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Tales from the Slot Floor: Casino Slot Managers in Their Own Words


David G. Schwartz, editor. Tales from the Slot Floor: Casino Slot Managers in Their Own Words. Las Vegas: UNLV Gaming Press, 2018.

Slot machines are the backbone of most casinos. They earn the most money and determine the physical layout of the casino floor. The management of slot machines, which includes overseeing employees, selecting machines, designing the playing space, resolving customer disputes, and conducting analyses to improve operations, is a challenging field whose complexity has grown as the machines themselves have become more sophisticated.

To better document the current issues in slot management—and the change the field has seen over the past four decades—the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research conducted an oral history project. Those interviewed were at all stages of their careers.

Drawn from these interviews, Tales from the Slot Floor features slot managers discussing several of the most important issues in today’s casino world, including: the optimal layout of a slot floor; the qualities demonstrated by both good and bad managers; what customers want from their visits to the casino; the vendor/casino relationship; appealing to millennials; and what the future holds. In addition, those with long careers share their views on the changes they have seen, and all subjects offer their advice to those embarking on a career in slot management.

For those interested in becoming slot managers, or those just curious about how casinos work, Tales from the Slot Floor gives you the inside story of slot operations, from those who do it.


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Excerpts from Tales from the Slot Floor

When I deal with vendors, like any business relationship, I want to have a great relationship with them and I need to trust them. So, when I first meet a vendor, especially if they’re a new vendor, I kind of do a couple things to test their knowledge of what they know. But when they come to me with a new game and say it’s going to make this, I always ask for data. You know, “Where was your test data at? Was it in a California market? Was it in an Indian casino market or in the regional space?” And then, we’ll look at the theme. I’ll say, “What type of themes do you have?” And then I’ll ask about the math. “What makes that math so special?”

- Saul Wesley

But normally, you want to get involved from the initial design stages as much as possible. As I said, you want to have some influence with the architect and the designer, and they’re not always the same guy. They’re oftentimes two different people, and they might have no idea what operations is all about, right? They’re just trying to make everything look cool and look interesting. Well, the operations guy, he’s concerned about how things fit: traffic patterns, what pieces and parts go where, how you’re going to attract the people to the tables or the slots or whatever, how you’re going to move people through a casino. I’m more interested in all of that stuff. Where do I put high denomination games, where do I put low denomination games?

-Charlie Lombardo

At Venetian, I set the floor up very different than I set it up at Bellagio, even though there’s a lot of
transient. At the Venetian, the philosophy is more so of, we have large convention groups, so—we’ll put participation right on the aisle way, where at Bellagio, I would never do that; I would never put a Wheel of Fortune right on the aisle. But at The Venetian, where you get a lot of conventioneers walking by, the theory is you’re going to pull, you pull ‘em in and you catch a larger share—catch a little bit of their wallet as opposed to taking up an A location where I’m revenue-sharing like I would at Bellagio. If it’s an A location, I don’t want to share my revenue on that, but Venetian’s—it’s just a little different of a mindset. So, it depends, again, like, on location—Treasure Island, I might do things a little bit different than Bellagio. When you get even more into the nitty gritty, it depends on your location in the casino, right, so I play with those a little more even within each of the four walls.

- Justin Beltran

I like leading by example, managing by walking around, and just listening, of course. You have to be a listener, and sometimes you can’t always follow the rules. You have to be flexible. People’s personal time is the most important thing to them. They go to work to provide for their family, and you would have the different type of managers where the customer policy is, you have to submit your vacation request two weeks in advance, but I know full well that I can totally manage my schedule, and if somebody said, “Can I have next Friday off?” instead of just saying, “No, you can’t have it, it’s not two weeks in advance,” you should say, “Let me look at the schedule and see if I can help.” That’s the difference between somebody that’s too black and white and then someone that’s willing to work with the employees. But they also have to be able to provide goals that somebody can achieve without it being so much of a, “You’re going to lose your job if you don’t do this,” but how can you help them strive to at least want to perform at average or better? Of course, you can’t have everybody better than average; the average just goes up.

- Amber Allan

I’d say ticketing was one of the biggest innovations in the casino industry on the slot side in the past 30 years. I mean, that just was the dynamic that changed it for everybody. That sprung a leap into kiosk development, because now you didn’t need to change booths on the floor anymore, you didn’t need all these cashiering people running around selling coin, it saved the companies on full-time equivalent employees. Now, they’ve developed to the point, you drop your ticket in from the slot machine and you get your cash back. I would say the next great avenue was in the loyalty program. And I’ve watched it grow so much from just basically putting your card in to now putting your card in and being able to punch up a cocktail service or put your card up and your name flashes on the screen, or “Happy Birthday,” or, “Would you like to make reservations somewhere tonight?” And the player development people can sit at their terminals and know where the hot players are, where things are happening on the floor, if an area has changed—I mean, the dynamic has given the slot manager a whole new set of tools.

- Robert Ambrose


Tales from the Pit



Editor's Note

1 Introduction

2 Starting Out

3 The Slot Floor

4 What Customers Want

5 Do You Gamble?

6 Working with Vendors

7 Essentials of Good Management

8 Signs of Bad Management

9 Changes in Slots

10 The Future of Slots

11 Advice


The book also features a list of contributors and an index.

Read an Excerpt

1 Introduction

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Author: David G. Schwartz
Title: Tales from the Slot Floor: Casino Slot Managers in Their Own Words
Publisher: UNLV Gaming Press
Date of Publication: 2018
Pages: 244
ISBN (paperback edition) 978-1-939546-11-1
Library of Congress call number: HD8039.C3462 U763 2018

© 2018 University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Last modified Thursday, 02-Aug-2018 20:48:16 UTC