A Career in the Casino Mines Games Tips Industry Roles, Salary & Education
Ever wondered what a career in the casino industry would be like? Do you think you have what it takes to handle some of the top-paying casino jobs and are wondering how you would even get there in the first place?
If you’ve answered any of the questions above with a ‘yes’, or if you’re just wondering what working at a casino looks like – this is the article for you. Join us as we take a deep-dive overview of jobs in the casino industry and cover everything from casino employee titles to roles, requirements, and estimated salaries.
We’ll put up a short disclaimer before we begin, though.
Casinos and the gambling companies behind them are not all identical when it comes to organization, ownership, or even management on a day-to-day basis. According to the American Gaming Association, over 122 casinos are operating in the Las Vegas Strip alone, and you can’t expect all of them to function the same way.
With that in mind, there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself if you want to understand how a particular casino operates. For instance, is the casino a privately owned company or a publically traded business venture? Are we talking about a chain of casinos under a single umbrella or just one establishment? For instance, an industry giant such as the Las Vegas Sands Corporation or STDM may hold more than 20 casinos, which can greatly impact upper-level management.
Furthermore, gambling as a business can be found all over the world, and different countries and regions have different policies and standards when it comes to running a casino.
For instance, US-based casinos like the ones in Las Vegas are by no means identical to casinos in, say, Macau. Large-scale businesses such as casinos tend to stick to a tried-and-true business model but variations may pop up here and there.
Casino staff have similar roles in most places, but you need to understand that such external factors often influence internal structures as well. Either way, it must be noted that the information presented here is intended more as a template than an exact blueprint for all land-based casinos. However, the info should still be very useful for understanding the casino business – especially if you’re interested in casino career jobs.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the typical structure of a land-based casino.
A Typical Organizational Hierarchy for Casinos
Any organization needs a clear hierarchy in order to succeed – especially big companies such as casinos tend to be. A casino needs to run like a well-oiled machine where every gear does its part, or the whole thing can fall apart.
As such, everyone from a top-level executive to a dealer has a clearly defined set of responsibilities. This is not all that different from any corporation in the world, but casinos need a clear system of accountability more than most others. First of all, successful casinos often handle enormous amounts of money. It is important to remember that a large part of a casino’s turnover needs to be paid out to customers – any sort of slip-up in that department could have disastrous consequences.
Secondly, the gaming industry is highly regulated and under a lot of supervision for multiple reasons. For starters, gambling is often easily abusable if not handled responsibly. The gambling business is also historically associated with shady dealings (Namely the Mafia’s well-documented connection to Las Vegas and how it came to be the unofficial capital of gambling in the first place.)
Casino Management Hierarchy
With all that in mind, every decision made during daily operations needs to be accounted for. Every shot called needs to be easily traceable to the responsible employee and vice-versa. As such, you need to be familiar with the casino hierarchy of positions if you’re hoping to pursue a career in the field.
As a rule of thumb, the hierarchy can be divided into three levels. We’ll make a brief overview first before going into any details so you can get a clearer idea of how it all works.
- Top Level Management. As you may have guessed, this level includes the head honchos and the shot callers. Owners, directors, the CEO, the high executives – all can be lumped into this category which makes the most important decisions about the direction the company will take.
- Middle Management. These are the people largely responsible for the day-to-day operations of a casino. This level is perhaps the most varied in terms of different responsibilities and roles within a casino, and it entails a hierarchy in its own right.
- Casino Floor Positions. These would be the troops in the field, so to speak. The dealers, attendants, servers, receptionists, the security team – all of these positions are vital to a casino’s operations, even if such employees don’t make a lot of decisions on their own. Needless to say, the exact roles of floor jobs in the casino industry can also vary greatly, but they are very similar between different casinos.
Top Level Management Positions
We’ll begin with the highest positions in the hierarchy.
However, it should be noted that these roles are not the focus of this article. Let’s be frank – if you need to ask how to become a CEO or what the job entails, you’re probably not going to be one any time soon. Such a position is definitely not entry-level either. Considering the main idea of this article is helping you start a casino career, it should be clear why we won’t go into too much detail here. Still, a clearer idea of some of these job descriptions can be handy.
As you may have guessed, this position is the absolute pinnacle of a given casino business. They are responsible for how the entire business operates and make the biggest decisions. All strategies for the growth or future of a casino need to be approved by a CEO. Such a position is not easy to earn because they bear enormous responsibility – almost every aspect of a casino is affected by the CEO in one way or another.
