A couple of months ago, I discussed how it was common to see numerous casino employees manning the slots area. However, this has changed greatly because slots workers have disappeared.
Interestingly enough, Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace confirmed this while speaking with HoopsHype about his early casino career.
“I dropped out of the University of Kansas and moved to Reno, Nevada to work in casinos for 8 months, mainly as a change boy for the slots,” Wallace explained.
“I worked at the Sands, I also worked at Club Cal Neva. Luckily I got out of the change boy occupation because whenever I walk through casinos now, that’s been basically been mechanized out of existence because you just get your change from those ATM-type machines on the wall,” he added.
Wallace is right in that the people who exchange dollars for quarters have basically been nullified in casinos. In reality, few casinos beyond downtown Vegas even use quarter-based slots any longer because everything has switched to ticketing systems.
As for Wallace, he didn’t spend long changing over dollars for quarters and vice versa. A basketball lover since the beginning, he took a different path.
“So while I was there, I quickly realized that the whole casino racket wasn’t my thing. And I’d always, I’ve just been a basketball junkie forever, played all the time with the kids, read all the preseason books every year, the Street & Smiths, the Athlons.”
This inspired Wallace to start his own college basketball magazine called the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He describes the magazine as being mildly successful, although he had to live in his parents basement to save for traveling interview expenses.
Much like the casino industry, Wallace didn’t see a long-term future in publishing basketball magazines. He was thrilled when Portland Trail Blazers executive Jon Spoelstra gave him a job in the early 1980s. From here, he worked his way up the ranks and landed the Memphis Grizzlies GM job in 2007.