Every so often, while I’m gambling, my attention turns towards the employees who make the games happen. Without high-quality casino dealers delivering the cards, paying out winners, and doing it all with a smile, Sin City simply wouldn’t work.
I’ve been lucky enough to ply my trade on both sides of the table in Las Vegas. Beginning as an advantage player grinding big bet blackjack, then shifting behind the box as a licensed dealer for a spell, I have a deep respect for the lifers who consider it a calling or a career.
To celebrate the unsung heroes who make the casino world go round, check out 11 interesting facts and figures below which define the dealer profession.
1 – More Than 75,000 Dealers Do Their Thing in America’s 973 Casinos
When you walk around a bustling Las Vegas table game pit, it can seem like an endless legion of dealers stands at the ready in every direction. Whether the table is crowded or completely empty, you’ll always see a dealer in the box during peak hours.
2 – Over Half of the Country’s Dealers Work for Corporate Casinos With 1,000+ Employees
Of course, that 77-dealer figure is merely an average. So, you’ll see a massive discrepancy between the big casino resorts on the Strip and tiny tribal gambling halls out in the middle of nowhere.
Per the latest data from Zippia, 45% of dealers in the US work for a casino company which count between 1,000 and 10,000 employees on the roster. Another 15% work at even larger corporate entities with over 10,000 workers.
And for good measure, another 25% of dealers call a company with between 500 and 1,000 workers home.
3 – The Average Casino Dealer Is 45 Years Old
Depending on your preferred casinos when visiting Vegas, you might scoff at this stat.
After all, with so many buxom beauties and young bucks working “Party Pit” promotions in the Downtown district, surely the average dealer age must be in the twenty-somethings. That’s not the case though, at least based on Zippia’s carefully cultivated casino dealer demographic data.
Obviously, casinos are constantly hiring young graduates fresh out of dealer school. This steady stream of new recruits can be started at a lower salary (more on this down below), and even if they quit, replacements are always waiting in the wings.
By keeping the most proficient dealers in the lineup around, the house pads its own bottom line courtesy of more efficient, tightly supervised tables. And when veteran dealers are kept around for year after year, they develop a genuine rapport with the regulars who show up day in and day out.
Thus, while the lower rungs of the dealer ladder are continually churning through new blood, the old guard stays put, causing the average age to climb higher in the process.
4 – More Men Work as Dealers Than Women
Another counterintuitive fact about the dealer trade is that men actually outnumber women to a slight degree.
Per the Zippia data, 53.4% of dealers are male, with females representing 41.9% of the pool (the remaining respondents did not identify as either gender).
As a side note, I’m willing to wager that, if you asked any male gambler about the dealer gender gap, they’d instantly reverse the percentages above.
5 – The Moniker “Croupier” Has Decidedly Unsophisticated Origins
In European casinos, dealers are referred to as “croupiers,” a French word which lends the job an air of style and class to the American ear.
And indeed, here in the States, some gamblers refer to the dealers at the live dealer roulette tables as croupiers owing to the game’s French origins.
Unfortunately for Americans trying to sound sophisticated while they watch the wheel spin, the word “croupier” stems from a distinctly unsophisticated source. For the folks who study the science of horse anatomy, the regal animal’s rump is technically known as the “croup.”
Whenever the gambler needed to replenish their chips, they’d call for their “croupier”—or the “rump man”—to bring up the rear and hand over the requested coinage. Over time, anybody at the table charged with handling the coins or chips in good faith was labeled the game’s designated croupier.
And the rest, as they say, is history…
6 – More Than One-Third of American Dealers Speak Spanish
This one should come as no surprise given Nevada’s placement directly in the heart of the American Southwest.
At 33.8% of all American dealers (per Zippia), Spanish is by far the most common foreign language you’ll hear from the other side of the table. Coming in at a distant second place is Russian (8.8%), followed by Romanian and Mandarin (5.9% each).
Sharing a border with California and Arizona—both of which are home to a significant Spanish-speaking population—the Silver State obviously sees its fair share of dealers who have learned the language. Some speak Spanish as their first language, adding English after arriving here as immigrants. Others took it up in school or to expand their skill set.
In any event, knowing how to communicate with your customers never hurts in any line of work, and it’s especially important as a casino dealer. Given that the US is home to more than 60 million native Spanish speakers, not to mention people who learned it as a second language, I’m surprised the percentage isn’t higher.
7 – Dealers Suffer Higher Rates of Respiratory Illness Due to Secondhand Smoke
In a 2016 report titled “Secondhand Smoke and Casino Dealers,” which was published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), researcher Christine West made a series of startling discoveries.
As part of West’s clinically controlled study, a group of nonsmoking dealers were compared to a similar group of people who don’t work in casinos. Urine samples detected elevated levels of cotinine and NNAL, two carcinogens found in cigarettes and secondhand smoke.
And at all of the casinos examined during the study, air samples produced increased levels of secondhand smoke components like cotinine and NNAL.
As a consequence of the casino industry’s catering to smokers, dealers wound up suffering from more respiratory illnesses than the group who worked in smoke-free environments.
8 – Almost Half of the Dealers in the US Have Earned a College Degree
In better news, Zippia data shows 31% of American casino deals have earned their bachelor’s degrees. And with another 14% possessing an associate’s degree, the ratio of dealers with a university education hovers just shy of the halfway mark.
Many gamblers—usually the ones who lose consistently and blame it on bad luck—simply assume that dealers are dropouts who took an “easy” gig. So, it’s nice to see that so many dealers out there took the time to pursue higher education before seeking out the Las Vegas lifestyle.
9 – Casino Dealers Earn an Average Annual Salary of $30,750
At first glance, the average annual salary of just under $31k cited by Zippia might seem a little low for the specialized labor involved.
But remember, casino dealers who know how to handle themselves at the table average about $50 an hour in tips on top of their hourly paycheck. When these “tokes” are added to the equation, most dealers are sitting comfortably near America’s median middle-class income level of $68,000 and change.
10 – But the Average Starting Salary Is Only $14,200
To get to the top, you’ve got to start out as the low man or woman on a casino’s dealer totem pole.
And that means signing on as a greenhorn earning only a tad more than $14,000 in average salary. Once again, that figure can be deceiving because it neglects to factor in tokes, but still… $14k is somewhat insulting.
11 – Becoming a Top-10% Earner Moves the Average Salary to $66,000
Hang tough and survive that minuscule starting salary, and you might just do the unthinkable—earn a good living while spending 40 hours a week on the casino floor.
Cap that off with the $50 per hour toke rate every accomplished dealer can count on, and suddenly pitching cards and counting chips can produce a sweet six-figure payday.
Dealing in a legitimate Las Vegas casino is a thrill that most gamblers will never get to experience. Just knowing that you’re the one in charge of a table where thousands of dollars can, and will, change hands in a matter of minutes is absolutely exhilarating.
Dealers often don’t get the respect they deserve though, as far too many players see the faces behind the box merely as means to an end. Hopefully, having learned a lot of interesting items of note about these essential workers and their craft, you leave here with a greater appreciation for your friendly neighborhood casino dealer.