Casino Jobs Las Vegas
How many people does it take to operate a casino in Las Vegas and what do they all do? Let’s take a sneak peek behind the scenes of casino operations in Las Vegas to see how the house turns its gaming advantage into casino jobs and where you might begin if you want to claim a position on the “winning side” of the table for yourself.
The City of Las Vegas is internationally renowned for gambling, shopping, fine dining and nightlife. Las Vegas is the leading financial and cultural center for Southern Nevada.
The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous for its mega casino–hotels and associated entertainment.
A growing retirement and family city, Las Vegas is the 29th-most populous city in the United States, with a population of 603,488 at the 2013 United States Census Estimates.
Casino Jobs – Who are The Big Players?
One of the most famous casinos in the world is the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It ranks among the largest in all categories operating continuously, 24 hours a day, ever since its opening in December 1993.
It comprises more than 170,000 square feet of casino floor space, 2,296 gaming machines, 194 table and poker games, 20 restaurants, three bars, and a hotel with 5,044 rooms. There are a little over 9,000 workers on the MGM’s payroll.
Bigger still in terms of staff is the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with 9,700 employees. It features 155,000 square feet gaming space, 2,449 gaming machines, 207 table and poker games, 19 restaurants, one bar and a hotel with 3,933 rooms.
Yet as big as they are, no Las Vegas casino is in the top three when it comes to providing casino jobs. The Mohican Sun and Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut each employ more than 10,000 persons.
And the biggest casino operation in the world in terms of workforce is the Casino de Genting in Malaysia with over 13,000 employees on its roster.
The property houses 29 restaurants, a theme park, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, a sky-diving simulator, a Cineplex, a Rain Forest Splash Pool, a bowling alley, and a championship golf course, all on site. Its six hotels contain more than 6,000 guest rooms, the most of any casino in the world.
As you might imagine, the variety of casino jobs available at such mega-resorts is extensive, plus many jobs resembling all of the occupations you might find in a small town.
Apart from the obvious casino floor staff such as croupier and pit boss, these “gaming villages” need gardeners, window washers, janitors and house maids, electricians, plumbers, security officers, short order cooks, bartenders and waitresses, retail shop clerks, parking attendants, lifeguards, accountants, telephone receptionists, payroll specialists, and more.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited’s report on Global Entertainment and Media, revenues from legal casino gambling worldwide quite likely topped $100.3 billion in 2009, up from $68.5 billion five years earlier.
A separate study indicated that no less than €14.8 billion was generated in Europe, where 416 legal casinos operate in France, Germany and the U.K. alone.
Commercial casinos in the United States number more than 1,600, providing some 450,000 jobs. Although it is quite difficult to gather statistics on the global industry, most experts agree that the growth rate of gambling worldwide, including online wagering, is on the order of 16~20% per year, led by expansion in Asia in general and Macau in particular.
Casino Jobs and Starting at the Bottom
Although casino jobs are plentiful, they are also highly sought after. When the new MGM-owned City Center complex in Las Vegas began recruiting for some 12,000 positions in January 2009, it was at the time the largest employment opportunity available in the United States in any industry.
By September, when MGM management started making offers, it had collected over 160,000 job applications. That was more than 13 job seekers for every single opening. Of those who applied, only 50,000 were actually interviewed—less than one third.
The difference between who gets hired in the casino business and who remains in the job market often comes down to three factors: who you know, what you’ve done, and what you are willing to do. Casinos are notorious places of patronage.
They almost always prefer to promote from within their own ranks, and family and friends of insiders often have the upper hand for new openings. Competition for entry-level casino jobs can therefore be quite fierce.
Those who are willing to start at the very bottom may well have the best chance of making it to the top. In many cases, this means taking a low-paying starter job at a small gambling hall, just to gain some experience.
Having some background in the business, no matter how brief, even part-time, can often get an applicant out of the slush pile of applications and into the interviews.
Casinos actually welcome those in career transition. The games are fairly easy to learn, so new dealers and other casino floor personnel frequently come from a variety of educational backgrounds and prior occupations.
