New GM of Rivers Casino has extensive resume at casinos across nation and beyond
Recently appointed as the General Manager of Rivers Casino & Resort, Rick Richards is about two weeks into his new job and 40 years deep in experience. Starting out at a small casino when he was just 26-years old, Richards has held various management positions over the last few decades including stints at other casinos like Harrah’s New Orleans where he served as GM for five years before returning to Indiana with family obligations. With an extensive resume that includes everything from cleaning rooms to slot machines and table games – not forgetting food service which started off as dishwasher but quickly progressed up through line cook all the way to Assistant Chef de Cuisine – this seasoned veteran says there are no limits on what someone can do if they put their mind to it: “I
The man has seen it all: pandemic, fire, COVID-19. Richards is the perfect candidate for a casino GM with his experience in shutting down and restarting casinos from catastrophic disaster situations like these.
For many Americans, there is nothing like being stranded in a Third World country during crisis to appreciate the United States. Luckily for Justin Moore (the former GM of Rivers Casino) he had worked with Richards before and was able to manage his way out of this predicament by joining forces again at Rush Street Gaming’s casino located in Philadelphia.
“This was a great opportunity,” Richards said.
Rivers Casino reopened in early September after a six-month shutdown. As of Thursday, it had 760 employees, roughly three quarters its pre COVID workforce and the parking lot was bustling with cars at midday. The casino floor seemed much more crowded than usual but there were still plenty of tables to play on if you’re feeling lucky! Revenue figures posted by the state show that Rivers has rebounded somewhat since their closure earlier this year; they have been close to 2019 levels for some time now though not quite back up yet which is understandable considering how long they’ve been closed down.
Rivers Casino reopened in early September after a six month hiatus and as I walked into what looked like an overly busy building one day while doing my daily errands,
“We want to make sure we’re still clean, safe and friendly,” Richards said. “Some of the sanitary measures that were implemented during our reopening will be continued but others may change as volumes increase.”
“I think some casinos probably learned how to operate a little differently during COVID – it’s unprecedented times we went through,” he added later in his response.
“We don’t know what the normal is going to be. For us it’s step by step.”
Richards, 61, has three grown children with his ex-wife. He was born and raised in Nevada and has called it home for as long as he can remember; even when his career took him elsewhere around the world (he worked jumping from restaurant jobs to blackjack dealer). “My dad was in this business,” Richards said of gambling (“I’ve known how to deal blackjack since I was a kid”) but so too were both grandfathers–“a third generation”. His first casino job came back at age 18: Black jack dealer.
Despite having a degree in accounting, Richard’s last foray into the casino world was as an executive on one of their gaming floors. Jumping from gambling to management and back again, Richards has lived his life with two different realities: that behind the scenes there is always more than meets the eye when it comes to running these casinos.
“I learned a lot about Indian nations,” said Richards, who was in charge of consulting for multiple tribes. “Each nation has their own set of rules and those can change when leadership changes.”
Richards also discovered that even the smallest details could be important to someone else—even something as small as riverboats having to sail half the time. In Lake Charles, Louisiana at least one boat had to always dock so people on shore have access while another took off into open waters.
“Mark Richards said that when he goes to a new place, the first thing he does is learn about what’s allowed and not allowed. He also mentioned how different regions are going to be different too.”