The Impact of Online Gaming on the Casino Workforce: The Changing Landscape of the Casino Industry
Online gaming has been steadily gaining popularity over the last decade, and its impact on the casino industry cannot be overlooked. The allure of online gaming, with its vibrant graphics and interactive features, has enticed many traditional casino-goers, prompting many brick-and-mortar casino brands to add their own virtual games, from online slot machines to live table games that customers can join from the comfort of their own homes.
Gaming industry professionals are paying close attention to this trend. Online gaming seems to be here to stay, but what are the consequences of that for gambling facility employees? The good news is, the data on casino visitors suggests there’s no reason to panic just yet, although the landscape of the gaming industry is changing due to the rise in online gambling sites.
A brief history of online gaming
Online gaming got its start in the mid-1990s. The first online bets were placed in 1994 as part of an international lottery run out of Liechtenstein. The first casino-style online gambling followed soon after with the establishment of InterCasino in 1996. That same year, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established to regulate online gaming activity from the Mohawk Territory. That commission also issued licenses to many of the online casinos and poker rooms that opened around the world.
That prompted an explosion in the online gambling industry. By 1997, there were more than 200 virtual betting websites, from online poker rooms to sports betting platforms and virtual slot machines. Even that early in the industry’s history, it was clear this phenomenon was here to stay. Many customers appreciated the option to place bets and win money from the comfort and privacy of their homes, though the number of people using these sites wasn’t yet high enough to impact the brick-and-mortar casino market.
By the late 1990s, governments began to establish policies to limit online gaming. The 2001 Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act in Australia made it illegal for new online casinos to open in the country and limited the use of existing ones by Australian citizens. Online gambling was thriving in other parts of the world, though, and by 2001 an estimated 8 million people had taken part in online gaming around the world.
By 2019, online gaming revenue had reached $45.78 billion, with online casinos bringing in around $16.7 billion of that revenue. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 prompted a further increase in the volume of online bets and the number of online players, as individuals looked for a way to keep playing their favorite games while isolated at home. By 2023, online gambling revenue had nearly doubled from its 2019 figures to more than $95 billion.
Impact of online gaming on casino revenues
Given the amount of revenue generated by online casinos, one might expect that brick-and-mortar casinos would be feeling the effects. In reality, however, it seems there is plenty of gambling revenue to go around. A recent report from the American Gaming Association shows that U.S. casinos brought in record-setting profits in 2022. They recorded a total revenue of over $60 billion in 2022, a 13.9% increase over the previous year’s figures.
One reason that online gaming hasn’t hurt casino profits is that many brick-and-mortar casino brands have jumped onto the trend. When the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 forced casinos in many states to close their doors or limit their operations, many of those establishments took that as an opportunity to shift their services. Major gaming companies like Caesars and MGM added or expanded their internet gaming options for customers. Because of this, online and in-person casinos aren’t necessarily in competition with each other, but are part of the same industry ecosystem.
Other impacts of online gaming on brick-and-mortar casinos
While casino revenue has remained strong despite the rise in online gaming, that doesn’t necessarily mean that gamblers are still going to casinos in the same numbers. Roughly 34% of the adult U.S. population visited a casino in 2022. This represents a 6% compared to 2021 but is still about 10% lower than 2019 figures.
Interpreting these findings can be tricky. Like other leisure and travel industries, casino gaming was heavily impacted by the pandemic. It’s not clear how much of that drop is the result of expanded access to online games and how much comes from consumers’ lingering health and safety concerns related to Covid-19.
In addition to shifts in visitor numbers, the rise in online gaming has prompted many brick-and-mortar casinos to undertake a high-tech facelift. This doesn’t just take the form of online and hybrid gaming, either. Many casinos are implementing technology like facial recognition and RFID chips to improve the security of their operations and detect fraudulent activity and cheating.
Mobile apps for casinos also do more than expand how customers can play. They also allow casinos to keep track of customers’ playing habits and send targeted offers or notifications that personalize the player’s experience. Loyalty programs like Harrah’s Total Rewards system allow repeat customers to earn discounts and free items that keep them coming back to the property. These new features can open up new opportunities for professionals, as well, creating roles related to data analysis and customer experience that didn’t exist a decade ago in this sector.
Employment outlook for gaming professionals
The U.S. casino gaming market is poised for further growth, with a projected CAGR of 4.53% through 2027. That is good news for both casino employers and their employees.
Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a rosy picture for those who work in casinos. Overall employment in gambling services is projected to grow by 17% through 2031, with about 22,200 jobs expected to be available for casino workers each year. That’s only counting jobs directly related to gaming activities, too, like dealers and game operators. There are plenty of other opportunities in the average casino workplace, from the cooks in on-site restaurants to the housekeeping staff that maintains attached resorts. The availability of these positions so far seems unaffected by the increase in online gaming, a trend that looks likely to continue.
