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Case Study: Examining the Tragedy on the Las Vegas Strip, and Building an Emergency Response Plan

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

When many people hear the word “emergency response plan,” they think of a stack of thousands of pages of technical jargon and legalese collecting dust in a filing cabinet somewhere in a government office. It’s hard to see the value in a document that is used only on rare occasions, if at all. However, with recent terrorist attacks and major natural disasters fresh on the minds of everyone, most of us know that we need a plan in place in the unlikely event that tragedy occurs.

A heartbreaking example of this is the massacre that occurred on the Las Vegas Strip on October 1, 2017. A shooter was able to amass a stockpile of weapons in his 32nd floor hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Resort, and use it to kill 58 people and injure more than 500. Las Vegas Police responded quickly by closing down the street and evacuating survivors to the nearby airport among other measures. In the aftermath of the event, there was of course scrutiny over what could have been handled better in order to prevent such an event. An investigative report published by the Las Vegas Review Journal revealed that most casinos do not have proper emergency response plans in place. When the shooting took place in 2017, it had been five years since the police had seen an emergency response plan from a Strip hotel. Some casinos had gone as long as 10 years without having their plans reviewed by authorities. Government officials cited a lack of resources and personnel to police and enforce the state mandate for emergency response plans.

A task force was launched after the tragedy, and one of the outcomes was that there will be more stringent enforcement of the requirement that hotels and casinos submit an up-to-date emergency response plan. Emergency response plans were on the back burner for casinos for a very long time, and they have suddenly moved to the top of their priorities. An emergency response plan is a hefty task to take on, so management at hotel casinos are left trying to figure out how to coordinate such a project.  

Nevada law requires that casino emergency response plans include the following:

  • A map of the property (inside and outside).

  • Contact information for the designated emergency response coordinator.

  • Evacuation Plan

  • Information on access routes.

  • Location of emergency response command posts.

  • Directions on where to find emergency response equipment.

  • Information on potential public safety or health hazards at the casino.


The list may sound simple, but creating the list requires a lot of decisions and designations to actually be made before getting to that point. You almost need to create an entire department, just to get the plan into place. Once all of the information is compiled, a method for making it accessible and manageable has to be constructed. Strong organization is the key to an effective emergency response plan, which can be difficult when so much is being juggled. That’s why many casinos are turning to compliance software automation to handle this process. Tools like Cennix can provide a framework to create and maintain emergency response plans. Cennix works by allowing administrators the ability to delegate and distribute the task of creating the plan, provide management with oversight in progress and ultimately produce a cohesive document to submit to the state. The Cennix framework guides users through the entire process of building a plan, and can even include safeguards that alert users to any element of the plan that is missing or out of date. This is a tool that ensures you have a plan with all of the necessary elements to be in compliance with state law.  

One big question that we always ask after any tragedy is, “Was this preventable?” It can be difficult and heart-wrenching to explore the answer to that question, and often it cannot be truly answered. But, we can always search for ways to improve: faster response times, more efficient evacuation routes, better communication with first responders. In hindsight, the list is endless. By using software automation, casinos can not only be in compliance with state law, they can also contribute to the prevention of another terrible event. For example, in the unlikely and unfortunate event that a situation occurs, access to Cennix can be provided to law enforcement to get updated documents such as drawings and employee lists. Police can know immediately who belongs in the building and who doesn’t. They can also get an inside look at the layout of the building and its perimeters without ever stepping foot inside, giving them the ability to zero in on the perpetrator(s). Having tools that work in real time during an episode like the 2017 attack, can bring a lot more clarity to the situation, and allow officials and management to make smart decisions about how to save lives.

Emergency response plans are about more than just being compliant, they are about saving lives when seconds count. Keeping a casino in compliance, and keeping people safe at the same time is possible with software automation tools like Cennix. The public expectation of safety when visiting Las Vegas is stronger than ever, and creating or updating an emergency response plan is the first thing that casinos should be looking to do.

How is your casino managing its emergency response plan? Contact us for a consultation, and learn more about compliance software automation.

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