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December 20, 2014

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List: Disappearing Las Vegas casino jobs

New technology, cost cutting and an evolution in the way business is done in casinos has led to the demise of many job classifications. Some jobs are replaced by positions requiring different skills. Others are phased out without any jobs to replace them. Industry observers say the following list will lengthen as technology, amid a culture of fiscal conservatism, makes some positions obsolete. Here are some endangered and extinct Vegas jobs:

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      /Lori Cain/Las Vegas Sun

      Pit boss

      To cut costs, many casinos have eliminated the job of pit manager or pit boss. At some casinos, floor supervisors who once reported to pit bosses now report to shift managers. Tasks once performed by the pit boss, such as tracking wins and losses among games, opening or closing games, comping players and changing minimum wagers are divided among remaining employees. Some casinos have a “lead floor” position that is ranked higher than a floor supervisor but pays the same. Some casinos say fewer supervisors are needed these days because surveillance cameras are able to catch cheats — one of the many traditional tasks of a floor supervisor.

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      Photo by Ethan Miller/Las Vegas Sun

      Showroom captains

      Like the fancy movie theaters of bygone eras, casino showrooms used to employ “captains” who would usher customers to their seats. These hosts could be counted on to reserve choice seats for big gamblers — in exchange for fat tips. The bigger the tip, the better the seat — or so the culture in Las Vegas dictated. In the 1980s, casinos began replacing these highly tipped workers with seat reservations systems and numbered seats used today. Showrooms still employ attendants who can help you find your seat — without any expectation of a tip.

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      Photo by Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

      Board person

      These workers wrote odds for sporting events on erasable white boards and, before that, chalkboards. Race and sports books in Las Vegas dropped them years ago when they adopted electronic wall boards that can automatically update odds with the touch of a button. Although modern casinos no longer employ board people, the position still exists at older casinos in town and in some countries that lack modern technology. This was a full-time, labor-intensive job involving updating betting lines that frequently changed based on the volume of wagers on either side of the bets. Board people have been replaced by administrators charged with monitoring and updating the digital boards.

    • Change girls

      Women who walked around the casino floor making change for customers were once a common sight in Las Vegas. These employees wore heavy metal devices containing coins and pouches for bills about their waists. They were phased out with slot machines that accept and dispense tickets instead of coins. Some older casinos still have a few coin machines, which are no longer manufactured. Modern slot machines generally accept bills as well as tickets. In lieu of cash, today’s slots dispense tickets that can be redeemed for cash.

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      /Lori Cain/Las Vegas Sun

      Keno runners

      Whirling pingpong balls in cages were once an icon in the casino business. Although many casinos still offer keno, the game is a prominent victim of the luxury boom, as high-end resorts didn’t include keno lounges and old-fashioned coffee shops. The Strip has lost more than half its keno parlors in the past decade. Keno runners were known to walk through the coffee shops, taking cards from bettors who didn’t want to walk to the keno lounge to play. In place of drawing actual balls at random, many casinos offer digital keno as one of many games installed on slot machines. Electronic keno can be played faster than the original version and without the cost of employing people to collect wagers, draw numbers and pay winning bets.

    • Proposition players and shills

      Many Las Vegas casinos have phased out the use of proposition players and shills. Proposition players received fixed fees to participate in card games with their own money, keeping winnings and absorbing losses. Shills generally earned hourly wages, turning over winnings and passing on losses to the casino. Employing such players allowed casinos to start card games or keep others going. They could give customers the impression that their casinos were busy — which in turn attracted players to the tables. Rather than shutting down games for lack of players, casinos could keep game goings, which could be more profitable in the long run.

      Boxmen

      Many Las Vegas casinos eliminated boxmen a few years ago to save money. One boxman would sit at each craps table where the chips are located. Casinos reasoned that other employees who work the craps tables, including two dealers and a stickman, could just as well watch the chips and conduct other tasks performed by the boxman.

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    1. Hey, Dennis...

      You & I agree on most, but you are off base here.
      The numbers for Tourism in Las Vegas have been very, very good. Year over year, month over month, room rates & occupancy levels are up, and the gambling revenue on the strip was nearly $600 million in May. People have, in fact, come back.
      http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2011/jul/12...

      Of course, there's an over-abundance of rooms because of over-building, and people are spending less while here on gambling, but spending a bit more on other entertainment.

      The shedding of jobs seems to follow an overall nationwide trend of "downsizing", which seems to inevitably equate to a poorer experience for guests, which could hurt in the long-term... but corporate weasels looking to make the numbers look good on paper don't give a rat's a$$ about that; this year's BONUS, or INCENTIVE, or "COMPENSATION PACKAGE" is where it's at!
      http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2011/jun/21...

      Check out this report on CEO compensation...
      there's billions and trillions being hoarded at the top of the food chain; and not a NICKEL OF IT is being "trickled down"... a SHOCKING STATISTIC!!!

      http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/pay...

      Now, the HOUSING MARKET is a whole other animal.
      It'll be EONS before anyone who lost their equity gains it back, and it's become an investor's market, with the majority of home sales going to cash-paying, outside speculators & investors who have turned entire neighborhoods, that were once settled with homeowners who gave a damn, into trash-strewn, low-rent looking, shopping-cart littered, poorly cared-for, section-8 dotted, graffiti-tagged dumps.

      Viva, Las Vegas!

      The Good, the Bad, & the Fugly.

    2. Two things killed these jobs. Technology and outsourcing. Technology killed these jobs just like this list says. After 9/11 and we were all laid off, they put in the cameras, the tickets, the kiosks, and other techy stuff. They never hired us back. It's gotten worse over the years.
      Outsourcing came with "the big boys" expanded to Macao, Dubai, and other boomtown places that offer a place to spend their money; like China. Just like the old days, the camp set up at the railroads or gold town and took their money. No different now. California doesn't have the money anymore so the "big boys" moved on. Yes; foreign visitors are coming here on tour trips but not really spending. Only the big places really see cash. The service is for them; not like the old days when everybody got something. Remember when everyone seem to at least get a free breakfast? That's gone. So, the personal touch and servicing isn't here.
      This was a place where a women with little education could come and have a decent independant life. No more. Men too.
      I wonder if Macao has cig & hat check girls, coin people, keno, and comps?