How to Become a Casino Manager
Choosing a career path can be hard for hospitality students with so many options. Learn how to become a casino or gaming manager.
- Gaming managers earn average annual salaries of $89,190.
- Many casino managers hold an associate or bachelor's degree, but it is not required.
- Casino employees who handle cash must hold a gaming license from the state they are employed in.
In simplified terms, a casino manager oversees the general operations of a casino. This includes compliance with gaming laws and ensuring guests have a good time. Casino managers should have excellent customer service skills and good leadership instincts.
A casino management degree is not required to become a casino manager. Some earn the position through work experience and other training, though some establishments require a degree in business, hospitality, or a related field.
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Along with an exciting and fun work environment, the position pays well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), gambling managers earned an average annual salary of $89,190 as of May 2021.
What Does a Casino Manager Do?
A casino manager, also called a gambling manager or gaming manager, handles the everyday operations that keep a casino running. Often, a casino manager begins their career in an entry-level position. They learn the basics of working in a casino by assisting on gambling floors, working as a cashier, or dealing cards. Earning a degree is not required by all gaming establishments, but many prefer it.
The service and hospitality industry is fluid. Different jobs often share similar skills making it easy to change careers. A mid-level manager at a casino might do well as a manager at a movie theater, hotel, or restaurant.
Casino Manager Responsibilities
- Handle day-to-day casino operations and oversee operations
- Supervise both employees and gaming tables
- Ensure compliance with gaming laws and regulations
- Address issues on the gaming floor
- Ensure guests are having a good time
Casino Management Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
What Are the Steps to Become a Casino Manager?
Many casino managers start in entry-level positions to gain hands-on experience while they further their education. Some earn certificates or specialized training, while others earn an associate degree or a bachelor's degree. Some universities offer casino-specific degrees and concentrations. Hospitality management and business management degrees are suitable as well.
Step 1: Earn Your Associate Degree in Casino Management or a Related Field
While a degree is not necessary to become a casino manager, the right associate degree can give you the tools you need to succeed in your career. Keep in mind, it generally takes two years to complete an associate degree and costs an average of $3,377 (according to 2019 data from the National Center for Education Statistics), so it's important to choose one that works best for you and your career goals.
Relevant associate degree options include:
- Associate in Accounting
- Associate in Administration Management
- Associate in Finance
- Associate in Hospitality management
- Associate in Hotel and Restaurant Management
Like many other industries, careers in casino management begin with entry-level positions. While it is possible to become a casino manager with no degree, the education you receive in an accredited program will help you to succeed.
Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Casino Management Job
The next step is to find a job. To make the process less intimidating, build your confidence with available resources so you can interview like a pro. Ask for advice and network with established industry professionals. If you struggle to land a job, consider an internship or a career bridge program.
Your first job at a casino should offer growth within the industry. Casino managers are often promoted from staff within the company that started with an entry-level position.
Step 3: Earn Your Bachelor's Degree in Casino Management
While some people earn their bachelor's degree in casino management, other related programs may be more aligned with your personal interests. Choosing a major can be difficult. If you are unsure or feel stuck, meet with a career counselor to discuss the best fit for you.
Some common bachelor's degree programs for aspiring casino managers include business management or hospitality management. Business administration and hotel and restaurant management are also appropriate choices. Each of these programs teach the basic skills students need to succeed in the industry.
The average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year college or university was $9,349 for in-state students at a public institution and $32,769 at a private institution, according to 2019-20 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Business management or hospitality management programs may have concentrations that apply specifically to the field of casino management. Some of these potential concentrations include:
- Casino Accounting
- Gaming Law
- Hospitality Management
Step 4: Get a Job as a Casino Manager
Casino managers are in charge of the entire establishment and oversee other management roles including:
- Pit Managers
- VIP Managers
- Heads of Security
- Customer Service Managers
The salary for a casino manager is dependent on location and experience level. A casino manager in California earns an average annual salary of $107,800 dollars, while a similar position in Oklahoma averages $67,800 per year, according to 2021 data from the BLS.
When applying for management positions, compare salaries of different gaming establishments to the cost of living in the area. This research can help you negotiate your salary.
Step 5: Earn Your Master's Degree in Business
Although an advanced degree is not necessary, a candidate with a master's degree will stand out among other applicants.
Some relevant programs for casino managers include:
- Master's in Hospitality Management
- Master's in Business Administration
- Master's in Project Management
Going to graduate school can help professionals pursue more competitive positions and wages, but the cost of an advanced degree may not appeal to everyone. NCES reports that the average cost of graduate program tuition and fees in 2019-20 was $12,410 at public schools and $26,597 at nonprofit private schools.
