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Gaming Services Occupations

Significant Points
  • Job opportunities are available nationwide and are no longer limited to Nevada and New Jersey.
  • Workers need a license issued by a regulatory agency, such as a State casino control board or commission; licensure requires proof of residency in the State in which gaming workers are employed.
  • Employment is projected to grow faster than average.
  • Job prospects are best for those with a degree or certification in gaming or a hospitality-related field, previous training or experience in casino gaming, and strong interpersonal and customer service skills.

    Nature of the Work

    Legalized gambling in the United States today includes casino gaming, State lotteries, pari-mutuel wagering on contests such as horse or dog racing, and charitable gaming. Gaming, the playing of games of chance, is a multibillion-dollar industry that is responsible for the creation of a number of unique service occupations.

    The majority of all gaming services workers are employed in casinos. Their duties and titles may vary from one establishment to another. Despite differences in job title and task, however, workers perform many of the same basic functions in all casinos. Some positions are associated with oversight and direction—supervision, surveillance, and investigation—while others involve working with the games or patrons themselves, performing such activities as tending slot machines, handling money, writing and running tickets, and dealing cards or running games.

    Like nearly every business establishment, casinos have workers who direct and oversee day-to-day operations. Gaming supervisors oversee the gaming operations and personnel in an assigned area. They circulate among the tables and observe the operations to ensure that all of the stations and games are covered for each shift. It is not uncommon for gaming supervisors to explain and interpret the operating rules of the house to patrons who may have difficulty understanding the rules. Gaming supervisors also may plan and organize activities to create a friendly atmosphere for the guests staying in their hotels or in casino hotels. Periodically, they address and adjust complaints about service.

    Some gaming occupations demand specially acquired skills—dealing blackjack, for example—that are unique to casino work. Others require skills common to most businesses, such as the ability to conduct financial transactions. In both capacities, the workers in these jobs interact directly with patrons in attending to slot machines, making change, cashing or selling tokens and coins, writing and running for other games, and dealing cards at table games. Part of their responsibility is to make those interactions enjoyable.

    Slot key persons coordinate and supervise the slot department and its workers. Their duties include verifying and handling payoff winnings to patrons, resetting slot machines after completing the payoff, and refilling machines with money. Slot key persons must be familiar with a variety of slot machines and be able to make minor repairs and adjustments to the machines as needed. If major repairs are required, slot key persons determine whether the slot machine should be removed from the floor. Working the floor as frontline personnel, they enforce safety rules and report hazards.

    Gaming and sportsbook writers and runners assist in the operations of games such as bingo and keno, in addition to taking bets on sporting events. They scan tickets presented by patrons and calculate and distribute winnings. Some writers and runners operate the equipment that randomly selects the numbers. Others may announce numbers selected, pick up tickets from patrons, collect bets, or receive, verify, and record patrons’ cash wagers.

    Gaming dealers operate table games such as craps, blackjack, and roulette. Standing or sitting behind the table, dealers provide dice, dispense cards to players, or run the equipment. Some dealers also monitor the patrons for infractions of casino rules. Gaming dealers must be skilled in customer service and in executing their game. Dealers determine winners, calculate and pay winning bets, and collect losing bets. Because of the fast-paced work environment, most gaming dealers are competent in at least two games, usually blackjack and craps.

    Working Conditions

    The atmosphere in casinos is generally filled with fun and often considered glamorous. However, casino work can also be physically demanding. Most occupations require that workers stand for long periods; some require the lifting of heavy items. The atmosphere in casinos exposes workers to certain hazards, such as cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke. Noise from slot machines, gaming tables, and talking workers and patrons may be distracting to some, although workers wear protective headgear in areas where loud machinery is used to count money.

    Most casinos are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offer three staggered shifts.

    Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

    There usually are no minimum educational requirements for entry-level gaming jobs, although most employers prefer at least a high school diploma or GED. Each casino establishes its own requirements for education, training, and experience. Some of the major casinos and slot manufacturers run their own training schools, and almost all provide some form of in-house training in addition to requiring certification. The type and quantity of classes needed may vary. Many institutions of higher learning give training toward certificates in gaming, as well as offering an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in a hospitality-related field such as hospitality management, hospitality administration, or hotel management. Some schools offer training in games, gaming supervision, slot attendant and slot repair technician work, slot department management, and surveillance and security.

    Gaming services workers are required to have a license issued by a regulatory agency, such as a State casino control board or commission. Applicants for a license must provide photo identification, offer proof of residency in the State in which they anticipate working, and pay a fee. Age requirements vary by State. The licensing application process also includes a background investigation.

    In addition to possessing a license, gaming services workers need superior customer service skills. Casino gaming workers provide entertainment and hospitality to patrons, and the quality of their service contributes to an establishment’s success or failure. Therefore, gaming workers need good communication skills, an outgoing personality, and the ability to maintain their composure even when dealing with angry or demanding patrons. Personal integrity also is important, because workers handle large amounts of money.

