The View from Dead Center
Dealers in nearly everyone's assessment are the most highly controlled employees in the casino. Because dealers handle the money, casino owners from the beginning have left nothing to chance in their relationship with these employees who ostensibly sit at the top of the non-managerial pyramid. At the heart of their strategy is absolute control. Dealers at blackjack tables, in particular, operate in a very narrow space, deal a prescribed number of hands per shift, handle chips and cards in prescribed form, breathe prescribed air, and smile a prescribed number of times per hour. These mechanisms of control—all legal and all “normalized,” that is, accepted as part of the job—combine for one purpose, to ensure the house's take. This chapter presents the stories of women dealers, providing a window onto life on the gaming floor and onto the changes that accompanied corporatization. It asks: why is it that other women casino workers, all objectively in much riskier positions and with far fewer financial reserves, were able to stand up to corporate gaming, but dealers submitted to stricter and more abusive control?
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