Six Leadership Secrets From Casino Slot Managers

Vices Truth is, the game was rigged from the start. So I study gaming.

Earlier this year, I published Tales from the Slot Floor, a collection of edited interviews with casino slot managers, part of a larger project that captured how the discipline of casino management has changed and continues to evolve in the face of ongoing technological and demographic shifts. Based on a series of interviews with veteran slot management professionals, the book presents insights into what defines the best practices in this crucial area of casinos.

Disclaimer: while I’d be thrilled if you bought a copy, I don’t receive royalties from this edited collection, and all earnings go directly into the Center for Gaming Research/UNLV Special Collections and Archives budget, supporting a variety of programming and initiatives around documenting and preserving the history and culture of gaming, gambling, and games.

Slot managers might not have the anecdotes about celebrity high rollers that table game managers do, but the issues they face probably have more in common with other fields. In addition to being in charge of scheduling, discipline, and customer relations, they administer a large budget and enter into partnership agreements with external vendors. This is a job that must be data-driven without losing sight of the people who make the casino a place where patrons enjoy spending time (and money).

One of the questions that I asked all the interviewees was, “What makes good management?” In answering, they drew not only on their own decades of experience as decision-makers, but what they learned from those they had worked for. And, out of their many replies, a few themes emerged, with six main traits that, in their eyes, a good manager needed.

  1. Be innovative. This was the first thing that many of the men and women interviewed said. Most obviously, that means finding and selecting new games that customers will respond to. “Staying on top of the games,” is how veteran slot operations manager and consultant Charlie Lombardo succinctly put it. But it does deeper than that. Aaron Rosenthal, currently the vice president and general manager of the Tropicana Las Vegas, said, “I don’t just mean managing the product. I also mean innovative in managing the procedures and the sequences of how they execute their day-to-day operations.” As slot departments get smaller and pressures to grow revenues increase, managers increasingly find themselves having to do more with less. Good managers get by. Great ones find new ways to excel.