The Dark Side of Casino Life.Casinos are often painted as glamorous and to a certain extent they are. From my experiences, however for the people working within casinos there can often be another side to the story.
Casino employees can be some of the most degenerate gamblers you will ever see. Being on the inside can give dealers the feeling they can bet the house.They seem to forget the losers and remember the winners, and want a slice of that pie. I know one person who lost a months wages in a "friendly" poker game with other dealers.
There is also a high instance ofalcoholism and drug use amongst dealers. Most, but not all of the dealers I work with engage in some form of drug use, mainly marijuana, some cocaine.
THere is also the issue of trust. Being in a position where your every action can be subject to scutiny puts pressure on you. A lot of casino employees are often suspicious and distrustful of people they work with, even when out of the work environment. On the flip side of this a lot of casino employees engage in affairs. This is not restricted to casino employees, but does seem to happen often.
This might be down to the personalities the job attracts, a consequence of strange hours, or the fact that due to the work you only tend to socialise with people in the industry. I dont know. All I know is that with any industry, there are things going on behind the scenes the customers never see.
I'm not surprised by those comments. You are working in an environment where you are surrounded by money and you are being watched every second by a number of people. I would compare it almost to the banking industry, except that in banking, you are performing the transaction of taking and giving money that rightfully belongs to them. But the casino is games of chance and with dealers seeing big winners (and big losers), I think that dealers would be polarized on their views of gambling: either they NEVER gamble or they are CRAZY gamblers.
I could see the high pressure and stress also leading to risky behavior (alcohol, drug abuse, affairs).
I've always thought bartenders have a larger percentage of alcoholics and teetotalers than average. You are attracted to the life, or in some cases you are repelled by the after effects.
Since many gamblers tend to increase their bets to keep their level of excitement up, I imagine that being a dealer would get you jaded to tiny bets.
Its like Vegas but different.The hypnotic flash of the slots, the sounds of coins rattling into a tray, cheers, groans, background music slightly too loud for comfort, free coctails, the whoosh of the roullete ball spinning, the plasticky slap of cards on felt. Oh and the varying smells of body odour and old lady perfume, cigarette smoke, and cigar smoke. Ladies with face painted llike clowns and coctail dresses. Men in suits playing for high stakes.
Many of these are classic images of the varying sights, sounds and smells of the casino. English casinos however lack a lot of this. The slots in our casino still pay out coins, although for how much longer I do not know. And we only have 30 machines. 25 with 4000 jackpots, and 5 with 500 jackpots. There is no such thing as Megabucks here.
The smell of the cigarette smoke is now more noticable, as you only get it when someone has been outside, thanks to the smoking ban. This has made the perfume/B.O. combo more noticable. And far less palatable. We have 4 roulette tables, one of which is only opened on really busy Friday or Saturday nights. We also have 20 electronic roulette machines connected to the 2 main tables and an autowheel. There are 3 blackjack tables, one of which is only opened at weekends, or for big players, at minimums of either 5/10/25, depending on the player. We also have a single 3 card poker table.
We have poker tournaments every night. For which between 10 and 30 people show up. We also have a cash poker table that opens for 8 hours a day (10pm - 6am), and sometimes have another open for a few hours at busy times.
We do not have free cocktails, but we do offer free soft drinks. We do not offer comps or rewards (except to the big players, of which there are about 10 that qualify) We are open 24-7, 364 days a year. With 1 BJ and 1 roulette table open between 6am-2pm It was written into law when 24 hour gaming was allowed, Christmas Day was to be held sacred. We close at midnight Christmas Eve and re-open midday Boxing Day. This annoyed the customers at our Chinatown club, which used to open on Christmas Day.
There is no English casino attached to a hotel, although there are nearly always hotels in the vicinity.
Then there was the SuperCasino idea. To build in Manchester a 'Vegas Style' casino resort in a deprived area of the city to aid regeneration, and provide jobs. It was nixed by the Government (who originally proposed it) early this year.
We still stick to more of the 'Old School' philosophies of get the punters money. We have an old school General Manager.
I guess the point of this ramble is not just to illustrate the differences between where I work, and Vegas casinos, but also to show why I love Vegas casinos. People in Vegas may complain about things, but theere are still places in Vegas where you can get a good gamble, comps, and cocktails (Are you reading this Harrah's), and while these places are few and far between, hold on to them, treasure them. Because compared to English casinos, you have more than you think.
How does closing on Christmas Day work? Is it midnight-midnight or some other arrangement? Is there still a hotel attached?
I heard years ago one Las Vegas Casino opened and they threw the keys to the doors into the crowd since they would never be needed again.
I have now clarified the points you raised. Thanks for bringing that up.
Closed Christmas? Even though I'm Jewish, and tend to go to a casino every Christmas for the mast 10+ years, I think that's a nice idea. But they stay open right till midnight in 12/24? THAT'S crazy!
So what casino is it, and where?
Please tell me that they will allow you to dress as Santa Claus on Dec. 24 and when it nears closing at midnight you will say "Well, guess I'll head to the OTHER job now".
Can't you tell us the name of the casino where you work?
I would prefer not to name the casino where I work. I will say that it is for one of the two major UK casino operators and is located just outside manchester.
I'm sorry.I thought I would get the apology out of the way now, so It saves time later. you see, I have lofty ambitions of becoming a writer. The subject doesnt matter to me, I just love getting my opinion across and hopefully entertaining and educating other people. Thats why in future here you will see my views on casinos, working in them, bugbears about people at work (customers and other staff), books, music and pretty much anything else that makes its may into my scatterbrain and pours out through my fingers onto the keys of my laptop at around 40 words a minute even if it doesnt make total sense.
Hopefully by now you have figured out I'm a pretty easy going guy. What you might not know is I am 24, and as well as working in a casino I am studying for a degree in contemporary history and politics. What I plan to do when I complete my degree I do not know, but I am sure I will figure it out. I am married and have been happily so for 2 and a half years and hopefully many more. I also suffer from verbal diarrhea (as you might have guessed)
I'm looking forward to keeping this blog going as hopefully it will keep me sane. Well, stop me going crazier. I think I have gone on long enough for this introductory blog. For my next chapter, Im going to be talking about working in a casino.
Hope to see you soon.
PS - Someone had to be the first to start. Thought it might as well be me.
Rats--thought I would be first. Never guessed you were only 24.
As I finish my dealing school and (hopefully!) work in the casino perhaps we can team up a little here and jointly answer some questions.
I look forward to reading your posts.
Boymimbo - thanks, I hope you find them interesting.
AZ - would be more than happy to team up for some articles. We could give the differing responses to scenarios from both sides of the pond.
I would love to hear your thoughts about books/music. Although, I guess if that's what I'm really after I should be at another site :P
Good luck with the writing!
I suppose small casinos (almost betting parlors) are still holding sway in Europe. Years ago I went to one in Austria and it was strictly a coat and tie affair, and it was off limits to locals (only tourists).
A fellow from Riga, Latvia contacted me once to ask some questions. He was spearheading a campaign to build a Vegas style casino on the waterfront to cater to Baltic cruise ships, and for Russians to drive to from Moscow. He said there was a lot of community resistance. People were comfortable with the mini-casinos, but they didn't like the idea of one becoming a major fixture of the city.