Casinos represent a fast-growing segment of the hospitality industry, one that slot machine manager Paul Ahluwalia thinks is full of opportunity for an energetic, flexible, honest person interested in a career.
Ahluwalia was a 19-year-old college student with his sights set on a commerce degree. The birth of his son spurred him to look for a secure job, so he applied to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into, and at that time entry-level was a change attendant, making change for guests,” he recalls.
Ahluwalia soon found himself working as a slot attendant at the Newton facility, the first casino in the province with slot machines. Since then he has helped open the company’s casinos in Nanaimo, Coquitlam, Victoria (where he was promoted to manager) and Richmond.
Slot attendants learn on the job, although they do receive intensive training on spotting and dealing with problem gamblers. Ahluwalia says that if an applicant has good communication skills, is flexible, energetic, honest, cool under pressure (“it can get quite hectic during busy times”) and able to multi-task, there is a good chance of being hired.
Attendants typically work an eight-hour shift. Their prime focus is “attending to guest needs, answering questions, helping if there are problems.” Attendants also keep the machines working correctly, reset them if they are “tilted,” deal with payouts, and fill them when they run out of coins.
One of the biggest drawbacks can be the hours. Ahluwalia says the busiest times — when staff levels are highest — are Friday through Sunday and statutory holidays. Many casinos now operate 24/7. Easing the shift-work pain is the remuneration: a slot machine attendant starts at $9 an hour and usually earns between $6 and $10 an hour in tips.
Aside from the healthy paycheque, “I enjoyed talking to and meeting new people,” Ahluwalia says, “and I also like the atmosphere in general. It’s quite unique.”