Ten Things You Would Not Know About the Business Side of Casinos
By Steve Kieva
Emerald Island Casino and Rainbow Club Casino in Henderson, NV, have a casino floor team that really delivers on providing a fun and exciting guest experience. The superior guest service, great food and warm, friendly vibe make both properties extremely welcoming.
Have you ever wondered what it takes in the back of the house to make the Emerald Island and Rainbow Club casinos Downtown Henderson’s Best Bets? I asked Co-Owner and General Manager Tim Brooks to give Casino Player subscribers a peek into the business side of the casino business.
“Our casinos are really three businesses under one roof. We have the casino, food and beverage and gift merchandising,” Tim observed, “and we are a 24/7 business. We are all about providing a ‘fun’ experience for our guests, but behind the scenes our admin team takes care of the business side of things.”
Here are 10 things Brooks shared about the business side of running a casino:
Casinos are taxed at the city, county, state and federal level. In addition to sales tax and taxes related to most businesses, every slot machine in operation has a tax assessed on it regardless of whether the machine “wins” or the player “wins,” and then any income from the machine is also taxed. “As responsible business owners, we pay our taxes just like everyone else. I do not begrudge the government tax revenues. Those revenues go to pay for essential services. Do I wish it was less—which doesn’t? But it really is all part of doing business,” Tim noted. “What your readers probably don’t know is that casinos even have to pay tax on food and dr inks that are given away to guests as promotions.”
There are few businesses that have their ﬁnances more carefully scrutinized. Every penny has to be counted, recorded and audited on a daily basis.
The ambiance of a casino sets the stage for the guest’s experience. The flashing lights and jackpot bells and music are fun and exciting but it goes beyond that. Brooks said: “The casino ﬂoor has to be a clean, safe place for guests to have fun. We really focus on the details, from our selection of slots, to the music to the chairs. We just replaced all of the slot chairs at the Rainbow Club and our guests love them! The new chairs are a little wider, more plush and comfortable.”
There are no “holidays” for casino workers. 24/7 means 24/7. Although every eﬀort is made to accommodate employees to spend time with their families, no one automatically gets holidays oﬀ.
Brooks reflected that, “Family means a lot to me. Many of our guests bring friends and family into our casinos on holidays to enjoy our traditional and gourmet holiday meals and then stay and enjoy some of their favorite slot games. We really try hard to schedule our team members to allow everyone to have time with their families on the holidays.”
No “Magic Button”
I asked Tim if he was able to change how “tight” or how “loose” the slots are on certain days or during certain hours or during special events. He laughed and said: “That is a great question. I get that all the time from guests. They will ask me if I can go and ‘push the Magic Button’ so they can win. There simply is no ‘magic button’ that allows a casino to tighten or loosen slot payouts on the ﬂoor on the spot or on an hour-byhour, day-by-day basis. Altering slot payouts are a complicated procedure, which is monitored closely by NGCB [National Gaming Control Board].”
Jackpots Are Great!
Casinos actually want players to win jackpots. Gaming is, after all, an entertainment business. If players don’t experience wins it is not fun. Brooks loves to see winners. “I love seeing people get jackpots. It is like watching game shows on TV, you root the players on. I do the same in the casino. When I see someone win, I think, ‘Wow, I could win too.’ Guests come to play and have fun with their entertainment dollars. We have always had loose slots because we think that it’s no fun trying to take guests’ money from them fast.”
Strange Things That Make Casino Owners Lose Sleep at Night
Being a 24/7 business, things happen at all hours. “If there is a big jackpot that requires veriﬁcation, I will get the call whether it is morning, noon or night, that kind of thing. Of course, I always am thinking about superior guest service. I know it may sound funny, but I have nightmares that the restaurants might be serving cold French fries. Cold French fries just make me a little crazy.”
Being a Casino Operator is a Privilege, Not a Right
Being granted a restricted or non-restricted gaming license in Nevada is a very complicated, detailed and time-consuming process. In order to preserve the integrity of the gaming industry, potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and must pass several background checks. Tim proudly shared his opinion about being a gaming licensee: “Holding an unrestricted gaming license in Nevada is a privilege. We are very fortunate to be able to do business in the state of Nevada and the city of Henderson. Both my brother and I believe that that also comes with a duty to give back to the community. Both my twin brother Mike and I are on several non-proﬁt boards for groups in our community and invite our team members to do so as well.”
You think your power bill is high? Emerald Island’s average power bill is around $500 a day. Brooks shared that he does everything he can to reduce the casino’s carbon footprint: “We service and maintain our equipment so it runs more eﬀectively. We recycle. We use energy-eﬃcient light bulbs where we can and make sure oﬃce lights are turned oﬀ at night But at the same time we have to make sure that we’re properly lit for the safety of our guests and team members.”
Customer Service Really is Our Number One Goal
When you spend any time around Tim Brooks you quickly learn how passionate he is about customer service. “It really is all about customer service and personal relationships,” Brooks says. “Our guests are really like family to me and to our team members. Some of the guests are here every day and tell us that sometimes they see us more often than their family. For many, Emerald Island and Rainbow Clubs are their ‘social family.’ We get invited to guests’ birthday parties, weddings and sometimes even sad events like funerals. That is really one of the things I love the most about this business is being able to get to know our guests and to talk to them on the casino ﬂoor.”
Personal comment: My wife Dorene and I make a trip to Emerald Island and Rainbow Club at least once during our trips to Las Vegas. As Tim mentioned, his guests are treated like family. We honestly feel that way when we visit.
Both Emerald Island and Rainbow Club are all penny casinos. There are no table games. Emerald Island is just a cool place, nothing overly fancy, just plain cool. Rainbow Club is very modern and nothing like it was prior to Tim purchasing it. The food at both casinos is priced very reasonably. The portions are large, the service is great and the food is wonderful.
Take time during your next Las Vegas trip to visit both casinos. They are both located just oﬀ Boulder Highway in downtown Henderson.