TROP Casino is in operation under new general management.
Long time Caesars Entertainment team member Colin Skidmore was appointed as TROP’s general manager in April, succeeding former GM, Derrick Madison.
“I have heard nothing but wonderful things when it came to culture and southern hospitality, especially from those GM’s that have worked here previously,” Skidmore said of the Queen City property. “They said, ‘You’re going to love the people, you’re going to love the team and they are just so warm and welcoming and you’re just going to have the greatest time working with them and collaborating with them.””
Aside from the glowing commendations of the City of Greenville from former TROP GM’s, another significant reason Skidmore was keen on the opportunity to act as general manager is the potential for continuous improvement with a smaller property.
He said, “As a GM, and especially here in Mississippi, there is an opportunity to work with a team much more closely and make the kind of changes that you want to make a lot more easily because it is a smaller team.”
Skidmore likened the opportunity of working with a smaller team versus a larger team to steering a cruise ship 90 degrees in one direction and possibly losing people off of the ship.
“With a speed boat where you’ve got a smaller team together, you kind of make those changes and try different things and that excites me about Mississippi and this property,” he said.
Some of those changes are simply quickly attainable goals that Skidmore and his team have already begun identifying, such as beautifying the property by adorning the exterior with florals, painting and putting gravel outside of the casino, reupholstering chairs and getting more of the machines up and running.
“The big thing our team talked about when we first got here is really investing in the floor itself,” he said, highlighting the addition of sportsbook kiosks on the casino floor as well as newer and more modernized slot machines.
He noted the advantageous crown jewel of Caesars — the Caesars Rewards program — which allows players to earn points that can be redeemed on purchases made at any Caesars property from hotel stays to food and entertainment.
“It’s such a great opportunity, especially for those in Greenville, to really link into our rewards program and really get back from gaming at a casino here locally,” Skidmore pointed out. “The points you score here, you can take with you to Vegas and any of those places that Caesars entertainment offers.”
“You can take your reward credits that you’ve earned playing at our casinos and then go and head to those outlets.”
Along with that, Skidmore said, is really investing in the TROP Casino property and doing something with its underutilized space.
“So, we’re taking the time to work with the community and understand what they might want to see and what might bring us revenue and then investing in those opportunities and doing those things that are exciting for Greenville, Mississippi,” he said.
To that end, Skidmore and his team are endeavoring to pinpoint what the community wants and what it needs as far as entertainment goes.
The overarching goal as Skidmore described, though, is two-fold — teammate experience and community engagement.
“Teammates come first and we are big believers in taking care of our folks here. We at Caesars entertainment actually made a decision where the minimum wage at all Caesars properties is now $12,” Skidmore noted. “So any entry-level position has to be at least $12 in a non-tipped, non-union position. So that is the commitment that we made.”
He reiterated the importance of making sure fellow team members are taken care of because they are the ones who are out front to assist the guests, adding, “The happier the teammates are the better they treat our guests.”
As it pertains to TROP’s investment in the Greenville community, the task was not the easiest for the previous GM as he was responsible for two properties and was not able to invest as much time as he wanted to.
“One of the exciting things for me is that I’m able to do that,” Skidmore said. We’ve already just held our first Business After Hours event where we invited local businesses to come in and get to know myself and others.”
The event was held in collaboration with The Chamber last Thursday at the Big Water Cafe and it presented the opportunity for those in attendance to enjoy networking and getting acquainted with one another over free food and drinks.
“We’ve already committed to making some donations this year to nonprofits and things of that nature,” Skidmore said.
He also talked about “hero events” he and fellow team members take part in where they go out and serve the community in some capacity.
The most recent one was the Delta Wellness Mission held at Greenville High School where a group of Caesars teammates volunteered to assist military personnel with getting individuals signed up for medical treatments and handing out prescriptions.
“Prior to that we did another hero event where we actually worked with the local food bank (Helping Hands Food Pantry) where we helped package bags of food and gave them out to those less fortunate,” Skidmore shared. “So the long-term focus is the community and making sure we get back to supporting and being a part of the community, which is so important to me and the team.”
Skidmore began at Caesars as a bellman about 18 years ago at one of the company’s southern California properties delivering and assisting with luggage.
Gradually working his way from there to a dealer and eventually, from a supervisor of table games to a scheduler of operations, Skidmore accumulated a wealth of knowledge.
A great deal of that knowledge was gleaned from his experience in a continuous improvement program implemented by a former manager.
“That’s like an efficiency department,” Skidmore said, “so, you kind of got to go to all of the different departments, work with them for a little bit and then help them with schedules, purchase new tools and help them do their jobs a little bit better.”
So I did that for a while and that was the best experience because I got to learn every department of the casino and help them with those things.
Having seen the flow of casino operations from practically every vantage point and working to meet efficiency standards for various departments, continuous improvement was the best experience for Skidmore and is attributable to his subsequent success.
“From there, I got to embrace my nerdy side. I love spreadsheets and numbers, so I went into finance and was a finance manager at that property for a while,” Skidmore said.
He then began working closely with the property’s marketing team and took the opportunity to act as marketing manager.
However, Skidmore’s passion for people eventually superseded his niche for numbers, leading him back to operations as director of table games and setting him on the general manager trajectory.
“My goal has always been to be a GM — to have the chance to work with a team and build something special as a culture,” Skidmore said. “And so, I was told by my mentor at the time that I needed to move and couldn’t stay at one property.”
That move was Indiana, where at the time, land-based table game operations and sportsbook were in the process of being legalized.
Skidmore recalled putting his name “in the hat” for the opportunity and becoming director of table games and sportsbook.
He said, “I helped them launch table games and sportsbook in Indiana for the first time and we were the first property in Indiana to go live with sports betting. And, the governor actually placed the first wager at our operations.”
A couple of years later, COVID-19 reared its head, causing the operation to shut down.
Skidmore and his team worked to bring the operation back to functionality and soon, he said, “I heard about this opportunity to come to Mississippi, Greenville, specifically and lead a team and do the kind of things I only dreamed of before.”
He added, “It’s been a great journey, I’ve had a great career with Caesars and it’s just a phenomenal company to work for.”