New roles related to online gaming
Not only are employment opportunities in the gambling industry continuing to grow, but the types of roles available are expanding, as well. The development, maintenance, and operation of online gaming platforms requires its own team of workers, with unique skill sets and career paths from those found in brick-and-mortar casinos. Here are some of the growing roles in the online gaming industry.
Average salary: $75,500 per year
Typical education: Bachelor’s degree in programming or software engineering
Developers are the people who create the online gaming systems players use. This role is certainly not exclusive to the gambling industry, with the same skills used to create video games and other apps for customers. To become a developer, most professionals study a broad tech field like programming or engineering, though there are a growing number of gaming-specific degree fields you can pursue.
Online game graphic designer
Average salary: $49,800 per year
Typical education: Bachelor’s degree in graphic design
Graphic designers create the images that players engage with and see in the online game environment. Like developers, this is a career path that’s not exclusive to gambling, but one that has become more prevalent in the gaming industry in recent years. Graphic designers may create images beyond those used in the game interface, as well, like images for associated advertisements or marketing materials.
Average salary: $86,600 per year
Typical education: Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, computer science, or a related field
Where game developers create the back-end functional aspects of an online game, the UX designer creates the part that players see. This requires both artistic and technical skills, and professionals in this career path can start their studies from either angle. While designing the user interface often requires some programming, it’s usually not as in-depth as the back-end development. Along with the design itself, UX designers may conduct analyses of the game’s function and collect data on users’ interaction with the program to improve its navigation, layout, and functionality.
Online table game dealer
Average salary: $44,900 per year
Typical education: High school diploma or bachelor’s degree
Online poker has been popular for years, but in the past used digital avatars and a programmed dealer. An increasing number of online casino businesses include a live table game option. This involves human dealers at physical tables equipped with cameras that broadcast their movements live to players. Aside from the absence of physical customers in front of you, the job of an online dealer is the same as its in-person version, and requires the same skills and knowledge.
Customer support agent
Average salary: $42,700 per year
Typical education: High school diploma or bachelor’s degree in business, communication, or a related field
Customer service is a major aspect of any casino business, and that includes their online iterations. Customer support agents field complaints and help players resolve issues they have during their playing experience. This requires similar skills to in-person customer service roles, like communication, empathy, active listening, and creative problem solving. Online agents also benefit from having knowledge of IT troubleshooting best practices and similar tech-related areas.
Remote and hybrid roles in online gaming
A lack of workplace flexibility is one common complaint for brick-and-mortar casino employees. This is one area where the rise of online gaming has tangible benefits for gaming professionals. Players can join an online game from anywhere, and the same is true for the workers who create and run them. The result is an increasing number of remote and hybrid employment opportunities in gambling.
Jobs directly related to the development and operation of online games are the most likely to be remote or hybrid positions. As this workplace model becomes more common in the gaming industry, though, an increasing number of employers are offering other roles with a remote option, as well. This tends to be most common with administrative, back-office roles in areas like finance, marketing, and sales.
Skills to stay relevant in the online gaming environment
The core skills you need to succeed in the gaming industry don’t change based on where people play. Customer service skills are still top of the list when it comes to things an employer looks for in a new hire. Other top skills for today’s gaming professionals include:
- Communication – Whether you’re serving online or face-to-face customers, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is critical for employees across the casino industry.
- Mathematics – The odds, jackpots, and payouts of a casino require some knowledge of numbers to determine. Basic math skills are beneficial in other areas, too, like the change windows where players get chips or the servers who collect payment and give change in on-site bars and restaurants.
- Leadership – Advancement in the gaming industry often takes the form of casino management and supervisor positions. The ability to oversee and manage other team members positions gaming professionals to take these advancement opportunities when they’re available.
- Patience and emotional intelligence – Unhappy customers are an unfortunate constant in any customer service industry. That can be especially true in casinos where people are risking their hard-earned money. The ability to listen to someone when they’re upset, while keeping a tight lid on your own emotions, is critical in all areas of this industry.
- IT troubleshooting – As more technology enters the casino industry, customers will increasingly call on casino employees to help them use it correctly. Whether you work in online or in-person gaming, a basic knowledge of common IT problems and their solutions can be very beneficial.
The future of casinos and online gaming
The demand for casino entertainment is high and rising. The main question for gaming companies and employees is the source of that demand, and how the ratio will change between in-person and online customers. Regardless of what the future holds for online gaming, though, the casino industry continues to offer ample employment opportunities for professionals.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.
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