“Good evening, goedenavond, Guten Abend, bonsoir”: it’s clear that the Holland Casino in Valkenburg isn’t far from the tripoint between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Service staff member Julia Olislagers switches easily between Dutch, English, German and French while welcoming guests. “In my two years of working here, I’ve completely regained the foreign language skills I learnt in secondary school. Even French is going quite well. I found this job through my aunt. She also works at the casino and referred me to the position.”
Olislagers is working the desk tonight, which means she’s checking guests in and issuing them passes if necessary. “We ask each guest to show their ID – they must be 18 or older to enter the casino – and register everyone. We’re required by law to do so.” Those who already have a membership card – a so-called Favourites pass – can go straight through. For new guests, this card or a day pass has to be printed.
This is done in a flash. “Oh really, that’s it?” various guests say after posing for a picture in front of the webcam on Olislagers’ desk. The picture is entered into the system, together with their address information. All that’s left to do is pay 5 euros and their evening can begin.
It’s rather busy from about nine o’clock onwards. “Regulars often show up in the early evening; younger people tend to come in later. They often go for a drink or a bite beforehand.” Olislagers is working practically nonstop. “I prefer it that way. I wouldn’t like having nothing to do half of the evening.” It also helps her stay alert: she has to work until closing time at 3.00 AM. “And then I balance the till, arrange all the documents and tidy up the desk. It’s about 3.30 AM by the time I head home. You get used to it, although of course I do get tired sometimes.”
Tonight, she’s sitting at the desk next to the cloakroom. She jumps in to help when her colleague leaves his post briefly to approach a guest about their clothing. “That’s also one of our jobs. The dress code is no longer very strict – smart casual – but certain things are not allowed. Sportswear, for example, or flip-flops. In these situations, we ask guests if they happen to have something else in their car. They often do, or they drive home quickly to change. We have a few evening jackets here in case of emergency.” Her colleague has returned with the guest’s bulky coat, which aren’t allowed inside either.
Another reason to refuse access is intoxication. “That’s something we have to pay close attention to. Gambling under the influence is not allowed. It’s usually fairly obvious; when in doubt, we ask our supervisor. Our supervisor almost always backs our decision and kindly informs the guest they’re welcome at another time.” Always being polite is an important part of the job. “Just like listening seriously to someone who has a complaint. We’re receiving customer aggression training soon, although fortunately I haven’t yet had to deal with an aggressive guest.”
You’re quite mistaken if you think Olislagers herself is a regular star at the poker table, though. “Holland Casino staff aren’t allowed to gamble here. Imagine if we won! Everyone would think the game was rigged.”