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updated: 7/18/2011 5:45 AM

Security almost everywhere at new Des Plaines casino

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Security cameras will cover the game floor at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, but don't worry, there will be limits to where they watch.

"There won't be cameras in private areas like bathrooms," Ken Braunstein, a Reno, Nev., consultant who runs casinosecurity.com said. "But there should be cameras going into the bathroom, showing who goes into and comes out. That's intended to be a deterrent."

The majority of cameras will be in the gaming room, where the least amount of crime happens, Braunstein said, drawing from his experience in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

On the surface, drunken patrons with big chunks of money appear to provide easy targets for criminals. "When they're gambling, they drink a little more, eat a little less and flash cash around carelessly," he said, adding though that casinos are safer than most public places.

Rivers Casino didn't provide anyone to talk about security. But Des Plaines police Chief Jim Prandini said his department is working with the Illinois Gaming Board, state police, and Rivers' own security team to make sure patrons are safe.

Des Plaines cops will respond to all calls for assistance, but only will intervene inside the casino on certain types of incidents. Those including underage minors trying to enter the casino. Prandini added police will have extra patrols near the casino's parking garage.

"We've established a fantastic partnership at the beginning," Prandini said.

That's a good thing, Braunstein said. His experience shows the majority of crimes don't happen inside the casino, but instead at parking lots or at adjacent hotels.

"We're going to patrol the parking lots in conjunction with their people, but most of the time they are going to be monitoring their own property," Prandini said.

The gaming board has security regulations casinos must follow to protect the integrity of the games. Regulators "want the gambling that takes place to be honest and upfront -- both for the casino to have to be honest and for the player to have to be honest," Braunstein said.

The crime rate for the area will likely go up just because the office buildings that were replaced didn't have as many people coming through, Braunstein said. Theft likely will be the most reported crime, he said.

In the early 1990s, when Hollywood Casino opened, Aurora police assigned two officers out of concern about crime, said Aurora police Cmdr. Joe Groom. But through the years, crime wasn't much of a problem and Hollywood handles all security as of last year.

"They were concerned at the opening with all the money there would be robberies," Groom said. "We really had no issues whatsoever."

Prandini said he talked with officials from Joliet police about the workload he could expect, and was pleased with their answers. Right now, police are focused on traffic issues associated with the opening, he said.

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