What does it mean to work at a casino? I have spent my life working in them, I have written a book about how to do slot analysis. My entire adult life has been casinos. I have worked in the casino industry for 19 years today. In that time I have spent every major holiday with coworkers and guests. From Christmas to 4th of July I am here. I have loved every minute I have worked on this floor. I have a family here amongst these people who gather around gambling. I have seen the industry change, the people in it change, my casino change, but at its heart are the gamblers, and they are the one constant. They are the ones that build your casino family. On my anniversary I think back about these people who have so changed and improved my life. I ask, what is a gambler?
There are the guests on the periphery of the casino, those that come for the drinks or the buffets. They watch the concerts and may even spin a few bucks on a slot game. These spa-goers and golf aficionados are great to have on a property, but they are often not “gamblers.” They are often great people, and can even become regulars and big promoters of an establishment, and that makes them a valued guest, but not necessarily a gambler.
Of course, there are the few unwanted customers who come for free pop and to graze for $.05 tickets, they spend night after night on the casino floor, wandering bumming smokes. But they are not gamblers. If anything this group is an annoyance to all the other guests, gamblers and otherwise. They often panhandle or look for openings to give security a reason to work.
But a gambler? Gamblers have that risk-taking part of themselves that draws them in to take a chance and keep taking that chance. I have met gamblers who were business owners and self-starters who shared their thoughts and strategies on life and business. I have learned the value of cash flow and budgeting in my personal life from them. Financially I have learned a great deal about how to manage my life, but most importantly what I learned from gamblers was integrity. Gamblers are a special breed that believes in fair play and integrity. So many people I talk to outside of the industry perceive the industry and its customers as greedy charlatans, feeding dollars into the casino machine searching for that big win. It’s a sad image, and so very wrong. Sure it is nice to win, but it’s in the playing of the game that you become a gambler. Like the old saying about it is not the destination but the journey. Any gambler that has felt the thrill of placing a bet on a long shot knows the truth of that statement, feels the truth of that statement. Gamblers are risk takers, it’s a core part of why they gamble.
I would trust a gambler before anyone else. Yes, they are risk takers, but they take that risk under the assumption that the casino is going to play them fair, and they in turn act with a level of integrity I have not found anywhere else. I have known gamblers that found thousands of dollars in the parking lot and brought it in to help us find the rightful owners. I know of no other industry where people leave a few hundred dollars on a machine and expect it to be protected for no other reason than a turned chair. I have seen two gamblers make a deal on a horse worth several hundred thousand dollars while sitting next to each other gambling. No contracts, just a handshake. Gamblers who grow dissatisfied with a casino or angry over an incident almost always cite one simple rule, “that is not fair.” They may word it differently, but at its heart, that is their argument. They do not mean that life needs to be fair, or sometimes the dealer won’t hit 3 blackjacks in a row (seen it, it sucks, but it happens). What they mean is by opening its doors the casino has made an unspoken commitment, and gamblers have signed on to that social contract, and they expect it to be upheld. Treat a gambler with respect and show them your integrity and they will give you the shirt off their back if they believe it’s the fair thing to do.
Gamblers are a family, the little old lady who gambles $20 a day every day knows and talks to the lady in the high roller room who comes out just as much. They talk, they interact, and they swap stories. Just because one can afford the $50.00 spins and the other plays $0.50 a spin does not mean they do not talk. There may be a class system in our world, but casinos are one place where those classes converge. I have received phone calls from high rollers about the treatment of a penny player they know. It makes many casinos realize the truth of the statement, “how you treat the least of us, so you treat us all.” Gamblers realize that the high tiers get the free rooms, heck they know that it is fair. But anyone who earns that higher tier had better get it, and the comps with it. I do not know how many customers over the years have all brought their offers to me after they compared (roughly and vaguely) their spend in comparison to the offer. Explaining how it works and why it is fair is not always easy, but I have found that once they understand it, they’re ok with it, as long as it is fair.
Gamblers are often successful in life. They are usually entrepreneurs or high in their field. They are a broad mix of races, social classes, religions, and nationalities. But they have these core similarities. I am proud to call many of them my friends, and I blessed to have had so many come through my life. From these gamblers, I learned almost the same lessons I learned from my grandparents who were not gamblers in the traditional sense. What I learned from these wonderful people is to take risks in my life. Sometimes you just have to take that plunge and risk-free fall if you ever want to reach a reward. Uphold my own integrity in all things I do, even when nobody else is watching. My integrity is my integrity, and it is up to me to ensure it is there. How I treat people is important, I should treat everyone under the same basic rule set. It should never matter what I feel about other people, if we all put a dollar down on the same number, we should all have the same chance to win or lose.
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