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Valued Employees = Valued Customers and Great Customer Service

Diane Mulligan interviews Monarch Casino GM Craig Pleva on what makes a great place to work

It seems every day we see another story about an employee “losing it” at work. Recently, I was admitted to the hospital for an emergency back issue. Before I had been in bed 24 hours or given a diagnosis, I was presented with a bill for more than $1,700 dollars and asked to pay on the spot. While I was fuming, the story of the United Airlines passenger being pulled off the plane was playing on the television in my room.

What has happened to customer service? Customer service built Nordstrom’s and Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks. It also built the career of Monarch Casino Black Hawk General Manager Craig Pleva. When I interviewed him, it brought home the fact that customer or guest service is always a key to personal and corporate success.

Pleva started as overnight casino shift manager at Monarch’s sister property Atlantis Casino in Reno. He loved the excitement of working on the casino floor and soon moved to slot operations manager.

“I broke in on table games, I was a reliable, quick learner and provided really good guest service and could talk to people. When you are on the slot floor there is always that buzz and excitement. Being in slots really reignited my love of math, that is where I really started thinking more analytically and not just viewing the casino as an operational business,” said Pleva.

Pleva credits great mentors and support along the way and now wants Monarch Team Members to have the same opportunity.

Monarch is developing an internal internship program where team members can work four hours in different departments to see what they like the best and find a good fit. In only eight years Pleva is now running the entire casino in Black Hawk. It certainly helps that he works for a company that values its team and has a policy of promoting from within.

Pleva still gets excited when he walks through the casino, but now he oversees the entire operation which will include the $400 million 23 story hotel and spa expansion. He will be hiring more than 1,000 team members in the next two years.

Excellent guest service will be a top training concept for those new hires.

“We focus on the Forbes all-star service standards as a basis for guest service day in and day out. I was lucky, the team at Atlantis and Monarch casino supported me  and made it possible for me to provide the best guest service I could.”

Pleva’s story illustrates an important fact, corporations that value employees provide the basis for employees valuing customers.

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About Monarch Casino Resort Spa

Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. acquired the Monarch Casino Black Hawk, the first casino encountered by visitors arriving from Denver on Highway 119, in April 2012. The first phase of the property’s expansion occurred in November 2020, including the opening of the first 8 floors of a brand new 23-story hotel tower, featuring 200 hotel rooms. The expansion now pushes Monarch’s casino space over 60,000 square feet, featuring over 900 slot machines, table games (temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions), a 350 seat buffet-style restaurant, a 24-hour restaurant, grab and go coffee stand, 5,000 square feet of conference space and a parking structure with approximately 1,350 parking spaces. Once completed, the Monarch Casino Resort Spa expansion will include a 23-story hotel tower with 516 guest rooms and suites, an upscale spa and pool facility, five total restaurants, additional bars and associated support facilities.

About Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc.

Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCRI), was incorporated in 1993 and through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, owns and operates the four diamond Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada, and the Monarch Casino Black Hawk (formerly the Riviera Black Hawk Casino) in Black Hawk, Colorado, approximately 40 miles west of Denver. For additional information, visit

Monarch Casino Resort Spa
488 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO 80422