WSOP Security Concerns
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2013-05-05, by OzoneThe powers behind the World Series of Poker find themselves facing an additional organizational challenge just weeks before the 44th annual series. As a result of the bombing which occurred last month during the Boston Marathon, WSOP organizers are reexamining their security approach to this year's event.
A debate on Twitter among various members of the poker media and playing community stems from the popularity of backpacks at the WSOP which was the method used by the assailants in Boston to transport their weapons of destruction. It now seems that WSOP officials are debating the merits of searching backpacks of persons who are entering the tournament venue.
It's a testament to the reactionary nature of humanity that backpacks at the WSOP are now a security concern. Any would-be terrorizers of the WSOP didn't need the attacks in Boston in order to realize the potential backpacks provide for concealing weapons. Checking backpacks at this year's WSOP makes no more or less sense than checking them in any recent year would have made.
The WSOP would require a significant overhaul to its venue in order for backpack searches to be effective. Presently, there are numerous different entrances at the Rio property in Las Vegas through which one could access the WSOP. Caesars officials would either need to place security personnel at each of these numerous entrances or lock some of them from public use. The WSOP is already enough of a zoo as it is. Locking certain entrances would create long bottlenecks in other areas while players wait for their bags to be searched. Placing guards at each and every entrance may be unrealistic from an organizational standpoint.
Even if placing security personnel around the clock (remember, casinos in Las Vegas are open 24 hours) at each and every entrance to the WSOP were feasible, it still would not mute any potential for destruction at the WSOP. As Jimmy Fricke observed on Twitter, "Do people really think if someone wanted to blow up the WSOP that mall cops checking bags would stop them?"
Indeed, fretting over the potential for a terrorist attack the WSOP is not only futile but also a symptom of a culture that watches too much cable news. Sorry to burst the bubble of paranoid poker players, but the WSOP is probably not a target for an act of terror in the mind of anyone. To trigger a logistical nightmare by searching the belongings of all persons who enter the WSOP tournament area just to address the infinitesimal risk of a bomb coming into the premises would be silly. Life is risky. You can't address each and every possible risk of harm that might come to one upon leaving the house. Going out into public requires taking the small risk that you won't encounter anyone looking to cause mass destruction in your proximity.
A far wiser use of Caesars' security efforts would be to address the poker player safety issues that exist in the Rio parking lot. We've observed before the high-risk potential this area presents for muggings to occur. Poker players are often walking to their vehicles late at night after leaving the WSOP. The Rio parking lot is poorly lit and lacks a meaningful security presence.
If Caesars officials and poker players alike are truly concerned about safety, the Rio parking lot deserves some attention. A heightened security presence in the parking lot in addition to better lighting and numerous security cameras would be a wise use of resources. It's remarkable that stories of poker players being robbed in this parking lot are not a hallmark of WSOP festivities.
Unfortunately, as is the case with security measures, it will probably take someone having their bankroll jacked in the Rio parking lot before the necessary attention is given to this legitimate security concern.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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