Hiding in plain sight and making the experience of every casino-goer more memorable, casino dealers are the unsung heroes of the gaming industry. Whether you’re playing blackjack, craps, roulette or baccarat, a good dealer practically fades into the background of the action, offering everything you need without getting in the way of a good time. This isn’t by accident. In fact, casino dealers are highly trained professionals with wide ranging responsibilities. While these responsibilities often vary by workplace, they typically include dealing cards for games such as poker or blackjack, operating the roulette wheel or assisting patrons on the slot machine floor. Dealers are also responsible for making sure visitors are treated fairly and enjoying their casino experience, as well as keeping an eye out for patrons who may be breaking casino rules.
If the responsibility and atmosphere are intriguing to you, perhaps you’d be interested in becoming a casino dealer. The good news is that there’s always demand for good dealers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gaming services industry is expected to grow by an average of 13 percent each year from 2010 to 2020. Of course, there’s more to becoming a casino dealer than simply filling out an application. Most casinos require prospective dealers to complete a training course, which may be provided by the casino itself or through an independent vocational school. Within about six weeks, you’ll be able to complete the required training while learning about the rules and procedures of casino games, as well as the local laws and regulations relating to the gaming industry.
Following the completion of your training program, you’ll be ready to apply for a dealer position at your local casino. Most casinos hold auditions for new dealers in order to evaluate your personality and style, in addition to your technical skill. Good hand-eye coordination is a must for any applicant, and a general enjoyment of the vibrant casino atmosphere is never a bad thing. Most casino dealers have friendly and outgoing personalities, which is key to your success in the business because you’ll be depending on tips as a part of your income.
How Much Will I Make?
Regardless of passion or interest, one question that’s always at the heart of a potential career move is that of salary. At this point, you may get a bit discouraged about chasing your dream of casino employment. The base pay for dealing poker, blackjack, baccarat or other casino games like roulette is typically close to minimum wage, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the average base pay for casino dealers at just $14,700 a year. However, much like any career in the hospitality industry, base pay is just the tip of the iceberg for casino dealers. Obviously tips depend on your skill and personality, but rough estimates on how much a dealer could make when including tips range between $30,000 and $60,000 a year. With more experience, your tips will likely rise. Some seasoned dealers in major casinos in Las Vegas pull in more than $100,000, according to some sources.
With gratuities factoring so heavily into the salary of dealers, the sweetest games and tables will likely be reserved for industry veterans. Don’t expect to claim a spot at the high roller poker tables within your first month on the job. It’s also worthwhile to try to work night shifts as often as possible, as they are the busiest times for most casinos. Then again, it’s worth noting that the biggest whales aren’t always the best tippers. Sometimes lower-limit games draw more relaxed, recreational players who tip better because they’re just having fun. The key to maximizing your earnings is to be friendly and professional with every player. You never know where the next big tip may come from.
As you may expect, working in the casino industry isn’t always as glamorous as it may appear, and dealers are regularly exposed to some of the biggest downsides. For one thing, players aren’t always kind. In the midst of a long losing streak, moods quickly sour, and many players focus the brunt of this attitude squarely on the dealer. If you’ve got a big problem with people being angry with you (even if there’s no real reason to be), then dealing may not be a good option. Likewise, it can sometimes take a toll on your conscience when taking large sums of money from people at the tables. The ability to shut down your empathy and isolate the business portions of casino operation will be useful during your career as a dealer.
Other downsides of being a dealer include physical stresses. Unless you deal poker, you’ll likely be expected to stay on your feet throughout your shift. While you’ll receive regular breaks, all this time standing at the tables can add up after a while, making your job both mentally and physically taxing. Additionally, there’s the issue of cigarette smoke. While some casinos have moved to ban smoking, the majority of establishments in the U.S. still allow smoking on the gaming floor. If you’re a non-smoker, this could be tough. If you’re on the fence, take a trip to your local casino and stay on the gaming floor for eight hours. Could you do this on a daily basis? If the answer is yes, a career in casino dealing may be a worthy pursuit.
Being a casino dealer isn’t for everyone. However, for those willing to compromise and adhere to the unique rules and circumstances of the gaming industry, a career in the casino offers relatively stable work with minimal training and education requirements. Schedules are typically flexible, particularly if you’re open to working odd hours, but don’t isolate yourself to slow times unless you’re willing to sacrifice on tips. For some, casino dealing is a dream job. For others, it’s a nightmare. Only you can tell if a job as a casino dealer is a good fit for your personality. If you’re still unsure, give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.