    Gaming services workers who manage money should have some experience handling cash or using calculators or computers. For such positions, most casinos administer a math test to assess an applicant’s level of competency.

    Most gaming supervisors have experience in other gaming occupations, typically as dealers, and have a broad knowledge of casino rules, regulations, procedures, and games. While an associate or bachelor’s degree is beneficial, it is not a requirement for most positions. Gaming supervisors must have strong leadership, organizational, and communication skills. Excellent customer service and employee skills also are necessary.

    Slot key persons do not need to meet formal educational requirements to enter the occupation, but completion of slot attendant or slot technician training is helpful. As with most other gaming workers, slot key persons receive on-the-job training during the first several weeks of employment.

    Gaming and sportsbook writers and runners must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most of these workers receive on-the-job training. Because gaming and sportsbook writers and runners work closely with patrons, they need excellent customer service skills.

    Most gaming dealers acquire their skills by attending a dealer school or vocational and technical school. Most of these schools are found in Nevada and New Jersey. They teach the rules and procedures of the games as well as State and local laws and regulations. Graduation from one of these schools does not guarantee a job at many casinos, however, as most casinos require prospective dealers to also audition for open positions. During the audition, personal qualities are assessed along with knowledge of the games. Experienced dealers, who often are able to attract new or return business, have the best job prospects. Dealers with more experience are placed at the “high-roller” tables.

    Advancement opportunities in casino gaming depend less on workers’ previous casino duties and titles than on their ability and eagerness to learn new jobs. For example, an entry-level gaming worker eventually might advance to become a dealer or card room manager or to assume some other supervisory position.


    Gaming services occupations provided 177,000 jobs in 2004. Employment by occupational specialty was distributed as follows:

    Gaming dealers 83,000
    Gaming supervisors 38,000
    Slot key persons 23,000
    Gaming and sports book writers and runners 18,000
    Gaming service workers, all other 15,000

    Gaming services workers are found mainly in the traveler accommodation and gaming industries. Most are employed in commercial casinos, including land-based or riverboat casinos, in 11 States: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, and South Dakota. The largest number works in casinos in Nevada, and the second-largest group works in similar establishments in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mississippi, which boasts the greatest number of riverboat casinos in operation, employs the most workers in that venue. In addition, there are 28 States with Indian casinos. Legal lotteries are held in 40 States and the District of Columbia, and pari-mutuel wagering is legal in 40 States. Forty-seven States and the District of Columbia also allow charitable gaming. Other States have recently passed legislation to permit gambling, but no casinos have been opened as of yet.

    For most workers, gaming licensure requires proof of residency in the State in which gaming workers are employed. But some gaming services workers do not limit themselves to one State or even one country, finding jobs on the small number of casinos located on luxury cruise liners that travel the world. These individuals live and work aboard the vessel.

    Job Outlook

    With demand for gaming showing no sign of waning, employment in gaming services occupations is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014. Even during the recent downturn in the economy, revenues at casinos have risen. In addition, the increasing popularity and prevalence of Indian casinos, particularly in California, and pari-mutuel casinos will provide substantial job openings that were not available in the past. With many States benefiting from casino gambling in the form of tax revenue or agreements with Indian tribes, additional States are reconsidering their opposition to legalized gambling and will likely approve the construction of more casinos and other gaming establishments during the next decade. Some job growth will occur in established gaming areas in Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, but most of the openings in these locations will come from job turnover.

    The increase in gaming reflects growth in the population and in its disposable income, both of which are expected to continue. Higher expectations for customer service among gaming patrons also should result in more jobs for gaming services workers.

    Job prospects in gaming services occupations will be best for those with previous casino gaming experience, a degree or technical or vocational training in gaming or a hospitality-related field, and strong interpersonal and customer service skills. As a direct result of increasing demand for additional table games in gaming establishments, the most rapid growth is expected among gaming dealers. However, there are generally more applicants than jobs for dealers, creating keen competition for jobs. In addition to job openings arising from employment growth, opportunities will result from the need to replace workers transferring to other occupations or leaving the labor force.


    Wage earnings for gaming services workers vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, and size of the gaming establishment. The following were median earnings for various gaming services occupations in May 2004:

    Gaming supervisors $40,840
    Slot key persons 23,010
    Gaming service workers, all other 20,820
    Gaming and sports book writers and runners 18,390
    Gaming dealers 14,340

    Gaming dealers generally receive a large portion of their earnings from tokes, which are tips in the form of tokens received from players. Earnings from tokes can vary depending on the table games the dealer operates and the personal traits of the dealer.

    Related Occupations

    Many other occupations provide hospitality and customer service. Some examples of related occupations are security guards and gaming surveillance officers, sales worker supervisors, cashiers, gaming change persons and booth cashiers, retail salespersons, gaming cage workers, and tellers.

    Sources of Additional Information

    For additional information on careers in gaming, visit your public library and your State gaming regulatory agency or casino control commission.

    Information on careers in gaming also is available from:

      • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition

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