Casino 'eye in the sky' knew you before NSA

From the casino to your home, the Shadow Knows! Photo: Helix nebula/NASA

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 ― If you get that creepy feeling that you are being watched, bet on it; you are.

The Shadow Knows. Nationwide, casinos have known you like a brother, or Big Brother, even before the FBI or the NSA or the DOJ or the IRS snuggled up to you without even a kiss. If they did not do it earlier, casinos certainly did it better in what is chillingly known by dealers and gamblers as “The Eye in the Sky.”

SEE RELATED: Right to privacy concerns grow as government data mines Americans

Banks of surveillance monitors are up there atop every casino in the United States watching every move you make.

They will catch you misbehaving. They surely will catch you cheating and they won’t call you Shirley. They will pick you out of a crowd and make you cry uncle. Gambling has always been a metaphor for life – sometimes you win, mostly you lose – and casinos have always served as a microcosm for life in the real world.

Apparently, we, that is, gamblers and non-gamblers alike, can not be trusted to behave properly unless we are being shadowed. Acts of lawlessness are rare in the casino, any casino. People know. So they are careful. Does this argue in favor for the massive snooping going on in America today?

Heck no. Some privacy, please. We did not bargain for Sweet Land of Tyranny.

SEE RELATED: DNA and the Supreme Court: Your privacy vs. crime solving

But already we are being far more cautious in the messages we send by text, email, and by telephone. That is good and that is bad. Bad because this is America and we ought to be able to say whatever we want. We should not be like so many other countries where people have to whisper.

We should not have language police.

So what’s the good? Maybe it is time to bring it down a notch, all that unfiltered garbage talk that floats throughout the Internet, and maybe every idiot that has a grudge to announce against his neighbor ought to think twice, and maybe every imbecile who has nothing to say but says it anyway ought to just shut up.

Has there ever been so much road rage in America, on and off the road? Has there ever been so much stupidity in 140 characters or less?

Consider it a gain if the “eye in the sky” stops the next fool from seeking his or her 15 Minutes of Infamy.

Headlines come and headlines go, but there is still nothing new under the sun. We have it from Eugene Ionesco and H. G. Wells and George Orwell and Arthur Conan Doyle who, through their fiction, saw what was coming — arbitrary and unrestrained use of power, as happened before and will happen again. Is this where we are headed?

Franz Kafka gave us a world where first we prosecute and then hear testimony. Are we there yet?

France’s Robespierre was sure that everybody was guilty of something (and he had a point there) hence, White Terror, in which everybody spies on somebody else. We get an especially chilling quote from him, which goes something like this, “Show me 20 words written by any man and I will find reason to hang him.”

That is something to think about if we allow our government to get out of hand – and also, this, from Hebrew Scriptures (Mishna):

“Know what is above you…an eye sees, an ear hears, and everything is recorded in a Book.”



New from Jack Engelhard, the novel Compulsive.


Jack Engelhard, a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist, Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, brings his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior and reaches around the globe.

Read more Jack Engelhard, A Novelist’s View of the World

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at


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