World Game Protection Shifts Focus

The annual World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas shifted focus this year from its traditional concentration on protecting the games to protecting the lives of employees and patrons. Show producer Willy Allison (l.) said the role of security is asset protection as much as game protection.

World Game Protection Shifts Focus

The tragedy at Mandalay Bay on October 1 led the organizers of the annual World Game Protection Conference, held at Bally’s Las Vegas March 13-15, to shift the traditional focus of the conference, which was protecting games from cheaters and thieves, to ways to protect employees and their customers in active-shooter situations.

Approximately 600 attendees of WGP saw presentations on how to prevent and handle active-shooter situations and armed robberies, including a simulation of an active-shooter event on the Strip.

“Our conference program has always been game protection, but it is not the biggest threat in our industry now,” said show organizer Willy Allison in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We have to think of security’s role more as asset protection.”

Allison pointed out that the shooting at Mandalay Bay in October, which resulted in 58 dead after a gunmen sprayed automatic-weapon fire on a crowd of people at an outdoor concert, was actually the latest of several recent casino shooting incidents, including a terrorist attack at a Manila, Philippines casino last may that killed more than 30.

“These (shootings) are not going to go away,” said Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida who also is an instructor at the FBI Academy and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, in a separate presentation at the conference. “I would love to say that they are, but that’s not going to happen. This is our new normal.”

The expo floor at WGC this year offered a wealth of new technology aimed at protecting against shootings—from a microwave radar-based screening system from Patriot One Technologies that detects concealed weapons on the body to several different new facial recognition systems.