by Vic Taucer
TABLE GAMES SUPERVISORS: A NEW ROLE:
“SERVICE TEAM LEADERS: THE WYNN EXPERIMENT
A recent development by the management of the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas is about to change the roles of table games supervisors at that casino and may change the way table games departments use their staff at major casinos in the future. Frankly, the way most casinos emulate ideas and concepts, this one could be the forbearer of how we not only disburse tips but how we operate our table games departments in the future. Like all experiments though, time will dictate where this experiment goes.
The following was reported in the Las Vegas Review –Journal in August, “A restructuring of how Wynn Las Vegas manages its casino soon will leave many dealers there a little lighter in the wallet. Starting Sept. 1, table game supervisors will share in the tips earned by dealers, a move gaming industry insiders said is unheard of along the Strip.”
Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal stated,” A widening disparity between the wages earned by dealers and casino floor supervisors causes our casino to alter the structure of its table games division. Starting next week, pit bosses and floor supervisors will be known as "casino service team leaders." Their responsibilities will cover the operations of specific table games, including game protection and customer service. The new plan will be phased in over several weeks.”
The most controversial part of the restructuring is a change in compensation. Pascal said that Wynn Las Vegas dealers are the highest- paid dealers in the city, averaging about $100,000 per year in salary and tip earnings. But the employees supervising dealer’s average about $60,000 a year in salary, Pascal said.
"Because of our property, that disparity has gotten wider," Pascal said, citing Wynn's emphasis on high-end play as one reason its dealers' tokes are larger than most Strip properties. "There was no incentive in the division to advance and grow.”Everybody wanted to become dealers," he added. Dealers who split tips by shifts now will share those tokes with team leaders and supervisors, who also will receive a boost in base salary. The result, Pascal said, will be dealers earning an average of $90,000 annually while supervisors will be paid $95,000.
Why the change?
Clearly there can be a number of assumptions about this move. An equalization of the income differential between dealers and supervisors? Of course! This has been an issue for decades, why should I become a manager when I can clearly make more money as a tip earner is an age old issue in table games. I asked myself that same question when I was a dealer, albeit that was in the middle ages (you know, the 70’s!). A method to steer more of a promo table base into a managerial career? By all means a good reason for this change.
But other assumptions for this change abound also. With so many table games departments struggling in today’s gaming world, the ability to give supervisors pay raises is getting tougher and tougher. Using the dealer tip pool to more give the supervisors staff “a raise” if you will is a great (and painless) move by management. Unfair is the first word that the dealing staff will think. Ask the Wynn dealers as lawsuits are in their formative stage over this issue.
Using this change to restructure the role of table games supervisor, pit bosses if you will, is the best reason for this change. In a job position that in recent years is being downsized and having positions disappearing from organizational charts (look at most major casinos on the strip, pit managers and box-men have all disappeared!), possibly this is the right time for this move. Something had to be done with the way we are using table games supervisors, possibly a total re-tooling of this position’s time has come. Perhaps “Service Team Leaders”, are the answer!
Can this be done with Table Games Departments? Is this legal?
Is it a decision of management in our casinos as to who shares in the Dealers tip pool? Who is to get a share? Is it dealers or dealers and supervisors? Is this legal and how do regulators look at this?
Over the years, casinos have tinkered with workers' tips by imposing tip pooling arrangements and adding other employees to those pools. Each move has resulted in controversy — workers are naturally protective of their tips — and, in some cases, lawsuits. When Wynn announced a plan to shake up his casino floor by giving floor men a share of dealer tips, the word on the street was that the change was unheard of and nothing short of blasphemous.
This idea though is not new. Many native casinos currently have their supervisory staff share in the tip pool. Many commercial casinos have done this in the past albeit not with the role changes that Wynn will impose. It's not the first time floor men were allowed a share of tips. Some Las Vegas casinos in the past have included floor men in the tip pool in baccarat rooms, where floor men frequently interact with high-rollers who tend to gamble on credit. A lawsuit filed by a dealer against the International Hotel, now known as the Las Vegas Hilton, had the unintended effect of opening the tip door to floor men as well as craps box men and casino cashiers.
The Nevada Supreme Court sided with the International in 1975, stating that employers can not only require new employees to be part of existing tip pool agreements but that those agreements can include other workers who interact with customers.
"There is no reason to suppose that the last person in a service line is the only one entitled to share in the customer's bounty," the court wrote. "For example, a busboy as well as a waitress contributes to the good service and well-being of a customer in a restaurant. Similarly, in a casino, the floor men, box men and cashiers all contribute to the service rendered to the player."
Dealers — many of whom have been subjected to second-hand smoke and verbal abuse by obnoxious customers over the years — say it's unfair to share their tips with people who aren't in the line of fire. While that may be true, case law is clear that tips customers hand over to dealers are up for grabs by their immediate supervisors. Fueling dealers' frustration is the fact that Nevada law is vague on the subject of tips. Last amended in 1973, the statute is a mere four lines long and states that it is "unlawful for any person to take all or part of any tips or gratuities bestowed upon his employees."
Clearly the casinos have all the legal right to decide who gets tips and who is in the service line of tip earners so to speak. Regulators will of course side with the law on this on also. For its part, the Gaming Control Board leaves tip pooling decisions up to casinos — so long as nobody's stealing from the pool. That's consistent with the fact that regulators generally don't meddle with operational decisions
The Table Games Supervisors New Role: Service Team Leader!
Forget if you will the stereo-typical floor supervisor of the past, this guy is history! Today’s role in a new part salary, part tip–earner scenario, as a “Service Team Leader”, means that both the job description and even the supervisors thought process will have to change.
A great number of table games supervisors think their job is all about game procedure and supervision based, enforcing the rules with keeping a keen eye on the game protection part of the tables. While this is still true and they will still have to supervise the games, account for bankrolls and make sure the games are protected from cheaters, the way they look at the job and act will have to change.Most supervisors, (and sometimes upper management also), think their role, even their job description, make them a quasi-Police Officer in their role as a table games supervisor. This is totally wrong and their actions in this belief make this group act more like Cops than they should.
The Service Team Leader job description, w
Date Posted: 08-Jan-2007
Vic Taucer is president of Casino Creations; a Las Vegas based casino educational, training and consulting company. Casino Creations specializes in table game supervision training, customer service training, dealer training and departmental evaluations for table games operations. A former professor of casino management for the University & Community College System of Nevada and long time casino manager at many resorts, Vic can be reached at 702-595-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for Vic Taucer’s new book, Table Game Management, available at www.casinocreations.com and at booksellers nationwide.