Confessions of a Las Vegas Cage Cashier
Like everything else in Vegas, a casino cage operates 24 hours every day. The cashiers are responsible for buying back chips, redeeming markers, cashing checks, providing cash advances on credit cards, keeping the gaming tables stocked, adhering to all state gaming regulations and balancing it all at the end of each shift. Within a casino cage are several banks, including the chip bank, the front-line cashiers and the main bank, which must balance all the monies taken in and handed out.
My name is Leslie and I worked for three years as a cage cashier for the Mirage Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, starting at age 29. I was trained by the casino and then began my job in the position, which was fast-paced, stressful and rewarding. I was responsible for safeguarding large sums of other people's money, while at the same time providing for the needs of celebrities, sports figures, politicians and even an astronaut.
In addition to counting chips quickly and paying out accurately, I had to be on guard for people attempting to defraud the house.
No such thing as coincidence
Nothing sends up a red flag like coincidence. One Saturday night, the cage was busy as usual. A woman came to my window and requested $2,000 on her MasterCard. Her driver's license said she lived on Third Street in Oklahoma City, Okla., a state from which we seldom had guests. She took the money and went to the craps table next to the cage, where she lost it in four rolls of the dice and returned to my window for another $2,000. While waiting for the form to print, I glanced over at the ID held by the cashier beside me. Her customer was getting $2,000 on a credit card and her license listed her address as the same numbered house, but on Fourth Street, also in Oklahoma City. The two never looked at each other.
I said to my customer, "Wow, what a coincidence, you two live a block away from each other and are both in Las Vegas. Do you know each other?" The two women looked at each other and shook their heads no. When they left the counter, I advised my supervisor of the coincidence. She sent out a bulletin to all the casinos. Within an hour, four couples were apprehended for credit-card fraud -- according to their driver's licenses they resided on Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Streets in Oklahoma City.
Lost in translation
A couple came to the casino cage on the credit side to fill out an application. The husband informed the clerk that he and his wife did not speak any English. The clerk reached for the form, grabbed a pen and started screaming the questions at the guest. Frightened by her earsplitting pitch, the couple backed away from the counter. The clerk continued to get louder, while the customers said nothing. I walked over and asked if I could help; the man apologized and again stated that he did not speak any English.
I said, "Denise, why are you screaming the credit application at him?"
Flustered and hoarse she answered, "He does not speak English."
I said, "Denise, he is not deaf, he is French, he does not understand English no matter how loudly you shout it."
I contacted a French-speaking casino host who was able to help.
There can be only one
One of the other cage cashiers, David, fancied himself a movie buff, frequently arguing with me over bits of dialogue or unmemorable scenes from films. One evening, while working next to me, a customer came to his window. I overheard him say, "Sir, you have given me a driver's license in one name and a credit card in another; I cannot process your transaction."
I looked up, just to see who would be so reckless as to present conflicting identification. I immediately recognized the guest and his wife, both movie actors. I raised my index finger to indicate "just a moment" to the customer.
I said, "David, is one of the names 'Christopher Lambert'?"
He said, "Yes, it is."
I said, "Give him the money."
David asked, "Do you know him?"
I said with a smile, "Yes, I recognize him, he is the star of 'Highlander,' and there can be only one."
A demanding job
Casinos are very noisy. When paying a customer, cashiers do not count aloud because they will disturb or confuse the cashier next to them. Therefore, it is important to establish a rhythm when laying the bills down, allowing the customer to count along with you. One rule in a casino is that once the money has completely left your hands, it belongs to the customer. Thus, you must establish eye contact to make sure they are in agreement with the count before you take your hands away. If the customer appears puzzled or uncertain, you snatch the money back and count it out again.
My time spent as a Las Vegas cage cashier was the most fun I ever had at work. There was never a dull moment. I even received a commendation for averting fraud. If you can learn to count chips with finesse, remain accurate under pressure, not feel intimated by intoxicated celebrities and keep your head with millions of dollars at stake, I would highly recommend it as a great job.
Next: Confessions of a Personal Assistant
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