What personnel interviewers seem to value most are good people skills, the ability to handle stress, and an aptitude for quick thinking. That explains why so many former homemakers, ex-military personnel, previous food and beverage workers, onetime taxi drivers, and recently graduated students can be found in casino jobs.
Casino careers make take a number of tracks. Like restaurant work, gambling-related casino jobs can be divided into front of the house and back of the house, those who come into direct contact with patrons and those who remain behind the scenes.
Promotions are by no means guaranteed, but there can be a steady progression up the ranks for those with talent and ambition.
For example, new slot attendants may aspire to be slot operations managers. The casino change girl may have her eyes on the cage manager’s job. The young MBA student who spent a month in dealer school might have her heart set on being a casino shift manager.
And even the valet parking fellow might be chatting up customers with a view to making his move into a cushy marketing position.
Casino Jobs and Slots
The floor of the casino is where most of the interaction occurs between staff and guests. This is the place for fun and excitement. The flashing lights, ringing bells, stacks of chips, shouts of joy, and smell of money everywhere is what attracts so many to seek work here, and there a plenty of casino jobs available, particularly in the slots department.
One of the more highly paid entry-level casino jobs on the gaming floor is that of slot technician. This is the person who maintains the slot and video games, replacing parts and cleaning machines as needed.
The job requires special training, of course, typically at a school that offers a certificate program in gaming machine maintenance. Studies include courses in electronics, mechanics, and microprocessor operation. The job can also require a bit of muscle to be able to remove machines from the gaming floor using a hand trolley.
The slot technician reports to a manager known as the slot technician supervisor, who coordinates the work of the employees who fix the machines.
This supervisor prepares work schedules, assigns tasks, ensures that machines function according to specifications, and is capable of repairing machines, too. It takes two to four years of technical experience to rise to this level.
Because there are slot machines at casinos all over the world, and their numbers and sophistication is growing, a skilled slot tech or supervisor can find work pretty much anywhere.
Most of them, however, are employed in the United States, and specifically in New Jersey and Nevada, the two states offering the most opportunities for casino gambling. The median expected hourly wage for a typical slot technician in the U.S. is $18.56. For a slot technician supervisor, it is $26.88.
Compared to the pay scale of slot attendants, the techs do quite well. An entry-level slot floor person responds to customers needs, reports jackpots, determines whether jackpots are valid, calculates jackpot amounts that do not register on the computer system, prints jackpot tickets, obtains customer identification, and completes any necessary forms.
The median pay for this job is $10.84 an hour, about half that of a beginning tech.
Similarly, a slots club attendant might earn $10.56 an hour starting out. This job entails enrolling new slot club members, providing customer service to existing members, and informing members of benefits, contests, and promotions.
Up the ladder in the slots department of a casino are several managerial level positions. These include the slot club shift supervisor earning $16.24 an hour, the slot shift manager assistant at $22.16, and the slot shift manager at $24.02.
At the very top is the operations manager of the slots department, who manages and directs daily operations, reviews electronic gaming device reports, and complies with federal cash reporting requirements. It usually takes at least five years on the slot floor to reach this level, which pays a generous $36.48 per hour.
Life in the Pits
A healthy rivalry exists in casinos between the various departments, especially when it comes to posting revenues. And nowhere in the casino is there more focus on taking patrons’ money than at the table game areas known as the “pits.”
Cocktail servers are needed on the floor to wait on the customers, offering them complimentary drinks to help loosen their spirits and their purse strings. Apart from providing cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages to patrons, these workers must have knowledge of bar supplies and common beverages.
They make suggestions to customers, not only regarding casino matters and drinks, but also where to dine, what shows to see, and how to enjoy themselves generally.
Personality is an important aspect of this job, because income is affected to a large degree by the worker’s ability to attract tips. The basic hourly pay for a new cocktail server in the United States is just $7.25. Earning more than that depends entirely upon the generosity of strangers.
If pushing drinks and smiling is a hard way to make a living, shuffling cards is even more so. Many casino employees start out as dealers at table games, including Poker, Blackjack and Baccarat. Others begin as croupiers, working at the Craps and Roulette tables.
