The Evolution of Gaming

An Evolution is Upon Us

The gaming industry is in the midst of an evolution. So much so, in fact that here in Las Vegas, we don’t even call it the gaming industry anymore. Now, we refer to it as the “Service Industry.” The gaming business has faded away, and from its ashes has risen the hospitality business. This may seem odd, considering resort prices are higher than ever, comp values are at an all-time low, and the majority of cars on the strip now have to pay to park.

Here’s what this evolution of gaming means to table games. Dealers, supervisors, and managers have been directed to focus on customer service. At times, this has caused values like technical skill and game protection to slide back behind the curtain. In days past, when interviewing for a floor supervisor, or dealing job, one question was always asked. “What is the primary purpose of your job, as a supervisor/dealer?” The smart ones knew the correct answer, “To protect the house’s money.” In today’s service industry, the answer to that question is now “To make the guests feel like they’re at home.” Or for dealers, “To entertain.”

Now, it’s up for debate whether this evolution is best for business or not. Maybe this service oriented practice has generated more revenue. It is coming at a price, though. In my travels, I’ve seen many different casinos across the country. As a table games professional myself, I can say with confidence that house money lost due to dealer mistakes, and improper training is through the roof. All this is happening while dealers and supervisors are focusing on customer service.

What’s the Cost of This Evolution?

Dealers are making mistakes they would not make, if the pressure to entertain wasn’t so sky high. Supervisors miss these mistakes because they’re servicing guests elsewhere in the pit. You might say that these mistakes are small and not noticeable to the bottom line. But these mistakes add up fast, and could account for a sizable difference, if technical and protective values were practiced. As service standards rise, technical standards fall. This has produced an entire generation of staff who have never even learned the fundamentals of game protection.

Dealers across the country report that they are being evaluated on how they speak to customers, their wording and conversation flow, rather than how quickly and accurately they deal the games. Rarely have I seen a supervisor who, during a buy-in, watches to ensure the cash actually goes down the chute. They rarely double check a sizable roulette payout. So many values and fundamental aspects of protecting the company’s money have fallen by the wayside.

For my two cents, I’m a believer in what the hospitality movement is trying to accomplish. However, a balance must be found. Game protection and hospitality can co-exist and be mutually beneficial. I just hope the balance is discovered and implemented before casino gaming as we know it, is changed forever.

What Do We Do?

Of course, I’m prepared with my suggestion. In most cases, orientation and customer service standards are hammered prior to working your first hour. This is especially true in the larger corporations such as Wynn Resorts, Caesar’s Ent., and Sands/Venitian. After that, technical and procedural operations are often crammed into a crash course, if even addressed at all. Sometimes they just give out the manual and expect the new dealer to come in having read and adapted to all the game procedures. While I do recommend incoming dealers read their handbooks, this is rarely enough attention to garner procedural competance.

In the spirit of past jobs, gaming and otherwise, I propose a training day. This can be done one of two ways. First, on the dealer’s first day, they’re confined to a dead table with a closed lid, in the company of a floor supervisor with the designated responsibility of training. Practice chips and cards would provide the supervisor the opportunity to teach house shuffles and other procedural training, in an environment that produces competent skills once they reach the floor. Dealers are usually hired and started in groups, so this can be done economically once or twice a month.

Another Option?

The second way this can be done, if an extra supervisor for a day is a cost that cannot be taken on, is a shadow day. The new dealer would be attached to an experienced dealer for a day, who can show them all the house procedures in the process of a night of work. Of course, this only works if your base staff is adequately trained. You might ask “Does the new dealer get tokes for this training time?” Frankly, that’s up to the toke committee. But it’s my opinion that this day should be treated as a replacement for the second day of a two day orientation, which would not give them tokes. To me, it is departmental orientation. But if the toke committee decides to give new dealers tokes for that day, it’s of no concern to the company anyhow.

The logistics of such a program in either case will require a small increase in payroll spending. However, the result will pay off ten fold. You’ll have a staff that is consistent in their procedures, with no excuse to be otherwise. Solid and consistent dealing procedures will naturally produce a stronger and more reliable hold. The benefit of this type of consistency far outweighs the cost. Evolution and change are good, but let’s make sure it’s for the better.

 

For more casino related content, join the Insider community by entering your email below.