The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa

The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa

The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa

The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa

Synopsis

In this gripping ethnography, Jeffrey J. Sallaz goes behind the scenes of the global casino industry to investigate the radically different worlds of work and leisure he found in identically designed casinos in the United States and South Africa. Seamlessly weaving political and economic history with his own personal experience, Sallaz provides a riveting account of two years spent working among both countries' casino dealers, pit bosses, and politicians. While the popular imagination sees the Nevada casino as a hedonistic world of consumption, The Labor of Luck shows that the "Vegas experience" is made possible only through a variety of systems regulating labor, capital, and consumers, and that because of these complex dynamics, the Vegas casino cannot be seamlessly picked up and replicated elsewhere. Sallaz's fresh and path-breaking approach reveals how neo-liberal versus post-colonial forms of governance produce divergent worlds at the tables, and how politics, profits, and pleasure have come together to shape everyday life in the new economy.

Excerpt

Between 1999 and 2004 I lived a double life. Half of my time I spent in the world of academia as a graduate student and instructor at a large public university. The other half found me in the world of the casino as an ethnographer studying the global gambling industry. Academic life has its own mode and moves at its own pace; at the University of California, Berkeley, no one batted an eyelid if I arrived to class unshaven or unkempt, rumpled jeans and untucked shirts constituted the core components of my wardrobe, and tardiness was so taken for granted that classes regularly started at ten minutes past the hour.

Casino life could not be more different. My day began when the typical person’s ends, at eight P.M., when I awoke to shower, shave, and get ready for work. I was a croupier—a casino dealer—and I passed my night in a dimly-lit pit handling cash, coins, and chips. My work was monitored by men in suits: pit bosses, themselves overseen by casino executives and surveillance cameras. Should I arrive at my table ten seconds tardy, or with a spot of ketchup on my tuxedo lapel, I could . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.