Before even being interviewed for such a job, a prospect must be able to show six months of experience or a completion certificate from a recognised dealing school. It is usually necessary to pass a formal audition, too. What’s more, the applicant should be willing to work any day of the week and any shift.
The casino croupier or dealer is responsible for manipulating cards, dice, chips, and gaming devices, such as roulette wheels and craps sticks, while adhering to the rules of the games. They handle player transactions and report to pit supervisors any irregularities or disputes.
They accept bets, pay winners, and collects wagers from non-winners. Maintaining the speed of the game is also the responsibility of the croupier.
Getting along with co-workers and working as a team will be important to the new employee’s advancement. He or she has to be well-groomed in appearance, cheerful in outlook, and calm in the face of drunken or unruly patrons, while sitting or standing for long periods of time.
It is also useful to have good vision as a croupier, especially peripherally, in order to spot any potential cheating.
Like cocktail servers, croupiers depend upon tips to make a living. The median hourly wage for a new dealer in the United States is only $7.13. That is why, contrary to popular belief, dealers actually delight in customers’ winning streaks. They are much more likely to receive tips from winners than from losers.
Becoming a Casino Boss
Casinos like to rotate dealers through various games and tables to build their experience and usefulness. Those who do well at the bottom of the pit may climb their way up after a year or two to a supervisory role.
Floor supervisors, such as the “box man” at a craps table, oversee one or more table games in a specific area. They see to it that customers behave properly, and they protect gaming personnel from abuse.
It is their job to ensure that the games are conducted in compliance with federal and state gaming regulations. Their average hourly pay is $21.39.
Up a notch from these supervisors is the casino pit manager, or so-called “pit boss.” In the old days, these bosses had the ability to hire, fire, and promote dealers as well as to issue comps (free meals and rooms) to regular players. Their favour was curried and their disdain much avoided. They were the kingpins of the casino floor.
In more recent years, the power of the pit boss has diminished somewhat as modern marketing departments and automated player tracking systems have taken over many of their functions.
The pit boss still sets the general tone for the pit team, manages and directs daily activities in an assigned area of the casino, watches the casino floor, and looks for players who are cheating. He or she may remove suspected card counters from a game. Pit bosses also keep a close eye on gaming personnel for any evidence of theft or collusion with dishonest players.
It takes no less than five years of experience in the pit to rise to this level of management. A track record of good judgment and an ability to accomplish goals are required, along with a certain degree of creativity and latitude. The pay averages $27.33 an hour.
But being a pit boss is not the same as being “the boss.” There are several levels of table games management even higher up on the casino floor, including the assistant shift manager paid $28.39 an hour and the casino shift manager earning $29.20.
They oversee casino activities during an assigned shift, while coordinating with other departments to ensure operational efficiency and total customer satisfaction. A quick study might reach this rung of the ladder in five to ten years.
The shift managers in turn report to the casino manager, who oversees all of the floor operations. This is the real day-to-day boss of the casino, who has the power to set table limits, make personnel decisions, and extend or deny credit to patrons. The casino manager has the final say whenever a question or dispute arises.
Much of the casino manager’s time is spent in the back offices, away from the gaming areas, studying revenue reports, adjusting schedules, arranging training, and interfacing with other department heads.
It is a salaried position, often commanding six figures, but it is nearly always filled by someone who has come up through the ranks and knows every aspect of the casino floor.
Follow the Money
Of course, casinos are all about passing money back and forth. The employees who handle it are intermediaries between the front and the back of the house, starting with the change attendants who work the casino floor.
Change attendants typically exchange cash for coins or tokens from a cart, a tray or a leather bag. They may also break bills into small denominations or cash in vouchers and tickets issued by other staff or game machines.
They report to a shift supervisor when additional funds are needed and contact a slot floor person if a guest requires assistance with a machine. At the entry level, change attendants typically earn $9.60 an hour.
The place where all of the money ends up in a casino is called the “cage.” The name derives from the old days when the banking area of a gambling hall was surrounded by heavy wire fencing to prevent robberies.
