Security practices enter spotlight after Las Vegas shooting

Like a sharp poker player, Las Vegas casinos keep their cards close to their vests when it comes to security.

Few, if any, are willing to say how many security personnel they have on staff, how many work during a particular shift and exactly what training they receive. That picture might become a lot clearer when judges start to hear cases filed by victims of the Oct. 1 massacre by a shooter at Mandalay Bay.

MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, declined to specify how many security guards it has on staff.

The casino operator said it regularly works with local and national law enforcement and private security consultants to make sure its security program at its properties is up to date.

“Security has been and continues to be a top priority,” spokeswoman Debra DeShong said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs will try to demonstrate that Mandalay Bay’s security setup was insufficient and possibly lacking compared with Strip peers, Las Vegas personal injury lawyer Adam Kutner said.

“Every aspect of their security is going to be examined,” he said. “In cases like this, it all comes down to prevention. Would security or additional security have prevented the incident?”

It is not something that is easy to prove.

The law holds that a hotel must act reasonable at all times, a fuzzy notion that is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances, Kutner said.

No firm standards

Even if the 3,000-room Mandalay Bay had fewer security on staff in the days leading up the shooting compared with similarly sizedMonte Carlo, it would not necessarily indicate insufficient security.

There are also no regulations determining just how many security personnel a Strip casino should have, just as there are no standards for shopping malls and many other businesses.

Nor are there strict guidelines for how many security guards should be armed or whether bomb-sniffing dogs should be employed. And there are no standards stating how many cameras should be used in nongaming areas or whether they are needed in hotel hallways.

Mandalay Bay recently added guards by the elevator banks to check for room keys. Some Strip properties have been doing that for years. Others still don’t.

Each Strip casino has to take into account several factors when determining a proper number of security personnel. They might include the number of visits, daily revenue, floor size, quantity of shops, number of exits and building towers.

Casinos might also need to take into account the number of crimes on their property or in their area, Kutner said.

Mandalay Bay might need less security because the south Strip is quieter compared with the center of the Strip.

“There are no carbon copies,’’ said C. David Shepherd, former head of surveillance at The Venetian, referring to casino security programs.

Heads of security at Las Vegas casinos, though, do meet monthly to discuss security issues and share best practices.

Comes down to money

Strip casinos might have from 30 to 50 security employees on duty depending on the day of the week and time of the shift, according to several security experts.

There are standard posts near casino entrances, elevators and parking lots while others are assigned to walk the property, pressing buttons that signal they have checked an area.

The Riviera, which closed in 2013, had 20 to 25 security workers on a shift before economic troubles caused it to slash that number in half, said Doug Poppa, who ran security at the casino from 2003 to 2012.

The Riviera probably had the smallest security staff among Strip properties, he said. Like most Las Vegas casino properties, the Riviera had no cameras in the hotel hallways.

The Oct. 1 shooting has raised many questions about security, including whether there should be cameras in the hallways.

Poppa, who also worked at MGM Grand in the 1990s, said he believes about five Strip properties have them, including Tropicana, MGM Grand, Stratosphere and Caesars.The Palms, which is considered off-Strip, has them too.

The cameras are mainly to protect the properties from personal injury liability and are rarely watched in real time, security experts say. It can cost hotels millions of dollars to install cameras in hallways as wires have be run through the walls, Poppa said.

“The issue of security always comes down to money,’’ said Poppa. “Surveillance and security is a nonrevenue-producing department.’’

Adequate security

Security consultants, Las Vegas police and Gaming Control Board officials in general did not voice concerns over the size of staffing at Strip casinos, but Poppa felt they lacked some measures such as K-9 explosive detection teams, which might have been able to pick up residue on Paddock’s weapons and ammo.

Tommy Burns, a former Henderson chief of police and security consultant for casinos, said properties “typically have an adequate number of security people on the floor.”

Nonetheless, he expects they will be beefing up after the shooting as a precaution, including potentially arming more officers.

Poppa said about 70 percent of properties had ”totally unarmed security” when he was working.

The quality of security staff is just as important as quantity, said Doug Florence, who ran security and surveillance at several Las Vegas properties.

Florence was hired by the Hard Rock in 2010 after it was discovered some of its security staff members were involved in criminal activity on property.

“What is more important than the head count is the training and management,” he said, adding Hard Rock security and training budget improved even as its staff was reduced from about 250 to 150.

MGM said all of its security staff undergo initial training led by its in-house team. That is followed by regular training and evaluation.

“For specialized topics, we engage top current and former law enforcement experts, particularly from the LVMPD, to further enhance our training program,” MGM said in a statement.

MGM did not say how long the initial training lasted.

Most casinos put their security staff through 40 to 60 hours of training that includes using handcuffs, pepper spray and conducting arrests, Burns said. If they are armed, there is more training.

Poppa said armed guards at Riviera trained three times a year, during which they would be drug-tested.

It rarely happens that a security guard has to pull his gun. During the day, security mainly spend their time helping customers, such as giving directions, Burns said.

As evening turns into late night, they have more calls to handle sick people, intoxicated people and disturbances.

Part-time and pay

Florence said the size of a security staff can be misleading. The properties regularly hire part-time security employees who might not have benefits and need to work several jobs.

“You can have a lot of people, but if they are on call and have to work a second job, they can be fatigued,” Florence said. “If you are providing benefits, they are more loyal and more committed to their responsibility.”

MGM did not give a percentage but said its security staff is “overwhelmingly full-time.”

Hourly wages for nonmanagerial casino security staff is in the mid-teens, according to job postings. That is about 50 percent below Clark County industry average, according to Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis.

Many security guards, especially senior staff, have police, military or national security backgrounds. But the low salaries keep many more of them away.

Reviewing security strategy

Properties are hiring consultants to review their security risk management, Florence said.

Reliance Security, a Las Vegas-based security company, has received two inquires after the Oct. 1 shooting from Strip casinos to carry out an assessment for any vulnerabilities, chief operating officer Joel Logan said.

In an interview with Fox TV last month, Steve Wynn said he hired consultants, including former New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly and members of Navy SEAL Team 6 two years ago to carry out an assessment of his property. Wynn said he had to recruit and expand security by tens of millions of dollars.

Burns believes there will be a return to more armed security at properties, a practice that was curtailed in the 1990s amid concerns over liability issues.

“The Oct. 1 event may speed that up, but it was trending that way,” Burns said.

Contact Todd Prince at or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like