Monday, May 17, 2010

Question for casino employees

One of the odd little things that I've noticed repeatedly over my Vegas years, but have never been able to figure out, is this: Usually (though not always) when a player buys chips from either the dealer or the cashier, the bills are turned face down and spread on the table (or counter, or whatever other surface is handy). Obviously, spreading them out is so the overhead cameras can record the amount in case of any dispute, to prevent pilfering by employees, etc.

But why face down? It isn't always this way, but it is done that way far more than just chance. I frequently notice the employee going out of his or her way to turn the bills that way. In some casinos, it's face down every time--pretty clearly a house policy.

With modern bills and modern cameras, it is not plausible that this is done because one side of the bills is more easily recognized than the other. My only guess is that it's a holdover policy from earlier days, when cameras were low resolution and bills were more similar to each other; in those years, the backs may well have been more distinct than the fronts.

If anybody knows for sure, or even has better speculation than mine, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


Grange95 said...

Nitty, small detail issues like this are why I follow this blog more closely than any other poker blog.

Inquiring minds demand to know!

Matthew Yauch said...

I've never done it for a policy, the simplest reason is that folded money taken from a wallet or pocket will (usually) have the front of the bill on the inside of the fold. If you try to spread it on a table face up the money will curl/bend itself back into a folded position. Face down they'll lay flat.

Another benefit is an easier count with bank faced bills. Say someone buys in with $300, 1x $10, 2x $20, 1x $50, and 2x $100 all bank faced (ascending order by value and facing same direction). By turning the money over to the back you first count out the 2x $100, then the 50, then 20s, then 10.

John Browning said...

I think you were on the right track about with the cameras. Yes, they could zoom in if they wanted too most likely (though, many surveillance cameras are low quality), but with the large colored number on the backs of bills, a cursory glance could probably verify the denomination without a zoom in.

However, I really think that's just why it's face down. I think the more important thing is they all face the same way. The bill counters that are used probably check for counterfeit bills and need to be put in the counter in a specific way. So making sure they're all facing the same direction at the counter streamlines the process later.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a dealer at a casino in Canada, and we were told to spread the money in such a way that the cameras could see the serial numbers of the bills. Not sure if that applies to US cash, but maybe that is what they are doing.


Atlanta Matt said...

Grump, you would go insane in a Panamanian casino. They are on the American dollar but counterfeiting us such a problem there, apparently, that the acceptance of any denomination over a $20 bill is rare. In our casino you couldn't buy chips at a table game with a hundred dollar bill. You could only change a hundered at the cage.

Even when you buy into a table or poker game with tens and twentys the game pauses so the dealer can call the floor over to inspect the bills. The floor holds each bill up to the light, rubs it in his hands and THEN takes it over to one of those UV thingys and places each bill inside individually.

--S said...

When I first started in the gaming industry, I was told to spread them face down because it was easier for surveillance to distinguish the newer bills from each other that way.

I've since met people who work in surveillance who say it doesn't really matter any more with the digital camera equipment.

Pete said...

What you have to remember about the cameras is there are two types. There are fixed cameras and there are cameras that can move and change focus, and zoom.

While it is possible for the operator of a camera to focus in and see little details with the latter type of camera, they in fact have to be watching in real time to know when to zoom in. The fixed cameras do not know in advance what the operator wants to see, they simply give an overall picture.

This is why so many times in a poker room when there is a dispute, the response from surveillance about what cards or how many chips went is "inconclusive" It is very hard for them to see the faces of the cards on the poker table, unless they zoom in when it is happening.

At least this is the explanation given to me by a former surveillance worker turned poker floorman.

Online Casino Gambling said...

Employees handle 100s of thousands/millions of dollars every day. Casinos must protect themselves from criminals. this information is then submitted to the gaming comission.

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I think it was easier for surveillance to distinguish the newer bills from each other that way.
Casino must protect themselves from criminals.