The cage cashier handles financial transactions, such as exchanging cash for casino tokens, undertaking credit checks, and cashing cheques. Keeping accurate accounts and balancing books is part of the job function.
From two to four years of experience as a bank teller, retail cashier or casino change attendant is usually required for this role, which pays $13.23 an hour on average.
After two or three years as a cage cashier, it may be possible to move up to the casino cage manager assistant position paying $23.09, although an associate’s degree in accounting or finance may also be required.
A few years as an assistant might lead to the casino cage manager position, responsible for all operations of the casino cage, staffing, customer satisfaction, and accuracy in accounting of transactions. It pays $27.43 an hour, on average.
Also involved in the financial aspects of a casino may be accountants, bookkeepers, credit officers, certified public accountants, comptrollers, or chief financial officers, depending on the size of the operation.
Many of these positions can be filled from outside the ranks of internal employees, especially by those with skills in business administration, banking, share trading, consumer loans, or insurance.
One drawback of working in a casino’s cage or financial department is the hours. Unlike banks and most financial institutions, casinos are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are no bank holidays.
The shifts can be brutal, and the attention to detail extremely demanding. Also, the cage personnel rarely, if ever, see tips—something to keep in mind if you are a player who someday wants to have “friends” in credit authorisations.
Sales and Marketing
A casino’s profits correlate directly to the amount of betting that takes place on the floor. There are only two ways to increase the amount of money that drops into the slots or crosses the table—either by bringing in more customers or attracting bigger fish… “whales”.
The Casino Whale is a high roller who can afford to wager the maximum table limit on every bet. The sales and marketing department of the casino is responsible to increase the volume and caliber of gamblers to it’s property. And to keep them playing.
Driving customers into the slot areas of the casino are the slot hosts, whose job it is to recognize and greet frequent guests, especially the so-called “high rollers.” They introduce players to the high stakes slots.
They ensure that these regulars have all the information necessary to contact a host for future needs, from meals and show tickets to spa reservations and room upgrades. They extol the benefits and privileges of using a slot player’s card and explain promotions, programs, and current giveaways to all guests.
The slot host’s counterpart on the table games side of the casino is the executive casino host. This person is responsible for improving customer service, developing and implementing new promotions, maintaining and cultivating relationships with targeted VIP customers, and otherwise catering to the needs of high rollers, rather like a personal assistant.
Both slot hosts and executive casino hosts need to be very personable. They are expected to maintain contact with the casino’s top customers by phone and in person.
They may participate in social events and special promotions, arrange accommodations for guests, and deliver comps according to established marketing guidelines. They need to be up to date in their knowledge of casino, property and marketing information and telemarketing.
Many entry-level casino employees aspire to become hosts, whose jobs seem to be glamorous, adventurous, and lucrative. But hosting is very hard work, too.
Performance is measured by the host’s ability to generate incremental gaming revenues in relation to designated quotas. Casino hosts can earn bonuses if they exceed revenue objectives, but they can be easily fired if they fall short.
In sales and marketing, the pressure is daunting, and only the very best survive. For that reason, hosts are often recruited from outside the casino as well as inside. Casinos frequently look for energetic, outgoing people with two to four years experience in hospitality, direct sales, or high-end marketing.
Looking after the hosts at the managerial level is the slot marketing manager or table games marketing director. This person is responsible for developing and implementing strategic marketing plans for the slot or table games departments. The job requires staying abreast of marketing trends and changes in the casino environment.
Based on research, the slot marketing manager or table games marketing director will develop policies, recommend appropriate sales channels, and adjust plans to serve the casino’s overall objectives.
As an indication of what kind of background it takes to reach this level, consider a job description recently posted for a Casino Marketing Director in Moscow, Russia:
“Casino industry experience required; a minimum of five years of upper management and leadership experience involving marketing, promotions, public relations, casino marketing, and advertising strongly preferred; tertiary education in a related area is desirable.”
Casino Jobs with a View
Most casinos do not have windows. They do not have clocks. They can be filled with cigarette smoke, crowds of drunken patrons, and high levels of noise.
