Regulation: Finding Your Passion in the Workplace

by David Vialpando

It is said that if you enjoy your job, you will never work a day in your life. Engaging in the process of finding your passion in casino gaming regulation will not only bring you fulfillment in your career, but further the profession where you have invested your time and energy. Organizational excellence results from a workforce engaged and passionate about the mission of the organization.

Finding your passion at work is a process of self-discovery. Once completed, you can look forward to greater job satisfaction, enhanced quality and quantity of work, and a focus setting you apart from your colleagues. In regulation, each of us have job responsibilities which accompany our designated role within our Tribal Gaming Regulatory Agency (TGRA). In fulfilling those responsibilities, we each have differing levels of skill proficiency. Where one auditor may be attracted to anti-money laundering strategies, another may be excited by analyzing a casino’s accounting practices. Where one gaming inspector or compliance agent may develop an affinity for identifying problem gambling behavior, another may display an expertise in critical incident response and patron safety. Additional areas of gaming regulation where focused skill development and subject matter expertise may be found include emerging gaming technology, cybersecurity, international vendor licensing, gaming investigation strategies, casino cheats and scams, food and beverage, and amenity accountability. Each of these areas represent an area of regulatory emphasis enhancing the TGRA’s effectiveness in ensuring the integrity of gaming, protection of tribal assets, and preservation of patron and employee safety.

The process of identifying areas of professional passion begins by reflecting on your personal values, professional interests, and skill proficiency. Reflect on those occasions where you lost track of time performing various job tasks and felt a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment while engaged in a particular activity. These represent the areas where you may find your passion.

The next step involves conducting research, attending workshops, networking events, and engaging in training related to your areas of interest. Joining professional organizations where you can engage in training and network with others possessing similar professional interests allows you to build on your passion with the goal of ultimately developing yourself into a subject matter expert and go-to professional that your colleagues can rely on for advice and guidance. If critical incident response and patron safety is your passion, the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals may be your organization. If identifying and tracking financial crime is your passion, the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists may be an excellent resource. Keep in mind that given the depth and variety of tasks and responsibilities within the regulation of casino gaming, you may identify several passions providing job satisfaction and professional fulfillment.

Seeking feedback from your TGRA colleagues and supervisors can assist in identifying your passion in those professional skill areas where you have demonstrated proficiency and an affinity above and beyond the norm. Build on these skill areas by stepping outside your comfort zone and taking risks by suggesting innovative projects and strategies related to your areas of interest. Recognize that you may experience trepidation and doubt as you explore innovation and cutting-edge strategies to address gaming regulation. This is normal and defines you as a pioneer within your areas of interest. You may experience challenges and barriers in pursuing your passion, but this too is normal and can be dealt with effectively. Commit to a process of continuous learning within your areas of interest. The key to embracing your passion is to adopt a growth mindset and not settle for the status quo. Innovation and industry leadership frequently result from those committed to a detailed analysis and applied innovation within various areas of gaming regulation. For an organization’s management, it is important to create opportunities where employees can express and explore their interests. Employees allowed to pursue their passion will give 110% in everything they do. Taking the time to recognize and celebrate exceptional performance by those embracing their passion is key to building a high-performing organization.

The culmination of identifying and developing your passion is sharing your knowledge with others, mentoring, and guiding your colleagues who possess interests in the same areas of regulation as you. Think back to the last presentation you attended where the expressed excitement of the presenter seemed to energize the entire room. These are professionals who have found their passion and it’s obvious they enjoy what they do. Finding our passion within our profession improves our ability to deal with the inevitable challenges and tough times we may experience. Finding enjoyment and satisfaction in our job builds resilience and enhances job security. When you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Instead, you build a legacy for others to follow.

David Vialpando is Executive Director of the Pokagon Band Gaming Commission and Vice-Chairman of Tribal Gaming Protection Network. He can be reached by calling (269) 926-5485 or email [email protected].