IT payroll uniform in U.S.

Jun 8, 2004 5:43 AM

Factors such as geographic region and casino size have had little effect on the salaries of information technology (IT) professionals, who are among the better paid workers in the casino.

At the same time, most casino IT managers cite computer security as their most critical issue, according to a study conducted by a company that offers advice to gaming and hospitality corporations around the world.

Speaking to a small audience at the Gaming Technology Summit held at Green Valley Ranch Station last month, James Nickerson of WhiteSand Consulting said improved player tracking closely follows security as key IT issues.

"Improving IT security is a top issue for almost all casinos," he said, adding that other technological concerns that are uppermost on the minds of the gaming industry officials are improved demographic player analysis, improved web site usability and improved slot game selection in terms of the mix of machines on the casino floor.

The survey, which polled casinos in 12 states, showed concerns about security include controlling access to the casino’s web site, remote access to proprietary databases, and internal security for IT activities at the casino or corporate headquarters.

The survey also mentioned the role of technology in marketing. There is now a consensus among casinos that more sophisticated analysis of player information should be used for optimizing player reward programs. Two out of three casinos give top priority to their ability to analyze their player databases to better allocate player rewards, according to the survey.

Whatever improvements are made in the information technology field will be accomplished without casinos replacing their current systems, polling indicates. Only one casino expects to replace its slot system and only four expect to replace their marketing systems within the next two years, the survey showed.

Moreover, only one in four casinos expects to increase its IT staff within the next 12 months. These increases will be in mid-level positions (programmers, managers, PC support and business analysts). There will be little or no increase in operators, the survey says.

In terms of compensation, the survey found that the most senior information technology position in casinos has a median total compensation of $100,000, which is consistent with the median total compensation of $119,000 for chief information officers and $96,000 for chief technology officers outside of the gaming industry, according to a large scale survey of IT professionals.

Other findings in the area of salaries showed median salaries to be: $95,000 for IT directors, $65,000 for IT managers, $55,000 for programmers, $45, 000 for business analyst, $35,000 for PC support personnel, and $30,000 for operators.

Nickerson said salaries have risen "to where they should be" for people in information technology in the gaming industry.

WhiteSand’s major conclusion is that IT executives want to improve their systems’ security and the analytical value of their databases. And they hope to achieve these goals with only modest staff increases, little use of outside consultants, and no outsourcing, according to the survey’s summary statement. WhiteSand officials said the final report will be issued by the end of June.