Philadelphia’s Rivers Casino screens customers for weapons

Casino license renewal hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board are not likely to create much surprising news, amid claims of their positive economic benefits and community contributions from operators and their supporters.

During a hearing this week, however, Rivers Casino Philadelphia officials mentioned installing metal detectors in a way that seemed to come as a surprise to some on the gaming board, though it might be common knowledge among gamers. recent casino customers.

Although it is mandatory at all 16 casinos in Pennsylvania for anyone entering to pass a staffed security checkpoint – where they can be checked for age verification or for status on exclusion lists of state prohibiting their entry – the type of gun control is now standard in stadiums and government buildings are not common for gaming facilities. Rivers Philadelphia and Valley Forge Casino Resort held local public hearings on their periodic license renewals this week, and the mention of the use of metal detectors at Rivers was one of the few things that stood out. The devices were installed in February.

A “proactive” security measure

Gaming board chairwoman Denise Smyler, who praised Rivers for the focus on safety, was curious if any specific incidents prompted the installation. But casino officials said that was not the case.

“We’ve received a lot of customer feedback on perceptions of safety in the region,” said general manager Justin Moore. “We found this to be a proactive measure. If anything can deter a bad guy from entering the casino with a weapon, then it’s 100% worth it.”

There was much discussion at the hearing held at SEPTA headquarters in Philadelphia that the area around the casino in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood had been largely destroyed prior to the casino’s 2010 opening. then known as the Sugarhouse. Representatives of the casino and community groups credited the casino with helping revive the neighborhood in later years.

Moore estimated that 80% of the feedback he’s heard from customers about metal detectors was positive, with the most common complaint coming from smokers who have to leave the gambling hall under a current smoking policy. smoking ban, then be checked again on re-entry. . Most Pennsylvania casinos allow smoking, but Moore said COVID precautions require the casino to maintain an indoor smoking ban at this time.

At Rivers Pittsburgh, the casino’s sister property also owned by Rush Street Gaming, no metal detectors are apparent and smoking is permitted on part of the gaming floor.

Metal detectors are not normally used in Las Vegas casinos, even after the horrific mass shooting of October 1, 2017in which a Mandalay Bay guest had some 20 guns in his room when he shot and killed 60 of his 32n/a suite upstairs. In a later article published by WiredMark Waltrip, chief operating officer of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, noted how a low-profile weapons-detection radar scanner was being tested there, but the type of bulky detectors used in other public spaces didn’t match well. the atmosphere sought by casinos.

“People come to Vegas because it’s the fun capital of the world,” he said. “If they show up at their compound and they have to wait in line for metal detectors, or get shot down or run through a gauntlet of security guards carrying guns and pistols — that won’t put them on the line. easy. It will ruin their experience.

No action has been taken by the gaming commission on the Rivers and Valley Forge license renewals, which are required every five years. Formal votes will take place at a future monthly board meeting in Harrisburg.

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