The Iowa Gaming Association recently hosted the first summit for women officials in the state’s casino industry. Among the attendees were Nancy Ballenger, vice president and general manager at Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf, as well as the female general managers at the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Wild Rose in Emmetsburg, Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque and Grand Falls Casino Resort in Larchwood.
Ballenger said the casino industry offers numerous options for women.
“We’ve got people who cover the finance area, cover the marketing area, human resources, which are in many of our other businesses in Iowa. And certainly then there’s the gaming specific things, the table games, slots,” she said. She added, “We’ve got 18 commercial casinos and five women GMs. Of our entire workforce in the casinos in Iowa, 52 percent are women, and 44 percent of managers and supervisors in the Iowa gaming industry are women so we think we’ve got a pretty good story to tell.”
Ballenger said many women, like herself, start in entry level casino positions and work their way up. “It seems like you either really love the industry or it doesn’t really work for you. So, it kind of gets in your blood and folks seem to kind of very quickly get on board, or it’s not going to work out for them,” she noted.
Ballenger encourages women to consider the casino industry as a career option. “My advice to them is, this is a business that has tremendous rewards. Along the way there’s definitely going to be some challenges—we work holidays, we work weekends, we work evenings—but it’s just exciting and like I said, the rewards are pretty high. If that is something you’d like to take a shot at, we would love to have you come and talk to us.”