With the prolific expansion of gaming comes the insatiable need for senior slot operations management. Unfortunately, this expansion, coupled with the exponential growth in technology, has created a current “knowledge vacuum.”

The old school thought system is fading away and the new school is very young in that practical experience is very limited. A new corporate paradigm has emerged to create specialized duties and titles that focus on specific aspects of the slot product.

Generally, the initial goals are to rotate the up-and-coming senior slot management candidates through a matrix of positions to produce a well-rounded director or vice president. However, growth demands have forced many companies to go to their benches prior to the talent having the opportunity to gain the required knowledge. This condition is even more exacerbated in the secondary markets where staff has been decimated by frequent promotions and green replacements filling in the empty holes.

Management responsibility overload

Despite slots' growth into a major revenue source, senior management views often haven’t progressed out of the 1980s. During this period, the slot machine selection was extremely limited and the technology primitive by today’s standards.

For many lead techs, our slot or technology managers were the main source in providing answers to technological questions. As an industry, we have effectively done away with this resource by overburdening them with the physical installation of the technology they are to oversee.

This catch 22 is again exponentially worse at the actual tech level. The amount of permutations in game optioning is literally in the millions for multidenomination, multigame units. Multiply this condition by the numerous game manufacturers with their multiple platforms and with the multiple releases of each platform, and we have a potentially insurmountable mountain of information to process prior to even opening these games to the players. These techs are now left to work their way through the configuration set up screens on a learn-as-you-go basis.

For the larger corporate entities, there are two distinct solutions: centrally supported corporate personnel who specialize in each facet of the slot product where decisions are made at the corporate level and implemented at the property level, and distributed support staff located within each property. Both perspectives have great strengths as well as weaknesses. It’s difficult to adapt a single vision for a centrally determined policy for all properties and markets, just as it is difficult for a distributed process to maintain a consistent enterprise-wide experience.

The majority of the operations within the industry work under a hybrid of the distributed model. If we have a corporate umbrella, it does not have the resources to directly dedicate to slot related items. Under this model, there is a greater scope of responsibility that lies with the Senior Slot Manager.

With all three approaches there is an undeniable need for education and training.

Who needs training?

The universal question remains: Who needs to be trained or retrained? The reality is that everyone needs some form of ongoing training to keep their skills in step with the changes in technology and industry trends.

Cost and time are the main barriers noted by those who do not make training a priority. To misquote Derek Bok, “If you think training is expensive, try calculating the cost of ignorance.” In locations containing cash back programs, specific examples of incorrect point count down parameters have cost the properties tens of thousands of dollars. Game configuration errors have provided players with games over-crediting players; again, this costs the respective properties unnecessary losses.

The commonality of these losses is their ability to have been easily prevented if the knowledge was imparted and applied.

Now, the good news. The industry has many options to assist in training, many of which are relatively inexpensive or even free.

Train the trainer approach

For those properties with time and cost concerns, utilizing point employees as trainers will provide a cost effective solution. These point employees are chosen on their ability to comprehend and pass the information on to other staff members. The trainers attend the designated training classes and then pass the information to their coworkers.

Continuing education programs have progressed to the point that they have casino specific options that directly pertain to current topics.

These programs are still great resources for general topics but are provided in a more concentrated period.

The companies providing you with your equipment have a solid interest in seeing their products used properly. A quick review of your sales and maintenance agreements will bring you up to speed as to what is included and what training is billable.

As with all industries, gaming has the fringe element of the consultant industry. Consultants are generally highly-trained individuals with experience in the field. They have received the training that you require and have the ability to provide the support you require. This support has a tendency to be more cost effective and tailored to your specific needs.

For those with a collective bargaining agreement, you are likely paying a portion of the hourly wage to an education or training fund. These funds are fully intended to be utilized to ensure your staff maintains a competitive level of skills.

Unfortunately, the majority of the gaming companies rarely take advantage of these funds. This can easily be rectified by contacting the union’s business manager and coordinating your programs.