While a master's degree does not guarantee a higher salary, studies of first-line supervisors show a median wage increase of 27% between those with a bachelor's degree and those with a master's. For those who wish to increase their earning potential without pursuing a master's degree, there are grad school alternatives such as certificate programs and professional development training.
Step 6: Consider Continuing Education or Specialization
Although not very common, some professionals working in casino management choose to pursue doctoral degrees in business administration and hospitality management to further their skills and advance their careers. Much like those with a master's degree, those with a doctoral degree tend to earn more.
Doctoral degrees in these fields allow professionals to develop their own research and path of study. Casino managers who pursue these advanced degrees are prepared to contribute to research surrounding the economic, political, and social impact of casinos and gambling.
Casino management professionals may also choose to pursue continuing education certificates or courses to stay up to date on changes in the industry.
What to Know Before Becoming a Casino Manager
If you do pursue a degree, make sure to choose an accredited program. This ensures your education is high quality and credits are transferable to other institutions. While an online degree can be as prestigious as a traditional degree, not all programs are offered by an accredited institution.
Licensing and Certification
In the same way that some states require licenses for food handlers, casino workers that handle cash used in gambling must obtain a gaming license. This license is normally offered through the state or another governing body.
In addition to degrees, there are many different certificates and certifications available to give professionals the skills to become a casino manager. These include certificates in tribal casino operations, online gaming, and casino dealing.
The cost of pursuing this career depends on your desired education level. The real cost of an online degree program often differs from the advertised price and even the in-person equivalent. 2019-20 data from NCES shows that in-state tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree average $9,349 per year at a four-year public school. This is compared to $32,769 per year at a private college or university.
Tuition for a graduate degree at a public university costs $12,410 on average in 2019-20, NCES reports. Students at a private nonprofit university should expect to pay an average of $26,597 per year. These figures do not include hidden expenses, such as transportation or textbooks, that drive costs up, or any financial aid or scholarships that reduce costs.
Casino managers with a master's degree will generally make more than managers with a bachelor's degree, but it is important to compare the costs of your education with your potential salary.
According to 2021 BLS data, the median salary for gambling managers in the U.S. was $76,910. However, the bottom 10% of workers earned less than $47,580 and the top 10% earned more than $145,770 per year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Casino Manager
What qualifications do you need to become a casino manager?
There is no set list of qualifications you must meet in order to become a casino manager. With enough industry experience and on-the-job training, it is possible to become a casino manager without a degree. However, depending on the establishment, it may be preferred that you have an associate or bachelor's degree.
In general, a bachelor's degree will accelerate your career and give you the hospitality and management foundation you need to succeed. Make sure you have the correct state or county license to work in a gambling establishment then work hard to find your first entry-level position and earn promotions.
What is the fastest way to become a casino manager?
The time it takes to become a casino manager is highly specific to the individual. Focus on building your skills in the industry by getting an entry-level job at a casino and show that you have what it takes to be an effective and innovative leader.
You can also pursue a college degree in hospitality management or a related field. On average, it takes around four years to earn a bachelor's degree. If you work part-time at a casino while in school or take advantage of an internship, you may achieve your goal of becoming a casino manager even faster.
How do I become a casino manager without a degree?
A casino manager is not an entry-level job; it takes many years of work and experience, especially at larger gambling establishments. However, it is possible to become a casino manager without a degree if you hold years of experience in the industry and strong interpersonal skills.
Depending on your goals and where you want to work, you may be more interested in earning a certificate, certification, or license instead of a traditional college degree.
Can I become a casino manager with an online degree?
You can become a casino manager with an online degree. Online programs generally have time commitments each week, but with the added flexibility of doing class work and studying on your own schedule.
Online degree programs are often as demanding as in-person programs, but asynchronous course formats allow for increased flexibility.
Since becoming a casino manager generally requires many years of experience in the field, an online degree program is perfect for someone who is currently working at a casino and wants to advance their career. Check with your employer; some casinos offer tuition reimbursement for employees.
How much money can I make as a casino manager?
Your compensation as a casino manager depends on the state you live and work in and the casino that employs you. Casino managers earned a median yearly salary of $76,910 in 2021.
In general, the more experience and education you have, the higher your salary will be. Before pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, learners should compare the cost of additional education with their potential new salary.
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