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Is Poker Safe From Terrorism?

Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 triggered a discussion among poker players on Twitter about safety and security at the upcoming World Series of Poker, which starts later this month.

The first concern was voiced by a poker player named Randy Murfin; “Does anyone else worry about backpacks and bombs at the WSOP??.. #backpackseverywhere #nosecuritychecks #crowds @WSOP @WSOPTD @RealKidPoker” tweeted Murfin on april 29 which got a reply from Jack Effel, tournament director at the WSOP, 3 days later; “We are looking into the concern @WSOP @RandyMurfin @RealKidPoker”

The exchange between Murfin and Effel seems to have opened the pandora´s box. Many poker players jumped in the discussion who commented that checking backpacks at the WSOP would be invasion of privacy since many players carry their entertainment, food, clothing or money in their backpacks.

Others pointed out that a heist is more likely than a bomb at the WSOP hence the cash carried around by the players. But is Vegas really safe from global or even local terrorism?

A few days after bombs rocked Boston, The Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center opened its doors to press to share a rare look at how terrorism threats are tracked in Las Vegas.

When events like the bombings in Boston occur, the first thing officials try to figure out is if attack is headed to Clark County. Once it´s determined that there is no threat to Vegas, they examine and try to learn from what happened.

There are efforts aimed at keeping a close watch on terrorist activities like plan to have more cameras on the Strip but is terrorism really a threat for Vegas?

When it comes to tourists, Southern Nevada authorities say Las Vegas is as safe as it gets. But when U.S. Department of Homeland Security cuts funding to Southern Nevada for anti-terrorism efforts, terrorism suddenly becomes a real threat for the sin city.

Since now, Metro Police has been funding Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center with the money from Department of Homeland Security. The amount of federal funding, which accounts for the majority of its budget, was at its peak in 2005 with $9 million. It went as low as $1.8 million last year. And now they are about to lose that as well.

The main formula this funding is based on weights on three main variables; threat of an attack, a city’s vulnerability and the potential consequences of an attack. This year Southern Nevada’s ranking fell from 30 to 33, which will likely result in elimination of all funding for Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center.

“We’re down to the area where it’s extremely dangerous. If we lose the remaining funding we have left, it’s a huge concern,” county Commissioner Steve Sisolak said. “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to make up that funding…The potential future of the center is in jeopardy.”

Commissioner Larry Brown joined him and other elected officials who think eliminating all funding for Southern Nevada is unacceptable and indefensible.

“On one corner of the Strip we have more hotel rooms than most of the cities have in their entire jurisdiction. We have major special events — New Year’s Eve, the marathon, Electric Daisy Carnival, NASCAR. It just doesn’t seem practical that Las Vegas as an international destination would not only be taken off the list but not moved up the list, especially in light of what happened in Boston.” said Commissioner Larry Brown.

Statistics show them global terrorism is in a sharp decline since 2007; The total number of worldwide attacks dropped by almost 29 percent and of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .001 percent.

Saying Las Vegas is as safe as it gets or saying Las Vegas is an obvious terrorist site are both two extreme stances. Just like over funding the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center and cutting the funding totally. Unfortunately when politics are involved, it is all about two things; extreme stances and funding.

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