Jobs in Las Vegas
September 23, 1996

Job opportunities along with information about living here is the subject most requested by readers. Today I'm giving my opinions about the job market in general, and casino dealers in particular.

Las vegas has been one of the best areas in the country for creating new jobs over the last few years. Despite the large number of people moving here every month, there is still a lower than national average unemployment rate. Of course the majority of these jobs have been in the resort/hospitality industry. Never worked in a casino? Well that's not much of a problem. The hotel casinos certainly need dealers, front desk personnel, and maids, but there are electricians, bookeepers, computer (data entry to MIS), chefs, waiters, maintenance, and valet parkers (don't even think about this job at a major hotel, unless your uncle owns it and HIS kids don't already have the job). Then there are all the other related jobs that are necessary in any city: mechanics, salespeople, retail clerks, hair stylists, and on and on.

The Sunday paper is a good place to start. A word of advice here. If you're thinking about trying to get a job by applying while still living out of state, you'll probably have a tough time. Most employers have had numbers of such applications and enough of them have not worked out for various reasons, that they usually are looking for people that live in Las Vegas.

Tip 2. Many of the better hotel jobs require patience and persistence. Many of these jobs become vacant suddenly, someone quits and the "show must go on". If you happen to be checking back when a job opens, they are likely to hire you, rather than go back through a bunch of old applications.

The pay scale is lower than many of the major US cities, but so is the cost of living. Some newcomers are suprised by what they consider the "low" wages. On the other hand some people have done much better than they might have anywhere else. That brings me to the job of casino dealer.

Casino dealer is a good choice especially for someone that is not maintaining a special career track. Training is as little as three or four weeks, with two or three months more usual. Blackjack is relatively simple to learn, roulette requires a little more and craps is probably the most difficult; but achievable by anyone with normal dexterity and intelligence. No you don't have to be a math wizard, just practice, practice, practice. By the way, for poker dealer, I recommend that you have a lot of playing experience. There are many schools in Las Vegas, and prices start at about $200 for a single game (two or three recommended).

The pay for a dealer is very low, usually at or close to minimum, even at the better hotels. The tips are what make the job worthwhile. There is a definite difference in how much you make depending on the casino you work at. As a dealer school grad you will probably start at the bottom, in a place known in the business as a "break-in" joint. Here the tips (known as "tokes" - derived from the tokens or chips)* will be as low as $15 - $20 a day, but in some places $50 - $75 a day. The career path then consists of getting experience (6 months to a year) and then looking for a job a better casino, and perhaps several other moves. I have personal knowledge of casinos where the dealers average over $200 a day and reliable rumors of a few that do much more.

There is so much more that could be said about the casino dealer (croupier, clerk, etc.) position, but I try not to make these columns too long. If the casino dealer idea intrigues you, let me know and if I receive enough requests, I'll do a follow up.

Today's RJ has an article titled "The Art of Landing a Job" ... in Las Vegas. They quote several usefull ideas from a 28 page booklet called "Las Vegas Job Quest". It is sold in local bookstores and by the LV Chamber of Commerce for $5. It can be ordered by mail but I hesitate to start a precedent by including mail order information here. If this is of interest to you, E-mail me and I'll send back the ordering information that was printed in the RJ.

* Technically, chips are what they give you on the roulette table. There is no denomination printed on them. The ones you probably call chips with dollar amounts printed on them ($1 - $5 - $25 - $100 etc) are actually called checks, and at one time they were used all over Las Vegas, even in the supermarkets, gas stations, and most retail stores.

Please send your comments, suggestions or questions to me at jim-l@ix.netcom.com Write and tell me what you would like to know about Las Vegas, and be sure to let me know if you'd like me to mention your name if I use your comment on this web page.


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