Instead of having “normal” business hours, they are open 24/7, so casino employees, including the managers as well as their workers, are scheduled in three eight-hour shifts: early, late and “graveyard.”
Obviously, casinos do not have many “desk jobs” available. Although executive positions do exist, there are few corner offices. Places “upstairs” are limited to only the most senior executives.
One greatly desired and highly paid position is vice president of marketing. This person plans and directs every aspect of a casino’s marketing philosophy, policies, objectives, and initiatives. He or she must be able to identify marketing opportunities, keep pace with shifts in the market, and track competitors’ strategies.
The job requires the ability evaluate, adjust, and redraft marketing plans. A salaried, top casino marketing executive can expect an annual income equivalent to a job paying $96.16 per hour.
In the larger casinos, there may be a vice president of casino operations, just a step down from the owner, president or CEO. This senior position has responsibility for all aspects of the casino, from the table games and slot departments to the credit, finance, marketing, maintenance, and all other operations.
This is the “head honcho” position. To get there requires a lifetime commitment to the gaming industry. It is not surprising to find people at this level who started out as dealers. They truly need to know every aspect of running a casino, from bottom to top.
But there is another way to get above the casino floor and have a desk job with a view—in the surveillance department. Casino operations must be observed round the clock. The so-called “eye in the sky” refers to the cameras used to keep watch over all of a casino’s activities, safeguarding the casino’s assets.
An entry level surveillance operator works with video and computer equipment, monitoring all areas of the property, closely observing targeted games, staff members, and customers.
He or she must report any inappropriate activity or disturbances to a supervisor or the security team for investigation. The average hourly wage for this job is $16.62.
A surveillance technician starting out can expect to earn $19.58 per hour. This job requires skill in installing and removing various types of cameras throughout the casino.
The tech must be able to maintain and repair alarm systems, work with surveillance computers and recording devices, and create tapes for training and investigation purposes. Like slot techs, surveillance techs will have attended a school that offers special certification in equipment maintenance and operation.
Keeping an eye on those who keep an eye on everyone is the surveillance supervisor, implementing the policies and procedures of the surveillance department, ensuring compliance with gaming requirements set by the relevant gaming authority and local law enforcement.
Supervising and evaluating surveillance employees is a big part of the job. This position pays an average of $20.46 an hour and requires at least two years of surveillance experience.
And watching the supervisors who watch the operators who watch everything is the surveillance operations manager, in charge of managing and directing the surveillance department.
Organizing routine random surveillances, auditing surveillance operations, and working with the security team to investigate improprieties are just a few responsibilities of the job. On average, it pays $27.60 per hour and requires five or more years of surveillance experience.
More Casino Jobs
Larger casinos will obviously have more floor jobs available than small ones. They may have special games, such as bingo, which requires bingo callers, and keno, which creates openings for keno writers and runners. A casino with a race and sports book will have jobs for cashiers and mutual tellers or ticket writers.
Those with large table areas may employ clerks to maintain pit records. Some operations still require hard count attendants to work in a secure room and tally up the coins from slots and the currency from the floor—by hand.
But there are even more casino jobs being created by the need to serve customers, who increasingly demand greater attention than free buffet coupons or room upgrades.
For example, many big casinos now have child care centers, which necessitates the hiring of qualified child care specialists. Others have brought entertainment to the casino floor, employing jugglers, magicians, troubadours, dancers, acrobats, and comedians to give patrons a thrill as they stay and play.
Many casinos, of course, are also full-service resorts. They have their own hotel operations and food and beverage departments, requiring the services of the myriad employees that hotels typically hire for reception, housekeeping, bell service, guest services, room service, and more.
In the back offices, there may be community and government relations professionals, compliance experts, environmental health and safety officers, information technology specialists, internal auditors, legal counsels, purchasing agents, and risk management advisors.
The human resources department of a casino needs specialists in payroll, personnel, worker’s compensation, insurance, and pensions.
In fact, just about any position that might be associated with a major manufacturing operation can probably be found in a top-tier casino.
