I’m always intrigued by the stories of how people have made their way to Lethbridge. Take for example the General Manager of the Casino, Greg Van Stone. How does a guy who worked at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas end up in our little old city. Here are some answers:
Where are you originally from and how did you first get into the Casino business?
I am from Houston Texas and I first got into the casino business in 1991. In 1989, I was working in a hotel in Galveston, Texas called the Key Largo Resort owned by Frank Fertitta. After a year and a half of employment as the F&B Manager, he sold the Key Largo. Six months after the sale, I received a call to see if I would be interested in a management position at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino (owned by Mr. Fertitta) in Las Vegas. I packed my bags the next day!
What other jobs did you do?
My first summer job was building fences in Texas, I then moved on to the building supply industry. I did this during my University days and after graduation I began working as a night club manager from 1986 – 1989 across various US states.
Did you go to University or College?
Texas State University graduated in 1986 with a BBA in Management.
I know it’s a long road but can your journey to get to Lethbridge?
Once I graduated from University, I was determined to become a manager. I entered the nightclub industry and was transferred from Houston, TX to Pittsburgh, PA, then to Columbus, OH and finally to Piscataway, NJ, each time being offered a promotion but having to move to attain the new position. I returned to Texas to begin working at the Key Largo (mentioned above), this lead me eventually to Las Vegas. Once in Vegas, I continued to seek promotional opportunities, which again made me look at different properties. I left Palace Station and started working at the RIO, then I opened the Stratosphere and finally made it to the big time getting a job offer as Executive Director of Beverage Operations for MGM Grand Las Vegas. I stayed with MGM Resorts for 14 years and while there, I opened the MGM Grand in Detroit and reached an executive level position at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, MS from 2001 – 2009. In 2010, with my whole career defined by casino operations, I decided to try a non-gaming hotel. I started working at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando FL. While it was an amazing property and great learning experience, the call of the casinos came again when I was recruited for an executive level position with Maryland Live Casino. After opening the property and getting things settled in, I was recruited again to become the VP of Food & Beverage for PURE Canadian Gaming based in Edmonton, AB. After almost four years in this position, I was promoted to become the General Manger of Casino Lethbridge in June of 2017.
What is it about the Casino business that keeps you in it?
I have always been inspired by the team of wonderful people that work in this industry. The opportunity to lead a team of service professionals has always given me great pride. Our guests are also a key motivator in why I enjoy the industry. Casino’s provide an escape from everyday life, with the thrill of winning, all while providing fast, friendly service in a safe, clean environment.
Where do you come out on moral issues like gambling addiction?
I am truly impressed with the AGLC GameSense campaign and the commitment from PURE Canadian Gaming to ensure our patrons are well educated on this subject. We always strive to ensure our patrons gamble responsibly. It is one of our top priorities.
You lived in Vegas. What kind of lifestyle was that for you?
One word “WOW” the stories I could share but we will save that for another time! It was one of the most amazing times of my life, mainly due to meeting my beautiful, amazing wife Renee and getting married while living there.
I’m sure there’s always going to be people who want to cheat. How big of an issue was it in some of the bigger casinos you’ve worked in and how much of an issue is it in Lethbridge?
Our industry and company take this type of behaviour very seriously and we take every measure available to mitigate this type of activity. These precautions assist us in preventing most cheat of play. We work very closely with our regulator (AGLC) and fortunately, it is not a common occurrence. Our excellent Table Games personnel, Security and Surveillance teams are highly trained and diligent in thei efforts to ensure a fair game every single day.
What is the most creative cheat you’ve ever seen?
No comment, but what I can say is the character Raymond, that Dustin Hoffman played in Rain Man. A card counter extraordinaire…..
I’m sure you’ve been accused of altering machines so they don’t pay when there are big crowds (or other accusations like that.) What can you tell people about the randomness of slot machines and how often they will pay out?
All wins and losses are completely RANDOM. Our machines are owned, maintained and regulated by the AGLC. The operator has no influence on this whatsoever.
You’re new to Lethbridge. What are your first impressions?
I have actually been travelling to Lethbridge for over four years now, finally calling it home in June of 2017. The city is vibrant, growing, diverse and offers a great deal of opportunities for its residents. It is a privilege to live here and I do not take that lightly. As such, I along with my team at Casino Lethbridge are focused on giving back to our community. We have recently volunteered, sponsored or participated in a Habitat for Humanity build, Walk-a-Mile in her shoes, Canadian Blood Services donation team, Fresh Fest at U of L, Career Fair at U of L, Windy City Tattoo Convention, and various other local sponsorships.
What sort of plans do you see for the future of this Casino?
We will continue to focus on improving the guest service experience each and every day. No expansion plans in our future just a desire to serve the public in a fast, friendly and clean environment.
What do you say to people who want a career like you have?
I would wholeheartedly recommend the casino industry. It has been an amazing ride and the future is bright! Oh the things that I have seen……..to be continued.