Role of a CEO
Here we can also see how a company’s ownership and status directly affects management. That’s why we gave three names for the position. A privately owned casino is often run by the person who owns it working as acting CEO. Depending on the casino in question, they may choose to delegate more or less control – but it’s always clear who the top dog is.
On the flip side, a publically traded company is shared between a number of investors, venture capital firms, holdings companies, etc. The parties with the biggest stakes in the company form the board of directors, which appoints a Chief Executive Officer or CEO. Unlike an owner, a CEO works for a set salary as decided by the board and is held responsible by them for the casino’s success. The board of directors oversees the operation to make sure their investment is being handled correctly, but rarely directly affects the business. Most top casinos (and companies in general) are structured in such a way these days.
Either way, the role of a CEO in broad terms is to be at the helm and lead it to success.
The income of a casino CEO can vary greatly on a case-by-case basis. This is especially true if the acting CEO is also the owner. For example, Sheldon G. Adelson, the owner and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has a reported income of over $24 million per year. Of course, an owner does not just earn a set salary – they are paid out in dividends as well, a cut of the company’s profits. Adelson is the current record-holder, though, and we can safely assume that most casino owners bring in substantially less.
Salaries can be just as varied when it comes to elected CEOs. Former CEO of MGM Resorts International is reported to have earned $13.1 million in 2019. Only 2$ of this is gis base salary, however, and the rest is in stock awards and similar incentives. Considering the size of MHM, however, a CEO’s salary can be much lower. Besides, income levels also largely depend on the country where the casino is located. According to a 2006 survey, though, a Casino CEO’s wage is usually around 200 times the median income of the home country.
Since the CEO is either an elected position or a matter of founding or buying your own casino, it’s tough to point out the exact job requirements. In the case of ownership, the only thing one would technically need is enough of a bankroll to purchase or open a casino and a willingness to do so.
It doesn’t get any easier for board-appointed CEOs either. Usually, it’s either an employee that has a lot of experience in a different high-management position or an outside hire. Either way, a CEO is expected to be highly proficient in financial matters and understand the ins-and-outs of the Casino business. This generally entails a Business or Finance degree and years, if not decades of experience.
Chief Financial Officer
It’s no secret that the casino business is all about cash, just like every other venture in the world. And just like any other company, a casino needs a CFO. This is easily one of the most important positions in a gambling establishment.
Role of a CFO
The CFO is essentially the head of all things related to finance. They are generally at the helm of a company’s accounting department and are responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies. They are also concerned with all matters related to budget management, financial analysis, financial forecasts, et cetera.
Depending on the casino in question, a CFO may occasionally be responsible for administrative direction when it comes to accounting, budgeting, investor relations, and taxation. They also must maintain the financial records of the company, which is hugely important for legal matters.
A CFO also often works with the board of directors in addition to other executives. In this context, it’s their job to relate all financial matters to the board, make projections of the company’s future in regards to finance, and even suggest possible improvements for cost-effectiveness. However – a CFO would only present possible ways forward to a CEO or owner, who would then be responsible for making the decision and implementing it.
According to information from June 2020, the average annual salary of a casino CFO in the US averages out to around $130,000. This number is further bolstered by bonuses and occasionally profit sharing, bringing the total pay of CFOs in some larger companies go well over $200,000 a year. This makes casino CFOs one of the top-earning 5% in the US – which is a stat you can use to figure out their approximate income in your own country.
A CFO is near the top of the pyramid as far as executives go, and it’s not easy to land such a job. Generally, you would need at least a BA or Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance – but an MA is preferred. You would also need extensive experience both in high-level financial or accounting positions and the casino business.
Other high-level jobs in the casino industry
Depending on its size and turnover, a casino may have many more top-level management employees. These often include:
- Vice President/COO – Chief Operating Officer; essentially the number 2 person after the CEO. While the CEO is mainly concerned with matters of the utmost importance in regards to the company’s direction, most of the nitty-gritty everyday matters are delegated to a COO. Besides that, COOs generally handle a company’s internal affairs while the CEO is concerned with outwards communication. Occasionally known under different terms, such as Executive Vice President of Operations.
