Gambling City

We are Cash Back

It Really Was a Pretty Sweet Gig

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Currently, I am working two crummy jobs and was looking to go into the casino business. We have three casinos in close proximity to where I live. I hear that dealers make a decent living, which I am sure is more than I am making now. Should I make the leap into the casino business? Any advice you can give me based on your dealing experience would be appreciated. S. S.

Most neophytes looking for a dealing job obtain them in one of two ways. Either you attend a local casino dealing school and then audition, or you are hired from within after working in another position at the casino. Many casinos even have an internal dealing school to teach new hires. If your work history file shows no major missteps, rarely call in sick, and management requires a few fresh dealers, you will be sent to their in-house school of dealing. The course is not a lengthy one, and you can expect to complete your training in about three weeks.

If your current employment is asking customers if they would like to supersize their order, well then, I’d think about making the leap. The benefits, Sheila, are sizable over your present work position. From my own experience, here are just a few.

Pay: A dealer's pay is mainly based on tips. There are dealers pitching cardboard at the right casino in Vegas making a high, five-figure income from gratuities. All in all, $40,000, was typical pay for (Reno/Tahoe) when I worked.

Inexpensive Education: In-house training for existing employees for dealer positions is typically free, or, about a $500 expense to learn to deal blackjack at a school.

Working Conditions: In the seven different casinos that I worked in, I was never hassled. If you’re a screw up, sure, you’ll more than likely lose your job. Nevertheless, in the casino business, you are by and large treated fairly.

Benefits: Today’s casinos offer excellent benefits from medical coverage, bonuses, and matching 401K programs. Some casino dealers in Las Vegas are under union contracts that include job security, seniority rights and other workplace protections.

The Chow: Four of the seven casinos where I was employed gave us one free meal per shift, two offered meals at a large discount, and one at half price.

In one casino where I worked, leftover surf 'n' turf and other foods from their first-class restaurant found their way down to the graveyard employees. I remember one employee yelling out, “enough of the crab legs already.”

Scheduling: Because most casinos offer 24-hour gaming, you can usually choose your shift. In my case, it was mostly second shift. How else was I supposed to ski 100 days a year? Time off was also relatively easy to get. Of all of my silly requests, which were many, I do not recall ever being denied a shift off.

Breaks: How does spending one hour dealing cards, and then getting a 20-minute break sound to you? Every hour, on the hour.

Relocation: Because many casinos are under a corporate umbrella with multiple properties, it is relatively easy to move from one casino to another.

Upward Mobility: Dealers climb the ladder to become pit bosses, after that a games shift manager, followed by casino shift manager, then finally running the whole casino. Several employees whom I once managed went on to running casinos across the US.

Yes, Sheila, the above might sound unrealistic to some, but from my casino days, this is what I experienced.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
Sometimes the lambs slaughter the butcher. – Amarillo Slim, Big Deal (1990)