And having so many facilities demands fulltime employees who can take care of maintenance, from electrical and plumbing to carpentry, engineering and landscaping. There may even be auto mechanics on staff, dedicated to fleet servicing.
In short, casinos need workers, lots of workers, for both skilled and unskilled jobs. And some of the best opportunities for entry-level employment outside the casino floor are in uniformed positions.
For example, someone with previous military or law enforcement experience may be recruited by the security department, which ensures a safe and secure environment for guests and team members alike. A new casino security guard can expect to earn $11.76 an hour.
If certified as an emergency medical technician, the same guard can earn $12.57 an hour to start. And security dispatchers, responsible for security communications, earn $14.21 an hour.
There are lots of opportunities for promotion, too. A typical security shift supervisor assistant with two to four years of casino security experience can make $18.31 an hour.
And a security director, responsible for the casino’s security function and overall safety of guests, customers, and employees, will take home $35.40 an hour. To get to this level takes a minimum of seven years on the job.
Another uniformed position with entry-level potential is in valet parking. Attendants may only earn $8.26 an hour, but they are eligible for tips and may quickly move up to valet supervisor, making $11.64 an hour. If they are ambitious and get to know regular customers, they may find a way into marketing as a host.
And uniformed limousine drivers or chauffeurs can do very well working for casinos. At the entry level, they receive an average of $14.29 an hour plus tips. A senior chauffeur with two to four years experience can make $24.00 an hour plus tips—more than a slot shift manager and almost as much as a pit boss!
Tips for Prospective Casino Employees
Salary is only one component of an employment package. There can be many other benefits to working for a casino, ranging from quarterly and annual bonuses, retirement savings plans, and employee assistance programs to vacation hours, sick leave or personal holidays, coverage for medical, prescriptions, dental, and vision, basic life and accidental death insurance, access to supplemental insurances, and performance incentive bonuses. Another perk is employee discounts throughout the casino-resort.
Joining the staff of a casino can feel a lot like being adopted by a new family. Management may organize annual picnics, ice cream socials, and recognition programs to foster teamwork.
In fact, being “a team player” ranks high on the list of qualifications for almost all casino jobs. For the floor positions, in particular, employers look for applicants with enthusiasm who can work well with people.
Anyone interested in working in a casino should give thought to a number of factors, including any necessary training and licensing. It may be useful to start out at a small casino and work up. Consideration also has to be given to the possibility of relocating.
A quick look at casino help wanted advertisements on the Internet will reveal opportunities in countries from Canada and the U.K to Israel and Zambia. Although the greatest concentration of casinos is still in Nevada, many are located on Native American Indian reservations throughout the United States. Others are on international cruise ships.
Before submitting an application, it is a good idea to talk to someone who is already working in the casino you are targeting. Find out who’s who in the pecking order there. Who needs to be impressed by you? Also, what do the managers look for in a new employee?
How important is experience versus a willingness to work hard? Do your research first, and then prepare your curriculum vitae to appeal to the culture of the casino, emphasizing people skills.
Assuming you are invited to interview for the casino job you want, you might want to treat it like an audition. Casinos are, after all, in the entertainment business. The floor is a never-ending party room, and casino staff members are the entertainers as well as the hosts.
Nowhere is that more true than at Harrah’s Rio Casino in Las Vegas, where all of the dealers are expected to be able to perform, quite literally, on stage—singing, dancing, juggling, or otherwise making spectacles of themselves.
As in any interview situation, you will want to show that you are positive and confident, without being overly aggressive. Show your eagerness to work, without seeming needy.
Don’t be afraid to drop names, if you know some, and emphasize any experience you have that involves relationship building, from sales and customer service situations you have encountered in other jobs to any social groups or associations to which you belong.
Traits highly valued by casinos are courtesy, friendliness, reliability, punctuality, cleanliness, and an ability to think on one’s feet. Having a sense of humour doesn’t hurt at all, nor does a bit of playfulness. After all, they do not call gamblers “players” and the gambling activities “games” for no reason.
(Note: Comparative wage information culled from employmentguide.com, Feb. 2010)