- HR Director – Money is not the only thing a casino needs handling. It’s also made up of people. Industry giants such as MGM sometimes have tens of thousands of employees and staff members, and all of them need to be found, recruited, and kept happy for the casino to function properly. This is the domain of an HR Director or VP of Human Resources.
- Chief Legal Officer – Not all casinos have a CLO, but a legal department becomes increasingly important as the business expands. This executive position is responsible for handling the casino’s legal department and directing advising in legal and regulatory matters. They may also be in charge of educating other employees on legal matters or even litigating (or protecting against litigations) on behalf of the company. They may be especially important in the US where it’s their job to keep the company informed about any legal changes that may affect the company (which happens all the time with gambling laws in the US.)
- Head of Security – also known as the VP of Security, this job is all about surveillance, risk management, and maintaining the safety of both customers and staff. Casinos have been the target of all sorts of robbery or scamming attempts over the years, making this position quite an important one. Nowadays, the VP of Security is also often responsible for cybersecurity in online casinos and protecting the in-house system casinos often depend upon.
Middle Management Positions
Next in the line of a casino’s corporate hierarchy are the managers. Where exactly the line is drawn between upper and middle management is a matter of some debate. In general, the terms refer to everyone between VP-level decision-makers and the staff on the ground, so to speak. These positions handle the majority of day-to-day operations in terms of organization and direction.
Depending on the role in question, every casino floor may require a full team of middle management staff. The job descriptions themselves can be vastly different. The umbrella term of middle management may include all sorts of employees across very different aspects of the casino business. In general, though, they make sure everything is running smoothly, supervise and direct floor staff, and handle customer care. We’ll provide a few examples.
Different managerial positions handle different things. For instance, there are designated positions for managing slot machines, table games, food and beverage, and so on. However, all of these are parts of a greater whole, which means that they need to be coordinated when it comes to everyday operations.
Role of a Floor Manager
This is where the floor manager comes in. Where most managers handle a very specific service, floor managers ensure that everything is connected and running smoothly. However, this does not necessarily put them above, say, slot managers in terms of the hierarchy. That kind of role is reserved for the pit boss, which we’ll explain later.
A floor manager often works closely with the security team because they are responsible for upholding a gambling company’s standards, policies, and procedures. A floor manager may also be asked to step in and resolve disputes and issues. That makes customer care a large part of a floor manager’s responsibilities.
The average yearly income of a floor manager of a Las Vegas casino is around $58,000. On a national level in the US, the number is a bit lower, ranging from $47,000 to $54.000. As far as other places go, the pay can be very different – but this sort of paycheck puts them in the 67th percentile according to national averages.
A lot of such positions do not require anything above a high school diploma, although a BA in management would certainly be a big plus. Managerial experience is immensely more valued, especially if it’s in the casino business. There are also options for floor manager training, though these are usually just part of the hiring process.
A pit boss is possibly the highest-ranking employee you are likely to see on a casino floor. ‘Pit Manager’ is usually the term used these days, partly because of the kind of reputation Pit Bosses are stuck with thanks to inaccurate Hollywood depictions. Either way, this is one of the most important roles when it comes to daily business.
Role of a Pit Boss
A Pit Boss is directly responsible for pretty much everything that happens in a casino. Many aspects of this job are different between casinos, but a Pit Boss is in charge of all of the other common managers – floor, table games, accounts, etc. This means that this position comes with a lot of responsibility, making it one of the most sought-after jobs in the casino industry.
Other responsibilities include making sure the dealers are doing their jobs correctly, customers are treated properly, and that security is properly enforced. Pit bosses are sometimes tasked with training new hires, and they may be called upon to handle cheaters. Smaller player disputes are usually handled by the floor manager and a Pit Boss is needed only for more difficult cases.
The responsibilities of a pit boss increase substantially the bigger a casino is, which means payment can also vary drastically. In the US, most Pit Bosses earn between $56,000 and $88,000 per year, although this number sometimes goes above six figures. This means that they are usually in the 67th to 80th percentile on a national level – and we can assume the stats are similar in other countries.
Similarly to a floor manager, the requirements don’t usually relate to formal education. Industry experience is much more valuable, which is why most Pit Bosses are hired internally. This means you would probably need to work your way up from a dealer or similar position.
Interestingly, industry insiders have pointed out that Pit Bosses are often expected to know how to count cards. You will also likely need a gaming licence from the responsible authorities.
