The World Game Protection conference and expo returns to Las Vegas March 7-9 as the gaming industry deals with an increase in cage robberies and casino cheating.
Since 2006, the WGPC has helped thousands of professionals deal with the challenges of running a casino. It connects people responsible for observing, detecting, reporting, investigating, or acting on undesirable activity on the gaming floor.
The event at the Tropicana Las Vegas examines current and emerging threats to casinos and explores opportunities and practices to combat those threats. Registration is open and more than 500 people are expected to attend, which is a return to pre-pandemic levels for the show.
Conference founder Willy Allison said the focus of the show will be on discussing what’s happened in the last 12 months.
“This year’s hot topics are game protection, of course, along with money laundering and electronic table games,” Allison said. “The ETGs are relatively new, but they’re already causing all sorts of problems with cheating. A fourth pillar is technology solutions. New technology, whether it’s hardware or software, that can help businesses minimize the risk.
“What we’re trying to do this year is ask the industry if we’re looking in the right direction,” Allison said. “Casino crime is diversifying. It’s becoming more complex than the old days. We try to raise awareness of the complex risks. The conference is the place to come and talk about those risks that have surfaced and best ways to minimize them.”
One of Allison’s concerns is all the “blindspots” in the casino industry when it comes to those operational risks.
“Are we looking at electronic games? Do we focus on money laundering? What about internal thefts? Are they malicious acts by employees or unintentional? Are we prioritizing the right things? This year more than ever, the show will look at insider threats, as well as compliance culture and being more risk averse.”
Casinos across the globe faced a $250 million in fines in 2022 from regulators, Allison said. It’s important to create an effective way for people within the organization, no matter their level, to say something and not be punished for trying to make a positive change.
There’s a lot to discuss with security. In Las Vegas, the Metropolitan Police Department asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a series of casino robberies that started in November.
“There’s also a lot more violence in and around casinos,” Allison said. “Ten to twenty years ago, you didn’t have robberies of casino cages in Vegas. What’s the reason for that? We look at these things with hotel security. the show is about risk awareness and getting the experts in the room to talk about it.”
In part, Allison blames a lack of security presence at casinos. If there were more of a presence at the entrances, that would be a deterrent; obstacles are daunting to criminals. The problem is casinos don’t want to spend the money, he said.
“People have to ask, why Vegas and not other jurisdictions?” Allison said. “Why is it not a problem in Atlantic City or Mississippi? It’s because they have access control. They ask people for IDs. Vegas believes in personal free access. We don’t want to scare you away. Vegas casinos have a lot of entrances, so it now becomes a staffing issue. Also in Vegas, the genie is out of the bottle. People have worked out that the casinos aren’t high-tech Ocean’s 11 fortresses and that they’re actually quite easy to rob.”
Allison said the increase in robberies may be attributed to the economic slowdown, making people, especially addicts, more desperate.
A year ago, the conference changed its format to provide training on the first day with three-hour seminars. Those sessions include investigating gaming losses, table-game and ETG protection, and risk management.
“We’ve added three important topics. In the hotel-security class, we talk about crime, everything from drugs and weapons to terrorism. The advantage-play seminar breaks down the latest ways players can beat games legally, which represent a threat to the bottom line. And finally, with OSINT, Open Source Intelligence, you can conduct investigations of players and employees on the internet.”
Among the speakers will be Mac Segal, founder and CEO of AHNA Group, who will talk about hotel security. Eliot Jacobson, a former mathematics professor and casino consultant, will discuss advantage play. Megan Munoz, a senior intelligence analyst, will give OSINT instruction.
“To combat risk these days, you need software, hardware, and awareness,” Allison said. “That’s what our show is about – risk awareness and solutions.”