Who Needs a Casino Gaming Consultant ?
Have you ever wondered what a Casino Gaming Consultant job entails? Unlike most other consultants who consult in a specific area a good casino consultant will cover all areas of the casino’s needs. They should have knowledge of all the roles that exist within the Casino and understand how each one of those roles contributes to the overall success of the casino.
The roles generally are: Director, G.M., Manager, Slots Manager, Slot Tech, Pit Boss, Inspector, Cashier, Dealer, F&B Manager, Receptionist, Waitress, Barman, Car jockey, Cleaner etc and it is paramount that the consultant understands the practical nature of each of these roles and there are many reasons why but here is one of them, All of the roles mentioned have contact with the Casinos customers which simply means they can enhance the customers experience or in some cases hamper it ! If the question was asked which of the roles have the most contact with the customer? You might be surprised to learn that in some cases it is actually the waitress role and this is because the waitress is serving you with something very personal that you are going to eat or drink and that is something you may want to talk about and whilst mostly they do a fantastic job I have seen customers leave Casinos over incidents with a waitress so we must be aware of the customer contact points.
A good Consultant will usually walk a Casino floor with the same confidence as the Director or a manager who is employed there and that confidence comes from someone who not only knows all aspects of the business but is also passionate about the casino business and because they are constantly visiting other Casinos and generally in touch with all aspects of the industry their imagination and determination usually surpasses that of the management of the Casino they are actually consulting to. There are several reasons for this and sometime it is because the manager is so busy running the business that his own imagination or ideas have no room to grow which is why a consultant should be looked at in a refreshing way because the reason he is there is to make these ideas happen !
Whilst Casino gaming consultants can be engaged for many different reasons, Anti Money Laundering Policy, New Products, Staffing etc, there are two main reasons to get in touch, New Casino Start Up and Troubleshooting existing Casinos.
When new laws pass in a Jurisdiction to allow for a new gambling facility or existing laws allow for gambling facility already a casino consultant is engaged to put all the pieces together. It’s their wealth of experience with all the elements of the gaming industry that gets the projects wheels moving. Information like what the demographics are and what type of culture and local traditions exist and how they will add to or hamper a new casino start up.
The casino gaming consultant will advise on what kind of games and slot machines would work best in the casino having studied the competition or lack of competition in the area. They will have design ideas, best colours to use, and final floor plan suggestions which includes where Tables and Slots are placed to gain most revenue as floor space is critical and if it is on the floor it must be played ! So the final combination suggestion of the games and slots to be used will play a major part in the new Casinos success or failure.
Staffing numbers need to be heavily concentrated on and is no easy task but given that the set-up plan in the beginning is correct and you have the correct number of tables then it is a natural carry on based on the theory if the table is on the floor then there should be a dealer behind it and whilst this does not happen at all times we should try and remember that from a customer’s point of view there is nothing worse than a table with nobody on front or behind! On that note the Consultant will always express himself / herself from a customer’s perspective and if not then this is no consultant because the very essence of the job starts here.
A good consultant will have a vast understanding of player psychology and online gaming sites who are constantly being overhauled or updated should heed this ; Gamblers in general are avid followers of consistency and there are many examples of this and why Casinos should reach a standard and maintain that standard with as little change as possible, here is one example that is common in many casinos : A customer will say ‘’ you serve the best toasted sandwich ‘’ this is not totally true and for most part the reason he is saying this is because he has become accustomed to the taste because it is consistent , made with the same ingredients and the same way since the casino opened , gamblers love consistency and if you think about how games like Blackjack and Slots work it is because they are consistent .
Casino troubleshooting can be varied for a Consultant as there are so many issues that arise and one of the popular ones is a series of losses on a particular game which of course can have a reasonable explanation but never a simple one because if it was the Casinos own management would have solved it and of course with this type of issue it can have associations with honesty, staff integrity etc.
As with a lot of problems the Casino business by nature is secretive and naturally they would try and investigate and correct the issue themselves but invariably what sometimes happens in my experience is that more damage is caused between the various staff members and their professional relationships with one another because of the investigation and also the time it takes to reach a conclusion and in some cases never does have a satisfactory conclusion. So my point is that in most cases it is better to get in touch with a consultant sooner than later with an issue like this.
A casino gaming consultant’s most popular consultancy work is probably a report on all areas of an existing Casino and this starts at the front door and some of us call this the ‘’Walk through report ’’ . It will consist of every single aspect of the business including critical comments and applauding ones and will include Reception, All Gaming areas, Bar /Restaurant, Staff Appraisal, Staff Room and Customer service etc. It can also be requested that the report be done incognito which believe me is difficult at times because as we say the Casino Industry is a small one !
Another difficulty on occasion is that you write a fantastic report on the Casino because in your professional opinion everything is as it should be but the Director or the Company who retained you are not happy because they expected a list of things to be adjusted and practises changed that in turn would increase their revenues! Whilst the work of a consultant sets out to ultimately increase revenues sometimes the reward for the casino operator might just be peace of mind which in itself is a positive going forward.
An operator who ran a busy casino had good drops and results on his card game tables but his roulette results were not comparable. The visit to the Casino showed that he had 6 stools on each roulette which is basically 1 over the standard 5 but his customers were drinking from the bottle and very mobile (except those sitting down) and mostly below the age of 30 . It was suggested he leave a maximum of 3 stools on each of the roulettes because the problem was with six people sitting and not playing all the spins they were creating a wall stopping the other people who did want to play. The revenues and play went up on the roulette tables when the stools were removed and whilst this sounds a very simple solution the fact remains that it took a fresh pair of eyes to spot something that had being going on for two years .
Finally we should mention that all important Feasibility study and briefly this will include population and over and under 21’s, existing competition , visitors to the region, choice of transport, Airports , Airlines , hotels etc . Then we move to the Accountancy side of things and projected figures based on the types of table games and slot recommendations and of course the numbers of each. Margins need to be worked out and for example how many players does the Casino require to justify the number of slots and tables also based on the slots percentages and house edge on the table games how much does the Casino expect to make daily .
On a personal note this always amuses me, some of the biggest accountancy firms will come up with the average daily spend of the customer and then ask the Casino gaming consultant to concur and my answer is that I will tell them after the Casino is open and the reason I say this is because I have never seen an accurate assessment of an average daily spend per customer before a casino is open, Unless you are in a jurisdiction with like for like models these predicted figures just do not work. Of course we have to assess the potential of the location and as best we can come up with a daily drop figure which in turn becomes a weekly, monthly, and yearly etc but if the casino is a first in a new jurisdiction then my advice is to treat just the daily average drop per customer figure with a pinch of salt.
Because of the nature of the consultants work and the competitiveness of the industry confidentiality is a given and this is why some casino consultants might well be the unsung heroes of the gaming industry, so maybe the next time you visit a great casino just think that there was a casino consultant there before you but he has quietly left the building !
J. J. Woods / Gaming Consultant / June 2014
First Published in Infinity Gaming Magazine