Colin MacGregor has worked on the frontline of major global casinos for over ten years. He has worked at the Sun City casino in South Africa, for Holland Casino and Casino Copenhagen, initially as a dealer, but then moving on to an inspector role. Although his time at the gaming floor is now at an end, he has some remarkable stories from his time among the high rollers. He tells Casinopedia content editor Luke Page about some of his career’s most eye-opening moments.
I’m sat in Rod Stewart’s hotel room and the big Celtic fan that he is, forces me to watch endless videos of them beating Rangers. This is an unforgettable experience and it would have been made even better had I not been a massive Rangers fan, their arch Glasgow rivals.
I was working as an inspector at the massive Sun City resort casino in South Africa, where Rod was playing a concert back in the mid 1980s. The Sun City bosses knew I was Scottish and an ex-pro soccer player so they told me they would expect me to befriend him and look after him for a week.
Every night when I was at the casino tables I would get taken off and asked to go to Rod’s hotel room because he was bored. How could he be bored when he had his girlfriend Kelly Emberg with him? She was stunning!
But if you think that working in a high-end casino is all about sharing cocktails with the stars at the casino bar while overseeing a few friendly games of roulette or blackjack, then you might want to think again about swapping careers.
Flying ashtrays and peeing on the floor?
As an inspector you must be at your best at all times, as both the dealer and the punter rely on you as you’re not just there for the casino but you’re also there for the customer. Essentially the job involves ensuring that the table games are proceeding in the proper way, for all parties concerned.
But disputes happen and as an inspector you must remain calm and collected even when under pressure to make the right decision.
But some disputes can bring about unusual, shocking and comical results. I’ve seen ashtrays thrown at dealers and even a gun sitting on a player’s lap.
But the strangest one was when a woman asked for me to look after her colored table chips while she went to the toilet and for something to eat. I had to inform her that I could not be held responsible for her chips and advised that she cashed them in for higher denomination cash chips that she could take with her.
She argued that she didn’t want to do that as these chips were her lucky colour and she didn’t want to cash them in just yet and explained again she only wanted the toilet and something to eat.
Yet again I informed I could not be held responsible for watching her chips on a very busy table. Then to my horror she said: “Well, if you’re not going to let me go to the toilet…” She then took a step back, lowered her trousers and underwear, squatted, and did the deed right there on the casino floor.
The result was her chips were cashed in and she was escorted from the building.
Vomit and the roulette wheel don’t mix
Another amusing incident was when a woman, worse for wear on alcohol, kept looking into the roulette wheel as it spun around. I could tell that she was struggling to focus as the wheel and the ball spun around at quite a fast rate.
You have probably already guess that, yes, she ended up being violently sick into the wheel. What’s worse was the centrifugal force generated by the spinning wheel meant the vomit was sprayed around, particularly on the dealer.
The dealer stood transfixed and in shock. Now, officially, his job at this moment was to shout “no spin” and grab the ball before it landed in a number. But the poor guy paralyzed with shock.
So in my duty as inspector I took control, rushed around and shouted no spin while putting my hand in the sick- laden wheel to grab the ball before it landed. To be honest I nearly filled the wheel myself.
New Kids on the Block and the twitch
I also remember inspecting two blackjack tables in the Salon Prive in Sun City when in walked the American boyband sensation of the time New Kids On The Block.
They sat at one of my tables and I made sure a waitress was on hand for their refreshments. I told them just to give me a nod and I’d call her over. Unfortunately I didn’t know the one facing me had a nervous twitch. I inadvertently took this to mean he was nodding for the waitress. The poor girl must have ended up getting annoyed because I probably called her over 30 times.
Being an inspector in Sun City had its perks as you have an opportunity to talk to anyone famous at your table and via this I’ve had wine with Brian May, of Queen, dinner with Sandy Lyle, the major-winning golfer alongside a walk around the golf course with Lee Trevino. And of course, there was that time spent with Rod Stewart, one of the biggest names in rock.
How it started and the job of an inspector
It was in Sun City, South Africa 1986, that I finally made the transition from dealer to that of inspector.
Over the past year I had become a four game dealer in the Salon Prive section of the Sun City casino and the next step up was to become that of an inspector.
My new role would be to take over, as an overseer, two or more gaming tables at any given time. All over the world the amount of tables watched by an inspector varied as to how busy the casino and tables were and in some parts of the large casino in Sun City the games were small and quiet so you could be patrolling three blackjack or three roulette tables at a given time when on the main gaming floor.
In the Salon Prive it was different as the games were bigger and it was one inspector to two tables. When I went to Amsterdam with Holland Casinos from 1987, it was one inspector to one table as the games were busy and hectic so extra vigilance was needed.
My new responsibilities would be to make sure the dealers were doing their job properly, like clearing around the correct winning number, not removing by accident winning chips and of course paying the correct amounts in winnings.
Also, I had to be vigilant for cases of cheating. In fact the reason I got the job in the first place over a year ago was because of the dealers implemented in the great Sun City scam where staff members colluded with punters in the use of the the ‘Las Vegas Chip Cup’ to steal thousands from the casino. In the end, several croupiers were jailed and you can watch a documentary on this on YouTube.
Since my time as an inspector I have moved on and became training instructor for Holland Casinos and Casino Copenhagen, but my favourite time as a croupier was my time spent as an inspector.