Gaming Surveillance Officer
Gaming Surveillance Officer
Education and Training: High school plus certification
Salary: Median—$25,840 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Gaming surveillance officers, also known as surveillance agents and gaming investigators, observe casino operations for cheating or theft by employees or patrons. They do most of their work in observation rooms using audio and video equipment. Recordings made by gaming surveillance officers can be used as evidence in criminal investigations. Surveillance agents are sometimes stationed on a catwalk over one-way mirrors located above the casino floor so they can watch for irregularities in play. Other times they simply walk around the facility observing patrons.
While most surveillance officers work in gambling establishments and casino hotels, others work for local and state governments. Their job is to make sure casinos are operating according to local and state regulations and treating their patrons and employees properly.
Education and Training Requirements
Gaming surveillance officers and investigators need some training beyond high school. Several certification programs are available, most of which use casino-like rooms and surveillance cameras for training. Applicants with extensive knowledge of gaming operations or casino experience are preferred. Former law-enforcement personnel are ideal candidates for surveillance jobs.
All surveillance officers and gaming investigators must have sharp observation skills and the verbal and writing ability to document any wrongdoing. They need to be physically fit with quick reflexes and considerable strength, as they are responsible for detaining suspicious individuals until the police arrive on the scene. All job applicants should expect a thorough background investigation.
Getting the Job
Individuals interested in work as gaming surveillance officers should contact the personnel offices of casinos and local and state gaming agencies directly for information on openings. Working part time or as a seasonal employee at a casino during major tourist seasons is a good way to move into full-time employment.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. If more states legalize gambling, the number of gaming establishments will grow, resulting in more surveillance jobs. A greater demand for increased security will also create more jobs in this field. Potential surveillance officers must be willing and able to learn about technological advances that curtail cheating and theft.
Like most gaming workers, surveillance officers work eight-hour shifts five days a week, although they are often on call in case of emergencies. Because most casinos are open twenty-four hours a day, shifts are staggered, and agents can expect to work some nights, weekends, and holidays. Surveillance workers must remain alert throughout their shifts. If they work behind a bank of monitors controlling several cameras in a casino, they may experience eyestrain.
Where to Go for More Information
American Gaming Association
555 Thirteenth St. NW, Suite 1010 E
Washington, DC 20004
Earnings and Benefits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators earned a median annual income of $25,840 in May 2004. Casinos usually provide full-time workers with benefits that include health insurance, retirement plans, vacation time, paid sick days, and extra pay for working on holidays.