Casino Player Development vs Casino Hosting by Nick Ippolito

Your Time on the Phone and Your Time on the Floor

My time in Morocco was an amazing experience for many reasons. First and foremost, to travel is always “The Dream”, to visit exotic places and to meet people from all walks of life and cultures is life changing. And for me, to visit casinos and see gaming in different spots all over the world has been thrilling and humbling at the same time.

Training casino hosts at Magazan Resort in Africa was pinnacle for me for one particular reason. I made a phone call. A cold call, no no, a freezing call, as I was in a foreign country speaking my American sloppy language in an area that rarely hears an America voice on the other end of a phone. Lucky for me he was a gambler, so I DID speak his language. Which resulted in my booking him! Proving what I have said for years, gamblers have a culture all their own.

My time as a casino host in Atlantic City and Las Vegas was where I crafted my skills and built my reputation for being able to pick up the phone and call anyone. The last 10 years I’ve traveled the world training casino hosts, listening and making calls in every demographic and culture.

And the one thing that surprises most gaming industry folks is when I preach that telemarketing is about 20-30% of the casino hosts day. The rest is OUT ON THE FLOOR! Walking through the slots and taking care of the table games.

By far the one tragic event I’ve experienced over the years is the lack of attention the casino hosts give to the table games. I found them to be intimidated, unknowledgeable or just don’t see the vast development opportunities the pit has to offer.

In my Casino Customer Service Training, The Five E’s of Customer Service, I teach all employees to separate their Jobs from their Skills!!! This is a mind melting moment in my seminar indeed.

For casino hosts and casino marketing I explain that the Title is Casino Host but the job, the skill, is casino player development.




The term, Player Development, originated in sports. Baseball: a “scout” sees a young kid throwing balls across home plate in a sand lot somewhere in Nebraska. The kid is not the best the scout has seen by any means, but he sees the potential and the desire in him to become a great pitcher in the big leagues. So, he DEVELOPS the athlete to become something great. Mind blown yet?

The term Casino Player Development has really gotten convoluted over the years in the casino industry. I’m not sure those with that title and those handing them out, have sat back and really thought about what those words truly mean. Casino Player Development. The Development of Casino Players.

The majority of Casino Player Development execs have their 20 or so loyal, known, predictable, verified, true “High Rollers” or high frequency guests that make up their hundreds of millions of their annual productivity. These are the players that are driven by their DM, their offer, their free play not by the relationship or loyalty to their casino host. The execs do a hell of a job maintaining and retaining this business by performing stellar relationship skills but that’s not development. Is it? That’s a Casino Host. If a player comes 25-28 times a month not sure where the “development” is.

I educate casinos that casino hosts have two silos, if you will, to their job; Making telemarketing calls and being on the floor. I impress upon the Casino Hosts the importance of being highly visible on the casino floor – ever prepared and available for those valued floor opportunities. GO TO THE CALL! (Is my war cry).

This is their opportunity to … develop the player. Any player, any level on, anywhere on the gaming floor.

Large or small, flea or whale, the gambler inside your casino is valuable, low hanging fruit, with the fever and the propensity to GAMBLE!! And even those “local” high rollers can be developed. So many times, a casino host will show me their version of “a whale”. Immediately I ask how far away do they live? The casino host normally responds, 15-20 miles. I look at the computer for gaming history and I say, then why do they only come here 10 times a month? Normally I can hear the crickets trapped in the vents of the casino host office. And then I ask where the closest competition is located. See where this is going?

A casino host should always be asking themselves; Where is the development with this guest? Whether determining if they are inactive or should be rewarded a comp, or just how to manage the guest.

The Casino Hosts are the ones in the trenches; constantly meeting new guests, handing out the business cards, signing up slot players, cutting into the unknown and refused table player, developing that .25 Cent slot player into a $1 or $5 slot player, educating that $25 table player the benefits of being a $100 to $500 bettor, responding to the calls from the front desk, PBX, slot attendants and pit managers. Working the VIP check-in, monitoring the players club, checking hot player lists and floor maps, scrolling through play activity, researching their gaming history, making quick on the spot comp decisions … the Casino Floor belongs to them.

The bottom line is that casino hosting and casino PD needs to be the individual’s passion. Its absolute passion. Not how much salary you earn, not how much the bonus program is or even if there is one, not how well you dress or how expensive your watch is, it’s about having passion for development. Finding new business, growing the potential and finding those inactive.

“You got the prospects coming in. You think they came in to get outta the rain? A man don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?” – Blake | Glenngarry Glen Ross






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