The possibility of a new gaming venue in the Greater Toronto Area has many benefits, including increased revenue through property taxes and fees paid to the host municipality through OLG. The possibility of a new gaming venue in the Greater Toronto Area has many benefits, including increased revenue through property taxes and fees paid to the host municipality through OLG.
However, the biggest advantages could be the jobs associated with a new casino, especially if it’s part of an entertainment complex that is 90 per cent hotels, restaurants, retail and entertainment, with only 10 per cent as casino space.
According to a City of Toronto study conducted last summer by consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP, an integrated entertainment and gaming complex in the GTA would add jobs in two phases. During the three-year construction phase, 6,800 to
8,500 workers would be needed to build the major development project. Some of these jobs would come with an annual salary estimated at between $55,000 and $65,000, according to the report.
Once the facility is up and running, it could require 18,000 to 20,000 full-time employees. The majority of those jobs would be in the service sector, with about 30 per cent of them directly related to casino operations.
For some people, these would be full-time, permanent jobs that would allow employees to take on greater responsibility over the span of a career. For others, these would be part-time jobs to help supplement their income or to pay for college or university tuition.
The profiles of OLG Slots at Woodbine employees Natasha Pereira and Gerard Palamoudian provide additional insight into the kind of jobs that could open up if a gaming facility makes its way to the GTA, and about the kinds of people who perform those jobs.
“Some of my best friends are the people I work with. I work with an amazing group of people, from peers to managers”
“I’m an absolute people person,” says Natasha Pereira, a Cage and Coin Cashier at Woodbine Slots. “I tell people every single day that this is such a fun job: I get to pay out jackpots to our customers.”
Pereira, 23, has been working at Woodbine Slots for just over two years. Her previous job was as a manager at a bar – another great “people person” job.
As a Cage and Coin Cashier at Woodbine Slots, Pereira typically spends about 50 per cent of her time at the front of the house, standing in what looks like an old-fashioned cashier’s cage, behind wrought-iron bars. When a player wins at the slot machines, he or she can print out the winning ticket, bring it to a cashier and exchange it for cash. Long gone are the days when winners collected coins in plastic buckets.
The cashiers also facilitate setting up player accounts games at Woodbine Slots.
The other half of a time is spent out of the public eye, at the back of the house, doing actual banking. There are about 10 different back-of-house duties, including dealing with automatic ticket redemptions, accounting for the cash that’s put into the slot machines and balancing floats at the end of the night.
“I like that part of it, because it’s constantly changing,” says Pereira.
Her shifts are constantly changing, too, but Pereira says she likes it that way. It means she can go shopping or take care of appointments during the day when she’s on the night shift, and spend time with friends in traditional nine-to-five jobs when she’s working days.
“It’s a 24-hour business at Woodbine Slots and we’re available 24 hours a day,” she says. “I like being part of what goes on here, no matter what time of day.”
Pereira has a college degree in social work but chose the casino life because it offers what she’s looking for: stable part-time work, flexible hours, a good wage, a pension, on-the-job training and the chance to work with great people.
“Some of my best friends are the people I work with,” Pereira says. “I work with an amazing group of people, from peers to managers.”
Customer Relations expert, social butterfly, finds his niche in video training
As a college student 12 years ago, Gerard Palamoudian was studying to become an electrical engineer. But the more he thought about it, he realized that he wanted a career that would allow him to communicate with people, not technology.
He changed his focus to Customer Relations and never looked back.
“I realized I couldn’t sit at a desk and behind a computer for hours at a time,” says Palamoudian, a self-confessed social butterfly who has worked for Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for more than 11 years now. “OLG was my way to get out and talk to people all the time.”
Palamoudian has held numerous positions at Woodbine Slots, from stocking the slots, back when coins were still paid out directly from the machines, to his current position as Promotions and Events Facilitator, Customer Relations. He runs unique promotions in the casino, attends events to promote Woodbine and, most importantly, trains all the staff in how promotions are to be run.
And that’s where he found his niche.
Palamoudian, who also owns his own wedding videography business, has a knack for video. So instead of providing OLG staff with corporate binders full of dry information about the various promotions Woodbine Slots runs, he started making highly engaging and fun training videos. Palamoudian has won two internal “Opal” awards and numerous “Glammy” awards for his creativity and hard work.
His upbeat spirit and his ability to entertain make him the perfect emcee for Woodbine Slots promotions and enable him to have a great rapport with customers.
“The customers actually come and say hi to me all the time,” says Palamoudian. “There are the regulars who come and talk to me about what they’re doing in their lives and with their families, and there are new people who just want to say hi.”
It’s not just the customers who make Palamoudian’s job fulfilling. He has created a bond with his colleagues and now they’re almost like family.
“I really love OLG because of what it’s taught me,” Palamoudian says.
Beyond dealers and waitresses: Casino jobs offer something for everyone
When people think of casino jobs, the most common ones that come to mind are dealers, game table attendants, cashiers and food and beverage positions. Those are important roles, of course, but it takes a lot more than those jobs for a casino to succeed. If the casino is part of a major entertainment complex that includes a hotel, restaurants, retail stores and entertainment venues, lots more jobs, at all levels, are part of the picture.
Here is a sample of the kinds of positions that would need to be filled if an entertainment complex were built in the Greater Toronto Area.
• Accounting and finance: cage cashiers, payroll clerks, finance analysts, accountants and auditors
• Casino tables and slots: dealers, croupiers, slot attendants and supervisors, slot technicians, slot technician managers, pit managers
• Security: security officers, surveillance operators, surveillance technicians
• Information technology: Network engineers, project managers, director of information services, systems administrators
• Marketing: Marketing co-ordinators and managers, business development managers, media specialists
• Entertainment: Talent bookers, publicists, ushers, sound and lighting technicians
• Food and beverage: chefs, sous chefs, cooks, bartenders, food and beverage managers, bussers, wait staff, hosts and hostesses
• Hotel: hotel operations managers, front desk staff, housekeepers, housekeeping supervisors, guest services managers