Skip to Main Content

Casinos and Casino Hotels


People have placed wagers on games of chance as a form of recreation since the dawn of time. In the United States, the modern era of commercial gaming began in 1931, when the state of Nevada legalized commercial casino gambling.

There are five types of legal gaming in the United States: commercial casino gaming, Native American gaming, pari-mutuel wagering, charitable gaming, and lotteries. Of these types, only commercial casino gaming, Native American gaming, and pari-mutuel wagering are directly related to casinos and casino hotels. Charitable gaming includes games run by nonprofit organizations as part of fund-raisers, and lotteries are administered by state governments.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) defines a commercial casino as a “private-sector establishment—whether land-based, riverboat, dockside, limited-stakes, or racetrack casino—that offers games of chance and is regulated and taxed by the state where it is located.” Hotel casinos consist of a commercial casino and a hotel (and typically include restaurants, bars, retail shops, entertainment venues, and other amenities to attract tourists). Casinos are owned and operated by individuals, states and other municipalities, Native American tribes, and corporations.

The commercial casino industry plays an important role in the U.S. economy. The AGA reports that “there are few sectors in our national economy that require such considerable capital expenditures, are as labor intensive, and are as supportive of thousands of outside vendors and suppliers as the commercial casino industry.” In 2012, gross gaming revenues in the commercial casino industry reached $37.34 billion, according to the 2013 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment. This was a 4.8 percent increase from 2011. According to the AGA, the commercial casino industry employed more than 332,000 people and paid wages of $13.2 billion in 2012. States with the largest number of casino workers included Nevada (170,206), New Jersey (34,726), Mississippi (23,377), Louisiana (15,061), Indiana (12,543), Pennsylvania (10,162), and Missouri (9,631).

Major casino corporations (most of which also own hotels) include MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Caesars Entertainment, Penn National Gaming, Wynn Resorts, Century Casinos, and Monarch Casino & Resort Inc. Many U.S.-headquartered casino companies also either have properties in foreign countries (especially Macau, China) or are actively considering foreign expansion.

Native American casinos are owned by tribes that are recognized by the federal government. They are located in 28 states. In 2014, gross gaming revenues at Native American casinos were $28.5 billion, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. Approximately 339,000 people were employed by Indian gaming facilities in 2011, according to the report. More than 80,000 workers were employed in ancillary facilities such as restaurants and hotels. 

Casinos and casino hotels offer many career opportunities. Popular gaming floor careers include gaming managers, slot machine supervisors, gaming dealers, and sports book writers and runners. There are also opportunities in accounting, advertising, business/finance, event production, food service, high-end retail, hotel management, human resources, Information Technology, legal affairs, public relations, restaurant management, security, software development, and other areas.

Although salaries for many casino positions—especially those on the gaming floor—are lower than the average for all careers, many people are attracted to this industry because the industry is perceived as glamorous, opportunities are available in many states and abroad, the educational requirements to enter many careers are low, and the industry has a strong track record of promoting workers from within its ranks to supervisory and managerial positions. All in all, a career in the casino industry is a good bet for people with strong customer service skills who enjoy working with the public.