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Learning about the Job of a Casino Host

30 June 1999

By John G. Brokopp

Question: What member of a casino's management team is a gambler most likely to come in contact with? Answer: A Casino Host.

Outside of the dealers, casino hosts are perhaps the most visible and accessible of all casino employees. Casino hosts cultivate relationships with every level of player, from a first-time visitor playing quarter slots on up to the high roller who attends frequently and makes buy-ins in the thousands of dollars.

Casino hosts are, by the very nature of their job title, eager to please, reluctant to say no, and more than likely readily available with a smile and a handshake. A casino host also must have business sense and the ability to make difficult decisions involving the issuing of credit and the disbursement of comps.

The men and woman employed as hosts in casinos across the United States, including the Chicago-area riverboat destinations, come from all walks of life. Take, for example, executive host Kim Ronayne of the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Ind. The graduate of Stockton State College in New Jersey was born and raised in a town just a 40-minute drive from Atlantic City.

"I can remember spending summers with my family in Atlantic City before the casinos were developed," Kim reminisced.

Little did she realize that one day she would become a part of the gaming industry. In 1982, several years after the arrival of casino gambling in Atlantic City, one of the primary employers for college students on summer break were in fact the casinos.

"My first job in a casino was as a casino credit clerk for the Sands," she said. "Five years later, after several promotions, I was appointed assistant director of casino credit. Then in 1989 I was contacted by the people who were about to open the Trump Taj Mahal. I came on board as their casino credit administrator.

"The Trump Taj Mahal's grand opening in April of 1990 is one day I will never forget. There was an endless sea of people outside the establishment and on the casino floor. The amount of money wagered and the sheer number of people was absolutely incredible."

Kim remained with Trump in Atlantic City until 1993. She came to the Midwest that same year to join the management team of the Empress Casino Joliet as executive host. Four years later she jumped to the Empress Casino Hammond to take the position of credit and collections manager.

"When the Blue Chip Casino opened, I jumped at the opportunity to join them as executive host," Kim revealed. "After having worked behind the scenes for a while, it was really great to get back on the casino floor and be with the people."

Kim said that when you are a casino host you have to be armed with a pager and available to answer it frequently and at all times of the day or night. Hosts work on rotating schedules, but in reality flexibility is essential. The position of casino host is really a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job.

"At the Blue Chip Casino we like to treat all of our customers like VIPs," Kim observed. "Being a casino host is really a people job. If you don't like dealing with people, it's not the job for you. You also find yourself spending a lot time on your feet and dashing from place to place in the executive offices and on the casino floor."

Kim revealed that issuing comps can be one of the toughest parts of her job, but nevertheless an essential one when it comes to creating lasting relationships with patrons.

"I approve dinner comps based on the individual's rate of play," Kim said. "In connection with this, I have to say no sometimes. But it's very important to never offend anyone. You must explain to them in a diplomatic manner why you made the decision you did, and perhaps offer another form of comp if you cannot approve the one that they originally requested. We try to make everyone happy.

"I enjoy meeting new people and greeting our customers every chance that I get. I like it when I establish a relationship with a player and when patrons look for me or ask for me by name."

Try to make it a point to establish a relationship with a host. He or she can prove to be a valuable contact if you attend a particular casino with any degree of regularity.

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

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