The sound of one hand shuffling

It’s been a few days since the story broke, but I still haven’t seen any serious discussion of the change in the Wynn Las Vegas casino floor hierarchy, outside of people quoting dealers irate about their upcoming drop in pay. This is absolutely understandable–if someone asked me to take a $10,000 pay cut (or told me I was taking it), I’d be pretty vocal, too.

In case you haven’t heard it, here’s a summary from KLAS-TV:

Steve Wynn is making waves again in the casino industry – but not for his lavish projects. This time the waves are on the floor of his casino.

He told casino dealers that they will have to start sharing their tips with other employees.

Wynn says the pit bosses will get a cut of dealers’ tips.

That’s supposed to level a pay disparity between dealers and supervisors. But it’s unheard of at Strip casinos, and it’s raising complaints from some employees.

Wynn is known as a trendsetter on the Las Vegas strip. When he does something, everyone thinks it will spread everywhere else. There are always skeptics too.

Crystal Rivera is training to be a dealer at the Palms Playboy club. She’ll be working for tips.

“Oh definitely, you are at minimum wage so it is the tips, that is what we depend on,” she says.

High limit tables like hers earn up to $100,000 a year in tips. The Wynn Hotel casino broke that record this year. Now Wynn wants to spread the wealth.

“At Wynn, dealers won’t get all of their tips anymore. Of a $500 tip $200 would go to other floor managers,” she says. | News for Las Vegas, Nevada | Steve Wynn Changes Rules on Casino Tips

Anyway, I think that this is only presenting one side of the story. As I said on Tuesday, the most significant aspect of this change is that it is putting the suits in a position where they have a a material interest in the player’s happiness. I wondered then what the impact would be on skill players, who claim to be hassled or asked to leave by suits interested in the casino bottom line. Now, will a few generous tokes make suits a little slower to crack down on advantage play?

I’d just like to see someone look at the issue from this angle, and to examine the impact on all players, from $5 blackjackers (if there are $5 tables at WLV) to the highest of the high rollers.

For my part, I’m going to call the Wynn PR people and try to get some more information. I’m interested in the role of the pit administrator (renamed pit boss, or just a pit clerk) and how the numbers break down. Since they’ve been pretty helpful with a few other projects, I may have something to report next week. It’s a historic change, and my job is to document the history of gambling, so, as a certain KLAS photojournalist might say, “I’m on it.”

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