Becoming a Casino General Manager: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about a casino general manager's salary, licensing requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a casino general manager.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Casino General Management

Casino general managers coordinate all of the activities and services offered at a casino. Read the pros and cons below to determine if a career as a casino general manager is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Casino General Manager
High paying (median annual salary approximately $67,000 in 2014 for all gaming managers)*
A post-secondary degree is not always required (44% had only a high school diploma in 2010)**
Work in an exciting and energetic entertainment venue***
Experience and skills can also be used in other hospitality management careers*

Cons of Becoming a Casino General Manager
Must obtain a state license to work in a casino*
Casino jobs not found in every state (only 23 states had commercial casinos in operation in 2012)***
Exposure to health hazards, like second-hand smoke and loud noises*
Can encounter highly stressful situations**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online, ***American Gaming Association.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

In a fast-paced gambling environment, general managers are needed to coordinate all of the activities and services offered at a casino. From personnel issues to creating and following a budget, casino general managers work with human resources, accounting, marketing, security, housekeeping, food services and gaming departments to develop procedures and plans, supervise activities and ensure customers are happy.

Sometimes, managers walk the casino floors to inspect personnel, assess procedures and resolve problems, often encountering loud noises and second-hand smoke. Stress can arise when dealing with irate customers, security violations, cheaters and less-than-stellar profits. As a general manager, you often answer to stockholders, and you can be held responsible if your marketing plans and business policies aren't as effective as they should be.

Salary Info and Employment Prospects

Casinos and other gambling facilities are becoming a more popular form of entertainment in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 10% increase in the employment of gaming services employees between 2012 and 2022. Because casinos are not found in every state (only 23 had commercial casinos in 2012), competition for these jobs is expected to be strong. According to the BLS, gaming managers received an annual median wage of around $67,000 in 2014.

What Are the Requirements?

No specific degree or college program is required to become a casino general manager, according to the BLS. However, managers generally need to attend training or take classes in business, casino and hospitality management. Coursework in these areas of study include gaming regulations, food and beverage services, security, technology use, marketing and human resources. Many casinos also provide lodging services and knowledge of hotel operations, in addition to specific games - such as slots and gaming tables - is necessary.

Every state with legalized gambling requires casino workers to hold a current state gaming license. Requirements will vary by state, but most often, you will need to apply for a license and undergo a background check and drug test.

Useful Skills

Gaming managers should be able to work well with others and motivate employees to provide superb customer service. Solid communication and critical thinking abilities are also valuable. Below is a list of other qualities and skills that gaming managers should possess:

  • Excellent at time management
  • A good listener
  • Keenly observant
  • Highly organized

Job Postings from Real Employers

When employers put up job postings for casino general managers, they generally ask for specific education, several years of experience and a state gaming license. Many employers are looking for managers with 4-year degrees, great people skills, leadership qualities and technical knowledge. The following real job postings were found in May of 2012 and should give you an idea of what employers are looking for:

  • A lodge and casino in Wisconsin is seeking a casino gaming manager to oversee operations of its casino and convention cente, create and enforce policies, plan business activities and monitor financial data. The employer requires a bachelor's degree in management or business administration and eight years of related industry experience. A master's degree is preferred. Candidates must also be able to obtain a Class III gaming license.
  • A casino in Colorado is hiring a general manager with a bachelor's degree, excellent communication and analytical skills, creativity and a desire to provide great customer service. Candidates must possess a current state gaming license or be able to qualify for one and have experience in the gaming industry. A master's degree is a plus.
  • A casino in New Mexico is looking for a general manager to staff departments, create an operating budget, implement marketing strategies and lead personnel to solve problems and adhere to company procedures. Five years of management experience, knowledge of gaming facilities and activities and a 4-year degree are required.

How to Gain an Edge in the Industry

The BLS recognizes that many gaming managers are promoted from lower-level casino supervisory positions or move from other hospitality jobs after acquiring knowledge of casino operations. Gaining skills in customer service and specific dealer duties will assist you when making personnel and operational policies as a manager. Although college degrees are not always required for gaming management positions, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or business administration to learn more about the inner workings of the industry and develop techniques to boost profits and draw in customers. While in the degree program, an internship at a casino can add valuable practical experience to your resume. Some employers might give preference to potential managers with a master's degree in business.

Professional organizations - such as the American Gaming Association - offers webinars, conventions and other events to provide you with networking opportunities and keep you informed of industry changes, advancements and regulatory issues. If you decide you want to advance to a position in hotel management or entertainment venue operations, skills gained while managing a casino might help you qualify for an upper-level position.

Alternative Fields to Consider

Lodging Manager

If the licensing and extensive regulations of the gaming industry sound daunting, you should consider a closely related career in lodging management. Lodging managers hire and supervise the personnel who make sure hotels and resorts are clean, and guests are comfortable and happy. These managers also resolve issues and oversee expenditures and generated income, similar to tasks a casino general might perform. The type of education necessary for this position depends on the size of the facility. Larger, full-service hotels might require a bachelor's degree in hotel or hospitality management. You might be hired as a manager at a smaller hotel with only an associate's degree or certificate in hotel management.

The BLS predicted that employment of lodging managers are expected to increase by eight percent during the 2010-2020 decade. In May of 2011, lodging managers received an annual mean salary of almost $55,000.

Gaming Surveillance Officer

If you aren't ready for a management career but still want to work in a casino, you could become a gaming surveillance officer. Large amounts of money change hands on a daily basis in a casino, and incidents of theft and cheating might occur. Surveillance officers observe customers in person and on video monitors, ensure that private areas of the building are secure and enforce laws on the premises, including the arrest of violators. A high school diploma is necessary, and some training or certification in casino security is generally preferred. Licensing is dependent on the state and might be required if a weapon is carried during work hours.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators could see a nine percent rate of growth in the industry from 2010-2020, as shown in figures from the BLS. The BLS also measured the average annual wage of these gaming professionals at over $33,000 in May 2011.

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