Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Bally's Casino Tunica GM takes a personal approach

Great changes ahead at Mid-South casino

By David Grisham
The best place to find the new general manager at Bally’s Casino Tunica is out on the casino floor among the guests, or in the kitchen getting input from staff. That’s because Eddie Llambias is taking a hands-on approach to managing Bally’s.
It didn’t take long for this writer to figure it out. “Mr. Llambias? He’s out in the casino somewhere,” a security guard told me, smiling, as I arrived at Bally’s for an an interview. “He’s always out here somewhere. He likes to be out with the people. I’ll get him for you.”
Llambias soon greeted me in front of his office. Walking briskly towards me, he reached out his hand and warmly welcomed me, “Hello, David?” It is at this moment that I discovered he wasn’t from these parts. His British accent gave him away. 
Llambias hails from Englan
Bally’s Casino GM Eddie Llambias, center, visits with kitchen staff.

d. His 30-year career in gaming began in the heart of London in 1983. It was then that he answered a newspaper ad in the London Evening Standard for a dealer. Since that time he has worked all over the world at a variety of locations and at closer destinations such as Biloxi and Shreveport. 
The personable Llambias came on board at Bally’s a couple of months ago, at about the time Tony Scudiero took the helm at Bally’s sister property, Resorts Casino. Both casinos are managed by Foundation Gaming Group. 
Llambias, who has previously worked with members of the executive team at Foundation Gaming, said the decision to take the post at Bally’s was an easy one. “It was an opportunity to work with a brilliant group of individuals for whom I greatly trust and respect.”
Since arriving at Bally’s, Llambias has met most of the employees at the casino and has good things to say about them. “I’m impressed with the the genuine, authentic hospitality here. The bulk of the tenure (of employees) is in the 12- to 15-year range. Our staff is friendly and helpful, and there is no shortage of skill. I’m impressed with the skill level of our dealers and the skill sets of our management. And in the main kitchen the vibe is so positive.”
Llambias believes the skilled and experienced team, along with the positive energy demonstrated by employees, provides the foundation to take Bally’s to a higher level. “What it does for me, metaphorically, is it provides a wonderful canvas to paint on,” he said. It is on that canvas that energetic GM hopes to paint a picture of fun and excitement. 
The assessment of the staff comes not from spreadsheets and upper-level management meetings (although he admits to both meetings and number-crunching), but rather from being out on the floor and in the service areas of the property. “I want to see things for myself. I’m interested in a customer’s real experience. I want to hear it from the customers’ mouths. I want to hear it from my employees’ mouths.”
It is no surprise, then, that Llambias wants to meet guests not only casually, on the grounds of the property, but also through such means as general manager cocktail parties, where he can shake hands and interact one on one.
And Llambias doesn’t just say “we’re all in this together” when espousing his hands-on approach with the Bally’s staff, either. He demonstrates it by working side by side with employees, on the casino floor, in the kitchen and at the hotel. He dines in the employee dining room. He talks to and listens to his employees. And he has even been known to operate a carpet sweeper. 
Working together to fulfill an objective, one can hold people accountable, he explained, and give employees a sense of the future and a sense of hope working toward an objective — “You build a team and move the needle.” 
Moving the needle will be due in large part to the relationship between Bally”s long-term employees and the casino’s loyal customer base. Those relationships, combined with popular promotions and new and up-to-date slot machines are helping the casino reach new goals.
The slate of promotions has grown larger as of late at the casino and new developments are on the horizon. In addition to recently adding 170 new slot machines, Bally’s has pumped up the energy and the volume with Boogie Nights on Friday and Saturday nights. On weekends from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., a disc jockey plays disco and pop music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s in the casino atrium. It is what Llambias calls “environmental entertainment.” The DJ is free to walk around and mingle with guests. The response has been great, he said. “Our customers love it.”
Customers also loved a recent invitation-only concert by Keith Sweat. The outdoor event drew throngs of fans, who poured into the casino for gaming action after the concert. There is even more on tap for guests in July, as Bally’s features a dance club on Fridays and Saturdays incorporating a dancing entertainer in a club-like atmosphere. There will also be a car giveaway every Friday. And on the casino floor, Bally’s is offering live gaming action 24/7, ensuring there is always a table game to play. It is adjusting its house rules where a dealer stands on a Soft-17, giving players a slight edge in blackjack and offering a new $1 blackjack game, too.
Also coming this month, new items will appear on the buffet, at the Silo and at The Barn. The new selections are a result of internal competitions between members of the food and beverage team. The winners will have their creations available on restaurant menus and winners’ photographs will be on display for guests to see.
Llambias and the Bally’s team are painting a picture for Bally’s guests, a picture that will no doubt be full of fun and excitement.

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