Many of us, myself included, feel good about the staying and playing in New Hampshire, but a little less confident about the working part. Well, have you considered a career in the state’s Charitable Gaming Industry?
Let me introduce you to Aaron Wrightsman, who is going to tell us about the industry. Aaron, who is a floor manager at the Seabrook Poker Room, has worked in the industry for 13 years, and has been in Seabrook for 11. Aaron is also an aspiring novelist, an amateur musician, and my boyfriend.
What is Charitable Gaming?
First, what is charitable gaming? Per New Hampshire state law (RSA 287-D, to be exact), facilities who operate “games of chance” (any game defined as gambling, per NH RSA 647:2) must donate 35 percent of their gross revenues to charitable organizations. For more, here is 30 pages of legal mumbo-jumbo on the subject. The industry, which is governed by the NH Racing and Charitable Gaming Division of the NH Lottery Commission, contributes a significant amount of money each year to hundreds of non-profit organizations. According to this article from Seacoast Online, the charitable gaming industry donated $4.8 million to non-profits in the 2012 fiscal year. With that much money on the table, it is understandable why every charitable gaming facility in the state has a lengthy waiting list of organizations hoping to reap the rewards.
Why Work in Charitable Gaming?
No College Degree Necessary
I will preface this by saying, education is very important. However, I recognize that college isn’t right for everyone. In fact, I feel pretty strongly about encouraging high school students to explore non-traditional career paths, especially for students who are unsure about what they want to do. College is expensive and taking on exorbitant debt isn’t the right choice for everyone. Luckily, NH’s economy offers some really good career options that don’t require a college degree, including the charitable gaming industry.
The Schedule is Flexible
Like the restaurant industry, nights and weekends are a must. Aaron, who describes himself as not a morning person, appreciates the flexibility offered by the job. He is currently working three (long) days per week, giving him four full days off each week, which he is currently using to write and record music. His schedule means he also gets to enjoy date nights with his girlfriend (me) on nights when restaurants are slower and quieter.
The Work Environment
Aaron prefaced this part by noting that not all poker rooms are the same, but he loves the professional environment at the Seabrook Poker Room. Aaron enjoys working with people, especially his “regulars,” and the sense of community that the poker room fosters. “As a manager, I am always on my toes because situations do arise that I have to deal with,” Aaron said, describing his job as neither super high stress nor boring. Aaron also told me that loving games is a prerequisite — he spends a lot of his free time playing games.
Gaming-related jobs consistently make the list when you search for highest paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. The base salary is good, and like servers, those working in the gaming industry pad their pockets with tips. For Aaron, gaming management is his primary income source, but he pointed out that, because of the flexible schedule, dealing is a good way to earn supplemental income. Aaron also appreciates the job security, “I don’t see the industry going anywhere,” he added.
Entering the Industry
For Aaron, working in the gaming industry happened organically. As a kid, Aaron grew up watching his dad play poker with friends. Then in high school and college, Aaron played poker with his own friends. In his early twenties, a friend suggested he take a gig dealing poker — he did, and never looked back.
Aaron said that having experience playing poker no doubt gave him an advantage when he began his career, so I pressed him for advice on how someone with no prior exposure might enter the industry. He admits that, because the skill set is kind of “obscure,” getting started can be intimidating and presents an obstacle for many people. However, a worker shortage means the industry is almost always hiring. So, once you have the skills, you are among few who do, and are able to take advantage of the security and flexibility the industry offers.
Aaron did offer up some advice for anyone who is interested in a career in charitable gaming: go play to learn the games! To deal poker, Aaron said playing poker is critical to understand the game. However, not all facilities offer poker, so if you don’t play poker, you can still enter the industry dealing pit games, such as Blackjack, Mississippi Stud, and Roulette, which are much easier to learn.
Aaron says he has trained friends to prepare them for their auditions, and many charitable gaming facilities will offer training or classes. The Seabrook Poker Room, for example, recently offered free training because they needed an injection of employees. Other than that, Aaron said that all you really need is basic math skills, common sense, and manners.