Casino Career by Josh Stone

When most people think about employment in the gaming industry they naturally think of the dealers and casino personnel. It's only natural to think this way because those people are the ones out front and in the public eye. However the gaming industry is more than what you see on the gaming floor.

Gaming has become an increasingly popular leisure activity, reflecting growth in both population and disposable income. Job growth is expected in established and growing gaming areas, such as Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in other States likely to legalize gambling in the coming years.

“ Casino gambling continues to expand around the World. Every year there are new casinos opening in existing markets and new venues around the World. ”

Like nearly every business establishment, casinos have workers who direct and oversee day-to-day operations. Many job tasks of gaming managers, supervisors, and surveillance officers and investigators do not require interaction with casino games and patrons - but in the scope of their work, they must be capable of handling both.

Gaming managers. Gaming managers are responsible for the overall operation of a casino's table games. They plan, organize, direct, control, and coordinate gaming operations within the casino; formulate gaming policies; and select, train, and schedule activities of gaming personnel.

Because their jobs are so varied, gaming managers must be knowledgeable about the games, deal effectively with employees and patrons, and be able to assess financial issues affecting casino growth or decline. These assessment abilities include measuring the profit and loss of table games and slot machines, understanding changes driving economic growth in the United States and so on.

Salaries vary by establishment and region. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that full-time gaming managers earned a median annual salary of $46,820 in 1999. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,610.

Gaming supervisors. Gaming supervisors oversee gaming operations and personnel in an assigned area. Circulating among the tables, they ensure that all stations and games are attended to for each shift. It also is common for supervisors to interpret the casino's operating rules for patrons. Supervisors may also plan and organize activities for guests staying in their casino hotels. Periodically, they address - and make adjustments for - service complaints.

Gaming supervisors must have leadership qualities and good communication skills. They need these skills both to supervise employees effectively and to greet patrons to encourage return visits. Most casino supervisory staff has an associate or bachelor's degree. Regardless of their educational background, however, most supervisors gain experience in other gaming occupations before moving into supervisory positions because knowledge of games and casino operations is essential for these workers.

Slot key persons. Slot key persons, also called slot attendants or slot technicians, coordinate and supervise the slot department and its workers. Their duties include verifying and handling payoff winnings to patrons, resetting slot machines after completing the payoff, and refilling machines with money. There are no formal educational requirements to enter this occupation, but completion of slot attendant or slot technician training is helpful. BLS data show that median hourly earnings of slot key persons were about $10.28 in 1999. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.02, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $17.83.

Gaming cage workers. Gaming cage workers conduct financial transactions for patrons. They sell gambling chips, tokens, or tickets to patrons or to other workers for resale to patrons. They also receive and convert the gaming chips, tokens, or tickets to currency at patrons' requests. Some cage workers may also accept patrons' credit applications and verify their credit references, enabling patrons to establish in that casino either a check cashing authorization or credit account.

Gaming dealers. Gaming dealers operate table games such as craps, blackjack, and roulette. Standing or sitting behind the table, dealers provide dice, dispense cards to players, or run the equipment. Some dealers also monitor the patrons for infractions of casino rules. Gaming dealers must be skilled in customer service and in executing their game. Dealers determine winners, calculate and pay winning bets, and collect losing bets. Because of the fast-paced work environment, most gaming dealers are competent in at least two games - usually blackjack and craps.

Nearly all gaming dealers are certified. Certification is available through 2- or 4- year programs in gaming or a hospitality related field. Experienced dealers, who often are able to attract new or return business, have the best job prospects. Dealers with more experience are placed at the "high roller" tables. Median hourly earnings for gaming dealers were $6.20 in 1999, according to BLS. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.38, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $9.53.

In addition to specific requirements for each occupation, all gaming workers must meet some general requirements. For example, a high school diploma or GED usually is required for entry-level jobs. And applicants for gaming or casino jobs must be at least 21 years old. All gaming workers are required to have a license issued by a regulatory agency, such as a casino control board or commission. Licensure requirements include photo identification, residency in the State where applicants anticipate working, and payment of a fee. The licensing application process also includes a background investigation.

In addition to a license, all gaming workers need superior customer service skills. Casino gaming workers provide entertainment and hospitality to patrons, and the quality of their service contributes to an establishment's success or failure. Therefore, gaming workers need good communication skills, an outgoing personality, and the ability to maintain their composure even when dealing with angry or demanding patrons. Personal integrity also is important because workers handle large amounts of money.

Each casino establishes its own requirements for education, training, and experience. Almost all casinos provide some in-house training in addition to requiring certification. The type and quantity of classes needed may vary.

Like any job, gaming work has its good and bad points. One of the advantages is the work environment: the atmosphere in casinos is generally fun filled and often considered glamorous. In addition, advancement opportunities in casino gaming depend less on workers' previous casino duties and titles than on their ability and eagerness to learn new jobs. For example, an entry-level gaming worker, such as a slot key person, eventually might advance to become a dealer or card room manager or to assume some other supervisory position.

Josh Stone has been a freelance writer for over eleven years. Best Buy Uniforms.