GM and Casino Executive Exchange Discussion

GM and Casino Executive Exchange Discussion

The discussion led by Catalyst Marketing at the recent GM and Casino Executive Exchange focused on identifying the top challenges casinos will face over the next 6-12 months and how best to deal with them.

The discussion focused on the following top challenges identified by those in attendance:

  • IT Security
  • Staffing
  • Planning & Budgeting For 2022

IT Security

Identified Challenges

  • Cyber/Ransomware Attacks

With cybersecurity being a newsworthy topic for businesses around the world, the casino industry and its reliance on multiple forms of data is particularly susceptible to operational challenges that stem from a potential cyber-attack. The following best practices can help properties be best prepared to mitigate the severity should a cyber-attack occur.

Solutions/Best Practices

  • Develop and report on KPIs for IT Department and increase communication with IT director
    • Attacks per month
    • System Downtime
    • Critical Bugs/Issues
    • Tickets Opened/Resolved (By type of issue)
  • Ensure backup systems are chosen and setup correctly
  • Ensure proper data protection tools are in place
  • Train all users to recognize suspect emails and potential ransomware
  • Email Solutions
    • Use two-step email verification to accept an outside email (See Sourceforge’s top picks)
    • Use an external email warning on incoming email from outside sources

“Prepare for the worst and proactively seek ways to defend against attacks”

-Casino GM


Identified Challenges

  • Attracting new staff
  • Retaining current staff
  • Operating while short staffed

One of the most common themes recently has been the ability to attract and onboard new talent. In this conversation, the group spent the largest portion of the session listing challenges. They attributed them to several external factors.

Challenges & Causes

  • Government Benefits
  • People adapting to one income household
  • Younger generation moving away from service industry
  • Not being in touch with what is important to current talent pool
  • Gaming Commission timeliness/fees
  • Existing staff issues caused by offering new hire incentives

“Some challenges aren’t new, they’re just highlighted now due to national issues in staffing”

-Casino GM

Attracting New Staff

Solutions/Best Practices

  • Government Benefits ending should correct some of the issues
  • Explore paying a higher wage to team members that don’t need benefits (2nd household income, younger staff still on parent’s insurance)
  • Explore paying a “living wage” to traditionally tipped positions and include gratuity/service fee in dining checks to offset increase
  • Tier employees like we do guests to target and help identify motivators by segment (Age, demo, distance)
    • Eg. If distance is a challenge, look at an aggressive gas discount if you have a gas station in your enterprise
  • Explore paid social campaign targeting the demographics that match ideal or likely candidates
  • Look to offset or streamline licensing fees and timeframes

Retaining Staff

Solutions/Best Practices

  • Run an internal campaign sharing benefits to ensure everyone is aware of what is available to them
  • Incentive options
    • Shift incentives to cover shifts when short or covering a callout (Gift Cards)
    • Floating Holidays (Additional days off)
    • Part timers eligible for overtime when they work overtime hours on a shift
    • Budgeting for department benefits that can be used at the department’s discretion (Parties, outings, gift cards, cash)
    • Sick day donation (Donate unused sick time to those in need for things like maternity or sick leave)
    • Partner with local businesses to offer external partner discounts

Operating When Short-Staffed

Solutions/Best Practices

  • Explore labor efficiencies
    • Multi-tasked employees (Eg. Combining Players Club functions into the Cage)
  • Explore technology/Self Service efficiencies
    • Eg. Self service non-alcoholic beverages
  • Explore facility improvements to enhance efficiency
    • Common Kitchen, shared workspace

Planning & Budgeting

Identified Challenges

  • Planning & Budgeting for 2022

Closures that occurred in 2020 and lasting into 2021 for some properties combined with the strong revenues for the first half of 2021 for many properties has created a peak and valley for revenues. Since circumstances for 2020, 2021 and potentially again in 2022 have been constantly changing, Year over year comparison may be a difficult premise.


  • COVID-19 Closures (Past and potential future)
  • Lack of Competition for discretionary dollars for the back half of 2020 and beginning of 2021
    • No Cruise Industry
    • No/Limited Movies Theaters
    • No Live Entertainment
    • Limited Live Sporting Event Attendance
    • Limited Travel
  • Department Revenues and Expense adjustments
    • No Conferences/Meetings
    • Limited F&B Options
    • Limited or no Entertainment/Amenities

“With the exception of 2008, 2009 and last year gaming has always seen growth as an industry. And, that should be expected moving forward.”

-Gaming Economist

Expectations for 2022

  • Current run rate is not sustainable
    • A decrease in revenue has to be expected in some markets
  • Border properties may offset some decrease with return of Canadian/Mexican guests

Solutions/Best Practices

  • Efficiencies learned and developed while operating during the pandemic may need to remain in place to help offset any expected revenue decrease
  • Budget for an increase over a two to three year level compared to 2019 versus 20/21 year over year and adjust for any additional changes specific to your market or property