Come Join the Circus: A Day In the Life of a Casino Locksmith

A typical workday in the life of Dan Howard, locksmith for Circus Circus Casino & Hotel in Reno, NV.


When you work for an MGM MIRAGE property, you are expected to not only be technically competent at your job, but also to be part of a large, diverse team. How large? Well, Circus Circus Reno Resort & Casino (CCR) has 1572 hotel rooms, six restaurants, and more than 1500 employees. CCR purchases 6000 packs of AA batteries, 5436 cases of frying chicken, 3756 cases of French fries, and 25,000 screws every year. The parent company, MGM Mirage, has 24 properties including The Mirage, Treasure Island, NY NY, and the Bellagio, to name a few. They have 70,000 employees and about 35,000 hotel rooms. In order to provide the best services to our guests, we must have the best team.

There are many benefits to working for such a large company. Our health care benefits include dental and vision coverage. Whenever possible, we are encouraged to take holidays off to be with our families. For me, this includes pretty much all holidays and all my vacation time. CCR wants it's employees to enjoy their time off so they can do their best when they are working. We also have a 401k plan, which the company actively promotes. Our main website is http://www.mgmmirage.com where more information can be found.

I would like to describe a typical workday at CCR, but I rarely have one. My normal hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. I am not on call, but at one time or another I have been called in at every possible hour and day. I work in the Engineering Department. We are fortunate to have a large crew of trained professionals. We have plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders, HVACR engineers, electronic technicians and other journeymen level mechanics that all work together. This can be extremely helpful. There is one full-time locksmith (that would be me) and several people who help out as needed. Our carpenters handle many duties that make my job easier such as cabinet lock preparation, hinge and pivot replacements, door closer replacements, etc. With hundreds of locked cabinets and over 6,000 doors, this is a huge help.

In the morning I park my car in the parking garage (which is a great benefit). Before I pick up a clean uniform (which CCR provides and cleans), I have to pass a Security Checkpoint. Casinos are very serious about security. We have a large, highly trained Security Department and a sophisticated CCTV system. Although we have a full time electronics technician who handles most of our CCTV system, I have been cross-trained in that area and I occasionally help out. I have installed wires, cameras, alarms, and I have done some of the programming of our CCTV Matrix. In fact, I do most of the computer back-ups of this system.

After changing in our locker room, I clock in. We currently use a bar coded employee badge for our time and attendance system. We have more than a dozen readers throughout the property, some of which I have helped install. These readers are on our in-house network. Their server is hooked up to our AS400 computers (450 miles away in Las Vegas) which gives them real-time updating. When an employee is hired or termed, updates can be accomplished very quickly.

At our pre-shift meeting our supervisor gives us a quick rundown on the day's events. We have a computerized work order system known as Maximo. Both one-time assignments and recurring preventative maintenance assignments are handed out. Preventative maintenance is an important part of our job. We do as much as we can, and then a little bit more. When a job is completed, it is logged. On a large property with so many employees speaking more than one language, it is helpful to be able to refer to a work order that lists a contact name and number in case more details are needed.

One of my typical requests would be to cut keys. These requests either come through Maximo or my email account. We have a strict key control policy. Some of the important points include:

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