Insight: Attracting top eGaming talent to the US

02 June 2014 By Alastair Cleland

1481 Original

​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.

Parallel Industries

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.

Regulatory Requirements

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.