Ten years ago, craps dealer Scott Cameron launched Dicedealer.com, an Internet location where fellow Strip dice dealers could swap stories and build camaraderie. The site also served as a marketing tool for selling a dice table layout Cameron used in his second job teaching beginning dealers.
Other table games dealers got downwind of the Web site and the nationwide expansion of gaming fueled added interest.
Cameron eventually added the domain, Casinodealers.net. The online forum allows casino industry employees to share experiences, gather information about the gaming industry and have online chats.
A year ago, Cameron's Internet site found another group of contributors and grew even more prominent.
Wynn Las Vegas instituted a controversial change in the way the casino tip pool was divided and distributed. Supervisors were added into the mix, which angered the casino's dealing staff as their take-home pay was reduced.
Dealers at Wynn used Casinodealers.net to vent their frustration with the changes. Dealers at other Strip casinos and throughout the country weighed in with their opinions. Cameron eventually had to set up a separate discussion forum dedicated to the controversy.
"Over 50,000 people visited the site in the first 10 days that story broke," Cameron said. "On two separate occasions there was so much traffic that the servers were overloaded."
Cameron, who has been a table games supervisor at the Cannery in North Las Vegas since 2003, said the changes in tip pooling at Wynn Las Vegas brought dealers together like no other topic he could remember in his 23-year gaming career.
"With some exceptions, dealers in the past have had a tendency to stick their tail between their legs in what has been referred to as 'Dummy up and Deal' when things didn't go their way," Cameron said. "Not this group."
Question: Why do you think the Web site grew beyond the dice pit?
Answer: There was nothing like Dicedealer.com on the Internet. After launching the site, it wasn't long before we got the attention of craps dealers from coast to coast with nothing more than word-of-mouth. Dicedealer.com was extremely popular with craps dealers but we always had a few card dealers on board. Unedited casino stories in a section we called Tales from the Dice Pit and a silly game we called Stump a Lump were a huge success. Card dealers wanted in on the action so a couple of years ago I added Casinodealers.net to the domain to provide a service and a forum for other dealers and casino supervisors as well.
Question: How did the Web site help in your dealer teaching job?
Answer: I worked at night in the dice pit at New York-New York and held a second job as an instructor at a local dealing school during the day. Teaching was a responsibility I took very seriously. I encouraged students to practice at home but layouts from casinos were hard to come by. So I invented the Dice Dealer Practice Mat and I filmed a video for them, illustrating basic craps dealing techniques. I had a good reputation for developing the best entry-level dealers of any school in Las Vegas. It was suggested that I design a Web site to market the training mat and Dicedealer.com was born.
Question: Do many table games supervisors visit the site?
Answer: There are a few. After the expansion we designed a 15-chapter Guide to Table Games Supervision, which gave the site a whole new dimension. So far it has been a huge success and one of the most visited sections of the site. Many supervisors helped build that.
Question: Why did you start conducting interviews for the Web site?
Answer: The site was about 5 years old when I interviewed Barney Vinson, a popular contributor who had authored many books on how to gamble using humor. He was an extremely witty and passionate man who at the time taught customers at Caesars Palace how to play table games. He was a big fan of the site and encouraged dealers and supervisors whom had been in the business for a long time to submit humor stories of their experiences of old Las Vegas.
Interviews were done for the sole purpose of getting a better understanding of popular discussions on the forums. I thought it would be a good idea to let the dealers and supervisors ask questions and the first interview with that format pertained to casino surveillance. The format of allowing the reader to ask questions has been in place since.
Question: How many people are registered users or participate in the forums?
Answer: We have more than 7,000 registered members but only 2,500 or so that have actually contributed on the main forums year to date. The forums on the site are provided as a clearinghouse for dealers and supervisors as they share information and insights into this industry. We have separate message boards for all table games including poker.
Question: How did the Wynn Las Vegas issue affect the Web site?
Answer: It was huge. The Wynn controversy played out in newspapers from coast to coast, from the Los Angeles Times to The Wall Street Journal. This was front-page news and several journalists quoted from the forums of Casinodealers.net and gave us credit as their source.
Question: Were you surprised by the dealers' concerns?
Answer: What surprised most of us was how the dealers used the Internet in general. They developed their own sites and they used many message boards including the forums at the Review-Journal online and others that cater to gambling, tour and travel. Perhaps the one thing that separated our site from the pack was the firsthand accounts of the dealers trying to figure out a way to fight this issue.
Question: Do you have any regrets about the controversy and how it affected the site?
Answer: The argument was full of educational value. Nevada dealers learned why tips are pooled and we learned about a vague 30-year-old Nevada law and important related judicial rulings that Wynn is using to include supervisors in the dealer tokes.
Question: How has dealing changed over the years?
Answer: Dealers used to be specialists; you knew one game and you knew it well. There was no room for mediocre dealing, you either could handle the action, or you found a job where that catered to nickel and dime play. There was no talk of customer service.
Getting a dealing job in Las Vegas has changed in the last 20 years. You used to get a job by convincing the pit boss to give you an audition to hire you and impressing him with your dealing skills. Casino operations were the focal point of the company and the pit boss was God. Human Resources was called Personnel and the only time you went there was after you were hired. Overall, however, things have improved.
Question: Do you prefer working on the Strip or in a locals casino?
Answer: I followed my shift managers from New York-New York to the Cannery. This is a small, growing and vibrant company full of positive energy. I don't miss the giant corporate world of the Strip where you are just a number.