Pentasia on finding talent for the American Dream

| By Robin Harrison

Last year’s iGB-Pentasia Salary Survey showed that the talent squeeze in gaming has endured, making it harder than ever to find the right people to grow US businesses.

Managing director Alistair Cleland and Gideon Bierer of Partis explain how to engage out-of-industry experts, and attract industry insiders to your operation.

The war for talent continues

The US gambling industry has experienced rapid growth period in recent years, leading to a shortage of experienced talent with a relatively shallow candidate pool available to fill the demand. As a result, suppliers have had to resort to creative methods to find and onboard experienced talent.

Gideon Bierer, managing partner at Partis, explains that the market has seen inflated salaries due to the difficulties of suppliers to find and onboard experienced talent. However, “in the last six months, but particularly in Q4 into the beginning of this year, the market has changed quite quickly. There’s some well publicised lay-offs from some major companies, especially in the operator side.”

“Earlier in 2022, a number of operators withdrew or scaled back their investment in online sports vertical in particular,” Bierer continues. “So whilst it’s still accurate to characterise the market as being short of a large indigenous talent pool for online gambling, the market has softened.”

However, despite the gyrations of the stock market and companies with redundancies that may have over-hired, “the market fundamentally remains in growth mode.” Companies, suppliers, and operators from adjacent industries continue to focus on online gambling and hire, and the industry is in its early stages, making it “a good place to bet in terms of a long-term career path.”

Skillsets in demand

There is definitively a war for talent in the US market,” Pentasia managing director Alastair Cleland says, furthering the point.  Specific skillsets for sports, online, and casino are still in high demand, and “companies must continue to use creative methods to find and retain the right staff.”

The US gambling industry remains in a growth mode, with a shortage of experienced talent in specific skillsets for sportsbook, and online casino. Employers must be creative in sourcing and retaining talent, and the talent pool may well need to be sourced from adjacent industries and neighbouring markets.

Strategies for talent acquisition

One strategy that some of the big American operators have employed is acquiring smaller companies to gain access to their talent pool, often known as ‘acqui-hiring’. This has become more common, especially as smaller companies struggle to survive. “There isn’t a large base of legacy talent in the industry, so companies must find them in a creative way” says Bierer. 

Cross-border recruitment is also interesting, with talent recycling from neighbouring offshore markets into the US market. While historically it has been challenging to bring workers into America with the H1B visa, the conditions are softening, and there are now one or two gambling industry visas available.

New Jersey has been the lead market with a real hotbed of talent in the north-east region, but it has also led to significant salary inflation. Bierer says that “companies have focused on key regional markets such as North Carolina, Florida, and Texas,” but have found it challenging to find the right people with industry expertise. However, with persistence, people are building teams in these areas.

As the industry continues to evolve and mature, it will be interesting to see how companies navigate the challenges of talent acquisition and retention.

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