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12 Safety Guidelines for Casino Patrons

Casinos can be exciting places for fun, excitement, and entertainment, but wherever large sums of money, alcohol service, and crowds congregate, criminal opportunists can be found waiting to pounce. Casino operators invest thousands of dollars in high-tech surveillance systems and security resources to keep patrons safe. Despite this investment, crime still occurs, so it behooves casino management and security personnel to look after their patrons and share a few simple tips and concierge security services to keep casino winnings where they belong—with the patron.

Compared to the approximately 84 million visitors to U.S. casinos each year, generating approximately $60 billion in revenue for gaming establishments, according to Forbes, the chance of becoming a victim of crime is relatively low but crime invariably occurs.

In January 2024, a man was followed to his residence in a suburb of Los Angeles from a California casino and held at gunpoint by two masked thieves. The crime was foiled when the man’s son exited the residence upon hearing his father screaming in the driveway.

In December 2023, a 52-year-old resident of Minneapolis was followed from a Wisconsin casino to his residence by three suspects who robbed the victim of $38,000. While assaulting the victim, the suspects allegedly threatened to kill two female family members at the scene. Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that the suspects and two others had stalked the victim inside the casino. A total of five subjects have been charged for this crime.  

In February 2023, an 84-year-old victim left an Indiana casino with $6,000 in winnings and was assaulted in his driveway by a 58-year-old suspect who fled with the money.

In October 2021, a 53-year-old New Jersey man, a well-known pharmaceutical CEO, husband, and father to two, left a Pennsylvania casino after winning big. Upon arriving home, a 27-year-old suspect who followed the victim from the casino forced his way into the home and shot the victim multiple times, killing him, in an attempted robbery.

Patron safety is of paramount importance to casino management and security personnel. Casino patrons should be provided the following suggestions to keep themselves and their belongings safe:

Tip #1: Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Distracted

A casino can be a busy, action-packed place.  Thieves will take advantage of the constant distractions to bump you, or otherwise distract you from your valuables.  Keep your bags, wallet, money, chips, cellular telephone, and other valuables close at hand and don’t allow others to divert your attention. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry to the casino. Criminals will frequently work in teams, with one person distracting you while the other thief steals your belongings or cashes out your slot machine and walks away with your cash ticket.

Tip #2: Avoid Making Yourself a Target for Thieves

Divide your money among different pockets or bag compartments.  Avoid carrying money and valuables in fanny packs, as these can be easily cut and removed from your person.  Place a thick rubber-band around your wallet to make it harder for pickpockets to remove.  Keep purses and bags in front of you at all times. Don’t walk away from a slot machine leaving credits on the machine to go to the restroom or drink station. Ask a slot attendant to monitor your slot machine while you take a break.

Tip #3: Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself and Your Winnings

Don’t walk away from the cashier’s cage counting your money.  Secure your money before leaving the cage.  Offer to write your address for cage personnel when requested, rather than provide it verbally.  You don’t know who may be listening.  As your winnings accumulate, feel free to color-up (exchange lower denomination chips for higher denomination chips), as these will be easier for you to track. Ask for a casino check rather than cash for large jackpot pay-outs. When leaving the casino with a large amount of cash, ask for a security escort to your vehicle.

Tip #4: Report Anything Unusual

If you sense you are being followed inside the casino, or experience any uneasiness at all, don’t hesitate to contact casino security personnel.

Tip #5: Consider Alternative Means of Receiving Large Winnings

Request your winnings in the form of a casino check made out to you.

Leave the majority of your winnings in your casino player’s account and withdraw in smaller amounts over several days.

You can also request a security escort to your vehicle and monitor vehicles following you out of the parking lot.  If you believe you are being followed, call your local police emergency number, or drive to the nearest law enforcement agency or fire department.

Tip #6: Remain Vigilant After Leaving the Casino

Organized groups of robbers will follow casino customers possessing large sums of money away from the casino and assault them at the first opportunity, such as the grocery store or the driveway of the victim’s home.  Pay attention to the cars around you upon leaving the casino.  If you feel you are being followed, call your local police emergency number, and follow the operator’s instructions.  If you cannot contact law enforcement, drive to the nearest law enforcement agency, or fire station.  If you are the victim of a robbery, be sure to tell law enforcement that you recently left the casino with your winnings.  Casino surveillance video can be reviewed to possibly identify those responsible for the crime.

Tip #7: Avoid Gambling Alone

If at all possible, gamble with other people you know and resolve to keep an eye out for each other.  Thieves will frequently target the customer who is alone or the person who appears vulnerable.  If you are gambling alone, feel free to request a security escort to your vehicle or upon leaving the premises.

Tip #8: Closely Monitor Your Alcoholic Beverage Intake

Besides affecting your motor skills and your ability to drive home safely, alcohol impairs your judgment and vigilance.  It is easier for thieves to distract those whose faculties are impaired by alcohol.

Tip #9: Be Wary of Strangers

Casino customers are encouraged to be friendly and courteous towards each other but be careful sharing too much personal information with strangers, particularly when you are winning.  Criminals will take advantage of the happy feelings good fortune brings to get close to their victim and exploit them, perhaps by asking them for a ride home.  These criminals rarely work alone, and a victim lured away from the casino can quickly find themselves surrounded by several people intent on acts of violence.

Tip #10: Remain Aware of Your Surroundings

Familiarize yourself with the lay-out of the casino paying particular attention to the location of the nearest emergency exits. Choose populated and well-lit locations, particularly late at night. Avoid isolated and poorly lit locations in the casino.

Tip #11: Attend to Personal Needs

Casino gaming can be engrossing and distracting. Remember to stay hydrated, particularly when consuming alcoholic beverages, and take breaks to mentally and physically recharge.

Tip #12: If Confronted, Think Safety First

Money and valuables can be replaced, but your life cannot.  If you become the victim of crime, do everything in your power to ensure your safety.  This may mean avoiding resistance and surrendering your property.  Your goal should be to minimize injury to yourself, and those who may be with you.

As security professionals, we have a responsibility to guard the safety of casino patrons. Criminals taking advantage of the activity and distraction patrons may experience while engaged in gaming activity must be prevented from victimizing our customers. Elderly or physically challenged casino patrons are particularly prone to being singled out by criminals. Educating patrons regarding basic precautions they can take while enjoying the casino creates a security partnership sure to make our jobs easier and the gaming experience more enjoyable for our patrons.


David Vialpando, CPP, MBA, CFE, CFCS, is a 37-year law enforcement veteran, having served as a police officer in Richmond, California, and as a special agent with the California Attorney General’s Department of Justice, serving in both the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the Bureau of Gambling Control, where he served as the special agent-in-charge of the Bureau’s southern California offices.  Vialpando currently serves as the executive director of the Pokagon Band Gaming Commission for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan and Indiana.  Vialpando also serves as vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Tribal Gaming Protection Network.