Slot Machine Manager
As we’ve already glossed over, almost all services a casino offers have their corresponding managerial positions. We’ll use a Slot Machine Manager as an example, but you can safely assume most such positions are fairly similar but specialized in different things.
Role of a Slot Machine Manager
You may or may not be surprised to hear that slot machines constitute 70% of the average US casino’s business. They are by far the most popular gaming method in casinos.
At first glance, it may seem that slot machines take care of themselves without the need of supervision or management. However, a large land-based casino often has more than 1000 machines on a floor, and someone needs to make sure they’re all functioning properly. With that in mind, a Slot Machine Manager has to have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything related to slot machines and how they work. Besides, customers often have questions, and it’s often this employee’s job to answer them.
Besides the above, a Slot Machine Manager is in charge of the slot machine attendants which share some of the responsibilities.
Depending on different sources, a slot manager’s salary in the US is somewhere between $38,000 and $51.000 yearly. As you can tell, the pay can be very different even in one city such as Las Vegas, which makes it hard to make parallels to other countries.
Again, very little is required in terms of formal education – experience in the gaming industry is more valued when it comes to new hires. As such, the majority of Slots Machine Managers are inside hires, which means you may have to spend a few years as an attendant first.
Other Middle Management Positions
Plenty of mid-level staff members are required to keep a casino running smoothly. These may include:
- Table Games Manager – A similar job to the slot manager, only specialized in card games and roulette tables. This means that this job is more concerned with managing people and potting cheating attempts.
- Food and Beverage Manager – ensures the smooth running of food and drink facilities. This includes everything from inventory and logistics to directing table service staff.
- Customer Service Manager – keeping customers happy is essential to any enterprise, and this is the main focus of this position.
- Shift Manager – in charge of allocating shifts and duties between different casino staff members.
- Casino Cage Manager – essentially responsible for pay-outs and other transactions. Their main goal, however, is ensuring profitability on a smaller scale.
- Security Manager – this person is responsible for effectively running the security team. They have to bee aware of everything that’s going on in a casino at any given time.
Casino Floor Staff
Most of a casino’s staff fall into this category. Floor staff is responsible for conducting business every day. As you might imagine, the roles off floor staff members can differ greatly, so it can be hard to lump them all together.
Table Game Dealers
Otherwise known as croupiers, this is probably the position most people associate with working at a casino. Dealers are the face of almost any gaming business, and professional dealers can impact the customer’s experience at a gaming establishment.
The Role of Dealers
The details of a dealer’s job depend on which game they are tasked with. It generally involves dispensing cards and chips, operating equipment (such as in roulette), or any other task which allows the customer to wager their money. Croupiers also calculate winnings and sometimes collect stakes if the casino does not rely on chips.
In the US, the average income of a croupier is just above $14 per hour. However, the bulk of their earnings comes from tips instead of their base salary. Tips often reach as much as $200 per day. Remember – gamblers are a superstitious bunch, and tipping your dealer is considered not just good form, but also good luck. This may be different in some countries, however, where tipping is much less prevalent.
Although little is needed in terms of formal education, being a dealer requires a very specific skill set. Some cards games, for example, require hand dexterity – not to mention being able to do math in a matter of seconds.
However, very few casinos offer in-house training for new dealers. Instead, most dealers attend a formal training program before starting their careers. Well-known examples of dealer schools include the CED Dealer School and the PCI Dealer School in the US, the London Gaming Academy, the Cerus Casino Academy which has locations all over Europe, and the IGS School which offers training in Asia.
Slot Machine Attendants
We’ve already mentioned that there are more than 1000 slot machines in a typical casino – and someone needs to take care of them all.
Role of a Slot Machine Attendant
An attendant job boils down to staying in their designated section and monitoring the situation. They must report glitches or irregular machines, distribute winnings if necessary, and be available in case customers have questions or complaints. By and large, attendants are the eyes and ears of a slot manager.
They are also expected to work closely with the security team by reporting suspicious behaviour. By and large, though, attending slot machines is down to effective customer service.
Often around $10 – $15 an hour in the US. Slot machine attendants often work for minimum wage and can’t expect much in the way of tips either, but the barrier for entry is substantially lower than for dealers.
Little more than a high school diploma. Any training usually takes the form of on-site instruction and orientation
Most gambling is all about money – and it’s difficult to imagine how any of it would work without a cashier.
