Insight: Attracting top eGaming talent to the US
Luke Cousins explains some of the challenges operators face when hiring outside of the US talent pool.
Pentasia has been active in the New Jersey recruitment market for over a year in preparation for the ﬁrst operator going live in November 2013, and has experienced varied recruitment strategies to acquire the best domestic and international talent to the industry. This talent has been hired at an executive level and in the building of larger marketing, operations, product, commercial and technical teams. Companies experiencing this process are European operators, Native Tribes, US casinos, vendors, horse racing, social gaming and marketing agencies.
The challenge in hiring into egaming in the US is the lack of pre-existing talent from the industry as it has been illegal for six years. With the large majority of egaming talent in Europe, it is very costly and time consuming to recruit from overseas. The restricted visa process does not guarantee a path for candidates after accepting a job offer. As a result, businesses have been encouraged to provide jobs to US nationals as it is a conscious purpose of the industry becoming regulated. Even with a number of senior executives coming from overseas, the majority of staff being hired is from the US talent pool.
We encourage ﬁrms to recruit from similar industries in the US and to spend time training employees to the speciﬁcs of the industry and company strategy. These parallel industries are dependent on the areas that companies want to hire; for example, there is a large pool of marketing talent in NYC specializing in brand, digital and advertising.
Retail banking provides a strong source for customer service, social and mobile games hold a similar product skill set and for wider operations there is a large e-commerce industry to approach. The pre-existing talent pool from the land-based industry has been an avenue to some, but often the skill-set outside of brand marketing is very different to transfer to interactive requirements, even in product areas.
It is not a signiﬁcant challenge to encourage candidates into egaming, it is rare to have the chance to join an industry with such growth potential. However, the reliance on the regulators and new markets opening for this growth to be realized is a concern to some and mainly for candidates wanting to relocate with families.
Location, Location, Location
One of the key factors for ﬁrms building interactive teams in the US is the location of their office within New Jersey. While Atlantic City has proven difficult to attract talent, Hoboken and Jersey City are seen as much more attractive locations because of their proximity to Manhattan. The two northern cities provide access to the New York talent pool as well as being an encouraging place for candidates to relocate with their families. The cost of office space and salaries is higher but the level of talent available is signiﬁcantly increased.
The main areas of recruiting have been in marketing and operations. Many of the operators have ﬁxed product suppliers who are based internationally and therefore have focused their hiring efforts on marketing their brand, acquiring new players and retaining the ones they have. Regulation requires a certain amount of customer service staff on the ground in New Jersey depending on the size of the operation, so this has proven to be a key area. Recently we have seen an increase in the demand for product talent as companies look to expand their offerings and manage multiple product suppliers.
The New Jersey recruitment market is vibrant. Even with operators’ concerns over the speed of growth in the market, they understand the US is a long-term strategy and want to build strong teams to encourage this growth. Candidates who are fortunate enough to join the industry now will be very grateful they did so in years to come.