Casino: Cage Operations - The Backbone of a Casino

The casino cashier’s cage is the operational nerve centre of casino operations. As a hub of activity, it performs many vital functions on a shift-by-shift, day-by-day basis. First, the cage, together with the vault, is responsible for the custodianship of and accountability for the casino’s bankroll. This involves the daily care, control, and accounting for thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars. After all, this is the casino industry we are talking about, with many high rollers playing for big money.

What is a Casino Cage?

To break things down, all transactions involving currency, coin, casino checks (chips), customer casino markers (IOUs), safekeeping funds, and customer front flow money to and from the cage and its related vault in a continuous cycle. Firstly, accurate recording procedures and adherence to sound internal controls are required to ensure bankroll safety and accountability at online casinos. Secondly, the cage provides a vital communication link to the casino pit or pit areas.

Services include providing check fills and credits to table games, as requested; supplying information regarding customer credit status; providing financing tabulations of table game activities documented by the master game report form; and keeping casino supervisors advised of the relevant information required for a smooth operation.

Thirdly, the cage deals with countless customer transactions. Front-line window cashiers handle casino chip exchanges for currency; cash personal, payroll, and traveller’s checks; handle customer safekeeping and 'front money' transactions; receive customer marker payment; deal with casino promotional coupons, and provide information to customers.

The Cashier’s Job

The main job of a casino cashier is to exchange casino chips for cash whenever the players bring their chips from tables like blackjack and craps. It is the cashier’s job to greet the player, take the chips, break them down by denomination and pay the player the right amount. If the total being paid out is quite high, a casino supervisor may be called to verify the payout before the cashier transfers the money to the player.

While errors rarely happen during this process, it is possible, therefore, cashiers but be diligent and efficient when they handle casino chips as you wouldn’t want either the casino or the player losing out. Cashiers would need basic math skills as well as the ability to distinguish the different chips used by the casino. If the casino makes use of slot machines that require players to insert coins, the cage and cashier will also have to accept and exchange these coin buckets.

The coins are taken to a coin sorter with the player in attendance, where the coins are counted. The total amount will be shown on the machine reader, and the cashier must pay this amount to the player. This not only saves time as the cashier does not have to manually count the coins but also prevents errors from taking place.

Cage cashiers must also handle a certain amount of paperwork when dealing with daily transactions, including balancing books and invoices. Cashiers may also need to run internal checks on gamblers who require credit or to process credit applications for new customers. They may also need to assist with cashing in tips for fellow employees.

It is important that the cashier have good people skills as you will be working with gamblers all day long. Cashiers must be able to satisfy the needs of all players, and be able to handle any negative or hostile situation that may arise. People may get antsy when money is involved, so it is important for cashiers to be able to control the situation and sort out any issues immediately and in the most professional manner. Many gamblers enjoy drinking while playing, therefore cashiers may also have to deal with intoxicated customers. Cashiers must be aware of all the relevant rules and regulations associated with the casino and gaming industry and be able to explain them when the situation arises.

The Blood Line of the Casino

Fourthly, the cage interfaces with virtually every casino department--- for example, transmittal of key forms to the accounting department; involvement with the hard and soft count audit teams; receiving and issuing cashiers banks to casino revenue departments (bar banks, showroom banks, Race and Sports Book banks, hotel front-desk banks, etc.); and working with the security department during the table game fill and credit process.

In some casinos, the cage supports the slot department by providing slot fills, supplying change persons with requested coins, and providing large jackpot payoffs. The cage is also charged with the responsibility of preparing and maintaining countless forms required for sound internal control procedures and safeguarding the casino's assets. Additionally, compliance with requirements and procedures of the Bank Secrecy Act is a critical responsibility of casino cage personnel. However, many casinos locate the cage toward the rear of the casino property and away from customer exits.

Keeping it Safe: Window Cage Security

One reason for this is to minimise the chances of a successful cage robbery. A second reason for locating the cage in the rear is the psychological factor. A customer cashing out at the window must walk the length of the casino toward the exit. The temptation of 'one last slot pull' or 'one final play at the table' can decrease the amount of money the customer takes out the front door. A third consideration is the location of the pit or live gaming areas. There are a number of structural possibilities for the cage facade. Metal bars, others by Plexiglas or shatterproof windows, protect some cages.

Still, others are 'open' cages with no protective barriers. It all depends on the environment and management's perceived need for physical security. A small cage operation will typically offer two customer service windows and an additional window to service casino, slot, or employee requests. The larger the operation, the more service windows required, but keep in mind that customers do not to stand in long lines to cash their chips. It is better to have too many operational windows and window cage security than too few.

Casino cage operations and cashiers may not be necessary for the future as more and more casinos are now using coinless slot machines, which has made things a lot easier. With no coins to count, things are less likely to go wrong, fewer employees will be needed and there will less room for error. Some slot machines print out a bar-coded voucher instead of coins or cash that can then be cashed out ATM-type machines or at the cashier cage.

The bar-code will indicate a legitimate voucher and is read using a reader, which will reveal the amount the player must be paid. The casino cage is one of the most important and highly functional aspects of a casino and needs to be treated as such. It is important to be respectful and civilised to your cashier at all times. Whenever you visit a casino, make sure to adhere to the rules of the establishment so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience.

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