Role of a Casino Cashier
The job description here is not much different than any other cashier in the world. In casinos, cashiers distribute winnings and exchange chips. In locations which use multiple currencies such as Gibraltar, cashiers are also tasked with exchanging currencies. A lot of money goes through this employee’s hands every single day, which means it is a position of trust. A state-issued licence is required to work in this position in the US.
$27,220 per year is the national average in the US. The pay is not much different in other places – for instance, it amounts to £19,980 per year in the UK.
High school diploma. Experience in dealing with large sums of money is a big plus, and on-the-job training is usually provided by the employer.
Waiter/Food and Beverage Server
Almost every respectable gaming establishment has facilities for food and beverage. A bar is pretty much necessary at a casino, and waiters are required so that customers don’t have to interrupt their wagering to grab a drink.
Role of a Waiter
We don’t feel the need to go into too much detail when it comes to describing what a waiter does. However, it is important to understand that delivering food or drink to customers is a process, which means other similar employees are just as needed. This almost always includes bartenders, but hotel-casinos may need several more people such as cooks and busboys.
Waiters ofter earn as little as $6.77 in the US. However, this is much improved when you take into account tips – especially in the States. Experienced waiters also point out that casino customers tend to tip more than regular bar-goers.
Generally, on-the-job training is all that is required.
Most large casinos invest heavily in security and maintaining it requires a roster of professionals. Security team members generally include officers, dispatchers and a surveillance team.
Role of a Security Team Member
As you might expect, working security is all about ensuring the safety of both the employer and the customers. This can include anything from containing unruly or suspicious behaviour to keeping an eye out for cheaters. Casino security officers need to be especially keen-eyed and pay attention to even the smallest details. Besides that, officers need to be courteous and able to deal with unpleasant situations – mostly to prevent escalation.
Around $28,000 in the US annually.
Working as security usually requires a state-issued licence and permit. Depending on your state or country of residence, this includes training, first-aid, and background checks.
Other Casino Floor Staff Positions
- Receptionist – fairly self-explanatory; does not differ too much from any other receptionist position.
- Valet – Upscale establishments often have valets as well. This is especially true in places like Monte Carlo or Macau.
Top Paying Casino Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree
A lot of the positions we discussed above do not require a college education, which is one of their main attractions. Obtaining a high paying job in the casino industry without investing in a college or university degree may not be as difficult as one might imagine.
- Pit Boss – This is possibly the highest-paid job that doesn’t technically require a degree – which doesn’t mean it’s easy to get. The most important quality of a pit boss is the experience in the industry. As such, you will typically progress to it after spending time as a lower-tier manager.
- Floor Manager – Seeinhow this job is fairly similar to a Pit Boss, it shouldn’t surprise you that it requires a similar set of skills. A floor manager is typically a stepping stone to becoming a pit boss – although it is a fairly decent gig in its own right.
- Dealer – Dealers in high-end casinos can make surprisingly large sums in tips. A typical croupier course doesn’t take more than half a year at a few hundred dollars per month (though that may depend on the number of games you’re being trained for.) Skilled dealers can make back that investment in a couple of weeks on tips alone.
- Head of Security – people in this position are famed for being former members of special forces or similar organisations. While it doesn’t technically require a college degree, the requirements are still high in terms of skills and experience.
The Evolving Gambling Industry – Trends and Predictions
As our last point – is getting into the casino business even worth it in this day and age? How are the projections for the industry’s future?
At first glance, it might look like starting a career in the casino industry might be a bad move. If you look at places like Atlantic City, which used to be the Mecca of gambling in the East Coast, you’ll see a lot of casinos shutting down.
However, the business is not gone – it merely migrated to similar services. Experts have noted that online casinos have been growing in both size and revenue for years, and most projections are predicting that this increase continues. With the advent of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, services such as live online casino games may become even more popular.
A Rising Trend
Online gambling currently accounts for around 23% of the global market share and has been going through a staggering 10% yearly increase since 2012. It is expected to rise from €22.2 billion in 2018 to €29.3 billion in 2022 in Europe alone.
This will slightly alter the nature of jobs in the casino industry and the experience of working at a casino – but not by much. Dealers will simply work in front of a camera instead of customers. Additionally, the field of IT is naturally spilling over into the casino business. For example, security-related employee titles are expected to work more with cybersecurity than what is usually associated with such a position.
Either way, gambling has been a popular past-time for centuries, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.