can reduce the chances of being targeted by robbers.
One of the most-important things is to simply realize that the danger exists.
If you net a big win and are bragging about it to everybody within earshot, you could draw the attention of a potential thief. They may not even be at the casino specifically to rob somebody. But they’ll gladly take advantage of an opportunity when presented.
Keep your celebrations to a minimum when winning lots of money. Also be sure to request a check payout afterward. If you do ask for cash, at least have security escort you outside afterward.
Other tips to remember include watching for potential tailers on the way home, traveling in groups, and avoiding the temptation to brag about your wins.
One more factor to consider is that not all robberies happen outside or on the way home. Some occur when a thief steals somebody’s chips in the casino.
Watch your chip stack on a semi-consistent basis, especially when playing craps, roulette, or any other crowded game. Also make sure to keep your chips close by at all times.
Following these tips doesn’t 100% guarantee that you won’t ever be robbed. However, you can at least minimize the possibilities and hopefully avoid any scary/dangerous incidents.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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