Winds of change: security staff are the weather vane of responsible gaming culture
By Darren Groth
At the entrance to the casino, a young man arrives accompanied by an older woman. Security officer Azhar greets the couple with a warm smile and a polite request to check the young man’s ID. He notes the date.
“Happy birthday,” he says.
“Thank you,” replies the young man.
“You’re 19 today?”
“Yes. I wanted to visit the casino to celebrate.”
“I’m his mother,” says the woman. “I’m here to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble.”
Azhar nods. “I’m glad you came – thank you.” He hands the ID back. “Before you start your night, could you spare a few minutes? I’d like you to meet someone who’ll help make sure your first visit to the casino is a positive one.”
Azhar brings the pair across the slot floor to the GameSense Info Centre. He introduces them to the Advisor and assures them this is the place to understand how gambling works: house edge, randomness, the odds of the games, myths players might have.
“Knowing what you’re doing,” he adds, “is the best way to keep it fun.”
Later, when the pair are leaving the casino, the mother will go out of her way to find Azhar and thank him for taking care of her son.
During her rounds, security officer Tina observes a regular poker player showing clear signs of tiredness. Between hands, she approaches and asks if she can help in any way.
“I’m fine, Tina,” the player replies.
“Glad to hear that. I did happen to notice you yawning a few times. And looking a little uncomfortable in your seat.”
The player folds his arms, shrugs. “Yeah, I could probably do with a break.”
“What sort of break you thinking of? Coffee? Stretch the legs? Or are you thinking away from the casino for a time?”
“I guess…away? I mean, for a couple of days. Just to re-set a bit at home.”
Tina nods. “Take as long as you need. Home is the priority for sure.” Heading to the exit, Tina asks the player if he’d like a cab ride – he says he is good to drive.
A week after the interaction, when the player returns to site, he thanks Tina for her concern and assures her he will comply with the ‘No Yawning’ rules.
“Awesome,” replies Tina, with a laugh. “I don’t want to have to kick you out.”
The sole player in the quietest corner of the slot floor – security officer Benny has confirmed he is a Voluntary Self-Exclusion participant. As Benny nears, the player rises from his seat.
“I know, I know,” he says. “You going to lecture me?”
“No,” replies Benny. “VSE can be tough. Relapses happen.” He holds a plain white envelope in his hand. “This is the kit we gave you when you first signed up. It has good info – frequently asked questions, support line, community contacts. I’d like to give it to you again, just as a reminder of the positive commitment you made to yourself.”
The player hesitates for a moment then accepts the kit. On the way out – via a quieter route on the perimeter of the casino floor – the player has a quick look inside the envelope, then murmurs a comment about ‘something to hang onto’. At the exit, he thanks Benny for not making a big deal about the interception.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” says Benny, smiling. “I hope I don’t see you again.”
The stories above are based on true-to-life experiences (names changed for anonymity). Individually and collectively, they speak to a robust responsible gaming culture, one that actions connection and care over compliance and enforcement. And it’s no coincidence that security staff feature in all three scenarios – in a very real sense, security performance is the best measure of a gaming facility’s customer support climate.
At Parq Vancouver, we have come far on our responsible gambling culture journey, particularly with our security team. In partnership with British Columbia Lottery Corporation, and through our own in-house initiatives, security personnel at Parq are among the best trained in Canada, completing multiple courses – Appropriate Response, VSE Enhancement, New Employment Orientation, Circle of Service – that emphasize the win-wins of a humanist approach. For the many fine exponents of the security role, the training often serves as confirmation of their own successful interaction strategies and recognition for the value-add they provide to the site.
Beyond training, Parq Vancouver’s RG culture is evident throughout our operations. Parq’s policy platform features unique directives specific to red flag response and optimal VSE support, each one setting a ‘soft-skill’ standard for all associates – not just security – to acknowledge and perform. We constantly message across the wide range of associate touchpoints, both physical and online, reinforcing connection and care as our north stars. Through a variety of polls and surveys, we research and evaluate our people’s RG engagement and delivery. The sum total of these initiatives, and our many other efforts across the organization, has seen us rank top five in Canada for the Responsible Gambling Council’s RG Check assessment of best practice.
In the end, though, the job is never done, and continuous improvement remains our mantra. And as we further strive to harness the winds of RG cultural change, our security team – as always – will be our weather vane, helping point the way.