by Vic Taucer
Table game department evaluations should be used to properly assess operations rather than serving as cheating and staff scare tactics
Vic Taucer is president of Casino Creations, a Las Vegas-based educational, training and consulting company, which specializes in table game evaluations, customer service training, dealer training and managerial training for table games operations. A former professor of casino management for the University & Community College System of Nevada and a long-time casino manager at many resorts, Vic can be reached at (702) 595-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
So many of my table game department and surveillance operator clients, associates and friends these days are in the same operational quagmire with table games operations. They all tend to make similar requests: that my company conduct a full table game department evaluation and analysis of their table game departments.
For years Casino Creations has specialized in conducting evaluations of a casino table game operations, reporting our findings and recommendations back to both operations and surveillance. Is your casino in need of an examination (and maybe a complete overhaul) of your table game department’s operations? If so, read on…
The complaints and request are always the same:
—“Our table game department is not
performing up to our expectations.”
—“The hold percentage has dropped dramatically from our historical expectations.”
—“The staff (in table games) does not seem to be following any procedures that we have ever seen.”
—“Our written procedures and what is actually being done on the floor are not similar or consistent.
—“We feel there are holes in our table game operation that may allow for some form of cheating.”
—“We have complaints from our customers and need an outside consultant to assist in identifying causes.”
These and many other issues are all reasons for a casino to have an expert on table games operations come in and evaluate the department’s performance. Just like a car, a department needs not only maintenance, but sometimes also an evaluation to find the real problem. The department’s performance counts on this.
Years ago, when I broke into the casino industry (medieval times…you know, the ‘70s!), when the table games didn’t perform up to expectations, casino managers took what they thought was the best solution. These dinosaurs always suspected (sometimes justifiably so) that the staff was probably cheating, so in those days, the solution was simple. They just fired about all the dealers and started over. We in gaming don’t (and also can’t) do that anymore.
The need for an evaluation in table games is not always cheating or game protection-based. In these days, when so much of our training applied to table games staff is concerning cheating and game protection, we tend to overdo this issue. It is not always a cheat or a scam that causes your table game department to under-perform.
Don’t let those game protection people, the ones that are always selling fear as an operational tool, conduct an evaluation. It can result in a wealth of unneeded and ridiculous procedures being put in place that will slow your game operations to a crawl. This will hurt as much (or more) than thepossible cheating.
You need a real table games evaluation and analysis
when you see:
Sustained low hold percentage
Drastic fluctuation on hold percentage compare to expectation
Continued procedural violations by table games staff
Lack of similarity between written procedures and actual procedures
Lack of updated written policies and procedures for table games
Diminishing productivity (hands/rolls per hour)
Fluctuation in dealer toke rates
Adversarial actions between operations and surveillance because of procedures
As in anything, there are two ways to conduct this audit/evaluation and analysis: in-house (i.e. doing it yourselves) or using an expert table game consultant.
All casinos want to try to do things themselves. It’s cheaper, and if the situation is perfect, this is a doable thing. But there is a problem with the “in-house” evaluation—it is always either biased or insufficient.
Think about it; who is to do the evaluation? The table games department themselves? The results will always be skewed to either save current staff or to conduct a “witch hunt,” generally either eliminating or discomforting staff.
If we use another department to evaluate table game performance (like internal audit or accounting), the result can be just as biased or skewed. These other departments generally don’t understand table games at all, much less the causes and effects of low hold percentage.
Call in an expert on table games to evaluate your staff, and make sure the person is actually credible. Don’t just get a “cheating expert,” as this is not where you need to go. There are a number of situations that can cause diminishing hold percentages; cheating is just one.
The methodology Casino Creations uses includes the
Evaluate all written operational procedures
Compare these written procedures with actual operations
Appraise your table games staff performance and understanding
Appraise your surveillance staffs performance and understanding
Conduct an audit of operations from the floor (in the pit)
Conduct an integrity shop of your operation (undercover play)
Conduct an audit of surveillance room operations
A full and detailed verbal report is given after the evaluation, followed by a detailed written analysis as soon as possible on completion. This report must identify weaknesses, make suggestions and changes. Any training needs must be identified.