by Vic Taucer
TABLE GAMES STAFFING 2007
Hiring table games personnel is not that easy anymore. In some venues we cannot attract the desired personnel that we need! Way back when I broke into the industry (ancient times, the 1970’s!), attracting people for positions in a casino was easy, especially for table games positions. The jobs were perceived of as exciting, glamorous and financially lucrative. Especially where I am from in Las Vegas, finding table games staff was never an issue. Always more applicants than positions!
Times have changed, even in Las Vegas; it is getting more difficult to attract premium applicants for table games positions. Notice I said premium applicants for these positions. What do I mean by “premium applicants?” In table games its pretty simple, outgoing, extroverted personnel that can be easily trained in how to interact with the public. In today’s table game world, these are the traits we need in table game personnel.
One of the underlying reasons for poor performance by table games departments is because of the lack of quality type interactive personnel that sometimes we are forced to use in table games. We are at a point in 2006 that we need to address the reasons why attracting desirable staff is getting more difficult. We need to possibly take steps to address changes in the demographic we are looking for. Solutions are out there, perhaps with a little creative thinking.
In both Indian Country and in commercial casino resorts, in many localities, it is getting extremely difficult to recruit, hire and train staff for their respective casino needs. In some areas, the lack of viable casino employees is nearing crisis stage. In some parts of our industry, especially in rural locales, it is becoming near impossible to attract staff for casino positions. The response of, “we don’t have enough dealers to open games”, is becoming the norm more so than the unique response. Casinos are having a hard time drawing interest or getting applicable candidates for casino positions that years ago were easy to fill.
I recently completed a surveillance training program for a beautiful Indian casino in a lovely area of the Northwest. My company trained the surveillance staff for the opening of craps which was new to the casino. The casino managers at this casino all were in a somewhat crisis scenario as they could not get enough qualified staff to operate the new table game in their casino (craps), other table games, surveillance and other positions.
While experienced staff is nearly non-existent in this area, the common answer would be to recruit and then train new employees. After the subsequent job fairs and recruitment efforts drew lackluster response, the crisis still looms. To make matters worse, the licensing scenario in this particular venue put so many non-essential parameters on the application scenario, it was near impossible to get anyone in this area licensed! We may need to re-examine licensing issues on applications, especially in remote locales.
In Oklahoma, where Casino Creations has been training table games personnel for new properties, many of our tribal clients are having similar problems. One of these casinos in a remote area of Oklahoma recently had a job fair, hoping to entice at least 100 applicants. The job fairs held drew a total of 25! Minimum needs of this casino for the tables they want to open are 50-60 people. I can’t think of a worse scenario, players that want gaming and not enough staff to give it to them!
We in Indian Country are not unique to this scenario. Large commercial casino resorts are experiencing the same situation. One of my clients is a large corporation that is opening a casino in Louisiana. Casino Creations was hired to train dealers for this casinos opening this spring. We were contracted to train up to 200 dealers, with the expectation that the casino would hire a great percentage of these students. When the casino invited requisite students to this training (Free training and a probable job!), the response was not up to their expectations. This same casinos expectation for experienced staff was somewhat lacking also. Expecting to look at least 1000 applications, the response was less than 300!
Why the lack of interest in these jobs. If we cannot recruit viable applicants, how can we train staff to operate our casinos? That perception of a “glamorous, exciting career in gaming” as a method of enticing staff is history. While perceived that way when gaming is new to the area, reality sets in when the applicant learns that he has to deal with unhappy losers, smoke in his face, working the graveyard shift and a real orangutan for a boss. No wonder the bloom is off the rose here!
The lack of interest has some commonality:
· Remote Locations: While a great many of these casinos are in beautiful parts of our country, the interest to moving to remote locales is not the norm in today’s world. Oklahoma, Louisiana and Oregon, to name a few, and especially where these casinos are located, are not areas that are experiencing population growth. Especially in the younger demographic that we desire for these casino jobs.
· Work Schedules: The fact that working in a casino means working shift work and weekends in hard to overcome. The younger demographic that we desire wants weekends off. Especially when their contemporaries employed in other areas have weekends off.
· Pay Scale: Our industry in a lot of locales, have not keep up their pay scales to effectively compete with other employment areas. Why work in a casino and have to work nights and weekends while you can make the same money (and sometimes more) in other employment areas.
· Tip-Earning: Here is another issue related to pay scale: working as a tip-earner (as most table games jobs are) is something that is not the norm. New applicants do not see this as a plus.
· Career Path: In a lot of locales, we as an industry are not giving our casino employees a career path into management that other industries do so well. Why become a dealer when the path to management is vague or non-existent?
· Licensing issues: In some areas we are becoming too stringent and much too difficult on licensing criteria for many entry level casino employees. Many casinos cannot hire staff because our gaming commissions are putting too many parameters on the applicant’s background. If the applicant has a minor traffic ticket problem or something somewhat meaningless, we cannot hire this applicant because of the licensing issues put into some locales.
If all these are the reasons we are in this dilemma, maybe we should look at some viable solutions:
· Hiring and Training using an alternative demographic: Maybe it is about time we start looking at a different age group for our viable casino. While hiring staff for minimum wage (which is our dilemma sometimes), usually leads to soliciting the younger demographic, maybe we should go the opposite directions. Maybe an older demographic is called for, maybe second career types, already retired at a younger age are a better choice!
· Part Time Staff: Using part timers is a viable solution here and must be used in our industry. Hiring and training people who only want employment on weekends (when we need them!) is the way to go here. These part timers may have another full time job or maybe even only want part time work only. Hiring a dealer to work only 2 days per week is the way to go and the big guys here in Las Vegas are going this way.
· Pay Scale issues: We must address this one in a big way. Our pay scale cannot only be based on “how little can we get away with paying”, but must be competitive and must meet the number one issue. If we cannot open our revenue producing product because of a lack of staff, more income potential must be given. There are plenty of ways to address this one, not just hourly wage wise!
· Tip Earning Traini
Date Posted: 04-Jul-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.