A vast and sometimes complicated hierarchy of employees with a variety of titles, responsibilities, and even different styles of dress populates a casino. These workers simultaneously cater to the needs of the guests and the casino owners. No matter who they are, the casino employees all have one goal in common: to provide you with ample opportunities to try your luck against the unevenly stacked house odds.
Casino employees are usually pleasant, professional, and well-trained individuals (after all, if you’re treated with courtesy and respect, you’re more likely to stay — and spend — longer). In this section, we introduce you to the pleasant cast of characters you may encounter, and we explain their unique roles. With this knowledge, you’re better equipped to take advantage of their services — to your advantage.
In the pits: Serving the table players
As you explore the responsibilities of the various casino personnel, it helps to split the casino into two parts:
The area where slot machines appear in endless rows (see the section “Slot employees: The reel dealers”).
The area where you play table games, such as blackjack, craps, or roulette.
The casino arranges the tables in clusters, similar to wagon trains encircled to protect against an attack. These groups of tables are known as pits. Each pit is designed to be an autonomous, fully functioning business, equipped with a variety of table games and a small community of casino personnel that is always willing to usher your dollar bills into the casino coffers.
Pit bosses are smartly attired, experienced professionals who are responsible for all the gaming operations in their assigned pits. As the name implies, pit bosses are just that: bosses. They supervise floorpersons (see the next section), dealers (see the section “Dealers”), and the players within their pit. Theirs is a very detail-oriented job, requiring not only intimate knowledge of all aspects of the games but also the ability to keep track of thousands of dollars flowing through their spheres of influence. Even though the average gambler probably doesn’t have much contact with a pit boss, in the event of a serious dispute, the pit boss is the one who steps in to settle matters.
Among other tasks, pit bosses monitor credit markers, or the amount of credit extended to you, and they dispense comps, such as free meals or shows (see “Casino hosts” later in this chapter for the lowdown on comps), doled out according to an elaborate formula based on the number of hours you play and the amount of money you wager.
Winning or losing vast sums of money often ignites supercharged emotions. Another responsibility of the pit boss is to make sure those emotions don’t explode into conflict. The pit boss is there to congratulate as well as to calm, to soothe as well as to strong-arm. The pit boss’s job is part security staff, part supervisor, part gambling expert, and part public relations manager.
Reporting to each pit boss (see the previous section) are several other suits known as floorpersons. The main difference from pit bosses is that floorpersons are in charge of only a couple of tables in the pit and report directly to the pit boss. They dress and act like the pit boss, and you typically can’t distinguish between the two without asking. Both of them make sure that proper casino procedure is followed. These procedures include refilling dealer chip racks, monitoring markers, and handing out comps, all while remaining cool and calm.
For most people, gambling is a social sport. Because the machine games are a more solitary venture, many players prefer the camaraderie of table gaming. Dealers are at the center of this emotional wheel of fun. Excellent customer- service skills are a requirement; after all, dealers stand on the front line when it comes to irate, belligerent, or inebriated gamblers. Even during high- pressure situations, dealers must promote a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.
Dealers have their fingers on the pulse of the casino — figuratively and literally. Their hands, after all, deal the blackjacks and the full houses and take the money you lose or pay off your winners. Theirs is a high-pressure job with a demanding audience. Overseeing several players at a table, dealers must be confident in their gambling knowledge. They must know who wins, who loses, and how much to pay out on each hand. Many players mistakenly believe that dealers simply shuffle and deal cards, but dealers must also handle dice, chips, and money — accurately and quickly.
Dealers have a wide range of personalities. Some are polite and ebullient, others efficient and brusque. Although finding a compatible dealer doesn’t change the cards or the size of your winnings, it can make your gaming experience more enjoyable and, sometimes, that’s as much as you can ask for. You can spot a good dealer by his or her smile, humor, demeanor, and often the size of the crowd at the table. When you find one you like, sit down, but remember the dealer has no control over the outcome. Most dealers prefer that you win because they make their money primarily from tips.
Slot employees: The reel dealers
The average American casino makes nearly two-thirds of its profits from its various slot machines. Much is at stake along the rows and rows of cling- clanging slot machines and electronic games. Therefore, casinos are diligent when it comes to maintaining and stocking them for long-term play. Just like the pit bosses and dealers who watch over the table games (see the previous section), the staff members assigned to the slot machines — the slot attendants and the slot supervisors — keep a careful eye on their vast realm.
The person you’re most likely to deal with if you have a problem or question about your machine is a slot attendant. Slot machine attendants are on constant vigil, ever watchful for the next jackpot or flashing light requesting service. The attendants, who are usually in uniform, are the perfect people to ask if you’re not sure how to play a particular machine; they know every bell, cherry, and bar like the back of their hand.
If you need assistance with a game, summon a slot attendant, who’s usually at your beck and call. However, if a machine needs repair, the slot attendant calls a slot technician.
The slot supervisor rules the realm of the slot machines, managing employees and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the machines. The slot supervisor generally has several slot attendants as direct reports. Casual gamblers generally won’t interact with slot supervisors.
Management: Running the tables
In addition to the employees who ensure the smooth-running operations on the floor, a host of other casino personnel contribute to the success of the house. As a beginning casino player, you may not come into contact with any of these people. However, if you do, management employees, such as the casino host, may become familiar (and friendly) faces.
Modern casino hosts best resemble a successful hotel concierge: They’re both at your service. Whether dealing with new guests, loyal customers, or high rollers, the casino host focuses on service, service, and more service.
A typical casino host is an affable and professional employee whose mission is to serve your every need. Hosts are hands-on people who greet VIP guests at the door and pamper them throughout their stay. Depending on the size and popularity of the casino and the thickness of your wallet, a casino host may
Comp your rooms
Arrange for greens fees at the golf course Get tickets to sold-out shows
Give away free meals
If it’s your first time in a casino, don’t expect to have the keys to the penthouse at Caesar’s Palace handed to you. But even low rollers can make a relationship with the casino host profitable. Keep the following in mind:
Join the club: The casino host expects you to be a casino loyalty club member before you’re offered many comps. And don’t forget to use your club card whenever you play.
Express yourself: Don’t wait for the host to find you in the penny slots area; go introduce yourself to the host.
Be loyal: Find your favorite gambling locale and stick to it. Even small- scale visits can make you a valuable customer if they’re repeated regularly.
Just ask: The players who get comps are the ones who ask the casino host. Don’t be rude or demanding, just ask politely and see what benefits you qualify for.
Player development is all about forming relationships. Casino hosts are eager to wine and dine you if they believe they can create player loyalty through these lavish perks. Although player-development departments often employ telemarketers or other representatives to reach out to players through databases, casino hosts achieve their goals on a one-on-one basis by working their cellphones and roaming the casino floors, seeking ways to make their clients’ gaming experiences more enjoyable.
As in other walks of life, every casino employee has to report to somebody, and those somebodies are the shift managers. The shift managers then report to the casino manager. As the name implies, shift managers are responsible for their areas of casino expertise (such as slots or table games) during a particular shift (day, swing, and graveyard). Most land-based casinos are 24/7 operations, so shift managers must be prepared to work weekends, holidays, and late-night shifts.
When player disputes arise, money needs to be accounted for or items need to be authorized; the shift manager takes on these duties as well. Shift managers are responsible for employee schedules, customer service, comps, credit, and a host of other duties that make for a mind-boggling job.
The only position above the shift manager is the casino manager. You rarely see this head honcho on the floor, but he’s the ultimate decision-maker for most gaming operations. As a beginning casino player, you aren’t too concerned about who the casino manager is. The only time you may ever interact with the manager is if you win enough money to buy the casino.